Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I agree, the "broadcasting" was pathetic. But I thought the camerawork was just as bad! They had the traditional "over the pitcher's shoulder" shot, but when the ball was put in play, they spastically switched to this "above first base, aerial view of the dome" shot. Was I the only one who had a difficult time picking up the ball? Maybe it was the lighting in the dome or the fact that I was really tired - but I thought the camera angles were awful.
The other thing I wanted to mention was how bad ESPN's coverage of the game was last night. For those who weren't aware, ESPN decided not to send announcers to the game, instead having Harold Reynolds, Peter Gammons, et al call the game from a TV feed. It was pathetic. At one point, I saw a D-Rays runner head from first to second, apparently stealing the base, yet not a word from the broadcast crew. A couple of pitches later one of them casually mentioned that it looked like the baserunner had stolen second. Late in the game Tampa Bay had a reliever warming up in the bullpen but the announcers couldn't tell us who it was warming up because they weren't at the game. Memo to ESPN: This is opening day of the Major League Baseball season. Get it right! If you can't afford to send announcers over to Japan (yeah, right!) or the announcers don't want to go, hire somebody that's already in Japan, say like Bobby Valentine, who's managing the Chiba Lotte Marines. Anything, even a silent broadcast, would have been better than what we got last night from ESPN. Five thumbs down!
I did manage to make it til 4:30 AM, deciding to go to sleep after Tino hit the HR off Felix Heredia to give the D-Rays an 8-3 lead. Great game -- either Mussina was awful or the Rays can hit. Maybe a little of both. The M's may end up regretting signing Raul Ibanez, who can't hit lefties, instead of the switch-hitting Jose Cruz, Jr., who signed w/ Tampa for less money and less years.

In other news, Charles Gipson is back in the big leagues! I hadn't even realized he was still in baseball after getting picked off three times last year while with the Yankees. But he was called up yesterday by the D-Rays (don't know if he made it to Japan in time for the game). Perhaps Lou Piniella figures Gipson will know some of the Yankees signs from last year...
Well at least someone else is up watching the game! Too bad you're not here in Seattle --- nobody here wanted to come over for the 2 AM start! Alex Rodriguez just struck out looking in his first Yankee AB, taking three called strikes after the count went to 2-0. And somewhere there are Yankee fans decrying the trade a bust... Giambi followed A-Rod with a pop-fly HR to the opposite field. That ball would have been an easy out in 29 of 30 major league parks, all except Fenway, where it would have been a single off the Monstah... I'm not sure how much of this I can watch -- I might just let TIVO do its job and watch the remainder of the game in the morning...
Yankees Suck T-shirt? Check.

"Graveyard" Double Gulp (64 ounces of goodness)? Check.

S'Mores Pop Tarts? Check.

Yes...I'm ready for the 2004 baseball season to officially begin!
To all the east coasters complaining that the game starts at 5 a.m. - stop whining. At least you got to sleep and wake up early...it's only 2 a.m. here!
Go D-Rays!
I meant to include this in my last post, but forgot -- whether the Mariners keep 12 pitchers or 11, Willie Bloomquist should not be on the opening day roster. This Bob Melvin nonsense of supposedly guaranteeing this clown a roster spot (Melvin -- "To me, Willie is on the team") when other players have outperformed him, is insane.Willie's hit under .200 all spring, made errors in the field, botched a rundown play on which no error was called, failed to run out a ball that fell in fair (turning a double into a single) in a game that was televised back to Seattle (!). And it's not for lack of opportunities -- Bloomquist has had the second most AB's on the team this spring. Yet Melvin continues to talk about the things that Willie does that you don't see on the stat page, how if a new position were invented tomorrow, he's sure Willie would be great at it, blah, blah, blah. As I said in a post several weeks ago, Bloomquist made the team last year because he had no competition (Chad Meyers and Luis Ugueto were the only other infielders even brought to spring training). This year there are some better players in camp -- like Ramon Santiago and Hiram Bocachica and they belong in the major leagues more than Willie Bloomquist does. It'll be a travesty if Bloomquist make this team, especially if he's the only backup shortstop, because he cannot play shortstop in the major leagues. Don't even get me started on Bo Mel's crazy idea that Bloomquist is the best option to play first base, FIRST BASE! on the days that John Olerud sits because a lefty is on the mound...

If the M's are seriously considering carrying 12 pitchers as Bob Melvin has been claiming of late, that would leave the team with just three guys on the bench besides the backup catcher. Theoretically that would mean that Quinton McCracken and Dave Hansen would have spots and the last spot would be between Willie Bloomquist, Ramon Santiago, Hiram Bocachica and Eric Owens. However, if they actually do plan to go with 12 pitchers and it's not just a smokescreen to try to get someone, anyone to trade for Kevin Jarvis, then I could see them trading Hansen and keeping two of the other four players. Hansen, unlike the other two stiffs acquired in the Cirillo dump, Jarvis and Wiki "I'm the laziest player in baseball" Gonzalez, actually has a contract that other teams would take. He's due to make $700,000, just $400,000 over the minimum. I could totally see some National League club in need of a solid pinch-hitter agreeing to trade for Hansen. It's doubful we'd get much more than a Grade B or Grade C prospect if that, but the M's would be able to save that salary (and use the roster spot on a player that would be more likely to fill the M's needs). The kind of team that would want a Hansen would not only be an NL team, but a contending one and probably one where the club's options for the last man on the bench this spring were not that enticing (Houston would be a good destinatiion for Hansen, since they have Eric Bruntlett and Jason Alfaro battling for the last spot on the bench).

Monday, March 29, 2004

Ken Griffey, Jr. got hurt in today's exhibition game -- a strained calf --- link here He was removed from the game and will be evaluated. I think that probably puts the M's over the top as far as taking a risk on Junior -- it's highly doubtful they would do something now until he proves he's healthy and can stay healthy for at least half a season. And at that point, why would the Reds give him away? If he's healthy and producing, they're not gonna pay half his salary for him to play elsewhere.

It seems like the M's are still contemplating a move before the season starts. In the last couple of days, Bob Melvin has all of a sudden been talking about carrying 12 pitchers after insisting the team would carry 11 pitchers all spring. It seems like this is more of a smokescreen than anything else. Kevin Jarvis, he of the guaranteed $4.25 million salary, does not belong on this Mariner team. The organization has two full pitching staffs of pitchers that are better than him (the 9 pitchers guaranteed spots on the club -- the 5 starters plus Guaradao, Hasegawa, Soriano and Mateo, the three lefties battling it out, Villone, Myers and Mulholland plus Nageotte, Blackley, Rett Johnson, Heaverolo, Craig Anderson, Madritsch, Sherrill, et al) yet they're talking about keeping 12 pitchers so they don't have to release Jarvis. The M's have been trying to trade Jarvis but most likely other teams are saying they'll just wait til Seattle releases him (kind of like the Freddy Garcia scenario last December where the M's called the other teams' bluff by signing Garcia instead of non-tendering him). So the organization tells Melvin to tell the media that the club is gonna keep 12 pitchers, in hopes that they'll then be able to either get something for Jarvis or at least get some team to pay more than $300,000 of his contract (which is the only salary relief the Mariners would get if they release Jarvis -- if he got another job).

There's been talk that the Brewers have had a scout in Peoria for a week straight. They're supposedly interested in Jarvis but it has to be about more than just Jarvis. Pitchers' scheduled spring training appearances, starters and relievers, are released about three days in advance. Milwaukee would know which days Jarvis was pitching, so if they were only interested in scouting him, they could just show up to those games. Hopefully the Brewers scout is checking out the M's talent for a potential Geoff Jenkins trade. Sure, he signed a contract extension, but that doesn't mean they have to keep him, if they could get more useful, cheaper, players for Jenkins from Seattle. Check out the Dr. Mariner blog as he discussed this possibilty at length on Saturday.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Random thoughts from Conor in Arizona:

Jamie Moyer continues to amaze me. He looked awesome today, going seven innings and only giving up 3 hits. If it wasn't for Willie F Bloomquist's 1st inning error at 3B, Moyer might not have given up any runs. Edgar hit a homerun and, like Freddy Garcia, looks about 20 lbs lighter (although not any faster). Shiggy got rocked, going one inning and giving up two doubles and a dinger. Ben Davis probably continued to piss off management by going 0-4 with two strikeouts.

Speaking of homeruns - I watched Troy Glaus hit one all the way out of my favorite stadium down here, Suprise Stadium. If you've been there, it went over the wall to the right side of the scoreboard (left center power alley) and over the white fence into the parking lot. It probably landed about 500 feet away from home plate - an absolutely stunning shot! I hoped to meet Buck O'Neil at Suprise, but unfortunately he wasn't there last night.

