Tag Archives: Mark Lowe

An Open Letter to Mark Lowe

Dear Mark,

Let me start off by apologizing.  For the past few years I’d been under the impression that you were just another bullpen guy.  Even after you established yourself as a great setup man last year, I still saw you as interchangeable.  I’d think, “Just give me another guy who throws hard and then we might be able to trade Lowe for a valuable prospect.”  At times I would openly question Wak’s decision to bring you in.  Going into this year, I thought you would be surpassed by League and Kelley.  I’m sorry for questioning your ability.  Sometimes even the geeky baseball fans get it wrong.

You’ve had a pretty interesting career.  Watching you jump onto the scene, get injured, become dominant, and then get injured again has been somewhat frustrating but also has brought some good times.  When you first came up you would blow people away with your fastball and then make their knees buckle with that filthy slider.  Having you and Rafael Soriano as our bullpen future was a cause for optimism in down years for the Mariners.  Of course, the front office screwed the whole Soriano thing up but we don’t talk about that.  Then you went on the shelf and no one really knew if you’d come back with the same authority.  But, you did. 

There were many explanations as to why the Mariners were so good in one-run games last year.  Luck, Aardsma, and great defense were just some of the reasons thrown out there.  People might mention your name but they’d hardly give you the credit you deserved.  This year we’ve watched the Mariners stumble through their miserable May and June, losing one-run game after one-run game, without you.  We both know the offense sucks, you have to watch it in person every day and for that I apologize again.  We both know some of your bullpen mates have been awful.  But, if you were there maybe this season would have been a little easier on us all.  Maybe we wouldn’t have blown 8th inning leads.  Heck, maybe you’d be our closer by now.  Now I see that you were one of the key ingredients in our winning formula last year. 

All this to say, it sure would be nice to have you back Mark.  You’ve got this weird nerve problem that no one seems to know about and it’s keeping you out of action.  Hopefully, you wake up tomorrow and it’s gone but I’m not holding my breath.  And please don’t let this all go to your head.  You aren’t going to save the season.  No one is.   I just miss last year.  I don’t like not knowing who’s going to come in to shut the door in the 8th inning.  Kelley can’t get the job done in the last week.  League has had one of the weirdest seasons I’ve ever seen from a bullpen guy.  And I don’t even want to talk about White. 

So, get well soon Mr. Lowe.  I look forward to seeing you pitch again.  Don’t worry if you screw up because us fans are used to that by now.  This injury has really hurt the team but because of it, I now see your worth. 

Sincerely,

Andrew

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

The Worst Case Scenario? Pretty Close…

Following the ridiculous 6-5 loss to Baltimore on Thursday, I was listening to Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN, and Dave Cameron from USSM was on the show. Cameron said the pre-season likelihood that the M’s would have finished the first 34 games at 13-21, would have been about 7-10%. This number is not a scientific fact, but anyone who knows a thing about baseball can look at the roster Seattle assembled, paired with the weak division they play in, and conclude that a 13-21 start would have been tough to imagine. Is this the worst case scenario? Well, of course it’s not the absolute worst case. That would be a winless team with multiple injured starters, a manager soon to be fired, and a clubhouse that is fist fighting. But this is pretty close to the worst possible scenario I could have thought up back in March. Here are 5 reasons why the M’s are where they are. (And sorry, this gets a little lengthy)

1) Bad luck (aka sucking in crunch time)
Last year, the M’s made hay in 1-run games. Despite giving up more runs than they scored, the M’s won 85 games, which by most standards, was an anomaly. The odd that Seattle could have racked up 85 W’s last year was slim when the year began. It was a pleasure seeing my team hang on in close games and show grit time and time again. This year, the Gods have not been so kind in similar games. In fact, in 9 of Seattle’s 21 losses, the M’s either led or were tied going into the eighth inning. That is a staggering result. If the Mariners could have won even just 4 of those 9 games, we would be talking about a 17-17 team heading into the Tampa series. The worst part is that in most cases, one minor miscue has been the difference between a win and a loss. The Byrnes whiffed bunt. The Johnson passed balls. The poor execution of bases loaded in extra innings. Those are the type of missed opportunities that has defined this team through 35 games. If you care to look at just how those 9 gut wrenching games played out, take a look at the quick summaries Shannon Drayer put together-http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/mariners_blog_articles/20100513/Too-Many-Tough-Losses

