Minor Stuff

July 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 68 Comments 

A few notes from the minor leagues this morning.

Kudos to Corey Brock of the News Tribune for being the only writer to get Jeff Clement’s signing bonus-$3.4 million-in the paper. Clement signed a standard minor league contract, so he won’t need to be added to the 40 man roster until after 2007. He also singled in his professional debut in Everett last night, and will DH again tonight before starting a game behind the dish.

The News Tribune also is the only paper that made it public that Felix Hernandez is going to start for the Rainiers on Saturday, after working out of the bullpen in scheduled relief appearances since his return from his bout with “bursitis”. Saturday is Bobby Livingston’s turn in the rotation, but he was assigned to Everett’s roster to make room for Jorge Campillo, who made his return to Tacoma yesterday.

Now, it may be a bit confusing as to why Livingston got sent to Everett, but its an on-paper move only, a way to clear a roster spot for a few days. A roster spot will reopen for Livingston this weekend when Felix Hernandez is recalled from Tacoma and joins the Mariner bulllpen. Saturday’s start is Felix’s last with Tacoma. He’ll go back to pitching scheduled relief appearances for the M’s during August, and then make several starts in September.

By the way, for everyone who was so upset about Rene Rivera getting sent down to Double-A, his season line for the Missions is now .258/.283/.354 after another 0-3 last night. If he carves out a career for himself in the majors, it will be as a no-hit backup.

Game 100: Tigers at Mariners

July 27, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 210 Comments 

LHP Mike Maroth vs. LHP Jamie Moyer. 7:05pm, FSN and KOMO.

I’ve touched on this before, but how misleading are won-loss records? Maroth, pitching for a .500 club, has a decent 4.42 ERA but an 8-10 record. Moyer, pitching for a bad club, has a nearly identical 4.47 ERA but is 8-3. Boggle boggle.

Moyer doesn’t show up on Maroth’s list of similar players, which surprised me a bit. They’re both left-handed, they both give up homers, they both use the changeup as their out pitch… and neither guy strikes out many hitters. Maroth is listed at 6-0, 190, and Moyer is listed at 6-0, 182. I’m telling you, they might as well be the same pitcher.

Now that I’ve said that, it’ll probably be 15-0 today with one getting shelled and the other pitching a no-hitter. Game on!

Thiel tees off

July 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 34 Comments 


For all the providence, natural and man-made, attendant to the franchise, the Mariners lineup this week features a 42-year-old catcher hitting .200 (which is 50 points better than the catcher of the future), a trio of starting outfielders whose combined home-run production is exceeded by 59 individual major leaguers entering yesterday’s games; an offense that is last in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs and homers; and a starting rotation whose two youngest pitchers have been dragging the word “potential” behind them for so long that it shines like the nose of the Pike Place Market brass pig.

(in the next paragraph, he seemingly totally ignores Felix Hernandez, though, which was a jarring transition for me)

Always nice to see a good local columnist really go after the team, talking about their rich position and how little they’ve accomplished compared to their peers.

Trading Options

July 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 188 Comments 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month, you probably know that the non-waiver trade deadline is this Sunday, and that the M’s are likely going to be making some moves. The week leading up to the trade deadline is always humerous, as teams, fans, and journalists create trade rumors and perpetuate falsities for various reasons. Most of what is floating around is so poorly sourced that a junior high paper wouldn’t publish it, but hey, fans eat this stuff up. So, we get local beat writers “guessing” that Carl Pavano will be coming to the M’s in exchange for Randy Winn (he’s not), rumors of crazy three way deals sending all-stars across the country, and an awful lot of Peter Gammons on TV.

As much as I’m not a fan of the way journalists cover the deadline, and I’d rather stay out of the whole rumor mongering circle, I know you guys are going to take over every thread with trade speculation until Monday rolls around, so we might as well get this out in the open. So, here’s what I’m hearing in regards to the M’s heading up to the deadline and my WAG for where the guys on the table will be come Monday.

Almost Certain To Be Dealt

Randy Winn

The worst kept secret in sports. The Yankees want him, the Mariners don’t need him, and they’ll get something done by Sunday. There have been talks of expanding the package to get New York some arms for their depleted staff as well, but as of right now, the most likely option appears to be the teams agreeing to swap Winn for LHP Sean Henn.

