Monday, March 31, 2008

Poll Results: Who Will be the Mariners' MVP at the End of the Season?

Our latest poll hosted ten votes. Not bad, especially since we've lost some readership (made that word up) over the last week with me not being here. Anyways, the results:

Ichiro 6-60%
Erik Bedard 2-20%
Felix 1-10%
JJ Putz 1-10%
Adrian Beltre 0-0%

Side note: We are now over the 500 visitor mark here over the last almost two months. Not bad for a three month old blog. We are also reaching 200 posts here as well. Stay tuned.

Around the League: March 31, 2008

Time for today's Around the League segment.
  • According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves have signed 3B Scott Spezio to a minor league contract. Spiezio who is now 35, hit .269/.354/.386 in 223 AB's for the Cardinals last year.
  • The Orioles added some depth in the shortstop hole by signing Alex Cintron to a minor league deal, and assigning him to AAA Norfalk.
  • A little bit more on the Alex Rios extension. GM JP Riccardi is optimistic that a deal will get done. The deadline was pushed back a few days. I've heard that the two sides agreedish (poor grammer again) on an extension worth $65M over six years. The holdup is believed to be over the amounts on the option years.
  • MLBTradeRumors makes a few predictions on some July trades.
  • Some real action. KC 5 DET 4; ARI 4 CIN 2; MIL 4 CHC 3; CWS 8 CLE 10; TB 6 BAL 2; WSH 11 PHI 6; NYM 7 FLA 2; SF 0 LAD 5; LAA 2 MIN 3; PIT 12 ATL 11. Postponed: TOR @ NYY; COL @ STL.

MLB 2K8 Is Great

No rhyme intended, but recently, er yesterday, I bought MLB 2K8 for my Wii, and I have to say that it is pretty good. The graphics are amazing, but will be better once I get HD on my TV I think. The gameplay is solid, and there are quite a few unlockables. I'm not trying to sound like a nerd by the way.

I wanted to buy MLB 08 The Show, but I decided to try something new. Anyone else want to share there stories, or play online sometime?

Opening Day; Texas 2 Mariners 5

Opening Day has come and gone (side note, the countdown was suppossed to be untill the Mariners' Opening Day but something got screwed up) and the Mariners won 5-2.



Nice to see the rain hide out for a little bit. I still miss Arizona though. Pictures are coming soon.

Boxscore.

Game Notes
  • Dave Neiheus, who was elected in to the Hall of Fame, threw out the first pitch.
  • Erik Bedard pitched 5 innings in his debut. He struck out five, but walked four and gave up one run which was a homerun. He threw 1He got a no decision.
  • Sean Green pitched 1.2 innings of relief for Bedard and picked up the win (1-0), striking out two. He walked one and gave up two hits.
  • JJ Putz struck out two earning his first save of the year. Eric O'Flaherty and Mark Lowe both picked up holds.
  • Ichiro started the year 0-3 but scored two runs and was walked once.
  • Jose Lopez went 2-4 and drove in two runs.
  • Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez were both caught stealing. There's Mac's game plan at fail. I doubt that's correct grammer, but my old English teachers probably aren't reading this blog.
  • Game time temperature: 50 degrees (F), roof closed.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Around the League: March 31, 2008

Time for what's gone on in the MLB today.
  • The Jays and Alex Rios are closer today to an agreement on a long-term extension than they were yesterday. The Jays are believed to have a six year offer worth $65M, which would buy out two arbitration years, and four years of free agency. It was also said that Sunday (today) was the Jays deadline for an extension. They'd resume talkes at the end of the season.
  • The Orioles released Jay Gibbons today. They swallow the $11.9M in remaining salary. Gibbons is facing a 15 game suspension for steriod related problems, but it's believed that the ban will be lifted. How, I don't know.
  • The Daily News LA says that Francisco Rodriduez won't negotiate a contract extension with the Angels during the season. He will be a free agent this coming winter. Not winter right now, but next winter. If Sum-, Spring ever comes.
  • A REAL baseball score to pass along. ATL 2 WSH 3.

Series Preview: Rangers @ M's; 3/31-4/2


Not much better then Opening Day in sunny, I'm a bad lier, rainy, cold Seattle. But Opening Day is really exciting for some reason.
Projected Starters:
3/31 - Erik Bedard vs. Kevin Millwood
4/01 - Felix Hernandez vs. Vicente Padilla
4/02 - Carlos Silva vs. Jason Jennings

Keys for the Mariners
Putting Runs Up, Early
The Rangers starting staff is, well, not so good. The Mariners must take advantage of this weakness early because the Rangers have an alright bullpen. Millwood, Padilla, and Jennings are all good pitchers, er, were all good pitchers, but haven't found much more then sub five hundred records and ERA's over 5. Back to the bullpen. The Rangers have no big names, or flashy stat guys, but who they have can get the job done. The Japanese import Kazuo Fukumori was brought in to help, and might. Joaquin Benoit is probably one of the more underrated relievers/set-up men in baseball. CJ Wilson is blossoming in to a decent closer, and they have Eddie Guardado, so they have to be good.
Holding Off the Top of the Order
Although not too many people would know it, but the Rangers have a solid 1-5 in their batting order. When healthy, they'll be starting Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Milton Bradley and Hank Blalock. Kinsler and Hamilton have emerged in to solid hitters. Young seems to have always been one. Bradley is decent when he's healthy, and he also makes those toys or games or whatever. Blalock is a bit more interesting. He hasn't been an amazing hitter, but I always want to think of him as more then an average third baseman. Anyways, There's speed and contact through the first two and power in the last two. Hamilton has a bit of each. It'll be up to the pitchers to shut down these five, the rest isn't very exciting, maybe even less so.
Preserving the Bullpen
The Mariners may have been better then advertised last season, but their bullpen was burnt out. They spent a lot of their relief innings in the first half, which eventually led to their demise. They only have one longish reliever in Cha Seung Baek. More importantly they decided to go with a six man bullpen, and four of those are younger arms, who you don't really want to use up. Not having RA Dickey, who could be considered to have a rubber arm may hurt them in the first few weeks. He'll get a call up at some point. Maybe the Mariners want to showcase Baek a little more then trade him. Thus leaving a spot for Dickey.
Getting off to a Good Start
The Mariners need to prove to themselves that they are for real this season. Right off the bat they need to establish theirselves as a threat. They have high expectations this year. Guys like Richie Sexson and Jose Lopez have to bounce back, but more importantly, the top players, Ichiro, Putz, Bedard, Felix, you get the idea, need to show that they can handle the pressure. No pressure in 2007 equals success, what will pressure in 2008 equal?

Final Roster; Lineup

The roster is set. The lineup is set. The rotation is set. The bullpen is set. The bench is set. No more question marks with the position battles. It's time to get serious.

Pitchers:
Cha-Seung Baek
Miguel Batista
Erik Bedard
Sean Green
Felix Hernandez
Mark Lowe
Eric O'Flaherty
J.J. Putz
Ryan Rowland-Smith
Carlos Silva
Jarrod Washburn

Catchers:
Jaime Burke
Kenji Johjima

Infielders:
Adrian Beltre
Yuniesky Betancourt
Willie Bloomquist
Miguel Cairo
Jose Lopez
Richie Sexson
Jose Vidro (DH)

Outfielders:
Raul Ibanez
Charlton Jimerson
Mike Morse
Ichiro Suzuki
Brad Wilkerson

Overall, not bad. Solid rotation, and bullpen full of young eager pitchers with JJ Putz, maybe the game's best starter anchoring the pitching staff. The lineup has some question marks. Adrian Beltre will be playing with a torn thumb. His defence should be fine, but can he still put up 25-30 homeruns and 90-100 RBI? Richie Sexson. Can he do it? What will Brad Wilkerson bring? He isn't a Jose Guillen 30-100 guy, but can he produce atleast half of that? Those will be answered soon enough.

McLaren also announced his Opening Day lineup.

Ichiro Suzuki, CF
Jose Lopez, 2B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Richie Sexson, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Brad Wilkerson, RF
Jose Vidro, DH
Kenji Johjima, C
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

No problems with this lineup as of yet. Lopez in the number two hole is my only concern, and maybe Sexson and Beltre hitting back to back. Vidro has proved that he can hit in that number two spot fine, but I guess that I've missed something. If Sexson can get going then that will be fine with Beltre hitting behind him, but who else is there in terms of protection?

