Mariners Insider Blog

Welcome to San Diego: The linkage edition (UPDATED 1:24)

Obviously, like the Mariners I took yesterday off. Well, at least from the blog.

* I did write an off-day story about Willie Bloomquist.

I wasn't completely happy with it nor are the guys over at USS Mariner. To be fair, I shouldn't have characterized them as "captaining" the anti-Bloomquist faction. It was a mistake. They don't universally hate Willie, they just have issues with the idea of him being more than a bench player, which is understandable and logical.

* Also in the blogdome, Lookout Landing had an interesting post on Willie and Yuni from a few days back.

UPDATE: Here's what Jayson Stark had to say in his daily "3 strikes feature."

STRIKE TWO -- THE COLD CUTS AWARD: This probably isn't the perfect time to hand this prestigious Cold Cuts non-trophy to Mariners utility whiz Willie Bloomquist, seeing as how he's in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak -- his longest in three years.

But then loyal reader Rob Daniels checked in with the Willie Bloomquist note of the year. Not that the competition was real feverish in that department, but here it comes anyway: Bloomquist has made it to home plate 90 times this year. What he still hasn't done in those 90 trips is hit an extra-base hit. Not a one.

In fact, to find footage of his last extra-base hit, you'd have to dig through the highlight reel all the way back to last Sept. 12 (a double against Oakland). So he's up to 56 straight games and 143 at-bats without one of those glamorous XBHs.

I could tell you that Lance Berkman has 58 extra-base hits since Bloomquist's last extra-base hit. But thanks to the amazing research of Rob Daniels, I can also tell you that this is the most consecutive games any active non-pitcher has ever gone without an XBH, the most games by any non-pitcher (active or otherwise) since Scott Pose ripped off 87 in a row in 1999-2000 and the third most consecutive XBH-less at-bats in the last 10 seasons (trailing only Juan Pierre's 186 in 2000 and Pose's 151). Off in the distance is the gold standard for non-XBH hitters -- Wayne Tolleson's 210 XBH-free at-bats for the Yankees in 1987-88, the longest streak of the last 24 seasons. So don't touch that cursor.

* AUDIO ALERT: I went on the Elise at Night show on Wednesday night after the Batista blow out. You can listen to that interview here.

* UPDATE: Wlad Balentien's bat is starting to get back on track in Tacoma.

* The Futures game rosters were announced today. The only Mariners prospect selected was Phillippe Aumont. Here's the U.S. Roster. And here's the World Roster.

* Here's a story on Yuni meeting up with an old friend.

* This story in Vanity Fair by Michael Lewis (author of moneyball) looks at Cuban baseball and players defecting from the country.

From Buster Olney's blog on ESPN.com

With all of that in mind, I e-mailed 25 players, scouts and executives this week asking for a response to one simple question: Who are the five most dominant starting pitchers in the game right now? I tabulated the number of times anyone was mentioned on a ballot (and counted the dimpled and hanging chads).

The results:

No. 5: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds (eight votes) -- He mixes a mid-90s fastball with a changeup that seems to disappear. He has 110 strikeouts in 99.1 innings this year, with a 2.08 ERA.

No. 4: Rich Harden, Oakland Athletics (nine votes): In his start against the Phillies on Thursday, he consistently threw in the 93-94 mph range in all eight innings he worked, and Philadelphia seemed to have no chance when he used his changeup -- the off-speed pitch he prefers now, since ditching his splitter. A no-hitter seemed within the realm of possibility, writes Susan Slusser. Harden has 83 punchouts in 67 innings.

No. 3: Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox (11 votes): He has struck out 82 hitters in 72 2/3 postseason innings, and this year -- in which he has not necessarily been at his best -- he has 97 strikeouts in 94 innings.

No. 2: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants (14 votes): He has been in the big leagues for about a year and has made an extraordinary first impression, racking up 103 strikeouts in 102.2 innings this season.

