Mariners Analysis

Thursday, August 31, 2006


That's the sound that is heard whenever a starting pitcher sees Joel Pineiro is coming in to "relieve" him. The man sporting an ERA over six marches to the mound, with a runner on 2nd and the game close.

Was there any chance in the world Joel was going to prevent that runner from scoring?

Even with our bullpen depleted beyond belief, I still wouldn't run Joel out there in any game I actually wanted to win. He should be used in scrub situations only, and should never start a game for the Mariners again.

Just wanted to get that out of the way. I realize Hargrove doesn't listen, but felt the need to say it anyway.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rafael Soriano

I'm sure everyone watching had the same reaction- a sick feeling after watching Raffy get beaned last night. Instantly I didn't care who won the game, and the good feeling after seeing Snelling hit two home runs was gone.

I was pretty sure things were going to be fine, as I could tell he was in pain, but felt that was actually a good sign. Seeing a player moving in pain told me they were awake, and had full motor function. If he dropped like a rock and didn't move, I would have feared the worst.

We should know more today of course on his condition. Assuming the report comes back clean, so to speak, the next issue will be mental. Can he take the mound with full confidence, or will he develop a flinch or change his delivery?

Putting him on the 15 DL would be prudent. Plenty thought he should have been shutdown for health reasons anyway, so he may not pitch again this season.

Of course if he bounces back and in a week says he wants to pitch, that may not be a bad thing. Get him back on the mound before you make it an even bigger deal in his head.

Let's hope the smile returns quickly.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nice job by Felix

Lots of talk today about Felix's pitching last night. It was obvious he was a different pitcher than the one we say against the Yankees, where he was trying to strike everyone out. This time he didn't overthrow and got good location from his fastball. Let's see what he does in his next start.

Baseball, like all sports, is so crazy to predict. The Mariners lost 11 games to the AL West, then proceed to take 2 of three from the hottest team in baseball (Yankees) and sweep the Red Sox. If they win tonight, they'll have won 3 series in a row, all against quality opponents.

I have already predicted the Mariners will lose 90 games this year. The schedule is brutal the rest of the year, and with Hargrove playing with the lineup like he does, it just doesn't seem possible for them to finish strong.

But after taking 5 of 6 from the two biggest spending teams in baseball, it sure feels good. And winning last night against the Angels felt pretty good too.

More reasons to watch-
1) Snelling
2) Ichiro in center
3) Who will Hargrove bring in to replace Mateo? He's got lots of options, but most are young, and Hargrove likes his veterans. Will be interesting to see what he does here.
4) Hargrove's lineups. They are sort of like the Hydro races on the big screen. Stupid, fascinating to some, and utterly impossible to predict.

Let's hope Weaver picks up his second loss tonight, as he slowly returns to earth after his amazing start.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Andrew Miller joins Tigers

Coming off a sweep of the Red Sox, this news item of the day caught my eye- link

Andrew Miller, who could have been a Mariner as we all know, is set to join the Tigers before the September call up many had been expecting. It will be interesting to see how he fares, given the hype around his abilities.

With the Mariners in desperate need of pitching next year, seeing a kid they passed on getting called up by the team with the best record in baseball must be hard. Perhaps Miller should have been competing next year to make the roster, instead of having to give insane money to someone like Zito.

Felix. Miller. Matsuzaka.

That would have been an interesting lineup next spring.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Broussard trade looks even better

When the trade of Choo and Broussard was announced, I was convinced the PTBNL had to be significant. After all, Broussard is a quality major league player right now, while Choo basically hopes to become a player as accomplished as Ben. I figured Bavasi had to sweeten the pot somehow.

With the remaining player in the trade being Shawn Nottingham, I can relax. This to me cements the deal squarely in Bavasi's favor. The M's got a quality left-handed bat in return for a player (Choo) who didn't really fit into the teams plans.

When we evaluate Bavasi's trades, this one looks good to me. Choo's line the last week-

We did not trade a future superstar away, and his numbers will return to earth shortly.

Oh yeah, and congrats to the team for taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees. I still see 90 losses in the future, but am overjoyed when we take a series from NY.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Felix stinks... 90 losses guaranteed?

Felix in his last three starts has been awful.

The team really needed a strong start, as taking at least 2 of three might have invigorated the team, as well as show Felix is capable of stopping losing streaks. When the team needed him to step up, he wilted. His fastball was all over the place, he was overthrowing trying to compensate for his lack of command... the Yankees feasted on plates left up and over... and in comes Joel Pineiro to try and save the day. What an ugly game for M's fans last night.

