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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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August 6, 2008 6:14 PM

M's drop finale

Posted by Geoff Baker

daygame0806 007.jpg

Bryan LaHair reached base on a leadoff single in the ninth. But Yuniesky Betancourt, pictured above, swung into a first-pitch double play grounder. Haven't seen that before. Ichiro flies out to right and the M's and Jarrod Washburn take a 7-3 loss.

Washburn goes six innings, yielding three earned runs on five hits. But Mark Lowe gives up the same hits and runs total in five fewer innings. That, and an error by Adrian Beltre and a great catch by Denard Span was the difference today. Joba Chamberlain is on the DL with tendinitis in his rotator cuff. The Yankees need pitching. Let's see if a deal can be struck.

Mariners catcher Jeff Clement said Washburn had plenty of late movement today, with the ball either sinking or cutting on hitters. As a result, with a few exceptions, they could not square up and make solid contact.

"I thought he threw the ball really well,'' Clement said. "You could tell in the first inning, striking out the side, that he had his good stuff going.''

The 0-2 pitch to Span was supposed to be a slider that started off on the outer corner and broke down and away. Instead, it began inside and broke over the middle, as you saw from our photo.

"It just kind of hung up there over the plate,'' Clement said.

That was enough to be a difference maker on the ensuing three-run triple.

"Early on, Span had a big hit,'' Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "That pitch, I'm pretty sure Wash would like to have back. But as he always does...he kept us in there against a tough ballclub.''

Washburn has a 3.44 ERA since May 25. That's a whole lot of outings. I know ERA doesn't mean everything, but hey, that one outing against Baltimore last week doesn't exactly paint a complete picture either. he has seven quality starts in his last 10 outings. That means a little. He gave up only five hits today against a Twins team that scored 12 runs the past two games. Like I said, the big key is to figure out how hard the flyballs Washburn yields are being hit. When they're mostly mis-hit, as they were today, the damage is minimal. The groundball-flyball numbers in this case won't tell you the full story about a flyball pitcher.

New reliever Jared Wells tossed two scoreless innings. But he cost Mark Lowe an earned run when he bobbled a bunt attempt and mistakenly tried to nab the runner at third. Clement had yelled "third!'' when Wells tried to pick the ball up, but the moment he fumbled it, you have to get the sure out.

"I was wanting to go to third, but I couldn’t get a good grip,'' Wells said. "I should have maybe ate it and gone to first.''


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Posted by Henry

4:36 PM, Aug 06, 2008

shotgun

Posted by ken

4:44 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Yuni needs to either be fined or benched every time he swings at the first pitch. Even Niehaus referred to him yesterday on radio as "One pitch Betancourt". Every pitcher knows that Yuni will swing at the first pitch so why groove one? I'm surprised Uncle Lee hasn't grabbed Yuni in a headlock yet. A stint at Tacoma would take care of that problem once and for all.

Posted by ethan

4:47 PM, Aug 06, 2008

i would never say something like this.."we have a bunch of brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly." that would be just down right inappropriate.

Posted by GripS

4:49 PM, Aug 06, 2008

This was pretty much expected. I honestly expected the Twins to sweep us so getting 2 out of 3 is pretty huge considering the caliber of players the Twins have.

How come we can never get those home run steals? It's always the other team making those plays on us.

Lowe isn't good. I'm thinking sending him down or getting rid of him would be another step in the right direction.

Posted by Dugan

4:51 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff - Please ask Riggleman if he thinks Ibanez is his best option in left field. Please ask him why he does not move Ibanez to DH permanently.

Posted by GripS

4:53 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Oh yeah.... Completely agree on Betancourt. He should be prohibited from swinging at the first pitch no matter how good it appears to be. It's not just him though. I see a lot of swinging at the first pitch by other players as well.....

It's pretty consistent that I see the opposing pitcher throwing half the pitches ours are. Patience at the plate.......patience

Posted by meagain

4:59 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I was watching on and off on Gameday. When Yuni came up in the ninth with LaHair on first, I said to myself, something away, get him to roll over on it.

Too easy. Betancourt should be watching video of Edgar every day, learning to take a strike, and then to look for a certain pitch in a certain location. Why, oh why, doesn't he feel confident in his ability to make contact?

Bleah.

Posted by FACEPLANTq

5:04 PM, Aug 06, 2008

WHY DID WE SEND MARROW DOWN AGAIN??? HE IS OUR RELIEF ACE!!!!!

Posted by GM Interviewer

5:19 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Would you keep Yuni on the team next year and play Raul in the outfield (instead of DHing him)?

You would?

Ok, we'll have to keep looking for a candidate that isn't a moron. But thanks for coming in!

