Thursday or O season, why won’t you start?

DMZ · March 23, 2006 at 12:29 am · Filed Under Mariners 

No game today (Obviously, I misread the schedule when I made the original post). Two games: 12:05 v the Cubs, 6:05 vs the Diamondbacks. There were bees, though. And the M’s lost. Betancourt’s being tried in the #2 slot. Huh.

The Onion offers this brief news on Ichiro’s WBC participation:

SAN DIEGO—In an interview following Japan’s 10-6 victory against Cuba in the World Baseball Classic championship game Monday, Ichiro Suzuki called the tournament a “great opportunity to represent anything besides the Seattle Mariners.” “Playing alongside my countrymen on the world stage was nice, but the highlight of the event for me was not having to watch helplessly from the on-deck circle as [Seattle outfielder] Willie Bloomquist pops out for the fourth time in one game,” said Ichiro, who has been contemplating a return to his non-Mariner roots since late 2003. “Honestly, I would have played for the Netherlands team if it meant 17 days away from the Mariners spring-training camp.” Although he said that the legendary Sadaharu Oh did a fine job coaching Team Japan, Ichiro added that “next to Mike Hargrove, any idiot in a baseball cap would seem like a decent manager.”


I have a guest article up o’er at Baseball Analysts. Short version: people who bet on baseball bet based almost entirely on last year’s standings and winners, a bit on a team’s offseason, but really not at all on projected standings or competitiveness. This has some implications.


48 Responses to “Thursday or O season, why won’t you start?”

  1. T-dawg on March 23rd, 2006 1:03 am


    “Yuniesky Betancourt or Jose Lopez or Willie Bloomquist are other possibilities to hit second.”

    great… first, we have the thought of Willie winning the second base job… on top of the inherent dread that comes with that thought, we get to see him in the top of the order?!? c’mon, hargrove… THINK!!

    why in the world would we lock a top batting spot with one of our weakest hitters, anyway? more at bats for a weaker hitter, while pushing others back in the order. brilliant… just brilliant.

    not only that, but why is Ibanez locked into the #3 spot? why does this HAVE to be?!? why do managers SO LOVE left-right-left all the way, to the detriment of having hitters hit in natural spots.

    in fact, i know it goes against the “left-right-left” theory, but if you really want Ibanez early in the order, why not hit him second. you get the lefty “runner advancer” aspect along with a great fastball hitter, as well as pushing a weaker hitter down the lineup somewhere else. Plus it would be a great thing when Ichiro comes up in mid-game situations with runners on… he would have protection behind him even in a two out situation, so he may also benefit from such a move.

    but, no wait… i forgot.. .the team will best be served by having WFB in the 2 hole. Brilliant!!!!

  2. Churchill on March 23rd, 2006 1:50 am

    Not about the win.

    It’s about getting the work in.

    Richie wasn’t even in uniform.

  3. terry on March 23rd, 2006 3:50 am

    Has anyone read John DeWan’s “The Fielding Bible”? I’m curious if it would be a good resource for this new-angled defensive metrics stuff.

    Concerning the two hole, I’m not sure if the M’s really have a great option to start the season. That being said, Yuni, Willie and Lopez all seem to be pretty clear cut non-starters for the role….

    If those guys are being considered, then Johjima can’t be regarded as a stretch for the spot.

  4. patnmic on March 23rd, 2006 7:04 am

    It would seem from watching the preseason our offense is still aweful. This lineup smells of preseason grasping at straws. I’m starting to think this is going to be another awful year for the Mariners.

  5. leetinsleyfanclub on March 23rd, 2006 8:01 am

    At this point, Hargrove ought to just put nine names in a hat and randomly select his lineup each day.

    To be at this point of spring training and still not have a clue about your batting order spells trouble.

  6. msb on March 23rd, 2006 8:18 am

    you missed the quote of the day, from White Sox pitcher Matt Thornton:

    “I just need to be in the strike zone. Walks have been my nemesis for the last year and a half”

  7. msb on March 23rd, 2006 8:36 am

    oh, and Ichiro! on Matsuzaka:

    “But before George Steinbrenner starts fitting Matsuzaka for pinstripes, Ichiro has a word or two to say. “He has to go through his agent,” the Mariners’ outfielder said, pointing to himself.”

  8. msb on March 23rd, 2006 8:37 am

    argh. I’ve been up since 4:30am.

    that would be here

  9. phildopip on March 23rd, 2006 8:47 am

    Aren’t there two games today with the game against the Diamondbacks being on TV? I think Felix is pitching in that game.

  10. Rain Delay on March 23rd, 2006 8:49 am

    #10 – Yes, King Felix pitches the night game, which will be on FSN.

  11. MedicineHat on March 23rd, 2006 8:51 am


    Performing double-duty today, the Mariners play split-squad games against the Cubs and Diamondbacks. Half the team faces Chicago at 12:05 p.m. PT, while Felix Hernandez starts the other matchup against Arizona at 7:05 p.m. PT on MLB.TV.  

  12. unkrusty on March 23rd, 2006 8:52 am

    #10, that was my understanding based on last night’s television game. They were pushing a 6:00 televised game tonight against Arizona featuring Felix and Ichiro. Gotta be better than last night’s game “featuring” Vina, WFB, Gil 30 pitches an inning Meche, an outfield of Lawton, Morse, Borchard….Fruto looked kind of interesting though.

  13. argh on March 23rd, 2006 9:12 am

    However bad this season will be, at least we won’t have to listen to the Kansas City announcers. Lord but they were awful on the MLB feed — entire innings devoted to interviews with players, ex-players and promoters of the new stadium while baseball went on uncovered and unremarked in the background. Real dialogue from the 8th or 9th inning as the Mariners are batting:

    “Who is this guy?” [batter has back to the camera revealing large numerals ’68’ on back of butt-ugly teal shirt]
    [dead air time]
    “Uh, number 68, I think.”
    [sound of shuffling papers, more dead air]
    “Fruto, it’s Fruto.”
    “Hey, very good!”
    “That’s right, Emiliano Fruto….”

    By this time, Fruto’s like 0-2 or something. It was very bad.

  14. Zero Gravitas on March 23rd, 2006 9:19 am

    I saw a brief part of the game last night on FSN and was amazed at how much the Spring Training M’s look exactly like the regular season M’s. It was the third inning, they were losing, and Gil Meche had already thrown about 70 pitches. Honestly, regardless of where he “hits”, if they put Bloomquist in the starting lineup I won’t be able to take it. At least give us some hope, for crying out loud.

  15. Evan on March 23rd, 2006 9:20 am

    Has anyone read John DeWan’s “The Fielding Bible”?

    Not yet, though it arrived from ( isn’t carrying it – or BP 2006 for that matter) yesterday, so I’ll be reading it shortly.

  16. SoulofaCitizen on March 23rd, 2006 9:24 am

    Have to say my spirits get lifted each time Bloomquist starts and hits badly–less chance he’ll end up in the regular lineup. It’s when he gets a couple of cheap hits that we have to worry.

  17. msb on March 23rd, 2006 9:26 am

    The other day the Onion summed up the US team’s WBC accomplishments:

    Players on Team USA, along with MLB owners and managers, rejoiced Thursday night following their final game of the World Baseball Classic, a 2-1 loss to Mexico, as the Americans came out of the tournament safe, sound, and in one piece.

    “There is an amazing sense of accomplishment among these healthy, injury-free players. Wearing this uniform, and not getting hurt while inside of it, will be something these players are going to remember for the rest of the regular season,” said Team USA manager Buck Martinez while helping each player navigate an awkward step up into the clubhouse. “We didn’t emerge victorious, but we did emerge completely unscathed. I say we are the real winners here.”

