Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Time to give Ichiro a day off?

While Choo sits on the bench, many have wondered if he is doing any good sitting on the bench not playing. At least in AAA he gains experience, while on the 25 man roster only his bank account is happy. But we all know Hargrove doesn't use his bench.

Because Choo is an outfielder, one logical possibility is to give Winn a day off. You could even put Choo in Left for two days and give Winn a day at DH.

The problem with this approach is Ibanaz has been your best hitter of late. Traditionally slow starting Winn is also hitting the ball nicely- both got key hits yesterday and I'm sure Hargrove is reluctant to take them out of the lineup.

Meanwhile, we have that other guy in right field, Ichiro. He has been striking out a little more than usual lately, and has more 0-fers than normal. Do we want to see Ichiro play 162 games this year? No, all players need off days. They may not like it, but tough. It is a long season and I don't want any position player to only get a day off when they are injured.

It seems like the perfect time to give Ichiro a day off. Choo needs a taste of the big leagues, it is on the road so us Seattle fans won't mind as much.

Would you put Shin-soo Choo in Right for a day and let Ichiro get some rest?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

M's hitters need smart at-bats

I've spoken about this before, but the M's have to teach hitters WHEN TO PLAY SMART BASEBALL.

Tonight Bret Boone has two at bats against Drese, and has looked at a grand total of two pitches. When you have a pitcher on the ropes, who is walking people and having control problems, smart baseball says to make the pitcher prove he can throw strikes. I don't have a major problem with Boone swinging at the first pitch ONCE. The second time up, he needs to take some pitches. The idea is to knock out the starting pitcher- get to the bullpen- make the team use up pitchers in the beginning of the series.

When a pitcher is having problems throwing strikes, you take pitches. That is fundamental baseball. And it is missing from the current M's hitting approach.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Rockies High?

While the M's try to figure out how to get some offense, rumors persist that Baltimore is willing to give up good prospects for Todd Helton. Yet for some reason, the Rockies are cool to the idea.

So let's review quickly. Rockies suck, owe $106 MILLION to a 32 year old player for 6 MORE YEARS, and are actually not pushing for this trade to take place yesterday.

I don't know who is dumber right now. The Rockies for not jumping over backwards to get rid of this contract, or the pitching challenged Orioles trying to trade for yet another bat.

Repeat after me. The M's are not the worst run organization in baseball.

Friday, April 22, 2005

M's bats not drawing walks by design

We have all noticed the M's have not be scoring many runs. There are two simple reasons for this. One, they have displayed little power. Two, they have not drawn many walks.

Part of the power problem is simply Safeco and a small sample size, but the walks is more maddening.

The reason the M's aren't getting on base is because Hargrove and the FO apparently don't believe in the walk. When Willie Bloomquist is getting the green light on a 3-0 pitch to swing away, THAT IS A CLEAR SIGN HARGROVE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT WALKS.

When Raul Ibanez watches a pitcher throw 12 balls in 14 pitches, and SWINGS AT THE FIRST PITCH, that is bad baseball. That is an organization that does not value a walk.

Anyone reading this blog knows walks are important. Base runners mean better chances to score runs. It means the pitcher has to face more batters. It means you make the opponent throw more pitches. You get to their bullpen earlier. On and On and On. Many well documented reasons to value a walk.

But it is clear this regime, at this point in the season, is not placing much emphasis on walks.

That is a problem.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Can M's score w/o a HR?

It seems like the only way the M's can score is if someone hits a HR.

The lack of power and speed besides Ichiro sure puts a lot of pressure on Sexson, Beltre and Boone to hit a HR.

That needs to change obviously.

Can M's score w/o a HR?

It seems like the only way the M's can score is if someone hits a HR.

The lack of power and speed besides Ichiro sure puts a lot of pressure on Sexson, Beltre and Boone to hit a HR.

That needs to change obviously.

Willie swinging?

Why is Willie swinging at a 3-0 pitch?


Seriously, Raul and Willie need to get an earful from Hargrove, or I have a new bone to pick with our new manager.

Notice how Ichiro and Winn TOOK pitches in their at bats. Someone needs to explain how guys in the bottom of the order can help the team.

