Tuesday, April 22, 2008

BBT has moved!

Hello all-- Jon here. We have moved Bleeding Blue and Teal away from blogspot, and we can now be found at 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!

Here is a screen shot of the new site:

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Site Coming Soon

There will be next to no posting in the next couple of days. We are almost finished with out new site. We promised it back in January, but it got pushed aside until now. Should be done soon, sit tight.

Further Examining the Frank Thomas Situation

by Scott Weber

Since 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.

Big Hurt to Seattle?

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 Injured (UPDATED)

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


Kansas City Royals catcher John Buck desperately tries to avoid Seattle Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez after getting dangerously close in a game of Marco Polo, but to no avail.

John Marzano, 1963-2008

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.

Rest in peace, John Marzano.

Injury Updates: Sexson, Bedard, Putz

(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

Welcome to Scott Weber

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 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

At Least It's Not Steroids

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

Morrow Fills Bedard's Roster Spot

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.

Bedard to DL

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

Morse to DL; Rhodes Recalled

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.

Series Preview: M's vs Royals 4/14-4/15

The Kansas City Royals roll into the Emerald City for a brief two game set against our Seattle Mariners.

Expected Starters:

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.

O'Flaherty to Minors; Dickey to MLB

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

Possible Roster Moves to Come

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.

Bedard, Beltre Scratched

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

Bench Johjima!

(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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.
I was tempted to also blame the language barrier as a reason pitchers struggle when he catches, but I have never talked to Johjima so I'm in no position to comment on his English. The two aforementioned reasons why pitchers could be struggled can't possibly be the only reasons, though.

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."

Friday, April 11, 2008

"April Baseball, October Intensity"

The promo's for this Mariners/Angels series on 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!

Norton Called Up, Jimerson DFA

From 3:27 pm PST: Nothing is official, but USS Mariner is reporting that Greg Norton has been called up from AAA Tacoma and will be available for tonight's ballgame.

Jason A. Churchill of Prospect Insider confirmed that Norton is already with the team, but has heard nothing of an official move.

It's unclear which player will be dropped from the roster. Miguel Cairo is a candidate to be waived, or the team may try and slip Charlton Jimerson through waivers. There is also the possibility that someone has been sent to the disabled list. Richie Sexson appeared to pull something near his groin while running the bases in game two of the Tampa Bay series. Norton would certainly be able to fill Sexson's spot defensively and offensively.

If it is an injury it would have made sense to bring up an extra reliever, but it doesn't appear that either Brandon Morrow or Arthur Rhodes are ready for big league action. Both are pitching in AA West Tennessee last I heard.

I will update this post when details surface.

UPDATE 6:10 pm PST: Bob Condotta reports Jimerson was designated for assignment, meaning Seattle has 10 days to make a decision on his future. Jimerson isn't sure whether or not he'll accept a minor league assignment if he clears waivers, and he's hoping to be picked up by another major league team soon.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Should RRS Relieve O'Flaherty?

Last season Seattle had one of the best LOOGYs in the game in George Sherrill, who also dabbled in setup duty. Sherrill, as we all know, was dealt to Baltimore in the Erik Bedard trade and is now excelling as their closer. He was deemed expendable because the Seattle Mariners organization thought guys like Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Cesar Jimenez and even Arthur Rhodes worthy of taking over the position.

O'Flaherty won the job out of Spring Training, as expected, but has not been able to shut down tough lefties the way Sherrill did last year. His ERA is currently sitting at an unsightly 20.25 after surrendering runs in five of his six outings thus far.

As the left-handed specialist, or LOOGY, O'Flaherty's job is to get the opposition's tough lefties out in close and late situations. On Opening Day he came in and got Texas' best lefy hitter, Josh Hamilton, out on a popup to end the 7th inning. He came back in the 8th to face lefty Hank Blalock and switch-hitting Milton Bradley. Blalock was hit by a pitch and Milton Bradley struck out swinging. I think it's safe to say O'Flaherty was overall successful in facing those first three hitters. That should've been the end of his outing, but manager John McLaren left him in the game. He didn't pitch horribly to Marlon Byrd and David Murphy, two righties. He was able to induce a groundout and he surrendered a single, but that was was enough to manufacture a run. He was replaced by righty Mark Lowe after that, a move that should have happened two batters prior. Either way, Opening Day was O'Flaherty's second most successful outing of the year so far.

He has been mostly unsuccessful in getting the tough lefties out since then, with the exception of April 5th when he retired Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff in his scoreless inning of work. On April 1st he gave up a single to Josh Hamilton and a double to Hank Blalock. On April 6th surrendered a double to Markakis and a single to Luke Scott, both of whom scored. On April 7th he gave up the go-ahead homer to Huff and walked Scott. Today, April 10th, O'Flaherty came in with two men on and Carlos Pena at the plate. Pena was hit by a pitch and O'Flaherty gave up a two run single to right-handed hitting B.J. Upton. You could try and pin some of O'Flaherty's runs to McLaren for misusing him, but I think he was only truly misused on Opening Day.

Why is O'Flaherty unsuccessful thus far? I had been defending O'Flaherty in Mariners discussion up until tonight using the "it's only April" argument, but now I think he may not be a good fit for the job.

