April 29, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Minor League Highlights for Monday, April 28

Tacoma 5, Fresno 1. The Rainiers returned home in style — actually, I’m pretty sure they returned in a plane — with a win behind the strong pitching of aforementioned RHP Brian Sweeney (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). Sweeney went to 2-1 on the season and now has a 1.16 ERA and 25:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 1/3 IP. Wow. LF Adrian Myers, 3B Luis Figueroa and CF Chad Meyers each had two hits for Tacoma, and 2B Mickey Lopez and 1B Andy Barket each homered and drove in two runs. RHP JJ Putz worked the final three innings (1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) to pick up a save of the non-traditional variety.

San Antonio 4, Tulsa 0. RHP Clint Nageotte fashioned yet another strong start (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) to win his third game of the year and lower his season ERA to 1.27. It’s particularly encouraging to see him walk only two baters in seven innings, as his command is suspect at times. The offensive star was once again C Jim Horner, who continued his hot hitting with three hits in three at-bats including a double, a homer, two runs scored and two runs driven in. Horner has seven hits in his last seven at-bats and his hitting a robust .467 since arriving in San Antonio. SS Luis “Rule 5 Kid” Ugueto added two hits, two RBIs and two steals. Ugueto and teammate CF Michael Curry are tied for tops in the organization with 11 steals on the season; no other M’s farmhand has more than six. Oh, and Kevin Goldstein of the always excellent Prospect Report notes that Nageotte hasn’t allowed an earned run in four of his five starts this season.

Inland Empire was idle, as the California League did not play a full schedule yesterday. The 66ers are back in action today against San Jose but have yet to announce a starter. It would appear to be RHP Cha Seung Baek’s turn in the rotation, but perhaps they’re being especially careful with him due to his injury history.

Wisconsin 14, South Bend 13 (11 innings). BREAK UP THE TIMBER RATTLERS! Wisconsin won yet another one-run, extra innings game yesterday to continue a run of improbable victories not seen in the M’s organization since “Refuse to Lose” took over the Kingdome in 1995. The hero this time was C Rene Rivera, who went four-for-six with two homers, three runs scored and five driven in. Equally heroic was 2B Corey Harrington, who also had four hits in six trips and knocked in the winning run in the top of the 11th, driving in LF Carlos Arroyo who had tripled to lead off the inning. LHP Cesar Jimenez pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief (3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) to pick up the win, and RHP Bryan Heaston worked the bottom of the 11th (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) for his third save. Wisconsin has now won six straight games, including five one-run games and four in extra innings. Tune in tomorrow to see if they can keep this incredible string alive.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Remember when Bob Melvin was first hired, and he made that comment about batting average and speed versus on-base percentage that made us all feel so much better about his hiring? It went something like, “I’d much rather have a guy who hits .260 with a .360 OBP and doesn’t run well than a guy who runs well, hits .300 but only has a .310 OBP.” Well, get ready to swing back the other way. I present to you this article from the M’s official website about Ichiro’s struggles this season, from which I quote, “The manager pointed out that Ichiro’s on-base percentage remains a respectable .330, which is sixth best on the team and not that much lower than in 2001 (.381) or last season (.388).”

There are all sorts of things wrong with that statement. For starters, a .330 on-base percentage is not “respectable” unless you’re hitting for a good deal of power, which we all know Ichiro is not. The American League had a .327 mark as whole last season, and suddenly .330 is acceptable — nay, respectable — from the guy in your lineup who’s supposed to be setting the table? Second, saying he’s sixth best on the team is both ambiguous and completely devoid of useful information. Does this mean all the guys ahead of him are OBP demons, or that his OBP just isn’t that good? Melvin makes it sound as if it’s the former, while in reality it’s the latter. And finally, since when is 50 points of on-base percentage “not that much lower”? Fifty points! Honestly, I’m baffled by this.

The only explanations I can come up with are: 1. Melvin’s comments were taken out of context; 2. He’s incredibly ignorant about OBP; or 3. He’s so worried about not criticizing his players that he went out of his way to say something nice, even though something nice wasn’t warranted. Please — please — let it be #1 or #3 on that list.

