Saturday, April 30, 2005

DGS Update 

I first brought up the concept of the Darned Good Start on April 13th, but have done little with it since. Lets see how the M's starting pitchers have fared this season.

Pitcher (Darned Good / Quality / Ugly, M's record DGS , M's record US)
Ryan Franklin (3/3/1, 1-2, 0-1)
Bobby Madritsch (0/0/1, 0-0, 0-1)
Gil Meche (2/2/3, 2-0, 0-3)
Jamie Moyer (5/3/0, 4-1, 0-0)
Joel Pineiro (2/0/1, 2-0, 0-1)
Aaron Sele (4/3/1, 3-1, 0-1)
Mariner Total (16/11/7, 12-4, 0-7)
Who woulda thunk that 4 out of 5 Aaron Sele starts would be darned good? Franklin continues to show his hard luck ways, and Gil can't decide if he is first half Gil or second half Gil. Jamie is getting stretched out, as his Darned Good Starts have gone up from 5+ to 6, 6+ and now 8 innings, the last three qualifying as Quality Starts. Look for that pattern to emerge with Joel soon as well.

For more coverage on this topic, over at SportSpot, Dr. Detecto started up a nice thread showing how adept Mike Hargrove has been at knowing when to pull pitchers, and when to let them ride another inning.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Schedule Stretch From Hell 

So the Mariners get off to a good start on their 2005 Schedule Stretch from Hell.

Here it is, with probable pitchers

4/26-4/28(3) at Texas (won 2 of 3)
4/29-5/1(3) at Oakland (Sele/Moyer/Pineiro vs. Haren/Blanton/Zito - no Harden this time!)
5/2-5/4(3) vs Angels (Franklin/Meche/Sele vs. Washburn/Lackey/Byrd)
5/6-5/8(3) at Boston (Moyer/Pineiro/Franklin vs. Clement/Miller?/Chen) - if Miller isn't healthy, may see John Halama instead.
5/9-5/11(3) at Yankees (Meche/Sele/Moyer vs. Big Unit/Wang/Pavano)
5/13-5/15(3) vs Boston (Pineiro/Franklin/Meche vs. Miller?/Schilling?/Arroyo)
5/16-5/18(3) vs Yankees (Sele/Moyer/Pineiro vs. Brown/Big Unit/Wright?)

All told that's 21 games against 5 of the 7 best teams in the AL and the remaining four teams are the only four that most prognosticators picked to be in the World Series. On top of that, while we and Oakland are facing the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Angels and Rangers will be facing Cleveland and Detroit, so we need a strong showing to keep from losing ground.

I'll be curious to see if the M's do something with their pitching rotation between the first and second meetings with the Red Sox and Yankees, thinking maybe its not a good idea to allow a pitcher to face the same team two games in a row.

On the other hand, we have some mixed results of some of our pitchers versus the Angels, Yankees, and Red Sox. Look at the three year (2002-2005) ERAs of our pitching staff against those three teams:

Player (Yankees | Red Sox | Angels | A's)
Ryan Franklin (5.51 | 5.32 | 2.77 | 3.63)
Gil Meche (2.86 | 4.73 | 7.54 | 3.86)
Jamie Moyer (6.15 | 11.02 | 3.15 | 3.56)
Joel Pineiro (2.95 | 6.95 | 5.34 | 2.23)
Aaron Sele (4.79 | 8.59 | xxx | 2.61)
Ron Villone (11.00 | 1.23 (8IP) | 1.65 | 2.31)

As you can see, Boston presents a challenge to our pitching staff, but perhaps Ron Villone could eat some innings against the Red Sox. Another intriguing option would be to see how one of our rookies (King Felix, Popeye Campillo, Cha Seung Baek) fare, but throwing rookies to the Red Sox and the Yankees may not be in their best interest.

So, if I was Grover, I might try the following.

