Finally!!! In a situation where I am incredibly happy to eat some crow, it is being reported that Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien have been called up from AAA Tacoma today. With a collective sigh of relief, Mariners fans can revel in the glory of a move made in a timely fashion. Of course, with the call-ups there is most assuredly going to be some light boo-hooing from Brad Wilkerson and Greg Norton as they have been reportedly designated for assignment. All in all, this is a very exciting day. I, for one, hope that this will be looked at as a season changing moment for these M’s as they actively attempt to decrease the median age of their, for the most part, senior citizen lineup. Let the Clement and Balentien eras begin…….fingers crossed.
Archive for April, 2008
Doing just enough not to get canned seems to be the Mariners mantra over the last few years (from Bill Bevasi) to the everyday players. Last night was a great example of this phenomenon, as Designated Hitter Jose Vidro and Right Fielder Brad Wilkerson went a combined 5/7 with 2 RBIs in the Mariners 7-2 win over the Indians. Both Wilkerson and Vidro had been struggling mightily coming into the game, hitting under .200. It had been rumored that M’s Skipper John McClaren and Mariners front-office-types had been openly talking about demoting the guys who aren’t producing and bringing up the guys who are having success in the minors. Just like clockwork, the two guys almost assuredly being referenced by these comments – Vidro and Wilkerson – have big games in a big win for the Mariners. This will most likely push back the timetable for any still-necessary roster moves. Still in great need of some rest or replacement is catcher Kenji Johjima, who went 0/5 last night and is batting a dismal .184 on the season (see yesterday’s post for solution). However, any talks of Johjima being rested or replaced will obviously lead to a 4/5 game with a couple of RBIs and serve as reminder of what he is capable of before he slips back into his hitting coma. Like I said – just enough to keep the roster spot. I guess you have to give them credit…..they perform when their job is on the line……but uggggghhhhhhhh. Really, I can’t complain (even though that’s what I just spent that last 30 lines doing); they won and hopefully will continue to win. On another note…haven’t heard much from the Moose this year; what’s up with that?
It’s getting to a point where the decision to bring up Jeff Clement needs to be made now. The Mariners, who have slipped to 12 and 14 by losing 4 games in their 6 game home stand, are in dire need of some offensive production. With the next 6 games coming against the Indians and the Yankees, the M’s need to do something fast. Obviously nothing is going to get done before this road trip (they are in Cleveland today) but hopefully sooner than later a decision will be made. One decision that has been made in the last week has me wondering what the M’s front office is doing. The signing of slumping catcher Kenji Johjima to a 3 year deal has created a whole new set of questions on what the M’s are going to do this and next year. It has been rumored that Jeff Clement is now to be the 1st basemen of the future instead of catcher. With Richie Sexson as good as gone after this season, there is a chance the M’s will be relying on Clement to take over the duties at first while Johjima catches and veteran Jaime Burke backs him up. Surprisingly Byron, this does not upset me the way I though it would. I am actually ok with this solution, but what about this year you may ask. Well the smart thing would be to bring up Clement who is just killing it in the minors hitting .397 with 5 jacks, 8 doubles and 20 RBIs in just 78 at bats. Clement would fit nicely into that DH role for the rest of the season and add a young productive bat to a lineup that’s full of oldies and sickies. As this is the smart decision chances are the Mariners will A) Choose to leave him in the minors and hope to get it done with what they have or B) Make the decision to bring him up too late (August). Neither of these are ok with me and for all of us aboard the Mariners train, this would absolutely derail us and send us plummeting off a cliff. So lets hope the conductor of this train rights the ship (that’s right I used a train analogy and a boating analogy together in one giant nonsensical thing) and gets us on the fast track (more train stuff) to playoffsburg or some other made up town that implies a trip to the playoffs…….perhaps Postseasonville and World Series Junction.
Saturday’s NFL draft was probably the most boring in recent memory. ESPN had wall-to-wall coverage of the two day event and, with only a small amount of big name guys, the feat of somehow covering the NFL snoozefest for two straight days is inconceivable and well deserving of Atta-boys and kudos (yes the delicious granola bar/candy treat). Teams were being “reasonable” and “addressing their needs”, so the only interesting thing about the draft was that Washington State University graduate Alex Brink somehow slipped all the way to the 7th round to the Houston Texans. It is amazing to me that there isn’t a team out there who needs a guy that can fairly to very easily throw for 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in the same game. This late picking of Mr. Brink was a surprise to everybody, but for different reasons. After day one, I was sitting there wondering when Alex was finally going to go while the rest of the world was saying “who is Alex Brink” and “why would the Texans waste a 7th round pick on this guy from Warshington”. However ridiculous, my semi-fond memories of Alex as a Coug were substantially increased to very fond by his 27 of 40 for 399 yards and 5 touchdowns against the crapface huskies in the 2007 Apple Cup. In a game the Seattle Times called an “upset”…..(uhhhh WRONG, but to be fair Gregg Bell is an idiot along with most of the sports writers over there), Brink became the only quarterback to beat the huskies 3 times in his career. Basically, what I am saying is that one good Apple Cup (3 is preferable) is enough to make me love you……So take that to heart future Cougar quarterbacks, just win me Apple Cups and you will earn my awesome amounts of love and respect which are redeemable for nothing. So, hopefully Alex can take Houston by storm and earn himself a nice little roster spot…..but in a more likely scenario he will be dominating up north with our frozen Canadian friends with their big flopping heads and their beady little eyes. Always nice to see a Coug get taken in the draft, and the Seahawks signed Michael Bumpus to a free agent deal….so we got that going for us.
