Mariners Analysis

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Christmas did not come early

With the official news today that Hargrove is coming back, it seems the wish of many Mariners fans will not come true. We had been teased by a few hardcore bloggers that claimed inside information that Hargrove was gone, but it looks like Bavasi is tied to the hip and it is a package deal.

Any fan who watched this season can tell Hargrove cost this team wins. From giving WFB half a season of at-bats, Everett, Piniero etc... the impact was real and easily seen.

It will be harder to be excited for '07 with the news he is coming back.

The M's better have a killer winter to generate any serious fan interest for next season.

The Mariner Front Office just started off the 2007 season on the wrong foot...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oakland thing getting old

We all know the drill. Make the M's record against Oakland .500 this season, and suddenly the Angels are in the playoff picture, with the M's right in the thick of it. If the M's played Oakland straight up, the most optimistic projections for this year would have been realized. Bavasi would be a lock for next year, Hargrove keeps his job...

That's a lot of change based on one opponent. When you see how the Mariners fared against other top teams- NY, Detroit, Chicago, Boston etc... it becomes even more confusing. How could one team give the M's so much trouble, so consistently, over the years?

It really needs to stop. I don't know if Hargrove needs to order a few intentional beanings, if he needs to threaten Ichiro with being pinch-hit with Bloomquist or what, but something needs to happen. Oakland has owned Seattle over the years, especially at home, but this is much worse than usual. Somehow the A's just flatten the Mariners, and Bavasi and company better figure out how to get the team ready to play next year when they come up on the schedule. I'm not advocating building my team around one opponent, but I am advocating taking this seriously and stop with the "these things happen" bullshit we hear over and over. Hargrove should be losing plenty of sleep over one of his rivals consistently kicking his ass over and over.

A few more thoughts...

- People need to stop with the "untradable" contracts of Sexson and Beltre. The truth is either can be traded easily, with no money coming from the Mariners at all if they so choose. San Diego would take Beltre in a heartbeat, and give a B level prospect in the process. You aren't going to restock your farm system by trading either one, but to somehow link these two to players like Spiezio/Cirillo contracts is wrong. There are markets for both of these players. Your trash is someone elses comeback-player-of-the-year. The only way the Mariners would have to pony up cash is if they wanted to upgrade the prospects coming in return. To jump to an A level prospect would require bringing your checkbook. But to just clear salary room for next year? Not a problem for either one. The same people who believe Beltre and Sexson are untradable thought we should have traded Bret Boone for Ryan Howard in '05 when we had the chance...

- I'm so glad Ichiro's streak is over. I think he plays too often as it is, and the longer this thing went the bigger it would have become as he got older. Now hopefully a new manager comes in next year and feels free to give Ichiro a rest for 6-8 games next year.

- Regarding money for next year. We all know the M's brass is famous for having a tight wallet. There is no way they are increasing the payroll. There is also no way they take on a major pitcher from Japan without trading someone who is making lots of money next year. When you build your fantasy roster for next year, if you have Matsuzaka on the Mariners staff, you better subtract Sexson or Beltre. There is no way they can afford Matsuzaka with the way the present roster salary for next year is constructed.

- I can't believe anyone from a local paper advocated signing Alfonso Soriano.

- No, actually I can. Apparently the local writers can read blogs, but don't agree with any of them. ANY of them.

- The M's can find a 5th starter next spring internally. That's it. The rest will need to be acquired, preferably via trade.

- The M's need to see what Adam Jones will bring you this winter. This club needs pitching, and if Ichiro continues to play center, he's your most tradeable bat in the farm system.

- Not drafting Miller is looking more and more like a mistake. Even Lincecum looks closer to the majors at this point. Given the state of our pitching staff, perhaps readiness to pitch in the majors should have been given higher priority.

Anyway, I'm glad the team hasn't collapsed. I was certain a 90 loss season was coming a month ago, and the team didn't completely mail it in.

And I really hate Oakland. (not really, I just hate them beating us all the time)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Still exciting baseball being played

For many Mariner fans, a last place finish combined with Seahawks football means little interest in baseball. But there is plenty going on to keep a baseball fan interested- The Yankees $200 million payroll clinching a division title, the Twins threatening to win the Central, the White Sox missing the playoffs...

How about the Dodgers hitting back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs to tie the game in the 9th? Or Freddy Garcia pitching so well, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter or Mauer for batting title, A-Rod and SI... while the Mariners are dressing up rookies in girls clothing, there is plenty to get excited about as the playoffs near.

With the World Series getting closer and closer, the expected matchup would have to be the Yankees facing the Mets. Both teams clearly seem to be the best teams in their league.

If you are the Yankees, do you really fear the Twins or Tigers? You have handled them both easily during the regular season, and will be heavy favorites with home field advantage. The A's scare no one... it would be a shock to see them get out of the first round.

The Mets are the most complete team by far in the NL. While the rest of the teams fight for a final playoff berth, the Mets can line up their rotation and rest, knowing they have home field advantage all the way through the NL playoffs.

We haven't heard much talk about a subway series, but I'm sure we will. On paper, it looks to be a near certainty. The two highest spending clubs from each league are going to be sending NY fans into a frenzy this October. You won't be able to read a sports section or load the home page of espn with out being blasted with news about the impending collision.

Personally, I'm rooting for the underdog Twins from the AL. The Tigers are also a feel good story, but I have a problem rooting for any team from Detroit so that won't happen. For the NL I would love it if the Marlins made it, but that's looking less and less likely. Instead, I'll go with San Diego, although that's more about not liking Tony in SL, any NY team and LA.

