Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Thumbs up on Morse move

It appears the FO is not getting too excited over the current 3 game winning streak. While some people are looking at the standings and trying to find rays of hope, the fact is beating Tampa twice and hanging on to take the first game from Toronto is not really a "streak."

The current team does not have the talent to compete on a day to day basis, especially against good clubs. You simply cannot have automatic outs at SS and catcher and expect the rest of the hitters to make up for it. Calling Morse up is an easy move. He won't give you any less than our current Valdez-Bloomie pairing, and there is always a chance he could show glimmers of a future. Given that the M's have no future shortstop, why not let me him play?

The fact is we wouldn't have seen this club make a move like this last year until at least late June or July. It is actually a very good sign that Bavasi is not afraid to reach into his minor league system and try to shake things up.

This club is really pretty bad right now. Players are either underperforming or simply shouldn't be playing major league baseball, and changes need to happen sooner rather than later.

What's next?

Trade Piniero? Would he even pass another teams physical? Bavasi should be looking into interest from other clubs.

Meche? Surely teams still in the hunt will look at Meche and be willing to offer some decent talent in return. Getting a catcher is an obvious priority.

How about Eddie? If the M's are willing to eat some salary, a team in desperate need of bullpen help would be willing to give up a prospect.

Winn? An older version of Reed, and very expendable.

Boone? No chance!!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Stop it with the trading Boone garbage...

Just a quick plea- will sports writers and M's fans stop talking about trading Boone this summer? We went through this last year, and I was really hoping people could remember how it works. It's really simple, just remember:

Boone has NO trade value.

Why would any team trade for the most expensive 2nd baseman in baseball who is struggling at the plate and is declining in the field with seemingly every game?

Answer- They wouldn't.

Sure, if the M's want to package Boone for some other struggling player and are willing to eat his salary, then they could move him. But it is hard to see how that is helping the M's.

Meche and Piniero have SOME trade value. Both Boone brothers have NO trade value.

It's really quite simple.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Mariners gamble failed

While many may try to argue it's still early, the fact is this season is over as far as the M's and getting to .500

It would take a small miracle for the M's to generate any kind of momentum. Shaky pitching, no power, lineup that simply lacks talent, no bench etc... will prevent a sudden turnaround. I'll even add poor managing, as I have not been all that impressed with Hargrove. He is not the reason the M's are bad, but he's not helping himself with 12 pitchers and poor judgement regarding his bullpen and bench.

The M's gambled that last year was an aberration. That the team was not as bad as the 99 loss season would indicate. They were wrong.

Contrast the approach Arizona took. With 111 losses, the Diamondbacks would seem to be light years behind the M's. Yet by replacing 11 players on the roster and some creative maneuvering, the Diamondbacks REDUCED payroll and upgraded the talent. Yes they made some moves I didn't agree with (eg. Green) but that fact is they did an overhaul.

Bavasi of course settled for 3 position player changes and rolled the dice.

It came up snake eyes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Need for Walks

The papers are now starting to write about the M's and their lack of walks- Hickey

This is something I have mentioned several times- the M's look like high school hitters in many at bats. No, worse than high school. Too many of them seem to want to hack at anything near the plate.

We see opposing hitters laying off consistently pitches out of the strike zone. This forces our pitchers to resort to fastballs over the plate to get a strike, and means they can't go deep in the game. Conversely, we see opposing pitchers working deep into the game while our "hitters" swing away.

I really hope Hargrove is able to get the message across. In general, it is hard to get a club to change mid-season at the plate. If Hargrove is going to be an effective manager for this club, he needs to get it done.

What is really troubling for the club is not only are they hacking away and not drawing walks, they are hitting for no power.

No walks.

No power.

No Wins.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Finally, we beat the Yanks

With the M's playing so poorly, a win over the hated Yankees isn't quite so special. Then again, reading about an 11 game win streak for the Yanks would really suck, so maybe last night was better than it felt at the time.

Moyer got shelled again. But before we get too worked up, we have to look at the schedule. It was not in the M's best interests to play Anaheim, Boston, NY, Boston and NY in consecutive series. The fact Moyer has looked terrible against the best hitting teams in the AL is not cause for jumping off a bridge. We really do need to give the starters a few more weeks before we start even considering making huge changes.

I imagine the pitching will look better against SD and some of the other teams, but then again the W-L record of our upcoming opponents is not in the M's favor. We are going to continue to see good teams, but I still expect the pitching overall to get better than what we've been seeing.

