Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Need a new 3B Coach! 

Bases loaded, one out, down by two and Ichiro slides a single through the right side of the infield. What do you do?

You've got decent speed in Yuniesky Betancourt rounding third, but you are contending with the arm of Vladamir Guerrero.

The key to this whole decision is the realization that you have Mr. Double Play, Jose Vidro, on deck.

You have gotta be aggressive and go for the run and the tie game!

Predictably, the Mariners strand all three baserunners and trail by one heading into the bottom of the fourth.

If we lose this game by a run, it will be the second loss in a week where blame can be laid squarely on our third base coach (ran us out of several runs in 13-12 loss to Devil Rays a week ago).

I've about given up on my dream of the M's firing Hargrove, or any coach for that matter, so maybe its time to aim lower and just hope to get Carlos Garcia sent back to coach 1B where he can't do so much damage.

Come on M's, Rally for the King, and get us back over the HUMP!


Jeff Weaver opens his mouth, and essentially tells the M's brass that he should be re-inserted into the rotation.

Later that same afternoon, the juggernaut that has been the M's offense comes to a screeching halt after letting Ervin Santana off the first inning ropes.


So far, the M's are holding firm to idea that Weaver needs a rehab start or two in AAA. This is not setting well with Jeffy, though, who has never pitched a rehab assignement. The article in the Times this morning reads:
Mariners manager Mike Hargrove admits he doesn't think Weaver "will be too happy about it" but will try to talk him into pitching two minor-league games.

"He hasn't pitched competitively in three weeks," Hargrove said. "It's just to see how he'll do in different game situations."
Three weeks? Weaver hasn't pitched competitively in seven months!

Hargrove is talking politely in the media, and we'd all like to see Jeffy succeed as a Mariner, but there is no reason to even consider letting Weaver near the M's until he has proven he can get AAA hitters out.

The fact that Jeffy is whining about it in the media is amazing to me. Maybe he truly thinks he has earned the right to pitch in the majors. But he can't have it both ways. If his "injury" is the reason he sucked this year, then that level of suckitude merits a rehab start or four. If its not the reason for his injury, then he deserves to be let go for his performance, with the knowledge that he has seen his last big dollar contract.

I would think the quotes I would see from Jeffy would look more like: "Yeah, I haven't helped the team so far, but my arm wasn't right. I've got the issue taken care of, and I'm just looking forward to showing that I can help this team win. I'll do whatever the team asks, and if that means spending some time in AAA, then let me go and give the Tacoma fans a treat."

Maybe he thinks he can force the M's to release him, and then get the "Safeco Bounce" of success that has happened to so many ex-Mariners in recent years. If this is not his goal, then he should keep his mouth shut and do what the organization who is paying him $8 million asks him to do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weaver on the Horizon? 

From Rotoworld:
Jeff Weaver, on the DL since May 11 because of tendinitis in his shoulder, threw close to 70 pitches over four innings in a simulated game Tuesday.
Weaver hopes to return this weekend without making a rehab start first. If he gets his wish, then it will be one and done for Ryan Feierabend.
This "simulated" game is too close to reality for me as it still is taking Weaver 70 pitches to get through four innings. I'm guessing his line looked something like 4 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 7 ER against a lineup of 9 Willie Bloomquists.

Can't wait for his return. I think I'll go claim him in the D-O-V Smackdown League tonight just to enjoy the mockery, and to ensure my leaguemates think I'm an easy mark.

Honestly, I'm hoping that Weaver has figured out whatever is wrong (or that *wink,wink* he has healed) and if he returns to the big leagues, its because he has proven that he remembers how to pitch like he was a World Series hero, and not the pathetic sod we saw put up an impressive (is depressive a word?) string of 6 losses in 6 starts . The optimist in me hopes that he still has the ability to get major league hitters out, because it would be great to get the good Jeff Weaver that has been unicorn-rare since he last wore a Tiger uniform.

I'm hoping that this little press release was engineered by Jeffy and his agent, as I can't imagine that the M's brass want to repeat Dream Weaver's April without being able to point to some stellar AAA outings as proof that he can do anything other than hurt the M's.

Cuz if the M's bring Weaver back to pitch in a Seattle uniform and he looks like he did in April, then heads deserve to roll in the M's front office. Fool me once... Personally, I'm hoping that Feierabend pitches so well tonight that it gives the M's the time to leisurely evaluate Jeff with 30 days of AAA rehab starts that better include at least one where he throws six shutout innings.

Or at least where he gives up fewer runs than innings pitched, right?

Update: Here is the link to Geoff Baker's blog where the story probably originated.

Now pitching.... Ryan Feierabend 

Welcome back to the Show! And here's the hopes and dreams of the 2007 Mariners, which we'll place on your left arm.

Don't get me wrong, kid, you'll get some help in the form of a fantastic defense and an offense that is averaging 10 runs a game for the past week.

And its not like we have high expectations, as to keep your job you only have to pitch better than Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver.

But, if you fail, and the M's get it in their crazy heads to bring back HoRam or Weaver again....

