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Stottlemyre Gets the Boot Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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Well, it’s semi-official.  It hasn’t actually been announced by Zduriencik yet, but it’s moved beyond blog rumors to ESPN.com and the official MLB web site: Stottlemyre’s out.

That’s right.  Despite the Mariners’ impressive performance last year, the “legend” has been cut loose.  Maybe all that talk years ago that Mel had inherited some of the best players in baseball and that was the reason for his impressive 10 years with the Yankees is true after all.  I don’t know about other Mariner fans, but I’m certainly sad to see him go.  Let’s take a look at how our pitching fared under his tenure.

Just to focus on the major statistics, we finished 25th in ERA (4.73), an amazing 28th in Shutouts (4), 5th in hits (1544), 7th in runs (811), 5th in walks (626), 23rd in k’s (1016) and 27th in WHIP (1.51).  And I won’t even bring up the fact that not a single one of our starters won 10 games, because that’s as much a factor of our lousy hitting as it is our pitching.

What really bugged me this year was the fact that all spring Stottlemyre preached aggressive pitching and it never came to fruit.  For all you who sat and watched a few games this year, did you ever see a trouble situation that didn’t come as a direct result of pitching around a good hitter?  Did you see our pitchers go inside more often than they normally do?  Did they keep the ball down to take advantage of what is a pretty good infield defensively?  Yeah, not even Silva, the so-called groundball specialist, managed to do that under Mel’s tutelage.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love the local love story.  A guy from Sammamish, a lake that one of my best friends lives on, coming home to the team that started his coaching career is a beautiful picture.  And maybe with another year under his belt, he could have turned things around.  Let’s hope he can return to his roving instructor roots, because I think we can all agree that the pitchers with the most success were the new ones, yes?  Much of the hope for next season is on the backs of names like Morrow, Rowland-Smith, Dickey and the like.  And we have Mel to thank for that.

Mariners’ Position Analysis: C Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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We all know that Joh has underperformed steadily in his three seasons with the M’s, but does that mean we turn him out?  Maybe.  But who wants to swallow the final two years left on his contract?  Here’s the deal.  He has potential and shouldn’t be counted out of the mix so readily.  Besides, do you really see us getting anyone else?  No.  And that limits our possibilities to three other possible catchers in 2009.

1. Jeff Clement.  Jeff has some serious power potential, but has struggled mightily in the majors, shrinking his average 70 points in the transition.  Granted, Safeco’s not exactly a hitter’s paradise, but Clement didn’t exactly take over any of Joh’s stats. Although, on average he did hit a few more homers and RBIs than Joh.  But, in half the number of games played, he managed to strike out twice as much.  And if we’ve got two guys hitting .227 (as they both did last year), I’d much rather have the guy who put the ball in play.  And don’t get me started on Clement’s lack of defensive ability.  The Mariners’ pitchers won’t be changing at all next year and a consistent catcher who gets the a-okay from everyone but Bedard is fine in my books.  Clement at first or DH?

2. Jamie Burke.  Jamie’s been great the last couple years in backup and despite how high some seem to get on his potential, let’s face facts.  He’s lucky to be in the majors at all.  A regular position will only hurt his game.  Besides, nobody catches the knuckleball like Jamie.

3. Rob Johnson.  Seriously?  Rob Johnson?  …  Seriously?  Yeah, it’s not going to happen.  Trade him.  Trade him now.  We have enough catchers in our system already!

So there you have it, Joh’s our natural first choice… among those four guys, anyway.  Don’t look for us to grab up anybody else, though.  Maybe a Japanese Classic championship will light a fire under a struggling JohJoh.  He wasn’t able to compete last time, because he wanted to dedicate himself to learning our pitchers.  He maybe not be a superstar, but he’s the Dan Wilson of tomorrow! 🙂

Mariners’ Position Analysis: SS Saturday, November 22, 2008

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Now, before I begin this series, I should preface it all with the fact that Z (Zduriencik), Lincoln and Armstrong have all made it abundantly clear that any big names are off the radar for 2009.  This means, all those other blogs out there that you’re reading that include names like Texieira and the like are impossible!  And yes, that includes whatever you hear from guys like Kurkijan or especially Jayson Stark.  Never trust a guy who can’t spell his own name.  Stick to local writers (USSM, PI, Times, etc.) if you want a true source for what is likely to happen.  And whatever you do, don’t read the News Tribune.  I live down here in the south sound and I can tell you that 9 times out of 10, Larry LaRue is an idiot.

Also, did anyone see that article on the front page of ESPN.com/mlb yesterday?  I occasionally enjoy a Larry Stone article from time to time, but God help us when someone gives him a national bullhorn.  One of the worst articles I’ve ever read, and he’s tossed out some doozys in his day.

Okay, now down to the position analysis:


I’m certain there are some Yuniesky Betancourt fans out there, and I have to admit that I was one from the beginning (especially when we realized he could hit, which none of were expecting).  But after seeing him continue to astonish with some absolutely head-turning plays (that very few shortstops in baseball could even attempt), and yet continue to miff even some of the easiest plays, I’m finished with the guy.  I don’t think I’m the only one out there who wouldn’t shed a tear to lose the guy, even if it meant a couple of promising AA-AAA level players in return.

So, then the question is: if he gets sold (and the rumors are flying, especially in Toronto and Detroit), who do we replace him with?  Personally, I’m hoping for one J.J. Hardy.  He’s got a pop the M’s are desperate for, he’s got a tie to our current GM, and he’s one of the most promising young shortstops (at least in my opinion) since A-Rod.  The only question is, what would the Brewers want in return?

And in the free agent market, which I see as a far more likely option for filling a missing Betancourt, we’ve got a couple interesting options (And not Cabrera or Furcal.  Remember what I said about big name free agents?).  Instead of those big guys, why not take a look at Jerry Hairston, Jr.?  He’s got all the skills we’re looking for (except for power, but there’s not much out there at this position).  Plus, he can throw from some incredibly awkward positions:

Joey Cora Doesn’t Become M’s Manager! Wednesday, November 19, 2008

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Dont cry, Joey!

Don't cry, Joey!

  In a move that is both shocking and ironic (for the M’s, anyway) in its simplicity, the Mariners decided yesterday to hire someone other than Joey Cora to manage their squad.  Thousands remember the tear-stained jersey of lil’ Joey back in ’95, but for some reason, Zduriencik (hereafter referenced as “Z”) decided it might be a good move to get someone who could actually inspire 26 men to take the field every day.  Although, rumor has it, new manager Wakamatsu (hereafter referenced as “Wacky Don”) might actually limit the number of players who play each day from the usual 17-20 to a more manageable 9-12.  What sorcery is this!?

  Now that a majority of the managerial staff has been set (although who knows who Wacky Don will hire to back himself up), it seems like the Mariners might actually begin focusing on some of the minor gaps in their squad for 2009: pitching and hitting, to start.

  Look for me to whine about players and rumors in the weeks to come as my blog gets to begin again in earnest, until my hopes are likely dashed next May.  Here’s hoping I hold out until at least the All-Star break this year!