Mariners Analysis

Monday, July 31, 2006

Happy with no moves?

I really expected Bavasi to pull the trigger on at least one more move. They certainly had options, but the front office felt like most of them were simply lateral moves, and didn't strengthen the team enough in the short term to make them worthwhile.

We'll need to readdress these non-moves next winter, when we see what happens with Pineiro and Meche. If they do spin them in to comp picks, we might be okay with them both being in a Mariner uniform for the remainder. But as of right now, I really wanted to see Piniero jettisoned, and if they couldn't get anything of value for him (no surprise- he stinks) then Meche.

Even more surprising was watching Beane stand pat. He made some inquiries, but ended up on the sidelines as well. Maybye this was simply a bad year to make a trade, with too many teams inflating the value of their players.

As of right now, the M's stack up pretty well with every team in the AL West. As long as Anaheim returns to earth, and we have plenty of reasons why they should, the M's will be in contention the rest of the summer.

Oakland will not go on a tear as in years past- the A's are flawed, and for once Beane couldn't do anything about it.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Mariners continue to play well

While I think Hargrove costs this team wins with his bullpen usage, lineups, Bloomie fascination etc... I have to hand it to him. The team continues to play solid, professional baseball. It wasn't that long ago the Mariners appeared lifeless and ready to spend time with the family... but this season the team competes night after night.

Sure they get shut out Friday night, but come right back and take the next two. In years past, too many times we saw the Mariners get blown out at least once every series. Not any more. Even when they lose, they keep the game interesting.

This is a tribute to the M's staff. They are keeping players motivated, and there seems to be a good clubhouse chemistry.

Will the M's make a major trade tomorrow? It looks unlikely, even though Bavasi has several deals he could pull the trigger on- it is a mistake to keep both Pineiro and Meche on this roster, as they don't want one (Pineiro) and won't pay the money (Meche) it will take to keep the other at seasons end.

It's funny to read the local papers gush about Lowe, but no one seems to mention he would make a great starter- like right now. Imagine if Minnesota kept Loriano in the bullpen all year. It would be a stupid mistake. Why is is any different here? (Note- I'm not comparing the two, just indicating I am okay with easing a rookie pitcher in by using him in the bullpen, but if he shows he is ready, don't be afraid to help the team even more...)

Lowe doesn't need the entire offseason to prepare to start- this team has two pitchers it could move, and a player ready to take his place.

I wish Bavasi shared my same point of view, but it looks like he may sit on his hands and come to regret it later (see posts re: Eddie one year ago).

Friday, July 28, 2006

Carlos Lee to Rangers

As usual, the Rangers game plan is to continue to outslug everyone, as they acquire Carlos Lee and still have not addressed their pitching. Still, it doesn't look like they have really given up that much, so even for a rent-a-player like Lee they look to be stronger.

Any time a division rival makes a big move, it is worth checking out. The million dollar questions is what is Billy Beane up to?

He has an awful offense, and a pitcher (Zito) who will walk at the end of the year. He faces a real problem with Zito, as he needs him if they win the division, but he hates seeing players walk when he could seriously restock the sytem if he moves him. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next three days, but I don't believe Beane will be standing pat.

Meanwhile, Bavasi still has several major deals sitting on the table. He will likely make at least one pitching move by the deadline.

Let's hope the team doesn't get distracted by the shuffles and continues to play well this weekend in Cleveland.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The day after

Now that we've had almost 24 hours to think about the M's moves yesterday, it's time to look at the moves that were made, and how we got here.

Through interviews with Bavasi, as well as other baseball parties, we are starting to get a good idea on how this trade came about, and the thought process behind it.

We'll start with Snelling. At first, many long time fans thought Snelling would be taking the place of Everett, perhaps even playing LF and pushing Ibanez to the DH position. This was clearly never the plan. With Snelling already dumped back to Tacoma, it is clear the only way Snelling gets back on the team is to rake in the minors and get a September call up. Even then, it's doubtful Hargrove would even know what to do with him. If you are a Snelling fan, yesterday went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. At least for now, the team thinks Dobbs is more valuable then Snelling. That tells you how much Snelling has to prove before he gets handed anything from this management team.

Next is Broussard. The problem with evaluating this trade is figuring out who the PTBNL is going to be. I had no idea you can't trade a player later who played in the majors this year, so obviously it is not going to be Reed. I'm curious why they need to push this out, rather than include the player now, and we really haven't gotten any good answers on this one.