Then the Mariner nation may never forgive you.

Here's a quick link to his 2006 and before minor league stats and his 2007 stats. The stats show a guy who has consistently struck out about 7 a game, which is borderline solid. His walks per game have slowly crept up with each promotion, but with rounding is staying in the 3 walk range. He has been fantastic at keeping the ball in the park, giving up less than 1 HR per 9 innings his whole minor league career and half that in AAA.

Our favorite Insider, Jason Churchill, had a nice writeup on Ryan last year. Here's a short excerpt.
Strengths: Feierabend is an intelligent pitcher whose best attribute may be his ability to put what he’s learned to use on the mound significantly quicker than most young arms. His pick-off move is second only to fellow southpaw Travis Blackley in the entire system and his physical tools grade very high.

His command has been an enormous key to his success this season and his confidence is a driving force.

Weaknesses: Feierabend’s stuff is solid but it’s not good enough to hold up when his control goes south and certainly won’t get him through many starts when he falters when things get dicey. But he’s improving in all areas and is truly a work-in-progress that’s actually progressing, and well, too.

It may be wise for Feierabend to continue working on a cutter or a true slider to use versus lefties, though he’s yet to hit the wall against the power bats from that side of the plate.

Once deemed a project, Feierabend is now a success story. Even at 20.
Amazingly, if you Google "Ryan Feierabend", this link comes up #5 on the list. Back in 2004, when I was a more prolific blogger, others were comparing Feierabend to a young Barry Zito. Last year, Churchill compared him to Noah Lowry. This year, Baseball Prospectus uses the more pedestrian description of "innings eater". Here's what Baseball Prospectus wrote about Feierabend when ranking the M's prospects this offseason:
6. Ryan Feierabend, lhp
DOB: 8/22/85
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted: 3rd round, 2003, Ohio HS
What he did in 2006: 4.28 ERA at AA (153.2-156-55-127), 3.71 ERA at MLB (17-15-7-11)
The Good: Southpaw with consistently improving stuff to complement ever-present plus pitchability. Lively fastball sits at 88-90 mph with excellent location, and hitters are kept off balance with the best changeup in the system. He's very mature, and pitches fearlessly.
The Bad: Feierabend doesn't have a usable breaking ball at this point, and its development will be the key to his career, as he has the body, delivery, and stamina of a starter, and has only marginal value as a reliever who doesn't miss a lot of bats.
The Irrelevant: Feierabend's hometown of Grafton, Ohio has produced one other big leaguer. Shortstop Ed McKean is one of the all-time great Cleveland Spiders, though he spent the final year of his career, 1899, with the St. Louis Perfectos, avoiding having any part of the worst team in big league history.
In A Perfect World, He Becomes: An effective innings eater in the rotation.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Low – Feierabend will remain young for his level, beginning 2007 as a 21-year-old in the Triple-A rotation.
That's it, Ryan. That's all we need you to be. An effective innings eater, replacing the ineffective ones that the M's spent $10.65 million dollars and one stellar setup man on. Do your job well enough, and one day the Mariners may overpay you to be a lefty innings eater someday too.

Or maybe you can still be Barry Zito (and better yet, get Barry Zito money). Either way, you're not Jeff Weaver, and that's enough to make me very excited for tonight's start. Mariner nation will be rooting for you to eat those innings and give the M's a chance they never had with Jeffy on the mound. A chance to win.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Over the Hump! 

Given Batista's start, I would not have thought we were gonna win this one...

Happily, Adrian Beltre arrived to save the day with two bombs, and we opened up a can of Whoop Ass on the Fat Man, Bartolo Colon.

The M's have officially arrived, back into relevance for the first time since 2003.

ESPN won't notice for several weeks, but your Seattle Mariners are a playoff contender.

Now that this monkey is off our back, it is time to get back to the business of chasing down the Angels, pummelling them mercilessly, then laughing while they choke on our dust.

The M's are in the hunt, the Yankees are in the cellar with the Devil Rays, and Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo and Rich Aurilia are all safely tucked away in the National League where they can't hurt us.

Enjoy it! If you're reading this, you're a diehard like me, and you deserve any pleasure you get from the M's after the last three years of abject misery and unappreciated optimism.

Ryan Feierabend looks to take the hill tomorrow with a well-rested bullpen behind him and Felix waiting in the wings for Wednesday. M's need to take it one game at a time as they sweep the Angels...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Memorial Hump Day!!! 

2 games over .500 and facing the white-hot Angels. Miguel Batista appears overmatched by Bartolo Colon. We're on the road. And we haven't been 3 games over .500 since 2003.

Previous Hump Day efforts in 2007 have led to a 6-game losing streak just once (April 16-22). The other three times, we lost 3 of our next 4 games. With a rookie going Tuesday, but Felix going Wednesday, you can see where probabilities lie...

A losing streak could seal our doom for 2007 and leave us 7.5 games out headed into June, when young men's thought turn to the draft and the upcoming trade deadline season. This may please some of my more pessimistic readers. If so, I gotta ask, "What are you doing reading my blog?!?!! If you want pessimism (you may call it realism), head over to USS Mariner!"

