28 hours and counting

July 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 171 Comments 

We’ve got a little more than a day until the trading deadline. The M’s are working on several deals, and it’ll be the upset of the year if they don’t make at least two trades. Meche’s shoulder tightness and Sele’s general terribleness didn’t help, but you could still see some interesting moves made that people may not be expecting.

Anyways, here’s a roundup from the local dailies.

The P-I gives us:

But yesterday afternoon, less than 48 hours before tomorrow’s trade deadline, multiple industry sources indicated that Bavasi has dropped his asking price on closer Eddie Guardado, to the point that a trade is almost certainly expected.

while the Times counters with this:

The two other players who are most likely to be moved are left-hander Jamie Moyer and outfielder Randy Winn. The team appears extremely reluctant to part with Raul Ibanez and Eddie Guardado.

So, depending on if you believe Morosi or Ko, the M’s are either expected to move Guardado or reluctant to part with him. Most of what I hear is closer to Morosi’s story, so I expect Guardado to be dealt, and the M’s to get a pretty solid return for him.

Also, the P-I and the News Tribune are confirming what I said on Wednesday; today is Felix’s last appearance in Tacoma. He’ll join the club at some point between tonight and Tuesday. The original plan was to work him in relief until September and give him a few starts, but with Aaron Sele getting beat like he stole something, that may change. Whether he’s starting or relieving, though, you’ll see him in Seattle next week.

Caple on Ichiro

July 29, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 20 Comments 

Caple maintains that Ichiro is a Japanese-American fusion.

Back when I used to write for Baseball Prospectus, I’d get hate mail sometimes would have something in them like “This article was something I’d expect to read from Jim Caple’s ESPN stuff” or “blah blah blah and then you turned in Jim Caple.”

And I would reply “Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

Anyway, check it out. I don’t agree with some of his conclusions, but it’s a good read. The bath thing is funny.

Game 102, Indians at Mariners

July 29, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 454 Comments 

RHP Kevin Millwood v RHP Aaron Sele. 7:05, FSNW.

Morse at short, Betancourt at second. Wiki catches. The Ignitor sits. I’m still baffled by the Betancourt-at-second thing. I wish they’d say something about it, because having a tremendous defensive shortstop play at second is weird.

Sele’s DERA (Defense-adjusted ERA) since leaving the Mariners:
2002, 4.88
2003, 5.68
2004, 5.33
2005, 5.41

Hardball Times stats have his fielding-independent ERA at 5.23.

Anyway, he’s not pitching really well, is what I’m saying.

Borders out, Wiki in

July 29, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 81 Comments 

The M’s have designated Pat Borders for assignment and recalled Wiki Gonzalez from Tacoma.

Expect it to be the first of several moves in the next 30 hours.

The Feel-Bad Story of the Year

July 29, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball, Off-topic ranting · 109 Comments 

As we all know, Friday is Become Pessimistic About The Fate of Humanity Day. What better tale to start it off than this one, a sordid narrative about a Little League coach offering one of his players $25 to drill a teammate before a playoff game, the better to keep the weaker player off the field?

This would be sad and pathetic at any level of baseball, no matter what. It’s the details that make what Mark R. Downs Jr. is accused of doing all the more jaw-dropping. To wit:

* The kid who Coach Downs wanted plunked and injured was mentally disabled. Already, we’re approaching James Bond adversary level villainy.

* Keith Reese, the eight-year-old who says his coach offered him the payoff, testified that as instructed, he nailed his teammate with a throw to the groin — but the blow wasn’t hard enough, and Downs instructed him to hit him again, this time in the head.

* Downs allegedly admitted what he’d done to Reese’s father. Of course, the lawyer is disputing that. Coach’s cover stoy: The parent must have been confused from the time Downs offered a $25 bounty if anyone tagged an umpire. What? That’s your defense? He has this confused with another bounty?

Apparently, the coach had tried other strategies to keep the mentally challenged boy from playing, too, like telling his parents that certain games were cancelled. All of these are just allegations at this point, but Downs has been arraigned and will stand trial. The younger Reese’s account seems to paint a pretty damning picture.

Stupefyingly, the kid testified that Downs stiffed his little hit man! Sign up for fall league, and I’ll pay you then, ol’ Rifle Arm says the coach told him. No wonder the kid flipped on him.

Kicking down that 25 bucks might have saved him 25 years. If this story is accurate, even wearing David Byrne’s suit from the “Stop Making Sense” video, as he appears to be in the linked picture, isn’t going to generate enough sympathy to save him.

The coup de grace (or is that coup dis-grace?) comes in the last paragraph: “League organizers have said Downs won’t be allowed to coach again if he is convicted of criminal charges … Downs is not suspended and remains a coach in the league.”

Dave Bliss is probably still the most loathsome coach of the last 10 years, but if half of these allegations are true, this guy’s number two with a bullet.

Game 101, Cleveland at Mariners

July 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 227 Comments 

Sorry we’re late.

Lopez down, Betancourt up

July 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 112 Comments 

Betancourt’s been hitting better than expected in AAA, but this is a rapid ascent for him. Lopez is down, having hit poorly since his recall… but wow, that’s not a long trial. And where would Betancourt play?

ESPN has the AP story.

I don’t understand the logic here. Betancourt’s defense has earned rave reviews, but say you plug him in at second as an attempt to help the ball-in-play rotation… then what happens to Morse? And then who’s playing second?

M’s broadcast crew rated “awesome”

July 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 71 Comments 

USA Today has an article with ratings that puts them at 3rd in the AL. Interestingly, they list the four as “Dave Niehaus, Ron Fairly, Rick Rizzs, Kevin Callabro [sic]” though that’s not the season crew. They might as well have had Marzano in there.

Remember, commenters: Rizzs has an ‘s’ on the end. And I humbly suggest that the “(announcer name) is lame/stupid/frustrating” comments are a little worn out. I’m more curious about the relative ranking: the M’s crew gets an 8 for “technical” when M’s fans frequently complain (about Rizzs’s fake calls on the way back in from a commercial, for instance, but also the pitch description and fly ball gauging) and a 9.5 for “fan” — how exciting they are and how well they connect with fans, when it certainly seems like most USSM readers love Niehaus would prefer who do both sides of the broadcast with something silent, like a potted plant, providing color, rather than listen to the rest.

If that’s what they pull in, are the other crews… really that bad?

Good, Better, Bench

July 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 34 Comments 

It’s no secret that the bench has been a huge weakness for the Mariners over the last two years. Quick query: how would you like to have a left-handed hitter with a .331/.458/.644 line in Tacoma available as a reserve?

Don’t get excited: we don’t have such a player at Triple A. But the Red Sox do, and his name is Roberto Petagine.

This off-season, I did a long post suggesting that the Mariners make a run at adding him to the roster. Long story short, Petagine hit well in the minors, but not in 300 major league at bats — after which he went to Japan, made a lot of money, and absolutely mashed, putting up numbers comparable to Hideki Matsui.

What does a player like this cost? A minor league deal. That’s what Boston signed him for.

To date, the Crimson Hose haven’t found a spot for Petagine yet, unless you count Pawtucket. But he’s treating the International League like Moe treated Curly, putting up the numbers previously cited. This gives them valuable insurance in the event their players continue to get injured at a Stoogelike rate.

Look, Petagine wouldn’t have saved the Mariners’ season by any stretch. That’s not my claim. This just shows that there is freely available talent out there each year that could help improve the bench dramatically. The M’s should remember that this offseason.

Those Philadelphia Rumors

July 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 87 Comments 

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors.

These two warring cliches apply directly to recent trade rumors involving the M’s and Phillies. When multiple sources are emitting similar signals, as is the case here, there’s usually something to it. Whether that something is wheat or chaff can be tougher to determine.

The Philadelphia Daily News claims that there is mutual interest in a swap of Pineiro or Moyer. The Times’ Michael Ko bolsters this with a notebook report of the Phillies scouting Pineiro. The Philadelphia Inquirer says there have been discussions on Gil Meche, too.

The Phillies are pretty open about wanting to acquire a starter. From the Daily News:

Pineiro is an intriguing name. The Phillies made inquiries about him at the 2001 winter meetings, partly on the recommendation of new manager Larry Bowa, who had been Seattle’s third-base coach the year before. Pineiro appeared to be on the verge of stardom when he went 14-7 with a 3.24 earned run average in 2002 and followed that up by going 16-11, 3.78 in 2003.

This is exactly the type of line the Mariners should be pushing on Pineiro. He was on the verge of stardom, and golly, we don’t know why he regressed … maybe he just needs a league switch and/or a change of scenery to, say, your team.

That’s the easy part. Everybody’s looking for pitching, especially with the offseason free agent market so thin.

Who are the M’s asking for? We don’t know for sure, but these articles say they’re primarily looking for young pitchers that are close to major-league ready. The Inky reports that when the Phils try to add an arm teams have been asking for Ryan Madson, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Gavin Floyd or Dave’s personal anti-white whale.

The Phillies are loath to give up any of these players, with good reason. To give up any of them (the latter aside, perhaps) for Joel Pineiro would not just be folly, it would be off-the-meds level shenanigans. Don’t get your hopes up, and watch those mirrors.

If only to save salary next year, though Pineiro should be moved. There is a history of teams doing foolish things at the deadline, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they’ll get a useful piece back — but that should be the icing, not the cake.

The team should leverage Pineiro’s reputation from years past to maximize any potential return. With less than 100 hours to go before the non-waiver deadline, it’s time to watch for those smoldering fires to heat up.

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