Game 139, Mariners at Rangers

Dave · September 3, 2008 at 10:05 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Happy Felix Day!

Felix v Nippert. Early, too: 11:05. Still televised, though.

Is it just me, or does Felix face the Rangers every week? This is his fifth start against Texas this year…

Rob Johnson and Luis Valbuena make their major league starting debuts today, playing C and 2B respectively. After my comment about Valbuena’s defense being suspect the other day, I got corrected by about fifteen people, so mea culpa – those who have watched him play a lot this year like his glove quite a bit.

Comments

50 Responses to “Game 139, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. Evan on September 3rd, 2008 10:06 am

    Even the Canadian broadcaster is carrying this one. Weird.

  2. andrew_s_c on September 3rd, 2008 10:23 am

    I know this is off topic, but [deleted, off topic]

  3. msb on September 3rd, 2008 10:29 am

    ahhh. seems just like yesterday … today is Felix’ 100th start.

    Currently he has a 39-33 record, with the 4th lowest run support in the AL.

  4. pygmalion on September 3rd, 2008 10:36 am

    The only thing that would be better than Felix pitching a no-hitter today would be Adrian hitting for the cycle one more time. Just to show he can. And to make Red outrageously happy.

    Okay, neither one of those is going to happen, but they are both more likely than getting away with starting a comment with the phrase, “I know this is off-topic, but…”

  5. jzalman on September 3rd, 2008 10:37 am

    Wow, 4th lowest run support in the AL over that entire time period??? Go Mariners!

  6. msb on September 3rd, 2008 10:42 am

    Rob Johnson says he has never caught Felix.

    Wow, 4th lowest run support in the AL over that entire time period??? Go Mariners!

    well, that could be just this season ….

  7. Dave on September 3rd, 2008 11:23 am

    LaHair is so terrible.

  8. srp on September 3rd, 2008 11:31 am

    I’m a little puzzled about September call-ups. I don’t really know the history of the September roster expansion, so I’m not sure of the rationale for it, or what teams hope to learn about their new players.

    Say Valbuena plays in 10 games this month, with 40 at-bats. I guess we can learn something about his defense, but what difference does it really make if he goes 5-40, or 15-40 with 4 HRs. Given what we know about small sample sizes, neither result really says that much about his chances of hitting well in the majors over the long term. Or does it? Am I missing something?

    I’m open to being educated.

  9. Dave on September 3rd, 2008 11:31 am

    No, you’re not – September performances don’t matter. Good teams realize this. Stupid teams and the media do not.

  10. msb on September 3rd, 2008 11:33 am

    speaking of September, Baker’s back blogging, this time looking at Stone’s questions about deserving playing time.

    btw, on the radio this morning he said it was common in the past for the Times to not send reporters on the end-of-season road trips when the team is out of it– last year was an exception, because they had the spurt where they looked to be getting back into it around the break, and so the Times had already paid for the trips. He says they are going to use the road trip money they save this year to do additional coverage at the GM meetings.

  11. The Ancient Mariner on September 3rd, 2008 11:38 am

    So if those folks are right and Valbuena is a plus defender at second, is he likely to hit enough to make it worthwhile to move Lopez and plug him in?

  12. BillyJive on September 3rd, 2008 11:42 am

    Nice play Beltre!!
    Let’s get that contract extended!!!

  13. pgreyy on September 3rd, 2008 12:02 pm

    So, msb, I read Baker’s blog. Am I reading it wrong to think that he feels that Ibanez and Ichiro allowed this team to fall out of the race in May…but that Ibanez has proven himself to be a clutch hitter?

    (Is he aware that this team “fell out of the race” before it broke camp in Peoria?)

    Regarding today’s game: There are probably as many people at today’s game as are checking in on it here.

    Two general questions, since it feels like we have time…

    1) We heard an awful lot about people working with Sexson to improve his batting–how, in the wake of his epic collapse this season, have we not heard similar stories of the coaching staff trying to help out Kenji Johjima?

    2) If we can agree that neither Balantien nor Clement produced as hoped in extended looks in the bigs this season…what do you do with them, going into next year? It doesn’t seem like they have anything to learn in AAA, but it also doesn’t seem like they’re able to translate their skills at the big league plate. (Whereas, strangely, the consensus “not ever going to make it in the bigs” LaHair seems to be closer to average major leaguer.)

    pg

    PS–And yes, I feel like Linda Richman giving her Coffee Talk audience a topic to discuss amongst ourselves in asking those two questions. Sorry.

  14. Joe on September 3rd, 2008 12:08 pm

    Lopez has been having a pretty good year. I’d certainly consider selling high on him (of course he could go somewhere else and turn into Jeff Kent or something, but them’s the breaks).