Game status

Okay, Boone makes up for some of his lousy defense this year by hitting a Grand Slam.

And Raul pulls a boneheaded move by swinging at the first pitch after we see Zito throw 25 pitches in the first inning and only 9 strikes.

Put simply, there is NO WAY Willie or Raul should be swinging at anything until they've seen Zito prove he can throw 3 strikes before he walks you.

That's just me though.

Hargrove doing a good job?

Dave at U.S.S. Mariner says he sees little evidence Hargrove is doing a bad job managing- link

Yet at the same time, he says playing Willie in CF is stupid.

Which we all agree is REALLY stupid, and he's already done it before.

So what issues have we seen with Hargrove so far:

  • Poor Bench construction- It is hard to know how much the FO plays a role here, but we have to assume Hargrove has a major say in his bench. The fact he has no speed, no defensive specialist or anyone with power is a reason to criticize in my book. The combo of Spiez, Willie and Dobbs is a reason to have an issue with Hargrove, especially when you mismanage it by playing Willie in center. There is clearly reason to question the manager when it comes to his bench and how he uses it.
  • Pitching roster- carrying 12 pitchers is silly. We all agree you don't give your pitchers enough work, and you limit yourself by not having an additional utility player.
  • Use of pitching- I criticized the use of Thornton coming in to close games. I also think he needs to use long relief more effectively.
  • Sacrificing the runner- every manager is guilty of this, so not much more can be said...

Okay, so we have some gripes with Hargrove. It's not like last year, where I was already calling for Melvin's head. Hargrove is a good manager, but there a few faults that we can't help but notice. Is he an upgrade over Melvin? Definitely.

All in all I'm happy, but you know there will be balls hit tonight where we will all be saying "Reed would have gotten that..."

Spiezio on DL

That "twinge" Scott felt yesterday has indeed landed him on the DL. You can rest assured if any of the productive fielders on the M's had the same injury, they would have waited a little longer before making the move. Instead, with Spiezio struggling it was an easy decision for the club to send him down and call up Shin-soo Choo. This is the type of move many of use have been looking for. Get a real bench player on the club, and Choo fits that bill. He can flat out hit the ball, and he is cheap. His defense is poor (putting it nicely) but he can provide Hargrove with some options.

The unanswered question at this point is how will Hargrove use him? To sub for Reed? To move Winn to center? Occasional pinch hitter? One who never leaves the pine?

We will know over the next few days.


Hard to believe but the M's are only one game ahead of last years pace at this time. Of course the '04 team went on a 5 game losing streak, so tonight is a good time to squash that stat.

Zito is not getting his curve over consistently and if the M's are PATIENT success could be had. Should be fun to watch.

Now if only Piniero can get over his first inning problems...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Miguel Olivo's at-bat last night

It's not easy to get 11 hits and only score one run, but anyone who watched the M's last year knows it is certainly possible.

The current problem with run scoring is linked to the complete lack of power the past week. When Sexson and Beltre don't hit, the rest of the lineup is so power challenged runs are hard to come by. Much like last year, the team is stuck trying to hit 4 singles in a row to score a run.

For those hoping Boone might have a big year, that looks unlikely at this point.

So for the rest of the M's, the hitters are going to have to be smart if they are going to "create" runs. Last night Miguel Olivo provided a perfect example of how NOT to go up to the plate.

Situation- 6th inning
Paul Byrd pitches to Miguel Olivo with the bases loaded. The M's look like they have a chance to get back into the game.
First pitch- ball
Second pitch- ball
Third pitch- called strike, but should have been a ball. Not a strike, and everyone there knew it

At this point, Olivo can tell Byrd is at a critical point in the game. He is tiring, he's let guys get on base, he can't walk Olivo, top of the order is near etc...

Byrd is having a hard time throwing strikes. If he throws one more ball, the count is 3-1 and Miguel is going to get a great pitch to hit. Every hitter in the game knows what to do at this point.

You look for YOUR Pitch, something you can drive, and if you don't see it make the pitcher show you he can throw strikes.

But Olivo bails out Byrd by swinging at a ball barely out of the dirt and pops out. What should have been a 3-1 count turns into a momentum killer. There is no way Olivo is looking for a ball 3 inches over the plate at that time. Vlad is on the OTHER team, and Olivo needs to look for something he can actually hit.

