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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 10:46 PM

Ibanez HR wins it

Posted by Geoff Baker

rays0807 032.jpg

Raul Ibanez rounds third and heads for home after a walkoff solo homer to lead off the ninth against Rays reliever Dan Wheeler. J.J. Putz gets the 2-1 win after pitching out of a jam in the top of the inning with runners at the corners and only one out.

Seattle tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on a Yuniesky Betancourt sacrifice fly that scored Wladimir Balentien and ended Andy Sonnanstine's night.

Eight brilliant innings from Felix Hernandez, who gets a no-decision. When I say brilliant, it's not because he had his best stuff. He clearly didn't. But he was smart enough to figure that out and still try to get by hitters on brains instead of brawn.

The key? A sinker that confounded the Rays time and time again.

"The difference that I see in Felix now is, tonight, he clearly didn’t have his best stuff and he's still into the eighth inning,'' Ibanez said. "He didn't try to strike everybody out. He was pitching-to-contact, for sure.

"So, a legitimate ace.''

Ibanez threw that last line in there. So, I went back and asked him what he considers an ace to be. Remember, this is one of the most overused terms in the baseball lexicon. Every pitcher with an ERA in the low 3.00's who can throw a complete game here and there is dubbed an "ace'' at one time or another.

But there's a difference between a guy who can be counted on to throw eight innings of one-run ball and a No. 1 starter who might do it once in a while. Remember, it's been nearly seven weeks since Hernandez went more than six innings. But Ibanez explained that he feels an ace is "a guy that your team and the other team knows that they really have their work cut out for them that day.

"And as an opposing club, you come in and know you may have to alter your game plan in a big way.''

Putz said this of Hernandez: "Felix didn’t have his best stuff by any means. That shows you what kind of pitcher he is. To be able to go out there without having his best stuff and dominate for eight innings...I think it shows you his maturity. That he's growing as a pitcher.''

Putz is growing, too. At least, growing back to where he was before all of his injuries this season. He gassed up the fastball when he had to tonight. And his splitter dropped out on Dioner Navarro when it had to in that ninth inning.

"The big thing is getting your arm strength back,'' he told me. "The secondary pitches are the ones that suffer when you don't have your arm strength back. When you have that arm strength, you have that confidence in your secondary pitches.''

A big hit tonight by Balentien. Another by Bryan LaHair that moved Balentien into position to score the tying run on that Betancourt sacrifice fly. The Mariners had failed in two prior attempts to score off Andy Sonnanstine with a runner on second and none out, so obviously, all three players figured big in that tying rally.

Amd Ibanez? What more can you say? He's the Player of the Week. And it's only Thursday.

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Posted by Brett in Bonney Lake

9:27 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Why couldn't the FO have done this months ago? THis team is exciting to watch!

Posted by Jonathan

9:27 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Whine about him in left field but Ibanez is raking the ball right now. Mets should feel dumb they didn't pick him up.

Posted by yardwork

9:27 PM, Aug 07, 2008

feels nice to win

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:30 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Ibanez really hurt the team with his defense tonight.

Posted by Blair

9:39 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Ibanez really won the game with his bat tonight

Posted by Briguy17

9:40 PM, Aug 07, 2008

It sure is a shame Felix didn't get a win tonight.

Still no starters with 8 wins or more.

Posted by Bruce

9:44 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Yes, Brett. I too wish we had made the changes earlier. Sigh... This team is much more fun to watch.

Geoff, have you heard anything new about Yankees and Washburn?

Posted by necroj

9:44 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Resin, wtf are you talking about?

Posted by RagArm

9:47 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Raul is the man! I'm glad he wasn't trade bait.

What a terror he's been on and it will ignite the team eventually, especially the young guys.

Posted by Corey Miller

9:51 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Some call Edgar and tell him to have a little chat with Raul about the move to the DH position next year. If we dont get a pick-up by next year then Reed, Ichiro and Balentine will work.

Posted by Nick

9:54 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Nice to see the young guys up and already making a difference in games and not accepting loss. I'd much rather watch this team with the young guys (and a few vets) than the team we were fielding a month ago or so.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

10:05 PM, Aug 07, 2008

It was sarcasm, necroj.

