Game Four Recap

Dave · April 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Boo, 1-3.

It was Doug Fister vs Brett Anderson. They weren’t going to win this game without a lot of luck. And then Rajai Davis took away a home run from Milton Bradley, and you just got the feeling that this wasn’t a get lucky kind of day.

So, rather than write about the ineptitude that was today, let’s talk about the bigger picture. We talked about how this was something like an 84 win team in terms of true talent level, but that projection includes the value the team is supposed to get from Cliff Lee, Erik Bedard, and Jack Hannahan when they return from the DL. This roster, the one the M’s are running out there right now, is more like a 76 or 77 win team.

So, yeah, they looked like crap for most of the last three days. Well, right now, they kind of are. When Lee got hurt, the odds of them playing well in April went down significantly. The dropoff from Lee to Fister is pretty dramatic, and it affects the rest of the roster. This team, as currently constructed, is going to be pretty frustrating to watch at times. April is survival month, where the goal is just to keep within shouting distance of the rest of the division so they can try and make a run when they get the injured guys back in the fold.

So, hang in there. The Angels went 9-13 in April last year, then rallied once Lackey and crew got healthy. That’s the path the M’s have to take this year. It’s not going to look good this month. There are going to be too many days like today, where the team doesn’t look capable of beating anyone. But, don’t abandon ship yet. This isn’t the team the M’s put together this winter, and it’s not the team we’re going to see in a month or so. If we get into May and the team still can’t play, we’ll all freak out together then.

For April, though, let’s just all try to not break too many bones jumping off the bandwagon. The first month is going to suck. Let’s just try to survive it.

Comments

46 Responses to “Game Four Recap”

  1. codybond31 on April 8th, 2010 3:10 pm

    Ahhh, none of those injuries includes a big bat… Or even a medium bat for that matter. This is a third place team with this offense. No doubt about it.

    We didn’t face a premier rotation there either. There is no way a playoff team gets shut down by a combo of an rehabing Sheets and Duchscherer , and soft-tossing lefties in Braden and Anderson. No way!

  2. msb on April 8th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Too bad you published this so soon– there was no chance to get that 6-run pinch-hit HR by Griffey that changed the course of the day…

  3. basebliman on April 8th, 2010 3:23 pm

    I’m with codybond31 on this. This team cannot hit a lick and this team will be lucky to win 80 games WITH a healthy Lee, Bedard and Hannahan.

  4. jefffrane on April 8th, 2010 3:24 pm

    And, after all, the “record” so far is identical to Texas and LAA. It could be worse.

  5. CCW on April 8th, 2010 3:29 pm

    …and soft-tossing lefties in Braden and Anderson.

    Anderson is quite a bit better than “soft-tossing lefty” would imply. How about “hard-throwing lefty ace?”

  6. flashbeak on April 8th, 2010 3:31 pm

    We are the worst offensive team in the division, and that’s depressing when you look at the lineup Bob Geren writes down for his club every night. So if our pitching is imploding and averaging 5 or so runs allowed per game, we won’t sniff 80 wins this year. I think it makes sense to be worried, even if it’s this early. I knew that if we didn’t come out winning and hitting right out of the gate, we were going to be in for a loooooong season.

  7. flashbeak on April 8th, 2010 3:34 pm

    and soft-tossing lefties in Braden and Anderson.

    I would think Anderson qualifies as a flamethrower, not a soft-tossing lefty. He hits 95 with ease on the radar gun and is their ace of the future. Braden, on the other hand, is not as impressive, and the fact that we couldn’t touch his stuff does concern me.

  8. codybond31 on April 8th, 2010 3:35 pm

    Oh yeah, it could be worse, and I’m a half-full kinda fan/reviewer of this team, and man… I already got that bad feeling.

    Love Griffey, but he can NOT hit a fastball at all anymore. Bradley’s starting slow, Kotchman is being his average self, and Ichiro is in love with hitting pop flies and getting picked off. And these are our main guys.

    But in general, this lineup is just not acceptable.

