On April 22nd, the U.S.S. Mariner crew met up for a ballgame at Safeco Field. Before and during the game, there was discussion about Mike Cameron’s future with the Mariners. It was agreed by all parties that he’d be nuts to re-sign here after the season, and the Mariners would be wise to spend their money on a player who could succeed in Safeco Field. The unanimous opinion was that both the Mariners and Cameron would be better off parting ways. It didn’t hurt that he was hitting .229/.313/.357 to that point. He then proceeded to win the game with a grand slam home run and has hit .429/.538/.714 since. Think he heard us?
Speaking of heating up, Jeff Cirillo is 6-12 on the road trip and has drawn 4 walks without a strikeout. However, 5 of those 6 hits are singles. Until he starts consistently hitting the ball with authority to the gaps, I’m going to have a hard time saying he’s back. Nevertheless, he’s not that bad of a player outside of Safeco Field, and the talk of using McLemore, Bloomquist, or Colbrunn at third base is nonsensical. The Mariners are 4th in defensive efficiency for a reason, and Jeff Cirillo is a huge part of that reason. There isn’t a player on the roster who offers a large enough offensive increase to justify taking Cirillo’s glove off the infield.
By the way, when do we finally talk about the remarkable emergence of the Patient Bret Boone. After drawing 3 walks tonight, he’s now 9th in the American Leauge with 17 in 116 AB. He’s walking once every 6.8 AB. Last year, he walked once every 11.47 AB. It was once every 15.75 AB in 2001. He now has a .393 on base percentage despite “only” hitting .293 at the moment. That OBP is .021 points higher than his year-end OBP in 2001 when he hit .331. If Boone is straying from his hack-a-matic past and his power doesn’t disappear, its possible that he could have an even better season than the season we’ve deemed as one of the great flukes of all time.
If I’m Mike Cameron, I ask my agent to see if the White Sox are interested in a Gold Glove CF this off-season. He kills the ball in that stadium, and if the Sox could find a taker for Carlos Lee — like, say, the M’s — they could play Cameron in center and prospect Joe Borchard in left.
Oh, and Colbrunn finally gets a start against a lefty, but in place of Edgar instead of Olerud? That doesn’t make much sense to me, but whatever. On the TV broadcast they made some claim about how Melvin decided to save Edgar for Colon since he’s a fastball hitter and Edgar hits fastballs so well, as opposed to today’s starter Josh Stewart who’s more of an off-speed guy. To me, the deciding factor should be that Olerud just isn’t as good against left-handed pitchers.
For all my carping about Melvin’s constant small-ball tactics, when I went to look it up this morning I found that Seattle, with 18 stolen bases and 6 times caugh-stealing, is only 8th in stolen bases (tied with Baltimore, and way behind Florida’s eye-popping 52). And we’re 19th caught-stealing, which overall puts us right next to the Yankees and Orioles, who have attempted 19 and 18 steals and been caught 6 and 5 times, respectively. And sacrifice hits (which is, bunts), the Mariners are middle of the pack.
I can’t reconcile this with my own observations: are the M’s running-and-attempting-the-run all the time, and laying down the bunt over and over until they get it right? That doesn’t seem like a rational conclusion, so here’s what I’ve started to think: that I’m so frustrated with the times that Melvin’s employing these tactics, particularly the sacrificing the runner from 1-2 and 2-3, that it seems like they’re doing it much more frequently.
Minor League Highlights for Friday, May 2
Iowa 4, Tacoma 3 (10 innings). The Rainiers seemed to have this game won after taking a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th, but normally reliable RHP Aaron Taylor (1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) blew his first save chance of the year and then lost the game in the bottom of the inning. RHP Ken Cloude (5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) bounced back from getting his shelled in his last start, and RHP J.J. Putz worked three scoreless innings in relief (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). Offensively, CF Chad Meyers led the way with three hits in four trips plus a walk, and Jacques Landry had two hits including his 4th homer of the year.
San Antonio 3, Wichita 1. The Missions made it 13 in a row yesterday, giving them longest streak in the minors this season and tying their own Texas League record from 2001. RHP Rett Johnson won his third game of the year with six strong innings (3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and RHP Jared Hoerman (1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) picked up his 7th save, tops in the system. The hitting star was LF Jaime Bubela, who doubled, tripled, scored and drove in two of the team’s three runs. 2B Jose Lopez added two hits and drove in the other run, and 3B Justin Leone scored twice. LHP Bobby Madritsch takes the hill today as San Antonio looks to set a new Texas League record. During the streak, the Missions have outscored their opponents by a 83-36 margin.
Modesto 8, Inland Empire 3. Neither LHP Glenn Bott nor RHPs Jeff Perez and Brian Strelitz were effective yesterday, combining to surrender twelve hits, six walks and three homers in a losing effort. The lone bright spot was 3B Hunter Brown, who went 3-4 with a double. The 66ers managed nine hits in the game, but were unable to put anything together offensively as they stranded ten runners. Brown’s double was the team’s only extra-base hit on the day. RHP Enmanuel Ulloa, recently demoted from San Antonio where he had been working in relief, gets the start today in Modesto.
Dayton 8, Wisconsin 1. The Timber Rattlers saw their eight-game winning streak come to a crashing halt yesterday in Dayton, scoring just one run despite nine hits. LHP Beau Hintz (5 1/3 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) took the loss, though the real damage was done against RHP Rich Dorman (1 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K). Offensively, three players — 2B Corey Harrington, RF T.J. Bohn and SS Michael Garciaparra — had two hits each. Harrington tripled, Bohn doubled and drove him in for the team’s only run, and Garciaparra added his 3rd steal of the year.