But I did get to meet 2 pretty cool people though. On Wednesday night, my dad and I went to a party at the Fox Sports Grill in Scottsdale. It was a MLB preview party sponsored by Razor magazine and it was pretty cool. We showed up at about 9, an hour before the general public was let in. We saw some baseball players go in, but mostly it was "baseball sluts." I'm still not sure what cost more - all the cool cars in the parking lot or all the plastic surgery on all of these women.
Once they let the general public in, all of the ballplayers conveniently moved to a VIP lounge. I did get my picture taken with one of my favorite pitchers, Barry Zito, and the 2001 Playmate of the Year, Brande Roderick. Not too shabby...

Most of the fans down here in Arizona have been pretty cool. But I sat next to the biggest moron today (no, not you dad - he was on the other side of me!). This guy was a hick from Arizona and he started off on my bad side by telling me that I'm going to have so much fun watching Quinton McCracken. Yeah...
Then, when Ichiro came up he started chanting "O-ver-rated!" occasionally mixing in "Speak-the-lan-guage!" Class act huh?

I have one more game tomorrow and then it's back to Seattle where it's 50 degrees colder. This was my first trip down to Spring Training and if you've never been, start planning your trip for next season right now!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The latest on Griffey here. And it was reported in today's Dayton Daily News that two Mariner scouts, including top scout Roger Jongewaard, were at the Reds spring training game yesterday. See here for details.

I'd like to invent a new position for Willie Bloomquist: Tacoma. I'll bet he'd play that position well. Or at least better than first base.
It's being reported that Dan Evans, recently fired as LA Dodgers GM by new owner Frank McCourt, will be hired by the M's to an unspecified front office position. Evans interviewed for the Seattle GM position in '99, when Pat Gillick got the job. This is good news I suppose, but has to make you wonder if Evans would have gotten the M's GM job instead of Bavasi if he'd been available last November? Had McCourt bought the Dodgers sooner, we might actually have been spared from the off-season moves by Bavasi...
I don't recall a manager ever being so in love with a player since Lou Piniella kept Bobby Ayala in Seattle for five, mostly brutal years. Here's what Bob Melvin told the Seattle Times today about Willie Bloomquist: "He plays every position well, and if they invented a new position, Willie would play it well." Uh, isn't "batter" a position? Willie certainly doesn't play that very well...

I know Bob Melvin loves Willie F Bloomquist, but this has gone too far. Unbelievably Bloomquist is going to get the majority of playing time at first base when John Olerud gets a day off this year. Read all about the unbelievable news here under the lovely sub-heading, "Willie's Time". My favorite Bo Mel quote from this article is this: "If Ole gets a day off, Willie can make a perfect match against a left-handed pitcher." A perfect match for who? The other team's pitcher? Certainly not for the M's. Can't Melvin and the coaching staff see that Willie can't hit -- and will never hit??? Sure, trading Greg Colbrunn was a great idea...

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Actually Griffey doesn't have a full no-trade clause; he has a limited no-trade clause in which he can name a group of teams that he can be traded to. And it wasn't Junior that blocked the deal to the Padres, it was Phil Nevin who had the no-trade clause and didn't want to go to Cincinnati. If you recall, Junior got mad when he found out that (then-Reds manager) Bob Boone had met with Nevin to try to convince him to accept the trade to Cincy. Griffey's no-trade does not include San Diego.
Jon, remember that Griffey has a no trade clause in his contract, and is not afraid to use it. Otherwise, he'd be a Padre. So I don't think the 10 / 5 thing matters. Man, if they get Griffey back, they've almost got all the old guys back together. I wonder if Bavasi has Bob Wolcott's number?
I hope the Jason Kendall thing is so much hot air. I'm not convinced that a guy who isn't likely to slug .400 again in his career is a solution at even $5-6 million a year. Safeco would make his numbers look really ugly.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