I'm Back

I'm now back to the crappy West Coast weather that a lot of us know too well. Going from a nice 90 degrees, to a balmy 38 at SeaTac yesterday afternoon. I'll have some pictures up soon, and maybe a couple reports from what I saw up soon as well.

I'm not going to dwell what has happened in my absence, but rather sumit up with one or two short posts. and then get right in to Opening Day, and the regular season.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

One Last Post for Now

I decided to give you all pne last post with a few links to some reading material on this blog. As I've mentioned, I'll be away until March 30, so probably nothing new untill then. Here's a few links to keep you busy.

2008 Mariners Projection
Getting to Know a Rival
Mariners Offseason Assessment
Fantasy Plus

Poll Results: Where will the Mariners finish in the AL West?
First 3 votes
Second 1 vote
Rest, none

I will add another poll in a few minutes.

I hate to leave at a time when traffic at this blog is on the rise, but them's the breaks. I wish you all a good next weeks and a bit, and hope you don't forget about this blog. We'll be back and running at full throttle when I'm back.

Peace, Tyler

Around the League: March 19, 2008

Time for probably my last post of the day, and the next little while.
  • MLBTradeRumors is reporting that White Sox have waived SS Juan Uribe. MLBTR has another source agreeing, but Uribe and his agent not knowing about this, yet.
  • The Red Sox were boycotting because their coachers weren't going to get the $40K that they were promised. Like they need more money.
  • The Yankees are believed to be interested in A's pitcher Rich Harden. The A's probably would want the full sticker price for Harden, so Ian Kennedy and another pitcher or two?
  • Bonds vowed that he would play again. As I said yesterday, I'm not opening this can of dog crap.
  • Today's Spring Training scores. TOR 4 BOS 3; PHI 1 TB 3; STL 12 BAL 3; LAA 6 OAK 1; OAK 5 CHC 2; COL 10 CWS 10; ATL 7 HOU 8; NYY 12 PIT 8; CLE 1 NYM 3; CHC 4 SF 2.
  • The Mariners are set to beat the D-Backs 7-4.

Bench Battle: Updated

Time to take one last look at the bench battle. New stuff from Ken Rosenthal says that the Mariners could go with an 11 man bench. The other day, Jason Churchill said that the battle for the last bench spot was down to two. This crap changes everyday.

I'm not going to pass on too many stats for you right now, because a lot of you would've probably checked already. I'm sorry if I've come across as kind of mean or sarcastic these last couple posts, but it's the stress talking.

We have Jamie Burke and Willie Bloomquist as locks. Two spots filled. Scenerio time: here's what the bench would look like with Jimerson and Morse on it.

Bloomquist
Burke
Jimerson
Morse
Greg Nortan or Miguel Cairo (Reed starting at AAA)

That's scenario one. That looks alright. It'd be coming down to between two players, so Churchill would be right in this scenario. I'd have Reed at AAA, because he still has two options left, and there's no reason to get rid of him. Bleeding Blue and Teal agrees with me. The Mariners have said that Cairo's garunteed contract doesn't mean anything. Nortan has played allright, but the main thing is that he can play first. If Sexson tanks, then that would be a plus. Although Morse can play first too.

Scenario 2: The Mariners only take four on their bench. We now go back to stage one, with Burke and Willie garunteed. Then, you'd have the rest of those mentioned in secenario one going for the two open jobs. You'd end up with something like this:

Burke
Bloomquist
Jimerson/Morse
Cairo/Nortan

Pretty much the same idea. I'd say that Cairo and Morse would be the other two on the bench.

Scenairo 3: The Mariners go with three bench players.

Burke
Bllomquist
Cairo/Morse/Nortan/Jimerson

This would be the least likely of the three. If it were to happen, then I'd say that Morse takes the spot, because he can play third, first, and right and left field. Willie would play up the middle.

Only time will answer this one for us. You can make your own predictions, but I'd say that scenarios one and two are going to be the ones decided on. With Rosenthal's new stuff, then maybe scenario one. But it would make sense to start with scenario two.

Latest from Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports has a new column out with some interesting Mariners stuff.
  • The Mariners might carry 11 pitchers in order to keep both Mike Morse and Charlton Jimerson on the bench, who are out of options. I'm going to get to the bench in a few minutes.
  • Brad Wilkerson will be the starting right fielder come Opening Day for the M's.
  • Wladimir Balentien will be starting with Tacoma in AAA, but will likely get called up at some point. Sooner if one of the previous mentioned outfielders gets hurt.
  • Rosenthal agrees with me that the Tigers have a week bullpen.

Position Battle: Number Two Spot

Another position battle has come up over the last few days or weeks. Who will be hitting in the number two spot in the lineup? There are only two main candidates; Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Vidro.

Betancourt has shown that he can get on base on top of playing spectacular defence over the last two years or so, but he's been hitting in the eighth and ninth spots in the lineup. Moving him up to number two could help him out, because he would get more at bats. If Betancourt is on base more, because he gets more chances to get on base, but would allow him to run more. Something that his manager wants him to do. I don't see anything wrong with Betancourt hitting in the two spot. Maybe it'll help him to become a solid all around player. He won't hit for much, if any power, but I'd like to see his average go over .300 for the first time in his career.

Vidro is a more interesting case. He is a .300 hitter, and has done so a few times in his career. He has a vesting option for 2009, because he waived his no trade clause. I'm guessing that it will vest with something like 500 or 550 at bats, and I'm not too sire if the Mariners want to bring Vidro back again. Again, I don't mind seeing Vidro in the number two hole, if he can produce. Six week deadline for me on Vidro. Mid-May if he's not producing, then he's out of the number two spot if he gets it. Betancourt, in my opinion should have another week or more on top of that for glory time, because he would be new there. I won't get to update this again, so you may have to tie up some loose ends yourselves.

Lefty Set-Up Man Battle Won

After the Mariners latest roster cuts, John McLaren confirmed with us that Eric O'Flaherty will be the team's 'late inning lefty' this season. O'Flaherty looks like a good choice. I thought that Ryan Rowland-Smith would be getting the job, if not close to it, but I also thought that O'Flaherty would too so...

Other than my opening statement, there's not much else to say. I am going to tell you know that I will be posting up a ton of stuff to keep you readers busy over my absence. I will be gone from tomorrow the 20th, untill Mach 30th. Kind of a crucial time in Spring Training, but whatever. I'll have lots of pictures that I will post here, and may be able to get in a couple updates at one point or another over the next week and a half.

Next Round of Cuts

The Mariners made their next round of roster cuts today, about a week after the first ones. Here's today's cuts.
Jeff Clement
Cesar Jimenez
Jon Huber
Sean White
None too surprising. Clement wasn't very likely to make this team, and Jimenez had fallen out of favour with the Mariners, it had appeared. Huber and White were probably long shots anyways. All four will be with AAA Tacoma to start the season.

Getting to Know a Rival: NL Central

I was going to do a seperate post for each of the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, but because I don't have the time right now, I'm going to do a reasonanbly quick look at both teams, and what they will have to do with the Mariners push for postseason glory.

Cleveland Indians


Manager: Eric Wedge
2007: 96-66, first in ALC
Coming In: RHP Masahide Kobayashi, INF Jamey Carroll, RHP Jorge Julio
Packed Their Bags: OF Kenny Lofton, OF Trot Nixon, RHP Jason Davis

Outlook: The Indians are bringing back virtually the same team, so they should be seriously in the running for the AL Central. They didn't martgage the farm like the Tigers, but brought in a bit of relief depth. The 1-2 of CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona is one of the best combos, and has a year more experience. Not to mention that Sabathia is in his contract year. The Indians biggest mountain to climb, is getting the team to the next level. In last year's ALCS, they went up 3-1 on the Boston Red Sox, but lost the next three games and had their playoff hopes dashed. That will be the only concern for this year. And maybe the Tigers.

