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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 13, 2008 11:38 AM

Mailbag time

Posted by Geoff Baker

It's been a while since we've done one of these, so let's get to it:

In your opinion, is Betancourt the starting shortstop for the M's next year?

-- James Y.

Yes, James, I think he still is. This is a situation much like the one with Jose Lopez last year. Betancourt will have the riot act read to him in no uncertain terms, maybe have some competition brought in next spring to spook him, and then he either plays for his job and wins it in 2009 or loses it. The M's, for all the praise some like to heap on their farm system, don't have a guy ready to step in and replace Betancourt on a day-to-day basis. So, I think he gets 2009 to rebound. But I don't see a new GM putting up with this act for very much longer.

Why don't the M's try moving Clement to 1st base or DH? They have several excellent catchers ready to move up in the minors that are better defensively and now are starting to hit for average. Granted they made the mistake of signing Johjima for three more years. But that doesn't mean they can't improve their defense and hitting at the same time.

-- Brock

They may indeed move him there next year. Part of what this season is about is figuring out how far along Clement is as a catcher. He's made some defensive improvements since being up. His shift in setting up for a pitch is looking a bit more polished. He's learning the staff and their tendencies. Has a long way to go in throwing out runners. Defensively, he's a work in progress. A big one. And he still hasn't hit consistently. But the hitting, for me, is less of a concern than his defense. As you mention, this team has some solid defensive receivers moving up the minor league ranks. This winter, the new GM has to make a call on whether to move forward with Clement as a catcher. And to do that, he or she will need an arsenal of footage and evaluation in-hand, since they aren't around right now. This is where he'll get a lot of that. And in any winter action Clement sees.

Can someone explain how two HRs equals one earned run?

-- Brett in Bonney Lake

The first home run was hit by the first batter of the inning. No other hijinks occured beforehand, so it's an earned run. But the next home run didn't come until after an error by Yuniesky Betancourt. So, the error creates a baserunner. In turn, that creates an ensuing single, since the hole that groundball went through on the right side would not have been there if second baseman Jose Lopez wasn't moving to his bag to cover a runner breaking from first who should not have been there in the first place except for the error. So, you've got two guys on. A bunt moves them over for the first out of the inning. Except, it should have been the second out, since the error let a guy get on. When the guy at third scores on a groundout (the second out of the inning) it does not count as an earned run because the inning should be over. And then, when Guerrero hits a two-run homer, neither run is earned because Guerrero should never have come to bat. The pitcher does not get blamed for his fielder prolonging the inning. Sometimes, the "unearned run" thing over-protects a pitcher. If one error is made, then a pitcher gives up a ton of runs and hits, you don't get a true representation of how bad the pitcher was. In this case, the only big hit Washburn allowed (that led to any scoreboard damage) after the error was the Guerrero blast. The other base-hit likely would not have gone through had there not been a baserunner at first. So, I think the one earned run is a fair indication of what happened in the inning.

We are all being completely misled by Geoff's biased reporting to think removing Yuni magically makes Washburn learn an outpitch, or Silva magically gets a boost in talent and his exceedingly high home run rate deflates. And Geoff you can respond if you want I won't go Miller on you.

-- Resin Isn't Cheating

Why, thank you Resin. But you can come back at me if you want. No one's saying Washburn would learn an out-pitch if Betancourt makes that play. Though Washburn did use his splitter as an "out pitch'' to strike Guerrero out in the third inning after Jeff Clement failed to make a play on that foul pop up. That qualifies as picking up a teammate. But there are only so many times you're going to get away with having one of the best pure power hitters of the past quarter-century face you with men on base when it doesn't have to be. I don't care if it's Johan Santana on the mound. Playing with fire like that will get you burned.

Hey Geoff, other teams are doing things like benching key players for not running hard to first, why aren't the Mariners doing that, or something like it?