There is simply no way a player like Broussard gets traded straight up for Choo. No way. Choo hopes he has a career like Broussard. Choo is not very valuable in my eyes at all. He can't play center, and doesn't have natural instincts to the ball. The fact that Cleveland is SENDING money to Seattle raises huge red flags to me.

If this was a Broussard/Choo swap, and the Indians were paying his salary to boot, I would call this one of Bavasi's best moves as manager. This would be an absolute steal if you are Mariner fan, and I would be screaming bloody murder in Cleveland.

But Shapiro is way too sharp for that. So the million dollar question is who is this player?

At this time, we simply don't know. I don't anyway. Names like Tui spring to mind, and given our glut at catcher, that is also a good place to look. I have a bad feeling about this, but perhaps this won't be a big deal. Remember, the names have to be submitted before Sept 1, when the call ups begin. Hmmmm....

To wrap this up, overall the team is WAY stronger as a result of these moves. The two-headed monster we now have at DH is such an improvement over Everett it literally is like adding an All Star on our roster. I fully expect this team to contend for the Al West title, especially knowing more moves are to come.

The villian in all this is Hargrove. A cynic could argue we would have never found ourselves in this position if he hadn't wanted Everett in the first place. If he would value the farm system, and knew how to use the players it contains.

But we'll save that for another day. The fact is, the team is playing good baseball and just got better.

For now, we can be happy with that.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More on the Choo trade

Regarding the player to be named later-

"The value equation to every trade is always very precise," Shapiro said. "The second player is meaningful. He has value. Choo is the key component to the trade, but the second player is a key component, as well."

It also looks like the player list must be supplied by August 31st.

Ben Broussard

The big question now is who is the PTBNL?

Almost certainly Reed. (edit- Or perhaps Mike Morse? These are the only two injured players who I can think of.)

Now way Choo gets you Ben Broussard with some no-name minor league talent thrown in, does he? I don't believe Choo is that highly regarded (AAAA) in the majors, so I'm wondering who that player could be later. Perhaps the Indians just want more time to cherry pick from a list of minor leagers. Hard to say...

Bill Bavasi will be on KJR before the game (~6:20) so maybe he can help clear this up, even without actually naming the player.

This is great for Choo, as he clearly was not going to get a fair chance to play for some strange reason.

More moves to come, that include pitching shortly.

Bavasi is not done.

Bavasi comes around

Everett gone, Snelling up. I had indicated earlier I thought Carl would be gone by the end of this month, and it is now official- link

This move makes so much so sense for so many reasons, pretty much every Mariner fan has been screaming for this to happen for the past few months. While it is too bad it took so long, we'll take it regardless.

It will be interesting to see how Chris does in the majors. He has been in a bit of a slump the past month, and we all know about his health. What are the odds he makes it thru the rest of the season healthy? Maybe 50/50 he avoids the DL this year? (Who knows?)

Let's hope the reason Chris has been playing so bad is simply boredom, or frustration at not getting called up. That seems somewhat unlikely to me, but then again seeing Greg Dobbs called up before me would depress anyone.

As if Adam Jones wasn't enough of a reason to watch, now Snelling.

Now we just need to see what the next move will be. I can assure you, this team has a trade already in the works, and it will be made before the deadline.

Good luck Chris.

I hope you don't need it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Joel needs to go

Nice win by the Mariners last night. It is worth noting Kenji just might be having the best season by ANY Mariner catcher at the plate. The prediction by some that upgrading our black holes last year would elevate this offense to league average was right on. If Beltre and Sexson play to their abilities, and we get rid of Eve....

Oh wait, this is about Piniero. Seriously, how much longer can the M's watch him pitch and believe they are going to the playoffs with him in the 5-man rotation? For those that didn't watch the game, Joel was in classic form last night. Throw the ball towards home plate, and wince.


That is the current Joel Piniero strategy. Let the team hit the ball as hard as they can, and hope someone is able to catch/stop it before it hits a fan.

He played with fire all night- balls were smoked in every direction, but the baseball gods were smiling and he escaped with surrendering 10 hits(!) and the win. Hargrove after the game mentioned he didn't have his best stuff, or command.

Yep, that about sums it up.

After watching Mark Lowe continue to impress, surely Bavasi and Hargrove must realize there are PLENTY of options in the system that can match Pineiro. If they can't remember why they shouldn't miss Joel in an M's uniform, they should just remember that Joel and Ryan Franklin are pretty much the same pitcher. You let Ryan go, and you should let Joel go.

If any team will give up ANY player in return, the M's should move him before the deadline. Before his next start is the goal, basically.

Joel must go.

It's not that hard to remember.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Great series

The M's continue to impress- since the All Star break they have played a tough schedule and continue to compete night after night. The game yesterday was probably the most entertaining we'll see all year. The fact we got to send all those annoying Red Sox "fans" home disappointed twice over the weekend was icing on the cake.

The trading deadline is only a week away. The rumor mill has been very quiet re: the mariners. They are occasionally mentioned for names like Soriano, but we all know that will never happen.

It won' be a shock if a player like Todd Walker is picked up. Bavasi has to deal with Everett one way or the other. He can't continue to ignore the evidence showing we are getting next to nothing from our DH, and to continue to play him invites disaster if his option vests for next year.

I am sure Bavasi has looked into trading Everett. This would basically be a trade where we pick somebody elses trash up in exchange for our own little disaster-in-the-making. Bavasi has a serious problem on his hands- if he continues to run Everett out there, he ensures having him play next year. If he doesn't play him, then Everett becomes disgruntled and becomes the source of tension in the clubhouse.

But of course other teams don't want to pick up Everett for the same reason- they don't want his option to vest. He simply isn't hitting well enough to be worth almost $4 million.

So Bavasi needs to get creative, or he needs to cut him. I don't think we'll see Everett in a Mariner uniform in August.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nice win

With competent management and a little luck, this team could be .500 or better on this roadtrip with ease. If you had asked most fans if they would be happy with a split given the tough schedule, most would have taken it w/o hesitation.

The current M's team is absolutely capable of being a .500 club. They have an outstanding bullpen, a nice mix of youth and veterans, and decent pitching. That gets you to .500 no problem.

Of course this team isn't .500 though. It's funny how the little things make a big difference. Things like managing a bullpen, a roster, a lineup, a bench... you know, little things.

Upgrade the DH position. That should be the next step without question.

And for goodness sake, shop Meche right now!!

Seriously, if Bavasi isn't on the phones right now at least getting the latest offers on this guy, management should threaten to replace him with Willie Bloomquist.

That should get his attention.

Brutal call last night

The M's really ran into some bad luck last night. Taking a 4-2 lead into the 9th, with Putz on the mound, it seemed like a sure win.

And then the rain started pouring, and then the call on Posada, and before you know it the M's lose yet another extra inning game.

All I will say about that call... that may or may not have cost them the game... it was one of the worst "safe" calls to first I've ever seen. Honestly, that call wasn't even close. You could show that replay in real time to 100 umps, and it would be called correctly 100 times. The only way it gets called the way it did is when the crowd is going wild and the human part of the game comes into play.

The M's really got robbed last night, and against the Yankees no less! Let's hope things even out over the course of the season and they get a gift win later on to even it out.

Meanwhile, I'm set to watch Randy throw pitch #124...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

M's playing decent

It's easy to look at the M's record lately and think they are really playing bad baseball. But in reality, the M's are playing good teams and for the most part matching them, but can't seem to either 1) Catch a break 2) Stop making idiotic mistakes.

The M's could just as easily be on a 4 game winning streak right now. Both games in Toronto were there for the taking, and the M's just got to see Pay-Rod have one of his worst games in a baseball uniform. Pretty strong starting pitching, and outstanding bullpen work yet again. Normally that doesn't lead to long losing streaks.

But the lack of timely hitting and stupid mistakes are killing this team.

Consider Bloomquist last night. Hargrove has him batting second in the order, despite his terrible numbers this year.
1) He gets a single (big suprise) with 2 outs and the M's needing runs badly
2) Beltre hits a ball sharply to A-Rod, who proceeds to bobble the ball. Bloomquist, for some odd reason, feels he can run from 1st-3rd on a ball hit to the 3rd basemen??? While Beltre is safe, Bloomquist kills the inning with stupid baserunning when Jeter easily runs him down.

Now we could point out that Bloomquist in the next inning drops an easy ball that could have led to even more runs, but the point isn't to pile on the blame on Bloomquist. The problems from last night, which are typical for this team-
Exhibit A- Bloomquist batting second in the lineup
Exhibit B- Bad baserunning errors

It's hard to know if the M's might have had a different result if the manager didn't put them in such a difficult position. Was Bloomquist's crazy baserunning a result of a player trying to get more playing time and getting too eager, or is it a result of a manager who preaches giving up outs to the other team?

We have no way of knowing really, but the point is you can't give up outs to teams like Toronto or NY and win many games. The Mariners in general are playing decent, but having auto-outs like Everett in the lineup, playing Bloomquist too often etc... is just enough to mean the difference between .500 baseball and losing 8 of ten.

I don't feel Hargrove is going anywhere this year, but I find it hard to believe Bavasi doesn't notice the same thing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tough weekend losses

The M's could have gone into the Yankee series with some nice momentum by takin 2 of 3 from the Jays, but the absolute lack of clutch hitting killed them. Whether it was taking Sexson out when he did, managing the bullpen etc... there was lots to argue about for M's fans re: a certain manager. The end result though is this- our bullpen is absolutely the strength of this team, and they put on a tremendous display against a good hitting Toronto team. It's too bad they have to go into the NY series on fumes, as a timely hit here or there would have completely changed the outlook on the next few games.

While we are in NY, it should be mentioned:
- There will now be a ton of national articles declaring the Yankees as the best team in the AL East, and see Boston missing the playoffs. In a few weeks when the Yanks lose a few and Boston wins, the reverse will happen.
- The same "experts" now believe the Yankees are better then the White Sox, based on a 3 game series.
- The Yankees will be involved in every trade discussion this month, regardless of how true it will be.
- It would do the Mariners a lot of good if Meche could continue to pitch well this week. Even if the Yankees don't really want him, mere interest can drive the price up considerably.

Can the M's win even one game against a red-hot NY team?

Will any current M be wearing pinstripes later this year?

Don't miss a pitch, this will be a fun series even if the M's get blown out...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Adam Jones being rushed

When Clement was promoted to AAA, I wondered why the rush. Coming off an injury, and with little time in AA, it seemed "odd" to be rushing one of your top prospects when you have a catcher on your major league roster who is playing at an All Star level.

Now with Jones being called up, the question again is why? If you bring him up, you have to play him every day. Only an idiot (Hargrove?) would try to platoon your brightest position player in your entire farm system. But what about Choo? Why can't you give him a chance to show what he can do?

Realistically, we all know Choo is not an everday outfielder, but he could have done no worse than Reed until he returns.

Jones should be battling Reed for the CF position next spring. The chance a 20 year old comes up here and lights the world on fire is about 5%.

Bavasi makes some strange moves. The ideal move would be to move Ichiro to center. We all know it, including Bavasi. I think it is safe to say the club has asked and he won't do it.

So Ichiro stays in RF, and Jones is rushed.

My interest in the team is heightened, but my heart tells me this is a bad move.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

First half a success for M's

As a fan, I find the All Star game fun. Getting to watch players like Pujols, who we rarely see, is reason enough, exhibition game or not. I also really like Selig's decsion to make the game have some meaning with the World Series home advantage on the line.

I don't like to see the players kids running all over the place, or having guys laughing on the field and just goofing around. What happened in Milwaukee was an embarassment, what with the managers not even trying to win the game. Selig has fixed that problem. Combined with the AL beating the snot out of the NL, there is plenty of reasons tonights game will be worth watching.

Meanwhile, the M's are in a familar location at the All Star break: last place. But the season has so far been a resounding success. Most of us pegged the M's as a .500 team this season. With Hargrove costing us a few runs with his 12 man roster, refusals to propery use a bench, idiotic baserunning etc... and Bavasi further costing us a few wins by trading Eddie a season too late, it is pretty obvious this team is getting better.

Who thought Jose Lopez would be in the All Star game this season? Ichiro has rebounded again into one of the most fun players to watch play the game. Beltre is showing signs of not being the worst FA signing of all time. The club has a few position players ready for next season...

The M's have struggled against the AL West, and they have no chance at finishing .500 if they can't get that corrected. But they have a solid lineup, an outstanding bullpen and a core of young players that will keep the M's in the hunt the rest of the season.

The chance they catch 3 teams and win the division is small. The chance they are entertaining enough to watch trying is huge.

First half of the season== success.