No. 1: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (16 votes). He has pitched well this season and early in his career, but there is a still a sense that he has much more to offer as he gains consistency. He has 95 strikeouts in 107.2 innings, with a 2.83 ERA.

Two Mariners' players make Peter Gammons top 10 disappointments thus far this season.

What players have most disappointed you?

1. Andruw Jones, Dodgers: He doesn't need to see numbers or weight charts. He needs to get healthy and get his swing back. Right-center, Andruw.

2. Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, Tigers: Maybe the contract put too much pressure on Cabrera. There may be a lot of things wrong, but a .309 lifetime hitter with a career OPS of .918 shouldn't be where he is. As for Willis, can he regain his delivery?

3. Rickie Weeks, Brewers: He's too good a player to be hitting .217 and getting on base at a .329 clip.

4. Roy Oswalt, Astros: His June ERA was under 4.00, so perhaps that's a start. He was 49-27, 3.03 the three previous seasons, so what does this 6-8, 4.77 mean? And will he want out of what has been described as a "toxic" team situation?

5. Erik Bedard, Mariners: I actually got two votes for Johan Santana in the disappointment category; he's 7-6, 2.93 (with 12 quality starts) for a sub-.500 team. There were people last winter who wrote that Bedard was a better pickup than Santana. Bedard, 29, has four wins, bringing his career total to 44, 55 fewer than Jon Garland, who is six months younger than Bedard. Don't be surprised if Bedard is traded, likely to a comfy small market where he can put up big numbers.

6. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: He was a mess mechanically, then got hurt. Fine. He is one heckuva player.

7. Robinson Cano, Yankees: His at-bats have been inconsistent, and he's not a .320/35 HR guy. Yet.

8. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays: Injuries and inconsistencies have plagued his first half. Those seven homers will take off, and that .757 OPS -- less than Mark Ellis -- should be over .900.

9. Kenji Johjima, Mariners: Maybe he's taken too much of the blame in the collapse of a team with high expectations, but why ownership forced this signing and made Jeff Clement a DH is beyond anyone's explanation.

10. Brett Myers, Phillies: Where is the velocity? The Phillies need Myers to be himself, which isn't a 3-9 guy with a 5-plus ERA and 23 homers allowed in 99 2/3 innings. They may not be able to trade for anyone as good as the old Brett Myers.

* We don't normally link to the competition, but Jim Moore had a humorous column in the P-I the other day.

TRADE TALK

* Here's some more trade talk surrounding the Phillies.

* The Baltimore Orioles are looking for a shortstop. Maybe Seattle can trade them Yuni and get back two of the five players the Mariners they gave up for Bedard.

* Former Mariner property Jorge Campillo pitched well for the Braves the other day.

From ESPN.com's Jayson Stark's "Rumblings and Grumblings"

&bull Trio bravo: For weeks, the Braves have focused on adding starting pitching. But in recent days, they've shifted their M.O. to adding a bat, who would almost certainly land in left field. Clubs that have spoken with the Braves report that they're targeting only guys who could represent another "certified threat" in their lineup. So given the dearth of that sort of creature, three to keep your eye on are Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and Xavier Nady.

&bull Junior Griffey rumor of the week: According to one baseball man who has spoken with both the Reds' and Mariners' brass, the Reds were talking to former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi about a deal that could have sent Griffey to Seattle after Griffey's 600th home run. But the Mariners have shown no interest in rekindling those talks since Bavasi lost his job. So if you were a betting man, bet on Junior to finish the season right where he started it -- in Cincinnati.

&bull The Bedard Watch: Much as the Yankees need pitching, we're hearing they've all but decided Erik Bedard's personality issues would make him a no-go in their always-serene clubhouse. But apparently, the Phillies haven't reached that same conclusion -- not yet, at least. Either that, or it was just a coincidence that their director of professional scouting, Chuck LaMar, showed up in Atlanta last weekend for just one game of a Braves-Mariners series -- the game Bedard started.

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