Two years into a five-year, $64 million contract, Adrian Beltre has produced a .262 average, 44 home runs, and 176 RBIs. However, after the All Star break in 2006, Beltre slugged .552 with a whopping 18 home runs. Does this strong second half bode well for a turn-around in 2007, or will Mariners fans have to deal with 'A-Drain' once again? This blog intends to follow the 2007 season for Adrian Beltre, and the Seattle Mariners, and promises to hold no punches.

In a post a few weeks back, I predicted that the Mariners would come in second in their division this year, with the Los Angeles Angels coming out on top of a tight division. However, with the recent news that Angels starting third baseman/ league stolen bases leader Chone Figgins has fractured his finger and will be out about six weeks, I'm forced to pause and reconsider my assertions.

I picked the Angels to win the division due to their solid pitching staff, which is the best in the division. However, regardless of how great a team's pitching is, a modicum of offense is necessary to come out on top in ballgames. For an example, take a look at last year's A's, who won the division with pitching and defense, but if they didn't have the offense generated by Nick Swisher and a comeback season by Frank Thomas, they wouldn't have won the division. (Despite the Mariners' efforts to hand it to them.)

Figgins was one of the few offensive weapons in the Angels' arsenal, which now relies on Vladimir Guerrero and.... Gary Matthews Jr.???? (I heard that smirk!) It does appear that Garret Anderson has been having a strong spring, and may provide the type of bat he wielded a few years ago to protect Vlad in the line-up, but Angels fans better hope and pray that that's true. Otherwise, the Angels' offense is populated by way too many question marks: is Casey Kotchman ready to provide a full season at first base, now that his backup Darin Erstad is gone? How will Howie Kendrick's dynamic minor league bat translate into the major leagues? Who will replace Figgins at the beginning of the season at third, and will he come even close to matching Chone's presence in the line-up? And is Gary Matthews Jr. a drug-induced freak deserving of his contract, or the below league-average hitter he was prior to last season?

The fact remains that Figgins' injury doesn't affect the Angels' pitching at all, which is still better over-all than the Mariners'. However, the Mariners have the best offense in the division and if they come out of the gate with all cylinders firing, they might be able to take advantage of the slow start for the Angels that is all but guaranteed by the absence of Figgins. A good position in the standings for the Mariners upon Figgins' return means that they will be the team that the Angels will have to go through for the division title.

Which means the M's could just... possibly... win this thing.

M's edge the Royals, 5-4


In a game that saw both starters work themselves out of a number of jams, the Mariners survived the battle and came out on top, 5-4. Jarrod Washburn struggled more than Kansas City starter Odalis Perez, who only allowed one run in six innings. Washburn allowed four of his first five batters to reach, and two runs to socre, before escaping with Ryan Shealy grounding into an inning-ending double play. Despite his numerous jams, however, Washburn escaped allowing only three runs over six innings.

The M's offense was spearheaded by Jose Guillen, who has been smacking the tar out of the ball as he is about to enter his third different season playing outfield for an AL West team. Guillen hit two doubles which, combined with three hits by new DH and erstwhile #3 hitter Jose Vidro, who got the go-ahead RBI, and two hits from Jose Lopez, helped the Mariners grind out a victory over Kansas City.

Regardless of the fact that Willie Bloomquist only got one hit instead of four, the Mariners increased their spring training winning streak to four games.

M's slam the Angels 10-6


Six Mariner batters got hits in today's spring training game versus the Angels. However, each of those batters got multiple hits, for a total of 13 hits in all as the M's beat the Angels 10-6. The Mariners knocked around Angel starter John Lackey pretty well, roughing him up for nine runs and ten hits in four innings. Felix, meanwhile, picked up his second win of the spring, despite allowing four runs in six innings himself.

The hit parade was led by incoming right fielder Jose Guillen, who had three, followed by Jeremy Reed, Adrian Beltre, Yuniesky Betancourt, Mike Morse, and Jose Lopez, who each had two. Surprisingly, Wille Bloomquist didn't have another four-hit afternoon.

With this mini-hot streak of late, the M's current three-game winning streak has raised their record to 10-15, just in time for the final week of spring training games, in which the competiton will be raised a notch. Most teams have a set roster, and will be playing their regualrs over the enxt week. These last games are less of a "look-see" for managers to se what talent they have to choose from, and more of an opportunity to gauge how their team is doing as they head into the season. The enxt week is the only serious stock I put into spring training...



a few spring training thoughts...