A look at the schedule shows 90 losses is guaranteed. The odds the team wins 16 or more games to prevent this from happening is looking less and less likely. With teams like Boston, Anaheim, Texas, Oakland littering the schedule... oh, let's not forget Chicago and the White Sox... the only "easy" part of the schedule would appear to be KC and Tampa. The rest will be teams with winning records and playoff hopes.

A collapse seems more likely than a strong September. Combined with callups and poor morale, this team could hit 100 losses easier than you think. At this point I think 90 losses is all but guaranteed, and 100 is not out of the question.

Of course sports is not easily predictable. If it was, we'd all be in Vegas right now placing our bets and becoming millionaires. There is a chance this team rallies and rips of 10 wins in a row. A chance the young kids inspire the team and they hang tough the rest of the way. A chance Hargrove reverses his recent history and pushes this team to finish strong.

I'm still a fan, and I'm still cheering for this team, but I really believe we have to be honest and expect September to be really, really rough.

It would be nice to see them avoid 90 losses, but I don't think it will happen.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We may never understand Hargrove

Last night when I saw Snelling being replaced by T.J. Bohn I was torn- do I jump up and down and scream at the TV, or do I shake my head at the mysterious lump that resides on Hargrove's body? I didn't know if I should be upset or amazed the man gets dressed every day.

We all know the situation. Snelling is a huge question mark for the team. He provides something they desperately need. He is cheap, hits the ball hard, he takes walks, he's a product of the farm system. He is so important you asked Ichiro to move to CF to accommodate his try out, hoping he stay's injury free.

Since he's called up, Snelling's been a breath of fresh air. You would think Hargrove would be worshiping the ground the guy walks on. For a manager fighting to save his job, watching a batter actually work the count, making the pitcher throw him something he doesn't want to, actually acting like a major league hitter... we all love the kid.

We have previously assumed Hargrove was watching these games. Hasn't he noticed how Bloomquist has been playing? How he hits lofts downy-soft liners to the outfield, generally in the 1st or 2nd pitch he sees, and that's when he gets it out of the infield. Snelling has simply been fantastic since he got here. He is so much better than Jones, Bloomquist etc... he's already being trotted out as the #2 hitter in the lineup.

So T.J. Bohn gets called up and Hargrove treats him like he's a new toy. Never played in the big leagues? Never helped a major league team stop an 11-game losing streak? Never faced the Yankees before in a close game? No problem, let's shove you out there and see how you do!

Sure Hargrove made at least 3 other boneheaded moves at the end of the game, but this was the most upsetting. I wanted to see Snelling play!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Always fun when Yankees come to town

Even though the M's are playing through the motions right now, with a soon-to-be-fired Manager running the ship, it's still fun to watch the boys in pinstripes. The M's couldn't be bigger underdogs right now, and the thought of Meche facing the on-base machine that is the current Yankees lineup would be like watching a train wreck- you need to look away, but you can't.

Apparently Bavasi can't stand to see that either, as Meche has been mysteriously pushed back. No matter, the games will be worth watching, regardless if Meche makes an appearance. After thoroughly humiliating the Red Sox over the weekend, we haven't seen a team roll into town like this in a while. They are clearly the best team in baseball right now, the team you really don't want to play if you are trying to stop a losing streak.

Perhaps Bavasi will notice the Yankee batters actually taking pitches, forcing the pitcher to throw strikes. Forcing the pitcher to throw a pitch everyone knows is coming- a fastball down the middle of the plate, and watching the Yankees tear up your starting pitching, middle relief and bullpen in the process. If the Mariners had to play the Yankees in a 5 game series right now, Bobby Ayala would probably see action. The Yankees just wear you out.

When I see Snelling up at the plate, he sort of reminds me of a young Jason Giambi. (Lefty, stocky, pulls at his gloves between every pitch, takes borderline pitches with complete confidence.) He is the single best reason to watch this series, and will get my full attention during each at-bat.

Let's cheer on our young pitchers, hope Snelling continues to hit well and stay healthy, and have a good time while the Yankees $200+ million juggernaught comes to town...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mariners collide with Yankees

So we have the hottest team in baseball coming to our little town, and the M's are playing their worst baseball of the season. While the Yankees just destroyed Boston in taking all five games, the M's were setting a major league record in futility against division opponents.

Should we even play these games, and just tell the Yankees to add 3 in the win column and save us the trouble? Or will the Yankees be so flat after the Boston Massacre Part Deux the Mariners will actually win a few games?

Hard to say, but the most amazing development of the weekend happened when we heard Moyer was traded to Philadelphia.