One thing that might be motivating the Reds to try trading Griffey sooner rather than later is that after this season, he'll again be a 10-and-5 man, 10 years in the majors, the last five with the same team. Those in Seattle will recall that it was those 10 and 5 rights, not a contractual no-trade clause, that resulted in Junior dictating that he would only approve a trade to Cincinnati.
Ken Rosenthal at the Sporting News is reporting that the Pirates and Mariners are talking about a trade involving Jason Kendall. Said deal would also involve Kevin Jarvis and a catcher, either Ben Davis or Wiki Gonzalez going to the Pittsburgh and the Pirates picking up some of Kendall's salary. The deal makes some sense depending on how much the Pirates are willing to pay of Kendall's salary. Jarvis isn't likely to make the M's this year and is guaranteed $4.5 million, Seattle seems to have soured on Davis and with Dan Wilson nearing the end of the line and no minor league catcher in the system being remotely close to ready, the Mariners will need a backstop for the next few years. Kendall has four years, $42 million left on his deal --- the only way Seattle makes this trade is if they end up paying Kendall no more than an average of $5-6 million, meaning the Pirates would have to cover some $15-20 million of his salary. They just might -- I believe the reports were that they were willing to pay $15 million to the Padres when they were attempting to trade him to San Diego.
Kudos to Steve at Mariners Wheelhouse for pondering the queston today of what would happen if Jeff Cirillo (1-for-22 this spring) faced Kevin Jarvis (17.50 ERA in three spring training starts) in real game action.
With Rich Aurilia out for a couple of days with a strained right calf, Willie Bloomquist started at shortstop today for the M's and showed why he's just not a very good ballplayer. He booted a routine groundball for an error, botched a rundown player allowing the trapped runner to advance safely (leading to three runs) and for good measure also hit into a double play. This is what happens when a mediocre player like Bloomquist is guaranteed a spot on the roster, as Bob Melvin did last week. Hopefully Bo-Mel is having second thoughts. This is not the guy you want to have in there at SS every day if Aurilia goes down for a week in the middle of the season. And what kind of message does it send to the guys battling to make the team that Bloomquist, with all of one year of service time and not much upside, doesn't have to fight to make the team?

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I was as skeptical as the next guy about the reports in the Seattle Times that had the M's trading for Ken Griffey, Jr., but the word I'm getting from a good source is that the Mariners are in fact talking to Junior, trying to see if he's amenable to being part of the program (i.e. following team rules, no special treatment, no whining about closing the roof, etc.). The supposed deal would have the Reds paying more than half the money remaining on Junior's contract with Randy Winn and a minor league pitcher headed to Cincy.

Sure there's risk but if the Reds are gonna pay more than half the salary this is a gamble the M's have to take. I know I'm in the minority around the blogosphere, but let's face it folks -- even with the money from the Sasaki windfall, we all know the Mariners aren't gonna trade with Chicago to get Magglio Ordonez, pay him $14 mil this year and let him walk at the end of the season (nor are they gonna pony up to sign him to a pricey extension). They're not gonna trade for Carlos Beltran in July and watch Scott Boras take him to free agency in November. Yes, Griffey has been hurt a lot, but that's a risk you take when you're only paying $5-6 million a year towards his contract. That's less money than the $8 million they paid him 8 years ago, in 1996. Junior has five years left on his contract --- if he's completely healthy for any of them, he will produce.

I believe this is a good fit at the right time for this team. This team has the best pitching staff it's ever had, with several youngsters ready to step up in case of injury. They're one bat away from being where they need to be --- you add a 30 home run, 100 RBI guy to this club and they will win. Griffey apparently appreciates Seattle and its fans more than ever after the way he's been treated in Cincy. Yes, there's risk that Junior could go down again, but don't underestimate Seattle's training staff -- Rick Griffin and Co. are the same people that were in place throughout Junior entire career with the M's. Griffey didn't get hurt that much while with Seattle and when he did he came back quickly to contribute.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Right-handed pitcher Rett Johnson, who recently returned to the Mariners after a five day absence, was one of seven players cut from the Mariners spring training camp today, on the heels of injured (and awful) catcher Wiki Gonzalez being cut yesterday. Gonzalez had a variety of physical ailments and did not get into any spring training games. Also cut today were left-handed pitchers Craig Anderson and Jose Nunez (who did not pitch in any "A" games this spring), catcher Ryan Christianson (injured), first baseman A.J. Zapp, 18-year old shortstop Adam Jones (the M's 1st pick in the '03 draft) and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Seattle now has 51 players remaining in camp.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

But this isn't a "moral" issue with Rett Johnson. Any team that would be interested in trading for him would be stupid not to consider the fact that he recently left camp for five days for unspecified personal reasons, which is going to raise an obvious red flag. There's a big risk there for teams that might have interest in making a trade with the M's. Even if they like what Johnson's done on the mound to date, they have to take this into account. Hence, he won't have the value he might have had to these teams. My understanding of the situation is that Johnson's personal problems may not have been sorted out and we may not have heard the end of this...

