Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Exciting September at hand

Lots going on in Mariner land. Why just in the last few days we've learned-

Morse is out for personal reasons.
Ugueto is out for personal reasons.
Borders is traded.
Blackley is out due to injury all next year.

Meanwhile the M's have won five in a row. Ichiro gets three hits, and Lopez hits yet another dinger. Moyer gives up two more to set an M's record. The Yanks get creamed. The Red Sox win.

Wow, there are plenty of stories in baseball right now. You have to figure September is going to be AMAZING with the drive to the playoffs between the Yanks, Red Sox, Angels, Rangers and A's.

Hard to believe, but don't you have to now put the Yankees in the group of teams fighting for a playoff spot? Being 3 1/2 games out and yet seeing the number of teams playing fantastic ball right now must be killing Yanks fans.

It's one thing to see the Rangers, A's, Red Sox and Angels all fighting for two berths. It's even more amazing when you see all four teams are red hot, and are charging directly at the Yankees.

However, the Yankees do have the lead right now, and teams that lead going in to September invariably have it at the end. Over 80% of the time the team ahead to start the month is in the playoffs.

Still, with the Yanks starting pitching problems, NY fans have to be a little concerned. I'm sure all baseball fans will be watching Red Sox and Yankee scores for the next month. And we all have to feel better knowing Steinbrenner is squirming just a little...

Monday, August 30, 2004

When two bad teams collide...

Somebody has to win. So the M's have a four game winning streak- courtesy of the worst team in the AL not named Seattle. A few quick thoughts on the weekend-

Bobby Madritsch had an interesting start. During the first inning when he gave up three runs, it looked like Bobby's run of nice starts might be over. Visions of ballooning ERA and another loss quickly appeared. I'll admit I was figuring this was going to be a LONG night. What with Melvin's strategy of using relievers, I was thinking we might actually get to see Ichiro pitch after all...

And then Bobby proceeds to throw 7 scoreless innings, for a total line of 8 innings and 3 earned runs. Quite possibly his finest big league performance. I was impressed.

Ichiro is of course amazing. All we can do is watch and marvel. Don't make predictions, just watch.

Bucky is really having a nice run as well. He's not carrying that gaudy .320 average he had earlier, but he is really quite consistent. He is patient at the plate, and isn't afraid to settle for a single. Outside of Ichiro he is clearly our best hitter, and everything I'm seeing right now leads me to believe this is no fluke. I think .270 with 25-30 home runs is reasonable for Bucky next year. For what they will have to pay him, he will be a huge bargain and will free-up money for those big bats we so need.

I'm also amused by Internet critiques of Bucky's swing as "long." There are a ton of players who have long swings, and are quite successful. Is anyone going to tell me Griffey's swing was compact? There are some players who possess the timing and ability to have a big swing and still be effective. I'm not comparing Bucky and Griffey's swing, I'm merely saying there is no one way to hit a baseball. Watching a major league game and seeing all the various batting stances is proof enough there is no single agreed upon method of hitting a baseball.

Some people equate "long" with having a "hole" in your swing. Every approach you take at the plate has advantages and consequences. You dive over the plate, you make yourself vulnerable to getting jammed. You stand back in the box, you face a bigger break on a curve. There are no secrets in baseball when it comes to hitting. However, just like golf, there's no one way to be successful at it.

Hitting well in the major leagues simply requires you to fail somewhat less often than your peers. If someone sees a flaw in Bucky's approach or notices certain types of pitches he fails at, so be it. However, you can't simply say his swing is "long" and have that imply anything really useful. Terms like long or compact swings are merely descriptive phrases that illustrate the type of approach a hitter is using. Similar to golf, if you say a hitter is "long" or "straight" tells you a little bit about their game, but doesn't actually tell you if they will succeed.

Along these same lines, when people first saw Bucky they said he can't hit a breaking ball- not with that swing. If we ignore for a moment if he can or cannot hit a curve, that alone still doesn't mean he couldn't be an effective hitter. There are plenty of examples of major league players who could were good enough at a particular type of pitch that they could succeed on that alone.

What I like about Bucky is he is one of the few hitters on this team who can hit a pitchers mistake. How many times this season has Boone or Winn had a fastball right over the middle of the plate and they miss it? Or a breaking ball that ends up belt high and they foul it off. With Bucky, he has done a great job hitting those mistakes. That huge HR he hit this weekend? It was off a pitch that was left over the plate- a mistake. The pitcher didn't want to throw it there, but he did.

And Bucky made him pay, long swing and all.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Mariners dreadful season continues

Swept by the Devil Rays at home, and then your "#1" starter Moyer loses to Kansas City. Finding positive things to write about on this team requires a neutron microscope.