Posted by ethan

5:20 PM, Aug 06, 2008

the photo of Yuni grounding into a first pitch DP is priceless. very rare. i'd put it up there with Dorthea Lange's "Migrant Mother" and The Kiss in Times Square on V-J Day.
i will try to recapture the emotional impact on canvas in a Neo-expressionist tribute painting.

Posted by GripS

5:20 PM, Aug 06, 2008

It's Morrow...... and the reason why he was sent down was to stretch him out for a starting roll. There's no reason why Putz can't regain his composure and control in the off season. A clean slate can work wonders. One can only hope anyway. As far as today..... The games really don't mean anything so not having a good closer makes no difference at this point.

Posted by David Gee

5:33 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Is Betancourt just stupid?

Posted by Oly Mike

5:51 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Another loss by Washburn!! How could that be? He is such a fine pitcher!! Get rid of the Bum. I know he didn't give up all 7 runs. But he set the stage. No matter what you say he is a loser.

And as far as Bentancourt to some extent I agree that hitters should not swing at the first pitch. But when teams learn that players never swing at the first pitch or are told not to. You can bet they are going to throw one to them right over the middle of the plate and get ahead in the count. Now with a bunch of good hiters this might not be so bad. But with the Mariners it means flailing away at the 2nd pitch (ala Sexson & Beltre) and being down O-2, Then what happens is what we have seen all year a strikeout or some weak fly or foul caught for an out trying to protect the plate. So there is two-sides to every theory. And sometimes a batter needs to swing at the first pitch because that may be the only good pitch he is going to see in that at bat. It entirely depends on the player and situation. The other night Clement ripped the first pitch into the right field corner to ignite the Mariner 10 run barrage. If he had let that first pitch go by. Things might have turned out differently.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

6:07 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Nice unbiased sports journalism Geoff. We lose the game 7-3, but Betancourt is the focus of ire. Bravo, I applaud you.

Posted by John

6:08 PM, Aug 06, 2008

It really isn't about swinging at the first pitch - if you have a plan and an idea. Sometimes, if you really believe the guy is going to try to get ahead in the count, there's nothing wrong with sitting on a fastball and swinging at it - if it's a strike and where you want it.
Yuni's problem is he just swings at anything and everything, and what is really frustrating to the entire Northwest is that no one seem capable of making him change.
What is really, really frustrating is that if he ever did learn discipline, I think he could be a .300 hitter. He hardly ever strikes out. I'm just not sure it's going to happen in Seattle - if ever. I think he'll get one more full season before he's either replaced by Truinfel or a free agent.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

6:09 PM, Aug 06, 2008

No OlyMike the loss was Betancourt's not Washburn not anybody else.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

6:11 PM, Aug 06, 2008

John- You are correct. If we release Betancourt or trade him away, we are one player away next year contending in the division with Erik Bedard as our ace.

Posted by Idaho Invader

6:12 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Betancourt's stats suck, so his impatient approach should have no excuses.

We need a better SS (among other things) if we're going to be serious about big time improvement next year.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

6:24 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I have been calling Yuni sandlot, AKA bush, for some time now.

He either needs to be sent down and schooled or DFA'd. The guy is reported to have huge talent, but sadly he has no discipline.

Posted by BrianL

6:37 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I hate, I mean really hate, to say it...

But I think Betancourt should be benched in favor of Bloomquist or Hulett for a while. He's been in an absolute tailspin since June:

June/July: .214/.227/.276 with a .503 OPS in 46 games and 173 ABs. In that span he's taken a grand total of two walks. Compound that with a rather anemic .823 RZR rating and only 18 plays made out of zone (I can already sense Resin is foaming at the mouth), and we've hit replacement-level mediocrity. Anemic bat + mediocre defense = problems.

In other words, Betancourt has done the exact opposite thing Ichiro did. Yuni started off the year hot, but has done absolutely nothing since June. He's hitting worse than Miguel Cairo and Jose Vidro.

Something is not right with Yuni, and clearly playing through it hasn't done anything to help him. Perhaps it's time he take an extended seat on the bench (or if needs be swap him with Hulett on the roster) to figure out what has gone wrong.

Posted by BrianL

6:42 PM, Aug 06, 2008

And to clarify before Resin starts quoting me out of context:

I'm in favor of Hulett/Bloomquist at short for a while, but not as a permanent solution. Betancourt needs to take a seat to get things straightened out, and unfortunately those two are the only players available to play the position while Yuni gets his act together.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

7:03 PM, Aug 06, 2008

The past four games Betancourt has been improving statistically speaking despite grounding into a double play when a game was out of reach.