Detroit Tigers


Manager: Jim Leyland
2007: 88-74, second place in ALC
Coming In: 3B Miguel Cabrera, SS Edgar Renteria, OF Jacque Jones, LHP Dontrelle Willis
Packed Their Bags: 1B Sean Casay, INF Omar Infante, LHP Andrew Miller, OF Cameron Maybin

Outlook: The Tigers gave up their top two prospects to get Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in a blockbuster deal. The Tigers can only look to improve on their 2007 season now that they have a huge bat in the middle of their lineup, a dependable leadoff man in Edgar Renturia, and a solid number three starter, who should be way higher in the rotation, in Willis. Their rotation looks amazing, their lineup looks almost as good as the rotation. But the only concern may be their bullpen. It won't be an immeadiate problem, but half way through the season and some of the starters either get hurt or don't pitch enough innings, then people will start to realize that the Tigers' bullpen is fairly week. If the Tigers aren't competing for the division, they will be a pain in the wild card race if that's where the Mariners are.

The rest of the division looks alright, but won't be much, if anything of a problem to the Mariners this season. If you truly are interested in the Royals, White Sox and Twins, then I think that I could dig you up a couple of links if you haven't already.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Richie Sexson.....

Geoff Baker wrote in his blog today about Richie Sexson. Exciting stuff huh?

One of you wrote in today, challenging part of my forecast for the coming season in saying there is no way the Mariners would bench an underperforming Richie Sexson. I disagree. In fact, it's a little remembered reality of last season that new manager John McLaren did actually bench Sexson beginning on Aug. 1, as you can read in the attached blog post from that night. More accurately, McLaren began platooning Sexson with Ben Broussard. The night before, in an 8-0 loss to the Angels, Sexson had been roundly booed by his own fans. The decision was made not to play him every day against right handed pitchers at Safeco Field and subject him to more abuse while he was trying to work some things out.

I agree with what Baker has to say here. Richie Sexson has gone from good, to good-ish, to bad, to I wish we never signed him, over his tenure with the Mariners. I know that there was a rumor out there that Sexson had been claimed on waivers, and everyone went in to a panis saying 'why didn't we get rid of him and his $14M salary?'. It's still undetermined on whether or not he had a claim put on him, but who would? I can't think of any team off of the top of my head that would've needed, or even wanted Sexson last summer. Back to the present. Baker goes on to say that the Mariners will put the former All-Star on the bench if he comes out sucking. That's a good sign. I think that Greg Nortan or Mike Morse could do as good of a job, if not better than what Sexson put out there for us to vomit in to last season.

I have projected Sexson to reclaim some of his lost power, but that's about it. It's a fair assumption to make seeing as he is in a contract year, but these days some team will throw $10M to Sexson because he could hit 30 homeruns three years ago. Heck, the Mariners gave Jeff Weaver $8M last winter.

The biggest problem that I think Sexson has, is his morale. He used to be 'big Richie', but after a season of below mediocrity, beeing booed by his own fans (I don't think that he pulled a Rafael Palmeiro), and sort of being benched, you have to wonder where this guy's head is going to be come Opening Day. His spring so far is on pace as to what he accomplished in 2007. Maybe a new manager will help. Or hitting in the fifth or six hole, crap I have to do my projected lineup, may help. Who knows. I didn't know about Jose Lopez, and I probably don't know about Richie Sexson either.

Around the League: March 18, 2008

Today's MLB news.
  • The Reds are believed to be looking in to acquiring a catcher. Mostly because of David Ross' back acting up. I don't have any names to throw out there for you right now, other than maybe Gerald Laird of the Rangers.
  • Ex-Mariner George Sherrill was named the Orioles closer for this season. It's something "that every reliever wants to do". Sherrill even shaved off his beard. It probably wouldn't be their anyway of he was still with the M's because Manager John McLaren wants his boys clean shaven.
  • I know some Barry Bonds crap has come up, but I'm going to leave it at that.
  • Some scores to pass along on an off-day for the M's. LAD 2 FLA 1; MIN 4 BAL 2; PIT 8 CIN 4; TB 2 PHI 4; WSH 9 DET 1; KC 5 CHC 6; MIL 4 LAA 11; OAK 6 TEX 11; SD 5 CWS 0.

2008 Projections/Preview

Time for my Mariners' projections for 2008. A while ago, MLB Rumors came out with theirs. I'm going to review and preview each player, and then make a projection for him (and maybe a few hers as well).

Erik Bedard

The Mariners biggest offseason acquisition is coming in to a team that is ready to make a run for the playoffs. Bedard is coming off of a Cy Young caliber season with the Orioles, in which he struck out 221, an Orioles' club record. He should be able to duplicate last year's performance, now that he is on a club that doesn't suck (sorry Orioles fans, but you did last season, and you probably will do so again in 2008).

Projection: 16-7 W-L, 3.29 ERA, 218 K

Felix Hernandez

Now that a bit of the pressure is off of the King, he should be able to really come out of his shell, and prove that he deserves the title of 'King'. He is coming off of what could of been his breakout season, and it was untill an injury sidelined him for a few weeks. Can he get off to the same start again? I think so. We'll have to wait another two weeks to see. Either way, there's a reason that he's acquired the nickname 'The King'.

Projection: 15-8 W-L, 3.72 ERA, 178 K

Carlos Silva

Silva was brought in to do what he normally does, and eat away innings to help preserve a bullpen that once again was overused in 2007. Few of his stats are glamorous, but he gives up very few homeruns. He has been healthy for the majority of his career, and should be so again. Like I said, don't expect a lot in the stats department for Silva.

Projection: 13-10 W-L, 4.37 ERA, 89 K

Jarrod Washburn

Washburn has put up average numbers over his career, and should be expected to do the same again this year. He hasn't had much success with the Mariners, but things may change. I don't think that he'll be back to his 2002 season with the Angels (18-5, 3.15 ERA) this year, or ever, but I'd like to see a better showing than his 10-15 record and 4.32 ERA from 2007. Maybe he has some confidance now that his the team behind him has proved itself, maybe he'll go out and prove himself.

Projection: 11-13 W-L, 4.12 ERA, 114 K

Miguel Batista

Batista is coming off of a career high 16 win season last year, and is the team's fifth starter. That's something that I don't think any other team in the league has. I would like to see his ERA go from 4.29 to under 4, in his second year with the Mariners. But he did put up 193 healthy innings last season. Expect more of the same with Batista in 2008.

Projection: 14-11 W-L, 4.13 ERA, 118 K
JJ Putz

I only need one word to describe him: NASTY. Putz established himself last season as one of the best closers in the game. He throws some serious heat, and can mix in a great changeup, which also comes packing some punch. More of the same in 2008.

Projection: 41 saves, 5-1 W-L, 1.27 ERA

Ichiro

Nothing else that I need to say. Ichiro burst in to the league as a rookie in 2001, and got everybody's interest. These past couple of seasons before last, he kind of snuck under everyone's radar being one of the best outfielders in all of baseball. Expect him to do everthing that he did last year, with a little give on both sides.

Projection: .339 AVG, 7 HR, 63 RBI, 44 SB

Jose Vidro

Vidro is in the last year of his contract, so their may be some urgancy for him to do something this year. A lot of people were dissapointed with him last season, even though he put up a good .3114 average, but I think that most people were looking for the power numbers. Don't expect more out of him power-wise, but he should have a decent average if he is getting regular AB's at DH, 2B, or 1B this season.

Projection: .298 AVG, 9 HR, 59 RBI

Kenji Johjima

Joh has been a solid contributer to this offense, in a position that hasn't seen much offense produced from. It's his third year with the Mariners, and in North America, and is in a contract year. I wouldn't expect too much more than his .287 average from last season. Still, he's a solid fantasy option.

Projection: .292 AVG, 13 HR, 61 RBI

Richie Sexson

If Sexson is any better than his .205 average from last season, then a lot of Mariniacs will be happy. The Mariners need a better showing in the power department this year. His 2006 and 2007 form would be much appreciated over his dismal 21 HR from last year. He needs atleast 30, probably more in the 33-38 range actually. He's in a contract year if that means anything.

Projection: .231 AVG, 33 HR, 102 RBI

Jose Lopez

Lopez hasn't done anything offensively, no, he hasn't done anything since the first half of the 2006 season. Other than that, he hasn't done so great, and he probably won't again. Maybe Lopez can break out again, but who knows. Anything could happen, but a lot of the time, what could happen may not.

Projection: .260 AVG, 13 HR, 65 RBI

Adrian Beltre

Beltre has slowly gotten some of his form back, but in all likelyhood, will not regain the stats of his magical, and maybe fluky 2004 with the Dodgers. He has shown that he can actually hit over the past two seasons with the Mariners. His first season was pretty nasty. Maybe he can improve on his power numbers a little bit to go with his Gold Glove defence at the hot corner.

