Mariners Insider Blog

Lots O Linkage: Maple bats are bad, Felix's hitting is good, trade Ichiro?

I've been meaning to be better about posting daily link, particularly in the morning. And the late nights at the stadium, the later nights in New York, just haven't allowed it.

But that ends today. It's a new day, the Mariners are going for a three-game sweep of a team, which hasn't happened in months, so it's time to get some linkage rolling.

* Here's my game story that leads with R.A. Dickey calling Tim Wakefield for some advice.

* Here's the game story from the New York Daily News.

* Here's my notebook that leads with Felix's boot.

* John McGrath writes a little more about Felix's grand slam. And nominates him for pinch-hitting duty.

* Andy Baldwin had a great start for the the Rainiers.

* SI's Jon Heyman has a long column that talks about player moves in Seattle in particular Ichiro.

One thing I don't agree with is this portion....

His negatives are that he appears at times to be playing at half speed and to have more interest in stylin' than anything of substance.



Nor is he very good tone at setting the tone. Leading off Monday night's game against the Mets at Shea Stadium, he jogged to first on a popup. He did the same later in the game. The Mariners' two straight victories in New York notwithstanding, Ichiro may dragging this team down, if that's even possible, with his superstar-first attitude.

Peter Gammons mentioned the Mariners in his blog a few days ago. It's for ESPN Insider but here's a passage of interest.

Then there's Seattle. Oh, Chuck Armstrong is always out front, always one of the game's best and brightest. When things go wrong in Seattle, he and the Mariners' general managers and managers have to take the heat with a clear mandate to keep ownership out of the accountability spotlight.

Yes, Bill Bavasi made mistakes. He put together a Mariners lineup that shows it has no clue about how to hit, evidenced by an abysmal .306 team on-base percentage; Ichiro Suzuki, Kenji Johjima, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre and Yuniesky Betancourt were an incredible 5-for-44 on 3-1 counts when McLaren got fired. The clubhouse mix is, to be honest, terrible. And with $55 million owed to the 8-23 combination of Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva and Miguel Batista after this season, they may have to trade Erik Bedard, who is 1½ years from free agency.

But it was ownership that did the Johjima extension, making a mess of the entire Jeff Clement investment, as well as troubling pitchers and coaches.

Folks in Seattle pine for Chris Antonetti, but that's not going to happen. David Forst will move up in Oakland, in time. But if the Mariners can hire Rick Hahn, Jed Hoyer, Ben Cherington, Peter Woodfork, Mike Hill, Jerry DiPoto, Tony LaCava or Mike Chernoff and let him work with Armstrong without the club of Howard Lincoln, the Mariners will be a great place to work and win and have the financial success that has followed Lincoln all his life. While there are denials, Kevin Towers' name will not go away for some time; a lot of other GMs think he could go there, and no one should ever dismiss Brian Cashman if he decided to move.

Also from ESPN, Jayson Stark has a few interesting tidbits about Felix's homer the other day.

If it did, how would we explain how Felix Hernandez could hit a grand slam off Johan Santana, huh? No way that could possibly happen. But it did. Right there at Shea Stadium on Monday night. Consider the odds:

&bull According to baseball-reference.com, Santana has faced 5,658 position players in his career. Only one of those real, live, professional hitters (Michael Young, on Sept. 5, 2003) had ever hit a grand slam against him.

&bull Among the many, many players who have never hit a home run off Santana, you'll find this group: Ken Griffey Jr., Ryan Howard, Jermaine Dye, Chipper Jones, Mike Lowell, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou and Mike Piazza. They've combined for zero homers in 143 plate appearances against this guy. That's now one fewer than Felix Hernandez. Then there was Hernandez. He'd come to home plate eight times in his career before Monday. He'd only put two balls in play (1 for 8, with 6 K's). Before that swing of the bat, no player on either team -- the Mets or Mariners -- had hit a grand slam this season, in 4,739 trips to home plate. And, of course, no American League pitcher had hit a grand slam in the history of interleague play -- in nearly 3,800 adventures in the old batter's box.

And then Felix Hernandez, of all people, hit a grand slam off Johan Santana, of all people? How the heck did that happen?

* Here's a story on a Mariners prospect named Mumba Rivera.

* FSN Mariners analyst Bill Kreuger did a Q & A with the Wenatchee World.

* Former Mariner and current SF Giant Omar Vizquel was greeted with a heroes welcome in his return to Cleveland. Terry Pluto writes about Vizquel being overlooked in his greatnees.

Obviously, he should be a hall of famer, but is he a first-ballot hall of famer?

* Did you guys see the ump get hit with the shattered bat last night? The Maple bat issue has become a problem. I think all of the Mariners swing maple bats.

* The Phillies need bullpen and pitching help. Hmmmm The Braves are also looking for outfield help. Hmmm.

* Yahoo's Tim Brown has a column on Mike Scioscia.

Finally, I was going to post this other day. But getting to see Chipper Jones up close was a bit of a thrill for me. I don't know why, but I always liked the way he played. It was kind of disappointing that he missed a good portion of the series with Mariners.

Sports Illustrated ran this story a few weeks ago about him and his quest to hit .400.

I loved this passage ..

One weekend in Pittsburgh last month Jones found himself in a minifunk: 0 for 2 in the Friday-night game against the Pirates , 0 for 4 the next night. His average had fallen to .400, and his swing felt out of sorts, especially when he was batting righty. A Sunday matinee awaited the team. For Jones , and many ballplayers, a 1 p.m. game is like a school day starting at five in the morning. Still, there was no way he could go straight back to the hotel on that Saturday night, not with that horrid 0-for-6 taste marinating in his mouth. He went to the PNC Park visiting-team weight room.

"Fultzy," Jones said, popping his head through the door. "When you get done in here, can you give me some extra work?" Frank Fultz, Atlanta 's strength and conditioning coach, also moonlights as the club's lefthanded batting-practice pitcher.

They went to the indoor visiting-team batting cage at PNC. Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton , who takes his cues for Chipper from Larry, stood behind the netting. There was little talk. On different swings Jones was thinking about his hands, his hips, his father. He took about 60 cuts and finally said, "I'm goodâ€"thanks." On a Saturday night, on the road, after a loss, while batting .400 and with a contract that will pay him more than $12 million this season, Chipper Jones was taking extra BP. He's been batting nearly .450 ever since.

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