Mariners Analysis

Sunday, May 30, 2004

M's didn't get embarrassed...

It's hard to be super positive about losing 2 of 3 to Boston, but the M's were at least competitive. Obviously it sucks to lose in extra innings today, but the M's have won more than their share this year, so all in all they can't be too upset. They had plenty of chances, but just can't seem to get it done consistently.

Franklin pitched like a #4 starter should- keeps the game close and gives you an opportunity to win. There is a reason that Boston is neck-and-neck with NY- they are a very good team. It shows what a team like the M's with an $80 million payroll, and a team like Boston, spending $117 million, look like.

If the M's had Boston's payroll, we'd see Tejada at short, and Vlad in the outfield.

Ah, don't get me started. This team refuses to recognize the value of draft picks and can't develop position players, and we are seeing what an old, tired team looks like.

Oh well, I'm sure Bavasi has a solid plan... <-insert sarcasm here.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Vegas line huge for the M's tonight

In what would seem to be one of the biggest locks in sports history, Pedro takes the mound against the M's. It would be a huge upset if the M's were to take this one tonight, which at least gives us a reason to watch (unlike the Tiger's and Indian's series).

In a way, it would be helpful if the M's just look like a bad little league team against Martinez, but I dislike Pedro enough to not want that to happen. If we do look bad, it might hasten these changes we keep hearing about but haven't actually seen. I had predicted change would be coming this weekend, and with Meche pitching so poorly last night that should make the decision to do SOMETHING even easier.

But this management team is so conservative they make Rush Limbaugh look like an arts school dropout. They are so afraid of making the wrong choice and hurting someones feelings they instead do nothing, hoping the choices become easier.

After all, if Olerud starts hitting, if Aurilia drives in a run, if Martinez quits striking out so much... then Bavasi's job gets a whole lot easier. You can just see the M's front-office praying these guys get it together before they have to actually make a gutsy call.

I challenge the M's front-office to IMPROVE THIS TEAM. I can't stand watching them play right now, and I am embarrassed as an M's fan to go into a weekend with Boston and hope they don't get no-hit twice.

Remember when Edgar admitted after yet another missed trading deadline the players wanted the team to make a move, if for no other reason than to show the players they care?

This must be as equally frustating for Martinez to watch this team stink it up and watch the front-office sit on their hands. Fricking do something!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Catch Mariner Fever?

Not a chance. I'm sure Bavasi and others might try to sell the idea the M's are climbing out of a hole and get you to take notice of the nifty 3 game winning streak. Let's see what kind of quotes we see in the papers tomorrow morning.

But let's face it, you play the Tigers and Indians, somebody has to win. Just a few days ago, this same club faced getting swept by the Tigers.

At home.

And avoided a sweep due to outstanding pitching by Freddy Garcia.

Who won't be back next year.

Wake me when we get to Boston. If the M's do well there, perhaps we can start talking about at least playing .500 ball for a stretch. As bad as the M's have been this year, there is no way they are a .333 team with one of the worst records in baseball. So the M's will start winning series again here and there, but it won't mean anything until this roster is overhauled.

I hope these games don't change any plans in the front-office, or these wins will be counterproductive long term.

Mondesi an M?

There's no way the M's would ever consider Mondesi would they?

Per Jason Stark today-

"It will set a beautiful precedent for unhappy players everywhere if Raul Mondesi can void his contract in Pittsburgh, then wind up with a two-year deal with a club more to his liking. But there are rumblings that could well happen sometime in the next month -- with St. Louis, Seattle and Anaheim all believed to be knocking on his door. Let's just say plenty of people in the game will be appalled if that's how it works out."

If even the interest turns out to be true, this tells us a couple of things.

1) Gillick.. er, I mean Bavasi is desperate.
2) Character no longer matters (or very little anyway).

I will go crazy if the M's sign an over-30, unhappy baseball player and expect me to come out and watch him pout all game long.

I'm just going to ignore this rumor and assume it was started by Mondesi's agent.

Clint Nageotte on his way

As everyone is reporting, Clint Nageotte is on his way to the big club, or so it would seem- link

I think it's a good move, but it needs to be the first of many. I know some are upset with the Mariners using young guys in the bullpen to start their career, but I don't have a problem with it as a general rule.

I'm sure we all remember Soriano coming up and starting as a reliever. While he did great his first few starts, it was quickly evident he needed more than a fastball to succeed in the majors. He went back down, armed with the experience and knowledge of what he needed, and had a break-out year in '03. Reliever, starter- it doesn't matter, you gained the experience you need to succeed in the bigs.

