Hello all-- Jon here. We have moved Bleeding Blue and Teal away from blogspot, and we can now be found at www.bleedingblueandteal.com/. The new site is a big improvement, so we hope you like it as much as we do. All the old posts have been taken over there as well, so if you're looking for something you can find it there. Please head over there are make an account so we can start rebuilding the BBT community, and don't forget to update any links or favorites you might have!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
by Scott WeberSince the release of Frank Thomas, the league has been buzzing about where the aging future HOF’er will end up. Texas? Tampa Bay? Seattle? With Seattle once seen (still?) as the main suitor for Barry Bonds in the DH spot, Frank Thomas seems to be the next logical step. He’s been a solid character his entire career (minus a few front office scuffles), he is one of the few sluggers to make it out of the steroid era unscathed and un-accused, and now he’s available. Seems like a slam dunk, right? Wrong.
Thomas was an elite player. Now, he is a serviceable one, but no longer has the impact on a lineup he once had. Truly, he remains one of the most iconic baseball players in this era, but he comes with a large amount of question marks. His constant battles with the front office in Toronto are well-documented, eventually ending in his outright release instead of a demotion to the bench, or platoon. That has to be something Bavasi and Armstrong are wary of, despite his history. If they were aiming to avoid any media problems with Barry Bonds, Thomas’s abrupt exit must be a bit disconcerting to the front office. But all character issues aside, let’s take a look at the impact Frank Thomas would have on the 2008 Mariners.
Frank Thomas brings several assets to the Mariner lineup – mainly pure power, and patience. Thomas has a career OBP of .420, a whopping .118 higher than his career B.A. of .302. Even in recent healthy years with reduced skills, Thomas has managed to keep his OBP a full 100 points higher than his average. This year, despite slumping and only hitting .167 in 60 AB (settle down, sample size), he managed to smash 3 homers and keep his OBP a Jose Lopez-ish .306. Not good, not what you want from Thomas, but if that’s how often he’s getting on base even in a slump this bad – that’s acceptable.
Thomas is a clear upgrade over Jose Vidro. Vidro can’t field, neither can Thomas anymore. Vidro has no power, Thomas can still bash. Vidro has mediocre plate patience, Thomas’s is quite good. Vidro’s batting average will be higher, but at what cost? If Vidro reaches his plate appearances option, it’s bad news for the Mariners in 2009, who need to dump Vidro’s salary and roster spot. Yet another incentive to ink Thomas to a one year deal.
Signing Frank Thomas would be a low-risk, high-reward move. I’d be in favor of the Mariners signing Frank Thomas to a 1 year deal with an option for a 2nd year, leaving open the chance of him returning if he does live up to his 2006 Oakland form of .270/.381/39/114. Even if he reaches last year’s production, this lineup improves considerably with him over Vidro. Thomas brings excitement to the Mariners, a hall of famer with a huge intimidation factor to the lineup, something the team sorely needs. I don’t care how old you are, the name Frank Thomas still means something when you come to the plate, and having Thomas’s ability to get on base and bring people home means a hell of a lot more than Jose Vidro’s ability to slap singles up the middle and ground into fielder’s choices.
Bringing Thomas to Seattle would also allow the Mariners the luxury of keeping Jeff Clement in AAA, as Jon touched on in his initial post. The Mariners need Clement to develop into another power bat and reliable glove to play every day (and DH when he’s not, a la Joe Mauer) – and they need him at catcher (I want Johjima gone, another topic for another day). This clears first base/DH for Raul Ibanez, left field for whoever steps up *insert Al Martin joke here*, Wlad in right, and Ichiro in center in 2009. I don’t know about you, but I like our chances better in 2009 if Frank Thomas is a Mariner in 2008, regardless if he remains one in 2009 or not.
As many of you already know, long time slugger Frank Thomas was cut by the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. As you also know, Seattle could use a more productive DH that can effectively hit in the middle of the order.
