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

June 8, 2007 at 7:37 AM

Arms race

Interesting story on the front page of USA Today’s sports section discussing what we’d pointed out here the past few days. That is, the two western divisions of the AL and NL are now the dominant pitching forces in baseball. As if to show that, the Oakland A’s went out and gave the Mariners a little good news, bad news last night in Boston. The good news? The A’s lost. The bad news? They lost only 1-0. That’s just 20 runs allowed by the A’s in their last 10 games. Uh oh. Not good for the M’s. Nor the Angels for that matter. But especially not for the M’s. The Angels have some arms of their own to keep pace. How is Seattle going to do that over the long haul? A glance at this chart shows the A’s and Angels as the top pitching teams in the AL. Here’s how they do starters-wise. The Mariners? Look way, way down. And that’s with one of the better bullpens in the majors.
Seattle is averaging only 5.58 innings in each outing by a starter — among the worst totals in the majors. That chart I just linked to only shows total innings worked by starters and Seattle has played fewer games than most teams. But it still gives you an idea of how bad things have gone. Take Jeff Weaver out of the equation and the number goes up to 5.81, but that’s still among the bottom rungs in MLB. So, this isn’t only a Weaver problem. The M’s now have to try to make headway against a Padres club with the best pitching numbers in the majors. Funny how these things work out, isn’t it?
At least the Mariners have some better pitching coming down the pipe. They hope. Brandon Morrow has looked great in relief and will be converted back to a starting role next year. And this Phillipe Aumont kid taken in yesterday’s draft is supposed to pay big dividends in another four or five years. Yes, it’s a ways off. But pitching is how the west will be won for years to come. Best to build your team around that reality.
Aumont has had a very tough go of it at times growing up. Talk about a character-building start to his life. As you can read from the quotes, he doesn’t sound disappointed about coming to Seattle.
To give you a better idea of the reaction to his drafting in Quebec, here is a story from the French-language Journal de Montreal. This newspaper is twice as big, circulation-wise, as any paper in the Pacific Northwest, in a Montreal market with four daily papers. The story, titled, “Aumont passes into history” was the top one on the front page of the newspaper (not just the sports section). Gives you some perspective of what Aumont is going through. The French-language RDS television network (like a French ESPN) sent its own reporter and camera crew to Orlando just to show shots of him looking nervous as the draft went down.
Here’s another (French) story about his upbringing. The lead paragraph states: “Once Phillipe Aumont has a bad day on the mound in the major leagues, he can always tell himself he’s been through worse. Much worse.”
Another line states: “His arm is 18. His head is 25.”
One more line that I’ll translate, quoting Aumont: “I had a very bad start. Two or three of my chums became vegetables because of drugs. Others became totally lost.”



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