4/29-5/1(3) at Oakland (Sele/Moyer/Pineiro)
5/2-5/4(3) vs Angels (Franklin/Villone/Moyer)
5/6-5/8(3) at Boston (Meche/Sele/Franklin)
5/9-5/11(3) at Yankees (Pineiro/Moyer/Meche)
5/13-5/15(3) vs Boston (Sele/Franklin/Pineiro)
5/16-5/18(3) vs Yankees (Moyer/Meche/Sele)
then rotaion goes Franklin/Pineiro/Moyer/Meche/Sele

Moyer gets two starts against division rivals and then 2 against the Yankees (and none against Boston). If Moyer gets lit up by Yankees in start one, then Moyer conveniently comes down with a "blister after 5/10 start against Yankees and doesn't pitch again until 5/19 and his start goes to Franklin (sliding up Meche and Sele) or a rookie.
Franklin faces the Angels (2.77) once and the Red Sox (5.32) twice
Meche gets two starts against the Yankees (2.83) and one against the Red Sox (4.73)
Pineiro gets the A's (2.23), Yankees(2.95), then Boston(6.95)
Sele gets Boston twice and the Yankees and Oakland once. If he falters against the A's and Sox, his later starts could be given to Felix, Baek, or Campillo
Villone gets a spot start against the Angels (1.65)

Of course, there are two unorthodox gaps in our best pitchers, with both Moyer and Pineiro getting 7 day rests to allow us to use our lesser pitchers in the right spots, and avoid trouble area for our aces.

And mid-May is a time when Mariner fans fancy turns to Felix. Out of pure selfishness, I hope he is not called up until after his May 12th start in Round Rock, as I have tickets to see him there.

Whatever happens, the next 18 games over 20 days will tell a lot about how the Mariners will fare in 2005.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Damage Control 

Not very often does a pitcher give up 4 home runs and get credited with a Darned Good Start, but that was the story last night in Arlington. Staked to a 5-0 lead, Joel Pineiro did what he had to do, throwing strikes, and keeping baserunners off the bases. His only mistakes were 4 solo shots that made the game a little scary until Raul Ibanez put the final touches on a 7-4 Mariners win.

The win leaves the Mariners at 10-10 to start the season. At this time last season, the M's were losing their first of three straight to Texas to fall to 7-13. In fact, a year ago, Joel Pineiro LOST to Ryan Drese by a 10-8 score. In that game, Pineiro only gave up two solo home runs, but also allowed ten other baserunners and seven runs in 6 innings. What a difference a year makes.

A year ago, we lost our first six games in Arlington en route to a 2-7 record at the ballpark formerly known as The Ballpark in Arlington but is now known by yet another corporate entity that I don't even know (or care, commenters) what they do. I'm hoping last night returns the Rangers back to their rightful place as our bitches, in their own stadium, as I'm going to the August and September games.

Today's starter, Ryan Franklin, got crushed a year ago in Arlington, giving up 7 runs in 2 2/3 innings, the shortest start of his career. Look for the 2005 version to cruise to another Darned Good Start, and who knows, maybe today he'll even get run support.

How good does the Wilson Valdez pickup look right now? It appears Pokey's shoulder is more than just sore, as his rehab has been stopped and he is heading to Seattle for further examinations including a CRT on the shoulder.

If you haven't done so, rush out to the MLB site to vote for the All-Star Team, and make sure you put in your write-in votes for Wilson Valdez at shortstop. We need to make sure that his vote total AT LEAST surpasses that of Pokey Reese, who may otherwise get the votes of those fans who block vote for a team, or Red Sox fans who fondly remember their favorite defensive player (just think how good Pokey's defense must have looked to fans used to watching Nomar at short!)

David Corcoran had an excellent suggestion. Since the MLB site tracks votes per computer, go out and find any public access computers you can, and vote for Wilson from there. Not only are you supporting the Wilson Valdez for All-Star movement, but you are also shutting out other voters who are not as smart as you. Get to voting!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Blogger Ate My Homework 

Irritating... just spent 20 minutes putting together a post, only to have blogger eat it on save.

Suffice to say, this ain't 2004. Last night's game was one we would have lost a year ago and all we'd be talking about is Jeff Nelson's ineptitude, Ron Villone beaning a guy with the bases loaded, and Eddie Guardado's latest blown save and/or injury.

Instead, I feel confident with Villone as the new Arthur Rhodes. Getting a Kendall popup and Chavez strikeout with the bases loaded gets my attention.

Eddie gave up the leadoff homer to Durazo, but then settled down to have aruably his easiest 1-2-3 of the year.

Rumors of Bret Boone's demise seem premature.

Welcome to the show, Shin-Soo Choo! The M's give the rookie his first cup of coffee in a pinch hitting role, but he'll be back to stay by this time in 2006.

Chris Snelling is back in Tacoma and one week in is hitting .438.

Dan Reichert was released. I'm guessing that Dan requested it in order to find a team that might give him a shot with a big league club. He was probably 10th or 11th on the M's pitching depth chart.

