Now that I’m safely returned to Seattle — how many r’s in “brrrrrrrrrr? — I thought I’d give some reflections on what I saw from the Mariners in my two weeks in the Valley of the Sun.
First of all, their play was pretty consistently ragged, but Don Wakamatsu was looking at a lot of guys that won’t be a factor this season, at least not at the outset. I’m talking the likes of Prentice Redman, Mike Wilson, Justin Thomas (who could have been a factor, if he had shown anything in Peoria), et al. In other words, I’m not reading too much into all those walk-filled, error-marred messes that I witnessed.
NOTE: I originally had Sean White in that list of players above who won’t be factors this season. While that may well be true, as a reader points out, White has pitched very well this spring — a 2.25 ERA in six appearances. So I’m retracting his name.
However, the team is going to have to tighten up considerably, and it won’t really have an opportunity until the World Baseball Classic is over and they get back 44 percent of their starting lineup (Ichiro, Kenji Johjima, Jose Lopez, Endy Chavez) and 40 percent of their starting rotation (Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva). If Venezuela meets Japan in the finals (as I predicted two weeks ago, and still do), then that won’t happen until next week, barely 10 days prior to Opening Day. That stretch will really test Wakamatsu’s ability to pull together all the threads of this team and quickly weave a cohesive product.
Speaking of Wakamatsu, some observations: It’s way too early to tell what kind of a manager he’s going to be, but I was quite impressed with him in our twice daily media sessions, once in the morning and again after the game. Wakamatsu observes everything, seems to have a clear vision of how he wants the game played, and a firm but not overbearing method of conveying that to the players. I was struck by how quietly biting Wakamatsu could be in his assessments. Here are a couple of examples, and there’s more:
Those aren’t exactly rip jobs, but he gets his point across.
A couple of other thoughts: