With respect to the Grand Salami — a mighty fine publication, I might add — this is nothing new. Last year they sent out fairly aggressive vendors in an attempt to hit fans up for programs before they could reach the Salami vendors, partly to be confrontational and partly to try and trick fans who are used to buying the Salami from street vendors. Earlier this year, editor/founder/publisher Jon Wells was told by the Mariners that he was not allowed to call his publication a “program,” as if the Mariners have some sort of exclusive rights to this word and/or concept. You hear stories about cities where the unofficial program is actually welcomed by the team, which is smart enough to realize that they’re getting free publicity and coverage (Baltimore is the one that comes to mind), and it boggles the mind that the M’s are the way they are. They’ve basically done everything they can to run the Salami into the ground — including publishing their own “unofficial program a few years ago! — short of taking legal action. Uh, knock on wood.
Boy, did we post enough content today, or what? Anyway, next game is on Tuesday, when the Mariners head to Cleveland to beat the heck out of the Indians for a couple of games.
Tuesday, RHP Pineiro v RHP Anderson
Wednesday, RHP Garcia v RHP Davis
Thursday, could go a couple of ways — probably RHP Franklin on 5 days rest v. RHP Westbrook
I like the M’s chances here. It’s telling that the Mariners made a big deal out of what Freddy’s next start would tell them about his dedication (etc). Last time he faced their stopgap lineup, he gave up 7 hits, one a homer, two walks, and struck out only one, allowing one run in six innings of work. That’s what we call ‘lucky’. Meche shut them out the next day (8ks), and Jamie gave up two runs (striking out 7) the day after that. It’s weird, though, the Mariners are playing .600 ball but if you’d asked me, I’d have told you they were closer to .550, and I’ve seen every game so far (I think). That says something about me, or the team, I don’t know which. Still, I was the only guy at Prospectus to predict the Mariners would finish as high as second in their division.
Also, the Mariners have escalated their continuing battle against the Grand Salami, the unofficial and frequently-critical (though not of advertisers) program sold for $3 outside Safeco Field that is markedly superior to the $4 official program. Tired of having fans buy the Grand Salami on their way to the park and pass up the official program, the team is now deploying street hawkers who do the Grand Salami schtick, with one adjustment — “Programs! Four dollars!” in the hopes, I think, that fans used to buying the Salami will buy from them, thinking it’s a price increase… I’m not sure what the next step will be, but I suspect it involves some kind of favorable legislation to ban vendors not sanctioned by the team from Safeco Field property, forcing the vendors away from the gates and the lucrative parking garage-to-ballpark fan streams.
Minor League Highlights for Saturday, May 10
Oklahoma 1, Tacoma 0. The Rainiers held Oklahoma to just three hits in the game, but unfortunately managed only three hits of their own and were unable to scratch out even a single run. LHP Craig Anderson (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) had yet another good start, lowering his ERA to 2.61 on the year. It took him a few starts at the beginning of the year, but he’s apparently figured out how to fool PCL hitters with his assortment of junk. RHP J.J. Putz (2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) took the loss in relief, as he allowed a run in the top of the 9th. 3B Luis Figueroa had two of Tacoma’s three hits.
Midland 6, San Antonio 4. The once-hot Missions have now lost two in a row, as RHP Clint Nageotte (4 2/3 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) was hit quite hard and took his first loss of the season. If you’re looking for a positive, it’s that he only walked one this time out; command is key to Nageotte’s success down the road. 1B A.J. Zapp led the offense with a homer and a double, and 3B Justin Leone walked three times to go along with his second homerun of the season. CF Michael Curry stole two bases to give him 18 on the year, by far the highest total in the system.
Lake Elsinore 5, Inland Empire 2 (DH Game #1). In typical 66ers fashion, the team scored just two runs despite having ten hits in the game. For comparison, Lake Elsinore scored their five runs on seven hits. 3B Hunter Brown and CF Sheldon Fulse each had a pair, and six other players chipped in with one hit each. LHP Glenn Bott (4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) took the loss in the abbreviated game, dropping his record to 0-2 on the season.
Lake Elsinore 3, Inland Empire 2 (DH Game #2). The 66ers were done in yet again by a poor offensive showing, this time managing just five hits. It should be noted that they also drew six walks; this team actually walks quite a bit, but for whatever reason they seem incapable of stringing together hits to score than just a single run here and there. It doesn’t help that they’re dead-last in the California League in homers, either. Getting back to the game, RHP Enmanuel Ulloa pitched very well (5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) and left with a 1-0 lead, only to see RHP Emiliano Fruto cough it up in a poor relief outing (1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K).
Wisconsin 6, Battle Creek 2. LHP T.A. Fulmer (9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) gave the Timber Rattlers their first complete game of the year, picking up his second win and lowering his ERA to 3.63. Fulmer took a no-hitter into the 4th inning, but allowed a two-out double followed by an RBI single which tied the game at 1. Wisconsin countered with a SS Michael Garciaparra solo homer in the bottom of the 4th, followed by a 3B Matt Hagen three-run shot in the 6th. Hagen and Garciaparra, hitting 8th and 9th in the batting order, combined to go 6-8 with two homers, three runs scored and four RBIs on the day.
Let’s talk about Freddy. Pitching coach Brian Price has hinted around knowing what’s up, saying that the amount of effort someone puts into becoming a great pitcher is a personal choice, and lately that “Freddy is facing a challenge right now, and we’ll see what he’s made of.”
Freddy’s known as a party dude, a nightclub-hanging-out guy with a reputation for enjoying the women his fame attracts. I have no personal knowledge of any of this, I only know that he does get spotted at clubs a lot. He’s also got issues with his work ethic, preparation, and his tendency to come unraveled easily. Now, do any of the local media types come out and confront this?