Projection: .275 AVG, 27 HR, 93 RBI

Yuniesky Betancourt

Could this finally be the year that Betancourt breaks out in, not zits, but offensive ability? His average has stayed at .289 the past two seasons, but his offensive numbers have improved. Maybe this year his offensive numbers improve to the point where nobody will notice Jose Lopez' poor play.

Projection: .296 AVG, 11 HR, 75 RBI, 17 SB

Raul Ibanez

Like Joh, Ibanez has been a solid offensive outfielder over the past couple years. His age has almost helped him along the way, but that age may start to catch up with him. He's in a contract year, and may be on his way out, so he needs to prove that he isn's washed up next winter.

Projection: .283 AVG, 19 HR, 98 RBI

Brad Wilkerson

Wilkerson's stats will depend on how much playing time he is going to get this year in right field. Wladimir Balentien is ramming the door to the big leagues with a log, and will likely get more than three at bats this season. Wilkerson is going to have to put up some solid stats right from Opening Day, if he wants to prove that he is better than Wlad for this season.

Projection: .244 AVG, 18 HR, 54 RBI

Wladimir Balentien

Same goes for Wlad. He'll get his shot and shots this season, and should be able to make the most of it, especially of the Mariners other power hitters don't show up right away. It's hard to project what he's going to do because of how little MLB experience he has.

Projection: .286 AVG, 15 HR, 73 RBI

I decided not to do the bench players or bullpen, for the simple matter that nothing is determined yet. If any of you readers would like to see projections for other players, than feel free to tell me in the comments, or drop me a line at marinerscentral"at"gmail.com

Fantasy Plus: Kenji Johjima

Next up in the fantasy plus series is catcher Kenji Johjima.

Johjima is also a free-agent-to-be after this coming season. Re-signing with Seattle might not be in the cards because Seattle has top prospect Jeff Clement waiting in the wings. Either way, this is good news for Fantasy owners as Johjima will be motivated for a big year. He hit .287 with 14 homers and 61 RBI in 2007. He remains a No. 1 Fantasy catcher.




My Analysis

Kenji Johjima has been a very solid catcher during his two year tenure behind the plate for the Mariners. He continues to improve, and is one of the more underrated catchers in baseball. Joh is in a contract year, so like most players, there's a sense of urgancy knowing that he isn't garunteed anything in the next year. His numbers have been consistant, so you can expect something like a .280 average with 15 HR and 60 RBI. Probably more because of his contract status. He's around come rounds 8-12, and is easily a number one catcher in most leagues. If he's there, pick him up. He shouldn't let you down to easily.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Commondrum: Jose Lopez

What the heck are we going to do with this guy? Everybody still seems to be infatuated by his All-Star selection in 2006. Since then he's done less than what Jack has done. Jason Churchill came out with his Spring Training Report today, and this is what he had to say about Jose Lopez.

Lopez is a complete mess at the plate. Several scouts described him as “lost” or “without any confidence he can hit the ball hard at all” after seeing him this spring.
He’s still chasing pitches out of the zone early in the count and is unable to punish the fastball. Presently, Lopez is not showing that he deserves regular at-bats in Triple-A, let alone a solid big-league baseball club.
He pulls off breaking balls about half the time, and the other half he’s reaching out for them with a weak waive. Until he can offer more effective plate coverage — going to right field with a line drive regularly — he’s probably going to be limited to being a .260 hitter with moderate power at best.
If pitchers stay away from Lopez and make him reach, he’s an easy out waiting to happen. He must develop better discipline, and if he wants to keep his job as the starting second baseman, he’ll need to show something early in the year.

I had to laugh after reading this. It's almost as good as Lookout Landing's analysis of each team's #1-2 in their rotations. It's really too bad for Lopez. It seemed like yesterday, wait, not it didn't, because yesterday he wasn't hitting really well and making magic in the middle of the infield. Lopez will probably be the starting second basemen come Opening Day, because like some of you, I'd say us, but I'm not, are still in love with Lopez' first half of 2006. Manager John McLaren is no different.

What the Mariners are going to do. Hmmmm. Miguel Cairo and Tug Hullet wouldn't be any better. Yung Chi Chen, why not? Maybe explore the trade route. Ronnie Belliard would be an idea. This is turning out to be a position battle with two weeks left in the Spring.

I Was Just Thinking

A random thought before I wish you all a happy Saint Patricks Day, why do so many sports teams bother wearing their green uniforms. They were them for three hours, and once a year. It seems like a waste to make them for such a short period of time. Who knows. Maybe they go to the people in Africa like all of the other stuff made for the championship games that don't get handed out to the players.




Oh, and happy Saint Patricks' Day to all of you. I think that tomorrow should be called Saint Tyler's Day. Who's Patrick and why does he get his own day? It's not fair...

Fantasy Plus: Raul Ibanez

Next up in the Fantasy Plus series, is LF Raul Ibanez.

Ibanez will get his usual 20-25 homers this year. The usually durable player played just 149 games last season due to shoulder and leg issues. Perhaps he is starting to wear down after 10-plus season in the majors. He will a top 50 outfielder on Draft Day, but you will want to watch him closely because of his age and the potential to lose at-bats to younger outfielders in Seattle. As the M's most consistent RBI man, he's a pretty safe bet to be in the lineup somewhere.

Doesn't it seem like the older Ibanez gets, the better he gets with the bat? No, he's not the 33-homer hitter he was in 2006, but in the past six years, he has batted .292 and averaged 22 homers and 95 RBIs, numbers that classify as well above average. Plus, he finished 2007 on an absolute tear, batting .357 with 15 homers and a 1.057 OPS in 55 games after Aug. 1, which puts to rest the theory that a career decline is around the corner. Once the elite outfielders are gone, it's nice to know a consistent guy like this is there for the taking.


Truthfully, there's never been anything wrong with Ibanez. He's a career .283 hitter with 20-homer, 90-RBI pedigree. Of course, in a landscape where every Tom, Dick, and Harry is searching for the next five-tool rookie or emerging 40-homer stud, those numbers lack, well, excitement, and Ibanez lacks even one iota of what the kids are calling "upside." A funny thing has happened in June, however. Mr. Boring has suddenly turned into Mr. Slightly Less Boring But I Play in Seattle So I Still Can't Get Any Respect. In June alone, Raul is hitting .444, slugging .889, and has a whopping 1.411 OPS, which looks even better next to his two homers and nine RBI. He's on pace for a career-defining season of 27 dingers and 121 runs driven in. While it's highly doubtful the veteran has suddenly taken his game to the next level at age 34, there is little denying those who reluctantly selected him on draft day have already enjoyed a much more interesting ride than they bargained for.
My Analysis
Raul Ibanez has quietly been one of the better offensive outfielders in the AL. Sure, he's not glamorous like Manny Ramirez or Carl Crawford int left field, but considering that those guys are top five rounds picks, and Ibanez is a lot of the time never taken. Ibanez, like Beltre, has put up solid, not to mention consistant numbers over the last couple seasons. If his name comes up, don't be afraid to give him a chance.

Around the League: March 16, 2008

Today's news, links, crap, whatever you want to call it.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has Jason Varitek's agent Scot Boras saying that the Red Sox would have to come to them about a contract extension.
  • MLB Rumors is making a list of their top 100 prospects. Our own Carlos Truinfel falls in at #50. 50. Carlos Triunfel, Mariners- Considered to be the next A-Rod, Triunfel hit .296 at the age of 16 at Single-A. He is the shortstop of the future for the Mariners and will likely see MLB action in 2009.
  • Today's Spring Training scores. ATL 2 STL 4; CLE 4 PHI 6; DET 3 CIN 5; FLA 5 MIN 3; HOU 12 LAD 10; NYM 7 WSH 3; TOR 1 PIT 4; BOS 4 NYY 8; CWS 4 MIL 4; KC 2 OAK 6; SD 4 ARI 8; SF 2 COL 4.

Fantasy Plus: Adrian Beltre

Next up in the Fantasy Plus series, is 3B Adrian Beltre.

Beltre is generally a slow first-half player and doesn't get going at the plate until after the All-Star break. He has managed 20-plus homers and 80-plus RBI for two straight seasons, though, making him a decent low-end No. 1 Fantasy 3B.

