Game 51, Blue Jays at Mariners

May 31, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 348 Comments 

Hi folks, Jason here with your game thread for the last day of May.

Chad Gaudin, making his 2005 debut, vs. Ryan Franklin. 7:05pm, FSN and KOMO.

Gaudin’s just a kid, having made his MLB debut at 20 years of age back in 2003 with the Devil Rays. Tampa Bay traded him to Toronto this winter for C Kevin Cash. He’s also a short (5-11) righty, and you know how tools-oriented teams hate those, whereas the Blue Jays have no such hangup. Gaudin was 3-2, 2.48 ERA with a 47:14 K:BB ratio in 65.1 innings at AAA Syracuse before getting the call. He’s perhaps best known for having tossed a perfecto in the minors two years ago.

Franklin you know; I’ll spare you the details. Of more interest are new SS Mike Morse and C Rene Rivera, whom few of us dreamed would be in the lineup at the same time (at least this soon). Those who did — were they good dreams, or bad? Oh, and Wilson Valdez got the ol’ DFA to make room for Morse.

Enjoy the game and play nice; the wife’s sick, the kid’s sick, there’s homework to do and then I’m off to bed.

Spiezio encore performance

May 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 38 Comments 

Get out those lighters, folks, and wave them gently from side to side…

Scott Spiezio, who you may remember as the guy who injured himself getting his only hit of the year and has been out since with a “strained oblique” was on the field for batting practice yesterday. His recovery from the oblique strain was hampered by a brief bout with illness, but not, it appears, the Mariner Jeff Cirillo Memorial Mystery Injury, which keeps players on the DL with different symptoms, rehab schedules, and rehabs until rosters expand in September.

If (when) Spiezio returns, that’ll be another roster spot the team needs to clear on the 25-man major league roster. Obvious suspects include his younger, harder-working (with sweeter-looking swing) twin in production Greg Dobbs, and one of the back-of-the-bullpen guys. The question now is how long can the team put off that return and unimportant transaction?

Ryan Ludwick

May 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 58 Comments 

If I told you that a 26-year-old right-handed outfielder, who makes the league minimum, and is slugging .512 on the strength of 4 home runs in 41 at-bats so far this year got designated for assignment this morning, would you be interested?

Say hello to Ryan Ludwick. The Indians removed him from their roster to make room for Juan Gonzalez, meaning they have 10 days to trade him or put him through waivers. Now, Ludwick’s not a spectacular player. He’s got holes in his swing, a mediocre approach at the plate, and his defense isn’t great after knee surgery, but he’s got legitimate power as a right-handed bat off the bench and reserve outfielder. His .812 OPS would rank fourth on the team, if he was added to the roster. His slugging percentage is higher than the OPS for Willie Bloomquist, Greg Dobbs, or Wilson Valdez.

At this point, he could be had for something resembling a song. He won’t be a starter on the M’s next championship team, but he could be a very nifty fourth outfielder and a useful pinch hitter, something the organization simply doesn’t have at the moment. If the front office really wants to improve the team, they’ll inquire about guys like Ryan Ludwick, a great example of the freely available talent philosophy that has eluded the organization for a long time.

More roster moves

May 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 76 Comments 

Shortstop Mike Morse has been called up from Tacoma. No corresponding roster move has been announced yet. He’s expected to get significant playing time at shortstop as the M’s hope to inject some life into the bottom of the order. The fact that he was hitting just .253/.317/.407 in the PCL is apparently not a concern.

I’ve written some pretty negative things about Morse’s defense since the trade, but several people who watch the club on a near daily basis have let me know that he’s looked significantly better than they expected in the field. It will be interesting to see how he handles the position for the M’s, and how much defense they’ll be willing to sacrifice to get his bat in the lineup.

At best, I think Morse projects as a utility player, but if his defense has improved to the point where he can at least be competent up the middle, he’s a better option on the bench than, say, Greg Dobbs.

Drew and Weaver sign

May 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 25 Comments 

Minutes before the deadline last night, both Stephen Drew and Jared Weaver put their names on the dotted lines with the Diamondbacks and Angels, respectively. As expected, both settled for significantly less than they were demanding.

The interesting thing here, from the Mariners perspective, is that rumors continue to persist that a side aspect to the Drew deal was that Arizona agreed to draft one of Boras’ pitchers, likely Mike Pelfrey, with the number one overall selection. If Arizona passes on Justin Upton, it gives the M’s a shot at one of the two players they covet (Alex Gordon being the other), and significantly upgrades the draft potential for the M’s selection.

They are still just rumors, but the odds of the M’s getting Upton or Gordon went up significantly yesterday.

Game 50, Blue Jays at the Mariners

May 30, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 223 Comments 

LHP Lilly v LHP Moyer. 7:05, FSN.

Mariner bullpen usage
by day, by batter faced, with 10+ as + to preserve formatting

[Derek note: deleted for formatting reasons]

Organized alphabetically. Names and dates removed for pattern-scanning ease, though they’re still alphabetical. I had this done up in Excel with conditional formatting, but I could never get it to look quite right.

