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, April 30, 2004

King Felix Hernandez is on the mound for the 66'ers Saturday. If you are near a computer, the game can be heard on the internet at 7:00.
Here's an interesting player in the Mariner farm system: TJ Bohn is a 24 year old. A lanky 6'5", he plays center field, and is graceful for a big guy (I got a chance to see him play a game in the Brewer's Miller Park last year). Last year at Wisconsin, Bohn hit .366 OBP with a .527 Slugging %. This year with the 66's in the Cal league, he currently holding a .432 OBP and slugging .550.

Bohn has good speed, stealing 16 bags last year (CS - 8) and has a good arm, with 6 assists so far this season. This is his third season in the minors. He must be a college boy.

Incidentally, he also has a homer and a single tonight, and had a strong throw to the plate, beating the runner, but catcher Rivera couldn't hold the ball.
What's wrong with Ichiro?

I've heard people suggest the obsession with OBP and drawing walks is screwing up with Ichiro's hitting mojo. He's trying too hard to draw walks this year and as such his hitting is in the toilet. But the stats don't seem to bear this out.

Ichiro's 2001 season was remarkable, but in 2002 was almost as good, perhaps better as a leadoff hitter in that he improved his OBP from .384 to .390. That season he drew 68 walks. Apparently Ichiro was more selective that season, and survived the experience. It was last year that he regressed, walking a mere 36 times, fewer than any season in Japan, and only 6 more than his remarkable 2001 season.

So unless Ichiro is trying to improve on whatever approach he took in 2002, I don't see any evidence that being more selective this year is messing him up.

By the way, to my way of thinking, Ichiro's lack of walks in 2001 helped contribute to his MVP year, in that he drove in 69 rbi's while maintaining a .381 OBP and stealing 56 bases. How many lead off men in baseball reach base at a .381 clip? To follow that up with a .390 in 2002 is truly remarkable. But those 69 rbi's were vital to the success of that team, which carried Dan Wilson, Carlos Guillen and David Bell at the bottom of the lineup.

Wilson: .265/.306/.403
Guillen: .259/.337/.355
Bell: .260/.303/.415

For a team that wins 116 games, it is remarkable that it could carry three such unproductive hitters. Think of Boston 2003 for a comparison. Heck, think of any typical 95 win team for a comparison.

Ichiro hit somewhere around .450 with RISP that season. I don't have the statistic in front of me, and ESPN stopped running the 2001 season splits, but I remember he was flirting with a .500 RISP late that season.

Ichiro's ability to hit with RISP made the most of every opportunity those three offered.

I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of time this season reminiscing about 2001.

But anyway, what's wrong with Ichiro? I don't think plate approach is it. My guess is age and skill set. The player who reminds me most of Ichiro is Johnny Damon. Both 30, it will be interesting to see how these two players progress into their 30's. Damon may look better, because he plays in Fenway. We may also want to look at Kenny Lofton at those same years.

Something tells me Damon wont be offered any 4 year $11 mil a year contracts anytime soon. And Lofton was traded at his prime by Cleveland - and nobody really thought that was a big mistake - more of a shrewd move. Now trading Giles, that was a mistake.

Come to think of it, with Ichiro, Aurilia, Olerud, Boone, Garcia, Moyer - this team would have really rocked in 2001. Right team, wrong year.
It's kinda funny, this franchise is so old, even our prospects are long in the tooth.

Roy Hobbs goes 2 for 4 last night, and is now hitting .462, slugging .769 - remember, this is a former pitcher who didn't start hitting in the minors until last year.

27 year old lefty George Sherrill is blowing away PCL hitters. Sullivan thinks he should take Villone's place on the Mariner roster. It'll probably happen down the road, though my guess is that Villone would have similar PCL numbers if the roles were reversed.

Then there's Leone, the Mayor (John Lindsey), "The Other" (Dustin) Delucchi, Bobby Madritsch.

Epilido Guzman has a gaudy batting average as lead off for the Rainiers, and he's around 27 as well. But he can't take a walk. What happened to Jamal Strong? - I hope he's spending time in the weight room.

