Mariners Insider

The Heart of the Matter: Grading the recent homestand

Post by Ryan Divish on April 28, 2008 at 2:12 pm with No Comments »
April 28, 2008 2:12 pm

Musically speaking, I prefer Pearl Jam to pop. But my iPod ranges anywhere from Oasis to old school hip-hop and because I was born in Montana, I like me some country music. So what does this all mean you ask? Remember as the angry lady said, "this is Mariners Insider, not Divish Insider." It’s because it seems I often find myself in the press box before games, or driving back to Tacoma after games with the song "Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley stuck in my head.

Specifically, this lyric over and over:

"The more I know, the less I understand

All the things I thought I knew I’m learning again."

Actually, it’s just the first part more than the second. Because what I’m finding out with this Mariners’ team is that "the more I know" about it, "the less I understand." Specifically, "the more I know, the less I understand" about the decisions being made with the team, both in-game and roster-wise.

When will somebody admit that Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro are unable to help this team in any way? Why did the Mariners spend $850,000 on Miguel Cairo and what exactly is his role with the team?, And how many games will they give away and fall behind in the AL West before somebody makes a decision to makes some changes.

"This was not a good homestand," manager John McLaren said after yesterday’s meltdown.

Yeah, you think?

I’m trying to find a phrase to sum up the recent six-game homestand in which the Mariners finished 2-4. Umm, let’s see …

A hopeless mess? Nah, not harsh enough.

A catastrophe of epic proportions? That might be a bit much.

A complete disaster? Sounds about right.

No, I’m going to go a little different direction.

I’m thinking it’s "A complete wake-up call for everybody and anybody that draws a paycheck from the Seattle Mariners organization."

Imagine anybody watching those last six games and still have the audacity to believe that the current team the Mariners have constructed could make it to the playoffs. I’d have a better chance of convincing Sophia Bush to move to Tacoma than convincing most die-hard Mariners fans that this team, right now, is good enough to make the playoffs.

It’s a flawed line-up, a flawed roster and a flawed philosophy that to no real surprise leads to flawed baseball.

There’s my rant. I have ideas of how to fix it, but that’s a far longer post.

Let’s grade out the homestand quickly…

Hitting D-

Let’s see, Jose Vidro is hitting .195, Richie Sexson is hitting .207, Brad Wilkerson is hitting .189 and Kenji Johjima is hitting .197. That’s four guys, who usually bat 5-6-7-8 in the Mariners a daily order that are literally not hitting their weight. Need proof, according to the Mariners media guide Vidro weighs 200 pounds, Sexson is 240, Wilkerson is 205 and Johjima weighs 205. Maybe that’s a new theorem for Baseball Prospectus – Average/Weight ratio with Vidro a -5, Sexson -33, Wilkerson -16 and Joh is -8.

The only reason that the Mariners don’t get an F is the production of Jose Lopez, who is hitting .314 with 17 RBI. Raul Ibanez has also been steady with a .300 average with 20 RBI.

As for the rest, Ichiro is only hitting .257, but he’s starting to pick things up a little more and Yuni Betancourt is hitting a respectable .298, but his pitch selection in clutch situations leaves plenty to be desired and Adrian Beltre seems to try and cure the whole team’s offensive struggles in one at-bat.

Starting pitching A-

Seattle’s big three Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva all had quality outings for the Mariners, and even Jarrod Washburn wasn’t horrible. Miguel Batista gets a pass for getting hurt early in his start. Look, the starting pitching is the last concern for this team. It’s been the most consistent aspect of the team all season, even with Bedard’s injuries.

Bullpen C

This grade could have been worse had it not been for Cha Seung Baek’s quality outing from the bullpen in long relief of an injured Batista. Baek showed that he can contribute once every two weeks when he’s used. As for his bullpen mates, J.J. Putz showed hints of his old self, which is a positive. But Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, Sean Green and Brandon Morrow all had a few shaky moments. If Rhodes gets a few calls, from a Triple A umpire, working a big league game, he gets out of his one jam. Lowe seems to have moments where he looks dominant and times where he can’t find the zone. Morrow’s velocity is there, but at this point can you trust his command? Green leads the AL in appearances. This much use could be detrimental late in the season.

Defense B

There were a few burps and errors in the homestand, defensively, but nothing as egregious as the Mariners hitting issues. But one thing I’ve noticed is that the opponents are not afraid to run on Wilkerson’s arm.

Game decisions C

I liked the idea of McLaren benching Vidro for a few days and inserting Norton, who produced and helped the Mariners get a win. I was one of the people wondering about why Cha Seung was on the team and he looked better than I expected. I question leaving Felix out there a little bit on Sunday, but moreover I question bringing Morrow in instead, of getting Green ready, a guy who can get you double play, and isn’t going to walk many guys. I also liked Mac sticking up for his pitchers and getting tossed. It proved a point.

Overall D

You just don’t lose back-to-back series at home. That can’t happen, especially against teams like the Orioles and the A’s. Look, I know both teams are leading their division, but come on, was anyone really impressed with them? I wasn’t. But then again, I was even less impressed with the Mariners.

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