It would seem that bloomquist is playing himself into a starting 2b role, while Lopez is playing his way can you not give the opening day duties to willie the way the two have looked? Perhaps because willie may well be one of the best utility men in the league, therefore making his importance as a late game pinch runner/defensive replacement the reason to keep Lopez as the starter....for now....

Ben Broussard has been knocking the cover off the ball. I think the brass should seriously start considering trading Sexson to a power starved club in exchange for some prospects. Sure, we'd be losing a few homers, but Broussard could easily match or better Sexy's RBI total hitting fourth with a much higher average.

I'm excited to see our pitching staff get going. Five well rounded starters who, if healthy, could consistently go deep into games and be a formidable staff.

Still more than a week away? damn.

Mariners pound ChiSox 11-6


Although the M's bested the White Sox by five runs in spring training action, the Associated Press write-up on the game was all about the White Sox, and about Brain Anderson's struggles to make the club. As if that was relevant on the final outcome of the game or something. Mariners news-wise, Horacio Ramirez was only limited to one-third of an inning pitched due to a 47-minute rain delay. Oh, and the hot bat of Willie Bloomquist cranked out another four hits. Looks like we'll be seeing plenty of ol' Bloomer revolving around the M's defense this season... sigh....

Although this has been in the press for some time, it has recently come to my attention. From last December's New York Times:

Blood, Sweat and Type O: Japan's Weird Science

While Type O is the most heralded blood type in Japan, where does that leave Ichiro, a type B?
In Japan, people with Type O are commonly referred to as warriors because they are said to be self-confident, outgoing, goal-oriented and passionate. According to Masahiko Nomi, a Japanese journalist who helped popularize blood typology with a best-selling book in 1971, people with Type O make the best bankers, politicians and — if you are not yet convinced — professional baseball players.

But there are exceptions to any categorization, and in this instance one of them would appear to be Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, who has become one of the great hitters in major league baseball since joining the Seattle Mariners in 2001. Suzuki is Type B.

“That makes sense in a way,” said Jennifer Robertson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan who specializes in Japanese culture and history. Robertson added that people with Type B, known as hunters, are said to be highly independent and creative.

And creative would be a good adjective to describe Suzuki at the plate, where he sprays the ball to all fields and sometimes seems to hit the ball to an exact spot. Suzuki set the major league record for hits in a season with 262 in 2004.

“Even in Japan, Ichiro was kind of a maverick baseball player in the sense of being very philosophical and very meticulous,” Robertson said. “People with Type B are individuals and they find their own way in life.”

For the record, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Sadahara Oh, Hideki Matsui, Tadahito Iguchi, and Kei Igawa are all Type Os. That means the first Type B vs. Type O battle for the Mariners will happen on April 10th, when the team visits Boston.

Mariners beat Milwaukee


Thanks to some offensive help from deep in the M's roster, a two-run home-run by back-up second baseman Gookie Dawkins, and an RBI from catcher-of-the-future Jeff Clement, coupled by four solid innings from Jarrod Washburn, who was engaged in a pitcher's duel with the Brewers' Ben Sheets, the Mariners came out on top of the Brewers 4-2.

After beginning with losses in ten of their first twelve ballgames, the M's record now stands at 4-10 for the spring.

Mariners beat Oakland!


Thanks to four shut-out innings from Felix Hernandez, and Richie Sexson's first two hits- including first home run- of the spring, the Mariners topped Oakland 6-5.

I know it's just a spring training game, but I'll take it!

It gets awfully maddening to read continually in preseason forecasts by the national media that the Mariners will finish last, again, for the fourth year in a row. The truth is the Mariners are evenly matched with any team in the division, and subtract a fifteen-game losing streak at the hands of the Oakland A's last year, they would've been right in the thick of things. It's an open secret that the M's futility at the hands of Oakland last season handed the division to the A's. It was just the sort of cleavage needed to separate such a pack of evenly weighted teams. Which means, again, that the AL West will be highly competitive, and the M's will be in the thick of things. Sentiments echoed by Dayn Perry over at FOX Sports. His biggest knock on the Mariners' chances come at the hands of Mike Hargrove's questionable use of strategy which has made many M's fans wince over the past two years:
The fact that the M's can contend isn't an endorsement of their work this off-season (it wasn't sensible) or a signifier of possible greatness; it's mostly an indictment of the strength of the division. Of course, that won't matter to Seattle fans if their team takes the flag. For that to happen, they'll require a surprising performance or two, prevailing health, and better use of the bench and bullpen by Hargrove (the latter perhaps a tall order), but it can be done.

