Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

That eerie quiet you hear...    

... in New York this morning is 12 million New Yorkers, all holding their breath.

"Rivera has experienced inflammation in his right elbow and will have a precautionary M.R.I. on the elbow soon, perhaps today."
-New York Times

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


August 4-20: 3 for 17 against Oakland, Tampa Bay, Texas, Oakland, and Anaheim.

August 22-29: 7 for 8 against the Yankees, Boston, and Anaheim.

On August third, the Mariners were looking potentially resurgent, awaiting a series against Oakland that could bring them above .500 (where they would be already without the majestic in-game idiocy of their fearless leader) and potentially move them into a virtual tie for the division. Well, not quite, but you get the idea. All Mariners fans were wary of our past record vs. Oakland, but excited about how the team had been playing and hoping that Gil Meche could hold it together well enough down the stretch to keep the rotation reasonably effective.

Instead, the Mariners embarked on 14 straight losses against the division, broken up only by a sweep of the Kazmir-less Devil Rays, that decisively ended their playoff hopes. Season over, bring up the kids, who cares? Another 90 loss season, despite a dramatically improved team over last year's and a weaker division. Disgusting really, but there's always next year. Only we just won 3 straight series' against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels (who I think are the best team in the AL West, not Oakland). And it happened with swagger. Granted, the injuries on the Red Sox right now make them hardly the team they usually are, but what a shift!

I've been looking for a quote I read about the losing streak, where Sexson I think said that after the early losses their confidence was so low that it just fed the losing. If so, I hope this teams gets a goddamn backbone sometime in the next year or so. Losing streaks begetting low confidence begetting losing streaks is a pretty time-honored tradition in baseball, but this team is better than that. Get it together.


Rafael Soriano took a 108 mph ball off the bat of Vladmir Guerrero to the head last night, and immediately hit the deck in an awful lot of pain. Word live was that the ball hitting Soriano's head sounded just like Guerrero's bat hitting the ball a second time. Sickening. Soriano twisted out of the way just enough to take the ball in his ear, which is maybe the most painful place we can imagine but is also, apparently, the thickest part of the skull. It is probably the main reason that early reports of a depressed skull fracture appear to be false, that he never lost consciousness, and that he will probably end up being just fine, gracias dios.

You know, when I went to bed last night, the Mariners were winning 6-1, finally giving Jeff Weaver the kind of pounding we all knew was coming eventually (4 HRs!). Chris Snelling had hit two of those home runs (both absolute laser shots), and everything was looking peachy. To hear this happened, and that the Angels almost got back in it was pretty disheartening this morning. I mean, we won (again!), but...

To his credit, Guerrero looked extremely upset after the event, and left the game immediately after it was over to visit Soriano in the hospital. Apparently, the two Dominicans are friends. I can't imagine what that must be like, and I have to say it'll be a little harder to root against Vlad after this. I always kind of liked him, despite my best efforts, and everything about his reaction last night made him seem like a really great guy.

Snelling, Washburn, and everyone else were appropriately unenthusiastic about their accomplishments in the game, saying the injury changed everything, that they were all just dazed and hoping that Soriano was ok. Washburn and Putz handled the press after the game in the absence of Hargrove and pitching coach Rafael Chavez, both already en route to the hospital--an important reminder that there's a very nice side to the extreme loyalty Grover shows certain players. Of course, there's no way in hell I'd ever want him around my team again, and maybe any coach would have done that, but it's still worth something.

A lot of people have been saying for quite a while that Soriano should be shut down. He's lost velocity, he's complained of some shoulder soreness, it hasn't been that long since he came back from Tommy John surgery, and he's had a very heavy workload at points this season. I've read a number of people saying things like, "How horrible...I never wanted to see it happen like this but at least he'll be shut down now."

I can't get there yet. I can't get past the fact that the ball that hit him in the head was a 91 mph fastball when it left his hand. To Vladmir Guerrero. The Soriano we all know and love does not throw 91 mph. He certainly knows he can't blow that shit by Guerrero. His velocity isn't back up to the effortless 99 he was sitting at before his surgery, but he is a power, power righty. What was this team thinking keeping him active, after the season is lost, when he's coming off of an injury, complaining of shoulder pain, and losing velocity?

I'm not saying this is the organization's fault--stuff like this happens, and it's no one's fault--but it's also the kind of thing that very well might not have happened like that if he was pitching full strength. Why push pitchers in a clearly lost season? If it weren't for this kind of thinking, we could probably have Bobby Madritsch holding down Washburn's roster spot, offering a similar if not better performance (and a much better story) for practically free. After all the evidence of how hard this organization is on the health of it's pitchers, can we please, please learn to be a little careful with some of our pitchers besides Felix?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Inside the M's record    

Leading off his piece about the Mariners' sweep of Boston this weekend, Jeff over at Lookout Landing noted:

In the words of a Yankees fan I know: "Imagine what you could do if your team could win one of those 60 some divisional games!"

Yep. Record against non-AL West opponents: 51-37, a .580 winning percentage, which would be good for 1st in the AL West and the thick of the Wild Card hunt. You could make a similar but much more depressing kind of statement (and many people have) about what the record of this team would be without our evisceration of the NL West during interleague play, but consider this:

The only non AL-West teams against which the Mariners have a losing record are Detroit (1-5) and Minnesota (3-5). The record against Toronto and NYY is tied, but would be a winning one in both cases if the world were either fair (7/19 vs. NYY: insane referee call vs. plus exactly one pitcher, our ace closer, having to pitch in a crazy thunderstorm resulting in his first blown save in three months) or sane (7/14-16 vs. TOR: Hargrove bullpen insanity that lost one or maybe both games against Toronto in our losing series against them). And we have a winning record against the rest of the AL. Only upcoming series' against Toronto and Chicago have a reasonable likelihood of changing that, and a winning record against the AL East is now guaranteed.

So, I think it's the record against the AL West, not the NL West, that really stands out here. Most of that is a horrible, horrible matchup problem against Oakland that is probably compounded by team-wide panic about playing them, but it has me there something about the Mariners that is particularly easy to exploit for teams that are especially familiar with them? We're a team of free-swingers, but everyone knows that. Our starting pitching has been pretty shaky, but how many times have the teams of the AL East and Central seen Jamie Moyer, or Gil Meche, or Jarrod Washburn? Plenty, right?

