Inside The Park

Baseball\’s Future in the Emerald City

We’ve Moved…

Posted by JasonAChurchill on March 14, 2006

The pages of Inside The Park have moved.
You can access the new discussions Here at Prospect Insider.


Posted in M's Top Prospects | 1 Comment »

More Pitching Appearances…

Posted by JasonAChurchill on March 12, 2006

Following Gil Meche on Monday (SS) versus LAA will be LHP Travis Blackley and RHP’s Dave Burba, Jeff Harris, Scott Atchison and Renee Cortez.

Following Jamie Moyer on Monday (SS) against Texas in the “B” game will be LHP Cesar Jimenez and RHP’s Yorman Bazardo, Lindsey Gulin and Marcos Carvajal.

On Tuesday against the Cubs, RHP Jesse Foppert will get the start with LHP’s Bobby Livingston, Luis Gonzalez and George Sherrill following him up.  Francisco Cruceta will also get an inning.

LHP Julio Santiago and RHP Mark Lowe will suit up for today’s main game.

OF Wladimir Balentien has been upgraded from day-to-day status with a hamstring strain and is now available for games.

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Probables, Injury Updates and Asdrubal Cabrera

Posted by JasonAChurchill on March 11, 2006

Cabrera impresses in field and at plate

Cabrera’s Bat is the Only Question Mark (

Looks like RHP Gil Meche will start a “B” game on Monday versus Texas in Surprise, as long as all goes well on Sunday with his oblique.

RHP Felix Hernandez will start today versus Texas, at PSC and LHP Jamie Moyer will go Monday versus LAA. Both starters are expected to go four innings or land in the 50-55 pitch range.

LHP’s Jared Thomas and Jason Mackintosh, and RHP Cibney Bello were in uniform for the game Saturday against Arizona. None fo the three entered the contest, however.

LHP Cesar Jimenez is still limited to bullpen sessions with a mild strain of his left hamstring. He’s expected to continue throwing in the pen until at least Tuesday. He could pitch in a game on Wednesday.

LHP Bobby Livingston continues to recover from a stiff neck suffered earlier in the week. He’s likely to pitch next weekend, probably in a “B” game. No truth to the rumor that Bobby hurt himself on Monday night as he continuously whipped his head around to check out the passing babes at the local bar. Well, maybe there is some truth to that.

2B Fernando Vina’s return was set for Sunday, but the veteran infielder is probably going to be held out until next Friday while he recovers from a hip flexor.

It’s time for Vina to hang it up. He has no chance whatsoever to make the big club…

SS Asdrubal Cabrera is opening eyes, however. He hit his first spring home run on Saturday and, as always, shined in the field impressing everyone from manager Mike Hargrove to Yuniesky Betancourt. Betancourt was overheard saying the spanish equivalent of “wow” after a play Cabrera made early in the contest versus Arizona.

Cabrera began the spring looking like he’d open the year as San Antonio’s starting shortstop, but he may be playing his way into a return to Triple-A Tacoma where he ended his 2005 campaign.

RHP Clint Nageotte’s pulled left hamstring is worse than originally diagnosed and the 25-year-old is taking it day-by-day. He’s throwing but not pitching and isn’t expected to do so until late next week.

The M’s have 11 hitters with a .300 average or better heading into Saturday’s action. Richie Sexson and Roberto Petagine are both 7-for-18 for a .538 average while Raul Ibanez (7-for-16, .438) and Shin-soo Choo (7-for-17, .412) are above the .400 mark. Matt Lawton (5-for-13, .385), T.J. Bohn (5-for-14, .357), Jeremy Reed (5-for-14, .357), Yuniesky Betancourt (5-for-15, .333), Mike Morse (4-for-12, .333), Willie Bloomquist (6-for-19, .316), and Matt Tuiasosopo (3-for-10, .300) round out the elite 11.

Bloomquist is day-to-day after receiving three stitches on his right pinkie finger after injuring the digit in the weight room on Thursday afternoon.

Not sure why Willie feels the need to stack on more plates…

Saturday was the first full-squad workouts for minor leaguers and the feeling has already set in for many. “Tedious, boring, yet necessary,” was the typical response to day one workouts.

One M’s minor league left-hander, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims, “I just get sick and tired of throwing perfect games against my own teammates. I don’t want them to hate me and they aren’t getting good batting practice that way, so, get on with it already.”

