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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Alejandro Strikes Again 

Lance Armstrong may be leading overall in the Tour de France, but check out the winner of Monday's leg of the race. Chris, you will appreciate this one the most.

(43) comments

Monday, July 11, 2005

Showing Signs of Life 

No, I'm not talking about this website. I'm referring to the Mariner's 4-game sweep of the Los Angeles California Anaheim Identity Crisis Angels of Extreme Redundency. On the road, no less. Has there been a more improbable sweep this year?

It's a shame that the all-star break falls right now, just as the club is heating up. But the good news is that right after the break, we start off with the Angels again, this time in Seattle. A chance to gain 3 more in the standings?

(1) comments

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Allen's Coming Back 

All 12 of the Sonic's fans can sleep a little easier now. What took so long? You wanted him back, he wanted to come back, and you guys could offer him the most money. And the terms of the deal are basically what Allen wanted. Now that that's out of the way, Seattle can probably look forward to another 50 wins next year.

On a completely unrelated note, ESPN's page 2 posted a poll of each team's public enemy No. 1. Not surprisingly, A-Rod is ours, although the article starts out by ripping Jim Presley a new one. Of course, if you polled diehard Mariner fans, A-Rod is not our pick (though Presley might be for some). The true public enemy will remain nameless. Let's just call him Bobby A. No, too obvious. Call him B. Ayala.

(1) comments

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Oakland Sweep and a ROER Update 

The one-time cellar-dwelling Oakland A's have completed a three-game sweep of the Mariners today. I have nothing further to add.

ROER is now up to date.

(2) comments

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Freddy Garcia Trade: One Year Later 

One year ago today, The Mariners threw up the white flag on the 2004 season, trading Freddy Garcia to the Chicago White Sox for three youngsters: Miguel Olivo, Jeremy Reed, and Michael Morse. Therefore, it's a good time to look back on how that trade's worked out.

At the time of the trade, Garcia was having one of his best seasons, striking out 82 (with 32 walks) and having a 3.20 ERA in 107 innings. His record, however, was a mere 4-7, due to some horrible run support. Everyone stressed that fact, as well as his youth (27 at the time), and the Mariners were able to get top dollar in the trade.

Garcia didn't pitch particularly well after the trade, going 9-4 with a 4.46 ERA and 102 K's in 103 innings. This year, his line reads 7-3, 3.58 ERA, and 69 K's. He also signed a 3-year contract worth $25 million, which looks like a good deal for the Sox after last off-season's run on pitching salaries.

The Mariner's end of the trade is well-documented, so I won't bore you with the details. It's interesting to read that at the time, Olivo was considered the prime prospect in the deal, while Morse was a mere throw-in.

Both teams got what they wanted in this deal, and I'm guessing that both teams would make this deal again.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Saddest Mariner Stat of the Year (Non-Olivo Category) 

Adrian Beltre and Bret Boone are tied for 3rd on the team in Home Runs.

Of course, they are tied with Ichiro, who has a mere 5 on the year.

This might have gotten more attention if there weren't so many other sad stats on the Mariners. Like Ichiro's batting average. Or Beltre's batting average. Or Boone's batting average. Or the lower part of the lineup's batting average. Or Ryan Franklin. Or...

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Monday's Wrapup (As Tuesday's Game Starts) 

Brought to you by Jack-In-The-Box. Ciabatta: C-I-A-B-A-double-T-A. Ciabatta. Peace out.

Aaron Sele didn't bring his best stuff, as evidenced by 7 hits, countless line-drive outs by Oakland batters, and a mere 3 strikeouts in 6 innings. Still, he gave up only 2 runs and left the game well within reach. Then the bullpen conjured up images of '96-'98, giving up 4 runs, 4 hits, and 4 walks in 3 innings. The offense didn't help matters much, essentially going silent after the 2nd inning.

Game ball goes to Jeremy Reed. He collected a couple of hits and did his best Mike Cameron impression out there in Centerfield. Adrian Beltre also had a good game with two hits and some fancy leatherwork of his own at Third.