We've already heard more than enough speculation about Barry Bonds possibly coming to Seattle, so the Big Hurt is going to stir up his fair share of debate around here. I am not opposed to such an acquisition, but I would like Jeff Clement to get a shot at it first, as you probably know. (It will be interesting to see how long Clement remains in AAA. The longer he stays down there, the likelihood of Seattle letting Kenji Johjima walk increases, in my opinion). M's GM Bill Bavasi said that he would talk to scouts that watched Thomas play during Spring Training, so he is a legitimate option.
Anyways, I'm not going too deep into this for now and will turn to discussion over to you. How would you like to see Frank Thomas as Seattle's DH?
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Wladimir Balentien, Seattle's top MLB-ready outfield prospect, injured himself in last night's ballgame while attempting to make a sliding catch. It is currently unknown exactly what he hurt, most likely his knee, but Ryan Divish reports that he slid into some sort of concrete barrier and had to be carried off the field.
There is no official report indicating the severity of the injury, but it's not looking to good. Jason A. Churchill of Prospect Insider is saying that the injury is "almost certainly a break or a tear," which obviously doesn't bode well.
With current Seattle right fielder Brad Wilkerson struggling at the plate, Balentien may have had a shot at a MLB starting role before the All-Star break. It is now more important than ever for Wilkerson to snap out of his season long slump.
Nothing is certain and hopefully the injury isn't as devastating as the initial speculation. I'll update this post when I learn more.
UPDATE 12:29 pm PST - Ryan Divish, now my favorite Mariner insider, has an update on Wlad. Mariner manager John McLaren told him that the x-rays were negative and that it's looking like a deep bone bruise.
It's okay, you can breathe now.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Former Seattle Mariners backup catcher and cult favorite John Marzano was found dead at the bottom of a staircase at his home in Philadelphia earlier today. It is still unknown what the cause of death was, whether he died as a result of falling down the stairs or if he had a heart attack. Marzano is survived by his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren. He was 45.
(Note: What's up with the snow? Last I checked it's almost May!)
Richie Sexson missed the series finale against the A's with nagging pain in his leg and shoulder, and was originally thought to miss the opener against the Angels as well. The reason why fans should be concerned is because it was nagging injuries such as these that zapped Richie's power numbers last season. Obviously the day off in Oakland did him good, because he did indeed play in the opener against the Angles, homering twice and narrowly missing a third. Keep an eye on him, though.
Erik Bedard could return from the disabled list on his first day of eligibility, as expected, meaning his next start may be on April 24th against the Orioles. Today he'll be throwing off a mound for the first time since he was placed on the DL. This hip problem is troubling, though, as he has had a history of it flaring up. I think I read somewhere that he has had hip problems as far back as ten years ago. It's obvious that he puts a lot of stress on his hip, and the Hardball Times thinks he could be seriously injured. I think, no matter what the problem is, Bedard can still be effective enough over the next two seasons, but I think Seattle would be foolish to pursue a long term deal with him.
J.J. Putz will pitch (or already has pitched) a simulated game tonight in Anaheim. He is already eligible to come off the DL, but it's looking like he will return no sooner than the 23rd against Baltimore. He has had no setbacks so far.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I'd like to take a moment to introduce the newest member of Bleeding Blue and Teal, Scott Weber. Scott has been a reader here for quite a while, and I was pleased when he accepted my invitation to write here. He is extremely knowledgeable in regards to the team and baseball in general, and also has formal writing experience, writing music reviews at absolutepunk.com for quite a while. He should be making his first appearance here sometime after the weekend.
Weebs should be a very valuable addition to BBT. Welcome!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Just in case you were getting sick of the performance enhancing drugs witch hunt that has been tumbling out of control over the past few seasons, Miguel Tejada has singlehandedly kicked off a new one. In case you haven't heard, it was recently discovered that Tejada was born in 1974, rather than the 1976 that has been listed in MLB media guides throughout his career. Tejada will turn 34 in May.
If you recall, a similar thing happened with current Mets pitcher Orlando Hernandez. He was thought to have been born in 1969, but now the common belief is that he was born four years prior. Some reports have him being born as early as 1957.
