First Half Reflections…

A lot of the focus of the M’s first half has been on the ungodly home/road splits ~ and for good reason! Take a gander at these unbelievable differences – as a team…

at home .195 / .273 / .289 / .562
on the road .256 / .305 / .410 / .715

Believe it or not, the M’s scored the second most runs(220) IN THE MAJORS on the road and were at or above average in most major offensive categories (except OBP).

But, at home, it was the opposite (only worse – the FEWEST runs in the majors).
Something about that “home cooking” that just didn’t resonate – here are a couple of real extremes

at the plate

Michael Saunders
home .189 / .263 / .264 / .527
road .299 / .358 / .517 / .875

Kyle Seager
home .157 / .265 / .261 / ,526
road /313 / .343 / .548 / .891

As for the starting pitching, definitely not as strong as in previous years. They posted just a smidgen better (4.35) than AL average (4.39) in ERA and a whole lot worse (22) than AL average (32) in wins.

on the mound

Felix had a ‘blip’ but recovered well and was the lone Mariner representative at the All Star Game in Kasas City (though he didn’t pitch)

Felix and Jason Vargas both recorded 11 quality starts and each have  a winning record (6-5 and 8-7 respectively)

Kevin Millwood suffered with a groin injury but, despite his record, has pitched very well when healthy.

Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi have both been sent to AAA Tacoma (Blake in early June, Hector in early July) as they both struggled mightily.

Erasmo Ramirez has been inconsistent to say the least. He started the year in the pen and was so-so but was sent down to build starting strength and has had mixed results since coming back up in mid-June and then suffered an elbow injury (not serious).
Hisahi Iwakuma only had one start ( a win vs. BAL) but will likely be used more to start the half (due to Hector’s demotion and Erasmo’s injury)

And the surprise of the first half (both good and bad) had to be the Bullpen!
Let’s get the bad out of the way. Brandon League started out great – didn’t allow an earned run till April 19th but, after that was the epitome of inconsistency (not a good quality in a ballplayer, especially a closer) and he lost his closing role toward the end of May. Originally, Wedge didn’t name a closer (‘t was going to be the preverbal “closer by committee”) but, it didn’t take long for one of the guys to take the bull (pen) by the horns…

in the ‘pen
Since being installed as closer, Tom Wilhemsen (aka: The Bartender) was 2-0 with 7 saves and hadn’t given up a run … until the last game before the break in Oakland where he gave up 2 and blew his first save (but, hey, it happens, even to Mariano).
The lefties have been a nice surprise. Lucas Luetge and Charlie Furbush have really contributed nicely. Lucas didn’t give up a run until well into June and Charlie posted the third longest scoreless streak (23 innings) in Mariners history

Oliver Perez, seldom used, was pretty effective until that last series in Oakland when he gave up three runs in two games.

Up and down/ In and out were the rest…
Shawn Kelley had a slow start back from rehab but, has pitched well lately – hasn’t given up a run since June 20th.  Steve Delabar has already been sent down and called back and hasn’t been real reliable. Stephen Pryor, called up in early June, was pitching well but, only appeared in six games before suffering a groin strain (began a rehab stint at the ASB). George Sherrill wasn’t right from the start and we soon found out why – he’s was out for the season on April 9th and underwent Tommy John surgery.

Now THIS is where the Mariners shone brightly ~ their defense was OUTSTANDING. 

gold glove D

Brendon Ryan was the standout. While punchless with the bat he is an absolute wizard with the glove – web gem after web gem. The rest of the infield has been really good – at one point, Justin Smoak had a nice errorless streak going and the biggest surprise defensively was Kyle Seager at the hot corner.

As for the outfield, Michael Saunders did a bang up job filling in for Guti in CF,Casper Wells has really done well in his limited chances in LF (really strong, accurate arm) and Ichiro, clearly not what he used to be but seems he’s performing a bit better defensively than he was last season.

Behind the plate – definitely an area of opportunity. Miguel Olivo still has his usual passed ball issues and Jesus Montero clearly has a lot of learning to do (though certainly not the disaster that many predicted) but he does have the “no-hitter” under his belt – a great accomplishment!

Really hard to find stars among this young group who is dying for some veteran leadership (IMHO). The hitters show flashes of brilliance (especially on the road) but can’t seem to bring it with any consistency. Their travel schedule has been brutal – from the Japan trip and back to playing on the road a good 5 – 10 more times than most teams for a good majority of the first half. Not an excuse but, a definite contributor.

first half stars
I would probably give the first half star to a couple of the pitchers…
Felix, of course but, not for the usual reason. He had a period of adversity and the fact that he was able to recognize the issue and fix it shows his maturity and character.

Wilhelmsen, Luetge and Furbush deserve at least an honorable mention – all with ERAs under three (Lucas under 2!) and as many (or more!) strikeouts as innings pitched.

Saunders and Seager deserve some recognition. Even though they both have been abysmal at home – Saunders has definitely found something in his new approach and Seager, despite his low BA, actually leads the majors in RBI with 2 outs and RISP (27)

oh, super kudos to John “Mr. Clutch” Jaso … 7 game winning RBI’s!

g12 | tribe trounces, so what else is new?

Mariners 8 | Indians 9

I was treated to some entertainment of a different sort tonight …. CATS!

So, other than listening to the 9th inning on the train, just as I was passing by Safeco Field on the way home after the show, I missed all the excitement of getting a large, early lead and all the frustration of losing it. Apparently, Justin Smoak had his first ever 4-hit night, Jaso had a homer and Millwood had better games..

oh and some M’s milestones…

  • Kyle Seager’s single in the 4th was the 50,000th hit in Mariner history
  • Brendan Ryan’s bases-loaded walk in the same inning, scored the 25,000th Mariner run

Can’t let this cool record go unmentioned….

Congratulations Jamie Moyer ~ now the oldest pitcher to ever win a major league baseball game!

AP photo


Jamie Moyer… 49 years old… 0 ER in 7 IP… oldest pitcher to get a W in MLB history… epitome of a great competitor!

Some injury updates from last Friday (better late than never)…

~ Carlos Peguero (sore knee) joins Mike Wilson and Darron Ford as outfielders on the DL for Tacoma ~ ~ Adam Moore was activated from the 15-day DL and optioned to TacomaMike

~ Carp started his rehab assignment with Tacoma in Fresno

~ George Sherrill placed on the 15-day DL, Charlie Furbush called up just in time for the Home Opener

st 27 | the FINAL spring tune-up

Mariners 7 | Rockies 2

Good on ya, Hector!
One of the best performances of the spring … 7IP – 7H – 1ER – 0BB – 3K
and good thing to – his next stop? Arlington.  Where he will make his Mariners debut vs. the Rangers and none other than the much hyped, Yu Darvish.

BP up/down…
~ George was up to his old spring tricks, giving up a run in 1/3 of an inning
~ Delebar and Luetge combined for 1.2 scoreless

Hits, hits and more hits!
~ all but a couple of starters had at least one hit and those that didn’t hit walked (four total)
~ how ’bout Figgy?!? TWO, count ’em TWO run-scoring TRIPLES!
~ Ackley and Jaso each had doubles (Jaso, btw, was 3/4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored)

And that’s all she wrote…
season RE-starts for real in Oaktown on Friday!!

st 25 | the old(est) man vs. the King

Mariners 7 | Rockies 2

So, according to a tweet from Larry Stone, Jamie Moyer hasn’t faced the Mariners since May 21, 1996 while he was with the Red Sox.  He faced Jr, A-Rod, Edgar and Bone and only lasted 3 innings (in a 13-7 Mariners win). Oh, and Jose Canseco was in LF for the Sox.

OK – back to the present…
There’s been some hub-bub about Felix’s velocity (or lack thereof) this spring.  Read here about how he says it’s nothing to worry about and jokes that he was just trying to pitch like Jamie 😉 While today didn’t really do anything to quell the velocity concerns (he topped out at 90 or so) it certainly proved that what Felix is currently lacking in velocity he is MORE than making up for in effectiveness. He only went four today (that’s all he was scheduled for) in this, his last, springtime tune-up…

4IP – 2H – 0BB- 0ER – 6K ~ I think he’s “tuned”

Speaking of velocity, some funny tweets during the game comparing the two starters, including…

Gameday has Moyer’s 78 mph pitch as a fastball and Felix’s 89 mph pitch as a change up. Gameday might explode today.

The other five innings were a mix…
~ Iwakuma gave up another 2 runs in his 3 innings of work
~ Kelley posted 2 runs and 2 strikeouts in his scoreless 2IP

THREE HBP today…
~ Carlos Peguero was hit TWICE by Jamie Moyer (and stole a base one of his times on!)
~ Jesus Montero was hit IN THE HELMET by Edgmer Escalona.  Apparently, he was none too happy about it (who would be) though I don’t know that it was intentional. Wedge and Griffen had to hold him back. Luckily, it was an 83mph change up (instead of the previous 95mpg fastball) and it looks like he’ll be fine.

As for the O, another good day…
~ every starter (except Peggy) had at least one hit
~ Ichiro, Ryan and Kawasaki had multiple hits – each with a double and an RBI

Nice to hear that Jesus caught all four of Felix’s innings…
he did have a throwing error but, supposedly did really well behind the dish, catching all of Felix’s five pitches more than adequately (oh – and he had a hit, scored a run and drove in a run as well)

Saunders, Ackley and Sherrill have all been ill since returning from Japan but are expected to be back in action tomorrow.  Now it’s Hector Noesi who is under the weather…

g2 | scarce as hen’s teeth

Mariners 1 | Athletics 4

Yes, one of Dave Niehau’s favorite phrases could very aptly apply to the M’s offense in general but, it could also apply to…

1) the fact that every run in the game was scored via the long ball, and

2) the fact that it happened in a game between the M’s and the A’s

Getty Images

Unfortunately, the M’s only had 1of the 4 total home runs…
(Justin’s first of the season) and it was of the solo variety. A pattern seems to be forming (ok – only two doesn’t really make a pattern but, it’s hard to set aside last year’s experience) where a good to great starting pitching performance is not justly rewarded.  Jason Vargas pitched 6+ and gave up two hits and two walks and one run (aboard via a walk that scored when Kelley gave up a homer in relief of Jason) at one point retiring 14 of 15 batters.