Oh, and Brian Sweeney — that’s a whole lotta tossin’ going on.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Brian Sweeney was just lifted from the Rainiers game after 6 innings with a 5-1 lead. He tossed 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 unearned run, 0 walks, and 5 strikeouts. He’s now tossed 23 2/3 innings and has an ERA of 1.14. He’s walked 2 and struck out 25.

All hail Brian Sweeney.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Speaking of players we have a special fondess for, I happened to notice today that former M’s farmhand Bo Robinson is playing for the Trenton Thunder (a Red Sox affiliate) in the AA Eastern League. I lost track of him at the end of last season and wasn’t sure where he had turned up. Robinson has a nice compact swing and will take his share of walks, but has no power to speak of and is limited defensively to 1B/3B so he’s not likely to ever amount to much, but for some reason I’ve always liked him. So far he’s up to his old tricks, with a .292/.419/.333 line (no, that’s not a typo) through 10 games. I wish him well.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Re: Davis — I know, but Doug Davis is one of several players I have a fond spot in my heart for. He used to mow my friend’s lawn back when Davis was first in the minors and running a landscaping business on the side to make ends meet.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Worried is probably an understatement. The Yankees are averaging nearly 7 runs per game. They have a team OPS of .919, and their two worst regular players so far have been Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui. I fear for the safety of Mr. Meche.

Doug Davis isn’t much of a situational lefty, by the way. Over the past three years, lefties have hit .294/.352/.460 against him, as compared to .291/.362/.434 for righthanders. He may be Joe Sheehan endorsed, but there’s little reason to think he’s an upgrade on anyone the M’s currently have, and he’d cost a waiver claim and a 40 man roster spot. Pass.

The next 12 games consist of home-and-home series with the Yankees and White Sox. I think if we go 6-6 over the next two weeks, we’re doing well. I can see a 4-8 stretch without too many problems, though. The Yankees are pretty darn good.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

The Mariners head out for a 5-game road trip to New York and Chicago. I say this reluctantly, but I’m worried.

Meche v. Clemens: this’ll be an interesting outing, but if Dave’s right, and he’s right far more often than I’m comfortable with, the Yankees offense could tear him open and toss his organs to the cheering animals in the NY bleachers.

Moyer v. Pettite: one of these left-handers is good, and I like the M’s chances here.

Pineiro v. Mussina: Mussina has been absolutely lights-out so far this year, Pineiro has… not been

Now sure, the Yankees have faced weak offenses so far, but so have the Mariners. The Yankees offense is off to a great start in part by facing awful staffs, but they’re also undeniably top-notch and much better, I think, than the Mariners are (I think Nick Johnson’s ideal line in a game would be 2-3, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1K).

Also, the Rangers designated Doug Davis for assignment again. Lefty in the pen now, long reliever, Joe Sheehan-endorsed as a possible future Jamie Moyer.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Minor League Highlights for Sunday, April 27

Tucson 13, Tacoma 9. RHP Ken Cloude, perhaps miffed that the M’s passed him over in favor of Rafael Soriano this week, was roughed up and unable to make it out of the fifth inning against Tucson in a losing effort (4 2/3 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). The outing raised his ERA to an ugly 6.08, and he also hit a batter, balked and gave up two homers. RHP Scott Atchison and LHP Tim Hamulack were also hit hard in relief. On the other side of things, 2B Mickey Lopez had four hits to pace the Rainiers’ 14-hit attack. 1B Andy Barkett and C Pat Borders each had two hits to continue their torrid offensive pace.

San Antonio 12, Wichita 3. C Jim Horner went four-for-four, raising his average to .407 since his demotion from Tacoma, to lead a balanced 13-hit effort in which seven Missions had at least one hit, six drove in at least one run and eight scored at least once. All that offense was more than enough for LHP Bobby Madritsch (5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) to pick up his second win in as many starts, evening his record at 2-2 and giving him 22 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings since coming off the DL. Other than Horner, DH John Lindsey had a nice game — single, double, homer, two runs scored and three runs batted in.

San Jose 4, Inland Empire 1. The 66ers were shut down at the plate Sunday, managing just five hits in the game and all were singles. 3B John Castellano, in a rare start, and DH Richard Pohle each had two of the five. Young RHP Emiliano Fruto’s (5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) struggles continued, as he dropped to 0-4 on the year and now has a 5.71 ERA, though the bullpen kept the team in the game. LHP Justin Blood and RHPs Brian Strelitz and Glen Bott combined for four scoreless innings (1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) in relief of Fruto. With the possible exception of San Antonio, strong bullpens seem to be a hallmark of the minor league system so far this season.