And certainly Piniero has benefited from the same strategy as well.

The immediate problem you face in putting him in the rotation is where does he pitch? We have 5 starters, and unless trade or demotion happens, there is simply no room for a regular slot to pitch a new guy.

Besides, we all agree starting pitching is not the problem- we need bats.

I still argue we need to bring up Jamal Strong immediately. Let Ibanez and Olerud platoon at first, move Winn to left, and put Strong in center. We just got younger, faster, upgraded our defense, and didn't have to juggle the 40-man roster.

Can anyone give me a compelling reason not to?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Would any team besides the Yankees trade for Boone?

While we all stand by and wait for the first changes to be announced, I've noticed a number of people have suggested possibly trading Brett Boone. Per the Seattle P-I: link

"Boone has tremendous trade value, and as he knows, anything can happen, even the trading of the club's most productive hitter the past three years."

Does Brett Boone really have tremendous trade value? He is on the last year of his contract, with a $9 million option for next year. This means most clubs would consider him a rent-a-player in a trade this summer. Let's face it, not many hitters are getting $9 million deals right now, and far fewer are in their thirties and currently mired in a slump and battling injuries.

(Note: You could argue Boone is costing himself millions this year if he continues to struggle- so much for having a contract year.)

But how many teams would be willing to give something of significant value for Boone? The obvious team again is the Yankees, who clearly would not blink at a $9 million option for next year, and would see Boone as an upgrade over Wilson or anyone else they throw out there. I just can't see smaller market clubs like the Reds or Twins giving up good prospects for a stretch drive, and Boone would have to go on a tear for a team like the Dodgers to risk bringing him over to the National League and hope he can help them get to the WS.

No, I just don't see "tremendous" value for Boone. I think what is confusing the situation is that so many of the M's batters suck so badly that a player that actually has value sticks out like a sore thumb. What the writer means to say is Boone is a player that actually has a possibility of providing value to another team- something no position player other than Ichiro you could really make an argument for. What a team would be willing to give up to obtain that value is still debatable, as is whether the M's would actually trade him.

If someone like the Yankees are 2 games behind the Sox at the All Star break, how about packaging Boone and Garcia as part of a mega trade....

Ack, what am I saying!! I hate the Yankees, what is wrong with me.

Go Boston!

Monday, May 24, 2004

Expect first changes by end of week

The Detroit series was the final nail many of use were looking for. With the M's unable to hit very suspect pitching, and facing a sweep yesterday with Garcia on the hill, management had no choice but to realize there is no miraculous turnaround for this year. (ie- it was not lost on management they got a win yesterday from a pitcher who almost certainly will not be on the club next year).

We can assume Rich Aurilia has been offered to the Cubs, and the fact the trade hasn't been announced already means the Cubs are cool to the idea. Instead the M's have to either sweeten the pot or face releasing him. Let's face it, if the M's can't prove to the Cubs there aren't other clubs involved, the Cubs would be foolish to trade for him. Why not just wait till he's released and pay the minimum.

We saw with Jeff Cirillo just how painful it is for the M's to release a player with money owed. Let's hope they realize it is best to just cut your losses rather than let a player with no future linger on the roster.

I expect the first call-ups by the end of the week. The next step right now is to notify the players what is going on- both Jon and Rich have been informed change is coming- and to figure out the 40 man roster.

This rebuild will take all summer, but change is finally coming sooner than we thought just last week.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Bidding war for Garcia?

Nice to see a win yesterday, but there's little reason for enthusiasm with this bunch of geriatrics.

The real news from yesterday was Derek Lowe. The former M has not been pitching that well, and the Yankees are playing some good ball. This means Theo and crew must be getting a little nervous about their pitching.

This is where the M's start a bidding war for Garcia.

Among rent-a-pitchers at the trade deadline, no one beside Randy Johnson will generate as much demand as Garcia. It's hard to believe Arizona will let Johnson go, so that leaves Garcia. It's not often a pitcher with as much upside as Garcia comes along at the trading deadline, and the Yanks and Red Sox figure to battle all summer.

Bavasi needs to take a hard look at Boston's lineup and get creative. How about Garcia for Trot Nixon? Jason Varitek would look great in an M's uniform. Nomar?

The point is, the M's need to get a rumor going. That will get the Yanks attention, which will in turn increase the value of Garcia. I know the M's front office likes to keep quiet in these types of situations, but this type of trade demands the opposite. Keeping quiet about a trade doesn't generate a bidding war.

Bavasi, use the press as your proxy and generate some value for one of the few precious commodities on this team. If you don't, you are simply not doing your job as the leader of the Seattle Mariners.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Is Franklin a bad pitcher?

Last nights game was SO frustrating to watch. I thought Franklin pitched a good game- he was obviously cruising until the 7th inning, and if the M's offense had scored some runs before then who knows what would have happened.

Before we have to hear how terrible Franklin's strikeout rate is, or his flyball ratio, or how he needs to have the best defense in history behind him, can't we just acknowledge he's pitched some nice games lately? Baltimore is one of the best hitting teams in the AL right now- that is why Franklin finally gave up some runs, and why Freddy "struggled" the night before. The O's are right behind the Yankees for a reason- they hit the ball, have some speed, and are a confident offensive club. I credit Mora more than I blame Franklin.

The difference between a good hitting club and the Mariners are so obvious when you watch a game. Our pitcher makes a single mistake and gets too much of the plate, they pay for it. When an opposing pitcher makes a mistake to our hitter, it rarely results in anything. How many times do I see an opposing player throw a fastball right down the middle, and see Winn take the pitch. What were you looking for there?!! We swing at bad pitches, and miss the easy ones.

Baltimore's problem of course is pitching. We should be winning or losing these games 7-5, or 8-9- not scoring two runs a game. Our offense is so inept right now it is difficult to watch.

So back to Franklin. I thought he pitched well, and expect him to continue to return to the numbers we saw last year. If you look at the AL, how many #4 starters would you take right now instead of Franklin? I can think of couple off the top of my head, but not many.

Let's focus on the real problem- this clubs offensive hitting. Earlier I believed this club was going to snap out of it and start hitting. At the time, I was just worried how far back we'd be before we did.

It is so clear to everyone that this club is not going to snap out of anything. It is just really, really bad. Will Winn, Martinez, Boone, Aurilia, Ibanez et al. start hitting again. Perhaps.

But Bavasi has to see that this club will more than likely continue to struggle offensively all summer long. It needs change immediately, but I don't see it happening soon.

On another note, I find it more and more difficult to sit through a complete game. More and more, I can only watch this team for part of a game. How many empty seats for a Tigers series?

Finally, I don't normally complain about an umpire, but those were some terrible calls behind the plate last night. That pitch to Martinez on a 3-2 count and the bases loaded was clearly outside and cost the team a run.

One of the worst calls I can remember, and it came at a terrible time. And so it goes for the 2004 Mariners...

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Roster changes for M's unlikely before June

Last nights 7-2 loss to Baltimore was so pathetic even Melvin couldn't find much to praise. Bad baserunning, bad mental errors, no passion. This team is so boring to watch even the announcers are getting frustrated trying to generate something good to talk about.

Yet its obvious the losing is not prompting Bavasi and company to suddenly change their philosophy of how to run a baseball team. It was made clear after the game Olerud is not about to be let go, no trades are imminent, and Jose Lopez shouldn't be apartment shopping in Seattle anytime soon.

And yet the current situation is so unacceptable that something has to change. I would look for the team to see if Chicago is interested in taking our aging, no-defense SS off our hands as the first step. Few teams are willing to make major trades this early in the season, so don't expect the major changes Larue talked about very quickly. It will likely be the All-Star break before we see major lineup changes.

And yet if the offense continues to be as bad as last night, don't they HAVE to make changes?

Let's hope Franklin pitches a gem tonight, but we have to respect the Orioles lineup. I think we might be a little hard on Freddy with regards to last nights pitching- this is a very good hitting team. A few points-

  • Seattle has no position player with over 20 RBI's (Wilson and Boone with 19)
  • Baltimore has 5 players with more than 20 RBI's
  • Last night the Angels beat the Yankees 1-0. It took 11 hits to generate that one run (right out of Seattle's playbook).
  • Derek Jeter went 0-4 last night and is hitting .190
  • The O's would make a great trading partner for the M's. They have hitting, need pitching, not in our division.
  • Let's pray Dusty needs a SS really, really bad.
  • Jason Schmidt, almost a Mariner, pitched a 1-hitter last night. That's about what it takes to be a winning pitcher for the M's right now.
  • I agree Beltran is worth (in baseball terms) $16 million a year right now, but almost certainly will not be in the final 3-4 years of his future contract. Boras will win again, and who will be the losing team next year?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Congrats to Randy, and the M's are trying too hard

Thanks to loyal reader Greg for the update on Randy's perfect game (grin).

