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Seattle Mariners Opening Day Primer

2011 Record: 67-95 Manager: Eric Wedge

The Mariners once again struggled to score runs last season and decided to trade their rookie all star pitcher Michael Pineda to get one of the best hitting prospects in baseball, Jesus Montero. For this lineup to improve and get this team back to .500, Montero and their other young prospects need to grow up in a hurry.

Player in the spotlight: Ichiro Suzuki RF

Ichiro drops to the #3 spot in the batting order as he starts the season at 38. For the first time in his MLB career, Ichiro failed to amass 200 hits on the season. His unbelievable string of 10 consecutive 200 hit seasons ended. With 2428 career hits entering 2012, Ichiro is only 572 hits away from immortality at 3000 hits. That’s an incredible accomplishment for a player who didn’t get his first hit until he was 27 years old.

Biggest question mark in the lineup: Jesus Montero C/DH

Montero is the headline acquisition for the Mariners in the offseason. The M’s thought so highly of him that they trade a pitcher coming off an all star season as a rookie. That makes the expectations for Montero pretty high. He’s expected to develop into a 30+ HR hitter, but what position will he play? He’s still average on his best days behind the plate and one wonders if he’ll ever settle into an everyday role in the field. Perhaps he’ll end up like former Mariners great Edgar Martinez and have a great career as a DH.

Pitcher in the spotlight: Felix Hernandez

The King wasn’t as dominating in 2011 as he had been previously. Perhaps he felt pressure to throw a shutout each game because of the poor run support. Felix enters this season at 26 and remains an annual candidate to win the Cy Young Award. With some of the new offensive talent, maybe Hernandez can pick up a few more wins this season.

Biggest pitching question mark: Hector Noesi

Noesi was the second piece of the Pineda-Montero deal in the winter. Noesi gives the Mariners a chance to really win this trade in a big way if he’s able to develop into a good major league pitcher. If he does it this season, the Mariners have a decent chance of getting to .500 on the season.

Prospect with a chance to make an impact this year: Vinnie Catricala 3B/1B/OF

Catricala has a pretty good power bat and is versatile enough to play a few positions. If he adjusts quickly to AAA, he could end up in Seattle by the end of the summer, especially if Chone Figgins doesn’t revive his career.

Prediction: 4th in AL West

The Mariners are an intriguing mix of young hitting talent and a pitching rotation that could develop into a top 3 rotation in the AL. But that’s probably a year away at the soonest for the Mariners faithful. This season, the M’s will need to find a way to gradually improve their offense and develop a core of 4-5 everyday players who are going to lead this team into the future. If they do that and pitch well, this team could surprise some and get to around .500. If their offense doesn’t start to come around, the Felix trade rumors will begin en force and the Mariners front office will begin to feel the heat for a rebuilding effort that is going on 10 years with only 2 winning seasons.

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MLB Daily Balk 5/23 Plus Seattle Mariners Overview

 

The "King" and the Mariners could be players sooner than most think

The Mariners Could Be a Major Player This Summer

The Mariners have won five straight and are only 2 games below .500 going into Monday’s game in Minnesota. The key to the M’s success has been their pitching, which ranks 6th in all of baseball with a 3.40 ERA. In addition to mainstay great Felix Hernandez, rookie Michael Pineda has dazzled in his first two months of big league ball and oft-injured Eric Bedard appears to be back to his form of past seasons after missing all of 2010 with constant pain in his pitching shoulder.

Their lineup has shown signs of life at times as well. While the M’s will probably struggle to field a lineup of quality hitters for years to come, they have seen very good progress from first baseman Justin Smoak, who has compiled a .861 OPS and Adam Kennedy has been a solid contributor. The rest of the offense, Ichiro notwithstanding, has been bad, but help could be on the way with top prospect Dustin Ackley. They also just got back CF Franklin Gutierrez who missed the first month and a half with an illness.

