Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Yeah! M's beat Yanks...

Ok, a few days ago I said watch a certain Yanks pitcher.

Who'd threw a lot of innings.

Due to a certain NY manager who was on the hot seat.

I said he was due to have a bad game, and real soon.

Well guess who couldn't find the strike zone tonight? Against one of the worst offensive teams in all of baseball.

I'm tellin' ya, pitch counts matter.

Just remember that watching Felix tomorrow. I'm more than a little worried. If he throws more than 110 pitches, Bavasi should storm the field, and I'm not joking.

Rafael Palmeiro should have retired

While we all hope Ryan Franklin is pitching his final games for the M's, at least as a starter, the East Coast steroid user aka. Rafael Palmeiro has now been benched for the rest of the year.

The guy should have retired. I said it then, I say it now. Is he going to enjoy sitting on the bench? Taking pot shots from guys like Schilling? And Robinson? Getting yelled at by drunk fans at every ballpark...

Life cannot be good for the guy right now. He lied in front of Congress. He got caught. He looks like an idiot. He needs to just go away for awhile.


The M's have lost what, 8 straight series to the Yankees? That is pathetic. Can the M's please take the game tonight to add to the drama of tomorrow's Johnson/Hernandez duel? Is that too much to ask?

Pay-Rod. Felix.

Can't wait.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hargrove, Torre and pitch counts...

A few days back, a mini-firestorm surfaced when Hargrove mentioned he might limit Felix to 125 pitches in a game. Many rightly felt Hargrove sounded like an ass- namely, he was putting meaningless wear and tear on a young arm during a lost season.

It is hard to defend Hargrove if he actually lets Felix throw 125 pitches in a game. Sure, it probably would have no affect, but why take the chance? It's like going back in time and letting a young Griffey or A-Rod risk an injury, knowing they are the future of the franchise. It simply makes no sense.

The reason Hargrove would do it of course is if he thought it would win him the game. Managers only care about winning games today, not protecting future arms. For a perfect example of this, look no further than our good buddy Joe Torre.

Is there a manager more on the hot seat than Joe Torre? Probably not. He is under amazing pressure as simply the first $200 million manager who might not make the post season. He wants to win now. He has to win now. Next year is next year.

Torre has long been accused of wearing out his bullpen, so when October comes along his arms are shot. He is doing it again this year- only not limited to the pen.

The smartest pickup in baseball this past trading deadline has been Shawn Chacon. For a guy who was picked up off the scrap heap that is Colorado pitching, he has managed a 1.80 ERA in six starts. He just pitched the Yanks to yet another win over Toronto.

And his pitch count? 127 pitches the game before last, and then 119!

History says Chacon is due a drop off. No clear cut evidence high pitch counts lead to injury, but lots of evidence to suggest high pitch counts lead to bad next starts.

The month of September will see the Yanks playing high-stakes baseball every game. Their best pitcher this past month has been Chacon. Let's keep an eye on him, and see if Torre's pitch count strategy comes back to bite him.

History says it will.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time to revisit Garcia trade?

With our good friend Freddy pitching yet another great game last night against the Twins, perhaps now is the time to look at the trade Bavasi pulled off last summer.

Before we start, let me be clear I am not saying we can make a final judgement on the trade. Rather, we are just checking in.

So roughly a year later, what have the M's gotten in return.

Catcher- this couldn't have gone worse. Not only did the M's essentially give Olivo away, but they had to endure half a season of one of the worst offensive performances ever seen by an M. If the M's had replaced Olivo's at-bats with Jamie Moyer, they wouldn't have seen much dropoff. Ouch.

Center Field- after a nice September last season, many M's fans were excited to see Reed play an entire season. At this point, an average of .260 with maybe 5 HR's at the end of the year is a disappointment. We can't give up on him, and his defense has been terrific. However, the lack of speed and baserunning mistakes are worrisome. Reed is really the only thing keeping this trade from being a bust.

