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A website devoted to serious bull on all things regarding the Seattle Mariners. We invite interesting input: send your thoughts to rickmichels@juno.com - we also invite you to join discussion at thebullpen@yahoogroups.com

Friday, August 29, 2003

Welcome back Ichiro. Nice of you to show up tonight, albeit fashionably late, but just in time.

Brett Boone can't carry this team by himself, but boy, he sure does try. That blind backhand toss the other night was spectacular. He's the MVP on this team for sure, but it's probably not a coincidence that Ichiro's worst slump is coinciding with the Mariner's worst stretch of baseball. Ichiro has an OBP of .138 over the last 7 games. As they said in the old Mad Magazines: Eeeeeechhh! Like they say, Ichiro makes this team go.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Geez, does this team suck right now or what? What a frickin embarrassment, to get your butts kicked at home, in front of sell out crowds, by the Devil Rays, in the midst of a crucial pennant race.

I wasn't there, I didn't hear the game, but I gotta believe the fans rained a hailstorm of boos onto the field at the end of this wreck.

Pathetic.


Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Ouch! Man, what was wrong with Ichiro tonight? I can't remember ever seeing him looking so bad at the plate.

Mariner hitters seemed to approach the game right - patiently loading up the bases time and again - to little avail as Ichiro continued to offer nothing but outs to potential big innings.

Earlier this year, Melvin got nothing but praise for the way he handled his pitching rotation (as opposed to the pen). Now - everyone says he wore them out.
Listened to a bit of the San Antonio game tonight - the Missions have a 10-0 lead early in the game.

What was interesting to me is that the announcers said Justin Leone was playing shortstop, even while regular ss Lopez and even Ugueto are in the game as well?

Why would the Missions be trying Leone at short? Are the M's thinking about calling him up in September as a utility guy - a pinch hitter who could play short in the late innings of a game? Hmmmmmmm....Couldbe.

By the way Leone, who apparently was named Texas League player of the year, has a homer and a double off the wall in Center so far in the game.
Kudos to Melvin for having the 6th sense to bat Guillen 3rd.

Still, I gotta bitch - or at least scratch my head and ponder. Why does Moyer always insist on having Wilson catch for him? If Wilson is such a genius in working with pitchers, why is it that the old guys get him and Davis catches the youngsters like Pineiro and Meche? Wouldn't Davis learn from the crafty Moyer and wouldn't Meche learn from the old vet Wilson? Why can't Melvin find room for our only lefty slugger, even when the DH spot is vacant and a righty is on the mound?

Still, I must admit, it really seems like everytime I complain about Wilson in the lineup, he gets a key hit and drives in runs. Hard to understand, since he has so few of either. Last night I groaned when he hit a deep fly to left, and cheered when he went opposite field late in the game to drive in two important runs. Wilson has to forget about the idea of having any power and focus on dinking the ball to right field. That's where he is successful.

It's good for our pitchers to get back to Safeco, which hides deficiencies in Meche and Franklin to a large degree, and even Freddie and Pineiro and Moyer to smaller degrees. I don't think Franklin and Meche get rocked like they did last week if they were pitching in Safeco, which allows for deep fly balls to be caught a little more often. I don't have the stats to prove it, but go to ESPN dot com and check for yourself. These guys are living off Safeco. And that's not bad, so long as the offense and defense remains good on the road. But last week, just not good enough.
Hidden Gem: Mariner farm stat of the week:

From Wisconsin in the Midwest League:

W-L ERA IP H BB SO

Martinez, Miguel 2- 1 2 0.87 51.2 37 14 64

A 20 year old lefty. I got a chance to see Miguel pitch while in Milwaukee. The gun didn't go past 88 MPH. But the kid has got something going for him. A left handed setup guy until Monday, when he got a start and pitched 5 innings with 8 Ks.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Check out this article on the San Antonio Missions, the AA equivalent of the 2001 Mariners.

I'm back from a week of baseball in Chicago and Milwaukee. I even got a chance to see Michael Garciaparra and the Wisconsin Timber rattlers. My hunch after 9 innings is that if Michael's last name were "Schultz" he wouldn't be playing shortstop for the Timber Rattlers.

