No runs. Against Nate Robertson, Al Levine and Oogie Urbina.
Now, you understand why the Optimist threw up his hands. I give up.
posted by Jefflink 12:48 AM 
Friday, May 21, 2004
RumorFilter: Now this is interesting. Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia News reports that those two Cubs scouts were not in town to watch Rich Aurilia -- Dusty Baker has denied any interest in him -- but to watch Freddy Garcia.
This could simply be erroneous reporting. In the paragraph above that blurb, he basically repeats verbatim the Larry LaRue rumors from a week ago.
But with Mark Prior's status still up in the air and Kerry Wood now on the DL, this rumor might be lent more credence than I would have given it a few weeks ago. You'd think that the last thing the Cubs would need is another starting pitcher, though -- what do they do when all of their guys are healthy?
Irresponsible speculation department: does this mean that the "Prior's coming back" talk is so much bluster, and they're more bearish on his injuries than they're letting on?
Call it Shaw's Law of Fantasy Sports: When your favorite team is stinking up the joint, and you want nothing more than for them to play an opposing pitcher like a video game, they will do so against a pitcher recently acquired by your fantasy team. Thanks, Rodrigo Lopez!
Just wait 'til next year: When Orlando Cabrera will be a free agent. Ken Rosenthal lists the Mariners as possible suitors, and I've got to think that makes sense given what we know about club tendencies. Here's why.
[I'm going to steal the checklist gimmick from Steve here, for a couple of reasons: first, who better to steal from?; second, it's payback for scaring the soul out of me with the LoDuca speculation; and third, I don't want him to shoot that dog.]
* Cabrera turns 30 this year, meaning he's officially a Veteran Player.
* He's a skilled player, but a hacktastic one whose superficial stats are impressive. Cabrera's career on-base-percentage is a mere .316.
* The Mariners can point to his career-year, 2003 (.297/.347/.460), as expected performance instead of an outlier.
Not enough to cement our pursuit of him, but as the Magic 8-Ball might say, "signs point to yes." And no, that's not a good thing.
I'm between two rocks and three hard places as far as work goes, so not much time today.
For my Okinawa trip, I'm doing a writeup for a scuba magazine based in Singapore. We're talking about what type of articles I'm gonna do for them, and he sends me an email that says, effectively, "I'll get back to you next week. Have fun in Washington. Gonna check out a Mariners game this weekend?"
No, he hasn't seen the blog. I don't think. It's nice to know that word of the M's miserable failures hasn't spread all the way around the world. Yet.
I'll be there at the end of June, though, so it will by then.
posted by Jefflink 8:44 AM 
Thursday, May 20, 2004
First they lose the fans. Then they lose the media. In between, they lose a bunch of games. Now, they lose the Optimist.
Actually, we lose the Optimist. Pity.
I will miss Corey's posts. And I say that because I am certain he won't be back until next year. Read his post for why.
posted by Jefflink 3:56 PM 
I don't intend to make a habit of these short, link-only posts, but there's little I can add to this fascinating story about Babe Ruth, a bar-cum-strip club (hee hee), historical preservation and urban development. But mostly Babe Ruth.
And scope this morsel from Bob Sherwin's Times story, emphasis added:
Added Jolbert Cabrera: "After a start like this, it's hard to come out of it. But believe me, everyone is trying, maybe too hard."
Cabrera used his sixth-inning at-bat as the example. The Orioles broke a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth on a run-scoring double by Melvin Mora. In the bottom of the inning, Ichiro opened with a walk. Cabrera was looking for a bunt sign to move Ichiro over. He didn't get it.
"Because I was swinging the bat well lately, he (Bob Melvin) told me to go ahead. I got a good swing and I don't know how I missed that pitch," said Cabrera, who fouled out to the catcher. "I might have tried too hard there, instead of a nice easy swing. I tried to hit it out of the ballpark."
It's the sixth inning. You're down by one run. The top of the order is up, and your leadoff man gets on board.
And the number two hitter is convinced, utterly convinced, that the manager wants him to bunt in that situation. So convinced, in fact, that when the sign doesn't come, he's shocked and flustered.
