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Mariners Fantasy Baseball
Friday, June 04, 2004
 
Latest news: Ibanez hurt.
The one hitter actually, well, hitting on the M's is out for at least 2 weeks. Raul IBANEZ injured his hamstring, and will be placed on the 15-day DL. Unfortunately, not only for Ibanez owners, but for any owner of a Mariner hitter. Why? Like I said, there is no one left (with the exception of ICHIRO) is hitting in the lineup. Therefore, Ichiro can expect to be stranded for a while. Oh, in Ibanez's place? Probably a combo of Hiram BOCACHICA and Jolbert CABRERA. Feel the excitement.

Boone, Edgar slumping
Bret BOONE owners (of which I am one) are in a conundrum. Yes, he's finally acting his age, and is mired in a Pat Burrell-esque slump. But who do you put in his place? For example, in my league, the only 2Bs available is Alex Cintron, D'Angelo Jiminez or Marlon Anderson. Not necessarily world beaters. Unfortunately, you may have to resort to the fact that Boone is the best choice among bad players, unless you can swing a deal. Edgar MARTINEZ is down in the .250 range, and showing no power at all. Which is too bad -- I hate to see him flounder like this.

Remember the interleague
Speaking of Edgar, for the 30% of your who own him, interleague play starts next week. Luckily, the M's are home this week, before heading to Milwaukee and Pittsburgh for 6 games between the 15th and 20th. Make your plans to bench him now.

Meche down to AAA.
It was inevitable. The struggling Gil MECHE was optioned to AAA. No mention yet of who will replace him in the rotation. Of current players on the roster, my guess is Clint NAGEOTTE. However, don't be surprised to see the M's make another move and grab a AAA starter, like Bobby MADRITCH. It's not necessarily a bad move, however a better move may be to shut Meche down for good. Last season's 180+ innings of work may have been too much (considering he worked less than 150 IP in the previous 3 years), and the signs are showing.

Start of something big?
With Ibanez out, it's almost a certainty that the M's will continue to lose. If that happens, it's time for the management to face reality and start to make wholesale changes. The team needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, and it should have been done slowly over the past 3 years. However, the insistence to rely on players well past their prime in key positions (#3 and #4 hitters, 1B and #1 pitcher), as well as a refusal to trade their bevy of pitching prospects in favor of young hitters, has brought this on.

Expect the management to continue to make more changes. Perhaps dealing/releasing Rich AURILIA in favor of phenom Jose LOPEZ. Benching John OLERUD, moving Scott SPIEZIO to first and bringing up Justin LEONE. Trading Freddy GARCIA, Bret BOONE and Eddie GUARDADO for prospects. Anything is possible...stay tuned.

Saturday, May 29, 2004
 
The Quinton McCracken era officially ends.
Yup, you heard correctly. The M's great experiment with Quinton McCRACKEN ended last week when they designated him for assignment. To replace him, Seattle called up pitching phenom Clint NAGEOTTE. He will remain in the bullpen for now. However, this won't be the last move for the M's. They are now carrying 12 pitchers, and only 3 outfielders. So expect a move this week -- perhaps calling up Jamal STRONG from AAA and sending down a pitcher like J.J. PUTZ or even Gil MECHE. Speaking of Gil.....
Unfortunately, like almost everyone else on this roster, Meche has failed to perform up to expectations. He's been the weak link in the rotation, and has even been rumored to get traded (a mistake, in my opinion). A more likely scenario would be a move to AAA or the bullpen to sort things out. Replacing him in the rotation is likely to be Nageotte, despite what the management is telling the papers. You should likely drop Meche (if you haven't already) and keep an eye on Nageotte. He's the M's top pitching prospect, and may not be 100% ready for the rotation, but he's good enough to stick.

Other pitching news.....

Despite the snide emails I have recieved regarding Joel PINEIRO's outing against Boston, I still say to grab him. His strikeouts are going up, and has suffered through one bad inning in the month of May. Of course, he doesn't have the wins to show for it, but his ERA has dropped more than 2 points since the start of May. Freddy GARCIA keeps plugging away, as does Jamie MOYER. And in case you haven't noticed, Eddie GUARDADO, (when he gets in games) is blowing people away.

What's next?
Local media reports that wholesale changes are on the way. Perhaps the M's are waiting until they get back to Seattle to make them, making it easier to grab players from their nearby AAA affiliate, Tacoma, or the team's day off (Thursday). However, despite showing signs of life, Rich AURILIA may be in his last days as a Mariner. John OLERUD may also be on the way out, or at least on the bench.

