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In God we trust. Everybody else needs data. - Rick Peterson

Saturday, July 24, 2004

 

Pine tar. All you need is pine tar.

Batgirl (Mariners Wheelhouse officially approved blogger for the Twins, the Mariners Wheelhouse officially approved #2 team) offers a non-violent way to address situations such as Vlad's coming unglued in last night's game.

Pine tar. All you need is pine tar.

Friday, July 23, 2004

 

Challenging the Cirillo Line

There I was, all comfy in front of the TV, and hoping the best for Moyer. I had the added distraction of trying to figure out if Bill Krueger was any better than Ron Fairly. He doesn't spout any Fairlyisms, but he also suffers from Hendu-Valle Fawning Syndrome.

Anyway, with all of those matters pressing on me, I completely failed to pay attention to the Mariners batting order in the bottom of the fourth. So I absent-mindedly got excited after Cabrera loaded the bases with his one out single. My excitement dropped like a Piñiero overhand curveball, though, as I realized the inning was as good as over, and the Mariners were going to come away with nothing. For there, striding to the plate, impotent thunderstick in hand, was That Nice Dan Wilson.

Realizing the situation, I muttered to myself, "Inning ending double play on the first or second pitch." Sure enough, Lackey's first pitch is a breaking ball, down and away. Wilson takes his textbook perfect hack, and, yessiree, there's the 6-4-3.

For those who got all excited a few months ago, and thought Wilson was really turning things around this season, let's take a look at Wilson's monthly splits:

Dan Wilson 2004 vs. Cirillo Line

I also added the Cirillo Line to my pretty little chart, the Cirillo Line being the OPS posted by Jeff Cirillo during his momentous 2003 season with the Mariners. The Cirillo Line is now regarded by knowledgeable observers as the bench mark for offensive ineptitude by a Mariner player receiving regular playing time.

Friends, here we are, less than one season removed from the Cirillo era, and Dan Wilson is taking a serious run at the Cirillo Line. A level of futility, may I add, that many of us thought would stand for nigh unto eternity.

What a signature season this is for Mariners fans! Beyond seeing a team collapse such as never before recorded in franchise history, we get to see a full frontal assult on the Cirillo Line. My, oh My! We need to decide how to bottle all of this excitement so we can pass it on to our grandchildren,

Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed here, and root for Dan in what we hope will be the final addition to his Mariners playing legacy.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

 

Hey, Monn!

If this had happened at Safeco, he would have been wearing garlic fries.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

 

Yakkers

A quick take on the Mariners dropping Bocachica to add Madritsch.
  • Toolsy outfielders, filling the fringes of a roster, are easily replaceable commodities and make a poor foundation for a contending team. Perhaps the Mariners have realized this?

  • Given the condition of the pitching staff after the Boston series, the Mariners probably want to get an extra pitcher on the staff.

  • If the rumored trade of Villone to Philadelphia goes through, another roster spot will open. Releasing Bocachica leaves the Mariners weak in center field, since Melvin refuses to consider using Ichiro in center. So, I expect that either Jamal Strong or Jeremy Reed will then be called up, effectively filling Bocachica's spot.

    I support either move. Reed definitely should play a significant role for the Mariners next year, and Strong could be a stronger bench player than anybody the Mariners had this year. Bocachica is just roster filler.
Also, I think Gammon's comment about releasing Boone is simply silly, and Gammon should have realized that. There is simply no reason for the Mariners to release Boone. Releasing Boone does not relieve any salary commitment. Hence, the only rationale to release Boone is because either: a) you have someone better to replace him; or b) he's blocking someone whom you want to promote.

Neither rationale applies here.

Furthermore, since Boone is clearly worth more than a minimum contract, the least the Mariners would do is find a team that would be willing to pick him up for part of his current salary.

Of course, comments such as this fit right in with Gammons' legacy of silly comments about Mariners management.

Monday, July 19, 2004

 

Manic Depression is Catchin’ my Soul

Gad!! Are there any worse announcers in baseball than Rick Rizzs and Hendu-Valle? Besides the usual tortured inanities and banalities, tonight we are treated to:
  • Effusive praise for Boone's hustle turning a single into a double in the sixth on a ball that caroms off of Arroyo's leg. Over and over we hear the praise for Boone's hustle and how it was a great heads up play.

    It was an idiotic play by Boone!! He's out by six feet if Kapler makes a 30-foot throw on-line. Even after a throw by Kapler that would have embarrassed even Randy Winn, Boone still would have been out by about three feet if Garciaparra had made sure he caught the ball before starting to apply the tag.

    Boone got lucky; more than 90% of the time that play results in a totally unnecessary out. Hustle does not make a dumb play smart.

    Valle also repeatedly told us how important it was for Boone to take second on that play. No, it wasn't. The Mariners did not score a run because he took second. Boone was stranded out there at the end of the inning. It was a stupid play that should have caused an out, and it didn't contribute to winning the game.