So, any ideas? Is there any reason the M's would be particularly vulnerable against their own division? Regardless, I find this more encouraging than discouraging, small sample size theatre though it may be. With a couple of smart acquisitions this offseason, I think the M's are as well positioned to contend in 2007 and beyond as I have all year. Since we're now sure to be rid of this guy.

Where's The Love?    

Hey, no posts on the Mariners' sweep of the Red Sox! Nothing about how the USS Mariner guys finally get to stick it to the Sox fans who swamp their message boards whenever someone comes up with a goofy trade? Nothing at all??? What's the matter, did someone die?

No, besides them. Although, if the team died, David Wells would get more of the spread.

Hey waiter, there's a fly in my Wily Mo Empanada! And I'm NOT paying extra for it!

So it's now officially Jim Mora time. They're 5 games behind Chicago and 5.5 behind Minnesota. If they were gonna recover from Massacre II, they wouldn't have lost three straight to the last-place M's. The team has ZERO pitching beyond Schilling and Papelbon, and no help in sight. There's no good reason to expect them to turn it around.

Looking back, the bullpen's success was predicated on a series of things happening.

1) Foulke healthy
2) Delcarmen, Hansen, DiNardo up to the task
3) Tavarez/Seanez are serviceable, non-toxic substances
4) Timlin continues to defy age
5) Paps continues to be lights-out

And so forth. ONE of those things happened. Mere probability dictates they would have gotten lucky with one of those other four. Nope; turns out that Red Auerbach's dick has more zip on its fastball than almost every Sox reliever. The rest of the story is well-known.

One factor that has been mentioned too rarely is the absence of Tim Wakefield. Jason Varitek's injury kinda touched off this whole mess, but Wakefield's absence has been truly painful. Say what you will about his ability to win games, but he'll pitch the whole thing and give the bullpen a rest. With a shitty pen, and a rotation that doesn't exactly eat innings, that's huge.

Anyway, my expectations are more reasonable now. For September, I'd just like to see a ray of hope for 2007. Have the kids (Hansen, Delcarmen, Lester et al) finish up strong. Have Big Papi remind everyone why he's the MVP, even if he can't do the impossible. Let Beckett get his groove back and start throwing goddamn strikes again. Give me something. This season wasn't as bad as it's looking right now. I'll be fine if I just get some good news.*

(* - That wouldn't make me OK about them gagging up five straight games at home to the Yankees. Nothing would. That whole weekend was to gutless choke-artistry what bukkake is to oral sex. I cannot ever forgive that.**)

(** - I meant that I can't ever forgive the Sox for pulling a Brian Bellows like that. Bukkake is OK if it's consensual and respectful. Right?)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rushing prospects    

Talking about the very aggressive promotion of Mariners prospects over at USS Mariner today, some interesting thoughts on how it all came about were aired. I'll just go through some of the interesting comments real quick.

First, Dave, one of the sites authors, noted:

[Bill] Bavasi has always believed in the need to fail before you can succeed. If you heard him talk at the USSM feed this spring, you heard him reiterate this point. He doesn’t want kids failing for the first time in the major leagues. He believes that it is in the best interests long term for a prospect to struggle, and then overcome, before he reaches the major leagues.

I don’t agree with him, and I wouldn’t do it the same way, but I don’t have enough empirical data to take an impassioned stance on the issue. He might be right. I don’t think he is, but I can’t say for certain that he’s not.

Basically, the M’s want [Jeff] Clement, Tui [Matt Tuiasasopo], [Adam] Jones, [Rob] Johnson, and [Oswaldo] Navarro to struggle, and they’ll keep promoting them until they do. They don’t look at Jeff Clement’s problems with PCL pitching right now as a bad thing. They see it as part of the necessary development of a major league hitter.

We’ll see, I guess.

Another interesting comment by a poster a little later:

In April, Bavasi was pretty clear in his reasoning. He thinks the jump to the majors is bigger than any of the steps in the minors, so it’s the place where players are most likely to fail. Furthermore, he thinks that players who fail for the first time in majors are more likely to become demoralised and believe they simply aren’t good enough to play there. As such, he wants them to fail before they reach the majors, and since the steps in the minors are smaller, in order to make the kids fail he needs to push them up really quickly to ensure they do.

And thus, when they do reach the majors and face an adjustment period, they won’t immediately think they’re permanently overmatched; instead, they’ll remember that they fought through just this situation before, and be more able to do it again.
As Dave mentioned, we don’t know if this actually works. But it does seem a pretty well thought out plan.

After some quotes basically supporting Bavasi's position, Dave responded again, with this:

I don’t know about this. The Braves were very patient with Chipper Jones, and he never really struggled his entire career. Same with Todd Helton - the Rockies let him have 400 at-bats killing the PCL, and he started hitting from the day he got to the majors. These are just two examples, but there are a lot more.

I’m not convinced that failure is a necessary key to success for supremely talented players.

So, it seems to me that Bavasi's position on this is a minority view, that people are more likely to complain that a prospect is being pushed along too quickly than being stymied. His position makes logical sense to me, and is actually attractive in that way, but it's definitely nervewracking too.

What do you guys think? I know Chas is a big fan of giving prospects time to develop and offering them safe landings. That's always sounded very nice to me, but I also feel pretty attracted to the notion that many prospects can't learn to hit major league pitching in AAA. Thoughts?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Died For Your Sins    

So, am I ready to express myself in a constructive manner yet?


Gees, I figured tuning out the Sox completely for two days would help. I guess not. Maybe I need to seek spiritual help from the almighty.

No, not the Almighty. But he looks pretty inviting, doesn't he? Sex bomb, sex bomb... I'm your sex bomb... OK, I can't earn ALL the tickets to Hell, so I'll stop there. But yeah, I meant this almighty:

Get him a body bag, yeahhhhh! What I'm trying to say, in my incoherent way, is that I got nothin'. I don't know what happened last night, I don't know what's happening now, and I don't care. I'm too angry, and the Red Sox' crimes against baseball were too egregious to forgive. So rather than subject you all to 1500 words of whininess, I'll just pack it in and let videos cheer the world up.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I wrote two different full-length posts today.  I had insights.  I had funny things to say.  I even got mad and made threats, which is usually entertaining whether I mean it to be or not.  But I don't even feel like even taking a position anymore, let alone sharing it.  All I know is that I spent all day thinking about the Red Sox, and now I'm fucking ashamed of myself for doing it.