Monday, May 24, 2004
 
The wheels are officially off.
Any hopes of the M's making a dramatic comeback in the AL West were effectively dashed after going 4-11 over the past 15 games. Ouch. So what happens with a team this bad, obviously going nowhere, and chock full of veterans? you guessed it: complete overhaul. Recent news reports say that ICHIRO is the only untouchable on that team. While that may be an exaggeration, it's obvious that this team is looking to get younger, and fast. So what does that mean for you?

Not long for the M's starting lineup:
First is Rich AURILIA. If you've still got him on your roster, you are either asleep or have been on vacation for the last month. For the 21% of you who still own him, be aware: He may be traded or even released by June 1. In his place? Expect Jolbert CABRERA to move into the full-time shortstop spot. Other candidates include the immortal Hiram BOCACHICA, who (believe it or not) is tearing up AAA. A long shot is 20-year old superstar-in-the-making Jose LOPEZ. However, that's a longshot, since he's not on the 40-man roster, and has been recently playing 3B.

Second, John OLERUD (owned by less than 1%) may have stayed a year too long. Not getting it done with the bat, he may also sit. If the M's can't find a 1B through a trade, they may bring up intriguing minor leaguers Bucky JACOBSON or A.J. ZAPP. Or, (more likely), Scott SPIEZIO or Raul IBANEZ moves to first. If Spiezio moves, expect Lopez or Justin LEONE to get the call up. In both cases, don't necessarily pick up the minor leaguers just yet, but keep an eye out for them. Keeper leaguers may want to take a flier on Lopez if/when he is called up. And even the ancient Mariner, Edgar MARTINEZ, may see a reduction in playing time.

Others on the way out....
Again, look at most of the lineup. Most of them may be traded or outright released, including (but not limited to): OF Quinten McCRACKEN; 2B Bret BOONE; OF Randy WINN, Ps Freddy GARCIA, Ryan FRANKLIN, Gil MECHE, Eddie GUARDADO, Mike MYERS and Ron VILLONE...basically, anyone but Ichiro, or Martinez and likely Jamie MOYER. On a tangent...more proof that drafting closers early isn't really a good idea? Guardado was the 75th player selected in ESPN drafts. Danny Graves? 175th. Jose Mesa? 202.5. Matt Herges? 196.6. Happens every year. But that's OK...keep drafting those closers in the 6h and 7th round.

Opportunities abound.
Keep a close eye on this situation. I'd expect to start seeing some roster moves in the next couple of weeks, with players being sent down or released. I'd also expect a couple of minor trades in the works. Either way, by the time the all-star break rolls around, expect a major change in the starting lineup, with even more changes after the trade deadline. The M's will get younger, if not necessarily better, looking ahead for 2006.

This means that some of the M's, especially the pitchers, could have some value, especially if you don't need wins. Jamie MOYER, for example, has settled down with a couple of much better starts. Speaking of, anyone remember Joel PINEIRO? Everyone got off the bandwagon pretty quickly, against my advice. Care to know what his stats are for May? How about a 2.57 ERA with 17 strikeouts. Don't expect 20 wins, but he's apparently back in his groove.


Sunday, May 16, 2004
 
Breaking news...Meche owners take noteHas Gil MECHE walked his way out of the rotation, at least in the short term? Perhaps. After his last start, a 2/3 inning disaster where he walked 4, allowed 2 hits and 3 runs before being pulled, his status is up in the air. Manager Bob Melvin hasn't said anything, but the patience has worn thin on the hard-throwing righty. His stats aren't terrible on the surface, but he hasn't gone into the 7th inning yet. A career as a long reliver might be his future, which, in a pure baseball sense, may be the best thing for him. Of course, it's terrible news for all you Meche owners.

So who would replace him? Sorry, Rafael SORIANO owners -- he's still on the DL (see below). In fact, it's been hinted that one of the talented minor leaguers lighting it up in AAA will be called up. My money is on Bobby MADRITCH. He was livid when he was sent down after a stellar spring. But instead of pouting, the hard-throwing lefty proved he belongs in Seattle, not Tacoma. With a 3-0 record and a 2.59 ERA to go with 41 Ks and 11 walks in just 42 innings, he's been overpowering. Plus, latest news out of Rainiers camp is that he will be skipped in the rotation. He could be a pleasant surprise in a terrible year. Clint NAGEOTTE could also get the call, but he looks like he needs more work in AAA.

Pick up Piniero -- now.
So, all you Meche owners, who do you replace him with? Don't look now, but Joel PINIERO is starting to heat up. I've been defending him since the beginning of the season, and the impatient have been dropping him faster than fruitcake at Christmas. He's available in 60% of leagues, and gave up a grand total of 3, 2 and 2 earned runs against good hitting teams (MIN and NYY). No, he won't win a lot, but it's not his fault. But he's probably the best pitcher on your waiver wire. And why is everyone ignoring Kenny Rogers? But I digress.

