Mariners Analysis

Thursday, June 30, 2005

No offense story for rest of year

I certainly remember back when the A's "owned" the M's down in Oakland. Losing 2 of 3 would be expected, and you'd be happy to get the one win. Watching the M's today brings back those memories. You see the A's getting better as the season goes on, while the M's are going to be in last place for the rest of the year due primarily to lack of hitting.

The M's had a nice winning streak when their pitching but together an amazing string of quality starts. Whenever the pitching reverts to normal levels, this team will lose. We shouldn't complicate things too much- this team simply doesn't have the talent on offense to compete with other teams.

We all know the problems with our bench. The fact that Pat Borders is our "regular" catcher tells us everything we need to know about that position. Ichiro is clearly in the biggest slump of his MLB career. Beltre has been along with Carlos Beltran the biggest bust in free agency so far. Boone is finished as a major source of defense, power and average. Our outfield is on pace to hit less than 25 HR's all year.

I could go on, but we all get it. This teams offense is the reason we will finish in last place, and there is little Bavasi can do at this point to fix it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hard to believe Boone is tradeable

One of the more interesting things to watch this summer is the status of Boone. Many people feel it is almost a certainty he gets traded. I have long questioned the sanity of a GM actually wanting to bring Boone on board.

Sure, if Jeff Cirillo can get traded, then anyone is tradeable. But if the M's have to pay most/all of Boone's salary, and we either get nothing in return or someone else's problem, then I'm not sure how Bavasi is helping the M's.

The best reason for dumping Boone will be if you believe Lopez or someone else is simply so much better that it would cost you wins by putting Boone out there. I am ready to say today I would rather have Lopez out there, based on watching Boone's declining defense and lack of hitting. But perhaps the better route is to let Lopez gain experience in AAA and play him next year.

The best thing then would seem to be keeping Boone and letting Lopez play in AAA. You are stuck with Boone's salary regardless, and we aren't going anywhere this season. I would play Lopez in September, and plan on '06.

Boone is really one of the last aging veterans past his prime on the club. I hope Bavasi concentrates on trading Moyer, Eddie and Winn, who all have a good chance of actually improving the club by going to another team.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Trade Winn to the Yankees?

With the M's in last place, expect trade rumors to increase almost daily. The familiar names like Winn, Boone and Moyer will be thrown around, simply because they are the most obvious.

With the Yankees having a serious problem in CF, due to Matsui's ankle problems, perhaps the boys in pinstripes might take a look at Winn. He can play center, as well as slide back to LF where Womack has been a joke.

If I were Bavasi, I would at least make the phone call. I'd expect to get a good prospect in A or AA ball in return. If Bavasi doesn't like what they offer, at least he gets a good idea on the value of Winn.

Let's see what happens this week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

M's offense fails again

The lack of hitting is going to be a constant for the M's for the rest of the season. During the nice little run the M's put on, we had the bottom of the order putting up huge numbers (Morse, Rivera etc...) However, we all understand this can't continue.

So when Morse falls back to earth, Rivera is sent down and Boone is inserted into the lineup, can the M's actually be better on offense? It doesn't seem likely.

In order for the M's offense to be league average, a number of things have to happen. Ichiro needs to start hitting again. Beltre has to get untracked. We have to get something from the catcher position. Sexton has to get hot.

That's a lot, and I don't thing very many of us believe the M's are capable of having more than one or two of those things actually happen.

A trade is the only way this team gets better on offense.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

No Offense

The key to the M's success of late has been clear to everyone- outstanding pitching. Look at the number of runs the M's staff has given up lately:

June 12: 3
June 14: 1
June 15: 1
June 16: 3
June 17: 0
June 18: 1
June 19: 5
June 20: 6

With that kind of pitching, the M's would expect to win a lot of games. And the M's have actually been watchable again.

But does anyone think this will continue?

With Moyer and Sele in the rotation?

I hope Bavasi and the FO don't get carried away here. Yes pitching and defense is important, but you have to score runs to win in this day and age. We have an outfield that has only hit 9 HR's all year. That is not acceptable.

Sitting Boone was a great decision. Letting the kids play is an easy call when they start off like Rivera and Morse have done. But don't stop there.

The trade deadline will be here sooner than you think. I really hope Bavasi is doing everything he can to trade Winn, Moyer and anyone else on this roster that is not a long term fixture. I have heard very little from trade rumors with regards to the Mariners.

The Free Agent crop for next year doesn't excite me. If the M's are going to get decent quicker than 3-5 years, they are going to need to make some trades. Let's hope Bavasi acts this summer.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sexton and the strike zone

Just a quick thought on last nights game. Watching Sexton come up in a tie game with the bases loaded in the 9th inning...

Would it have killed him to:
1) Take a pitch
2) Swing at a pitch in the strike zone
3) Not swing at a pitch around his ankles?

Three pitches, three swings, three barely-out-of-the-dirt sliders that weren't even close to strikes. I like Sexton, but that play killed me. I also wasn't a huge fan of Rivera bunting Morse to second, because you knew Ichiro would get walked and you just gave up an out. I also know every manager in baseball makes that move, despite the numbers.

All in all a frustrating game to watch.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Should've rested Ichiro

I said earlier in the season Hargrove needs to rest his veterans from time to time and use his bench to keep them sharp. I don't believe an aging team that travels as much as the M's can afford to have their regulars play more than 155 games a season. You don't just rest them when they are tired- you rest so they don't GET tired.

With Ichiro struggling, it is such an easy call. Sit him.