Dave has a nice piece on Jose Lopez at USS Mariner- link

My take? Jose has certainly appeared overmatched, and his stats are indicative of a player who is not ready. Season numbers to date-
.231 .263 .286 .549

However, look at his home numbers-
.265 / .306 / .412 / .718

Smaller sample size, but perhaps in a comfortable environment he is better able to perform. Let's face it, with so many bad players surrounding you, and a negative energy hanging over this club, what can we expect from youngsters like Jose? There are not many players who could come in right now and hit on this team.

Look at how many players have moved on and seemingly have benefited from moving out of Seattle's lineup. The first reaction is to dismiss them all as statistical anomalies, but take a look at recent performances-

Ben Davis- August
.323 .362 .600 .962

This is a player who had 3 hits as a Mariner in how many at-bats?!!!

Rich Aurilia- August
.289 / .400 / .447 / .847

Olerud- August
.309 / .377 / .397 / .774

McCracken- August
.309 / .352 / .395 / .747

The only trend I see is get out of Seattle and you learn to hit again!

Look, I'm not trying to pretend all these guys are suddenly great players. Ben Davis is not going to win a batting title, and Rich Aurilia is not an OB machine. They are who they are. But we can't deny this team has struggled to score runs since midway through last season. You have a bunch of guys stressed, out of position, trying to do things they cannot do and it spills over to the new guy.

So back to Jose Lopez. What do the M's do for next year. The simple truth is this team cannot run out and afford to pick-up 2 starters, a couple of power arms in the bullpen, a CF, SS, 3B and possibly 1B. Not if you fancy names like Beltre or Beltran anyway. The only way the M's get back to decent next year is if young guys on this team STEP up. That means you have to count on guys like Jacobsen and Lopez not only making the team next year, but contributing.

Look at Beltre's numbers his first time up in the bigs-
.215 .278 .369 .647

This is in 195 AB's. I'm not comparing Lopez and Beltre here, but just to point out plenty of guys struggle when they first come up. You have to invest in players, and you have to get a little lucky. It is unfortunate the M's don't have more in the system to plug-in, but this is the present, and we have to work with it. I don't mind investing in Lopez. I do mind investing in Mevinquist.

I want the Mariners to invest time in Lopez and Jacobsen. Why?

Because they are simply the best we have right now. You make do with what you have, so put them in the lineup now every day and let them play. You do this with Lopez because you HAVE to. You have to because you traded away the SS you had, Carlos Guillen. Now you are forced to play the next best player in your organization, regardless of the odds of him becoming a superstar. We can bitch and moan all we want about the fact we are in this position, but here we are.

Play Lopez and Jacobsen next year because they are cheap. Take the money you saved by not signing another Rich Aurilia and use it to find players you can build around ie. Adrian Beltre or Beltran.

If the M's were serious about restocking the farm system, they would have traded guys like Moyer at the deadline. They also would have not stated they intend to be competitive next year. Putting Lopez in AAA for at least another year may be the best LONG TERM solution, but it won't allow the club to be competitive next year. They will simply run out of budget to field almost an entirely new club, and they won't get the superstar they need.

So I understand why Dave doubts Lopez is ready for the bigs, and understand why it would be best to keep him in AAA. However, when you are one of the worst teams in baseball, worrying about service time for future superstars is not something I am concerned with. If Lopez does turn into something, I'll gladly worry about that when the time comes.

Dave is right, but the M's are doing the right thing by playing him. We'd all better root for the young guys, because without them this team will be in the cellar of the AL West for a long time. And put a few stars on this team, and I suspect we'll see a lot of guys numbers look a whole lot better.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Nice article on Bobby Madritsch in USA Today

Nice article on the front page of the USA Today sports section- check it out if you haven't read it already- link

"Bobby Madritsch's rise to the major leagues is a story of perseverance: He grew up in a gang-filled area on Chicago's South Side, dropped out of college, pitched for four independent league teams and recovered from reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder to join the Seattle Mariners' starting rotation last month as a 28-year-old rookie."


So KC comes to town for a 5-game series. After getting swept by the lowly Rays, what possible expectations should we have as the two worst teams in the AL go head-to-head?

Really, is there any team in all of baseball that is playing any worse than the M's?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

M's now just going through the motions

It's pretty obvious the Mariner veterans are already planning off-season vacations. This team has little life right now, and it's getting worse. This team is now farther behind than any team since 1983!! That's right, Bob Melvin is looking up at Bill Plummer et al. There are some bad teams we've watched over the years, and NO ONE could have predicted the kind of year we've had.

Recap of some of our key players this year-

Garcia- traded
Piniero- out for the season
Meche- half the season in AAA
Franklin- hasn't won last 15 starts
Aurilia- cut before All Star break
Spiezio- suffers from Cirilloitis
Olerud- cut
Ibanez- misses much of season with injury
Boone- worst season as Mariner
Davis- jettisoned
Wilson- downward trend continues
Borders- on the major league club yet again
McCracken- cut
Guardado- out for year
Mateo- out for most of year
Soriana- out til '06

I mean the list goes on and on. This club is packed with player after player who is underperforming. The club that won 116 games will now almost certainly lose 100 only 3 years later.