Posted by shane/olympia

10:07 PM, Aug 07, 2008

you think the mets want raul right now! yeah

you think the yanks want wash right now! yeah

especially with joba going on the DL

it's fun to watch the young players
-rob johnson needs to replace burke
-kenji needs to be traded or officially moved to 1st base
- whats this reed stuff at 1st? his best attribute is his defense
- cairo works his butt off but tug needs to come up and replace him

it's a youth movement people don't deny it

richie vidro rhodes were not in the plans

neither is burke or cairo

Posted by RagArm

10:08 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Yeah Nick, the Front Office really screwed up by waiting and postponing these changes. They lost a lot of goodwill and a lot of trust. Let's hope they keep doing what most of the bloggers are advocating. It will make for a better team next year and for many years.

Posted by David

10:30 PM, Aug 07, 2008

But yet its the veteran winning us games...hmmmm.

Posted by alek

10:30 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Here's a picture I took of Raul's crushing home-run tonight:

The full-res version looks awesome!

Posted by M Dogg

10:31 PM, Aug 07, 2008

LONG LIVE THE KING!!!!! Compare the energy this team plays with to the team a month ago. Night and day. Raul? he may have earned himself a Haiku with the week he's had.

Posted by The Mariners FO.

10:33 PM, Aug 07, 2008

RagArm,Ve never screwup und ve have ways of dealing with people like you.

Posted by Balentienforcer

10:37 PM, Aug 07, 2008

My Oh My

Posted by Waz

10:44 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I went to M's game last Tuesday and tonight, Ibanez did very incredible job! He homered in both games that I attended.

I glad M's decided not to trade him and DONT EVER trade him. If his defense is poor then place him as a DH.

GO Mariners, they are getting better. Balentien did very good job at eighth inning and made a run after sac fly by Betancourt.

That just wonderful and exciting to watch now.

Posted by alek

10:48 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Here's one more picture from the game in the top of the 9th ... we've all seen broken bats ... but how often do you see a sliver come off the bat?

Posted by kgk

10:50 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Raul's big home run
Was a better walk off than
Derek Zoolander's

Posted by Scanman

10:59 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Some of you earlier were complaining about Beltres lack of power since coming here. It was a contract year for him and more important, it was vs. natl league pitching. Also, it is important as to who bats in front and behind him. If you look at his lifetime stats, he only had the one great year. The Mariners knew exactly what they were getting. If some of you had higher expectations, then you are probably a victim of the Mariners infamous hype machine.

Posted by tugboatcritic

11:00 PM, Aug 07, 2008

With yet another great performance by Ibanez, the Seattle blogeratti ihas to change its collective shorts for what is looking like the fourth straight year.

Doesn't he have "old player skills"? Isn't he due (for the fourth time) a massive drop-off in production because Dave Cameron stated so?

Has he not been one of the real bargains in all of MLB over the last 5 years? Answer=yes. Despite the wishcasting of pundits and commentors whose fear of being proven wrong about their sacred projecting abilities has outweighed common sense, Ibanez continues to be a very good hitter in a non-important fielding position. Of course, per Dave Cameron, we should have replaced him a couple of years ago with.... wait for it... BRIAN GILES! All 30-odd million of him.

Sure wish we would have gotten the "free talent" like Bartolo Colon this year to add to the staff. But wait, the suggestion was made at 10 mil. for a one year contract. Just think, we could have had that lard-ass at his salary to pitch what 8 games? This suggestion also from Dave Cameron.

Dave Cameron is also the guy responsible for the open letter to Felix thing. Of course he could not have possibly been more wrong if he had set out to do so. He proved that he should never comment on the whys or how to's of that art.

Keep on defending that coward, Brian and Adam. The amount of BS that is spread around the local blogs due to him in amazing.

Posted by GeoW

11:00 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I say as long as Ibanez continues to hit like he's doing now, make no changes. Keep him in LF! End of discussion!

Posted by M's Fan

11:07 PM, Aug 07, 2008

alek: Those are nice shots. Thanks for sharing them.

Posted by GripS

11:15 PM, Aug 07, 2008


Posted by Sailor Baseball Fan

11:37 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Raul or Manny ?

Posted by Adam

11:55 PM, Aug 07, 2008

tugboat - Uh, what the hell? Do you have anything worthwhile to contribute, or did you just feel like going on a mindless rant?

