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The Mariners
2005-05-09 09:45
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Seattle Mariners

2004 Record: 63-99 (.389)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 69-93 (.426)

Manager: Mike Hargrove
General Manager: Bill Bavasi

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Safeco Field (92/93)

Who's replacing whom?

Adrian Beltre replaces Edgar Martinez
Richie Sexson replaces John Olerud and Justin Leon
Jeremy Reed replaces Rich Aurilia and Jose Lopez
Wilson Valdez replaces Jolbert Cabrera
Miguel Olivo takes the starting job from Dan Wilson
Bobby Madritsch inherits Freddy Garcia's starts
Aaron Sele takes over Ron Villone's starts
Jeff Nelson inherits Mike Myers' playing time

Current Roster:

1B – Richie Sexson
2B – Bret Boone
SS – Wilson Valdez
3B – Adrian Beltre
C – Miguel Olivo
RF – Ichiro Suzuki
CF – Jeremy Reed
LF – Randy Winn
DH – Raul Ibanez

Bench:

L - Dave Hansen (1B/3B)
R – Willie Bloomquist (UT)
L - Greg Dobbs (3B)
R - Wiki Gonzalez (C)

Rotation:

L – Jamie Moyer
R – Joel Pineiro
R – Ryan Franklin
R – Gil Meche
R – Aaron Sele

Bullpen:

L – Eddie Guardado
R – J.J. Putz
L – Ron Villone
R – Shigetoshi Hasegawa
R – Julio Mateo
L - Matt Thornton
R - Jeff Nelson

60-day DL:

R – Dan Wilson (C)
R – Bucky Jacobsen (1B)
R - Pokey Reese (IF)
R - Rafael Soriano
R - Scott Atchison
L - Travis Blackley

15-day DL:

S – Scott Spezio (1B/3B)
L – Bobby Madritsch

Typical Line-up

L - Ichiro Suzuki (RF)
S - Randy Winn (LF)
R - Adrian Bletre (3B)
R - Richie Sexson (1B)
R - Bret Boone (2B)
L - Raul Ibaniez (DH)
L - Jeremy Reed (CF)
R - Miguel Olivo (C)
R - Wilson Valdez (SS)

Did the Yankees record consecutive shutouts this weekend because of their excellent pitching or the pathetic Oakland offense? Hard to say. Brown and Mussina both had one previous start this season that would indicate that this weekend was not a complete fluke, but surely the A's ineptitude had something to do with it. How much, however, the Yankees are unlikely to figure out for a while, as they face the A's again in Oakland this upcoming weekend sandwiched in between home and away series with the even more pathetic Seattle Mariners, who are a game behind the A's in last place in the West and just 1/2 game better than the Yankees thus far.

Only three teams in the American League (the A's, Royals, and Indians) and two in the National (Astros, Pirates) have scored fewer runs than the Mariners this year. Ichiro is up to his usual tricks, Richie Sexson is getting his homers (8 thus far), and Randy Winn is getting on-base at a near 40-percent clip, but Sexson is also hitting .224, Winn's OBP is higher than his slugging, and everyone else on the team is mired in a slump. The worst offender has been the M's $64-million man, Adrian Beltre, who is making last year look like a fluke by hitting .242/.275/.339 (.209 GPA). Meanwhile, Bret Boone looks done, would-be Rookie of the Year Jeremy Reed is hitting his way out of the line-up (.243/.333/.320), and the best the M's can do at shortstop is a rookie dumped by the White Sox and Mets named Wilson Valdez who's making Beltre, Boone and Reed look like world beaters at the plate.

The A's at the very least have the exciting young duo of Blanton and Harden in the rotation. the Mariners' best starter thus far has been Ryan Franklin with a 4.50 ERA and more walks than strikeouts (2.45 K/9), followed by 42-year-old junkballer Jamie Moyer, who leads the team in Ks. The other three active members of the rotation have ERAs over 5.00.

The only things going right for the Mariners in under new manager Mike Hargrove this year are the defense and the bullpen. Adding Beltre to Boone, Suzuki and Winn has helped the M's to the second best Defensive Efficiency in baseball this year. Meanwhile, the pen has an astonishing 2.18 ERA. Matt Thornton has been the worst of the bunch with a still above-average 4.05 ERA. Hacksaw Jeff Nelson has been second worst at 3.68. Everyone else has an ERA below 3.00. Shigetosi Hasegawa is down at 1.29 and J.J. Putz and Julio Mateo are both below 1.00. The problem is that their middling rotation and awful offense can't get the pen a lead.

Tonight these struggling Mariners and their fans get a look at former Seattle stars Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson in Yankee pinstripes. Johnson makes his first start since his remarkable complete-game duel with Roy Halladay, having been skipped against his will last week in Tampa due to a tight left groin. He'll oppose Gil Meche in an attempt as the Yankees attempt to with their third straight game for the first time all season and extend the pitching staff's streak of eighteen scoreless innings.