While he has been slightly wild, overall he's been making good pitches. A lot of the hits that O'Flaherty has been giving up are groundouts that are finding holes. Typically grounders are good, and you can survive when a few slip through, but not in close and late situations. Eric O'Flaherty isn't a strikeout pitcher, something that George Sherrill was. Last season Sherrill struck out over 11 batters per 9 innings pitched. When he was in a tough situation he could strike out a hitter or two to retire the side, stranding runners. O'Flaherty only strikes out about 6 hitters per 9 innings since coming up to the big leagues. While that isn't an awful ratio, there are probably better options.

Enter Ryan Rowland-Smith. Up until this point I was totally opposed to pitching him in the later innings. I didn't think he had enough experience and I was still viewing him as a mid-to-long reliever, but after glancing at some stats I've had a change of heart. While O'Flaherty is better than Rowland-Smith at getting lefties out over the course of their careers (.232 batting average against vs .267), Rowland-Smith is a much better strikeout pitcher. Last season Rowland-Smith struck out nearly 10 hitters for every 9 innings he pitched, about 4 more than O'Flaherty, and had many double digit strikeout rates in the minor leagues. He has already showed that he can use the strikeout to get out of tough situations, striking out both Akinori Iwamura and Carlos Pena on his way to his first big league save.

Perhaps the most important stat to look at is this: hitters hit .396 against O'Flaherty in "close and late" situations, and only .214 against Rowland-Smith. One caveat is that O'Flaherty has faced 61 hitters in these situations while Rowland-Smith has only faced 15, but either way O'Flaherty hasn't been effective enough. In order to succeed in his current role he needs to be nearly unhittable with the game on the line, but O'Flaherty pitches much better historically earlier in the game.

I believe that Eric O'Flaherty and Ryan Rowland-Smith need to swap roles for the time being. As I mentioned before, this is a complete flip flop for me, but now that I've seen the stats I have very little faith in O'Flaherty. I do not think he needs to be sent to AAA as many people do, I just think he should do the majority of his pitching in the earlier innings where he has been more successful.

Series Preview: M's vs. Angels 4/11-4/13

The Los Angeles Angels roll into town as Seattle's primary competition for the AL West crown in the first of many important battles.

Probable Starters:
4/11 - Felix Hernandez vs. Jered Weaver
4/12 - Carlos Silva vs. Jon Garland
4/13 - Erik Bedard vs. Joe Saunders

Jon's Keys to the Series:

Keep up the good starts: Seattle's starting rotation as a whole has been doing very well this season. This is going to have to keep up as the Angels have a very potent lineup featuring the likes of Chone Figgins, Torii Hunter, Casey Kotchman and Mariner killers Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson. If the Mariner starters put up anything but their best efforts this lineup could really make them pay.

Take advantage of absent aces: Seattle has their two best pitchers throwing in this series while the Angels have their two best pitchers on the disabled list. Jered Weaver is the best pitcher that the Angels are throwing out there, so Seattle should definitely take advantage of Jon Garland and Joe Saunders. Garland and Saunders have had some very good starts already this season and Saunders hasn't given up a run, but both appear to be pitching above their capabilities. Seattle needs to take advantage of Los Angeles' missing aces and expose their starters for what they are.

No free passes: Walks are never a good thing to give out, especially to this lineup. Seattle pitchers cannot afford to walk guys like Figgins and Gary Matthews at the top of the lineup or their guys in the bottom third. If these guys are let on for free the big boppers in the middle of the order will undoubtedly make Seattle's pitchers pay. A solo home run hurts a lot less than one of the three run variety, so it's important to make these guys earn their way onto the basepaths.

Time for Wilkerson to wake up: Brad Wilkerson has been struggling mightily since joining the Mariners, but he could use this series to help get his season started. Wilkerson smashed six homers against the Halos last season, his most against any single franchise. He has especially done well against Garland and Saunders over the course of his career.

These games are important: Yes, it's only April, but these games count just as much as the ones in September. It's important to get off to a good start against the Angels as they're likely going to be Seattle's top competitor in the AL West this season. I think the AL West race could realistically come down to who wins the season series between these two teams.

This is going to be an exciting series and I can't wait to see how Felix does in his third start. Last year he hurt himself on his third start and it threw off his season, hopefully he can get through this one without a hitch and continue dominating. Go M's!


posted by Jon

Some notes from the Tampa Bay series:

  • Edwin Jackson is absolutely filthy. He has struggled in recent years, but has always had plus stuff and has been great in his first two starts this season. He's still very young and I wouldn't have minded seeing him in a Mariner uniform. This offseason there were rumors that he could be Seattle bound in exchange for Ben Broussard and more recently there were rumors that Seattle could snag him for Jeremy Reed. While there isn't any room for him in the current rotation, he is definitely the type of arm your organization should try and stockpile. I doubt Tampa Bay would be willing to part with him sine the injuries to Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza, but I wonder if talks could spark up again later in the season.
  • I haven't been much of a Jose Lopez fan since he first came up a few years ago, I even wanted Seattle to start Willie Bloomquist over him coming into the 2006 season, but I have to say I'm really liking the way he's playing the game so far this season. Many, myself included, were giving up on Lopez coming into the season, but he's suddenly looking like a prototypical number-2 hitter. He's sticking to the job description and it's resulting in a very nice start for him. I'm not quite on the Jose Lopez bandwagon yet, but I'm standing near the boxoffice thinking about purchases my ticket.
  • I still don't believe that Mike Morse has any business patrolling the outfield.
  • I'm really liking the new patient Richie Sexson. He's still not hitting well, but this can only help him (and the team) in the longrun. If he continues working counts like this, pitchers are going to take notice and may start giving him some better pitches to hit. besides, it's never a bad idea to make the opposing pitcher work a little bit. Sexson's offensive regression would be a little more tolerable if he could manage to draw 100 walks this year, something he has never done (98 in 2003).
  • It's nice to see the pitchers attempting to go deeper in the ballgames. Erik Bedard stuck it out for 6 innings despite not having his good stuff, Jarrod Washburn cruised through 7, and Miguel Batista managed to get through 6+ despite picking up the loss. You'd always like to see your pitchers go 7, but it would have been easy to pull Bedard and Batista after 5, so it's nice to see them stretch out a bit.
  • B.J. Upton reminds me of Alfonso Soriano with the way he swings.