From a scouting perspective, Yuni's batting mechanics have grabbed my attention. The main problem I see with Betancourt is he is not keeping his weight back and lunging forward at pitches low and away. You can see he is completely off balanced and almost falling towards first base.

I would explain to the player the problem mechanics-wise. In the M's case, all I have read is they have told Betancourt he needs to study opposing pitchers more. This in itself is a problem. It demonstrates the approach being taken by the coaching staff is likely wrong.

For example, the M's were working with Yuni on agility drills for his throwing problems which won't help. As far as I know no instruction was provided for his struggles at the plate other than "take the first two pitches Yuni" and slap him on the back and send him out there.

Betancourt needs to be explained through an interpreter what he is doing wrong. Once he corrects his mechanics, he is not going to lunge at the ball off balance. This has nothing to do with patience or swinging at the first pitch. The fact the M's have benched him for being impatient shows to me that Riggleman and his staff have no clue how to fix Betancourt.

Yuni will never ever become a patient hitter. He is what he is. I personally would instruct Yuni to crowd the plate more so that he can make pitchers pay for pitching him on the outside of the plate. Betancourt also needs to set up earlier at the plate and not be moving so late when a pitcher starts his pitching motion.

Posted by Bavasi's Ghost

7:30 PM, Aug 06, 2008

You are truly an idiot Resin.

Posted by rbfan

8:21 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff,
I have two questions? I'm sure the org has taken notice of what Rob Johnson is doing in Tacoma. What do you think will happen with him? And what do you think of him?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:05 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Resin - Are you a scout? Are you a hitting coach? You talk like you're experienced.

Posted by Marin1980

9:07 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Seriously? Sure lets get rid of young, cheap talent like Lowe. Yeah, Lowe may be struggling a little bit at times, but the fact that he has thrown all season without going on the DL after an "experimental" surgery is freaking amazing. He topped out in Texas last week at 97 MPH! You've got to have respect for a guy for going through that. You're right, lets get rid of him. He, and all the other Mariner players that are bad-mouthed by bloggers deserve better. Geoff rarely has anything positive to say either. Even when they win, he has to complain about something.

Posted by Dave from the roast

9:15 PM, Aug 06, 2008

...Maybe the pitcher should ROLL the first pitch to Yuni...and if Yuni swings, you know he's got a first-pitch problem...

Posted by dodger

9:24 PM, Aug 06, 2008

OK it's late game and the M's need baserunners.. Yuni has a baseball IQ half of Sexons BA. Get your freakin' schlong out over the plate, take til a strike than go to work. He will never change and probably doesn't even want to be here so-hasta la vista.

Posted by BrianL

9:25 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I'd like to argue that Jarrod Washburn didn't pitch well today. Actually, I'll let Jeff Sullivan do that for me.

"Jarrod Washburn's BIP profile: 3 grounders, 6 fly balls, 7 liners, 2 pop-ups, 2 bunts (excluded). That's a 44% line drive rate for those of you without a calculator. A 44% line drive rate against a lineup including Nick Punto, Mike Redmond, Carlos Gomez, Adam Everett, and someone named Randy Ruiz. Oh, he also only threw 60 strikes on 102 pitches."

Yeah. That's not good pitching. Forget this good flyball/bad flyball thing (or as I like to call them, potential home runs), 7 line drives. That's insane. That's really, really bad. Washburn is lucky he didn't allow more runs than he did.

Posted by Jim Anderson

9:26 PM, Aug 06, 2008

When talking about probable starters, does Corcoran's name ever come up? Someone mentioned him back in May, when there were rumblings about Morrow starting, and Corcoran was down in Tacoma. Since Corcoran was called back up, he's done decently in long relief, and seems to have a great pitcher's mindset--he challenges hitters, even if he's behind in the count.

(If it's been discussed elsewhere, I've missed it--just post a link, and I'll shut up.)

Posted by Dwwweee

9:33 PM, Aug 06, 2008

how come Lowe is always the guy who is left in the game to get pounded?

Posted by BrianL

9:42 PM, Aug 06, 2008

"When talking about probable starters, does Corcoran's name ever come up?"

Not really, no. Corcoran has never projected to be a starter. His fastball out of the bullpen tops out at about 92 MPH, so if he were to start throwing 100 pitches a game, you should expect that to drop about 3 MPH to an 86-89 MPH fastball. Add to that the only secondary pitch he has good command of is his slider, a pitch righties shouldn't throw to lefthanded bats often.

He does a good job of producing groundball outs, and I could see him being another Sean Green type of pitcher out of the pen. That's not a knock against Corcoran, he just doesn't have the velocity/secondary pitches to be a starter.

