Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hello Yoda! 

And goodbye C-Rex.

The Mariners continued to overhaul their roster with the long overdue move of DFA'ing Carl Everett and bringing up Chris Snelling.

"Our primary focus is to win games right now," Bavasi said. "We are a better team today with Eddie Perez, Greg Dobbs and Chris getting more at-bats in the DH spot. In addition, today's move does not preclude us from continuing to look for more offense in the trade market."

I could NOT be happier!!! The team is still just 3 games out of first, and with a win tonight, survives a tough 12-game stretch with a 6-6 record including 3 extra inning losses.

Snelling and Greg Dobbs, along with Eduardo Perez will replace Everett and maybe take some ABs away from Raul Ibanez against lefties as well, making the Mariners a much more potent offense, replacing the Wilson Valdezesque numbers put up by Mr. Everett. Now, we'll see if the lack of "veteran leadership" somehow puts the team into a tailspin, or if youthful exuberance can win the day... and the AL West!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Trading Adam Jones? 

This blurb from Rotoworld shocked me...

The Nationals have reportedly started to scout the Mariners organization very heavily as the two teams attempt to work out a deal for Alfonso Soriano.
The Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are also interested in trading for Soriano. National scouts were reportedly watching Mariners' outfielder Adam Jones during a recent game against the Yankees. Jul. 19 - 10:23 am et

A click on the link to the Washington Post article reveals...

In New York, Nationals scouts were specifically keeping an eye on rookie outfielder Adam Jones, just recalled from Tacoma. Jones hit .277 with 14 homers and 55 RBI in the minors and is considered the Mariners' center fielder of the future.

All I have to say, that if we are trading our future CF, then we better not just be renting Soriano, and we better have someone in mind besides Willie F Bloomquist for CF.

Last night's loss to the Yankees just #$&#^$ me off and I loved Jeff's rant at the umpire in Lookout Landing, which is so over the top that I was able to smile again. M's leading 4-2 in a freakin' downpour with lightning and thunder and the first base ump has to give away a call like that when the players are doing there best not to get hurt. What a crock!

Today, GilgaMeche! came to the rescue once again. It is seriously time to start putting together a contract offer for that kid. He is not the same player he has been, and his pricetag just keeps going up.

So now we win 2 of 6 in a roadtrip where we have lost three extra inning games, two lost by managerial indifference/incompetence and one by an umpire's brutal call (followed by managerial indifference/incompetence in the form of Julio Mateo being brought in again in extra innings).

Hard to believe that with us 5 games out and 5 under .500 that we would look to deal the kid for Soriano. I actually would love a trade for Soriano, but think that Jones should not be involved as we need him for this year. Send Choo! Heck, send Jeremy Reed! But don't send Adam Jones!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Frustration in Fourteen 

Thanks to having to work yesterday, I was able to follow the Mariners through the joy of ESPN Gamecast. If you think its tense watching an extra-inning game, try watching a little yellow dot head from a mound icon to a home plate icon, while you are trying to figure out if its a strike or not. And reading 10 meaningless statistics (B Molina 2005 w/RISP: 26 for 101 (.257) 1 HR 8 RBI), while hoping it will turn into the sentence "Incoming pitch has been hit in play..." and then trying to guess if the little yellow dot which is heading toward the wall and getting fatter to indicate it is airborn is going to be a game-tying home run in the 8th (it was!)

I think I'll rest my eyes today and watch on the satellite, now that Fox can't blackout my market and try to force me to watch a GD Yankees-White Sox blowout (can't we switch games to the 14-inning thriller - nope).

I didn't get to see the early double-HR combos which caused us to fall in such a hole, but reading articles this morning, it sounds like Adam Jones may have been at fault for both doubles due to poor jumps. The difference in the game was in those non-catches, and Vernon Wells stellar D robbing the M's in the 13th. I just can't find it in me to be mad at Jones, but it shows you some of the value of Jeremy Reed who likely would have made those plays.

