A quick programming note: I have been pulled from the line-up for tonight's game coverage because of a tender left elbow and I must finish this Rays story. Of course, all this stuff happens on a day when I'm not up there. It's like the McLaren tirade. Anyway, our prep guru Doug Pacey is at the game. Since he doesn't have access to this blog (one of the few guys that doesn't) he's going to email some of the reaction to the moves today and I'll post it on here.
An update from Doug: Wlad is starting tonight at DH
A quick poll question: Where does today rank in the best days of the season for the Mariners?
The other contenders would have to be opening day, Richie's release, McLaren's rant and Bavasi's firing.
It says something about the season the Mariners are mired in, that a player being sent down and another player being designated for assignment ranks among the best days.
But really it's important for this reason - the Mariners finally showed some notion that they need to start focusing on 2009 and beyond. Sure they've been saying this for the last month, but they hadn't made the significant moves to signal that change in thinking. That ended today with Morrow being sent down to be stretched out and Vidro being shipped.
With Vidro gone, there is no excuse for Balentien, Clement and LaHair not to be getting a plethora of at-bats. Even when there are left-handers on the mound for Clement and LaHair.
I watched Balentien hit a home run last night. Teams are still pitching him the same away, offspeed away and then busting him in on his hands with fastballs. Balentien is still susceptible to some ugly swings where he's back on his heels and just waving at pitches away. But he has been been a little better about laying off those pitches consistently, especially with two strikes.
I won't lie and say that I'm convinced he's going to be a better hitter at the major league level the second time around this season. One of the scouts at the Rainiers game last night was not impressed with Wlad's swing or his on-field antics (throwing helmets and bats and saying things to fans). But Balentien will go in more prepared and with a better idea of what he needs to do to be successful. Besides he has proven he can hit at the Triple A level, he needs to do so with at the big league level.
I expect him to play left field or DH, he played in center field on Tuesday night, but I don't know that I would use him there extensively.
As for Morrow, I talked with the Rainiers and manager Daren Brown hasn't slotted Morrow into the rotation. Sean White was just placed on the seven-day disabled list and he started on Saturday. It looks as though Morrow would most likely make his first start either Saturday or Monday in Tucson. Ryan Feierabend is scheduled for Friday, Saturday is a TBD (to be determined), Ryan Rowland-Smith is set for Sunday (though hopefully he's up in Seattle pitching instead of Miguel Batista), and Monday is listed as a TBD.
It will be interesting to see how Morrow handles his pitch count. Remember because he throws so hard, hitters tend to take more pitches and foul off more pitches, which will drive up his pitch count quickly. He must be able to throw his slider and changeup a little more often and consistently for strikes. It will also be interesting to see what his velocity is like early in games and late in games.
Either way it's a good move for the Mariners. They know Morrow has the ability to be a closer, but they didn't draft him for that. They needed to at least give him an extended look as a starter and see if its a role he would not only be comfortable in, but succeed in.
Feel free to post any other moves you think they should make ... logical ones, please.
Now let's get to some links...
* Here's Larry's gamer from last night's crazy comeback win.
* Larry actually spoke with Erik Bedard. That doesn't happen often, but here's his notebook with Bedard's comments about his injury.
* Matt Tuiasosopo's grand slam and Rowland-Smith's solid pitching propelled the Rainiers to their seventh straight win.
* Former Mariner Greg Dobbs has become a pinch-hitting star with the Phillies
* Adam Jones' season could be done. Apparently he broke his foot during his series with the Mariners. He has been placed on the DL and will be out at least four to six weeks.
* Charlton Jimerson hooked up with another team. Good luck to him.
* Joba Chamberlain is going to see Dr. James Andrew about his sore left shoulder. That has to be scary for Yankee fans. Could Jarrod Washburn become valuable to the Yankees again?
* ESPN Page 2's Jim Caple has a story on closers being the most overrated position in baseball.