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After the weekend debacle against the struggling Devil Rays, Toronto welcomes the not-so-struggling crew from Seattle, which is making the trek out east for a three-game set. Note that Thursday afternoon is a 12:30 pm matinee.

The Mariners' offseason spending spree, as many predicted, was not sufficient to vault the club into contention in the tough AL West (although few would have predicted the total regression of Adrian Beltre). The M's are pretty good defensively and have an outstanding bullpen, but their starters have been shaky and the lineup isn't deep. It's an opportunity for the Jays to get on track, so long as they take the right approach at the plate.

This week's Scout features a peach-fuzz middle infield, a much-ballyhooed but fading ace and a few guys that just seem to have Toronto's number.

On to the Advance Scout!

* General: The M's are an impressive 6-2 after two four-game sets against contending clubs (Angels and Orioles) ... Last in the AL in runs, AVG, OBP and SLG ... Their pitching staff is last in all of baseball in K's. They've collectively only recorded 473 whiffs ... One thing that has been excellent for Seattle all season has been the bullpen. Their collective ERA of 2.95 challenges Cleveland for the best bullpen ERA in baseball ... Seattle is 8-22 when the opponent scores in the first inning ... OPS seems to be dispositive to this team: When they fail to homer, Seattle is 9-33. When they fail to draw at least four walks, the club is 20-40 ... The Mariners scored points in the clubhouse by accommodating Bret Boone's desire to play in Minnesota. Sexson: "I think a lot of us in here appreciate the way it was handled" ... Uberprospect Felix Hernandez was roughed up for three runs in one inning last week ... 19-year-old Adam Jones is hitting .341 in AA San Antonio, despite wide criticism for promoting to such a high level at such a tender age ... The most attractive and available Mariner on the trading block might be Ron Villone, who's having a fine year ... The M's, of all teams, are leading the majors by a mile with bases-loaded hitting at .429/.437/.730. The only other club with a .400 average with the sacks drunk? Surprise! It's the Jays ...

* Miguel Olivo: Stays very still at the plate ... His bat speed is too good for him to be struggling the way he is ... Dead-red fastball pull hitter that prefers the ball in ... Struggling mightily with any and all breaking pitches of late. His head seems to fly off the ball ... Will chase breaking stuff down and away ... Homered and stole a base in Sunday's matinee ...

* Richie Sexson: Has gone deep 20 times already, including three of his last five games ... Tremendous power to all fields, and can take any pitch up in the zone deep ... His biggest hole seems to be down and in. Righties should run fastballs in on him at the knees ... Will also chase down and away ...

* Eddie Guardado: Everyday Eddie is having an excellent bounce-back season ... Deceptive delivery conceals whether a high-80s splitter or a low-80s slider is coming ... His splitter can hang, though -- just ask Carlos Delgado ... Changes speeds on his slider, which can get as low as 75 or so on the gun ... No better than 87 or so with his fastball, but because of his array of junk, it's sneaky fast ... Oddly, Guardado has been in the ballpark for five 3,000th hits: He saw Winfield, Molitor, Murray, Ripken and Palmeiro pull off the feat in person ...

* Jose Lopez: The 21-year-old Lopez has the frame to grow into some power ... Compact swing ... Gets out on his front foot sometimes, but stays down on pitches well ... Pretty good speed ... Chases anything off-speed and away ... Undisciplined and has yet to walk in 57 at-bats ...

* Ichiro Suzuki: Having kind of a desultory year by his lofty standards ... Hitting .389 in July, but his last 19 hits have all been singles ... Hit just .288 in May and a stunning .243 in June ... Still has that amazing bat speed, and he's taken the art of pitch recognition from lefthanded pitchers to another level ... Has a hole up and away, where he can neither drive the ball nor lay off pitches ... Tremendous accelerator on the basepaths ... Since 2001, nobody's hit Jays pitching for a higher average than Ichiro (.401) ...

* Raul Ibanez: Upright stance, and he opens up quickly (like a Shawn Green) ... Goes with the pitch effectively and sprays the ball from gap to gap ... Can be overpowered up and away ... Pretty good eye at the plate ... Does not like the ball on the inside corner and can be frozen there ... Like Ichiro and Randy Winn, Ibanez has played every single game this season ...

* Aaron Sele: Herky-jerky delivery ... Throws a slow, slow curve that he has to keep down. It's very prone to hanging ... Seldom cracks the high 80s with his four-seam fastball. He has to work the corners and off the corners -- if it catches the plate, it's meat ... His fastball is most effective when it's right in on the hands of righthanded hitters. He works there often -- I smell a Hillenbrand HBP ... Frustratingly, he's 6-0, 3.38 in his last seven starts against the Jays ...

* Ryan Franklin: Tight, low-80s curve that's a nice pitch when he starts it thigh-high. He works it down and in on lefties ... Likes to pound a low-90s fastball up and away from hitters ... Horizontal swing to his leg kick, like a less fluid Dave Stieb ... His two-seam fastball has only modest movement to it. It's the pitch to sit on, especially if he leaves it over the plate ...