2) Slow start offense
In addition to the close losses, the Mariners are not hitting. Figgins, Kotchman, Griffey, Lopez, Bradley, Moore, Johnson and Jack Wilson are all off to slow starts. Typically you assume a few regulars will start slow, but it’s hard to win when all but 2 starters are hitting around .200 or lower. The offense is without a doubt the biggest reason the M’s are sitting where they are.

3) The Bullpen
The Mariners have a solid bullpen. I’d bet as many as 4 of our relievers could be closers on some major league teams. But despite good overall stats, some untimely blow ups have resulted in numerous losses. Lowe, League and Aardsma have combined to give up 6 home runs. That’s not the astounding number though, as 6 home runs between 3 relievers in mid-May is not unreasonable. What is astounding is that all 6 of those home runs were either game tiers or game winners, and all came in the 8th or 9th innings. Ouch. Often times home runs are not all the pitchers fault, because even perfectly executed pitches can be hit 400 feet by major league hitters. A lot of the bullpen’s failures are just plain bad luck. That’s just baseball. The bullpen is not a major concern for this team.

4) Off the field issues
The Bradley fiasco and the Griffey nap have been the two biggest off the field incidents thus far. The Milton thing was almost to be expected, considering his past, while the Griffey thing has snowballed from a minor issue to headlines on ESPN. That whole thing is just weird. You could include injuries in this category I suppose, to Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and Jack Wilson.

5) Inconsistency
The problem with this team is similar to the problem with my golf game. If I’m driving and putting well, my irons and chipping are failing me. If my short game is on, my drives are erratic. For the Mariners, the offense, starting pitching, and defense was great on Thursday. The bullpen was not, and so despite playing well in 3 out of 4 facets of the game, that one poor area bit us hard. It seems like that’s how it has gone all year. We just can’t play well in all aspects, and even when we play well in 2 or 3 areas, the 1 that we suck at ends up costing us the game.

Reason for hope after the jump! Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Mariners

Game Recap — 4/23/2010

When the Mariners score 6 runs, they are usually going to win. Maybe that’s what made last night’s loss so hard to swallow. Or maybe it was the the fashion in which they lost, giving up a walk-off homer to Andruw Jones. Or maybe it was especially difficult given how the A’s, Rangers, and Angels all won their games. Either way, that game really put me in a bad mood. Just ask my wife…So on that note, let’s review some quick points and move on!

  • Jose Lopez didn’t just hit his first HR of the year, he hit his first career grand slam. Congrats Jose.
  • Milton Bradley is missed. It doesn’t take long to get tired of seeing Eric Byrnes in his spot.
  • That last pitch by Mark Lowe was an absolute meat ball. I would have kept challenging Jones with 98 mph heat, but it’s all hindsight. I thought Lowe had him struck out on the 2-2 slider he threw. Oh well.
  • Jack Wilson is one injury prone dude. I mean really, he nearly breaks his finger on a ground ball. Thankfully x-rays were negative.
  • Hey Sean White, you suck. Hey Wak, why do you have a crush on him? I understand White had not technically given up a run all year, but he is shaky every time, and really shouldn’t ever pitch in a game we are leading. That needs to be Brandon League’s spot. That’s my opinion anyway.
  • Tui can’t field and strikes out a lot. I guess that’s to be expected for a young guy, but you have to wonder if he is cut out to be the utility guy on this team. I like him on the team, but he can’t play any position well, other than maybe first base, let alone fill in at multiple spots. Of course I’m a little biased because I have flashbacks of yelling “Tui sucks” throughout my high school career when Bothell was busy bruising Woodinville. (Quick shout out to Rocky Jorgensen and his 80 yard TD return in 2002. He stiff armed Tui running down the sideline to end the first half. It was like James Harrison in the Super Bowl.)