What will happen when the M's play AL West teams fighting for playoff spots in September? It's going to be a bloodbath for M's fans. Edgar, you retired one year too late I'm afraid.

I now predict Bavasi will bring back Melvin next year. Why?

Because this team is going to be bad next year too, and if Bavasi brings in a new manager, the bullseye will be squarely on him. By letting Melvin struggle with the team in his final year, Bavasi buys another year to get this team straightened out.

Sorry to be so negative, but this team STINKS.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

M's offensive struggles continue

As I sit here, the M's have managed three hits against Bell in 7 innings. This is after getting shut out yesterday by a pitcher who'd never started a major league game.

We all know the M's offense is terrible, but with Leone out and Bucky not playing tonight, look at the lineup-
I Suzuki- red hot
R Winn- hitting .277 in August
E Martinez -playing well this month
R Ibanez - playing well this month
B Boone- .236 in August
S Spiezio- automatic out
D Wilson- ice cold
J Lopez - rookie hitting .220
W Bloomquist - low-average singles hitter

Basically we have 2 singles hitters to start, 2 slow, injury prone doubles hitters and then 5 pretty much automatic outs.

That's what pitchers face when they pitch to our lineup.

Combined with our bullpen and starting rotation.... sigh.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Oh, I forgot about Melvinquist

Who could talk about the game tonight and not mention Melvinquist. Look at this line over the past week-
.538 .538 .846 1.385

You can't stop Melvinquist, you can only hope to contain him.

Of course this outburst will only increase the amount of playing time he receives. In other words, we all lose.


Also, good to see the Yankees losing. If only Boston could catch the Yankees, and the A's or Angels beat them out for the wild card and we are spared seeing Jeter in the post season.

Not going to happen, but man it would be fun!

Bobby Madritsch pitching tonight

One of the few decent pitchers on this staff right now, at least based on performance this year. His current line for the season:

.234 1.23 2.32

A win tonight and he'd be 4-0. His strikeout rate is nothing special, but he has been controlling the number of walks he issues and is basically just throwing strikes and daring the hitters to swing. I like it!
It is of course the season debut of Scott Kazmir. His minor league numbers are fantastic, and he is one of the more highly rated prospects in baseball.

For those of you who are huge Felix Hernandez fans, it is worth mentioning that Scott is 20 years old. If Felix continues without injury or performance issues, he would be in a similiar situation sometime next year. Are the Rays making a mistake in bringing up Scott so young? Time will tell. Yet another reason to watch the game.

Finally, of course no game can go on right now without talking about Ichiro. The entire baseball community is starting to take notice of Ichiro's box scores, and he is the only reason the Seattle Mariners are even mentioned anymore in baseball circles. He is only hitting .506 for August.

How cool would it be to hit .500 for a month!

Rookie pitcher, Safeco field, Ichiro at the plate. Go M's.


Since we are playing the Devil Rays, it is worth mentioning all the press Piniella and LaMar have been getting lately about rebuilding the club. While there is little doubt that Piniella has done a good job as manager, the fact of the matter is the Rays won't be seeing the playoffs anytime soon. There also have been swipes at Billy Beane and others as the traditional baseball types look at the high school players drafted by the club and seem to take satisfaction at blasting Moneyball theories yet again.

The Devil Rays aren't doing anything magical. The recent "success" at not sucking as badly as they have previously is pretty easy to spot. The formula, should the M's try to adopt it, is pretty simple.

Suck really bad for a lot of years.

Get to pick from the cream of the crop of available players.

Occasionally get one right.

For example, look at the drafting order for the Rays the past few years:
2004 4
2003 1
2002 2
2001 3
2000 6
1999 1
1997 31
1996 29

Not hard to stock up the farm system with draft picks like these. Combine top draft picks with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball (ie. trade veterans when they play well) and the Devil Rays formula is pretty simple.

Of course some of the current Ray boosters like to forget some of the spectacular failures produced in the above drafts.

If I were Piniella or LaMar, I wouldn't gloat about the current Devil Rays. I don't see any rocket science behind any of the moves made. The club is getting better, slowly, after building through the draft. That is why bad teams get to pick first- to allow them to get better.

Let's see the Devil Rays finish ahead of Baltimore and Toronto, and let's see a few .500 seasons before we declare LaMar is a genious.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ichiro continues to amaze...

Starts off the game with a triple, and is currently 2 for 2.

We are seeing one of the most amazing hitting performances ever seen. I struggle to put into words how incredible what Ichiro is doing right now.

It is impossible to even predict what he will do for the next month. If we went by historical averages, he would have long ago cooled off. His confidence and concentration is so high right now there is no telling how long this could continue.

To tell you the truth, I think getting beaned pissed him off a little! Thank goodness it doesn't appear to have slowed him down.