Chicago is pumped over the Cubbies chances this year, and Wrigley is definitely the place to be this summer. What a joy to watch baseball in this classic little jewel. The Cubs have 3 excellent starters in Prior, Wood and Zambrano, and an dangerous 3-4-5 group of hitters in Sosa, Alou and Aramis Ramirez. It's probably enough to win the NL Central. They took 3 of 4 from the Astros while my son and I watched, and drove the Stros from first place.

When we came into the city, the buzz was more focused on the Sox, who were surging and just beat Zito and the A's in a classic game.

I can't imagine the glare from Safeco field being worse than what you get at U.S. Cellular Field in left field from 5:00-7:30 PM. The sun is directly in your eyes and batting practice is as much duck and cover and run and grab out there. Poor Carlos Lee. The Sox lost a game in large part because he couldn't see a damned thing out there through the first two innings. Who on earth was the bozo who scheduled a 6:30 start there? Simply a cruel move. Wait an hour and the sun is safely behind the grandstand. Heck, wait a half an hour at least.

Miller Park was a delight. A perfect little park for Milwaukee. All they need now is a team to win there. I'll post more, later.

Adam Piatt has been released by the A's. Piatt plays 3rd base and he's a good hitter. The A's don't need a 3rd baseman so he's been roaming around the OF. He's not the answer - as the Time pointed out at the endo of it's nearly 15,000 word analysis of Safeco field, the M's need power hitters to right field and Piatt hits right handed. But he's be a good man to have on the bench, and if you give him 3rd base, he'll put up decent numbers.

It's good to get away from the Mariners and watch other teams exclusively, because when you are so focused on one team, the weaknesses become magnified. After watching the Sox, Cubs, Marlins, A's, Brewers, Astros, and then turning around and looking back at the Mariners, it becomes much more apparent just how good this team is.

Good to see Sanchez fit in so well. As I posted earlier, it's a good idea to run veterans in and out of a team with certain injuries and weaknesses, if only to find a hot hand. Every major leaguer is capable of having a hot hand and of taking advantage of an opportunity. Sanchez is doing just that. There are 3rd basemen out there just as capable. Find them, and ride them, I say. Then when they revert to form, let them go and find another. Meanwhile, work on your long term answers in the minors or in the front office strategy meetings.

Friday, August 08, 2003

One last thing before I go - check out Aaron's baseball Blog for the best analysis of the Nelson - Benitez trade to date - you'll find it just to the right of this post...


Thursday, August 07, 2003

Cirillo watch: 0-2 with 2 walks in the California league Wednesday, Jeff is demonstrating he still knows how to take a walk.

I'll be out of town next week, going on a baseball trip with my eldest son. A game at Cellular One to see the Chisox vs. the Athletics, then up to Milwaukee to check out Miller Park, and then two games at Wrigley - the Mecca of the trip. This space will likely be dormant during those days.

I enjoyed David Locke's column Tuesday comparing Freddie with Erickson and Hentgen. I think he's probably right, Freddie will be back, just like those two were after a few seasons of struggle. I missed Freddie's game today, but I hear he looked pretty good. Certainly the line is hopeful.

If the Yankees wanted Nellie so badly, why couldn't we get Ventura for him a week earlier? Oh well, it's still a good trade. If the New York media think Benitez, with an 85% close rate and excellent ERA year after year, is a choke case, they apparently never saw Bobby Ayala, and forgot who Heathcliff Slocumb was.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Having wasted his early years trying to pitch, Greg Jacobs is hitting like a man on a mission. After tearing up the California league with a .350 average, The 26 year old converted outfielder is currently hitting .340+ in San Antonio.
Jeff Cirillo sighting:

After lighting up the Arizona Rookie League with a blazing .182, Cirillo was next seen playing for the Inland Empire (not Spokane, silly, San Bernardino) in the California high A league. In the first game, batting 3rd, Jeff went 1 for 3. Observers noted he wasn't causing anyone to forget Greg Jacobs.

Benitez for Nelson trade:

Yeah, I like him. Jose Mesa, except he throws harder and he's much younger. Good pickup. It's not what the M's needed, but you gotta like that heat.