* Joel Pineiro: Check out his ERA progression: 2.04 (2001), 3.24 (2002), 3.78 (2003), 4.67 (2004), 5.61 (2005) ... Doesn't snap off his slider as effectively as he once could. He's hung a bunch of them this season, which helps explain his rising HR rate and declining K rate ... Low-90s four-seamer has been pretty straight and pretty hittable ... Seems to rush through his full windup ... Still throws a great 12-to-6 curve, though, which seems to tumble off a table ...

* Jeremy Reed: The Mariners acquired him in the Freddy Garcia trade, expecting him to be a batting average and OBP machine. Instead, he's distinguished himself with some spectacular centrefield defence ... Sees righthanded breaking pitches well, but struggles terribly with lefthanded junk ... Has not homered since May 29 ... Runs well, but it hasn't translated to base stealing ...

* Adrian Beltre: After a .240/.290/.424 2003, Beltre emerged with a .334/.388/.629 line in 2004. The M's paid dearly for the '04 Beltre, but have received the '03 version ... Seems to have his knees locked at the plate in his extra-wide stance, and his balance seems to be off ... He's waving helplessly at breaking stuff down and away ... He has not been able to lay off sinkers and sliders this season, and he's on pace to set a career high in only one category: K's ...

* Mike Morse: The 23-year-old Morse stands at 6'4", 220. His first big league home run won't be his last ... Good weight transfer and a level swing at the plate ... Pretty good idea at the plate in terms of strike zone judgment, too ... Decent baserunner but not blazing speed ... Lays off most pitches away and can be regularly frozen there. He doesn't get any "veteran's calls" ...

* Randy Winn: Lifetime .314/.381/.423 hitter against the Jays ... Posting a .310 OBP in July after a .318 OBP in June ... Spoils two-strike pitches well ... Does not stay down well on breaking stuff down and away ... Seems more tentative from the right side of the plate, getting caught looking on strikes ... Not as fluid defensively as his reputation suggests ... Just 9-for-15 on the basepaths this season ...

Advance Scout: Mariners, July 19-21 | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 05:49 PM EDT (#123211) #
Here is Morse's career record. He's likely to be hitting .240 when the dust settles, although with more pop than he has shown to date.
Gitz - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#123217) #
If the Mariners didn't have Ichiro, they would be the dullest team in the majors. As it is, even with Ichiro they're plenty dull.

It's too bad most Bauxites can't get the Mariners feed, just to hear the announcers gush over Willie Bloomquist. At least Reed Johnson, the Blue Jays DH (designated hustler), is of moderate use.
Lefty - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#123226) #
That great gushing sound you hear is jobs heading out of Seattle.
Lefty - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 06:41 PM EDT (#123227) #
Actually Gitz reminded me of the Mariners announcers recently remarking that Morse reminds them of A-Rod.

But as I recall, Alex's first stint with the team produced a low .200's avg, then he became A-Rod.
Lefty - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 06:52 PM EDT (#123229) #
But on a more serious note I think theres two addition things to note on the scouting report.

As I recall the last time the Jays had to face Moyer he pitched like Jamie Moyer. The team misses him this time, which is probably a good thing. In spite of his season record todate Moyer has been pitching very well lately.

Aaron Sele has been a bit of an enigma this year. His first three or so games were very good, then he became Aaron Sele again for another three. After that he pitched really well until about a month ago.

The last couple time I've had a chance to see him he is regressing again. Hopefully the Jays can pound him. Patience is the key.
devil_fingers - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 06:57 PM EDT (#123230) #
Boring comment for a first one, but it's worth noting that Beltre's numbers, while not up to last years obviously freak performance, are good for June (.321/.385/.444) and decent for July (.268/.305/500). He's not as good as last year, but he's better than he was the first two months of the season. He's doing the "reverse Hillenbrand," 'cept everyone thinks Shea is great because he had a scorching April, and slumped later (sub .300 OBP this month, although he had a Bonds-esque .317 in July!). But that's another thread. Sorry.

Why aren't people talking about Russ Adams' offensive improvement since moving to the leadoff spot? I know it's a small sample size, but I think it's exciting from a young shortstop in his first full season, particularly given the power he's also flashed. I'm not saying he's going to be the next Tejada, but he looks like a keeper, and has better on-base skills and slugging tools than Michael Young at the same age. I guess people are too distracted by Aaron Hill's barrage of singles to give it up for Russ (who I managed to trade from my fantasy team the day before they moved to leadoff).

</venting off>
Magpie - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 07:09 PM EDT (#123231) #
Why aren't people talking about Russ Adams' offensive improvement since moving to the leadoff spot?

Because, as you say, it is a very small sample size, and he's also stopped hitting for power since moving to the top of the order (slugging pct batting 1st - .300; slugging pct. batting 9th - 550.)