And how about Wilson Valdez? That play in the seventh where he almost threw Chavez out from his backside was fun to watch. I'm officially kicking off the drive to write in Wilson Valdez for starting shortstop of the AL All Star team. You can vote up to 25 times, and I've used my first. I'm going to vote after each game in which Valdez plays well, and I encourage you to do likewise.

The M's are 8-7 and back in first place in the AL West. And the team is just starting to gel.

There was lots more, but you'll have to believe me. I swear that blogger ate my homework.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Rest in Peace, Grandpa 

It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that Mr. Ed Meyers, who was known to us all as Grandpa Mariner, has passed away at the age of 80.

Grandpa brought us all a little closer to the Mariners with his Spring Training Camp Notes and later his April clubhouse reports. He a fantastic ambassador for the excellent Sportspot fan forums. But more than that, he was a shining example of how to live life. He is survived by 8 children, 31 grandchildren, and 88 great-grandchildren, and last I heard should have had his first great-great grandchild in March. He was a U.S. Army veteran and had retired from teaching and coaching high school in 1988 to spend his time pursuing his passions of Seattle sports, golf, and RV'ing with his wife of 62 years.

Unbeknownst to many of us, his wife passed away just weeks before he went to his final Spring Training and brought so many of us along for the ride.

I will miss his passion, warmth and humor, as well as we will all miss his inside information on the Mariners. I am hoping that the Mariners will take some time to acknowledge the passing of one of their greatest fans.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. We look forward to any Inside Information you get a chance to send from up there.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Rediscovering the Swagger 

Its early, I know, but it sure is nice to see the Mariners get back some of the swagger they lost in the disaster of 2004. From today's PI...
"It's back to normal here now," Boone said. "It's back to the way it used to be, before last year. We used to feel that we were going to win every time we went out there, and that feeling has come back.

"Last year, it slipped away, and I don't know why. But it's back now, and it feels good."

The first few games, the 2004 Mariners were anemic (save Ichiro!), but Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre stepped in to carry the offense. Now, the rest of the team is starting to pick things up, and the vibe is completely different from 2004. Each game, you think the M's are going to find a way to win.

The swagger is back, and the good times are gonna follow. Its not too late to join me in hopping back on the Mariners bandwagon. Be the first to tell your friends that you too picked the M's to win the AL West!

Tonight - Joel Pineiro returns against the White Sox. Can't wait!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Another Darned Good Start 

Aaron Sele follows up Ryan Franklin's gem with one of his own, Shiggy makes it stick, and Guardado about gives us all another heart attack before saving a 2-1 Mariners win over the Royals.

Recently, several sabermatricians have been promoting the concept of a "Quality Start", defined by sportswriter John Lowe as the pitcher going at least 6 innings, and giving up 3 or fewer earned runs. I think this is too specific a criteria, and does not take into account ineffecive bullpens or game situations that allow a pitcher to be pulled in the sixth, or groove a few more pitches. If a pitcher is up 9-0, and gives up 4 runs, that is a darned good start in my book. If a pitcher leaves after 5 innings up 3-0, that is also a darned good start.

So, I'm going to track the Mariners "darned good starts" (DGS) vs. "ugly starts" (US). This is a somewhat subjective statistic whose definition I'll try to refine over the course of the year. Essentially, it will reward any quality start plus any start where the pitcher leaves with a lead, handles some sort of duress, or maybe was the victim of a bullpen blowup allowing extra runs to score.

Here's a record of the Mariners DGS up to now, and how the team has fared in each.

Pitcher (DGS/QS/US, M's record in DGS, M's record in US)
Jamie Moyer (2/0/0, 1-1, 0-0) - Guardado blew up Jamie's second DGS.
Gil Meche (0/0/2, 0-0, 0-2) - bullpen has hurt him, but still unable to make it out of fifth in either start.
Bobby Madritsch (0/0/1, 0-0, 0-1) - Injury pulled Mad Dog out early and perhaps for a long time.
Aaron Sele (2/1/0, 2-0, 0-0) - his first start is a perfect example of the Darned Good Start that does not qualify as a quality start.
Ryan Franklin (1/1/0, 1-0, 0-0)
Mariner Total (5/3, 4-1, 0-3)

I'll work on getting this into a more readable summary form on the sidebar soon.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Just What the Doctor Ordered 

Ryan Franklin... wow! He was absolutely dealing today. 18 strikes in first 18 pitches, and was just sitting em down quickly. A pleasure to watch, as Ryan mixed speeds early. In the first inning, Mike Sweeney got ahold of one, and it just missed going out. After that, it was fairly smooth sailing for Ryan, until the ninth, when his second walk of the game eventually cost him the shutout and the complete game.

