Morrow to Double-A

March 28, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 21 Comments 

The M’s optioned Brandon Morrow to Double-A West Tennessee tonight, choosing to have him start the season in the warm weather of the Southern League and try to find his command. Mark Lowe seems to be a lock to take Morrow’s role as the second right-handed setup man.

The best case scenario here is for Lowe to pitch extraordinarily well, allowing the team to re-evaluate their need to have Morrow in the majors as a reliever. With him finally heading to the minors, perhaps they can rectify last year’s mistake, stick him in the rotation, and let him learn how to pitch while he’s down there.

Community Projection: Carlos Silva

March 28, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 37 Comments 

The second new starting pitcher we’re asking you to project – what do you guys think of our new $48 million dollar acquisition?

Average Projection: 193 IP, 221 H, 39 2B, 5 3B, 24 HR, 38 BB, 86 K, 5 HBP, 49% GB, 4.60 FIP
Optimist (wcf51): 219 IP, 208 H, 34 2B, 4 3B, 16 HR, 46 BB, 127 K, 4 HBP, 64% GB, 3.67 FIP
Pessimist (librocrat): 184 IP, 233 H, 39 2B, 3 3B, 39 HR, 47 BB, 72 K, 1 HBP, 45% GB, 5.95 FIP
Dave’s Projection: 186 IP, 212 H, 42 2B, 3 3B, 27 HR, 36 BB, 79 K, 3 HBP, 44% GB, 4.87 FIP
Jeff’s Projection: 185 IP, 196 H, 43 2B, 3 3B, 27 HR, 34 BB, 87 K, 5 HBP, 47% GB, 4.79 FIP

Of the 55 projections, pretty much everyone sees the same thing – he stays healthy, he gives up a ton of hits, he doesn’t walk or strike anyone out, and contributes like a #5 starter. Essentially, this projection makes him Paul Byrd with a few more groundballs, which isn’t quite what the M’s think they’re getting. A couple of you apparently think his splitter is going to make him quite good (wcf, I’ll buy you dinner if he gets anywhere near both that GB% and K%), a couple of you think he’s going to be one of the worst pitchers in baseball, and and everyone else agrees that he’s just going to be a mediocre back-end starter.

Sounds about right – there’s no doubt the M’s wildly overpaid for Silva, but a 4.60 FIP isn’t awful. He has his uses – those uses just aren’t worth $12 million a year.

Mariners at Giants, televised, tonight

March 27, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 68 Comments 

7:15! FSN! This is awesome for me because I’ve been totally sick — I’ve been looking forward to this even though there’s a good chance the lineup’s going to be awful.

After this, we get two games against the Cubs in Vegas (one home, one away) and then it’s the season opener on the 31st (at 3:40, which is kind of annoying)

Hopefully I just don’t fall asleep. They sure missed on the flu vaccination mix this year, huh. Holy mackeral.

Angels take another blow; yet another roster suggestion

March 26, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 120 Comments 

It’s apparently news day, so we’re inundating you with new posts. A few quick notes here.

Angels starter Kelvim Escobar revealed that he may have a torn ligament in his shoulder that could require surgery that would wipe out his 2008 season. No official decision has been made yet on whether they’re going to cut him open, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the Angels will get much from one of their main cogs this year. Make no doubt about it – this is a big blow to the Angels. Escobar is probably a +3 win pitcher, and while the Angels have some solid potential replacement arms, none of them can make up for this loss. The gap between LAA and the M’s has certainly diminished.

Also, in the never ending series of suggestions of ways the M’s could improve their ballclub, I present Matt Murton. He lost his spot on the Cubs when they signed Reed Johnson (also a USSM suggested acquisition), and today they announced they’re not even going to carry Murton as a reserve. He simply needs a new organization, and like Johnson, he brings a perfect package of skills to the table in terms of what the M’s should be looking for in a fourth OF; right-handed, gap power, lefty masher, solid to plus defender in a corner OF. Toss in the fact that Murton is just 26 years old and has only two years of service time, and he’s the kind of player who could help the team both in 2008 and beyond. With players like Murton available, the M’s simply shouldn’t settle for their internal candidates for the fourth OF job – they can do better.

In other news, USSM endorsed Tacoma Rainiers announcer Mike Curto checks in with a few notes from Peoria as he blogs his way through minor league spring training. Go Curto Go.

And yes, for those asking, we saw Rob Neyer’s list of the 50 most valuable players over the next 5 years on ESPN. And yes, I’m intentionally not linking to it, mainly because it’s not very good. All you need to know – Felix and Bedard aren’t on the list, but Melky Cabrera is. Yep.

