Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Free Dan Rohn!

If Dan Rohn were managing the Seattle Mariners in 2006, they would win the American League's Western Division. I don't mean this in any sense as a knock at Mike Hargrove, who so far as I know hasn't hurt the team any, but the Mariners in the last few years have gone through a period, such as the Tigers had in 1976-1979, the Braves had about the same time and the KC-Oakland A's had in the late sixties, of bringing up a large number of talented players. I've no way to predict how long it will take to turn the collection of talented young kids into a winning team; Dan Rohn can do it overnight, and Whitey Herzog, too has that ability. More often it takes a period of several years. How many are there . . . Reed, Betancourt, Lopez, Sherrill, Putz, Woods, Green, Soriano, Fruto, Nageotte. Some pretty fair prospects, like Greg Dobbs, and some decent ballplayers, like Raul Ibanez and possibly Willie Bloomquist, are getting pushed out of the picure. One gets the feeling that somewhere between one and three of these kids is going to turn out to be a Hall of Famer, but who can tell which ones?

Okay, aside from the italicized words, the above paragraph is directly verbatim from The Bill James 1986 Baseball Abstract -- the opening paragraph on his discussion of the Mariners' 1985 season. Perhaps the liberty I've taken here assumes some bigger things -- that James thought more highly of the players Seattle promoted in that era than the current players are thought of. For those of you who were too young (or not even born yet) to remember -- the players James mentions include: Ivan Calderon, Jim Presley, Alvin Davis, Phil Bradley, Spike Owen, Danny Tartabull, Mike Moore, Karl Best, Matt Young and Edwin Nunez. Replace "Greg Dobbs" with Darnell Coles, "Raul Ibanez" with Dave Henderson and "Willie Bloomquist" with Spike Owen in the next-to-last sentence in the above paragraph. Yeah, Bill, those guys all went on to have HOF careers.


1986 was about the year I started getting interested in baseball. I specifically remember being very disappointed that the M's traded away Spike Owen for Rey Quinones. I cared about as much about Hendu (also a part of that trade) as I do for him now. Very little. Interestingly, replace "Dan Rohn" with "Dick Williams" in the paragraph (James' was talking about Williams), and you kinda get a sense for what was going on back then. Actually, at the end of 1986, James got his wish -- Dick Williams indeed took over the Seattle Mariners. In 1987, he took the team from 7th (and last) place to a more respectable 4th (in, again, a 7-team division). In 1988, however, Dick Williams became the last Mariners' manager to be fired during the season.

I don't expect the same fate for Dan Rohn.

Unlike Dick Williams, Rohn doesn't have any managerial experience above AAA. Nor does Dan Rohn have a World Series title to his credit. But Dan Rohn does have experience managing a good number of the players on the current M's roster. And manage them he did!

You've probably heard me say this, but I'll keep saying it until I'm blue in the face. Dan Rohn and Mike Hargrove managed a lot of the same players in 2005. You could argue that Hargrove had a better hand dealt to him, with more talent in his clubhouse. Dan Rohn didn't have Richie Sexson blasting 39 HRs -- Abraham "Roidin'" Nunez led the club with 17. Hargrove also had Moyer, Ichiro, Beltre (okay, well, Dobbs+Leone+Brown probably > 2005 Beltre), Ibanez and (to start the season) Winn. Granted, managing big leaguers is probably a lot more challenging than manging PCL'ers. But what Rohn did with those Tacoma Boys is nothing short than miraculous.

While the 2005 Rainiers were busy getting swept in the PCL Championship (after knocking off, however, the AAA Oakland A's), the 2005 M's were rolling out their cots in the AL West cellar. Rohn could've been accused of over-managing the Rainiers, but I dare anyone to say that about Hargrove. Sure, Hargrove swapped the lineup around, and there was even a Petagine sighting! But you knew things were just not right when Raul Ibanez was tossed for rightfully disagreeing with the home plate umpire's strike zone, giving Hargrove the opportunity to place his adopted son in the clean up spot. Nepotism. Keepin' it in the family since 2005.

Yeah. That's right. Willie Bloomquist hitting cleanup. Against someone other than Jarrod Washburn. To Bloomie's credit, though, he did manage to hit a double. And, his OPS is higher than Richie Sexson's again (by 40 points, currently even)! But, alas, even with that oddity (which I hope reverses course back towards Hendu'sLaw of Averages quite quickly), the team still has a worse record with Willie Bloomquist in the lineup than with him out of it.

I'm 99% certain that 95% of the die-hard fans that Howard Lincoln is trying to cater to have absolutely no idea who Dan Rohn even is. He's certainly no Lou Piniella, but were he to take over the club tomorrow, I guarantee they'd know who he was by the All Star Break.

I'm not sure that Dan Rohn can do a whole lot about the M's hitters going 1-15 with runners in scoring position tonight (and 1/34 in the series). That's something the hitters will have to sort out. However, I can guarantee you Dan Rohn would try something different. To borrow from Bill James' 1984 Baseball Abstract (italics added again to show my tweakages to his verbiage):

Look, I'm trying very hard to make these analyses a factual and nonjudgmental look at what the manager does. But. There has got to be a point, some point, at which some decisions are clearly and objectively dumb. Mike Hargrove has had Richie Sexson batting cleanup this entire year, and I'm not talking about a few games. I mean 2 1/2, 3 months. What on earth could have been in the man's head? Richie Sexson is a .205 hitter, with a .278 on-base percentage (and a .359 SLG). This is the man that you would choose to be the cornerstone of your offense? Man, that is insane. That is a crime against your ballclub. And he has good cleanup material on the ballclub. He has Jose Lopez, he has Ibanez, he has Carl Everett. He could've had the cleanup batter on 40, 50% more often than he did (and slugging 40-50% more). Of course their offense looks terrible. Any offense would look terrible with a .205 hitter in the cleanup spot.

Yep. These are the Mariners of the 1980s.

Sad, isn't it!

Free Dan Rohn.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Cruceta Cruises

Francisco Cruceta pitched the game of the year so far for the Rainiers, as Tacoma blanked the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 1-0 today at Cheney. Cruceta struck out *11* and didn't walk anyone, though he did plunk Ryan Shealy. He gave up just two hits, one of which was an opposite field pop up that landed about 15 feet down the line behind first base. There simply weren't many hard-hit balls on the day - including by the Rainiers, who were largely shut down by Mike Esposito.

Cruceta used a well-located 91MPH fastball and a very effective slider (78-81) to neutralize the Sky Sox (who, to be fair, suck. A lot. But not THIS much). Cruceta's best pitch may have been his splitter, but he used it sparingly; he generally saved it for lefties. Since only Omar Quintanilla and Jorge Piedra batted lefty, he didn't have a lot of opportunities. But the important thing was his command of his FB. It wasn't perfect, mind you - many of his pitches (including the split-finger) were up in the zone. But he was able to disguise the pitches such that batters either swung way too late or popped the ball up harmlessly. It was, in many ways, like watching a right handed George Sherrill. Sure, the delivery is different, but the point is professional hitters (Jeff Baker, Quintanilla, Shealy) were swinging way late on a good-but-not-great FB, and had no chance at breaking balls.

Emiliano Fruto got the save after surrendering a lead-off bloop double to Quintanilla, getting two strikeouts along the way. He also got the best-looking K, with a truly unfair slider to Jeff Baker.

The Rainiers got their run on back-to-back doubles by Doyle and Greg Dobbs. Good to see Snelling snap out of his slump with three hard-hit balls (though he was only 1-3). Dobbs had 2 of the Rainiers 4 hits.

Good to see MM reader Oly Rainiers Fan, who had the scoop on Doyle's rough night last night. I left town on Friday night to go to the Sasquatch festival at the Gorge, which, by the way, is the only place you can get a sun burn and covered in ice in less than 1 hour. So I missed Doyle's 3 K performance on Sunday, which sounded rather nasty, and missed the fact that he was in an 3-23 slump before his double today.

However, I can tell you that Rogue Wave and the Shins were excellent, Neko Case was great until she was cut short by a freakish (and very painful) hail storm, and that what everyone says about the Flaming Lips' live show is true. On the other hand, the Ben Harper portion of the evening was interminable, and I found Gomez' famously varied output a bit difficult to take (yeah! We bend so many genres that it's impossible to enjoy everything we do unless you're in the band, but plenty of people give us credit for being 'challenging' and 'innovative'). I spent much of Ben Harper's set in the bar with News Tribune writer Ernest Jasmine and a procession of horrifically drunk people, who, for reasons I'm not clear on, all thought they had to come up and harangue us (there was something about the Tri-Cities - that's about all I caught). A bizarre cap to a bizarre day.

Friday, May 26, 2006

C'mon Back, Felix!

After a dismal display by our offense against yet another craptastic pitcher, this is the Felix I want to see today:

The fist-pumping, confident, strike-throwing Felix.

Not the predictable, hittable, head-hung-low version we've seen recently (and even earlier in that same game I photographed):

Have some fun out there, Felix! Mix it up a little. Make the Twins look like Twinkies.

And, offense -- it's your turn to score some runs. Make Liriano look leery-ano!

Go M's!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Yes, I still post here. Sorry for the long wait - work, non-baseball life and rock and roll have conspired to keep me away from the blog for a while. I'm going to ease back into the swing of things here...

1: The M's offense today was positively Kansasian (royal? Um, KC-esque?) against a pitcher who came in with a, um, Kansasian line. What is it about guys like this that give the M's fits? It used to be left-handedness, but the M's are ecumenical when it comes to plain old not showing up against untested and or tested-and-failed pitchers. It's depressing, and it won't be the last time. It's amazing how much good will and, if not excitement, at least a modicum of interest the M's managed to piss away today. The general optimism (no, really - in the M's blogosphere! At least a little..) of the past few days swept away thanks to an utterly punchless offensive performance.
It's the sort of thing that underscores how precarious their situation really is: yes, things would be much more rad if Sexson, Beltre and Reed started doing what they're paid to do. But if Lopez/Ichiro have bad games, which they will from time to time, the M's are just hopeless. Imagine, if you dare, this line-up *without* Lopez for any extended (i.e., over 48 hours) period. It's a sweater! No, it's a pillow! By day, a mild-mannered line-up - by night, the fearful INEFFECTOR!

2: At the risk of turning this into Bad Observational Comedy night here at the 'morse, what the hell is with prospects' names these days? I talked about this briefly with Deanna at that Rainiers game a long time ago, but it's really getting to me. The Rainiers SS has the colorful first name of Asdrubal. For those who slept through Roman history, Hasdrubal was the brother of legendary Carthaginian general Hannibal. Again, Hannibal = legendary. His brother? Eh, not so much. But which phoenician name is translated into spanish and slapped on a baby Venezuelan?
If that's weird, then what about the fact that there are TWO prospects named Ambiorix (burgos, P, KC; Concepcion, OF, NYM). Ambiorix was also a lesser-known enemy of Rome. As the leader of a Belgic (germanic people living in flanders) tribe called the Eburones, he succesfully destroyed one of Julius Caesar's legions while the Roman general was away in Britain. 300 days later, Caesar returned and eliminated the Eburones. All of them. Like the previous case, he was by no means the most well-known Celtic general who fought Caesar: that honor goes to Vercingetorix, who so impressed Caesar that coins were struck showing Vercingetorix at Rome. Ambiorix is sort of like a belgian version of the British celtic leader Boudicca - someone who revolted, killed some Romans, and then suffered a nearly genocidal reprisal. So: *why the hell are two Dominican baseball players named after this guy?*
A little closer to home, M's LHP prospect Ryan Feierabend's got a weird name as well. Feierabend is the name of a German restaurant in Seattle, so he's already got a place to eat if he makes the majors. His last name means, literally, celebration evening, or, more colorfully, Party Night. I cannot fully express how cool it is to have the name Party Night - I'm hoping I don't have to. Interestingly, the word 'feierabend' in German is usually translated as 'quitting time,' as 'nach feierabend' means 'after work.' That's a very different spin, but it's also quite cool - Ol' Ryan 'Quittin' Time' really had it going today, etc., etc. His own quitting time came quite early Wednesday in San Antonio's 17-2 loss, but hey, he's still got an awesome name.