Fantastic outing that has cemented Ryan firmly in the rotation for the rest of April at least. Lets hope we get to see this version of Franklin again this year.

41,000+ Royal fans go home knowing that their team was completely owned by Ryan Franklin. Largest home opener crowd in Royals history. Sweet. Nice start of a long road trip for the Mariners.

By the way, the Rangers had a 6-5 lead late in the game today, and lost 7-6. I would say "how you like them apples," except it was the Angels...

And the defensive highlight of the day is this fantastic diving catch by Jeremy Reed on a Gotay liner up the middle in the second inning (look for it on ESPN Web Gems)

Wil Carroll Thinks Madritsch is Done 

Baseball Prospectus injury guru Wil Carroll included this opinion on Bobby Madritsch in his latest Under the Knife column (subscription).
Bobby Madritsch learned that his medicine wheel tattoo isn't enough to save him from whatever seems to attack all promising young Mariners pitchers. Madritsch has a torn shoulder capsule and will need surgery that will end his 2005. He'll have a second opinion, hoping that he'll hear a diagnosis that doesn't involve the business end of a scalpel. The M's are going to have to get serious about figuring out exactly what's going on. It's one thing for me to sit here making guesses in my column. For the M's, this is win-or-lose serious and I hope something's going on internally.
Sigh. Maybe we should just trade King Felix before we hurt him.

Pitching Update 

First, the good news. Joel Pineiro looked great in his rehab outing against Fresno, giveing up one run in seven innings. Joel gave up five hits, no walks, and struck out six. Look for Pineiro to return to the rotation later this week.

Which is good timing, because Bobby Madritsch could be gone for awhile. A long while. A second MRI revealed a tear in the shoulder ligament. His arm will be placed in a sling for three weeks in hopes that it will heal without surgery. There is no positive spin I can put on this news. Surgery looks to be the likely outcome, and while the tear may be small enough, even arthroscopic surgery would end Madritsch's 2005 season. Even if Madritsch returns this year, we will be holding our breath with each start to hope he does not turn whatever scar tissue heals the shoulder into a big tear. That scenario could result in Madritsch missing part of 2006 as well.

Ryan Franklin looks to be the beneficiary of Madritsch's downtime, beginning with today's day game at Kansas City. It is the first of three straight non-televised day games in Kansas City.

Now, in a final bit of bad news, during and after yesterday's start, Gil Meche complained of elbow stiffness. An x-ray afterwards revealed nothing, but its something to keep an eye on.

The Mariners are going to need to show some resiliency to rebound from a terrible first week. But, we are already 2 wins up on the lightning 0-6 pace we set in 2004. If we gain 2 wins over 2004 every week of the season, then we'll go 115-47.


Two painful 7-6 losses to the Texas Rangers this weekend have knocked the wind out of me.

On Saturday, Bret Boone sparks a Rangers 4-run rally by letting a ball Buckner through his legs, and Eddie Guardado lays up two home runs to give away a 6-3 lead in the ninth. That hurt, but it was just a warmup act to the craziness of Sunday's game.

On Sunday, Willie Bloomquist got his first start in short and promptly botched a groundball to lead to two unearned runs in the fifth. Randy Winn once again blundered on the basepath when he was picked off on a pitchout just moments before the rare event of Dan Wilson and Willie Bloomquist hitting back-to-back singles. Throw in an Ichiro called third strike on a pitch about a foot outside, and you begin to get the idea that it was not the M's day.

Even the fans had to commit blunders in this game. In the fourth, Rod Barajas popped a foul ball that Ichiro was poised to catch before some idiot fan reached out with his glove and stole the out away. Given new life, Barajas promptly hit a run-scoring double to put the icing on the Rangers 5-run 4th. Just a half-inning later, another fan's attempt to get a $10 baseball with a major league scuff mark on it helps turn a Richie Sexson home run into a ground rule double.

How bizarre was this game? Matt Thornton pitched very well for 2 1/3 innings of relief for an ineffective Gil Meche. Of course, Thornton will not be allowed to enjoy the outing because he was brought out to face the Rangers in the seventh and gave up a double and the game-winning home run to David Freakin' Dellucci. Thornton gets the loss, and the calls for his ouster will get louder, even though he actually did a solid job.