-- Bork

Good question. In some cases, they have benched guys. We saw it with Jose Lopez last weekend. Betancourt was benched just before that for a bunch of games. Richie Sexson was benched earlier this season. But no, it hasn't happened all that often, or nearly enough, in my opinion. Part of what Carlos Silva did last week was force Jim Riggleman to take the issue public and have to make an example of somebody last weekend -- especially when the team followed up Silva's comments by making him look like a genius with terrible on-field play. Riggleman is right when he says all teams slack a bit at some point. The Rays are a good team and still benched B.J. Upton for not running out a ground ball. There's a delicate balance here. You could have benched this entire team at one point or another this season. Betancourt has been so bad in the field and at the plate, you could sit him for a month. But who takes his place? Thing is, this is an outcropping of what happens when you hand eveyone a job at spring training, then let them keep that job all season regardless of performance. That has to change. It comes from the top down in any organization. Win your job, hang on to it through performance. If you don't create that expectation, set that tone, early on, it can lead to trouble down the road.

Has anyone heard anything on the Waiver Trade front? This morning I heard on KJR that someone on ESPN reported that Boston and Tampa had put in waiver claims for Ibanez, and that Chicago (White Sox) and New York (Yankees) had put in waiver claims for Washburn. Based on records this would mean that Boston would have the right to negotiate for Ibanez, and the Yankees for Washburn.

-- Big Ebu

I had breakfast with an AL scout this morning and he told me the Mariners had not put Ibanez on waivers. The scout has a message service that tells him whenever a player from any team is placed on waivers or made available for any reason (released, DFA'd etc.). Ibanez has not been put out there or he would know. His team, he said, would have put in a claim -- as would most others around the game with a shot at contending. This same scout confirmed to me that Washburn was put on waivers last week. From what I'm hearing, I may have been pre-mature in writing that he'd already cleared them.

From email:

Are the Mariners going to get a deal with Josh Fields done before this week's deadline?

You may have seen what I wrote last night, but the M's don't have to sign top draft pick Josh Fields before the Aug. 15 deadline. That deadline is for players who still have college eligibility left. Fields does not. He was a college senior when drafted. That means, in theory, the M's have until a week before the 2009 draft next June to get him signed. Or else, Fields goes back into the draft. My guess? A deal will get done long before that comes into play. As I've already written, he's a relief pitcher, not a five-tool franchise player. It's in his best interests to start his major league career, rack ip service time and make some money. Not like he's the missing piece for a franchise hoping to contend. He's no J.D. Drew. Even if his agent is Scott Boras.

Why did K-Rod get a save last night when all he had to do was record one out in a 7-3 game? What a joke!

There are glitches to the saves rule that can be somewhat embarrassing, as it was last night. The rule that applied to Francisco Rodriguez in this case was the one stating that a reliever is awarded the save if he comes into a game with the tying run at least in the on-deck circle. The theory is, that if he did not get Raul Ibanez out, thus finishing the game, the tying run would have come to the plate. In that case, the reliever "saves" the team from being in a position where the next pitch would, quite possibly, result in a blown lead.

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Posted by Balentienforcer

12:01 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Hey Geoff,

Will Griffey be brought onboard (DH or otherwise) next year? He'd at least bring a big boost to the youngsters on this team with his history, etc.....may even get Bone to come onboard as a coach! (All the help we can get at this point)


Posted by fire_chuck_howie

12:12 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Griffey's not even hitting hit his weight in Chicago. And I mean the weight he was at during his good years here in the 90s. For heavens sake let these rumors die!

Posted by Napsack

12:25 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Why doesnt anyone consider bringing back Mike Blowers to minor league deal?? The guy has the power we are lacking in the middle of the order and could easily solve our defensive problems and first or third base? He's a local guy who could even help with attendance next year.

Posted by Bawb

12:35 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Can we coax Harrold Reynolds to come out of retirement and play 2b in place of Lopez? He'd provide some speed on the base paths, and he's a local guy who could help draw a crowd.

Posted by Balentienforcer

12:37 PM, Aug 13, 2008

If Griffey realizes his days are numbered, I believe he would be a positive influence on the youngsters here.....he would have to come with a heavily incentive laden contract, and if it doesn't work out, so be it......this team is lacking severely in the chemistry department, and I think he would be a positive addition, without going after some of the overpriced overhyped Free Agents that will be available. It would have to be on our terms though.

Be a lot better than most of the boneheaded moves the past 3 (4,5,6) GM's have made.

Or we could make the offseason easy and throw the bank at the highest RISP'd, OPS'd, ZiP'd, PDQ'd LMNOP'd players out there and get burned again.

