Thursday, May 26, 2005

Left leaning ways 

I wrote most of this yesterday, but must have "Saved as Draft" instead of "Publish Post". Note that Hargrove has learned his lesson and pinch-hit for Valdez in the top of the 8th. Of course, he left Miguel Olivo in to hit with runners on 1st and 3rd and two outs, down two runs in the top of the 7th, but did pinch-hit Dobbs for him with no one on in the 9th.

That said, both pinch hitters failed yesterday. And this team obviously has much bigger problems than its late inning pinch hitters when it scores 3 runs in 3 games against the Baltimore Oriole pitching staff.

Anyways, read my thoughts on our pinch-hitters if you wanna, and lets hope we can win the series against the Devil Rays this weekend.


The last two games have seen the Mariners within 3 runs of the lead in the ninth inning. In both games, the Mariners have allowed Miguel Olivo and Wilson Valdez to bat against Baltimore's left-handed closer, B.J. Ryan. And, as you would expect, the Mariners lost.

Over the past three years, Miguel Olivo has put up his best numbers against lefties, so I can forgive that. He is slumping this season, but past history shows he is best against lefties, as you would expect from a right-handed hitter.

While Wilson Valdez is similarly right-handed, his 199/223/304 line against lefties shows that he should not be anywhere near the plate with the game on the line. Frankly, it is inexcusable to me that Mike Hargrove would allow him to be the final out in our last two games.

The one pinch-hitter we saw in either game was Willie Bloomquist (284/340/407 vs. lefties), who pinch hit for Jeremy Reed in the first game of the series. Willie got the job done nicely with a 2-out single to bring the tying run to the plate.

But why pinch-hit for Reed? Reed has hit 231/355/346 in 26 at bats against lefties this year. Not great, but certainly nowhere near the levels of Valdez. If we pinch-hit for Reed, then don't we HAVE to pinch hit for Valdez. At least to show we are trying.

Yet, we have TWO pinch hit specialists on the bench who are both left handed. Greg Dobbs and Dave Hansen. In his two years, Dobbs has been allowed to hit 4 times against a lefty, and has three hits in those 4 at bats. No matter HOW bad he is against lefties, he HAS to be better than Wilson Valdez. Ditto Dave Hansen, who has only seen 18 at bats against lefties, but still has a 417 OBP in those situations.

I can only guess that Mike Hargrove is completely enamored of the lefty-righty matchup. Because Dobbs and Hansen are left-handed, they simply cannot be used against a lefty, so Wilson Valdez, the right-hander should bat. But then, there is Pat Borders, who is right handed and has a 333/333/519 line in limited action against lefties. Again, all I can do is assume that Hargrove didn't want to use his bench because Borders might be needed in the 15th inning, or something.

Since Grover seems to have players pigeon-holed into roles, I believe it is up to Bill Bavasi to give Hargrove the tools for this situation, and that means adding another right-handed bat to the bench.

Unfortunately, our best choices from AAA are hurt. Bucky, of course, will not be available for at least another 3 weeks. Justin Leone would have been the next choice, but I haven't seen hide nor hair of him since he was hit in the hand by a line drive back on May 3rd. Chris Snelling and Aaron Rifkin are both left-handed.

So, what can we do?

1) Have faith in Jeremy Reed. We have two hitters in our lineup who are substantially worse in Olivo and Valdez, so save our pinch hitters for them.
2) Don't be afraid to pinch hit for Valdez with ANYONE late in the game. Maybe Hansen can coax a walk.
3) Bring up Jose Lopez as soon as possible. At least give us a chance to see a reasonable bat in there. If Jose screws up badly in the field, there will be plenty of time to send him back down and work on second base.
4) Scan the waiver wire for a right-handed bat off the bench to use until Bucky or Leone are healthy.
5) Bring up Bucky/Leone as soon as possible. Go to an 11 man pitching staff at that time.
6) Bring up Chris Snelling and put him into a rotation with Winn/Ibanez/Reed. Whoever is left out will certainly strengthen our bench.

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