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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 7, 2008 5:16 PM

Batista to bullpen

Posted by Geoff Baker

rays0807 009.jpg

A look at Jeremy Reed, above, getting some work in at first base. With the logjam of outfielders, expect to see Reed perhaps getting some playing time at the position. We've known since yesterday -- well, since Brandon Morrow went down to AAA to be honest -- that Ryan Rowland-Smith would likely be starting this weekend. The logic being that Miguel Batista would replace Morrow in the bullpen. Batista was scratched yesterday from his coming Saturday start and manager Jim Riggleman confirmed today that Batista is off to the bullpen. Riggleman keeps leaving open the possiblity that Batista will start again this year. As for Rowland-Smith, the manager won't officially announce who will start until he absolutely has to, in case an injury or some unexpectedly heavy bullpen use scuttles the current plans beforehand. But it won't be Batista out there at the beginning. Maybe not the rest of the year.

"Any time we put him in the bullpen, it seems like there's been a need to put him in the rotation not too long afterwards,'' Riggleman said.

The manager is just being nice. If all goes according to plan, Batista is done starting in 2008.

"Without Morrow down there, we'd like to have him down there,'' Riggleman said of Batista in the bullpen.

Once a few weeks go by, it will be too late to stretch Batista back out again. And what's the point?

In fact, what we're seeing here could be a prelude to 2009.

The way J.J. Putz has looked, there will be some question marks at the closer position heading into next spring. I've been asked over and over again whether Brandon Morrow could be bullpen bound again next season. My answer is always a cautious one. Yes, he could indeed be back in the closer spot next year if Putz falters early -- sort of like Jonathan Papelbon with the Boston Red Sox in spring training of last season. Papelbon was pegged to be a starter, but after numerous pitchers failed as closers -- including Joel Pineiro -- it was back to the bullpen for him. Boston only won a World Series doing the flip-flop.

But -- and this is a huge but -- that scenario only makes sense if the Mariners plan on contending in 2009. If they don't, it makes more sense to stick with the Morrow plan and come up with an alternative. That could be Mark Lowe, though he'll have to show better command than he has this year.

It could also be Batista. Don't forget, he's been a closer before. If you need one in a pinch, there could be worse ones out there. In my ideal world, Batista next year becomes a high-priced set-up man for Putz. Let's face it, trading Batista will be rough, unless he's packaged with some real gems. I can easily see the bullpen in his immediate and distant future.

That way, the team gives No. 1 draft pick Josh Fields a chance to learn to pitch in less pressure-packed situations -- if indeed he makes the team next spring, which is still a longshot. Not everyone is going to rise through an organization as quickly as Morrow did.

Yes, Fields will sign at some point in the next eight days. Stop worrying. This is all a part of the process. He's a reliever, not a future Hall of Fame shortstop. Even if his agent is Scott Boras.


rays0807 010.jpg

Speaking of Boras clients, Jarrod Washburn spoke a few moments ago. He wasn't in the best of moods after yesterday's loss and -- for one of the rare times since he arrived in Seattle -- just wanted a day off from talking post-game. Said he wasn't going to say anything he hadn't said before. Had he been taken apart by the Twins, he would have talked.

"I'm a man,'' he said. "If I pitch that bad, I have to talk to you.''

He felt as good as he has in previous outings, except for the one pitch to Denard Span that cost him three runs.

On those seven consecutive balls he threw in the sixth inning after getting ahead 1-2 on Brendan Harris?

"I was trying to strike him out,'' he said, rather sheepishly. "I just started getting too fine with my pitches.''

The subsequent four-pitch walk to Adam Everett?

"That's a classic case of a pitcher trying to throw the ball right down the middle and not being able to do it,'' he said with a laugh. "It happens sometimes. I didn't care if he hit it. I just wanted to throw it over the plate and for the life of me, I couldn't do it.''

The two walks likely cost him another inning of work. Washburn retired the ensuing batter, Carlos Gomez, on a three-pitch strikeout.

For Washburn, last week's loss to the Baltimore Orioles is something he considers an abberation in his two-month run of success.

For some reason, the last few years, anytime i face the Baltimore Orioles, I don't do well,'' he said.

Washburn is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA against Baltimore in three starts this year. He was 0-1 with an 8.18 ERA in two starts against the O's last year and 1-0 with a 6.35 ERA against them in a 2006 outing.

Erik Bedard played catch again today, making about 40 to 50 throws. He'll keep doing this into next week, increasing distance if all goes well. No one knows when he'll be back on a mound. Mariners head trainer Rick Griffin is seen below, conferring afterwards with manager Riggleman.

rays0807 006.jpg


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Posted by fire_chuck_howie

5:36 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Why on earth do you take the 2nd best defensive outfielder and work him out at first? Especially when you have Raul Imobilez in LF? Whoever had this great idea should be spanked with a rattan cane on the big screen tv before a game and then fired.

Posted by junglist215

5:42 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Forget about Joshua Fields. Seriously, who drafts a reliever in the first round? I want to know about if the club is seriously going to try and sign RHP Luke Burnett. He was considered Top 100 talent going into the season, but fell to the M's in the 14th Round thanks to an injury. He returned to pitching relief last month for the East Texas Pump Jacks.

Posted by Bob

6:03 PM, Aug 07, 2008

This team has as many problems as blind one legged diabetic midget with no legs.

Posted by Science

6:05 PM, Aug 07, 2008

the only shoes Batista could possibly fill at this point are maybe, maybe the janitor's

Posted by Rod

6:11 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Umm.. Bob. How can a one legged midged have no legs? I don't care who you are, that wasn't funny right there.

