Tonight in Baltimore 12,375 paying fans got to watch an eleven inning game between two struggling clubs who are playing for pride at this point in the season. Both the Mariners and the Orioles under new managers, played tonight as if it was the 7th game in the World Series, right up to the last at-bat when ex-Mariners Adam Jones laid-down a surprise squeeze bunt scoring the winning run from third to win the game 5-4.
On a hot and humid night one Mariner stood-out however having his best night ever going 4-5 including a homer, yes indeed Adam Moore finally has arrived on the scene showing us why he is the catcher of the future for Seattle. And even though it sucked to see David Aardsma have another melt-down (it’s been awhile) it was a treat to watch Moore gunning-down runners and swinging the bat like the tough, athletic guy he is. In my book after tonight’s debut of the real Adam Moore there is no going back to the Rob Johnson show.
Doug Fister pitched like….. Well the real Doug Fister. After starting out looking like a superman early on I’m afraid to say that Doug Fister is really just a back of the rotation guy on a mediocre team. The Orioles got to him early and he never really looked in control tonight, but he did get through 5 innings and only allowed 3 runs on 10 hits. Doug’s shipmates Jamie Wright and Brandon League pitched 4 scoreless innings in relief tonight, as neither team really looked like they wanted to win this one, or perhaps they just forgot how.
Jose Lopez did his usual multiple personality routine giving us a display of power, finesse and dorkiness all in one game. Lopez is definitely unique in his ability to drive fans crazy one minute, and the next play look like the real deal. But really both of these teams have some talent and fighting spirit and this game was kind of fun to watch, as the spectacle of two beautiful losers engaged in a death match has always been high on my list of favorite types of games to watch. This was the sort of game where you got to know the individual voices of the fans yelling in the background as this game unfolded. There is something magical about being on a losing team in a 3/4 empty stadium in extra innings and just letting it all out, sort of a cleansing experience that I don’t begrudge the loyal Orioles fans tonight in their bright orange jerseys.
So that was tonight’s battle, a classic almost campy clash of two teams everyone has long forgotten about giving it their best for a handful of fans on two different coasts who have long ago quit feeling the pain of losing and instead, like the players watch for the love of the game.
I wanted to thank Graham Womak from the Blog Baseball Past and Present who published an article on his blog about my grandfather: The original Dusty Rhodes story Graham wrote the article after interviewing me this weekend and going through some old photos and scrapbooks. Graham is an earnest young guy from the Bay Area who helped begin to start thinking and talking about my Grandfather’s career in a realistic way in order to not only help me with the book I’m planning, but to also begin healing around his wonderful yet tragic career. Like tonight’s emotional rollercoaster the game of baseball is full of highs and lows and if it doesn’t kill you, can make life a lot richer and deeper.
Tagged: Adam Jones Squeeze bunt, Adam Moore, Baltimore Orioles, David Aardsma melt-down, Dusty Rhodes, Mariners
Question: If someone walked on the field and put a bullet in Rob Johnson’s head, would anyone stop them?
Answer: It wouldn’t matter. The bullet would just get past him anyways.
This question was posed to me via text message yesterday by my friend Pete, right after Johnson had allowed yet another passed ball. He currently leads the majors with six of those, more than double his closest competition (three players tied with three PBs, including his teammate, Adam Moore).
Worse yet, Johnson has been on the receiving end of 11 wild pitches, as opposed to just four for the entire 2009 season. Technically, blame for that statistic lies on the pitchers. But with such a huge gap between last year’s numbers and this year’s numbers, it’s hard not to point the finger at Johnson.
To top it off, Johnson’s catcher’s ERA (or the ERA of the pitching staff when said catcher is catching) has ballooned from 3.22 in 2009 to 4.11 in 2010.
Lauded for his defense in ’09, Johnson is an absolute abomination behind the dish this year. The fact that he hasn’t been hitting (.172/.295/.592, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 19 TB) only compounds the problem.
Set to turn 27 years old in July, time is running out for Johnson. It doesn’t appear that he’ll ever be much of a hitter in this league (unless he’s always facing Ben Sheets, who he hit both of his home runs off of), and the only way he can truly stay relevant at this level is to be one hell of a defender. Clearly, if he’s doing neither, he has no role in Major League Baseball.
So what can the M’s really do about all this?
Well, for one, they can start playing Josh Bard more. A lot more.
The 32-year-old Bard is the walking definition of a journeyman (the Mariners are the fifth team he has played for in his nine-year big league career), but he has always been a decent hitter for his position. In 2006, while with the Red Sox and Padres, Bard appeared in 100 games, posting a .333/.404/.926 line, with nine HR, 40 RBI, and 130 TB. In 2007, he proved the previous year was no fluke with a .285/.364/768 line, five HR, 51 RBI, and 157 TB. In long-term stints, Bard has proven his worth with the stick. He may not have much long-term potential with the organization, but if the team is looking to win now, Bard (batting .333/.435/1.101, one HR, four RBI, 12 TB, in 18 at-bats in 2010) is the guy to go with.
And what about Adam Moore?
The 26-year-old Moore is currently on the 15-day DL with a strained left knee. When he returns to health, who gets sent down to Triple-A? Surely not Bard, as he is the only catcher amongst the trio who has been able to hit in any capacity so far this year. So it really comes down to a coin flip between Johnson and Moore.
A couple seasons ago, this would have been an easy decision. The club could simply option the younger Moore back to Tacoma and give the company line as to why they made the move they did: he needs seasoning, he needs to play every day, he needs to work on his hitting, he needs to work on his game-calling, all the usual garbage. The problem now is that Moore is 26 and those arguments simply don’t apply anymore.
At the same time, Johnson is more or less the same age as Moore, so whoever gets sent down is basically being optioned to baseball purgatory. By giving either of these players a free trip to T-town, the team is essentially giving up on the future of one, while extending a vote of confidence to the other. Catchers tend to age much faster than other position players, and both Johnson and Moore are nearing the primes of their respective careers. They aren’t over the hill yet, but they’re nearing the top.
The M’s are now in the position of determining which catcher has a brighter future with the team. Is it Johnson, the (supposed) defensive wunderkind? Or is it Moore, who might lack with the glove from time to time, but is probably the better hitter?
These are questions we need the answers to sooner rather than later. Or at least before fans start considering how to keep a bullet from getting past the catching staff on a regular basis.
Filed under: Mariners
Don’t worry, sports fans. Together, we can fix our lowly Mariners. I’ve come up with three unique ideas that should provide an immediate lift. Enjoy.
Step One: Put Brandon League on a raft and send him out to sea
League originally hails from Hawaii. If Mother Nature is just, the Mariners’ 27-year-old setup man will at some point arrive back in his homeland. But if not, who cares.
All that really matters is that somebody put a stop to this man with the bad haircut.
League is the most ineffective effective reliever since Bobby Ayala. By ineffective effective, I mean a guy whose numbers suggest he’s not horrible, but whose performances would indicate otherwise.
Every time League enters a close game, I get that jittery feeling I used to only get with Ayala (and Heathcliff Slocumb, on occasion). You just know in those nail-biting situations that League will blow it. He tends to inflate his numbers in games that are already won or lost, making him a hell of a guy to go to in low-pressure situations.
Statisticians and sabermetric connoisseurs would probably lead you to believe that League isn’t all that bad. And on paper he isn’t. But there’s something to be said for reality, as opposed to paper. Keep in mind that on paper, former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker had millions upon millions of dollars, while in reality he was making a beeline for bankruptcy. League might be an above-average pitcher in the world of Strat-O-Matic baseball, but in the three-dimensional world we call earth, he sucks. Plain and simple.
Step Two: Bat Chone Figgins ninth
I’m not going to look up Figgins’ current batting average because it will disgust me. It’s less than .200, and might as well be negative for all I care. All I know is that the guy is absolute grossness right now and the fact that he’s still batting second in the lineup is an absolute embarrassment.
