Mariners Insider Blog

Some off day thoughts on Morrow, Batista and Clement

It's an offday in Peoria, so I figured I'd post something from this perpetually gray place known as Puget Sound.

Quickly, I was on KJR with Ian Furness on Tuesday. You can listen to the interview here. It looks like that will be a weekly thing. Just not sure what day and time it will be.

Here's the up to date spring stats and pitching lines for the M's.

Also it looks as though Angels ace John Lackey won't be ready for opening day for the second straight season.

And I won't be going to Michigan to try this burger, at least not any time soon.

Watched the Mariners game with the Dodgers last night and was struck by a few things …

&bull Manny Ramirez's homer off of Ryan Rowland-Smith was awesome. Look, I dislike Manny probably as much any reasonable human can dislike someone. He is the antithesis of everything I believe in about playing baseball. Also, I like Ryan Rowland-Smith and think he should be in the Mariners starting rotation – along with a healthy Brandon Morrow. With that said, Manny can "rake" and that homer was ridiculous. Here's the video

&bull Jeff Clement is still fighting himself. He's getting into that bad habit again of getting pull happy. When I watched him have his best success in Triple A (with the understanding it's still AAA pitching) and even the brief moments last season, Clement was staying in on the ball and hitting up the middle and even to left-center.

He was never a pure pull hitter coming up, but you can tell everything is opening up a little quick and he's trying to just hammer balls to right. Of course, last night he did have to face lefties in three of his four at-bats. Still, he's always maintained that he likes hitting lefties, and his minor league splits suggest that. But one of the keys to hitting lefties as a lefty is staying in on the ball, keeping that front shoulder in and going with the pitch. He wasn't doing that last night, and hasn't consistently done it this spring.

Being around Clement enough, it's easy to see that he's a guy that wants success at the major league level so badly and is clearly pressing both at the plate and behind it this spring.

With Ken Griffey Jr. likely to take a good portion of the at-bats at designated hitter, that means Clement will lose at-bats. Could he be sent back to Triple A, to make sure he gets day to day at-bats and work behind the plate. It's certainly possible. It will be interesting to see what transpires over the week and half with the return of Kenji Johjima. That leaves Johjima, Clement, Jamie Burke and Rob Johnson all trying to make the team with Adam Moore most likely ticketed to Triple A.

Realistically, the Mariners could name Joh as the starter, designate Burke giving him the chance to hook up as a back-up with another team, and then decide between Clement or Johnson. Johnson is better defensively and calls a better game. But at some point, the Mariners need to make a determination if Clement is part of their future, and they won't know unless he gets some day to day at-bats in the big leagues to get used to major league pitching. Or they could make a trade with another team in need of catching help.

&bull Brandon Morrow looked pretty good. His fastball ranged fro 92 to 97. He threw three straight fastballs at 97 mph against Brad Ausmus to end the inning. He's still not going to start the season in the big league rotation because he's just too far behind. He'll probably begin the season in the minor leagues, maybe AA West Tennessee since its climate is a little warmer, but he could go with the Tacoma since they start the season on the road.

&bull To be fair, Miguel Batista has not been good this spring. He hasn't been completely horrible, just on occasion. But consistent? Not even close. Here's his spring pitching lines …

He has not pitched back-to-back scoreless innings this spring.

Batista has maintained that his horrible performance last season is due to minor fractures in his back that never allowed him to extend on his pitches. He's supposed completely healthy this year and we should see a difference, but he's still allowed 11 hits in 10 2/3 innings pitched.

Let's look at the facts ..

1. He's 38 years old

2. He's in the final year of three-year, $25 million contract with the Ms (thanks BB). He'll get paid $9 million this year.

3. He's not a part of the Mariners immediate future, and obviously not the long range future.

4. If he continues to give up hits or more importantly walk hitters and consistently falls behind hitters, his minimal value to the Mariners decreases even more and his trade value will be virtually non-existent.

5. The Mariners might be better off keeping one of their younger pitchers like Shawn Kelley (more consistent) or Chris Jakubauskas (more versatile) or Cesar Jimenez (extra lefty in the pen) on the staff instead.

So should the Mariners just release Batista and eat the $9 million? The USS Mariner discussed this possibility a while back.

After watching Batista slog his way through an inning of work last night, getting hit hard by the likes of Jason Repko and Doug Mientkiewicz, I think you know my answer to the question.