Friday, April 30, 2004

Ryan Feierabend  

BaseballHQ is a premium service that I use to better prepare for the numerous fantasy leagues I participate in. Today, in their Minor League Hot Sheet, Terry Linehart profiles Mariners pitching prospect Ryan Feierabend, currently #34 on the USS Mariner Future Forty, and a player I've heard little about. While waiting for the big club to provide more reasons for optimism, you can take a look at what Linehart wrote.

Ryan Feierabend (LHP, SEA): Feierabend is an exciting lefthanded pitching prospect who has been improving and maturing ever since he was drafted last year. Ryan was the Mariners' third round pick in 2003 out of an Ohio high school and some who have seen him pitch think that he has the potential to be one of the better pitchers taken in that draft. He has drawn comparisons to Barry Zito LHP with his mound presence and ease of delivery. In addition to his physical abilities, Ryan has tremendous maturity and responds well to coaching.

Only 18 years old, Ryan throws with a 3/4 delivery and his fastball (up to 91 mph) is alive with movement, sometimes tailing in quickly on righthanded hitters' hands. His changeup (74 mph) and slider (76 mph) are inconsistent, though the changeup has improved significantly in the last year. It projects to be a plus pitch by the time he makes the majors. He's working on a curve as well, demonstrating his work ethic and ability to get better.

The Mariners sent Ryan to pitch a full season at Wisconsin (MWL) to gain experience. In four appearances, he is 3-0 with a 3.74 ERA, 2.0 Cmd., and 6.7 K/game. He should be there most of the season to build strength in his arm and touch on his pitches, but the Mariners could promote him a level later this season to see how he responds. Ryan is currently not on the radar of the national press, but he could move quickly through the system and outperform prospects who are higher on the various lists. Barring any injury, however, he'll be on all of the Top 10 lists next year.

Randy Winn's Arm 

I still think that if 3 consecutive home runs embarrasses Howard Lincoln, then he has got to be cringing every time Winn heaves a giant looping ball with all his might to reach the cut off man ten seconds later. Could we just TRY Ichiro in center? For a week? Just for grins?

So long to the Safe
Gabriel & Jeff at The Safe are calling it quits. Good luck, fellas, and anytime you want to post here, feel free to drop me a line.

Today's picks:
Brewers (Sheets) -145 over Pirates (Benson)
Marlins (Willis) -145 over Giants (Correia)
Reds (Acevedo) +175 over Astros (Clemens)
Royals (Anderson) +200 over Yankees (Vazquez)

Money to date: $151 (picking dog/favorite = +575/-423, 17-19, 13-11) - The two teams I lost $200 with (Pirates and Expos) gave up 2 runs each but the ex-Yankees Pettitte and Wells were too much. Thank goodness for Weaver.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

"Why Thornton" Question Answered 

Today Matt Thornton was sent down and J.J. Putz was called up. So it appears Thornton was just a placeholder until Putz had spent the required 10 days back in the minors from his last callup.

Now lets hope its Mike Myers who gets sent down when Soriano gets called up. He's just not getting it done out there, and at 7-15, I'd rather see some young guys.

Jarvis Not the Problem 

Apparently I am not what Jeff would consider a reasonable observer. I'm sure many of you are agreeing.

Still I have a hard time saying that Kevin Jarvis cost us two wins. I have a hard time saying he cost us any wins. Here are the outings where Kevin Jarvis gave up ANY runs (3 scoreless outings not included).

4/6 - gave up 3 runs in 10-5 loss
4/7 - gave up 1 run in 10-7 loss
4/21 - gave up 1 run in 7-4 loss
4/23 - gave up 2 runs in 10-8 loss - this is as close to his fault as I can find
4/25 - gave up 5 runs in 14-6 loss.

He had three poor performances - 4/6, 4/23 and 4/25, with the last two happening in front of Howard Lincoln and resulting in him getting the axe. Lets take a closer look at these performances to see if Jarvis was the reason the M's lost.

4/6 - Down 6-1, Jarvis comes in and strikes out Guillen, gets Salmon in a flyout and gets Molina to ground out. Unfortunately, his strikeout of Guillen came on a wild pitch and Guillen got to first, so instead of three outs, the Angels had two outs and a baserunner. At this point he walks Adam Kennedy and gives up a run-scoring single to David Eckstein. Exit Jarvis, enter Ron Villone, who proceeds to give up a Darin Erstad single and a Vlad bases-clearing double to make the score 10-1.

4/23 - Down 7-5, Jarvis comes in to pitch the bottom of the 7th and gives up a single to Hank Blalock and a double to Alfoso Soriano. Again, Ron Villone comes in and gets a pop out and a lineout and then walks Kevin Mench to load the bases. Bases loaded, two outs, Villone pitching. He gives up a two-run single to Laynce Nix and then throws a wild pitch to let in a third run, to put the Rangers up 10-5. While Jarvis did no good here, we were in a situation that we should have gotten out of, with a rookie getting a clutch hit off our lefty setup man.

4/25 - Down 9-6 (again three runs score on Villone's watch), Jarvis has the horrible three homer inning, and finishes out the game giving up another run, making the loss 14-6 instead of 9-6. We never scored again when there was no pressure, so there is no reason to think we would have scored when the game was on the line. It has been the M's modus operandi to only score in bunches when the game was out of reach.

Right now, Ron Villone has done a lot more to cost the M's victories than Jarvis. His shiny 3.77 ERA looks good, but allowing 5 of 10 inherited runners to score shows that moving him to the rotation may just be to keep him from harming another pitcher. Luckily, Villone has had some good outings as well, that were key in four of the Mariners six wins. But, if Villone gets Laynce Nix out with the bases loaded and 2 outs, the M's may win that game and are able to laugh off the Kevin Jarvis 3-HR outing.

Essentially, Jarvis didn't hurt us much this April. And certainly he cannot be affixed with the lion's share of responsibility for ANY of the Mariner losses. He is just the first scapegoat, and if today's game was any indication, there will be more to come. Don't get me wrong, I think Jarvis should be gone - but I don't think M's management hurt the team that badly for the effort to showcase him. You may argue psychological stuff all you want - but the fact is, Jarvis has pitched as well, or better than, Shiggy, Pineiro, Myers and the doppleganger claiming to be Rafael Soriano.

Good Doctor Weighs In 

Always an entertaining read, Dr. Detecto weighs in on what ails the Mariners in an interesting (and optimistic) thread at Top MLB Forums.

Of course he also makes some requests of M's management that are unlikely to happen in the near future, but would be sure to light a fire in the fans, if not the team.

1. Franklin to the 'pen, Soriano into the rotation ASAP
2. Griffey, or Beltran, or MaggliO, or Edmonds, or whoever, in here ASAP
3. Kendall in here ASAP, back-loaded contract
4. Freddy gone and Nageotte or Blackley in (to pay for the 2 hitters)
5. (Maybe) trade for a very fine reliever

6. Announce, loudly, that the new goal is to win the World Series
7. Maybe, replace Melvin with a high-energy manager (Valentine?)
8. Give Billy Bavasi a budget and a "go to it, mate" license to kill

But the point isn't WHAT they do. They could do the above, or do different things.

The point is that they do things that are DECISIVE even if expensive ..... and with a clear MISSION STATEMENT.

That CLEAR MISSION being, to win the pennant already.

The point is to stop living in fear of what might happen if you act.

Because not acting, brings its own risks.

Another Shaky Loss 

Shiggy just looks lost out there. No one is biting at his sliders out of the strike zone, and his fastballs are getting ripped. Double on tomahawk chop by Tejada is forgivable, I guess. But letting Javy walk after going 2-2 on him hurt, and giving Jay Gibbons a very hittable pitch with two strikes drove the nail in the coffin.

And Randy Winn's throw home on the game winning hit was just an embarrassing bloop. I wonder if Lincoln can have "that kind of thing going on" for much longer. The decision to let Cameron go is looking worse and worse. Having Cammy in center and Winn or Ibanez coming in off the bench would strengthen this team considerably.

The man who REALLY needs to step up is Ichiro. He was called out as mediocre by David Locke yesterday, and responded by going 0-for-5 and stranding 4 baserunners, and ending the innings in the 4th, 6th and 9th. Yuck.

On the good news front is that Jamie Moyer looked just like Jamie Moyer. He had a shaky first inning, and then settled into a groove for 7 innings of 4-hit ball.

Day game today, which is always nice. Lets see if we can finally get Joel back on the right track. Then will get Soriano back in the bullpen (or in the rotation and Meche in the bullpen would be fine with me), and get back to where all we worry about is our offense.

Today's picks:
A good day to bet against ex-Yankees, and I'm a little gunshy of favorites right now
Pirates (Wells) +130 over Astros (Pettitte)
Expos (Ohka) +180 over Padres (Wells)
Mets (Seo) +125 over Dodgers (Weaver)

Money to date: $226 (picking dog/favorite = +649/-423, 16-17, 13-11) - Last night shows why you should never gamble on baseball. Reds up 9-0 after 4 innings - money in the bank, right? Wrong. As a result, I lose three (-$168) including a painful $210 on Oswalt and the Astros.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Note to Mr. Bavasi 

Dear Mr. Bavasi,

The Diamondbacks have recently called up one Chad Tracy to man third base, and he seemingly is taking the right-hand half of a platoon with Shea Hillenbrand. This *may* mean that Shea Hillenbrand is available for trade and would be a nice fit as a first baseman who can mash lefties. He also is relatively inexpensive and comes with no long-term commitment. I won't do the full analysis because I have a job that pays me more than you do, but I just hope this bug reaches your ear.

Mariner Optimist

P.S. And if the DBacks continue to slide, they have another power-hitting first baseman in Richie Sexson that we'd like to have this year and for many years beyond.

Who wants Kevin Jarvis? 

The Colorado Rockies. Now, if we can get a second team with interest, we can create a bidding war, and maybe get five times what we got for Mulholland for him in trade!

How was the game? 

For the first time all year, I was unable to watch or listen to the game last night, and heck, I haven't even read about it today, other than just now to pull up the box score and game log on ESPN. I see that we won 7-5 and Ron Villone got the win, Dan Wilson homered and I know this is Bob Melvin's 100th win as Mariner skipper (though it took a week longer than Iwould have liked).

The box score tells me that, of course, Rafael Palmeiro homered against us (we should have signed him just to avoid him) and, of course, we trailed in this game. Jolbert Cabrera goes 2-4 with a key hit in the 7th inning, and a throwout of Melvin Mora at 2B in his first start in centerfield. I vote he gets another start. Every Mariner got a hit. Meche struggled (7 baserunners, 87 pitches in 3 innings), Julio Mateo really struggled (7 hits in 2 1/3), but Myers and Guardado were money getting us out of a bases-loaded, one out jam in the eighth, including Myers getting Palmeiro to pop out with one out. Oh yeah, we plunked Tejada not once but twice. You can learn a lot from a box score.