    Yeah, good pitching and defense is great, but when our lineup makes Dallas Braden look better then a Cliff Lee, it doesn’t matter if we keep our opp. to under 4 or 5 runs a game. We are 2-4 run a game team. And that was Braden’s first start of the season!

  9. spankystout on April 8th, 2010 3:47 pm

    I’m changing my adjective of choice to describe the offense, from “anemic” to comatose. The M’s have been K’d 32 times in 4 games.! They have whiffed through one entire game outta four! Although I concede they have faced some good pitching, this is starting to subjectively feel like the 08′ offense. I’m encouraged by the BB’s, but it obviously isn’t gonna win games.
    I’m not criticizing Bradley for the bunt attempt I just think it is indicative of the inability of the O………My question is how long does “trader jack” wait to make a significant offensive move? Thank god they brought up another arm. Imagine if they don’t have that extra arm in the pen today…….. The most encouraging part of this series was the first couple innings of opening day. Turn it around now M’s cause Lee and Bedard can’t hit.

  10. CCW on April 8th, 2010 3:53 pm

    The M’s offense last year was either the worst or 2nd worst in baseball, depending on how you spin it. This year is not all that different. If you liked the 2009 M’s, you ought to like the 2010 version. They need to win 1-run games to be successful… and they will. Just be patient.

  11. Breadbaker on April 8th, 2010 4:06 pm

    They’ve had a chance to win every game, even this one where they had the tying run at the plate when the game ended, They’ve also had a chance to lose every game (and did so three times). There’s no need to panic.

  12. Glen on April 8th, 2010 4:07 pm

    They need to win 1-run games to be successful… and they will. Just be patient.

    The problem is that 1-run games are a coin-toss as to who wins. Last year the M’s were extremely lucky in that sense.

  13. jase411 on April 8th, 2010 4:08 pm

    I havent paid as close attention to this as I should, what is the approximate timeframe the club expects to have Bedard and Lee back? Mid May…??

  14. spankystout on April 8th, 2010 4:17 pm

    I don’t think the we are “breaking bones” jumping off the bandwagon. Especially since our six man pen critiques were confirmed with Colome being brought up. So the FO is obviously thinking along a similar plane. Maybe not to the extent of some. But I thinks its blatantly obvious that Ichiro and Figgins have to constantly be in scoring position for any significant impact on the scoreboard. I mean our best hitters are singles guys. I said before opening day somewhere on this site “get used to a station to station offense.” So there are no new “broken bones” here. Just the same ones of the past few years.

  15. scott19 on April 8th, 2010 4:21 pm

    and soft-tossing lefties in Braden and Anderson

    Well, compared to Nolan Ryan or Billy Wagner, I suppose Anderson is “soft-tossing.”

  16. Rck74 on April 8th, 2010 4:33 pm

    I don’t understand the survive April talk. We play 10 games against the A’s and Royals. If we can’t beat them without Cliff Lee how good are we? As far as Bedard, has anyone researched the players coming back from labrum surgery? Most of them are never the same. There’s a reason teams did not go after him. Last years 35-20 record in one run games will not happen again. Being over .500 with a -52 run differential is not going to happen again. This is a .500 baseball team. We just don’t have the horses offensively. Ichiro cannot carry a team offensively.

  17. diderot on April 8th, 2010 4:40 pm

    Come on, it’s four games folks. Can’t we just take a deep breath?

  18. Sports on a Schtick on April 8th, 2010 4:41 pm

    These game recaps are convenient ways to dictate the Threat Level for M’s fans. Staying at GREEN for now.

  19. brettb3 on April 8th, 2010 4:46 pm

    Agreed, diderot. The baseball season is a marathon, people. Let’s not fall off a cliff after one series. And believe or not, Oakland has a pretty good pitching staff. While the offense will never be the strength of this team, I don’t believe it’s as bad as it looked the last few days.

  20. dgood on April 8th, 2010 4:51 pm

    Can we please get rid of Ken Griffey, Jr peacefully? He has no bat speed, we can’t support two useless DHs. At least Sweeney seems to have bat speed. Though if we dropped them both, we could keep Langerhans and maybe pick up Jack Cust or Jermaine Dye?

  21. scott19 on April 8th, 2010 4:51 pm

    Of those three losses in the series, however, the first two were as a result of blown save opportunities…and today’s was because the M’s ran into an ace-quality pitcher who was on his game — which will happen on occasion.

    I agree…this is a very small slice of the season so far. Nothing to be alarmed about yet.

  22. marc w on April 8th, 2010 4:55 pm

    Right – the offense isn’t as bad, and the pen should be better than it’s looked.

    Texas is now 1-2 against an atrocious Toronto team. I’m sure they’re worried about their pen too, but we don’t have enough new information to change the projections from the beginning of the season.

  23. snapper on April 8th, 2010 5:20 pm

    I agree with dgood. Just eyeballing projections, Dye looks to be about 12-15 runs better than Sweeney/Griffey. Even given that Safeco would hurt him as a RH, he’s still probably a win better. Plus, you free up a roster spot.

    Zduriencik should be on the phone to Dye’s agent.

  24. Dave on April 8th, 2010 5:23 pm

    Dye won’t DH.

  25. flashbeak on April 8th, 2010 5:30 pm

    Jack Cust anyone?

  26. SonOfZavaras on April 8th, 2010 6:29 pm

    I’m not worried, in general. It’s only four games, and I’m not convinced that the ineptitude on offense will be this glaring all throughout the year.

    That’s not to say that I think deep down we’re good, but I don’t think we’re this pronouncedly bad.

    But, going to Texas right after kind of does worry me- if that offense clicks, there’s no way our personnel can match it without the moons being in proper alignment and a rabbit’s-foot for every member of the lineup.

    And I don’t think Jack Cust is even remotely an answer. Yes, he has a track record with hitting home runs. But his kind of hitter profile tends to lose it quickly (see Sexson,Richmond L.)…and I’m not convinced that he hasn’t started the serious decline in skill already. To say nothing of there’s no obvious place for him on the team, save for displacing Griffey.

    Which we all know the legend gravy-train don’t run out that quickly…

  27. flashbeak on April 8th, 2010 6:58 pm

    And I don’t think Jack Cust is even remotely an answer. Yes, he has a track record with hitting home runs. But his kind of hitter profile tends to lose it quickly (see Sexson,Richmond L.)…and I’m not convinced that he hasn’t started the serious decline in skill already. To say nothing of there’s no obvious place for him on the team, save for displacing Griffey.

    I’d much rather a relatively cheap 25-30 HR from Cust than the hugs, mascot routines, and forced nostalgia we get from a bunch of washed up has-beens who use their bestowed reputations as a way to steal roster spots from what could have been a contending team. This team needs at least one legitimate power source that pitchers need to be somewhat careful with. If the organization truly wanted to win, they wouldn’t carry on with this blind loyalty to these guys.

  28. MrZDevotee on April 8th, 2010 7:12 pm

    Honestly, the offense isn’t far off what I expected it to be. The starting rotation has been “not awful”. What’s most troubling to me is the bullpen. They’ve looked exceedingly average, in all 4 games.

    Runs or no runs, we had leads late in games 2 and 3. And blew them. That’s not the fault of our offense.

    Our bunch of hard throwing righties better start using some effective pitches other than fastballs.

    Although the real problem might be a case of “dead arm” for a bunch of young pitchers out in the bullpen. They didn’t throw an awful lot of innings in spring, then suddenly the bullpen got leaned on heavily the first week of the real season. Let’s see how they’re throwing a week from now, when hopefully they have a little more life back in their arms.

    But I don’t see yet the logic in blaming the offense, who put us in position to win 3 out of 4 of these games, before the bullpen let us down.

    And I certainly don’t think it’s time to panic when we’re basically tied at the bottom of the West with Texas and Anaheim– the two teams we need to actually contend with this year.

    Much like the Huskies hoop team this year, it doesn’t really matter how poorly you play the first month of the season, it’s more about putting yourself into position to make a move at the END of the season, and being ready to win games then. We hopefully have 5 months of Lee, and 3-4 months of Bedard ahead of us, which will upgrade our entire pitching staff accordingly.

    And with the offense, there’s no reason to believe Bradley is going to continue hitting .077 (he’d already have 3 HR at any other stadium). Ichiro and Figgins aren’t gonna stay at .200 for long.

    And there’s actually a bright side to all of this early struggling, which is that it WILL force us to make some sort of decision regarding Sweeney & Griffey, that would otherwise go silently unaddressed if we have a great April.

    Keep the faith boys. The thing we most worried about (the rotation beyond #1) hasn’t been as bad as we feared, and meanwhile the bullpen and offense has been WORSE than reasonably expected. I don’t think that last part will be the case the entire season. I certainly don’t think this is a roster that’s going to continue to strike out in roughly 1/4 of its at bats.

    Give it at least four weeks before you allow yourself to have “bad feelings”, or start trading away Cliff Lee BEFORE he’s pitched a single game. Nothing warrants that yet. Not saying it won’t happen, but really, it’s not time to slit our wrists yet.

    Bring on the Rangers (whom I’m sure haven’t thrown in the towel yet, being in the same position as us).

  29. SonOfZavaras on April 8th, 2010 7:19 pm

    This team needs at least one legitimate power source that pitchers need to be somewhat careful with. If the organization truly wanted to win, they wouldn’t carry on with this blind loyalty to these guys.

    I can agree with the spirit of what you say, flashbeak…but what can you do? Sweeney outhit just about everybody in spring training. If they tell him that that performance wasn’t enough to get him on the squad, then why even give him a tryout in the first place?

    And as far as Griffey goes, I wasn’t thrilled with the re-up. Because I knew that his presence would become an albatross sooner or later, a limit on bench versatility at the very least.

    But, sending him packing after four games is a PR nightmare writ large. PR nightmares are lost revenue.

    Like it or not, there are too many people that just see the “24″ and “Griffey” on the uniform, and bring their kids to see the legend. A fading or already faded legend, mayhap…but a legend that’s putting butts in seats for a front office that’s trying to stop the precipitous decline in attendance at Safeco the last few years (Safeco drew 2.2 mil last year, down 38% from 2002′s 3.54M).

    Sweeney just forced several hands- that didn’t expect to get forced- by forgetting for a month-plus that he was supposed to be washed-up.

    And technically, reputations aren’t “bestowed”, they’re “earned”. Even if what earned them is firmly in the past tense.

    Myself, I’m giving them the next fourteen games before I ring any alarm bells. That’s eighteen games, or exactly one-ninth of the season.

    Not enough to lose a pennant, enough to get a good, concise idea of what you’ve got.

  30. Jeff Nye on April 8th, 2010 8:16 pm

    Blarrrrrgh at the Griffey debate coming up again, but I suppose it was unavoidable.

    A couple of things:

    1) “Power” isn’t something you need to win games, scare pitchers, whatever. It just isn’t. What you need to have are good hitters, and that’s what the Mariners seem to be short on at the moment.

    2) Are there really that many people who are still showing up just for Griffey? Didn’t most of those people get enough last year?

    And yes, it’s way too early to be pushing the panic button.

  31. charliebrown on April 8th, 2010 8:35 pm

    “Power” isn’t something you need to win games, scare pitchers, whatever. It just isn’t. What you need to have are good hitters, and that’s what the Mariners seem to be short on at the moment

    I wish more people would realize that about “Power”. But, to be honest, the Mariners have been short on good hitters since the end of last season and they really didn’t do much in the offseason to address that shortcoming. Sweeney taking up a roster spot certainly doesn’t help.

    I refuse to overreact to a negligible sample size, but these concerns were concerns before the season started too.

  32. Dave S. on April 8th, 2010 8:43 pm

    So, what happens when Saunders is ready? That would seem to be the obvious solution to a number of problems, if he is determined to be ready for full-time status. Bradley moves to DH, Griffey to the bench, and Sweeney is the odd man out. More likely, someone will get hurt and Saunders will have to take their place.

  33. juneau_fan on April 8th, 2010 8:47 pm

    2) Are there really that many people who are still showing up just for Griffey? Didn’t most of those people get enough last year?

    I dunno. All I know is, it seems as though every time I flip over to FSN early for a game, that damn Griffey, Behind the Music, or whatever it is, is on. And we have to at least get through his bobblehead night before he suddenly goes on the DL with knee swelling.

    And he sure doesn’t look like he came to ST ‘in the best shape of his life.’

  34. scott19 on April 8th, 2010 9:05 pm

    “Power” isn’t something you need to win games, scare pitchers, whatever. It just isn’t. What you need to have are good hitters

    Great point, Jeff.

    Again, thinking 1985 Cardinals…what other championship-caliber team of the modern era can you think of that had more wins (101) than home runs (87)?

  35. Dave Spiwak on April 8th, 2010 9:09 pm

    Last year we were 2 and 2. This year 1 and 3. So not much difference. However last year the A’s were the M’s punching bag and that seems to have changed. Maybe we can beat up on the Rangers this year.

  36. kenshabby on April 8th, 2010 10:10 pm

    The Giants’ wagon was conveniently riding alongside the Mariners’, so I jumped over to it for the time being. Once things are looking steadier and I know I won’t get motion sickness I’ll leap back.

  37. Ichigar Buhney Jr on April 8th, 2010 11:07 pm

    Gotta say that many people will still come out to Safeco for Jr alone…People will most definately come…Lets just hope he can still provide them with a few more happy memories.

    If anyone has actually jumped off the wagon after four games I have to seriously question their moxy. Fans like that give fanbases bad names, so try to give the guys a chance to see some pitches and average out before we decide who can and cannot hack it.

    It was Doug Fister vs Brett Anderson. They weren’t going to win this game without a lot of luck.I hope we don’t rely on Fister’s luck for too much more of the season!

    Hope the catcher and ss spots aren’t black holes in the lineup all season long.

  38. spankystout on April 9th, 2010 12:47 am

    To those who say its “just one series.”
    Our skepticism is not new! It was the same concerns voiced before, and now during the season. I don’t believe that home runs are the be-all-end-all. But someone who can hit the ball hard consistently would be undeniably beneficial. Weren’t the 1985 Cardinals an NL team?!?!? Last time I checked the AL averages more runs per game.
    An NL styled roster complete with a 11 man pitching staff (attempt at) isn’t going to find a high majority of success. Especially if the M’s can’t score enough. Last the year the M’s got the better end of one run games. They will regress.. The Z-man has done an amazing job! But I disagree with the Sweeney and 11 man staff decisions. Its not like I/we skeptics are saying overhaul the offense! To be competitive in the AL you will have to score some runs…………..How would his team perform in the NL West?

  39. spankystout on April 9th, 2010 12:58 am

    If they team wasn’t prepared to have Sweeney on the roster they shouldn’t have given him a deal. That’s baseball 101. Sweeney seems like a genuinely nice person, but his spot should have been given to Jesus Colome.

  40. LongTimeFan on April 9th, 2010 5:48 am

    Maybe you can blame last night’s loss on me, because as soon as Kotchman came up to bat with the bases packed and 1 out, I immediately thought, “Uh-oh, here comes the rally-ending double play ball,” and literally thirty seconds later, I was turning the TV off and thinking:

    “Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
    But there is no joy in M-ville – slow-footed Casey has GIDP.”

    Still, I thought it was encouraging that the Mariners scored twice in the 9th and actually got the tying run to the plate. They were a double and a single away from tying it and that gives them a better frame of mind to build off of for the next game than the feeling they would have had losing 6-0.

  41. LongTimeFan on April 9th, 2010 6:26 am

    For those that are contemplating leaping off the bandwagon this early, take a little comfort in the fact that every other team is starting out relatively slow as well, and I mean EVERYONE.

    I don’t remember if I have ever seen a season start with only 1 team remaining undefeated after just the opening series. That one team is of course the Giants, not exactly a lock to win 100 games this year. Let’s just see how this first month plays out, but again the start to this season seems to reflect an unusual amount of parity around the majors, at least in the first week.

  42. gnaztee on April 9th, 2010 7:51 am

    RE: the need for an offensive upgrade/power hitter…Oakland’s offense doesn’t seem to have an intimidating hitter, nor did they slam a bunch of home runs in the series, but they’re 3-1. So, should Oakland fans be calling for a legit power hitter? Seems to me that pitching was the difference in the series.

  43. HititHere on April 9th, 2010 10:00 am

    Regression to the mean, folks.

    Yes, the offense has been bad so far. The team batting average currently sits at .200. In fact, only 4 players have batting averages above .200… Lopez, Tui, Franklin and Sweeney. Sweeney and Tui have just 4 ABs apiece, anyway.

    The M’s will not hit .200 all season. At worst, you’re looking at .240, and probably closer to .260 or even .270. Few teams since 1900 have managed to hit under ~.240, even .250. Never .200.

    Relax a little bit. Regression to the mean. It will happen. We’re 4 games in.

  44. eponymous coward on April 9th, 2010 1:35 pm

    Gotta say that many people will still come out to Safeco for Jr alone…

    Right, which is why Mariner attendance went from 2,329,702 in 2008 without Junior to 2,195,533 in 2009 with him. The M’s 2009 attendance, by the by, is a new season low at Safeco, and the lowest attendance in a full 162 game season since 1993 (and barely above that).

    Oh, and population in the Puget Sound area? Considerably up in nearly 20 years…

  45. MrZDevotee on April 9th, 2010 1:43 pm

    Eponymous-
    That’s not really a fair evaluation. I don’t think we CAN do a fair evaluation of 2008 to 2009. The M’s went into a season with expectations of the playoffs and came out of it with 100 losses and a clubhouse divided and in chaos.

    Our attendance was gonna take a big dip in 2009. And no way to tell how much it would have dropped off had we not picked up Ken Griffey Jr.

    So yeah, I don’t think that was a fair rebuttal. (And I consider myself as being against Jr. having a roster spot, for the record.)

    Also, I bet there were a lot of family sports attendees going to Sounders games too last year– that otherwise would take the kids to baseball games. (The Sounders set their league’s all-time record for attendance in their rookie season.)

  46. Matt the Dragon on April 9th, 2010 2:39 pm

    Again, thinking 1985 Cardinals…what other championship-caliber team of the modern era can you think of that had more wins (101) than home runs (87)?

    Depends on where your cut-off for the modern era is.

    A quick check just back to 1960 shows 50 teams (40 NL and 10 AL) with more wins than home runs.

    The vast majority were pretty awful teams but include 7 playoff teams, 5 that went to the World Series and 2 that won it. (’82 Cardinals – 92/67 – and ’65 Dodgers – 97/78) Oddly, or perhaps not, all 7 final playoff series went the distance. (The above two, plus ’68, ’85 & ’87 WS; ’80 NLCS; and ’76 ALCS)

    The ’81 Cardinals should probably count too as they had the best record in the NL but didn’t make the playoffs due to finishing second in both halves of the strike-shortened season.

    Obviously it’s unlikely to happen again since even low home run totals now are beyond reasonable win levels. (Oakland trailed the AL with 135 HR last year.) In fact, no AL club has hit less than 100 home runs in a season since 3 did it in 1992. (Brewers 82; Red Sox 84; Angels 88)

    But definitely teams can be championship calibre without being great home run teams. See your 2001 Mariners, only 169 home runs (American League average was 179) but 116 wins.

    One last note, 25 of the 50 teams mentioned above were various incarnations of the Astros and Cardinals, good or otherwise. I’ll spare you the complete list.

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