(At least that would shut some of you the heck up for a couple months)


Posted by lars

12:42 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Bring Blowers back?? is this justa rumer, or is the FO talking about this actually happening>?

Posted by Napsack

12:49 PM, Aug 13, 2008

to my knowledge, Blowers hasnt signed with the team yet. I had just mentioned it as a possible move to bring back a guy who could fill an immediate viod in the lineup. he can start off down in Tacoma, get back in shape and it would cost the M's hardly anything.

Posted by Jack

12:53 PM, Aug 13, 2008

I hate to add to the rumor mill, but I have it on good authority that Joey Cora is getting the itch to play again and several scouts who have seen him in action were "quite impressed". Can't say I'd mind having a guy like Joey back on this club! Here's hoping the M's find a way to pick him up.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:58 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Blowers is brain dead. Why would you want him involved with team decision making

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

12:59 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Re. bringing back old geezers from the glory days, I'd love to see Joey Cora come back here as manager. Having learned under Ozzie for the past few years, he would not put up with the crap we're seeing on the field and you would see the Latino players really respond to his leadership and fire (a fire lit under Yuni anyone?). Cora is ready for the role after a few years of being bench coach and he would get the attention of some of the slackers we have in the rotation also - remember him threatening a boastful Ryan Anderson (whatever happened to him?) in the spring training clubhouse,

Posted by Balentienforcer

1:00 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Joey Cora could very well be our manager next year.

And another thing on Griffey and I'll stop. I'm a believer that the ill fated Johjima contract singning was done because there WERE serious talks about Griffey coming here in May(?), and the Reds wanted Joh, but wanted him locked up.....Bavasi did the contract, and someone (Reds ownership? Griffey?) backed out.

But enough of always, we'll wait way too long after the winter meetings to do anything (regardless of the GM), and we'll get stuck with overpriced turds again......and youngsters with no leadership or drive.

Posted by fire_chuck_howie

1:02 PM, Aug 13, 2008

I think we should bring back Alvin Davis to play 1b next year.

Also Ty Cobb's corpse could cover more ground in LF than Raul.

Posted by I hate stupid people

1:14 PM, Aug 13, 2008


Can you please start a new blog. The people on this list are ridiculous. Bring back Blower? Even as a joke, this is a stupid comment. Same goes for the A. Davis post, the Cora post and all other lame, worthless posts.

Posted by Matt W

1:15 PM, Aug 13, 2008

i agree, if Blowers isnt past his prime, there is no reason to not sign him to a cheap minor league contract and see what he can do. Worst case, he only hits 15-20 hrs and drives in 75. Right now we could use that

Posted by BlowBeliever

1:22 PM, Aug 13, 2008

RALLY FRIES FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )

Posted by David Gee

1:22 PM, Aug 13, 2008

I wonder if Paul Serna is available. We have big problems at SS and I don't think we gave Serna much of an opportunity.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

1:24 PM, Aug 13, 2008

This is just an indication on how badly this season has deteriorated. If it's not the stat geeks running their fantasy numbers by everyone, it's folks reliving the distant past. Regarding old geezers on the playing field (if you consider 36 old), the only upcoming ex-M FA that I think could help this forlorn group is Cammy. The guy still has power and can cover serious ground in CF even though his average is hovering around .230. However, the team is a winner everywhere he goes (check out how the teams do after he leaves - SD most recently) and he is a vocal leader in the clubhouse and on the field.

Posted by Balentienforcer

1:30 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Cammy is a great guy, a winner, and a great defensive CF, but he can't fill the DH role that we so sorely need. I just want some people that can produce a little, but also be a vocal leader that can show the youth how it's done. Raul could be a leader, and the kids should look at his work ethic, but I don't see him as a mentor(also Ichiro). Too quiet and reserved. JJ is a good example, but when you're hurt it's too hard lead and heal at the same time......who else is there on this team????.

And since this blog has aleady gone to the Massengillians - bring on Griffey AND J.G. to platoon at DH!!!!

Posted by Jason

1:33 PM, Aug 13, 2008

BLOWERS ,CORA are you guys joking? We might as well trade batista and washburn for Webb.That would work great for the mariners. I am sure Arizona would go for it. DEE DA DEE

Posted by Chuck

1:36 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Yes, more geezers is the answer. However, we will have to double the size of the training room.