So, instead of 4-2, the M's are sitting at 2-4. We have the comfort of knowing that we have the talent to win, but the mistakes are killing us in a very disappointing week one.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Rauuuuuulllll Does It Again 

Last April, the only bright spot in a dreary season were thanks to the timely home runs from Raul Ibanez. And tonight, he did it again, with an 8th inning blast to give the Mariners back the lead for good in their 9-6 win over the Rangers. A good win for the Mariners, as it should the resiliency of the team, and how wonderful it is to have bats throughout the lineup.

Everyone but Richie Sexson got a hit tonight, and a couple of key players finally got on the scoreboard as Jeremy Reed drove in two, and Miguel Olivo and Wilson Valdez also got their first hits of the season.

Of course, there was some ugly too, with defensive lapses costing the M's a lead in the sixth, and when combined with two walks from J.J. Putz, nearly cost the M's the game in the eighth.

The other hero of the game was none other than Aaron Sele. After allowing two runs in the first, Aaron settled down and pitched four scoreless innings, thanks in large part to three double play balls he induced. 11 of the 16 outs recorded by Sele were on groundouts. Of course, there is still cause for concern. None of the sixteen outs were by strikeout, and he gave three free passes, so its not all golden. But still, if Richie Sexson could have made a defensive play ruled an error, then Sele would likely have gotten the win with a 6 inning, 2 run effort, instead of his final 5.2 inning, 4 run line.

Good start to the series, and combined with losses by the A's and Angels, the Mariners are back in first place in the AL West. Moyer vs. Astacio tomorrow afternoon looks like a good matchup for the M's, so enjoy the game!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Madritsch Feeling Better 

So far, so good on Bobby Madritsch. According to the Everett Herald, the MRI on Mad Dog did not show a tear in the shoulder and the soreness in the shoulder has subsided.

Bobby is clearly not out of the woods yet, and a major problem could still be hidden, but the M's are feeling much better about Bobby's prognosis then they were on Wednesday.

Bryan Price had the following quotes from the article.

"I saw Bobby at the ballpark today and he feels worlds better than he did immediately following his departure from the game."
"If the soreness continues to subside like it did from yesterday to today, there's a possibility he wouldn't be a DL candidate. It may be that we can skip him one time through the rotation."
"Everything is pointing in the direction that there's not any extensive damage and we're hoping to avoid going through a long rehab. Over the next 48 hours, we're hoping the soreness goes away completely and that he'll start playing catch again. That will give us an idea if he's able to make a start soon or if it's going to be a more extended recovery time."

These are obviously guarded statements, but the M's have reason to hope that Madritsch won't be out long. No one will be breathing easy until Madritsch has successfully completed his next start (or two).

Tacoma Pitching Update 

Jorge Campillo started the Rainiers season with an excellent start, pitching the Rainiers to a 6-2 win. He had a stretch where he retired 18 batters in a row, and ended up pitching 6.2 innings of 3-hit ball before tiring in the seventh. He gave up a run when he left the game with the bases loaded in the 7th and Masao Kida walked one before getting out of the jam. Four strikeouts and one walk round out a nice Opening Day line for Popeye.

George Sherrill got the save. Rainiers skipper Dan Rohn decided not to call George Sherrill his closer, saying there were a number of pitchers who could fill that role. And that is wise, since Sherrill likely won't be spending much time in Tacoma before returning to the Mariners where he will return to excelling as our lefty setup man.

Today, Felix Hernandez debuts for Tacoma on his 19th birthday. Happy Birthday, El Cartelua! Sounds like a great matchup, as he goes up against the Giants uber-prospect Jesse Foppert. If you'd like to listen to the game, and you can't pick up KHHO 850-AM, you can catch it at SportsJuice.

Unfortunately, not all of the news for our Tacoma pitching prospects is good. Clint Nageotte is already on the 15-day DL for a sore forearm. Yesterday he had an MRI on the forearm/elbow and the results should be known today. Right now, its being called a strain and he might miss 4-6 weeks.

Art Thiel's column says that the Mariners miss Freddy Garcia. Thiel acknowledges that it was a good trade, but shines the spotlight on all of the bad news with the Mariners pitching, and how the M's could really use Garcia.

