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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 12, 2008 8:39 PM

Mariners at Los Angeles Angels: 08/12 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Guarantee you Jarrod Washburn is ticked. Just gave up four runs -- one earned -- in the fifth inning, courtesy of two home runs and one huge error by Yuniesky Betancourt. The usual Betancourt Laze-O-Rama came when he waved his backhand at a grounder to his right. That enabled Jeff Mathis to reach after Juan Rivera had already hit a solo homer. Then, instead of an ensuing 4-3 groundout by Chone Figgins, the play wound up a single through the right side because Jose Lopez had to break for second to cover the runner. A bunt moved both men over. Mark Teixeira then grounded out to bring an unearned run home. Then, the big byproduct of the error -- the fact that Vladimir Guerrero got to hit again with men on. Guerrero smoked a 1-0 pitch into the stands.

Look, I'm not going to say Washburn pitched great. But this is how big innings get going. It's happened too often this year. Breakdowns going on behind the pitchers. Seattle trails 4-3 because of it.

To switch gears a bit, I know many of you are worried about the "deadline" the Mariners have for signing first-round pick Josh Fields. Stop worrying. It turns out, there is no "deadline" at all. At least, not for a long while. Fields was a college senior, so he isn't bound by the Aug. 15 deadline other picks have looming over them. That's because they may opt to go back to school and the deadline is there because of that.

Not for Fields. He isn't going back to school. The Mariners have until a week before next June's draft to get a deal done. Sure, they'd like for that to happen before next season, no doubt. But it doesn't have to happen this week. So, sleep easier.

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Jose Lopez is back in tonight's lineup after his benching. Mariners manager Jim Riggleman told me Lopez more or less picked the wrong day to mess up in the field a second game in a row. Riggleman had just chewed the team out on Saturday when Lopez and the gang laid an egg on Sunday.

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8:34 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn just used his splitter to escape a heap of trouble in the third, fanning Vladimir Guerrero with two on. Washburn uses the split a handful of times when he really needs a bailout. This was one of them. The two runners reached on a pair of six-hop singles. Washburn got the inning's first two outs on an infield pop-up and a groundout.

That's two pop-outs to infielders, two to outfielders, one hard hit lineout, one hard hit flyout and an average flyball out. Oh yeah, and a strikeout. With two seeing-eye singles and one line drive base-hit up the middle in the second inning. If you're Washburn, this is the game you want to be pitching. Minus having Guerrero up there with two on.

Still 3-0 for the M's.


7:47 p.m.: Seattle just broke through for three runs in the third inning off Jon Garland to take a 3-0 lead. Consecutive one-out singles by Yuniesky Betancourt, Ichiro and Jeremy Reed loaded the bases. Raul Ibanez grounded into a run-scoring, 3-6 fielder's choice. Then Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez followed with RBI singles.

Jarrod Washburn has allowed one hit through two innings. Of his four flyball outs, one was dangerous, one was about average, two were the equivalent of pop-ups, to go with an infield popup and a hard-hit lineout to short. On the whole, the hitters have mis-hit the ball.

7:20 p.m.: Just getting underway here. Jarrod Washburn takes the mound for the Mariners. We'll see if he can continue his recent run of success against an Angels lineup that looks much deeper with Mark Teixeira in it.

Washburn got out of a scoreless first inning with three fly balls, only the final of which -- by Vladimir Guerrero -- looked dangerous. That one took Ichiro to the warning track before he hauled it in.

Back to today's conversation, I know some of you don't like me using the mid-May numbers because of sample size problems. I was aware of that when I posted them. But I guess that's a problem, too, with some projections. You can project numbers over an entire season, but what good is that if you're not sure how those numbers are going to be posted. If a guy pulls a Richie Sexson, circa 2006, and clubs the majority of their home runs in August and September when their season is done, is it legit to pencil him into the following year's lineup as a serious 35-homer threat? So, if we're going to look at Mariners numbers for this season, at what point do we cut them off? At what point do we say "this is just stat padding that tells us nothing''?

What good are ZiPS, or PECOTA projections, if a season can all-but-end by mid-May because of non-performance, but many players can still "meet their numbers'' four months later? Good for fantasy leagues, I suppose. Or will the numbers tell us something? Maybe, that the Mariners need to bring in some guys who can produce in April and May so Ichiro's coming "slump'' next April can be mitigated? Sort of like Jose Guillen was brought in last year just in case Sexson and Adrian Beltre had their usual first-half power swoons? Just a thought.

Anyway, upon reviewing the numbers again...maybe we don't even have to go back to mid-May. The team's actual numbers right now, as of today, don't stack up all that well to the pessimistic pre-season projections many systems had for them.

Lopez -- 104 points above
Ibanez -- 34 points above

Ichiro -- 15 points below
Betancourt -- 72 points below
Sexson -- 56 points below
Johjima -- 163 points below
Beltre -- 28 points below
Wilkerson -- 102 points below
Vidro -- 122 points below

So, you've got one guy in the lineup -- the second baseman -- outdoing his very modest projection by a big number. And another guy, Raul Ibanez, outdoing a stronger projection moderately well.

Then, you've got five out of nine guys more than 56 points of OPS below their projections. Four of the nine guys are at least 72 points of OPS below projected numbers and three of them 100 or more points below. I wouldn't exactly call that some guys doing well, some underachieving. More like one guy doing really well, one moderately overachieving, with five guys doing fairly poor, (four of them really underachieving and three of them doing horribly). Doesn't quite balance out.

For now, I'd say this lineup, any way you slice it, has underachieved.

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