Honestly, that was the strangest rant I've seen on this board.

Oh - Dave Cameron puts his own name to all of his work. You use an alias: "tugboatcritic."

And he's the coward?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:02 AM, Aug 08, 2008

tugboatcritic must be faster to type in the "Display Name" field than "Resin Isn't Cheating". ;)

Kidding, kidding.

Raul should still move to DH full time to keep his bat around while maximizing chances of finding a younger power bat, which is much more likely findable in searching outfielders than it is in shopping for DHs. And that's an argument that has nothing to do with how good or bad Raul's defense is, or how much it could be improved at that position, or trading off offense for better defense, or any such thing.

Posted by Sailor Baseball Fan

12:07 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Raul - - Manny -- or Griffey ?

Posted by Adam

12:07 AM, Aug 08, 2008

It's a shame the Mariners won't sign Ibanez after the season is over.

Actually, they can, but that would make their decision not to trade Raul look pretty stupid.

As Geoff has noted, Raul will not clear waivers, so the Mariners have him for the rest of the year. And since they didn't trade him, it must follow that they are expecting him to be a Class A FA, and that they'll get two comp picks for him (hoping that one of the top 15 teams in the league signs him, because the M's will then get that team's first-round pick AND a pick in the comp round).

But here's the rub: if you don't plan on signing Ibanez in the offseason, that means you don't plan on him being a Mariner again. He's not a future option for the M's oufield. If that's the case, then why in the world are you keeping him in LF and making two guys who could be part of the M's outfield next year (Reed and Balentien) rotate between CF (which is NOT Balentien's best position) and DH (which really takes away from any value Reed has to the team)? Especially when both Reed and Balentien are superior defenders?

Does that make any sense? Of course not. But this is the Mariners we are talking about. Waste defensive innings on your worst OF, who won't be on the team after the season, and in the process take away from the value of two young players. Brilliant.

Posted by scottM

12:08 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Great game to go to tonight. I went one for two. The girl and I stood by the bullpen watching Felix warming up. He turned when I yelled: "It's going to be a no hitter tonight, Felix." It was looking good for three innings.

Then in the ninth I told the girl that Raul was going to hit a walk-off homer. I picked the exact spot but was twenty yards off. The old psychic ability needs a bit of tweaking! Oh, happy, happy Felix Day!!! And happy, happy Raul week, too!!!

There is a distinct energy shift on this team and Riggleman deserves a healthy measure of credit. Every player on this team believes that his playing time will depend on his performance. Riggleman is running a meritocracy. The Bavasi era was an aristocracy with too many entitled lords (Sexson, Vidro, Washburn, Silva, Batista).

Imagine 2009:
JJ with his focus and mean control back.
Felix at age 23 and more ace-like.
Beltre with a healthy thumb.
Lopez coming into his own at the plate; shedding 15 pounds.
Yuni learning a modicum of discipline at the plate and loosing 15 pounds, too. Both regain their fielding quickness.
Clement throwing out runners and getting into his batting groove.
Reed becoming a steady doubles hitter.
Ibanez signing a three year deal to be our DH.
Balentien learning plate discipline.
LaHair exceeding his minor league batting numbers.
A stretched out Morrow with killer out pitches.
Washburn in '09 playing to help the M's win, not himself move.
Silva shedding 35 pounds and finding an innings-eating edge instead.
Ichiro and Johjima coming into the '09 season ready to play.
And, oh yes, Bedard, a healthy #2 pitcher.

This team is not that far off. If the M's come out of the chute in '09 and vie for the playoffs, it might be surprising which players would be receptive to extend with this team. Amazing what winning might do.

Posted by kyle

12:16 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Funnest game I been too this year, called the walk off my buddy was claiming beltre but raul is basically swinging the giant red wiffle bat right now. Had some good seats right next the guy who won the stupid rally fries, hopefully i got on tv giving the thumbs down and yelling "no doubt about it" at the fry girl.

Posted by tugboatcritic

12:20 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Chris, careful, I never stated that Ibanez was a great fielder or even more than adequate. My beef stems from the absolutely ridiculous, unfounded, and ultimately subjective value placed on his defense.

Of course we should get some younger legs out there next year. Absolutely stupid is the notion that he is not a net gain because of some made up stats that don't reflect play on the field. Some of the sheep here locally have gotten this in their heads and because they know not of what they speak they repeat it.

