U.S.S. Mariner Honorary Crewmember and frequent emailer Jen Van Dijk wrote us with this gem:
Overheard at the Ballpark, 8/15/03: Man behind me to his wife/girlfriend/daughter/whatever: “Yeah Charles Gipson used to play for this team and he was a better fielder than Ichiro.”
I have nothing to add to that gem.
The Red Sox offense just baffles me with how good it is. Today alone, they had eight guys in the batting order with better than a .350 OBP. For comparison, the M’s had four (one of those was Rey Sanchez, so let’s be honest here, the number was really three).
That said, Garcia was awesome. As Dave mentioned, he retired 17 straight after Trot Nixon’s solo homer in the 3rd. He did a very nice job setting up hitters with the fastball and getting ahead in the count, then getting them to swing and breaking stuff down and away. It was particularly impressive to see him fan eight hitters (five straight at one point) — he really hasn’t been a big time strikeout guy the past few years. In any event, that’s now three good starts in a row since his “last chance” to stick in the rotation.
The best moment of the game, by far, was the Soriano-Garciaparra battle in the 8th. Nomar barely had time to go through his little routine before strike three crossed the plate. If the radar gun is to be believed, those three pitches were 96, 96 and 98. Personally I was hoping Melvin would let Soriano finish the game out himself, but maybe he doesn’t want a potential post-season foe to see too much of his ace reliever. Think about it — how much was Francisco Rodriguez helped in last season’s playoffs by the fact that teams hadn’t ever seen him before? Soriano is a “secret” weapon if ever there were one.
I’ll have a new Big Board up this week, most likely on Tuesday. There have been quite a few changes in the minors, particularly at Tacoma, where they’ve turned over two-fifths of their starting rotation in the past few days.
Adam Piatt update: Piatt is still not a member of the Seattle Mariners.
Finally, I’m just going to keep telling myself that the M’s will sign stud CF Carlos Beltran this winter. Please don’t burst that bubble.
Welcome back, Freddy Garcia. Good to see signs of life the past few starts after some horrendous performances in July. Carving up the Red Sox, including retiring 17 straight, is darn impressive. There’s probably still time for him to pitch his way back onto the playoff roster. He is nothing if not streaky, so lets hope this is the beginning of a trend and not an abberation.
Congratulations to Bob Melvin for realizing that Rafael Soriano is the #1 reliever in the pen right now. I can’t imagine more than a handful of major league managers would bring Soriano in to face Nomar with the tying run on second base in the 8th inning at home. Melvin’s usage of the bullpen since the Nelson/Benitez swap has been very good. Like a rookie improving as the season goes along, I’m optimistic that Melvin’s early season weaknesses may be a thing of the past. He may graduate from Box of Rocks status yet.
That said, the line-up today was just ugly. Cameron’s return will make a big difference, but the M’s bench is still wretched, and they can’t afford to go into the playoffs with this sorry group.
Jeff Cirillo homered again today. As soon as he’s “healthy”, he should resume the everyday third base job. Willie Bloomquist still sucks.
Emiliano Fruto got his first win for Tacoma today, taking over for Ken Cloude and tossing 4 scoreless innings. Though it hasn’t been released to the media (which is why I’m still using his listed birthdate on the Future Forty), no one believes the kid is really 19 years old. Age isn’t as significant of a factor for pitchers, but just make sure you don’t get too terribly excited about Fruto being a phenom. He’s got decent stuff and will probably have a major league career of some sort, but he’s no Felix Hernandez.
Speaking of King Felix, he’s going to miss a start as a result of the suspension from last week’s brawl. The order of the staggered suspensions hasn’t yet been announced, but I’ll get that information from Pat Dillon and post it on the blog. Hernandez should get one more start in Everett this year. You really should make an effort to be there, and we’ll give you a few days notice to when it will be. There’s some talk in the organization that Hernandez is going to make the jump to Inland Empire (high-A) next year, with sights on getting him to the majors sometime in 2005.
People have started to ask me about September callups. What I’m hearing is they will bring 7 (maybe 8) guys north. The locks are Aaron Taylor, Aaron Looper, J.J. Putz, and Jamal Strong. Chris Snelling will also join the club if his knee is healthy. Luis Ugueto should join the club after the San Antonio Missions run through the Texas League playoffs. Bobby Madritsch could get a look, though that hasn’t been decided yet. You won’t see Justin Leone, A.J. Zapp, Greg Jacobs, Clint Nageotte, or Travis Blackley. They aren’t on the 40-man roster, and the M’s won’t make a move to clear a roster spot for them to sit on the bench for a month.
At this point, I don’t expect Rett Johnson to pitch again this year. With the labrum history the M’s have, they’re going to be cautious here.
If Aaron Jensen got a better offer than Scott Maine, I might throw something. That said, I’m all for signing quality arms, and if Jensen is willing to sign, let us hope they get it done.
Gratuitous plug. Gabriel was so “inspired” by U.S.S. Mariner that he started his own blog. Check it out and tell him we said hi.
Box Melvin’s Lineup for the Day:
I feel like I’m posting one of those puzzles in the P-I, where you have to spot the 10 mistakes between the two pictures. Here’s the real problem, though — what else is he supposed to do here? Guillen’s still out, Cameron’s out, Cirillo’s out, Colbrunn’s out. The only players on the bench are Olerud and Wilson, who I guess have the day off, and UT Chad Meyers (who, side note, now has two weeks of ML service time). Fortunately, we expect to see Cameron back on Monday, but as long as Glass Guillen is out, this is one thin lineup. Chad Meyers, if you’re curious, played OF/2b at Tacoma, with a little 1b in there, and hit .290/.357/.396, not that impressive for AAA except that doing some quick translations from AAA to the Majors, you figure he’s still going to hit much better than Cirillo was, Wilson is, and probably will hang in there with Bloomquist/Mabry. I know, you’re thinking “boy, and that’s exactly what we need.”
How sad is this: 1b/3b-R Todd Zeile, just released by the Yankees, would be a substantial upgrade on the M’s bench.
Adam Piatt Watch: the Mariners have not claimed OF-R Adam Piatt.
The P-I is reporting that the M’s have signed SS Jeff Flaig, their second round pick in June draft. They’ve now signed their top 14 draft choices. For the full list, you can check out Baseball America. Also, here’s a piece from the Times about negotiations with 19th round choice Aaron Jensen, who the M’s are trying to sign away from a commitment to BYU. They’ve got two weeks to work out a deal before classes start.
Also, the news is (mostly) in on injured prospects Chris Snelling and Rett Johnson. First the better news: Snelling’s MRI came back negative (remember, in the medical world negative is a good thing), but he’s still going to head to Seattle on Monday to go over things with Dr. Pedegana. Now the worse news: Johnson has inflamation in his shoulder and will be placed on the disabled list. There’s a chance they might shut him down for the rest of the year, just to stay on the safe side. He’s already thrown over 150 innings this season, so that sounds like a good idea to me.
Oh, and this just in — Jeff Cirillo hit a homer. No, really.