Mariners WBC participants…

from the Corner of Edgar and Dave

Seems that all the teams the M’s represented in the World Baseball Classic did better than expected and they all represented well!

Michael Saunders | Team Canada

Alex Liddi | Team Italy

Oliver Perez | Team Mexico

Michael Saunders performed exceptionally well, so much a standout participant for his native Canada that he earned the Pool D MVP honors.

Congratulations, Michael!

Mariner Matters | 3.28

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WBC leaves Kenji with a little “catching up” to do…
Changing signs and various adjustments that were made in his absence in early spring have left Joh with his work cut out for him.

No one seems to be stepping up to grab the closer’s role…
Some are returning from injury (Walker, Corcoran), some have been hit hard (Lowe, Messenger) and others have pleasantly, unexpectedly, surprised (Ardsma and Kelley). Then there’s the old vet Miggy who is trying to make his case by experience and health (that he lacked last season).

The praise just keeps on coming for Lopey….
He was named to the All Tournament Team from the WBC and gets high praise from his fellow Venezuelan Mariner teammate, Felix…

Last year with the Mariners was a banner season offensively for Lopez, even as he did it in relative anonymity. He batted .297, hit 17 homers and drove in 89 runs. He then went and played 28 games in his home country over the winter, hitting .349 and driving in 34 runs.

“He’s so mature now. He knows what he’s doing and he’s going to have a good year,” said pitcher Felix Hernandez, his teammate in Seattle and on the Venezuelan team. “He’s got more confidence and he knows what he has to do. He knows what he can do.”

RRS (aka “the Hyphenator) – rotation or relief?
One of the bright spots late last season, Ryan just working to improve.

“Every start I learned something new about myself,” Rowland-Smith said. “I’m slowly learning what kind of pitcher I am and maybe the end of this season I can come back and say this is the kind of pitcher I am.

 

WBC | Congrats to Team Japan!


Ichiro hits a two-run single in the top of the 10th (Matt Sayles/AP)

Japan takes 2nd WBC Crown ~ 5-3 in 10 innings over Korea

It took awhile for Ichiro to get rollin’, but there was no stopping him tonight…
4/6 including a 2-run double in the 10th

He always did have a flair for the dramatic 🙂

World Baseball Classic.com

M’s WBC stats
Kenji Johjima (JPN) .333BA – 1D – 1HR – 4RBI – 4R – 1BB – 1SB
Ichiro Susuki (JPN) .278BA – 2D – 1T – 5RBI – 7R – 1SB
Endy Chavez (VEN) .348BA – 2D – 2T – 2RBI – 3R
Jose Lopez (VEN) .417BA – 6D – 2HR – 4RBI – 8R – 3BB
Carlos Silva (VEN) 5.11ERA – 12.2IP – 10H – 7ER – 2BB – 6K
Felix Hernandez (VEN) 0.00ERA – 8.2IP – 5H – 0ER – 6BB – 11K

Eliminated in Round 1/2

Alex Liddi (ITL) .375BA – 1D – 2RBI 1R
Anthony Phillips (RSA) .222BA – 1RBI – 1R
Greg Halman (NED) .182BA – 1R – 1D
Phillippe Aumont (CAN) 0.00ERA – 1.0IP – 2H – 0ER – 1BB – 2K

exM’s of note…
JJ Putz (USA) 3.0ERA – 3.0IP – 1ER – 0BB – 2K
Matt Thornton (USA) 7.71ERA – 4.2IP – 4ER – 1BB – 5K
Carlos Guillen (VEN) .231BA – 1D – 2HR – 4RBI – 4R – 1BB
Shin-Soo Choo (KOR) .167BA – 2HR – 4RBI – 5R – 3BB

Posted in WBC |

Mariner Matters | 3.23

Welcome home Venezuelans!

Wakamatsu said he hoped the four could bring some of the passion he saw on the field and in the stands at the WBC to the Mariners. Hernandez thought that was a good idea.

“We’re going to bring that to the clubhouse. We have to pitch the way we pitched there. That’s all we have to do, our thing,” he said. “We have to do the little things and play baseball.”