Sit him for a couple of games over a week. When Ichiro stops hitting singles, his value to the club drops. Sitting even stars when they are struggling sends a message to the rest of the team; namely, the team takes priority over the interests of the individual.

Sure, Boone may WANT to play everyday, but that doesn't mean he should. I am troubled it took Hargrove this long to sit him, but we knew coming in he likes to play a set lineup.

I hope Hargrove realizes his mistake and adjusts his thinking.

Eddie to Boston?

With the Red Sox looking for bullpen help, trading Eddie would seem to make sense for both clubs. Seattle has Soriano on the horizon, as well as Putz.

The real question is what would Boston be willing to send to Seattle- Boston Globe

"Eddie Guardado of the Mariners is a potential expensive alternative, though Epstein is not apt to part with any of his elite prospects for a reliever, especially when closer Keith Foulke (nine scoreless appearances in his last 11) is showing signs of coming around."

Of course Eddie is not our only reliever Boston might show an interest. Shiggy? Thornton? It's a call I'd make if I was Bavasi.

It's clear the recent series win streak was a mirage. Sure the team played better, but as it's presently constructed, it's simply not a playoff caliber team. Not even a .500 team, so adding veterans is a poor choice.

Morse and Rivera have surprised a few people. Perhaps the M's FO will notice you don't have to always trade for veterans to provide a lift for a struggling club.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Weakness in Organization easy to spot

It's pretty common knowledge the M's system is lacking power and young pitchers with decent upside. Take a look at the draft from yesterday-

1. Jeff Clement, C, L-R, 6-1, 215, 21, USC, Marshalltown, IA

4. Justin Thomas, LHP, L-L, 6-3, 220, 21, Youngstown St., Univ. Oregon, OH

5. Stephen Kahn, RHP, L-R, 6-3, 220, 21, Loyola Marymount Univ., Orange, CA

6. Lance Lynn, RHP, R-R, 6-6, 250, 18, Brownsburg H.S., Brownsburg, IN

7. Robert Rohrbaugh, LHP, L-L, 6-2, 195, 21, Clemson University, Littlestown, PA

8. David Asher, LHP, R-L, 6-1, 195, 22, Florida International Univ., Orlando, FL

That's a lot of college pitchers to take so early. There are also plenty of 1B types that are being taken. The M's FO seems to agree power and pitching is the key to rebuilding this franchise.

The more I read on Clement, the more I agree he is the perfect pick for the team. Bavasi and crew are doing a good job, and the team is actually playing decent.

Soriano coming back, good draft, team playing better. Maybe .500 isn't out of the question this year.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Clement an M

If Olivo hadn't regressed to a high school catcher, would the M's have drafted Clement with the #3 pick? Almost certainly not.

We hear clubs draft the best player available, but there is no question the M's have options at SS, but have NO options at catcher. If he lights it up he may see time late next year, and will likely be the starting catcher in 2007. This is assuming he plays the way the M's think he is capable.

This pick is an important first step in rebuilding a farm system devoid of power position players and young pitchers.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mariners playing better?

The draft is rightfully going to get all the attention for the next 48 hours, but the M's have at least been playing watchable baseball again. The question is whether the team is actually playing better, or simply beating up on bad teams.

We do know the Devil Rays have one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball, which the M's took full advantage. We also know the team went through a brutal stretch of playing playoff-caliber team after another and finally get to pad the stats- eg. See Yankees.

The most promising part though is simply seeing a few players actually playing well. Ibanez has been on a tear, and Winn is playing well too. Earlier we saw an entire team playing below its capabilities, but with Ibanez, Winn and Sexson we actually see a pulse on offense.

I also have to throw a bone to Every-Day Eddie. Before the season I saw him as a huge question mark. He seems to have recovered nicely and is actually doing his job (gasp!) far better than I imagined. Some of his ealier starts were causing mild cardiac arrest, but lately he seems to have found a rhythm and is really anchoring our bullpen.

I still say trade him though! With Soriano coming back and Putz a short-term replacement, assuming he stays healthy he'll have real trade value this summer.

So anyway, as a team the M's are playing better but have some tough games coming up. If they continue to play well and actually get to .500 I'll be shocked, but at least the games are watchable again.

And the draft? Everything depends on KC. Arizona can't pass up Upton, so we have to hope KC goes cheap. We'll know soon enough.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Attendance will stir up Bavasi and crew...

Surely every M's fan had to notice the HUGE number of empty seats for last nights game. I don't think I've ever seen so many complete sections devoid of fans. Yes the weather was crappy, but the biggest problem by far is simply the product on the field.

I don't believe the current crop of M's are going to turn this season around. Too many players are underperforming, and things need to be broken up. Keep the good, get rid of the bad. That's what Bavasi should be doing. Given how little good there is on this team, it's not hard to see a complete overhaul is required.

Suggested changes:

- Trade Randy Winn. Bring up Doyle or Choo. Hope you can get decent prospects in return. You won't get much though, simply because Winn isn't that valuable.
- Trade Eddie. Some playoff team will need bullpen help. Get out of his contract before his arm falls off. One hundred loss teams can afford to lose a closer.
- Trade Meche or Piniero. Let teams know they are available now. Start the bidding. You won't get much, but inconsistent starts from pitchers making this much money is not helping the team.
- Send Dobbs to Tacoma. Such a no brainer.
- Release Sele.
- Retool bench.
- Trade Moyer. He has value, and you need all the prospects you can get your hands on.

This is where I'd start anyway. The attendance will guarantee Bavasi will be doing some of these moves.