Mariners Analysis

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Team continues to show warts

No one is complaining about being in first place, but if we learned anything this road trip it's that this team is not, today, a playoff caliber team. (Sure if Griffey and Sweeney enter a time machine and remove ten years, and Beltre thinks its '04 again, we might see this team being a force in October.)

But you can't continue to hope you hold the other team to a couple of runs every night to have a chance to win. And you cant' expect the occasional 9-run outbursts to be a sign of hope either. If this team is going to remain in first, it needs to improve the offense.

Jack, we need you to make a decision on Yuni. Is this really the SS of your team going forward? So far the answer seems to be yes, but I can't believe that is your final answer.

Clement, how does he help this team?

Left-handed pinch hitter? Go get one.

They are small steps but will help our pitchers win games. I'm sure our front office has noticed the Angels have started winning again and getting closer and closer. I'm not worried about "upsetting" this team by making changes as long as we have Bedard and Feliz heading out 40% of the time. Go Jack, make this team better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Could be a tough series

Chicago double header today and a split would be great. I don't know about other Mariner fans but I have a bad feeling about Chicago's lineup and our pitching. We haven't been scoring many runs and it may lead to Felix being overly concerned about not giving up any, which invariable leads to crooked numbers...

Would I be shocked if Chicago swept? No. Would I be happy with us winning two games in the series? Ecstatic.

There is not a team in the division at .500 and the Mariners really have a chance to put some distance to cushion the inevitable ups and downs of the season. The last thing to do is get complacent and allow the "we're winning so why mess with things" thinking to take hold. They need to:
  • Get Joh back. I know plenty of fans don't like him or his contract, but we can't keep playing with a catcher who hits like Willie Bloomquist. Johnson has no power and his defense is poor. The sooner we get a real catcher back the better. I really struggle to wonder why the teams likes Johnson so much. (I don't see it at all)
  • Figure out what to do with Clement. Swap him with Johnson, move him to first base permanently, do something. He doesn't need to hit AAA any more and the team needs to be executing a plan, not killing time hoping Johnson magically transforms.
  • Get Wlad at bats. This is a no brainer and the downside to the Griffey signing that many of us pointed out. This team needs power and needs to figure out if Wlad is part of the solution long term. Get him as many at bats as possible both to help now and to help figure out the future roster.
  • Get ready to trade Batista. You'll need to eat 90%+ of his contract, but there are teams like the Nationals desparate for bullpen help. Call around and figure out how to make it happen, with an outright release the final option. You need roster flexibilty and Batista has no real use on this team this season or beyond.
  • Get more bench help. If you can't figure out how to use 12 pitchers regularly, get a real bench and use it. This offense is anemic and pinch hitters will make a difference. The team should be looking at every opportunity to make this team better, no matter how small the improvement. They need to feel like they can steal the division this year if they are smart. Act like it.
  • Continue to plan for Yuni replacement. His defense is bad. His approach at the plate is bad. He has no power. How can this be your SS of the future? Continue to work the phones finding a replacement, even if we have to wait till the ASB.
  • Start thinking of Griffey speeches if he continues to falter. If it's mid-June and he's still not hitting, you need to cut back his playing time. The fans won't like it but we can't go to the ASB with Johnson and a lousy #3 hitter. Think of how you might broach the subject with him now, and hope you never have to use it.
Go Felix!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seen this from Washburn before

A couple of years ago, Washburn had a nice stretch where he was quite effective. I watched him pitch and was amazed how well he painted the corners and just didn't give batters much to hit in the middle of the plate.

I wrote on this blog how he really looked like a good pitcher.

I was wrong.

What I realized later is command is a fickle mistress. Just like the golfer who gets in a groove, Washburn is hitting every fairway and green and making it look easy. But the problem is all golfers, even Tiger Woods, have to hit from the cart path. Tiger can win majors even when his command is off, as he has the talent and experience to hit shots the rest of us could only dream of.