With bated breath...    

Sunday, Ichiro started in center field. He appeared to enjoy himself, and he spoke positively about it after the game. Unfortunately, a nasty rumor is circulating that it only happened because Willie Bloomquist had some back pain. So, we wait to find out whether this was a one time shift or if maybe Ichiro in center is a legitimate option going forward. Whatever the case, I hope to god that nothing about Bloomquist factors into their decision making on this, except that he sucks and should never ever start.

There is no getting around, at this point, that Adam Jones isn't ready. It seems equally clear that Chris Snelling, who can't play center, is ready to contribute with his bat now. Snelling, by all accounts, looked comfortable in right and has a very good arm. So the team that the Mariners can field is a better one with Ichiro playing center. We know this. And there is every likelihood that the same is true for 2007. If Snelling gets hurt, Jones (who used to be a pitcher and has an absolute cannon of an arm) is still available to help. Or if Jeremy Reed is still on the team, he could head back to center and Ichiro could shift back to right. So, it's not overly-reliant on Snelling staying healthy any more than any plan that involves him is.

The key to this to me is if we can move Sexson. If we can't, then Ichiro to CF makes all the sense in the world. It lets us keep Snelling, Ibañez, and Benuardo in the lineup, which would otherwise be impossible. But if we can move Sexson, to free up money for pitching (though we'll be paying part of his salary, for sure), then I'm not really sure I see the big advantage. Benuardo to first, Ibañez to DH, Snelling to left would be optimal, leaving RF and CF to be manned by some combination of Ichiro, Reed, and Jones. Or another outfielder or DH from outside the organization. Meanwhile, Jones is missing at-bats against ML pitching that could help him contribute better next year.

The bottom line is that Adam Jones needs to be playing every day. It's clear right now that won't be for the Mariners, so they need to send him back to Tacoma, and right away. There's no point in him losing this playing time. And I would be looking real hard at NL teams with a whole at 1B who might be able to give up something of value for Sexson if we pay a good chunk of his salary. I'm sure with his salary he's cleared waivers. And it would be nice to know if Jones is going to be called on to play in the Mariners outfield for 2007. If he will be, he might as well be practicing against major league pitching now. If not, bring on Ichiro the center fielder.

Paging Yogi    

Who once said...

"Relax, we've been beating these guys for 80 years."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What A Concept!    

As of 8:25 PM:

C. Schilling 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 3.81

Pitches-strikes - C Schilling 22-16.

Wowee!!! You mean... if you THROW STRIKES you can get the Yankees OUT?!? (Would you like a side of content with that sarcasm?)

Sonics Savior?    

First, I'd like to apologize for failing to acknowledge that we finally signed Chris Wilcox to a very reasonable 3-year, $19.5 million deal, with incentives that could push that up to $24 mil. I was starting to worry this might not happen, and with all the distractions about the sale of the team and everything, this is a very welcome move. Anyway, I'm very excited about Wilcox, though apparently his defense is still a question mark. We'll see, but I think this is huge.

Secondly, I would like to thank Supersonics Soul for pointing me to this priceless Wilcox quote:

“There is always going to be somebody who is hating on you. They hated on Jesus, so I can’t say they won’t hate on me.”

Indeed they did, Chris. And I hope to hear more about it soon. Glad you'll be sticking around.


Moyer to the Phillies for Andrew Barb and Andrew Baldwin, both young arms that might or might not become good at some point. Baldwin is older, but apparently throws 92 with absolutely no effort and has a decent chance to increase his velocity. Probably not going to pan out, but they weren't going to get much more for Moyer. This was probably a favor for him more than anything else.

As for Moyer, good luck. You could hardly ask for a more standup guy out of a ballplayer. That doesn't even cover it; he actually seems like a genuinely wonderful human being. Some people are flipping out about this, which is completely ridiculous to me. Clearly, he wants another shot to compete for the playoffs. I think he's earned it. I'm a little surprised the Phillies think he'll help, but the National League does suck ass, so who knows? But some people are acting like he was shipped out of town for cents on the dollar, tarnishing his legacy or something. Insanity! The man waived his no trade clause for a reason. He'd like to pitch in another important game before he retires. I, for one, am happy for him, though I don't think he'll be pitching in the playoffs. Sorry Philly, not buying your resurgence.

Anyway, Bavasi has certainly made some questionable signings. I think Washburn was probably the worst overall, but that's probably being optimistic about Beltre and Sexson. We'll see. The hatred that some people have for him in Seattle, though, is mystifying--and really, really annoying. It makes me want to defend him, though if you look at some of his signings (Carl Everett? Scott Spiezio? Rich Aurelia?), it can be kind of tough. Fortunately, I didn't have to say anything. A poster over at USS Mariner layed the smack down on some of these fools, and I have to quote him here:

Criticize Bavasi’s FA signings all you want, I’ll sit back and assist you. But to criticize his trades? When he got Foppert for a guy we didn’t need, Carvajal for a guy we didn’t want, Bazardo for an aging bullpen guy, Reed/Morse/Olivo for a guy we weren’t going to be able to resign, and now two more young arms for 6 weeks of a guy who’s done, is just stupid. Outright stupidity. Prospects fail. That’s why their called prospects. If they didn’t fail most of the time, teams wouldn’t trade them because when they succeed, they’re worth their weight in gold since they cost you nothing.

Amen, brother. And I would add, to all the Shin-Soo Choo fanatics out there, teams constructed entirely of prospects lose. A lot. So do teams constructed of overpaid, over the hill veterans, but I think we're mostly through with that in Seattle, depending on how the Sexson situation shakes out this winter. It's a team with a lot of young talent. The last thing we need is a bunch more marginal prospects with minimal power clogging up the outfield.