It was a bad approach at the plate, and if Miguel Olivo doesn't improve he will never be more than a backup catcher with a good arm.

Let's hope the M's streak of playing well with no TV continues.

Go Moyer.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Lack of bench troubling

While Sexson battles the flu, the lightweight bench the M's carry is on full display. Over the weekend, fans got to see Dobbs at first, Willie at Center, Spiezio etc... and saw a pitching gem on Saturday wasted.

With Bucky on the bench, this changes things slightly, but he's not and there is nothing to be done until he gets over his knee injury. The complete lack of power AND average off the bench is bordering on incompetence by the FO. With our current group, we have no "defensive" replacement, no speed, no power. Is there anything the current group provides Hargrove in a game besides a warm body?

The FO has to realize Beltre and Sexson WILL get back aches, colds, minor injuries etc... during the season. When that happens, this team offensively looks like last year all over again. I would really like to see Bavasi do something with regards to the bench, because the first 12 games have shown, IT DOES MATTER.

Despite my complaining, a win tonight and the M's are over .500

If you asked me before the season would I take 6-6 at this point in the season, I would in a heartbeat. All in all, the season is going pretty well. It's good to be an M's fan again!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Going on vacation

Off for a few days camping and fishing in Eastern Washington. I will be back on Monday.

It would be great to come back and find:
- Joel pitched great on Friday
- Meche's arm hasn't fallen off
- Reed's got a few hits
- Ichiro's started a new streak
- the M's look to really be playing .500 ball

Go M's!

Pitchers duel in KC

Sele is looking good. If this was any other team in the AL, it would actually mean something. Considering the Royals were the consensus worst-team-in-AL coming into '05, it's hard to read too much into it. Still, the M's are competitive this year, and have been staying in games they were getting blown out of last year.

Last year was all about giving up a ton of runs early, and then having to climb out of a hole. So far in this short season, the M's have at least played well enough to get you to not turn off the radio/TV by the 5th inning.

This is going to come down to our bullpen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Early yet

We all know it is hard to grade this team only one week into the season. However we are baseball junkies so we have to talk about something, right! So one week into the season, we have the same record as the NY Yankees and Boston Red Sox. We are 1 game out of first place. We are tied with Texas and Oakland, and are one KC win away from .500

Things could be worse.

It's not a question of being a pessimist or optimist, because all of the above is true. We just have to agree that 7 games in to the season, we aren't sure what have.

That is the best news of all.

Last year at this time, the team had to thank Arthur Rhodes for their first win. The '04 team was terrible at the beginning of the season. It couldn't pitch, hit or play defense. The '05 team at least shows improvement in ever measurable way compared to last year. This year we are one '9th inning on Saturday' away from being in first place. No matter how you look at it, '05 SO FAR is worlds better than last year.

Injuries are the major concern for the M's right now. These things tend to go in spurts, and hopefully the M's are getting their injuries out of the way now and can look forward to a full roster later in the year.

Let's keep an eye on our minor leagues and see who has stepped up and will become this years Bobby or Bucky. They are out there, and Bavasi needs to spot them ASAP.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Franklin joins rotation

I can still see that ball going between Boone's legs in the 9th inning today...

Meanwhile, it looks like the M's took the safe route and installed Franklin in the rotation- link

It looks like the injury to Madritsch could take some time to get over. Here's to a speedy recovery Bobby.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

If Bobby's injury is serious...

I believe Jorge Campillo will get the nod. The M's understand Franklin is in the pen for a reason, and moving him to the rotation and then calling in a reliever doesn't make any sense. Too much shuffling and role changing.

The M's signed Campillo from Winter ball to help the club, and they think he is a major league quality pitcher. They are paying him decent money, and want to see him in action.

We should hear more on Bobby's condition today or tomorrow. For now I'm sticking with George.

Injuries will doom season

Even the most optimistic fan understood that for '05 to be a success, the M's need to have a few things go their way. That means guys can't get hurt, because we all understand the cupboard is bare if we need help.

Certainly injuries are part of the game, and no one expected to go the entire year without someone getting hurt. But these early injuries will sink this team into a pit from which there is no escape.