    Following their elimination from harm’s way, Martinez joined his 30 healthy players in a cautious locker-room celebration, during which they gingerly spritzed shatterproof plastic bottles of champagne on each other.

  18. Russ on March 23rd, 2006 9:28 am

    I can watch the King at6:00 and/or the Zags at 7:00…

    My remote is going to get abused tonight…

    The Onion makes such a good point that I only wish those statements really came from Ichiro. Not that I think it would change how the FO builds a roster or management uses what they do have.

  19. DMZ on March 23rd, 2006 9:38 am

    The problem with the “Bloomquist starting and failing is good” view is that it’s happened over and over and it’s made no change in the perception of Bloomquist.

  20. jtopps on March 23rd, 2006 10:06 am

    it certainly changed my perception, but then, who cares what I think?

    Now if Bavasi read USSM regularly…

  21. Russ on March 23rd, 2006 10:23 am

    The problem with the “Bloomquist starting and failing is good” view is that it’s happened over and over and it’s made no change in the perception of Bloomquist.

    Well all that and the fact that he can’t hit is another problem.

    Honestly, how come all this is so blatently obvious to anyone who thinks and yet endlessly transparent to those who get paid to put a baseball team on the field?

  22. mln on March 23rd, 2006 10:37 am

    Willie has really made the big time now that the Onion knows who he is.

  23. eponymous coward on March 23rd, 2006 10:38 am

    I think the way to look at it is if Jose Lopez doesn’t do a faceplant (and apparently, he hasn’t yet), Bloomquist will end up on the bench and Vina will end up in Tacoma or released.

  24. Mr. Egaas on March 23rd, 2006 10:39 am

    If Beltre keeps hitting the way he did this spring I don’t see him not third in the order, righty or lefty.

  25. Evan on March 23rd, 2006 11:06 am

    Beltre’s actually a great #3 hitter because he hits for a lot of power, but his OBP isn’t as high as some other guys (I’m not actually checking his stats as I write, so I might be wrong about that). Since the #3 spot leads off innings least often, power is more valuable there, and OBP less so.

    As an aside, I just read Clay’s newest article over at BP. I think he just broke sabermetrics. His discovery is going to prove vastly important.

  26. Jeff Nye on March 23rd, 2006 11:16 am

    That Ichiro! article on the Onion was pure gold. My boss and I both cracked up laughing, mostly because you know that he’s thought all of those things at least once, even if he’d never come out and say them.

  27. joser on March 23rd, 2006 11:23 am

    Which brings up something I’ve idly wondered about from time to time: can somebody point me to a statistical breakdown of the probability of each batting order spot leading off an inning? I assume that (other than the first three) it doesn’t vary as much as some people think?

  28. Deanna on March 23rd, 2006 11:35 am

    I know I’m tired when I have to do a double-take and realize that Derek’s guest article wasn’t the Onion one.

    On the bees, heh, there was a funnier article about the A’s – Diamondbacks game on that field, where they theorize that Conor Jackson dislodged a beehive behind the left-field wall with one of his home runs, and then Nick Swisher refused to go back out into the field amidst all the buzzing. Eric Byrnes quipped, “I thought Swisher stayed strong. I’d be halfway up the bleachers.”

    I guess it’s just a good thing it wasn’t an Astros game.

  29. eponymous coward on March 23rd, 2006 11:41 am

    As an aside, I just read Clay’s newest article over at BP. I think he just broke sabermetrics. His discovery is going to prove vastly important.

    Yeah, I’ve wondered about that myself- for some reason, all the air never seems to get let out of Coors Field, for instance.

  30. Jim Thomsen on March 23rd, 2006 12:26 pm

    It’s time to be scared when The Onion better understands the Mariners than the Mariners do.

  31. Mike Lien on March 23rd, 2006 1:03 pm

    Boy, reading the comments over at baseball analysts makes me quite appreciative of the atmosphere we have here (even on the bad days).