Borders is officially back today, which means Rivera will certainly be sent down. While I am against the move, it's not a big enough deal to get worked up about. I'd rather they just play Rivera in the meantime while Wiki gets healthy. That way you justify having him (Rivera) on your 40 man roster. Right now Rivera is a huge waste to be on it if you are so afraid of using him in actual games. It's not like using Rivera is going to be a huge dropoff from what we are getting from Olivo (HE'S HITTING .140!!). How much worse can Rivera do?

And have I mentioned Olivo can't catch the ball either?

This is the sort of Bavasi/Hargrove roster management that drives me crazy.

All in all, the team is underperforming from even our .500 expectations coming into the season. Is this team capable of putting together a nice winning streak?

I really don't think it is.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fans were right to stay away

It was curious to see so many seats available for the Yanks series. Now that we have seen the first two games, it looks to be great judgement.

Who wants to pay $7 for a beer to watch this team lose? And lose in a boring fashion at that. A team that can't pitch, hold a lead or hit 5th starters is simply not good entertainment.

At least when we are home, we can turn the channel.

It's a tough situation. If we don't come to the ballpark, they will slash payroll and the team will continue to suck. At the same time, I feel like my dollars are supporting a regime that keeps Sele and considers Borders a viable solution.

Well, at least the beer lines are shorter...

Borders again?

While the M's continue to play terrible, the M's are pondering what to do with the catching situation. Let's review.

Current catcher- can't catch the ball, or hit.

Did you notice when Wiki was brought up and took time away from Olivo, how all of a sudden he (Olivo) played better afterward? Don't think he didn't notice he was about to spend serious time on the bench while Wiki was playing well.

Competition is a good thing. Bringing Borders up removes any doubt as to who gets playing time. Having Borders catch more than once a week is a total waste of at-bats for a team that needs to develop players.

I'd rather see Rivera get some short-term playing time to continue to send the message to Olivo that you MUST PRODUCE or you will not play. Send the message you'll keep bringing in prospects until someone can catch the ball and hit once in a while.

Meantime, work out a trade for a decent catching prospect. I know Bavasi is loathe to actually make a move, but tough sh*t. This is the situation you are in, and you'd better start working the phones. Are you afraid to break-up one of the worst teams in the AL? No one should be safe on this team if it will improve the club (except Ich of course).

Borders is safe. It also is a waste of time for this organization. Stick with Olivo with no back-up at your own peril.

That is my message to Bavasi and crew.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

M's just a bad team

It's like GroundHog Day for M's fans. Every day you get to see the M's lose. They vary the approach from time to time, but in the end you wake up with yet another loss in the paper. Instead of finding ways to win, this team finds ways to lose, which is the classic sign of a bad team.

When they finally hit, the starter stinks.

When they unexpectedly get a good start (Sele), they can't hit.

When they have a lead, the bullpen stinks.

When they need to make a play, somebody makes a critical error.

Last night we saw it all. Lucky pitching by Sele (Yanks were stranding runners like crazy) resulted in the M's actually having a lead. Hargrove, in one of the classic "What in the HELL are you thinking" moments decides to put our newly called up reliever in to face Tino with the bases loaded. Miraculously he comes through, only our first baseman decides to not catch the ball, and we all know what happens next.

Who do you blame? The hitters for not figuring out Wang? Who in his first start gave up 5 runs in 6 innings to Tampa Bay, and yet looks like an All Star against the M's hitters. Is it really that hard to figure out he is throwing low pitches out of the strike zone? While the M's meekly hit ground balls to Cano all night, no one seem to figure out what he was doing.

Do you blame Sexson for dropping the ball?

Do you blame Hargrove for his crazy bullpen use?

Do you blame Bavasi for his crazy roster management?

Do you blame Putz for throwing the ball right over the middle of the plate?

Do you blame the pitching coach for never explaining to Putz that simply throwing fastball after fastball to fastball hitting teams is not a good idea?

Do you blame Nelson for a being a shell of his former self?

Do you blame...

There is plenty of blame. This is a bad team yet again. The Yanks should have an asterick next to their winning streak.*

* Warning. This streak is comprised of mainly beating up on the Bad News Mariners.

Perhaps our next manager will be Billy Bob Thornton.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Yankees come to town

The Yankees have been getting a lot of press for beating up on the AL West cellar-dwellers. The A's and M's have been very kind to the Yanks, who are now back to .500 at 19-19 and have quieted Mt. Steinbrenner for the time being.

With Sele taking the mound tonight, you have to wonder how much longer the M's FO can put up with another terrible performance. The Yanks are red hot, and Sele has been getting torched. This has all the makings of a blowout. I'm sure Sele is aware of how important these next couple of starts are for him, so it should be interesting to see how he responds. I'm guessing Tino goes deep again.