Comments
2005-05-09 15:52:56
1.   singledd
A very good time for us to be playing Oakland and Seattle. Winning against these two might not get us merit badge, but its gotta help our confidence. Hopefully we will hit better against Seattle then against Oakland. Go Randy.
2005-05-09 18:13:54
2.   Zack
Didn't the bottom of the 7th seem a perfect time to pinch hit for the awful Giambi? Giambi can't hit the fastball at this point let alone from a lefty, so why not pinch hit Phillips? Isn't that what he does well?
2005-05-09 19:03:34
3.   singledd
Knowing Torre, leaving Giambi in was for a 'confidence booster'. However, even Torre will eventually run out of patience. Giambi is running out of time.
2005-05-09 19:57:53
4.   rilkefan
OT, but... In Araton's column in the NYT tomorrow, he says the Jim Leyritz played games at second for the Yankees while Jeter was ss. Anybody remember that, and the circumstances?
2005-05-09 20:31:51
5.   JeremyM
I remember him playing second base in extra-innings in 1996- he even helped turn a double play, and it was ugly. SI has him playing there in 1992 with no chances, and in 96 with 2 putouts and an assist, for what it's worth.
2005-05-09 20:33:44
6.   Jen
According to retrosheet Leyritz played 2 games at 2B in 1996 for a total of 4 innings.

http://retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B05090NYA1996.htm
(very odd that this is one of the games. I was just reading a recap of this game on section39.com)

http://retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B05150NYA1996.htm

2005-05-09 20:41:59
7.   brockdc
I was pretty bent when Torre didn't PH either Phillips or Bernie for Giambi in the seventh. What happens to Giambi at this point? Does he just languish at the bottom of the roster for the remainder of the season? Can they do the "send him to Tampa" thing?

Ethical quandary that would never occur: If you were Jason, would you defer some of your salary based on the principle that you are, at this point, basically stealing money?

2005-05-09 21:00:10
8.   JeremyM
God, my memory stinks--I thought that Leyritz played second in a Yankees win, in extra innings. Oh well.
2005-05-09 21:17:47
9.   markp
Interesting. So the correct decision for Torre to make would be to pinch hit a 28 year old rookie with a 531 OPS for a guy with a history of being a slow starter who has an OPS 200 points higher?

A lot of the guys that were written off as recently as two weeks ago by a lot of people on the web elsewhere and here (Mussina zooms to mind) have begun to hit their stride. You'd think that the lesson would have been learned that judging somebody this early is not the best idea. Giambi's OPS isn't much different than it was in 2002 after this many plate appearances. He finished with an OPS over 1.000. I'll bet a lot of the same people were saying he couldn't handle the pressure of NY on blogs just like this one that year, too.

2005-05-09 21:18:27
10.   rilkefan
Araton says (http://nytimes.com/2005/05/10/sports/baseball/10araton.html) that Jeter and Leyritz did turn a double play.
2005-05-09 21:35:41
11.   weeping for brunnhilde
Yeah, as to the Giambi situation, what are the possible scenarios here? Anyone have a clue?--'cause I don't.

Can anyone offer an instructive analogy? I mean, is it me, or is this sort of thing totally unprecedented? It's one thing to go from .340 to .250, but this guy's hovering around the Mendoza line.

The only realistic scenario I can think of is that Torre uses him as a pinch-walker when we need a baserunner. Of course, even if he managed to draw a walk, we'd still need a baserunner...

Is there any example of a bench player who never, ever, ever plays due to the fact that he can neither hit NOR field but can only walk?

Really, if someone has any perspective on this, I'd love to hear it.

2005-05-09 22:24:04
12.   Zack
markp, I think it goes beyond 2002. In 2002, he was coming off MVP type seasons, what is he coming off of now? Two sub-par seasons which have shown that he is losing his eye and can't catch up to high heat that he seems to be unable to lay off of either. I don't mind playing Giambi until he either hits a little better or proves he is totally done, but in a situation like that, sadly, the 28 year old is the better option. He can hit fastballs, which is what the pitcher was throwing. And Giambi's OPS might be higher, but I bet his slugging is much lower...

I think the best scenario would be to DL the guy and let him work in Tampa, but that won't happen nor will it really solve anything, so they only thing they really can do is play him until its too painful, and then just cut him. That won't happen either. So he will just continue to play. With Tino hot for now, Giambi will play 5 out of 7 games or so.

There is some precedent though, the A's of the 70's had a Designated Runner, Herb Washington, who could not hit a lick, and only ran...

2005-05-10 06:02:39
13.   Clay Caviness
Two sub-par seasons? 2004, of course, was lost, but in 2003 Giambi had the best OPS+ on the whole team at 151. His batting average was low, .250, but if anything that goes to show how useless it is as a measure of a player.

Now, I have no idea if he'll turn it around again this season, but last year was the only one where he didn't earn his keep.

2005-05-10 16:19:13
14.   brockdc
Mark,

One good start does not convince me that Mussina is back to form, nor does Brown's start inspire a great deal more confidence than I had previously. As for Giambi, he's finished.

2005-05-10 16:20:43
15.   brockdc
Let my qualify that: By "finished" I mean about half the player he once was, because, as we all know, he ain't goin' nowhere.

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