Week One in review

DMZ · April 9, 2006 at 11:43 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Seven games, and the Mariners are 3-4.

We’ve seen the first of the team, and it’s a mixed bag. They took 2/3 from the Angels on the strength of strong pitching and good hitting, and then the Athletics beat them up to take 3/4, almost entirely disarming the offense. Faced with Blanton, Zito, and Harden, the Mariners looked hopeless. You want to hope that’s just three guys in a row who had great performances, but the worry is that even if they manage to scrape their way into the playoffs, they’re going to go down quietly against the first team they hit with a quality rotation. Seven games in, yeah, it’s too early to say that. But that’s what I thought.

The good:
Johjima looks like total stud. I love him. Reed and Lopez have both been hitting. Rafael Soriano has looked like he’s well on his way to dominant form. Even bad King Felix is good. Jarrod Washburn, the much-derided free agent signing, looked great.

The bad:
Carl “Waste of Carbon” Everett’s not hitting, but he’s still hitting more than Beltre, who was flatlined offensively until today. Putz looks horrible.

This next week we get to see the Mariners play against the Indians, a franchise I think we’re all huge fans of. They’ve got a great core of talent, having torn down completely and gone to a long-term rebuilding plan. Then Boston, which requires little introduction.

Both are contrasts to the Mariners: if they had realized their position and retreated from trying to compete earlier, and rebuilt on the cheap, they’d be the Indians of a year or two ago, preparing for an extended run at competition and if they’d been Boston, willing to wisely spend their massive revenues on the field, they might never have dropped as low. This next week will be an interesting measure in the neither-nor approach the team’s taken these last years, and should at least provide us with some good games.


18 Responses to “Week One in review”

  1. Gromky on April 10th, 2006 1:07 am

    Uhh, well, I guess it could be worse. It could be the Royals we were being negatively compared to, in terms of recognizing problems and fixing them.

    Of course, that would be damning with faint praise. Something we should be used to “Willie Bloomquist isn’t a bad guy to have on the bench, he doesn’t completely embarass himself in any position and isn’t the worst hitter on the team.”

  2. mln on April 10th, 2006 6:00 am

    What’s your take on Johjima’s defense? There have been some comments on a different thread that he doesn’t block pitches in the dirt well.

    I also noticed that the A’s (not a basestealing team by any stretch of the imagination) tried to steal on him. They attempted 3 steals and made it twice, with Johjima getting an error on one throw.

  3. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on April 10th, 2006 7:21 am

    Good observations. “Hopeless” was a good word. A few observations I would like to add:

    1. Jojihma should play EVERYDAY. He’s better with the pitchers and gives you a realistic hope every at-bat.

    2. Bloomquist (as has been exhaustively discussed on this blog) should NEVER play. His hit in a key at-bat yesterday was an aberration, AND in the same game he nearly took out Beltre for the entire season. What in the hell was he doing trying to get to that ball? His “extra effort” on the field is akin to a chihauaua on speed — something to talk about, but of little practical value.

    3. I thought the spark at the end of the game, making it close was an improvement over last season, in that they would have simply folded the tent after the 7th or 8th inning last year. Our depth on the bench may actually help in some late-game rallies. Why isn’t Petagine in there every game? Can he not field?

    4. Pineiro needs a shorter leash. I understand running him out there for a confidence-boosting extra inning. He asked to go and Grover thought he’d see what would happen (reminded me of the great scene with Charlie Sheen in major league when he gives up the grand slam, culminating in the classic line by James Gammon -“I think you can go get him now.” Now I ask you, what would have hurt Pineiro’s confidence more, giving up what was ultimately the game-losing runs (and a few more points to the ERA) OR sitting him down for “pitch-count” reasons, and having a chance to win the game? Hargrove hasn’t impressed this year on these kinds of calls.

  4. Replacement level Poster on April 10th, 2006 7:37 am

    I don’t think you can play Johjima everyday, perhaps you were just joking around. Playing catcher is a much more depending thing to accomplish than any other position player. Sitting him after 5 straight starts with an early day game following a night game is probably the right decision.