    I really think Betancourt is more of a problem in the middle infield. And there really isn’t another option in the system AFAIK. Ok, crazy thought of the week: what about taking a flyer on Orlando Hudson? I haven’t seen him in a while, but he had good D in Toronto IIRC. He’s been injured, and he’s a free agent, so he’d probably be willing to take a one-year deal for about his current ($6.25M) salary. Maybe you throw in an option year in case Triunfel isn’t ready in ’09…

  15. Joe on September 3rd, 2008 12:11 pm

    how, in the wake of his epic collapse this season, have we not heard similar stories of the coaching staff trying to help out Kenji Johjima?

    Because the M’s haven’t talked him up as “comeback player of the year” and they’re probably embarrassed by the contract they gave him (if they’re not, they should be). The dead tree and cathode ray media in this town only goes where they’re led, and the team hasn’t led them there.

  16. andrew_s_c on September 3rd, 2008 12:13 pm

    It seems like Yuni is looking at more pitches. I think they told him not to swing until he takes a strike.

  17. Joe on September 3rd, 2008 12:19 pm

    I’m more concerned about his defense, actually. A light-hitting SS is fine as long as he makes your groundball pitchers look awesome. Right now Yuni can’t hit but at least he regularly throws the ball into the dugout on routine fielding plays.

    He seems to have gotten better about taking more pitches, and batting second seemed to help too for some reason, but that could be small sample theater too.

    Aside: Nelson Cruz. Hey! As made famous in the full Nelson plan

  18. Spanky on September 3rd, 2008 12:22 pm

    pgreyy said: “If we can agree that neither Balantien nor Clement produced as hoped in extended looks in the bigs this season…”

    How can you say anything at this time about either of these but especially Clement?? In August, Clement got the most consisten playing time he’s ever had with the Mariners and what did he give us….325/.373/.416. Recognizing for a moment that 77 at bats is a small sample size…I think he’s shown that he has the potential to be good. He’s 25 yrs old and a left-handed hitting catcher. Let’s give him a chance to grow into the player he can be on the team and not give up on him because in his first 200 AB of inconsistent time in the lineup, he’s still trying to find a rhythm.

  19. Paul B on September 3rd, 2008 12:29 pm

    Yes, I wouldn’t toss Clement away. I’d still be for penciling him in at catcher (albeit he’ll have to learn to catch a knuckleballer if Dickey returns).

    I’m not a big Wlad fan, but I wouldn’t base any decisions on his recent slump.

  20. lokiforever on September 3rd, 2008 12:30 pm

    Bryan LaHair isn’t very good. Well he got his chance, and may never see the big leagues again after 2008.

  21. andrew_s_c on September 3rd, 2008 12:31 pm

    I wasn’t trying to defend Yuni, he has to go. I was just making an observation.

    Clement and Wlad should be playing everyday.

  22. msb on September 3rd, 2008 12:42 pm

    so (wandering back) has Nippert really been this good?

    Baker spent a lot of time this morning talking about Ibanez; how professional, how hard-working, how no one else on the team is like him, and it’ll be too bad when they lose him, because no one will show those young pups by example just what a pro should do.

    Oh, and Ichiro also works hard.

  23. Paul B on September 3rd, 2008 12:44 pm

    Why would a manager play for a tie when on the road?

    (rhetorical question)

  24. Paul B on September 3rd, 2008 12:46 pm

    because no one will show those young pups by example just what a pro should do

    So, that’s who Yuni has been learning from?

  25. srp on September 3rd, 2008 12:47 pm

    What does Felix have to do to get some run support? Perhaps it might help if he threatens to have Silva sit on the next batter to leave men on base?

  26. CMC_Stags on September 3rd, 2008 12:49 pm

    So since we’re talking about call-ups and who’s playing.

    Here’s who I’d like to see for the rest of the season:

    CF – Ichiro and Reed (Balentin is not a CF, m’kay?)
    RF – Ichiro and Balentin
    LF – Raul and Reed/Balentin
    3B – Beltre and Tui
    SS – Yuni and Tui/Tug
    2B – Jose and Tug/Valbuena
    1B – Can we call up Hubbard? LaHair hit 246/297/290 in August (69 AB) after hitting 323/400/516 in July (31 AB). LaHair may be better than Cairo and other than Hubbard, I don’t know who else the M’s would play here.

    C – Clement and Rob Johnson
    DH – Mainly Raul so he can get his counting stats up to make sure that he’s a Type A free agent. I would rather he DH than play in the field and get hurt. Other than Raul, whenever Lopez, Ichiro, or Beltre gets a day off in the field they should be here. Also Clement should get the DH slot when Johnson catches.

    So Dave/DMZ, if you had to pick between Hubbard and LaHair to play 1B for the rest of the season, who would you choose?