The worst part of yesterday's loss had to be knowing that our closer was going to come in to face the NEXT batter when the game-winning hit off of rookie Emiliano Fruto happened. This just adds to the irritation factor. When your best reliever doesn't get into the game in a 14-inning nail-biter, that looks like you are just NOT TRYING. C'mon Hargrove! Please, Mr. Bavasi, find a way to make this joker of a manager disappear.

Kudos to the bullpen for a great effort, and to the Mariner bats for coming back on the likes of Roy Halladay and bullpen. A prime chance to catchup to the West leaders was lost, and now we must bounce back and take game three of this series and build some momentum toward facing the Yankees tomorrow (thankfully, we get to face Sidney Ponson on Tuesday).

As for me, its back to work!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Back to Back Jack 

The game last night was a nice pedestrian affair. Adam Jones made his major league debut and got a lot of action. He didn't look fantastic at the plate, but he did work a walk in his first game, so that's nice. His play in the field seemed fine, though it looked like he could have caught up to a 5th inning double that led to the Jays first run, but that he was wary of the wall and slowed just enough so it fell out of reach.

But the real story of this game to me was Gilgamesh, our Babylonian warrior who rose from the dead this year to become our staff ace. He not only started two consecutive games for the Mariners, but won them both. Can anyone tell me when the last time a pitcher started and won two consecutive games for their team (in a single season). I don't think I've ever heard of it happening, but then I can't ever recall a four day break for an All-Star Game either, so my memory may just be shoddy in this area.

Pitching on four days rest, Gil came out strong, but hit the wall HARD in the sixth as he came out with nothing on his fastball (dropping from 94 to 89 MPH) and gave up no-doubt-about-it home runs on consecutive pitches. Amazingly, Meche got through the rest of the inning with only a long flyball causing real fear, and the M's shutdown bullpen of Sherriff, Smoke, and Fire dominated the Jays. Victory!

Unfortunately, the end result of last night was that the M's gained no ground as the AL West went out and b***h slapped the AL East, and our reward this afternoon is a date with Roy Halladay. No worries, old man Moyer is on the hill and Adam Jones is due to get his first hit of the year.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

We got robbed 

I thought we had done well, getting Travis Chick for the remains of Eddie Guardado.

That was until I saw today's trade the Reds made sending Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner to the Nationals for relievers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray along with middle infielders Royce Clayton and Brendan Harris and prospect Daryl Thompson.

This may hasten the end of the Eddie Guardado will close for the Reds experiment.

Seldom do you see two productive 26-year-old hitters traded for a pair of relievers.

I figure Nationals GM (and former Reds GM) Jim Bowden must have worked the political channels of the Reds perfectly, knowing all the right putdowns to put on the guys he got, and knowing exactly how to make his players appear beautiful to the Reds.

Or else he has compromising pictures of Reds ownership.

In the meantime, the Adam Jones callup is official. Unfortunately, the M's take a step back with the demotion of Choo and return of the Dobbster. No Doyle, and C-Rex remains the Mariner DH and closes in on vesting his 2007 option. I don't get that one either. Of course if Austin Kearns gets you Bill Bray, than Carl Everett would probably only get us Bobby Ayala back.

The Russian Roulette of #5 starters continues. It started when Jeff Weaver was DFA'd to be picked up by the Cardinals. The Cardinals in turn DFA'd Sidney Ponson. Ponson was now picked up by the Yankees, who recently DFA'd Shawn Chacon. Can Joel Pineiro be far behind. C'mon Bill, everybody's doing it!

Adam Jones in Center 

Pretty darn exciting stuff! The M's are calling up there latest phenom in Adam Jones to man center field. I see some are a little nervous that this will be somehow bad for Adam Jones. Bleah.

If he gets platooned, or benched and rots, THAT is bad for Adam Jones. And I will be leading the pack of wolves calling for Hargrove the Horrible's lynching if that should somehow happen. (Might be worth it if it hastens the firing of Horrible).