Posted by Walla Walla Girl

6:14 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Good question, fire_chuck_howie. I'm waiting for an answer. Why is Reed working out at first?

As I've said many times, fire the FO.

Posted by M Dogg

6:26 PM, Aug 07, 2008

The only better headline would be Batista DFA. Oh well, as I said yesterday at this point I'll take even the small miracles from the FO.

Posted by AD

6:27 PM, Aug 07, 2008

And you know, if you people were smart you'd listen to guys like Jim Caple (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=caple/080805) who believes that the closer job is the most overrated position in all of sports. Our own Mariners have been one of prime examples that finding a closer isn't the toughest thing to do. We've gone from Sasaki, to Hasegawa, to Guardado, to Putz, to Morrow and had success with every one of them for the period of time they were the featured guy. It's really not as critical a job as it is made out to be by the "save" stat that Jerome Holtzman created.

Posted by Adam

6:49 PM, Aug 07, 2008

It should be noted, Geoff, that there were some injury concerns surrounding Papelbon which contributed to the decision to put him back in the pen.

Personally, I'm all for dealing Putz in the offseason, along with Betlre (I'm scared he won't re-sign), Bedard (he definitely won't), and even Ichiro.


Build around Felix, Morrow, Clement, and hope for 2010.

Posted by Briguy17

6:51 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Ibanez actually has experience at first and they want to put REED there??? Okay, seriously, what's up with Raul? Why can't we put him at DH or first base?

Posted by fire_chuck_howie

6:57 PM, Aug 07, 2008

You can't put Raul at DH or first because he's a veteran and it might upset his delicately balanced batting stroke. If you are Wlad or Reed or Jones (when he was here) you can move them all over the place with no worries.

Posted by larry

7:06 PM, Aug 07, 2008


Adam,

Nobody in their right mind would take Beltre and his $17 Million salary next yr. While Beltre is a gold glove caliber fielder he is in my opinion a bigger bust than Sexson. The season before he signed the big contract he hit 334 with 48hrs. He has been an avg. hitter ~260-270 with awful plate discipline hence he strikes out alot. At least with sexson we got two years out of him that we equal to what he had done prior to coming here.

Seems adrian should be expecting a big pay cut at the end of 2009 IMO.

Posted by Adam

7:10 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Larry - first of all, Beltre will be making $12 million next year.

Second, he's a much more productive player than Sexson, period. He's still under 30, he's a superb defender, and he's a better bat than most believe. He's been cursed by Safeco.

Beltre's worth every penny we pay him. But because I have serious doubts that we re-sign him, I say trade him.

There will be plenty of teams interested in Beltre at $12 million for one year.

Posted by RagArm

7:16 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Batista has been sent down following the suggestion of the majority of bloggers here. Unfortunately, that suggestion was made a month or two ago. I'm glad he's sitting out there where we can heckle him through the fence.

Reed at first? Yeah that makes sense. Too bad the "sense making" is only for our managment team. Yes, Raul should be there. Or DHing full-time.

Washout should hide. He produced when a pay raise was in sight, a promotion to the Yankees. But now he dogs it just like the first half of the season.

There is still hope for Beltre, and I still say he saves many more runs on defense than a top hitter could make for the team in offense. He may come around next year and hit again. He has been demoralized this year just like the rest of us.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

7:17 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Did a first baseman chase Raul down the street as a little boy? Is he allergic to the specific kind of material in first baseman's gloves?

Posted by G Unit

7:18 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I would like to point out that Silva gets as much as Beltre gets per year.

Posted by larry

7:27 PM, Aug 07, 2008


Adam,

You may be right about the salary next yr (although I thought he had an escalating yearly rate) however whether it it 12 or 17M is really irrelevant..Beltre has come nowhere near the numbers he put up the year before we signed him..at least sexson did produce for two of the four years he was here. Richie was/is also a bust as fee agent signings go. If the market for 3rd baseman with Beltre's current numbers at the end of 2009 is $12m a year then yeah I guess resign him but my god he is frustrating to watch at the plate..

Posted by RagArm

7:45 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Ryan Rowland-Smith wrote this in his blog:

"I was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for JJ Putz. It was the toughest day of the year for me. I left Safeco Field upset and very confused. Iím not sure if people understand the feeling of being sent down, itís tough no matter what."

He will get to feel jubulation again when he comes back up and starts. Just like R.A. Dickey, Ryan has fought to reach the top against many odds and he will do his best, work his hardest, and give us many years of quality pitching.

I'm glad to see Batista is sitting giving RRS a chance to showcase his talent and make a difference for Seattle.

Posted by Christopher

7:55 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Did you all check out the "Total Value Measures" spreadsheet that Geoff referenced in the previous post about Adam Jones?

Interesting to see that Adrian Beltre is ranked as the sixth most valuable player in the AL by this particular ranking, which incorporates defense. I don't really know that much about the statistical measures this guy uses, but it is nice to see some AB validation. Beltre has the third biggest defensive rating, right there with Scott Rolen as a third baseman, and that jacks his value way up.

So to those who get frustrated that Beltre hasn't been the power masher we all hoped for, remember how amazing he is on defense, and remember how valuable that is to helping a team win--it's just not as showy as hitting lots of home runs.

That said, I do hope we see AB show more discipline at the plate next year, and become the full package player we all hope he can be.

Posted by Sounders

7:56 PM, Aug 07, 2008

fire_chuck_howie:

Raul Imobilez?????


Good one

Posted by huskiefan

9:16 PM, Aug 07, 2008

geez.......Putz really is not ready to go....he just makes a 9th inning way too interesting for me.....

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