Adam, I'm talking to you. I laid out what, 3 (?) minor issues with spitting up the local fare. Feel free to argue the points I made. Start with saying you are almost never wrong, like Dave.

Posted by tugboatcritic

12:29 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Stroke of genius:

Adam -" If you don't plan on signing Ibanez in the offseason, that means you don't plan on him being a Mariner again."

With commentary like that, Geoff will be looking for a job soon.

Posted by Cynical Optimist

12:30 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Is it just me or was Yuni actually showing some good defense for the first time in a while? He showed some of that range he showed back in 06. And the sac fly too? Am I too optimisitic or is there hope there yet?

Posted by Adam

12:50 AM, Aug 08, 2008

tugboat - It's always been my view that Raul will be more valuable to the team as a DH than as a LF. Am I wrong? Am I wrong to postulate that a good defender in LF (which is an important position in Safeco, regardless of what you think) with a bat even equal to Jose Vidro, making Raul the DH, would make the Mariners better?

If I am wrong, please let me know. And please refrain from the "you're plagiarizing USSM!" drivel. Tell me why I'm wrong.

Is this team better with Raul in LF, Balentien in CF, and Reed at DH, or with Raul at DH, Balentien in LF, and Reed in CF? I think you'll find that there is a pretty strong consensus on the latter.

But if the team isn't better with the latter lineup, please let me know.

And why should I even bother addressing your three attacks of Dave Cameron's work? Those aren't my arguments, and I've never even mentioned "old player skills" or Brian Giles or Bartolo Colon. So why would I respond?

If you've got a problem with Dave Cameron, go over there and argue them. You call him a coward - be the hero and go over there and tell him he's wrong. Why are you wasting your time over here? That's why I thought your rant was so bizarre. I don't get why you come here, rather than USSM, to attack Cameron, and have the audacity to call him the coward.

Just weird...

Posted by tugboatcritic

12:54 AM, Aug 08, 2008

"Washburn traded to Yanks"

"We're never wrong"

"Felix needs to throw more curves and sliders, cause guys don't hit 'em "

"Patterson would be a net gain (even in the scenario that you want, Brian) in left for the M's this year. Don't you guys know that defense matters"? To the tune of 50 runs/year? In left field? Ha

Posted by Adam

12:55 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Stroke of genius:

Adam -" If you don't plan on signing Ibanez in the offseason, that means you don't plan on him being a Mariner again."

With commentary like that, Geoff will be looking for a job soon.

It's called using logical progression to make a point, Einstein...

Posted by tugboatcritic

1:09 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Ah, but you have strongly mentioned dumping him at the deadline, no? You wanted (and still defend) the Patterson move. And that, is simply dumb. I , probobly have a better practical knolwledge of the value of defense than you Adam, and the fact that you seem to believe that you invented the notion of its importance befuddles me.

What about the idea that fans of bad teams want to trade their best player? A good argument can be made for Ibanez being the best hitter on the team for the four years that his impending doom has been predicted by the folks that you, let's say heavily rely upon to back up your assertions.

Is he -50 runs in an on field scenario? 40?, 30? You guys get to these numbers and feel good, I see them and smell a fart. WRONG

Posted by Jonathan

3:28 AM, Aug 08, 2008

"It's a shame the Mariners won't sign Ibanez after the season is over. "

Says who? If they're smart he'll come back as our DH

Posted by Sam

7:45 AM, Aug 08, 2008

There are a couple of errors in the online version of the story about the game that is in the paper this morning. Hernandez had five strikeouts, not three as is written. And it was a LaHair single (during a regular at-bat, not a pinch-hitting attempt), not a Reed single, that advanced Balentien in the eighth inning.

Posted by meagain

7:59 AM, Aug 08, 2008

I'm trying to make sense of this Ibanez kerfuffle. I was an Ibanez supporter when Lou had him on the bench, so I'm prejudiced.

Raul isn't, and never has been, the worst defensive outfielder in MLB. At the same time, he has never been better than adequate.

Remember when Edgar tried first base?

Given the excess of catchers the M's have, unless Clement's defense improves dramatically, he is the M's first baseman of the future. (Last night's "wild pitch" was a passed ball, and I didn't need to hear Riggleman's take or read Clement's comments to know it.)