Speaking of weight rooms, I am going to pass along my first bit of news/rumor as a blogger. People have suggested to Willie Bloomquist that he bulk up to add power, but the M's don't want him to, they are afraid he'll lose his speed. There must be some kind of weight training guru who knows how to increase power without losing speed. But whoever that may be, he's probably too cutting edge for our old school ways.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

It's still early, but...

Guillen: .312/.402 (!)/.455/.857
Aurilia: .232/.292 /.305/.597

Not that anyone is surprised.
Of course, when I say I'm optimistic, I mean optimistic in a realistic way. I think we can play .500 ball this year.
Tough loss, but Pineiro looked real good, even if his numbers look bad. Only 1 BB in 6+ innings, 6 Ks. The 4 run inning inning was filled with soft singles and an error. In the 7th, he was just under 90 pitches and got ahead of the hitters he faced. The both singled, and if he snags the second one that gets under his glove, it's a double play and we may end up winning 5-4. Only two of the 12 hits off him went for more than a single - two doubles by Mora.

Meanwhile, Villone continues the new tradition of bullpen suckiness. Where would this pen be without Guardado?

I'm going to be optimistic. Soriano will return, Moyer and Garcia are pitching well, Pineiro will now join them. Jarvis is gone, Boone will start to hit. It's a new month.
Down on the Farm in San Antone:

The Mayor is hitting .373 with 5 home runs.

Roy Hobbs is hitting .458

and the other Delucchi is hitting .355 as a leadoff hitter.

Now, these guys are old: Lindsey and Jacobs are 27, Delucchi is 26, so they aren't real prospects. But it is their first full year in AA, so they aren't quite minor league veterans at the level where all real prospects go to prove their worth.

And of course, that's what we all said about Scott Podsednik - to old to be a prospect. Maybe a nice 4th or 5th outfielder.

- hey, it could happen.
My immediate impression of this “old teams take longer to get started" line from Bavasi is that it was pure bullshit. I would be shocked to find there is any credible basis for making such a statement. I would put money on this: if there is evidence that older teams take longer to get started, those teams that are old and took long to get started had predominately losing seasons – and a large number of them probably didn’t get started until they started dumping old guys. Even our own M’s, who have been an “old team” since at least 2002, are an exception to this. It sounded like pure spin, and I’m not surprised the media present when the spin was spun didn’t ask for evidence, but simply reported it.

Old teams tend to take longer to get started, except when they don’t. The same holds true for young teams.

That kind of "old teams" spin is probably what the management skills the Mariners saw in Bavasi when they hired him – a pure maintenance guy - someone experienced in doing and saying the things a team expects to do and say while it’s floundering around in mediocrity. I’m sure he gave an job excellent interview, with a decent resume detailing his experience, and knew what to say. A nice, safe choice for the "best run organization in baseball". We may have a stinker season, but it will be the best run stinker season in baseball history.
I remain a fan of Olerud, despite my pining for left handed slugging. I think Olerud's defense and OBP is extremely useful IF we supplement the lack of power elsewhere. Plus Olerud's projected VORP is one of the few on this team that is projected to go up. His defense last year was calculated by Baseball Prospectus to be worth 8 runs (by contrast, Ichiro's was calculated to be worth 4, Cammy's a stratospheric 21).

Olerud's projected VORP is 27.7, eclipsing Ichiro's 22.4.

Plus, Olerud's presence makes Spiezio's presence at third a decent gamble. Spiezio's projected VORP is 20.9. Together, the two give us 48 runs more than replacement players like Bloomquist at 3rd and some stone gloved slugger at 1st. It's not a bad way to go. It's not that easy to find a 48 VORP first baseman, and you may have to pay so much for one, you end up with a 2 VORP 3rd baseman. This way, we spread the love around the lineup a little: 20 VORP at the top of the lineup, 20 at the end. Plus perhaps the best glove at digging errant throws to First base.

So, we pay Olerud $7 mil, and Spiezio 3 mil. That's $10 mil for 48 VORP on a fairly short term basis. Compare that with Ichiro's 22.7 VORP for
$11 mil a year for the next three (4?) years.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Who Lost Cameron?

You would think baseball people like Melvin, who, even if they didn’t know a thing about statistics and went totally on watching ballgames and evaluating talent on what they observe, would understand the tremendous value Mike Cameron gave the team – just on defense alone. How many times did Melvin think, “oh – a deep drive to center – good – out number 3. Now, let’s go score some runs.”

But the problem is probably that these same baseball people think a certain way when they look at players, and then force players into roles that may not best suit them, and then get frustrated because they fail to perform as expected. Cameron is a great example of this. All four years he was placed in the #5 or #6 hole, and his job was to drive in Edgar and Olerud. Problem is, Cameron strikes out a lot, or he draws a walk. If he draws a walk, and the guy behind him is Wilson or Guillen (prior to last year anyway) or Cirillo, chances are that walk was wasted. And a strikeout has no value in moving up runners – already a difficult task with Edgar and Johnny as it is.

So I was very hopeful when the M’s picked up Ibanez because, low OBP aside, the guy is close to a lifetime .290 hitter. Three times out of ten, Ibanez would move our high OBP guys along with hits, and good gap power. I was non-plussed, and almost fell out of my chair when the M’s decided that Cameron was now expendable, although I thought (wrongfully) based on ESPN defensive stats that Winn could field CF better than expected. But I was flabbergasted (yes, flabbergasted) when I read that Melvin was thinking of batting Ibanez ahead of Edgar. Why do you have a high OBP guy who draws walks bat behind a low OBP guy with a high batting average?

Now we see Olerud hitting 7th. Apparently Johnny is there for his defense. But Cameron was nothing but an albatross in the lineup, despite his defense. What was wrong with hitting Cameron at the bottom of the lineup?

Anyway, it did seems to a lot of us that Cameron would be a good #2 hitter. He sees a lot of pitches, which has to help Ichiro steal bases. He has speed and gets on base quite a bit on walks. But Cameron doesn’t fit the mold in a baseball man’s mind as a #2 because he isn’t a contact hitter, like Carlos Guillen. But if you have Ichiro, Cammy, Edgar, and Johnny getting on base at a combined rate of, oh, say .380 rate, then the idea of having .300 hitters like Boone (.301 through last 3 years) and Ibanez (.291 last 3 years) making contact with some pop every third time sounds pretty good to me. You should score some runs with that game plan, the stats suggest. You also have Guillen’s improving bat following things up. AND you continue to have excellent defense. Excellent defense + good pitching + good OBP followed by good batting averages should add up to 90+ wins.

It wasn’t spectacular, but was about the best you could expect from the Mariner management, and it seemed like a good enough game plan, especially if Ibanez’s bat responded as expected to Safeco field. All you needed was some handy slugging first baseman who could hit from the right side for Olerud if he continued to struggle against lefties (a guy like, oh, Greg Colbrunn), and a third baseman like Spiezio – which I thought was a very good pickup for 3rd.

The problem is, apparently I don’t know enough about the value of guys like Quinton McCracken, and Willie Bloomquist. What Aurelia gives us that Guillen didn’t still escapes me. I know what Guillen gave us that Aurelia didn’t – a young and improving left handed bat and the second half of the best double play combo in baseball.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Egads, when did we become the Texas Rangers of the AL West?

Texas pitching has either gotten better, or we've gotten worse. I think it's a little of both.

I didn't know Wasdin could throw that hard.

Who was it in the Mariner Management that thought that if being the oldest team in the Major Leagues kept us a few games from the playoffs, the answer to making the playoffs was not to get younger, but to get OLDER?

Well, if there has to be a train wreck season, let's get it over with sooner rather than later. This team reminds me of the '98 and '99 Mariners.

Friday, April 23, 2004

I have to say, as a winter long Ibanez booster, that I am a little annoyed with these "well, kudos to Ibanez, enjoy it boys because it wont last" kind of comments. There may be a blind spot here among the anti-Ibanez signing crowd that I would like to point out.

Imagine if Ibanez were totally ignored by all in baseball these last three years, just some dude toiling in obscurity in the Mexican league, and was brought to camp on a tryout. I can imagine these same people saying, "hey, this is one good hitter who never really got a chance."

Let's look at Ibanez's two seasons in High A, and then split between AA and AAA (1/5 of which is AA). Imagine a David Cameron or Derek Zumsteg looking at these numbers for a BP report:

California A league, as a 23 year old:

361 at bats: .332/.395/.612(leads league)

So the kid is promoted to AA, gets 76 ABs, continues to pound the ball at an obscene clip, and after 76 at bats hitting .368/.424/.539, spends the rest of the season in Tacoma. Combined, he does this:

481 at bats: .297 batting average, .405 OBP, slugging percentage somewhere between.430 (Tacoma) and .540 at Port City.

Those are serious, prospect numbers, just one year out of High A ball. Of course, as it turned out, the M's probably promoted the kid too fast, moved him in and out of Tacoma and Seattle, shuttling and sitting, got frustrated and sent him packing.

And the BP analysis of this guy, apart from his KC figures, would be:

"This guy can hit. List him with Billy McMillon, Scutaro, et al among those guys who never got an opportunity and will hit better than a lot of others taking up major league roster space doing a lot less."

This is not to say that Ibanez should have been signed for 13 million over 3 years. But it is to say that all this about how Ibanez can't keep this up is not necessarily true. It's not cast in stone. I'll tell you what is true:

Raul Ibanez can hit. And his minor league stats suggest strongly he knows how to take a walk or two. We've watched him acquit himself well against some tough major league lefties, some of them among the best in baseball. Kansas City aside guys, this may not be a mirage.

Ibanez's walk numbers dropped quite a bit after his 24 year old season in Tacoma, and they've never really climbed back to where they were. It's hard to understand why, but I think that when young guys get promoted quickly, and then get moved around, sit on the bench a lot, may acquire bad habits in the pressure to continue to perform. Maybe he got some bad advice or bad notions from trying too hard to please Lou Piniella. Maybe in the crucible of trying to regain his stroke and his confidence, he relied to much on his natural ability to hit the righties, and didn't bother to adjust. Maybe, after being sent down to Tacoma one, two, three times, he decided he had to mash down there to get back up to the show.

What I'm saying guys, is let's not be too wedded to our own conclusions about what a guy can and can't do. Take another closer look at the stats, the history. We may all be missing something here.

Roy Hobbs went 3 for 4 and is currently hitting .548. Casey Fossum didn't pitch last night like the Missions website promised.

It's also great to see Shin Soo Choo hitting so well and with power. Real great to see. Especially with Snelling out again. Keep hope alive.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Mariner minor leaguer baseball cards! Now This is fun.
Riske YES! Fans Beltran and Stairs to hold a 1 run lead and earn a save!

OK, Citizens, return to your lives.
I've got my fingers crossed. I have one closer on my roto team - David Riske. Cleveland has a one run lead entering the 9th. If Riske loses his closer role, I'm toast this year - unless Lance Carter gets another shot at it in Tampa.

Btw, our league is the longest running roto league I know of in the Seattle area - since 1985 - I'll keep making that claim until someone comes up with a longer running one. We did roto back when you used USA Today to calculate your stats weekly (and then sent the results by snail mail).
You know, Pickering's never going to get a chance to play first base for the Royals so long as Ken Harvey's hitting .417.
Jeff Sullivan has been documenting the Calvin Pickering story (although Baseball Prospectus really deserves mention for tipping us off on him in their 2004 edition). Now Rob Neyer is on the story.

He is returning to earth, btw, going 0-3 with 3 k's last night.
Thanks to Mariner Minors for the heads up on this article about Bobby Livingston's ambidexterity.
David Cameron brilliantly dissects Bob Melvin's use of the pen last night. Again, why the heck doesn't the mainstream media get to the nub like this?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Tomorrow, the San Antone Missions face Casey Fossum, making a second rehab start for El Paso. I hope Roy Hobbs (.519 BA) plays and kills him.
Tough loss. The bullpen is turning second class. Our lefty setup guy is now closing for someone else. Mike Myers? How can you settle for Mike Myers when you've dined on Arthur Rhodes for four years? It's like having Randy Winn in center. You get so used to excellence, you forget how the unfortunates on the other side of the tracks live - you know, the teams that settle for Mike Myers as lefty setup and Randy Winn in Center. And suddenly, you're one of those other teams.

It's only August. Raphael will be back.

Snelling's wrist undergoes more surgery. Damn. That's a real shame. Who are the great Mariner farm products, the guys who had star written all over them, that everyone was drooling over, but never made it due to injuries?

Roger Salkeld
Ryan Anderson

and now Chris Snelling?

Which reminds me. Things could be worse. Remember when we drafted guys named Tito Nanni, Patrick Lennon and Choo Choo Chambers with our first round picks?

Ibanez vs. Hudson:


One home run in there. Let's make it two.

Spiezio does Ok vs. Hudson as well:

.316 .333 .421 .754
Nice: we've lost 5 of 6 against Anaheim, and we're only one game behind them.

Oakland is looking real shaky right now, with Crosby out for who knows how long, and Kielty with sore ribs.

Let's hope for another stellar pitching performance, and some guys on base for when Ibanez faces Hudson.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Let's see, we've scored 4 runs in 23 innings and we have a 2-0 record over that span. We're either playing the A's or the Tigers.

It's the A's - awesome. It's the A's - awesome. Even more awesome is how lame the A's lineup looks right now.

Why did it take the Mariners four years to get a left handed pull hitter, and not a true pull hitter at that?

Let's do some dealing, management guys. Imagine what a left handed slugging first baseman could add to this lineup.

Winn did well in CF tonight. He can cover ground, even though he can't throw.

Funny - for years we didn't have a left fielder. Now we have two of them.
The boys of San Antone are off to another good start:

Batting Averages:

Delucchi: .356
Choo: .311
Dobbs: .325
Roy Hobbs: .579
Mayor John Lindsey: .375
Oliveros: .333

Ibanez has hit two homers in two straight games, against two lefthanders, and drew a walk against Arthur Rhodes. Without Ibanez's "power", we are in a two game losing streak. Nice work Raul.

Warning Track Wilson continues to stroke the ball well, but man, it's like Willie Mays Hayes out there - "it's going, going, going, caught".

Monday, April 19, 2004

The loss of Mike Cameron is the most significant thing about the Mariners this year. Winn's arm is truly weak and he can't cover the same amount of ground. Also, Mike offers more power.

Ibanez is a good replacement for Winn, but Ibanez/Winn for Cameron/Winn is not a good change. Winn may look like the more productive hitter, numbers wise - but the home run Ibanez golfed out to right yesterday was exactly the kind of thing the Mariners need - the ability to take advantage of the right field jet stream.

Why would the M's let their center fielder go so easily? Are they really that ignorant of how important Cameron is to this team?

My hope is that the M's decided they didn't want to commit to a 3 year contract for Cameron because they are saving that commitment for Carlos Beltran.

But there is nothing in the history of the way the M's do business to lead me to believe this. Whatever Beltran will command, it will be beyond what the Mariners will have determined to spend for him. And we will hear the typical post signing lament from them, that the market is out of whack, that the agent didn't return their calls, or explain their offer properly, that to commit to that much money would be to significantly hurt the team's long range plans, and etc.

Arod - man without a country

Alex Rodriguez was set to become the Joe DiMaggio of the Seattle Mariners - the lynchpin that held together the golden age of Griffey and Edgar and Randy to the continued excellence of today, to the great years of Mariner future. Just as DiMaggio dominated Yankee get togethers, as the glue that held the Ruth years to the Mantle years, Arod was set to do the same in Seattle. Old Timers games would for decades revolve around Arod's appearance, as the greatest living ballplayer, or at least the greatest of all the great Mariners.

Alex traded his destiny for years of exile in Texas. He pissed off Seattle fans willing to love him, for Texas fans willing to love him. Now he's pissed off the Texas fans, and apparently pissed off Boston fans as well. He's now a Yankee, just another rent a stud in a franchise that already has its share of heroes: Get in line, and take a number, Number 13. Good. We'll call you when it's your turn.

It's sad and a real shame. When you have all the talent Arod has, and all the money to boot, there are special things that you can achieve that money can't buy. Arod could have been to Seattle what Ripken is to Baltimore. Actually, Arod was poised to be more. Alex put the team on his back in 2000 and led it to two games from the World Series. Alex was there to comfort Cora in the famous 1995 game six of the ALCS. Arod was supposed to be there to pick up the pieces of the Griffey desertion.

Now Arod is a man without a country hated by those who wanted to love him, and treated with indifference by those who own him now. Hell, the greatest shortstop to play the game is now a man without a position. It's very sad. Very, very sad.

I implore the Mariner managment to do whatever it takes to bring this young man home where he belongs. Give them Spezio, Nageotte, even Soriano. Need a second baseman, Yanks? Here, have Lopez. It's not too late to build our team around Alex, and it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

Come home Arod. Lincoln, get off your sorry ass and make it right.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Jaime and Dan are the Man!

Every now and then, I suppose it's good for Wilson to aim for the warning track. That long drive to the left field track last night worried me: "No DAN, DON'T!!! Aim for the space between 3rd and the left fielder." (as if that's possible)

Moyer and Wilson go together like Peas and Carrots, as Gump would say. I wondered whether Meche's working with Wilson was part of his problem, since he seemed to always work with Davis last year. But I think it's just Texas left handed bats that was his problem.

Other news of note: That slight breeze we've been feeling lately from the east? Apparently that ended with the benching of Vladimir Balentien in Wisconsin last night. When he connects, the ball really flies. But he's been whiffing a lot lately.

OTOH, Mike Hrynio, whoever he is, struck out the side in a ninth inning appearance Saturday for the Timber Rattlers. I wonder how hard he throws.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Boy, last night's game was due for a three run bomb, inning after inning. Problem is, we don't have the power to do it.

Ibanez came close, crushing a shot foul into the second deck. That's it Raul, pull it. Unfortunately, he promptly struck out afterwards, and every other at bat looked weak. Ugh.
Well, the good news is that Dan Wilson is swinging the bat real good. Wilson seems to have chosen to stop swinging for the warning track and is concentrating on spraying the ball for base hits.

Dan has become the Rick Dempsey of the Mariners hasn't he? Year after year, the light hitting mainstay behind the mask.

Friday, April 16, 2004

John Levesque introduces the general community to the sabermetric crowd in typical fashion:

Granted, number crunching is the new darling among baseball people who think there's a better way to measure player effectiveness than by using old-fashioned seat-of-the-pants evaluation. The Red Sox are so into it they hired as a consultant none other than Bill James, whose "Baseball Abstract" got the statistical-analysis movement going in 1985.

complete article here

In the first place, just to nitpick, I'm staring at a copy of Baseball Abstract, 1984, and I know this isn't the first edition.

But to the general point, let's admit that baseball fans have always measured player effectiveness using statistics. Every kid with baseball cards has done so. All we've really done here is improve on the process of what we've always done.

Old fashioned "seat of the pants" evaluation may have been done somewhere outside of typical baseball fandom, but it has never been accepted within fandom without statistics backing the claim up. What the heck do you call batting average, era, rbi, if not statistics?

All we've seen are more statistics, and better statistics. And it's funny how behind the times so many baseball writers currently are. C'mon boys, did you really think all us kids who grew up knowing Seattle Pilot batting averages by heart were going to be content with our limited set of tools? We haven't changed at all. We still love baseball and we still love the statistics that accompany it. But we gotta admit - it is downright hilarious to read dumb comments that are much worse than this in newspapers like the Seattle Times that still don't understand how to include OBP in it's daily statistics.

When I started this blog, I was on the cutting edge of mariners and sabermetrics. In a few short months, I've become a dinosaur, a quirky old fogie. Fortunately, unlike Finnegan and Kelley and KJR radio et al, I don't do this for a living, so I can admit it. Still, you're likely to get better information regarding what's happening with the M's by going to this site and it's links, than you'll ever get reading either of the two dailies - which, by the way, I enjoy reading (Times) every morning, sitting in a comfortable couch, holding good ole newsprint with a cup of coffee or four.

Still, the fact remains, the best information for Mariner baseball news is located to the right of what you are currently reading. And amazingly, I haven't even scratched the surface.

Wow! Ten K's for Felix Hernandez in 5 innings of work at Inland Empire. The kid is stunning.

read about it at Mariner Minors.

On the other fronts, Roy Hobbs (28 year old Greg Jacobs) went oh for four. Stay away from the San Antone nightlife, Roy! But hey, look at our AA catcher Oliveros, hitting .353. He and Rene Rivera at Inland make the Christiansen bust easier to digest.

And Shin Soo Choo is wacking the ball well at San Antonio as well.

Oh yeah, a win for the M's. Ibanez seems to hit the ball in streaks, doesn't he? He did tonight, with a double and a single, and just missing a home run. It helps to face righties like Lackey.

Franklin - he's the man. And it helps when Ichiro hangs onto the ball, like he did on Garret Anderson's "I can't believe it wasn't a homer" crushed pitch that reached the wall. Of course,
Franklin's success comes at the expense of right handers, and although Kennedy went deep, and Anderson tried to, Anaheim's offense looks a little weaker from the left side without Spiezio and Fullmer around this year.

Franklin's a smart pitcher, and he pitched a smart game.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Here's the link for the Jacob's note:

San Antonio stats

Hey, look at this: Greg Jacobs is hitting .818 in San Antonio! Of his 9 hits, five are doubles and three are home runs.

Yeah, sure, I know the guy is too old to be considered a prospect. But that's what they said about Robert Redford, er - I mean Roy Hobbs.

If this continues, I'm going to change the name to this blog to Jacobsforleft

On the positive side of things, Clint Nageotte was awesome in his second AAA game last night, setting down 14 batters in a row at one point.

Letting Cameron go was a horrible mistake. I was a proponent of the Ibanez signing, but that was more a situation in which I allowed Mariner inaction in addressing the left handed power shortage to cause me to cry out "FINALLY!" when a guy like Ibanez was signed. After watching average to good left handed hitters (like Ibanez) pound homeruns over Ichiro's head for the last two years, I was suckered into thinking this was a good move.

I wish to admit my mea culpas to the blog community. Locking this guy up for three years at $4 mil. plus a year was a huge mistake - Whoever thought the idea of replacing Cameron with Ibanez was a master stroke? I thought the replacement of Winn with Ibanez would work, with the promise of more left handed power and Cameron patrolling CF.

Now I had hopes Winn was a better CF than people feared, and he may indeed be. But he is no Cameron, and I have grown accustomed to good defense. No, make that great defense. I'll take extra offense in its place, but it has to be A LOT MORE offense, not a slight improvement at the margins.

So, thanks to some real bad signings, we now have a team that other GMs break apart and rebuild. If this team played in another division, say the AL Central, or the NL West, I'd say it's worth plugging along and trying to steal another appearance in the post season.

But we've gotten our lunch money taken yet again by Anaheim, and they aren't even as good as Oakland. I'm ready to rebuild. Better now than later. Let's get this over with.

It's time to think about how we can do this. Hmmm, Garcia and Baek for Justin Morneau. Or Garcia and Guardado - heck, I don't care. We'll even pay his salary. We missed out on Nageotte for Milton Bradley.

Let's get this thing started.

Monday, April 12, 2004

I caught a bit of the Mets game on TV today. Mike Cameron looked real good - made some nice Cameron plays in the OF.

I miss Mike Cameron. I think that was a mistake, letting Mike go.

Are some of you noticing that balls in play you automatically assumed would be turned into double plays or outfield outs are no longer automatic? Are you watching a little more closely, to make sure Aurelia makes the handoff, or Winn gets back in time?

I sure got used to watching great defense last year. It was, I suppose, the greatest defense ever assembled (arguably? Or can we prove it?).

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Marcos Scutaro - playing second base for the A's. Had anyone who reads this ever heard of him before opening day this year? Not me. But the A's have again done what they do so well - find the gems everyone else misses. Scutaro has some very nice minor league stats. He's got some pop and he gets on base. Very nice little ballplayer.

His first full year of AA he had a .387 OBP and a .472 SLG. It's nice to see guys like Marcos get a chance.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I have to admit there’s a piece of me, the “bad Rick”, who quietly relishes Anaheim kicking our asses because they take free agency seriously. Seattle hasn’t had an owner like Anaheim’s since the Sonics Sam Schulman – an owner who, by indicating he will do whatever it takes to win, sets the tone for the rest of the organization. Well, Paul Allen is stepping up. But so long as we are content to make money, and be solid citizens, and spread our money liberally among second tier talent while ignoring the availability of top tier talent, making excuses that we WOULD have gone after A-Rod if we knew he was available, we will probably be stuck behind others when September rolls around. But if these are indeed the best fans in baseball (and if guys are paying $100 to sit in the center field bleachers, they may be) then we deserve better.

I think M’s management will do enough to cover their asses, but there will always be a handy excuse as to why we fell short. No one in the upper management inspires any confidence they know what they are doing, that they have a real plan. It kills me to see us get out-thunk by Oakland, and outspent by Anaheim. Where’s the cantankerous owner who says “what!! Anaheim signed Guerrero?!? Who the hell fell asleep here, and what the hell do you plan to do about it?!”

What’s our natural advantage now, even within our own division? Asian scouting, I guess. Well, that’s something. But a team that makes money like the Mariners should have a lot more than that going for it. Of course, people still say we are the “best run organization in baseball”. I’m not sure what that means. Oakland outperforms us year after year, Anaheim wins the World Series. We do stay ahead of Texas, though. But that’s about like me bragging that my rotisserie team finishes about 40 points ahead of Peter’s every year.

I suppose “best run organization in baseball” means we don’t run around in a panic when other teams kick us around. But it sounds like a recipe for complacency. Not only are we watching the same team he saw last year (with a little to a lot less defense) but we're watching the same Opening game ceremonies, are we're watching the same cute Mariner commercials. As much as I like cute funny commercials, a pre-season commercial blitz that said something like: “Look out Yankees, Boston, get out of our way. The Mariners are back, reloaded, and angry” would engender some hope and inspiration. Mariner commercials don’t even suggest we may win a championship. Even “Anything can Happen” offers a hint of that suggestion. What the hell does “Viva La Mojo” mean? I guess it means it will take black magic for us to win a World Series.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Here's my prediction for the AL West:

1. Anaheim
2. Oakland
3. Seattle
4. Texas

Anaheim has the bullpen, enough starting pitching, good power, minor league talent it can deal during the season, and most importantly and what separates it from the rest - ownership willing to do what it takes to win.


Friday, April 02, 2004

I agree wholeheartedly with David at the USS Mariner regarding Bradley. Nageotte for Bradley - yes - make the deal. I'd give them Nageotte and Lopez at this point. What's the use of having all sorts of solid citizens of high character in your clubhouse if you can't use them to influence troubled souls like Milton Bradley, troubled souls who can hit the snot out of a ball?

It pains me to see the M's start Bloomquist at 3rd instead of Leone.

Jeff at Fire Bavasi (deserving a mention in the Seattle Weekly beyond the anonymous nod regarding all those anti-Bavasi blogs out there) points out Bocachica's major league sucking OBP as the biggest detriment. Yes, Hiram has not accumulated decent major league stats in four major league seasons in which he had 133, 65, 103 and 22 at bats per season. It accounts for 323 at bats total, spread out over a lot of pine time. Call it a disappointing rookie season, or a rookie learning season. But the kid has come back and has hit the crap out of the ball in spring training. He has power, speed, versatility, and serious minor league cred. It has to pain him to watch Wee Willy Bloomquist take his spot on the roster. What do you have to do around here to earn a bench position? I know, I know...the little things. After all, this is the Mariners, a team that had a spectacular offensive machine in 2001, but all anyone seems to remember about it is not all the career numbers from guys like Ichiro, Boone and Cameron, but how we moved runners along so they could score on David Bell ground outs or fly balls.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

It looks like Bloomquist will start at 3rd on opening day. That is just plain depressing - the thought that after last year, Bloomquist is back at 3rd is just plain depressing.

And Jeff Sullivan at Leoneforthird/fire Bavasi is simply wrong about putting Bocachica and Bloomquist in the same "no hit" group. There is a major difference between these two players, Jeff, and the overall stats make this plain to see - if anyone bothers to take a closer look at them.

But it's like the continual bitching about Ibanez on so much of the blogsphere. Ibanez has put up some pretty good numbers over the last three years. Yes, there is much to be concerned about, I agree. But the mariner blogsphere jackals have fixated on some negatives and completely twisted them out of order. So Bocachica can't hit, and Ibanez is a crappy hitter, a worthless load in LF. The truth is somewhere in the middle, but the frustrations of so many are causing them to imagine that some players to be much worse than they really are, just as these same people will claim that certain GMs think some players are better than they really are.

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