Weirdly, the new blogger decided to put my new post below one I wrote several hours ago.
It's all good, though, I wanted to plug this Will Carroll piece on Baseball Prospectus [premium only] anyway. Will rips Bill Plaschke for still another outmoded and antiquated column. Just right.
posted by Jefflink 11:58 AM 
Solid journalism: It's bad enough to trot out the "he changed leagues" excuse for Rich Aurilia's struggles, but check this out:
The shortstop's learning curve has been steep, as anyone who has watched the Mariners this season can attest. He entered last night batting just .234 -- 48 points below the .278 average he had in nine seasons with the National League San Francisco Giants.
I'm not a math major either. But 234 + 48 is 282, not 278. Rich will probably be batting .230 soon enough, but let's not apply that to him yet, hmm?
Google Searches Redux: People continue to find the site by looking for "bikini appendectomy," which is a bit unnerving, but whatever floats your boat.
Note to the guy who was searching for "ric+flair+woohoo!+sound+files": first, Ric Flair doesn't say "Woohoo!" He says "Whoo!" Homer Simpson says "Woohoo!" You might find what you're looking for here, though.
Weirdly, someone got here from the French Ministry of the Environment website. I don't know how that happened. Why did they visit the site? Rumors that they want to surrender to me are unsubstantiated, but since I like art and a nice Bordeaux, confirmation would be welcome.
posted by Jefflink 8:39 AM 
Three-dollar Bill, Motivational Speaker: Remember that "pep talk" that Bavasi was supposed to have given John Olerud as an antidote to rumors about his trade/release/benching?
Olerud met with general manager Bill Bavasi on Tuesday for something of a pep talk. And while Bavasi didn't tell the Seattle native to start packing, Olerud didn't exactly come away encouraged.
Someone asked Olerud last night if he felt more secure after the talk. He paused. And paused some more.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't know."
How is this a pep talk, exactly? Is this a Matt Foley-esque "start hitting or live in a van down by the river" chat? Or was Olerud told that the team needs someone younger and more athletic, like Jolbert Cabrera? [scroll down for the Cabrera bit]
The Baltimore Orioles' rotation, which was supposed to be their weakness, is starting to sparkle.
It's curious, isn't it, how that sparklage has coincided with a West Coast swing to the Emerald City? I don't know about you, but whenever I see a young pitcher looking for his first major-league win -- as Erik Bedard was last night -- I assume it's going to come against My Seattle Mariners.
Poetry News: "Bill Nevins, a New Mexico high school teacher and personal friend, was fired last year and classes in poetry and the poetry club at Rio Rancho High School were permanently terminated. It had nothing to do with obscenity, but it had everything to do with extremist politics."
It's not even about extremist politics. The principal of this school is a Bush backer, which is fine. But he decides to censor student poetry and art critical of the President, which is most assuredly not fine. Worse, he fired or threatened with termination teachers who blanched at censoring the kids' work.
Before I read the story, I assumed one of the kids had crossed an important line, using excessive profanity or making a threat. This appears not to be the case: it appears to be one freak on an anti-First Amendment rampage, bent on punishing at least one teacher (likely more) and several students who disagree with him politically.
Having worked in high schools before, I can testify that a certain portion of the staff (a small minority) are there because they want to exercise power over those weaker than they are. This principal seems like the worst example of such a person -- he doesn't like what a few kids wrote, so now no kids at that high school get to learn about poetry. How vile.
Wednesday is media criticism day: In case you hadn't noticed, apparently every Mariner fan is pining away for Rafael Palmeiro. So says The TV Critic, who spurns this imagined love for ViagraMan. Get over it, he says! It's never going to happen!
Wow, I'm glad The TV Critic threw cold water on that flame. Because if this season has taught us anything, it's that we need another old player. Every fan I talk to thinks that getting Palmeiro would have fixed everything.
Seriously, this is the first I've heard of any tooth-gnashing over Palmeiro. Where does he come up with this stuff? The column implies that readers write to him in tears over this. Who are these people?