That said, his overall July line (which includes ABs all over the order) is very encouraging - he's hitting .293 and he's already drawn as many walks this month as he did in May and June combined. Giving him an On-Base for this month of .412, which looks pretty nice at the top of the order.

Mike D - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 07:17 PM EDT (#123232) #
Devil Fingers, it simply hasn't been a "barrage of singles" for Aaron Hill. His double rate (and triple rate, for that matter) is excellent. Obviously, we'd like to see more than one homer, but his success hasn't been simply due to finding a bunch of holes for scratch grounders. Let's not forget Hill's defence, which has been shockingly good considering that he's playing out of position.

As for Beltre, he slugged .629 last season in a park that ain't exactly Coors. His low power numbers -- and the way he's looked, frankly, at the plate -- have to be considered disappointing, even during his relatively good months this season.

Still, an interesting first post. Welcome to Batter's Box!
devil_fingers - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 07:58 PM EDT (#123234) #
Thanks, I signed up a while ago, but didn't post until now. The game's started, of course, so I suppose one's reading this. I should note that Beltre just hit one out...

I agree that he's disappointing for the Mariners and others who thought that last year would be the norm. I simply thought he'd be a good hitter with good defense, but not with the Schmittian expectations that come with a monster year like last year's. I do remember reading before the season that Safeco can be considered worse tah Chavez Ravine, not only because of size, but due to visibility. I imagine learning new pitchers has also been a problem (not to mention being "protected" by Bret Boone for much of the season).

Nonetheless, Beltre's generally been a second-half performer. He'ac actually made good contact, but had bad luck, the first couple months, sort of like Vernon Wells (except much, much more expensive). As much as I like Koskie (the healthy version, not the Nick Johnson, Sr. version) as an above-average 3B, I think Beltre is going to be a notch above that. Not A-Rod or Rolen, but not, well, Hinske, either. That said, I do think the contract was WAY to big for what was a breakout year, but still much far away form the norm.

I actually like Hill, I just wish Adams would get some credit. Since we're talking about one-year wonders and small sample sizes, I think everyone knows that this is not going to be Hill's typical performance. I mean, he's going to be better than Hillenbrand (sorry, but seeing his OBP the past three months drove me even crazier than usual about him, although I think he's good at the price).

Still, I think that Adams performance, which is steadily improving in various ways throughout the year, tells us more about the player. It isn't out of line with his previous performance in the majors and minors, and the general improvement is possibly indicative of "getting it," not just being hot. Again, don't get me wrong, from what I've seen and read, Hill's the better offensive prospect (keep in mind, though, that his current K-BB rate is NOT in line with his performance in the minors this year, where he walked very little. Also keep in mind that I'm an idiot). Maybe it's just loyalty to my (former) fantasy players, but I think it's too bad that Adams, who has higher isolated power than Hill, and much more pressure on him starting at the most difficult defensive position from day one while under pressure not to lose his job (which would have been total B.S.) to a hot-hitting Hill in the minors, should get a little more credit amidst all the raves for Hill, which should be a little more tempered, given the last hot-hitting rookie third baseman the Jays had.

A question, although I can repost it somewhere else that's appropriate: assuming Adams is going to stay as SS (from what I understanding, he's a better defender than Hill), where does Hill end up on defense? It seems like a waste to have him at DH or 1B. Does Koskie have a no-trade? I love the O-Dog as much as anyone, but it seems to be that we've seen pretty much what he has with the bat, and if Hill can become an average defender at 2B, is that a possibility?

Anyhoo, this boring, rambling email has been brought to you by someone who should be working on something else...

devil_fingers - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 08:03 PM EDT (#123235) #
Sorry, just wanted to mention that I looked up Hill's numbers from previous years, and he did have nice walk rates before this spring... Good news. And me, not even a real Jays fan.
Jordan - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 08:16 PM EDT (#123236) #
D_f, I'm also a big Adams booster from way back, and you're right that he's showed steady improvement throughout this year. His July average is, as Magpie says, solid, though it's a little inflated by that barrage he produced at the start of the month; he's 4 for his last 22 with no extra-base hits, for example (now we're really splitting sample-size hairs). But that walk rate is really encouraging (7 BBs in that span), and just underlines how a good hitter is valuable even when the hits aren't falling in.

The thing about Adams that's easy to forget is that he's still a rookie and still figuring out the major leagues, adjusting and improving on the fly. He's only 24 years old and he seems to be a fast learner. If the Jays continue to put him out there in the leadoff spot, he'll reward them. (Interesting that he's yet to be caught stealing in six career attempts -- the Jays really should run him more often).
Maldoff - Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 08:48 PM EDT (#123237) #
Well, at least someone thinks that the Jays will trade Hinske:

Eric Hinske, Toronto
The Blue Jays will get Corey Koskie back soon, they need to keep giving Aaron Hill at-bats and they want to hang on to All-Star Shea Hillenbrand, all of which makes for a crowded infield. Hinske would help upgrade the poor Minnesota offense.
Advance Scout: Mariners, July 19-21 | 12 comments | Create New Account
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