  32. Jim Thomsen on March 23rd, 2006 1:05 pm

    According to, Shin-Soo Choo got shipped out today. Looks like if the Mariners going to go with a fifth outfielder, it’s Borchard.

  33. Paul B on March 23rd, 2006 1:19 pm

    It probably won’t make much difference who hits where in this lineup.

    I mean, when Hargrove does something dumb, the team will score 0.2 runs per game less than they would get with an intelligent lineup.

    big whoop. Either way, they’ll be battling KC for fewest runs scored in the AL.

  34. phildopip on March 23rd, 2006 1:41 pm

    FYI, Neifi Perez hit a homer off Luis Gonzalez today.

  35. joser on March 23rd, 2006 1:43 pm

    It’s time to be scared when The Onion better understands the Mariners than the Mariners do.

    Isn’t that the truth. I wonder if the Onion has an actual M’s fan on their writing staff, or if it’s all just so obvious to anyone who happens to follow baseball at all (other than the M’s braintrust, that is).

  36. Mat on March 23rd, 2006 2:07 pm

    “I mean, when Hargrove does something dumb, the team will score 0.2 runs per game less than they would get with an intelligent lineup.”

    0.2 runs per game implies 32 runs over the course of the season, which is roughly speaking 3 wins. That’s potentially the difference between a winning season and a losing season. It’s a fairly small distinction, but it might be the difference between Bavasi keeping his job and losing his job.

  37. Zero Gravitas on March 23rd, 2006 2:17 pm

    Sounds like the ‘A’ team is playing the night game tonight so I will try not to get all worked up about being shellacked by the Cubs – and the mighty bat of Neifi Perez. Although that, plus the Onion piece today, adds up to even more embarrassment than usual for a day in the life of an M’s fan.

  38. phildopip on March 23rd, 2006 2:30 pm

    Also, Cubs pitching is holding the M’s to 2 hits through 8 innings.

  39. leetinsleyfanclub on March 23rd, 2006 2:42 pm

    Looks like the M’s bats are rounding into regular season form…

  40. Dr. Johan on March 23rd, 2006 3:43 pm identifies a photo of a mariners pitcher taken during last nights game as Cha Seung Baek. Didn’t we cut him?
    Also, according to “The fielding bible”, the worst defensive 1B in the AL is not Jason Giambi, not Aubrey Huff, its… Richie Sexson. How does this guy make his assesments?

  41. Thingray on March 23rd, 2006 3:57 pm

    I saw that as well. I understand that Sexson is no John Olerud, but I don’t see him as the “worst defensive 1B” in the AL. Also, no mention of either Reed, Ichiro or Betancourt as best at their positions either. My guess would be that Betancourt didn’t play enough to be considered, but shouldn’t Ichiro be the best RF?

  42. Evan on March 23rd, 2006 4:39 pm

    We did cut Baek, but then we re-signed him as a free agent.

  43. Dave in Palo Alto on March 23rd, 2006 5:04 pm

    Oh, so he’s Baek.

  44. Jim Thomsen on March 23rd, 2006 5:17 pm

    If he gets lit up, the headline could read: “Opponents’ Bitch Is Baek.”

  45. Karen on March 23rd, 2006 5:54 pm

    In light of the Onion’s assessment of the Mariners, anyone up for a Sadaharu-Oh-for-Mariners-manager write-in campaign?

  46. Smegmalicious on March 23rd, 2006 7:26 pm

    Like the Mariners would listen to their fans.

  47. Jim Thomsen on March 23rd, 2006 8:56 pm

    The irony is the Mariners thought they were thinking of their fans when they signed “big-name free-agent pitcher” Jarrod Washburn.

  48. terry on March 24th, 2006 1:46 am

    #41&#42: Its all about those little square foot quadrant thingies and play by play data that as far as I know is proprietary.

    I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet….do they kill Sexson on bunts, guarding the line, or covering the hole?

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