Posted by Sounders

9:43 PM, Aug 06, 2008

ethan @5:20

That is the best post I've read in months.(aside from Mine of course) Good show man.

Posted by GripS

10:21 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Marin1980....Regarding Lowe:

Every time i see him going out there he's giving up runs. Tonight was no different. He's had plenty of games in MLB to be better then he is and it just doesn't seem to be happening. We seem to be accepting mediocrity as acceptable when that is the very thing that needs to change in this club. Yes he is still fairly young but at the same time so are Felix and Brandon. They consistently put up quality outings. Some got it and some don't. Lowe doesn't have it, not now anyway and it looks like he never will.

Maybe if he gets sent down to work on his command he can come back and do some damage. Either that or he needs to go.... Plain and simple. It's time we cut out the players that are consistently playing poorly.

Thank god management told Vidro to take a hike. Mediocrity only deserves so many chances. Everyone on this team has had enough chances. Some are rising to the occasion while others just keep accepting failure.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

11:39 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Chris-I am currently working on landing on a high school program coaching staff. If that means I have to start out scouting H.S. kids, it's ok by me.

Posted by doug

12:35 AM, Aug 07, 2008

phuck low he sux

Posted by AZ Mariner

4:11 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Lowe is fine right now. Hargrove basically pitched this guy's arm off and he is still working his way back. Maybe it shouldn't be at the major league level but as has been discussed already if we're in long term mode where wins don't matter right now it's better to see if he comes around and can be part of the long term solution.

I'm pulling for him and hope that next year he's back to the electric stuff he had before the Hargrove disaster.

Posted by InExile

6:12 AM, Aug 07, 2008

It's really too bad that for all the complaining, Yuni was actually just below average (less swings) in the league at swinging at the first pitch for the first half of the year, and I don't think much has changed.

http://www.lookoutlanding.com/2008/6/6/546107/first-pitch-hacking

Also in that write-up, it turns out the Mariners were close to the bottom of the first pitch swingers (less swings than everyone else).

It's more pitch recognition.

Posted by jeff928

8:15 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Washburn should be put on waivers. The Yankees would grab him and be obligated for his salary for next season.

I would do the same for Batista and Silva, but no one would probably claim them.

Posted by Ziasudra

8:20 AM, Aug 07, 2008

I hope this means that RSS will start on Saturday - to make roster room, send Washburn to NYY. Now, find someone else to dump and recall Feierabend - maybe DL Silva and/or Batista. Let's go for broke the last 7 weeks - drop Cairo, recall Hulett, and/or Diaz. If only we could drop Joh somehow, bring up Rob Johnson, etc.

Posted by scottM

8:45 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Nice column by Jerry Brewer today. This line cracked me up:

"They've advanced from woeful to just plain bad. Their ceiling is mediocre."

Just for that I'm driving down to the game tonight. (Actually, I had tickets already, from preseason, thinking that the TBRays would be in the hunt. Wish I'd been as right about the Bedard trade).

Then there was this line by Brewer––bang, right-on:

"The Mariners have become a better hitting team since they abandoned giving preferential treatment to their vets."

They'll also be a better all-around team, if they do the same with their pitching by sending Batista to the Pen and giving RRS his chance.
Nice to see things moving in the right direction though. Players "earning" their playing time. Building toward the future. The brilliance of it has been so blindingly obvious!

Posted by Eburg T

8:53 AM, Aug 07, 2008

[blockquote]But Yuniesky Betancourt, pictured above, swung into a first-pitch double play grounder. Haven't seen that before.[/blockquote]

Credit where it's due, that's pretty gd funny. Well played, sir.

Posted by pbk13

9:32 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Great news about Resin... hope he lands that job. I hope, as well, for the sake of the kids, there are other coaches around. Since Resin doesn't acknowledge any developments in baseball that occurred after 1920, he might be teaching them that the spitball is still legal.

Posted by meagain

9:35 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Burleigh Grimes and I agree with Resin.

An earlier comment about Cairo leads me to climb up on this horse for a second time. If the M's release Cairo now, should they plan to pay what's necessary to keep Willie B. next year? Or hope that Mike Morse will be able to play a year injury free? Or do you feel that players like Cairo, with his skillset and demeanor, are easy to find? (I don't.)

My take: once Norton was released--he has played first and third as well as outfield--it made sense to hang onto Cairo. I think Willie will go to the NL in the offseason. Cairo is a nice insurance policy, and he won't beef if he's used mainly as a defensive replacement for LaHair. Let kids like Tuiasosopo come up in September. He's not ready yet anyway.