Randy is definitely the most exciting pitcher I've ever seen. Wow.

And to think the M's announced they would not be signing Randy Johnson to a contract extension on the same day Griffey received his MVP. What a great idea that was! But let's not go there right now- we have enough issues to deal with.

The other stat that jumped out was how few pitchers have thrown no-hitters in both leagues, and how Hideo Nomo is one of them! I had completely forgotten that fact, and prefer to keep it that way. Bing! Item deleted from memory bank.

After the first few innings, it's obvious the players are trying too hard. When Spiezo tried to stretch that single into a double, I immediately yelled out loud "No! You'll never make it." Apparently he didn't hear me and was promptly thrown out.

Of course you can't blame him for trying. He knows if he is stuck at first base, he's still 3 singles from scoring, so an A for effort, an F for the result.

And how about Ichiro making that throw to third when he knew he had no chance, thereby allowing the batter to slide into second instead of keeping the double play open.

The players are trying too hard right now. It shows, and it is hurting all of them. Melvin needs to prove he is a capable big league manager and stop these silly mental lapses of judgment.

The M's simply can't afford to give anyone an out. An extra base. An extra anything.

Few quick thoughts on M's

While I try to get myself motivated to watch the M's tonight- I'm thinking of running down to Safeco, buying the cheapest ticket I can get and hang out and watch some baseball- a few quick thoughts come to mind.

First, let me repeat how glad I am the M's didn't keep Rhodes or Nelson in the bullpen. While so far the bullpen has been a disappointment, I don't think you can blame Bavasi on this one. On paper, the bullpen looked good, and it was clear to everyone who followed the M's that Nelson and Rhodes were on the downslope of their career.

Certainly with Rhodes posting many early saves, it was easy to criticize the front office for not re-signing him. But I'm convinced Rhodes will not be the closer at the end of the year, and the A's will be still have him for two more years. Meanwhile Nelson has been a huge disappointment in Texas, and now needs surgery that will keep him sidelined for the next few months. Kudos to Bavasi for both moves.

With a few games under his belt, Kaz Matsui for the Mets has proven to be a disappointment. His batting average is lousy, the Mets are unhappy with his game speed and his defense is not what they thought, and where's the power?? Of course it is early in his MLB career, so this could turnaround, but at this point he doesn't look like a $7 million/yr player. Considering I believed he would have been a great option for the M's, I have to admit the M's likely made the right choice in not signing him. Hats off again to the M's front office, who I assume did their homework (I know, dangerous assumption- it could be they just got lucky on this one.)

Moving on to Cameron, I know many of us his miss his defense, but about his hitting? His current line- .209/.313/.419/.732
Sure, he has 7 homers, but only 15 RBI's, and of course the 43 strikeouts. What would these numbers be at Safeco... Ugh. I can't be too critical for the M's passing on Cameron- I just wish they had a better back-up plan.

Tejada? We get a good look at him tonight. His numbers- .346/.391/.515/.906
Would clearly be the best hitter on the M's right now, by far. Compared to Cameron, he has 7 strikeouts. Big whiff for the M's to have settled for Aurilia after refusing to pay for Tejada.

Vizquel? Lousy defense, no power, clear downside of his career. We all said the M's were lucky when he failed his physical- perhaps the M's doctors refused to let Bavasi make such a stupid trade? We can only hope.

I'd like to get a better look at Jamal Strong in center. He doesn't hit for power, but is supposed to cover the field and is an above-average defender. Platoon Ibanez with Olerud, and move Winn part-time to right. We gain speed, better defense, and buys us time while the M's work the trade lines.

C'mon M's, give me a reason to go to the game tonight, other than to watch Freddy pitch his last season in Safeco.

Big Mariner homestand

With the M's mired in last place, and playing their worst baseball in years, a series against Baltimore would seem to have little interest.

And that's where things get interesting. While the M's can talk about making changes all they want, the seats at Safeco will tell everything.

Or rather, lack of seats. With the Yankees providing all the interest last series, Safeco set attendance records. Now that we have Baltimore coming to town, you can bet Howard Lincoln will be more interested in the number of fans than he will in the M's play.