Call me a "glass half full," kinda guy, but even with all of the bad news so far this season, I still think the M's have enough pitching to get the job done. Campillo, Hernandez, Sherrill, and maybe even Soriano are all going to be major factors for the M's by seasons end. Franklin is going to be great in long relief, and Sele will be serviceable as a stopgap #5. One bad bullpen outing by Thornton and one injury to Madritsch won't change that (although the margin for error has been significantly reduced if Mad Dog is out for awhile).

That said, whatever the M's are currently doing to protect their pitchers health, its not working, and no one seems to know why. If you work for the Mariners front office, and you haven't read Steve Nelson's excellent piece, The Mariners Pitching Medicine Mess, head over there right now. It is time for the Mariners to be more proactive in their approach to keeping their pitchers healthy. I think its time to dedicate a little of our profits over to the folks at American Sports Medicine Institute.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Bobby Madritsch Update 

Here are the latest updates on Mad Dog Madritsch

Tribune - M's Biggest Loss could be Madritsch
Times - M's Lose Another One
PI - M's Lose Game, Starter

The pitcher left the game in the fifth inning when he felt something wrong at the back of his left shoulder. He was taken to a Northgate radiology clinic for an MRI that showed he had suffered a mild strain. The club won't have a timeline for Madritsch to return until tomorrow at the earliest.

When asked if there was any hint of this coming, Hargrove responded, "It happened on one pitch, it wasn’t something he’d been dealing with. One pitch and there was a pain in the back of his shoulder."

Pitching coach Bryan Price, who went to the mound and talked to Madritsch, said the 28-year-old was unnerved. "He was scared and had every reason to be. This is a kid who’d never say anything about an ache or a pain, but this was something different."

Man, its hard to imagine Bobby Madritsch scared of anything, but there you have it. The news that it appears to just be a strain is comforting, but anything that scares Bobby scares me tenfold.

As for what the M's will do, Hargrove says that "the simplest decision isn’t always the right one. We have options." Meaning that it won't necessarily be Ryan Franklin who slides into the rotation. It could be Jorge Campillo, who has pitched well since being sent down to AAA or possibly Bryan Price favorite Cha Seung Baek.

Another possibility is that Joel Pineiro returns early, instead of pitching a rehab assignment against Fresno on Sunday. This makes a lot of sense to me, if the injury to Bobby is only going to keep him out for a couple of weeks.

Don't count on it being Felix Hernandez, who turns 19 on Friday. An injury won't be what prompts the Mariners to bring him up to the big leagues. The team should stick to its plan to get Felix experience against AAA hitters, and call him up based on El Cartelua's timeline, and no one else's.

Admirably, Ryan Franklin toed the company line... "The last time I started was March 28, and I threw 90 pitches. Could I start next week? Sure, but I can also pitch in relief again Friday. My job is to be prepared for whatever they ask of me." And in another interview, said "If they need me, I can start. Heck, the problem I have in the bullpen is that I'm still in my starting routine."

My guess at the current odds (I've been avoiding the gambling thing so far this year)...
Pineiro 2-1
Franklin 3-1
Baek 8-1
Campillo 10-1
Felix 50-1

I think Franklin is where he belongs, a great option for the M's when a pitcher can't get through the fifth inning. Pineiro is feeling good, so he could start in Bobby's spot, and Franklin or Villone will be there to finish up the game.

If Madritsch is out for more than three weeks, I think that dramatically increases the chances for it to be a non-Pineiro option, as we'll have to figure out a new fifth starter. Then, it is likely a three-way race between Franklin, Baek, and Campillo, while the chances that King Felix looks ready for the majors increase ;-)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bobby Madritsch Hurt 

I do not know the extent of the injury yet. Bobby threw a 55-foot breaking ball and then hopped off the mound, obviously in pain.

Later in the game, the Twins announcers said it was a strained shoulder. You will hear a lot about how Bobby Madritsch pitched some extremely abusive pitch counts last year. I'm just hoping I don't hear the word "labrum" over the next two days.

The Mariners drop a second game to the Twins, 4-1. The difference between this game and yesterday, is that when we get the bases loaded with one out, Dan Wilson Valdez comes to the plate and hits into a 5-3 doubleplay. On the first pitch, no less. I about kicked a ball through the television.

Now I get to spend the night hoping that Bobby M is okay. M's get a day off and then play the Rangers on Friday in what should be a good series. Look for the M's to bounce back after running into a buzz saw of good pitching and bad breaks the last two days.

Let the Second Guessing Begin... 