Team On August 1st: New York Yankees

Likely To Be Dealt

Jeff Nelson

Nelson has several things going for him that contenders are looking for: a low salary, playoff experience, and a specialized role. Despite his command problems, he’s still death to right-handed batters. Righties are hitting just .187/.311/.213 against him in 75 at-bats. There’s enough teams (New York, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago) with marginal relievers pitching critical situations that there will be a market for Nelson. Don’t expect a significant return, however. If the M’s can get even a semi-interesting prospect for Nelly, they’ll have done well. If the M’s and Yankees do end up expanding the Winn deal, Nelson could be wearing pinstripes yet again.

Team On August 1st: New York Yankees

Shigetoshi Hasegawa

Hasegawa’s ERA, 4.41, is respectable enough to interest teams that simply want a more experienced middle-man for the stretch drive without giving up anything. If he is moved, which depends more on whether the M’s find buyers for their other relievers, expect it to be for an organizational player or perhaps just a bit of cash.

Team On August 1st: Seattle Mariners

Available for the Right Price

Eddie Guardado

Despite pitching with an injured arm and throwing 88 MPH fastballs towards home plate, Guardado has been dominant this year, posting a 1.59 ERA, sparkling ratios, and 23 saves. He’s left-handed, a proven closer, relatively inexpensive, and has all the intangibles that teams want from their postseason acquisitions. The M’s know that the market for his services is substantial—he’s probably the most coveted player available, even moreso than A.J. Burnett, though his lower price tag in players and salary have a lot to do with that—and they’re leveraging that strength, letting it be known that he won’t go cheaply. Among the teams that are believed to have made inquiries are the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Florida, and the New York Mets and Yankees. The M’s won’t let him go for anything less than an elite prospect or several significant young players. If a deal goes down, it will be because the M’s are getting an arm back that is in the Anibal Sanchez/Philip Hughes/Rich Hill/Cole Hamels class of prospects. They won’t deal him just to deal him, but if a team offers to give up one of the brightest young arms in the game, they’ll listen.

Team On August 1st: Atlanta Braves

Ron Villone

Villone doesn’t have as much value as Guardado, but there is interest in him from most of the same clubs that are interested in Eddie. Villone most likely goes only if Guardado does not go. I’d be surprised if the team dealt both. The return for Villone won’t be an elite prospect like the M’s are demanding for Guardado, but the price for him is a significant prospect who could have an impact on the club in the future. Because of his smaller salary for 2006 and the fact that he’s been effective, the M’s are willing to keep him if they don’t get an offer that they feel is fair value. Like Nelson, he could also end up in pinstripes if the Winn-to-New York deal gets expanded.

Team On August 1st: Seattle Mariners

Gil Meche

The M’s aren’t shopping Meche, but he is available and could be moved. He’d almost certainly be part of a bigger package (with Winn to New York, with Guardado to the Cubs, or with Guardado or Villone to Atlanta) and the goal would be to obtain a near major league ready arm with less service time who could fill Meche’s spot in the rotation next year. The M’s aren’t giving up on Gil Meche, but he has frustrated them for several years, and they won’t say no if they can get a player they like.

Team On August 1st: Seattle Mariners

Potentially Available, Not Heavily Pursued

Jamie Moyer

The market for Moyer is soft, and the M’s aren’t real inclined to deal him, so I don’t expect him to be moved. However, it is, at least, theoretically possible that a contender (Philadelphia has been mentioned most often) would be interested in picking him up without giving up a significant player in return.

Team On August 1st: Seattle Mariners

Joel Pineiro

The M’s aren’t looking forward to paying Pineiro $6.25 million next year. His velocity is down, his command is down, and he’s getting rocked on a regular basis. While selling low is usually a bad idea and the team would hate to see him go elsewhere and prosper, realistically, he’s nothing like a $6 million pitcher right now. There’s no market for Pineiro, but his name has come up in connection with the expanded Winn-to-New York deal. This would essentially be a salary dump with the organization simply deciding they would rather spend $6 million on someone else in 2006.

Team On August 1st: New York Yankees

Others Who Might Be Moved For Basically Nothing

Ryan Franklin, Aaron Sele, Scott Spiezio, Dave Hansen, Pat Borders, Wiki Gonzalez

These guys have no trade value to speak of, but could go for cash or a non-prospect if the M’s are looking to save a little bit of money and to build relationships with other clubs.

You’ll probably notice that Raul Ibanez isn’t on the list. I don’t see any scenario where they trade him. There is very little market for him and the team doesn’t want to move him.

Also, keep in mind that the M’s aren’t going to trade half their pitching staff, even though nearly everyone is available. You’ll likely see, at most, two starters and two relievers dealt, so if Moyer and Meche get moved, Sele, Franklin, and Pineiro will stay. Same goes for the bullpen; if Guardado and Nelson go, Hasegawa and Villone probably stay, and vice versa.