Okay, back to the game.

Friday, August 20, 2004

M's face former SS, AL West race nears homestretch

The M's are in Motown today and we watch Ron Villone attempt to regain some of the money he threw around last weekend. A pessimist might say its actually in the M's best interests if Villone falls down again, because it might make the FO less likely to re-sign him to a ridiculous deal.

If the M's were smart, they would let Villone play out the year and let him shop himself over the offseason. They would tell him to get back with them with the best deal he could find and then the M's could choose to match it. There is little chance teams are going to go crazy signing a guy like Villone, and no way do you bother with more than a one-year deal. I'm quite certain that Villone would take an equivalent deal from the M's to stay here. By offering him a contract now, you are taking on risk for a guy getting on in years. If by chance he did sign elsewhere there are plenty of options within the organization who can fill a similiar role (RF?) so there seems to be little upside to signing him now.

Regardless, Villone will be trying very, very hard tonight to pitch well.

As for our good friend Carlos Guillen, he has cooled off a bit lately.

Last seven days-
.231 / .310 / .423 / .733

Still, his overall numbers are great and he will have fine season that created a nice three-year deal he would have never gotten from the M's.

Freddy and Carlos both benefited from getting out of Seattle. A little sad really.


I am tempted to go out on a limb and say the Anaheim Angels will win the West. They are really heating up and look to be the most balanced team of the three contenders. I am still amazed Texas is hanging in there, as you would think their pitching would have melted by now. With Boston playing well lately, we have 4 teams competing for 2 spots. I'm picking Boston and Anaheim, but then I look at Oakland's starting pitching and wonder how they could be left out.

Man, the M's could have been in the thick of one of the most exciting playoff races we've seen in a long time. We could have had 5 teams competing for 2 spots, and could marvel at Ichiro while checking the box scores practically hourly during September.

Instead, we only look at the standings to see how the race for Upton is shaping up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Franklin pitching + M's on the road + Ichiro concussion= Sh*t

Ryan pitches well, but it's against the AL's worst team and it doesn't matter, and the M's find a way to lose again. Combine this with Ichiro getting beaned and the M's find a new low.

What can we say. The M's suck right now. The most exciting thing to happen to the M's this season is Ichiro and he leaves the game with a likely concussion.

At least Scott Spirillo got a hit, and is now carrying a .207 average to the plate.

Remember when that use to be embarrassing?

I think we are past that point.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Hitting for cycle- does anyone care?

ESPN is reporting yet another player hitting for the cycle- link

The question is, does anyone care? I personally have never understood the fascination with hitting for the cycle. It is a silly stat: as a player I wouldn't give a rats-a** if I hit one or not. I'd take hitting three home runs any day of the week. Or how about 6 RBI's over hitting for the cycle with 2. Or ...

I'm sure most players are just glad they are hitting the ball well and hope it carries over to the next game. Being in the stands to see a cycle doesn't make my top-100 things I'd want to see at a ball game, but that's just me.


The M's hit the ball well tonight- I am stuck at work and didn't get to see the game, and am wondering why Leone was pulled for Melvinquist. Was Leone hurt? I'm sure I'll find out in the morning, but I sure hope Melvin had a good reason.


Bobby pitched well again tonight. He walked more than we'd like to see, and he did it against the Kansas City Royals, but he is one of the few bright spots on this teams pitching staff.


The NY papers are already speculating on the changes the Yanks will make when they sign Carlos Beltran. I suppose it is crazy to even think the M's have a shot, but if the M's are smart they will make an attempt regardless.

OMG- Ichiro on unbelievable streak

While wondering a few hours ago if Ichiro can keep hitting, all he does is open the game with a home run. Let's see, right now he's 4-4 with 5 RBI's.

He is so on fire right now- those that questioned if he had lost a step couldn't have been more wrong. I personally apoligize for wondering to myself earlier if he might have, but I didn't write an article in the PI about it or anything...

Several people have begun wondering if Ichiro could come close to .400 this year. I immediately dismissed it, but if he keeps this up through August, we have to at least start crunching the numbers to see what it would take.

The M's can't play .500, but if Ichiro can hit at that clip he will give us one more reason to care about September.

Bobby best reason to watch tonights game

It will be fun to see if he can keep up his better-than-expected pitching performance against the Royals. The other reason to watch is of course Ichiro, who can't continue to hit .480 right? Or can he... And we can watch to see if Leone can cut down on his strikeouts, and if Bucky can smash another home run, and -- well, there are plenty of reasons to watch I guess.


Meanwhile, a lot of people are focusing on Scott Rolen as MVP in the National League. Certainly he is having an MVP-caliber season, and if it wasn't for Bonds he would be a good choice. But with Pujols coming on strong, I'm not certain he's the Cardinals MVP.

to date:
.330 / .414 /.617 /1.030

.324 /.407 /.653 /1.060

Pujols leads Rolen in Runs, Home Runs, Slugging Percentage, Hits and OPS.

