July 10, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

I agree with Jason (and super-reader Paul Covert). Paul’s email today has a couple good points — ah, I’m just going to run that part of his email:

(1) I think I’m leaning toward Spiezio as the next target of management’s blame-dumping, especially since they have Leone to take over in his place and nobody comparable at 2B (unless they want to dump that responsibility on Ugueto’s shoulders?). On the other hand, the fact that Boone’s option kicks in if he plays full-time this year (500 AB, I think?) would argue in Derek’s favor on that point. We’ll see, I suppose…

(2) Concerning the Aurilia DFA: I agree concerning the overall meaninglessness of the move; but in a way I do sort of like it. The apparent result seems to be that Bloomquist will finally get a chance to “prove” that he can play full-time given the opportunity. And if that’s going to happen (in a Seattle uniform), I’d rather it be this year rather than next (or indeed any other).

…Of course, maybe a bunch of bloop singles will fall in and push him up to .300 for the second half, in which case I take this all back….

I believe Boone’s option vests at 450 ABs, but the point’s still valid. Secretly, don’t you think they’re hoping Boone flips the bat badly in one of his (rarer) home run routines, whacking his wrist with the bat and breaking his hamate bone? Just because it would mean he’d be out for the season and his option wouldn’t vest. They’d probabaly all be caught on camera in the owner’s box with a half-and-half shock and joy expression on their face.

While I’m on that — that bat flipping thing is kind of cool for me as the fan, but it’s amazingly arrogant and in a weird way makes me long for the days when showing up the pitcher like that would get you an earful of leather and stitches. Respect the game and your opponent, that’s all I’m saying. Still, it cracks me up.

Here’s something else I hadn’t thought about with the Aurilia DFA, and this goes back to something I’ve said for most of this year: if the Mariners are going to suck and suck badly, I’d much rather see them suck in an interesting way that’s worth watching. If that means that for the rest of the season we get a wacky carousel of shortstops, that’s okay. We’ll be endlessly debating how Melvin should have warped the lineup that night at the stadium, and bars, and our homes, and as a fan, that’s a lot more interesting for me than “Aurilia grounds to third and that’s the inning”.

I guess the next open question is: with Aurilia out, who’s the best option for the Mariners at short?

Ramon Santiago: Probably the best defensive option, but Santiago’s still not a great glove man. We can reasonably be assured he won’t hit at all (.256/.326/.349 was his weighted mean PECOTA forecast)… holy mackeral, that’s better than what Aurilia was hitting. [boggle]

Bloomquist might be about as adequate with the glove at short, though we don’t have the kind of long-term major league stints to make judgements on. His forecast for this year was .255/.313/.351. As much as I rag on Bloomquist, overall I think he’s a much better option than Santiago.

Jolbert Cabrera’s another wacky option I haven’t seen thrown out. He played second base for LA and was below average, but so would those two guys. He’d hit better than Santiago for sure and it’d be close versus Bloomquist.

It’ll be Bloomquist, and that might be the best decision. We’ll see how it turns out. As much as I want to see the team win, and I’d like to be wrong about this, Bloomquist has never hit well in an extended period at any level and he’s not the future of this club. The danger, as Paul alludes to, is that Bloomquist hits for a hollow .290-.300 average and suckers the team into a long-term commitment.

July 10, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Willie Bloomquist started at shortstop today and had three hits in three at-bats. I can see the thinking now… “See? All Wee Willie needed was regular playing time! He just couldn’t get into a groove sitting on the bench. He needs to be out there every day.”

My was that a quick game. 2:13? Almost unheard of these days.

July 10, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Yup, it came down. Strangely, even the transaction on MLB.com contains a justification:

Activated OF Raul Ibanez from the 15-day disabled list. To make roster space, INF Rich Aurilia was designated for assignment.

That’s a little weird. Motivation doesn’t usually make it into the transaction.

July 10, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Scott Spiezio at first for the first time as an M! It’s crazy, but it’s just the kind of flexible thinking I like to see out of Melvin. Against lefties, it makes sense to shift Spiezio over and play Leone at third — you get two guys who’ll bat better against lefties, Olerud’s available when/if the lefty gets chased out of the game, and you don’t have to use Cabrera’s limited supply of magic hitting dust.

Garland’s a righty? Whaaaaaaaaaaaa?

See, this is the frustration of Melvin for me, more than anything else — the thought that Melvin’s working out weird job-sharing arrangements, willing to consider positional shifts based on the game situation, but picks the most bizarre ways to trot them out, when they don’t make sense. It’s like coming up with some amazing way to cook chicken and then busting it out on a Hot Pocket.

Seven games is a lot of games to lose in a row. I know that’s an obvious thing to write, but that’s it for the hope the team had built some momentum in that interleague play cake-walk.

Also, in the PI, Hasegawa’s got some choice quotes about how much harder it is to pitch when the team’s behind. It totally cracks me up — the premise of the article is so flawed from the start. Is Hasegawa struggling because he’s pitching when the team’s behind or is he pitching then because he’s been struggling? You could, I guess, do some research, look up when he came in early in the season. Maybe talk to Melvin about when he started to shift roles. Or even Bryan Price, who’s said more or less that success drives the roles the relievers take on.

John Hickey does a pretty good job as a beat writer, though, so I’ll knock it off.

But there’s this great Hasegawa quote that says a lot about the state of the team:

“It gets to the point where you can’t think about winning and losing because we’ve lost so much.”

Incidentally, I want to present this nugget we didn’t mock yet from Finnigan’s article on Aurilia — “There could be some interest from National League clubs. Aurilia hit .316 in interleague games at NL parks. “

I don’t want to be mean, but — first, only the Mariners would bite on that kind of thing (see: Raul Ibanez). And second, does what kind of desparate Hail Mary plea is that from the team? Does anyone really think that there’s an NL team out there in contention with a need for a shortstop that’ll fall for this?

“Boy, Assistant GM, what a terrible market for shortstops this year. If only there was some hidden gem, who might do better with us than wherever they currently are.”

“Have you considered Rich Aurilia, GM?”

“Aurilia? He’s old, and hasn’t hit for good power in years. His hitting’s almost collapsed this year.”

“Has it? He hit .316 in NL parks during this year’s interleague play.”

“Three sixteen! Holy mackeral, I was all wrong about thiskid. Get me Bill Bavasi on the phone and quick, which top prospects could we give him for such a tremendous player?”

And a more general question: why are the Mariners willing to release Aurilia to spite themselves, but unwilling to consider things that might actually help them that require them to, say, fire their manager? Or dump Bloomquist to make roster space for better players? Or…

The continued fixation of the team on “fixing” problems is bad news. To focus on a guy like Aurilia, or Guillen before him, and blame them for their contributions to the state of the team, even if removing that player means the team gets significantly worse demonstrates that the big lessons they should have learned from the Gillick years and this disastrous offseason, like “pay attention to the big picture”, have not been learned at all.

I’d like to now open speculation on who the problem focus will be if they dump Aurilia. I don’t think it’ll be Spiezio, it’ll be another player they can piss off and still trade, or who isn’t under contract for next year. I’m betting it’ll be Bret Boone, and the line will be that they were counting on him, and Boone’s drop in production led to the offensive collapse of the team.