The goat of this game was the Mariner bullpen, specifically Julio Mateo. Not only did he have problems throwing the ball over the plate, but he took forever in doing it. I really think they need to enforce the 25-second rule (or whatever it is) between pitches. Pitchers shouldn't slow down the game like that, especially when they can't hit the broad side of a barn. As for the rest of the Pen, it's pretty sad when Matt Thornton has the best night, and even he had a walk on his record.

Overall, not as fun as my last trip to the Safe, last year when the M's beat Baltimore 11-0 with a Jamie Moyer shutout and an Ichiro homer. Arguably the best game they played last year (almost by default, really). May have to come back for one more before the big Florida trip.

(5) comments

Monday, June 20, 2005

Thanks For 2001; Enjoy Your Lovely Parting Gifts, Including a Free Dinner for Two at P.F. Chang's 

This from USS Mariner:

"Jose Lopez: 13 plate appearances, 2.2 VORP. Bret Boone: 262 plate appearances, 1.7 VORP. Lopez contributed more offense to the team from Friday through Sunday than Bret Boone has since opening day."

This is a dead horse that has been beaten by every remotely aware Mariners writer, so I'll be brief. Boone brings nothing to the table both in the batter's box and in the field, and with Lopez in the wings, it's time to shop Boonie for any marginal prospects we can get.

Joe, you nailed it about the younger players being a huge boost offensively. With Lopez replacing Boone for the time being, the M's have a lineup with which opposing pitchers don't have any easy outs. Mistakes can be costly to any hitter in the lineup, 1-9. And it's a balanced lineup -- against left-handers, the Mariners can put up six righties (seven if Bucky Jacobsen can be healthy enough to platoon with Ibanez sometime before 2009), and when a righty takes the hill, Winn crosses over and we have four lefties in the lineup, including Certified Righty-Masher Raul Ibanez.

The 2005 Seattle Mariners are no playoff contenders, but they're at least going to go down fighting.

(1) comments

The M's Youth Movement 

They've won six of their last seven series, including the most recent sweep of the Mets. What's with the recent upswing? There are a couple of reasons, including the schedule (thank you, interleague play) and the starting pitching (2.80 ERA in June, best in baseball) , but the biggest factor has been their youth movement. Take a look at the production of the youngsters in recent weeks:


Morse .407/.468/.537, 54 ABs
Rivera .407/.429/.519, 27 ABs
Lopez .417/.417/.503, 12 ABs

Their cumulative AVG is .408, in 93 ABs. I'm discounting walks because they combine for a mere 5 total (4 by Morse). This is a fairly small sample size, but now compare this to the players that they replaced:

Valdez .198/.235/.254, 126 ABs
Olivo .145/.174/.236, 110 ABs
Dobbs .176/.194/.265, 34 ABs

(I chose Dobbs over Boone because Dobbs is not currently on the roster)

Cumulative AVG: .174 in 270 ABs, with a mere 11 walks between them. That's a lot of wasted ABs at the bottom of the order. Now, having three guys hitting .400 at the end of the lineup over 270 ABs would be unrealistic. However, it is realistic to expect them to hit .259 (the team AVG). This works out to about 23 hits. Doing the same thing with their OBP (.206, compared to a Team OBP of .320) adds about 9 walks. This means 32 wasted PAs at the bottom of the order. Using the league averages for AVG and OBP (.256 and .327, respectively) work out about the same.

It's this improvement at the bottom of the order that has sparked the M's recent upswing. The Mariner lineup is considerably deeper now, as pitchers know that the last three batters of the order does not equal three outs anymore. I don't expect the kids to keep up this pace, but just hitting the current team averages would work out fine for me.

Also, I'm going to get a first-hand look at the youth movement tonight. For those of you who know what I look like, look for me in the left-field bleachers.

(1) comments

Friday, June 17, 2005

The NY Mets (my favorite squadron) and Mike Cameron Come to the Safe 

Sponsored, in part, by The New Era Cap Company

Cammy's back in town. Rejoyce!

Not for the M's, true, but if you're not doing anything else this weekend go to the ballpark and show your appreciation for four years of incredible center field play.