Beltre seems like he's been around forever, but he's only 27 years old, has a boatload of natural ability, and is far from washed up. He's not likely to ever reproduce the numbers he put up in his contract year as a Dodger in 2004, but that doesn't preclude him from being a serviceable option for your fantasy squad if you don't own one of the elite at third base. Those suffering from the struggles of Morgan Ensberg, the inconsistency of Aramis Ramirez, or the injuries of Melvin Mora should look into his availability.


Last season, Beltre set a career high in doubles and posted homer and RBI totals that were second only to the marks from his freakish 2004 campaign. In fact, with the exception of '04, Beltre has been one of the most consistent producers at his position, and he's still shy of his 29th birthday. Beltre slugged 100 points higher on the road (.533) than at Safeco Field (.430) last season, so he likely would benefit from a move to a more hitter-friendly venue. Nonetheless, he should deliver plenty of help with his usual across-the-board production in '08.
My Analysis
Adrian Beltre has been a quality fantasy third baseman during his Mariners career. I think that most of us can come to the reality that Beltre won't return to his 2004 LA Dodger form, but he's been a solid player. He's a steady producer in all stat categories. He's topped 20 HR and 80 RBI in each of the last couple seasons. He's been passed by many, but he's usually around in rounds 10-12, and should be picked up. He's no Alex Rodriguez, but after him and Mike Lowell, there's not much, other than a few fantasy bench players at best.

16.03.08 MIL 17 SEA 3; SEA 5 TEX 3

A double dose somewhere between decent effort and crapshoot today in Cactus League action.

Vs. Milwaukee
BoxScore. Recap.

SEATTLE AB R H BI I Suzuki CF 5 0 0 0
Y Betancourt SS 1 0 0 0
T Hulett SS-2B 3 0 0 0
J Vidro DH 3 0 0 0
B Johnson PR-DH 0 0 0 0
R Johnson PH-DH 1 0 0 0
R Sexson 1B 3 1 2 1
M Wilson LF 1 0 0 0
W Balentien RF 4 1 2 1
K Johjima C 4 1 3 0
A Moore PR-C 0 0 0 0
W Bloomquist 2B 2 0 0 0
O Navarro SS 1 0 0 0
M Morse LF-1B 4 0 1 1
M Tuiasosopo 3B 4 0 2 0

IP H R ER BB SO HR
C Silva (L,0-2) 4 1-3 13 10 9 1 2 1
R Feierabend 1 2-3 2 0 0 0 0 0
S White 2 6 4 4 1 0 1
J Huber 1 4 3 3 0 0 0

@ Texas
BoxScore. Recap.

SEATTLE AB R H BI
J Reed LF 3 0 0 2
J Lopez 2B 4 0 1 0
L Valbuena 2B 0 0 0 0
R Ibanez DH 3 0 0 0
J Dominguez PR-DH 0 0 0 0
B Wilkerson RF 4 1 0 0
A Beltre 3B 4 1 2 1
M Kinkade 3B 0 0 0 0
G Norton 1B 4 0 1 0
J Clement C 2 0 0 0
D Carroll PR 0 1 0 0
J Burke C 1 0 1 1
M Cairo SS 3 1 1 0
C Jimerson CF 2 1 1 0

IP H R ER BB SO HR
C Baek (W,2-0) 4 1 0 0 1 1 0
R Dickey 3 3 0 0 0 2 0
E O'Flaherty 1 2-3 1 2 2 4 2 0
C Jimenez (S,2) 1-3 1 0 0 0 0 0

Balentien vs. Clement

I don't know if this would become a series, but I'm going to start looking at players and comparing them. To start, I'm going to look at the Mariners' top prospects now that Adam Jones is gone, Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien. I'm going to assess each player's abilities based on stats and what I've seen. So, let's start 'er up.

Jeff Clement is seen as the catcher of the future for the Mariners, but when will that future be? Kenji Johjima is under contract for one more season, and it's rumored that the Mariners would like to have him back behind the plate again in 2009, and possibly beyond. On Joh for a sec, why not have him back? He's played solid in his first two seasons in North America, hitting and fielding wise and works really well with the Mariners pitching staffs. The Mariners aren't big on having Clement play first base this season if Richie Sexson goes down the tube, and the club also prefers to go with Jose Vidro at DH. Clement could DH or play first in 2009, as both Vidro and Sexson will become free agents. Clement will be getting a few more oppurtunities this season, for one, he's ready to play in the MLB, and two, Kenji Johjima's future is still uncertain. Wladimir Balentien on the other hand, has been looked by with Adam Jones blocking him. Now Wlad has nowhere to go but up, and will. He is looking to make this club this Spring, and could very well do so. The chance of Wlad getting some outfield time could greatly improve with a domino effect including Raul Ibanez, Jose Vidro and Richie Sexson occurs.

Strengths:
Jeff Clement has an amazing eye at the plate, and will make contact more than the average person. He has plus power, so he won't be a David Ortiz, but will show more than Jamie Burke. Clement's quick wrists give him a line-drive swing, which allow him to hit the ball solidly both ways, with power. He runs like a regular catcher would speed wise, but has great baserunning instincts. He'll be able to produce in the middle of the lineup for years to come.


Wladimir Balentien has a ton of natural power, that will allow him to pile up some homeruns in the future. He's improved his judement at the plate and plate discipline over the past couple years. He has a cannon arm that would work great in right of left field.

Weaknesses:
The main thing that Clement lacks, is athleticism. He is a good fielder, don't get me wrong. His arm is fine and developing quite well, but the question is his ability to block pitches in the dirt, and go side to side. That would be his downfall.

The biggest problem for Wlad, is his free-swinging nature. His .291 average last season with Tacoma showed his improvement from his .230 average with San Antonio in 2006. He'll strike out a lot and probably not walk enough, but things can change in a heartbeat.

Tools:
Hitting for Contact: As I mentioned, Wlad takes a free-swinging aproach to the plate. He'll strikeout more than your average player, but he can make contact. He's no Ichiro at the dish, but he's more than Richie Sexson (I hope).

Clement brings patience beyond his years to the dish. He limits strikeouts and walks often. There is no reason that he can't be a .270-280 hitter in his career. Clement still has room to improve, and when he maximizes his potential, look for that average to creep closer to .290.




Hitting for Power: Clement is your typical power hitter, who doesn't have to go very far out of his way to drive pitches. He relies on timing and balance to hit the longballs. He may not be cranking 40 out, but he should be able to hit out 25-30 with a little but of expierence. Remember his few at bats near the end of 2007?

Wlad's Master's Degree is in the power department. He can hit the ball out of the park all day long. What Wlad needs though, is consistancy. It's an old sports cliche, but he is trying to hard to get the ball too far. Instead, he needs to slow everything down, and allow his smooth swings to help him clear the fences, instead of his quick, untimed thwaks.

Glove:
Balentien will make almost all of the simple plays that he is expected to. He won't go over the top to make a play, but he will make the catch on anything withen his range.

Clement isn't a bad defensive catcher, but injuries have slowed down his progress, and halted his development for about a year. Now that his knees are fine, he is more comfortable in the crouch, and can get the throw to second or third off a lot quicker. He has a reasonably quick glove, but won't win too many Gold Gloves in his career. He's good, maybe more than that, but isn't spectacular.

Arm:
Clement's arm is still in the development process, and might not be completely ready yet. Once he gets the mechanincs down pat, then he will develop his consistancy, which will untimately lead to him gaining a superior arm.

Balentien on the other hand, has an arm that is years beyond what would be expected. He has superior strength and accuracy in the ol' cannon. His only problem however, is that he tends to let it fly too much, which leads to him overthrowing his throws, making him look like he is below his actual abilities. An outfield with Wlad and Ichiro. Nobody would try for an extra base ever again.

Speed/Baserunning:
Balentien's speed isn't going to make much, if any difference in his career, because he will most likely be a power hitter, with some mobility in the outfield. He's an aggressive baserunner, who takes the chances, but as soon as he learns a little more about what he's doing, and realizes that he's not Ichiro on the basepaths, he'll be a solid baserunner.

Jeff Clement is your typical catcher on the basepaths. He's closer to slow than fast, and has somewhat of an idea as to what's going on when he's on base. He's nothing special here, but most catchers aren't known for their speed. Are any?

Grading: Now that we've looked at the tools of both players, I'm going to hand out their report cards, before we decide who's is better now, and in the future.