My conclusion: the M's would be better off over the long haul with Raul at DH. (If they can sign him.) But you surely don't make that move now, while he's the hottest hitter in baseball.

Posted by fire_chuck_howie

8:09 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Why on earth WOULDN'T you move Ibanez to first now 'when he's the hottest hitter in baseball'. The season is lost and the Ms would learn if Ibanez is able to carry his hitting streak while not playing the field. This would be a good thing to know about him if you want to sign him as a DH--and you can learn it in games that are meaningless to the Mariners.

Posted by Adam

8:13 AM, Aug 08, 2008

tugboat - a litte advice. If you want to make a strong argument, you have to quit relying on assumptions and falsehoods.

1. I never "strongly" mentioned dumping Ibanez at the deadline. I have no problem with Pelekoudas' stance on an Ibanez deal - getting value similar to comp picks. I said trade him if a good deal presents itself, but I didn't want to just send him packing for nothing.

2. It amazes me how much you people misinterpret and twist my point re: Patterson. At the beginning of the year (actually before ST), I advocated getting Patterson, and replacing Vidro with him. You replace Vidro's bat and Ibanez's glove with Patterson. That is very likely a net gain. Get it? Surely someone that understands defense so well would get that.

3. I don't rely upon anyone to notice that Raul is 36. That's not the age to expect continued performance. It's just not.

4. You've never seen me guesstimate whether Ibanez is 30 or 20 runs worse than everyone else. I've never engaged in that kind of analysis, because frankly I don't get it. I don't get how you can say he's so many runs below average. So I don't use that kind of analysis. Here's your problem again: You think that because I use sabermetric analysis, I'm borrowing any and all ideas from other sabermetricians. It's like saying Barack Obama plagiarizes off of Bill Clinton or something.

Start using facts, not assumptions and logical fallacies, to make your point.

And let us know how your challlenge of Dave Cameron goes.

Posted by Clivesl

8:32 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Question from a longtime lurker that respects the assembled opinion (for the most part). If Clement's main value long term is in his bat, why not move him to a less demanding defensive position now?

It would seem to me that you would want his bat in the lineup for 150+ games a year versus what, 130+ as a catcher? Plus, it is a rare catcher whose offense doesn't suffer when cracks 30. Seems like you'd get more out of him if he were playing first or even left.

Why not make the move now before he makes it to a couple of All-Star games as a catcher and refuses the move?

Posted by bartkofoed

8:58 AM, Aug 08, 2008

"It's called using logical progression to make a point, Einstein..."

talk about using fallacies...the old false dilema ever ring a bell plato?

Posted by Donovan

8:58 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Raul should be the DH next year. No need to speculate, get into bidding wars, or, God forbid, get lost on a misguided jaunt down memory lane with Griffey. Raul is 5 times the leader Junior ever was, and will last longer.

We still need more power though, and it would be naive to expect it from the likes of Clement, Balantien, and LaHair. At best, they are partial solutions. The M's can and should explore the market for powerhitting corner OFs (though I don't think this town's big enough for Manny's ego), but their number one 2009 target should be a certain power-hitting lefty/switch 1B. Forget this idea of morphing career catchers into IFs. Kenji and Clement are our catchers next year - in whatever order they settle in ST. The guy we should go after is Texeira. He's a perfect fit, and he hits great at Safeco. We have the money, which is good because Boras will want it all (at least he can't ask for the Mariners' souls - he already got those over the last 4 years).

With Ichiro and Raul showing the young guys how to play right, Beltre, Tex, and Raul presenting a middle third that actually makes opposing pitchers nervous, and some growth by our young OFs, middle IFs, and catcher, I will be willing to give that offense a shot in 09. Pitching is always a crapshoot, but for the first time in the history of the franchise, we have enough ML ready parts to put possibly assemble a fine staff - if key people start the season healthy and the FO has some wisdom in deciding which arms to move and which to keep. Big ifs, but they are the same for every team.

Posted by matt

8:59 AM, Aug 08, 2008

tugboatcritic, you are forgetting the USSM words of wisdom awhile back that claimed trading Reed for Lester and/or Pappelbon would be a horrible move for the M's.