Rolen has gotten the most attention because the leads the majors in RBI's and plays for a team with the best record. For many writers, that's their basis for making a decision- best slugger on best team.

Of course Rolen plays great defense, and that will be brought up by Rolen backers.

For me, I'd pick Pujols. He's been more consistent in his career- every year he's fantastic. For Rolen, this is the first year he's really lived up to all his hype.

Who would you vote for MVP if Bonds was not an option- Rolen or Pujols?

(Of course Bonds is an option, and Pujols and Rolen will likely steal votes from each other leading Bonds to rightfully win. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are the best hope for not seeing the Yankees win a WS ring this year...)

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Do you think Boras called Villone after last nights game?

"Mr. MVP" for the M's had a rough night last night- I wonder if Bavasi was watching. I'm sure Villone's agent, Scott Boras has seem the line and jotted down a mental note: The next time Villone is due to pitch against the Yankees while I discuss his contract, he mysteriously comes up with flu-like symptoms...

Speaking of which, I go to the game last night expecting to see A-Rod and Olerud and get to see neither! A-Rod was out with the flu Villone wishes he had, and Tony Clark got the start against Villone.

So we saw that the Yankees are really, really good, even at less than full strength. And the M's are really, really bad.

Perhaps Moyer can make tonights game a little more enjoyable.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Throw out the record book when the Yankees come to town

At least for Mariner fans anyway. A sold out series with the Yankees awaits M's fans. There is a reason the M's-Yanks series always sell out. One, the majority of us hate the Yankees. Two, we get to boo Alex. And now three, we get to see John Olerud.

I'm sure John will get a nice ovation when he is introduced (at least I assume Tony Clark isn't starting tonight :)

Part of the ovation will drown out the "Why couldn't you have hit like this when you played here!" cry, but what are you going to do.

For M's management wondering the same thing, the answer is clear. You don't make an aging first baseman who showed a serious sign of declining skills one of your keys to driving in runs during the year. Olerud clearly is a good 8-hole hitter on a team where all he needs to do is play good defense and know practically every base hit will drive somebody in. He is under very little pressure, as the Yanks are only paying him $100,000. They (the M's) needed to go out and get that big bat over the offseason and they didn't do it- Olerud as a Yank is a perfect example of what you realistically could have expected from him in '04.

Of course it doesn't hurt John that the M's releasing him served as a good wake-up call. I'm sure he is playing with a little bit of energy and drive he clearly didn't have playing here. Getting fired from the worst team in the AL will do that to you.

So I'll be at the game tonight, giving John a good cheer when he is introduced.

But... if he hits a home run late in the game, especially after I've had a few beers, I might be tempted to yell at him a little. You know, just to prepare him for the playoffs and all!

If the M's wanted to really spice up the series tonight, I recommend Villone drill Olerud in his first time up. We haven't had a good brawl in a while, and I think it would be good for the Tacoma boys to be able to bond with the veterans while they discuss who gets suspended.


So Villone is pitching tonight and the M's are talking contract extension. I won't get too worked up about this until I see the numbers. At this point in his career, Villone should never get anything more than a two year deal, and that should be a stretch. If he gets three years Bavasi should be fired immediately.


Bret Boone cleared waivers, which just goes to show what his value is on the market today. I said all year NO ONE besides the Yankees would touch him.

I am surprised the Yanks don't see him as an upgrade- do they have bad feelings over trading for his brother last year? Money would seem to be of no concern for the Yanks, but even they don't want to pay Boonie $9 million next year.

This winter will be VERY interesting as far as market value for free agents.


Everyone is reporting Carlos Beltran is asking for 5 years at $15 million/per.

The M's should simply ask: "Who do I make the check out to...?"


I have heard the M's are more likely to land Carlos Delgado. With the Yankees almost certainly going hard after Beltran, the M's need to be REALLY aggressive in the offseason. They can't sit around and wait for players to let them know they might be interested in playing here. They need to show players, agents and other clubs they mean business, and the old M's style is dead.

We'll have lots of time to discuss the offseason, but I'm predicting Delgado is an M next year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

When will Piniero go under the knife?

I'm surprised the M's didn't also announce Joel will almost certainly need surgery. They are opting for rest at this point, but I am fairly certain surgery will end up being the outcome.

Five starters for the whole season seems a LONG time ago. ( Of course if Melvin was doing his job last year they would have never set that record.)

This team is officially on the three year+ plan for contending in the West again.

Do I like football??

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Ouch- M's eliminated from postseason in '05?

With the terrible news tonight that Soriano and Guardado are both out with season ending surgery, the M's are now facing a perfect storm in the bullpen.

Starting the season, the M's figured to have one of the strongest bullpens in baseball. Just looking at closer options, the M's counted on-

Option 1- Guardado
Option 2- Soriano
Option 3- Hasagawa

With options 1 and 2 out until basically 2006, and Shiggy becoming one of the worst relievers in all of baseball, the M's strength suddenly turned into a terrible, sucking chest wound.

