Now that the Mariners have faced three teams, three GOOD teams, it's time to take another sample from the Diagnostics pool.
1) George Sherrill > 50 IP?
Well, he's certainly on pace for that, in spite of his role being still somewhat undefined. While I missed yesterday's performance, I hear he did pretty well (bookended a Victor Martinez double with two strikeouts). He's always been a slow starter, and like I keep saying, wait until he gets his confidence up. Lookin' good so far -- he's certainly getting on track, and he's not being limited to LOOGY use. Good thing for the M's, bad thing for their opponents. The "Free George Sherrill" campaign continues to be successful.
2) Where does Lopez start the season (a.k.a. how much playing time does Willie Bloomquist get)?
Well, the wheel is starting to squeak, folks. Yep. Willie Bloomquist is getting antsy. Lopez seems to be getting back on track after Hargrove made the idiotic move of replacing Lopez with Bloomquist in the starting lineup. I don't hate Willie Bloomquist, in spite of what my sister and several of my coworkers believe. I hate him in the starting lineup. If he needs the occasional start, fine. Especially if someone gets hurt and it takes awhile to get the spare part from Tacoma. But you just don't replace one of your hottest hitters with a hitter that cannot blackmail someone to get on base. It's not coincidence that the M's are 0-2 when Bloomquist replaces one of the M's hottest hitters in the starting lineup.
3) Kenji Johjima and Rafael Chaves -- any noticable impact on the pitchers?
I'm still somewhat unsure about this one. There seems to be some discussion about Kenji's catching style adversely affecting the pitching staff's ability to get the strike calls from umpires. Chavvy's rapport with Felix didn't seem to help him make the adjustment between his first somewhat shaky start, and yesterday's performance which was even worse. I'll let y'all comment on this one. I see a little bit of impact, but not a whole lot.
4) How will the "Hinge Players" bounce back?
- Ichiro: His home run yesterday, and 3-4 the game before helps him steer away from the Mendoza line. Off to a slow start, but he's had a decent couple of games recently.
- Beltre: Yuck. Yuck. YUUUUCK!!! Okay, his defense hasn't flown south. Unfortunately his bat has. Teh stinkage! Nowhere near bouncing back. He and KJ need to swap spots in the lineup NOW!
- Reed: It's a very, very good thing his wrist wasn't broken. An 8-game hitting streak certainly helps, and a .286 average is about what I expected. He's doing fine. Didn't seem to be affected by Hargrove's idiotic decision to bench him in favor of Bloomquist the other day.
- Pineiro: Not impressed so far. His K:BB ratio is good, but he's getting hit. A lot. At least he's able to eat some innings. I wouldn't give him credit, though, for bouncing back quite yet.
- Meche: Yuck. Yuck. YUUUUUCK! "Sully" points out this morning the debate between Meche and Beltre as "Most Hated Mariner." Maybe I'm being unfair for seeing a huge gap between the two, in favor of Beltre, and maybe I should loathe Beltre more. Especially since, in spite of his pitching, the M's are 2-0 in Meche's starts, and we only have to see Meche every 5th day. But still -- he's lucky if he can pitch 5 innings. Harris, the M's best option at long relief, was just sent down. There is some hope, though. Strangely enough, Meche seems to do fine pitching against Boston. Looking at his splits, though, he sucks in Fenway.
The answer is still no. But if Meche continues to pitch poorly through 4 innings, I'd rather have a pitcher that pitches poorly for 1-2 innings, and pitches OK for 4-5. Even if he's a whiner.
So there you go. Any other observations? I probably should add a Diagnostic that relates to Hargrove, since I find myself complaining about him. A lot.