Nope. Steve Kelley (“The worst sports writer in Seattle”) writes a column “Garcia more like a house of cards than supposed ace” in which he dances around this: he asks if Freddy wants to win, or “Or is he more interested in using baseball to help him live the good life?” and then, after discussing the collapse, writes “[the Mariners didn’t sign him to an extension because] they saw a flaw in his personality that told them he wasn’t worth their long-term faith. Garcia likes having a good time.” Uh huh? How, exactly? Kelley goes on to talk about these other guys who party, or have a wild lifestyle, after-hours habits. “Is Freddy Garcia a big-league ace? Or a big-time party animal? Is he more interested in night life or night games?”
Look, if you know something, say it. Put it in black-and-white on a page. There are obvious flags out there if you look for them, but what Kelley does here is say that Garcia likes a good time, and then gives examples — of other players.
The P.I. ran a bit in their notebook in which Price offers the theory that it’s when Garcia reaches back for more speed on the fastball that he’s getting hurt. That seems to run counter to my own opinion, which is that Garcia sucks, has no plan, and is easily rattled. Anyway, Price bravely tries to take the blame (this is a huge credit to Price, btw).
Also, while I’m ranting, I’d like to complain about Bob (“I’m well acquinted with other lint in the Mariners pockets”) Finnigan’s May 10 notebook, which starts off being about Freddy and then goes horribly wrong. As one of the M’s unofficial spokespeople Finnigan writes about the possibility of a Portland franchise and said “While the Seattle club maintains its silence on the matter, it is thought that as much as one-third of its broadcast audience and 20-25 percent of its attendance comes from this state’s southwest corridor. Those fans could be drawn away to support a team nearer to them in Portland.”
Thought by who? Who in their right minds believes that one in every four or five fans is driving to Safeco from Vancouver, Washington, given that the Seattle-Tacoma metro area has 3.5 million people in it. The total population of Washington is 5.9m, and there are ~650k in Spokane-Yakima, 189k in the Tri-cities… does Finnigan really think that of the remaining 1.8m people in this state, that they’re all baseball fanatics hiding in the southwest corridor of Washington who watch the game in far greater proportions and are also willing to drive two, three hours in traffic to see the Mariners play, that they’re so baseball crazy… argh. That this 1.8m hidden population in Finnigan’s southwest corridor attend games at a rate (0.75% of population per game) barely below that of people in the Seattle Metro area (1.1% of the population)? What kind of utter stupidity is this?
“It is thought” that that’s true? Here’s a thought, Bob — you work for the Seattle Times. If you want a story, COMMISSION A FREAKING POLL. Here’s my stat: it’s between 90 and 125% of Seattle Times readers wish their baseball section featured more writers like Stone and less of the Kelley-Judd-Finnigan-Newham League of Lazy Sportswriters.
Speaking of Larry Stone, he’s got two good articles on sign-stealing for your reading enjoyment: “Sign language is game’s lifeblood” and “Masters of sign-stealing get in opponents’ heads but aren’t proud of it“). I’m a huge sign-stealer myself, and last year wrote about stealing Mariner signs for Baseball Prospectus, after which Piniella went to Toronto and was annoyed and baffled that the Blue Jays seemed to be stealing his signs (they weren’t, he was just predictable in many situations).
Aaaaaand with another time through the rotation, it’s time for Derek’s Rate Stat Extravaganza:
Who batters* h% hr% bb% k%
Nelson 54 24% 4% 7% 26%
Soriano 16 13% 0% 13% 25%
Sasaki 48 29% 2% 8% 23%
Moyer 179 23% 3% 9% 20%
Meche 182 22% 3% 5% 20%
Rhodes 68 21% 0% 7% 19%
Mateo 81 23% 5% 6% 17%
Pineiro 194 20% 2% 11% 13%
Hasegawa 83 17% 0% 6% 13%
Garcia 197 22% 4% 10% 13%
Franklin 205 24% 4% 7% 9%
Carrara 83 29% 4% 8% 8%
* batters as outs+h+bb, doesn’t include hit batters, etc.
Carrera’s really starting to show his true and historic suckiness. Meche, even with yesterday’s performance, still looks pretty good. He’s not walking anyone, he’s getting strikeouts, and not particularly prone to the long-ball. Franklin’s putting the ball in play and letting it fall where it may so far this year, which is obvious from watching any of his starts.
Notes from the game: McLemore’s defense at short could only get worse if there was a large dog (an adult husky or malamute, say) attacking his ankle all game long.
Guy who sang the national anthem was “Safeco Favorite” John B. Cooper, who took 20m to sing the anthem. The ‘B’ stands for ‘Bad’. The pre-game home run contest was the worst ever. Kids try to hit balls over the fence off a tee, and featured a kid who totally hammed it up, making the ‘raise the roof’ arm gestures, then grounding out weakly. Both kids hit 1 HR, then in the tie-breaker, none. Now, I like to boo the kids — I feel it’s important for them to get used to criticism — but this was torture. It was almost as bad as the celebrity softball game at the All Star Game 2001, which was the most pain I’ve been in at the ball park. This is part of a larger trend of kids-on-camera hamming it up: the Kid PA announcers have been over-the-top lately, too.
The same people who were so annoying at Freddy Meltdown #2 were behind me again, complaining all game long about… Freddy. Yup. They’re like the Bill Waltons of Safeco fans. And I’m a pretty negative guy, so if you’re annoying me with your gnashing and wailing… well, that takes some doing. If these idiots have the tickets behind me for the rest of the season, I’m going to be really annoyed.