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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

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Great, Great deal. Read my comments in the friendly and Caffeinated Confines.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Out of town this weekend, celebrating my parent's 50th. See you all Monday!
Baseball Prospectus offers nifty stats that allow us to compare the runs above replacement value of current major league players to adjusted for major league equivalents for the minor leaguers. This allows us to see whether we would truly be improved if we replaced our current Mariners with guys from Tacoma (from an offensive prospectus).

Let's go position by position, with the big producers in Tacoma:

DH

Edgar: - 6.3
Jacobsen: +16.3

1st base:

Olerud: +.5
Zapp: -4.8

2nd Base:

Boone: -11.2
M. Lopez -1.4

SS:

J. Lopez: +.1
Aurilia: -13

3rd Base:

Spiezio: -9.5
Leone: +3.4

LF:

Randy Winn: -6.2
Strong: -1.1

CF:

Bocachica (Tacoma): +3.1
Bocachica (SEA): +.8

RF:

Ichiro: +6.9
Jacobs: -2.0

Catcher:

Wilson: -3.9
Davis (TAC): -2.7

Now, of course you have to give the Major Leaguer the benefit of the doubt, since there's nothing adjustable about his numbers, what you see is what you are definitely getting at the major league level. But it is interesting that Bocachica is remaining above replacement level here.

I would seriously consider upgrading either DH or 1st base with Bucky Jacobsen, and 3rd or SS with Leone. Hopefully, Davis will continue to improve (he was at -7.5 in Seattle).

But you can certainly see what the problem is with the Mariner offense: Only Ichiro, Ibanez, Hansen, Olerud and Bocachica are performing above replacement level at this point.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

More postings on Roy Hobbs, and more by me at

the caffeinated confines

Friday, June 18, 2004

A couple of strong impressions from last nights doubleheader in Tacoma:

Travis Blackley is one poised and impressive dude on the mound. The kid's only 21, but he knows how to pitch.

Greg Jacobs can not only hit, but plays a helluva good right field and has a strong, accurate arm.

more on these and other thoughts at the friendly caffeinated confines of mostvaluablenetwork.com

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I'm heading to Tacoma tonight, to get a good look at this Casey Kotchman fella. Anaheim looks to be scary for the next few years: Kotchman, Dallas McPherson (20 homers in AA) and Jeff Mathis, the best catching prospect this side of Joe Mauer. Seattle's AA team is currently facing Anaheim's as well. Tonight would be a good game to catch, if San Antonio was sister city to Seattle instead of Tacoma. Besides McPherson and Mathis, Ervin Santana, Angel's top pitching prospect, takes the mound. Tune into Sportsjuice.com (link on the right) to listen. No Mariner game tonight, so why not?

Hopefully I'll have something interesting to say to the readers over at Mostvaluablenetwork.com , where I begin a stint as fellow Mariner writer alongside the esteemed Scott Putnicki in the caffeinated confines (I like that) that is the Mariner section of the site. Scott's got some interesting and entertaining thoughts there. My job, apparently, will be to share the load lest he burn himself out trying to keep a daily blog fresh (not that I have any idea what that is like...)

But hey, anything to increase my carload of loyal readers.
Was anyone else surprized we couldn't hit Doug Davis? But there's something kinda cool about baseball in that a team like the Brewers can totally stink, maybe even for a whole decade, clean house, patch together a group of players from other teams castoffs, and become a contender. Last year it was Kansas City. Sure, it wont last, because the Brewers are owned by Bozo Selig.

Compare what the Brewers are doing with the Mariners, and with less than half the money. The Mariners are an expensive joke.

But don't buy this idea the Mariners have no power. Oh, they have power all right. But it's sitting in Tacoma in the way of Justin Leone, Bucky Jacobsen, and A.J. Zapp, even Jose Lopez. But you see, these guys aren't ready. They'll be susceptible to a crafy lefthander like Doug Davis. The journeyman Santos will resurrect his career on these kind of major league wannabes. So, you see, we had to pay $3 million plus each for Spiezio, and Aurilia, and Winn. We have to put Willie Bloomquist in the lineup.

Outside of Ichiro and the pitchers, the only Mariner worth watching right now is Hiram Bocachica. And look what he had to do to move past Bloomquist in the pecking order.