Monday, August 04, 2003

David Cameron's Future 40 over at the USS Mariner is now updated and highly recommended. But one name completely overlooked was Aussie Craig Anderson, the 23 year old lefty who's having a quietly effective year in Tacoma:

Anderson, Craig: 9-10 3.47 140.0 145 hits 37 BB 46 K

Anderson doesn't throw enough K's to be considered a top prospect, but if he ends up with a Glavinesque career, remember you heard it here first. Anderson's minor league career has been very good to spectacular, including 178 Ks in 2001, and has in many ways shadowed Glavine's - lots of K's in the low minors, gradually dropping off as they progressed to AAA. But always effective.

I like this guy. He'll probably get tossed into a trade for some old veteran during a stretch run, an afterthought, and go on to have an excellent career somewhere else - steady, reliable - at worst a left handed Ryan Franklin.

Let's play what if. Tampa Bay has been trotting Joe Kennedy out on the mound for 2 years straight, watching him get hammered again and again, waiting for the greatness to develop. Imagine if Tampa Bay had insisted on Anderson instead of Antonio Perez in the Piniella/Wynn deal. They could have left Kennedy in AAA where he could learn to pitch, and trotted Anderson out there every 5th day. I'll bet they'd have been better served: Anderson would have struggled early but figured it out, and won them some games, while Kennedy could have spent the year in AA-AAA getting seasoned (he's only spend 73 innings in those levels entering this year). As it turns out, Perez may indeed be an excellent player. But Kennedy is a basket case.
Let's one thing straight. Mr. Rizz, Ryan Franklin is not some kid from Okahoma. For three years we've been calling Ryan a "kid". Sheesh, the "kid" is now 30. He hasn't been a kid at any time he's been a Mariner. Was Rich Amaral ever called a "kid"?

What Ryan has been for the last three years is a very steady, dependable, reliable pitcher. What Ryan will give you, year in and year out, is an ERA under 4.00. And that is not easy to do, whether or not you are pitching in Safeco field (and btw, Ryan has a 3.20 ERA outside of Safeco this year). If Garcia had the consistency of Franklin, we wouldn't all be wondering what happened to Freddie.

Here's Ryan's stats since 2001:

2001 78.1 IP 24 BB 60 K 3.56 ERA
2002 118.2 IP 22 BB 65 K 4.02 ERA
2003 146.2 IP 36 BB 66 K 3.50 ERA

Those numbers are very comparable to what Jaime Moyer has done in the same span.

Year in and year out, if you need to hold the other team to 4 runs over 9 innings, Ryan's been capable of getting it done. We seem to treat Ryan's year as a pleasant surprize. But there's simply nothing new or surprizing about it. It's just Ryan Franklin, going about his business

Saturday, August 02, 2003

In 3 games in the Arizona Rookie League, a rehabbing Jeff Cirillo has posted these numbers:

11 at bats, 2 hits: .182/.308/.182

Take your time Jeff - we're in no hurry.
I'm bummed we didn't strengthen ourselves by the trading deadline. But I didn't like the sound of desperation I was hearing as we got closer and closer to that deadline. Things I don't want to see:

1. I don't want to see the Mariners make a move in order to prove to fans or players they are trying to win. That just seems stupid and a recipe for lousy trades.

2. I don't want to see the Mariners trade good prospects for crap. Let's face it - we "went for it" in 1997 and lost Varitek, Lowe and Jose Cruz Jr. Imagine our team this year - with Varitek behind the plate instead of Wilson, Lowe in the starting rotation, and Cruz playing left with Winn as a fourth outfielder. We didn't really want Slocumb, Timlin and Spoljaric in 1997. But we were desparate, and we were taken advantage of.

If you are going to make a trade, trade for a stud. Trade good prospects for good players. There's a good prospect in the Expo organization right now in AAA named Termel Sledge. He's a better hitter than anyone the Mariners could call up at this point (.317/.400/.514 ), except for maybe Chris Snelling. He never was considered a "great" prospect, and I can't remember who we traded him for, but I know it was for crap.

3. I don't want to see the Mariners trade just for the hell of it - this apparently what we did when we sent shortstop Ramon Vasquez to the Padres for Ben Davis. I like Ben Davis - but he never plays, and right now we could really use Ramon Vasquez.

4. I don't want to see the Mariners make any trade out of desperation.

Here's what I don't mind seeing:

I don't mind the Mariners scavenging for useful parts. They aren't going to find a top flight 3rd baseman - but they could find someone who may be hot for a couple weeks, and the couple weeks could turn into a month. Remember 1995? The Mariners pulled Charlton off the scrapheap. The Phillies had no use for him and released him. With nothing to lose, the Mariners brought him in. And he got hot, and was the top closer in September and stayed hot through October.

We should be moving people into 3rd base, trying them out, and looking to see if someone can get hot. What have we got to lose? No one is hitting over there anyway. Bloomquist has cooled off in a hurry - let's try Figueroa from Tacoma - he's hit .300 everywhere he's played. Or let's try Justin Leone - he's tearing the cover off Texas League pitching. Let's hold tryouts. Just prove you have hit somewhere in the past. If you've done it before, somewhere in some league, chances are you could do it again. The Mariners have nothing to lose by holding tryouts at 3rd base. Remember Bloomquist last September? We gave him a few at bats and he practically carried the team for a week or two.

Sometimes you just gotta try things. St. Louis is having a shortage of starting pitchers and is now trotting good old Jeff Fassero out there. Remember Jeff Fassero? You know how you feel about Freddie Gracia right now? That was Jeff Fassero in 2000. He could not get anybody out. Everyone was wondering "what is wrong with Jeff Fassero" and we kept trotting him out there and he kept getting hammered until his ERA was in the 7.00's. We had him watch video, try this, try that, had the pitching coach work with him. Probably hired a shrink. But he continued to get hammered, we could not recover from all the losses that piled up, and finally sent him packing to Texas, where he continued to get shelled. Three years later, he's suddenly a decent starter again - having a rennaisance late in his career. Why can he get batters out for a few innings in a row now and not before? Who knows? Was he tipping everything, and now there's a new breed of hitters who don't remember the little tricks? Is he more determined to take advantage of this last chance? Is it luck? Who knows? But there is a time for patience and a time for impatience. There are plenty of decent ballplayers hanging around the minors and on benches, looking for an opportunity. If your guy is stinking up the joint, why not give someone else a chance? Especially if it's free. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?

What did it take for Cirillo to lose his job? 750 at bats. How long before Freddie loses his? He's been terrible for an entire year now, folks. It's time to set him aside, and let him find himself. There are kids with stuff, and vets looking for another chance. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?

Management seems complacent. They act like it's stability - like this team is on some kind of even-keel - doesn't get too up, doesn't get too down. But I think it's complacency masquerading as maturity and wisdom.

It could take Garcia 1-3 years to figure it out and turn it around. But for petes sake, why are we giving away games thinking he's right around the corner? The dude is getting hammered, and it's been going on for about a year now. Maybe it's time to try something else?

Winn could get cold again in August. I'd be ready in an instant with a backup plan if it happens. Snelling? How about a kid in Portland named Mark Quinn - the dude can hit. He's hit major league pitching in the past. Give him a shot. He may get hot. Here's a 3rd baseman who would love another opportunity: Mike Coolbaugh. Mike's had some pretty good years in the minors. He can hit. I'm not saying any of these guys are going to become regulars. I am saying that any of them could get hot, and none are a serious downgrade from what is currently there.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Hudson, Zito, Mulder - Hudson, Zito, Mulder - Hudson, Zito, Mulder, man, this trio is really starting to really get on my nerves. This is going to be a very tough team to stay ahead of down the stretch. The A's stay in every game - and Harden and Lilly are just fine as 4 and 5 starters. I just can't see how the M's stay ahead of the A's. Sure, the offense has problems - but how much offense do you really need when you throw out a legitimate Cy Young 3 out of every five games? Three or four runs. That's enough.

By comparison, the M's rotation - which looked near equal in June, is showing signs of wear. We don't have Boston's offense. It's a good team, don't get me wrong. But you're asking a lot when you are asking Franklin and Meche to be 3 and 4. You need to score 5 runs a game in those outings to stay even with Hudson, Zito and Mulder. And you're asking this with Wilson at catcher, Bloomquist at third, and Rey Sanchez at shortstop. Winn will be streaky. That's a lot to heavy lifting to put upon the top of this lineup.

Yeah, I'm worried.



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