The Mariners are going to have choices over the next few months. They have the financial resources to potentially take on salary if they feel like they can make the playoffs. Their payroll is just over $94 million and has been as high as $117 million in 2008. Unless they’ve really tightened their belts, they should have the financial flexibility to improve their team.

If the Rangers or Angels run away and hide with the division and the wild card appears to be unattainable, then the M’s do have a couple of pieces that contenders would be interested in acquiring. No Felix Hernandez WILL NOT be available, but Eric Bedard is only making $1 million this season and if he continues to pitch well, the Mariners should be able to acquire some quality prospects in return for the lefty.

Shortstop Jack Wilson, Adam Kennedy and DH Jack Cust are other veterans in his final year of his contract that the Mariners should make available. Kennedy could be moved as soon as Ackley is deemed ready to take over at second base.

The bottom line for the Mariners is that they aren’t as far away from contending as many might think. Even without Bedard next season, a 1-2 punch of Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda will be tough to match and if they are able to acquire a potential power bat for the outfield, their lineup should improve modestly in 2012.

 

AL News/Notes

The Angels’ Scott Kazmir will be making a minor league rehab start on Tuesday in Salt Lake City. Also, Howie Kendrick wasn’t available Sunday after taking a cortisone shot in his right hamstring.

The White Sox expect Carlos Quentin to be back in the lineup on Monday after missing a few games.

Rookie Alex White was placed on the DL by the Indians after injuring his right middle finger. White’s expected to be out for 2-3 months.

The Athletics are calling on Josh Outman to start Monday’s game. The A’s are without 3 of their top 6 starting pitchers after placing Tyson Ross and Brandon McCarthy on the DL. Closer Andrew Bailey had a solid rehab outing and is getting closer to returning to the A’s.

  

NL News/Notes

The Cubs have placed Marlon Byrd on the DL after he was beaned on Saturday night. The Cubs called up pitcher Justin Berg to take Byrd’s roster spot.

The Nationals’ Adam LaRoche will get his left shoulder evaluated with his failure to improve on his horrible start to the season.

The Braves have placed Jason Heyward on the DL with the continued soreness in his right shoulder. Also, the Braves will use lefty Mike Minor in place of Tim Hudson for Wednesday’s start against the Pirates.

The Dodgers lost their game and might lose catcher Rod Barajas and RF Andre Ethier due to injuries suffered during the game.

 

Best of Yesterday May 22

Last Night’s Games  
National  
Colorado 1 Milwaukee 3
Interleague  
Cincinnati 4 Cleveland 12
New York (N) 3 New York (A) 9
Houston 3 Toronto 2
Washington 1 Baltimore 2
Los Angeles (N) 3 Chicago (A) 8
St. Louis 9 Kansas City 8 F/10
Atlanta 1 Los Angeles (A) 4
Tampa Bay 4 Florida 0
Texas 2 Philadelphia 0
Detroit 2 Pittsburgh 0
Seattle 6 San Diego 1
Minnesota 2 Arizona 3
Oakland 4 San Francisco 5 F/11
Chicago (N) 1 Boston 5

 

Top Aces    
Player Team Stats
James Shields W (5-2) TBR 9 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 13 K, BB
Rick Porcello W (4-2) DET 8 IP, 0 R, H, 3 K, 2 BB
Matt Harrison W (4-4) TEX 8 1/3 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 3 K, 3 BB
Felix Hernandez W (5-4) SEA 8 IP, ER, 6 H, 13 K
Tim Wakefield W (1-1) BOS 6 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 K

 

Hitting Heroes    
Player Team Stats
Asdrubal Cabrera CLE 5-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R
Alexei Ramirez CWS 4-5, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R
Yadier Molina STL 4-5, 3 RBI, 2 R
Hunter Pence HOU 2-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Jerry Sands LAD 4-4, R

 

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

The Royals pitchers walked 13 (!!!!) Cardinals in their 10 inning loss, including walking in two runs in the 10th inning that provided the eventual margin of victory. The umpires were deemed questionable enough that starting catcher Matt Treanor and manager Ned Yost were both ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the 7th inning. There’s no word on the clubhouse damage after the 10th inning walks and final strike call on Royals’ shortstop Alcides Escobar that was borderline at best.