The move to put Pineiro down to Tacoma can best be described as "interesting." They are sending him down to Tacoma, but don't want him to pitch in any games. Instead he will work on his mechanics. Why this couldn't be done in Seattle is not really explained, and why Jorge is not replacing him is also a mystery.

The move to put Mateo in the starting lineup is a good idea. He has been throwing the ball extremely well this year, and given the limited choices Hargrove has at least it shows them trying something. Many feel Mateo immediately becomes one of the best starters in the rotation, which is both sad and probably accurate.

So lots to look for in the Yankees series. Can Tino continue his unreal hitting? Can Sele make a decent start? How will Mateo pitch? Can Moyer bounce back? Can anyone explain the Pineiro move? Can the M's take two of three from the Yanks?

Go M's!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Sele and Bavasi

With the Red Sox coming to town, everyone has been trying to think of ways to improve this team. While everyone has their own ideas, the one constant is dumping Sele.

On Internet chat rooms, message boards and talk radio, there seems to be complete agreement that Sele is taking up space. Even the local papers have been mentioned Jorge as the logical replacement. At the beginning of the season, many people argued for Sele as a safety net. After each start, his value has dropped to the point it is really hard to find anyone making an argument to keep him.

Which brings me to Bavasi. Surely he is also looking at improving this team. He surely is seeing the same thing we are- Sele is not producing, and would be an easy scapegoat for the poor start. Cutting Selse makes the team appear to be doing SOMETHING.

If Sele remains on the team for any length of time, we know we have a GM who does not listen to public opinion (ok by itself) but who also ignores common baseball sense (not a good thing).

C'mon Bill, do the right thing and try and improve this team in any way possible. Sele is a good starting point.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Swept by Yanks

I guess I am going to have a problem with Hargrove regarding his bullpen use all season. Much like Melvin last year, we have a manager who seemingly has no concept or regard for long relief. With Moyer pitching his worst game of the year, isn't this exactly what Ron Villone is for?? What Franklin should be doing?? Instead of using a pitcher who can give you many innings, he brings in Thornton.

We all know Thornton's story. He is a high risk, high reward pitcher. He walks way too many people, but has the ability to strike out hitters. He is okay for short appearances, provided you are ready to accept the risk he blows up.

When he replaces Moyer so early in the game, what is Hargrove's plan? Suddenly expect Thornton to give you 5 innings? To bring in a new pitcher every inning and burn up your pen? It simply makes no sense.

It really makes no sense if you are watching the game. Thornton's commmand was terrible, which should have been all Hargrove needed to see. Let Thornton give you his inning, then go to Shiggy or whomever. Instead Hargrove leaves him out there, and the Yanks take advantage.

Look, I'm not saying the M's would have won the game with different bullpen usage. The team is playing terrible right now. But frankly, Hargrove's use of Nelson and Thornton in NY didn't help matters. This team needs all the help it can get, and Hargrove is not doing his job IMO with regards to his bullpen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Thoughts on last nights game

Let me start out by saying I was glad to be able to actually WATCH most of last nights game. For the past week it has been hard to even sit through a game, as the M's have been so bad they make it hard to justify 3 hours of my time. Last night we had Randy Johnson, decent hitting and good pitching- good entertainment, even if the bad guys won.

A few thoughts on the game-

  • Why is Willie playing in Center? I understand Reed may be overmatched by Randy, and the whole Lefty/Righty thing, but putting Willie in center is still a bad move. Willie's numbers this year are terrible. His defense is not as good as Reed's in center. You have downgraded your offense and defense by playing Willie. Why add to the automatic out count?
  • Why is Boone batting 5th? I'm sure I'm not the only one who was puzzled last night. After reading Hargrove's comments he has one lineup for the AL, and one lineup for Randy, I'm still puzzled. I'd rather see him decisively make a move than do this juggling act. And back to comment #1, if you have a Randy lineup, have you actually looked at who you are putting out there?
  • Why is Nelson pitching last night? I'm guessing Hargrove felt the veteran Nelson would be a good fit to pitch in a tight game at Yankee stadium. In reality, putting in your worst reliever in a close game at Yankee stadium when you have plenty of alternatives is a terrible move. I stopped watching after he was put in- I know it is bad, but it was so predictable I didn't need to waste my time watching Nelson blow the game and Rivera slam the door.
  • Overall the M's pitched well, but a bad manager decision helped put the game away.