The M's are now faced with having to completely rebuild their bullpen over the offseason, which will put considerable strain on a budget that seemingly grows smaller by the minute. The M's have so many holes to fill next year the likelihood of bringing in big name free agents with names like Glaus or Beltran seem more and more unlikely. Plus, even if they do sign a big name free agent, it's going to take a lot more than one to make a difference in this division.

I advocated earlier this year for the M's to trade Guardado. It didn't make sense to me to keep one of your most tradeable commodities in a season going nowhere. With so few players on the roster that were actually tradeable, Guardado was an incredibly rare player for the M's. I won't second guess the M's here, for they had no way to know he was going to blow out his shoulder, but this problem is precisely why you trade relievers when your season is going down the tubes. They can't help your team in the standings, and you can get stuck with dead weight on your payroll next year when you are trying to rebuild. Look for this to be reason #407 why the M's payroll next year will be smaller than we have been led to believe. Bavasi is learning on the job, just like Melvin.

Unless the M's get unbelievably lucky next year (ie. career years by everyone), they won't need to bother firing Melvin this off-season.

It won't matter who the manager is next year- the M's hole is that deep right now.

Starting pitchers for next year?

A while back I wondered who Bavasi would target during the offseason. Given the poor performance of the Tacoma boys, it seems pretty clear the M's will be in the market for 1 and probably 2 starters for '05.

The number 1 response I heard back on Bavasi favorites was Brad Radke. He is in the last year of his contract with the Twins and is having a solid season. If the market holds up this winter I would expect him to make $7-9 million. Certainly the M's can afford him, but I'm guessing the Twins hold on to him unless the money gets crazy.

Contreras was mentioned next- the M's have always had an eye on him, and could probably work something out with Chicago. Again, we run into the age old problem of who the M's have to trade that a team would find valuable.

Matt Clement was number three. He has a losing record with the Cub's but has been pitching well. He's reasonably young, averages a strikeout an inning and has a 3.29 ERA. He's got to be worth at least as much as Radke to a team, and might get $9 million.

Personally, a starting rotation with Moyer, Pineiro, Radke and Clement would make this team a playoff caliber team, IMO. The problem is finding enough money for the bat and improved defense you need. Not to mention the difficulty the M's will face in attracting free agents next year- we don't have a great history in Seattle of big signings. If you're not from this area, Seattle might as well be Siberia to some players. The M's are going to have to flash some cash to make noise this winter. Not exactly what Lincoln wants to hear.

So Martinez just hit a home run in the first- Ichiro started the game with a base hit. Wow, the M's with a lead. Back to the game...

Melvinquist era over?

Today during his weekly interview with Softy on KJR, Willie Bloomquist was asked about his future with the club. Much to my delight, he indicated the last month has essentially shown he will have no future with the club beyond as a utility man. He spoke to the promotion of Lopez at shortstop as really being the final evidence he needed to see the club wasn't ready to hand him an everyday job. (I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially what he said.)

He said he wasn't ready to close any future doors with the M's, but seems to realize if he wants to play everyday, he is probably going to need to do it with another team.

So good news for those that shudder at the thought of Bloomquist being an opening day starter next year. I'm guessing Bavasi sees the same thing many others have seen- a player who has never shown an real potential to hit in the major leagues, and is already looking to move in a different direction.

Monday, August 09, 2004

So the retirement is at years end

We learn during the press conference earlier statements saying it takes effect immediately were wrong. Instead, he will have to answer the same questions over and over again. lol

This makes the end of the season a little more interesting, and gives us bloggers more stuff to write about. I guess everybody wins.

Edgar announces his retirement

Just like Edgar to announce his retirement, and have it effective immediately. He doesn't seem the type to want long, teary goodbyes or to answer questions at every game about his decision. This is simple, direct and says everything about why the fans love him.

I'm sure we'll hear more as to why he picked today to announce his retirement. Let's listen to the press conference at 2:30 to see what information is presented.

We can save the HOF debate for another day...

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Carlos Tosca fired as manager

In the midst of a disappointing season, the Jays fired Tosca

Interesting quote by Neyer:
"So the Blue Jays fired their manager, just as they'd have fired any other unproven manager of a team like this one."

So the Jays were expected to be good, but instead play poorly and are now finding ways to lose a game. Sound familiar? Did the M's underperform this year, or were they simply not very good from the start. I'm not campaigning for Melvin to get axed in the next couple of weeks, but it's clear this team is finding ways to lose. Scoring as few a runs as they have against Tampa is simply unacceptable. Are the M's playing through the motions right now?

I really felt the M's at some point would level off and play .500 ball for some time. That has simply not happened. Instead, the M's have played like one of the worst teams in baseball pretty much the whole year (discounting the brief stretch when they played equally bad teams).