Reitsma and Rhodes reassigned; bullpen questions linger

March 26, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 35 Comments 

The M’s told Chris Reitsma that he wouldn’t be making the opening day roster today, so he’s now deciding whether he wants to head to Tacoma or become a free agent (technically, he doesn’t have the contractual right to do this, but the M’s aren’t going to hold him hostage). I’m hoping for the latter, so the M’s won’t ever be tempted by his veteranocity and give him a role he doesn’t deserve down the line.

So, with Reitsma out of the picture, the bullpen picture becomes a bit clearer, but questions remain. Here’s what we know:

J.J. Putz works the 9th inning in games where the M’s lead by 3 runs or less.
Sean Green and Eric O’Flaherty will work the 7th and 8th innings of close games.
R.A. Dickey will be the mopup guy when the game gets out of hand.

That leaves several holes, with roster spots going to three of Brandon Morrow, Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, Ryan-Rowland Smith, and Cha Seung Baek, assuming the M’s go with a 12 man pitching staff again. I’d call that very likely at this point, especially considering Morrow’s questionable status.

If we assume that Morrow is healthy enough to start the year on the active roster, he’s in for one of the spots. Depending on how he performs, he’d likely start the year in the 7th inning right-hander role with a chance to overtake Green for the 8th inning role if he figures out how to throw strikes with regularity.

So that leaves two spots. Rhodes thinks he’s ready, but the organization doesn’t seem to agree (edit: They told him he’s not making the club on opening day, so looks were right in this case), if you take their public comments at face value. However, with O’Flaherty the only lefty in the pen, it’s a lock that he or Rowland-Smith will make the team, as I can’t fathom John McLaren being willing to only take one lefty into the season. The two southpaws are fighting for one spot, and my gut says it goes to Rowland-Smith.

That leaves one spot for Cha Seung Baek or Mark Lowe. If they choose Lowe, they lose Baek, as he’s out of options and there is zero chance he’ll clear waivers. If they choose Baek, they can send Lowe to Tacoma and keep both in the organization. That would seemingly give Baek a big advantage, but the coaches aren’t convinced that Baek profiles well as a reliever and, with Morrow’s effectiveness in doubt, they’d like another power right-hander on the staff if he struggles early. So, Lowe fits the profile of the pitcher they would prefer, and that neutralizes the option scenario, making it a tough call.

I’m guessing the team ends up going with Baek, at least for the first two games. If Morrow struggles in the opening series against Texas, Lowe could be on the flight to Baltimore while they’d hope they could sneak Baek through waivers just a couple days into the season.

So, my gut feeling on the opening day bullpen: Putz, Green, O’Flaherty, Morrow, Rowland-Smith, Baek, and Dickey. This, of course, assumes the M’s don’t make any moves to bring in someone from outside the organization. If they do, may I suggest David Aardsma? Boston might not have room for him, and he’s basically Morrow’s equal at this point, with the added benefit of being able to get lefties out.

It’s certainly not the strength it has been in previous years, and getting to J.J. could be a little bit hairy this year.

M’s fall to second place

March 26, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 25 Comments 

A’s win, and Harden looks great doing it.

I made a passing comment about how ridiculous this was, and it generated some good comments I’d like to address. My problems are, more or less:
– I don’t like having a single series this far early
– I don’t like that MLB fans here couldn’t easily watch, much less attend
– I don’t like having any team’s home opener in a different city
– It’s crazy that they’re following real games with more spring training games
– I don’t like that the two teams have to play through spring training, these games, and then go back to spring training and into the season under different roster constraints than everyone else

I absolutely support MLB’s attempts to broaden the game’s international reach. I love Japanese baseball, and thought it was great to see the crowds and everything. I just don’t like how this was done. That’s all.

McClaren seemingly leading towards Lopez as #2

March 25, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 24 Comments 

I don’t think lineup order matters all that much, though as we head into the season I’ll try to make a much longer post on this. But Jose Lopez over Vidro — well, it’d be an upgrade if he’s the Lopez we’ve been pulling for, and if he’s the Lopez we saw too much of last year, it’ll be ugly. Here’s hoping. The AP article says “Jose Lopez is likely to be hitting second in the Seattle Mariners’ lineup next week when Seattle opens the regular
season against Texas.” but the actual quote from McLaren’s not as strong:

“We’re thinking about it strongly, I think that’s safe to say,” McLaren said Tuesday. “He’s hit behind the runner. He’s swinging at more strikes. I’m not going to say it’s 100 percent but we’re leaning that way.”

Ryan Rowland-Smith’s time in Venezuela

March 25, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 10 Comments 

Fun reading: check it out. h/t to WJ Duffy for the email.

Red Sox beat A’s a week early

March 25, 2008 · Filed Under General baseball · 31 Comments 

I’m all for expanding the game’s reach internationally, but having the Red Sox and A’s play a live game a week ahead of the season’s actual start is ridiculous. The Red Sox won.

Opening Day a week away

March 25, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 42 Comments 

And yet no extensions for Ibanez/Bloomquist. I’m as surprised as anyone.

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