There is a lot of amazing baseball to come, and some of the players involved will be future Mariners.

I can't wait.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hargrove status unknown

If you read the papers and listen to national writers, the general feeling is Hargrove will be back next year. However general feeling is not much to go on, and other people closer to the team are convinced he (Hargrove) has already been told he will not be coming back.

This is such a hot topic for faithful fans, as many feel the team will not be able to make as much progress next year if Mike is managing the team. It would be a huge letdown for many, and I have to admit I would think much less of Bavasi if he watched this season play out and still defends the work of Hargrove.

The lineups, the Everett fiasco, Bloomquist, sacrifices, bullpen usage... if Bavasi hasn't noticed, we are really in big trouble. While things like player approaches at the plate, pitching strategies, rookie usage ect... are hard to pin completely at Mike's feet, there is plenty of evidence to show Hargrove cost this team wins this year. If the Twins and Marlins can compete for the playoffs, it's hard to see why this current team had to be eliminated so early in the year.

We won't know the status of Hargrove for a few more weeks, and until then everything is just rumor and speculation.

I hope Hargrove is fired, and won't really be excited for next year until it happens. Let's hope Larry Stone and the others are just plain wrong re: his status.


AL West

Remember when earlier in the year "experts" were claiming the AL West would be won with only 84-86 wins? Well as usual, the A's are going to easily win over 90 games. In fact, there are only 3 teams in the AL with better records, and not by much. For all the talk about the easy West, it has proven to be a reasonably balanced division. The idea the West will be won by a team barely over .500 was just plain wrong.

It also reinforces the fact a team needs to plan on winning 90-something games a year to be taken seriously. Making moves at mid-season to try and get to 86-88 wins won't get you in the playoffs very often.

This team has some critical decisions to make this winter if they want to get even close to making the transition to playoff-caliber team next year. For all the talk about our youth, the reality is they are still in last place, and will go into next season with more question marks about the starting rotation than any season in recent memory.

Limited funds, many holes.

Bavasi has to have a plan, and he has to be aggressive implementing it.

I'm pretty sure he knows already what he's going to do with Hargrove. Now we just for the news...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rohn and Hassey

Hard to make of these firings without more information.

For example, let's say Hargrove was told he wasn't coming back. He might want to give his good buddy Hassey a head start on looking for work, but couldn't divulge his own status.

Or maybe Hargrove is making a pre-emptive stike and is clearing his staff, promising changes to keep his job.

We just don't know. I think it is strange they would do this right before the end of the season, but not shocking. Perhaps Rohn was second guessing many of the decisions (it wouldn't be hard) and was not being a "team" player. Essentially being shown the door indicates something was serious enough to make this move immediately. We may never know what happened, but usually this stuff leaks out after time.

None of this is worth getting too worked up until we see what other changes are up. We know plenty more are in the works.

Normally the changes happen at the top. GM finds out his status. Then the manager. Then the staff. Then the players.

This was is happening "in the middle." Let's just hope Hargrove is going to be joining his friend in the unemployment line soon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Playing out the season

As expected, about 40 people actually attended the game last night. With a MNF double-header, no TV, last place locked up for the 3rd consecutive year... there is not much to be excited about right now. Unless Felix is pitching, or Snelling playing, there is REALLY little reason to get pumped for a Mariner game.

The papers tried to play up the notion the M's might catch Texas, but that is really reaching for a story. Sure, if the Rangers go in a tailspin and the M's win a few games, it might appear mathematically possible, but in all honesty it's hard to get people to attend the games based on that kind of hope.

So the players are left to pad their numbers (200 hits...) and try to audition for next year.

Of course there is plenty of things going on down at Safeco. Will Hargrove be back next year? Did the M's really consider giving Meche a contract offer? Do the M's really plan on throwing money at some of the pitchers we are hearing about (Eaton)?

Before we know it, winter will be upon us and we can start pondering free agents (including managers, pllleeeaaase). But until then, September will fly by for both players and fans.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Exceeding expectations?

After the team completed its 11 game losing streak on the road, it looked like the wheels were about to fall off. I thought 90 losses was a given, and really fearing September as a fan. We know Hargrove's teams don't finish well.

Since then, the team has gone 10-5. Despite a brutal schedule, the team has taken series from the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Tigers. That's pretty impressive.

Sure Boston is falling apart, and the Tigers have cooled off big time, but for a team like the Mariners with little to play for, it is still impressive.

Tonight the M's take on a team that also has little to play for- the Rangers. What happens when two teams play and have nothing to play for? With the kids back in school and the Seahawks ready to start the season, it would not be a shock to see interest in the team reach almost zero.

The biggest goal the Mariners have this month is to find out if anyone in the organization can be a starting pitcher next spring. With only Felix and Washburn in the rotation, it's hard to see the M's getting 3 starters on the market. Someone has to show a glimpse of being ready to compete next spring.

The wild card in all this is Hargrove. Will he play the kids, or will he try to keep his job and keep running the same tired veterans out there? Time to sit Beltre for a few games? How about abandoning the idea of giving Willie playing time on a regular basis? Can Snelling play for a whole series? So many questions.

Since the losing streak, this team is playing surprising (amazingly??) well. Let's see if the team can continue to avoid the losses that seemed so predictable just a few weeks ago.