Sometimes you just have to say goodbye and for the Seahawks and Shaun Alexander it was that time. The 30 year old running back, who some have likened to a 9 year old flower girl prancing daintily down the isle only to dive for cover into the pews when the photographer comes in for a close up shot, has been an integral piece of the puzzle for the Seahawks since the 2001 season (though he was with the team in 2000, he did not receive many carries). Shaun, who will always be etched into our hearts and minds as possibly the best statistical running back we will ever see in Seattle, was rumored to be on the chopping block since the end of last season. Oh there were good times…..but there were also lots of bad. Shaun has been plagued by injury since his MVP campaign in 2005 where he rushed for 1880 yards and 27 touchdowns. His nagging foot injuries and his tendency to crumble at the sight of any would be tackler have earned him a reputation as a huge huge wuss. The reputation is and was completely founded as he is a huge huge wuss. In spite of that, my memories of Shaun will be fond…..from his wide toothy grin, to the fact that he was separated at birth from his brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber. So goodbye Shaun…..thanks for playing and have fun with the Patriots where former MVP’s go to die. So where does that leave the Hawks? They acquired both T.J. Duckett a.k.a The Big Nothing and Julius Jones (who some people call and Alexander clone) in the off-season, but the draft is very running back heavy this year and in my humble opinion would be a perfect place for the Hawks to go with their 25th pick. A couple of names to watch for: Rashard Mendenhall out of Illinois who was once thought to be a late 1st round pick has been slowly creeping up the draft board and most likely won’t be there at the 25th pick, but a boy can dream eh? And a guy I am very very high on Jonathan Stewart out of Oregon. We have seen a lot of Stewart over the years and he has brought us great joy running for 251 yards against the stupid huskies in 2007….just awesome. Stewart runs hard and is happy to lower his shoulder on just about anybody which would be a nice change from watching Shaun lay down and die game after game. So we will see what they will do this weekend as the draft starts Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern. So yeah….that is all….and stuff.
Last night was filled with child like excitement, and no I wasn’t picking my nose in my ninja turtle costume (Leonardo) while watching Chip n’ Dales Rescue Rangers……that’s Thursday nights. It was the first time I have truly “jumped for joy” since my mom brought home grape squeeze-its for the first time…….oh so sugary and squeezable and delicious. The outburst of child like behavior was ignited by a bases loaded two out double by Jose Vidro in the bottom of the eighth against the Baltimore Oriels last night and yes, I “jumped for joy”. Looking around for anyone to high five, I realized I was alone as it was half an hour past my bed time. So, I proceeded to slap my right hand against my left to simulate the high five and then laid back down for bed time, only to have my earlier joy restored once a gain with J.J. Putz coming out of the bullpen to close. After shaking off the cobwebs and giving up a lead off double, J.J. settled down and was J.J. again. He retired three straight Orioles, striking out 2, to get the save and secure the win for Arthur Rhodes, his first since 2005. Rhodes took over for Felix Hernandez and pitched a scoreless eight inning. Felix, who started for the M’s, once again pitched a very good game going 7 innings, giving up two runs and striking out 7. Yet due to lack of offensive production before the bottom of the eighth was given a no decision, which sucks because I really like him. All that aside, something about baseball seems to bring out the kid in me and if the Mariners make the playoffs I may regress beyond a child into a baby and poop my pants…..for real.