There's talk on Leoneforthird (and Jacobsen for first I might add) and on insidethepark.com about keeping Garcia and signing him to a long term contract instead of trading him for lower prospects. The feeling is the M's wont get any major prospects.

It's a good idea. But what's wrong with doing both? Trade Garcia for prospects, low or otherwise, then go after him in the off season. The Rangers do this with Kenny Rogers every year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Before I get too excited about some of these good Tacoma numbers (like Jamal's .420 or so OBA, and Leone's 17 home runs) there's a fella we all kinda remember named Andy Barkett, a 29 year old first baseman journeyman minor leaguer if we ever saw one, who is currently tearing up the International League for the Toledo Mud Hens. Look at these numbers:

203 at bats: .340/.394/.611 - 13 home runs.

Golly, I remember Barkett in Tacoma last year. A group of us started chanting his name and he looked over at us like: "what the heck??" But Andy's minor league number are about as hohum as one could get. So he's either on a monster run, or found a new stroke or figured something out or something.

It's great to see good things happen to guys like Andy. I hope he gets a call to the bigs. Carlos Pena has had enough at bats to show what he can do for the Tigers. Give Andy a shot.

While we're on the Tacoma nostalgia train, look at what Perfecto John Halama is doing in Tampa Bay:

29.1 IP/21 hits/9 BB/21 K's/ 6.44 k/9 /.202 BAA/1.02 WHIP/2.76 ERA

Friday, June 11, 2004

There's been a lively discussion on the Bullpen newsgroup about Winn's abilities as a center fielder. His home run robbing catch of Wednesday has given credence to the idea he isn't such a bad fielder. Add to that his rocket shot that hit the Hitithere Cafe window, and there's talk that perhaps Winn wants to prove to the fans he's the true heir to Ken Griffey.

And there's interesting discussion over at the USS Mariner suggesting that Winn's poor arm may be due more to mechanics than physiology. Oh! It it could be that easy to fix!
Luis Ugueto is making some noise down in Tacoma. Moving this light hitting infielder to the outfield seemed utter folly, except to perhaps increase his ability to do utility work on a bench somewhere. But check out these numbers in 139 at bats:

.295/.368/.468

I read somewhere Luis has been working hard on his stroke. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain this kind of production.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

19 innings against a formidable Astro lineup, and the Mariners give up 1 run - zero if Wilson holds the ball. I'm feeling a little better about the M's now. Sure, we're out of it. But our young pitchers are looking real good right now. Blackley is handling AAA just fine, Madritsch did as well before his oblique strain. And there's always the possibility Rhett Johnson will return, Soriano will get healthy again, Meche will re-discover his form, Moyer will continue to take the elixir, Sherrill is the lefty short man in waiting. Freddie, and Myers can then be dealt. We can get a decent prospect in Freddie and save money. Bring up Jose Lopez, Bucky Jacobsen, Jamal Strong and Leone by midseason and see what we've got there. Ben Davis puts his year in AAA purgatory to good use, and returns a wiser man and re-discovers his stroke playing every day. Then, we take our boatload of dollars into the free agent market, make a couple of big signings on guys who can hit the ball and carry an offense, swap some contracts around, and re-enter the race in 2005.

Hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Boy, was Clint something. I feel much better about dealing Freddie. Imagine making your first start in the majors by striking out Biggio and Berkman each twice. Nothing wrong with this kid's command tonight. The Mariners have something special here. Of course, he'll have his bad outings, where the slider wont find the strike zone, and he'll get lit. But this is one special pitcher we have here.
Sunday, we looked at the famous Moneyball draftees. Today, we take a look at the Milwaukee Brewers' highly regarded triumphirate of top prospects. How do Prince Fielder, Richie Weeks, and Anthony Gwynn stack up?

The Brewers are in a hurry to get these kids to the majors, and after various amounts of time in the mid-A level Midwest League, all have been force fed into the AA Southern League, skipping the High A Cal league.

Prince (age 20) began the season on a tear, and it looked like he was on a fast train to Miller Park. Since then, the league is apparently finding his weaknesses. He's .263/.349/.468 with 11 home runs in 205 at bats. All in all, not bad at all for a 20 year old.

Richie (age 21) is having a tougher time of it, going .235/.364/.366 in 183 at bats. Well, he is drawing walks, but what is most impressive is his 17 (!) hit by pitches. Ouch!

Anthony (21) is .247/.332/.301. Ugh. But again, he too is drawing walks, but not much else.

I think our own 20 year old Jose Lopez compares VERY favorably to these better known and regarded prospects. In AAA, Jose is .277/.322/.508 - outslugging the powerful Prince.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Mariners pick Matt Tuiasosopo with their first pick. I was just thinking this morning that if my beloved Huskies are going to lose their next great quarterback to baseball, I hope it is the Mariners who take him away.

At any rate, I think this will create interest and boost ticket sales in Everett this summer.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

More on the Moneyball class of 2001:

A reader asked about the ages of these guys, an important factor when discussing prospects. Basically, they are all 23 except for Teahen, (22) and in AAA, Kiger (24), and Brown will be a ripe 25 this fall. By Mariner prospect standards, these are all babies, but they are ripening quickly.

I'm betting Colamarino will be the best of the bunch.
Wow! First Boonie hits into the second deck in left field, and now Winn hits the hititherecafe window. Where's the power surge coming from? Bocachica has apparently set Winn free, returning him to left field where he can concentrate on hitting (we can hope). Meanwhile, Boca's getting on base for the M's (.455 OBP), and hit the ball real well a couple times today.
Well, well, well. Ryan Christenson not only played catcher for the Missions today, but he threw out a baserunner AND hit a home run. Ryan has already matched Ben Davis's home run output for the season. Aaron Taylor pitched a shutout inning in the game as well. It's nice to see guys like these on the mend and on their way back.
How bad was the Moneyball draft?

David at the U.S.S. Mariner called it a disaster. Derek simply said it was a "bad draft" but suggested it was no worse than what a pure scouting system would have produced.


Was the Moneyball draft really that bad?

Here are my impressions, looking at the very latest info:

Nick Swisher

AAA: .254/.376/.480 - still has a chance at a good MLB career, he recently destroyed Tacoma pitching with some impressive bombs.

Blanton:

AAA : 3.87 ERA in 74 innings. Still a major pitching prospect

McCurdy:

.264 in AA with 5 HR and 7(!) walks in 178 Abs. I think it’s safe to say he’s a washout. Hasn’t impressed at any level yet.

Ben Fritz:

Now at AA: 47Ks in 61 IP with 33 BB and 3 HR. Still a prospect, though barely at this point. Always pitches around a K an inning up until now, with walk rates that are acceptable.

Jeremy Brown:

At AA

.232 average with 21 walks and 3 HRs in 164 Abs – yeah, right now he looks weak. The scouts were right.

Colamarino:

Brant was devastating Cal league pitchers with a .355 average and 11 home runs. Recently called up to AA, he’s hitting .333 with a .630 SLG average in 27 ABs. A very good prospect.

Baker:

AA: hitting .324 with a .510 SLG in 210 Abs (18 walks). Still a prospect.

Teahen:

Now in AAA, Teahen was teeing off on AA pitching with a .335 average, 6 HR, 15 doubles and 5 triples with 29 walks in 197 ABs. Still a prospect, A’s may be looking to call him up before the end of the season.

Kiger:

Last year in the Cal league had a .373 OBP with 38 doubles and 8 HRs in 526 Abs. So far in AA he’s underwhelming: hitting .273 with 32 walks in 183 Abs to go with a .377 SLG. Jury’s still out.

Stavisky:

A .381 OBP in the Midwest A league last year. Now in the Cal A league, hitting .331 with 15 walks in 142 Abs., a .394 OBP. Still a prospect.


I think David was too quick to judge this draft a disaster. I think Teahen, Swisher, Colamarino will be average to above average Major league talent, with a chance for stardom. Baker, Kiger and Stavisky may as well. Brown and McCurdy and probably Fritz were the washouts.

I'd say it was a good draft, overall.
Interesting day on the Mariner farm - Roy Hobbs homers for Tacoma, and former first rounder Ryan Christianson returns to action as a DH for the Missions, going 3 for 5. It will be interesting to see if Ryan will be able to return to catching. What a bonus if so.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Hiram Bocachica replaced Winn at Center Field today, moving Winn to left. HMMMMM....are the Mariners thinking what Jeff Sullivan is thinking? Put Winn at left field, where he a)belongs and b)can increase trade value?

Bocachica drew two walks (good work Hiram), and was an adventure on the basepaths.

In other news, Kevin Youkilis - the Greek God of Walks - apparently is looking for a new nickname (which of course will never happen - he's tagged for life). But besides offering an impressive .412 OBP, was also slugging at a .492 clip before his two run homer today.

Meanwhile Rainier leadoff man Jamal Strong is getting on base at a .406 clip this year. Impressive, no? This has always been Strong's strong suit. This is one player I would put on an upper body weight training program.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Back in 1979, there was a 25 year old outfielder in the American League who put up these numbers:

473 ABs 152 hits 29 doubles 28 HR 101 RBI 77 BB 74 Ks

Translating to: .321/.416/.573 OPS: .989

Imagine having a 25 year old in your system like that. He's a player you build around, isn't he?

The following year, he broke his wrist. He was never the same, and by 1984 was out of major league ball.

Anybody know who he is?
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Sixto Lezcano, Milwaukee Brewers. One of Joe Garagiola's favorite ballplayers. I think he just liked saying his name.
This just in...Roy Hobbs has been promoted to Tacoma.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

After last night's game, I am so depressed about being a Mariner fan, I can't even find any silver linings. Even if there is talent down below, it pales in comparison to what the Angels and especially the A's have down there. And the A's are ready for another restocking of the system next week. Chavez is a tough break, but they'll figure out a way to stay in the hunt.

Meanwhile, Toronto, a pretty bad club right now (albeit with good prospects) beats us with a grand slam, and then rubs our noses in it with a nicely played small ball run. That was rich! If Seattle had won a game on advancing the runner and a suicide squeeze, the media would be congratulating them on another smartly played game. But what a reliance on small ball really means is "boy, our offense sucks."

But Toronto beats us the old fashioned way, with a slow guy slugging a home run, and then says "hey Seattle, you guys like 'small ball' - here - watch this..."

What a perfectly sublime insult.

I'm trying very hard right now trying to figure out how one can switch allegiance as a fan. I don't like being an M's fan anymore because I can't believe in what management is doing. But being a fan is a heart thing, not a head thing, so I'm stuck. But I look at the A's and the Angels, and I think, "man, I'd love to be a fan of those teams." Especially the A's. I envy A's fans.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Aurilia doesn't have the range Guillen had, which admittedly, isn't saying all that much. I think Aurilia's lack of range cost us this game.

Hand it to the Jays. They couldn't really hit our guys tonight, so they fouled off pitches and drew walks. We weren't nearly so patient.

Why we aren't winning

If we had kept Guillen, and went out and bought Guerrero (.345/.393/.596 and 40 RBIs), we'd be in this race. There would be excitement, and many more tickets purchased. How much will not paying Guerrero cost the Mariners in ticket sales this year and beyond? I think it will be in the millions. We're drawing at least 10,000 fewer fans these days, and it isn't getting any better, with all this talk about blowing up the Mariners. What's 10,000 tickets at $15 bucks a pop? Say $150,000 a night in ticket sales alone?

News flash, Mariner management: There are no Griffeys, Arods, Edgars, or even a Jose Cruz Jr or Jason Varitek waiting in the minors. So you're going to have to go out and buy one. You had a big opportunity this year at a real superstar at an extremely affordable price - and you didn't even enter the bidding.

Don't get your hopes up. The Yankees are not going to let Beltran get away next year. Guerrero was your best chance, he was affordable, and you weren't even in the game.

Imagine an outfield with Ichiro in center, flanked by Ibanez and Guerrero. Imagine what this season could have been, had the money making machine that is Safeco Field been used to purchase real major league talent in its prime. There would be no talk of "blowing the team up" - there would be talk about how to build around Guerrero.

Meanwhile, down in the A leagues, a bit of good news: Felix Hernandez struck out a rehabbing Tim Salmon in the first inning. Felix ran into trouble in the fourth, but otherwise was fairly dominating. So what the heck - let's bring him up.



Comparing AL Leadoff Men by OBP and stolen base efficiency:

Lew Ford: .407 5 sb/1 cs

Lawton: .392 11 sb/1 cs

Damon: .384 5/4

Ichiro: .379 11/5

W. Harris: .371 8/1

Sanchez: .365 11/10

Reed Johnson: .364 2/2

Mike Young: .364 4/1 (.324 on the road!)

Crawford: .344 24/9

Eckstein: .330 4/3

Kotsay .333 3-2

Jeter: .277 5/2


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