Lopez waxed almost poetic when asked about playing for Team Venezuela.

“It was beautiful. You come to the stadium to do a job for your country. The fans are there and you want to do your job better for them,” he said. “The fans are unbelievable for every country. It was beautiful.”

Chavez was just as happy.

“I just felt like a little kid in a big competition,” he said. “It was a feeling that I’ll never forget.”

Much as he enjoyed playing with other Venezuelans, Chavez said he was anxious to get back on the field and in the clubhouse with the Mariners.

”I’ve got good teammates here, too,” Chavez said. “The only difference is you’ve got to mix the languages – English, Japanese, Spanish. It’s great. I feel comfortable over here.”

Battle at backup receiver…

Johnson’s ability to work with pitchers, block the plate and throw runners out as part of an all-around defensive package has now vaulted him into the picture when it comes to making this Mariners team.

“If you don’t know a guy, I think it’s really wise to get with them before the game,” Johnson, 25, said. “Talk to them during batting practice. Maybe their start isn’t for three or four days, but you start getting in their ear a little bit about stuff they like to do. And then after the game, you ask: ‘How’d it go? What’d you think about this pitch? What’d you think about this situation? What could we have done differently in your eyes?’

“You just to try to get a good feel, and then the tempo of the game just goes and goes.”

Heading into camp, it appeared Jeff Clement was a shoo-in to make the squad and possibly supplant Kenji Johjima as the No. 1 catcher. But that’s been changed by the signing of left-handed slugger Ken Griffey Jr. — who would take potential designated-hitter at-bats away from Clement on days the latter isn’t catching — and the emphasis on defense by the team’s new coaching staff.

Clement’s defense remains a work-in-progress and his bat — despite a single in an 8-5 win by the Mariners over Oakland on Saturday — has yet to take off. Johnson’s bat has never been touted as his meal ticket, but his defense appears more polished than Clement’s.

“I think he’s pretty close,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of Johnson being major-league ready. “I wouldn’t have probably said that about him the first couple of days I saw him.”

Wakamatsu, a former professional catcher, liked how involved Johnson was with pitchers in a Seattle loss Friday. Johnson was also involved in three separate tag plays at home plate in that same game.

“I feel a lot stronger about him than I did earlier,” Wakamatsu said. “And that’s not a knock on him. It’s just watching guys play.”

Wlad, the more patient

“That’s a mistake I made last year,” said Balentien, who had two singles in a 5-3 loss for the Mariners to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. “I tried to do more than I could do and I didn’t get results.”

Balentien stumbled through his rookie season, got sent back down to the minors for a prolonged stint, then finished the year with a terrible .202 average and .592 on-base-plus slugging percentage. The holes in his swing that had previously plagued him in the minors were evident in Seattle and he spent months trying new techniques with former hitting consultant Lee Elia behind the scenes.

This spring, he’s trying different drills with hitting coach Alan Cockrell and appears to be having some success. Balentien came out of Sunday’s game with 14 hits in his first 36 at-bats this spring, a .389 average.

Inflated spring stats don’t mean all that much, but the team is breathing easier now that Balentien is making contact. The Mariners know they might have to pinch-hit for Chavez late in games and need an outfielder who can come off the bench and play solid defense.

Balentien is versatile enough to play all three outfield positions without being a defensive liability. But the ticket to his sticking with the club was always going to involve showing improvement at the plate.

“Just about anybody will swing at a ball in the dirt a couple of times,” he said. “It’s kind of hard, but if I put a little more concentration on my hitting when I’m up there, I think I can do a better job with that.”