Okay, so Hargrove continues to make moves I don't like. I'm not trying to be the fan who always criticizes moves after they are made, but his moves look bad before, during and after. It's not second guessing- I was yelling at the TV before Nelson threw his first pitch.

Oh well, I guess Bavasi and Hargrove really didn't care if they beat Johnson in NY.

Baseball book review on Slate

Slate has a nice book review on "3 Nights in August" that is worth reading- link

"Bissinger challenges Moneyball's analytical argument with unverifiable, splenetic opinions. On-base percentage is the "latest fashion fad." Numbers are less important than human nature. The MBA-carrying thirtysomethings invading baseball's front offices might know their way around Microsoft Excel, but they'll never understand baseball. And so on."

Looks like this one is best avoided. Let me know if you have read it and feel it is worth buying.

Monday, May 09, 2005

O-ffense takes field in Bronx

I'm not sure what the odds in Vegas are tonight for Randy no-hitting the M's...

The M's offense has been so dismal these past few weeks that last nights 6 run output qualifies as an explosion. Of course these leaves few descriptions for the 16 runs the Astros put up.


Anyway, the M's offense has shown no improvement over last years pathetic display, and is of course largely why the M's are in last place yet again. While watching the M's approach at the plate, I have often wondered:

Should a pitcher even throw strikes to the M's hitters?

The M's seem to display some of the worst pitch selection I have seen in a major league team in some time. It it annoying to watch Ichiro swing at a pitch 10 inches out of the strike zone on a 3-1 count, but we are willing to cut him some slack given his overall production.

However, when someone like Beltre or Olivo (who both have looked terrible at the plate) is swinging at pitches WAY out of the strike zone on 1-0 and 2-1 counts, it is hardly suprising they are not getting on base. An opposing pitcher doesn't even need to throw strikes to these guys, just get it near the plate and they are guaranteed to hack at it. I swear these M's could screw up an intentional walk during an at-bat. They have NO PLATE DISCIPLINE as a team. Even if they make contact, these pitches lead to easy outs in the infield.

I've remarked this year at the absurdity of seeing Willie swinging away on a 3-0 pitch. I really believe some of the M's offensive problems are because guys are trying too hard to get the key hit, but I also believe this organization is not getting the message across on how to approach an at-bat.

Watching Boston over the weekend just further drives home how pathetic the M's are at plate discipline. While Boston hitters work the count, make pitchers throw strikes and pounce on mistakes, the M's are polar opposites. Pitchers get out of innings quickly, see mistakes over the plate get fouled back harmlessly, and in general watch their ERA's plummet.

There are only a few possible explanations for how bad this offense has performed.
- Bad luck. The M's hit a bad hitting streak, and it just happens to have happened at the beginning of the season to almost the entire team at the same time
- No Talent. These guys are just not major league hitters (collectively), for one reason or another
- Guys trying too hard. Just need to relax and it will come around.
- ??

What gives? How long will this club continue to generate no offense or fan enthusiasm?

No better time to get the offense going than against the Yankees.

Go M's!!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Loss of Wilson

Dan Wilson sounds like a really nice guy. He has had a great career, and might very well be a future manager. I can certainly understand why the M's have probably made plans to keep him in the organization when he is done as a player.

All that being said, his loss this year due to a torn ACL will have no impact on where this team finishes. While Groz on KJR spouts off about the importance of Wilson, those of us that actually follow the M's know that Wilson has in many ways been hurting this team the last few years. His popularity has led to playing time his numbers have simply not supported. The fact he was hitting under .200 this year before the injury is hardly shocking- his slide has been as predictable as rain in the NW.

Not many catchers continue to play well in their mid-30's. In fact, if Wilson were actually effective this year it would be a minor miracle. Years of crouching and blocking balls take a well documented toll. The real problem for the M's is not his injury this year, rather it is the lack of ability to develop an alternative.

Ben Davis was obviously a massive failure. Spending your number 1 draft pick on Ryan Christianson and then getting nothing in return also grades as an F. The fact you are forced to bring up Wiki "Cirillo money" Gonzalez is yet another organizational failure.

After getting Olivo in the Garcia trade, the M's seemed to have gotten the successor to Wilson identified. Since joining the M's, now seemingly a death sentence for all catchers, Olivo has shown he can't catch or hit particularly well. His strong arm is his only redeeming quality, and is not enough to avoid being a back-up catcher. At any rate, he needs to show he can hit this year, or the M's need to go back to square one.

Dan Wilson on the 2005 Mariners was a safety blanket. While it kept you warm and cozy, it was supposed to only be used in emergency situations. The fact he will not be here will have little impact on wins and losses, and may very well help the club in the long term.