Wladimir Balentien
Contact C+
Power A
Speed C+
Arm A
Glove B

Jeff Clement
Contact B
Power B+
Speed C+
Arm B
Glove B

Now time for the ultimate decision: who is better? If you take a look at my grades, most of us will automatically assume that Wlad is better because he has a couple of 'A's' (not of the Oakland variety) and Clement doesn't. Instead, Clement looks more rounded as a player, and his good at everything, and Balentien is good in some areas, but not consistant in all. For right now, I'm going to say that Wlad will make the most impact when he enters the Majors, and will either excel, or slowly fall out of the game. Five years from now, I think that Clement will be the better of the two. Catcher is a tough position because you have to go through a rigorous development process, that sometimes will end a catcher's career. Now that Clement has found himself healthy, he will continue to improve, and become a top catcher in the MLB.

I'd like to thank Jason Churchill from ProspectInsider for his scouting reports.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Around the League: March 15, 2008

Today's MLB whatever,
  • Ken Rosenthal revisits at the end of his most recent post, 2001, when the Mariners started off 20-4, and had the division locked up before May. Rosenthal talks about how the Angels may want to add another starter to fill a 14-16 start void that will be left by John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar's injuries. The Angels could go in to the scrap heap of free agents left; Horocio Ramirez, David Wells, and Jeff Weaver is all that is left. The Angels have a surplus of outfielder, so they could make a trade. The Brewers Dave Bush and Chris Capuono could get some interest. Or the Angels could jump in to the Joe Blanton sweepstakes. The Angels may decide to go with in house options such as Ercin Santana, Nick Adenhart, and Joe Saunders.
  • The Pirates have signed Ian Snell to a three year extension worth $8M with a $600K signing bonus. There are two option years on the deal, totalling around $16M. This looks like a good deal for the Pirates, because the arbitration rate for young pitchers these days are crazy.
  • The Marlins are going to sign Jeff Conine to a one day contract so he can retire as a Marlin. Conine, also known as "Mr. Marlin" holds many club records, and was vital in the clubs 1997 and 2003 World Series titles.
  • Spring Training action from today. SD 6 LAD 3; ATL 3 STL 2; BOS 3 PIT 6; DET 2 TB 7; FLA 7 LAD 6; NYM 4 HOU 6; PHI 6 CIN 2; TOR 8 MIN 3; WSH 3 BAL 11; DET 4 NYM 7; CLE 6 NYY 7; LAA 1 CHC 4; CWS 5 ARI 4; SD-COL Cancelled; SF 3 KC 13; TEX 7 OAK 9.

Bullpen Battles Updated

It's time to take another look at the Mariners' position battles, but our focus tonight is going to be on the bullpen. We're going to look more at the players in the battles, then the battles themselves.

RA Dickey
Dickey has never left the running for the long relief role, and is now has a fifty percent chance of getting that role. In 9 IP so far this Spring, he has a 2.00 ERA, giving up two runs on six hits. He's struck out four, walked three, and hit one. The ERA is nice, and the strikeouts aren't bad, but it's the baseunners that have me a little worried. Yes his WHIP would only be about 1.20 or something, which is pretty good. I think that it's his walk rate that has me worried more than anything. Other than a statistical update, there's nothing new on Dickey.

Cha Seung Baek
Baek is, and seems to have always been a wild card in the Mariners' organization. He hasn't found himself in a Major League role, and maintained that. He's been up and down several times, which would be why he is out of options. In 7 IP so far this Spring, he had an ERA of 1.29, giving up six hits, and only one run. He has walked none, but hit one. He has three strikeouts as well. Nothing shocking or truly interesting. I like the no walks, but wouldn't mind a few more strikeouts. Like Dickey, he has a fifty percent chance of getting the job. The idea of using Baek as a middle reliever has been tossed around the blogosphere. Who knows. The Mariners may be forced in to using Baek in a mid relief role because of all of the uncertainties with the rest of the bullpen.

Ryan Rowland-Smith
RRS is all over the map for what his potential job could be with the Mariners. He could be a middle reliever and as a set up man. The idea of him being a set up man is been focused on more than the idea of him being a middle reliever. To be honest, I've only heard of him being a mid reliever a few times, and most of those times were my thoughts. He's left handed, and could help fill the shoes left my George Sherrill. I think that we're going to be talking a lot about not having Sherrill with this team anymore. In 8.2 IP this Spring, RRS has an ERA of 0.00, giving up seven hits, and one un earned run. He's walked five and struck out five. The ERA is great, but the walk rate is not. I don't know why I am so paranoid about relievers' WHIP, but stats don't lie, because a reliver with a WHIP of 2.24 isn't going to get the ball to the closer with the same lead, as a reliever with a WHIP of 1.27 is he? As soon as RRS gets that walk rate down to around 2-3/9, then he could become a solid reliever/set up man. Again, basically just a stat update here.




Ryan Feierabend
A bright young prospect who may just find his way on to the Mariners. He was brought up through the Mariners' system as a starter, which I think that he'd be better off as, but if he's with the Mariners, it would be a mid-relief role, or maybe a set-up role. I don't know why this guy hasn't been talked about as a long reliever. Brandon Morrow either. It would help both develop as a starter. So far this Spring, Feierabend has an ERA of 3.68 in 7.1 IP. He's given up three runs on four hits, with four walks, one hit batter, and four strikeouts. ERA looks like it will stabilize, and he hasn't given up many hits. The strikout rate looks good, but I'd like to see the walk rate go down a bit though. This is another guy who won't go away.



Eric O'Flaherty
O'Flaherty will be the last guy that we look at for tonight. He has only gotten 4.2 IP so far, but that can send mixed signals. It could be that they've seen enough and are ready to decide on him already, or he is falling out of the running for a big league job. He's given up three hits, and has an ERA of 0.00. He's stuck out four, and hit one. I'm not going to criticize anything about this guy, because there isn't anything that I really deem criticizeable. Maybe he has fallen out of favour with the Mariners.

I'm going to go over all of the position battles, and perhaps all of the Mariners players over the next four-five days before I leave, so you have some reading material while I'm gone.

16/03/08 MIL 8 SEA 4; Felix "Mugged"

The Mariners lost again to the Milwaukee Brewers, who by the way don't suck anymore, in a game where King Felix looked more like Queen Felix.

BoxScore. Recap.

SEATTLE AB R H BI
I Suzuki CF 4 1 1 0
J Reed CF 1 0 0 0
J Vidro DH 4 0 1 0
R Ibanez LF 4 1 1 2
C Jimerson LF 1 0 0 0
R Sexson 1B 4 1 3 0
G Norton 1B 1 0 0 0
B Wilkerson RF 4 1 0 0
W Balentien RF 1 0 0 0
M Cairo 3B-SS 5 0 3 1
J Lopez 2B 2 0 0 0
T Hulett PR-2B 2 0 0 0
J Burke C 3 0 3 1
Y Betancourt SS 3 0 0 0
M Tuiasosopo 3B 1 0 0 0

IP H R ER BB SO HR
F Hernandez (L,0-1) 4 1-3 7 5 5 1 5 2
C Reitsma 1 5 3 3 1 0 1
A Rhodes 2-3 1 0 0 1 2 0
M Lowe 1 1 0 0 0 1 0
J Putz 1 1 0 0 0 3 0
R Corcoran 1 1 0 0 0 1 0

Fantasy Plus: Richie Sexson

Like I said in my Felix Hernendez fantasy analysis, I'm going to be looking at a lot of the Mariners over the next couple days. Next up in the series, is struggling first basemen Richie Sexson.


Sexson hit a career-low .205 last season and struck out 100-plus times for the eighth time in his career. He is no longer a 40-homer guy, and if he hits 30 homers in 2008, that would exceed expectations. Sexson is no longer a must-have Fantasy 1B and is now more of a backup option in larger mixed leagues.

Like a presidential candidate, Sexson skillfully blamed injuries for his flirtation with the Mendoza line last season without directly blaming injuries. "People don't want to hear that, and I would never want to be that guy that blames anything on stuff like that," he said. "I had my reasons [for struggling]. I know what those were. And I don't want to talk about it." Sexson is healthy now, so, for his sake and the team's, hopefully he can re-discover his stroke this season. He's in the last year of his contract, and the Mariners won't bring him back next season. If he struggles, don't expect the team to show as much patience this year.