We also know pitching is a concern. Right now 40% of our starting pitching is out with an injury. Our bench is weak, and we do not want to bring up players like Felix before they are ready.

The M's made 3 acquisitions of Major League quality players over the offseason. Beltre, Sexson and Reese.

Reese is of course hurt. That means the only additions to last years 99 loss team are Beltre and Sexson. Unless several players magically step up and have career years, the non-trades and non-signings that the FO didn't make will really hurt this team.

I can only hope Bavasi is frantically on the phones trying to get help. The early plan to stick with what we have and see how it plays out will simply not work with these injuries.

Let's see if Bavasi responds, or this could be a LONG season. These early games are critical.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Boston has Rivera's number

(Alex booting ball in 9th)

I don't know what it is with Boston and Rivera, but they sure have some memorable innings. The 9th inning right now is crazy!

Rivera getting pulled in the 9th after Boston scores 5 runs. Alex makes a critical error! This is classic stuff right now. No idea who wins, but you never know what will happen in the 9th when these two teams meat.

You don't see this often when Rivera takes the mound with a one run lead-

-Mariano Rivera pitches to Bill Mueller
-B Mueller walked.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to Mark Bellhorn
-M Bellhorn singled to right, B Mueller to second.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to Johnny Damon
-J Damon singled to right, B Mueller to third, M Bellhorn to second.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to Trot Nixon
-T Nixon struck out swinging.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to Manny Ramirez
-M Ramirez safe at first on error by third baseman A Rodriguez, B Mueller scored, M Bellhorn to third, J Damon to second.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to David Ortiz
-D Ortiz grounded out to pitcher, M Bellhorn scored, J Damon to third, M Ramirez to second.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to Dave McCarty
-D McCarty walked.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to Edgar Renteria
-E Renteria singled to shallow left center, J Damon and M Ramirez scored, D McCarty to second.
-Mariano Rivera pitches to Doug Mirabelli
-D Mirabelli walked, D McCarty to third, E Renteria to second.
-Felix Rodriguez pitches to Bill Mueller
-D McCarty scored, E Renteria to third, D Mirabelli to second on wild pitch by F Rodriguez.
-B Mueller struck out looking.

No reason to Panic over slow bats

Lots of stats being thrown around about the slow start for the M's bottom half of the lineup. My response?

What did you expect?

The M's have faced two of the toughest pitchers in the AL, with Santana clearly the best pitcher in the AL until he proves otherwise. When you face tough pitching, you lean on your stars. Only your very best hitters are going to have any success against teams top pitchers.

You expect the hitters making over $10 million a year to be carrying the load when you face a Santana and that is what is happening. Guys like Reed and Winn are predictably overmatched. We don't need to worry about the bottom of the lineup until next week at the earliest. Let these guys get a chance to bat against Texas. Give them a chance to see 4 and 5 starters, and tired bullpens. Then we'll get a better idea on who is ready to help this club and who is struggling.


It was clear watching last nights game that Santana was overthrowing in the first inning. He had so much adrenaline going he was ready to throw the ball 100 miles an hour.

Think about it. The guy is the defending Cy Young winner. He signed a $40 million contract over the winter. His team lost the first game, a game many thought he should have started. This guy is pumped!

Did you notice last night when he had two strikes against Ichiro in the first? He was practically hyperventilating on the mound. He ends up throwing the pitch in the dirt, a classic sign of overthrowing.

As the game wore on, he settled into a nice groove and just threw the ball like he was supposed to. For those of you who have him in a Fantasy League, don't worry.

He'll be just fine.

M's attendance

Watching the game last night, when I wasn't screaming at the M's for putting in Thornton, I noticed a lot of green seats.

You know, with no one in them.

And I'm not talking about the top of the 300 level, I'm talking about plenty of empty seats everywhere in the stadium. The announced attendance was over 28,000, but that is sold tickets. The number of people who actually showed up couldn't have topped 25,000.

The M's estimate of 2.5 million fans may not be as far off as we imagine. Of course it is still early and if the M's play well, attendance will swell in the summer. But if I'm Howard, I have to be a little alarmed at the huge dropoff in the second game of the season.