How 'bout that Horacio Ramirez!


Horacio Ramirez pitched seven shut-out innings today versus the Chicago White Sox. Of course, former mariner minor leaguer Wladimir Balentien had to hit a grand slam to key an eight-run seventh inning off former White Sox pitcher Jon Parque, and the Mariners lost 12-7.

Such is the life of spring training games.

Oh, and Richie Sexson hasn't gotten a hit yet this spring in 18 at-bats. Did I really say I'd pick him over Mark Teixiera? Boy that was a pretty silly thing to say...

M's beat up the Angels


Jose Guillen, Adam Jones, and Rey Ordonez had three RBIs apiece- and Willie Bloomquist scored three times- as the Mariners walloped the Angels 10-4.

Horacio Ramirez update


For all the gnashing of teeth over the Rafael Soriano-for-Horacio Ramirez trade, it appears that Ramirez is having the strongest spring out of the Mariners' starting pitchers. Some notes from the AP's recap of yesterday's 10-3 win over the Rangers:
Ramirez, one of three new Mariners starters, has been their best one so far in camp. He has allowed just one hit and no runs in five innings this spring -- including last week's charity exhibition game that doesn't count in spring training statistics.

More proof that Scott Spiezio is a scumbag


As if we needed any more proof. First, he beats up a cab-driver. Now this.

I was always told that I shouldn't speak poorly about former employees. It doesn't reflect well on you for your present employees. Obviously nobody ever told Scott Spiezio that. Maybe I should create a blog called Sucky Sucky Spiezio.

From the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers:

Spiezio told Weaver not to sign with M's
Phil Rogers Chicago Tribune

The Cardinals still are trying to figure out why Jeff Weaver
turned down their offers to sign a one-year deal with Seattle.

Manager Tony La Russa badly wanted Weaver back and stopped just short of
accusing agent Scott Boras of misleading the right-hander about St. Louis'
interest in keeping him.

"If what he had done here meant someone gave him a contract like what
Jeff (Suppan) got, (four years, $42 million with Milwaukee), or what Jason
(Marquis) got (three years, $21 million with the Cubs), and we weren't in a
position to do that, I could understand," La Russa said.
"But to go for one
year, I don't understand. ... But in the end, I'm not positive I can speculate
as to what Scott was telling him about what we were saying. That certainly
wasn't helpful."

Scott Spiezio, one of Weaver's Cardinals teammates last year, told the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch he had advised Weaver against going to Seattle. Spiezio
had a miserable time playing for the Mariners in 2004-05, losing both his
batting stroke and his affinity for all things Seattle.

"Yeah, I'm very surprised because I told him not to go there," Spiezio
said. "I flat-out told him he was going to hate it. I don't know what he was
thinking. Based on my experience, he will hate it. ... Part of the whole deal
(in St. Louis), we have the fans behind us, we have a front office that wants to
win and teammates who play hard and are team players. "None of the above
are over there."

But the Cardinals, according to Boras, didn't offer as big a deal as
the Mariners, whose one-year deal was $8.25 guaranteed with a chance to make $1
million in incentives.

King Felix = 30 pounds lighter?


It never fails. Just when I was getting used to the month of February, the calendar stealthily switches over to the month of March. Instead pf pink roses and ruddy-cheeked cherubs, everywhere I look I am met by visions of shamrocks, leperchauns, and all things green. That can only mean one thing: Spring Training is offically underway and I can now put forth full attention to baseball. Oh yeah, and there is some holiday having to do with being Irish in a couple of weeks, but that's irrelevant to the subject matter at hand.

I tend to try not to pay attention when pitchers and catchers meet in the middle of Feburary. It's more of an overt tease than anything else. If I pay attention, I would get excited, and then have to suffer through six weeks of palbale tension waiting for the season to start. Four weeks seems managable to suffer through. All I have to do is pretend to be a college basketball fan for a month and before I know it baseball season will be here soon, right? (And for the record I'm picking Georgetown. As if I have a clue what I'm talking about.)