On the plus side, My Favorite Reactionary had a just-right post yesterday, ripping Melvin's bunt-o-centrism, perverse bullpen patterns, and "veteran players" that make excuses for not being able to hit rookies. Plus, he uses the term "dreadfully boring" to describe this team. Which it is, sad to say.
Hey. How's it going. Been a while. OK, actually, we don't know each other. In fact, you have no idea who I am. But that's beside the point.
The point is, I'm a big fan. OK, I'm not. But there are things I admire about you. The publication you write for, for example. And your hair. Of course, your hair.
So, while we normally disagree on many things baseball-related, [insert insincere line about mutual respect for each other's intelligent opinions here before sending letter]. As Aristotle said, "come, let us reason together."
For instance, there's your column today. Hey, look! Over there! Off in the trees! It's a point of agreement. The Mariners, you write, should not be hasty to trade Garcia, potentially their most valuable chip. Right you are, Steve. Kudos! Megadittos!
So why do have to go and do a thing like this? In explaining to readers why Garcia wants to play for the Yankees, you write:
Garcia's night-lifestyle has filled long hours of programming on sports talk shows, as if he were as wild as Paris Hilton or any member of Metallica. He has been ripped by sportswriters for his lack of preparation between starts and his lapses in concentration during starts.
See, for honesty's sake, Steve, your next sentence might have been: "And, by 'sportswriters,' I mean me."
That's right, that link shows a local sportswriter ripping Garcia, declaring that he deserved to be booed by fans, and suggesting that he's "more interested in night life" than "night games" and would rather be "a big-time party animal" than a big league ace. And, my friend, that sportswriter has the most incredible column-mug hair in Seattle.
That matters little, however. In today's America, hypocrisy is just the name of Calvin Klein's next fragrance for men. Old-fashioned as I am, I thought it merited some attention.
But here's the kicker, the part of your article that wrenched my eyes away from that column mug.
Freddy Garcia will be the first serious test for general manager Bill Bavasi. The future of the Mariners will depend on how quickly Bavasi can restructure the everyday lineup. What he does with Garcia will give us our first look at his grand plan.
Wasn't the "first serious test" the total overhaul he gave this team in the offseason? Surely you remember the giveaway of Carlos Guillen (you wrote about it in the Garcia link); surely you remember the McCracken trade, the overpaying for Raul Ibanez and Scott Spiezio?
One thing I did notice: seven out of 24 Mariners in the majors were acquired by Bill Bavasi. That's almost a third of the team, and it doesn't count the castoff Jarvis. Even David Locke, the strident preppy, acknowledges todaythat the front office has put a real destructive stamp on this team. I know, I know, you don't read the competition.
Steve, seriously. If you don't think Bavasi has already ably demonstrated inability, you haven't been paying attention. We should discuss this over a night of Freddy Garcia-style partying. Or, if that's not your style, we could meet for coffee.
I'll bring a list of Bavasi's transactions. You bring some top-notch hair care tips.
John: (Cambridge, MA ): Is there any value to rumor that Kim and Damon will be traded from the Red Sox and in a deal in which Boston acquires both Carlos Beltran and Freddy Garcia? It seems that Damon thinks it to be a distinct possibility, since he sold his home and now rents in the Boston area.
Peter Gammons: The problem is Seattle is not goin to take on $14 million next year in Damon and Kim. Nobody but the Dodgers would take Kim right now. Makes no sense for the Royals to trade their best player and then have to lose Garcia because they can't sign him. The Red Sox have talked about Garcia, kind of put their names in the mix. Last year and this spring they floated the idea of a Beltran-Damon swap but the Royals had no interest. Great idea for the Red Sox though!
Contrast Peter's rather sane approach with Scott Engel's. Engel's writing from a fantasy baseball perspective, of course, but he says:
The Mariners have a dire need to pump life into a sagging offense, and Damon can give them the spark they need ... The three-way trade makes sense for all of the teams involved.
Look, I like Captain Caveman as much as the next guy. But he's only slightly better than Randy Winn and even more overpaid. Damon's OPS this year is .744, identical to Winn's career OPS. Yes, I'd rather have Damon, but not for $8 million.
Of course, he is on the wrong side of 30, so that part of the rumor makes sense.
I don't even know why Engel thinks shipping Kim to the M's makes sense, cause he doesn't explain. But I'd love to hear it! As usual, the USS Mariner guys called it first and best -- why not just trade Freddy for Beltran?
Once is an accident, twice is a trend, three times is a Bavasi blunder: The New York media is apparently serious about this Freddy-Garcia-for-Dioner Navarro rumor, with the NY Post running Joel Sherman essentially re-typing the same story I linked yesterday and adding some "Tanyon Sturtze is no Athos, Porthos or Aramis" snaps.
Don't believe the sleazy Post? Don't blame you. Take it from Larry Stone instead, who proffers the rumor in his notebook column.
If this thing doesn't have legs yet, it's at least growing thighs, maybe even knees and shins.
Optimisometer: Mentioned this weekend how the M's are trying the patience of the media, the fans, The Optimist, and probably the Mariner Moose. Listening to the game yesterday, I got an indication of just how bad things have gotten, from the paragon of positivity himself, Dave Niehaus.
When Aurilia singled late in the game, there was no "And the Mariners will bring the tying run to the plate!" He just continued bantering with Ron Fairly about the Houston Colt .45s. It was as if he knew there was no shot.
And then, when Melvin signalled for the bunt again (again!) in the ninth, Dave actually called out the move as nonsensical. Sure, he decried it because of the old "don't-play-for-the-tie-on-the-road" canard, but he stopped just short of saying "Why would you give a Hall of Fame reliever a free out when he only needs to get three?"
Why is this significant? Through years and years of awful, miserable baseball, Dave Niehaus was able to put a happy face on things and sound convincing. If it's getting hard for him, well, Earl Weaver help us all.
Random sidenote: I play in one of those Sportsline fantasy leagues wher you can post polls. I posted the question "How many games will Bob Melvin's weird fascination with bunting every time someone gets on base cost the Mariners this year?"
Garcia watch: Apparently the Mariners are about ready to pull the plug, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday. Evidently, Bavasi met with Brian "I should be the M's GM" Cashman yesterday.
Davidoff speculates that the Yankees could offer Dioner Navarro, their double-A catching prospect, as the centerpiece for a Garcia deal.
I've got to admit that intirgues me: the Mariners could use a real catcher, Navarro just turned 20 years old, and he had 42 long hits in just 110 games last year. This also seems like a risk, though, unless you've already decided that the season's lost, and that you're not going to pay Freddy.
Follow-up No. 1, Lyle Overbay: Larry Stone beats the Overbay drum. I'm opposed to this move not because I think Overbay's a bad player, but because I have no doubt we'll give up too much to get a commodity in high supply, a first baseman that can hit a bit.
Follow-up No. 2, Aaron Boone: I'm convinced we will end up with Boone. I'm equally convinced that it will be a disaster. This article says that the Mariners and the Dodgers are most interested in having Boone make outs for them.
posted by Jefflink 8:22 AM 
Stick a fork in the M's, writes Larry Stone in a pretty scathing column. I wish he'd said more about "visionless management" and less about "passion," but other than that, it's perfect.
Seattle has a deserving reputation as a town of homer sportswriters. I don't think Stone falls in that category, but check it: they've lost Steve Kelley, Art Thiel, and now Stone, who have all written high-profile "blow this team up" exhortations. The TV Critic wants to trade everyone for prospects; he doesn't know which ones, but dammit, he wants prospects. If Jim Moore ever writes about sports, I'm sure he'll agree.
In the space of less than two months, the house that Bavasi built has come tumbling down like a house of cards doused in gasoline and touched with a cigarette. They've alienated the media, many fans, and even the Mariner Optimist's posts are starting to feel ironic.
By my count, the only columnist not to blast the M's yet (other than Moore, who doesn't count) is Blaine Newnham. Don't let us down, Blaine.
posted by Jefflink 8:10 AM