I’m tired of hearing about all the walks Figgins gets and all the damn pitches he takes. A no-armed man could stand up there and take pitches. A pitcher could stand up there and take pitches. My grandma could stand up there and take pitches. The Mariner Moose could stand up there and take some effing pitches. When you’re batting average is well beneath the Mendoza Line, it doesn’t matter how many pitches you take, you still suck.
Chone Figgins sucks right now. Just like Brandon League, he is sucky. He is the walking definition of suckdom. I actually get annoyed watching him bat now because I know what’s going through his mind. I already know his plan of attack. It’s either lay down a bunt, or try and work a walk. He’s like a boxer that only blocks punches, or a race car driver who likes to tap his brakes.
On top of that, it doesn’t help that Figgins always tries to sell calls on the umpire. Watching him sell ball calls (notice how he lifts his arms up and backs away every time a pitch is on the inner half of the plate) pisses me off. It ranks right up there with flopping in soccer for me. I don’t know why. I suppose if he was hitting .300 I wouldn’t care. But because our second baseman is so damn content to not hit, I get upset. He’ll do everything in his power to keep that bat on his shoulder.
Figgins barely deserves to be starting right now. But because he can play a little bit of defense, he has to remain a starter. (And I’m tired of hearing about his defense, too, by the way. We’re not paying him $8 million a year to be a designated fielder.) So for lack of a better option, he needs to be dropped in the lineup. All the way down to ninth. Where he can take all the pitches he wants and not hurt our performance as greatly as he has.
Until Figgins proves he can hit a baseball, there’s no sense batting him second, first, or anywhere above eighth. My apologies to all of you who invested in his replica jersey over the offseason.
Step Three: Either commit to Adam Moore full-time, or go find a new catcher
Rob Johnson can’t hit. I love the guy, but he will never be a major league hitter. He’s Dave Valle at best, and that’s hard for me to say. If he can kick around for 15 years as a backup, he’ll have a successful career and make lots of money. But he’s no starter. And his defense isn’t nearly as good as it needs to be to warrant a .200 batting average year after year.
Adam Moore, on the other hand, can actually hit a baseball. It doesn’t help my case that he’s batting only .193 on the season, or that he just went on the 15-day disabled list. But he’s the only backstop on the M’s roster right now that should be considered a potential starter for the long haul. And if in fact he’s not that guy, then the organization needs to find a catcher to be their long-term solution.
To break it down, what we need to come to grips with is that a) Rob Johnson is not the guy and b) Adam Moore could be the guy. Which means that Moore deserves every opportunity to be the full-time catcher for this team when he returns to health in a few weeks.
Barring some kind of offensive explosion from Johnson (not likely, considering his track record), Moore has that great-equalizer, potential, on his side. In four minor league seasons, Moore posted a cumulative batting average of .301 and belted 55 homers. In five minor league seasons, Johnson batted .270 with just 31 home runs. In this case, the numbers don’t lie.
The experts have told us that Johnson is a defensive whiz behind the dish, but his defense has fallen off significantly in 2010. The metrics may not support all of his inconsistencies, but suffice it to say that Johnson has allowed more balls past him this year than a friendly bouncer at a gay bar. That’s a lot of balls.
Look, I’m not trying to knock Rob Johnson, I just think it’s about time we start being realistic. Adam Moore can both hit and field, while Rob Johnson can kind of field. Moore is at least a two-tool player. Johnson is not.
The future at catcher? It might be Adam Moore, but it certainly won’t be Rob Johnson. Give Moore the PT, show Johnson to the pine. It’s time.
Filed under: Mariners
Tropicana Field home of the Rays
Willy Aybar lifted a home-run to right field off of Jesus Colome in the bottom of the 9th, delivering another crushing late-inning loss to the Mariners today at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. Jason Vargas dueled with Rays starter James Shields until he was lifted in the 8th for Brandon League. Once again Vargas was sharp and it appears Don Wakamatsu can’t come up with the right timing on when to pull a starter or a reliever.Perhaps he has been over-relying on statistical information rather than going with a gut-feeling. Anyway you look at it this game goes into the already overloaded category of tough-losses for the year.
The Mariners started out frisky in the 1st inning for the second game in a row, thanks to Chone Figgins who scored on a single he stretched into a double, followed by an overthrow on a pick-off attempt, and then a wild-pitch. I have said it before but want reiterate that I believe Figgins should be batting lead-off. He manufactured a run in the 1st on sheer hustle and daring. But I suppose there is some sort of “Belief System” thing that Don “Spock” Wakamatsu has going with leaving Ichiro batting first. Ichiro is hot and had a couple more hits today, but I’d like to see him batting second or third where he could drive in some runs.
Incredibly Mike Sweeney hit a home-run today for his third day in a row and has filled in fine at DH as Ken Griffey watches from the bench for now. I would also like to Sweeney put on a glove and give him a game or two at first base to keep his bat in the lineup when Milton Bradley come back. Matt Tuiasosopo played first and looked awkward there and went hitless along with Saunders and Josh Wilson.
It appeared that the Mariners were going to pull this one out in the 9th when Adam Moore beat out an infield hit and Ichiro lashed a bullet to right , but Moore apparently had injured himself on the play at first and thus limped into second rather than making it to 3rd. The Mariners wasted this scoring opportunity and left the door open for the Rays to win the game in the bottom half of the 9th on Aybar’s fatal blow. Moore appears to be ok but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Josh Bard or Eliezer Alfonzo get called up from Tacoma soon.
On a positive note both in this game and the last one in Baltimore though heart-breakers , our team showed guts and fighting spirit right up till the end. As a fan these games take the wind out of my sails for a few hours before I’m able to gather my thoughts and put up my daily post-game wrap-up. The players on the other-hand are a lot more involved, and somehow have to get over these sort of games in a professional manner and suit up again the next day ready to play. Our guys are playing with heart and I hope those of us who are true-fans can stay behind them for the rest of the campaign despite the ups and downs.http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners unloaded for 3 home-runs for the second day in a row down at Tropicana field home of the Tampa Bay Rays. And for the second day in a row Mike Sweeney hit a long-ball.This one in the 8th proved to be the difference in the game. Sweeney had 2 hits on the night as well as his first stolen base since 2006! Adam Moore also had two hits to night including a solo shot in the top of the 5th, helping to make his case for winning the starting catchers job. Franklin Gutierrez started the power display with a 2-run blast in the first, scoring Ichiro who had 3-hits on the night.
Doug Fister finally got enough run support to pick-up the win tonight and he pitched 5 innings before giving the ball up to Kanekoa Texeira who struck out the side in the 6th and held the dangerous Rays from stinging the Mariners with any runs in the 7th either. Texeira unlike his fellow Hawaiian Brandon League, had the tade-winds at his back tonight and provided a bridge to Shawn Kelley and the closer Dutch Aardsma.
The much maligned Sweeney in his post-game interview said he dedicated this game to his Brother at Arms Ken Griffey. I’m not sure sometimes what to make of Sweeney , one minute he is the loyal Boy Scout and the next a street-brawler, but I love watching him play the game in his old-school style. I would love to see Adam Moore step-up and earn the catcher’s job as it seems Rob Johnson is still nursing last years injuries at times, and not too mobile behind the dish or at bat.
Interesting to note that the Tampa Bay Rays have never won a game on May 14 in franchise history, and now move to 0-11 on this date. So perhaps there is still some luck in store for our team. I know King Neptune has tried our sailors this year, but tonight we had a well-rounded performance that helped quiet the recent storms. Mike Sweeney is the kind of guy I would like to have with me on a picket-line or when going ashore in a foreign Port. Perhaps character isn’t valued much in modern-day professional sports, but as a Mariner either at Sea or on the Baseball field character separates the winners from the losers in the long haul.http://jeffsmariners.com