Washburn will have nights this season where his command is missing. He'll have nothing to fall back on, as he doesn't have the stuff to make up for it.

All pitchers have nights where they can't locate their pitches. If Felix can't spot his fastball, he still has an effective change-up. slider and curve to work with. If Washburn doesn't have pinpoint command, he has nothing. And once you have command problems, it gets in your head and good luck getting it back.

I'm happy Wasbburn is in a groove. I hope it continues for as long as possiblem. But don't think for a second he's become the new Jamie Moyer. His command will leave, sooner then you think. And the old Wash will return.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bullpen still a work in progress

No reason for us to be surprised the team lost to the Angels in the final game of the series. We knew this team would be challenged to score runs on a consistent basis. Last night the starting pitching was more then we could have possible expected, but realistically the team only scored one run and you're not going to win a lot of games with that level of output. So our offense went missing and the bullpen gave up some runs it couldn't afford to give up. This will be repeated many times this season I'm sure.

It is interesting to note the attendance after the opener. I was there Tuesday and it turns out there were only twelve more yesterday, so I'm not sure where all the Griffey supporters are.

We were told when the team signed Griffey fans would flock to ballpark just to see him. I guess I failed to read the fine print of the guarantee. Apparently they will show, but not if it's April midweek against the primary division rival.

It's funny to think about. I love Griffey so much I'll go to the game just for him, but not during the week. Just too busy and hectic. And I want it warm. I love Griffey, but not in the cold.

So to summarize, the Griffey ticket sales will happen when its warm and on the weekend. (apparently)

I think I'll stick to the midweek games, even if it means less rally fry opportunities.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adam Jones sure looks good

There is no way as a Mariner fan you can't have an interest in Adam Jones. There were plenty of fans who were convinced Wlad was the better power hitter and ready replacement, and the team was all to happy to insinuate Jones was expendable due to his presence. I think that fantasy has offically been put to rest.

(Of course real talent evaluators loved Jones and saw Wlad for what he is- a guy who had one great season in AAA but otherwise still has lots of question marks.)

Dave over at USS Mariner caught a lot of heat for claiming he wouldn't trade Bedard for Jones straight up. So all the critics who said Cameron was crazy- how do you feel now?

Does the fact Jones is one of the best defensive outfielders in all baseball while making next to nothing mean anything to you? Does the fact his first week of the season has him slugging over .600 change your opinion of his value? I'll admit I still check his numbers regularly and root for him. It's not his fault or my fault we had a bunch of short-sighted critics who didn't correctly value "rookies."

Hargrove wasn't interested in playing a rookie like Jones to see what he could do. Jose Guillen didn't care if Jones had potential. Bavasi didn't care. McLaren didn't care. Baker argued the team was better off with Jones on the bench so Vidro and Ibanez could get at bats.

It's great Bedard is on the team. He's a nice pitcher but he's a free agent after this season and he's injury prone. Would I trade Bedard back to Baltimore for Adam Jones?

In a heartbeat. How about you?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Will Silva suck tonight?

I'm pretty sure the PR department for the Mariners would have preferred ANY pitcher other than Carlos Silva to pitch tonight. But that's now how it worked out, and he'll be under a huge microscope on opening day.
  • The team is 5-2 and people are excited about the possibility they might be competitive this year.
  • Griffey and the crazed love affair the city has with him.
  • Packed stadium
  • Everyone's preseason favorite Angels who owned the Mariners last year facing him
  • Silva sucked last year and is a poster child of the Bavasi regime
  • Silva was terrible in his first start and largely responsible for one of the teams losses
Silva really couldn't have more pressure on him.

The season will be a lot more enjoyable for everyone if Carlos Silva pitches well tonight. History says he won't. Can he catch a break tonight?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Please keep on winning

With Ichiro about to join a 5-2 club, can we please get some more wins?

If the club loses, whether it's blown saves, bad calls whatever... Ichiro will immediately get blamed by the ignorant masses as the satan-child they believe he is and countless articles and annoying comments will be made saying the team is better of without him.