What were your thoughts on the series? Overall it was a nice bounce back for Seattle.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Player Profile: Roy Corcoran

Roy Corcoran, an unknown to many fans, has brought some stability to the Mariner bullpen since closer J.J. Putz was placed on the 15-day disabled list. In his three ballgames so far this season Corcoran has pitched 4 scoreless innings while surrendering just 1 hit, 1 walk, striking out 4 and allowing no runs. He's been attacking the strikezone and doesn't mess around with the hitters.

But who is Roy Corcoran? Seattle has been very good in recent years at turning unknown pitchers into effective relievers; will Corcoran become their latest success story?

Hardly a prospect, the 28 year old Roy Corcoran is playing in his 7th season as a professional. He was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1980 and played his college ball at LSU before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Montreal Expos in June 2001. He pitched well from the get-go, posting a 1.42 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 19 innings between the GCL Expos (R) and Jupiter Hammerheads (A+) in his first partial season. In 2002 he pitched 80 innings for the Clinton Lumber Kings (A), posting a 4.16 ERA and a fantastic ratio of 11.93 strikeouts per nine innings.

In 2003 Corcoran got his first taste of big league action on July 30th at age 23 after posting a 1.22 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in three stops at Brevard County (A+), Harrisburg (AA) and Edmonton (AAA). He did well in five appearances, but didn't get much of a chance after that with the organization. He continued to dominate in the minors over the next three seasons and made 10 big league appearances with mixed results.

There was no doubt that Corcoran was ready for regular big league duty but there was never much of an opportunity for him. On those Expos/Nationals teams between 2003 and 2006 they had adequate relievers such as Rocky Biddle, Chad Cordero, Luis Ayala, T.J. Tucker, Jon Rauch, Gary Majewski, Joey Eischen and others getting it done.

After being granted his release following the 2006 season he signed a minor league deal with the Florida Marlins, but once again failed to make the big league club. He spent the entire season pitching successfully in AAA Albuquerque as the Marlins already had some very effective arms in their bullpen including Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, Taylor Tankersley, Lee Gardner, Justin Miller, Renyel Pinto and others.

He came to Seattle before this season on a minor league contract and was a favorite of manager John McLaren during Spring Training despite posting less than stellar numbers. He was one of the final cuts but was the organization's first choice to fill the open bullpen spot left when Putz hit the DL.

Roy Corcoran hasn't spent the majority of his pro career in the minors because he hasn't been ready, he's just been blocked by other very good players. The same thing happened to him this spring and it took an injury to get him to the bigs. Corcoran could prove to be a nice surprise for the Mariners. He's been a closer for the majority of his very successful minor league career logging 78 career saves. The guy is fearless and is going to challenge hitters for quick outs.

I like what I see from Corcoran and I hope he can find a way to stick around Seattle's crowded bullpen.

Bullpen's Baltimore Blunders

posted by Jon

Seattle's bullpen situation was already a little bit sticky coming into the regular season after George Sherrill, Seattle's second best reliever in 2007, was dealt to Baltimore over the offseason, leaving some big shoes to fill. During Spring Training the relief corps dealt with injury while trying to set the assignments as Arthur Rhodes and Mark Lowe, among others, were question marks after coming back from major injuries. Brandon Morrow also developed a sore arm, undoubtedly a result of pitching almost non-stop since the beginning of the 2007 season.

As it turned out, Seattle went with a bullpen that included six guys: J.J. Putz, Mark Lowe, Sean Green, Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Cha-Seung Baek. Brandon Morrow and Arthur Rhodes were both assigned to the minor leagues to get healthy and strong before being tested in major leagues.

Then the hearts of Mariner fans everywhere were crushed when J.J. Putz, arguably the best closer in all of baseball, blew a save and then was placed on the 15-day disabled list with rib inflammation. Uncertainty engulfed Seattle's late inning situation as manager John McLaren announced that Seattle would handle the ninth inning "closer by committee." Roy Corcoran was called up from AAA Tacoma as the team wrapped up their set against Texas before heading to Baltimore for a four game series.

While the Mariner bullpen didn't pitch very well in the first two games, Putz's presence wasn't truly missed until Sunday, the third game of the series. Felix Hernandez went out and pitched a gem (8 IP, 0 R, 6 K) before the bullpen was summoned to preserve the 2-0 lead in the 9th. Eric O'Flaherty was called upon with three of the first four Orioles due up left-handed hitters, despite struggling with his control in Saturday's ballgame. O'Flaherty left a fastball thigh-high and right down the middle that Nick Markakis knocked for a double to lead off the inning. O'Flaherty pitched well the the following hitters, getting ground ball outs against Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff, though Markakis came around to score to make it a 2-1 ballgame.

