Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Busy Day

Lots to report from the M's intrasquad game yesterday. You can read anything from Kevin Appier's rough day to....okay there's really nothing going on. Although, I guess it's neat that Johjima's "catching" on quickly. Tee hee hee.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

C level and....back it up you got it dna level C

Aaaaanyway. So Big Dadddy got me to thinking with his comments on this post about building the Mariners back into contenders the way Cleveland did it. To quote the Large Father:

"This team needs changes and I for one am a believer in the Cleveland model of dumping all the big names in turn for prospects. Cleveland went through like 2-3 down years and then broke out with all their young guys."

I have to agree that I'd much rather be a Cleveland fan right now, with young stars like Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, and Grady Sizemore providing exciting baseball, and the team is winning again. But I thought I'd take a look at how they did it, if the Mariners are on a similar track, and see if they really are a good model to follow.

The last time the Indians were in the playoffs, they lost in 5 games to YOUR RECORD BREAKING 2001 SEATTLE MARINERS!!!! I was at the 17-2 Game 3 debacle in Cleveland. I'm pretty sure I haven't left a game that early in my life. They finished 91-71 that year, they're seventh in a row with at least 86 wins. The next four years?
2002: 74-88
2003: 68-94
2004: 80-82
2005: 93-69

I think it's fair to say they've made their way back to being at very least a contender again.

Since we're comparing the Indians and Mariners, let's say 2001 is to Cleveland as 2003 is to the Mariners (stupid verbal SAT). The M's won 93 games that year, they're fourth straight with at least 91 wins. Since then? 63-99 in 2004 and 69-93 last year. If we were to continue the parallel to Cleveland, we would want to see a near .500 record this year, and be in a pennant race in 2007. Well, what did the Indians do since 2001 to get back to where they are? Since the inspiration for this post was the dump and reload philosophy, this doesn't include such major moves as signing Todd Dunwoody on 11/2/01. Thank you retrosheet for the following information:

2001-2002 winter:

-Traded Roberto Alomar and others to the Mets for Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder, and Billy Traber
-Traded Dave Roberts to the Dodgers for Christian Bridenbaugh and Nial Hughes

2002 season:

-Traded Russ Branyan to the Reds for Ben Broussard
-Traded Bartolo Colon to the Expos for Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore
-Traded Chuck Finley to the Cardinals for Luis Garcia. Coco Crisp was the played to be named later
-Traded Paul Shuey to Los Angeles Dodgers for Ricardo
Rodriguez, Terry Mulholland and Francisco Cruceta
-Traded Ricardo Rincon to the A's for Marshall McDougall.

2002-2003 winter:
-Traded Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese to Texas Rangers for
Travis Hafner and Aaron Myette.
-Signed Casey Blake

Those were basically the big ones. They also let Jim Thome go in free agency.

So, that's pretty impressive. Hafner, Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Crisp (who they just traded for Andy Marte-a very highly touted prospect) all came through those trades.

How are the Mariners different? Well, the biggest difference is that after the 2001 season, the Indians realized they needed to rebuild. The Mariners, on the other hand, kept trying to win after 2003. And they didn't feel the need to overspend so they missed out on Miguel Tejada and Vladimir Guerrero that offseason. Then they went down the crapper in 2004 and had to make desperate moves, and then overpaid for Sexson and Beltre. I haven't given up on Beltre yet, but I'd much rather have Miggy or Vlad right now.

The M's trades have gotten them Reed, Morse, Olivo, Bazardo, and Foppert. Reed could still be good, Morse is at best a decent bench player, and we'll see about Bazardo and Foppert.

The M's dug themselves a huge whole after the 2003 season, and they are now digging out of it. Based on the Cleveland model, let's hope for 80-82.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gil, Gil, Gil. Don't you dare

Back to Gil we go. The jersey goes up for this one. Why? Cause right now I'm not happy with Meche. This is a big year for the man I cursed. As he puts it in this article on the M's official site:

"It's huge," he said. "It's the most important year of my career, so far."

Why? Also from the article:

The Mariners' perplexing right-hander qualifies for free agency at the end of the 2006 season and has the kind of stuff that could make him one of the most attractive starting pitchers on the market. Or, he could wallow in mediocrity, where he has resided much of his Major League career.

I swear, if Gil finally has a big season, and cashes in on it, I will be PISSED. A few things could happen, and here there are order from greatest to least based on potentially pissing me off:

1) Gil has the year we've been waiting for. 18 wins, 220 innings, 3.20 ERA. Something like that. He then signs a 4 year, $40 million deal with the M's and goes back to sucking.

2) Again, the big year. Except this time he signs that deal with the Yankees and earns every penny of it, turning into a perennial All-Star.

3) See situation 2, but change "Yankees" to "A's".

4) See situation 2, but change "Yankees" to "Angels".

5) You get the point.

So basically the only good thing that can come out of a career year for Gil Meche is for the light bulb to have finally come on, he re-signs with the M's, and goes on to have a great career in Seattle. Or, he could suck again and my jersey will become a novelty item.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

National Perspective

While it's clearly t0o early to know what's going to happen, it seems that some national media outlets don't have high hopes for the Mariners.

Sports Illustrated likes the A's in the AL West. It will take huge years from Beltre, Sexson and Johjima to get them close to .500. Yikes.

ESPN's first power rankings have the M's at 26th. Ouch.

My biggest concern? The AL West is going to be tough. Not tuff like in The Outsiders (you know, Elvis is tuff, Mustangs are tuff), but tough like the other three teams are good and the Mariners are at best mediocre.

Not exactly a cheery outlook, but that's why they play the games right?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Rafael Chaves-Visionary?

So it seems the M's new 38-year old pitching coach has it all figured out. He'll be taking a revolutionary approach to improve the M's staff. He's going to have the pitchers....wait for it.....throw strikes. Wow. Where has this guy been?

Just kidding Rafael II. I'm excited to see what he can do. There was something from that article that bugged me though:

Former Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price also was a stickler for throwing first-pitch strikes. But when he realized late last season that the congregation wasn't listening to the preacher, he decided to turn the job over to someone else.

I don't know if I buy the whole "they stopped listening to him" thing. You don't just stop listening to a guy. Either they never listened to him, or they actually suck. Are you telling me Leo Mazzone didn't say the same things over and over in Atlanta? Seemed to work there.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our Boy

Last summer we loved him. Then he did this. But, check out this quote from Mike Hargrove about Mike Morse from this article in the News Tribune this morning:

“And Morse is huge now after working out all winter.”

I'm not going to accuse Morse of anything, but doesn't that seem like a strange thing for a manager to say about a guy who tested postive for steroids?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's here!!!!

Today is the day! Pitchers and catchers report. The News-Tribune has the M's recharging their batteries. The Times and P-I? No report yet. The M's site focuses on new pitching coach Rafael Chaves.

For a lot of teams, this is the best part of the baseball season. Hope is alive, dreams have yet to be shattered. Hopefully, that won't be true for the Mariners.

Most teams have a lot of questions to be answered in the spring. Position battles, roster spots, etc. Usually the less question marks you have, the better your teams chance of contending. The Mariners are a little different this year. On the one hand, they don't look like a contender. However, they don't really have a lot of questions going into the spring. Why?

1) The rotation seems to be set. Moyer, Washburn, Piniero, Meche, Felix. That is what we want to see. Unless Jesse Foppert (or "Fopp" if USSMariner has anything to say about it) is incredible, the best case scenario would be for those five to be pitching well. Gil and Joel-step it up.

2) The bullpen looks good. Guardado will close, with Putz, Soriano as the main setup guys and Mateo, Sherril, and (gulp) Thornton in the mix as well. There are a few guys who could be fighting for a spot, but the 'pen is probably the M's biggest strength.

3) Oddly, the lineup is probably set too. Maybe:
Ichiro RF
Johjima C
Beltre 3B
Sexson 1B
Ibanez LF
Everett DH
Reed CF
Lopez 2B
Betancourt SS

While that lineup certainly doesn't wake up memories of the '97 team, there aren't a lot of position battles going into the spring. Wee Willie Bloomquist may challenge Lopez to work a little harder, but, with few tweaks in the order, more than likely that is your lineup.

Having said that, there are a TON of questions going into the regular season. But we'll address those after the spring. For now, GET FIRED UP!!! BASEBALL IS BACK!!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Who needs King Felix?

Apparantly not Venezuela. They beat La Republica Dominica to take the Caribbean Series.

This is why the World Baseball Classic could be so much cooler. Look at the excitement it brought to those countries. Imagine if they stopped the MLB in the middle of the season when all the players were at their peak condition and had the WBC then. That would be very cool.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Moving On.

Oof. I didn't think it would hurt as bad as it did to see the Seahawks lose, but damn. In my mind this post was going to say something like "The Seahawks lost. O well, we knew that was coming." But, this is painful.

By the way, tread lightly around Big Daddy today. He's a little testy.

Anyway, pitchers and catchers report in 11 days. 11! So Seattle sports fans, wallow in your sorrows for a day or two, and then let's move on to baseball.

I don't feel like writing much else. We'll get into previews, predictions, etc. soon enough, but it doesn't feel right yet.