What are your favorite names in sports? We M's fans are tremendously lucky, as we're blessed with my top two: Jetsy Extrano (J of Mariner Minors is a big fan of this one) and Yorman Bazardo. There's no better first name than 'Jetsy', but it's Bazardo's consistency (both names are funny, and together, they're invincible) that wins the day for me.
The rest of the top 5:
3: Scientific Mapp - the world of basketball spits out great names like so many sunflower seeds. Scientific Mapp was a great small-college ballplayer, and was a highly touted recruit out of the Bronx, along with his brother, I swear I'm not making this up, Majestic Mapp.
4: Exree Hipp - quality swingman who played for the University of Maryland and, later, the Harlem Globetrotters.
5: Merkin Valdez (Merkin is an archaic term for, um, look it up, and has an even funnier current meaning...which you should look up. Maybe not at work, though).

in the team photo: Margin Hooks (WR, BYU); SirValiant Brown (PG, GWU/ Roanoke Dazzle); Brian Wetnight (TE, Chicago Bears).

Near... Far....

What's that saying on those side mirrors attached to your car... Something like "Objects are closer than they appear" -- along those lines, right?

Well, as of last night, here it is almost June and the M's are actually closer to first place than they are to last place. Just like that mirror, though, it might be more of an illusion. I saw Richie Sexson on the news last night, holding his kid, and he was actually a little bit excited that the M's were so close to the division lead. Nothin' wrong with that -- a little confidence definitely could help Richie get back on track. We'll certainly need a hittin' Richie to stay anywhere close to the top of the division.

When people aren't confusing me with that "Positive Paul" who calls into the post game show (I get that a lot), they accuse me of being an optimist. Sure, "positive" can relate to optimism -- that's indeed one of its meanings. But "positive" can mean so many other things. Like "confident" and "sure" and "affirmative" for example. I actually consider myself more of a realist than an optimist. I generally try to find the good in things, but I'm by no means perfect, or even consistent, in that regard.

What the M's need, though, is indeed a shot of confidence. Getting guys like Richie and Adrian back on track is HUGE for the M's future success. After the nice grand slam on Tuesday, and yesterday's multi-hit, multi-RBI performance, Richie appears to be headed the right direction. Adrian's defense, for the most part, hasn't disappeared along with his bat. That's a good thing.

The starting pitching has been consistently mediocre, which is actually somewhat OK. We knew the M's rotation had some major holes, and we thought that Felix would be better than he has been. I'm confident Felix will turn things around, and that we'll see Hendu's law of averages swing back the other direction on guys like Pineiro, Moyer and Meche.

So, yeah, the M's appear to be currently heading back towards the 81-83 win team we all thought they had a good chance of becoming this season. Amazingly, none of the other teams in the AL West seem to want to hang on to first place. You can bet on Oakland turning things on later in the season. Texas may come down to earth a bit. The The Angels Angels will probably jockey back and forth with the M's for the cellar.

It reminds me of that old Sesame Street gig. The one with the muppet running to the front of the TV saying "Neeeeaaaarrrrr!" and then running back to the back of the stage and saying "Faaaaaarrrrrr!". We'll probably see a lot of that skit this season.

But, hey. As of today, the M's are closer to first than to last.

Gil Meche. Rodrigo Lopez. Don't miss the matinee.


Monday, May 22, 2006


Wow. That's a little better. Sweepage. Taking a series from a completely hot team (as we did against the White Sox). So we're stopping teams that are hot, and being the soothing remedy for teams that are pukin' their guts out. Whatever. We've pretty much accepted 'round here that the cosmos definitely has tons of chaos.

Corey Brock (one of the better MLB writers, yay -- they finally hired a good one) gives us a little info on George:

Sherrill has retired 10 of the last 13 right-handed batters he's faced. Two of those batters have reached base on walks while another reached on an error.
Now, I don't know about you, but the fact that George is a) being allowed to face righties and b) starting to get a lot more comfortable against 'em is really, really comforting. He outright made Vlad Guerrero look silly last week, something that is quite difficult to do.

Hey -- Deanna got a great shot. I'll pilfer some of her bandwidth (why she didn't just pilfer Blogger's free stuff, I'm not exactly sure) and post it here:

No, George, thumbs up to you, man!

The "Free George Sherrill" campaign is trekkin' right along...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If It's Broke...

Finally, the Mariners come back down to earth. We've shown that we can handle bottom feeders somewhat decently, after taking two series from the Angels and the D-Rays. But when the opponent is a little more formidable, well, that's when the problems appear.

Really, we all have come to expect the Mariners to be a bit streaky. That's what average, non-contending clubs do. They'll rattle off some nice wins, keeping the fan interest somewhat warm. But then, before you know it, that same ol' sucktitude rears its ugly head. Pitching will fall apart, defense will implode, or hitting will just vanish. Things just never seem to synch up.

Eventually Hendu's law of averages works its way back to average. Unfortunately, though, the Mariners aren't quite there yet. I'm becoming more and more convinced that this is still a below-average team that doesn't seem to a) have an identity and b) know in which direction it's heading. In order to be an average team, a team will have to find SOME consistency. To be a near-contender, a team has to find even more. It needs to have leadership.

Excitement comes from leadership. Whether it's from the manager, the veterans or an energized youth corps, there's GOT to be some leadership. I don't see any at all. This is a BOOOOOoooooorrrrrrrrrriiiinnnnnngggggg team. With Felix's royal colors fading, and his crown tarnishing, there's really not much exciting to watch. To start the year off, it appeared the team had a slightly different "never say die!" attitude -- they always seemed to be able to have SOME battle in them. They were somehow able to peck away at leads, and stay in the game long enough to instill hope that they just might pull things off.