Let's hope the M's get their act together, top to bottom, and limit the amount of screaming I have to do...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

First mistake by Hargrove

Watching the game tonight, I finally see the first major managerial mistake for the M's--> Putting in Thornton during the 5th inning meltdown.

Looking at the M's bullpen, Thornton is easily the worst pitcher. The only reason he made the team is because he is out of options. He is the pitcher you put in when your team is up by 10 runs, or down by 10 runs. He is the last pitcher to get work, and is basically buried on the bench.

So here we are facing the best pitcher in the AL, at home, in the second game of the season.

Your starter Meche is in trouble, and you've got Villone and Franklin who can give you 3+ innings no problem. Shiggy can give you two easy. Thornton has no business being in that game.

He is this years Jarvis, but for different reasons.

Even if Thornton strikes out every batter he faces, it was a lousy move.

I have no idea what Hargrove was thinking. This a clear example for me where a bad move costs you the game. Plain and simple.

Steroid results show problem is real

Just a quick comment on steroids testing. With the news that the M's have currently the most juiced farm team in baseball (until more results are in) I hope this puts an end to talk that there is no problem in baseball.

Think about it for a second. Every baseball player alive has heard the publicity surrounding steroids. And yet 9 of them, knowing they are going to get tested, still find a way to get it in their system.

Don't fall for a second their stories of unknowingly taking steroids via over the counter stuff. They have all been warned to know what you put in your body. If I work for a company with a drug testing party, I don't show up to a party on Friday night and start chowing down on the brownies. It's common sense.

The fact is most of these guys probably didn't realize they were taking steroids. But they did know they were taking supplements that would give them an "edge" over the next guy. They knew they were putting SOMETHING in their bodies that isn't found in milk.

It is a dangerous line when guys are taking drugs to beat out the next guy. It is a problem. It has been a problem. The latest results are no surprise.

If Congress didn't rattle some sabers, none of this would have come out.

Ok, enough on the bad news. Let's watch Meche pitch tonight!

M's FO and the roof

For those of you at the game yesterday, you might have noticed the roof closing for no reason. This has been a long standing problem for M's management, who has shown it is simply not capable of operating the roof the way it was intended by many of us taxpayers. (Note to Chuck- it's OUR stadium)

The M's policy for the roof seems to be this:

"The Seattle Mariners guarantees all ticket holders you will never feel a drop of rain while attending a game at SafeCo."

This is why the roof closed yesterday. It wasn't because it was pouring outside, or because the weather was terrible. No, the reason it was closed was because Chuck THOUGHT it might rain. The fact that the weather report called for sunbreaks and afternoon clearing was not enough. The fact you could look outside and clearly see rain was not going to be a problem was not important to M's management. The fact it did not rain ONE DROP from noon till nightfall in my home in West Seattle, overlooking the M's stadium did not matter to the M's.

The M's are so serious about selling this idea you will not get rained on during a game that closing the roof is warranted even when its not raining. It pisses me off that they do this, but we can't seem to get the concept that we all LIVE IN SEATTLE and KNOW HOW TO COPE IN THE RAIN to the Seattle FO.

I don't want to sit through a nine-inning game in the pouring rain when we have a roof sitting overhead. I supported having a roof on SafeCo because there are plenty of days when we really need it.

But yesterday was not that day.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Great Opening Day

I had a big piece planned for this morning, wrote it up and then Blogger decided to blow up and lost my post. So there went my morning.

But anyway, the M's are playing good baseball at least, something they didn't do in last years Opening series. Remember the Angels and watching ball after ball leave the yard? Remember how long it took for them to win a game? Remember how few times they had the lead?

One game doesn't mean much. But as a fan, it feels good to see the M's playing well at Safeco.

It seems like it's been a long time since I could say that.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Cirillo makes 25 man roster

While it's not official, Jeff Cirillo is certain to make the Brewers 25 man roster- article

"I wasn't getting it done," he said. "My wife told me, 'If you're going to do this, you've got to throw yourself into it. If you don't do it, you're going to be mad at yourself.'

"That really turned me around."

Turns out it was his wife's fault he sucked in Seattle.

Well, if the M's are paying his salary this year at least he should be playing baseball and not sitting on the couch. I hope he has a nice year.