Cammy might not play at all (he's battling about 4,832.23 different injuries right now), but if he does bat, I'd like to hear the DJ at the Safe play Cee-Lo's "Soul Machine" for #44:
Whenever you want some soul
Start him up
Whenever you need some soul
Start him up
See he's been given the power
To take you wherever you want to go
Start him up
And tell him what you want

Once you start up the soul machine
You will see what I mean
Open your eyes and enjoy the dream
He can do anything

(1) comments

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Gil Meche, Underachieving Pitchers, the Aflac Trivia Question, and a Music Recommendation 

Sponsored, in part, by Reser's Flour Tortillas.

Gil Meche was dominant last night. His one run, three hit, eight inning performance was absolutely Randyesque. The Phillies' Jim Thome summed it up:
His curveball is right up there with the best I've seen... What happened is that it made his fastball ... a lot quicker.
When Gil's pulling the string like he was last night, he should mow through just about any lineup.

Unfortunately, Meche has way too many performances like he did on April 22 against Cleveland, allowing 11 baserunners and a home run in five innings. This type of up-and-down performance from Meche (and Joel Pineiro as well) got me thinking -- Which active pitcher has the highest stuff-to-actual performance ratio? Meche and Pineiro have to be near the top. The only comparable I could think of off the top of my head was Jose Contreras. If you can think of anyone else, let me know.

Dave Niehaus:

When you read the Aflac Trivia Question for the first time each game, could you at least give me, say, a couple of batters to try to guess on my own? Last night, you asked "Which player has the most lifetime interleague home runs?" and said "Jim Thome" about four seconds later. Thanks.

I've been listening to a lot of Haiku d'Etat lately. If you're interested in hearing more from Aceyalone, Mikah 9, or Abstract Rude, use your favorite (legal) file-downloading software to pick up a few tracks. Or, if you've never heard of Aceyalone, Mikah 9, or Abstract Rude, check it out anyway. They will not disappoint.

(4) comments

Monday, June 13, 2005

Tyson Actually done? I don't think so... 

Mike Tyson claims that he is going to retire from boxing after refusing to go back in for the 7th round against Kevin McBride. Sorry, Mike, but I just don't see it happening.

For one, he's still something like $20 million in debt. Had he either won this last fight or just stuck it out until the end, he would have netted a $5 million payday. He's still a drawing card, and this is the easiest way for him to earn money.

Second, he's still "only" 38. That used to be ancient in boxing years, but more and more we've seen heavyweights fight will into their geriatric years (Foreman, Holmes, etc.). Tyson was the champ once, and boxers will still want the opportunity to say that they took on the best, even if they are past their prime.

Now, Iron Mike may not want to get back into the ring with an actual boxer, but I have a solution to all of this: Remember that crappy celebrity boxing that was on FOX a few years ago? The biggest problem was who they got to fight. Does anyone really want to see Vanilla Ice get pummelled by Screech? Now, getting pounded by Tyson, on the other hand... who wouldn't want to see that?

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Can Annika Take a Joke? A new "Rocky" Idea? 

If you saw Stewie's little, um, discovery about Annika Sorenstam on last night's episode of Family Guy, you know what I'm talking about. But let's be honest here: we were all thinking the same thing. I wonder what Vegas put as the over/under for the future impending lawsuit?

In a related story, the episode ended with Quagmire and Cleveland duking it out in the boxing ring for fun. Cleveland rang the imaginary bell with his fist, and the scene ended with a still-shot of the two throwing a punch at each other, a clear parody of Rocky III (Quagmire even referred to Cleveland as "Apollo" at one point). I bring this up because a buddy of mine who was also watching the episode thought that it was a reference to the beginning of Rocky IV (he's right, technically). It got me thinking about how every new Rocky movie fills up time by recycling clips from the previous films. Take a look at Rocky IV: there's an entire 5-minute montage just of footage from previous films, in addition to the recycled intro. That montage was just a little longer than the one in Rocky III, which was a little longer than the one in Rocky II. Rocky I didn't have one for obvious reasons, and Rocky V never actually happened in my world.

If they made a new Rocky movie, how much of it would actually be original footage? Has there ever been a motion-picture equivalent of a clip show? I honestly think the next Rocky film could fill that place in cinema history.

I promise to write about real sports next time.