Mark Lowe was brought into the ballgame after O'Flaherty surrendered a single to Luke Scott. Lowe wasn't able to put out the fire as Baltimore tied and won the game after he gave up a couple singles and a wild pitch.

I was out of town for this entire series, but I guess there was a little debate among fans and around the blogosphere about the decision to pull out Felix Hernandez after 8 innings. If you've been following the Mariners at all over the past couple of seasons then you know King Felix never wants to come out of the game. Apparently he didn't feel comfortable pitching the complete game after being bumped up a day after Erik Bedard's start was pushed back. "You guys know me, I don't want to come out of the game,'' he told reporters after the ballgame. "But when I feel tired, I don't want to make any mistakes. Because I felt a little bit tired. I threw a bullpen the other day. I didn't expect that, to throw eight innings after just one day's rest.''

Some support manager John McLaren's decision to allow Felix to exit the game after just 97 pitches. Better safe than sorry, right? Bedard is already having health issues and you'd hate to see Felix hurt himself early in the year again like he did last season. Sure, he didn't hear a pop or tweak anything, so maybe it's not the same as a pitcher exiting a game early to prevent further injury. Either way, Felix wasn't feeling like himself and he felt that the bullpen would be more effective at that point in the game.

The other arguement in this issue is that McLaren needs to take charge of his team and sit Felix down between innings. "Felix, you're dealing out there," McLaren would say. "They can't figure you out. Our bullpen is already stretched and hasn't been all that effective. I need you to push yourself one more inning and shut them down for the win."

I can identify with both sides of the argument. In support of the decision to remove Hernandez from the game, pitchers that are tired and overworked tend to hurt themselves. Yes, Felix had only thrown 97 pitches, but he was on short rest and was obviously feeling the fatigue. When a pitcher is tired they tend to compensate and stray from their mechanics, resulting in injury. There is no need for Felix to risk hurting himself this early in the season against one of the worst teams in the league (on paper). If this is game 7 of the World Series, Felix probably pitches through torn elbow cartilage if he has to. And, on the other hand, if this is game 7 of the World Series John McLaren probably sends Felix back to the mound no matter how tired he is. Since this is so early in the season I don't fault McLaren for pulling Felix as some fans have.

In the final game of the series the bullpen once again failed to protect a late lead. O'Flaherty, in his third consecutive game, gave up a go-ahead home run to left-handed hitting Aubrey Huff in the 8th inning.

Getting swept in a four game series is always going to get people upset, but I've been getting mainly two reactions from people following the series. One, John McLaren is an idiot and doesn't know how to manage his team. Two, Eric O'Flaherty isn't good enough to pitch in critical situations.

The knocks on McLaren seem to come from his decision to pull Felix from the ballgame and his decision to pitch O'Flaherty three games in a row. As I mentioned above, I don't personally fault McLaren for pulling Felix. If it was later in the year I probably would, but not in April. As far as allowing O'Flaherty to pitch in three consecutive games, that was probably a dumb move at this point. At this point in the season I don't think you call his number three games in a row, no matter what his role is or how thin the bullpen is. Ryan Rowland-Smith was available in that third game, and as much as I don't think he's quite qualified for late-inning duty yet (despite his empathic save Tuesday against the Rays), he would have been the wiser option.

The relievers, O'Flaherty included, should be fine. It's still early and there is no reason to panic over uncharacteristic performances at this point. There is no reason to think that O'Flaherty won't return to form after a few bad outings, just like there is no reason for Baltimore Orioles fans to expect a World Series run because of a great start to the season.

Maybe some good came out of that horrible weekend. Roy Corcoran has done well in his time. I suspected during Spring Training that he might have been a good pickup. He has had a solid minor league career but just never had a shot in the majors. If he continues to shine and proves to be a go-to guy for Seattle, it may force the organization to keep Brandon Morrow in the minors where he belongs. The horrible showing in Baltimore could also convince the organization to go with a 7-man bullpen instead of six, a much wiser move. The bullpen is already spread way too thin and the surplus of bench players aren't getting their reps.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Series Preview: M's at Rays 4/8-4/10

posted by Jon

Seattle moves on from an embarrassing showing in Baltimore to take on the revamped Rays in Tampa Bay.

Projected Starters:
4/08 - Erik Bedard vs. Matt Garza
4/09 - Jarrod Washburn vs. Andy Sonnanstine
4/10 - Miguel Batista vs. Edwin Jackson

Note: In the previous Series Preview the starters were listed as Washburn-Batista-Hernandez-Bedard. As you probably know by now, Bedard had some hip inflamation and had his start pushed back to this series, resulting in a lineup shuffle that produced a Washburn-Batista-Hernandez-Silva pitching order in Baltimore. Look for another rotation shuffle after this series in order to separate the lefties Bedard and Washburn.

Keys to the Series:
Not a lot to this one, Seattle just needs to bounce back from an awful series against the Orioles. The rotation needs to keep doing what their doing and the relievers have to step it up to fill the giant void left by J.J. Putz.

