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

September 10, 2007 at 10:27 PM

M’s routed…again

Anyone getting really ticked off yet? Just wondering. I know I am. Can’t even get my own newspaper to link to the blog on the main site page (below the game story anymore). I mean, it’s like being the flavor of the month, only it’s next month already…whatever.
So, the Mariners get thumped, 9-3, on the strength of two grand slams. You know, we can moan and yell and pull our hair about about Adam Jones, Jose Vidro, Raul Ibanez, Richie Sexson and the Mariner Moose, but it won’t matter if the starting pitcher puts you down 5-0 in the second inning. Repeat after me…pitching wins games. Well, pitching and defense. But the M’s have good defense. They don’t have very good pitching. When they were 20 games over .500 they had a great bullpen and mediocre starting rotation. Lately, they’ve had a bad bullpen and a horrible rotation.
Forget the five runs or whatever that Ibanez allegedly “cost” the team in defense compared to Jones over the past month based on numerical projections. I’ve seen most of those “five” plays with my naked eyes and there was maybe one run — a dropped ball in Cleveland — that cost the team at least a tie. Not necessarily a win. Compared to what Ibanez has helped win with his bat since early August, this is not an argument worth spending much time on now. Over a whole season, perhaps.
Now, let’s look at why the team is 2-14 over the last 16 games.
Runs needed by M’s to win:
6
6
7
11
9
7
8
3
7
2
13
11
7
13
8
10
Really jumps out at you, doesn’t it? I mean, look at those numbers alone and you see maybe two winnable games without a big offensive eruption. And that’s what the M’s got. Only they lost a 2-1 game and won a 14-7 contest. But it all evens out, as you can see.
Let’s try these. The number of innings worked by starters:
5 2/3
6
6
4 2/3
7
5 2/3
3 1/3
7
3
7
5 2/3
6
6 2/3
5
5
1 2/3
There you go. Biggest stretch of games this club has played in three years and the M’s don’t have a single starter who can go eight innings. Only three outings of seven innings in 16 games. Just four outings of more than six. Used to be, a six-inning starter was a No. 4 or No.5 guy. Draw your own conclusions. Adam Jones would not have helped this train wreck.
Combined runs allowed per night by Brandon Morrow, Sean Green, George Sherrill, Rick White and Eric O’Flaherty:
2
2
05
2
3
01
1
03
5
02
03
The guys most trusted for short relief, high-leverage situations (yes, Rick White was one of those during his brief tenure) other than J.J. Putz have allowed runs in 11 of the 16 games. They had as many games in which they allowed three or more runs as a group than they did in which they kept opponents scoreless.
Seattle had gone 19-7 over its previous stretch of games. How many times did Sean Green, Brandon Morrow, George Sherrill and Eric O’Flaherty allow anything more than one run in a game? Try three. How many times did they allow a run. Seven times. But that’s over 26 games. Not 16 games. Here are their nightly runs allowed totals.
001
000004
00003
04
01
1
00001
0Just sort of makes the point doesn’t it?
The Mariners are losing because they are giving up too many runs per night. Their starters are rarely lasting more than five or six innings and the once-inpenetrable bullpen is having damaged inflicted on it — sometimes very big damage — on almost a nightly basis as opposed to once every three or four outings previous. What can we deduce about the bullpen? It’s probably run out of gas would be my guess. Too much nightly work finally caught up to all the young arms.
So, one of you asked my hunch about what will happen to Bill Bavasi, John McLaren and Richie Sexson this winter. My gut feeling? Bavasi gets a one-year extension to prove this year was for real and not a fluke that’s now been exposed. McLaren gets a full year to prove himself. Or, at least he gets to start a year with spring training and all that. And the team tries to trade Sexson. That’s my gut.
How should Howard Lincoln analyze this season? He should ask himself what the team’s baseball goals were this year. Whether the areas that needed to be improved upon were.
Here’s my view:
Bavasi did make the offense more “Sexson-proof” by adding Jose Guillen and Jose Vidro. He spread the offense up and down the lineup so that it did not experience a catastrophic dip when Sexson and another batter (Ibanez, Vidro, whoever) failed to hit at the same time. Very different from last year when Sexson and Adrian Beltre slumped early.
But the starting pitching is no better than last year. It’s arguably gotten worse. Compounding that problem is that the bullpen was weakened by the trading away of Rafael Soriano, who might have been that eighth-inning answer over a full season (not just 3 1/2 months), in order to bring in a pitcher who helped weaken the rotation and forced him to call up top draft pick Morrow to fill an emergency bullpen role rather than working as a starter in the minors (and possibly delaying his development in that role).
Bavasi then did nothing throughout July to acquire a starter or reliever to improve either pitching front. Only after the waiver period, when the best talent was already gone or impossible to acquire.
The results are there for all to see. It’s a shame, really, for fans of this team. Because playoff chances like these don’t always come around all that often. This one has been blown. And it isn’t pretty.

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