What I'm itching to see is how Rowland-Smith can do in five or six starts. Batista has no gripe coming if he's sent to the bullpen now. Time to bring RRS back to the big club.

Posted by Oly Mike

9:55 AM, Aug 07, 2008

As far as Lowe I agree with AZ Mariner's post of
4:11 AM. Although the Mariners must be giving AZ Mariner Insomnia for him to be up that early on this Blog.

In addition I believe that the same arm troubles are looming for Sean Green. Look at Geoff Baker's qoute: "Mariners reliever Sean Green has been sitting out the past few games with an achy shoulder".Mariner managers and pitching coaches are ridding a good horse into the ground. Green should be shut down for an extended period. And Lowe should continue to work on getting better. Maybe bring him in in less stressful situations until he gets his earlier form back.

Posted by isaac

10:00 AM, Aug 07, 2008

about the lack of taking pitches.....what we got here is a wack a mole offense

Posted by Faceplant

10:02 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Tui's really starting to grow on me. His recent power surge is legit IMO. I was at the game where he hit his grand slam, and I can tell you that ball was absolutely CRUSHED. He's still pretty raw, and his defense needs a lot of work, but the more I see him the more optomistic I am about his future.

Posted by Mike

10:04 AM, Aug 07, 2008

"An earlier comment about Cairo leads me to climb up on this horse for a second time. If the M's release Cairo now, should they plan to pay what's necessary to keep Willie B. next year? Or hope that Mike Morse will be able to play a year injury free? Or do you feel that players like Cairo, with his skillset and demeanor, are easy to find? (I don't.)"

Guys who can field and run but not hit are a dime a dozen. We probably have 6-8 guys in the minors who can do what Cairo or Bloomquist do for a fraction of the cost. Don't get me wrong, I like Willie as a 25th man but losing him won't hurt a bit.

Posted by Lance

10:10 AM, Aug 07, 2008

The M's should still be able to strike a deal with the Yankees for Washburn, with a decent prospect, not on their 40-man, coming back here. It would be great if they could nab a Dellin Betances or Wilkens de la Rosa from the Yankees' class A-team.

And, someone should be willing to trade a warm body for Vidro.

Posted by Ryan

10:14 AM, Aug 07, 2008

I think Willie would be better suited playing for an NL team, mostly because he can play every position on the field. My guess is that the M's are going to try to keep Morse over Willie and let him test out the market. Just my guess though!!

Posted by meagain

10:21 AM, Aug 07, 2008

No argument on Willie, and I hope Morse gets a full shot next year. But my point was about Cairo. He has a career .266 ba, can play around the horn except catcher, has played left and rightfield as well, has been to the postseason three times, and is a better than decent baserunner with 127 sb's. And, he's a stong and durable guy.

Any young player worth his salt will want to start. Cairo doubtless would like to himself, but he won't grumble or fret if he doesn't. There's a good reason to keep a veteran like him around.

Posted by BrianL

10:33 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Morse really isn't that great of a hitter. His career minor league statistics are .261/.312/.408 with an OPS of only .720. He hasn't shown any real ability to hit for power, and he's a lousy defensive replacement.

Adequate at best when playing 3B, perhaps average at 1B, and absolutely disastrous when playing the outfield. It's been a while, so I think a lot of us have forgotten the absolutely terrible reads and routes he took in the outfield early in the season and during spring training.

If the club designates him for assignment and he's claimed by someone else, I won't be too heartbroken.

Posted by Lance

12:00 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Remember, Tui is only 22, and has been rushed throughout his professional career. That seemed to be the Bavasi modus operandi with most of the team's top prospects.

But, no need to think he isn't going to develop into the stud hitter they want him to be, whether he's at 3B or the OF, or even 1B. No reason to give up on him now just as he begins to hit his stride at AAA.

Although he is a right-handed batter, and that won't play as well as a lefty at Safeco. But, he could still net something nice on the trade market if they go that way.

And, with Adrian in the way he'll have to wait for his shot unless Beltre gets moved.

Posted by Jonathan

1:39 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Tuiasosopo's bat should come around it's his defense that worries me. He's been a horrible 3B for Tacoma.

Posted by TXSMF

6:24 AM, Aug 08, 2008

I agree with Oly Mike and Marin1980. You may as well let Lowe work out his problems at the Major Leage level. He was sent down to the minor last year after the whole surgury thing. If he gets sent down this year (and most likely called back up when the roster is expanded in September) that will be his second "option". What good does that do? He cannot be sent back down again after that, without being "out of options", and we all remember how that ended for Baek this year. To make matter worse, have you seen the relievers in the minor league system? Aweful.

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