Granddaddy of Stat Geeks gives take on 2009 M’s

James’ new book, “The Bill James’ 2009 Gold Mine,” published by Acta Sports. The press release includes five of his observations on the Mariners:

  • “Although he’s often overlooked, Adrian Beltreis one of the best third basemen in baseball. He is at the top of the list in fielding and below average in only one category, plate discipline. He has also been very durable, and his skill set is actually very similar to one of baseball’s saints: Brooks Robinson.
  • “The Mariners in 2006 drafted Brandon Morrow with the #5 pick in the draft, rather than local favorite Tim Lincecum, who went to San Francisco with the tenth pick. This is something that people talk about, but–just my opinion–in the long run, I don’t think anybody is going to regret drafting Brandon Morrow. I think he’s tremendous. Morrow had a 3.34 ERA last year, but there are several signals that he may be a better pitcher even than that. Batters hit .174 against him, which is Randy Johnsonterritory. He made a mid-season conversion from relief to starting, which probably didn’t help his numbers any, and he gave up 10 home runs with just 47 fly outs. A ratio like that is probably a fluke, since the pitcher doesn’t really control the percentage of flyballs against him that become home runs. He may not be a starting pitcher. In five starts in September he walked 19 men, which is too many; even Randy couldn’t succeed as a starter issuing that many free passes. He may have to go back to the bullpen. And I’m not saying he is Tim Lincecum, but…I think he’s a guy who has Cy Young ability.”
  • “What happened toYuniesky Betancourt’s glove? His fielding plus/minus figures (the number of plays he makes above or below what an average defender at his position would have made) have dropped each of the past two years, and he was last among all major league shortstops in 2008. He has particularly lost range on groundballs up the middle.”
  • “Last year, we mentioned that Felix Hernandez threw his slider more often in 2007. In 2008, he changed his pattern again, throwing fastballs more often than anytime in his major league career, and de-emphasizing the slider and curveball.”
  • “The Seattle Mariners last year had a man on second base, no one out 116 times, and scored only 111 runs in those innings. They were the only major league team to score less than one run an inning when they had a leadoff hitter at second base. “

WBC | thoughts….

Some love it, some hate it, some don’t even give it the time of day…
To be fair, the World Baseball Classic is what it is – a collection of very good baseball players engaged in international competition, tournament style. I couldn’t find a “mission statement” per se, but this seemed to be the next best thing…

Q: Why conduct the World Baseball Classic?
A: The World Baseball Classic was created to provide a platform that will increase worldwide exposure of the game of baseball and further promote grassroots development in traditional and non-traditional baseball nations. The tournament’s primary objectives are to increase global interest and introduce new fans and players to the game. The World Baseball Classic acknowledges and pays tribute to the tremendous growth and internationalization of the game.

Some have questioned various players and or teams motivation or lack thereof…
I have never been one to claim to know a players heart or drive – different players have different motivations – some, maybe most, are playing for national pride. Others for the love of the game, still others may find it a more intense, complete way to prepare for their professional season.

Still others don’t seem to be too sure how seriously to take it…
While it is evident that most pro-athletes are very competitive by nature, I don’t know that any of the players, no matter the country they play for, has any grand illusions that if they win this tournament that they are “the best in the world”. If they win this tournament, they performed the best in this tournament. Just like the team who wins the gold medal in the Olympics performed the best in the Olympics and the team that wins the NCAA Tournament performed the best in that tournament. I’d even go so far as to say that the World Series winners are the ones that performed the best in that particular series (or three). Granted, to get to the WS a team has to perform at a very high level all season long, but I’m sure many would agree that it’s not necessarily always the best team that wins the WS – it’s a good team that gets hot at the right time.

As for the timing, likely the thing that has been criticized most…
I think it’s good just where it sits. I’m not sure how it could possible work in the middle or at the end of the MLB season. What player is going to want to leave a team in the middle of a pennant race to play in a tournament? The break in concentration and/or momentum wouldn’t be fair to their professional team OR their WBC team. How many players would be able to adequately represent their country in November when they are physically and mentally spent after a marathon season?

As for those who call “bogus” due to the fact that not all the best participate…
I would argue that, no matter what time of year they play, they will NEVER be able to assemble each and every “best” player. Various things, including team situations, personal circumstance and injuries, makes that an impossible task.

As a side benefit, while some of the best are representing their countries, it actually provides more playing time for those back at camp. Managers and coaches (and fans) get a better look at those who are vying for jobs than they might have had otherwise.

Are there improvements to be made? Certainly…
To be expected since this thing is only in it’s infancy. Here are some topics likely to be discussed for the next go ’round in four years….