Anyway, good luck Jamie. Sorry the team wasn't ready to contend again in time for you to be a part of it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

An Apology    

Upon further reflection, I take it all back. Josh Beckett's execution on national television isn't even REMOTELY sufficient to make me feel better.

When, I wonder, will he actually give something back to the team that traded so much to get him? Beckett should be ashamed for soiling himself so utterly, and so completely. Fuck him forever. (I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Theo Epstein for locking him up through 2009 with an absolutely untradeable contract. When Theo quit the team to go into philanthropy with his brother, I didn't imagine he meant this. There are more mentally retarded folks)

The last three games have been the most gutless stretch of Red Sox pitching in ten years. Just gutless. Sox pitching hasn't been this bad lately. This is Kansas City bad. It's Tampa Bay bad. Out of all those guys... they're ALL PITCHING AT THEIR ABSOLUTE WORST AT THE SAME TIME?!?!? Losing I can handle, but losing like this, in your home stadium, to the Yankees, is unconscionable. Jon Lester and the rookies can be forgiven their failures, I guess, but I cannot imagine what the other idiots think their excuse is.

I have waited, patiently, all season long for them to play as well as I think they can. I have pointed to their winning percentage in spite of their struggles and underachievement, asserting that they will "turn it on" eventually. I defended their inaction at the trading deadline as a calculated decision.

But after today, they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt anymore. They hurt me this weekend. They laid down like Brian Bellows. In fact, fuck it: it's Jim Mora time.

I pray, I really do, that this is all part of an elaborate scheme for Tito Francona to turn to his players, ask "Scouts???", and watch it all turn around. Maybe that will happen. It could. But I'm not holding my breath for these pussies. Not this year. Maybe next year.

The Beatings... Will Now... BEGIN.    



Drugs. Lots of them.

Executed on national television. (Live, from the Clement Memorial Gas Chamber!)

Our eternal gratitude, and a well-deserved vacation for the rest of the season.

Five chicken parms and three Sambucas.

The biggest sandwich he can carry.

[Edit 4:45. How could I forget?]

Fired. Big-time. Tar, feathers, the whole works.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sox Make Many More Moves    

Looks like the "let's see what they do during the waiver trade period" point of view has been justified.  The Sox are about to acquire:

1) 3B/OF Eric Hinske from Toronto.  This is a done deal; confirmed by Rosenthal, Edes and Silverman.  Since the Sox are taking on salary, it shouldn't cost more than a crap prospect.  You lose nothing, and gain a decent bat for the bench.  Very nice.
2) RP LaTroy Hawkins from Baltimore (see inning #8).  This is still just a rumor, but I don't see a downside here either.  He's no hero, and he fits nicely into the Julian Tavarez "don't use me in a tie game" mold.  But he's essentially an improved version of Rudian Taveanez.  Plus he relieves some of the stress on Craig Hansen, who unfortunately isn't getting it done every night.
3) 1B Carlos Pena, who sucks.  But he's a decent AAAA hitter, he's a lock for a September call-up, and we took him from the Yankees' AAA affiliate in Columbus for free.  Again, you lose nothing by doing this.  (Just repeat the mantra.)

Taking away Hawkins, and adding the Javy Lopez acquisition, this is a pretty nice haul given that they only thing of value the Sox gave up is cash.  I say that's a good job.  None of it addresses what ails the team, but given that Fatty Tuna has strung together two straight wins ("stopper" wins, no less) and that the starters who have struggled (Beckett, Lester, Schilling) are better than they've been pitching, there's some sliver of hope for the rotation.  If they can grab just one more reliever (in addition to the hypothetical Hawkins acquisition) for the back of the 'pen...

From a team full of bad contracts. . .    

So with King thankfully conceding defeat on trading Iverson, looks like he's turned his attention to Webber. And where does a GM turn when he wants to unload a preposterous contract?

I like Webber. I do. I liked what he had to say about his knee in the offseason, and I liked the way he talked about getting coaching tips from Moses Malone. Full confession: I even had a dream that Webber was frustrated that Philly fans and media turned on him without giving him a real shot. Then again, that was last offseason. And he made some optimistic comments about his knee last offseason too (although he did play in more games than most expected).

He and Iverson can score. That's not the problem. The salary isn't even a huge problem, since the Sixers have been willing to pay the luxury tax (although maybe that's coming to an end now that Comcast is looking to sell). The big problem is the bench. And not the lack of depth, so much as how they and the other starters mesh with Iverson and Webber. Iverson and Webber both got their shots and points (although there were times that Webber complained about his lack of touches to set up shots), but there always seemed to be stories about this player or that player not feeling like a part of the offense. It was always prefaced by "I don't mean to complain" or "AI is a great player", but the team never really seemed comfortable playing with one another.

Part of me hopes they keep it together, and thinks this is the year they break through. Webber is making progress with his knee (or so he says), Iguodala is getting a summer to get better (and you know he'll work hard) and hopefully take that next step, Korver will (hopefully) go back to the bench, Green comes back as a scorer, Louis Williams may start to be the contributer he thinks he is (and has shown some flashes of being), they get some new picks to bolster their bench (both of whom are good althletes that play great defense), and they get another year of continuity after so much turnover the last few years.

I do think they can be better than last year. But not a whole lot better. Webber keeps them from fully exploiting Iverson, Dalembert and Iguodala's quickness and athleticism (and Korver seems to make those shots better in transition too). Green's a nice player, but I don't really trust him to make an impact. And when you have players that don't really like playing with each other very much, continuity may not be the best thing.

The trade would have some drawbacks and benefits: Rose isn't all that good and is paid waaaay too much, but he doesn't need to shoot a lot, he goes after boards, plays tough defense, and could be a veteran presence which Iverson and King have both said was lacking. Taylor sucks (and by all accounts, is a lousy human being), but hey, he's got an expiring contract that can free up some money, bring us a player in a trade, or can be packaged with Korver's contract. Richardson has that awful 4-year deal without insurance on his back, but at least he's a little more versatile than Korver, would leave us with a 3-point shooter if we traded Korver, and has shown with the Suns that he could play well on a running team. Now, if we could just get Isaiah to throw in a #1 draft pick (or four)...

Yay Bruins!    

The Bruins did something good again! They signed their #1 draft pick, C Phil Kessel, instead of letting him go back to the University of Minnesota. Nice job of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Get used to that face. That's his O-Face.

Kessel should be in for an intriguing battle against Marc Savard for the #2 center spot behind Peter Bergeron. If the battle is at all close, I'd probably prefer to have both of them on the second line with Glen Murray, putting Savard out of position on the left wing. (The top line of Marco Sturm/Bergeron/Brad Boyes is probably set in stone.)

Given that Kessel's supposed weaknesses are personality and defense, the coaching staff might try to "teach him a lesson" this season by sticking Kessel on a checking line. Having lived through the Joey Bananas era, I sincerely hope they don't take that approach.

Anyway, this is genuine, unqualified good news out of Bruinsland... a rarity that must be savored like a fine wine. (It has a light finish, dry, with hints of oak and mulberry.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mutombo, Philanthropist    

Since I usually use this space to savage athletes for being ridiculous, or journalists for putting WAY too much importance on minutae of the sports world (you hear me, Barbaro?), I thought I'd take a moment to provide this public service announcement.

For a mere $10 a month, you can sex Mutombo.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Find Out Which NBA Player You Are    

Via TrueHoop and I Heart KG.  Fill out this form and find out which NBA player you are.

I'm Steve Nash, which makes sense.  I was a pass-first jumper-shooting combo guard back in 8th grade, I love the Suns, and I'm part Canadian.

Thank You, Tim (And Thank You, Ken)    

As cruel as Fire Joe Morgan can be at times, you can't possibly argue with logic this simple.

What I can't believe is that nobody is stepping up to replace these morons.  Doesn't anybody know how to broadcast a frigging baseball game in the post-OPS era?!?  Is math really this hard to integrate into the most statistically-oriented sport on the planet???

Lawyer Milloy is my bitch    

"Milloy's fight with Lehr escalated so quickly at the end of an 11-on-11 drill that the 32-year-old strong safety quickly found himself lying face-up on the bottom of a huge pile of players."

thanks, ESPN


OK, I can breathe easy now. It sucks, but that Texas series showed beyond any shadow of a doubt that this team was never good enough to compete for the playoffs this year, with or without Mike Hargrove. With a better manager, we'd still look like we were in the race. And it's possible the team gave up, in a way they wouldn't have without all the games he single-handedly lost. But Felix isn't ready for sustained dominance, Meche's first half was the illusion we all figured it probably was, and the lineup and bullpen, while good, aren't good enough to carry a crappy rotation.

Apart from Felix's struggles, it's pretty much what I expected before the year started, and Hargrove's 4-6 losses (or whatever) aren't the difference. They'd make this team look a lot more respectable, so they still hurt...but hey, draft picks. So, no more complaining about Hargrove, unless he does something to mortgage the future. And probably, no more talking about the 2006 Mariners at all. If I have something to say, I'll stick to the minors or whatever, though I'm obviously no kind of expert there, or to next year.

I'm still excited about this team's chances from 2007 on, though. The A's are fading, with no real help on the way from their farm system, and I still don't really take Texas seriously, for whatever reason. So, I think from 2007-2012 or so we'll see the Mariners and the Angels slugging it out for the division title with the Rangers threatening occasionally. Oakland will probably still be dangerous next year, but they're going to have a real hard time competiting without serious, serious resurgences from Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby.

So, since I have this nagging feeling the Angels are going to do something really stupid with their roster, and that their starting rotation isn't really as good as it looks (excepting John Lackey, though Weaver is obviously also very dangerous, I just think he's clearly not as good as he appears right now), I like our chances. We'll see what the offseason brings, though, we can't do it without starting pitching. So, until next year...

dorA the Excuser    

This from the NY Post:

"For the first time, he revealed that during the first four months he was coping with injuries that, perhaps, should have sent him to the DL, but that he could not go due to the DL devastation already ensnaring the Yanks. He would not disclose what the injuries were. However, he said, that the problems caused both terrible throwing mechanics and a change in his swing that led him to constantly get beat with even tepid fastballs. He admits that on defense he still needs to regain his aggression, but that his swing is back and "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
He added, "This is the best I have felt all year" and explained that, because of that, it feels as if he "just finished spring training" and is ready to tackle the season.
"My season starts now," Rodriguez said. "In this town, it doesn't matter what happened earlier. No one will remember."

Whether or not you believe Mr. Rodriguez at all (I do), he's likely to get hit with the criticism that he's just making up excuses. I'm not sure many (Manny?) other players would get that same criticism, but not many other players would cheat-slap at a ball in the biggest game of their lives, so I guess it's ok to give him some shit. Personally, I think the court of public opinion will level judgement based on the outcome of the upcoming five... yep, count 'em FIVE game series in Beantown. If dorA comes up huge, the strokefest is on. If he has an off week, the chokefest is on. There's no middle ground, cause in the talking head business, shades of grey don't pay the rent. Ain't nothin going on but the rent.

Here's hoping he has a hell of a week. This team is looking really, really good right now, and Gary Godzilla may be getting close to returning.

For those keeping score, that would make the postseason lineup look a a little like this:

Jeet Spirit
Giambi (switched w/dorA against righties)

Add in Melky as a supersub outfielder and Wilson spelling Giambi in the field occasionally, giving Sheffield/Giambi split time at DH, and you've got the best lineup in the majors by a Mrs. Bernstein-like expanse, in my opinion. Even if Godzilla doesn't make it back, Melky in the 8 hole ain't bad.

Oh, and last night Farnsworth hit 104 mph. I swear, it's true. They showed the stadium radar gun sign and everything... :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hargrovian = Orwellian? Or, inside the mind of serial hope-killer    

You must all be tired of reading about this by now, but I can't help myself. Ol' Grover outdid himself again last night, with a veritable shopping list of idiotic managing. Let's start from the beginning:

Error 1st:

Starting Joel Piñeiro to begin with. He has no right to be on this roster anymore. Here is the man himself on the subject...Joel Piñeiro after his last start:

"I'm not going to lie. If you look at the numbers, you say that this guy stinks. Yeah, I had a couple of good ballgames, but that's not good enough. I'm very disappointed in myself and the way that I've been pitching. I've been trying to find answers everywhere, and there's nowhere else I can go.