He is our best position player and endlessly fascinating at the same time. The fact he is different and from another country however causes a bullseye to be placed on him by some "fans." (I use the term "fan" here loosely because really they are complete idiots)

So if we had our choice- win a few games with Ichiro or win without, we also choose with because of the risk of stirring up these "fans" and their crazy theories. But we don't have a choice and the team started the season playing like we hoped.

Let's pray they keep the winning for a while longer, if only to keep a lid on the Ichiro-haters out there.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Will Silva last the year?

Remember when Ryan Franklin couldn't buy a win for the Mariners? If he held the team to a couple of runs, it didn't matter as the team found a way to lose. With Silva on a similar path, is it impossible to think it might happen and the team has no choice but to ditch him this year?

Think about it. Let's say Silva does pitch better but the results in the win column don't reflect it. If the Mariners are hanging around the division leaders in July, say 4-5 games back, can they afford to continually send out a 2-8 Silva to the mound? The public will start booing, Silva feels even more stress to produce... it could get ugly.

I'm not predicting a doomsday scenario, but I can easily imagine a public relations disaster looming if Silva doesn't get this thing going. The old "moving Carlos to the bullpen to straighten his mechanics out" or "mysterious arm injury- DL" trip may be in order.

Ryan Franklin needed a change in scenery. There is a chance the Mariners may need to jettison Carlos Silva this year, no matter how much it costs them.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Morrow blow ups bound to happen

Brandon chose to be the closer, and the team was only too happy to oblige. We remember he had a rocky spring and it's going to take a while to get this entire bullpen figured out. Should we expect more of these debacles? Of course. Does that make it hurt any less? No.

Meanwhile, the competing sports radio hosts are going crazy trying to explain/drum up emotions over the loss. Geoff Baker was on with Mitch this morning, and tried to explain the whole "Morrow decision" about moving to the bullpen.

The biggest thing not mentioned?

Morrow's reluctance to work in the minors to develop himself as a pitcher.

Remember, thanks to the rocket science combo of Hargrove/Bavasi, Brandon Morrow has not had to spend a lot of time in the minors. His move to the bullpen means he's broken camp with the big club every year. Instead of building up arm strength in the minors, developing off speed pitches, figuring out how to handle his diabetes as a starter... he has gotten used to THE SHOW. People carrying your bags. Per diems. Chartered air.

This year the team faced a problem with Morrow. If he was going to be a starter, he was going to need to go back to the minors to work this stuff out. Spring training wasn't enough.

You think Morrow didn't know this? You think he never thought of bus rides? Minor league money? You think this didn't play a HUGE decision in his decision to remain with the club as a reliever instead of heading down south to AAA and all that entails?

Morrow took the easy route when he decided to stay as Brandon-the-closer instead of Brandon-the-starter. He has no idea if he can be a starter with diabetes, but he knows he'll make nice money as a reliever, and really nice money long term if he can be a closer.

Morrow avoided going back to AAA and correcting the mistake Bavasi and Hargrove made years ago. Last night, in the 9th, we all paid the price for Morrow learning on the job instead of in Tacoma. Let's hope he develops in to the closer he thinks he can real fast.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Aumont news tough way to end spring training

Instead of being excited to see Felix pitch, I'm still bummed over the idiotic decision to move Aumont to the bullpen.

Quick question for Jack. The Yankees have this guy starting the game for them and he's 6'7" too. Would you move him to the bullpen?

Seriously, this really makes me question our new GM's approach. When even Geoff Baker is immediately going "wait, are you serious" you should be worried. Call me worried.

But the team is going to play, and I'm guessing they are going to win 70-something games. The good news is somebody is going to surprise us, in a pleasant way. Last year most of the team underperformed, with only a few bright spots like Lopez. This year, I fully expect a few players to break out.

Go Felix, it's sunny out and the games count. This was a long winter and I'm excited to watch baseball again.