I'd give you more, but I'm still not completely caught up with what's happening in Mariner-land after my long weekend away. Continue to help fill me in here.

Other Series Previews:
M's at Orioles 4/4-4/7
M's vs. Rangers 3/31-4/2
or view all

My Joe Borowski Scare

posted by Jon

After receiving one text message and one AIM message from different people that included the name of Cleveland Indians closer Joe Borowski and a variety of obscenities I was concerned. What about Joe Borowski?

Not only did I fear the wost, but I actually assumed based on these random messages that Seattle had traded for the reliever in an attempt to help their struggling bullpen. Acquiring a closer with a 2007 ERA of over 5.00 obviously would not help, but I wouldn't be surprised by such a move. Luckily it doesn't appear that Seattle acquired the troubled reliever, and he merely blew a save against the Los Angeles Angels.

At least I hope that's all it was. That was quite a scare!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fill Me In

posted by Jon

Hello all, I'm back from my weekend getaway (Friday through this morning) to the always fun Vancouver, British Columbia. The Granville scene is still as awesome as ever and country Sunday nights at the Roxy still suck. Ended up hanging around and interacting with several Vancouver Canucks players on multiple nights too, which is pretty cool I guess. They're a pretty intimidating crew when they came rolling up to the club.

I have 400+ unread articles in my Google reader, so it may be awhile to be caught up with the Mariners and baseball in general, but it appears that there is much to talk about. Mariners get swept by the Orioles? More bullpen mismanagement? Felix takes himself out of a game? This is just what I'm hearing, so maybe you could all fill me in. I would love to read your take on what has happened in the last few days.

I've Had a Revelation: Bring in Bonds

by Patrick

Ever since talk of Barry Bonds signing with another team started, I have been among the super-majority of M's fans flat-out rejecting the idea of Barry Bonds playing for the Mariners. I've always said that the Seattle skies are already too overcast to add another black cloud, but after reading this article by Jim Caple of ESPN, I'm sold on Bonds. Please read with an open mind because, if you do, you will probably realize just how well Barry Bonds fits into the DH role in Seattle.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

No Putz, Big Problem

by Patrick

Tic-Tac-Toe, three losses in a row to one of the worst teams in baseball. On a gloomy, rainy, cold day in Baltimore, the Mariners got a strong 8 inning / no run performance from King Felix after Bedard was scratched from the game due to hip inflammation.

Then there was the 9th inning. Remember, Felix only went eight. Eric O'Flaherty and Mark Lowe blew the 2-0 lead in the ninth inning as the Orioles had some clutch hits, a couple of them seeing-eye grounders past Lopez (that he should have had), and a Lowe wild pitch that allowed Adam Jones to cross the plate, tying the game. A shot into the right-centerfield gap ended the game in walk-off fashion and I had to walk out of Camden Yards for the second time in two days with an onslaught of annoying Oriole fans laughing in my face and screaming in my ears.

We found out after the game that the I-never-want-to-come-out-of-the-game phenom that is Felix Hernandez actually asked John McLaren to bring in O'Flaherty because the Bedard not-pitching thing threw Felix off and he wasn't feeling 100%. Funny, 8 innings of shutout ball and still throwing 96 mph in the 8th seems to me to be at least 100%. At this point, John McLaren SHOULD have said: "Felix, you've been setting these guys up and mowing them down all day. We don't have our closer and our bullpen, thanks to me, has been over-used. Could you go out there and give me one more inning?"

Now I'm not one who likes to make assumptions, but I can atleast say that we would have probably been better off with Felix in the game. And yes, hindsight is 20/20; but you should have heard the groans from the rather large contingent of Mariner fans at the yard as soon as EO'F came into the game. It really is a shame that Felix has had two good outings with no wins to show for it.

On a much happier note: Raul Ibanez smacked his first homer of the year and Richie Sexson had an RBI double. Other than that, we only had 5 other hits for a grand, errr not so grand, total of 7.

Ojala, the Mariners salvage the final game of this four game series before heading to Tampa to take on the rejuvenated Rays. Tomorrow the M's will send Carlos Silva to the mound to face Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Daniel Cabrera.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

M's Drop Second to O's, Bedard Pushed to Tuesday

by Patrick

I just got back a little while ago from tonight's game and what a disappointment it was. The O's were right on Batista taking him hard up the middle or watching him struggle to throw strikes. Mac left him in four or five batters too long and it was sickening to see how long it took a Mariner to get up in the pen. Sexson went 0-4 with 3 k's (2 of them looking), Vidro hit his SECOND HOMERUN of the year as did Lopez. Four errors combined with only six hits drops us to under .500 for what must be the first time in a while. While the score was 6-4 and Sherrill got his third save of the year, it really would have been a lot worst had the Orioles not made some dreadful baserunning blunders; I swear, Luke Scott must have tripped like 4 times.

Shocking news tonight from the M's blogosphere... Mac said in his post game comments that Erik Bedard, who was scheduled to start tomorrows game in Baltimore, has experienced hip inflammation and will not start tomorrow. Not only this, but he will be pushed back all the way until TUESDAY in Tampa Bay and won't get to pitch against his former ballclub. I have been looking forward to watching Bedard face the O's since we acquired him and now my dreams are shattered. Instead, Felix will take the hill tomorrow and then Silva in the finale. This will make the lefties pitch back-to-back... grrrr

M's Lose First Game of 4-Game Set

by Patrick

Yesterday the M's were outpitched by ancient starter Steve Trachsel who went 5 2/3 innings surrendering just four hits and two earned runs, both coming on a Beltre blast. Tonight, the Mariners are set for game two in this four game series in Charm City as they send last years surprise performer Miguel Batista out to the mound against Orioles up-and-comer Adam Loewen.