Posted by lars

1:36 PM, Aug 13, 2008

I dont think Blowers is the answer. For numerous reasons, but mainly the guy never had that great of defense and on this team we dont need anymore avg. defense. I also think that bringing Blowers back would make some of the other guys on team unhappy cause he would take away playing time of others, especially at 1st and 3rd base.

Posted by Utis

1:41 PM, Aug 13, 2008

The talent gap.

Here is the Mariners and opponents OPS for the past few years.

2008 .703 .762
2007 .762 .780
2006 .749 .769
2005 .709 .753
2004 .727 .779
2003 .754 .699
2002 .769 .724

While the pichers and defense are ahead of last year's pace (though you'd need to check league averages to know for sure), the offense has sunk to lows not seen since 2005. Notice the similarity between 2006 and 2007. The difference in 2007 was a superb year by the bullpen and slightly more sock from the hitters both of which have been absent this year.

Posted by rithet

1:44 PM, Aug 13, 2008


Posted by Patrick F.

1:45 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Raul, along with Washburn was claimed off of waivers. The teams are unknown though.

Isn't Yuni, more or less, a stop gap shortstop for Carlos Triufnel?

I'd hate to see Raul go for anything less than a top prospect.

Posted by ken

1:55 PM, Aug 13, 2008

If Rosenthal is correct, I would let Wash go for nothing just to get the $10m in salary savings for 2009 - so long as it's not to NYY. Raul needs to be worth a return of at least the two #1 draft picks the team would get as compensation for a Type A FA. However the big question is how would the M's waste the $10m from Wash - Lincoln would probably want to bring in the geezer rock bands like the Beach Boys to "entertain" the crowd.

Posted by Balentienforcer

1:57 PM, Aug 13, 2008

This just in:

Esteemed Spotswriter Geoff Baker has been spotted at WallyWorld.

Mr. Baker was seen riding the Wally Coaster pointing a pellet gun to the head of a stuffed Rally Monkey. All the while Mr. Baker was screaming at the top of his lungs, something about "baseball" "Sabermetrics" and "mature readership[" in a language thought to be French.

The ghost of John Candy is investigating.

Posted by Jesus

1:59 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Isn't Beltre a stop-gap for Truinfel?

Posted by Jesus

2:03 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Yes let's let go of Washburn. Let's face it, we aren't going anywhere next year. And we have (presumably) Hernandez/Morrow/Rowland-Smith planned to start next year, eh? Plus we have Silva (who we have to do something with) and Bedard. So we don't need Washburn.

Oh, and by the way, I've read a couple times recently about how great Chris Tillman is doing for the Baltimore organization. Makes me sick each and every time.

Posted by Geoff's conscience

5:50 PM, Aug 13, 2008

If the Mariners in their post-Bavasi wisdom can't locate a better short stop than that loser Betancourt then they deserve another last place finish.

I agree with your answer Geoff, I just think it would be stupid if they actually do bring him back. He's done everything imaginable to prove he's worthless. Why won't management believe him?

Posted by Ichi-GO (please)

7:08 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Granted, Betancourt has regressed tremendously this season. His range has decreased while his weight has increased. He has shown no patience at the plate.

However, as a season ticket holder in Tacoma, he was once the best shortstop I have EVER seen. (Also saw Alex Rodriguez there for a year, and loved the way Omar Vizquel played the position for Seattle.) He did everything Vizquel did going to his left and was far better going to his right (much better arm) than Vizquel could have ever dreamed of being.

He has grown lazy, fat, and unmotivated in a Mariner uniform. If the next manager can motivate him (I like what Riggleman has done in his tenure and Cora might be a great fit would Valentine), we might still be able to find the greatness that lies dormant.

Posted by ESP

8:14 PM, Aug 13, 2008

Let the Yanks have Washburn. Let's not forget that despite a couple decent/good months the guy is terrible. He really is...he's had two good strings of pitching during a decade of pitching in the bigs.

I hope the Yanks pick him up as the "answer" and can't wait until next year when he is, yet again, "the problem".

As for Napsack....I hope your Blowers statement was a joke....that's the worst idea I've ever heard. You might as well throw my lazy ass out there.

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