Lost season for Soriano?
Unfortunately, this is starting to look like a lost season for Rafael SORIANO. He has been placed on the DL. Ramon SANTIAGO has been called up to take his place, don't worry about him. Anyway, at this point, it may be time to give up on Soriano for the season. He may be back to form and contribute to your team post all-star break, but I'm afraid that he'll be a wasted roster spot until them.

Trade rumors swirling.
It had to happen. The sharks are starting to swirl, as the usual suspects start to look at potential deals involving the M's. Seattle has talent that veteran teams covet. First and foremost, Freddy GARCIA (who is having a great season, if you haven't noticed). Also, Bret BOONE, Ryan FRANKLIN and even Eddie GUARDADO could be dealt in the next couple months. The dumbest trade rumor I've heard in several years was a three-way involving K.C. and Boston. Basically, Boston would recieve Carlos Beltran, K.C. gets Garcia and a minor leaguer while Seattle gets Johnny Damon and B.K. Kim.

Sounds more like wisful thinking from the Boston contingent than anything else, because that trade makes zero sense for the Mariners. A decent, but aging OFer in Damon and the last thing the M's need -- more pitching. Why not just trade for Beltran? That makes more sense. Anyway, expect more deals to pop up over the next few weeks, especially as the Angels pull away and the M's continue to struggle. When and if vets get traded, watch out for the minor leaguers to get a shot. We already mentioned Madritch and Nageotte, but also pitchers Matt THORNTON and Travis BLACKLEY, outfielder Jamal STRONG and 3B Justin LEONE.

Friday, May 07, 2004
 
Here we go.....
The M's are playing a little better now that they're out of the AL West. I have focused on the M's pitching problems over the past couple of weeks, so let's talk about the offense.

Starting to heat up -- Ichiro.
Contrary to popular opinion, ICHIRO isn't a second-or-third round pick. But for those that took him there, good news -- he's started to pick his game back up. Currently leading the team in average (.285), he's been hitting well over .350 during the DET and MIN series, and he's stealing bases. Will he be an MVP candidate? Unlikely. Will he round out your average, runs and SB categories? Absolutely.

I was wrong about Raul

OK, at the beginning of the season, I thought that signing Raul IBANEZ was a hige mistake. Going from one of the best hitter's parks in KC to one of the worst in Seattle was bound to hurt his stats. Add to the fact he's on the wrong side of 30, and he had "bust" written all over him...or so I thought. Now that he leads the M's in HR (6), R (19), and second in RBI, congrats to those who didn't take my advice.

Disappointing starts
First and foremost, Bret BOONE may be showing signs of age. Still only at .250, that looks bad. However, he also has 6 homers and 18 RBI, and is still a top-3 1B. Plus, he's a notorious slow starter. So I'd try and swing a trade if you can. If you've got Boonie, I wouldn't worry. However, Randy WINN has become one of the most dropped players in ESPN. And I don't blame you on that one. Hitting just .232 with a couple SBs and 13 runs, his start isn't pretty. If there are better options, take them.

Speaking of bad starts.....
For some strange reason, I'm still holding on to the belief that JOEL PINIERO isn't this bad...is he? After 6 starts, he's posted a 7.60 ERA and just one win. Perhaps he and Freddy GARCIA pulled a "Freaky Friday," since Freddy has been untouchable this season. Anyway, back to Piniero: Drp him if you must, but if you can, keep him on your bench and wait another 2 or 3 starts. If he shows no signs of turning it around by the end of May, I'd probably let him go.


Thursday, April 29, 2004
 
Good news....
First, Rafael SORIANO is wrapping up his minor league rehab stint. He's hitting the mid-90s on his fastball, and is scheduled to make one more start before being ready to re-join the club on May 4. If anyone in your league dropped him, now's the time to grab him. Second, Kevin JARVIS was "designated for assignment." Basically, he'll be released and the M's eat his $4.5+ million salary. In his place will be J.J. PUTZ, who will be a long reliever. He shouldn't be on your radar, but Putz has the stuff to stick with the big club for good.

Another start, another shelling for Joel Pineiro
It hasn't been pretty for Joel PINEIRO so far. In fact, he's being dropped left and right. With an ERA hovering around 9.00, I don't blame you. But here's a better option: Patience. Remember, this is just April. Derek Jeter, Mike Mussina, Jim Thome, Greg Maddux and Juan Pierre, among others, are also struggling. June is a long way away, and I'd wager that Pineiro, as well as the others in this list, will be a lot better down the stretch.

Why do I think that? A couple of reasons. First, in his past two starts, he's had a k/bb ratio of 6:1. Secondly, his career path indicates he's a better pitcher than this. Yes, reports indicate that he's lost 5 mph off his fastball, which is troubling. But the signs are there that he can rebound. So here's my suggestion: bench him. It makes no sense to have a bunch of hitters plugging up your bench. So why have a Bobby Higginson-type wasting space when you could have a potentially dominant pitcher on your roster? Again, patience is a virtue, especially in April.

Another cause for concern?
It's not surprising to see owners jump off the Rich AURILIA bandwagon. He's a player that, despite his hot start, shouldn't be on your roster anyway. Randy WINN, on the other hand, should be. Yes, he's struggling mightily at the plate, but through his career, he's shown that he has 90 run/75 RBI/25 SB potential -- the perfect 3rd or 4th outfielder. Yes, a .210 average isn't pretty. But instead of dropping him to chase the flavor of the week, bench him if you must.

Finally, some good news.
As you may have noticed, I don't put much stock into April stats. But Raul IBANEZ has been pleasantly solid. 4 homers, 10 RBI and 15 runs is great for your third/fourth outfielder spot. Ride the wave where it takes you. Edgar MARTINEZ is steadily producing. Bret BOONE is also showing signs of breaking out. The average isn't there, but the power is. ICHIRO is producing just like a second or third outfielder should. You didn't draft him in the second round, right?


Friday, April 23, 2004
 
Coming out of the AL West....
The schedule makers certainly weren't kind to the Mariners in April. Of course, it's not entirely their fault, but playing the Angels and Rangers for 12 games will kill your pitching, and 7 games against the A's aren't fun for the hitters. Fortunately, the M's get out of the West and move into more interesting territory. This week, it's Baltimore and Detroit. Still not helping the pitchers any, but the bats should improve.

Cause for concern -- Joel Pinerio?
3 games. 1-1. 16 innings pitched. ERA hovering around 8. Concerned? Absolutely. Drop him? Not yet. However, I'd bench Joel PINERIO until he gets his act together. He's capable of rattling off 8 wins in a row, so be patient. Jamie MOYER and Gil MECHE are also having slow starts. It's still too early to tell if Moyer is finally showing his age and Meche was a fluke. I'd lean toward saying "yes" to the former and "no" to the latter. In any case, I'd sit them against Baltimore, and start them in Detroit.

Steal of the draft?
I thought Freddy GARCIA would be better this year, but I wasn't expecting this. Despite having a 0-0 record in his 3 starts, he has a 2.25 ERA with 18 Ks in 20 IP. I don't know how long this will last, but run with it for now. Ryan FRANKLIN has a nice era -- 3.15, but he doesn't strike out many, and won't win a lot of games. Still, if you're like me and have a couple starters injured, he's a great spot starter or temporary replacement on your team.

The Sparkplug!
Back when I was in high school, the Yankees traded the M's Jay Buhner for the immortal Ken Phelps. "Seinfeld" fans may remember the name, but it goes down as one of the best trades in history. Not only was Buhner a power presence for several years in that lineup, but he was the sparkplug. He was the emotional leader. Ken Griffey Jr. may have been the highlight of the M's back then, but "Bone" was the team's heart and soul. So why do I bring him up? Scott SPEZIO.

You look at Spezio's career stats, and you don't see a lot. He looks like an above average corner infielder. But he's brought life into the M's batting order. In the 6 games he's been in the lineup, the M's are 4-2. Previously, they were 2-8. What does that mean for your fantasy team? If you're in need of a corner infielder, Spezio's a great pickup -- epecially in AL only leagues. He'll start at third for the time being. And over the past couple of weeks, he and the rest of the M's get to play against Baltimore, Detroit and Minnesota. Certainly no slouches, but they also don't have Mulder, Zito and Hudson.

Also on a tear
Raul IBANEZ should be in your starting lineup for the time being. He's also on fire, leading the team in runs scored (12), and tied for the lead in HR (4) and RBI (9). Certainly not Scott Rolen-esque, but take what you can get for now. And if you've got Bret BOONE, Edgar MARTINEZ or Rich AURILIA, take heart -- they should rebound. Randy WINN should as well. But John OLERUD should not be on your team. I hate to say it, but he's been moved down to 7th in the order, and will probably lose playing time to Dave HANSEN. Unless you're desperate for 1B or in a deep, deep AL-only league, Olerud should be in the free agent heap. I'm talking to you, the 1.1% who still own him....

Obligatory Soriano Note.
Unless I put this in, I'm afraid I'll get about 150 emails about him, so here goes: Rafael SORIANO is still making some starts in the minors. Rain delays have been a bigger problem than his command. Patience. You didn't draft him to win 20 games, right? He'll be fine when it counts -- down the stretch.


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