    I do agree though, Petagine should definately be the first bat off the bench. No reason to PH Bloomquist for Betancourt when Petagine is available, just sub old Bloomie in for defense when your half of the inning is over, or hell sub him in when Petagine gets on base if you want a quicker baserunner out there.

    Petagine isn’t going to be a starter on this team though, unless Richie gets hurt (knock on wood). I just really hope when Lawton’s suspension is up Petagine isn’t the one sent packing.

  5. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on April 10th, 2006 7:48 am

    I was joking about Johjima a bit, but I think if you are going to bring him in at the end of the game anyway, and you have a day off the next day, why not start him. It’s still early. I don’t think Dan Wilson sat after every fifth start, unless I am remembering incorrectly. I agree the night game/day game situation adds an element to consider, though.

    I agree about Petagine not starting, but he should definitely be the first bench option.

    I have to give Hargrove some credit, though. He did manage to get something going at the end of the game, to give me some faith rather than an insurmountable void of hopelessness that comes with 3 straight shut-out games.

  6. Replacement level Poster on April 10th, 2006 7:59 am

    If you sit him after every 5 games or so thats 130 starts for Kenji. Last year only Victor Martinez (139) Jason Kendall (146) had more for Catchers. Every other catcher made 127 starts or less.

    Dan Wilson had more than 130 starts twice in his career, 138 in 1996 and 146 in 1997.

  7. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on April 10th, 2006 8:25 am

    True, RLP, but Kenji has started 135 or more games three times in his career (not sure if the stats I am looking at include playoffs). Though Kenji is no longer a spring chicken, and only started 114 and 108 games the last two seasons, respectively (as catcher, that is, it’s 116, 116 batting). Some of that drop off is due to injuries. He is also used to a shorter Japanese baseball season. So, in a nutshell, I agree with your logic, but wonder if finding a way to make something happen in yesterday’s game when facing a split series or losing 3/4 isn’t worth running Kenji out there to start, even if you don’t do it on a regular basis the rest of the season.

  8. msb on April 10th, 2006 8:28 am

    speaking of the A’s, Jayson Stark just commented this morning (when talking about the M’s weekend) that they have about 11 starting pitchers on their pitching staff…

  9. pensive on April 10th, 2006 8:51 am

    Hopefully is was very good pitching from the As. The defense looks as though should lead league. There is more to be abit more hopeful for 2006.

    The seating chart would fit nicely in the features colum. Thankyou for the effort and sharing years of trial and error.

  10. Ralph Malph on April 10th, 2006 9:52 am

    You have to keep in mind the wear and tear of catching. Squatting and jumping up for 9 innings beats up the legs, especially when you get into your 30s. Coming in for an inning at the end still makes for a day off. He’s not going to keep hitting all year if you burn him out catching every day early in the year.

    And you can’t have a guy on the roster and NEVER play him — he’s got to play every once in a while if he’s going to be ready when he’s needed.

  11. ChrisK on April 10th, 2006 10:33 am

    I find it humorous that Armstrong (or possibly it was Lincoln) likes to “boast” that they chose not to go the Cleveland route and suffer a couple of losing seasons in order to rebuild. Yeah, good thing we didn’t do what those Cleveland morons did. It’s hate to be where they are now.

  12. msb on April 10th, 2006 10:58 am

    I wouldn’t say they ‘boasted’ about it– it came up in answer to a Larry Stone question about losing fans:

    “The Mariners should know full well the tenuous nature of fan passion. All they have to do is look at the attendance figures of the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rockies, all of whom went through a five-year or more stretch of playing virtually to capacity, but now rank 14th, 23rd and 26th, respectively, in the majors.

    “I worry about it a lot,” Armstrong said. “Last week in Toronto, I saw it firsthand. Their no-shows were tremendous. That’s why we work so hard at keeping Safeco Field so special.”

    Even more ominous is the arc of the Indians, who sold out Jacobs Field for six straight seasons, then fell precipitously after tearing apart the team in 2002. Now they have rebuilt the team to championship caliber on a shoestring budget, yet fans have not flocked back. The Indians rank 24th in the majors this season with 24,457 per game.

