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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 1, 2007 at 2:35 PM

More roster “Fuzzyball”

Perhaps the Mariner brass had been reading about how all the team’s fans have been freaking out online about the pending decision to add infielder Rey Ordonez to the roster. All we know is, manager Mike Hargrove had his lineup set, Ordonez was on it and then the team made a last-second deal with the Giants to add another outfielder.
Jason Ellison is no slouch, while Travis Blackley wasn’t going to pitch in Seattle any time soon. Bad off-season for Aussies in this town. When Barry Bonds got hurt, Ellison was manning left field for the Giants. He’s great friends with Willie Bloomquist and his family (fire away at that one folks!) and now, well, he’s here. Ordonez is headed back to Miami. He’s too old to do this minor league stuff again. He’ll seek his release and try to catch on somewhere else, is my guess.
So, here’s the roster:
Pitchers (12):
43 Batista, Miguel RHP
34 Hernandez, Felix RHP
40 Mateo, Julio RHP
35 Morrow, Brandon RHP
20 Putz, J.J. RHP
26 Ramirez, Horacio LHP
33 Reitsma, Chris RHP
53 Rhodes, Arthur LHP
52 Sherrill, George LHP
56 Washburn, Jarrod LHP
36 Weaver, Jeff RHP
46 White, Sean RHP
62 Jimenez, Cesar-DL LHP
57 Lowe, Mark-DL RHP
Catchers (2):
15 Burke, Jamie C
2 Johjima, Kenji C
Infielders (7):
29 Beltre, Adrian INF
5 Betancourt, Yuniesky INF
16 Bloomquist, Willie INF
23 Broussard, Ben INF
4 Lopez, Jose INF
44 Sexson, Richie INF
3 Vidro, Jose INF
Blackley was on the 40-man roster, so, with Cesar Jimenez and Mark Lowe both being transferred to the 60-day DL, only one more roster spot had to be freed up. As I told John Clayton on KJR yesterday, it made the most sense to me that Michael Garciaparra would be coming off. Looks like the team agreed, since Garciaparra was designated for assignment today. Let’s face it. The team has the shortstop and second baseman it wants for years to come. Garciaparra wasn’t going to play for Seattle any time soon. This made the most sense. Rene Rivera still might be needed in the weeks and months ahead. Don’t laugh.
No, the whole “plan” for this year doesn’t make complete sense. I’d call it “Fuzzyball” — in fact I already did in this morning’s baseball special section put out by the Times. There appears to be a plan in some cases. In others, it appears to be a whole lot of finger crossing. We’ll see.
One thing I will do is applaud management for showing some guts and going against the grain of conventional thinking and public opinion. I like the addition of Morrow. I think it would have been unnecessary had the team not traded Rafael Soriano to the Braves, but hey, that was then, this is now. As a move now, it makes sense given the need of a guy who can bring heat in the bullpen. Morrow has looked more like an eighth inning set-up man than any other reliever in camp. This team does not have the luxury of coddling him. It’s Realpolitik. Sometimes, you’ve got to do what the situation calls for, not what’s ideal.
I also don’t think Jake Woods made enough of a case for himself last September or this spring for the team not to take its one and only shot with Sean White. Woods was a decent spot starter — that’s it. He had options left. White had to be on the roster now or never. The team finished in last place with Woods in 2006, so why not take a look at White in 2007? You can always dump him and bring Woods back in a month.
Diddo for backup catcher Jamie Burke. I’m surprised at how much emphasis the Mariners are placing on the batting average of a backup catcher — especially since Rene Rivera was Felix Hernandez’s battery mate for several seasons. But why not shake things up? That’s what teams do when they need to get better. Will all these moves save Seattle from the impact of some of those already made this winter? Probably not. But keeping Rivera, Woods and Jon Huber wasn’t going to make the team any better off. Adding Morrow, White and Burke just might. Hey, most of you wanted this to be the “Hot Seat” season. Well, this is what happens when you put a gun to the head of team management. The sense of urgency grows, as does the need to win now. Nobody can claim to be surprised.
Looks like a whole lot of “Fuzzyball” to me — a combination of careful planning, desperation and finger crossing all rolled into one. But, as Hargrove would say on any given morning “it is what it is”. If it doesn’t work, those who put it together are finished in this town. Happy Sunday, everyone.
A couple of readers wanted to know about yesterday’s column on the over-under Vegas odds on the Mariners this season. I should mention that I actually spoke at length with one of the more prominent Vegas bookmakers a few years back about what goes into setting these odds.
I can assure you that there is, in fact, a whole lot of assessement about the merits of a particular team. As the bookmaker told me, it’s one thing for some avid fan to shoot his or her mouth off in a bar about how many games a team will win. Quite another when you ask that fan to put their money where their mouth is. Sports fans will think long and hard about a team’s realistic chances of winning X number of games when they are putting their money on the line as opposed to simply yapping. That is why the Vegas bookmakers have to be realistic in the over-under figures that they set. Are they going to be exact in guessing a team’s win total? No. But the gap between teams in usually a fair indication of where the bookies think their chances stack up.
So, a 10-game gap between the Mariners and Angels really doesn’t surprise me.
Does the fact I’ve picked the Mariners third, as one of you asked, mean I think they are going to outdo the fan (and Vegas) perception of them? In other words, would I “bet the over” on Seattle to win more than 78? Not necessarily. I’m more inclined to bet the under on Texas winning far fewer than 82 games. I’d be more aggressive in thinking the Angels will win 89 or more (the over) considering they won 87 games last year despite an inferior offense and arguably worse pitching (remember, Bartolo Colon is expected back this season and Jered Weaver will likely be there longer than he was in 2006).
No, I like where Seattle is. I think the Mariners are a better team than in 2006. But I also think they could very easily win just 78 (and Texas far fewer) once again, doing it on a more consistent level and not needing a late-season run to pull it off. No sense arguing, let’s just see how things play out starting tomorrow. Can’t wait!



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