My blogging time has been significantly cut into, and it's probably a good thing. For reasons I won't go into (because they're numerous, really), I'm going to have to slow down a bit. Don't worry -- I'm not abandoning this joint, I'm just trying to balance being 1) a dad 2) a husband 3) an employee 4) a family member and 5) interested in many more things than just baseball (not necessarily in that order). I'm certainly young enough to remember being in college, and while having finals in the midst of packing an apartment/dorm room and saying summer good-byes can be rough, it's different after you "settle down" and start life after school. Of course, there are lots of people who "settle down" and start their families while still in college, so I'm not complaining one bit. My life's just fine.
Just trying to make sure my priorities are more in order ;-)
Anyway, enough of my mini-rant. I'm here to talk some baseball, and take a Diagnostics checkup, now that a month (and then some) has passed by.
1: George Sherrill gets more than 50 IP.
After seeing articles like this one that shows George begging for opportunities against right-handers, and noticing that he's pitched 9.2 innings thus far, it's clear that Hargrove has reverted to using George in the LOOGY role only. He stands at 18 appearances and 9 2/3 innings pitched. Doing the math, that puts him at just over 43 innings for the entire season.
I don't want to see George in Tacoma. I also don't want to see him leaning over the railing in the Seattle waiting to get a phone call -- then getting that phone call only to come in and face one batter. Although, with the little segment they showed with JJ Putz miked up on FSN, I did think the whole squawking at Putz after JJ accused George of putting a cough drop in his coffee was pretty funny. While George most certainly will not complain, though, about his usage, he is a fierce competitor and definitely has the mental (if not the bull-doggish physical) makeup to be a pretty sweet closer (if those things are really important, as media folks would have us believe).
With the whole recent Morsels comment discussion on POTD and Morsels discussions that have jinxed/cursed certain Mariners players, I'll stop here. I have a history of saying good things about George, and then bad things happening to him. So, if you hear some rapping noises upon something wooden, that's probably me. I'm also ducking away from black cats and ladders, too...
2) Where does Lopez start the season (a.k.a. how much playing time does Willie Bloomquist get)?
I'll be quick. Lopez leads the team in RBIs. From (mostly) the 2-hole. Get him somewhere behind Ibanez right now. He might be their best option right now at the cleanup spot. With Bloomie playing CF a lot nowadays, and Jose's bat being pretty decent (although he's got a .273/.273/.273 line for the last 7 days -- not exactly spectacular), it's clear who is winning the battle for second. It's still not good for your only spare infielder to be starting in the outfield on a regular basis. Especially when you've got another outfielder who really needs some development time.
3: Will Kenji Johjima and Rafael Chaves have any measurable impact on the pitching staff?
Yes, and maybe. Again, there's still some discussion on Kenji's catching abilities. Jeff Shaw likes him. The Reverend Doctor points out some good stuff on Kenji in his suggestion that Joel Pineiro switch to decaf. With Moyer throwing some awesome quality starts, and Washburn pitching effectively, and Pineiro throwing 17 innings of 1-walk, 1-run baseball in his two most recent starts, Chaves has to be in on the action. Still, Kenji's had a few more passed-balls than what I'm comfortable with, but I'm sure that'll change over time.
4: How far will the "Hinge" players who disappointed last season bounce back?
- Ichiro -- bouncing back pretty well from a horrible start to 2006. He's now on pace for 193 hits, which, a few weeks ago, seemed unthinkable.
- Adrian Beltre -- finally finding holes with the baseball (instead of with his swing). Yeah, he's limited to singles and still stealing bases, but he's getting paid to produce -- to drive in runs and hit for power -- and that's yet to appear. Baby steps, I guess...
- Jeremy Reed -- hasn't started but once or twice in the last month. A Mr. Yuck goes here -- not sure whether to pin it on Hargrove or on Jeremy. Losing his lustre, for sure.
- Joel Pineiro -- see above. Let's hope this Joel sticks around. Not a future ace by any stretch, but still pitching pretty well.
- Gil Meche -- showed some signs of life, having thrown 13 innings in his last two outings. On pace for 175+ innings.
Not yet. Even though he spread his "Lack of Run Support" disease amongst the current M's starting five, I don't hear 'em complaining as loudly as he did about it. Carl Everett, both a culprit and a potential cure, did speak up, however. You go (away), Carl!
Well, that wraps up tonight's edition. Hopefully I'll have a post up soon announcing my new photo database. That's one of the things that's cutting down on my blogging time. I got the database built and populated, now I'm going to web-i-fy it. I'll keep ya posted, of course!