  • schedule exhibition games, especially in the earlier rounds, so players are constantly engaged and staying loose
  • schedule tournament pools in places with domes and/or retractable roofs (do I hear a vote for Safeco Field?!?!?) to reduce the risk of delays, postponements – not to mention injury
  • ensure that the players who participate are adequately prepared, not only to reduce their risk of injury, but to prove to the team they are playing for that they are ready, willing and able to give their best effort – mentally, physically and emotionally

It’s a splendid idea in need of some tweaks, but overall seems to be serving it’s purpose.

You go, WBC.

Posted in WBC |

WBC | Semi-Finals


Semi-Finals


Shin-Soo Choo and his teammate celebrate (Getty)


Yu Darvish celebrates after finishing off Team USA
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Final ~ 6PM PDT Monday

vs.

M’s WBC stats-to-date
Kenji Johjima (JPN) .400BA – 1D – 1HR – 4RBI – 4R – 1BB – 1SB
Ichiro Susuki (JPN) .211BA – 1D – 1T – 3RBI – 7R – 1SB
Endy Chavez (VEN) .348BA – 2D – 2T – 2RBI – 3R
Jose Lopez (VEN) .417BA – 6D – 2HR – 4RBI – 8R – 3BB
Carlos Silva (VEN) 5.11ERA – 12.2IP – 10H – 7ER – 2BB – 6K
Felix Hernandez (VEN) 0.00ERA – 8.2IP – 5H – 0ER – 6BB – 11K

Eliminated in Round 1/2

Alex Liddi (ITL) .375BA – 1D – 2RBI 1R
Anthony Phillips (RSA) .222BA – 1RBI – 1R
Greg Halman (NED) .182BA – 1R – 1D
Phillippe Aumont (CAN) 0.00ERA – 1.0IP – 2H – 0ER – 1BB – 2K

exM’s of note…
JJ Putz (USA) 3.0ERA – 3.0IP – 1ER – 0BB – 2K
Matt Thornton (USA) 7.71ERA – 4.2IP – 4ER – 1BB – 5K
Carlos Guillen (VEN) .231BA – 1D – 2HR – 4RBI – 4R – 1BB
Shin-Soo Choo (KOR) .167BA – 3RBI – 4R – 3BB

Posted in WBC |

WBC Round 2 | update…

POOL 1 ~ San Diego, California


Saturday’s starter Suk Min Yoon has not allowed a run in

9 2/3 innings of Classic play. (Getty Images)


Toshiya Sugiuchi celebrates after the final out of Japan’s 5-0

win over Cuba on Wednesday. (AP)

POOL 2 ~ Miami, Florida


Felix Hernandez tips his cap to the fans after hurling 4 2/3
strong innings on Monday. (Alan Diaz/AP)


Teammates mob David Wright after his game-winning hit on
Tuesday. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

M’s WBC stats through 2nd round
Kenji Johjima (JPN) .375BA – 1D – 1HR – 2RBI – 4R – 1BB
Ichiro Susuki (JPN) .212BA – 1D – 1T – 2RBI – 5R – 1SB
Greg Halman (NED) .182BA – 1R – 1D
Endy Chavez (VEN) .368BA – 2D – 2T – 2RBI – 3R
Jose Lopez (VEN) .500BA – 6D – 2HR – 4RBI – 8R – 3BB
Carlos Silva (VEN) 11.0IP – 10H – 1ER – 1BB – 6K
Felix Hernandez (VEN) 8.2IP – 5H – 0ER – 6BB – 11K

Eliminated in Round 1
Alex Liddi (ITL) .375BA – 1D – 2RBI 1R
Anthony Phillips (RSA) .222BA – 1RBI – 1R
Phillippe Aumont (CAN) 1.0IP – 2H – 0ER – 1BB – 2K

exM’s of note…
JJ Putz 3.0IP – 1ER – 0BB – 2K
Matt Thornton 3.2IP – 4ER – 1BB – 2K
Carlos Guillen .231BA – 1D – 2HR – 4RBI – 4R – 1BB
Shin-Soo Choo .127BA – 3R – 1BB

Posted in WBC |