    Hero: Jose Lopez. His first career grand slam got Seattle back in the game, and it was nice seeing him pumped up in the dugout. I especially liked that he hit it off Putz, because it reminded me that we traded him for Guti. That always puts a smile on my face. I also really like how Jose has played this year. I figured getting rid of Yuni would be a positive thing for Lopey and his so-so work ethic, and it looks like it has been.

    Goat: Mark Lowe. It’s tough to single out Lowe as the reason we lost, and I could give it to Kotchman for his 0-4 performance, but Lowe did give up the walk-off to Jones, and that usually makes you the goat, at least for a day.

    I like our chances today with Fister on the mound against Freddie Garcia. Hard to believe he is still pitching! The M’s need to start winning some road games, and let’s hope it starts today.

    -Dan

  • Leave a comment

    Filed under M's Game Recaps, Mariners

    Game Recap – 4/16/2010

    This afternoon I was all set to write a post about hitting with runners in scoring position.  I was going to say that, while hitting with runners in scoring position does take some skill, it’s mostly luck.  A good hitter will hit no matter if there are runners on or not.  I was going to break it down scientifically and with stats.  All this to prove that the Mariners were going to break out at some point with a barrage of runs.  I would have looked like a genius.  Instead, I decided to play Mario Kart…Oh well.

    So, in case you missed it the Mariners dominated tonight, winning 11-3.  The bats came alive and the hits came in bunches.  There was the 3 run 4th, the 2 run 5th, and the 6 run 6th and all of a sudden the Mariners had 11 runs.  Think back a few days to the dismal home opener and 11 runs counts as a minor miracle.  What’s more impressive is the Mariners did it without home runs; they had 11 singles, one triple, and took advantage of a terrible Detroit defense.  (Seriously, if you don’t appreciate the Mariners defense watch the Tigers corner outfielders.  Ordonez takes the worst routes to fly balls possible and Johnny Damon’s arm is worse than mine.  One time tonight he tried to throw a foul ball into the stands except he didn’t make it there.  It was hilarious.)  Jeremy Bonderman, Detroit’s starter, wasn’t very good and gave up line drive after line drive.  His defense threw in three errors that all led to unearned runs. 

    Felix was good as usual tonight.  He had a little trouble spotting his secondary pitches but his fastball was more than enough to get by tonight.  I couldn’t tell from my seat high up on the third baseline if he was getting squeezed by the umpire but it sure seemed like it.   He had one bad inning in which he gave up his two earned runs.  If it weren’t for that inning he would have had a shut out easy because the Tigers didn’t touch him after that. 

    The atmosphere tonight was great.  It was close to a sell out and the crowd made a good deal of noise.  Johnny Damon was heckled to no end, which is just fine by me.  People are catching on to how great Felix is.  He got the loudest cheer during introductions and then was given a loud standing ovation after leaving the game.  The one bad thing about the Mariners blowing Detroit out was that the crowd lost a little bit of interest after the 9 run lead came.  But that’s just fine.  This city is ready to erupt with Mariner fever, the team just has to be in the pennant race for that to happen.  I might add that I don’t usually like the wave but I saw the most successful Mariner game wave tonight.  I was really impressed.  There was a ton of energy in the stadium. 

    So for now, enjoy this victory.  Enjoy this 3 game winning streak.  Unfortunately, Justin Verlander pitches for the Tigers tomorrow but who knows, we could make it 4 in a row.  Baseball is a funny sport and it’s been a funny start to this season but it seems like things are getting on the right track.  So, maybe someday I’ll get to that post about hitting with runners in scoring position but as for now I’m just going to enjoy what the Mariners did tonight.