If you are a Mariner BASEBALL fan, as opposed to someone who just goes to the ballpark and laughs at the commercials, this was the best trade the Mariners made all year.

First of all, you get rid of Moyer. Outside of Safeco, he's been awful. How long can you continue to run out a starter who gets killed when he's outside of his home park? Not long if you hope to compete for the playoffs.

Second, you quit paying a bunch of money to do it. Moyer is a #5 starter making more like #3 money. That money can be used elsewhere.

Third, you rid yourself the temptation to resign next year. Seattle has permanently cut ties to Moyer. These means we don't need to continue to speculate on what the M's will do with him next year. He is gone gone.

Fourth, you free up his spot to see what you have in your system. It is possible a young kid could open eyes this year and gain consideration for next spring.

And finally, we are reminded this team is really trying to get better. It would be easy to stick with Moyer all season and then decide on his status next year after you see who is available in free agency. But that would be the wrong approach.

This team needs to make hard decisions, regardless of what the casual fan might or might not do. Winning will bring the fans. Sticking with popular but no longer effective stars is not the long term strategy for success.

Ichiro NEEDS to play center if it helps the team, even when it disrupts his personal comfort zone.

The team NEEDS to ditch Pineiro in the offseason.

The team NEEDS to dump Hargrove asap.

The team NEEDS to develop a plan on what to do when you call up a player (Jones).

The team NEEDS to start Bloomquist in rare/emergency purposes.

I loved watching Moyer pitch. To see someone get through a game with a 82 mph fastball was a joy to watch. He's my favorite Mariner pitcher of all time.

Yet it was time to move on. I only wished he had accepted the trade last year, as I questioned his logic at the time.

Goodbye Jamie, I wish you great success.

Now the team has more pressing issues to address.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Texas came to play

Before the series started, we knew both teams felt a sense of urgency. With Oakland continuing to win, you can't afford to coast along and lose many games if you want to be playing meaningful series in September. Yet when the dust settled, it is hard to argue that Seattle has already given up on the season. Oakland is surging. Anaheim is hot. Texas just took 4 games from a division rival. Seattle has almost certainly locked up 4th place, barring an unforeseen miracle.

Willie quotes notwithstanding, the effort and results against Oakland and now Texas seem to point to this team having mailed it in. Their record against opponents in their own division is the worst in baseball.

You have a manager who plays his veterans as much as possible, yet the veterans are not getting the job done. This Texas series was really important, if for no other reason than simply fan interest as Seahawks football looms. A clean sweep has even the most enthusiastic fans now beginning to wonder if the Huskies will win a game, or if the Seahawks can avoid the curse of losing Super Bowl teams.

If we thought Hargrove would even play them, at least September brings exanded rosters. Yet with Ichiro running on fumes the last 2 months, Mike couldn't find a way to get him a day off. What are the chances he plays unproven kids in September when he is likely feeling he is fighting to save his job?

So a few things to think about while we watch this team go through the motions.
1) Is Ichiro putting pressure on the team to keep his streak alive and not take a day off, or his Hargrove simply an idiot?
2) Has Hargrove already lost his job, or will his attempt to save it play into his strategy in September?
3) Will this team continue to play inconsistent (swept, sweep, swept) or simply go into the tank ala Baltimore and lose so many games in September 90 losses is a possibility?

I really wish expanded rosters meant expanded coaching staffs. I wouldn't mind seeing someone else take a crack at this thing, but it looks like that won't happen until '07 at the earliest...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tough loss

With the offense only scoring 2 runs, the odds the M's won the game weren't very good. But Hargrove is getting ripped today for his comments on Mateo.

Let's look at what we knew before the game started.

1) Pineiro sucks. With an ERA of almost 6, he's one of the worst starting pitchers in the AL.
2) Mateo was being used WAY too much, in too many high leverage situations.

Both of these things were evident well before the first pitch.

When Pineiro made it through the first 5 innings without giving up a run, Hargrove should have been absolutely giddy. Here you have your worst starter, on the road, against Texas, and are ahead 2-0. It was the best possible situation you could have hoped to be in.

A normal manager at this point knows he is living on borrowed time with Pineiro, so to speak. While Pineiro hadn't given up a run, danger signs were everywhere. Balls were being smoked all over the yard, they just happened to be right at someone. If not for a bit of luck, might have already gotten lit up- he just managed to get out an inning with runners on 1st and 2nd and only one out.

What I'm trying to say is Hargrove should have been ready to yank Pineiro at the first sign of trouble. The fact he trotted Piniero out again, in the 7th. THAT should have been reason to relieve him of his duties, right there on the field.