SS- while Morse has surprised many with his rapid promotion, the fact is right now on this team he has no position. The last thing this team needs is yet another light hitting outfielder, and his error totals at SS prevent him from staying there. The only way Morse helps this team is as a bench player or brings something in a trade.

Meanwhile, Garcia has been lights out for the White Sox. The M's would clearly love to take Boone's salary this year and apply it to a pitcher like Garcia next year. The problem of course is they won't have that luxury. The free agent market for quality pitchers looks grim, as does Bavasi's luck in signing the right players.

Right now, you have to say the trade was a mistake for the M's. Yes they got back three possible position players, but that's not how it played out. Instead they'll be lucky to get one, and have had to endure more Franklin starts than any fan should be subject to. The fact is, we need Reed to develop into a true star, or this trade favors the White Sox by a considerable amount.

We can check back next year around this time and see if things change. Perhaps Reed is an All Star and Garcia broke a rib carrying his suitcase...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Good news for M's fans

The past few days have been pretty good for M's fans. First of all, Bavasi woke up and realized what everyone has been saying for weeks- dump Spiezio. And so he did.

This is such a good move for so many reasons. The biggest though has to be simply getting rid of a negative cloud in the clubhouse, so kudos for M's management for biting the bullet and admitting it was a terrible signing.

The other good news is Felix pitched again, and the results continue to be encouraging. It is kind of silly to keep throwing superlatives his way, so we can only just continue to be amazed. There is no way he can keep up this kind of pitching of course, because if he did he'd be the best pitcher in baseball history, but it sure is fun to watch.

All M's fans HAVE to be excited about Friday, when Felix takes the hill against Chicago. Enough of the M's facing Detroit, Minnesota and KC, let's see how he pitches against a team that might well win the World Series. Of course the really big start will be the Yankees game, but for now Friday can't get here soon enough.

Steve Kelley in the Times writes that Ryan Franklin needs to be removed from the team. While I don't think much of Steve's writing, it is big news to the M's management when a senior writer of a major paper calls on the club to dump a player. Is there any reason to keep Franklin?

The only reason to keep him is if the club sticks him in long relief, where he has been effective, and out of the starting rotation. The problem of course is the rotation is so threadbare after Felix we have to start guys like Harris. There really are not many alternatives, which is the only reason Franklin is still on this team.

I'd look for Ryan to be let loose in the offseason, but before that can happen, the team needs a plan to retool the starting rotation. Making a few more trades before the trading deadline would have really helped this team (Eddy, Meche etc...) and the list of available free agent pitchers is not inspiring.

It's too bad there is not another pitcher besides Felix to get us excited about next year.

The next big thing? Probably the expanded roster in September. Perhaps Bucky will be called up, perhaps Morse plays more in the outfield, perhaps a pitcher comes out of nowhere and impresses... until then, just plan to be at the game Friday.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Spiezio and the M's

I liked Derek's funny article in the PI about the suckfest that is Scott Spiezio. It's true you don't see a player perform at a historic low very often, and Spiezio is putting up numbers that simply defy description. He seems like a decent enough guy, but he should have never been signed to a 3-year deal, so we chalk that up to yet another bonehead move by the M's FO.

Of course it is impossible to make any rational argument for keeping him on the team, yet the FO refuses to release him, letting him potentially cost the M's victories they so dearly need. There is no chance he gets on a hot streak, and there is no chance anyone will ever trade for him.


I said for the past year and half Boone had no trade value, which was clearly demonstrated at this years deadline. No one would argue Spiezio has any real value, even if he went 4 for 10 in the next couple of weeks...Sure, they could trade him for someone elses garbage, but how is that helping the team?

The last thing this team needs is dead weight next year on the 40-man roster because the M's management refuses to just call Spiezio's contract a sunk cost.

But we both know this. The world knows this. Everyone but the FO apparently knows this. Every at-bat given to Spiezio is wasted. Every day he takes up space on the 40-man roster is a waste. His attitude has to affect the rest of the club, in some small way.

Do we cheer Spiezio every time he comes to the plate, hoping he gets a hit? Perhaps he will become a fan favorite, sort of like Steve Scheffler for the Sonics- the 12th man who isn't really talented enough to be on the club, but reminds fans enough of themselves they cheer for him.