  27. CMC_Stags on September 3rd, 2008 12:56 pm

    Ok…

    So Hubbard is a year older than LaHair, also bats left and throws right. He was called up to AA to replace LaHair when LaHair was called up to AAA so he has been a level behind LaHair most of his career even though he is a year older.

    I guess that answers my question about LaHair versus Hubbard.

  28. msb on September 3rd, 2008 12:58 pm

    that Raul is pretty darned professional.

  29. msb on September 3rd, 2008 1:00 pm

    well, that was anticlimactic.

  30. srp on September 3rd, 2008 1:05 pm

    Pretending that Vidro never existed, and also pretending that the Mariners had some appreciation of the value of defense… wouldn’t most of us have been quite happy with a DH that hit .305/.369/.510 over the season?

    I guess I’m trying to say that I have no problem with Raul staying on as a Mariner as long as he is DH and never sets foot in left field again.

  31. pgreyy on September 3rd, 2008 1:06 pm

    msb–Baker also seemed to tie late year/out-of-the-race production to skewing numbers away from what fans should expect from truly valuable and clutch hitters–and then shows numbers that indicate that Raul’s numbers have significantly jumped in August…and then he compliments him anyway.

    Odd. (Or maybe I’m just reading it wrong.)

    And, regarding Clement and Balantien…I was asking what we should do–not suggesting a course of action…as I don’t know what should be done.

    I was among the voices calling for both of them to be called up early and given the chance to succeed in the show–because it was clear that Clement, especially, was dominating AAA.

    …and neither Clement nor Balantien have produced the way that any of us hoped they would this year–I think that’s a fair statement.

    It’s now a matter of faith to keep sending them out there in hopes that they will somehow feel “comfortable” enough to produce–and to me, that’s only a short hop away from the thinking that gives Kenji a three year extension to take the pressure off of him and allow him to return to his career form.

    Clement is never going to be a strong defensive catcher…and I think his work this year proves this. He has to make it up by being undeniable at the plate–and I just haven’t seen that from him this year. I think this club would have welcomed the chance to play Clement behind the dish from May onward…he just hasn’t it earned it yet, baby.

    …which is sad, because neither Kenji nor Burke has offered more than marginally better defense and, in Burke’s case, better relations with the pitching staff, against Clement’s claim to the full time starting job.

    If you tell me that Clement is making steady improvement, that his numbers indicate that consistent play is building up his confidence, that he’s bridging a huge gap between what it takes to be a top quality hitter in AAA and to even be acceptable at the big league level, that it makes sense to keep trotting him out there and that one day, lightning will strike and he’ll “get it”–I’ll go with that…

    I just hate that oh-so-Mariners’ feeling of watching underperformance and reacting with “hope that they’ll turn it around.”

    And, as much as I want to support the kids coming up, I want to at least enjoy the flavor of Kool-Aid that I’m chugging.

  32. juneau_fan on September 3rd, 2008 1:09 pm

    Gameday just said: Miguel Batista replaces Miguel Batista.

    Great, just what we need–two of them.

  33. gwangung on September 3rd, 2008 1:12 pm

    It’s now a matter of faith to keep sending them out there in hopes that they will somehow feel “comfortable” enough to produce–and to me, that’s only a short hop away from the thinking that gives Kenji a three year extension to take the pressure off of him and allow him to return to his career form.

    Well, no, they’re not the same.

    Larger sample size with Kenji. Younger players get better with more experience. Veterans tend to do worse at the tail end of their careers. Treating them exactly the same is not the correct approach.

    Also..

    If you tell me that Clement is making steady improvement, that his numbers indicate that consistent play is building up his confidence, that he’s bridging a huge gap between what it takes to be a top quality hitter in AAA and to even be acceptable at the big league level, that it makes sense to keep trotting him out there and that one day, lightning will strike and he’ll “get it”–I’ll go with that…

    Clement, I think, has a tendency to struggle for a while with each new promotion, then step it up later. A similar period of adjustment for the majors (or perhaps even longer) would not be unexpected, I would think.

  34. msb on September 3rd, 2008 1:18 pm

    ah me. poor Felix.

  35. MattThompson on September 3rd, 2008 1:21 pm

    1-0 in Texas. Yuck.

  36. Go Felix on September 3rd, 2008 1:21 pm

    Felix delivers. M’s offense, no.

  37. gwangung on September 3rd, 2008 1:22 pm

    And we’ll hear yahoos saying Felix is over-rated—look at that W-L record!

  38. pgreyy on September 3rd, 2008 1:24 pm

    I just hate the idea that there’s nothing that can be done–no coaching, no adjustments, no process by which players who have talent are unable to be guided into better utilizing that talent…and that the only course of action available is “well, let’s hope that whenever they get comfortable, they’ll do what we’re paying them to do.”

