It's never fun to see a popular, productive player lose it. We've all seen it - from Gorman Thomas to Bret Boone, hitters who once instilled fear in opposing pitchers suddenly become out machines. Pitchers who put together a couple of solid-to-dominant years suddenly lose the ability to function in critical sitations (*Ben Stein voice* Schooler? Schooler?).
As many have noted, we're probably looking at this situation now with Eddie Guardado. He's been good, and may yet have some value to the team, but he's clearly not able to be a day in, day out closer. He can't get righties out anymore, and I don't know if you've looked around recently, but there are an awful lot of righties out there. Some have questioned Putz or Sherrill's ability to close, but I'd submit that both have answered those questions; Putz by pitching critical innings late in games (including tonight's 10th inning), and Sherrill by, you know, actually closing. With Soriano continuing his dominance and, according to JAC, getting the last few MPH on his FB back, the M's are blessed with 3-4 decent options here. This is great news for everyone but roto players - the M's should consider using Putz, Sherrill and Soriano in the 9th as the situation demands. The best, so far this year, may be Putz, who's shown an admirable lack of favoritism to lefties OR righties ("I don't see a lefty or a righty - I just see a person. They are all equally helpless."), but Soriano, as he continues to gain strength, may be the better long-term option.
None of this is exactly 'edgy,' but it's worth noting that the M's will continue to lose wins by keeping Guardado in a situation that he's not exactly suited for. The M's have an option in AAA, despite the call-up of Livingston. Sean Green, despite some mechanical/control issues, is still a great option (I'd much rather see a GB single with 2 outs in the ninth than a tying HR to left) due to his extreme GB tendencies and the concomitant skill of keeping the ball in the stadium.
I missed the Rainiers game today, but it looks like Cesar Jimenez is finding the PCL about as tricky as he did last year (read: considerably tricky). Fresno SS Tomas De La Rosa hit another HR tonight - a grand slam. This constitutes a real power surge for De La Rosa, who hit all of 6 HRs in the thin air of Colorado Springs (elev. 6035 feet) in 2005. Juan Zapata did not find his second AAA appearance as tranquil as his first, giving up 3R (1 ER) on 3H and 2BB in 2 1/3 IP. We'll see what we've got in this guy, but he looked to be another soft tosser (unless he had an unusual prediliction for changeups when I saw him).
Other notes: Shin-Soo Choo (3/5, HR) is still really good. Do not run on ANYONE in the Tacoma OF; TJ Bohn and Adam Jones both threw out runners at the plate tonight. There are a lot fewer runners challenging Choo, which is too bad - seeing hitters stunned to be thrown out by 5 feet on balls off the LF wall was a fairly regular occurence last year. Don't run on Rob Johnson either. His release is solid, but his arm strength and *accuracy* really put the breaks on the opponent's running game. Of course, it was Quiroz tonight who threw out a baserunner, so maybe it's all just park effects.