Monday, May 09, 2005


Yes, Wiki Gonzalez gets his first start, promptly starts two rallies, goes 3-4 with two doubles, and the M's score 6 runs and finally end their brutal seven game losing streak.

The long-awaited shakeup of the M's hitting doldrums began in earnest yesterday, as Mike Hargrove addressed that enormous sucking sound to the south by benching Miguel Olivo and Wilson Valdez for Wiki and Willie Bloomquist.

Also, the long-awaited swap of Bret Boone and Raul Ibanez in the lineup occurred with Bret batting sixth.

The moves may not have ignited Willie or Boone, but at least we finally saw signs of life from Adrian Beltre, who had his first RBI in forever, and four hits total on the day.

I'm happy with these moves, even though the shortstop and catcher situations will remain fluid. There is no need to guarantee starting spots to non-performers. Is Wiki and Willie the answer? I seriously doubt it. Wiki has had major league talent for years, but a work ethic that is eerily reminiscent of Garfield. With Willie, what you see is what you get - scrappiness, speed, mediocre defense and mediocre hitting. But that mediocre hitting is a huge step up from what Mr. Valdez has produceed.

A couple of alternatives may be close by. The Pirates today released 40-year-old catcher Benito Santiago. Santiago hit .270 with 6 hrs and 25 RBIs in 50 games last year with the Royals before getting his hand broken by a pitch. Will be interesting to see if the M's have interest in having Santiago on the roster.

As for shortstop, the M's anxiously await the return of Jose Lopez, who should be less than two weeks away from returning from a broken hamate bone. Lopez would be an immediate improvement over Bloomquist offensively and defensively.

It is quite possible that if the M's sign Santiago, that they would wait until Lopez is back in the fold, and send Valdez to AAA (or release him outright) to make room for Santiago in the roster. If they can't wait, then Wiki would likely return to the minors. Of course, all the Santiago talk is complete conjecture on my part, so don't get too worked up about it.

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