Do they still have that attitude? I don't see it. Sure, we've got a few guys that are mostly consistent -- Jose Lopez and Raul Ibanez. Ichiro's picking it back up a bit, too. But while Pezzer's bat is the best on the team right now, it isn't exactly overwhelming. Yes, he's hitting very well in the clutch. His two hits tonight bumped him over the .300 mark. But there are several bats I'd trade his for right this very minute. The fact that the M's management can't seem to shake things up with the batting order -- save, of course, for platooning Reed with a backup middle infielder and a bench hitter who probably shouldn't be playing CF -- shows that they really like playing a piano that's out of tune.

Actually, not only is that piano out of tune. It's missing several keys. Try playing "Axel F" without a Bb key or "Jump" without an F chord. It's like playing "Air on a G String" while wearing boxer shorts. It ain't pretty. Willie Bleepin' Bloomquist STILL has a higher OPS than Richie Sexson. That's a problem. The $100 million investment in our corner power company has faded away almost as quickly as Enron's 401K plan. When these MOTO dynamite sticks do less damage than a soggy ladyfinger, the M's aren't going to win games.

Now what? What can the Mariners do now that they've reached the 1/4 mark? Knowing that the M's MOTO hitters are under-performing even relatively pessimistic expectations, and it's not exactly the time of year where blockbuster trades go down (as if either of these guys had any significant value right now anyway), can we do something to remedy this?

Roberto Petagine, a lefty hitter with some decent pop (and a former Japanese league MVP) sits on the bench and rots. A total of 16 AB's this season. Is he the answer? Perhaps, perhaps not. Some M's bloggers have said that Richie needs to stay in the lineup to work things out. But does he need to continue to be occupying the luxury penthouse right in the heart of the order? When we've got a consistent clutch-hitting junior apprentice that could probably take the reins for a little bit? Move Richie down a few spots, and let Lopez take over the 4th spot for a bit. If Richie in fact needs to stay in the lineup to work the kinks out. Give Richie another day off and let Petagine get some usage. They're starting Willie, who would get Rico and Val's nomination for MVP -- why not let a former Japanese-league MVP face some pitching?

On the other hand, the stagnancy of the lineup (again, save for the consistent "non-platoon" of CF, which, because of its platooned nature, I suppose, COULD be considered stagnant itself) is not the players' fault. If things are broken, someone needs to fix 'em. Even if that bowl of Jelly Bellys is spiked with a few of the Bertie Bott's, an experienced Jelly Belly eater can pick out ones to help absorb the jolt of the booger bean (by chasing it with a ton of cinnamon. You can really stave off a lot with cinnamon).

Have you figured out what I'm hinting at by now? If not, you've got one more paragraph.

No, I'm not saying you should abandon all hope as a Mariners fan. There's still 3/4 of the season to be played yet. A .300 hitter can pretty much go O-fer April and 2-fer May, yet tear it up the rest of the season and still make it back to .300. It's happened before. It's entirely possible that the M's could finally jel as a team, and find their identity. If the Sonics can make a change early in the season when the chemistry clearly wasn't there (and arguably getting worse) and guys weren't performing anywhere close to their expected levels, why can't the Mariners? Exactly.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

False Dichotomies

The Rainiers played Albuquerque today at the unconscionable hour of 11:35AM. This was billed as a treat for the kids that just took the WASL - but do kids buy beer? No, they do not. Let's not mess with your biggest fans, Rainiers. A 1:30 game would've made it much easier to actually get some work done and then get back up to Cheney.
Two major misconceptions were shattered today, as Chris Snelling took the field (he played 5 innings in right) and looked fine. Second, overturning decades of misinformed jeering, Isotopes' starter Jeff Fulchino looked every bit as much a belly itcher as a pitcher. While his itching was more potential than kinetic, he's still got the stuff to be a legend (just not as a pitcher). The kids were screaming that it was his pitching that they were here for, but I was sidetracked by the thought that it might take him the best part of an hour to scratch every part of his belly. And it's not because his hands are small. Looking like a combination of Sidney Ponson and Butterbean, with an arsenal of curves and changes as soft as his cheeks, he was able to skirt damage by keeping hitters off balance and by walking Chris Snelling.
His luck ran out in the third as the Rainiers scored 5 times (their first runs since the 9th inning of *Saturday's game*), the final two runs scoring on an absolute blast of a double (off the wall in CF) by Adam Jones.
On the other side, Cha Seung Baek gave up line drive after line drive, which resulted in three runs in the second (all unearned after a truly indefensible error by Michael Garciaparra), one in the fifth and then another three in the sixth. The big hit in the sixth, which gave Albuquerque the lead, was a 2R HR by Mike Colangelo (who, I'm told, 'would make a great manager some day.' Yeah, well, that's what they used to say about Domingo Ramos and Bruce Bochy). For a little while, it looked like Baek might scoot through 5IP with no *earned* runs against him, despite every ball being hit on a line. This is why I'm still not sold on his resurgence - sure, he's looked a lot better this year (I think he's healthier), but his best attribute might be Cheney Stadium. In his last start v. Round Rock, there were three balls that would've been out of many PCL and even MLB stadia. Today, his line drive percentage must've been around 50%, and he still almost qualified for a 'quality start.' I'm not saying he's not without his uses - he's a capable innings-eater. But if he needs to give the M's a lot of innings this year, look out.

Mike Morse (speaking of nice 'org' guys) continued to show signs of breaking out a bit (he may get to .250 soon! yay!) with a long double to right-center and a single to left. Shin-soo Choo also got off the schneid a bit with two line-drive singles the other way. Indeed, the Rainiers managed to pound out 11 hits, but could do nothing of any import off the Isotopes bullpen. The Isotopes sweep the Rainiers at home in a really disspiriting four-game set. If you're wondering if the Isotopes are a 'loaded' team, they're not. They've got essentially zero position-player prospects. What they *are* is a team of AAAA, PCL veterans, and you can be very successful with that.
I wonder sometimes if I'm not such a huge fan of the Rainiers precisely because it's so easy to rationalize every defeat: "yeah, they lost, but Jones' development is still right on track. Yeah, okay, another shutout, but Jimenez is coming around. Yeah, so we're in third, but have you seen AsCab's OBP? Yeah, they swept us, but that's because they're a bunch of AAAA roster-filler." Whatever it is, I still feel blessed to get to see a half-decent ballgame (esp. in comparison to Sunday's stinker) in the 80-degree Tacoma sun. Rainier baseball, Rainier beer and Chris Snelling making an important milestone on his way back to Seattle? I'll take it.