So we're 1-0 against the AL East and going for #2 tonight. Maybe I won't watch that one either to see if we can get a winning streak going. But then again, we could win 15 in a row and I wouldn't get to enjoy it because I wasn't following it.

These are the type of dilemmas a supersitious M's fan must face.

Today's picks:
Marlins (Beckett) -150 over Rockies (Jennings)
Astros (Oswalt) -210 over Pirates (Fogg)
Devil Rays (Abbott) +200 over Red Sox (Schilling)
Tigers (Maroth) +150 over Angels (Colon)
Reds (Wilson) -108 over Brewers (Kinney)

Money to date: $394 (picking dog/favorite = +599/-205, 15-16, 12-9) - Glavine over Nomo was easy money and the Rays/Sox got rained out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Don't let the door hit you on the way out 

The blogosphere is elated because Kevin Jarvis is gone, but is bemoaning that he was there in the first place. I just want to write that Jarvis is not a bad option for the 11th man in the bullpen. He can pitch in a blowout, and with a few days rest seems to do alright. Jarvis has been a full-time starter for the past 4 years, and he should have been treated as such. Trying to get him to come in on a days rest was a mistake, set him up for failure. His scoreless appearances came on three days rest, and were longer stints. But the "showcase" command somehow got Melvin to show him at his worst - on short rest and on short notice.

Oh well, he's gone and that's that.

Next, Jon calls me out in the comments on my last post when I wrote that Matt Thornton got a well-deserved cup of coffee. Thornton is a year removed from Tommy John surgery and does not have command yet, and his pitching lines for this year show it, with 24 baserunners in 14 innings. So, I apologize for using "well-deserved".

However, Thornton was on track to the majors before being derailed by surgery, with a nice 2002 in San Antonio, and reaching Tacoma briefly in 2003 before getting hurt. The M's need a part-timer to travel with the club until Rafael Soriano returns in a week. So the M's give Thornton gets a taste of the majors and he is unlikely to be used except in situations where Jarvis SHOULD have been used - blowouts. Meanwhile, the arbitration clock is not started on other more highly touted prospects.

Today's picks:
Mets (Glavine) +125 over Dodgers (Nomo)
Devil Rays (Abbott) +165 over Red Sox (Wakefield)

Money to date: $269 (picking dog/favorite = +474/-205, 14-16, 12-9) - Expos lost in the ninth to spoil the easy money I got by picking the Marlins over Scott Elarton.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The Sun Will Come Out... 

Yes, a Monday of good news. The M's did not lose to Baltimore, as it is a rain out, giving the M's a much-needed off day, and moves the game to August when the M's will be back on top and the O's won't.

More importantly, the M's have decided to cut bait on Kevin Jarvis. Jarvis was designated for assignment, meaning the Mariners have 10 days to either send him to the minors, trade him, or release him. Jarvis has the service time to block a move to the minors, so it will probably be trade him or release him.

If we trade him, expect us to pick up the majority of his salary. If we release him, and he then signs with another team for the league minimum, $300K, then at least that's $300K we won't have to pay him (pro-rated its closer to $250K, but hey, that's money that's not spent on Jeff Cirillo).

All in all, the Kevin Jarvis experiment was a failure primarily in that Melvin insisted on giving him playing time in games that were still close. He should have been treated as a starter (especially when we had 12 pitchers) and only brought in when our pitcher had been knocked out early in a game. That would have been the best way to showcase his skills as a starter and to keep him out of tight ballgames.

Jarvis actually pieced together a few good outings, but this last road trip was a debacle, and something had to be done.

For now, Matt Thornton gets a well-deserved cup of coffee, and probably heads back down when Rafael Soriano gets activated in a week or so. But who knows, this may be the tip of the veteran iceberg as the M's go for a youth infusion to breathe some life into a team that has looked more old than veteran in its first three weeks. Maybe Mike Myers and Ron Villone should not feel to comfortable with their roles for awhile. Ditto Quinton McCracken, Jolbert Cabrera, Ben Davis, and dare I say John Olerud?

Time will tell. But the obvious first move has been made. Combined with a much-needed day off, and I think the M's are ready to get another under the win column Tuesday.

I got your Optimism... right here! 

Thanks to John McGrath for bringing a smile to my face and showing me (albeit, tongue-firmly-in-cheek) some reasons for optimism. The whole article is well worth your time.

• The Mariners are only five games out of first place. In 1995, they were five games out of first place as late as Sept. 13, and went on a run that didn't exhaust itself until they got within two victories of the World Series.

• Seattle won't play another game against an AL West opponent until it returns to Texas on June 22. Just think: A two-month vacation from Adam Kennedy, Eric Byrnes and Kevin Mench.

• Bring on the Yankees!
This team belongs to Ichiro, Bret, Edgar and to a lesser extent, Oly. Its time for these guys to step up, starting tonight. Go Mariners!!!

U.G.L.Y. you ain't got no alibi... 

Throught 19 games, the Mariners are 6-13. IN EVERY GAME SAVE ONE, THE MARINERS HAVE TRAILED.

M's Leads of 2004
4/8 - lose to Anaheim 5-1 in 5-run ninth after getting 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th. A lead for 4 Angel At Bats! Hooray!
4/9 - take 6-4 lead over Oakland in top of 7th, and give it back in bottom of the 7th, losing 8-6.
4/10 - 1-0 lead in top of first lasts till bottom of 7th, losing 2-1 to Oakland
4/11 - M's win #1 with 2 in 9th and 5 in 10th - 9-4.
4/13 - M's up 4-0 till Angels tie it in bottom of 6th and go ahead in 7th for 7-5 loss.
*4/14 - M's tie it in top of ninth and lose it in bottom of ninth, 6-5 to Angels.
4/15 - 5-run 6th and M's hold onto 6-2 win over Angels. Hooray, we're 2-7!
4/17 - Three in 4th gives M's lead and they hang on for 4-1 win over Rangers to go 3-8 and start "The Streak"
4/18 - Three in 6th gives us a 4-2 win again, and a 2-game winning streak!
4/19 - The ONLY game the M's never trailed took a balk to win. 5th-inning HR holds till Dye's 9th-inning homer.
4/20 - Tie it at 1 in the seventh and win it in the ninth with walk-off home run. Thanks, Raul, we're 6-8!
*4/21 - Tied it at 4 in the seventh to lose it in the ninth. This is as close as we'll get for awhile.
* - never had a lead but coming back to tie it felt good so I included.

Yes, in our current 5-game losing streak, we have NEVER HAD THE LEAD. Sigh. I need a beer.

So in 177 innings of baseball, we have led at the end of just 30 innings after the opponent batted (and led after our at bat just 42 innings. We have had leads in just 10 of 19 games.

But, we are kicking ass in extra innings, with a perfect 2-0 mark.

Our offense needs to figure out how to score a run when we are ahead, or when the game is tied. Yes, we need some clutch hitting. It seems like our best hitters can't get a simple sacrifice fly when runners are on 3rd and less than 2 outs.

Tonight, we face a rookie pitcher in Matt Riley that we have never seen before. He has shut down the Red Sox and Blue Jays this year giving up an earned run to each in 6+ innings. Uh oh. We need a shutout. Its time for Gil Meche to be the man.

Maybe not too soon to tell... 

The Mariners are making my job as the Mariner Optimist very challenging indeed.

What an abysmal weekend of baseball. Pineiro and Franklin stunk, our outfield defense was horrible (though our infield defense has been solid - way to go Speeze!) and our offense seems to only be comfortable when we are down by 3 or more runs. Freddy's great effort on Saturday goes wasted, again, and had him cursing out Melvin from the bench. And we are swept by the Rangers for the first time since 19 freakin 98.

"Its still early" doesn't cut it anymore. Now the question is, "what can we do to fix this train wreck?" Mix up the outfield? Fire Melvin? Cut Jarvis? Trade for a big bat? I just don't feel like any of that will help if Ichiro gets struck out with a runner on third, one out in the 8th inning of a 0-0 game. But then, we need to do freakin SOMETHING.

The Rangers announcers were just plain giddy all weekend. They couldn't believe that it was April and they were still in contention. They kept saying - "remember how the last three years, we were always ten games behind the Mariners by the end of April?" And they even referred to the boost a team gets by losing A-Rod as a contributing factor to their current run. Congrats to the Rangers, whose offense will be fun to watch for a while.

I have very little optimistic or constructive to say at this point. Heck, I can't even enjoy Yankee fans booing Derek Jeter while getting swept by the Red Sox. Okay, maybe I can enjoy that a little.

Maybe getting the hell out of the AL West for awhile will help, though we are facing three of the top offenses in the AL in Baltimore, Detroit and Minnesota. Did I just write that? Is that true. I feel like I've slipped into some sort of horrible alternate universe where the M's suck and the Tigers don't.

We can't get much worse than we've looked the past 5 games, can we?

Don't answer that.

Today's picks:
Marlins (Pavano) -129 over Rockies (Elarton)
Expos (Hernandez) +150 over Padres (Peavy)

Money to date: $269 (picking dog/favorite = +574/-305, 14-15, 11-9) - Got good pitching from Seo & Eaton, but not the wins. Wilson won again, but Duckworth did not stink like I thought he would.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Too Soon to Tell... 

A 2 game slide and the blogosphere is back in hand-wringing mode it appears. Here's our season so far.

vs Texas: 2-1
vs Oakland: 3-4
vs Anaheim: 1-5

That's it. We played terribly against Anaheim and not gotten off to our usual hot start against the AL West. So does that mean we are a terrible team? No. I think we are a team still trying to find itself. Our bullpen has missed its two best pitchers (Guardado and Soriano) for most of the season, our top two pitchers in the rotation have been terrible, our defense (from the new guys and from stalwarts like Gold Glove Bret Boone) has been sloppy, and our veteran bats have been slow to heat up.

On the encouraging side is that our #3 and #4 pitchers have been AWESOME. Our new guys have goten some clutch hits and seem to bring a fire to them that might help us through this tough time and ward off our usual August swoon. Guardado and Spiezio are back and Soriano will be back soon. Boonie is gonna heat up. If Jamie and Joel don't turn things around, we have damn good options available in Tacoma. We have money available to take on a big salary.

We have a lot of "upside potential" that other teams in our division don't have. The A's are showing all they got, and will be in trouble if another injury strikes. The Angels have two Kevin Jarvis' on their staff in Ramon Ortiz and Aaron Sele. And the Rangers will come back to Earth starting this weekend.

This weekend's series against Texas (if the games get played - we are expecting a lot of rain in Austin) may show a lot about where the M's are going. Win the series or better yet, sweep the series, and it shows that we will beat the teams we are supposed to beat.