Posted in M's Top Prospects, Seattle Mariners, Spring Training | 3 Comments »

Joel Pineiro and Adrian Beltre Change My Mind, Sorta

Posted by JasonAChurchill on March 10, 2006

Joel Pineiro LookingFor Comeback Season
Many are liking what they saw out of Joel Pineiro this week as he tossed four innings allowing just one unearned run in the World Baseball Cup and even though I also thought he looked decent, I’m not going to get too excited, and neither should you.

Pineiro, even at his very best right now, is a No. 4 starter with occasional No. 3 ability. He’s not very good, nor should he ever be expected to be a frontline arm ever again. As David Cameron discusses Here at USSMariner, Pineiro is better than Meche in almost every way possible, but all that means that Pineiro is useful and Meche is not, which is among Cameron’s points.

At 27, Pineiro can still improve in some aspects, especially in the area of command and consistency. But he’s not going to re-discover a 95-mph fastball and the stamina and durbaility he displayed a few years ago when he looked like a No. 2 starter at the age of 24.

Think of Pineiro as the M’s version of Houston’s Brandon Backe.

With true TOR’s Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt in front of him, if Backe went six or seven decent innings, his club had a good chance to win, and because of the first three in the rotation, Backe didn’t feel any pressure to go eight scoreless every time out.

Pineiro’s six-plus inning outings are a bonus. It will likely mean that he surrendered somewhere between zero and four runs and threw a reasonable amount of pitches. Those efforts will give the Mariners a chance to win more ballgames than the right-hander’s typical 2005 starts did.

Pineiro’s start versus the Netherlands in game 2 of Puerto Rico’s World Cup schedule was a nice outing. He displayed solid control with his fastball, threw his curveball with confidence and even moved his pitches in and out, seemingly at will.

It was a solid first outing for any spring pitcher against any lineup… but oh, that lineup. The Netherlands have one big league bat in Andruw Jones, former major leaguers in Randall Simon and Eugene Kingsale and a group of AA equivalents – which is basically what he would have faced if he were back in the desert pitching for the M’s right now in the Cactus League.

So treat his WBC outing versus the Netherlands like he just went four innings versus the Milwaukee Brewers “B” squad.

His performance shouldn’t be taken as some sort of sign that he’s back, because he’s not, and never will be.

Like Backe, Pineiro is capable of getting things together to produce quality starts on a regular basis. He’ll appear to be a pretty good pitcher at times, and then turn around and look like Gil Meche. But he’s a capable No. 4 starter who could get the M’s 200 innings. Backe rides the fence of 200 innings, depending on how much he’s needed.

Some out there are saying, “Brandon Backe? He’s terrible, Pineiro is better than that!” If you are one of those, you’re wrong.

Backe’s 2005 FIP was 4.76 while Pineiro’s was 4.50. FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, isn’t perfect, but those numbers suggest that Backe was .26 runs per nine innings worse than Pineiro, when fielding is removed from the equation. This in a hitter’s park versus Pineiro’s performances at the pitcher’s haven that is Safeco Field that surrendered 25% less runs, and homers, as did the Juice Box.

So basically, they are the same pitcher when it comes to runs allowed.

Be happy if Pineiro dips down to the low to mid-4’s in ERA, or perhaps better if he’s lucky. He’s actually useful with an ERA in that area, but unlike Backe, it won’t earn him and his teammates a trip to the World Series.


Because Jarrod Washburn, Jamie Moyer and Gil Meche do not equal three hall of fame talents that the ‘Stros had leading their staff a year ago.

Best case scenario — Pineiro’s command is back to where it was three years ago and he gives the M’s 200 innings and a low 4 ERA behind his improved K/BB rates and a K/9 rate that could get back into the mid-6’s.

Worst case scenario — Pineiro gets hurt early and because Nageotte and Foppert aren’t ready, the M’s call up Emiliano Fruto to the bullpen and Matt Thornton and Julio Mateo share the fifth spot for half the year. Put Pineiro down for a much better season than 2005, but don’t expect him to earn any more respect than a 4th starter should. That’s what he is, after all.

Beltre’s circumstances are different, to me, in that I actually believe that the adjustment’s he has made could bring a result closer to his 2004 numbers than some believed he was capable. No, he’s not likely to hit 40+ homers or even approach a .334 batting average. But get this…Beltre came to camp at 214 pounds, 12 pounds lighter than a year ago, a sign of hard work, desire and dedication. Good news there. He never made any excuses a year ago and only mentioned his lack of getting the job done. Another good sign.