    My goat/hero and a few other notes after the jump.  Continue reading

    4 Comments

    Filed under M's Game Recaps, Mariners

    Mariner Recap – 4/6/2010

    The idea that the season really starts with Game 2 is common with baseball fans and writers.  Opening day has all the ceremony and a couple of aces throwing (theoretically for some teams), but the next day brings a little more routine and Ian Snell vs. Dallas Braden.  Braden was excellent.  The first couple of innings, he didn’t seem like much, but the Mariners weren’t hitting him either.  By the third or so, he had them in-between on every pitch.  Not sure he can do that every game, but he was impressive, just one well-hit Franklin Gutierrez double away from a shut out.

    I’m not quite sure what Ian Snell was.  I guess you take 6 innings, 1 run, 3 hits and 2 walks however you can get them, but he just makes me nervous.  Actually, it’s not so much that he makes me nervous, it’s that I feel no confidence when he’s on the mound.  It looked a little bit like smoke and mirrors today.  Maybe he’ll get better.  I’m not writing him off, and I’ll take that outing anytime.  The problem is that if he throws like that against a better offense, the results will not be anywhere near as good.  Can he improve?  I’m not holding my breath.  His stuff looked decent at times and very hittable at others.  I guess I’ll just be happy that he didn’t get crushed and not make any judgments until we see a few more outings.

    Unfortunately, the offense was everything we feared it might be tonight.  They certainly ran into an unexpected buzz-saw in Braden, but without Ichi and Figgy on base as much, with Kotchman struggling against lefties, Bradley just struggling and nothing from the bottom of the order, well that’s pretty much everyone.  Guti had the lone good day, and it still took a balk and wild pitch to score him.  It won’t always be this bad, but we’re going to see a lot of these types of games.  Some will go the M’s way, some won’t.  No reason to panic, but anytime they want to trade for a big bat, go right ahead.

    Hero: Ian Snell. It wasn’t very pretty, but you have to give credit to Snell, who pitched 6 innings, and only gave up 4 hits and 1 earned run.

    Goat: The Offense. 5 hits in 10 innings won’t cut it. Guti had 2 of those hits so maybe he should be exempt.

    Some bullets:

    • I told Andrew a couple of times Monday how natural I thought Jose Lopez looked at third, but tonight brought a few hiccups.  Still, he didn’t make any mistakes due to a lack of tools that I could see.  That spinning throw is something he’ll get better at.  No reason to worry, I’d say.
    • We definitely saw the value of Kotchman’s defense today.  He gave no signs of being able to hit lefties at all, but he dug out a couple of tough throws, and that short-hop play he made was excellent.  Still, amazing how much worse he looked against a lefty, rolling everything over for weak grounders.  Then his first at-bat against a righty, he smoked a line drive straight to Ellis.  Time to see if Sweeney can still play first on occasion?
    • Bradley looks extremely uncomfortable at the plate, like he’s guessing on everything.  He seemed to take better cuts later in at-bats, especially in the ninth.  I’m betting once he gets a couple of hits he’ll lock in pretty good, but I’ll be anxious until that happens.  The longer he goes without success, the better the chance of something bad happening.
    • Welcome to the big leagues, Kanekoa Texeira!  Looked nervous, but that slider/sinker/whatever is nasty.  He looked a lot better than Sean White, not that that’s saying much.  Getting out of a bases loaded one out situation is no small feat, especially in your debut, even if he put himself in the situation.  Too bad he couldn’t do it again.
    • Shawn Kelley and Mark Lowe, on the other hand.  I like those guys.  Kelley is a much better pitcher than Ian Snell right now.  Just not sure that would hold true if he moved to the rotation.

    Game 3: Justin Duchsherer vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith, 7:05

    -Matthew

    6 Comments

    Filed under M's Game Recaps, Mariners