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Brewers Ryan Braun extended his hit streak to 12 games

 

Top Monday Matchups

7:05 EDT Reds (Arroyo 3-4, 4.11) at Phillies (Hamels 5-2, 2.92)

7:05 EDT Red Sox (Buchholz 4-3, 3.42) at Indians (Masterson 5-2, 2.52)

7:05 EDT Rays (Hellickson 5-2, 3.18) at Tigers (Coke 1-5, 3.88)

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 0

MLB Daily Balk Morning Rundown 4/23

Sanchez almost got carried off for another no-hitter on Friday

Best of Yesterday April 22

Justin Verlander registered his 1,000th career strikeout as the Tigers beat the White Sox 9-3 on Friday night. Ryan Raburn was the offensive hero for the Tigers with a homer and four RBI.

John McDonald hit a walk off homer for the Blue Jays in the 11th inning to win the game 6-4 over the Rays. McDonald replaced Jayson Nix who injured his knee turning a double play earlier in the game. Jose Bautista finished the game 3 for 3 only a single short away from the cycle. During the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon pulled Felipe Lopez for lack of hustle. CF BJ Upton has incurred the wrath of Maddon in the past for the same transgression.

John Pelfrey finally pitched well for the Mets as he went 7 innings and only gave up a run. Ike Davis hit a home run for the second night in the row as the Mets won 4-1 over the Diamondbacks.

Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the 9th inning against the Rockies on Friday night as the Marlins won the game 4-1. Sanchez gave up an unearned run in the 1st and dominated the rest of the way with 9 strikeouts and only 3 walks. Sanchez even knocked in a run at the plate as he won his first game of the season.

Five different Rangers hitters knocked in 2 runs apiece as they beat the Royals 11-6 on Friday night. In total, the Rangers hit 15 for 35 with 5 homers on the night. Oh, and Josh Hamilton isn’t close to returning. Scary.

Ryan Braun wasted no time in justifying the Brewers faith in his ability as he went 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI in the win over the Astros 14-7 on Friday night. Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo even hit a homer as he won his 2nd game of the season.

A long rain delay led to the Cardinals bringing in “starting pitcher” Kyle McClellan in after one batter to save him from getting cold during the delay. McClellan was solid as he won his 3rd game of the season as the Cards beat the Reds 4-2 on Friday night. Mitchell Boggs looks like the new closer as he saved his second game with 1 1/3 innings giving up only a hit.

Jon Lester threw 6 scoreless innings, striking out 8 to lead the Red Sox over the Angels 4-3 on Friday night. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless 9th for his 5th save. The Angels Dan Haren dropped his first decision to go to 4-1 on the season.

Ryan Howard drove in two runs with a 3rd inning triple and Cole Hamels shut out the Padres for 8 innings as the Phillies won 2-0 on Friday night. Hamels has gone 2-0 with only 2 runs allowed in 22 innings since the Phils fans booed him off the mound at Citizens Bank Park during his first start against the Mets. Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee all have long-term contracts; the 27 year old Hamels needs to be next.

The Mariners have shut out the Athletics in both games to begin their four game weekend series in Seattle. This time it was rookie Michael Pineda who went 6 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.78 and running his record to 3-1 for the M’s as they won 4-0 on Friday night. You want a reason why the Mariners aren’t going to trade Felix Hernandez? King Felix and Pineda might become the best 1-2 combo in baseball by next summer. That’s a winning combo at any track.