[edited to add news of that other aussie]
Speaking of prospects who are just about all the way back from Injury, Travis Blackley put together his second straight gem today, going 7 scoreless agains Frisco. Blackley allowed 5H in 7IP, with 2BB and 4Ks. I think it's just about time we see him up in Tacoma, though it'll be tough with Livingston back and Appier still in the rotation. The M's need to sort out what they want to do with all the parts they have lying around.
The more I think about it, the more likely it is that Blackley stays put, building up some stamina until he's needed in Tacoma. But I'd like to think he's the next call-up...

Monday, May 15, 2006

More of the same

The Rainiers had been shut out once all year coming into yesterday's game. Now they've been shut out twice in a row. Hey, maybe the low minors picked 'em up, though, right? Um, no. Not really. I can tell you this: the Mariners *did not lose* today, as they flew up north to Oakland.

Tacoma lost 1-0 to a phenomenal performance from Albuquerque's quirky-named Nic Ungs, who went all 9, giving up 4H, no walks and 4Ks. He spoiled a great team effort from Tacoma's Cesar Jimenez, who went 6IP 1R 7H 1BB 5Ks. Bobby Livingston reacquainted himself to the PCL by going 3 scoreless innings, giving up 2H, no walks and 3Ks. Welcome back, Bobby.

San Antonio's offense was blitzkrieged by Texas' farm-team Frisco, as John Danks and two relievers combined to rack up *17 Ks* against our valiant Missions. Wlad Balentien, as you might suspect, led the parade with a Golden sombrero. But Bryan Lahair had a hat-trick for his 0-4, and Justin Ruchti matched that in only three ABs.

Wisconsin was swept in a double-header (nobody did anything), including another shut-out, so we're down to the offensive insanity that is the Cal League to bail out a rather anemic system today... well, it's still going on, and the Sixty-Sixers are tied at 5. Yung-Chi Chen keeps hitting... seriously, why is he still down there? SA has a number of middle-infielders? Then have him play third, or SS. And hey, there's a certain brother of a famous MLB SS/1B who's unaccountably taken over the starting 2b job in Tacoma....

Tomorrow: Felix the Cat goes up against Joe Blanton the Fat at 7pm. You should watch, because Felix is really quite good, and the A's offense, save for Moneyballer Nick Swisher, has been terrible. Couple that with a lot of foul territory, a great IF defense and this is probably your best chance to see a no-hitter until....well, until Felix pitches again.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

M's hit for power, Rainiers for....nothing, really

As you all know, the M's battered Jeff 'Jered's Older Brother' Weaver for 7 ER and 4, count 'em FOUR HRs today. Jose Lopez narrowly missed hitting two, settling for a long double and a two-run shot, and Yuniesky Betancourt hit his second HR in as many days. A few days ago, the M's were struggling to score off of the Tampa Bay devil rays, and though they won that series, it didn't have the finality that this easy 9-4 win did. Man, it's nice that the M's didn't sign Jeff Weaver to an incentive-laden 1-year deal (as I argued they should)...

The Rainiers, on the other hand, couldn't do much of anything today. Despite getting 8 hits and 7 walks, Tacoma could not score against five Albuquerque Isotopes hurlers. They left 13 men on base, which would be bad, if it weren't for the fact that Albuquerque left 15. Kevin Appier gave up one run in 5 tough IP, in which he gave up 8 hits and two walks... AND made a gratuitous error that turned a sure DP into a 1st and 3rd with no outs. It was a sloppy, ugly game for mother's day (yes, I took my mom), and the Rainiers certainly deserved to lose. The first Isotopes run scored on a throwing error by Adam Jones, when a throw to third got past the third basemen AND the pitcher, leaving C Guillermo Quiroz to race the baserunner to the plate (Quiroz lost). The second run came about when C Tom Wilson hit a deep fly that came out of TJ Bohn's glove for a 2B, and then CF Jason Little's GB to Hunter Brown was misplayed for a two-base error. Jesse Foppert, making a rehab appearance (FB velocity: 89MPH), walked the ninth hitter to force in the Isotopes third run, completing a near cycle of ineptitude. I was telling my parents, and hopefully they believed me, that it wasn't usually this amateurish...
Tacoma's first hit came in the fourth, fittingly off the bat of Chris Snelling (who went 1-5). Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Garciaparra, making his AAA debut, both drew two walks to lead the 'offense'). In the absence of any real offensive star (no XBH), the real story may have been reliever Justin Huisman, who just joined the Rainiers from Round Rock a few days ago (he pitched against Tacoma on Thursday or so, then changed clubhouses when Round Rock left town on Friday): Justin went 1 2/3 IP 0R, 0H, 1BB, 3K. He's not a real prospect, but hey, he looked great today in front of thousands of moms who just wanted the Diamond Dig to start.

In Anaheim, the big story (aside from yet more evidence that Jeff Weaver isn't any good) was MLB debutante Emiliano Fruto, who went 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the save. He gave up only one hit, and, shockingly, walked only one. For those who haven't seen him, Fruto's a heavyset Colombian with a good fastball and a great, sinking change to go with a slider. While he's got a live arm and a fairly advanced second pitch, he's not always sure where the ball's going, which has led him to control problems in the minors. He's followed great outings with terrible ones, which has earned him a reputation for being something of a head case on the hill. He's young, and he's come a long way, and has more natural talent than a lot of guys (Sean Green, Livingston, probably Sherrill), but whom I've always thought needed some extra coaching. Maybe it's the MLB atmosphere that forces concentration, but Fruto looked great, coaxing a DP from Chone Figgins, and pitching brilliantly on a day when the M's needed someone to eat innings. Bobby Livingston went back to AAA to make room for Fruto. Dave Asher and Mike Hrynio were sent down to make room for Garciaparra and Huisman.
Jose Lopez now has his OBP up to an even .300 and an ISO of 162....and it'll only go up from here. He's been showing signs, even against non-Weaver pitching, of breaking out, and you're starting to see the results.