This team has automatic outs at SS and Catcher, whether Dan Wilson is playing or not.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

M's offensive

I said before Anaheim came to town it was an important series. Getting swept by the Angels, and looking terrible in the process, is making it hard to be optimistic about this team right now.

With a terribly difficult schedule of Boston and NY ahead, the M's in all likelihood will never see .500 again this season. This is not meant to be negative- I hope the M's rip off 10 wins in a row right now. Just trying to be realistic.

We all know what happened over the offseason. After losing 99 games, the team made 3 acquisitions this winter.

Pokey Reese- Hasn't appeared in a game yet. May never play in an M's uniform
Adrian Beltre- looks lost at the plate. Huge disappointment so far.
Richie Sexson- Actually playing about as well as could be expected

So basically we are back to last years team. The fact the bullpen has been effective and the starting pitching surprisingly good has been undermined by the horrific hitting of last year. Boone is done as a hitter. Catcher and SS an automatic out. Trading Carlos Guillen looms as one of the dumbest trades in team history.

When you are only scoring a couple of runs a game, we all understand you will not win many games. Not only that, you kill any enthuisiasm from fans because no one likes watching a team go inning after inning blowing chances and making journeymen pitchers look like Roger Clemens.

We all know what is happening with the Yankees. The club is in danger of falling seriously behind in the standings, so the team tries to shake things up. What will Bavasi do? Anything?

No one wants to see panic moves. However, there are obvious moves that should have been made earlier that need to happen. Get rid of Sele. Get rid of Nelson. Create and use a bench. These are all good places to start.

I certainly am not going to call for bringing up Felix or anything crazy like that. The pitching has been pretty effective so far, but if you are going to lose lets at least get a look at possible future pieces of the puzzle.

Let's hope the Red Sox are in a forgiving mood and the M's can get a win soon. Otherwise, this is going to be a LONG season.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mariners season on cliff...

Having lost three games in a row, the M's are at a fairly critical part of the season. While they have been playing .500 ball for most of the season, they are now two games below and have a tough schedule staring them in the face.

Besides two more games against clearly the best team in the AL West, the M's also have Boston and New York to contend with. While both AL East clubs haven't been winning as much as expected, it's fair to assume they will give the M's all they can handle. It is not hard to envision the M's being 5-8 games below .500 by next weekend, and they may very well never see as many wins as losses in the standings this year.

Last nights game was so frustrating to watch. If we think of Franklin as our #5 starter, giving up 5 runs is not great but obviously not out of the realm of possibility. However when your offense is as anemic as our current bunch, it really didn't matter who was pitching. To watch the M's run out of innings, strike out, refuse to work the count, and just in general look pathetic time and time again is getting old. Anyone reminded of last year watching this team?

- Belre is not making solid contact time and time again. When he does, the ball dies and is not hit with any authority.
- It would be nice to have a catcher actually catch the ball. Nice throw by Winn at least.
- It seems like Ichiro is swinging and missing more than usual.
- This team is not good enough to have a SS and catcher be automatic outs. No one is stepping up right now on this team.
- We should expect Bavasi will start making some roster changes shortly.

It's not time to give up hope the M's can still salvage a nice season, but right now the offense is preventing this team from being competitive.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Big series with Angels

With Anaheim coming to town (like many, I'm not calling them LAA anytime soon) we have one of our first important series of the year. WIth the team losing two close games in Oakland, the M's find themselves again one game below .500 at 12-13. With a little better execution from our batters, as well as our Manager, the M's should instead be riding a nice little winning streak.

Instead they play against the best team in the division, where a sweep would really put the club in a hole. We've all been pretty happy to see this club hang around .500 during the season. With tough series like the Red Sox and Yankees looming this month, the M's have to stop giving away games. If they can take a couple games from the Angels, they would keep themselves right in the thick of the race, despite the complete lack of hitting to date.

All in all, the season has been a success from a fans perspective. Last year the team was already miserable to watch, and not competitive against any of its division rivals. This year we have seen we are every bit as good (or as bad!) as Texas and Oakland. While the A's have young pitching, their offense is simply dreadful. And the Rangers predictably can crush the ball, but have no starting pitching and show cracks in the bullpen.

The Angels are clearly the best team in the division right now. The M's need to stop shooting themselves in the foot, and start getting some production from the bottom half of the order. The starting pitching is a surprise, and the bullpen has been downright good.

No reason not to watch these games. Buy a $7 ticket, get a beer and watch baseball.