There was word that Batista may get skipped in the rotation allowing Bedard to start tonight but all indications point towards Batista getting the nod. Loewen is making his first start in about a year after coming back from an elbow injury that kept him out for just about all of the 2007 season. Good news: In 2 career starts against the M's, Loewen is 0-1 with a 7.11 era.

It seems like the weather is actually going to cooperate with us over the next couple games with rain not expected in Baltimore until about three hours after the start of the game tonight and ending before tomorrows 1 p.m. eastern matinee.

Because these games are in Baltimore and I live about 40 minutes from the ballpark, I'll be making the hike down to beautiful Camden Yards for tonight's game as well as tomorrow's game where Bedard will square off against his old club in what is sure to be a good game with high emotions. I'm going to try to take some pictures at these and I'll try to get them up on the blog!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Series Preview: M's at Orioles 4/4-4/7

Seattle heads on their first roadtrip of the year to visit old friends George Sherrill and Adam Jones in Baltimore for a four game set.

Projected Starters:

4/4 - Jarrod Washburn vs. Adam Loewen
4/5 - Miguel Batista vs. Jeremy Guthrie
4/6 - Erik Bedard vs. Brian Burress
4/7 - Felix Hernandez vs. Daniel Cabrera

Note: There has been some talk that Seattle would skip Batista's start and keep him in the bullpen for the series, pushing Bedard's start up to Saturday. Multiple people have seemingly heard this, but I've yet to read a report to confirm it. Batista said post-game on Wednesday that he'd still be starting, so I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Keys to the Series:

Pick your battles: The Baltimore Orioles are one of the worst teams in the league, but they do have some very good hitters in their lineup. Seattle starters, especially Washburn and Batista, would be wise to pick their battles while going through the lineup by pitching around certain hitters. Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, two top-tier players at their respective positions, are the hitters to avoid. I'm not saying that the Seattle pitchers should intentionally walk these guys, but there is no need to throw a 3-1 fastball down the middle. Once you pass these hitters their other "impact bats" appear easily beatable. Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar, Aubrey Huff and Roberto Hernandez round out the rest of the top and heart of the lineup. All of these guys may have been once considered among the best earlier in their careers, but they pose little threat at this point of their careers compared to other team's power hitters.

Be patient: Seattle had been stressing patience at the plate during Spring Training, and so far it has been paying off. During the opening series Seattle hitters appeared to be taking more pitches, working the counts better and drawing more walks than they did last season. Seattle's willingness to wait back and take pitches could prove to be big in this series against Baltimore's young starters, Daniel Cabrera in particular. Despite being loaded with upside, Cabrera is coming off of back-to-back 100 walk seasons.

Score early: Obviously this could be a key to every series, but Seattle struggled with getting runs on the board in the first two ballgames against Texas. While Baltimore's pitching staff is downright awful, it is always important to score early to set the tone and give your starter some confidence. The bigger the lead, the deeper into the ballgame the starter might be able to go, which would save Seattle's paper-thin bullpen.

Relax a little: Now that the pressure of Opening Day and the home town fans has lifted, I think we could see a big series from both Richie Sexson and Brad Wilkerson. Both of these guys wanted so badly to impress the Seattle faithful, and probably put too much pressure on themselves to succeed, Sexson probably more than Wilkerson.

It's pretty cut and dry; Seattle is the better team. Bedard and Hernandez should be able to cruise through this lineup if they show even a glimpse of their good stuff. I was really looking forward to watching Bedard strikeout former Mariner outfield prospect Adam Jones, but unfortunately I'll be out of town this weekend and unable to watch the games. Enjoy the series!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Closer By Committee

Earlier this evening I relayed that Seattle closer J.J. Putz had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with rib cartilage inflammation and that Seattle would be going with the "closer by committee" approach, rather than appointing Mark Lowe, Sean Green or someone else as the replacement closer.

The bullpen was stretched tonight after most of the pitchers worked in the first two ballgames, so Mariner fifth starter Miguel Batista got the call. Today was his "throw day" anyway, so bringing him into the ballgame will have little effect on his scheduled start in Baltimore three days from now. Seattle did a similar thing with Batista last season with positive results.

Batista has some closing experience, saving 31 games for Toronto in 2005. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Batista become Seattle's primary closer on these "throw days" in order to spell the bullpen until Putz returns. Not a bad idea in my mind, and tonight he closed out the game successfully.

On other days we'll probably see Mark Lowe, Sean Green and Eric O'Flaherty take turns getting the save. As I've said before, I think Mark Lowe is best suited for the job, but I think Seattle will get by just fine with whoever we throw out there until J.J. is back.

Other posts from today:

Putz to DL

Putz doesn't blow saves, so something must have been up when he lost the second game of the season for the Seattle Mariners, right? I guess so, because J.J. Putz has been placed on the 15-day disabled list today. Putz apparently felt some discomfort on his right side while pitching to Michael Young. The next batter was Josh Hamilton, who hit a go-ahead homer off of Putz on an uncharacteristically mis-located fastball.