    Armstrong said the Mariners will not use the Cleveland model of stripping down the ballclub to rebuild. Last winter, the Mariners dished out more than $100 million on free agents Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson.

    “It’s incumbent on us me, Bill (Bavasi), the baseball guys to try to get the kind of players that will get this turned around as quickly as we can, as opposed to embarking on the Cleveland approach,” Armstrong said. “Cleveland has such a nice little ballclub, yet we’re averaging 10,000 more a game. We think we have a compact with the fans ownership does.”

    Armstrong is fully aware of the perception of some that the loyalty of Mariners fans could work against them. Since the fans keep flocking out through losing seasons, the reasoning goes, the club isn’t motivated to maximize the product.

    Not true at all, he said.

    “We don’t take them for granted,” Armstrong insisted. “We know we have to put a good product on the field. If we did take it for granted, we would have adopted more of a Cleveland approach and cut back.

  13. John in L.A. on April 10th, 2006 11:30 am

    As loath as I am to defend Armstrong, I thinkthe context of his quotes about Cleveland were about budget, not rebuilding. Unless I was reading him completely wrong, his point was that they arn’t going to slash the budget, not that they weren’t going to rebuild.

  14. ChrisK on April 10th, 2006 1:51 pm

    You’re right, ‘boasted’ is probably the wrong term to use. But it is pretty condescending. Saying that Cleveland has a “nice little ballclub” and that they took their fans for granted.

    Regardless, to say the Indians did it the wrong way is pretty ridiculous, given that they rebuilt faster than the Mariners, with a lower budget, and with a much brighter future.

  15. eponymous coward on April 10th, 2006 2:09 pm

    They didn’t do it the wrong way if the goal was to keep attendance up. Announcing “hey, we’re razing the team” is a surefire way to tank to 1.6 million attendance or so.

    The thing is you can only postpone the day of reckoning for so long- and opening week attendance at around 20,000 for weekday games was the sound of the fat lady warming up for her Declining Attendance Aria.

  16. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on April 10th, 2006 2:37 pm

    Ralph (#10) – You are on to my hope (and that of many on this blog). Send Willie packing, via trade for a player, a box of Cracker Jack or in exchange for a promise never to offer him back. If the only way to NEVER play Willie is get him the heck out of here, I vote for that. He almost caused us to lose Beltre on a boneheaded play (Beltre was in position, I thought). He can play a lot of positions, but none of them very well, and he’s a liability at the plate – period. His energy is annoying not contagious. The only thing going for him is he’s always out there signing autographs, and I think that’s admirable.

    As far as catching goes, I am thinking of the wear and tear, hence my comment at #7 (my first post was a bit of an exaggeration, admittedly). I think starting him in ONE extra game this early in the season when you have a day off the next day could have been huge. He’s great with the pitchers (and Pineiro needed it) and if he had started something, who knows where the momentum might have taken the team. I doubt Kenji suddenly becomes injury-prone or an ineffective catcher by playing 5 or 6 extra games over the year in rare situations like this (where there’s a day off the next day). Sit him in a few series where you are up 2-0 (or down 0-2) to make up the difference. This early, and facing this line-up of teams, it’s huge to eek out another win where you can.

  17. beckya57 on April 10th, 2006 2:41 pm

    I don’t know why you’re worrying about what would happen to the M’s in the playoffs, since there’s no way they’re going to get there with this team. The offense is too erratic, the pitching is too suspect, and there’s too much dead wood (Bloomquist, Beltre, Everett, ad nauseaum). Imaginary playoff scenarios are the least of their problems.

  18. alexking.org: Blog > Around the web on April 16th, 2006 7:21 am

    […] U.S.S. Mariner – Week One in review – Seattle Mariners and general baseball discussion …if they had realized their position and retreated from trying to compete earlier, and rebuilt on the cheap, they’d be the Indians of a year or two ago, preparing for an extended run at competition and if they’d been Boston, willing to wisely spend their massive revenues on the field, they might never have dropped as low. […]

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