Today's picks:
Mets (Seo) +160 over Cubs (Maddux)
Reds (Wilson) +120 over Pirates (Wells)
Padres (Eaton) -130 over Diamondbacks (Daigle)
Rockies (Jennings) +110 over Astros (Duckworth)

Money to date: $469 (picking dog/favorite = +654/-175, 13-13, 11-8) - Lost $339 including $210 on Astros extra innings loss and for some reason I bet on the Yankees. Thank goodness for Ismael Valdez and the Pads.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


Ugly pitching from Moyer. Ugly defense from just about everyone. And on top of it all, I lose in a Texas Hold'em Tournament with Aces and sixes to Aces and kings pairing up on the river.

We're back to 4 games out, and while I understand players need their rest, between the bullpen use yesterday and Boone resting today, it feels like Melvin just gave these two games away. Not that Boone has been much help on offense or defense lately.

Oh well, bring on the Rangers.

Bullpen Blues 

The title of this post was gonna be "Thanks, Jeff," as we got tangible results of trading Mr. Furious to the Padres when Dave Hansen belted a three-run homer off of Tim Hudson to tie the game last night in the seventh.

Enter the ninth, and we mistakenly leave Mike Myers in to give up a walk and single while Shiggy opens the floodgates. David at USS Mariner does a nice job of breaking down the mistake Melvin made by not bringing in Eddie Guardado.

So what could have been an inspiring come-from-behind victory over the staff ace of our chief rival goes down as a disappointing loss.

Today's picks:
Padres (Valdez) +126 over Giants (Rueter)
Astros (Oswalt) -210 over Cardinals (Marquis)
Devil Rays (Moss) +150 over Orioles (Ainsworth)
Yankees (Mussina) -155 over White Sox (Schoenweiss)

Money to date: $818 (picking dog/favorite = +628/+190, 12-12, 11-6) - Seven straight correct picks including getting the D-Rays and the Tigers last night. I'm approaching Ibanez territory.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Raul Bangs Out Another Win 

For some reason, when Ibanez steps up to the plate, I hear the terrible William Hung version of "She Bangs" in my head. Yes, I know I should probably seek help, but Raul Ibanez, He Bangs!

Two big home runs to right in the 7th and 9th innings, and the M's beat the A's 2-1 for the second straight night! For those of you scoring at home, that's 4 straight wins in the Scott Spiezio Era, and we are now 6-8 and just two games out of first place. And that's three straight wins over the A's where we beat up their bullpen. We just have to keep it close against the A's and they'll falter.

That is the third straight game with a home run for Ibanez, who apparently needs his own section in the dictionary under "streaky." Remember how he ended Spring with hits in 11 consecutive at bats?

Raul Ibanez was one of three big bats added this offseason to spark the Mariners offense, and for the third straight game, his home run(s) gave the M's the lead in a tight, low-scoring game. And with the M's pitching coming around, and the other bats cool, this streak couldn't come at a better time.

Meanwhile, Ryan Franklin survived an uncharacteristic bout of wildness, to put up an outstanding 7 inning, one run performance that was just what the M's needed on a night when their bullpen was taxed and their offense was stymied by excellent pitching from Rich Harden.

2 walks and a single in the first inning. A solo shot from Damian Miller in the second inning. Three more walks in the third inning. A double in the fourth. And absolutely nothing in the fifth, sixth, and seventh. One run, three hits, five walks over seven innings. And kudos to Ron Villone who picks up the win with two nearly perfect innings

Of course, Rich Harden was even more masterful, completely dominating M's hitters most of the way, striking out nine in seven innings. Our only threat came in the third with runners on second and third and one out, but John Olerud popped out weakly to left and Boone struck out swinging. But then came Raul Ibanez, leading off the seventh and ripping the ball to right. All four of Ibanez' home runs have gone to right field, as you would expect in Safeco.

So don't let the other bloggers tell you that this is some sort of fluke. Raul Ibanez LIKES hitting in Safeco (1172 OPS at home so far), and will be successful hitting bombs to right field all year long.

He Bangs!

Today's picks:
Cardinals (Morris) -112 over Astros (Redding)
Devil Rays (Abbott) +135 over Orioles (Riley)
Tigers (Cornejo) +165 over Twins (Radke)

Money to date: $418 (picking dog/favorite = +328/+90, 10-12, 10-6) - 4 for 4 yesterday for a nice $485 boost as Willis, Sheets, Rogers and Suppan got the job done!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Caffeinated Confines, a new M's blog whose early entries I have really enjoyed. Today's entry, "Wins for the hometown faithful: Making strides towards 10 W’s, one game at a time and the return of a “fallen Angel”, a renewed smile", could have been written by me, well, if I actually knew how to write. They are off to a great start and I'm looking forward to reading more. Here's a sample...

A lot of what we’ve witnessed was basically a team slump. They would get a bit of a jump start and then kinda sputtered back into a hole. A bright spot was needed and that’s what they’ve gotten back into their line-up and it’s taken the form of Scott Spiezio. From the moment he walked onto the field for batting practice with his teammates on Saturday, he had this amazingly huge smile across his face that was simply contagious, of which I like to call his “100 watt smile”.

Speez has that sparkle in his eyes that lets you know he’s dedicated to what he does and it’s that gracious, electryifying energy that causes you to fall in love with him almost immediately. It’d be hard not to be able to see why he was so appreciated and embraced and still is to this day by his former team of four years, the Anaheim Angels. And after a slow start out of the gates, his excitement to finally get to play with his new team and contribute was just the kick in the butt we may have needed, the last piece of the puzzle was Scott and it fits perfectly.
Keep up the great work, Scott & Christina!

Give Your M's Some Love... 

Just cruising around the blogosphere and here are some highlights and my thoughts.

Matt at Grand Salami grants Bill Bavasi 12 hours of amnesty because Ibanez, McCracken, and Jarvis were key to the win.

Jeff at Fire Bavasi sounds nearly giddy for awhile, but then can't stop himself from ripping into the M's and a favorite blogtarget, Kevin Jarvis.

Last night, Kevin Jarvis pitched. He wasn't the last option, either, as Villone was certainly available. Ron threw an inning in the previous game, but given Guardado's usage we may be sure that Melvin doesn't have anything against using a reliever in back-to-back (-to-back-to...) games. Why does Jarvis keep getting thrust into games in which he has no right to participate? The world may never know.
Awww c'mon... you were on a roll of optimism. Give Jarvis some love. Other than his first game jitters, he's gotten the job done in every game he's been in, bringing his ERA down from 40.50 to 4.50. In those 4 games, he's given up one run in 7 1/3 innings and earned a win. Those are the kind of numbers you want to see from your long reliever, especially if you are trying to find him a better situation where he can be a starter.

The only real bad news that you can get from last night's game is that McCracken played a critical role in the victory, as he came around the bases to score after reaching on a single. However, for every successful McCracken at bat yesterday, there were six putrid Dan Wilson plate appearances, so maybe this team will realize the uselessness of certain players before too long.
And then a gratuitous assault on both Q and Dan the Man. That's uncalled for. Dan has been single-handedly carrying the offense for the team in Spiezio's absence! Notice how his 0-fer corresponds with the M's scoring 2 runs in 14 innings. No one would have thunk it, but give the guy some credit.

Meanwhile, on the good ship, David AND Derek almost fall over themselves with praise for the Mariners. Well, okay, that's a stretch, Derek only says "Nice to see the team take a couple of walks, too", but David makes some very positive points.

It isn't often that a team will score 2 runs in 14 innings, half of them via a gift balk, and actually impress with their offensive output. While everyone else is jumping on the optimsim train at the Freddy Garcia station, last night's game represents an improved offensive performance that should cause just as much reason for joy; the team drew eight base on balls and had eighteen baserunners. That only two of them scored doesn't show a lack of clutchness or any such character weakness, but rather that the A's pitchers are good, the M's hitters are average, and things like that will happen in 162 games. Getting a dozen and a half baserunners against Oakland's pitching, though, that's cause for celebration.
John at Sodo Oh No enjoyed the win but had two complaints that I have to agree with. Dan Wilson should not have been first pitch swinging with bases loaded, 2-out, bottom of the ninth when runners were on from a HBP and a walk. And Winn bunting in the 12th without giving Ichiro a chance to steal seems like a waste of an out.

Finally, not all bloggers were into optimism after last night's win. Jeff at San Shin used the 2-1 win as an opportunity to analyze M's weak April attendance, rip into Melvin's bullpen management, Ramon Santiago, and several local writers. At least one of the M's bloggers is keeping the faith ;-)

I'll take it! 

The M's did their best to shoot my entire work week last night but playing well past my bedtime, and every inning after the 7th was a nailbiter. Runners in scoring position every inning, and great pitching to escape it.

And then comes the bottom of the 14th when QUINTON MCCRACKEN sparks the M's with a one-out single, moves to third on a Boone single. Scott Spiezio up for what seems like the 3rd or 4th time with the winning run on 3rd. I'd been mentally preparing headlines for a game winning home run from Ibanez (erased by Dye's 9th inning blast), Spiezio, and Rich Aurilia (blooper almost fell in the 13th). So here I was trying to figure out how game 3 of the Scott Spiezio Era would be won by the man himself.

Justin Duchscherer is in the stretch, Q is dancing, and he tries one of those stupid fake to third throw to first moves. Its 2am my time, I'm sleepy, and my mind could not grasp what signal the ump was giving, but there was McCracken trotting home with the game winning run! Long live the Balk! After inning after inning of failures by both offenses (or great clutch pitching, you decide), it took a major brain cramp on the part of the pitcher to give the Mariners this hard fought win.

And getting the win was Kevin Jarvis, the Mariners sixth pitcher of the evening, who survived a 2-out walk and single to hold the A's in the top of the 14th. So Jarvis gets the win and Q scores the winning run.

7 great innings from Freddy, a perfect 8th from Mike Myers, but Eddie Guardado could not seal the win as Jermaine Dye's blast barely cleared Ichiro's glove and the wall to lead off the ninth.

A great win for the M's as we are 3-0 A.S.S. and just 3 games back of Oakland. We go again tonight in a battle of depleted bullpens with Ryan Franklin facing Rich Harden.

Today's picks:
Marlins (Willis) even over Phillies (Padilla) - riding Willis until he fails me.
Brewers (Sheets) -130 over Diamondbacks (Dessens)
Rangers (Rogers) +135 over Angels (Ortiz)
Cardinals(Suppan) +150 over Astros (Miller)

Money to date: -67 (picking dog/favorite = +43/-110, 8-12, 8-6) - Picking the Expos was foolish, but Jerome Williams and Barry Bonds got me off the hook.

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Scott Spiezio Era Has Begun 

The Mariners are now 2-0 in what will heretofore be known as the Scott Spiezio Era in Safeco. Two nice wins this weekend featuring great pitching from Moyer and good pitching from Piniero to limit the potent Rangers offense to three runs over two games. The power bats come to life a bit, as the M's launched 3 home runs yesterday, including a clutch 2-out dinger off a lefty from Raul Ibanez to take the lead. And how about Ron Villone's nifty three pitch strikeout of Hank Blalock, getting the job done yesterday. Sweet.

And Spiezio? A tidy .500 batting average after two games with a double and a home run.

Now, other bloggers are going to dismiss these wins as meaningless since they were against the Rangers, or say we shoulda swept them, or their pitching sucks or whatever. I say to them, phooey. We got off to a crappy start with bad pitching, bad hitting and bad defense. The pitching and defense are getting back to the form Mariner fans have come to expect. We're back, and we'll prove it in the series against the A's starting tonight.

As for the loss on Friday night - well, Chan Ho Park has always owned us (2.25 ERA against M's lifetime), and managed to scatter hits to only Dan Wilson and Bret Boone. How about Dan Wilson? After twelve games, Dan is hitting a solid .367 while Ben Davis has a walk to show for his 12 plate appearances. It looks like Dan will be the man fulltime for a while.

In case you missed it, the first male ballgirl made an appearance for the M's on Saturday night and made a nifty grab that had the crowd cheering. Thanks to SoB for a personal account from the man who made history, Christian Nossum.

And in the worst news of April, the Mariner Optimist somehow lost 4-2 to the Onesixteeners in the Divisional Playoffs of MBSBL. Meanwhile, the host team Sodo Oh No, moved on to the Finals by beating Mariner Musings 4-2. The fix is in.

Today's picks:
Expos (Ohka) +140 over Mets (Yates)
Giants (Williams) -120 over Padres (Wells)

Money to date: -67 (picking dog/favorite = +143/-210, 8-11, 7-6) - Mets bullpen gives up 7 in the 8th after Leiter 2-hitter and I'm in the red. Oswalt & Morris win me money, but the Tigers and Expos fail me.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Gambling Fool... 

Got to get my money back, so I'm betting $5 against the M's again tonight.

That's More Like It 

Okay, raise your hands if you thought the M's were doomed after Adam Kennedy hit a home run off the foul pole in the second inning...

I admit it, the thought crossed my mind.

But then a magical thing happened. Ryan Franklin settled down and this day when the M's found a way to scrap together 5 or 6 runs there was no withering from the starting pitching, defense, or bullpen.

That's more like it! The way I look at it, now. We are 4 games out with 153 to play. Piece of cake.

What went right
Ryan Franklin pitches 4-hitter over 8 innings. Boone steals second to setup run in 4th. Ibanez drives in 2-out run with double. Ichiro pulls Garrett Anderson shot back from going over the wall in 4th. Big 5-run inning putting together a series of singles around a couple of errors. Taking advantage of the other team's mistakes - long overdue. Oly stabs Vladdy smash to keep Angels from scoring in the 6th.

What went wrong
Franklin gave up a home run and a long double in the second. Only one strikeout and a few dangerous shots that the defense made plays on. That's about it.

Today's picks:
Cardinals (Morris) -240 over Rockies (Stark)
Astros (Oswalt) -260 over Brewers (Davis)
Mets (Glavine) - 132 over Pirates (Wells)
Expos (Hernandez) +150 over Phillies (Milton)
Tigers (Cornejo) +160 over Indians (Sabathia)

Money to date: +65 (picking dog/favorite = +343/-278, 8-9, 5-5) - Reds bullpen gave away game to the Phillies, Leiter was too good against the Braves, and the Rockies couldn't outscore the D'backs costing me $320. Thank goodness, Ben Sheets still owns the Astros and got me back $140 or I'd be in the red.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Mulholland For a Buck 

A: One dollar.
Q: What is the price for a 41-year-old pitcher with a minor league contract?

I was wondering what on Earth "cash considerations" meant, and how much we could get for a guy we essentially told we would let find a job elsewhere. Now I know. Good luck with the Twins, Terry!

Painful Loss 

So Jeff DaVanon can accomplish what John Olerud and Edgar Martinez can not. Hit a simple fly ball with a runner on third and less than two runs. And then we were 1-7. 2nd and 3rd no outs in the ninth and we can's score a run with Oly-Edgar-Boone?!! What have we done to offend the Baseball Gods?

Having a speed guy on the bench is a very nice weapon. Chone (pronounced Shawn) Figgins won the game by stealing 2nd and 3rd off of two different pitchers, and Wilson never had a chance at him either time. Reason number #27 that it would have been nice to invest in Pudge this offseason.

After watching the game through the Angels feed, I've decided that the Angels have passed the A's as my number one rival this year. Between Rex Hudler and Rally Monkey songs, losing to the Angels makes me want to puke. They are calling Vlad Guerrero, Garrett Anderson, Jose Guillen the "G Force" trip through the rotation. The Angels fan base is loving life right now, with fans lining up to get their heads painted Angel red.

I'm laying $5 on the Angels to beat the M's and Ryan Franklin tonight. Whatever it takes.

What went wrong
The two runs the Angels got in the second inning made me miss Mike Cameron, as I felt he might have gotten to the second run-scoring double, and Randy Winn *might* have gotten to the first. Raul Ibanez got caught stealing on a pitchout - Scioscia outthinks Melvin on that one (the Angels announcers praise Scioscia for being an ex-catcher and then remember that Melvin was an ex-catcher too. Hudler says, "But Scioscia won two World Series with the Dodgers, while Melvin was more of a journeyman." Ouch. Take that Melvin, Hud says you sucked as a player and that you now suck as a manager, too. Boone botched what should have been an inning-ending double play in the fifth (much as he did in the first series with Angels), and the next hitter drove in run #5. Leadoff walk in the ninth? C'mon Shiggy, you're better than that!

What went right
Boone's 2-run blast in the second inning was good to see. Olerud hits another run-scoring double. Winn hit well from the 7 spot. Hansen hit a RBI single with 2 outs, and his single started the ninth inning rally. Shiggy got out of a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the 7th without allowing a run. The key play was Ibanez throwing out Vlad at the plate. Bloomquist stole second to set up the tying run in the ninth, and Wilson drove him in after fighting through a 10-pitch at bat. Mike Myers struck out Garrett Anderson in the ninth fulfilling his LOOGY role perfectly.

Babe Ruth Revisited
Has anyone seen the stats from Marlins sophomore sensation Dontrelle Willis after two starts?!? 2-0, 0.00 ERA with 11Ks in 11+ innings. But that's not the impressive part. He is now 6 for 6 from the plate with a homer and 3 RBIs!!!

Seahawks Schedule
The Seahawks schedule is out and the one game I would get to see regardless (against Dallas) is the ONLY nationally televised game. Great.

Today's picks:
Reds (Acevedo) +155 over Phillies (Padilla)
Brewers (Sheets) +140 over Astros (Redding)
Braves (Ramirez) +110 over Mets (Leiter)
Rockies (Elarton) -120 over Diamondbacks (Daigle)

Money to date: +245 (picking dog/favorite = +403/-158, 7-7, 5-4) - Tigers hold on to beat the Blue Jays and Ryan Vogelsong and the Pirates get pummelled costing me $235. Just a bad day, yesterday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Putz Up 

J.J. Putz gets called up and Rafael Soriano is sent to A Inland Empire to work on finding his velocity and command again in games that won't hurt the Mariners. I really like this move for the M's. Putz may be headed right back down in 10 days, but watch closely, he may pitch well enough to stay, and force the M's hand with Kevin Jarvis.

If the M's can get cash considerations (that's very considerate of you, Minnesota) from the Twins for Terry Mulholland, then surely we can get something in return for Jarvis, right?

It would not shock me to see Kevin Jarvis get a showcase start sometime soon, though it would certainly happen on the road.

In other good news for the Mariners, the lineup tonight features John Olerud 2nd and Edgar Martinez third, moving our top OBP guys to the top of the lineup where they belong. I would prefer to see Edgar batting 2nd to split up the lefties (and to get Edgar the extra at bat if it comes to it), but hey that's just me. Randy Winn drops down to 7th where we may be able to better use his speed when he gets on base.

For now, I am going to hope that removing my bets on the M's helps get them turned around. But if that fails, I'll start a betting AGAINST the M's tally. I'm here to help.

Finally, I played in a No Limit Texas Hold'em Tournament tonight. Pain is going all in with Ace-deuce of diamonds against a Nine-five of hearts and having your opponent pair up fives on the final card. And as a result, I finished in fifth, one slot out of the money. A whole lotta luck in this game called poker, and for me, all of its bad.

My apologies 

For jinxing the M's as Dave pointed out. As punishment, I am hereby removing the "Betting the M's" log from all posts, previous and future, to prevent me from jinxing the M's again. I apologize to all Mariner fans, and their loved ones. I should know better than to try to bet on teams I actually like. Heck, if I'd bet a nickel against my teams in every game I've cared about, I'd be a millionaire. (Which is different from the great pickup line, "If I had a nickel for every woman as beautiful as you, I'd have five cents."

Carry on. Go Freddy. Go M's.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Scattered Thoughts Before Bed 

Busy night of baseball watching followed by a busy day at work tomorrow, so I thought I better get some stuff out of my head before I went to sleep.

First of all, with two outs, I will ALWAYS take Winn up with runners on first and third over Ichiro up with a runner on second. Especially when the guy on first is Ichiro, and will distract the baserunners. Those of you watching the M's feed (and not the ESPN feed) know how vociferously Fairly denounced the strategy. Someone without a full-time job and three kids should do the math for me.

Rice fell to Texas, AGAIN. The Texas pitching is just too damn good. 2.25 ERA against aluminum bats?!? Unreal. This game was a strange one. Scoreless duel until the bottom of the sixth when the first hitter fouls a shot off the umpire's throat. He is taken to the hospital (don't know his condition but hope he is alright). After an 18 MINUTE delay, our pitcher, Josh Baker, RESUMES pitching and gives up two runs including a bases loaded walk, with both runs scoring with two outs. I love Coach Graham, but I have problems with his in-game management, especially his overuse of the bunt, and (ab)use of his pitching staff. No pitcher should have to sit around for 18 minutes.

The Owls managed to tie it at 2 in the top of the eighth against all-world closer Huston Street on one of the worst balk calls I've seen. UT Coach Augie Garrido came out firing expletives and yells full blast into the face of the new umpire, who sticks his chest out, BUMPS AUGIE and then immediately ejects him. The ump instigates the contact! But that's not all. Two batters later, the ump steps out of the batters box, looks at the RICE bench and then stands with chest bared and palms open by his side (doing everything except curling his fingers) as is to say "C'mon out, I dare ya!" Our pitching coach yells, "that's bullspit" and runs right out there and is immediately tossed. I have NO idea what that was all about, but again, it is the umpire being confrontational.

More weird management from Coach Graham follows. Bottom of the eighth inning and again Baker is in trouble. With a runner on second, he throws a wild pitch while trying to intentionally walk a batter, resulting in runners on first and third. Into this pressure-filled situation in front of a hostile crowd, Graham pulls out Josh Baker, and brings in freshman Adam Hale, who has pitched all of seven innings this year. And the move works! Hale strikes out the next batter to get out of the inning, and is mobbed by his teammates entering the dugout!

But in the bottom of the ninth, Graham leaves Hale out there to face the heart of the Texas batting order, and the first batter rips a double. Immediately, Coach Graham signals to the bullpen for staff ace Philip Humber. Where was he a batter ago!?! Humber is a starter, not used to starting an inning in the stretch! And the first thing Humber gets to do? You guessed it - an intentional walk! Sure enough, two batters later, a game-winning single to right, and the Owls are 0-4 against the Texas puking Longhorns in 2004. Oh well, we'll see them again in Omaha for the third straight year.

Back to the M's game. I just realized that the Angels have a Kevin Jarvis too, but his name is Aaron Sele.

4 years, $48 million seems like a lot to pay for Garrett Anderson, but congratulations to him. The Angels are gonna keep spending big, and eventually they are gonna spend unwisely. Then Moreno will learn that Angel fans are not like Yankee fans and won't earn him money even during the lean years.

Is anybody else as pumped up as I am for Kill Bill Volume 2? I went out and bought Volume 1 today, and hope to find time to watch it a few times before Friday.

Roger Clemens looks like a man on a mission this year, and the Marlins don't seem to realize that last year was a fluke. Miguel Cabrera can freakin' mash! I don't see how the Braves are going to keep their streak alive - but somehow I still think they will.

Finally, while writing this post I managed to finish off the last of the Easter candy, a half bag of Dove chocolate Easter Eggs. And this officially concludes Chocolate Season for another year until next Halloween. If Hershey and company ever figure out how to get chocolate into Memorial Day, Labor Day, or the 4th of July, I will never have a chance to lose the ten pounds of chocolate I wear proudly around my middle or clear up my complexion. And my dentist will make a fortune because I don't know what's worse - going to sleep right after eating a gob of chocolate or having to brush your teeth immediately after eating gobs of chocolate. I'm voting for sleeping with the wonderful taste of chocolate over spitting brown toothpaste into the sink. Good night all, and lets hope the M's keep this one in the win column.

Edited to add that losing to the Angels 4 times in 4 tries and Rice losing to UT 4 times in 4 tries just plain SUCKS

Today's picks:
Reds (Acevedo) +155 over Phillies (Padilla)
Pirates (Vogelsong) +170 over Cubs (Clement)
Blue Jays (Lilly) -135 over Tigers (Robertson)

Money to date: +480 (picking dog/favorite = +503/-23, 7-6, 5-3) - Adam Eaton and the Padres kick but, the Blue Jays hold on to beat the falling-back-to-Earth Tigers, but the Brewers fall to the Giants. Still, another tidy $100 in profit as my two favorites hold on.

On Aardsma and Bubba... 

A couple of Owl alumni had great first weeks in the Majors.

Bubba Crosby(1998) escaped from the Dodgers farm system to find himself on the New York friggin Yankees this season, and after just a few games, is already a fan favorite. Heck, he was heavily featured as #6 on the All-Time Bubba RBI List on the Sunday Night ESPN Sportscenter, and is on the front page of the ESPN website.

He's got two homers and five RBIs in only five at-bats this season. In his first start for the Yankees on Sunday, he hit a three-run homer in a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox and crashed into the fence to make a terrific catch.

The scrappy center fielder earned several standing ovations from Yankees fans who couldn't help but fall in love with his all-out play.

By the end of the day, they were chanting his name -- on a team loaded with stars such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi.

"It's just been a dream come true," Crosby said.

"It seemed like every other inning I was tipping my cap. That felt great."
Crosby was part of the package sent to the Yankees last year for Robin Ventura. I can't say I like the Yankees, but here's hoping Bubba continues his hot start. Congratulations, Bubba!

Meanwhile, 2003 NCAA Champion closer David Aardsma is getting a lot of press, primarily for replacing Hank Aaron (or Don Aase in the pitchers section) as the alphabetically first player in baseball encyclopedias. But more importantly, he picked up his first win in relief for the San Francisco Giants in a 7-5 win over the Astros in fron of his hometown fans. Baseball America provides a nice article on Aardsma and includes a look at some of the trials and tribulations of a major league rookie.

In the last 12 months, David Aardsma has:

• ditched his slider for a spike curveball, which helped pull him out of a junior year slump at Rice;
• helped lead the Owls to a College World Series championship;
• signed for a $1.425 million bonus as the Giants' first-round pick;
• earned a spot on San Francisco's Opening Day roster, and . . .
• bummed a quarter off Willie Mays.

It's been an eventful 12 months. Aardsma admits it's hard to say which was the most unforgettable moment. But the rookie hazing on the flight to Houston for his first big league series with the Giants provided the latest highlight, one he's still trying to grasp.

"I had to collect quarters from everyone," he said, still laughing despite being unsure of the purpose of his quest. "Writers, other players, family, everyone. I got a quarter from Willie Mays. I just had to go up to him and say, 'Mr. Mays, I need a quarter. Give it up!' "

Aardsma has other rookie duties to attend to, including keeping the bullpen snack bag filled up and ready to go. Naturally, the bag, full of goodies from candy and gum to sunflower seeds, is adorned with characters from the 1980s girls' cartoon "My Little Pony."
Perhaps the biggest compliment given Aardsma is that he went for $5 in my fantasy baseball auction this weekend, when I thought I could sneak him off for $1.

Great Day for Baseball 

Owls play #1 Texas today at 6pm and send up ace Jeff Niemann. This is a critical game for the #3 ranked Owls (27-6) who need a win to help ensure that they get to host one of the eight super regionals. Rice is currently #7 in estimated RPI rankings that have corrolated well to Super Regional sites in the past (NCAA has not released the formula to this secret sauce). The Owls have won 11 straight against WAC foes, and face their last big test today. They are 0-3 versus Texas (33-4) so far this year including a painful come-from-behind 8-7 loss last month here in Austin. Go Owls!

And in Anaheim, the Mariners send Joel Pineiro back to the hill against Kelvim Escobar to face the Angels. The M's really need a win here to get the Angels Rally Monkey off their backs. Since leaving Seattle, the Angels have slipped going 1-3 against the Rangers, so they are ripe for the picking. Go M's!

I've seen all sorts of analysis on the M's chances starting 0-5. Don't worry about it. We started like crap. A month from now when we are 20-15, the start will be forgotten. This team has played poorly, but could easily be 3-3 right now against the top opponents in the American League.

Looper Returns
In a nice break for the Mariners, the Dodgers sent us back Aaron Looper for lesser prospect LHP Glenn Bott. The Dodgers did not have room for Looper on their 40-man roster. To make room on our 40-man, the Mariners will waive former #1 pick Ryan Christiansen. Looper could see some time with the big club this year, while Bott was a fringe prospect at best. This effectively makes the deal Cabrera for Ketchner and Bott, which is, to me, a good use of minor league resources.

Today's picks:
Brewers (Capuano) +145 over Giants (Hermanson)
Padres (Eaton) -139 over Dodgers (Weaver)
Blue Jays (Hentgen) -120 over Tigers (Bonderman)

Money to date: +380 (picking dog/favorite = +603/-223, 7-5, 3-3) - A nice day - two picks and both the Giants and Rangers come through for me. I've almost made up my losses on the M's.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Off Day 

M's do a nice job pulling out a late inning comeback against the A's. Thank goodness. 1-5 looks SOOO much better than 0-6.

I'll have more tomorrow, its just been a crazy weekend.

Today's picks:
Giants (Williams) -170 over Brewers (Kinney)
Rangers (Lewis) +123 over Angels (Washburn)

Money to date: +157 (picking dog/favorite = +480/-323, 6-5, 2-3) - Orioles(Ponson) and Rockies(Elarton) let me down, but White Sox beating the Yanks, Blue Jays over Sox and Astros win make me a nice $212 profit on Friday.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Bring on the A's 

Forget about the opening weekend. Lets look at it as a nice change of pace from the past two years. This is the year we start slow and finish strong! It starts today as Ryan Franklin goes out to prove the naysayers wrong and beat the freakin A's.

I have my big-money roto draft tomorrow (NL-Only, 13 teams, 4X4), so not much time for blogging today. I've got my paying hobby to take care of...

Today's picks:
Rockies (Elarton) +135 over Dodgers (Ishii)
Orioles (Ponson) -123 over Devil Rays (Hendrickson)
White Sox (Garland) +200 over Yankees (Contreras)
Blue Jays (Lilly) +135 over Red Sox (Arroyo)
Astros (Miller) -170 over Brewers (Obermueller)

Money to date: -55 (picking dog/favorite = +245/-300, 4-4, 1-2) - Braves & Thomson won me $100, but Dontrelle Willis spoiled my upset pick by shutting out the Expos 3-0. Unfortunately, I was too late blogging to cash in on the Tigers and Brewers again.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Game Three - Running Commentary 

Interesting game, to say the least. Here's my running commentary on the game.

Angels TV over MLB.tv which means I have to listen to Rex "Wonder Dog" Hudler. Yuck - pure homerism and stories from his playing days. Considered hearing M's radio feed but the 2-second time differential bothers me. Hudler was suspended midseason last year after getting arrested for marijuana possession, which surprised me as he always seemed like more of a coke-head to me.

Ben Davis gets the start, continuing the latest tradition of keeping Wilson away from Garcia.

Bottom of 1st- M's hit 2 doubles around a single and score zero runs. Winn is thrown out at home on Boone's single by an absolute bullet from Jose Guillen. Ibanez next shot would have easily scored Boone, except it was a ground rule double. Why wasn't Boonie at second on the play to the plate? Maybe throw was too strong. Another blown opportunity for the M's.

Top of 2nd - 2nd and 3rd no outs, and Freddy bears down. Strikeout (Guillen). Popout (Salmon). Intentional Walk. Strikeout (Paul). Very sweet. Wind blowing in pretty well gives Freddy the freedom to challenge hitters as its unlikely any drives are heading out.

Top of 4th- Flyouts and K's that's all Freddy's giving up the last two innings. This is the Freddy we want to see all year. And the quality of Seattle pitching we want to see for that matter.

Bottom of 4th - bases loaded, 1 out, Aurilia hits shot up the middle off Escobar's arm (maybe glove?) Probably would have been a single, but instead is an RBI groundout. Davis follows with his second strikeout, and won't be getting too many starts if he keeps this up.

Top of 5th- Freddy's cruise control ends with leadoff walk to Tim Salmon. Hud Dog reminisces about time he made a fantastic catch and said to Salmon, "Bitch, did you see me?" I'd love to hear Dave Henderson tell a story where he calls Jay Buhner, "Bitch." A 2-out single is no problem for Garcia.
Bottom of 5th- Ichiro with an ugly check swing strikeout. Suzuki off to a slow start this year.

Bottom of 6th- Freddy looks awesome! Now lets build him a cushion! Leadoff single from Boone is a nice start. Ack! First and second, one out, and Olerud grounds into a 4-6-3 DP. Sigh. Big news for today - Detroit is 4-0! With this start and if Davis continues to struggle look for second-guessing of the Pudge no-signing, and more calls for getting Kendall.

Top of 7th- 87 pitches so far, and a quick inning probably gets Freddy to the 8th, especially with Guardado out. Guillen gets on from a Texas Leaguer that bounces 40 feet in the air. Myers warming up in the pen. Grounder to Willie 5-4-ouch - Boone's throw pulls Oly off the bag. Boone got a low throw from Willie, and the infield continues to be less-than-crisp. Freddy doesn't let it faze him and 2 more flyouts to Winn get Freddy to the 8th at 96 pitches. I'm assuming the 8th is still Freddy's as he looks smooth.

Bottom of 7th- Scot Shields in for the Angels. Aurilia, Davis, Bloomquist for the M's. I sure would feel better with another run on the board. Davis 2-for-35 in Spring and 2 K's in 2 ABs today. Everyone is pitching him away, and then at 2-2, Shields comes inside and Ben could only look at strike 3. Look for Davis to see more time on the pine. It doesn't look like Ben will start the season as Gil and Ryan's personal catcher as he was last year. By the way, the Angels ads are VERY bad, but at least they don't try to introduce a tagline for their team. Okay maybe they do - "You should really follow the Angels" - yuck.

Top of 8th- Freddy sits down after giving up 4 hits, 2 walks and 7 Ks in 7 innings. Julio Mateo gets the call with Myers available and Shiggy waiting for the ninth (and studying the Angels scouting report as I write this). Eckstein sees 0-2 and flies out. Nice aggressive start for Mateo that goes 1-2-3!

Top of 9th-M's can't muster any offense unless they are down by 8, so we head into the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Mike Myers comes out to face Garrett Anderson to open the ninth. A decision Melvin promptly regrets as Anderson lines a pitch up in the zone to left field. Melvin should get slapped around for not just opening with Hasegawa, but Shiggy is coming in now. Personally, I would rather have seen Mateo return to open the ninth than Myers. I don't like seeing how many cold pitchers you can throw into a close game, but that's just me. Troy freakin Glaus coming to the plate. First pitch rips a single to left and we have two on and nobody out. Well, the M's are turning this into a Guardado-style save situation... Guillen up with Salmon on deck, and on second pitch he sneaks a single through the hole on right side of infield. Bases loaded, nobody out, this sucks. Come on Shiggy!

First pitch - swinging foul. Infield at double play depth. 2-1 that Davis scoops out of the dirt nicely. 3-1! Oh c'mon already! Outside corner, strike two as Salmon tried to walk up the line. Phew! He struck him out! Swinging! And Hasegawa pumps both arms in the air with a big out.

Adam Kennedy to the plate and a double play will end it. First pitch foul. Base hit inches over outstretched Boone to right and the G-D Angels are up 2-1. Freddy gets nothing for a great outing, and the M's are on the verge of being swept. We gotta contain the damage... And Shiggy tries an awkward fake to 3rd throw to first pickoff AND GETS CALLED FOR A BALK! Oh, I'm dying here, 3-1 Angels. Instant replay confirms it was definitely a balk. U-G-L-Y. Percival warming up in the pen. Shiggy is falling apart out there now and walks the next batter as Melvin comes out to the mound. First and second, one out.

This game is becoming reminiscent of the 2002 season (which coincidentally is the last time the Angels swept the M's). Great start and a pathetic fade in the end. Ron Villone is now warming up in the bullpen. Grounder to short from Eckstein too slow to do anything but get him at first. Hopefully Bob Melvin has now learned lesson about using Mike Myers to open the ninth, and maybe the door has cracked open a little bit for Rafael Soriano. Two singles that are inches from Bret Boone... sigh. A hit here will break the M's spirit, but maybe if Shiggy can sneak out of it we can get something going off... nevermind - Erstad sneaks a shot down the third base line for a double (off what would have been ball four) and the Angels are up 5-1.

And with that, I'm outta here and heading home. Hopefully the M's will pull off a miracle while I'm driving home. I'm quite disgusted with this loss.

Freddy deserved better. No clutch hits and a bullpen blowup, and the M's are three games out of first after three games.

Coors Lite? 

Two games in and the Mariners have scored 12 runs, and not even been close to winning a ballgame. Small sample size, yes, but keep in mind that Safeco played as a hitter's park in the second half of 2003, and may continue to do so. For a team that had three pitchers give up 30+ home runs last year, this may be very bad news.

The good news from yesterday's game was Kevin Jarvis, Mike Myers, and Shiggy all pitched well. Boonie homered. Winn, Edgar, and Aurilia each had two hits, and Dan Wilson somehow went 3-for-4. Note that's too straight games for Wilson, which is not good news for Ben Davis fans.

The bad news was that Joel Pineiro got pummelled. Rafael Soriano had a shaky inning, but would have gotten out of it unscathed if not for...

The ugly - that botched 8th inning rundown where Rafael Soriano dropped the ball at home plate, allowing the lead to grow to three runs, and sucking the life out of the crowd and the M's.

Is it too early to say the M's are playing a must-win game tonight. We really need Freddy to shut down the Angels bats for the night.

Today's picks:
Expos (Ohka) +145 over Marlins (Willis)
Braves (Thomson) -160 over Mets (Erickson)

Money to date: -55 (picking dog/favorite = +345/-400, 4-3, 0-2) - Underdog Mets & Giants get pummelled and Paul Wilson shuts down Maddux (-200) and the Cubs. Thank goodness I could count on Detroit (+160)!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Boo Birds Go Home 

Rich Aurilia gets off to a terrible start, botching a possible double play in the first inning for an error. No harm done, though, as Jamie Moyer gets out of the situation. When Aurilia comes up to bat, I hear boos raining out of the Safeco stands? Way to make a new player feel welcome.

I have never understood the desire to boo ones own players, unless that player:
(a) has dissed the fans in some way (saying he wants off the team for some reason)
(b) does not appear to be putting in effort (Randy Johnson's final season)
(c) has sucked for a long, long time (Bobby Ayala)
(d) done something off the field (Carlos Guillen DUI)

And even in case (c), I don't really understand it. When Ayala took the mound, I usually cringed. I mean, its not his fault he sucked. I wanted him to do well, I really did. How on earth could booing him help?

I've heard people say that they boo to show their displeasure for the GM, or for a managerial move. If you want to do these things, make a sign, boo the announcement of the manager's name, create a big sign, or better yet, start a blog. Don't take out your anger on the players, it certainly won't help them to help the team, and will likely hurt their performance and thus, the teams. And, if it doesn't hurt their performance, the boos will make it likely that they will leave at the first opportunity and take their productivity with them.

Why would you want to make Safeco a place that free agents DON'T want to go to because the fans act like they are from Philadelphia? Two favorite targets of the boo-birds last year were Jeff Cirillo and Freddy Garcia. Booing obviously never helped either one of them, and the one who turned things around will be a free agent after this year. Do you think Freddy will remember the boos when deciding where he wants to sign after a Cy Young year? Of course he will.

Having the support of your home fans should be a given, especially for new players who are not used to the sights and sounds of the stadium. To have your first impression of Safeco fans be boos just really really sucks.

Here's hoping that the fans at the game can find a way to save their boos for the team that deserves them. The Mariners opponent.

The game
Well, its over at least. Sloppy play in the field, missed opportunities on offense, and subpar pitching performances by Moyer and Jarvis (though some will argue that Jarvis was par for the course) lead to an ugly 10-5 loss to the Angels. Our 2-5 hitters went a combined 1 for 16. Both Ibanez and Aurilia made ugly plays in the field. It pretty much was the Mariner Optimist's worst nightmare, providing a weeks worth of fodder for the naysayers in a single game. So, I'm just gonna erase it from the memory, and look forward to Joel Pineiro's start tonight.

In the beginning they gave us the Angels feed. I could not get the sound to work at all (and wouldn't want to hear Angels announcers anyway). So I popped up MLB Radio in another window to get the M's radio feed. Surprisingly, the radio feed was BEHIND the tv feed. I would have thought the opposite would have happened. It was like seeing them recreate the game in Bull Durham. I'd see the basehit right as Niehaus would say, "and here's the pitch." Luckily after about an inning and a half, MLB.tv switched to the M's feed, and it had sound. I highly recommend the $30 investment for those of you with high-speed Internet connections who can't see the games on TV. And if you are a poor starving college student, its well worth selling a pint of plasma for.

Today's picks:
Mets (Trachsel) +145 over Braves (Hampton)
Giants (Williams) +175 over Astros (Clemens)
Tigers (Bonderman) +160 over Blue Jays (Hentgen)
Cubs (Maddux) -200 over Reds (Wilson)

Money to date: +185 (picking dog/favorite = +385/-200, 3-1, 1-0) - Glavine,Estes,DDavis get upset wins while Pettitte and the Indians bullpen let me down.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Opening Day! 

I heard some noise about baseball starting last week, and even yesterday. But I checked, and sure enough, Opening Day is today! Moyer vs. Colon is just a few hours away. A new season ready to roll, and despite our assorted tweaks, nicks, and pulls, I remain excited about this season. Spiezio will get better, and Will-bert will fill in fine until then. Guardado will be back soon, and until then Shiggy will hold down the fort. Ibanez will rock in the cleanup spot.

Or they won't, and we'll fix it. I just wanna watch some baseball today, and not think about it too much. Enjoy!!!

Today's picks:
I'm gonna play some hunches on pitchers that look like they may get off to hot/cold starts before returning to regular season form...
Mets (Glavine) +145 over Braves (Ortiz)
Rockies (Estes) +180 over Diamondbacks (Johnson)
Indians (Davis) +165 over Twins (Santana)
Brewers (Davis) +160 over Cardinals (Marquis)
Astros (Pettitte) -200 over Giants(Tomko)

2004... Revealed 

UConn defeats Georgia Tech in an ugly blowout, and with that, the Mariner Optimist finishes a successful round of picking the NCAA Tournament, coming in second place in the Sports & Bremertonians challenge (correctly picking UConn), and winning it all in the MLB Top Forum Bracket Pool (although, ironically, there I chose Kentucky over UConn).

For the NCAA tourney, I waffled between UConn and Kentucky. There is no waffling over the 2004 baseball season.

2004 Prediction: Mariners win the World Series

Lets see how they'll get there.

AL West (why on earth does everyone put the AL East first!!!)
Seattle Mariners (96-66). Strong pitching is the foundation of this team as Jamie, Freddy and Joel become the trio of pitchers that the sports magazines are raving about by August. Raul Ibanez and Rich Aurilia have big seasons with the stick, and a trade deadline acquisition helps prevent the second half fade (TM). Bret Boone and Ichiro once again battle for MVP honors, but this time it is The Boone adding the extra hardware to the trophy collection. And Edgar keeps humming along, SCORING the winning run in Game Four.
Oakland A's (94-68). The A's falter down the stretch as their bullpen blows five saves in the month of September.
Anaheim Angels (86-76). Bartolo Colon eats Kelvim Escobar, negating both offseason pitching acquisitions.
Texas Rangers (68-94). Chan Ho Park pitches better, but loss of Palmeiro allows M's to win 16 out of 18 off the Rangers.

AL Central
Chicago White Sox (80-82). The Mariners ALDS opponent is first playoff team with sub-.500 record.
Minnesota Twins (79-83). Johan Santana doesn't dominate, and the rest of the pitching staff sucks.
Cleveland Indians (78-84). C.C. Sabathia doesn't eat anyone, and losing Bradley improves clubhouse mood.
Kansas City Royals (77-85). Decision to trade Carlos Beltran at trade deadline costs them a playoff spot.
Detroit Tigers (63-99). Pudge leads the team to a 20 game improvement over 2003.

AL Least
New York Yankees (95-67). Steinbrenner buys the Expos just to add Jose Vidro at 2B in time to win the East.
Boston Red Sox (93-69). Even Schilling can't overcome the Red Sox bad luck, as injuries and bad hair bring them down.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (83-79). Lou Pinella wins Manager of the Year, as the Devil Rays show up out of nowhere.
Toronto Blue Jays (80-82). Lack of pitching dooms team early on, and Carlos Delgado is not re-signed.
Baltimore Orioles (74-88). Miguel Tejada not thrilled with his choice after year one.

NL West
San Diego Padres (88-74). Brian Giles leads the team in offense and good young pitching wins them the West.
San Francisco Giants (87-75). Barry Bonds gets intentionally walked for month of September, stopping the Giants cold.
Arizona Diamondbacks (81-81). Difference between M's and D'backs - their old guys suck. Big Unit's day as stud are over.
Los Angeles Dodgers (77-85). Loss of Cabrera shakes team to foundation, questioning their place in universe.
Colorado Rockies (61-101). Shawn Estes is their Opening Day starter.

NL Central
Houston Astros (93-69). All the talk is of Clemens and Pettitte, but its Berkman and Ensberg that lead this team.
Chicago Cubs (92-70). Miss playoffs after Steve Bartman hits Kerry Wood with car.
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72). Pujols can't overcome the lack of a pitching staff.
Cincinatti Reds (81-81). Kevin Jarvis anchors the rotation by year's end.
Milwaukee Brewers (73-89). Second half surge sparked by arrival of Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Prince Fielder.
Pittsburgh Pirates (69-93). Acquire Eric Owens just so they can keep Craig Wilson on the bench.

NL Least
Atlanta Braves (93-69). Purely on muscle memory.
Philadelphia Phillies (93-69). Lose to Braves in one-game playoff, but get the Wild Card.
Florida Marlins (82-80). Back to reality for the fish.
Montreal Expos (78-84). Become Yankees AAAA team as part of trade deadline deal for Jose Vidro.
New York Mets (68-94). Tom Glavine appreciates the improved defense, but team can't score runs.

Division Series
Mariners beat White Sox 3-1 (and loss sends several M's bloggers into "I told you the M's suck" mode :-)
Yankees defeat A's 3-2 with A's blowing a 2-0 series lead and a 7 run lead in game 5.
Padres take out Braves 3-2 as Braves muscle memory kicks in once again.
Phillies sweep Astros 3-0. Astros can't win a freakin' playoff game.
Championship Series
ALCS: M's eliminate Yankees 4-2 winning game 6 at home with a perfect game from Freddy Garcia.
NLCS: Padres beat Phillies in 7

World Series
M's sweep the Padres and Edgar scores the game-winning run in Game 4.

Enjoy the Ride!

Edited to add - yes, I'm hedging... one of the Red Sox/Yankees will be home in October. Corrected playoffs to reflect my current pick of Yankees winning East. (2 days ago, when I started post, I thought it would be Red Sox).

Saturday, April 03, 2004

M's Trade for... Jolbert Cabrera? 

In a move that will surely have many scratching their heads, and others fuming, the M's today traded Aaron Looper and Ryan Ketchner to the Dodgers for utilityman Jolbert (HOLE-Bert, and I'm guessing other bloggers will have fun with that name) Cabrera. Cabrera hit .307/.336/.489 against lefties last year and played every position except catcher.

Cabrera would have to be considered an offensive improvement over Ramon Santiago, and over Willie Bloomquist as well. I'm guessing this means that either Spiezio is going to the DL and Santiago is going to AAA. However, this PI article hints that it may very well mean Bloomquist is headed to the minors.

All in all, it looks like we just got a minor upgrade on Willie Bloomquist at the cost of a middle relief prospect in Looper, and a young unheralded pitcher in Ketchner. Not the trade we bloggers were looking for, but one that should help the M's a little in 2004.

Here's the ESPN profile on Jolbert...

2003 Season
After totaling just 12 at-bats for the Dodgers in 2002, little was expected of Jolbert Cabrera at the beginning of last season. He started the year as half of a second-base platoon, but he kept hitting and Jim Tracy kept finding a spot for him. In the last two months of the season, Cabrera hit .312.

Hitting, Baserunning & Defense
Cabrera takes a big cut and has enough power to reach either gap or yank a pitch over the left-field wall. Righthanders can beat him with breaking stuff off the plate, but he handles just about everything that lefties have to offer. The 31-year-old has above-average speed and can swipe the occasional bag. Cabrera played every position but pitcher and catcher last year and held his own wherever he went.

2004 Outlook
While many utility players tend to get over-exposed with more playing time, Cabrera actually hit better as the season moved along. At times last year, he was the best righthanded hitter on the club, and now looks to have at least a part-time job locked up for this coming campaign.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Milton Bradley and More 

No news on Milton Bradley in the Seattle press, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer lists the M's and Dodgers as two of the eight teams that have expressed interest in the slugger. Indians GM Mark Shapiro says "We're having open trade conversations with seven or eight teams right now, four or five of which are somewhat legitimate and serious." Shapiro indicates that while the conditions are not ideal for extracting value for Bradley, they will not be lowballed.

"It's a disadvantage anytime teams know you want to make a trade," said Shapiro. "But anytime you have multiple teams with interest in the same player, it has a tendency to overcome that disadvantage. . . We may not be able to fully maximize Milton's value, but there is value there."

Shapiro said he would not be surprised if Bradley is still with the Indians when the season opens. "I'm going to make the right trade," he said. "We're not under a timetable."
The Mets are in the mix with a package of second-tier prospects like Aaron Heilmann, but studs Scott Kazmir and David Wright are not being considered. The Rangers are too, but since Bradley is not a pitcher, I don't think they'll go as hard as the Mariners should.

And while Bradley is not mentioned in the Seattle press, a Cleveland Plain Dealer writer argues for keeping Bradley by saying "Bradley acted rashly. But two rash acts don't make a right."

I'll stick to my original idea of Clint Nageotte & Quinton McCracken for Bradley. The Indians want Nageotte, and he had been off-limits, so we should be able to get the Indians to take some salary back in the form of McCracken, who would no longer be needed with Bradley's acquisition. If we can get Bradley with lesser prospects or even dump more salary while moving him, we should explore it, but we should also be willing to include Nageotte if that's what it takes.

Kevin Jarvis Watch
Kevin Jarvis has pitched well during his last four outings, and according to the Arizona Republic, teams are taking notice.

While most visiting scouts left the Valley, representatives from at least eight teams stuck around Wednesday just to watch Seattle's Kevin Jarvis pitch at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The Mariners are leaning toward carrying 12 pitchers on the roster. That should assure Jarvis of a spot on the 25-man roster, especially because the Mariners embark April 13 on a stretch of 20 consecutive days of games.

The plan could change if another team needs starting pitching. Among the teams who had scouts in attendance at Wednesday's game at Phoenix Muni: Baltimore, Texas, Boston, the Yankees, Cleveland and Detroit.
Cleveland? Hmmm.... How about Jarvis and mid-tier pitching prospects and $2.5M for Milton Bradley?

Bubba Trammell Watch
I am strongly endorsing the acquisition of Bubba Trammell, but have been unable to find anyone else discussing the power hitting outfielder. Trammell, 32, batted .255 this spring, with three home runs and 10 RBIs, so the productivity is still there. The Devil Rays may have interest as he was a fan favorite there for a time. Here is what was written about Bubba Trammell when he signed with the Dodgers.

Dodger General Manager Jim Evans said he was confident Trammell had resolved his off-field issues and could contribute as a reserve outfielder and veteran right-handed bat off the bench.

"When you ask a guy to come in in big situations and get a productive at-bat, they need experience to do that," Evans said. "He's been a very successful player against left-handing pitching and has had success in the National League."

Trammell, who has a .261 career average over parts of seven seasons, has hit .282 against left-handers. His most productive season came in 2001, when he hit .261 with 25 home runs and 92 runs batted in in 142 games with the San Diego Padres.

Evans said the Dodgers have made it clear to Trammell, who also plays first base, not to expect that kind of playing time this season.

"We are not signing him to be our everyday outfielder; we expect him to be a role player," Evans said. "He gives us another option, a guy who can play multiple positions."
First base. Outfield. Mashes lefties. Ready to be a bench contributor. MLB Minimum salary. SIGN HIM UP!

What the Hell Am I Doing?
In this article I have proposed trading a stud prospect and acquiring two potential headcases, Bradley is a known delinquent, and Trammell left the Yankess in June last year after suffering a bout of depression. Still, both are low risk acquisitions. Bradley has always been on young teams (Expos, Indians) where he was expected to be a leader, and a leader he is not. I think our veteran team is a perfect place for Bradley to mellow out. And as for Trammell, he seems to have battled back from the depression, so I think that is behind him.

Richie Sexson in 2005?
For those of you hoping for Richie Sexson to be our free agent signing in 2005, not so fast. The Arizona Republic reports that Sexson would like to sign a long-term deal with the Diamondbacks. No serious negotiations are underway yet, but this does show that Sexson's future free agency is far from a given.

Welcome to the Blogosphere
A hearty welcome to Jet City Sports, who joins the blogosphere with a look at all things Seattle sports. I've added him to the Optimists lists based on his first M's related entry, Bull Market.

There are two players on the roster who appear to be in line for better seasons in 2004 than in 2003: John Olerud and Ichiro.

Griffey or Lincoln? 

Wow! In today's Times, Steve Kelley calls out Howard Lincoln, and essentially says that Lincoln is a crybaby, and his personal problems with Ken Griffey is the only thing keeping him out of Seattle. They then add a nice inflammatory vote to allow you to say who you'd prefer to have in Seattle, Griffey or Lincoln.

As Jeff Shaw points out (San Shin should be one of your next stops in the M's blogosphere), this column follows the same theme started by Art Thiel earlier this week. But they are VERY different articles. Thiel's article indicated that Lincoln would not sign Griffey because of his high cost and high injury risk. Kelley says that Lincoln won't sign Junior because he insulted him once, and that Lincoln is a petty, whiny crybaby! The tone of the Kelley piece is extremely antagonistic against Lincoln, and all but calls for his resignation for the good of the team and the return of Junior.

But Lincoln won't consider Griffey. Once upon a time, his feelings were hurt by Junior. He was criticized by Griffey. And Lincoln reacts to criticism like Donald Rumsfeld at a journalists convention.

He bristles and fumes, and he never, ever forgets.

So even though trading for a healthy Griffey makes sense — it would upgrade the Mariners' outfield defense, give them the potential for another 30 to 40 home runs and send a message that fat-cat ownership isn't more concerned with its ever-expanding profits than it is about finding a way to return to the postseason — Griffey won't be returning to Seattle.
The truth is that Lincoln's ego is too fragile to relent on this one. He isn't about to make nice with Griffey, even if it might make the team better. He's letting his pettiness affect his franchise.
But Lincoln won't take the chance. Once again, front-office pique is getting in the way of a pennant race. Inaction off the field is affecting the action on the field.
The window of opportunity is closing on this franchise. Its position players are aging, and only 27-year-old third baseman Justin Leone and 20-year-old second baseman Jose Lopez are close to being big-league ready.

Meanwhile, Griffey will stay on the block because Howard Lincoln doesn't like him.

Poll question: If given the choice, who would you rather have in Seattle? Griffey? Or Lincoln?
If I didn't know better, I'd think one of the anti-management bloggers had taken over Steve Kelley. The "sky is falling" tone that we need Griffey or else is about right, but most of the bloggers at least seem to give Lincoln some modicum of respect. Those are extremely strong words for a local guy calling out Lincoln like that and more or less asking Mariner fans for a referendum on whether they want Lincoln to go away...

Willie Could be Bloomin' 

With Scott Spiezio continuing to suffer from back spasms, he is likely to miss some early games or even go on the DL. While Spiezio is out, it appears that Willie Bloomquist will get the starting nod at 3B. Bloomie's "spunkiness" and defensive flexibility makes him a favorite of manager Bob Melvin. However, his lack of defensive prowess and hitting ability have made him a frequent punching bag of the M's bloggers, including myself.

Bloomquist has never hit consistently, and was bothered by injuries in 2003. Still, examination of some key statistics, do show signs of growth in Bloomquist's skill set, and that should lead to, you guessed it, optimism. Albeit guarded.

BaseballHQ is my favorite source of statistical analysis (for subscribers only, though their Baseball Forecaster book is available in bookstores). They focus on a few key stats to show the hitting ability of a player, and emphasize those that have predictive value for the future. Some of the stats in their toolkit include:

  • Walk Rate (bb%) - walks per plate appearance: BB/(BB+AB). The most patient hitters have values of 10% or better, and the least patient are under 5%.
  • Contact Rate (ct%) is the percentage of balls put into play measured as (AB-K)/AB. Best contact hitters are over 90% and the hackers are at 75%.
  • Batting Eye (EYE) simply measures strike zone judgement and is calculated as BB/K. Eyes of 1.00 or better are very likely to exceed .300 and an eye less than 0.50 are likely to be around .260.
  • Speed Index (SX) is a complex formula that measures a players speed on the basepaths where 100 is league average speed, and 200 is Rickey Henderson in his prime.
  • Runs Created per Game (RC/G) is based on Bill James "Runs Created" formula (H + BB - CS) * ( Total bases + (.52 * SB) + (.26 * BB)) / (AB + BB). Suffice to say, players over 7.50 are very good, and players under 3.50 are not.
Here are the stats of Bloomquist for the past three years (with AAA stats converted to MLB equivalents).

Year    AB   Avg   OBP  bb%   ct%    Eye    SX   RC/G

===== === === === === === ==== === ====
2001 491 .220 .259 5% 89% 0.47 113 2.26
2002 337 .243 .298 7% 88% 0.67 114 3.17
2003 196 .250 .316 9% 80% 0.49 118 3.50
Note the upward trends in OBP, walk rate, and speed. Essentially, Willie has gone from being a terrible hitter to being a replacement level hitter, while providing above average speed and positional flexibility.

With a firm grip on the Mark McLemore(TM) utilityman role, expect to see Willie playing every position on the field except catcher. In this role, Willie's main job is to play solid defense, and to get on base for the big bats to bring in. If he continues to build on his skillset (and this is likely since Willie is just 26), Willie could be the secret sauce on the Mariners hoagie of success.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Ibanez on Fire 

Two more at bats for Raul today, two more hits including a 3-run homer. Yes, that's 11 straight at bats with a hit for Raul Ibanez! Bring on the Angels!

And your roster is nearly set 

Hiram Bocachica gets the shaft of not being on the 40-man roster, and heads to AAA Tacoma, while Willie Bloomquist may be our starting third baseman on opening day. A lot going on in Mariner-land as we get ready for Opening Day! Lets take a look at the cuts, performances and rumors going on today.

Bloomquist in, Bocachica out, Santiago ?
The Mariners sent five players to the minors yesterday and it was new fan favorite Hiram Bocachica getting culled. Because he was not on the 40 man roster, it was difficult for the M's to find a spot for him, and the fact that we love Willie Bloomquist and we are starting with 12 pitchers means there is really no room on the roster for Bocachica.

Interestingly, Ramon Santiago remains on the roster. Either the M's would keep only 11 pitchers, or else one of Dave Hansen, Quinton McCracken, or Bloomquist would have to go. Both Santiago and Bloomquist have options left, but I figure that Bloomquist's greater positional flexibility will let him keep his job, and Santiago will head to Tacoma.

Also going to Tacoma is our 2005 starting shortstop Jose Lopez, who had an excellent Spring, and if something happens to Rich Aurilia, we will see him in 2004. With Lopez and Leone in Tacoma, where will Bocachica and Santiago play? My guess is that Bocachica gets more work in the outfield and even first base, and Santiago gets work at 2B, SS and 3B, but we'll see. Santiago will stick if Scott Spiezio starts the season on the DL with back pain.

All in all, I can't fault the Mariners for this decision, as historically Bloomquist has put up better stats than Hiram. I just think that Bocachica has greater upside, and that his name is a heckuva lot more fun to say. I think that we have seen Bloomie's greatest contribution to the M's when he helped spark a revival that failed to get the M's into the playoffs in September 2002. I think we might get a similar spark from Bocachica, and that he could be the Mark McLemore for the M's. Now I guess we'll never know.

Davis Survives
Pat Borders heads to Tacoma to provide tutelage to our awesome AAA staff, and that means Ben Davis survives to start the season with the Mariners (barring a trade). Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the cut of Borders comes a day after Davis asks for extra work and catches a minor league game. Ben seems to get it, and lets hope his season gets back on track quickly.

Who's Hot
Raul Ibanez is on fire! After a 4-for-4 performance yesterday, he now has hits in NINE straight at bats. And looky here, Kevin Jarvis pitches two shutout innings and has not been scored upon for four straight appearances. Terry Mulholland may want to be updating his resume, since it looks like he'll be the odd man out. For those waiting on a Kevin Jarvis trade, methinks you'll have to wait until Jarvis performs well in the regular season (which he will). With similar pitchers like Glendon Rusch are getting cut and are available on the open market, its tough to sell a pricy Jarvis.

Other cuts
Aaron Looper and J.J. Putz head to Tacoma, and really there is nothing wrong with this decision. Mickey Lopez was in camp? Didn't even notice him.

Trouble! Sorry! by Milton Bradley
Yes, Milton Bradley is available after wearing out his welcome with the Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge. This is a guy the M's should SERIOUSLY entertain an offer to. He's 25 years old and seemingly reached his potential last year with a beautiful .321/.421/.501 line. All the talk about Griffey moving to center and Winn becoming a SUPER 4th outfielder (platoon with Ibanez/Olerud essentially)? Bradley can make it happen, without the injury risk. Is he a chemistry risk? Maybe, but one would think that the veteran-laden M's would be the best possible place for Bradley to go. The Indians have stated he will be traded within 72 hours. He is making a meager $1.75M in his first year of arbitration this year.

What do you offer the Indians? Quinton McCracken and lots of young pitching. Q for Bradley makes it a salary wash, so the Indians are essentially getting pitchign. Q is useless to the M's if they acquire Bradley, and the Indians need the pitching that we have coming out of our ears in AAA. Q & Nageotte for Bradley. Yes, that's top pitching prospect Clint Nageotte. Its time to cash in a pitching prospect for a hitting prospect who has made it and still has two inexpensive years left. Bargain away with other prospects, but if Nageotte makes/breaks deal, then let him go. Or overwhelm them with quantity of lesser prospects. But lets give this a shot!

Other Trade Rumors
Jason Kendall rumors are flying around the Pirates mainstream media and the M's blogosphere. I think that if they can get Kendall's average $ value over course of contract down to $5-6 million by including Jarvis, Davis, and taking cash, then its a deal we should do. The most entertaining (and optimistic!) pro-trade-for-Kendall analysis I've see is from Dr. Detecto at Top Forums.

Bring On the Bubba!
The Dodgers released Bubba Trammell because he was not a good fit on the team. Trammell put up two nice seasons in San Diego before heading to the dregs of the league, the Yankees, where he didn't get much playing time. Available for the league minimum, he provides a bat that has dinged lefties to an 819 OPS over the past three years. He would make a nice replacement for Dave Hansen. I'd recommend him over Q, but he can't cover centerfield, so he is a better choice for the Hansen slot. He could nicely rest Olerud or Ibanez against lefties.

In a perfect world, we deal Hansen & Q & some prospects for Milton Bradley, and pickup Bubba Trammell to be a bat off the bench. But if we have to dump Hansen, someone will pick him up, and it will effectively be a trade of Hansen for Bubba, and that's something we should be pursuing.

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