Wisconsin 13, South Bend 12 (10 innings). The Timber Rattlers have shown an uncanny knack for winning close games and in extra innings this season, a trend which continued Sunday in a wild game against South Bend. After going up 3-0 in the bottom of the 1st, Wisconsin fell behind 4-3 in the 4th. They tied it up in the 5th, only to see South Bend score 3 in their half of the 6th. Undaunted, Wisconsin scored 3 of their own in the bottom of the 6th. The two teams matched each other again in the 8th, with each side scoring 5 runs in the inning. The Timber Rattlers then won it in the bottom of the 10th on RF TJ Bohn’s second homer of the game. Bohn finished the day 4-5 with two homers, a double, three runs scored and five driven in. RHP Renee Cortez (2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) picked up the win in relief, and Wisconsin has now won five straight since starting the season 5-11.

April 28, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

We here at the USS Mariner — that’s Derek, Dave and me, the guy whose name doesn’t start with “D” — would like to thank everyone who checks out the site on a more-or-less regular basis. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the turnout, especially considering the lack of promotion we’ve done to date. Word of mouth (or in the case of the Internet, word of e-mail or word of link) is a wonderful thing. That in mind, if you like what you’ve seen in this space so far, we’d certainly appreciate it if you told all your good Mariners loving friends about us. In exchange, we’ll keep on providing the hard-hitting analysis and wise-ass commentary you’ve come to expect from us, both here and in our other ventures. Thanks!

April 27, 2003 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Bloomquist pinch-hitting for Mabry? Playing the percentages, okay, maybe, but that’s not the big thing. Bloomquist hasn’t demonstrated that he can hit since, uh, Lancaster way back in 19-ought-1, while on the bench is Professional Hitter Greg Colbrunn, who mashes everything. Why?

And what’s with this constant bunting? At the bottom of the order, maybe, but why… argh. Notes not related to the game itself, which sucked:

I wasn’t against the dancing groundskeepers when I saw it the first time. Novelty is the charm, and as I’ve seen them over and over, become better at predicting if they’re coming out, I’ve come to wish they’d stop. When people hope and expect it, and they’re working in the push-ups into every routine because the fans love it, it’s gone too far. But the Mariners, with their family-friendly fan-service atmosphere, are then in a bind: do they push the idea, doing better choreography, until every casual fan has seen it a couple of times, and then end it? Does anyone think that in five years, the groundskeepers will still be dancing? And if not, wouldn’t their time now be better spent — and I say this only as an observation — figure out a way to fix the really nasty patches of turf on the field (in front of the mound, just on the grass from the on-deck circles, outer rim of the batters’s box, Ichiro’s right field patch)?

Tonight was “Boeing Honors Kids Weekend (by moving their parents’ jobs out of town or just laying them off)”. The best part of this is when the Honorary Mariners run out on the field and each take a position, and then the real Mariners come out, sign a ball for the kid, and talk for a second (and there’s always one, two who forget they have to run back in). But as cool as this is, think about this: one kid gets to go out and hang around with Ichiro, who is one cool cat, and then across the outfield there’s a little boy asking John Mabry who he is. My question would be this: did Colbrunn sign a ball and tell a kid how important it was to check the level of the Gatorade cooler at the top of every inning?

The Mariners Bench, a Summary

by Derek

Bloomquist, RH – a .260/.320/.375 guy, he’s a Gipson-esque glove with a better bat (though not Gipson’s lauded bunting prowess*)

Mabry, LH .270/.324/.400, bad defense everywhere — 1b/RF/LF usually, his 3b play is particularly ugly

Colbrunn, RH, .300/.360/.500, is an average-below-average 1b.

McLemore, “switch” but more LH, .269/.370/.380, LF passable and increasingly ugly at 3b/SS/2b

Anyone who can explain why Colbrunn’s rotting on the bench every night can drop me a line.

* speaking of which, given Melvin’s bunt obsession, how come the Mariners didn’t retain Gipson as a pinch-bunter instead of signing Colbrunn as a pinch-bench-sitter

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