Posted by ancient mariner

9:03 AM, Aug 08, 2008


Posted by Chaco Taco

9:03 AM, Aug 08, 2008

this team had been playing like a boat trying to cruise with it's anchor down. Now that the dead weight (Sexson and Vidro) are gone the good ship Mariner is playing with alot more enthusiasm and grit. Maybe it's the kids, but any way you look at it, this team is a more enjoyable team to watch than the one that had "been through the wars"

Posted by Chaco Taco

9:08 AM, Aug 08, 2008

it was cool to see all the kids lined up at the top of the dugout totally engrossed in the game. They are obviously thrilled to be here and appreciate the opportunity

on the flip side

Vidro and Sexson (and others) would have been at the buffet, smoking doobys or goofing around on their Blackberrys. Or all of the above

Posted by Mike

9:17 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Clivesl---Well, that might eventually happen. It will be interesting to see what kind of GM we get and how that drives our roster decisions. We do seem to have a couple of other young catchers in AAA and AA who might be pretty good. Johnson is finally hitting in AAA so that elevates his stock and Moore is considered a good prospect.

One problem with Clement may be his relative value as a hitter. If he puts up an .800 OPS as a catcher that's really good but not so much for a 1Bman or DH. Now if he can be closer to an .850 guy that's less of a problem, especially because we could use a few lefty bats.

And tugboat---we try to quantify offense, why not defense? I don't think anyone thinks Raul is a -50 run defender but surely he is below average. Where would you peg him and why? I think combining several defensive metrics gives us a rough idea...certainly metrics will improve with greater technology but I sort of look at defensive metrics as being like batting average, imperfect but helpful to a point. I'm sure we all agree that saving runs is as important as scoring runs. And if you think about it, at not making a play once a week puts you in the -20 range. Does it seem feasible that once a week Raul fails to get to a ball than an average defender would?

Posted by meagain

9:25 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Donovan, I'm naive, if you're right, because I'm expecting big things from Clement. He has a great stroke and hits lefty. He should thrive in the Safe.

I would really like to see him converted to first. I wish he had Rob Johnson's defensive skills...but he doesn't.

Posted by Bill

9:31 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Who is Dave Cameron? What are his credentials to be the god or devil of baseball knowledge? What is so special about what he says that causes people to defend him or villify him so intensely?

I'm pleading ignorance because I don't read USS Mariner. I get enough headaches reading this blog too much.

Posted by DC

9:39 AM, Aug 08, 2008

While tugboatcritic's words were a bit combative, I have to say I know exactly what he's talking about re: Raul. People on this blog have been disrespecting Raul for far too long. Going at least back to the whole Adam Jones playing time fiasco last summer.

I'm not talking about those who say move him to DH--which is a different and worthwhile argument. I'm just speaking to the boneheads who scream that he needs to be traded or benched.

Raul is an M through and through. On par with Edgar in my mind. Not as good as Edgar obviously, but every bit as much a Mariner. His 3 years exile in KC were not self-imposed. The FO did that to him and as soon as he could be a Mariner again, he did. For this, I applaud him and I will always, always, always yell:

Plus, I saw him hit for the cycle in Tacoma in '94 or '95 when he hit a triple in the bottom of the 8th. It was one of the best baseball moments I've seen in person (after Griffey's 8 in 8).

Posted by scrapiron

9:53 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Remember, Raul Ibanez is a free agent after this season. For all of you that want him back in Seattle, (including myself) consider this: Ibanez has been resistant to play DH in the past. He could play first base, but like Geoff mentioned before, no one has asked him to play first base this year. And the Mariners shouldn't want him playing left field in 2009.

So, if your free agent Raul Ibanez and you have several offers on the table, but Seattle wants you to play DH, which you don't want to play, why would you come back to the Mariners? Someone will give him the money he wants and let him play left field.

Like I said earlier in the season, the Mariners could have avoided this situation by playing Ibanez at first base this season to see if he could handle the position defensively and calling up Balentien to play left field. If Ibanez could play first, re-sign him for two more years. If not, let him walk and take the draft picks. It's too late now. I think Raul is gone.

Posted by DC

9:55 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Didn't Raul DH in '04 or '05? As in, DH for most of the year. The OF was full: Winn, Reed, and Ichiro or maybe Winn, Cameron, Ichiro. Anyway, he was the fulltime DH for most of the year I think.

