Larry Stone Goes Yard

August 22, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 152 Comments 

Larry Stone pulled off the writer’s version of a longball with today’s piece, “Bavasi trudges on in search of a win”. It’s articles like this that illuminate why he’s on an entirely different level than the rest of the sports writers in this city. Some of the interesting blurbs:

Bavasi won’t get into a conversation about Hargrove’s status or job performance, except to say that he has “shown great patience in a bad situation, which is not an easy thing to do. We’re dealing with a lot of young kids that are overmatched, I guess, and some veterans that apparently are not performing up to their abilities.”


“It’s difficult to swallow,” Bavasi said. “I’ve seen teams do this, but they usually have less ability, in my opinion. There’s some serious underachieving going on.”

Bill Bavasi doesn’t like talking to reporters, and he’s one of the best in the game at saying nothing of interest when a microphone is in front of him. Stone’s ability to get a quote like this that is legitimately intriguing is just good reporting.

That was evidenced by Saturday’s trade of Jamie Moyer, which was an emotional punch to the gut for fans already steaming over the mounting losses — but also the right thing to do for the organization…

It was also the right thing — and highly overdue — for Ichiro to move to center field, giving the club the perfect opportunity to give the ever-enticing Chris Snelling a long look in right.

More proof that Larry Stone understands the dynamics of how to build a baseball team. He avoids the easy article that everyone else is writing about how the team sold off a local legend for two no-name prospects and calls the trade what it was – the right thing to do. He also manages to get Bavasi to mention that the Ichiro-as-CF move is going to stick for a while, which is just fantastic news.

This might not seem the right time to put forward this thought, but I truly believe the Mariners are closer to contention right now than they were last August. All it will take this winter is daring, vision, a prudent game plan, and a little bit of providence (such as winning the bidding for Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka).

Coming off an 0-11 road trip against the division, Stone avoids the sky-is-falling column that would have been so easy to write, and instead finishes the article with a reminder of the reality that this team is actually headed in the right direction. Stone’s exactly right – this team is closer to contention now than they were a year ago, and there’s no reason to be writing off 2007 right now.

We’ve said a lot of good things about Larry Stone on the blog the past few years. It’s columns like today’s that explain why. He’s very, very good at what he does, and we’re lucky to have him covering the Mariners.

Best Sweep Ever

August 20, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 221 Comments 

The last four days, the M’s got swept. Again. That concluded an 0-11 road trip against the AL West where the team dropped 8 games in the standings. The first game of the road trip, they were playing to even their record. Now, they’re just as close to .400 as they are to .500, and the last two weeks have been nothing short of disastrous.

That, everyone knows. But the last four days have seen more than just the Mariners getting their butts handed to them on a nightly basis. The last four days brought more good news than we’ve seen in a month. For instance:

    Chris Snelling’s career as a minor leaguer effectively came to an end, and he got 10 plate appearances in four days, going 3 for 7 with 3 walks. The Mariners desperately need Snelling’s skillset in the line-up, and the fact that he went from troubled Triple-A soul to getting semi-regular playing time for the Mariners was a huge positive.

    The M’s took a proactive approach to keeping one of their prized young arms healthy – instead of telling Mark Lowe to buck up and learn how to pitch through pain, they shut down a kid who has been a revelation since coming up from the minors and has no injury that anyone can diagnose. He’s not hurt, per se, but the team decided to take the cautious approach and do a little preventative maintenance. For an organization that spent the last 10 years shredding arms, that’s a big step.

    Jamie Moyer was scheduled to make 7 more starts this season for the Mariners, none of which would have any impact on the future of this club. The season’s story has essentially been written, and he would have simply been pitching for pride and personal statistics. Instead of having Moyer just ride out the waves, the team turned him into a 23-year-old with a low-90’s fastball and a potential outpitch slider. In picking up guys like Baldwin and Travis Chick in the Guardado trade, the Mariners continue to stockpile kids who have enough raw talent to be something if things break right. Andrew Baldwin is better today than Mark Lowe was a year ago, or then J.J. Putz was when he was as a 23-year-old in A-ball. It’s easy to write off kids like Baldwin as longshots who are likely to fail, but they do come through sometimes, and the payoff can be very valuable.

    Ichiro played center field. Really. The starting outfield that we were calling for three months ago became a realization today, with the best defensive outfielder on the roster manning the most important of the three outfield spots in order to open up a spot in the line-up for Chris Snelling. If Ichiro and the Mariners are willing to make this center field thing stick, it opens up a lot of doors. As much as we like the future that Adam Jones could have, this team is better both today and in 2007 with Ichiro in center field and Snelling flanking him in a corner. Ichiro, as a right fielder, is an all-star and one of the better players in the game. As a center fielder, he’s a legitimate MVP candidate in most seasons.

    The annual Mike Hargrove late season collapse is on. No one thought he was going to be managing this team in 2007 several months ago, but after watching his team fall in on itself in the final two months of the season yet again, the only way Mike Hargrove returns to the club next season is if he personally catches Osama Bin Laden. And even then, it’d still be up in the air. The losing sucks, but it brings with it the guarantee of a new manager, and that’s a cheery thought.

    And finally, Doyle has arrived. Two thumbs up to the guys at KSTW who got that on the air.

So, yes, the M’s just spent another weekend with LLLL added to the tally. But, in the end, there was a ton of good news that came out the last four days. I’d argue that I’ve never been more pleased with an 0-4 weekend before. This was the best sweep ever.

10-32 versus the AL West

August 20, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on 10-32 versus the AL West 

Eleven losses in a row, nineteen straight losses against AL West opponents. Or, no wins against the AL West in the second half so far.

Last win against an AL West team: June 11th, on the Road against the Angels to sweep a three-game series.

