April 28, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

As Derek mentioned, yesterday’s game would have been a complete waste of time if not for the win. I was happy, however, to see Melvin disregard traditional closer roles and use Guardado in the game’s biggest situation — bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th, up two runs. If your closer is your best pitcher — and on most teams, he is — you should use him in these situations and not save him for the 9th when your team is up three runs. So, kudos for that one Bob.

As for Villone, these comments don’t surprise me at all. Believe it or not, he has starter-like incentives in his contract, despite that he was (supposedly) signed to be a reliever. I don’t recall the specifics, but I believe he gets a bonus for each five games started, and the bonuses increase the more games he starts.

I’m working on a new Big Board, but seeing as I have to be at work in 45 minutes… you might have to wait until tomorrow.

April 28, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Melvin, on Rafael Soriano:

“It would take a circumstance we wouldn’t like to get into for him to start.”

“The guy we would start is Villone. Obviously, where has been with the pitch count, if the need were to happen soon, and we felt like we needed a right-hander, we would look at him.”

“But we felt going into the season that with the success he had in the bullpen, that’s the role he’s best suited for. I think one of the reasons we have struggled is because we missed him down there.”

In a way, Melvin’s on the right track. Soriano gets strikeouts which are immune from poor defense which, as I harp on constantly, is the M’s problem. But this is like.. “The reason I need to find my favorite tire jack is so I can more quickly change the flat tires I get because I drive through the loose nail storage yard on my way to work every day.”

Ron Villone’s best year overall was probably 1999, when at 29 he started twenty two games for the Reds and went 9-7 with a 4.52 ERA. In 143 innings he allowed only eight homers (really good), struck out 97 (okay, that’s decent) and walked 73 (allright).

Rafael Soriano started 8 games in 2002, and as a starter he went 0-3 with a 5.10 ERA. In his 42 innings, he allowed 8 HRs (umm… which is okay), gave up 16 walks and struck out 26. He was 22 at the time. Since then, he’s continued to improve.

Soriano 2002 struggled in the rotation, unable to work other pitches in consistently. He was still only slightly less effective than Villone 1999. A healthy Soriano should be in the rotation. A healthy Villone fills an role largely destroyed by modern scheduling: the swingman, a guy who can pitch long relief and take spot starts as required (like for double-headers, traditionally).

“It would take a circumstance we wouldn’t like to get into for him to start.”

Here’s a circumstance I’d like, and would get Soriano a chance to start: everyone gets fired, starting with Melvin and working their way on up the ladder, and they’re replaced by a bunch of smart, creative thinkers who see the potential greatness in Soriano, and take him off his tether. What kind of an insane team commits to this kind of value-limiting strategy where being stubborn about player usage is more important than putting the best team on the field, even when it comes to deploying the resources you already have on hand?

April 27, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Today’s game was another tough game to watch, redeemed by the win. I’d be really mad about this game if I wasn’t happy about the win. The starting pitching on both sides was toiling, and they went through so many pitchers it was hard to keep paying attention. Meche’s delivery adjustment didn’t do much for him, but some of those pitches had wicked movement on them. I’m still worried about having him change his mechanics at all, but I have faith that Price knows what he’s doing.

But I didn’t post to tell you that… I’ve got an idea I’m going to toss out: when the M’s are on the road, would people be interested in informal USSM outings, where we all get together to turn a local bar into the smartest place to watch the game in the Seattle metro area? It’d probably only be once/series, if that, and probably on the Eastside, since I’m lazy and don’t want to cross the water anywhere near rush hour on weekdays… but we might work something out on weekends, or… who knows, it’s just an idea I had. If this is even remotely interesting, drop us a line.

April 27, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Bob Finnigan on the Kevin Jarvis move has some fun stuff:

Howard Lincoln making the call to Bavasi to have Jarvis canned:

No sooner had Adrian Gonzalez’s long ball hit the right-field seats than Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln was on the phone to general manager Bill Bavasi.

“I knew those guys would be calling me, at one point or another,” said Lincoln, who is traveling with the team in the first of his four planned trips this season. “I felt I might as well save them the trouble.”

Also, we hear “The front office imposed the decision on manager Bob Melvin. ” Their intention, Finnigan reports, was to see if they could milk something out of him (looking back to his past success at San Diego, which … and I’m just looking at his lines here… what success in San Diego was that? His 12-11 2001 season, with the 4.79 ERA?), or to include him and his salary as part of a deal with another club (“Here, we’ll throw in Leone, Zapp, and a set of steak knives… but no take-backs”).

We (me, particularly) mock Finnigan frequently for being the unofficial mouthpiece for management, but it’s times like this when having that insight into what’s going on there is amusing and educational.

I do want to point out though that the Mariners aren’t eating $5m all of a sudden, as if a bill will show up requiring them to hand over the Kazu money they never spent. They ate that when they brought his contract over. That money was going to get paid to Jarvis if he stunk it up and if he was a servicable part. It was much more likely to be the former, but we shouldn’t forget that they took on his contract in the Cirillo trade, and it was a sunk cost then as it is a sunk cost now. If this is used as an excuse at any point this season for not making moves, or taking on salary, or raising beer prices, everyone should know this — this is not an added expense in any way. It’s an admission that they’re not going to get any value out of an investment they already made.

