It was an interesting day in Mariner land. Some roster moves along with a game make for a lot to cover in shorter post. I’m going to tell the story of this game largely through my goat and hero:
Hero: Doug Fister. Wow, this guy is incredible right now. He’s been legitimately better than Felix so far this season. Think about that. I know this high level of pitching probably won’t last all season but he’s shown that he’s a quality starter and has rightfully earned his spot in the rotation once Bedard is back. The most amazing thing is he’s doing this with basically one pitch, his fastball. Fister is throwing with Maddux and Moyer like control right now and is reaping the benefits. Today he threw 8 shutout innings and didn’t give up a hit until the 6th inning. He was helped with a beautiful catch by Ichiro that brought a home run back but that’s the benefit of pitching for this team. For those keeping track, Fister has took no-hitters into the 6th and 7th inning this year. I was at both games, so naturally I’m going to take the credit. I keep waiting for Fister to flounder but it hasn’t happened yet and he’s not showing many warning signs that it will happen. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the win today but this rotation looks crazy good. Think about this: Lee-Felix-Fister-Bedard. I don’t know if it’ll be in that order but, admit it, you smiled when you read that. After watching this game we all need to smile a little bit. That leads me to…..
Goat: Rob Johnson. I don’t get very vocal during Mariner games. I mean, I’ll cheer and clap just as much as anyone else but I don’t out many yells, and I hardly ever yell at our own players. There will always be my sarcastic comments like, “Bases loaded, no out, Eric Byrnes up. Time to take a nap.” but these comments don’t usually make it out from under my own breath. Today was different because Rob Johnson can’t catch a frickin’ ball. In the top of the 11th, with the game tied and a guy on 1st, Elvis Andrus squared to bunt. Mark Lowe threw a fastball a little off the plate, but not far from where Johnson set up. Hips (I’d call him Robo Rob but a robot could catch a baseball better than he could, a dead robot could catch a ball better than he could, my sister could catch a ball better than he could) moved his glove a little bit and then the ball simply bounced off his glove and headed for the backstop. The runner advances to second. I yell, “Rob, you suck!” probably scaring the people I’m sitting with. This pitch didn’t have a lot of movement. It was a fastball just off the outside corner. I could write about how much this play changed the game but instead I’ll get on to the next passed ball. With a run in already and a guy on third Rob made absolutely no effort to stop a slider that broke off the outside corner. This one was tougher to stop than the prior passed ball but, there’s a guy on third for crying out loud. Move your feet and block a ball, don’t stab at it. I let out another, “You suck Rob!” and buried my head in my hands. Rob Johnson is not a good catcher. People will argue that he called a good game today but I tend to disagree. I guarantee you Rob didn’t put much more thinking into the game than, “Hey, people still aren’t hitting Fister’s fastball because he locates better than any pitcher I’ve ever caught. I’ll call it over 80% of the time because that’s what’s working.” Stop giving credit to our catchers for calling great games and start giving credit to our pitchers for hitting their spots just about every single time. Hips did drive a ball to the centerfield warning track which is the farthest he’s ever hit a ball. Ever. Otherwise, he was useless at the plate again. I can’t stand Rob Johnson.
As for the rest of the game, well, it was more of the same. We didn’t hit very well, caught some bad breaks, and ended up losing a close one. We did hit some balls hard but most of the time they were right at people or the cold air kept them in the ballpark. Lopez hit a hard, line drive to the first baseman which got Figgy doubled off second. Guti hit one to the wall in right that didn’t carry as far as I thought it would. Rob hit one to the centerfield warning track that would be a home run in most ballparks. Kotchman hit the ball hard several times but they were all right at someone. This is more than we can say in the past few games. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t hit many balls hard and when they do it’s right at someone right now. The Rangers’ pitchers were good this series. Credit where credits due I guess. The bullpen was a little shaky but not enough to worry about. Lowe was a victim of Rob Johnson and a perfect bunt. Aardsma was a victim of a ground ball placed in the right spot. It happens, and it seems like it happens a lot to this team.
Notes on the roster moves after the jump.
After this game people were upset. The crowd erupted into a chorus of boos when this was over and the blogosphere pleaded for change. The front office decided they were right.
Watching this team, you can see what the plan is and see how close they are to it. Maybe a few minor moves like todays can put them over the hump, probably not but maybe. Here are the moves:
- Eric Byrnes is released.
- Tui is optioned to Tacoma.
- Josh Wilson is called up.
- Ryan Langerhans is called up.
I’m in favor of all of these moves. There needs to be a couple more moves for this team to get where it really needs to be but this is a start. Truthfully, the club only has so much to work with right now and these were the best moves they could have made with their farm systems.
Eric Byrnes just wasn’t cutting it. There’s no questioning his effort but I really don’t think he has anything left. I hope Byrnes goes to a national league team and finds himself again. He annoyed me but he cared about making this team better and put more effort into that than most guys do. For that, I wish him well.
Tui wasn’t getting many plate appearances and when he was up lots of strikeouts occurred. It’ll be good for him to go find his swing at Tacoma. He wasn’t cutting it at shortstop either which is why they called up Josh Wilson. Josh Wilson doesn’t hit very well, although he was swinging a hot bat in AAA, but he is quality defensive shortstop which means this team can finally pinch hit for Jack Wilson without worrying about the consequences.
Ryan Langerhans is a cult hero of sorts in Seattle but no one really knows why. He’s great in left field but he has a below average bat. With that being said, a below average bat is better than most of this team right now. The hope is that Wak will start Langerhans against most right-handed pitchers and then move Bradley to DH. This would move Griff-dawg to pinch-hitting duties more often than not. I really hope this happens. I can see the merit in giving Griffey a little more than a week to try and find something but he looks terrible right now. It’s sad really. On the last lookoutlanding podcast Jeff asked the simple question of, “Can you picture this years Griffey hitting a home run?” They said no and I can’t either. Sorry about that little tangent.
These moves improve the bench and will help this team, I believe. I think a few more moves could be on the way. You can’t really question Jack Z’s desire to win, he’s trying.
The good news is that we’re still only 2 games back in the division. It’s only May and our pitching and defense look as advertised. There’s plenty of hope but the offense is awful. It’s a good time to have a day off.
- Milton Bradley had perfect attendance all through school. Oh, the things you learn at Mariner games.
- For as much ridicule as the team has taken for the batting lineup they put out there, they have done a great job with the rotation. Notice how we’ve barely used a 5th starter the last few weeks and we’re skipping RRS this week? They are running out the best pitcher they have available and that is way more important than the order of hitters when it comes to win expectancy percentage. This may seem like common sense but most teams don’t take advantage of this the way the M’s are right now.
- I’m excited to see Tampa Bay. They are a fun team with a lot of players I like to watch. This might not be good news for the Mariners but at least it’ll be good baseball.
- This next start for Vargas is pretty big. Bedard is on his way back and you’d think that it’s going to come down to Vargas and Hyphen at this point. May the best pitcher win.
That’s all I’ve got. Way too long of a post. Thanks for reading!