So here it is, the third day of March, which means there is exactly four solid weeks until the 2007 baseball season begins in earnest. Every team in baseball's invitees have reported (including Manny for Boston, yet not a certain Bernie Williams for the Yankees), squads have been split, and young fringe rookies are given the chance to strike out Sammy Sosa as many times necessary. Games are under way, and while they may not exactly be meaningful in the strictest of sense, they do have a final score, stats are being compiled, and managers are giving certain questionable players a skewed view. (As I write this, the Mariners have completed a 1-0 shut-out loss at the hands of Clay Hensley and the Padres, with a first-inning home-run by Termell Sledge off Jarrod Washburn all the runs necessary for the victory.)

But enough of me rhapsodizing melodically about the endless optimism that is spring training. (Yes, yes, I know currently the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are on the same footing as the New York Yankees- hasn't everyone heard that cliche enough?) It's time to focus attention on more important subjects. Namely, how the Seattle Mariners are going to do this year.

I'm going to go out on a limb and state, with cautious optimism, that the Mariners will be a good team this year. I think this collection of players is the strongest one amassed during the Bavasi-Lincoln era, and will erase the trauma of losing 276 games over the past three years' from Mariners fans' collective consciousness. (And if they don't, Bavasi should be given his walking papers at the season's conclusion.)

Do I think the Mariners will win the division? No. I'm optimistic, not naive. This season, I think Seattle will challenge strongly for both the division title as well as the Wild Card, but ultimately will fall a couple of games short in both, and the playoff drought will continue for another year.

Why do I have such cautious high hopes for the Mariners' 2007 season. I think the offense as its' currently compiled is dynamite with the potential to score lots of runs. Today's 1-0 loss notwithstanding (I doubt Rey Ordonez, Gookie Dawkins, and Tony Torcato will play much of a role in the Mariners' everyday line-up) I will confidently state that the Seattle mariners own the best offense in the American League West. For an illustrated example of how I reached this conclusion, I compared the M's offense to that of the other teams in the division and drew up the chart below, with the last column being the player at that position from the divison I would prefer having on my team:

(one of the best seasons for a rookie catcher- ever)


(his days as a prospect are all but over)


(unable to duplicate 2005’s success)


(yes, even over Teixeira)




(made All-Star Game as 22-year old)


(wasn’t he supposed to be a prospect as well?


(coming off a career-worse season)


(strong second half bodes well for 2007)


(the only punch in this line-up)


(coming off career year)


(Arlington didn’t help his numbers any)

CFMatthews Jr.



(he’s still playing?)


(undoubtedly the best player in the division)


(where’d Frank go?)


(avert your eyes)




(and that aint saying much)

So, as this table makes clear, there is little denying that the Mariners have the most explosive offense in the division and shall be putting up quite a number of runs against their divisional rivals. So why do I not state with confidence that the M's will hoist a 2007 AL West Champion flag above Safeco next season? Because we all know that pitching and defense helps win in baseball, and that will exactly be the Mariners' achille heel.
This season's version of the Mariners' starting rotation is comprised of solid and dependable- if not unspectacular- innings eaters. The top off-season additions were Miguel Batista and Jeff Weaver, who turned his World Series heroics into big money with the M's. While these two more than capably fill the shoes of the now-departed Joel Pineiro (is he really going to be the Red Sox' new closer?) and Gil "$55 Million" Meche, they also compliment Jarrod Washburn as pitchers you wouldn't give two thoughts about. The most positive side of the Mariners' starting five, including Horacio Ramirez, is that it is experienced. Unlike last year when Felix Hernandez was being crowned "King" prior to the season, there are no question marks or stories of much intruige. With each pitcher we mostly know what we're going to get, and that'll be pretty much an entire season's worth of league-average starts.
Mentioning Felix brings up another point: the success of this rotation largely relies on the pace set by the young arm of Hernandez. While its unrealistic to believe that Felix will provide ace-like numbers this season- and unfair to expect anything like that from an arm of a 21-year old- under the tutelage of Kenji Johjima, Felix will spend 2007 taking a step towards the ace he eventually will become. With the lack of a true ace and a staff of discarded retreads, the Mariners' solid bullpen headed by J.J. Putz (who, admittedly, can only take a step back from the awesome 2006 season he had) will matter little.
It has been a long time since the Mariners had the best pitching staff to win the division, being outranked by the solid arms produced by Billy Beane's brain trust down in Oakland. But with the dissolution of the "Big Three" finally complete with the defection of Barry Zito, Oakland's rotation relies far too much on the ragged shoulder of Rich Harden than would be expected for a team to have a chance at winning the division. Instead, the team with the best pitching staff in the AL West is now the Los Angeles Angels, who have the current "big three" in the division with John Lackey, Ervin Santana, and Jered Weaver (who was even more "King-like" than Felix last season) and that's not even mentioning Bartolo Colon!
In the end, the Angels will ride the results of a young and productive staff combined with yet another MVP-worthy season from Vladimir Guerrero, eking out a close division title over the mariners. The Mariners will end up at 92-70, missing the play-offs by the skin of their teeth.

Labels: ,

Johjima's little black book


Interesting Jeff Passan column on Yahoo!:

Johjima's little secret
By Jeff
, Yahoo! SportsMarch 3, 2007

PEORIA, Ariz. – Kenji Johjima reached
inside his locker to grab his most prized possession. He doesn't like sharing it
with people, because the information inside tends to be of the proprietary

"I've got some numbers in my little black book," Johjima said.

Lesser things have caused divorce, though Johjima is not worried that
his wife, Maki, will leave him any time soon. She knows his black book is full
of numbers that pertain to his job as Seattle Mariners catcher and
the names attached to them are of the teammates whose games he calls.
Already this year's book is filling up. Johjima might have the most
difficult task of any catcher this spring: He must learn the whims of the
Mariners' three new starters, Jeff Weaver, Miguel Batista and Horacio Ramirez, coddle Felix Hernandez as he tries
to mature from prospect to ace and help Jarrod Washburn justify the
$37 million free-agent contract he signed two years ago.

"No catcher in the major leagues is more prepared," Mariners closer J.J. Putz said. "He knows
the hitters inside and out. He knows his pitchers. And I think once guys
establish communication and keep an open dialogue with him, the better they

For Johjima, that starts with his book, a small notepad housed inside a
zippered black leather case. He has filled pages for 11 years now, ever since he
joined the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (now the SoftBank Hawks) as a 19-year-old.

Johjima's manager encouraged him to start the diary, and seeing that
the manager was the greatest player in Japanese history, Sadaharu Oh, the advice

"What you write is what you gain," Johjima said through his
interpreter, Antony Suzuki. "That is what he taught. To write how I felt they

And to feel how they feel, Johjima must know more than they know.
Johjima wasn't as concerned last season with the language barrier – he was the
first Japanese catcher to play in the major leagues – as to whether his
preparation would translate. Before spring training, he studied film of every
pitcher with former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson and blew away
Seattle's staff with his breadth of knowledge.

"The first time we met, he told me how I pitched," Putz said, "and he
was right on."

After every game Putz pitched, Johjima met with him. Using Suzuki's
help, they discussed Putz' tendencies. What he threw on certain counts. How he
pitched to different types of hitters. Why he chose certain sequences for
certain types of hitters.

"I heard about his reputation before I came here," Batista said. "And
you'd think it's hard for you to explain a mental part of the game to a guy when
he doesn't use the language. The big leagues are very different than Japan even
if baseball has the same rules. We have guys here with good arms. In Japan, a
lot of guys have great breaking stuff. The pitching styles are just different.

"So it's his job, as much as ours, to make sure we stay on the same

Actually, it's probably more on Johjima. The pitchers are the divas.
He's the tour manager who needs must draw the bath of Evian and cut the crust
off the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Johjima must learn to read the ball
coming out of Weaver's dozen arm angles, to keep Batista from imploding when he
gets wild, to draw something out of Ramirez, because 248 strikeouts in 521 1/3
innings just doesn't cut it.

Not when the Mariners traded the proven Rafael Soriano for him and
are spending more than $16 million on Weaver and Batista. Johjima, though only
in his second year in Seattle, is one of the things on which the ever-changing
Mariners can rely. His 147 hits last season set an American League record for
rookie catchers, and his .291 batting average, 18 home runs, 76 RBIs and .783
on-base-plus-slugging were top seven among big-league catchers.

No surprise that Johjima has a second black book devoted to opposing
"I've got a lot of writing still left to do," he said.

Johjima pulled out the original black book and unzipped the sides.
Perhaps he might share a page or two, allow a view into the real life of a

The back of the leather case flipped open, and Johjima fished around in
two small pockets. Maybe there were even more secrets than he let on.

Johjima finally found what he was looking for: two small pictures, of
his son Yuta and daughter, Miu.

"That," Johjima said, "is all I can show you."

Of course it was. No reasonable man would ever share his black book.


  • true_slicky
  • yo adrian
  • Bricktroof
  • Last posts


    Seattle Mariners Weblogs

    Other Mariners Sites

    Baseball Links

    Other Cool Links to Check Out: