Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Madritsch Looks Sharp 

I finally got to watch a bit of the M's today with the ESPN2 televised tilt against the Giants. Here's what I saw, let me know if you saw things differently.

Bobby Madritsch has a rotation spot locked up. 3 innings, 4 K's, no hits, no walks. The bulldog looked completely dominating, even if the announcers wondered if he was just "working out of the stretch for practice." (Bobby has worked out of the stretch exclusively since his time in the Independent Leagues).

Gil Meche has a rotation spot locked up. His four innings were shakier in appearance, but were still solid, giving up no runs and a couple of hits.

Joel Pineiro threw 35 pitches on the side today with no pain. He'll throw another bullpen session on Friday. Hooray! Still, there should be no need to rush him. The M's don't need a fifth starter for the first couple of weeks. With Gil, Bobby and Jamie as locks, it becomes a question of who starts in the #4 hole out of Aaron Sele, Ryan Franklin, Jorge Campillo, and Felix Hernandez.

The fact that Hargrove was at the Aaron Sele STRONG start yesterday (7 K's) and chose not to be present for King Felix and the Franklin homer fest, indicates that that Felix is going to be in Tacoma. My guess would be at least until June 1st so that his time in the majors does not start his clock ticking toward free agency in 2005.

Personally, I'm hoping Felix is pitching 25 minutes away from me in Round Rock when the Rainiers come to visit May 10-13th. If any M's fans would like to go to the Express-Tacoma game here in Texas with me that week, let me know, and we'll work out a trip together.

I still think Sele will get the starting nod and Franklin will be in the bullpen. Campillo may also get a bullpen slot, but I'm guessing he gets some times to work on his confidence against AAA hitters.

One pitcher who is not exuding confidence is Matt Thornton, who entered the game against the Giants youngsters in the 7th with a four run lead, and proceeded to nibble and miss the plate, eventually allowing a run to score, and surviving only thanks to some excellent defense. Matt Thornton is out of options, so the M's have a tough decision with him. Perhaps he is packaged in a late Spring deal to strengthen our bench with a AAAA hitter? He could certainly has the talent in that arm, but the results have not been there, and it may be time for the M's to move on.

Finally, Pokey Reese returned to the lineup in the 7th inning, and proceeded to flash the leather that we will come to know and love. His surprising battle with Jose Lopez will continue to develop over the next two weeks. Lopez will either start, or end up in Tacoma, while Reese could easily find himself in the slick glove/speed guy off the bench role that he has become accustomed to in recent years.
The rest of the bench candidates gave an effort in today's game, with Jamal Strong stealing a base, Ramon Santiago lacing a double and a triple(!), Benji Gil making a nice 3-6-3 double play from first and hitting a ball near the track, and Willie Bloomquist, uh, looking like he may need a few big days to land a job. Of course, the skinny Scott Spiezio could conceivably find himself on the outside looking in, but both his past history and contract seem to preclude that.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to y'all! I'm looking forward to cutting out of work early, drinking some green beer, and gorging myself on March Madness! I hope you get a chance to do the same.

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