Olivo down, Rivera up

May 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 29 Comments 

Miguel Olivo has been sent to AAA Tacoma. Rene Rivera will replace him on the roster. Though this was rumored, I’m still somewhat surprised, since you have to anticipate that Rivera will effectively become the everyday catcher. Unless another move to acquire a more experienced catcher is in the offing …

Quoth Bill Bavasi: “We have, in no way, given up on Miguel.” Let me think of a positive spin to this news: Now Olivo can work on his chemistry, pitch-calling and developing “veteran leadership” in tandem with King Felix.

Non-smoking establishments

May 30, 2005 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 17 Comments 

Hey, I have to take some high-falutin’ noble to a game this week, and he’s insisting that cigarette smoke upsets his delicate constitution. This rules out many of the cheap-beer bars that tolerate me. Does anyone have suggestions for decent non-smoking bars/restaurants within walking distance of Safeco that we can patronize?

I’d like it to have good beers on the cheap.

News tidbits

May 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 43 Comments 

Time/PI notebook watch: Borders, Bloomquist may get more and more of the playing time (Borders, presumably, until he stops hitting, Bloomquist, relative to Wilson Valdez, is probably a better choice anyway).

This leads to a problem we saw in yesterday’s game: because the bench is so thin (and bad), if Bloomquist is the 4th outfielder, playing him at shortstop means that if they need a replacement OF, they either have to move Ibanez out of the DH slot (forcing the pitcher to bat) or move Bloomquist into the OF, and Valdez takes over at short. If you pinch-hit for Bloomquist, it’s Ibanez or more juggling that ends up with someone in the outfield who shouldn’t be there.

I know that seems like another of the more trivial problems of the team, and it is — it doesn’t matter if they can’t easily sub a left fielder in if they’re down by 8 — but it’s a good example of how carrying 12 pitchers and having such an inflexible bench hampers the manager, and the team’s, ability to adapt.

We’ve seen Reed start to hit lately, but even the balls that are dropping are part of a pattern: he’s been pulling almost everything to right field. If you look at his hit charts, you can see there’s a huge skew, to the point that you could take the left-fielder and play him shallow behind first-and-second or play really shallow and then shift the infield heavily.

Players can be productive like this, but the problem will come if this is an exploitable flaw in his swing. If teams find that he can only ground out weakly on pitches in, where he can’t get the bat around, that’s all he’ll see.

Reed was my pick as AL Rookie of the Year. There’s still time, but I’d feel a lot better about this if he was hitting to all fields. Or even two fields.

From Gammons:

(on mid-season trades for pitching)

Just as in late July if Barry Zito, Kip Wells, Kevin Millwood, Jason Jennings and Joel Pineiro are available.

That’s an interesting thought, but thie requires a team to look at Pineiro and see something they can fix and something worth an expensive two-year gamble. I don’t see anyone taking that unless he shows he can be consistent with his new lower velocity and that he can do well with it. If a team’s going to deal for pitching help, they’re going to be looking for help, and probably someone who can fit in the first three slots of the rotation if they head towards the playoffs.

Remember Ryan Anderson, the 6-foot-10 “Little Unit” and former no. 1 pick of the Tigers? The Brewers recently signed him out of an Arizona independent league, and he had a four-strikeout inning debut

The Tigers?

Hall of Fame trip

May 29, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 2 Comments 

I had Friday off of school, so I made my first-ever trip to the Hall of Fame. It’s a nice day trip from here, about 2.5 hours each way of pleasant driving through the Catskills. Incidentally, I found a great baseball fan litmus test for anyone living in this area. This week at school people were talking about their weekend plans (we have a four-day weekend, Friday off for a day between blocks and Monday for Memorial Day). I told people I’d be going to Cooperstown on Friday. You can tell a baseball fan right away, because the face lights up and they say something like, “oh, that’ll be awesome.” Non-baseball fans who know the town say, “Yes, that’s a very nice little town.”

I spent a little more than three hours taking it all in. It reminded me of watching Ken Burns’ Baseball back in the day — you really have to search to find something, anything, about the Mariners. There’s a Mariners jersey display, which all teams have. The M’s are listed on Gaylord Perry’s plaque. You can scan various displays to find out that Ken Griffey Jr. won an AL MVP award, or that Edgar Martinez won two AL batting titles.

Of course there’s the Ichiro 262 display, which is pretty hard to miss. Derek talked about this before, and it’s pretty darned cool. Bats, gloves, sunglasses, the “Ichi-meter” fan sign from Safeco, it’s all there in a very nice glass case. But, sadly, that’s the only thing that screams “Mariners.” I guess that’s fair, given the team’s place and relative youth in baseball history.

Going on a weekday before school’s out was a good way to go. It wasn’t emtpy, of course, but there were far fewer people there than I expected. There were no fights to see displays or long lines, nothing like that. The biggest annoyance was finding a place to park, as all the street parking nearby is two-hour limit.

All in all, it was a very good time, and I highly recommend every baseball fan make it to Cooperstown at least once. I also suggest, as was suggested to me, that you go by yourself the first time if at all possible. I had been planning to take my son, but I’m glad I didn’t, because there’s no way he would have put up with three hours of looking around. I’m sure we’ll make it up there at least once before I’m done with school, though, when he’s old enough to get something out of it.

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