Mariners Analysis

Monday, April 07, 2008


We all knew when JJ went down last week it would have some affect on the team. How many clubs can expect to lose their closer and not see an impact? So the club finds itself 2-4 when it could very easily be 4-2 if the Putz of last season was available.

What is frustrating of course is how we got here and how the club and players are handling the situation. All teams need to have a plan when their closer goes down (when, not if). Here's the frustrating part-
- Soriano would be a natural fall back plan, but we traded him away for nothing.
- Sherrill would be an alternative, and the numbers say he would have handled those left handers just fine. But we know where he went and was largely written off by the pro-trade people as easily replaced.
- Morrow is seemingly the heir apparent closer of the future judging by how the club handles him, but is out with any injury (they passed on Lincecum due to an injury risk, while Morrow was seen as the safer bet).
- Rhodes, Reitsma and Lowe were all injury risks coming in to the season. The club was forced to leave the veterans home when their bodies were not ready to start the season.

So there is reason to be frustrated, even though ultimately the players failed to get three outs last night and ruin a fine performance by Felix. The club has found itself in a tough spot by trading away key parts of the bullpen w/o adequate replacement. It compounded the problem by relying on aging vets in spring training, and then struggles to fill "roles" when injuries ruin their plan coming out of spring training.

I'll add one more reason to be frustrated regarding the current bullpen. If you go back to the end of last season, you'll find many including myself criticizing the team for sending Morrow to winter ball. It seemed like a no win situation. Morrow faces sub-quality opposition in a hand full of starts, adding wear and tear on his body and mind.

Let's remember, Morrow is not some seasoned minor-league lifer who's been throwing hundreds of innings every year. He was injured for two of his collegiate seasons and really only had his final year in college to point to as having been successful and healthy. Let's recap-
2004 29.7 innings
2005 25.0 innings
2006 96.7 innings
So he racked up 151 innings over three years, and then in his rookie season with the M's had to pitch spring training, 162 game season, starter in winter ball and now '08 spring training.

And now he's struggling with command and a tired arm. Really, who could have predicted that? Shocking!

The team could have been better prepared when Putz went down. They traded away two obvious replacements, and we find ourselves looking for McLaren to figure out a plan.

Sorry if I seem a little frustrated, even though it is just 6 games into the season.