I think instead the fans will boo Spiezio, and by proxy Bavasi. Quite a mess they've created for themselves. Let's hope Spiezio is put out of our misery soon enough.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Must see TV

We are all excited to see King Felix pitch against the hapless Royals. Given Felix's incredible start, and the losing pile of dung-team that is the KC Royals, do we even need to play the game? Should KC just forfeit and save us all the trouble?

Oh wait, I forgot this is the Seattle Mariners we are talking about. The same team that has Scott "just trade me" Spiezio playing, and an offense that can make even a Royals pitcher look like Cy Young.

Yeah, I guess we'd better play this game after all. Along with TB, us M's fans get to see two of the three worst teams in the entire AL. What a special treat.

Darn tempted to join the USS Mariner group for a beer beforehand. Regardless, anyone who reads blogs won't miss either watching or attending tonights game.

Stock up on beers and snack food, clear the calendar.

Felix is coming...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thank goodness it's Friday

Just a few random thoughts:

- The Eagles need to just cut T.O. immediately. He is not worth the trouble, and in a perfect world we would never hear from him again.

- Raffy should just retire. How many teams will sign a 40 year old next year anyway? Just give it a rest. And fans who cheer for him are beyond stupid. Baseball players who lie and hide behind lawyers don't deserve your cheers.

- Mike Cameron, I wish you a speedy recovery. I couldn't watch the collision on ESPN, even though they showed it every 5 minutes, because it was just too disturbing. I looked away every time.

- Doyle, I will feel sick inside if you have really torn your ACL. If you have, I'll never count on you as a contributor again. You just get hurt too easily.

- Is there a single Mariner besides Felix who has over-performed this season based on expectations? Morse did for a while, but has fallen down to earth again. Otherwise, right now when Felix doesn't pitch, who gets us excited? It's hard to sit through an entire game, and I don't love these guys (for the most part).

-'s baseball coverage is basically worthless. Other than scores, is there a reason to even visit that site anymore?

- I think the PI and Times beat writers are tired and have given up on the season as well. The writing in both is uninspiring and short on data. How about a real in-depth interview with or about Felix? With facts about his slider (can he use it, when etc...). The coverage is worse than usual, which I didn't think was possible. If I were the sports editor I could find plenty to keep these guys busy.

- I have a bad feeling Soriano will be a shell of his former self. I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect it won't be the same watching him pitch.

Have a good weekend, and let's all agree to watch at least some baseball...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Felix debut

So will all the fans jump off the bandwagon the first time he walks four batters in an inning? Or get lit up by the Yanks? Or get pulled in the 3rd inning when he can't find the strike zone?

Who cares, because last night we saw one of the more impressive pitching performances we'll see all year, regardless of the age of the pitcher. Felix was just plain awesome.

Most young pitchers are brought up because the club needs them, and they hope they get good while eating up innings. Felix is different. He is 19 years old and is ALREADY good. Is he one of the top ten pitchers in the AL? Quite possibly. Certainly I'd put him in the top twenty.

Two starts against Detroit and Minnesota is too small a sample size. We all understand that. But we also realize that his fastball isn't going to suddenly stop going 95+ mph anytime soon, and his curve is simply amazing. But his most impressive pitch last night?

His changeup. I've never seen a guy throw 95 mph who can throw a changeup in the same location, at 82 MPH!!! You could tell the Twins hitters were getting frustrated. They had to decide whether to swing at a pitch that might be going 96 or 82, and at least halfway to the plate they looked the same.

Most power pitchers that throw in the mid-90's have a changeup that typically goes 86-88 mph. The problem with the small speed differential is sometimes the batter fouls off the pitch to keep himself in the at-bat. It's a lot harder to make contact when you are talking a 15 mph difference.

We can only hope a guy like Putz was watching that brilliant performance last night. Both Felix and JJ throw fastballs in the 95 mph range. The difference is so crystal clear watching them pitch.

How many times did we see Felix start off a hitter last night with a first pitch 84 mph curve for a strike? Or a changeup for a strike on the outside corner of the plate at 82 mph. A guy like JJ starts off with his fastball and lets the hitter get a feel for the timing. Last night Felix kept the hitters guessing all night. They didn't know what was coming- heat, curve or that damn changeup.

To think he has a slider is simply too scary to contemplate. Is anyone else looking forward to his start next Monday?

It's fun to write about the M's for a change.

Thank you Felix!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Should Rafael Palmeiro return this season?

Much speculation around Baltimore regarding Rafael Palmeiro and whether he should return to playing baseball. At first thought it seems a no-brainer, but many are wondering if he should just retire.

If Raffy plans on playing for several more years, he definitely needs to play now. He's going to be booed mercilessly no matter where he plays, and Giambi and Pay-Rod call tell you to just get it over with and eventually it doesn't bother you. Palmeiro has never really been in the spotlight before, so this will be a learning experience for him. Throughout his career he has put up big numbers while never really catching the spotlight- he's in it now big time.

The question for Rafael Palmeiro is pretty simple then. If you are going to keep playing, get out there now. BUT, he needs to recognize a few things.

One, you will never be paid huge amounts of money again. He is certainly not coming back to the Orioles next year, and I'm not sure many teams would take him. Those that do will not pay big money, so he is going to have to live with making maybe 20% of what he is used to.

Second, he will be a huge distraction every time he takes an at-bat. He is in the declining portion of his career, which will certainly put extra pressure on him. When his numbers don't add up, critics will say "take away the juice and he's not HOF material." This will only hurt his chances of getting in the HOF.

Finally, he may realize for the good of the game he should just step away. He's got enough money, he's got a family. Who wants to have their kids subjected to seeing Daddy get booed every time he plays. Might be time to just step away.

Let's see what Rafael Palmeiro decides to do.

Friday, August 05, 2005

King debut

The debut of our most exciting prospect since Alex and Ken occurred yesterday in Motown, and it's hard not to get too excited. Obviously both Pay-Rod and Brittle-bones are future lock HOF's, so it that out of the question for Felix?

It's all about health. Right now Felix is already a good enough starter to win 12-15 games. On a good team, maybe 15+. Because he is getting such a good start so young, he will have the opportunity to rack up some obscene numbers if he enjoys a long career.

But as every baseball fan knows, the number of pitchers with great arms is small. The number of pitchers with great arms that can stay healthy is incredibly small. For every wonder arm like Clemens or Ryan, there are hundreds of Ryan Anderson's. Guys who have great stuff, but simply don't have the mechanics or miracle physical make-up to endure years of throwing baseballs.

So we won't worry about Felix right now, we'll just enjoy the ride. As long as he stays healthy, he'll be the most exciting player to watch in an M's uniform for a long time.

I guess it is hard to talk about his pitching debut and not mention anything from yesterday. The one thing I heard many people asking about was his pitch selection. He is a fastball, curveball, changeup kinda guy right now.

DO NOT listen to Niehaus when it comes to pitches. Any long time watcher of M's games can tell you that. He will call a 91 mph pitch a changeup. He will call a slider a curve. He will call two IDENTICAL pitches thrown back-to-back different things. He seems to have some idea that he has to immediately after every pitch declare what it was, even when it wasn't always obvious. Sometimes pitchers throw curves that don't break. Or sliders that don't slide. But Niehaus has to identify every pitch, so he throws it out there, rightly or wrongly.

When will Felix throw sliders? We've been told he is not to throw them to protect his arm. We've also been told it might be his best pitch.

We need someone who is close to the situation to answer those questions. But whatever you do, don't listen to Niehaus.

Time to start looking for tickets for Tuesday...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

So Clint Nageotte takes Jorge's spot

Well, it looks like you do need only two pitches to start for the M's, as Clint Nageotte gets the nod.

I liked having him start out in the pen. We'll see what Hargrove and staff have planned, as Jorge is on the 15-day DL with his bum elbow.

I wonder when Spiez and the rest of the changes will happen?

Poor Jorge Campillo

What luck. Major league starting debut for the M's, and gets a sore elbow in the first inning!

Nice win for the M's, and it was also nice to actually care about the game, but I just can't believe the odds of this happening. Sure he complained of elbow problems earlier this season, so it's not like it's totally out of the blue, but still...

If Jorge is truly out for an extended period, who's going to take his spot? Livingston? no. Perhaps Clint ie. Mr. Sweat Boy will be called up. But that seems unlikely too, since he is really a reliever until he figures out a third pitch. It will be interesting to see what happens. It does seem to increase the likelihood of Franklin coming back in and pitching the rest of the season. The M's will need bodies, and it seems unlikely Bavasi will use the steroids issue to get rid of him for now.

Well we finally get to hear King Felix take the mound tomorrow. Let's hope he makes it past the first inning.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hard to say if Ryan Franklin will pitch again for M's

With the surprising news that Ryan Franklin has tested positive for steroids, it is going to be interesting to see what Bavasi does. The obvious choice would be to cut ties with the pitcher, given his terrible win-loss record and zero trade value.

You would think the M's would figure throwing ANYBODY out there would hardly be worse than his 9-27 record (going off memory here) the past couple of seasons.

That being said, he is an effective long reliever. He would be fine for a spot start here and there. They did just trade Villone and all.

I'm disappointed to see yet another M using steroids. And I'm guessing we've seen the last of Franklin. But the decision might not come down until the offseason.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sele release at least a month too late

Not to nitpick, but if Bavasi had traded Sele when he had some value a month ago....

The blogging community was calling for Sele to be released long ago. The swap-out with Jorge was so obvious it was barely worth writing more than once.

So it finally happens, only the M's didn't get anything for Sele.

Oh, and Sele lost a bunch of games for them in the meantime.

Palmeiro suspended

The suspension of Raffy for steriod use? - link

It doesn't seem possible. Much ink will be spilled over this story, to be sure. Assuming Viagra is not considered a steroid, I'm guessing he'll claim he took some supplement.

Wow- what an idiot.

Bavasi did what he had to do

Overall the M's FO did what needed to be done, although they did leave themselves open to a little bit of criticism. Getting rid of Villone and Winn was necessary just to open up younger, more promising players. The fact the M's received value in return is icing on the cake.

With Winn gone, we have a chance to see what Snelling can do. Will any of the pitching prospects pan out? I am of the firm opinion you can't have too many pitchers, and the M's clearly don't have many youngsters that excite you after Felix. It was good to see them shake things up a bit, as the release of a number of players in the next 48 hours will certainly do.

I'm somewhat disappointed Meche or Piniero are still here. It sounds like Meche's shoulder stiffness scared teams away. I know I'm scared. And I don't think Piniero has much value at all, so it's hardly suprising he is still with the team.

Getting rid of Olivo was solid. This is clearly a case where a change was necessary for everyone. Olivo gets a change of scenery, and the M's get to wonder why no one can develop as a catcher here. The fact the M's got anything at all is pretty surprising, but I'm sure some teams like his arm and figure he will snap out of his Seattle funk.

The only real disappointment is Eddie still being on the team, and to a lesser extent Moyer. Eddie is your number one trading commodity, and he never was seriously close to being moved. The M's now have an old reliever with a torn shoulder on the team, and they will look like fools if he goes on the DL before the end of next year. Bad teams don't need closers like Eddie, and it is too bad the M's didn't move him.

The M's also could've handled Moyer better. They should have ironed out who he was willing to go pitch for well before this weekend. Don't negotiate the deal and THEN go to Moyer. It sounds like Moyer wants back next year. Explain that helping the club by agreeing to a trade does exactly that, and Phil Nevin is the poster boy for never playing for your home team again. Sounds like the M's wasted time on trades that were never going to happen. Frustrating.

Let's see who the M's cut, and enjoy watching the debut of King Felix. I think everyone understands it will be 2007 before this team is decent again. At least now we have some reasons to sit through an entire game again.