Put simply, if fans keep filling Safeco, the M's have more time to tinker with the roster. They also have the luxury of knowing they have the revenue this summer to take on salary. But if fans are not coming to the games, then a more immediate action will be required.

The next few homestands will decide how quickly change is coming to this roster.

Nice article by Larue in The News Tribune

Makes for interesting reading for M's fans- Larue Analysis

The trade talk for McCracken should be heating up...

Monday, May 17, 2004

Mariner bashing growing stronger

Now that it's clear to everyone in the world that these M's are not just starting slowly, but are just plain bad, the M's bashing grows stronger. example- Thiel

It's hard for beat-writers and columnists to bash a teams architecture too early in the season, because they have to both live with these guys with the rest of the season, and don't want to look like idiots if they turn it around.

However almost no one believes this team will turn it around now, so the finger pointing grows stronger.

Notice how Melvin uses words like "not something we're built to do " to describe his teams inability to hit for power.

Melvin will tell you he is doing the best he can with what he was given, and Bavasi will tell you on paper this team is better than it has played ie. the coaching staff is to blame.

Let's face it, Bavasi is not going to admit the teams chief architect sucks. And Melvin isn't going to say he is still learning on the job.

If the M's losing continues, Melvin will not be back next season, regardless of a symbolic contract extension.

All this bashing demands someone gets bashed.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Longstanding theory about Ichiro proven incorrect

Many of us always believed that Ichiro controlled the M's offense. The past two seasons have seen the M's offense go south after the All-Star break, along with Ichiro's on base percentage.

However the last two weeks Ichiro has been hitting again, and yet the M's can't score any runs. It's clear that if Boone or Edgar isn't driving the ball, Ichiro cannot power this offense when everyone else is hitting singles.

I wonder if the M's should have looked for a big bat over the offseason...(grin)

Bavasi showing frustration as M's losses mount

It's now abundantly clear the M's have realized something many feared- this team is not in a slump, it's just simply not very good.

And when a team realizes it's not very good, stress cracks appear everywhere.

Last night against the Yankees, we saw a line-up we haven't seen all year. And plays we hope we don't see again this season, but know we will.

And perhaps the most frustrated right now is Bavasi, who realizes as the architect of this team the bullseye is clearly on him.

From the PI-

"They don't play offense. They either don't know how to play offense or they can't."

This is the first subtle jab at Melvin and staff. He's throwing out the fact that perhaps he did get the right players, but they aren't performing. Look for there to be more signs of stress between Melvin and Bavasi as the losses continue and this team gets dismantled.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

M's 36 hits not enough in series sweep

It's not easy to have 36 hits in a series, receive outstanding starting pitching AND STILL get swept. But you gotta love these guys- they figured out a way to do it.

Of course when you have 36 hits- and 34 are singles!!!- anything is possible. The scary part about this series is that the team is playing closer to its capabilities than at any time during the season.

Good starting pitching (Franklin was outstanding today)
Lots of baserunners (our singles hitters are now hitting singles)

And yet they are losing. This teams offense needs to be dismantled ASAP.

The season is lost, but I could see this teams starting pitching convincing Bavasi they are a good run away from getting back in contention.

If we focus on the positive, the pitching is perhaps getting to where we want it to be. But this offense is truly offensive.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Don't blame Melvin for last nights loss

After a loss like last nights 7-6 heartbreak to the Twinkies, it's easy to start casting blame. And certainly it's not hard to find plenty of easy targets.

But I think it's wrong to blame Melvin for his use of the bullpen last night.

At some point, you have to hold the players accountable, and Shiggy is simply one of the worst relievers in baseball right now. After Joel pitched a great game, and with the M's ahead 6-2 going into the 8th, it was time for Hasegawa to earn his $9 million.

And he failed.

And Myers failed.

And Villone kept walking the leadoff hitter.

And the M's offense failed to score a run when they needed it (big surprise).

Can you make a case for Melvin bringing in Eddy at some point in the game? Absolutely, but you will argue with almost every manager in baseball if you do. Simply, almost every manager in baseball, right or wrong, saves their closer for when they have the lead. I actually agreed with how Melvin used his bullpen last night. Once the M's blew the lead, he left in his long-reliever (Villone), hoping the M's offense gave him a reason to insert his closer. The fact the M's offense never allowed him to do so is not Melvin's fault.

Blame management for fielding a team with so little power they collect 18 hits and still lose. Blame the players for underperforming. But don't blame Melvin for last night.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Should the M's pursue Beltran?

There's no question Beltran is the hottest free-agent to be this year. With ESPN highlighting his latest accomplishments, with the Yankees neck-and-neck with the Red Sox- he will be THE most talked about commodity all the way to the trading deadline.

And with the Royals sinking deeper by the second, many M's fans are yelling loudly for his presence at Safeco.

What's a poor Bavasi to do?

The answer to how he'd look in a Seattle uniform is the easiest question of all. He would be a HUGE upgrade for a team badly in need of one. The positives are so many, they are pointless to argue:
- the message it sends to the fans
- upgraded defense
- morale boost to players
- finally a big bat in the line-up
- a position player under 30...
You could go on and on. The only question many fans are asking is simply WHAT ARE THE M's WAITING FOR!!

With the Royals badly in need of pitching, and with young pitchers the only commodity the M's have, it would seem a match made in heaven. The M's should be the clear front-runner for Beltran.

Until you read the name....

Scott Boras.

And then reality comes crashing home to M's fans and leadership alike. Suddenly acquiring Beltran seems as likely as a trade for A-Rod himself. Simply not gonna happen.

With the Yanks the leading contender to sign Beltran, should the M's even bother? With Boras wanting top dollar, it's hard to see the M's paying the kind of money they have never spent in the past. If you won't spend $75 million for Tejada or Guerrero, how bad must it get this summer before we can expect the M's to pay $130 million for Beltran??

If I were the M's, I'd be calling Scott Boras and find out if Beltran is agreeable to a sign-and-trade deal. If so, then full speed ahead on sealing a deal with KC. If he won't agree, and there is little reason to think he will, then the M's have no choice but to look elsewhere. (Already we are hearing the Yankees have a deal with the Royals all worked out, and are simply waiting for the Royals to fall further out of contention before announcing it.)

There's a better chance we'll see Griffey hugging Lincoln before we see Beltran roaming Safeco for the home team. Sadly, seeing Beltran in an M's uniform is simply not going to happen. Look elsewhere M's fans, look elsewhere.

As predicted earlier... M's brass begins spin-control

I said a few weeks back we'll start hearing how the M's have to get younger. This comes, of course, after an off-season where the M's played up how great it is to have a "veteran" team. How great it is to have Villone back, Myers, Olerud, Martinez...

After all, when Bavasi traded Guillen to open a spot for our current grizzled old veteran, they had to give a reason. And the reason had to do with "veterans."

Per Peter Gammons:

"Hats off to GM Bill Bavasi for recognizing the Mariners' problem is that they need to get younger, more athletic and energetic."

What kind of crap is this!!!!

The M's didn't accidentally field a team without a single position player who cares what time the bars close. You have to really work at creating a roster this old- and now that the M's are off to a slow start, the spin begins about how we need to get "younger."

It was as predictable as spring showers in Seattle. Can I get any more frustrated than I am today with our front office?

Also from our good friend Bavasi-

regarding Garcia "I can't talk specifics. It's not even on the radar screen..."

Better get it on the radar Bavasi. In case you haven't heard, the M's are getting younger- LOL!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Weekend with Yanks as expected

The M's didn't get swept, so the fans should be happy they went home happy at least once this weekend. Other than the surprise win Friday night, when it looked like the Mariners had a chance to generate some momentum for the weekend, the series went as expected.

We knew going into this series the M's bats go silent when facing top pitching. This was confirmed Saturday with Mussina and Sunday against the Yanks bullpen. So the lack of runs was expected.

The lack of power- check.
Inconsistent bullpen- check.
Poor defense- check.

One of the few surprises was Franklin's superb pitching Friday. I have been more positive than most when it comes to Franklin, but Friday night was simply fantastic. I hope Ryan can build off that amazing performance and really gain some confidence- shutting down a line-up like the Yankees rollout is special.

I will now officially take back something I said earlier- that Winn and Ibanez' defense was not a major concern. After this weekend, I am ready to admit that Winn is simply incapable of playing major-league quality defense in center. I'm really surprised he has looked as poorly as he has.

And Ibanez on that "dive" last night that resulted in a double- Yikes! I watch 20+ little league games a year and have seen better defense among pre-teen teams then I've seen this year from the M's.

Worse than being bad, this team is boring to watch. I hope we see some call-ups soon, if for no other reason than giving me a reason to sit though a game.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Should the M's trade Freddy?

With Freddy Garcia clearly one of the hottest pitchers right now in all of baseball, the M's would seemingly be crazy to trade him. However, to lose him next year and receive nothing in return is equally crazy, so what should the M's do?

First, a few points to consider-

  • Freddy is still young, and very durable
  • Freddy seems to like playing in Seattle (his agent isn't dropping hints he wants a recording contract anytime soon)
  • With the M's having a number of contracts expiring next year, and the second highest revenue in baseball, they clearly can afford to sign him
  • The team has indicated they believe pitching wins championships, and Freddy has pitched well in big games
  • He doesn't appear to have a big ego, and has shown no signs of demanding to be the highest paid player in baseball

Plenty of baseball people will tell you Freddy should have been signed to a long-term deal a long time ago. Whatever hangups management has with Freddy's arbitration case or his bachelor lifestyle, the fact is Garcia is one of the most effective pitchers in Mariner history.

So why trade him?

Because the organizations inability to develop young position players leaves little choice. If the M's think they can go off into the offseason and suddenly find a replacement DH, first-baseman, power-hitting outfielder and a catcher all through free agency that will field a championship-caliber team next year, they are delusional. Free agency is used for filling holes in your line-up, not your entire line-up. Unless you have the Yankees payroll, the only way for the M's to get better is through trade.

Does anyone really see the M's attracting a big-name slugger next year? They haven't done it before, and show no signs of being able to do it now.

If anyone really believes this current team has playoff aspirations, ask yourself this- Who on this team has any trade value?

The answer for everyday players is rather short, and it makes no sense to trade your most valuable offensive players when you can't score runs.

So that leaves the pitching staff. With supposed major-league quality pitching talent in the minors, the team can replace Freddy. If the M's are smart, we just may see Freddy pitching for another team by the All-Star break.

If not, the M's bases really will have spider-webs over them.

Weekend series against Yanks

It doesn't matter how the M's are playing; when the Yanks come to town, you can't help but get excited to watch some baseball.

Quick thoughts:
- Thankfully we are catching the back-end of the Yanks rotation. If Brown or Vazquez was pitching, there's even money they would throw a no-hitter.
- The M's have 3 extra-base hits in the last three games!!!
- And still won two of three.
- Freddy is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball right now. His trade value will be enormous if he keeps this up.
- It's too bad Freddy won't get the chance to pitch against the Yanks like he did last night. It would have made a strong impression on a team that will be looking at Freddy before the deadline.
- Unless the M's offense wakes up, the Yanks should sweep this weekend.

This series should really tell us something about these M's. The stands will be full, but will they support the team if they continuing hitting like they have?

Will Ichiro hear boos if he can't get on base? Will fans even boo Mr. Mariner himself, Edgar?

The fans want to cheer, but will the team give them something to cheer about?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Davis sent to minors today

It was overdue, but finally the M's did SOMETHING. Ben Davis is being sent down, after hitting .088 combined with a miserable spring.

My only problem is the fact the best the M's can do is bring up Pat Borders, he of the .235 with no power club. Borders is popular in the clubhouse, and Garcia likes him, but it shows how barren the organization is for catchers.

I'd have FAR rather seen the M's bring up Rene Rivera over a 40 year old back-up.

A further clue the M's don't have one regarding how to evaluate young talent, or understand what the minors are for.

Thoughts on last nights 5-1 loss to Minnesota

A couple of quick thoughts from yesterday-

  • A team that can't hit and doesn't have great pitching is BORING to watch
  • Joel has the highest batting average against (.370) in the AL
  • The problem seems less related to poor defense, as much as leaving balls up in the strike zone.
  • The pitches that were hit hard last night were belt-high, right in the middle of the plate, and deserved to be hit long and far
  • Regardless, Joel would have had to have thrown a shutout to have gotten the win
  • The biggest problem is still lack of scoring- 4 runs or less is the norm for this team

Also, I don't mean to gloat, but is anyone even remotely surprised Rhodes cost the A's the win last night against the Yanks? I mean c'mon Billy, we all know Rhodes wilts in the heat. David Justice vs. Arthur Rhodes- do you need to borrow the tapes?

I take no pleasure in rooting against Arthur- he seems like a nice guy, and I would have loved for him to have continued pitching well and stayed with the M's. The problem is simple- the guy comes unglued when the pressure is on. He's the Greg Norman of baseball.