‘t was definitely not the bullpen’s night…
Larry Stone tweeted that Sherrill faced 81 lefties last year and gave up ONE homer and this year gave up a homer to the first lefty he faced.

It wasn’t exactly a steller night for the O either….
Only THREE hits but, good to see Montero get his first M’s hit, breaking up the no-hitter in the 5th

And, look at this – SEVEN walks – definitely should have scored more than ONE run.

But, they came away with a split…
which, apparently, is how every MLB season opening series in Japan (this being the 4th) has ended up.

Now, back to Zona…
for some jet-lag recuperation and last bit of tuning up before their “next” opener – in Oakland one week from Friday.

ex2 | sailors of Seattle no match for the giants of Yomiuri

Mariners 3 | Giants 9

I happened to wake up from a sound sleep to see that the M’s game had started just minutes before (at 3am PT) so I watched on my phone for a few minutes and drifted in and out of sleep.  Ackley had already homered but that was countered by a Giants home in the bottom of the inning.  Ackley would later triple and Seager a double (for an RBI) and Ichiro had the other RBI.  And that was all she wrote for the offense.

And things did not get any better on the pitching side of the ledger.  To say Iwakuma struggled would be an extreme understatement. Some, since, have enve speculated injury.

And then there was the defense that shown initially with a nice DP as well as an outfield assist by Carp but later, 2 passed balls by Quiroz, a failed pick off by Sherrill and a throwing error by Liddi (all in the 6th inning!) erased all that.

Let’s just say – they are glad this one doesn’t “count”.

But, there were some pretty cool outings earlier in the day prior to the game…

Like the visit to Camp Zama that Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and George Sherrill took (complete with a ride in a Blackhawk helicopter!)

courtesy Greg John’s twitpic

st15 | some good, some bad but, all-in-all coming along…

Mariners 5 | Giants 7

Erasmo has an ERA now after giving up a single and a double in the first but, otherwise pitched well.

After a nice 1-2-3 5th inning, Kuo fails to execute on the DP and in the end it costs him a 2-run home run

Sherrill had a bit of a rough time as well…

although the defense behind him was none too crisp.  There were at least three plays that should have been made but weren’t and he ended up allowing three runs in his one inning of work (not TOO concerned about George though, I seem to remember his poor springs being legendary).

BUT, then in the 8th Vinnie recorded a web-gem!

Awesome snare of a line drive and a strong throw  j  u  s  t  getting the runner at 1B

One of the lowest hit totals in a spring game thus far but, nice hit-to-run ratio 🙂

st12 | watch Blake pitch, watch Jesus hit…

Mariners 6 | Rangers 4

A nice outing for Beavan today…

Even though he gave up 2 runs, it was good to see that he made it through 5 full innings using 64 pitches (43 for strikes!) oh, and NO walks.  BB is definitely making a case for the starting ro.

the bully was a bit of a mixed bag today…

Kuo and Sherrill each tossed a scoreless inning (though George walked 2)

Ruffin and Camp each gave up a run in their respective innings of work.

The 8 hits were scattered nicely throughout the lineup…

but the RBI were concentrated mostly at the catcher and DH position: Miggy hit a 3-run bomb off Nathan in the 6th to give the M’s the lead at the time and Jesus hit a 2-run double in the 9th to give the M’s the lead for good.  Oh, and Vinnie hit his second homer of the spring.

Great Cactus League Report tonight (thank heavens for the podcasts, as we had company for dinner and I couldn’t listen live). Jack Z, Saunders, Wilhelmsen, Smoak, Montero, Robinson and Jim Caple

Yu Darvish goes to…..

The Texas Rangers!


The winning bid was $51.7mil …
and the Rangers and Darvish now have 30 days to come to terms on a MLB contract.


Some M’s news over the past week….

Alex Liddi honored as “ambassador of baseball” in Italy

Liddi was honored recently by the Italania baseball federation — officially known as Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) — in an event that drew a record 800 fans to the season-ending gala at the city’s theater.
FIBS president Riccardo Fraccari called Liddi ”the real ambassador of Italian baseball” after he became the first player from his country to play in the Major Leagues since 1954 and the first-ever who grew up playing strictly in his homeland.

MiLB names Mariners organizational All-Stars…
Starting pitching and outfield depth strong suit in M’s minors

And down under…
Denny Almonte and James McOwen selected to represent Team World in the inaugural Australian Baseball League All Star Game on December 21st in Perth

Various “Welcome Backs”…

  • re-sign Chris Gimenez to a major league deal (just days after non-tendering him)
  • re-sign Guillermo Quiroz (you can never have too much catching)
  • And, an oldy but goody, George (Sherrill)

M’s hit the International Market – sign Dominican SS Angel Yente

And, of course, rumors abound…
Japanese SS Menenori Kawasaki only wants the Mariners