I see we're back to bunting in the first inning tonight. That's great strategy, because it gives a free out to Mark (Pride of Mount Vernon) Hendrickson, a pitcher who couldn't get any of the first five hitters out on his own.
Then, with the bases loaded, it's much better to have a hitter like Bavasi favorite Jolbert Cabrera up than, say, Justin Leone or Mike Cameron. The latter two might strike out. The former will put the ball in play, hitting into an inning-ending twin killing.
What's sad isn't that things have gone so wrong for this team, but that they've gone right. This is the team they meant to create.
posted by Jefflink 3:28 PM 
Friday, August 06, 2004
Are You Ready For Auction?: UBeen in D.C. all week at the Unity: Journalists of Color conference (I'm a non-native supporting member of the Native American Journalists Association, my wife is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association).
Just got back from the benefit dinner for AAJA, which was a great event. Stellar food. Good company. A surprise visit from the Iron Chef. A hilarious keynote by Connie Chung.
In order to raise money for the scholarships they give, AAJA has an annual silent auction. This year, there were some National Pastime items of interest ...
I bid on a couple of cool autographed baseballs -- one by Ichiro, one by Shingo Takatsu -- but there were a couple of other items I thought I'd share. Some of them are incredible on their own merits, while some are ... amusing for other reasons.
If you're into baseball history, you'd love this. Three autographed copies of "Through A Diamond," the book by Kerry Yo Nakagawa and a DVD. Hope I win that one.
Then there's a football autographed by Stuart Scott. No bids. Boo-yeah!
[Yes, Stu Scott is here, as is Stephen A. Smith. I've been desperately trying to find Stephen A. so I can try to talk him into leaving my outgoing voicemail message: "Jeff Shaw is terrible! San Shin is terrible! However ..."]
I was the only guy bidding on the Takatsu ball, which surprised me -- especially when I saw a $200 bid on a cap signed, by all people, Chan Ho Park. Two hundred simoleones!
The secret? The Korean ambassador to the U.S. and his wife were at the event. Guess who bid the price up.
I don't really have the money for any of the stuff I bid on, but it's a great cause, and I really wanted that Ichiro ball. Also wanted the Diamond Club M's seats that Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen donated, but the bidding went too rich for my blood.
posted by Jefflink 7:18 PM 
Thursday, August 05, 2004
The promised typhoon: I'm in D.C. this week, and the M's just finished up a series with the Orioles, so I get a outside impression of what a laughingstock the M's have become. The local sports media has been talking about what a disappointment it would be not to come away with a sweep. Which, of course, they did.
Speaking of sweeps, this whole roster should have had a little late summer cleaning affected upon it at the deadline -- but it didn't happen. Why not?
Two reasons: Bavasi's misdealings have lowered the Mariners to a spare parts franchise, one of those junker cars you see that might yield a working timing belt, maybe an oil pan you can use, but nothing you'd go to Napa and drop actual money for. The one player we actually moved, Dave Hansen, is the perfect example.
And what about the players we didn't move? Well, there's Mike Myers, who the team didn't get any good offers for, but hopes to get better value for after he clears waivers (?). There's Ron Villone, whose value will never be higher, and who we'll sign to an inflated contract next year. There's Randy Winn, who is apparently such an underrated player that he generated no real interest. We apparently could have moved his bloated contract, but Bob Melvin lobbied to keep him.
[And speaking of throwing good money after bad, the rumblings are that Melvin's job's in jeopardy. I've got no problem with this, of course -- but doesn't this mean that activating his extension was the fiscal equivalent of taking money you could have bought fireworks with, and instead lighting said greenbacks on fire?]
Are you happy that any of these players are still on the team?
I'm not. And it's a joke that all of them still are.
Let's also talk about the one player that likely would have brought the most value in trade. Apparently, the details of Eddie Guardado's "mutual option" contract are such that the team has the first shot at activating his deal. If they don't, he has the choice to activate the contract himself. The M's decided that closer is a difficult position to fill, thus opted to keep every-fifth-day Eddie, an old (if above average) reliever with a tired arm.
This contract, combined with Bavasi's post-deadline quotes, all but ensure Eddie will be back with the team next year. This means we'll be paying him at least $6 million, $7 million if he meets incentives.
I fear that this contract will make people appreciate Kazuhiro Sasaki. And his luggage.
Combine this with the overpaid (but somewhat productive) Raul Ibanez, the overpaid (but might return to productive) Bret Boone and the overpaid (but incredibly, dramatically, Cirillianly unproductive) Scott Spiezio and you have a bunch of roster spots where the financial outlay outstrips the production. This is bad.
At the deadline, the M's failed to clear any deadwood, acquire any meaningful prospects, get any younger, get any more powerful, or do anything creative to set themselves up for next year.
The balance of the evidence points to one devastating conclusion: Bill Bavasi is not the man you want evaluating talent. Or, for that matter, handing out contracts.
I said this to a friend when we hired Three-Dollar Bill. The Mariners won't make the playoffs as long as he's the general manager.
Sidenote: I opened the Washington Post this morning to find out a story about how Bob Melvin has so much respect for Rafael Palmeiro, he brought in "his best left-hander, Mike Myers, to face him."
Those words sear me like I sat on a wood stove.
Finally, what is the big deal about Paul LoDuca? Yes, he's having a fine year. Yes, he's so gritty you could take the paint off your deck with him. But he's still a 32-year-old catcher who has only topped an .800 OPS in one full season.
posted by Jefflink 10:35 AM 
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Dave Henderson, zen philosopher: Two examples from the fifth inning of today's game.
First, he tells a story during Bret Boone's at-bat about how Bob Boone (Bret's dad) kept framing pitches on him. Dave says he wanted "to hit Boone with his bat" a few times because he kept getting calls on pitches that were off the plate. Why, you ask, would the umpires favor him in this way? "Because he had 20 years in, and I only had five."
Flash forward two batters. Bucky Jacobsen, down 0-2, works the count full. He takes a pitch just off the plate for ball four. Henderson lavishly praises Bucky, saying: "That's the way you get a reputation for having a good eye -- you take pitches just off the plate. As a rookie, you have to take those pitches. If you do, the umpires start giving them to you."
Clearly, Hendu understands the paradoxes of zen. The strike zone has become the empty vessel. We must become detached from the impermanent 3-2 count. Especially the rookies.
Except, given reincarnation, there are no rookies.
Dave Henderson, general manager: Dave gives a thumbs down to the Dodgers' trade for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi, saying that "Sure, there are the numbers, but the game is played by people." Dave is aghast that Paul DePodesta (who he and Rick called out by name) would trade "the heart of the ball club," one Paul Lo Duca.
"It's like cutting your leader's head off."
I don't even have a line here. That'll have to stand on its own. Though maybe it's time for a USS Mariner check of how those first-year GMs are doing with their new teams. I bet Paul stacks up OK.
This deal is a bad one for the Red Sox. I know Nomar's disgruntled and in the decline phase of his career, but I'd rather have Nomar Garciaparra playing shortstop after nine beers than have Orlando Cabrera in his prime, on steroids, with those Dr. Octopus arms swinging four of Barry Bonds' maple bats.
If Doug Mientkeiwicz's wrist is healthy, that's a nice pickup for defense and a lefthanded stick that can get on base, I guess. Seems like not nearly enough, though.
A rant on the Mariners' inactivity at the trade deadline is coming. Like a typhoon, it has to build strength.
posted by Jefflink 7:29 AM