So anyway, back to our M's. Their hitting stinks, pure and simple. But I'll be watching every pitch when the Yankees come to town.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

AL Shortstop All-Star??

Okay, we know it's way too early to talk about this stuff, but All-Star ballots are now being handed out at ballparks across the country. With time to kill while Melvin makes yet ANOTHER pitching change, you have to at least start looking at early contenders, right?

So the first thing that really jumped out is how complicated the AL shortstop race will be. In years past, the only consideration was whether to take 3 shortstops- Jeter, A-Rod and/or Nomar.

But now A-Rod's at third, Nomar hasn't played due to injury, and Jeter's had the worst start in his career.

For the first time in years, you actually have to think about your AL shortstops. Could a Texas Ranger shortstop be at the All-Star game and not be named Alex?

Thoughts on last nights 4-3, 16 inning game

While sitting in the stands trying to watch Melvin use his bullpen AND try to figure out my early all-star balloting...

First of all, I think the M's have to feel pretty lucky they won the game. Certainly if Eddy had closed out the game in the 9th like he's supposed to, they win the game, but all those plays at the plate could have gone either way. I'll just say the M's caught a break, which they needed, and have to feel a little lucky they took home a win last night.

They also have to feel lucky the Yanks came back and beat the A's, and Texas lost. All in all, when you win a game and two of your division rivals lose, it's a heck of a day. So I'm not complaining at all.

But, on the same day Melvin gets his contract extension, I still go crazy watching him manage his bullpen in extra innings games. Is it just me or does Melvin seem to have abandoned the idea of a long reliever this year??

I thought the advantage of having guys like Villone on hand was they are fully capable of being starters- ie. they can pitch 5+ innings if necessary. Once we blew the save in the 9th, I'd like to see Mateo or Villone come in and pitch for 3 or more innings. Instead we see a parade of relievers come in and deplete the bullpen for the next couple of days. What was up with Soriano coming in and facing two batters?? Did he build up his arm strength or not?? I don't understand the thought process on this at all.

So we go into tonight with a depleted bullpen, and the good news an $85 million Mariners team just "committed" $550,000 to their current manager.

To put this into perspective, the money the M's are paying Jarvis this year could just about buy a Decade long extension for Melvin.

In other words, the M's have actually made a very small commitment to Melvin, which is why he was hardly celebrating yesterday after hearing the news. (if the M's had announced a new 4 year deal at $2 million a year, of course my response would be different.)

So let's hope Joel can pitch some quality innings tonight, and see if the M's can start winnings series again before the big, bad Yankees come to town.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Conine and Safeco field

I noticed Jeff Conine had an interesting observation regarding Safeco:

Q: Best hitter's-eye park?

A: Seattle's park (Safeco Field) is pretty impressive. They have this space-age technology, and it's like it's coming out of a black hole. You can really see the ball.

Click here to read the article.

Too bad Cameron didn't share his opinion or he'd still be in Seattle.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Mariners with the lead??

My TV must be broken. It claims the M's scored first and are actually trying to protect a lead. I'm calling Comcast right now...

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Is Franklin pitching poorly?

A lot of fans have been critical of Franklin this season. Certainly watching the M's fall to the Tigers 4-2 today after falling behind quickly yet again was aggravating to watch. And certainly if you asked Ryan, he'd tell you he is pitching poorly.

But where does Franklin rank on the list of M's problems right now? Many people felt his ERA would go up without a record-setting defense behind him. What should we expect from Mr. Franklin?

We do know he-

  • Was never a highly rated prospect coming through the system.
  • Is the number 4 starter, and is somewhat of a surprise to have developed into a starter after being pegged as a long reliever at best.
  • Doesn't cost the Mariners much money.
  • Didn't come to the M's as part of a disputed trade.
  • Had the tenth lowest ERA in the AL last year.

To be honest, if Franklin (as a cheap #4 starter) keeps me in the ballgame, I am a happy camper. While I don't like losing to the Tigers 4-2, I have more of a problem with the offense scoring 2 runs against a 19 game loser last year than I do with Mr. Franklin. His ERA today is 5.46, which is high but hardly the cause for the M's start this year. I'm much more concerned with Pinero right now than I am Franklin.

So in summary, I want my #4 starter to give me a chance to win ballgames. I don't really care how many strikeouts he has per 9 innings, or what his fly-ball ratio is, I just want to be IN THE GAME. If we can get the bullpen where it should be, I think Franklin will be just fine this season, regardless of who is playing center.