Ronny Prettyman hit a HR and drove in 4 as Inland Empire won 10-9 over Stockton. 2005 draftee Robert Rohrbaugh made a short rehab start, going 1 1/3 scoreless innings before turning things over to Ivan Blanco who ended up with the win. Prettyman is now hitting .315, though with slightly uglier ISO - Power and ISO Patience numbers. He's a collegiate hitter out of a big time program who the M's snagged around round 10 (I think)... I've been rooting for him since pointing him out at that first Lookout Landing night down at the Ram when he was playing for CS Fullerton. Yung-Chi Chen evidently didn't take Michael Garciaparra's spot in San Antonio, as he went 0-4 tonight for IE, but with 2 RBI; it's not clear what move's been made to fill out the SA roster, so he (or someone else) may end up moving tomorrow.

San Antonio won 5-4 as Ryan Feierabend got his first win of the year. Wlad Balentien put an end to his slump by going 2-4 with a 2B and his 7th HR of the year to pace the Missions. Bryan LaHair added two singles. Jon Huber got his 7th save of the year, going 2 scoreless innings.

Search My Photo Collection...

It's pretty rudimentary and not exactly, well, pretty, but at least it's finally semi-functional (kinda like me -- not entirely dysfunctional...).

I've organized my photos so y'all can now find pictures of specific players. I tried to include everyone in the picture, so obviously there's a lot of pictures of catchers in there, even though they're not necessarily the main subject of the picture .

Let me know if you find this useful, or if you have any suggestions. I've tried to keep it simple.

Search PositivePaul's Photo Collection

I Needed That

It's been a rough year to be a sports fan here. For some, the question of whether it's worse when your team loses a championship game or when your team is hopeless from day one is a hypothetical - it's bar-room argument fodder. For Seattle fans, it's been all too real. Every type of sports pain has been visited upon us recently, from the Super Bowl debacle to the M's, well, to the M's, period. And it seemingly infects everything, every minor detail, I root for. 'Hey, Bobby Livingston's a great pitcher!' Survey says.....not yet, he's not. The English Premier league team I support was clinging to the last Champions League spot, one point ahead of their bitter London rivals. The night before the match, half the team comes down with food poisoning, leading to a loss and the inevitable triumph of all that is evil (worse, this particular iteration of evil seems to be the official team of the M's blogosphere, something I'm sort of at a loss to understand. It's like a good friend turning to you and saying, 'You know, call me crazy, but that Yanni feller makes some damned inspiring music,' but worse... much worse). The Rainiers came really close to an amazing comeback, before falling just short with the bases loaded in today's game. If I picked a boat in the M's hydro race, it would crash and cause a massive oil and jetfuel slick to kill off half the fish in Lake Washington. I'm trying not to ask my wife about her job too much, because I think she might get fired if I start really 'following' it. Seriously.
This all seems both incredibly self-centered (I'm a frickin' *blogger* - sorry) and also a bit paranoid, but I think many sports fans understand this feeling. It all seems so hopeless when the few teams that you follow lose, often in painful, even grimly fascinating ways. Like many fans, I've been looking for some sort of sign that being really passionate about baseball, or sports in general, isn't simply an interesting, colorful forum for life kicking you in the nuts; like a rich, engrossing backstory and dialogue that covers up the fact that the movie has no plot, and everyone dies at the end.
The point of this omphaloskepsis? I took immense pleasure in tonight's/yesterday's 13-inning triumph over the angels. It was, in the cold light of rationality, just one game - a game between the bottom two teams in the division. It meant little and depleted the bullpen. But for the first time in what felt like 5 years, many of the small things I watched for turned out....positively. I've been waiting for Jeremy Reed to be the guy everyone says (and I think) he is since 2004. I've been waiting for George Sherrill to snap out of his mini sort-of-slump, and give righties fits like we all know he can. I've been waiting for Richie Sexson to do *something.* And whadda ya know, all those things happened. This isn't to say that the M's are now an elite team, or that Sexson/Reed are 'fixed,' but for the first time in a while, I remembered that sports can be pretty damn fun, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday Rainiers Wrap