Posted by Mike

10:05 AM, Aug 08, 2008

scrap---I'm not sure we've even asked Raul to try DH. In fact I think when asked he said he'd do it, but I'm not completely sure about that. My take is that if he is able to maintain his current production he would be a good fit for the DH role. I suspect that he can keep this up for another year, especially without the wear and tear of playing in the field. I wonder about two years though.

I think if I were the Ms I would begin DHing him yesterday. I would offer him arbitration first, but would be willing to sign him to a reasonable 2 year contract, maybe even with a mutual option for a third year. If he declines arbitration and you can't sign him to a good deal, take the comp picks.

At his current salary he's been a bargain, even with his defensive liabilities. But going forward he needs to DH unless he can find some postage stamp sized LF like fenway.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:11 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Donovan - Raul is 5 times the leader Junior ever was, and will last longer. ... With Ichiro and Raul showing the young guys how to play right...

Sorry, but again, as with other times you / others bring this up - no, he's not. Raul is not a leader. Geoff has specifically done an interview with him that talked about Raul's hitting approach, got some good insights out of him... then Geoff asks Raul if he's considered explicitly explaining that, in that way, to younger players, and Raul is genuinely surprised, saying that no, he'd never thought of doing so.

Ichiro and Raul are role models, for other players who are a) intelligent enough to spot it and b) dedicated and talented enough to observe and incorporate the parts that work for their routine and talents. Ichiro and Raul are not leaders in by actively inspiring or educating, not leaders by calling out slackers, not leaders through anything except a very passive "lead by example". And this has been borne out by years of multiple interviews, articles and behind-the-scenes clubhouse sorts of things that Geoff Baker or Shannon Drayer have given us. Unless there's substantial behind-the-scenes work being done, so much so that literally no press have ever discussed it, Raul is not a leader. He's a role model.

Sorry if I'm going all Adam-and-Resin on you. :) It may seem like nitpicking, but the difference (and difference to a team) is substantial. I just think that of all the debatable points for bringing Raul back to the Ms, and what he has to offer the Ms, any notion of clubhouse leadership or inspiration has to be dismissed.

Posted by scrapiron

10:15 AM, Aug 08, 2008

On the KJR post-game show last night they said that they asked Raul to play DH and "he was resistant." He didn't say no, but it was obvious he wasn't comfortable with the routine at DH.

Raul is such a team player I don't think he'd ever say no to anything they want him to do. But if he's not comfortable at DH, he'll find a team that doesn't want him to DH.

Posted by meagain

10:35 AM, Aug 08, 2008

With all due respect, scrapiron, I take anything said on KJR without attribution as 50% possible. There's no editor following up to verify. This is the station where Steve Sandmeyer, who has an ax to grind, and Dave Mahler work. I never expect any sense or truth out of them beyond recorded statements.

Posted by Donovan

12:04 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Chris - I understand what you are saying. Although I think we ultimately disagree on what kind of leadership a baseball team really needs, I don't disagree with your characterization of Ichiro and Ibanez as role model/leaders by example.

Personally, I don't believe the whole in your face, grab 'em by the scruff of the neck and shake 'em kind of leadership is necessary or even positive for young players. Maybe that's a personal bias of mine because I've always reacted very negatively to people who yell and get in everybody's grill and very positively to people who lead quietly by example. I tend to think that if you have players who need someone in their face to convince them to work at their job, then you ought to just get some different players, but maybe it is a personality thing. Maybe that is what some guys need.

There are a lot anachronisms that baseball fans love to perpetuate. I think one of them is that you have to have fraternity boy style pecking orders where the veterans keep the young guys in line. That is somewhat traditional, but that doesn't make it optimal or even necessary. Ultimately the only leader anyone will respect is one who excels. On that we agree anyway.

My real point, which I stand by, is that Griffey could never be a leader on this team. He is a gifted natural athlete with a poor work ethic and a sense of entitlement that goes back to his childhood. His career accomplishments demand respect, but I think he is a poor role model and a poor leader by any definition. Just as he benefited (or would have if he hadn't spent so much time pouting and primping) from having real, hard-working leaders on his early teams like Edgar and Buhner, the young M's of today benefit from seeing the work ethics and approaches of pros like Ichiro and Raul. If they refuse to pay attention, there really isn't much you can do.

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