After a 4-0 start against the best (or 2nd best with the arrival of the Big Unit) pitcher in the American League, the Mariners looked set to start the season with a 2-0 record.

Gil Meche was labored a bit early allowing baserunners in the first three innings, but looked to have found his rhythm by the fourth inning and had managed to pitch 4 scoreless innings, although his pitch count was a bit high.

Then came the fifth inning, which looked like a highlight film of the M's 2004 season. And in this inning, every decision Mike Hargrove and the club had made backfired. And this is where the second guessing of Hargrove will begin.

As Meche tired, he seemed to revert a bit to early 2004 form and became Gil the Nibbler, instead of Gilgamesh the power pitcher. The singles started coming, and the bullpen starts warming up. With Johan Santana dealing, this may be a critical inning, so its time to get the best pitchers in our bullpen up, and then plan on Ryan Franklin taking over to start the sixth. Shiggy gets up, and also Ron Villone. The guys you would expect in this situation. No wait, that's not Villone, that's Matt Thornton! Yes, the guy who made the roster primarily because he was out of options. Okay, maybe Villone is tired from yesterday, and we don't have another lefty, and I think there is no way that Matt Thornton should be entering this game at this time.

A couple of singles later and its 4-2, with one out, and runners on first and second. The Twins have two lefties coming up in Mauer and Morneau, so it is time to go with the strategy that worked so well on Opening Day, when Villone came in and dominated those same two hitters. Only today, its not Ron Villone, its Matt Thornton taking the hill.

Sure enough, Matt starts Mauer out with two balls and ends up facing him with a 3-1 pitch. On 3-1, the Twins send the runners and the strategy works to perfection. A grounder to short that would have been a double play to end the inning instead becomes a run scoring single. Thornton got the ball in play he wanted, but unfortunately, because of the 3-1 count, the Twins were able to hit and run.

So now the M's are up 4-3, runners are on the corners and still one out. Big lefty Justin Morneau comes up, and Thornton immediately falls behind 2-1. But another good pitch from Thornton gets a little bloop to left field. But instead of speedy Randy Winn out there, we have Raul Ibanez playing left, and the ball drops for a "single". Thornton has actually gotten two hit balls that he wanted, and has no outs and two hits to show for it.

At this point, I must say that Matt Thornton did his job pretty well. The Twins just executed better with the hit and run, and we should not play Ibanez over Winn just to make Raul happy. Grover was right to put in Thornton here. Now, with Torii Hunter coming up, its time to get out there, give Matt a slap on the behind, and bring in Shiggy.

Instead, Hargrove leaves Thornton out there to face right-hander Torii Hunter, who promptly singles. Matt is now throwing more strikes, but they are of the right-down-the-middle variety. Grover should have pulled Thornton a batter ago, as he has that dere in the headlights look to him. But now a lefty is up, and Hargrove seems to want Thornton to go out on a positive note, right. Nope, Jacque Jones crushes a pitch to right field, and a 4-4 game is now 7-4.

At this point, Hargrove comes out and puts in Shiggy who gets the M's out of the inning. Interestingly, Shiggy goes on to pitch 2 1/3 innings, while Ryan Franklin gets a single 1-2-3 inning. I wonder if Shiggy is being considered the mopup/long relief guy and Franklin more of a setup man?

Regardles, this game will go down as Matt Thornton being the goat, and don't get me wrong, he surely was. But Mike Hargrove has to take some of the responsibility. And since managers don't like to be made accountable for disasters by their pitchers, I would guess that Matt Thornton's days in a Mariner uniform are numbered at best.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Santana, Shmantana 

Get used to it. The 2005 Mariners are gonna score, even against the greatest pitchers around.

The first inning was picture perfect. Ichiro hits a single to the pitcher. Yes, to the pitcher. Unnerved pitcher (Cy Young or not) proceeds to walk rookie Jeremy Reed. In steps the first big bat in Adrian Beltre, who falls behind 1-2. The 1-2 pitch? Crushed to deep center for a 2-run double. Next comes the Freak, Richie Sexson who misses a homer with a run-scoring double.

Before you can get settled with your popcorn and soda, its 3-0 Mariners again. And that's against Brad Radke and now 2004 Cy Young winner Johan Santana.

Oh yeah, then we get to the 2004 heart of the order. Bret Boone still hasn't gotten the memo that its okay to be a stud in a supporting role, but at least he makes a "productive out," moving Sexson to third. Raul Ibanez, on the other hand, understands his role, and stroked a single to drive in Sexson and make it 4-0.

Six batters into his 2005 season, Johan Santana is sporting a 108.00 ERA courtesy of your Seattle Mariners.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Double Knockers for Big Sex!!! 

Got to increase my Google traffic somehow... I promise this will be my last gratuitous use of Richie Sexson's name to drive pornhunter traffic to my site, where they will be sorely disappointed. In fact, I think the M's need a nickname for Richie that is not derived off of his last name.

For now, I'm gonna go with "Freak", as in... Richie Freakin' Sexson just hit two huge home runs to win the game for the Mariners today! How about that for a debut. Two on, one out, bottom of the first, first pitch... CRUSHED by the Freak!

Great start by Jamie, solid defense by everyone, bullpen showed big in Mateo, Villone and Eddie. But this game belonged to the Freak.

And now the Mariners sit atop the AL West standings, as is their birthright.

Get used to it.

Jose Lopez out 4-6 Weeks 

Apparently Jose Lopez broke the hamate bone in his left hand and is having surgery later this week. He will be out 4-6 weeks. Unfortunately, this is NOT an April Fool's Day joke.

Apparently, he jammed his hand into third base sliding during a minor league camp game last week. This will silence the debate on when to bring up Mr. Lopez until June at least.

How about that debut from Richie Sexson. First pitch of 2005 is a 3-run home run!!!

Oh yeah, third pitch was a 2-run home run. The man is a Freak.

Opening Day Optimism 

Gotta be true to myself. The Mariners will win stun the baseball world in 2005 and win the World Series. How will they do it? It's a mystery.

I'll pick a win total of 94 games, and the AL West crown by 3 games over the Angels.


Wilson Valdez 

Fantasy baseball drafts consumed my life last week, so that I did not have time to post much on the adventures of picking the Mariner shortsop. I don't think Wilson Valdez is going to be like the Exxon Valdez for the Mariners, no matter what more pessimistic fans might think.

The M's are committed to providing the best infield defense possible. Unfortunately, Pokey Reese was going to start the season on the DL. Jose Lopez was already demoted primarily because the club thinks his glove is not ready (and they want him to get it ready without costing the M's major league service time). As it turns out he would probably not get the call anyway because he is day-to-day with a sore wrist. Willie Bloomquist does not have the glove to start at short, and neither does any other minor league bat like Justin Leone or Greg Dobbs.

Ramon Santiago has a good glove, but the M's felt that Wilson Valdez would provide more offense with a similarly good glove. Valdez batted over .300 last year in hitter-friendly Alberquerque AND in Charlotte. Admittedly, its a pretty empty .300, but we are looking at short for defense and speed, not power. And speed Valdez has aplenty, having stolen 33 bases last year, and 49 in 2003.

The M's say they have been planning for a Pokey-less Opening Day for the last two weeks. Mike Hargrove said "Had it just snuck up on us, it would have been something we'd have had to deal with. But from the middle of spring training on, we really have been preparing ourselves for this eventuality." Wilson Valdez had impressed M's bench coach Ron Hassey while both were in Florida's Spring Training a year ago, so when the opportunity came to claim him, it was a no-brainer.

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Valdez performs, as he has got to feel the pressure. And it looks like the shortstop position will be one to watch all year.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Mariners Deal Winn 

And just like that, he is gone. In a move made to fortify our bullpen, the Mariners traded outfielder Randy Winn, new acquisition Abraham Nunez, right hander Clint Nageotte and "cash considerations" to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Craig Wilson and left handed reliever Mike Gonzalez.

"We felt that no lefty had stepped up in our pen," GM Bill Bavasi said, "so we took matters into our own hand. Gonzalez is one of the top lefties in the game, and could even close for us if something happens to Eddie (Guardado). And Craig Wilson can flat out hit."

The cash considerations is assumed to be $750,000 which is the difference between the salaries of Wilson and Winn.

The Pirates have been unhappy with their current centerfield situation for some time, and this allows them to move Tike Redman to the bench where he belongs. Daryle Ward will take over first base duties for Craig Wilson, and it is thought that Nageotte may get called up to the Pirates to take the vacant bullpen slot.

I like the move for the Mariners. Gonzalez is a premiere reliever, and he is still a year from even being arbitration eligible. Wilson hits for more pop than Winn, and provides better alternatives at first and possibly even catcher. Wilson will likely become the full time DH with Ibanez moving back to left field where he will be happier.

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