Last time we met, Dan was talking about how the Mariners pulled off a minor miracle in Texas. Since then, nothing too exciting has happened. The club did what we expected (maybe even hoped for them to do). With that being said, I think we all have different feelings about the team right now. I’m encouraged because the team won the games they were supposed to and that’s with the bats not being close to where they’ll finish the season (although, how many times have we said that in the last few years). Dan is slightly happy with the team but can’t get over Miguel Olivo’s inept play. They’re the team Matthew thought they’d be but he’s still annoyed about seeing his 3rd abysmal home opener in a row. Joe? He’s trying to hunt down Chuck Armstrong and make him write a letter that says if Seattle doesn’t have an NBA team within a year that he has to sell the Mariners immediately.* So, with all of those different opinions in mind I’ll try to write a quick review of the Oakland series and a preview of the next one.
* I don’t actually know if that’s how any of them are feeling. It is a fairly educated guess except for the part about Joe. That’s what Joe wants to be doing, not what he is doing.
The Mariners took 2 of 3 from Oakland this weekend and won’t play them again until late June. Some people think that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for entertainment reasons. For winning purposes, this is a terrible thing.
On Friday night the M’s lost to Oakland 4-0. I’ve heard the pre-game ceremonies were classy, as usual. The video of the boy stealing 2nd base and finding his dad home from Afghanistan is touching and extremely well done by the organization. Otherwise, it couldn’t have gone worse for the home team. This is three years in a row that Seattle has played a terrible game in their home opener. The stadium also had their debit/credit card system break down and could only accept cash for a large portion of the game. These things happen but it was an unfortunate night for it to happen. Otherwise, Felix looked pretty good. His groundball rates still aren’t where they usually are but they progressed as the game went on so lets hope that trend continues. I still think he’s perfectly fine. The offense disappeared so there’s nothing to recap there.
On Saturday nights game, it was the Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi show. Also, I guess it was the Michael Pineda show because without him the Mariners wouldn’t have those guys. Maybe anytime Jesus or Hector do anything good the Mariners should flash Pineda’s picture on the big screen with the word “THANKS” written across it. Or they could do that with the Yankee logo instead. That’d be cool. It could be done for all trades even. I’d laugh, along with 3 other people in the stadium. Anyway, Noesi pitched 8 shutout innings with 6 K’s. When he came over, it seemed like he’d be a fastball/slider guy but it’s easy to see his 2nd best pitch is his change-up. His fastball velocity is good and I think he’s going to be just fine after that rough, first outing in Texas. Jesus hit his first home run as a Mariner and added a double just for kicks. His home run was a shot to straight-away center showing off his power. The guy can hit and he’s only going to show off more power as the year goes on. He also looked good defensively behind the plate.
On Sunday, it was the Cliff Lee trade that paid off. Justin Smoak homered. Blake Beavan pitched pretty well. John Jaso sat on the bench (he’s a product of this Lee trade if you pay close attention. Josh Lueke for John Jaso!). Those were the storylines but Brendan Ryan homered and Ichiro doubled home the winning run. It’s good to see those guys do things.
So all in all, it was a successful weekend. These are the series that the Mariners have to win and they did. Sure, a sweep would be nice but we can’t really complain about a series win.
Some actual thoughts instead of a recap and a preview after the jump.
Bullet holes for a Monday night. Monday’s are dumb.
- We’ll start with the hot topic around the blogosphere: Miguel Olivo. I don’t feel as strongly about this as others do. Yes, he sucks and shouldn’t get near as much playing time. Him getting cut seems a bit drastic to me though mostly because I don’t see anyone a whole lot better that could replace him. Everyone gets a chance to dig out of an early season slump and I don’t think Olivo is below that. When he’s right, Olivo would be valuable against a left-handed pitcher. I think there is something to his catcher’s ERA. SSI points out that he has had a lower CERA than his backup every year that he’s been in the bigs. Last year, you could visibly see that he called a better game than Chris Gimenez. That’s what Olivo brings and that’s somewhat valuable but the negatives outweigh that. In that same article SSI points out that the real problem is Jesus Montero not getting broken in to the position fast enough. I know they’re taking it slow but there’s no reason to go this slow. There have been plenty of successful rookie catchers who have caught plenty of games in their first year. Olivo would undoubtedly start playing a little bit better with more time, how could he get much worse? But, there’s no reason for him to play this much. Jaso is better against right-handed pitchers. It’s as simple as that. Montero can handle the position. Keep Olivo around for now, because there’s no one in triple-A who’s much better but when Carp is ready drop Olivo and let Carp DH when Montero is catching. That solves the Kyle Seager problem.
- Michael Saunders has forgotten about his short swing. I believe he’s trying but I think the pressure is too much and he just resorts back to his swing. His hips are opening up way too much and his swing gets too loopy and long. He has another week or two to prove himself but, unfortunately, I’m not very hopeful.
- The Mariners have a winning record but there are a lot of guys who aren’t playing well at the moment. Figgins and Ackley both have OBP’s under .300. That won’t last for Ackley and Figgins is still looking better than last year so there’s hope. Justin Smoak is batting under .200 but has shown signs of turning it around. He’s a bit behind everything still which will be a problem in about 2 weeks but for now, I’m still okay with it. I have more faith in him than I probably should. Montero hasn’t hit for much power but looks to be coming around. Ichiro had a bit of a cold spell but his approach is phenomenal right now. He has truly transformed his game even if his swing is the same or not. This doesn’t even mention Ryan, Saunders, or Olivo who each could easily improve (although I think Olivo shouldn’t be playing as much, Kawasaki and Ryan should be sharing time, and Saunders is only here until Guti returns). If you’re optimistic you think these guys will turn it around soon, as I do. If you’re a pessimist, then shame on you, and you could be right since this has happened the last 3 years. Another interesting nugget that may have to do with these low numbers is that the Mariners have faced a team 1 and 2 starters in 7 of their first 11 games. That’s unfortunate.
- The Mariners play Cleveland starting Tuesday and they’ll be a step up from Oakland. Thankfully, they’re a step or two down from Texas though. They’re currently 4-4 right now and third place in the Central. They aren’t great in anyone area but fairly solid all the way around. They have 15 home runs in 8 games which is pretty impressive. Compared to the Mariners have 7 home runs in 11 games. Which is only cool because of 7-11. I love big gulps. Cleveland is expected to finish in the middle of the central division and will be a pretty good measuring stick for the Mariners. We’ll be throwing Kevin Millwood, Jason Vargas, and Felix Hernandez at them. Not literally.
- USSM does a weekly review of the Mariners farm system, which you can find here. It’s pretty great and really well done.
Thanks for reading,