Mariners Insider Blog

Grading the homestand

Look I'm not trying to be overly pessimistic. But as I try to type, while being wedged into the middle seat of three hour coach flight, I can't help but be realistic, because it seems "HEAVY" doses of realism are either leaning on me or bumping my shoulder from each side at this point. The level of discomfort and claustrophobia I feel right now is like what Erik Bedard feels when he sees the media heading toward his locker after a start. That's what I get for not using the e-check in.

So for all the good feeling that we are feeling from yesterday's win that snapped a five-game losing streak – let's not forget that the Mariners went 2-5 on this last homestand. And the five losses in between the win in the first game and the last were overwhelming displays of punchless hitting, inconsistent pitching, questionable decision making by both players and John McLaren and just an overall lethargy and confusion.

Maybe if I wasn't a state of total discomforting pain right now, I could be a little more forgiving, but it just isn't happening right now.

Hitting: C

Sunday's outburst and even the mild progression from Wednesday to Saturday elevates this grade some. It also helps that I didn't have to sit through Wednesday's shutout by either former or soon-to-be serial killer Vicente Padilla.

Positives: Jose Lopez continues to hit the ball well, Ichiro Suzuki's tradition of getting hot in May seems to be continuing, Raul Ibanez's perfect swing on a 3-0 pitch and Adrian Beltre suddenly not blindly hacking at every pitch served up whenever there is a runner on base.

Negatives: Jeff Clement continues to struggle and the strikeouts are a concern, because he's just not that type of hitter. I heard KJR's Jason Puckett and Ian Furness discussing moving Clement to the No. 2 spot behind Ichiro. It's not a horrible idea. It would take some pressure off Clement to produce and drive in runs. But the only thing that would give Seattle three lefties in a row, that could be detrimental late in the innings against a team with a good left on left pitcher, especially with a limited bench because of Richie Sexson's suspension. Although when they are hitting well, Ichiro and Clement can hit lefties as good as they can hit righties, if not better.

Pitching: C

The bullpen carries this grade a little. Though not given many chances to pitch with a lead – just Monday and Sunday – the relievers were solid in those situations. Morrow was absolutely filthy on Sunday. Arthur Rhodes had a big strikeout, Mark Lowe looked good on this homestand, Sean Green continues to pile up performances and of course JJ seems to have his fastball command issues figured out.

Positives: That none of the pitchers came out and openly blamed the offense for going 24 innings without scoring ad 34 innings with just one run.

Negatives: Me having to sit through Miguel Batista's start on Tuesday which was simply the most mind-numbing, painful, boring and frustrating 2 2/3 innings of my life. Also the business of Jarrod Washburn and Kenji Johjima not agreeing on pitch selection and strategy is ludicrous. Who's fault is it? Both. Washburn can shake off Johijima, and Joh has been in the league for long enough and with this team to figure out how the game should be called.

Defense: B

Raul had a few rough moments this week. Sometimes it looks as though he's got weights on his ankles and no ligaments in his knees when he moves toward a fly ball. Look I know everybody is calling for him to play first base. It's not something I'm opposed to by any stretch, but he needs some time to get some work in there. You just can't throw him in at first right now. It could be a disaster.

Positives: Jeff Clement looked pretty decent behind the plate again, catching Carlos Silva. Wlad Balentien throwing out AJ Pierzynski at second from the right field corner.

Negatives: The Raul stiff-legged chases for balls in the corner or the gap.

Management: C

Since nobody in the clubhouse was willing to own up or in some cases even talk about the base-running mistake in Saturday's loss where Ichiro Suzuki was thrown out at home for the third out of the seventh killing the rally, McLaren at least shouldered most of the blame, which on some level is fair.

Positives: Giving Raul the green light on 3-0 on Sunday, which produced a home run that landed in somebody's soup in the Hit It Here café. Sitting Yuni Betancourt for a day and delivering a message that having four awful at-bats in one game won't go unnoticed.

Negatives: Every time Greg Norton steps up and gets a hit for the Atlanta Braves, it makes me want throw something, usually in Bill Bavasi or Miguel Cairo's direction.