"I have no excuses. I don't want to say there's something wrong with my arm, because there's nothing wrong. I've been getting hit and walking people, and that's not the way I was in the past. I have to find something that takes me back to the past...Typical Piñeiro start, I guess - go out there, get hit, walk a lot of people."

I'm sad that Joel Piñeiro is not a major league caliber pitcher anymore. He seems like a nice guy, and he once had a bright future. But if it wasn't entirely clear by the end of last year, it's been abundantly so since May that he can't really pitch anymore. Sad, but true. Time to move on. But, since this is of course a collective responsibility (hardly just Hargrove's), and because our options in the minors are a little intimidating, we'll move on.

Error 2nd:

Ok, so the game is going along smoothly. It was exciting to see Adam Jones first home run of the season, and to see Ben Broussard maybe break out of his slump with a solo shot of his own. And Piñeiro managed 5 scoreless innings, in Texas, an impressive feat by any measure. But he obviously wasn't pitching well, only striking out one, and narrowly escaping a rough inning with the help of an awesome 8-6 double play showcasing Jones' absolute cannon of an arm.

So the 6th roles around, and Joel starts his way through the lineup for the third time, well known by any manager to be dangerous for pitchers, especially one without particularly good stuff. 1st batter, hit. Second batter, walk. And then Michael Young is up. I would have pulled Piñeiro right there, but he managed to get Young to fly out. Carlos Lee subsequently singles, but no one scores, leaving the bases loaded with one out for Mark Teixeira.

Anyone, I mean anyone, watching the game at this point can see the impending disaster. What are the odds Teixeira is going to go 0-3 against Joel Piñeiro in his home park? They're not good. Moreover, you might have heard, Seattle has one of the best bullpens in baseball. So, any guesses about who the only manager in baseball that would allow Piñeiro to pitch to Teixeira there is? That's right, this guy. Teixeira hit a bases clearing double, giving Texas a 3-2 lead, and Piñeiro managed, improbably, to get out of the inning without giving up another run.

Error 3rd:

I'm going to include the whole bottom of the 7th here, it was such a disaster. First of all, the fact that Piñeiro was allowed to start the 7th is crazy. It really makes absolutely no sense. He manages to get Matt Stairs out before giving up a single and a non-scoring double. Matthews, Jr. is intentionally walked to bring up Michael Young, who fortunately Piñeiro is not allowed to face. Unfortunately, the guy allowed to face him was Julio Mateo.

Now, it's not just that Mateo is a bad pitcher, which he is. Desperately needing a double play to stay in the game, we brought in effectively the most extreme flyballer in the majors this year. Grover's quote after the game on the subject? “I felt like if Mateo came in and threw the way he can that we’d have a chance of getting a ground ball. It just didn’t work.” Yeah, from the guy who gets less groundballs than any other pitcher in American League, with the exception of the injured Keith Foulke. How does this guy still have a job?

Well, another bases clearing double, and even Young manages to score after an error. But that's not all folks. Mateo actually manages to load the bases again before Sean Green came in, got an out, walked in a run by hitting Matt Stairs, and finished the inning. Mariners down 8-2, almost entirely because of ridiculously, unbelievably terrible in-game management of the pitching staff.

I could quibble about other things. A lot of people are mad he pinch hit for Adam Jones, after Jones already homered in the game, particularly since we were down by so much. It's annoying, but the fact that he sits so much is a problem much bigger than this one game, bigger than in-game strategy, so I'm not going to get into it. But certainly questionable. No doubt he though that the team "needed to get Willie (Bloomquist) some at-bats," as he is so fond of saying (though it was the nearly-as-terrible Gregg Dobbs who pinch hit--Bloomquist just took over in center). I don't think I need to remind anyone that Willie Bloomquist is the single worst hitter in baseball.

I'll close with a quote from the Baseball Prospectus article I linked to above:

Despite the strength of the team's relievers, the Mariners are just 12-17 in one-run games. The four teams that have better bullpens by WXRL--the Mets, A's, Twins and Tigers--have collectively gone 82-45 in one-run games, a .646 percentage.

After reading this, or watching the debacle of last night's game, would anyone wonder why this is? You guessed it, it's this guy.

Last night's game is a good example of why it's so hard to get a good picture of how many games we might have won with better managing. There's no way to say we probably would have won if we'd gone to the bullpen earlier or smarter. Texas has a good (if overrated) offense, and the Mariners only managed 2 runs. But the last time I posted on this, I was pretty confident we could have landed at least 3 games. Now, it's hard to say for sure. But for me, there's no question that with competent management the Mariners would be at least tied for second in the division right now. And I think the A's are arguably a weaker team than the Angels, and maybe not much better than the Rangers or Mariners.

This team's playoff hopes were sunk, in order, by Mike Hargrove, Carl Everett, Eddie Guardado, Julio Mateo, and Joel Piñeiro. Piñeiro is only last because it's harder to find a decent starting pitcher than a reliever or a DH, and I'm not really mad at anyone about the Guardado situation, except how long it was allowed to go one. But really, it sounds arrogant, but I think if I was handed decision making power over this team in May (let alone someone more competant than me), there is a very high chance the Mariners might be leading the AL West right now. I feel crazy levelling that charge, but I really think it might be true. Pathetic.

Anyway, for more upbeat reading, I suggest this piece on Liriano over at the NY Times, even if it looks like he may be out for the season.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Continuing Saga Of...    

...The Son Of A Bitch Patriots Front Office Bastards Who Botched The Adam Vinatieri Negotiations!

Vinatieri reveals in today's Globe that he left New England without giving the Patriots a chance to match the offer.  In the words of the greatest kicker who ever lived, "The Patriots had plenty of chances to sign me," and he's right; rather than inking AV to a long-term deal after 2004, the team franchise tagged him, and then left him unsigned well into this year's free agency period.  I have long defended Vinatieri's departure as being entirely the fault of the team, and have called for the evisceration of certain Patriots team officials.  This revelation does not lessen that ill will.

Reading Vinatieri's remarks reminds me of the Johnny Damon situation.  Same basic storyline: major star leaves town, signs with biggest rival without giving the old team a final chance to counter.  But there's not nearly as much hatred of Vinatieri as there is of Damon.  Why is that?

Was it that Vinatieri's heroics were far more dramatic in nature than Damon's?  The Patriots would not have won those first two Super Bowls without Viantieri, and I say that without any of that cliche's "we're saying nice things about some worthless piece of shit player like David Eckstein, but he's a nice guy" connotation.  With time expiring no less.  When that happens, you tend to have that aura.

But it's easy to forget that Damon led the Game 7 charge in the Bronx.  Or that he led off Game 4 in St. Louis with a home run that proved to be all the offense Boston needed.  Series clinching games, in which Johnny Damon delivered the biggest hit.  So didn't Johnny Damon win those series for the Red Sox just as much as Adam Vinatieri won those two Super Bowls?

And if you think about it, Damon was screwed harder by the Red Sox.  The Sox informed Damon, in no uncertain terms, that their offer would not be raised.  Damon probably would have preferred to stay if he felt wanted, but he didn't, so he left.  Vinatieri, meanwhile, pretty much blitzed the Pats; they didn't have a chance once they realized what was about to happen.  The Pats botched the whole situation as much as anything.  They miscalculated.  They were wrong.

I guess that's what the difference is: Johnny Damon's departure was orchestrated by the Red Sox, and was a sound organizational decision, while Adam Vinatieri's departure was a complete and utter fuck-up, and caused in no small part by the Pats' contentious history with regards to contract negotiations.  A little sunshine in 2004 could have avoided the whole mess.

This exercise didn't make me feel much better about AV wearing white.  But it's nice to remind myself that he was justified in leaving, and that the Patriots front office are real assholes.  Yay!

You Stay Classy, San Diego    


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Closer music    

Mostly a stupid column, but I think Simmons' no. 19 way to make sports better was pretty brilliant:

Fans get to vote on entrance music for their closers. If Detroit fans want to saddle Todd Jones with Tom Petty's "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" or Nirvana's "Rape Me," that's their choice. Also, all teams are required to use the bullpen car again. I miss the bullpen car.

The bullpen car is a nice enough idea, but obviously, I'm talking about the music. So, I know we've talked about this before, but what are your picks? Obviously, Lehr can't get enough of "Enter Sandman," and I was a big fan of Oakenfold's "Nightmare" for Sasaki. But lets stick to songs that as far as we know, no one uses. Does anyone come out to "Seven Nation Army?" Someone must, it's such an obvious choice. Since we all have closers we're pretty excited about, that's the first order of the day, coming up with a ballot of songs to vote on. While it would never fly, I nominate Technique's "Point of No Return."

But ultimately more interesting is what to make crappy closers come out to. Suggestions? What would you make Derrick Turnbow come out to this year? Or Jose Mesa or Latroy Hawkins when they were closers? Arthur Rhodes? Feel free to offer any other hillarious examples from the past you can think of.

OK, So There's ONE Good Yankee...    

Ladies and gentlemen: Mickey Rivers.  (Via Touching All The Bases.)

Yup, I'm posting about Yankees, that's how bad it's gotten.  Until the Sox work their way out of this Tampa-and-KC-fueled losing streak (stay on target...) and start beating the worst teams in the American League as they ought (stay on target...) I haven't got much to discuss.  Their pitching is not good right now, and unlikely to improve much in the absence of Tim Wakefield.  That bullpen really, really needs his complete-game losses.

Anyone else feeling a lag in the sports world?  I sure am.  Here's what I see out there beyond Sox-land:

* Al Jefferson had ankle surgery.  Surprise!
* Tedy Bruschi broke his wrist in practice last week, and is out for preseason and likely the first couple games.  Surprise!
* The Bruins cut speedster defenseman David Tanabe over a high arbitration award.  $urprise!

Might as well just leave the ol' blog to Jesse and have him wax ecstatic about walk-off grand salamis hit by shark-boys.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Do Not Eat Me, I Am Not A Ham!!!    

I recognize that this thread is worthless without pics, but the story of the weekend comes from the NFL notes in Sunday's Globe, under "Daddy's Little Girl":

It's not often an NFL player has a younger sister who plays football. It is not often a 300-pound NFL offensive lineman doesn't outweigh his younger sister.

Both of the above apply to Jets rookie center Nick Mangold and his sister, Holley, a 16-year-old junior who is 5 feet 9 inches, 300 pounds, and could start at guard for Archbishop Alter High in Kettering, Ohio (about 45 miles southeast of Matt Light's hometown of Greenville).

A nominee for quote of the year comes from a proud father.

``Holley just enjoys that cold rush when you smack into somebody. It's hard for me to say about my little buttercup, but it's true," Vern Mangold told the Associated Press.

That "buttercup" is packing enough butter to give diabetes to half of Somalia.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Dempster Squirts On Cards Fans    

Excellent post over at Deadspin about Greg Maddux and Ryan Dempster.  In fact, it's a double-whammy of excellence:

The Content: Greg Maddux not only farts on Ryan Dempster, but they discuss the practice.
The Accompanying Photo: Dempster approaching Cardinals fans, 1980-themed signage in tow, in the Wrigley bleachers last weekend and spraying them with a hose.

Bravo, Mr. Dempster.  You're an American hero.  Of course, that couldn't have happened 1000 miles to the east, for two reasons:

1) In an equally-fierce rivalry on the East Coast, those soaking wet bastards would've started a fight.
2) It's been so hot over here that the water would've sublimated before reaching its target.

J-Lo Coming To Boston?    

Looks like the Sox are picking up Javy Lopez.  They'll only pay about half of his salary for the rest of the year, and give up a highly replaceable player from the 40-man roster.  The idea that he will so much as talk to our precious young pitchers, let alone handle them, terrifies me, but it's gotta be better than having Doug Mirabelli or Ken Huckaby (Sal Fasano, but with even less talent and zero charisma) splitting duties.

Nice that nobody is likely to block the move.  I wonder if being in second place by a game or two won't end up helping us in the end, given that we'd have waiver priority over the Yankees all August long.  At the very least, I hope Theo is making the most of our current standing to get some waiver work done.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'm White Stormy    

A quick hit from first place today. Enjoy.