Since Tejada's case isn't the first of it's kind, bold acquisitions are being made and fingers are being pointed. Some of the bigger names that have been accused of providing a false age are David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, and Andruw Jones.
Ortiz and Pujols are more believable to me, though, as Jones would have been younger than 19 years old when he popped those World Series home runs back in 1996 if his age is incorrect. (Ed. Note: I got that backwards.. it actually does make sense that Jones' age would be incorrect.)
Anyway, I'm glad to see a lighter scandal take some of the focus away from performance enhancing drugs fiasco.
Anyone want to accuse any current members of the Seattle Mariners of being older than their listed age? Yuniesky Betancourt maybe? That would be my guess, if I was forced to make one.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I think everyone saw this coming, even though it isn't the right call. I would have rather seen a guy like Jon Huber, or even another lefty like Cesar Jimenez or Jake Woods.
Brandon Morrow didn't find his control while pitching at AA West Tennessee, issuing 6 walks in 7.1 innings. He also had a minor bicep injury in his time there. I do not believe Morrow should be with the big club right now. How long can he really last with the fastball being the only effective pitch in his arsenal? Some pitchers can get away with this, but they have much better control. Morrow is all over the place, and unless he figures out how to throw his secondary pitches for strikes he's not going to be successful. Of course I hope he, along with Arthur Rhodes, prove me wrong and dominate.
In other news, recently DFA'd Charlton Jimerson was granted free agency, but re-signed with Seattle anyway. He is back in the minor leagues and is not on the 40-man roster, meaning Jeremy Reed now has an edge at making the big league roster sometime this season.
Source: John Hickey
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Mariners defeat the Kansas City Royals 11-6 to improve to 7-8. Here's a few more observations after 15 games:
- Manager John McLaren brought Ryan Rowland-Smith into the game for the 6th inning and veteran Arthur Rhodes in the 9th. There had been some debate among fans about which lefty would replace the recently demoted Eric O'Flaherty as the teams LOOGY, and based on tonight's game it looks like it will be Rhodes. RRS went 1 inning, allowing 3 hits and 2 runs, while Rhodes managed to get one out and was pulled after allowing a couple hits. I would personally like to see RRS get the nod in close and late situations, at least until Rhodes proves he can still get big league hitters out. Rhodes didn't show any spectacular stuff, as far as I could see anyway, but RRS wasn't so great either.
- I love Jose Lopez post game interviews. He continues to excel in the 2-hole, by the way.
- With Erik Bedard DL bound, it's hard to tell who may take it roster spot. It'll almost certainly be a pitcher, but who? The Mariners broadcasting team seem to think it's going to be Brandon Morrow, but he still hasn't found his control. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Seattle called Rhodes up before he was said to be ready, so I suppose it's a possibility. Jon Huber and Cesar Jimenez have been pitching pretty well in AAA Tacoma so far, so I wouldn't mind seeing either one of those guys. I would have liked to see Jimenez rather than Rhodes called up to replace O'Flaherty. He has struck out 9 in 5 innings so far.
- If I remember correctly, J.J. Putz will be eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, and has been doing very well in his rehabilitation so far. He hasn't had a minor league rehab assignment or a simulated game so it's hard to tell, but he may be on track to return on his first day of eligibility or soon after.
It was already unlikely that Erik Bedard would be able to go for his next scheduled start, but now it appears he's heading for the DL.
Don't panic: This isn't all bad. First of all, it's good that Seattle is going to sit him out and try to get him healthy now, in April, rather than having him constantly mess up the rotation or hurt himself further down the road. Second, the injury took place a while ago so he'll be eligible to come off the DL in just nine days. R.A. Dickey will take his next start. No word on who will take Bedard's roster spot. Unfortunately, Brandon Morrow may be the second Mariner pitcher to be promoted too quickly this season (Arthur Rhodes being the first).
None of us could have expected Bedard to make all of his starts. He's a fragile pitcher and the team has to focus on minimizing his time out. This is a good step.
Happy Jackie Robinson day!