    (And no, I agree with you, gwangung…obviously, the situation with Clement and the situation with Johjima are NOT the same. I was simply trying to draw a connection to how close the thinking is… “Clement just needs to get comfortable”/”Kenji just needs to not worry about his contract”–not the same scenario, but a similar way of thinking…an overvaluation of ephemeral emotional status to justify inertia.)

    Anyway… Felix pitches well but still…loses 1-0 in Texas. Mariners 2008–it just doesn’t get any better than this.

  39. Joe on September 3rd, 2008 1:26 pm

    That’s only the third 1-0 game ever in Arlington? (On the radio they said the last one was in 2000).

  40. dsmiley on September 3rd, 2008 1:32 pm

    Turned on GameCast just in time to see the last two outs, have been looking at the box scores…

    You’re telling me Felix pitched into the 8th inning, gave up a single run against the best offense in the majors, the Ms didn’t have a bullpen meltdown afterward, and Felix got the LOSS? You’ve got to be kidding me. How can we get 8 hits and not score a run?

    Maybe it has to do with the fact that the Ms haven’t had a single guy walk in the last two games. (Plus only one walk in the 12-6 game we won two days ago.)

    This is insane. The FO better have a Felix savings account because they are going to need every penny if they want to resign him here in Seattle.

  41. Joe on September 3rd, 2008 1:38 pm

    There are things that can be done — coaching, adjustments, process, etc — and AFAIK Clement is doing them (he’s reputed to be one of the hardest-working guys on the team). But process takes time, and the amount of time is unpredictable. And if his (.325/.373/.416) August is anything to go by, it is starting to pay off (that puts him 7th in OPS amongst the 19 AL catchers who had at least 80 PA in August).

    Balentien, on the other hand, is just not suited to Safeco.

  42. Joe on September 3rd, 2008 1:40 pm

    Yes, Felix got the loss pitching a 1-run game into 8 innings in Texas. And as gwangung says, we’re going to be treated to idiots all offseaon (more than a few of them on the national stage) pointing to his W-L record and calling him over-rated.

  43. andrew_s_c on September 3rd, 2008 1:57 pm

    It’s not Safeco that is hurting Balentien it’s the sporadic playing time. It also doesn’t help that he only plays against LHPs and hits better against RHPs.

    I guess Safeco doesn’t really help him though.

  44. DarkKnight1680 on September 3rd, 2008 2:09 pm

    In regards to Hubbard and Lahair,

    Lahair hit 288/367/423 in 246 PAs in AA before moving up (age 23 season)

    Hubbard hit 289/369/421 in 272 PAs in AA replacing Lahair (exact same stats, age 24 season).

    The following year, stuck in AA, hubbard hit 270/361/447 in a full season (553 PAs, age 25 season) but stuck out 135 times.

    This year, some adjsutment must have been made, because in 365 PAs (missed some time with a small injury) hes hitting 291/407/505 for a 912 OPS with just 63 Ks against 56 walks.

    I don’t know what they saw in Lahair that made him move up so quick while Hubbard stays in AA, but it doesn’t make much sense to me.

  45. Adam S on September 3rd, 2008 2:15 pm

    It’s not Safeco that is hurting Balentien it’s the sporadic playing time.
    Is that really it? Is it not his true talent level that’s the problem — that he’s basically a replacement level player to 4th OF?

  46. Evan on September 3rd, 2008 2:54 pm

    September performances don’t matter. Good teams realize this. Stupid teams and the media do not.

    But it’s worse than that. Even if the small sample size and “major-league competition” were informative, September stats still would matter less than, say, May’s stats because September stats are produced playing against uneven opposition (due to all the callups). They’re almost spring training stats.

  47. Sports on a Schtick on September 3rd, 2008 3:21 pm

    Fucking crappy ass offense.

  48. andrew_s_c on September 3rd, 2008 4:57 pm

    We won’t know Balentien’s true talent level until he’s given the opportunity to start regularly.

  49. joser on September 3rd, 2008 5:23 pm

    Hey, it could be worse. How many fans turned up to see two no-chance teams in mid-day Texas heat? How many showed up in Miami to see the Braves play the Marlins in sweltering Florida humidity? About 600.

    Or it could be even worse. We could be wondering if the Mariners were going to get renamed the Bison. Or the Energy. Or the Wind. Or the Barons. Or the Marshalls. (The Marshalls? Wasn’t that a 60′s girl group?) Only to discover they’re now called the Thunder.

  50. mln on September 3rd, 2008 5:51 pm

    Happy belated No-Run Support Day! (Sorry, Felix)

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