Meanwhile, Scott Spiezio went 2 for 13 against Tampa and is hitting .206...

Friday, August 06, 2004

Anyone explain why Scott Spiezio plays?

Scott Spiezio is basically Cirillo with a little more power:

.208/ .283/ .345/ .629

I know Melvin likes to get Martinez SOME playing time, but leaving Jacobsen out of the lineup for Scott Spiezio makes me crazy. It reminds me a little bit of Mark McLemore during his last year in Seattle- his numbers clearly showed he was a bench/utility player, but he received way more playing time than his numbers warranted.

Bucky's current line:

.313/ .413/ .625/ 1.038

Or pehaps Melvin figures Bucky is so bad in the field, anything other than DH is simply not an option. I didn't think we'd reached that point yet- do you think Bucky should be allowed to play first? I just don't see how you play a game like last night and leave your best hitter on the bench.

I guess Melvin figures Spiezio will play his way out of it, but I don't think his performance is good enough to just keep running him out there.

M's finally get good pitching

It had been so long since the M's got good pitching it was hard to remember this was supposed to be the M's strength going into the season. The only reason I thought the M's would win 86 games coming into the season was due to their starting pitching. After about two months of some of the most ugly pitching we've seen since the early 90's, the M's finally show something.

The optimist in me found a couple of things to like about last nights game. Bucky Jacobsen's plate discipline is really something to see. With Olerud gone and Edgar's best days behind him, he probably has the best eye for pitches on the team.

Bobby Madritsch of course pitched great. It's only one game, but if other callups see his success, I believe it can only help push the rest of them. Overall the Tacoma pitchers have been a great disappointment, but there is time for several of them to step up and give us some hope for next year.

Jose Lopez has shown potential. It is of course his callup that helped move Aurilia off the club, who signed with San Diego, who released Cirillo as a result.

USS Mariner is reporting Mike Myers has been traded to Boston for essentially nothing. We kept hearing there was interest for Myers from New York. I'm a little disappointed the M's couldn't have got anything for him. They might has well have just outright released him, for all they will get is not paying his salary the rest of the year. He had no real use on the club anymore, so I'm glad he's gone. The youth movement continues.

BTW- I feel bad for Jamal Strong. The guy has played well in Tacoma, and appears to have no future with the club. Perhaps September will see him get up here, but I doubt he'll see much time. It's too bad Melvin can't find a use him- he would probably be the best base stealer on the club, and would seem to be a great pinch runner who could give Winn, Ibanez and Ichiro needed days off.

Update: I see that Jamal is out with a bad hamstring. Even so, Melvin was recently quoted as saying he has no plans to get him in the lineup, so it would appear his best chance would be hooking up with another club.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

What will Bavasi do about CF?

I was pretty happy to hear Bavasi's comments a few weeks ago when he talked about the need to improve the M's defense up the middle. He specifically mentioned lack of range and arm strength, and pretty clearly seemed to be calling out SS and CF. Good news for M's fans.

The M's seem to have options at SS, with the club giving Lopez a shot near term. But for CF, I'm not sure I understand Bavasi's current thinking.

If you asked me a few weeks ago, I might have wondered if he continued to run Winn out there to possibly showcase him for a trade. After all, Winn has been swinging the bat well lately and he might have found a taker. But instead Winn is still on the team.

The other option would be to switch Ichiro into Center. It seems like every fan and All Star Manager sees this an an option, but not the M's FO. I certainly wouldn't want to go into next season assuming Ichiro was my CF without playing him there to see how he does. But, I haven't seen any talk about the M's doing this any time soon.

Finally, they could assume Jeremy Reed is the CF of the future.

This is probably the most likely candidate, but what do you do with Randy Winn? Platoon him with Ibanez? Move Ibanez to first? What about Spiezio? Where does Leone play?

The point here is that the M's seem to realize they need to add an outfielder (either from within the organization or as a FA) but they have more players than positions.

And I don't see them paying Winn to be a bench player.


It was nice to see John Olerud talking about the excitement of playing in New York. Given the number of teams the Times claimed called, I'm a little surprised he picked the Yankees.

After all, he is essentially a replacement until Giambi comes back. Worst case scenario, he's cut in three weeks.

With the other teams, he at least could have been assured to play out the rest of the year. I can only assume he feels confident Giambi won't return, or he feels he will play his way into the job and perhaps Tony Clark is the one to go.

Either way, it is a curious signing on John's part.


It was nice to see Olerud is looking for a house for his family in NY. What a novel idea- you want to be close to your family, so you bring the family with you.

If only Ken Griffery Jr. hadn't realized this obvious fact. Was there anything worse than hearing a guy complain about how far is family is when you realize he's the one who decided to move them 3,000 miles away from the town he plays for?

Olerud will be close to his family, the Yanks get a classy player and the M's get to give a shot to the kids.