Seeing playing time in the big leagues is a GOOD thing, and one to be hoorayed mightily. If he's not ready, he'll show it, he'll go back to the minors in a few weeks, and he will STILL be a top prospect.

If he is ready, the M's may have found a piece toward the 2006 pennant.

I don't buy this stuff that promoting a guy too aggressively will cause him to regress as a ballplayer somehow. He'll either sink or swim. If a turn in the big leagues somehow destroys a ballplayer, then he was likely NEVER going to be a big league ballplayer.

Adam Jones is a major leaguer. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Boy is my arm tired 

And no, I'm not channelling Gil Meche, who was moved into the Sunday start, and may then also come back and pitch Thursday. Not sure why, unless the goal is to milk as many miles from Good Gilgamesh before we lose him to (free agency/injury/Bad Gilgamesh). It does save miles on the arm of Prince Felix (who has some work to do before I recrown him, but he'll always be El Cartelua to me), so that's good. I get leery when I see that Gil is averaging 105+ pitches per outing this year.

Interesting debate on Gil Meche is going on. Has he turned a corner, and therefore we should lock him up before he becomes a free agent. Or is this another Gilgamesh illusion like the end of 2004 and we should look to trade him for quality prospects as his value will never be higher. USSM takes the pessimistic (surprise, surprise) view that Gil is done because of the fact that his HR/FB ratio is luck and he hasn't really reduced FB because FB/GB ratio has not changed. Got that? My seemingly-fellow-optimist, Dr. Detecto, counters with the fact that these statistical analysis are not set in stone, and you can tell by the way batters look inept against Gil that he is a new pitcher.

My brain REALLY wants to side with USSM, and avoid putting my heart out there that Gil Meche has truly turned a corner. I am a math guy, and I actually like Dave's arguments. But there is no doubting that the hitters look more off-put against Gil than I ever recall. I believe we are seeing the new improved Gilgamesh and will for awhile.

Here is my thought on what to do. Offer Meche a 3-year, $20M contract TODAY. Its half what we blew on Washburn, and represents a tough chunk of change for Gil to turn down (could you turn down $20M if you had Gil's history). Take the discount while you can get it. If Gil says that he wants to go the free agency route, then he is traded before July is over. There is too much risk in both his mental and physical makeup to get in a bidding war over Gil Meche that may see him get Jarrod Washburn like money. Pitch him only at home until then to maximize his success and keep his trade value up and then send him off to someone (the Mets!) for an outfielder (Lastings Milledge) and some pitching prospects (Mike Pelfrey). Throw in a cranky RF (Carl Everett) with World Series experience if you must.

A side context to this whole debate is whether the M's should be buyers or sellers in this offseason. The two trades appear to send mixed signals, as we dealt a prospect for a veteran in one, and a veteran for a prospect in the other. Yet, it is clear that Bavasi is gearing up for a playoff run, by trading an ineffective veteran to help the M's win more games, and acquiring a much-needed lefty masher. Now, if we can just get Hargrove the Horrible to get on board the same train we'll be okay. I've never seen a manager so misuse the tools given to him by a team.

With all are deals, we should be looking at both 2006 AND 2007. This team is poised for a big step forward in 2007, as its got most of the young pieces in place to allow us to spend a bit on a CF upgrade and top of the rotation pitcher. It will also contend in 2006, and the AL West is ripe for the taking. After two seasons of pathetic play, Mariner fans deserve a playoff run. Combine that with the fact that Bill Bavasi likes his job, and I think the M's will be buyers in July. I trade involving Jeremy Reed seems like a distinct possibility.

Oh yeah, my arm. I know the reason y'all have even read this long is to find out how I did in my tennis tournament. Better than I had hoped. I lost in the semifinals of 4.0 singles to the eventual champion (think a 4.0 Rafael Nadal), and am in the third set of the 4.5 doubles finals (3rd set washed away and to be finished on Wednesday). Unfortunately, it left me without enough energy/game to win an all important mixed doubles pairing with Mrs. Optimist against the club champs (collapsed in the third set). So, all my good tennis counts for nothing on the homefront, and I need to find ways to make Mrs. Optimist happy again. Tonight, I'll be "resting" at home with the kids while Mrs. Optimist takes out her frustrations on the tennis courts. That means I'll be able to see Jose Lopez homer in the All-Star Game, and can look forward to seeing more of Gil Meche on Thursday.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Pepper... 

