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

July 1, 2007 at 9:04 PM

Eight in a row

Arrived here in Kansas City a short while ago to the news that this blog once again set a monthly record for hits — the most of any sports blog in the history of the newspaper. Congratulations to all of you for the quality of debate on this site, even those of you who get under my skin from time to time. I really don’t mind. All of those hits came before today and the Mike Hargrove announcement, so we’re already off to a great start for July because I’m sure we broke our all-time daily record on this one.
As I’m in Missouri, I won’t pretend to have any more insights to offer on Hargrove’s resignation. Other than what my source told me in late April, mentioned in the previous post, about his contract extension and his take on Hargrove’s state of mind at the time. All I can say further is that there were plenty of people caught off guard by this. A senior Mariners official went to Hargrove a few days ago to advise him that this blog had begun using audio clips of his sessions with reporters. Just wanted him to know and make sure he was comfortable with that. This official, very high up and with the team a long time, obviously had no clue Hargrove was going to leave in a couple of days.
So, whatever that’s worth.
There is still a season being played and what a way to send Hargrove off, winning a 2-1 thriller over the Toronto Blue Jays today. If that’s the Jeff Weaver we’re going to see the rest of the way, then perhaps the better move for Seattle to make this month will be the addition of a top-end set-up man. A big contract guy. A guy who would be a closer on any team that didn’t have J.J. Putz.
Let’s face it, if these M’s make the playoffs, it will be the bullpen that gets remembered. Just like the Angels in 2002. Perhaps it is more prudent now for the M’s to be thinking about shoring up the thing keeping their hopes alive. Anything happens to Putz or the key members of this bullpen and the whole thing starts crashing and burning.
That said, Weaver delivered today. Like I said, if he can go seven every other time out, as he’s done lately, that could be just as good as adding an impact starter come mid or late July. Even better, since he’s here now and the team won’t have to wait several more weeks. Hey, if Mark Buehrle becomes available, add him. Please, add him. But rather than go after another back-of-the-rotation type, this team could stand to win more games with an Eric Gagne type setting up the eighth inning for Putz than with another five-to-six-inning starter.
This isn’t about getting another Montrealer on to the Seattle baseball scene. It’s about perhaps getting as close as possible to a situation where these starters only have to go six to win 95 percent of the time.
Something to think about.
By the way, great on Putz and Ichiro both making it to the All-Star Game. They are the two team MVPs at the plate and on the mound. Without either one, this team is not where it is today. Yes, I’m coming around on Ichiro as a serious MVP threat this year, not just on the M’s but in the entire AL. The things I’ve seen him do the past month, and the consistency with which he’s done it, are not something I’ve ever seen from a player I’ve covered. I’m a big consistency guy. I like my MVPs to be consistent. It’s probably the quality I most look for. A-Rod winning the MVP in 2003 was a joke for me. I looked at how his big stats were piled up in a few select months and almost gagged. Ichiro is not simply staying consistent month-to-month, or week-to-week, but game-to-game. It’s really quite impressive.
As for Putz, he’s been perfect in save opportunities and his ERA is nearing historic proportions. No doubter there. When I talk about using Gagne as a set-up man, it isn’t to insult my fellow Canadian. It’s so that I don’t insult Putz.
By the way, speaking of Montrealers, glad to see Dodgers catcher Russell Martin make the NL squad. Not so glad to see what transpired further south in Anaheim, where Orlando Cabrera got left off the AL team. That was a mistake. Cabrera is arguably having an MVP-type year. He and Reggie Willits are the big reason the Angels are no longer an all-Vlad offense.
Speaking of the Angels, they are certainly in a rough patch. Willits is still out with that bruised knee and the offense keeps sputtering. Barely hung on to beat Baltimore today. But keep in mind, they are still four games up. A nice cushion to have during some of your worst times of the year. The M’s can’t afford to let up in Kansas City.
But Seattle did gain another game on the Twins and that is important when we start looking at the wild-card picture seriously several weeks from now. The more teams you gain separation from, the easier a wild-card battle becomes. One game behind Detroit? Heck, the M’s will take that on July 1. Let’s see what the folks at coolstandings.com have to say. OK, they still like Detroit’s chances better, but the M’s have done a whole lot to increase their odds in a short span of time. That’s what a serious win streak will do for you. Remember we talked about how the contenders usually run off at least a six-gamer? Well, an eight-gamer works even better.
Hey, Happy Canada Day. The folks cheering for the Blue Jays at Safeco Field sure didn’t have one. But at least baseball is alive and well in the Emerald City. And will be for some time to come in what is shaping up to be a very interesting summer for all of us.

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