In other "news" from Peoria, I received confirmation today that the $1 million in incentives in Ron Villone's contract are all, as I suspected, for starting games.
The incentives kick in early so it sounds like he'll start to earn the incentives if he starts as few as five games. Typically the way this works is that he'll get $200,000 if he starts five games and another $200,000 for every five games after that. This means that Villone will only earn $1 million if he pitches exclusively in relief. Also, contrary to reports from the AP that came out after Villone was signed, the contract is guaranteed, which means that he's pretty much a lock to make the opening day roster (the guys he's competing with, Terry Mulholland and Mike Myers, have non-guaranteed contracts and are not on the 40 man roster).

I don't think that "personal problems" would necessarily decrease Rett Johnson's trade value. For all we know - his personal problems could be that his grandmother passed away or something. Although if that were the case, I guess the M's might have attributed his absence to a "family emergency." Yes, it could be a something horrible that would turn teams away, but I just think that it's too vauge to get bummed out about for now. Johnson's a quality pitcher and his numbers speak for themselves. Fortunately in a situation like this, most teams don't hold character and moral values to the standards that that the Mariners do and dealing Johnson and his "personal problems" might not be as difficult as we think.

It sounds like BoMel has "personal problems" as well. Maybe he should take some time off because he either has an eye for talent like the A&R guy who signed Milli Vanilli or he is flat out lying. Any way you look at it though, one thing is apparent: The M's bench is pathetic!
News from yesterday's Mariner camp is quite disappointing, if not ludicrous. After some speculation by the Seattle media covering the M's that Willie Bloomquist might be battling for a roster spot this spring due to the performance of Ramon Santiago, Melvin proclaimed "To me, Willie Bloomquist is on the team". Not much the manager can do about Quinton McCracken being on the team since he has a guaranteed contract that will pay him almost $2 million, but Bloomquist is one of the few players on the team that can be sent to the minors and not paid a major league salary. Given that and Bloomquist's lack of talent, Willie Bloomquist should not be guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster. But it appears that he is. Melvin also said "Quinton McCracken is the fourth outfielder". No surprise there since we all knew the M's weren't going to acquire Q and eat the contract before he even played a regular season game.

In other ridiculous nonsense coming out of Bo-Mel's mouth, the manager continues to praise non-roster invitee Hiram Bocachica, even coming out and saying that Bocachica is as good as any of the M's (non-starting) outfielders. Now one could certainly argue that Bocachica is not as good as Eric Owens, McCracken or Jamal Strong, but the real idiocy in this is that if Bocachica were no worse than the other reserve outfield candidates, then why did the M's trade for McCracken, who they must pay $1.8 mil whether he's on the team or not? Bocachica would make the major league minimum, $300,000 if he makes the opening day roster. If Melvin is acknowledging that Bocachica is as good a reserve OF as we have in camp, why waste the money on McCracken? That's $1.5 million that could have been better spent. Or they could have just kept Greg Colbrunn...

Rett Johnson has returned to camp after being gone for five days for "personal reasons". While his absence did little to change the makeup of the opening day roster since he didn't have much of a shot at making the club out of spring training, it may hinder the club's trade efforts, if the M's are indeed trying to upgrade their offense this spring training. Since the M's don't want to trade Travis Blackley or Clint Nageotte, guys they see as top of the rotation starters, Johnson, who excelled at Triple-A Tacoma after a mid-season callup (5-2, 2.17 ERA), was the obvious expendable minor league starter. He could probably step in as a #4 or 5 starter for most teams right now --- and there a lot of teams out there that could use another solid starter. Now that the entire baseball world is aware of Johnson's personal problems, he's unlikely to have the same trade value he might have had two weeks ago.

And, speaking of young starters, Cha Seung Baek was very impressive yesterday in a two-inning outing (six up, six down) against the Angels. That will be one hell of a Rainiers starting rotation this season.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted but internet access down here in Arizona has been spotty. Problems are finally fixed and posting should be more regular. I've seen all of the last four spring training games and have a few thoughts on them.