There has been a lot of talk around Seattle urging the Mariners front office to acquire the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas. The 100 year old DH was hitting a measly .167 before parting ways with the Blue Jays on Monday. The argument against Frank is that out in the free agent market still exists a player with more power and power from the left side at that which is a must have for the Mariners to make the playoffs this year. That man is the villain of all baseball villains, Barry Bonds. Both Thomas and Bonds have a history of being problematic players off the field but I feel like Barry has a little more left in the tank but really its like choosing between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. The right move to make is to look internally for a solution and leave the old timers to their steroids and golfing. Baseball, other than pitching, is becoming a young mans game. The amount of early 20’s players making an impact on the big league level has increased substantially over the last few years. An internal solution is totally possible too; Baseball America rated the Mariners farm system as the 12th best in the major leagues and highlighted the offensive power they have throughout. Though he is right handed, one guy scouts have been especially bullish on, is left fielder Wladimir Balentien. M’s skipper, John McLaren sent him to AAA to start the season because he wanted him playing everyday but he could provide some pop to a lineup lacking just that. (He recently hurt his knee and had to be helped off the field. The extent of the injury is not known as of yet. An MRI is forthcoming.) Another option is to bring up highly touted catcher and possible DH Jeff Clement. So, since the Mariners front office tends to read these articles I will throw my 10 cents (most people have 2 cents….my opinion is 8 cents better) in. Find an internal solution and leave the pudgy has-beens alone. Peace.
And now your NBA weekend update: I didn’t watch it. I don’t think I could be anymore disenchanted with the NBA right now. Of course the obvious reason why is that they are stealing my team. I think there is a lot more to it though. The NBA has become dull and boring to me. It pales in comparison to the excitement and awesomeness of College Basketball. I hate for this to be a post ala Peter Griffins: “You know what grinds my gears?” but….Sucks to be you because it’s going to be one. Sure there are some interesting personalities and exciting players but the influx of Euro-trash floppers has ruined the game. The best example is one Manu Ginobli. It doesn’t help that I hate the Spurs already, but this guy is just as trashy as trash can be. He consistently is flopping, is a huge cry baby and is just an all around piece of crap. This is the modus opporandi for most “european players” so it not all on Manu but this style of play is ruining the game. Another huge issue is the fact that no one plays defense. Granted defense is not exciting and flashy but it keeps the score under 200. In a game earlier this season the Sonics lost to the Denver Nuggets in a game where the Nuggets scored 168 points IN REGULATION. The Sonics truly are one of the worst, if not the worst defensive team in the NBA (Nice job P.J., defensive minded coach, my butt) so I am not totally surprised they gave almost 200 points, but still……I mean somewhere you have to draw the line and say “this is ridiculous, the next time Melo drives the lane I am going to hit him with an elbow to the groin” (a very European move I know but at this point even the most disgusting style of play must be used). It feels like every game is the all-star game, all offense, no defense and that bores me, Charlie Murphy. So, I for one will not watching anymore than maybe 30 minutes total of the NBA playoffs, not because I am boycotting, but because I just don’t care.
Turns out even crappy soon-to-be-in-the-NBDL basketball players are just like you and me: they hang out, go to movies and do regular people stuff, too. Standing in line at the Issaquah Theatres of Issaquah (who didn’t see that coming?) who would I see but Robert Swift. That’s right, Rocky Dennis himself hanging with his “entourage,” off to see the 10:05 showing of the soon-to-be Oscar nominated hit movie “Prom Night.” This brings to mind a few questions, none of which I will address. The 7’-1” oft injured 23 year-old does what most fabulously wealthy, first round draft busts do. He sees movies at theatres with normal people. Looking like a freakish version of Viggo Mortenson and completely lacking the elitist attitude of most NBA bench players, he clearly does not fit the David Stern and Clay Bennett mold of inaccessible Sonic players, where being seen in public is the biggest no-no in their evil plot to choke any life that’s left in the floundering franchise before they depart to foreign lands. This, paired with his atrocious play, will most assuredly result in his riding the bench for the 2009 Oklahoma City Doucherockets (or whatever they will call themselves…..may I suggest fanny bandits?) or he’ll making a splash in one of the many hugely unpopular European basketball leagues. Long story short…… I hate you David Stern and Clay Bennett, and I hope Robert Swift continues to “stick it to the man” by showing up in public and braving the throngs of adoring autograph seekers.
Tony Bennett is staying, and that has an immediate impact on what has now become a recruiting war between Washington State and the university of washington (notice the lowercase). The Cougars received a letter of intent from DeAngelo Casto of two-time state champion Ferris (Spokane). The 6′-8″ 235lbs. shot blocking madman will fit right in with the Cougars defensive-minded approach. Casto said his decision to attend Washington State was made easy by Cougars head man Tony Bennett and his assistant coaches and that he looks forward to playing in Pullman. Casto has been much maligned in Seattle papers for his “school jumping” over the past four years, which is some what understandable as he has attended 4 different high schools in the last four years. His signing with the Cougs is sure to instigate some boo-hooing and complaining from the stupid huskycentric Seattle media. All I can say is, eat it stinky huskies……eat it. The most exciting aspect of the signing is stealing a Spokane kid away from Gonzaga, since the last Spokane native the Cougs signed was Rob Corkrum in the early 90’s. College basketball is oh so far away and barely on my sports radar right now, but as the recruits flow in the excitement builds!