Tommy Hanson was very good as he only gave up one run in 7 innings in the Braves 4-1 win over the Giants on Friday night. Hanson registered his 2nd win and Craig Kimbrel bounced back from a blown save in LA on Thursday to get his 5th save of the season.

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

Cubs pitchers walked 10 hitters and needed 230 pitches to complete Friday afternoon’s game against the Dodgers. There’s nothing else that can really be added to this.

Seventeen of the 24 teams that played on Friday night scored 4 or less runs. It can’t be the weather, because the Dodgers scored 12 in miserable conditions at Wrigley and the Tigers got 9 at frigid Comerica. Yes, there were some very good pitching performances but the lack of offense early in this season is incredible.

 

AL News/Notes

Some interesting stats and information on the Royals surprising start. One notable item, closer Joakim Soria, at 26, is the oldest member of the Royals bullpen.

There’s been a Big Foot sighting in the Athletics clubhouse. Wonder how many cows it takes to cover David Purcey‘s feet?

DL’d all star Evan Longoria made the Rays trip to Toronto an adventure on Thursday night as he left his passport at home. That’s the lighter news in Tampa as the worse news is that Johnny Damon is going to try and play through a broken finger tip. How effective he can be is enormous to the Rays offense, especially with Longoria still out.

Good news for the Twins as Delmon Young and Justin Morneau are getting healthy and could be in the lineup on Saturday.

The Rangers appear to want to keep Alexi Ogando in the rotation after his very impressive start to the season. Manager Ron Washington said he doesn’t even see any limitations on Ogando’s pitch count either. Maybe Washington shouldn’t get that carried away. The Rangers are going to need Ogando in October.

  

NL News/Notes

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says that NL steals leader Jose Tabata reminds him of…. Jim Brown? Yes, Hurdle likens Tabata’s sneaky speed to the great NFL running back; interesting comparison. The Pirates also strike out more than any team in MLB.

The Braves have called up Cory Gearrin to bolster their worn out bullpen. With Peter Moylan on the DL and Jonny Venters suffering from muscle soreness, the Braves need another arm for their series in San Francisco this weekend.

The Giants CF Andres Torres is working hard to be ready to come off the DL next week when he’s eligible, but manager Bruce Bochy isn’t too optimistic about his return yet. The good news for the Giants is that Aaron Rowand has performed well during Torres’ absence.

Former Dodgers icon Steve Garvey is involved with a group of investors that would like to purchase the Dodgers from embattled owner Frank McCourt. Garvey’s main investor, Ron Burkle, helped Mario Lemieux buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1999 and has tried to buy other franchises since.

 

Streak of the Day

  • Dodgers Andre Ethier extending his hitting streak to 19 games
  • Royals Alex Gordon extended his career long hitting streak to 16 games
  • Royals Wilson Betemit extended his career long hitting streak to 13 games
  • Royals Jeff Francouer extended his hitting streak to 12 games
  • Rangers Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 12 games

 

Top Saturday Matchups

1:07 EDT Rays (Price 2-2, 2.83) at Blue Jays (Morrow 10-7, 3.99-2010 stats)

4:10 EDT Braves (Hudson 2-2, 4.05) at Giants (Lincecum 2-1, 1.67)

7:05 EDT Yankees (Sabathia 0-1, 2.52) at Orioles (Bergeson 0-2, 3.38)

7:10 EDT Astros (Myers 1-0, 2.39) at Brewers (Marcum 2-1, 1.90)

 

Last night’s balks: 0

MLB Daily Balk Morning Rundown 4/22

The Marlins are pulling out all the stops to draw fans

Best of Yesterday April 21

Last year’s NL MVP Joey Votto hit his third homer of the season in the Reds 7-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon. Votto’s blast was 406 feet officially, but looked longer and he’s now hitting .418 on the season.

Kyle Lohse threw a two hit shutout for the Cardinals against the Nationals in the final game of their 3-game series on Thursday afternoon. Lohse struck out 6 and only gave up 2 hits and 2 walks. Lohse is now 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA on the season for the Cardinals, who are tied with the Reds at 10-9 for first place in the NL Central.