Looks like everybody wins here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Ichiro continues to hit as M's are swept

While the M's are swept by Baltimore (9-7 , 5-4), Ichiro is on fire. All he does the first game is go 5-5. After intentionally being rested in the second game, he comes up as a late-inning replacement and gets another hit to go 6-6 for the day and raise his average to .355

While many of the M's slumped early and have never recovered, Ichiro is clearly out to prove his late season fade the past two years doesn't have to be guaranteed. It's still early in August, but Ichiro is one of the few bright spots on this team.

He is hitting, but the M's are losing.

Olerud signs with Yanks

So it's official, John signs with the Yankees. If you are a Yanks fan, it's pretty obvious why they went after him. With the M's responsible for the majority of Olerud's salary, having to only pay the minimum for the rest of the year, the Yanks get him for a song. With Giambi out an undetermined time for now at least, only having Tony Clark at 1st was not comforting. So, the Yanks get a veteran first basemen who can still play good defense, and won't get overwhelmed playing in the big apple.

The not so obvious question is why Olerud was willing to play first base in NY, but not in San Fran. A few fans are wondering why the M's didn't just trade Olerud if NY wanted him.

The reason Olerud signed in NY would seem to be straightforward. He still wants to play baseball. The reason he rejected the M's deal to send him to the Giants is also simple:

John never imagined he was going to be released by the M's

A guy who never spent a day in the minors figured with the M's paying his salary for this year, why go to San Francisco when you can stay in Seattle and be home part of the time. Once the M's released him, John suddenly realized just how far his stock had fallen. The M's couldn't get ANYONE to take him, for even a Grade-XYZ prospect, and when the M's released him the phone didn't exactly ring off the hook. Olerud realized just how few choices there are for an aging singles hitter who was making almost $8 million.

So Olerud had two choices- sit out the rest of the year and make a decision on his career over the winter, or sign with a club now and play. For a guy struggling for almost two years now, Olerud needs to play. It would be that much more difficult to sit the rest of the year and then convince teams over the winter he could still contribute. A few key hits in the post-season can open a few doors for him, as his agent undoubtedly realized. Playing with his kids all summer was only going to close what few doors were open. (This is not to say someone wouldn't give John a job next year, but the jobs might have involved names like Montreal or Tampa Bay. And the word "backp-up" would certainly be invoked.)

John can still retire over the winter, but for now he keeps his options open. Family is clearly not as big of an issue as we were led to believe for him, because playing for a team on the East Coast and playing in the post-season is not about maximizing your time at home.

Instead, John faced a rude wake-up call. I don't think he realized how much his performance led to last years disappointment in not making the playoffs, and certainly contributed to his team having one of the worst records in baseball this year. He's not going to the Yanks because he's a premier player playing on the best team in the AL- he's going as a band-aid while the teams star player heals.

John's a classy guy, but I wonder if high-fiving with Jeter et al. will be fun for him. I don't expect him to magically get his swing back, but if he works hard he can still help a team.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Back from vacation, where to start...

Boy, you go on vacation during the trading deadline, so many topics- let's see, Giambi's got cancer, Olerud is going to NY (Family issues??), Contreras traded, Nomar, Dodgers, Cubs, ...

At least we don't have to waste a bunch of time talking about all those moves the M's made.


Before I left, I hoped the M's would play .500 ball. Instead, the losing has permeated the clubhouse and the M's find a way to lose game after game. Overall, I think it is fair to say the pitching on this team stinks.

So, this has caused many fans to realize the M's need to be shopping for one, and probably 2 quality arms in the off-season.

If you buy the argument the M's need to go after a couple of pitchers, this means:
- less funds for position players the M's desperately need
- less funds for a big-time bat (ie: power) the M's desperately need
- more chance the M's screw up during the off-season by randomly picking up guys and in general overpaying

During an interview with KJR, Bavasi said he is looking for a Freddy Garcia-type pitcher. Let's look at Freddy's numbers so far: 3.35 ERA, 156 IP, 131 SO, BB 43

If he keeps this up, he'll certainly end up with one of the better seasons for a pitcher in the AL. If you think you have identified a FA pitcher available this upcoming winter with similiar numbers and upside, let's hear it. Not much right now excites me.

One completely bullshit statement by Bavasi- that Garcia wouldn't have come back. Garcia has flat-out said if the M's would have offered him a similiar contract, he would be back. I'm more inclined to believe Garcia on this one, and again the M's back themselves in a corner by never offering an actual real-life contract.

Instead, they are left with a tired argument that the agent said they were looking for fill-in-the-blank money and they couldn't afford it.

I guess what I'm getting at is I don't see a lot of good pitchers available as FA's that excite me, and the M's don't have much to trade.

Some fans seem to think a $95 million paroll will mean no long rebuilding plan. Given the sorry state of the current team (is there anything positive about the current group?) it will take an incredible off-season for the M's to be anything other than the 4th best team in the AL West next year.