Mariners management has gone on record saying they appreciate Sexson's 40 homer potential, even though he hasn't cracked that many since arriving in Seattle, and will take the 150 whiffs and miniscule average that comes with it. But that just isn't good enough for fantasy owners. Sexson is lumped into an unfortunate group of corner infielders that offer high power potential at the expense of a handful of other stats, a group that includes Reds outfielder Adam Dunn and Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus.Fantasy owners need to recognize that Sexson hits nearly 40 points higher after the All-Star break, and in a career 4,214 at bats, he's hit below .250 in the first three months of the season. You probably say to yourself, the slow start in batting average is fine assuming he crushes a significant number of long balls. However, you'd be disappointed because the three months in which he has the most home runs are July, August, and September. In reality, Sexson is in the fourth or fifth tier of fantasy first baseman for a reason: he simply isn't a consistent fantasy producer. And his abysmal spring training isn't doing anything to help his draft day value.

My Analysis
What Richie Sexson is going to do this year is up in the air. He needs, and probably wants to hit around 30-35 homers, and see his terrible .205 BA from last season rise up to atleast .250. You can't expect much out of Sexson because of how is he's gone from a must-start first baseman to mostly a backup options if your regular 1B is out. Sexson is in a contract year, which usually means that the player will play better, because he knows that nothing is gaurenteed for next season. You can consider Sexson a sleeper because not many people have him in their wishlists. He could be a decent mid-late draft pick, but make sure that you have somebody else there, because it's uncertain if Sexson can ascent back up to his All-Star caliber self.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mariners Want Betancourt to Run

John McLaren said so long ago that I don't have a link for it, that he wants his team to steal more bases this year, and one guy that he wants to steal a lot more, is Yuniesky Betancourt. Mac said that he thinks Yuni could be a 20 steal guy, but hasn't been much of a theif over the past few seasons. Last year he stole 5 bases in 9 attempts, which is down from the 11 he stole in 19 attempts back in 2006. This is what Yuni had to say about stealing 20 bases.

"That would be a good goal to achieve. I'm young and fresh in legs."

Around the League: March 15, 2008

Time for what's gone on today in the MLB.
  • The Mariners recently updated their pictures for each biography on their site. I was going to turn the pictures in to a post, but I figured it would be better just to have them shown along the way, or have you check them out yourselves if you're that interested.
  • Tony Massarotti says that Manny Ramirez is planning on being a Red Sock for atleast the next four years. Ramirez has two options years for '09 and '10 worth $20M each. I guess that he is expecting a two year extension on top of that.
  • Susan Slussar of the San Francisco Chronicle, says that the A's and Red Sox are talking about Coco Crisp. Crisp has $11M garunteed on his contract for the next two seasons, and if his option is bought out. So price isn't an issue, and the A's could use some outfield help. The Red Sox may target Chris Denorfia as a return for Crisp.
  • Some scores to pass on from today. LAD 3 SD 3; ATL 6 HOU 15; BAL 6 FLA 7; CIN 6 BOS 14; LAD 6 WSH 1; MIN 11 PHI 2; NYY 11 DET 7; PIT 1 TOR 4; TB 11 ATL 10; STL 10 NYM 3; TB 7 NYY 2; ARI 4 LAA 5; CHC 3 CWS 5; COL 5 TEX 10; KC 3 MIL 8; OAK 9 SD 3; SF 2 OAK 10.

Week In Review; March 9-15

Time for something a little bit new here. I'm going to take a look at everything that has happened over the last week for the Mariners, and analysize it. This is a key part of Spring Training so I'll be covering a lot more thanks to this idea.

March 9

  • Seattle 0 Milwaukee 2
  • Miguel Batista pitched three innings and struck out two, but walked three and gave up two runs on three hits.
  • Jake Woods pitched two scoreless innings, striking out 4.
  • Adrian Beltre and Jose Vidro each had one hit, and all the hits the Mariners would get.

March 10

  • Seattle 8 White Sox 9
  • Erik Bedard gave up four runs on 8 hits, including 2 HR.
  • Ryan Feireabend pitched 1.1 innings, striking out one.
  • Brandon Morrow gave up four runs on 2 hits and 3 BB, in 0 IP.
  • Wlad Balentien went 4-5 hitting 2 2B, 1 RBI and 1 SB.
  • Jose Vidro went 2-5 with 1 R and 1 RBI.
  • Kiger went 2-2 with a 2B and 1 RBI.

March 11

  • Seattle 1 Colorado 4
  • Felix pitched 5 scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits and getting 3 K.
  • JJ Putz gave up 2 ER, and struck out 2 in 1 IP.
  • Ichiro 0-4
  • Richie Sexson hit 1 HR
  • Charlton Jimerson had 2 SB
  • Brad Wilkerson went 2-3

March 12

  • Milwaukee 1 Seattle 5
  • Carlos Silva struck out 1 and gave up 7 H in 5 IP
  • Aurthor Rhodes and Mark Lowe each pitched 1 perfect inning
  • Wlad Balentien 1-4 2B, R, RBI
  • Mike Morse 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI
  • Migeul Cairo 2B, R
  • Vidro 2B

March 13

  • San Francisco 3 Seattle 3 F/10
  • Jarrod Washburn gave up 2 R (1 ER) and 6 H, in 5 IP, with 1 BB and 1 K
  • RA Dickey gave up 1 R on 2 H in 2 IP
  • Miguel Cairo 1-5 HR
  • Ichiro 1-4, 1 R
  • Raul Ibanez 2-4, 2 RBI
  • Brad Wilkerson 2-4
  • Mike Morse 3-3, 1 R, 1 SB

March 14


  • Colorado 4 Seattle 9
  • Miguel Batista gave up 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, while striking out 5
  • Ryan Feierabend gave up 2 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, with 1 K in 2 IP
  • Ichiro 2-4 HR, 2 RBI
  • Yuniesky Betancourt 2-4, R
  • Adrian Beltre 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
  • Richie Sexson 1-3, R, 2B
  • Greg Nortan 2-3, R, 3 RBI
  • Jose Lopez 2-1, 2B, R, RBI

March 15


  • Seattle 8 San Francisco 14
  • Erik Bedard pitched a poor four innings, giving up 8 runs (6 ER) on 7 hits and 1 BB, but K'd 5
  • Sean Green pitch 1/3 of an inning that he would like to forget, giving up 6 runs on 4 hits and 1 BB.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt 2-3, 2B, 2 R
  • Raul Ibanez 1-3, R, RBI
  • Greg Nortan 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R
  • Kenji Johjima 1-3 Grand Slam

I realize now that I've completed this post that I had included mostly stats. Now that I have a better idea as to what I'm doing, I'll be able to include more of an in depth analysis for the next, well, week of Spring Training, before I leave for Spring Training down in Arizona. I will bw bringing back tons of pictures.

Fantasy Plus: Felix Hernendez

Haven't done one of these for a while, and as it's draft time for most of us, I'll be doing a few more of these over the next couple of days. Right now, we're going to look at Felix Hernendez.

CBSSports.com
The regal expectations flowed from Hernandez after having just 14 starts at Triple-A three years ago and then a 2.67 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 12 starts for Seattle late in 2005. But he began 2006 out of shape. "I was fat," Hernandez has said of a season in which he was 12-14 with a 4.52 ERA. Expect King Felix to make a move toward the elite of Fantasy Baseball this season. He is an outstanding pick after the top 10 aces are off the board.

FOX Sports
Even though Erik Bedard is the Opening Day starter, Hernandez has as much upside as any pitcher in the American League. He has given up just two runs in 11 innings this spring while Bedard has struggled. (RotoWire - Tue. Mar 11, 2008)



MLB.com
We may not have to wait much longer for the King's coronation. Although he struggled at times last season, Hernandez had the highest strikeout rate of any pitcher with at least a 2/1 groundout-to-flyout ratio. He also finished with a lofty .337 opponents' BABIP, suggesting that he'll allow fewer hits this year. Set to turn 22 shortly after Opening Day, the burgeoning ace appears poised to put it all together. At the very least, expect him to top 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time.

My Analysis
Is it time to crown the King? With Erik Bedard named the Opening Day starter, and Felix moved into the two spot in the rotation, he won't have as much pressure. He has an amazing defence behind him, and a solid offence that he can count on. If he can stay healthy, you can expect around 200 IP, and 200 K. Felix will be 22 this season, and after a couple season's experience, he seems poised to prove that he is one of the game's elite pitchers. Don't be afraid to take him when his name comes up between rounds five and seven. He souldn't let you down.