If life headbutts your lemons...    

The repeated shots of the Italian dude on the ground are pretty hilarious.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Trenadious Monté    

Trenadious Monté is Najeh Davenport's middle name.  Not his auto-generated Ron Mexico Name, or his auto-generated Ronaldinho Name, or even his plain old Porn Star Name.  His middle name by birth.  Najeh Trenadious Monté Davenport.  Impressive!  That name's long enough to make for good bathroom reading.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A-Rod Revisited, or Skip Bayless is a moron    

Normally, I avoid any and all Skip Bayless columns, but I was procrastinating today and skimmed through this one. Ugh.

I could point out any amount of ridiculousness in it, perhaps debunking his assertion that Jeter has performed better in the postseason than A-Rod. A-Rod's overall postseason stats (.305/.393/.534) for his career are better than Jeter's (.307/.379/.463), if not dramatically so. In case you were curious, A-Rod's career ALCS stats (.315/.413/.611) are substantially better (Jeter's are .262/.339/.405). Moreover, Jeter was worse than A-Rod throughout the 2004 playoffs, hitting a pathetic .200/.333/.233 during the disastrous Boston series compared to A-Rod's more respectable (.258/.378/.516). And that came on the hills of Rodriguez destroying Minnesota (an absurd .421/.476/.737, put up while facing Johan f*$#ing Santana twice in a 5 game series), providing a key double in the final inning of both games 2 and 4, and steal of third to set up the win in the 4th game. Both of those games were won by the Yankees by one run. I should point out, though, that Jeter was also good in that series (.316/.350/.526). Still, A-Rod also outhit Jeter in the 2000 playoffs, including the Seattle-New York series (yeah, yeah, we all know who won that one, but Jeter was still outplayed--Seattle's problems were elsewhere). The only real exception here is that A-Rod positively stunk against the Angels last year, while Jeter was good.

But one series does not a poor-playoff-performer make, and it's a huge stretch to include A-Rod in that category. Now, I'm not trying to argue that A-Rod doesn't have a bit of a mental fragility problem, but he's a better player than Jeter, pretty much always has been, and anybody paying close attention can tell. It's not really a close debate. I came to respect Jeter's presence more during the 2004 series when I realized that A-Rod particularly, but also Matsui, gave up on that series before it was over, where Jeter wanted it as badly as he'd wanted any of the previous ones. But as of now, there is no reason to expect A-Rod has any particular problem with performing in the playoffs, and his regular season stats speak for themselves, current slump notwithstanding. Granted, Yankee fans have the right to boo. It's not in their best interest, especially if he really does have a thin skin, but all the better for the rest of us. So keep at it Yankee fans, keep digging your grave. If you think A-Rod is to blame for your current difficulties you know dick about roster construction. I'll give you a hint, it's spelled P-I-T-C-H-I-N-G.

But that's not even my real complaint. I know, I know, I'm so long winded, but this is really good. Check this out:

From here on, any Yankees fan who boos Jeter should be booed out of the stadium. Same for Mariano Rivera. He has earned exemption.

Yet the irony here is that Jeter and Rivera are the kind of competitors who respond to boo-bird adversity. Boos would only motivate them.

Not A-Rod or his ex-Seattle teammate, Randy Johnson. Both are thin-skinned and rabbit-eared. Both respond best to the kind of unconditional love they heard from Mariners fans. Neither is a good fit for Yankee Stadium.

Put aside for a second the hillarity of his asserting confidently that both Jeter and Rivera would play better if they were booed. Mind you, I'm not saying they wouldn't; I unlike Skip, don't claim to know what would happen in completely hypothetical situations. And I agree that Rivera and Jeter have earned their exceptions. Nor do I have a problem with his characterization of Seattle fans. He's right there; we're mostly sissies. And sure, ok, A-Rod is thin-skinned, regardless of how much we really know about how much it actually affects his performance. Probably not the best fit for NY, though it would be a huge mistake for them to give up on him now (one I hope they make).

But really, Skip? Do you really think that Randy Johnson's struggles are because he can't handle the pressure of Yankee stadium? Sure, he may have assaulted a member of the media his first day in NY, but is it just me, or did he manage to show that he's not exactly thin-skinned or rabbit-eared in 1995? Or maybe 2001? Now, I hate Randy Johnson as much as any jilted Seattle fan. This is a guy who, knowing the Mariners obsessive desire to have a family-friendly image, repeatedly drove around drunk trying to force a trade. But does that sound like a guy who can't take the "boo-birds"? Give me a f*$#ing break. You know why Randy Johnson sucks this year? Because he's almost 43 years old!

How in god's name do these people get paid for writing this stuff?

It's the smell    

Deadspin strikes again!

My Best Buster Olney Impression    

According to one Phillie, the Yankees picked a scab.

The Big Deadline Day Story    

If he's not the greatest Red Sox player I've ever seen, he's second only to Pedro.

Beyond that, there's not much left to say about him. The only way to talk more about David Ortiz is to compare him to other players and say how much they suck by comparison. And since I do want to talk about him...



Just kidding.

MVP! MVP! MVP! The whole "A-Rod plays in the field" defense looks awfully foolish now, doesn't it?

Speaking of A-Rod, Papi's latest act of generosity underscores the whole "booing A-Rod" fiasco pretty nicely. The 2005 MVP race forced a comparison to be drawn that is equally unfair to both players. A-Rod won the battle last fall, but the flip side is that Ortiz is winning the war. Despite A-Rod's generally superlative play in just about every aspect of the game, Big Papi still hits home runs better than A-Rod has ever done anything.

That's the tragic thing: the comparison is equally unfair on both sides, but Ortiz has earned forgiveness for his weaknesses by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat so many times. His negative attributes are far outweighed by the abundant gifts he's given us over the years. Meanwhile, what's A-Rod going to do for them that Mo Rivera and Derek Jeter haven't already done? He's between a rock and a hard place. It's not his fault, but there it is.

A-Rod's only chance for redemption is to escape Big Papi's immediate shadow and play for some other star-crossed franchise. The Cubs. The Giants. The Indians. He needs be their hero if he wants to be a legend, because any chance he had to become a legend in New York has been killed by Big Papi.