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July 27, 2007 at 10:25 AM

Bavasi fiddles while M’s burn

Been reading over the mail from the past two days. First, I’ll answer “Trent” and his question of whether I’d have also signed Jose Lima in 2001 based on his 1999 season, as well as Esteban Loaiza in 2005, based on his 2003 campaign. This because I’ve advocated dealing Adam Jones for Dontrelle Willis. I don’t think you can compare the two, Trent, and here’s why.
Now, back to “zona” and a question posed about John McLaren and why I think he’s the guy for next year. Mainly, you don’t bring him in, getting him away from Lou Piniella, without some type of long range plan in that regard. And you don’t make long-range plans based on his first few weeks of actual managing. So, here’s my full answer.
On to the post…
Smell that smoke anyone? Feel the heat? How hot is the seat getting? Make it seven in a row for the Mariners. Losses that is. Four games back of the Los Angeles Angels, who didn’t play last night. The Yankees? They lost last night (thanks for the tip, “Amy”), so at least the M’s stay a half-game up on them in the wild-card race. Though Minnesota and Toronto (if you can believe that) are now only 3 1/2 behind the Mariners. Didn’t the M’s leave the Blue Jays for dead last Friday? A week ago today? Hard to believe, huh? By the way, the Mariners are four games out in the wild-card hunt as well. With all of those other teams now creeping into the picture, that’s going to be a tough race to win unless Seattle gets on another roll. Do the M’s have it in them?
First, let’s address the seven-game losing streak. Does falling in to such a streak this late in the season automatically disqualify the M’s from being a serious playoff contender? No, it does not. Let’s check our history. Going back to just last season, there were three playoff teams that experienced at least one losing streak of seven or more games.
The St. Louis Cardinals (8), Detroit Tigers (7) and Oakland A’s (7) all had at least one. St. Louis had three such streaks of seven or more, the last one stretching into the final week of the season. All they did was win the World Series — against the Tigers, at that. So no, all is not lost. But it’s getting to be time to put out that fire. So, why do I keep hearing fiddle music instead?
Someone out there asked if there’s another team right now with a worse No. 3 hitter than Raul Ibanez, who now has a .707 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Uh, no there isn’t. At least not in the AL. Not even close.
B.J. Upton — .994
David Ortiz — .991
Jim Thome — .978
Vladimir Guerrero — .943
Mark Teixeira — .938
Victor Martinez — .921
Jack Cust — .921
Alex Rios — .903
Nick Markakis — .900
Joe Mauer — .859
David DeJesus — .753
Bobby Abreu — .750
Sean Casey — .746
Raul Ibanez — .707
So, yes. As we can see, there is quite the disparity there. So, what are the Mariners doing about it? Nothing so far. Yes, Ibanez did have a big game the other night, so I can see the rationale in going with him in the three-spot last night. It’s all the time it took to get up to this point that I’m wondering about.
In the meantime, Adam Jones stays down in Class AAA. I know many of you disagree with my trade stance and yes, Dave over at USS Mariner makes some great points about Jones having arguably a greater impact on the team defensively than would another starting pitcher. The trouble with defensive stats though, is that they have yet to be honed enough to make a definitive argument in that respect. And it’s cheaper to go out and get a decent left fielder this off-season than it will be to find another potential top-of-the-rotation starter.
The bottom line though? Whether you believe me, or you buy Dave’s argument more, the team has done nothing in either direction. If the M’s aren’t going to trade Jones, then why isn’t he up here? Why are they fiddling as this 2007 project burns? We’ve blamed the pitching for plenty of things all season long. But this losing streak is an offensive one. And that offense was showing signs of sputtering well before the Mariners began losing every night.
One of the differences, at least the past two nights, is that a bullpen that bailed this team out all season long wasn’t there for them. J.J. Putz blew a save two nights ago and then George Sherrill gave up a back-breaking homer last night. The two steadiest Seattle relievers all season finally showed their human side. Yes, it takes more than a bullpen to make the playoffs. The Mariners have had all month to find solutions — at least temporary ones — to address the two areas of concern for this club. They have done nothing.
Some of you may notice that the No. 3 hitters I’ve listed above haven’t hit in that role all season. That’s because lineups are fluid. They are supposed to be that way. Hitters run hot and cold and lineups are adjusted accordingly. They just haven’t been in Seattle this season. Nowhere near quickly enough. Richie Sexson has been dropped to No. 6 in the order (mainly because No. 7 hitter Kenji Johjima has been slumping just as badly). Sexson hit a home run last night and had some doubles on the previous road trip. But it took half a season before John McLaren, in his new role, made the switch to bump him back. And I like Jose Vidro in the No. 5 spot, at least for now. Remember, fluid. You have to make moves if a setup isn’t working. McLaren has at least shown flexibility and creativity on that front.
Will it be enough over the long haul? I highly doubt it.
And what is going on in the eighth inning? To answer a question from the previous thread, I have nothing at all against Sean Green. You’ll have to direct that question at the ballclub. The team is the one that’s used him in the eighth, then backed off. I don’t know why the club won’t use him as a full-time eighth inning guy. But if they have no confidence in him, or in Sherrill, or Chirs Reitsma, to do that job full-time, then it begs for a trade. Doesn’t it? At least, that’s the way my cognitive brain function works. That’s my logical deduction. If you can’t understand that logic, then I don’t think we’ll ever get through to each other.
Not to rain on everyone’s parade (if that hasn’t already been dampened), but the last time the M’s snapped out of a six-game losing streak, they did it against the Pirates. Now, they’re stuck with the A’s, Angels and Red Sox. This is the season. Right here and right now. The M’s have to stop their slide first, using what management has given them. And management has to step up and make the moves that, at least internally, they have at their immediate disposal.
Otherwise, this losing streak — and by extension, the 2007 season and missing an unexpected shot at the playoffs — will be squarely on them.



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