A precautionary MRI found Putz to have a mild case of costochondritis, "an inflammation of the junctions where the upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to the breastbone or sternum," according to

No news yet on how long J.J. will be out. Roy Corcoran has been called up from AAA Tacoma to fill the roster spot. Corcoran has had success in a long minor league career, but has yet to receive an extended look in the major leagues.

There has been no announcement as to who will fill in for Putz during his absence, but Mark Lowe seems the logical choice. I've heard Lowe called Putz's successor, and would probably have to agree. He appears to have the stuff and the mentality for the job. If Lowe excels it could make for some interesting conversation when Putz returns. Putz has been helping Lowe out the way Eddie Guardado did during his stint in Seattle. When Guardado went down with an injury, Putz stepped in and took the job.

Just remember, closers don't typically stay put for very long. There is often a much cheaper option laying around your bullpen that can get the job done. Putz was once in that situation and forced a trade of Guardado. Jon Rauch of the Washington Nationals is probably about to push Chad Cordero out of his role now that he's down with an injury. Jeremy Accardo of the Toronto Blue Jays is also in a similar situation, and has done a fantastic job as closer while B.J. Ryan has been hurt. They'll give Ryan a shot when he's healthy, but if he can't get it done as effectively as Accardo he'll quickly become trade bait. All of these guys mentioned above were once top notch closers.

I'm not saying Putz is done as a Mariner. Seattle will give him every single opportunity to get back to his dominating self. He is a fan favorite and a face of the franchise. All I'm saying is to keep this tucked into the back of your minds so that you're not crushed if Putz cannot quickly return to form.

I hope for a quick recovery and return to form. I hope that Thunderstruck comes blaring over Safeco Field's public address system another 100 times. Fingers crossed, he should be fine.

UPDATE 5:07 pm PST: Lookout Landing and MLB Rumors are speculating that this injury could take a month or two or more to heal.

UPDATE 7:02 pm PST: As Rob mentioned below, the injury isn't too bad. The doctor didn't give a timetable, but Bill Krueger of the Seattle Mariners pregame show said he came back from a similar injury in 10 days back when he was pitching.

UPDATE 7:50 pm PST: Almost forgot to add this, but Seattle will be going with the "bullpen by committee" approach. Can't say I'm a fan of the decision, but hopefully it's not a long-term thing.

Question for the Readers

How do you want this site to run during the season?

Since this blog started during the offseason, I'm not sure how I want to go about doing daily games. I don't quite understand the point of having daily game threads and recaps, because anyone can pull up a box score or refer to half-a-dozen other Mariner blogs doing the same thing. The only point is to have a thread for readers to discuss the game before, during and after play. I was hoping the "Series Preview" thread would work for that, but it has already been buried by other posts.

What do you, the readers, think would be the best way to run the site on a daily basis and promote debate and conversation for the games?

Fun with the Mariner Blogosphere

Probably not their best video, but it had me laughing a few times. You're much more likely to appreciate this video if you frequent multiple Mariner blogs such as Geoff Baker, USS Mariner, Lookout Landing and others.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Seattle almost pulled out a sloppy one today before J.J. Putz blew his first save of the year. Seeing J.J. let one slip through the cracks is one of the biggest letdowns us Mariner fans have after watching him dominate last season. I know it felt like he couldn't be stopped last year, and the two blown saves he did have devastating to watch. He's not going to have the year he did last year, but he should still be among the league's best. Knowing that doesn't make it any easier to watch Josh Hamilton take a Putz fastball deep into the right field seats.

A few observations from the first couple of ballgames:

  • Our one-two punch of Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez is going to be a lot of fun to watch, especially if they get some run support.
  • I'm not yet sold on the 6-man bullpen, and I won't be until they prove they can remain effective with a heavy workload. Eric O'Flaherty, Mark Lowe and Putz all worked the first two ballgames of the year and none seemed as effective in their second outing. O'Flaherty shouldn't be pitching to so many righties if he is going to be made available every night to face the tough lefties in the opposition's lineup.
  • So far, so good for Jose Lopez in the 2-hole. He's working the counts, moving runners over and may be able to keep the job if he stays focused.
  • Jose Vidro is useless at the bottom of the lineup; give him a spot on the bench already!
  • Brad Wilkerson is looking pretty ugly at the plate. Yes, it's only been two games, but when you're playing on a cheap one-year contract and the team has a guy like Wlad Balentien waiting in the wings, a slow start may not be the best way to go.
  • Anyone else see how last year's boo-birds effected Richie Sexson? He looked like a dog with its' tail between his legs in the opener whenever he failed at the plate, and I really think he's putting a lot of pressure on himself. I hope he can bust out of it for his own sake.
  • I was able to take naps between pitches whenever Vincente Padilla was pitching with runners on base.
  • I love Yuni Betancourt. He's going to have a very nice year from the 9-hole.
  • The way manager John McLaren utilizes his pinch runners is slightly baffling.

Overall I like what I see from our Mariners. Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla did a decent job of reminding everyone that they are healthy and can still be good pitchers, but hopefully Seattle can score on Jason Jennings early in tomorrow's ballgame.

What do you all like/dislike about our team so far after two games?