Ramon Santiago should definitely be on this team instead of Willie F Bloomquist. Most people want to look at what Santiago did with the Tigers and write him off as a good-glove, no-hit guy, but I think he could be a useful player if he's not asked to be a regular as he was in Detroit. It's early but Santiago's hit nothing but line drives down here. Everyone loves Willie, he's a local kid who tries hard but he just isn't any good. There's no upside with Bloomquist -- he's just not going to get better than he is now. Last year the M's didn't have anyone better so he made the club. This year they have a better candidate for the utility position. And with Mark McLemore not around the utility guy might see more playing time this season. Santiago and Bloomquist will make roughly the same salary if they're in the majors, somewhere in the $325,000 range, a bit over the $300,000 minimum.

Quinton McCracken hasn't shown much so far to make anybody, least of all me, forget that we traded Greg Colbrunn (and a pile of money) to get him and his ridiculous guaranteed contract ($1.8 mil). He's OK defensively, has some speed, but he has no power and he isn't getting any younger. And Colbrunn hit a double in his first AB for the D-Backs this spring. Joel Pineiro was just awful on Saturday (7 runs, 8 hits in 1 inning), worse than any of his starts in his nightmarish 0-5 August of last year. Heck, he was worse than any of Freddy's bad starts. Speaking of Freddy, after allowing a leadoff home run to ex-Mariner Brian Hunter (of all people) he retired the next six hitters he faced. 20-year old lefty Travis Blackley was dominating, whiffing four of the six guys he saw in two innings. Look for him in Tacoma this season.

Interesting note on journeyman Hiram Bocachica (.216 lifetime average in parts of four seasons with Detroit and LA), who Bob Melvin went out of the way to praise for his 3-for-6, 1 HR performance on Sunday. In his first AB of that game, he hit a deep fly to left-center which was caught at the wall. I was shooting photos in the camera well next to the M's dugout and saw the following: Upon returning to the bench Bocachica was greeted with high fives all around. Nobody scored, no baserunner was moved up, he just hit the ball far --- and it was caught! In his next AB, he came up with runners on first and second and Melvin had him bunting. He failed to get the bunt down and flew out to deep center again. This time he advanced the lead runner to third. High fives all around again from the M's bench. He hit the home run the next time up and once again was congratulated by his teammates, this time deservedly.

I've been rooting for Justin Leone to get a shot at making the opening day roster but unfortunately he's been overmatched so far. Last year's Texas League MVP hasn't fared well at the plate and today overran an easy foul pop while playing 3B. No error was charged so you won't find it in the boxscore but the ball should have been caught. Unfortunately for kids like Leone, they don't get much chance to make an impression on Melvin and the coaching staff. They might get to start a game or two, get ten or so AB's and if they don't make an instant impression they may end up on the cut list sooner than later. The M's first cuts will come later in the week. Everyone's favorite non-roster invite Bucky Jacobson got a chance to start at DH in yesterday's game but didn't do much in two AB's. I watched him take ground balls at the M's morning workout on Saturday and have to report that he's not the slickest first sacker. More of a DH type, he'd definitely have a better chance at making this roster if the M's didn't have a full-time DH like Edgar. The M's already are planning on carrying one player on the roster who'll mostly pinch-hit, Dave Hansen so with only five bench spots up for grabs it's unlikely they'd carry another pinch-hitter...

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Tonight I heard Bill Krueger say that Julio Mateo will "probably start the season in AAA." C'mon Bill - did you watch last season? Mateo was the third best reliever the M's had and Soriano might start the season on the DL. I think the M's would be foolish to start Mateo in AAA - especially in favor of Myers, Villone or Jarvis.
Matt – I agree, it was awesome watching Cameron’s prime years in Seattle. And perhaps it is just wishful thinking on my part, but I tend to look at the other side of the coin.

Cameron ‘00 & ‘01: .267/.356/.459
Cameron ’02 & ’03: .245/.340/.436

2002 was certainly a down year for Mike, but I think his decline is more gradual than steep. You also have to take into account that, whether he'll admit it or not, Safeco Field hurt Cameron’s production. Check out his home / road splits for the past three seasons...

Home: .224/.324/.385
Road: .278/.364/.510

To put that in perspective: As Aaron Gleeman pointed out a couple months ago, Cameron was hurt by Safeco Field just as much as Todd Helton is helped by Coors Field.

