Mariners Insider Blog

Pregame Notes: Mariners vs. Tigers, May 22nd

I don't like these afternoon games because there isn't as much time to post some of the pregame stuff.

Here's a few things.... from ESPN page 2's Jonah Keri and Rob Neyer conversation about disappointing teams.

Rob: OK, so how about the Mariners? Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it, that they were everybody's favorite dark horse?

Jonah: Not mine! I didn't like them at all at the start of the season. I wasn't quite as optimistic about the A's as you were in late March (kudos on that one), but I had no problem with anyone predicting a third-place finish for Seattle, even last place if the Rangers ever got their pitching together. To me, the biggest issue with the M's was their woeful lack of secondary players. You had four stars on this team: Erik Bedard, King Felix, J.J. Putz and Ichiro, with Adrian Beltre a fifth player you could classify as very good. After that, ugly. The Bedard trade subtracted a very important bullpen arm in George Sherrill and what would have been a valuable defensive outfielder in Adam Jones.

In fact, for all the wailing about the M's offensive problems, it's been their inability to catch the ball that's been their most consistent problem over the past couple of years. They turn fewer balls in play into outs than just about any team in baseball. Raul Ibanez resembles a mummified Boog Powell in left field, and plenty of others on the roster have defensive reputations that far exceed their actual contributions. Throw in injuries and ineffectiveness turning Putz into half the dominant force he was last year, and Ichiro, at least to date, looking like he may actually be human, and I just don't see enough here. The Mariners don't make the playoffs, they don't contend for the playoffs and we see wholesale changes between now and Opening Day 2009.

Rob: I think that's right. The M's went to a great deal of trouble to improve their rotation, and the guys they got have been fine. But they're still stuck with Miguel Batista and Jarrod Washburn, both of whom make good money but can't actually pitch. And the M's are last in the league in OBP and only figure to improve a few slots once Ichiro gets going. Fork, meet M's.

From McLaren's pregame media session ...

He was as usual honest and forthright about everything with this team. He still maintains hope, but it's clear that this is wearing on him. It looks like he's aged considerably in the last month.

* On the Cha Seung Baek decision, he said it wasn't spur of the moment.

"We'd been talking about this for awhile. Although Baek gave us some nice innings last night, we'd been thinking about making this move for awhile."

There was some other day to day stuff, but then McLaren without much prompting again talked out the issues of the team like a mini-therapy session. Here's some of the highlights* .

* I know we haven't, for at least the last month plus, we haven't played three clean games in a row. What I mean is solid pitching, timely hitting and good defense We've had breakdowns in one or two of those areas and sometimes all three.

We just need to start to play clean games. There might have some days where we play clean games, but might not win, but we still play clean games.

We just haven't had any. I stay up late at night thinking about it. Why would we have breakdowns in couple areas, and the next day we breakdown in another area and the others areas are good?

Winning baseball is about playing a complete game.

We're still looking from answers.

I look at it, and I just don't understand, I really don't. The only scenario that could be worse than what's going on right now is if we didn't prepare and we didn't play hard, it would be unbearable.

It's pretty close to that now.

No one likes to lose and if you accept losing, I really think you're in the wrong field of work. This game is about competing and being the best you can be. It's a team sport.

Losing should never be an option. Sometimes it's out of your hands, but no one should ever accept losing. It's unacceptable.

I walk in there every day just to get a pulse like I've done for years to see if I can get some kind of read on where are mentally. It doesn't look like people are down. I know they care. I know they prepare behind the scene, I know they watch film. If we weren't applying ourselves before the game.

There are not any easy answers around here. It's going to take us collectively as a team to fight our way through this.

It seems like we plug one hole and another one spurts out. WE need to start playing some clean baseball games. It's about as easy as I can put it.

You probably get tired of asking the same questions every day. I guarantee the people get tired of reading the same thing every day. It's a challenge for myself, my team and you. It's a grind.

The expectations we had at spring training, we all understand that this unacceptable from you, me and the fans.

I know some of you dislike Mac and his decisions, but I love his honesty and his willingness to answer everything the best he can. And I don't think his decisions have been bad, I think he's been hamstrung by a bad roster and pushed in front of moving traffic by some of his players who simply don't have it any more. I don't know if it mattered who would be in here managing this team right now, it would still struggle.