Mariners Analysis

Thursday, April 27, 2006

M's still not winning at home

While it's nice the M's took the series against Chicago, the team still faces the large hurdle of finishing its 9 game series 3-6. Put simply, teams that are supposed to be getting better and hope to hang around for a wild card spot have got to win at home. It's one thing when you lose in Yankee stadium. It's something else to lose so many games at home. This team will never hit .500 again this year if it can't win at home.

Watching this team, I am beginning to fear this team is simply not constructed to win offensively. Is this team good enough to carry players like Reed, Ichiro and Betancourt who have little to no power? Combine this with players like Beltre and Everett who are not performing at a major league level and you have an offense that scares no one. Throw in Willie getting regular playing time... and Houston we have a problem.

There have been rumors of a major trade in the works. Color me skeptical. The number of significant trades that happen in April or May are few and far between. How many teams trade their "#2" starter one month into the season? (I realize few consider him a number two starter, but that's where the M's have him)

This team doesn't play with much passion. They seem to accept losing all too easily, and there is little reason to believe this team is capable of competing in the AL West. They have enough talent (courtesy of a $90 million payroll) that they won't completely stink, but it's still not clear if they deserve our hard earned dollars to show up at the ball park on a consistent basis.

Other than Felix of course.

It's not time to give up on the season, but it is time to start considering what the future should look like if the losing continues. Is a real, honest to goodness rebuilding plan required?

We'll know in about a month.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Is the sky falling?

Lots of opinion on whether the season is over already. Some don't think this team will ever reach .500 again, while others feel it is too early.

I have written how important it is for this team to win in Safeco.

This team already has 9 losses at home, and we are still in April!

Lots more to come from the Mariner fan community to be sure, but there is reason to be alarmed.

This team is in trouble, and Bavasi knows it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

HUGE win last night

I don't think we can overstate how big a win we had last night. For a team like the M's (young, well versed in losing) to go into a game dropping 8 of 11, in last place in the division... a loss last night would have given the M's the second worst record in the AL behind KC. Sure it's early, but a team like the M's can't afford to spend a lot of time in the basement.

So instead of the above, we have a team that is suddenly a win away from first place, and feeling a little better about itself. The fact Ichiro was quoted as saying this was the most excited he's been IN TWO YEARS! as an M is proof enough.

Good teams take care of business at home. Ichiro shows signs of hitting, and last night was proof again this team is more fun to watch than anything we've seen in a while.

On a slightly different note, it was hard not to watch last nights game and notice the huge sections of empty seats. It is safe to say none of us have ever seen anything like it at Safeco. At first I wondered if sections were closed, as the outfield was literally barren.

Personally on a selfish note I kind of like when the games are empty. You can walk around with ease, find a place to park, grab a beer with no worries, and just in general focus on the game. It's very much like the Kingdome 15 years ago.

Enjoy it while you can... the improved weather will see the crowds return, especially if the M's play like they did last night.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

M's back in last place

It didn't take long for the M's to go from first to last in the tightly bunched AL West. Years past has seen the A's start off slow, and Texas and Anaheim don't appear ready to run off with the division. So the M's should be fine, if they can continue to get solid starting pitching like they showed in Boston.

Texas is not a team that should come in to Safeco and take this series. Yet they are poised to do just that. Will Moyer continue to pitch well at home, or will Texas continue to outslug the M's while their bats remain silent? Will Adrian show signs of some major league talent at the plate? Will Ichiro start hitting?

Plenty of reasons to head to the park tonight.

Get a cheap seat, and enjoy the decent weather. We are supposed to hit 70 degrees this weekend (finally).

Yep, it's finally baseball season.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

M's need to win at home

The M's have had a pretty tough schedule to open the season, and most fans are pretty happy to see them only 2 games under .500

After playing the Red Sox close in all 4 games, while it is disheartening to lose in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, it is comforting to see this team is noticeably better than last year.

If this team was losing and we had players over performing, I would be worried. But with Ichiro looking as bad as he ever has in an M's uniform, with Beltre one of the worst hitters in baseball, with Felix still in Spring training mode... well, there is reason to believe things can improve.

Beltre is really the biggest drag on the M's offense right now. It is not unreasonable to assume the M's would be .500 if he was playing like a $13 million player. To have no RBI's for so long from your #5 hitter is simply not acceptable, and the drop in the order is the logical next step. To see the M's lose so many close games while Beltre struggles will get old really fast.

Watching Beltre hit is simply mind blowing. When you see Beltre miss 88 mph fastballs left over the middle of the plate over and over, you wonder how he ever hit home runs in 2004. No mistakes are punished, and he is fast becoming Jeff Cirillo. His start is so slow the manager is forced to evaluate days on how hard the outs come.

You can almost hear the outfielders chanting "Easy out, Easy out" while they move in closer to the infield dirt. The joke about the SS digging through his pockets while he's at the plate is going to be applicable until he gets some decent timing. There are very few major league hitters who are missing such hittable balls as Beltre is today. Pitchers don't need to do anything special... Adrian is doing it all himself.

So while the M's lost a tough series in Boston, imaginary victories only go so far. This team needs to win at home if it wants to stay near .500

The past two years has seen the M's struggle to win at home. The first step towards respectability is winning in Safeco. No team plays .500 ball losing at home, so let's see Moyer and the rest of the team do well in front of the home crowd. It should be a huge advantage for the M's to play here. The weather, the crowd, the long travel... the next few weeks of home games will give us a good idea if this team will be in the race in the slow starting AL West.

Friday, April 07, 2006

M's in first place...

It's been a long time since the M's found themselves in first place. So while it's only the beginning of the season, it's a significant achievement for this team.

The last two years have seen the M's start by losing right out of the gate. Remember how long it took the M's in Melvin's last year to get to 3 wins? The team was practically out of it before April was over.

Now the M's find themselves in first place, and have one of the most exciting players in baseball take the mound tonight. Wow, an actual reason to be an excited M's fan.

For now, we don't need to wonder if Olerud will be released, or if Boone will get traded before the deadline. For once, we can talk about good things, and not focus on the negative. (for now of course!)

So let's enjoy Friday night, and yell like crazy when the King takes the mound.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Classic J.J. Putz

Two games into the season, and we are seeing the same old Putz. Last year he had a tendency to throw fastball after fastball, as if he could somehow overwhelm the hitter.

Worse still, the location was often the same, and while he throws hard, his fastball has little movement. Watching a hitter finally connect is as frustrating as it is certain- the longer the batter can stay alive and get his timing down, the sooner he's going to catch up and drive it.

Putz is effective when a hitter gets weak wood on a fastball early in the count. The more he sticks around, the more hittable Putz becomes. We saw this last year- what we've seen this year is a complete repeat. It would be nice if the hitting coach and catcher "put the hammer" on repeated fastballs down the middle of the plate.

Putz can be a decent reliever, but not with his current approach.

All in all though, the M's are fun to watch. No one is hitting or pitching at some ridiculous rate, yet the team is competitive against a strong AL rival. I'm not even remotely worried about Beltre just yet... give him a week, and he'll remind you again of what he did this spring.

Soon, the Washburn era begins.

Let's see what $37 mil gets a GM these days...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening Day finally here

It's been a long off season, but we finally made it to Opening Day.

Expectations for this team?

Hard core fans tend to fall in two camps. One camp says the M's did little this year to improve their pitching, so expect a 4th place finish in a very improved AL West and a losing record. The second camp says the M's have plugged huge black holes from last year and will only get better. This camp hints at 85+ wins and at least the possibility of being in a wild card race.

The national media have mostly written off the M's and have them pegged at 80-84 wins. Most fans have them in this range as well.

The main issue with the M's record may come down to your feelings on the AL West. The A's have been a trendy pick to be the best team in the AL. If the A's really do become a powerhouse, and if the Angels and their stocked farm system remain strong, then it really is hard to see the M's finish much over .500

But we all know the A's have a history of starting slow. And while the Angels have talent to die for, they are looking a little old in places this year.

In one month, we'll have a better idea on what this team can do.

But right now, based on what we've seen to date, the M's look like an 82 win team.

Something we haven't seen for 2 1/2 years.