  • Actual praise for Cabrera on Damon's fly ball to left for the third out in the top of the 11th. Several times Valle assured it was "a fine play". Yes, that's right, the fly ball where Cabrera's route had the kind of curves you usually see only at a topless club. Cabrera just lucky he didn't get busted for indecency on that play. Too bad he didn't snow cone the ball - that would have completed the image perfectly.
I knew I should have put on the radio ears after the fifth inning, but I didn't stir myself to get them. Ahh, the price I pay for laziness.

But the Mariners did win the game, on a walk-off grand slam by Boone, bottom of the 11th. Of course, leading up to that moment, Melvin's astute roster management gave us the video image of designated hitter Willie Bloomquist on deck, getting ready to swing his thunder stick if Boone hadn't been able to get the runner home from third.

But Boone came through. As he strolled up to the plate, he thought about how much he wanted to be home to say good night to his new little boys. Then, glancing over toward the dugout, he saw Bloomquist in the on deck circle. Willie was struggling valiantly to conguer the lead practice weight one of the team pranksters had put on his bat. Boone, quickly and astutely sized up the situation, and realized that it was up to him to take care of things himself if he wanted to kiss his darlings good night, and still have some time with Suzi. (Watching Cabrera's route on Damon's fly ball in the top half of the inning had caused him to think about things other than the game.)

So after the first couple of pitches he approached the AB with an renewed sense of vigor and determination. And everyone went home happy, especially Boone, who was last seen careering out the entrance to the players parking lot, up the Atlantic Street on-ramp, and thence into the night darkness.

Tonight we also get to see the first results from advance scouting reports on Jacobsen. They watched Bucky in action and said, "feed that boy breaking balls down and away". Arroyo, with his slider working tonight, was death on Bucky. 3 PAs, 11 pitches total (8 strikes and three balls), yielding one 4-3 groundout and 2 K's. To be fair, though, most of the Mariners did not fare better against Arroyo, as he struck out 12 of the 27 batters he faced in 7 innings of work. Perhaps that is still a measure of the futility that is Mariner, though, as Arroyo's K/9 for the season was 6.85 heading into tonight's game.

Anyway now we will do no worse than a series split, and we got to stick it to a smarmy northeast sports columnist. I guess that counts as a double victory, which makes this a good night.


 

High Cheese

Just the Usual Old Cameron

Cameron steals Phils' hope:
When the ball left Doug Glanville's bat, Al Leiter and the New York Mets thought it was big trouble.

Suddenly, Mike Cameron swooped in and made a play that both teams were still buzzing about after the Mets' 6-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
After a dreadful May, when Cameron hit .169 / .258 / .313, Cameron hit .245 / .324 / .426 in June and .313 / .463 / .844 so far in July. His season averages are now .226 / .330 / .446.

A Telling Slip of the Tongue

Comments from Melvin in today's Tacoma News-Tribune:
"He's Paul Bunyan-esque, Casey at the Bat," marveled Melvin. "We're kind of known as a team, well, I don't know if passive is the right word. But we don't have a figure like him."

Melvin checked himself, volunteering the possibility that Edgar Martinez, Bret Boone and Ichiro Suzuki occasionally strike fear in opposing pitchers.
A bit Freudian there, don't you think? What's the difficulty admitting it - up till now, the Mariners 2004 offense has been as fearsome as a seedless watermelon.

Remember the Grays

The Washington Grays were one of the premier teams in the old Negro Leagues that flourished before Major League Baseball integrated. Remember the Grays is a website devoted to the preserving the memories of the Grays, and the creators of that website have launched an on-line petition to Major League Baseball requesting that any team that locates in the Washington, D.C. area be renamed the Grays.

I think that is a fine idea. And thanks to Rob McMillin at 6-4-2 for publicizing the link on this.

He Already Has His Favorite Charity

How often do you hear what a player's favorite charity will be his third day in the Big Leagues? Thanks to Jim Moore, the Seattle P-I's Go 2 Guy and Mariners Wheelhouse officially endorsed supplier of helium, we know that Bucky has selected the National Cancer Society. His mother is a breast cancer survivor. Congratulations to her. May she continue in good health.

Mario Guerrero vs. Raul Mondesi, Round 57

My Spanish vocabulary is quite limited, but if I read this correctly, Mario Guerrero is trying to prevent the Anaheim Angels from paying any salary to Mondesi until Guerrero's judgment against Mondesi is satisfied. For those not familiar, Guerrero claims that he entered into an agreement with Mondesi when Mondesi was younger to provide coaching and training services in exchange for 1% of Mondesi earnings as a baseball player.

Mondesi disputed Guerrero's claim, and Guerrero won a judgment against Mondesi in Dominican courts. Earlier this year, Pittsburgh retained Mondesi's salary as a result of this dispute.

Thanks to Raul Tavares at Dominican Players for the link on this. If I've misinterpreted this please correct me using either the comments link below or by sending me an e-mail.


 

Dominican Republic Vs. The World - Redux

Taking inspiration from Raul Tavares of the Dominican Players blog, I light-heartedly suggested several days ago that Major League Baseball should replace the change the All-Star Game format from American League vs. National League to Dominican Republic vs. the Rest of the World.