Also, Mike has averaged more games per season during his age 25 to age 30 seasons than any of the players you mentioned. Whether you chalk it up to good luck or simply being in better shape, his track record is more stable and possibly indicative of a longer career.
Maybe Cameron’s contract is a little risky, but for every Dwayne Murphy, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonds, there are similar hitters like Reggie Sanders, Darrell Evans and Ray Lankford, who played into their mid to late 30s or even early 40s.

Sorry, Conor, but I feel pretty strongly that our old buddy Mike will be a Cirillo-sized millstone by year three of his contract. If you look at a list of comparable players, you see a dramatic change occur about age 31-32. Examples? Dwayne Murphy (the Cameron of the 80's), Andy Van Slyke, Amos Otis, Bobby Bonds. Fact is, Mike's been in a pretty steep decline already the last two years, and I wouldn't bet $20+ million he'll turn it around. We got to see the best of his career, and it was nice.
I was also thrilled to hear that Mike Cameron went deep today. Unfortunately, I was stuck in class* and didn't actually see the 2-run shot, but I hope Cammy has a great season.

I *do* believe that Mike is worth the money. On top of being the best defensive CF in the game, Cammy has some pop, has been walking more (on the M's last season, only Olerud and Edgar had more BB than Cameron), and provides "veteran leadership" and is a "good clubhouse guy" (if you believe in those sorts of things).

In Larry Stone's piece in Tuesday's Seattle Times, I thought it hilarious when referring to his struggles at Safeco last season, Cameron said: "I wasn't crazy, deranged, like Cirillo. I can play at Safeco."

On a side note, I found 2 interesting things on the Mariners' official website.

#1) In the "This should make Jon happy!" department:

On the positive pitching side, lefty Bobby Madritsch retired all six batters he faced.
"He's always had trouble spinning a breaking ball, but he was down in the zone and was outstanding," Melvin said. "They have changed his arm angle a little bit and got him to use his legs more. He is getting a lot more movement from his fastball and that's what impressed me.

#2) In the "Wouldn't this be great as a poster in the Grand Salami?" department:

John Ellis, the Mariners' CEO emeritus, spent part of his first day of camp reminiscing about some of his most memorable moments with former Reds owner Marge Schott, who passed away on Tuesday.
Ellis recalled a dinner party Schott gave to the owners at her Cincinnati home in the early 1990s.
"She had an elephant in her backyard and (club president) Chuck Armstrong and I end up riding on the darn thing. We still have pictures in our offices of the two of us, riding that elephant."

*On Monday, in honor of the Mariners' first game on TV this season, I'm skipping COM 321 to attend ESPN 101.
Stop the presses: Bud Selig did something right!
Mike Cameron hit a homerun in his first Mets at bat. I'd like to send a Grand Salami-size best wishes to one of our favorite players. I don't think he is a good bet to be worth the contract he just signed, but he was a hell of a player for his four years here. Go get 'em Mike.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Ah, steroids. The MLB anti-marketing campaign has hit exactly the right chord to kick off exhibition season with a bang. As always with hysteria there is a lot of goofy stuff in these initial press reports.
All of the sudden, the push seems to be toward blaming 'roids for pitcher injuries via batted ball. This is a bit far-fetched, isn't it? Gil McDougald didn't need the juice to end Herb Score's career. Catastrophic injury to a pitcher likely has much more to do with bad luck than to the bat speed of the hitter.
While everybody will want to point fingers at the beefy slugger types, a quick peek at the BALCO five would suggest that it is not that easy. Benito Santiago? Randy Velarde? My guess is that the pull to get an edge, no matter how minor, is greatest at the margins. All of the whispers will want to incriminate the 50 HR guys, but I figure we should test the Willie Bloomquists of the world first (let me be the first to try to besmirch Wee Willie's name!)
I've already seen some writers wanting to hang asterisks on records set by Bonds. Before doing that, I'd like to see somebody take a real hard look at the amount of performance enhancement these things bring. Contrary to what I heard on KJR today, they don't turn pop-ups into homeruns. This is crazy talk. According to The Physics of Baseball (great book, by the way), nearly an extra 10% in bat speed would be necessary to obtain an extra 25 feet of distance on a fly ball. Gut instinct: no steroid is going to increase bat speed by 5+ MPH.
While we are on the subject of crazy talk, the dumbest thing I've heard all week was courtesy of Jeff Kent. The Babe on steroids? How do we know he wasn't? Uh, because they were not available yet, Dr. Kent. Go wash your truck, Jeff.

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