The Rainiers opened a four-game series with Albuquerque today in sun-soaked Tacoma. It was quite warm in the sun, but behind home plate it was freezing. Poor Cesar Jimenez' teeth were chattering audibly. Anyway, Francisco Cruceta had a great bounceback game from his 1IP 9ER debacle in hitter-friendly Salt Lake. He was effectively wild with his fastball in the first few innings; overthrowing and coming across his body a bit, leaving the ball way outside to righties, but he got enough pitches over to coax hitters into swinging. He gave up some base hits, but got 8Ks in 7IP - this was vintage Cruceta. Francisco has good velocity - he touched 94MPH with his fastball in the first - but works mostly in the 92MPH range. He also featured a slider that he got more and more confident with throughout the game. He threw it at 82-84, but also took a lot off at certain times, bringing it down to 77-79 at times; I thought it was a curveball. He never looks overpowering, but kept getting fly balls to the center. That's a good plan in Cheney at any time, but with the wind blowing in, that was a recipe for easy outs. By the third, Cruceta was in rhythm and looking pretty good.
The Rainiers took their only lead in the first on an RBI grounder by Todd Sears, the last of three consecutive singles. It scored Chris Snelling, and for a while it looked like there might be a play at the plate; you could almost hear 1000 people inhaling sharply. (The throw was cut off).
Snelling ended up with a 2/5 1k line.
Albuquerque got the tying run off Cruceta in the 6th, and then broke it open off of Renee Cortez in the 8th. A two-out single got the Isotopes a run, and then Scott Seabol knocked a two-run HR. Mike Nannini came on to pitch the 9th and gave up what turned out to be a pretty crucial 5th Isotopes run.
Down 4, with the 7-8-9 hitters up, the Rainiers mounted a great comeback. Asdrubal Cabrera reached base by getting plunked by a Brad Clontz pitch. Rob Johnson lined a single to left, and then Scott Youngbauer singled to load the bases. Shin-Soo Choo hit a sac fly, and the Isotoped manager went to have a discussion with Clontz about how to pitch to Adam Jones. The best part of the game, for me, was watching Snelling talk to Jones about hitting the submarining Clontz, demonstrating a line drive swing for Jones to emulate. It demonstrated two things: 1, Chris Snelling is a second hitting coach on this team, a guy some young guys look up to despite the fact that he's young himself. Second, Jones is extremely coachable. He took Snelling's advice and hit a ball on the screws into left for an RBI single. The Isotopes immediately went to Chris Resop to stop the bleeding and to face Snelling (even though Resop's a righty, brought in to face the sweetest lefty swing you'll ever see). Now Doyle himself had a chance to win it, just like his first game on Wednesday. Unfortunately, it didn't quite go according to plan, as Snelling's liner to left was caught by former WSU Couger Mike Kinkade. After a TJ Bohn single and a walk to Todd Sears, the bases were loaded with two outs - the score was now 5-4 Isotopes. The Rainiers' Hunter Brown took a called strike one (way outside; why does this always happen to Brown?), fouled one off, and then, with two strikes, crushed a pitch to center...that Isotopes SS Robert 'Jack' Endino speared to end the ballgame.
Rob Johnson merits a special mention, as he went 2/3 to raise his average to .289, and threw out Seabol trying to steal second. Isotopes leadoff man James 'Armitage' Shanks was successful in stealing second; I mention this only because it was the first really bad throw I've seen Johnson make.
Speaking of which, I was talking to a White Sox scout about the freakishly accurate arm of Asdrubal Cabrera - that Betancourt has a stronger arm, but Cabrera's is at least as accurate, probably more so. Wouldn't you know it, the first chance Drubie gets, and he overthrows Sears at 1b.
The scout also talked about Jeremy Reed's struggles - he thought Jeremy was pressing and rolling over pitches that he used to drive into gaps. It's certainly plausible; Reed's hit a ton of weak grounders to second this year. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense: as Reed continued to make outs, and probably heard a 100 people say 'don't try to hit home runs up there' he flattened his swing even more, making it all but impossible to elevate a pitch. Trying to hit singles may have prevented him from hitting, er, singles. Contrast that with the slight uppercut he's shown off since coming back from exile on the pine barrens. 2 HRs in 2 days is infinitely preferable to another 0-4, and even though we all know he won't be a true HR threat, I hope it's convinced him to forget the 'slap your way out of it' plan. So far, so good.

Other random notes from the M's system:
Stephen Kahn is now officially struggling. He's been wilder than normal after his amazing start, culminating in today's 1IP 3H 3R 3BB 1K performance. Maybe he was taking it easy since he wasn't in a save situation... IE won the game, however, 9-8. Yung-Chi Chen got a double in four trips to DROP his average to .352. There was some talk at the game that he's been called up to San's pretty clear that he's got nothing to prove in the Cal League. He's also another WBC vet who carried over his success there (GS vs. the PRC) into his season.
San Antonio won 6-3, with Bryan LaHair going 2/3. Wlad Balentien is now down in the .240s... I'm still pulling for the guy.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Off-day Diagnostics.

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.
5: Will PositivePaul actually miss having Ryan Franklin in the rotation?

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!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Odds and Ends

1: Felix. That's more like it. In 7 2/3IP, he struck out 8, gave up only one run, and generally looked like his old self. Most important was his velocity - he was at 97 in the 8th inning, according to the Safeco gun. Maybe the standard excuse (his shin splints in spring training) was right...

[PositivePaul's Edit (after midnight):]

Woo HOO! With this win and Anaheim's loss, the M's are no longer in last place!!!! Add that with the win by Felix, and that's cause enough for celebration! A quick glance at Retrosheet kinda makes me think that this is later in the season than the last time we were NOT in the cellar last year. Anyone have any better data that shows the latest we were out of the cellar in 2005? Er, wait. Lemme answer that. I see Retrosheet actually does have the daily standings. We overtook, briefly, Oakland last year on 5/15, and again on 5/23 (but went back into the cellar a month later on 6/25 -- for good, IIRC)

[Now back to marc's good stuff that you should read:]

2: The honeymoon may be over for Kevin Appier - the aged wonder gave up 5 runs in 4IP today, bringing his impressive scoreless innings streak to an end at 16.

3: On the opposite end of the spectrum, Travis Blackley put up his best start since 2004, with 7 IP 2H 1R 1BB 7K against Springfield. Seeing Blackley back in form would really brighten up the M's system's pitching depth, and give Tacoma a great option (better than Jimenez) when someone gets called up.

4: Shin-Soo Choo had a nice night, going 2-4, raising his average back to .310. I had to notice that after he was treated to a 'POTD' at detectovision, he plummeted from about .364/.447/.621 in late April to .304/374/.473 at the start of today's play. Hmm. Dr. D then did a POTD on Rainiers' pitcher Francisco Cruceta, who, at the time, had an ERA of 1.56 and 23Ks in 17IP. He now has an ERA of an even 6, and though he's still got his strikeouts up, he's walking a lot of guys, culminating in Monday night's 1IP, 9ER, 5BB 1K 'performance.' So who else has enjoyed the thrill of a POTD recently? Bobby Livingston, for one, who shortly after this piece was written made his MLB debut, and gave up 4ER in 1 2/3 IP.
The M's blogosphere has its SI cover jinx equivalent. Oh, and Doc? Could you focus a little of your analytical attention on M's/Rainiers opponents for a while? How about this Jared Gothreaux character? Need more time? Hey, is John Lackey for real?