1-15 versus Oakland
2-8 versus Texas
7-9 versus Anaheim LA.

Game 124, Mariners at Angels

August 20, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 388 Comments 

12:35pm start on the mighty KSTW.

LHP Jake Woods, making his first major league start, vs. RHP Ervin Santana. Time to go with a lefty-heavy lineup, as they hit Sanatana much better than righties do.

I’d beg and plead for the losing to stop, but what’s the point? This is what Hargrove does late in the year. In 2002, the Orioles were 63-63 in late August but finished the year 4-32 with losing streaks of 8, 10, and 12. 4-32. That’s not a typo. Shockingly, he didn’t lose his job until the following season.

CF Ichiro!
2B Lopez
3B Beltre
LF Ibanez
1B Sexson
DH Broussard
SS Betancourt
RF Snelling
C Rivera

If this Ichiro! in center thing is for real — and by that I mean long-term, as it’s obviously for real for today — wow. Potentially a very good thing going forward.

More moves

August 20, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 41 Comments 

Not official, but will be soon:

Cha Seung Baek up, takes Moyer’s rotation spot.
Mark Lowe to the DL – he probably won’t pitch again this year, precautionary move.
Sean Green up.

The M’s just don’t want to take any chances with Lowe’s arm, so they’re going to shut him down and save him for next year.

10-31 versus the AL West

August 19, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on 10-31 versus the AL West 

Ten losses in a row, eighteen straight losses against AL West opponents. Or, no wins against the AL West in the second half so far.

Last win against an AL West team: June 11th, on the Road against the Angels to sweep a three-game series.

1-15 versus Oakland
2-8 versus Texas
7-8 versus Anaheim LA.

Moyer to Phillies

August 19, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 222 Comments 

Moyer waives no-trade, shipped to Phillies for prospects.

RHP Andrew Baldwin, 24, on the Clearwater Thrashers (High-A)
RHP Andrew Barb, 22, on the Lakewood BlueClaws (Low-A)

(during the game the names were announced entirely differently – I’m fairly sure these are the corrected names)

From Corvalis and Redmond, respectively. Neither were ranked in Baseball America’s Top 10 prospects this year. Neither are on the Phillies’ 40-man roster.

Added later by Dave: Baldwin is the better bet here, despite being older and having the less impressive statistics. He’s a projection kid who hit 94 at times in college, has the classic pitchers frame, and is raw. He’s not anything close to a finished project, but adding a kid like this to the organization is exactly what a rebuilding team should be doing.

Even later add by Dave: Here’s’s draft coverage page that has a link to Baldwin’s 6:00 video of him throwing at OSU. When they say he had “no windup”, they weren’t kidding.

Game 123, Mariners at Angels

August 19, 2006 · Filed Under Game Threads · 345 Comments 

7 o’clock. Ooh, here’s the thing to break a losing streak: an angry former player facing the team that wouldn’t cough up a sufficently large contract! The Angels are hitting .265/.324/.423 against left-handers this year – not far off their season average.

Hargrove has, it seems, stepped back from the abyss of previous insane lineups, which may help:
RF-L Ichiro
2b-R Lopez
3b-R Beltre
LF-L Ibanez
1b-R Sexson
C-R Johjima
DH-L Broussard
SS-R Betancourt
CF-R Jones

A relatively rare #6 spot for Johjima. Snelling is benched as a reward for his success in the last two games.

For real lineup flux, though, check out the Angels
CF Figgins
3B Izturis
SS Cabrera
RF Guerrero
LF Rivera
DH Anderson
1B Quinlan
2B Kendrick
C Napoli

Today’s CF Figgins started at second. Kendrick, at second, started at first yesterday. Their left fielder moves to DH, the DH moves to RF, RF moves to LF.

10-30 versus the AL West

August 19, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on 10-30 versus the AL West 

Nine losses in a row, seventeen straight losses against AL West opponents. Or, no wins against the AL West in the second half so far.

Last win against an AL West team: June 11th, on the Road against the Angels to sweep a three-game series.

1-15 versus Oakland
2-8 versus Texas
7-7 versus Anaheim LA.

You may be saying “Hey, Derek, this is getting awfully repetitous and depressing.”
And I would say “Yes. Yes it is.”

Game 122, Mariners at Angels

August 18, 2006 · Filed Under Game Threads · 302 Comments 

RHP Felix Hernandez v RHP Jered Weaver in a battle of young stud pitchers. 7:05, FSN.

This is it, right? Felix is the pitcher who turns this thing around for us, puts an end to this insanity.

Jered Weaver: 285 batters faced. 214 outs made, 58k, 19 BB, 50 H, 2 HR, 2 HBP
Felix Hernandez: 575 batters faced. 426 outs made, 130 K, 51 BB, 143 H, 17 HR, 6 HBP

Jered Weaver: 20% of batters struck out, 7% walked
Felix: 23% of batters struck out, 9% walked

Tonight’s non-sensical lineup of stupidity:
CF-R Willie “The Ignitor” Bloomquist
2b-R Lopez
3B-R Beltre
LF-L Ibanez
1B-R Sexson
DH-L Broussard
C-R Johjima
SS-R Betancourt
RF-R Chris Motherfucking Snelling

From Wikipedia:

The phrase “Snakes on a Plane” has been used on Internet forums to indicate that a given topic is nonsensical. With creative uses of capital letters, bold or italic text, and punctuation the title has been manipulated to reflect surprise, horror, or absurdity, among other things. The meme is often interspersed with images of Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Mace Windu and quoting lines recalling his roles from both the Star Wars series and Pulp Fiction. The slang form “SoaP” is used in place of “Shit happens” or “Oh well, what’cha gonna do?”

With that, I present:

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