I guess I inspired James Crockett, of Just North of Wrigley Field, because, in his comments on my post, he put together an all star roster composed exclusively Dominican players.

Here is Jim's roster, along with some of his other thoughts:
1. Castillo 2b
2. Soriano 3b
3. Pujols 1b
4. Sosa rf
5. Guerrero cf
6. Ramirez lf
7. Tejada ss
8. Ortiz dh
9. Olivo c

Pena 1b
Furcal inf
Beltre inf
Guillen of
A. Castillo c

P. Martinez rhp
Colon rhp
Batista rhp
Od. Perez lhp

Benitez rhp
Dotel rhp
Mota rhp
F. Cordero rhp
Marte lhp
Soriano rhp
Valverde rhp

Trust me when I say the list of players available for this team is so long, there's plenty of room for healthy debate.

Why Soriano at third, you might ask? Solely to get Castillo in the lineup and Soriano could be athletic enough to pull it off.

...but a case could be made for keeping Soriano at 2B and putting Furcal at short and atop the batting order instead of Castillo and giving Tejada the A-Rod treatment and moving him to third.

There are a couple strong 3B candidates for the Dominicans as well, including Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez and Pedro Feliz, but Castillo and Furcal are the only qualified leadoff hitters.
Awesome. Would that team not be favored against almost any other roster that could be assembled?

Jim's starting pitching looks weak, but in an All-Star game, you just use some of those great relieves instead of Colon.

Dominican Republic versus the World!! Great baseball. Bring it on!


 

Like Rivers of Water in a Dry and Thirsty Land

Well, this season has found the ever-patient and loyal Mariner faithful wandering aimlessly through the Wilderness of 2004. We've grumbled, we've complained, we've murmured, and we've moaned. Some of us, in desperation and misery, have even forsaken our team and started worshipping at other tabernacles. But perhaps the god of baseball, who knows our suffering, is merciful and has sent Bucky Jacobsen to give us hope that there is a land of milk and honey waiting for us beyond the barren wasteland of this season.

Now, I'm not proposing that three games against Cleveland is enough to warrant Bucky's immediate veneration. Rather, his appearance is more like a trickle of water suddenly appearing in Wadi Safeco. We now have hope. Hope such as the hope that wells up within desert pilgrims when they first see a rivulet in a previously barren streambed. Hope sufficient to loose our imaginations. Hope enough, perhaps, for us to consider that "Joshua" Jacobsen may be worthy of the mantle worn so nobly for many year by "Moses" Martinez?

Enough of the Exodus metaphors. Let's look at some of things that brought hope to this suffering Mariners fan:
  • In his second game as a big leaguer, C. C. Sabathia pitches around Bucky. With the bases loaded!

  • In Bucky's other plate appearances, the Indians pitched to him carefully. Very carefully. Cleveland changed their pitching because of his presence in the lineup, in much the same way that Bonds forces other teams to adjust to his presence.

  • Bucky showed impressive plate discipline and willingness to take a walk. He is definitely not a hacker.

  • After Bucky showed Cleveland he was well able to handle major league fastballs, they tested Bucky with off-speed stuff and breaking pitches, they tried getting him to chase pitches off the plate, and they tried intimidating him. All to no avail.

  • I liked his composure after Elarton threw behind him yesterday. After that pitch, Elarton followed up with two more pitches out of the strike zone. Elarton was presumably expecting that Jacobsen would be riled and would chase bad pitches, trying to mash one to get even. Instead, Jacobsen stayed composed, laid off the balls, and forced Elarton to throw strikes.

    Then Bucky got even. 435 feet of even. Dead center field even.

    Next time up, Elarton walked him on four straight.

    As Bucky said after the game:
    I guess there's nothing better than, after a guy throws one behind you, you end up trotting around the bases. When I was younger, if a guy threw at me or behind me, or even too close to me, I'd always try to hit a home run on the next pitch. It usually ended up with me getting out with an ugly strikeout. But today I just calmed myself down and told myself it's just part of baseball.
  • Bucky's bat vs. Ichiro's legs. Ichiro beats out grounders that would be outs for lesser mortals. Bucky hits the ball so hard that balls get through that are outs for most other players. On the first hit of his career, the single through the left side on Friday night, he actually hit the ball pretty hard hit into the ground. But, he hit it hard enough, and with sufficient top spin, that after hitting the ground it accelerated through the hole. With any other batter on the Mariners, that ball is 5-3 forceout. With Bucky, it's a single.

  • He made Dave Henderson stop talking "little ball".
The real test comes over the next three to four weeks. Cleveland did not have the benefit of advance scouting to prepare a plan to pitch to him in advance. Starting with the Boston series this evening, the Mariners opponents will not have that disadvantage. I expect that some weaknesses will be identified in the next week or two, and teams will begin attacking those weaknesses. The question then will be whether Bucky adjusts to the holes identified by other teams.

Check back in four weeks and see if Bucky is continuing strong, or if he looks as if he is flailing. It will be an interesting month.


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