April 26, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Reader Paul Covert writes on the Thornton call-up:

I note that this marks the first time an M’s first-rounder has advanced to the majors in almost five years, since Meche’s initial promotion in July 1999. Of the first-rounders since then (Anderson ’97, Thornton ’98, Christianson ’99, Heaverlo [supplemental] ’99, nobody ’00, Garciaparra [supplemental] ’01, Mayberry [oops] ’02, and Jones [supplemental] ’03), none had made the big time until now.

Further to that here are (as far as I know) all the M’s signed (i.e. non-Rich Harden) draftees since ’97 who have made it to the majors:

1997 5th Jermaine Clark, 12th Pineiro

1998 1st Thornton, 3rd Van Hekken

1999 3rd Bloomquist, 6th Putz, 8th Sledge, 9th Steve Kent

2000 6th Strong

Pineiro looks like the only solidly established regular in the bunch (although of course others could still do it)….

April 26, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Mariners at Orioles

Monday, RHP Meche v LHP Riley, 4:05

Tuesday, LHP Moyer v RHP Ainsworth, 4:05

Wednesday, RHP Pineiro v LHP DuBose, 4:05

Thursday, RHP Garcia v LHP Bedard, 1:05

Whew! A break from those good AL West teams, and a breather against the lousy… what? Oh crap, Baltimore’s 10-7! Fifth in the league in defense, fifth in offense! Noooooooooooo…

Also, Dave — you guessed that was his release date. He’s just been designated for assignment: they could release him tomorrow and you’d be right on.

Headline: “M’s throw in towel on throwing in towel”

or how about “M’s throw out towel”

April 26, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Kevin Jarvis is no more. Not in a morbid, grive for his family kind of way, but in a put the fans out of their misery and release him kind of way. And for that, hurrah. I do wish the M’s had done this tomorrow, however. Even waited til midnight would have been fine. As is, I missed it by one day.

April 25, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

I didn’t know this, but watching the game — did Randy Winn change his name to Goodtrythereby Winn in the off-season? It still shows up the old way in the batting box, but whenever they say it it’s the other way.

Bob Melvin Watch

Some people think that expressions of confidence are the goodbye kiss of baseball management, but it really only tells you that the ownership is aware enough of discontent that they have to address it. They’d rather not.

You’ll know Melvin’s going to get fired when you start to read stories about how he’s lost the clubhouse, which will percolate a while, followed by local loyal ownership-and-front-office sources (they have their choice here in Seattle) start to mention that maybe Melvin’s not the guy to keep the team competitive.

Team Watch (6-13)

Many people, from readers to TV personalities, liked to mention that the Mariners weren’t off to that bad a start, that the 2001 A’s were just as bad and had gone on to win 102 games that year (2nd in the AL West to the Mariner juggernaut). This is still true: the A’s were 6-13 on 4/22/2001. They’d also been smacked about badly by the Mariner team on their way to 116 wins — the M’s went 5-1 in the first month against that A’s team. The A’s sucked it up for the rest of the month, leaving April 8-17, and then started to reel of the wins for the rest of the year. So there’s hope. Another team’s done it before.

But almost every other team that had finished over .500 after such a slow start: the 1991 Brewers, 93 Royals, 95 Reds, 03 Diamondbacks, started turning their ship around at this point.

1993 Royals and 2003 Diamondbacks were at 7-12

1995 (division winning) Reds were 10-9 and the 1991 Brewers were at 10-9 (and Bosio picked up his 3rd win)

Historically, a start this bad indicates a team that is bad, with few counter-examples. And those counter-examples are starting to walk away from the team.

April 25, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

I got up early this morning to log some serious miles on the bike, planning to miss as little of the game as possible. On my way back, I stopped at Marymoor to snack and drink some water. The baseball diamonds were filled with women’s fast-pitch softball (for instance, the “Seattle Spice” (I’m guessing the 12u/14u/16u is age-and-under), so I watched. I’m a sucker for baseball in any form.

So I was watching these two games, and they sang. The team hitting would sing from the dugout, like uh.. like cheers, only not stupid (“We’ve got spirit, yes we do…” none of that). There was a “get a hit” song, a “the pitcher sucks” song I heard after a wild pitch, a “good hit” song, it was totally cool. I sat next to my bike and watched fastpitch softball with a stupid grin on my face. It’s the most fun I’ve had watching baseball this year.

After a while, I climbed up Bel-Red back into town and by the time I got the game on, Melvin had thrown in the towel, and I watched Kevin Jarvis give up home run after home run to destroy the team’s chances of even possibly coming back. It was the saddest thing I’ve seen all year: swept by Texas, wishing that Melvin had fought harder to keep the game even remotely in hand when he had the chance, because the way they’re getting blown out even three-runs down seems like a moral victory.

But I’m still smiling.

April 24, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Real quick — I don’t have fielding info from Japan, but didn’t Ichiro play center his entire career over there? In that sense, he’s played it a heck of a lot more than Winn has, albeit not as recently.

In any event, I think it’s pretty clear the outfield should be Winn (decent range, poor arm) in left, Ichiro (good range, good arm) in center and Ibanez (OK range, better arm than Winn) in right.

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