Its official, JJ Putz is the best closer in baseball. While you may debate the merits of these statistical rankings, there is no denying the emergence of the Fireman. Does Putz have a nickname - he sure needs one. Reason #1 why we won't miss Eddie Guardado.

The Reds Todd Coffey showed why they traded for Guardado. After the Reds scored 5 runs in the ninth to tie the game, Coffey promptly came in and gave up a double and a run-scoring single in the tenth to lose it. Sounds like Guardado is going to be moved right into the closer role for the Reds. High risk, but maybe they'll catch lightning in a bottle and be able to use Coffey where he was so effective early in the year. Now I just have to figure out if I try to FAAB Guardado in my NL-Only league. How much tolerance for risk do I have?

Rumor rumbling at New York Post has Yankees sending last year's savior and this year's flop Shawn Chacon to the M's for Joel Pineiro. I'd take that in a heartbeat - at least Chacon has upside.

Ichiro on YouTube, beginning with cute ad for NTT. Dude just oozes charisma.

Weekend of tennis for the Mariner Optimist. I'm playing 4.0 singles and 4.5 doubles in the Lost Creek Open, which is a small tournament at my home club. No consolation round if I lose, but consolation keg on tap is nice. I am also looking forward to watching the men at Wimbledon (go Not Federer!). Speaking of men at Wimbledon, the "Ladies" final is now being referred to as Boy Meets Man.

Last week, I went through my old cassette collection and found a number of tapes to let my kids play on their old cassette player. "Safety Dance" works for the eight and under set. The nostalgic trip down memory lane caused me to order some CDs online to get some oldies but goodies that I have missed like Boston's "Don't Look Back", a Bryan Adams greatest hit CD, REM "Green", and Van Halen's "5150". "Dreams" has been a favorite of mine ever since a fellow Rice student used that as the theme song to a commemorative videotape of Jones College first Beer-Bike win. While, I was online, I decided to get the All-American Rejects and the latest from the Houston band Blue October and both are excellent albums.

In the span of a week, my three year old has gone from clinging to the side of the pool in fear to doing somersaults underwater while swimming between his mother's legs. Kid is a natural at so many things. We are going to try him out at a tennis camp in a few weeks. He already has a better backhand than his old man. I figure if I can get him with the right training, I can gravy train onto his career and tour the world watching tennis. The three year old might be the next great American hope for tennis (sad state that it is in).

If you blog, and no one knows it, are you really blogging?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So long, Eddie 

According to KJR, the Mariners just dealt Eddie Guardado to the Cincinatti Reds for Travis Chick

Righty who struggled in first year at AA last year at age 21, handling it better this time around, though he has not gotten his K/BB back to his A ball levels of 2004. Entering 2005, Baseball America ranked him as the San Diego Padres 4th best prospect, with the "best fastball."

Reds may intend Guardado to close, with the recent struggles of Todd Coffey. I wish Eddie the best of luck, he was a fun guy to root for, and its been painful watching his struggles this year.

This move may look like a dump trade, signalling that the Mariners are no longer contenders after dropping 5 of 6 in horrific fashion. I think this is the wrong way to look at this. Instead, I see this as getting something for nothing, and finding a way to prevent Hargrove from running Eddie into crucial situations in games.

Lets hope the moves continue. If Bavasi can manage to find similar value for formerly-but-no-longer-effective players like Carl Everett and Julio Mateo, then I will be thrilled. And lets hope we can find a way to pick up some relief and rotation help to fill the void left by these departures.

White-hot Detroit comes in for three and we need to win two, to enter the All-Star Break on an up note.

Other links to Travis Chick:
Chick emerges as top pitching prospect down on farm (2/22/2005)
Reds trade Randa for young arms - Swap with Padres nets right-handers Germano, Chick (7/23/2005)
2005 Top 10 Prospects - Cincinatti Reds (11/30/2005 - Chick at #10 for the Reds)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Still Feelin' Good... 

Yeah, we've lost three straight games to fall back under .500. And our manager is really really really bad. And we lost our centerfielder for the year possibly.

But I didn't watch the game yesterday. And while waiting to see the score on the ticker, I thought - "Hey, Meche is pitching, we'll probably win!" And then, of course, I saw a score of 14-6, and panicked - "Oh no, good Meche is dead again!". Gil gave up 14 runs!

Well, it wasn't as bad as that. Gil left with a lead, and it was overused Julio Mateo who coughed up the rest of an early 5-1 lead. It shows that we still need some pitching help, both in the rotation (the pitcher formerly known as Jo-el) and in the bullpen (another reliever or two besides Putz and Soriano to rely upon).

But the key thing here, is after 2 1/3 brutal years, I had a crazy thought like "Hey, Meche is pitching, we'll probably win!" If that's not a sign that the M's are back, then I don't know what is.

Its been a bad stretch of five games in this homestand, but today is another day, and with Jamie Moyer pitching, we'll be back to .500 and start reeling in the A's again. This time, we pass them.

Monday, July 03, 2006

An open letter to the M's new manager... 

Dear Bill Bavasi,

Yes, I'm calling for you to become the new manager of the Seattle Mariners. Why not? It worked for the Miami Heat, when Pat Riley fired one of those Van Gundy boys and proceeded to take an underachieving squad to its first NBA Championship.

Mr. Bavasi, you can NOT be too pleased to have traded a significant prospect in Asdrubal Cabrera for a benchwarmer. Watching Eduardo Perez sit in two consecutive close games against a team with a left-handed closer has to grate on your nerves. Yesterday's game went from ninth inning win with a Perez fly ball to an extra innings loss that cost you not only first place, but a centerfielder and a reliever as well. All due to the horrible mismanagement of the game by our current manager, who is making me long for the Bob Melvin era.

So, fire Hargrove already! He is killing us, and gonna cost you your job! And before you go to the Dan Rohn well, stop and think long and hard about making yourself the manager. You know what situations you brought players in for. Your GM job is on the line, so do you really want to go to some other option. Rohn can help you with the tactical decisions if there are any you don't grasp. Hard to imagine that you could possibly do a worse job than Hargrove. Don't bunt Jose Lopez, let your bench bats hit and even get the occasional start, try not to make runners steal when their have been six throws to first base already.

In this day and age, it is always the coach/manager who wants and gets more GM responsibility. So why can't the GM want and get more coaching responsibility? All these coaches think they can do the GM job without any business experience. Surely it would be easier for a GM who has grown up at baseball parks to do the manager job.

It would allow you to do everything you want to do with the Mariners. Serve youth by bringing up Snelling and Choo, knowing that your manager isn't going to just hinder their development by letting them rot on the bench. Leverage the great bench you built by actually using Perez and Petagine as pinch-hitters. Send Everett to the bench so that your option year that you never envisioned Everett approaching (and certainly not with a 300 slugging percentage) never vests. Actually try out a sixth starting pitcher. Let your dominant bullpen dominate.

If nothing else, the M's get a little more airtime on Sportscenter. Why should the next GM of the Mariners and whoever his handpicked coach is get all the glory for the M's resurgence? It can happen this year, if we can just get rid of the biggest obstacle to success.

The one major team that has won a championship in Seattle, the Supersonics, sparked the run by firing their coach in early season and bringing in Lenny Wilkens. This team has the pieces to make a run to the playoffs, and once there, anything can happen with this offense.

The window of opportunity is there to salvage this season, and your stewardship of the Mariners. You just have to get rid of the guy who is undermining your team, and replace him with a guy who understands the game.

You, Mr. Bavasi. You.

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