15/03/08 SEA 8 SF 14

The Mariners kept it close untill the seventh inning, when the floodgates opened, leading to the Giants shallacking of the Mariners.

BoxScore. Recap.

SEATTLE AB R H BI
Y Betancourt SS 3 2 2 0
T Hulett 2B 1 0 0 0
J Vidro 1B 3 0 0 1
S Green P 0 0 0 0
E O'Flaherty P 0 0 0 0
S White P 0 0 0 0
J Clement PH 1 0 0 0
R Ibanez LF 3 1 1 1
R Rowland-Smith P 0 0 0 0
J Reed PH-RF 2 0 1 0
A Beltre 3B 4 0 2 0
M Tuiasosopo PR-3 0 1 0 0
G Norton RF-1B 4 2 2 1
K Johjima C 3 1 1 4
R Johnson C 0 0 0 1
W Balentien CF 2 0 0 0
J Lopez 2B 3 0 0 0
M Cairo PH-SS 1 0 1 0
E Bedard P 1 0 0 0
M Morse PH-LF 3 1 1 0

IP H R ER BB SO HR
E Bedard (L,1-1) 4 7 8 6 1 5 3
R Rowland-Smith 2 1 0 0 1 2 0
S Green 1-3 4 6 6 1 0 0
E O'Flaherty 2-3 1 0 0 0 0 0
S White 1 0 0 0 0 1 0

Huge News From Angels's Camp

Geoff Baker has some huge news coming from the LA Angels. Angels ace John Lackey will be out untill May, with a shoulder injury. That now leaves the Angels without their rop two starters, Lackey and Kelvim Escober, who will be out untill untill May or June.

Back to Mariners news. The Mariners will shut down Morrow for a few days to rest his tired arm. Morrow will play catch tomorrow, and then see how it goes. Morrow's case doesn't appear to be very serious, but without him, the Mariners will have a very thin bullpen. Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, Chris Reitsma, Mark Lowe, and even Jon Huber are all coming off of injuries, and nobody knows yet what they will do to start the season.


The rest of the bulpen appears to be fine though. JJ Putz doesn't have any injuries reported. Eric O'Flaherty, Sean Green, Ryan Rowland-Smith, RA Dickey, Cha Seung Baek, among others all appear to be healthy. The M's are already without set-up man George Sherrill who was traded in the Erik Bedard deal, and will rely heavily on Brandon Morrow in the eighth inning role. The pressure will be even greater if whoever breaks camp as the team's left handed set-up man doesn't do too well. All I can says is, I hope that Morrow will be fine, and the Angel's injuries will mount up.

Bench Battle Down to Two?

Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider has some new information on the Mariners bench battle.

A team source concluded today that “the race for the bench jobs is probably down to two guys and I think you can guess who those two are.”

Churchill says that Mike Morse, who has been hitting really well, is almost a lock, except for what happens with Miguel Cairo. Cairo would be Morse's biggest competition, but I called Cairo a lock, and now, Churchill says that Cairo's contract doesn't mean anything.


“He (Cairo I think) is guaranteed the 800,” said the club representative. “Hopefully we can find room for both of them. But I know Mac wants the best guys for the job regardless of status. It’s something he spoke to our front office about over the winter."

Churchill says that if the Mariners go with a four man bench, it would start with Jamie Burke and Willie Bloomquist. If both Cairo and Morse make it, then Willie would be a pinch runner, infield reserve and Ichiro's backup, although I doubt that Ichiro will need a backup, Morse would handle all four corners, and Cairo would take the middle of the infield.

If Mac decided to go with a five man bench, then he would like a lefty bat. With that statement, Greg Nortan and Jeremy Reed are now into the mix. Yesterday, I talked about how the Marienrs were believed to be thinking about cutting Reed. That would leave Nortan, who can play first and third. There's a chance that he could play in the outfield, but I doubt that. Churchill goes on to say that if Reed makes the team, then Cairo would be useless, because Bloomquist would play in the middle infield, and Reed would become the fourth outfielder. There's one scenario for you. I don't have much of a scenario for Nortan, but Nortan brings a good bat to the bench, and Reed brings defence, and some speed.

Charlton Jimerson is falling off of the depth chart with Reed, and both have been outplayed by Nortan and Morse so far.

“If we need an infielder, there’s always (Yung Chi) Chen in his first option year. He can give the club time at second, and I’m not sure there’s much need to hang onto potential backups at third or short. They will start 150+ games.”

Back to Morse for a minute. As I've said every time I talk about Morse and him battling for a job, I've said that Morse is out of options, and would probably rather become a free agent then go to AAA Tacoma. The Mariners play San Francisco tonight, and I will pass on any info on the lineups that I can get.

7 Teams Interested in HoRam?

From Ken Rosenthal's most recent column:

Oh, to be 28 years old and left-handed: Seven teams expressed immediate interest in left-hander Horacio Ramirez after he was released by the Mariners, according to the pitcher's agent, Steve Canter. Ramirez can begin negotiating with teams after he clears waivers at 1 p.m. ET on Friday. "I think he's going to have a pretty good opportunity to win a job somewhere," Canter says.

Well, the opening statement would lead me to believe that there would be interest in HoRam, but he's been terrible. But, given the state of the league today, teams are always willing to overpay for crappy pitchers. HoRam is no different. Some teams that may be interested would be the Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins, Nationals, Astros, Giants, and maybe the Rockies. Who knows, maybe this guy can turn a decent career in the NL. Hey, he could even go back to the Braves.


A quote from Bill Bavasi when the Mariners acquired Ramirez: "A left-hander in our park is a good fit." What would he be saying now?

A sidenote: when doing a Google search of 'Horocio Ramirez' my post of the Mariners Cutting Ramirez comes up first. We're going places in this blog world.

Suspensions, Fines Handed out After Brawl

The outcome from the Yankees/Rays brawl was decided yesterday, and suspensions were handed down. Yankees' Shelley Duncan and Melky Cabrera were each suspended for three games, and Rays' Jonny Gomes was suspended for two games. The suspensions will start on Opening Day. All three players were fined an undisclosed amount, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi and coaches Kevin Long and Bobby Meacham were also fined.

More Fantasy Results

Not much going on for the Mariners so far this morning, so I thought that I'd pass on my results from my latest baseball pool draft.

1. Jake Peavy
2. Johan Santana
3. Erik Bedard
4. Ichiro Suzuki
5. Victor Martinez
6. Brian Roberts
7. JJ Putz
8. Chris Young (SD, SP)
9. Mike Lowell
10. Joe Nathan
11. Brian McCann
12. Ken Griffey Jr.
13. Jose Valverde
14. Chris Young (ARI,OF)
15. JJ Hardy
16. Jose Contreras
17. Placido Polanco
18. Kosuke Fukudome
19. Conor Jackson
20. Pedro martinez
21. Noah Lowry

A little tip, the FoxSports draft don't auto draft for the people that aren't there, instead they take the 90 seconds, and then auto draft, so this one took me two hours. Overall I 'm happy with this team. I find myself to be very pitcher heavy, which may be an advantage. My last four picks were "I'm tired so let's randomly take someone who might be decent", so I ended up with a few wild card players. If anyone wants to start a Fantasy Baseball League for this blog, then email me at marinerscentral"at"gmail.com.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Around the League: March 14, 2008

Time for what's gone on today in the MLB.
  • MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan wrote today that the Cubs interest in Marlon Byrd still has some life. The Cubs would give up Matt Murton, but the Rangers want young pitching. I think that we will have to wait and see what happens with Brian Roberts before this deal is done.
  • Kyle Lohse passed his physical today, and he officially signs with the Cardinals.
  • According to Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox aren't very happy with the offers that they recieved from the Giants. Names believed to be in the mix are Randy Messenger, Scott Williamson, and Dave Roberts, but not all together.
  • Spring Training scores: ATL 9 PHI 1; BAL 4 BOS 7; CIN 5 PIT 0; CLE 4 WSH 8; NYY 7 CIN 7; NYM 8 FLA 2; PIT 1 MIN 4; STL 6 LAD 4; TOR 4 TB 8; LAA 6 CHC 5; ARI 6 SF 11; OAK 8 CWS 1; TEX 10 KC 8; DET/HOU Cancelled; WSH 2 CLE 3.