The best news in Marinerland all spring is that Beltre has his confidence soaring right now. That’s not something you could say at any point thus far in his short M’s career. He struggled last spring, and never got things going during the season.With the Dominican team, he’s batting fifth for the most part, and has crushed three home runs in two games. Something he did just once last season with Seattle. What’s different? Beltre has altered his stance a bit, which is minor, but he’s also changed the action in his wrists and feet, which lead to him staying back on the ball and not lunging his upper body over the top of his lower body – movements that will drain power and induce strikeouts, pop ups and weak grounders.

Last year, Beltre tried desperately to hit the ball to righ field. In two games with DR, he’s driving the ball where it’s being pitched. If it’s middle-in, he’s pulling it. If it’s away, he’s shooting it into right and right-center.If you are looking for something to really get excited about in March, be excited that Adrian Beltre, who won’t be 27 until the first week of April, is dedicated to being a better hitter than he was in 2005 – and the adjustments that he and Jeff Pentland worked on really early in camp are paying off already.

Pencil Beltre in for 30 homers.

After not liking the timing of the WBC and still not watching it with any excitement, the cup may be providing both Pineiro and Beltre with a BETTER place to fix their games. Pineiro will get more innings and Beltre will get more ABs than either would have in Peoria at this stage of spring training.

Posted in Seattle Mariners, Spring Training | 14 Comments »

Spring Training Update: 3.10

Posted by JasonAChurchill on March 10, 2006

Pitching Probables

Today’s pitchers will include LHP George Sherrill and right-handers Marcos Carvajal and Francisco Cruceta. Southpaw Jarrod Washburn will get the start against colorado’s Aaron Cook, who, coincidentally, is the pitcher Bill Bavasi originally asked for in the Yorvit Torrealba trade.

On Saturday, Seattle will send LHP’s Matt Thornton, Luis Gonzalez and Jake Woods, and RHP’s Emiliano Fruto and Jeff Heaverlo versus Arizona in Scottsdale for one split squad game.

Five right-handers will take on Kansas City in the other at home in Peoria.  Kevin Appier, Rafael Soriano, Julio Mateo, J.J. Putz and Sean Green will take the mound.
Our friend LHP Thomas Oldham is in uniform for today’s home game, as is 2004 draftee RHP Mark Lowe.

Injuries and Other Stuff…

Ichiro went 2-for-4 for Team Japan against Texas yesterday… 2B Willie Bloomquist suffered a cut on his right pinkie and is day to day… RHP Gil Meche (oblique) threw a bullpen session Thursday and is improving… LHP Bobby Livingston (stiff neck) is improving and should be throwing this weekend… OF Wladimir Balentien is still unavailable for games with a strained right hamstring… 2B Fernando Vina’s right hip flexor is still a burden, though he is taking BP and infield every day… OF Chris Snelling’s official status is ‘limited’ due to the ACL surgery on his left knee… LHP Cesar Jimenez (hamstring) threw in the bullpen Thursday and should pitch again Monday… RHP Clint Nageotte (hamstring) is expected to pitch Monday after being scratched from his start on Wednesday.

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Spring Training Update: 3.09

Posted by JasonAChurchill on March 9, 2006

Blackley on the mend in Peoria

Another day another dollar…

RHP Gil Meche experienced no pain in his oblique after playing catch on Wednesday and is slated to start on Monday versus LAA if his Thursday catch session and a bullpen on Saturday afternoon.RHP Jesse Foppert starts TODAY versus the defending world champion Chicago White Sox. He’ll face a lot of right-handed batters so today should be a good indicator of his velocity at this point in the spring. If he can maintain 90-93 consistently, it’s a great sign. He’ll be tested this afternoon and should be going three innings.Right-handers Scott Atchison, Renee Cortez and Yorman Bazardo will follow Foppert.

Even after a sub par outing against Team Japan, LHP Travis Blackley is still feeling strong and very optimistic about the season ahead. Everything is on schedule and he may get a start in a ‘B’ game on Monday and again on Saturday the 18th.Blackley sat 84-86 with his fastball, hit 87 once, and 83 a few times, according to one scout at the game. His offspeed pitches are a month away, but that’s to be expected with feel pitches and arm slotting.

Chris Snelling is expected to take BP five days a week until the end of the month and then have his knee re-evaluated. If all is well, he’ll likely start taking fly balls in the outfield and running the bases some.

Posted in M's Top Prospects | 2 Comments »