The fact he doesn't realize Mateo is a flyball pitcher is bad. The fact he "trusted" Pineiro to pitch well in the 7th is in some ways even more terrible.

Let's not focus on just Mateo last night. Hargrove had a bad, bad game yesterday.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Texas fighting for playoffs

While the Mariners feel a little better after sweeping the Devil Rays, it should be noted the Rangers feel they are in a pennant race too. They at least took one game from the A's, and figure to be a tough matchup.

It is hard to imagine Joel having a good game tonight. Will the good Joel show up, or the normal Joel who threatens to finish with a 6+ ERA? I have a hard time believing Joel can be succesful against a Texas team playing in that ballpark. I don't want to be negative, but it is something Bill Bavasi really needs to keep an eye on. How can the M's get on a streak if Joel manages to both lose the game and blow up the bullpen every 5 days?

It would be fantastic if Joel steps up and the M's get a win. The key as always with Joel is to not get behind in the count and stay out of the middle of the plate. When you don't have great stuff, that's pretty much the only formula for success. There's a fine line between painting corners and walking batters. It's hard to see how Joel is going to ever be productive for a long stretch of time.

Meanwhile, we finally get to see a nice streak of games where Adrian Beltre is on fire. The only downside to this stretch has been while Beltre is hitting out of this world, Ichiro has been on a 6-week slump. If Ichiro can turn it around and go back to the player he was 2 months ago, and Beltre keeps hitting... now that would be fun!

Throw in Lopez starting to come around, and Sexson seeing the ball better, and we can afford a few more mistakes by our pitchers. The pitching staff has been pretty solid lately, and it would be nice to see the team throw up some big numbers and even things out.

The other issue right now is still center field. It's not the worst thing in the world to try and carry a young player, so we just have to hope Bavasi comes up with a new plan or they keep throwing Jones out there.

If Hargrove starts Willie in Center for 2 of the next 3 games, we should all be waiting for him at the airport upon their return...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sexson walk-off

It was fun last night watching Sexson deliver payback for walking two batters intentionally to face him! You don't see your main RBI batter getting disrespected like that very often. We were in the stands whispering "are they really doing what I think they are doing!??" while everyone stood on their feet for the at-bat. It didn't take long to see the results. The Tampa CF never even looked back; I swear he immediately starting walking back to the dugout when he it.

I did notice Sexson didn't seem to take his helmet off when he trotted home. Apparently he hasn't received the David Ortiz memo that recommends you toss the helmet to avoid teammates beating you senseless over the head. This is pretty much required if you want to look like you do this sort of thing all the time- perhaps someone can let Sexson know. (or maybe he likes getting beat in the head- to each his own)

The other thing that generated lots of discussion was Bloomquist. We all know Willie is a management favorite, so we don't want to beat that dead horse, but his at-bats last night were particulaly bad. In four trips to the plate, his production looked like:
#1=Strike (looking), Strike (looking), Ball, Strike (looking), W Bloomquist struck out looking
#2=W Bloomquist flied out to right
#3=Ball, W Bloomquist fouled out to catcher
#4=W Bloomquist flied out to right

Unless I'm mistaken, Willie saw a total of 8 pitches in 4 at bats. One at-bat (his longest) was a strikeout on 4 pitches, and the rest were lazy pop-ups. These were not balls that were scorched, they were innocent, child-like rainbows that fell into the Devil Ray gloves.

I really am not wanting to jump all over Willie, but he looks so bad right now at the plate, I don't know how Hargrove can continue to not notice.

Anyway, the game was fun so let's see if the M's can get out the brooms and take care of business.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Finally a win

It featured a bases loaded jam in the 9th, Moyer couldn't make it thru 5 innings, Mateo left with two runners on... but we won. It wasn't pretty, but after that Oakland series we'll take any win we can get.

Tonight we have Felix on the mound, who has been pitching well lately, and it would not be a shock to see the team go for the sweep tomorrow. Just when you think the team couldn't suck any more, and is terribly flawed, they bounce back a little and give you reason to care.

I'm certainly not pretending the team is going to win the West. But this game sure is crazy. If Seattle had only played .500 against Oakland, they'd be at the top of our projections. But they didn't, so we get to play "if only" games in August.

If I'm Bavasi, I try to salvage what hopes I have of fan interest in September by improving my starting rotation. First things first is to move Piniero to the bullpen. You simply can't string together wins when every fifth game you know you need 6+ runs to have a chance. How long will Bavasi keep running out a starter as ineffective as Pineiro?

I don't see them making any other moves in the starting rotation until September, and I doubt Bavasi will act on Pineiro w/o a complete meltdown, but it's what he should do.

The second improvement for the team would come from removing Willie from regular playing time. I really don't have a problem seeing Bloomquist as a late innings baserunner, even knowing he will likely get an at-bat at some point. But having him start is basically playing w/o a DH. You are giving yourself automatic outs you can't afford to have, especially for a team that relies on stringing together hits.

Adam Jones is clearly outmatched in CF. He looks lost at the plate, and is making mental mistakes in the field. You either live with it and run him out there every game, telling him not to worry what he hits, just play good defense.

Or you send him down where he belongs- AAA and bring in??

These moves are of course old news for M's fans. Just like trading Guardado last year, they are so obvious it's hard to understand how management could see things any differently.

So tonight I'll go to the ballpark, watch Felix pitch, and hope I run into Bavasi...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Crushing losses

The Mariners came in to this series with three doors. The first door was to sweep the A's, and put themselves firmly in position to compete for the playoffs. The second door was to win at least one, and give yourself a chance. With a few breaks, who knows.

And the third door was to give yourself the rest of the summer off. You eliminate any chance of vacation plans being ruined in October, and cost a few people their jobs.

It was clear which door this team chose. While not being blown out in any game, they simply refused to rise to the occasion. Joel showed himself to be the pitcher we have been complaing about all year. Adam Jones has shown himself to be hopelessly outmatched... And Willie saw way too much playing time in an important series. We could go on, but you get the idea... you saw the games.

This was a complete disaster from top to bottom. From Bavasi and Hargrove on down (yes, I'm talking about you Willie) this team tanked. Watching the game today, baking in the sun, it was so hard to watch. The team had so much to play for, and just pissed it away.

The rest of the season all we have to look forward to is figuring out who should be on the club next year, and who shouldn't.

Mike Hargrove, the biggest reason you will lose your job this offseason is because you couldn't beat Oakland.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Seafair weekend- baseball!

With the Mariners about to face Oakland this weekend, it is time for us to set our expectations for the series.

If the M's get swept, it will be pretty hard to see them winning the division. Yeah, yeah, we all know what happened in '95 and the Angels, but we would have two other teams to worry about as well. While the M's won't be mathematically eliminated by a sweep, it will be much, much harder to gain ground. I think every Mariner fan will agree losing 12 in a row to Oakland is simply not good.

Losing one game will not be quiet so bad, but the psychological damage will still be bad. The Mariner players realize they need to make a statement- they have been playing good ball against the best teams in the AL, and have some decent momentum. They are going to be trying just a little harder this series, given all that's riding on it.

Of course we want 2 or more wins out of this series. If we get it, the race is full one!

Get your tickets and get out there!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oakland comes to town

Of course everyone is excited to see the A's this weekend. The team is playing well, and the hype over the importance of this series will grow as each inning is played.

In the ten games this season, the A's have outscored the M's by 30 runs! (Fifty nine to twenty nine.) Watching the M's the last month, that seems hard to believe. Even when they have lost, it seems to come in extra innings or low scoring games. It's been awhile since the team has been blown out of a series, so we should expect a good showing since the teams confidence is high right now.

Every long time Mariner player & fan knows the A's own Seattle in Oakland. It is past the point of figuring out how or why, we just have to accept it as fact. However, there is no reason this needs to happpen in Safeco, so there is good reason to be excited about this weekend.

If the M's win the series, they will be over .500 and absolutely in the race for the playoffs. It's the most important series in Seattle in almost 3 years.

Get your tickets now, clear out your calendar this weekend and get ready for some great baseball.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mark Lowe not a starter?

Last night during the post game radio show, a caller asked why Mark Lowe is not being considered for the starting rotation.

Shannon Drayer took the call, and in a sniveling tone (I think she has a cold) stated the Mariners have already determined Lowe is not an option for the rotation. When the caller in a roundabout way said his stuff is too good not to be considered, Shannon dropped more information I've never heard.

According to Drayer, the M's have a concern with Lowe's mechanics and feel he is at risk for injury if he moved to the starting rotation. So for now at least, Lowe is going nowhere. I should point out that Drayer then went on a bit of a rant, and argued that M's fans are stupid for complaing when Mariner pitchers always get hurt, and then complain when they hold them back.

When the caller pointed out Lowe has better stuff than Pineiro, Drayer went into some crazy outburst, blabbering on about Pineiro's six years experience as a starter and how it was crazy to claim Lowe was better. But I digress...

Has anyone heard about the Mariners shutting down Lowe as a starter? Anyone heard why he is at risk of injury (according to the Mariners)?

I hope this is only for this season, as I would like to see Lowe considered for the rotation next spring. It will be something to keep an eye on...