(exception that proves the rule? Stephen Kahn. But even Kahn's slipped a *little bit* from where he was - he's now given up a couple of runs. Still, Kahn appears immune from the jinx, at least in A ball)

5: GS52 got a 'hold' tonight without getting an out. Is that, you know, legal?
I think he'll be fine, but it's my duty to point out that he has now given up as many walks this year in 17IP as he did all of last year (only 29IP).

6: JAC's Prospect Insider blog continues to impress - lots of discussion there in the past few days on the M's, the draft, and even broadcasters (great blogs think alike). Lots of interesting discussion in the comments on basically every post.

7: Those wacky replacement umps. If they aren't getting nailed by bats, they're subjected to interesting studies by the guys at The Hardball Times which may indicate some home-team bias (the replacements are local -drawn from amateur and indie leagues). Then, a game in the AA Southern League was forfeited after the Birmingham Barons manager pulled his team off the field after three bench clearing brawls (the manager, Chris Cron, even got punched by Dodgers prospect Matt Kemp in the melee). As you may know, the union representing minor league umps had agreed to a deal with baseball, but that deal was soundly rejected by membership. Churchill and I argued a bit about the significance of that move, and about the leverage held by the striking umps here - I basically said that fans being pissed at umpires missing calls is as insignificant as it gets, especially if they continue to buy tickets. But Churchill argued that *teams* were starting to tire of the amateur umps as well, and that this gave the strikers a bit more leverage than it might seem. Well, at this point, I've got to agree 100% with JAC. After accusations of bias and a game that was forfeited due to the failure of the umpiring crew to settle down two teams, I'm pretty sure the MiLB umps will get a better offer. It's something of a striking contrast, if you'll pardon the pun, with how MLB dealt with the major league ump strike led by Eric Gregg a while back - MLB hired MiLB umps, fired everyone involved with the strike and moved on. Of course,they had the luxury of getting professional (albeit not MLB) umps to replace the strikers, and that seems to be the key here.

8: According to USSMariner, Chris Snelling will debut with Tacoma *tomorrow*. Crap, I was going to go to that game with some work folks, but actual work got in the way. I'll try and listen on the radio... Tacoma, like all M's affiliates, have seen an insane amount of player shuffling recently due to all the injuries.

9: Dave Asher pitched in his second game for the Rainiers today - the 2005 draftee gave up no runs in 2 1/3, but more interesting was the debut of former Astros 1st rounder Mike Nannini. Mike wasn't so lucky, and got touched up a bit, but it's just an example of how everyone's desperate for players: another 2005 draftee, Julian Henson, made his professional debut yesterday. Some of these guys will play in Everett once they get going, but some... I don't know that the M's know what will become of guys like Asher and Nannini in a month or two. But in the meantime, "Nannini."

10 - let's make it an even 10. Wlad Balentien went 2-4 with a double, a walk and a k to get his average up near .260 again. He was at .244 a bit ago - nice to see him make a mini-comeback. It probably won't matter with Balentien (either he'll put it together and be Dave Kingman, or he'll be Rob Stratten), but I'm really curious to hear about his OF defense. Is he a liability out there? A good, solid player? JAC? Anyone?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

George Sherrill For Closer!

Would you expect anything else from me, now that Eddie Guardado's reportedly lost his job?

Yeah, I know, I'm a homer. Still, hear me out.
  1. Even I will admit that (aside from yesterday's "oops"), Soriano is probably the best pitcher in the bullpen. Putz is pitching well, and is on fire since building confidence in his splitter. But Soriano's still the Bullpen Ace.
  2. Modern analysis seems to agree that the closer's role is at least equally (if not less) important than the 7th and 8th Inning setup role. When you have a 1-run lead, and the starter has made it through 6, but is struggling in the 7th, putting two runners on board, you want a reliever that will not allow those runners to score. Coming in with runners on base and no one out is more crucial than coming in to start an inning. You want your relief aces to pitch in those situations. With no one out, you don't want to be blowing through matchup pitchers (LOOGYs and ROOGYs).
  3. Given that even George would admit that Putz and Soriano are higher up on the depth charts than he is, one would think that those two pitchers, then, are the M's "relief aces" (just read anything coming from the papers or on George -- they still call him a "situational lefty" -- another term for "LOOGY").
  4. You want to use your "relief aces" in the high-leverage 7th and 8th innings, if you want to win the game. You still need an effective pitcher that can handle shutting the door in the 9th.
  5. Again, even George would admit that he still needs some work against righties. He hasn't been completely terrible against them -- in terms of HR's allowed. Okay, okay, I'm stretching things a bit. His ESPN Splits show that righties have an OPS of 1.380 on him. Who am I kidding -- that's terrible! Still, unless the 9th inning contains a stable full of righties, George should be able to hold his own. The more he faces 'em, the more he'll get comfortable. He's closed games reliably before, he can do it again.
  6. Use the bullpen aces to lock down the 7th and 8th, and let George cover the 9th.
He'd do absolutely no worse than Guardado.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Samson Snipped Again!

Well, a diagnostics post is brewin' (in my brain) but here's a quick comment about recent events surrounding our favorite Mariner.

I've been trying to cut back on watching games, since the wife has been pretty upset with the amount of time I've been giving to baseball. Munchausen wouldn't be proud (RIP, ol' bro! Hope your 'resurrection' as Citizen K has served you well)! I was actually in the middle of an argument with my 4-year-old (he was demanding that I get the entire package of badminton birdies that he'd blasted onto the roof) when I happened to notice this taking place in the game (after I'd just turned it on to check the score):

(Photo from today's Seattle P-I, not PositivePaul's archive ;-)

The first thing that crossed my mind? Oh noes! Samson's getting his hair cut! How dare the Twinkies cut the Sacred Sherrill String!

Sho 'nuff...

It would happen when George was placed in the game to get some experience with righties (okay, one righty, one switch-hitter). It would happen after he got his wish granted.

You'll get 'em next time, George!