MLB Predictions

Jon's Picks:

AL East: Boston Red Sox
Hard to pick against the defending champs. They have another good squad, despite a shaking rotation. A great lineup, a big year from Manny and a very good looking bullpen will put them at the top of the standings once again.
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
I was picking the Detroit Tigers to win the AL Central and was foolishly calling them the best team in baseball after their flurry of offseason moves. Their offense is the best in the league, but can they score enough runs to cancel the effect of a nonexistent bullpen? They have absolutely no quality relievers to get the ball from their starters to Todd Jones, their aging and oft-ineffective closer.
AL West: Seattle Mariners
I was skeptical coming into the season, but I think Los Angeles' injuries to their rotation and bullpen put us over the top. Our rotation and bullpen will be as solid as ever, and hopefully we'll get a mid-season offensive boost from one of two power hitting prospects and/or an available veteran outfielder.
AL Wild Card: Los Angeles Angels
I want to go with Detroit, New York or Toronto here, but I guess I'm buying into the theory that there are too many good teams in the East and Central for the Wild Card to come from either division. The Angels could end up with more wins, despite being the inferior team. The unbalanced schedule has caused an unfortunate glitch in the Wild Card system.
AL Pennant: Cleveland Indians (or Mariners, whatever works)
Is it wrong for me to pick against Seattle on my own Mariners blog? The Mariners, as of Opening Day 2008, are obviously not in the same level as the top AL Central and East teams, but I suppose they could be after some trade deadline deals. Seattle's one-two punch of Bedard and Hernandez would be deadly in the playoffs, but I'm not quite ready to make these bold World Series predictions until (maybe) the next couple of seasons. Basically, Seattle could surprise but I'm a coward and doing my best to appear unbiased.

NL East: Atlanta Braves
Everyone wants to pick the Mets after their Johan Santana acquisition, but I think the Braves are a much more balanced team. It may be a crapshoot between the Braves, Mets and Phillies, but I think Atlanta flies under the radar and steals the division.
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
The Brewers have a some firepower in their offense, but I doubt it's enough to plug the other holes on their team. The Cubbies have what it takes to try and end their World Series drought, and they'll only improve if they can finally acquire Brian Roberts mid-season. Good lineup, good rotation, good bullpen.
NL West: San Diego Padres
Maybe I'm not as educated on the NL West as I should be, but this appears to be another crapshoot between the Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Dodgers. I was very tempted to pick Arizona, but then again I was also inclined to take the Dodgers. For now I'm saying that San Diego's rotation, anchored by Jake Peavy, Chris Young and Greg Maddux , will once again lead the league in shutouts and have just enough offense to get them by. Plus the late help they'll be getting from Mark Prior could prove to be huge for them down the stretch.
NL Wild Card: New York Mets
I dunno, they seem like they should find some way to get into October. If I use the same logic I did in the American League I would be picking the Brewers to win the Wild Card.
NL Pennant: Atlanta Braves
All of the contender's rotations look very good for playoff baseball, I just like the Braves this year.

World Series: Indians over Braves in 6
A rematch of the 1995 World Series, minus guys like Orel Hershiser, Greg Maddux, Fred McGriff, Jose Mesa and Albert Belle. This time I see the Indians taking the title, though. How can you pick against the American League anymore?

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, DET
Is it stupid to pick against A-Rod? Cabrera will have the numbers, and if he gets Detroit into the playoffs and A-Rod's Yankees miss out on playoff baseball, I don't see him losing it.
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, SEA
A little bias never hurt anyone. My gut is now telling me that this is going to be a breakout season for King Felix, despite my earlier preaching that his demotion from team ace would hurt him. With Haren and Santana moving to the National League his odds just got better, but he'll still have to fend off a fellow Mariner, Cleveland's big man, the top three guys in Toronto and top two in Boston, plus several others.
AL ROY: Evan Longoria, TB
This year's Ryan Braun, or was that Josh Fields? Longoria won't be in the minors for long, and he'll surely get lots of chances to contribute on a very good Tampa Bay team.
AL Comeback: Lyle Overbay, TOR
I was tempted to go with Big Richie here, and I have elsewhere, but that is a little homerish. Overbay had the worst season of his career last year, but is just one year removed from hitting .312 with 22 homers and 92 RBIs.

NL MVP: David Wright, NYM
This kid is great all around and could easily be chosen for the award, but there is a lot of stiff competition in the National League.
NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy, SD
Johan Santana is the easy pick for this one, but I'll go with Peavy here. Maybe he wants to prove he's still the best pitcher in the National League, and pitching his home games in Petco Park will only help him. However I will admit that I've picked Santana elsewhere.
NL ROY: Kosuke Fukudome, CHC
If he's half of what he's cracked up to be, he steals the award. I don't think that veteran Japanese players should be awarded the Rookie of the Year, but that's just how it goes.
NL Comeback: Nick Johnson, WAS
He's hitting 4th in a surprisingly solid Washington lineup. He'll hit for average, smack upwards of 40 doubles and around 20 homers. There are some other good choices in the NL though.

Go ahead and give your guesses. Will their be a prize at the end of the season? I doubt it. But it will be fun anyway. Maybe I'll send the people with the closest guesses some random Seattle Mariners memorabilia. If you want to try and win a $50 Amazon gift certificate then submit your answers here. I will be adding Patrick and Dustin's picks to this post when they get them to me, everyone else can post their guesses/predictions in the comment section.

I want to see some serious sleepers!