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

June 20, 2007 at 7:20 PM

From scream to dream Weaver?

Hey, it’s progress. Jeff Weaver gave up a lone single in the first inning, but it’s a lot better than having the Pirates hit .568 off him. Weaver is now through four scoreless innings. We’ll see if he keeps it up. Also, I know there will be some dancing in the blogosphere tonight (hello “Jack in Bremerton”) as Richie Sexson gets bumped down to No. 7 in the order, with Kenji Johjima flip-flopping with him up to No. 5. This was the move we discussed making in the blog a couple of days ago. It makes plenty of sense. Sexson still gets to play, works on honing his swing and that brief little hitting stint he’s been on since the weekend. Two homers in two days. And the Mariners get a more consistent hitter and a solid RBI man into the No. 5 spot in Johjima.
Spent the day meeting with our paper’s big wigs, discussing ideas for making this blog even better. Bringing you some added stuff that no one currently offers. Those changes should be implemented within a couple of weeks. Also went out and bought myself a new chair (one of the fancy ones) for my home office. Been spending so much time on this blog, the old chair was causing lower back pains. Time to move on up.
By the way, the blog is on-pace for another record month of traffic. The numbers from last week’s road trip were unbelievable. So, thanks to all of you who keep logging on, commenting and emailing me. I try to write back to as many of you as I can, but there just isn’t enough time.
OK, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me answer some of your questions that have piled up.
That was quite a post by “Donovan” and I agree with his conclusions that Bill Bavasi was very limited in what he could do last winter in regards to starting pitching. Once the organization chose not to bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka, the quality of the remaining arms dropped considerably. My feeling heading into the winter was that the M’s had to sign Matsuzaka and Jason Schmidt to make a difference this year. That Schmidt has imploded in Los Angeles is not a reason for the team to steer away from trying to improve its staff in the future.
Here’s the thing, though. The big problem I have with Bavasi’s work this past winter wasn’t that he failed to land just about every premier arm out there. And there were some. Ted Lilly is having a very good season in Chicago, posting a 5-4 record, a 3.69 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and an ERA+ of 118 (that would be 18 per cent better than average. No M’s starter comes even close to that). OK, enough showing off my new stat of the week, I was just trying to get some laughs.
Barry Zito got off to a rough start and is going to be scrambling all season to make up for it. But I still think, if you disregard the pricetag (hard to do, but it’s not our money) he would have made this rotation better. He’d allowed three earned runs or less in his last four outings before the Red Sox rocked him his last time out. Has also pitched five starts of seven or more innings. Granted it’s in the NL, but Zito obviously knows the AL West very well and I have little reason to believe he wouldn’t be putting up those numbers here.
So, there you have it. My main fault with Bavasi is that he allowed his team to go into the winter with three gaping holes in the starting rotation. As “Donovan” points out, every team in baseball was scrounging — and still is — for pitching. How could any team expose itself as badly as the M’s did? But I agree, it’s going to be very tough to fill those holes now. And there still are holes.
For “Troy”, it’s not entirely hopeless. And the M’s don’t necessarily have to wait for free agents. Mark Buehrle is one guy whose name it’s taken me years to spell correctly on-deadline and I think the White Sox lefty would be a solid addition to the M’s. A .281 on-base average against and a 1.09 WHIP would make him the best starter Seattle has as far as limiting baserunners — perhaps the biggest problem this staff has. He’s also a serious innings-eater, having gone eight frames in three of his last four outings, six or more his his last dozen starts and seven or more on seven occasions.
You keep guys off base, you go deep into games. So yes, he would be a fine addition to this staff. And not just for the rest of this season. He’s only 28. Do the M’s have guys they could give up to get him? Yes, they do. They have some intriguing prospects, the only question is how willing they are to give them up. Adam Jones, Wladimir Balentien, Jeff Clement, Rob Johnson, Ryan Feierabend, Jon Huber and the list goes on. There has also been some buzz that the White Sox have been interested in Ichiro, who has extended his hitting streak to 15 games. Trade Ichiro at the deadline and Adam Jones becomes your everyday center fielder. That’s a huge risk, given that Ichiro is far and away the best offensive player this team has.
But this team needs a mound boost if it is going to contend. And right now, the only thing it will contend for is a wild card. You also have to keep in mind that, as “Donovan” pointed out, the market for piutching will be just as tight this coming winter. Making a move for Buehrle now, while signing him to a long-term deal, negates that problem somewhat. This team will not be winning any championships with Brandon Morrow and Feierabend as the only rotation additions in 2008 (if that even happens). Sure, there will be huge competition for Buehrle. But the M’s, as we mentioned, have some commodities that will make folks stand up and take notice. They have the juice to get a deal done.
Dontrelle Willis of the Marlins is the other big name out there but he scares me. Won five games in April because of huge run support. His numbers have been all over the place ever since. He allows too many baserunners and rarely gets beyond six innings. Sounds like a lot of guys the M’s already have. Yes, he’s got the marquee name. But I’m wondering if his time has passed. For me, Buehrle is the better deal. If the M’s go after a pitcher, he would be my bet.
For “Resin Isn’t Cheating” I don’t think the M’s fire Hargrove until at least the all-star break. A six-game losing streak isn’t enough. When it hits seven, or eight, then you start talking about it. I’ve always thought the magic number would be 10. For me, the break, if the M’s are sub-.500 by then — which would be a huge disappointment — would be an opportune time to make a Hargrove-John McLaren transition. But if the Mariners are winning and still within striking distance of the wild-card, then I’d say he keeps on going. I know a lot of you won’t like it, but that’s what I think based on how I’ve seen this team operate.
To “humbabe”, J.J. Putz is one of the game’s top closers. They are not going to mess up one of the few things about this team that has been steady and consistent. Not to mention the amount of time it would take to stretch Putz out to make him a starter. And there is also the small bit about who would close after that. It would create more headaches than it would solve.
Oh, and of course, there’s “Victor” and his question (statement?) that I have it in for Ichiro. Look, I know you’re a big fan, but I’m still not going to crown him MVP. If the M’s don’t win something, he has zero chance in an MVP vote in a year in which there are so many candidates from winning teams. That’s just the way these things go. You can go at me all you want, but it’s not going to change that fact. Ichiro is having another great year. His defense is excellent. The best defensive center fielder in the game? I think Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter would have something to say about that. But yes, Ichiro is among the elite defensive players, perhaps the best. So how many wins is that worth right now? You tell me? No defensive efficiency rating stats, please. How many games has Ichiro’s glove won for the M’s? I don’t know the answer and neither does anyone else. We can look at the game logs and take an educated guess. I’d say at least a couple, but it’s tough to gauge. How many games has Yuni Betancourt cost the M’s with his glove compared to winning with his bat? I’d venture he’s won more with the bat. And that’s the trouble with defensive contribution. It’s still a very tough thing to get a read on. Put a team of good defenders together though, and you’re more likely to win than not. I’d much rather have Ichiro in center than Jason Ellison. But how much is that worth dollar-wise to this team? I can’t say.
Five shutout innings for Weaver. A homer for Sexson. Must be all this sunshine getting to my head. Those Hargrove questions might have to wait a while. By the way, the A’s won again. The Angels are losing to Houston (the Mariners created a monster out of the Astros it seems) the last time I checked. Someone should remind Ervin Santana he’s pitching at home in this one. Or perhaps, you should all keep quiet and not tell him.

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