So, that’s what I’m hearing around the league. There have been a few rumored offers that have gotten me legitimately excited, and I think the M’s could extract a couple of potential impact players if things fall their way.

Game 99, Tigers at Mariners

July 26, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 190 Comments 

RHP Jason Johnson v RHP Joel Pineiro. 7:05.

As noted in other threads today, Snelling turned up in Tacoma today, though there’s no evidence yet of a transaction. On the other hand, since there’s really no public resource for transactions that is also timely, he could well have been optioned. Or traded to the Cubs, who assigned him to Iowa, for all anyone knows officially. Generally we’ll a broadcaster will say something during the game, but they might not, so… we wait for Doyle.

Bloomquist starts at short again, his fourth straight start.

Clement to Everett

July 26, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 41 Comments 

As friend-of-USSM Pat Dillon pointed out in the comments, Jeff Clement is going to be in uniform for the Everett Aquasox tomorrow night. The Aquasox will be at home, hosting the Tri-City Dust Devils, so if you want to see Clement’s professional debut, take a trip up to Everett Memorial tomorrow night. If you want to see the game with other USSM’ers, feel free to use the comments to setup plans to carpool/meet up at the game. If you’ve never been to Everett, carpool is the way to go, especially at that time of day.

Moyer returning, other good stuff

July 26, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 60 Comments 

In with today’s PI Mariner notebook was the news that Moyer’s looking to return next year. I’d use this to plug the “home starter” idea again, except… Moyer also says his remaining goal is to play in the World Series. Which probably means he’ll be looking for another team to help him do that.

Over at ESPN, Jim Caple has a cool article on the M’s using old-style bats in batting practice. He brought those bats to the last feed, because he’s awesome, and man, those things are huuuuuge. Remarkably, it’s the one article on ESPN.com that’s not Insider today.

Also: Soriano’s status is questionable, as his amazingly fast comeback from TJ surgery has stalled a bit (though the PI and Times seem to differ a little on what that means, and what’ll happen next, though Tacoma figures in both versions), and Madritsch may start throwing soon.

Jeff Clement signs

July 26, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 49 Comments 

Mariner first round pick, USC catcher Jeff Clement, has signed with the team.

Tacoma News Tribune appears to be the first paper to the Web with a story on the signing. Corey Brock, ladies and gentlemen. Update at 12:15: now the Times has pulled something off the wires and stuck it up ahead of the 1pm press conference. Now that it’s on the wires, I’m going to stop trying to track it.

Pat Dillon (U.S.S.M. endorsed Pat Dillon, that is) mentions in the comments that Clement will be reporting to Everett and in uniform tomorrow night. Hot cha cha.

A’s lead the wild card race

July 26, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 55 Comments 

Oakland is now 54-45 and ten games ahead of the Mariners.

April 30th: Oakland 12-12, Mariners 12-12
May 31st: Oakland 19-32, Mariners 21-30
June 30th: Oakland 38-40, Mariners 33-44

We’ll see how this turns out. A s I recall, Dave and I were two of the only people unwilling to call the A’s dead this off-season. You can check out Dave’s December post on this if you’re interested.

At least when both teams sucked, there was some consolation value in it. Now, I feel like someone tripped me in mid-May, when team went from playing .500 ball to losing all the time, I’ve been lying around on the sidewalk all year, and passer-by keep kicking me in the side as they walk by.


Heavy stuff

July 25, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 30 Comments 

In response to some topics that have come up in comment threads lately, as I tinker with maybe writing the USSM FAQ to help with frequently-rehashed topics, I offer for your edification:

Tom Ruane on batting orders (“batting orders matter even less than people have believed”). As in… almost not at all. I had a good argument with Rob Neyer about this once at a Pizza Feed: he held that it wasn’t such a big deal that it was worth caring about, and you might as well bat them in traditional roles and devote your energies to assembling a better bullpen or something. I argued that every run counts, and managers should constantly optimize… but for maybe three runs a year? You really are better off spending your energy elsewhere.

Tom Ruane on clutch hitting. (“One could argue that the forces at work here, if they exist, must be awfully weak to so closely mimic random noise, and if they are really that inconsequential perhaps we could assume they don’t exist without much loss of accuracy.”)

And here’s the 2003 Tom Tippett article “Can pitchers prevent hits on balls in play?” which I highly recommend.

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