Monday, April 14, 2008
As I speculated last night, Mike Morse has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a dislocated left shoulder he suffered on an awkward dive attempt in yesterday's ballgame. Seattle was probably thrilled at the chance to get Morse off of the 25-man roster without losing him entirely, as he is of little use to the ballclub as of now.
Veteran lefty Arthur Rhodes has been called up to take his spot on the roster. I haven't been a fan of Rhodes this time around, and I'm not at all convinced that he can still get it done, but even with my doubts these latest flurry of moves get Seattle's roster back to where it should be: 12-man pitching staff, 4-man bench.
Mark Lowe, R
Arthur Rhodes, L
Roy Corcoran, R
Sean Green, R
Ryan Rowland-Smith, L
R.A. Dickey, R
Cha-Seung Baek, R
Willie Bloomquist, INF/OF
Miguel Cairo, INF/LF
Greg Norton, CIF/COF
Jaime Burke, C
The bench doesn't contain a single true outfielder, but manager John McLaren's history of choosing against using defensive replacements late in the game makes it somewhat obsolete.
Both Dickey and Rhodes, Seattle's latest callups, are available for tonight's game against the Royals.
The Kansas City Royals roll into the Emerald City for a brief two game set against our Seattle Mariners.
4/14 - Jarrod Washburn vs. Zack Greinke
4/15 - Miguel Batista vs. John Bale
Matchups to Watch:
Among Mariner hitters Raul Ibanez has found the most success against Greinke, hitting .500 (5/10) with 2 doubles and a triple. Bale pitched in Japan in two of the past three seasons and is unknown to most of the Mariner hitters, however Richie Sexson is 2 for 4 with 3 RBI. Batista and Washburn haven't had too many problems throughout their careers with the players expected to be in Kansas City's lineup.
Keys to the Series: No time for me to get to the keys this time, but I may update them later. The next two series are short 2-gamers, so it's hardly worth the time.
I believe the Royals are playing decent baseball lately so this isn't exactly an easy series.
There were rumors of this last night, and now it's official. Seattle sent struggling reliever Eric O'Flaherty to the minors and recalled knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Geoff Baker reports that O'Flaherty was optioned to AAA Tacoma, though USS Mariner says he's heading to AA West Tennessee. As I've mentioned before, this won't be a permanent fix.
Seattle's bullpen, as it stands now:
Mark Lowe, R
Sean Green, R
Roy Corcoran, R
Ryan Rowland-Smith, L
Cha-Seung Baek, R
R.A. Dickey, R
Seattle will want another lefty in there sooner than later, whether it is Cesar Jimenez, a healthy Arthur Rhodes or a mentally rehabbed Eric O'Flaherty, so someone will have to go. Having two long relievers is pointless, so either Baek will be traded or waived or Dickey will be sent back to AAA. This decision is for another day, and I assume it will be determined by how effective Dickey is. Baek hasn't pitched well in relief after a stellar spring, and Seattle may finally be willing to cut ties with him if Dickey does his job better.
GM Bill Bavasi should have traded Baek right after Spring Training while his value was relatively high.
Note (11:18 am PST) - If Baek and Dickey hang around the roster for longer than expected, I would have to say it's an obvious indication that Erik Bedard is gearing up for his first DL stint as a Mariner. Emphasis on first.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
After struggling in pressure situations for most of the season, Eric O'Flaherty was seemingly demoted from the later innings and appeared in what was supposed to be long relief for emergency starter Cha-Seung Baek. O'Flaherty gutted out 2.2 innings, but allowed 6 runs on 8 hits.
I already wrote about how Seattle should start using Ryan Rowland-Smith as the teams LOOGY over O'Flaherty, and now it would make sense that to demote him even further. AAA Tacoma seems to be his next stop. In fact, there has already been a rumor that he has already been sent to the minors in favor of R.A. Dickey; this coming from a commenter over at Geoff Baker's blog that was supposedly in the clubhouse after the game.