For the first time in 4 years, the Mariner attempt to get over the .500+2 hump falls on a national holiday! That's gotta mean something! Enjoy the barbecue, and go M's!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Happy Hump Day! 

And no I don't mean Wednesday.

Do you realize that the Mariners have not been THREE games over .500 since the 2003 season when we finished 93-69? Remember those heady days? Since then, every time we get to two games over .500 (which has been rare), we lose, and usually we lose badly. Not only do we lose badly, but it usually kicks off a streak of losing badly, as the M's rapidly roll backward down the hill and Jill comes tumbling after.

So, in recognition of the magnitude of this hump that we can't seem to cross, I'm going to point it out every time it happens in hopes that I can jinx it. A win tonight and we can finally get on with winning the AL West by putting two games over .500 firmly in the rear view mirror.

Past Hump Day disasters include:
- 5/5/07 (13-11 vs Yankees) Jeff Weaver (you'll see a theme here) pitches "well enough to get another start" in an 8-1 loss. The M's lose the next day, and have just now recovered from this loss.
- 4/17/07 (5-3 vs Twins) Jeff Weaver nightmare 11-2 loss kicks off a six game losing streak.
- 4/3/07 (2-0 vs A's) Batista gets smoked 9-0. This is followed up by four straight days of snow and a 14-3 loss to the Bosox.
- 7/2/06 (42-40 vs Rockies). Rockies win 4-3 in 11 innings after we blow a 2-1 lead in the 8th. This kicks off a six game losing streak.
- 4/7/06 (3-1, and Felix on the mound!) Joe Blanton shuts out the M's and Felix 5-0 in the first of many bad defeats in 2006. This was start of four game losing streak
- In 2005, we never even got to the hump with our best record all year being 12-11.
- 2004 was even worse as we went wire to wire with a losing record, and the closest we got to the hump was 6-8.

Tonight's Hump looks like another tough one to cross with Cha Seung Baek facing John Lackey and Vlad the Impaler in game two of a three game set. But I think TODAY is the day we get over this hump and move back into the discussion of playoff contenders!

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Funk Bruthers 

It seems as if the Mariners have the newest pair of Bash Brothers. Only there are no steroids involved with this slugging tandem. Instead, they just support each other in that any game where one homers, the other feels obligated to homer as well.

Last night marked the third time this season when Kenji Johjima and Jose Lopez would crush home runs in the same game, and all three times, the Mariners have won.

Being that 2007 is the year of the Funk Blast, we'll drop the Bash moniker, and instead dub Kenji Johjima and Jose Lopez, the Funk Bruthers.

Remember April 25th? 2-0 win against Oakland with a game winning blast from Kenji Johjima. The next night, Lopez homers in 4-2 win to complete the sweep of the hated A's.

The next day, the Funk Bruthers got in sync as they would both homer in a 7-4 win against the Royals.

A week later, they would both homer in the May 4th 15-11 thrashing of the Yankees.

Kenji would slip in a home run on Friday's 3-0 win over the Yankees, with Jose begging off as he had places to go on a Friday night. And now last night's heroics would reunite the Funk Bruthers.

Jose now leads the Mariners in home runs with six and Kenji is nipping at his heels with five. More importantly, the M's are 7-1 in games where either of these player find the bleachers, and 3-0 when they both do. Dating back to last year, the M's are 24-8 in games where either one homers.

Heck, the downfall of the M's can be traced directly to the dreadful August swoon. During the month of August last year, the Funk Bruthers combined for a single home run.

So, next time you are looking for the big bats of Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson, Raul Ibanez or Jose Guillen to go yard, think again...

As go the Funk Bruthers, so go the M's.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Guess the Return of the King 

From Rotoworld today...

The Mariners have pushed back Felix Hernandez's return from an elbow injury another six days. He's now scheduled to return May 15 against the Angels.

Of course, it's better than 50-50 that he'll be pushed back again. "He's fine, but we feel this is the smart thing to do with him, and he felt comfortable with it," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He will throw a simulated game on Tuesday [in Detroit], have another bullpen on the 11th, and if everything goes well, he'll start on the 15th." The Mariners are doing the right thing by being careful here. What they did wrong was to keep setting dates for his return in the first place. First it was May 4, then May 9 and now May 15.

They don't get it. The Mariners are not making mistakes announcing multiple return dates for Felix Hernandez. This is a shrewd ploy to bump up attendance. After seeing the spikes in ticket sales for the Yankees May 4th and Tigers May 9th game, the Mariners have decided to see if they get a similar spike for the May 15th home game against the Angels.

At this point, you can only be concerned or at best cautiously optimistic that the Return of the King is not too far away. In the meantime, the Mariners offense is playing well, while their rotation is a mess.

The team really needs 2 of Batista, HoRam and Weaver to step up and approach mediocrity. My money is on Batista and ....

What the heck, I'll guess that Weaver turns it around and beomes mediocre instead of terrible.

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