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Best Top Pick Ever 

Alan Schwartz is, for my money, one of the best baseball writers out there. But I gotta say that he really goofed when identifying Alex Rodriguez as the best top pick of all time. Ok, A-Rod may wind up being the best player ever selected from the first spot (he debatably is already). But this article is a perfect example of just how quickly we can forget.

Ken Griffey, Jr. was the player of the decade in the 1990s (yes, even ahead of Bonds). Lest not forget that he was the only active player named to baseball's all-century team. Griffey was the 1997 MVP, one of only three players picked No. 1 to win that award (quick trivia question: who are the other two? one's fairly obvious). He is the all-time leader in homers and RBI among top picks, at least for now. And, of course, he is among the best ever at playing centerfield.

But more than all of that, Griffey is the only top pick in baseball history that has ever changed the face of the franchise. Quick, name a superstar Mariner before 1989 (sorry, all you Alvin Davis fans). Griffey brought legitimacy to the organization that it had never had before. No other top pick has been a true franchise savior, with the next closest being Darryl Strawberry in 1980.

A-Rod may wind up being the best player ever taken, but Griffey was undoubtedly the most important top pick ever.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

May Roundup, June Preview 

Due to a combination of moving back home for the summer, long hours at work, Mom's knee surgery, and (mainly) general laziness, I haven't been able to post for awhile. So, as a triumphant return, here's my roundup of the past and preview of coming attractions.

Brought to you by Star Wars: Episode III. It's Like putting in the last piece of a really annoying puzzle; satisfying only in that it's finally finished.

The Mariner's schedule lightens up considerably in June (7 games against Oakland), but playing pretty much any other schedule would be easier than what the M's had in May. At the very least, we should be expecting .500 ball for the next few weeks.

The draft is rapidly approaching, and there's a very good chance we can wind up with either Justin Upton or Alex Gordon with the 3rd overall pick. Personally, I'm rooting for Upton; scouting reports place his ceiling as high as "next Ken Griffey, Jr." If neither of these guys are available, the best college arm available sounds about right. Anything to improve the horrendous pitching in the Mariner organization. Then again, judging by the way all of the young arms seemed to fall off the previous group of young pitchers, it might be best to sign free agents.

Ok, Adrian Beltre... we've been patient. It's time to start showing some semblence of last year's MVP self. Jeremy Reed is starting to come around, and if you can hit in the .300 neighborhood, a lot of runs are going to happen.

Good that the plug has been pulled on Miguel Olivo, leaving the club to their true savior.... Pat Borders? This guy actually makes Jamie Moyer feel young. But he's low-cost, knows the staff pretty well, and the club is winning with him behind the plate. He seems perfect for the Jake Taylor role on this club, though perhaps without the speed to beat out a bunt-and-run. Still, his homer a few days ago was the most surreal moment of the season.

The bullpen has been outstanding, save for a few J.J. Putz homers. Expect more of the same, and don't be surprised to see Eddie Guardado's name come up in trade talks should the club fall further out of contention. He just might be the best closer available on the market, and the M's should charge a king's ransom for any deal to a contender.

The starters are beginning to come around... sort of. Aaron Sele is starting to look like the Aaron Sele of old (make what you want of that) and has had some solid starts the past couple of weeks. Moyer had a rocky May, but also came around towards the end of the month and is primed for a solid June. Gil Meche is still Gil Meche; brilliant one day (last night), awful the next (pick any other start). He still continues to throw too many pitches. Ryan Franklin is declining rapidly and still getting no run support, while Joel Pinero is looking more and more like trade bait.

But the biggest event to look forward to in June: the rise of King Felix. He's been labeled as the best pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden, and hopefully he'll begin his reign of terror over unsuspecting American League lineups. Call him up. Fast. Before the pitching coaches in AAA can really get to him.

One last note: this is a few weeks late, but congrats to the Sonics on a hell of a season. 52-30 with a 2nd-round exit in the playoffs is nothing to cry home about, and no doubt they exceeded everyone's expectations this year. Now re-sign Nate, Ray, and the crew, and prepare for next year.

In the meantime, let's all enjoy the intensity and skill of the WNBA. (couldn't even type that without laughing)

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