Such a move makes perfect sense because Seattle is short a long reliever after Cha-Seung Baek started in place of the hurting Erik Bedard. Having two long relievers on your team isn't the best strategy, and either Baek or Dickey would have to be sent down or waived after the bullpen sorts itself out. With O'Flaherty gone (presumably), Arthur Rhodes seems like the next in line to get a shot in Seattle after Dickey. I don't believe Rhodes is quite ready yet, but he could be up in the next 10 days or so.
Mike Morse is also likely on the move. He hasn't sustained his Spring Training hot streak at the plate and has continually looked like a fool in the outfield. He hurt himself making an awkward diving attempt on a sinking line drive (that most right fielders probably could have caught without diving) and was later removed from the game. Such a move wouldn't happen right away, but after the team runs some test on his shoulder (or whatever it is that ails him) he could find his way onto the 15-day disabled list, likely opening the door for Jeremy Reed. Wlad Balentien is also a possibilty, but the team would have to decide to bench Brad Wilkerson for that to happen, and I believe that Seattle is going to give Wilkerson some more time before such a move happens.
The Morse situation is more speculation than anything at this point, but if Seattle sees an opportunity to get Morse off of the team without losing him I think they'll take it. Such a move could be announced as early as tomorrow, but I wouldn't expect it for at least day or two.
Once again, none of this is official. Let's see how many of these things come true.
Erik Bedard was expected to pitch today against the rival Los Angeles Angels, but was scratched due to the same hip pain and inflammation that postponed his last start two games.
It's good that Bedard has been up front with the coaches and training staff, but things are going to get difficult if Bedard continues to miss his scheduled starts. I'll update this post after the game if any news on when Bedard will make his next start surfaces.
Adriane Beltre also got the day off
with stiffness in his thumb. His left thumb has been hurting him since last season when he tore a ligament that never properly healed, but don't get too concerned. Manager John McLaren said earlier in the year that the team would try and give him regular days off to keep him healthy. (Ed. Note: As Patrick mentioned in the comments section, Beltre is out with a hamstring, not a thumb injury. I skimmed through the report before the game and must have read it wrong. Him being out of the lineup appears to be a precautionary measure and the injury doesn't seem serious.)
Seattle already won the series so they're willing to take it easy in the finale. A sweep would still be nice though...
Saturday, April 12, 2008
(Before you make any assumptions, this post has nothing to do with Johjima's early season struggles.)
Kenji Johjima is a very good offensive catcher and is also among the best in the league at throwing out wannabe basestealers. Other than those two things, what is the benefit of having him around? Does he even deserve to be Seattle's starting catcher?
Seattle signed Joh-K prior to the 2006 season in order to bring some much needed offensive stability to the position. He has done a very good job in that regard, and is one of the top offensive catchers in the American League behind guys like Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada and Ivan Rodriguez. While he is succeeding in the job he was brought in to do, it's something he's not doing that should make him a candidate to lose his job. Simply put, Johjima isn't the best signal caller on the team.
Opponents hit .272 against Felix Hernandez when caught by Johjima, but only .243 when backup Jaime Burke is behind the plate or .209 when Yorvit Torrealba was catching him.
Need more proof?
Jarrod Washburn: .278 with Johjima, .240 with Burke.
Miguel Batista: .283 with Johjima, .240 with Burke.
Brandon Morrow: .270 with Johjima, .161 with Burke.
Even the dreaded Horacio Ramirez was looking good when Johjima wasn't the catcher. Opponents hit a whopping .350 off of him with Johjima behind the plate, but only .233 when Burke was catching.
This same trend extends throughout the entire Seattle Mariners pitching staff with very few exceptions. It's obvious that he's not helping Seattle's pitchers maximize their abilities. What's worse is that there has been some debate about this ever since Johjima was signed, it's just never gotten much attention. There could be a million reasons why hitters are doing so much better against Seattle pitchers with Johjima behind the plate, but two things come to mind for me:
- Some have said that Johjima may be tipping pitches to the hitters by setting up too early. He tends to move inside or outside very early or even before the pitchers windup, giving the hitter a longer opportunity to figure out where the pitch location may be, either by himself or with assistance from a baserunner. Seattle starter Miguel Batista became aware of this on April 11th against the Rays. It appeared that he suspected the runner on second, Akinori Iwamura, of giving signals to the hitter. At that time he called a quick conference and Johjima began setting up much later.
- I have noticed that Johjima doesn't frame pitches as aggressively as most catchers. This popped out to me during that same Rays series, this time on April 8th with Erik Bedard on the mound. It appears to me that unless a pitch is right where Johjima's target is, he doesn't bother trying to make it look good. While Bedard was pitching to the Rays it seemed that there were many borderline pitches that went for balls that could have realistically been called strikes if Johjima made any attempt to make it look good. There is an art to it, and if I recall correctly the Atlanta Braves catchers of the '90s were quite good at this. The pitch isn't always going to be perfect, but that doesn't mean the catcher can't at least make it a tough call for the umpire.
Johjima shouldn't be catching for the Mariners. That may be a lot harder to say if he was hitting fifth, sixth or even seventh in the lineup and was an important offensive factor, but the truth is he's not. This year he's hitting eighth, possibly the most undesirable spot in the lineup. Since he is not being relied upon to be an offensive force, I think the starting job should go to current backup Jaime Burke and/or top prospect Jeff Clement.
With Burke you get an experienced signal caller that brings the best out of the pitchers. He's not a great hitter, but he makes good contact and seems to come through when called upon. It's unlikely that he could hit .300 as a starter, but I believe that he could put up decent enough numbers from the 8-hole in the lineup. Clement has more offensive upside than Johjima, but may be a work in progress with some of his catching fundamentals. While he may not be the best at blocking the pitch in the dirt or throwing runners out, I've heard that he possesses great leadership skills and calls a decent ballgame. I believe either of these guys would help the team out more than Johjima can, either alone or in a platoon situation. Runs saved are just as good as runs scored.
So what would the team do with Johjima if he were removed from his starting role? $5M is a lot to pay your backup, so it would make the most sense to try and trade him, especially since this is the final year of his contract. As a "rent-a-player," Johjima would be difficult to trade until later in the season, when another team may decide they need a veteran catcher for the stretch run.
What to do with Johjima isn't the point. The point is that he shouldn't be catching on a regular basis. I think the Seattle Mariners organization may be on to this already, because it seems like Jaime Burke starts whenever a pitcher needs to get back on track, rather than on the standard "day game after a night game." Maybe Burke will catch the struggling Miguel Batista when Kansas City rolls into town next week.
UPDATE 3:36 pm PST: Baseball Musings came across this post but is not convinced Johjima should be benched or traded, however they do mention that the Mariners have a higher winning percentage when Burke starts over Johjima (.583 compared to .526).
UPDATE 4/14 at 2:36 pm PST: Here's a John Hickey blog post from 2006 in which writes, "Seattle pitchers were complaining, mostly privately, about the pitch calling tendencies of catcher Kenji Johjima."
by Jon Shields at 3:19 AM
Friday, April 11, 2008
The promo's for this Mariners/Angels series on MLB.com seemed a little cheesy. October intensity in April? C'mon...
Tonight's game, game one of a three game set, certainly lived up to the promo's slogan . What an exciting game! Felix Hernandez emphatically striking out Vladimir Guerrero three times. Raul Ibanez with a pair of absolute blasts into the right field seats. An amazing defensive play in which Adrian Beltre makes a diving stab, tags out Garret Anderson before weilding and nailing Macier Izturis at first base for the double play. Exciting hussle doubles by Jose Lopez and Vladimir Guerrero. A fantastic defensive play by Angels shortstop Erick Aybar in which he robbed Yuni Betancourt of an RBI single deep up the middle by flipping the ball to second for the force. A very exciting game, and I'm glad I was able to watch it.
There was certainly a "playoff atmosphere" that engulfed this ballgame. There was a level of excitement and energy that we had yet to see from most of the players. These two teams know they need to beat each other, so hopefully the rest of the games will be as exciting as this one. Stay tuned!