Matt Kemp hit another walkoff homer for the Dodgers, his second one in a week. This time, Kemp victimized the Braves who had taken the lead in the 9th after Dodgers manager Don Mattingly left starter Clayton Kershaw in the game instead of turning to closer Jonathan Broxton with the bases loaded and two outs. Mattingly got lucky this time, but either the Dodgers need to show confidence in Broxton, or find another solution for the 9th inning.

The White Sox broke their seven-game losing streak by breaking out the bats against the Rays in the final game of their four game series. Juan Pierre, who has had a rough start to the season in the field, scored three runs and stole a base. The 9-2 margin of victory made it easy for the bullpen to finish off the Rays and a closer wasn’t needed.

The Twins got a much needed quality start from Scott Baker who pitched 7 innings, giving up 0 runs, 4 hits, and 1 walk while striking out 9 against the Orioles. Also for the Twins, Jim Thome hit career homer #591 on Thursday night. That’s his 27th with the Twins after 334 with Cleveland, 96 with Philadelphia, and 134 with the White Sox. Yes, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Chris Capuano yielded only one run in 7 innings and the Mets hit three homers to beat the Astros 9-1. Capuano, one of GM Sandy Alderson’s “bargain” pickups, is now 2-1 on the season.

The Marlins got a grand slam from Scott Cousins (first HR ever) and the first homer of the year by Mike Stanton to lead the Fish over the Pirates 9-5. Cousins played CF on Thursday, but could be asked to play a significant amount of time in left field with Logan Morrison out for up to a month.

The cardiac Royals did it again on Thursday night as they came back to beat Chris Perez and the Indians. Melky Cabrera hit a two run single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning to earn the Royals a 3-2 win and a split of their four game series with the Indians.  Perez hadn’t been scored upon in 26 1/3 innings dating back to early August of last year. It was his first blown save of the season after saving his first 6 opportunities and he had saved 16 straight overall. The Royals are now one game behind the Indians again in the AL Central.

Felix Hernandez was spectacular as he pitched his best game of the season on Thursday night as the Mariners beat the Athletics 1-0. Felix went to 2-2 after shutting out the A’s for 7 2/3 innings and outdueling the A’s Brandon McCarthy, who went the distance and only made the mistake of giving up a homer to Adam Kennedy.

Roy Oswalt no-hit the Padres until Chris Denorfia singled in the fifth. That was the only hit that Oswalt gave up in 6 innings. Jose Contreras made it exciting in the 9th, but he held on to save Oswalt’s third win as the Phillies won 3-0. That was the 5th time the Padres have been shutout in 19 games this season.

Josh Beckett no-hit the Angels for five innings before Erick Aybar hit an infield single to start the 6th. Beckett didn’t get the decision for the Red Sox, but kept his ERA under 2.00 with his solid 8 inning performance. Dustin Pedroia went 3 for 4 and walked twice as he reached safely in 5 of 6 plate appearances. The Sox won the game in the 11th as Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 4th save.

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

Mat Latos struggled again for the Padres going only 4 1/3 before coming out after 107 pitches. He walked 5 and struck out 7, but 2 homers and those deep counts caught up to him. His ERA is now 5.94 and he’s failed to surrender less than 3 runs in each start and has given up 4 homers in his two starts at Petco Park. Latos got hurt in spring training and you have to wonder if he’s still experiencing that shoulder tightness.

The Pirates pitchers had been faring well, but they struggled mightily in their three games in South Florida. The Bucs are counting on at least two of those three pitchers (Maholm, Morton, and McDonald) to pitch well this season. The key is walks and if these pitchers can harness their control, the Pirates will surprise some people this season.

The Angels pitchers gave up 11 walks in 11 innings on Thursday night. Guess what? They lost. What’s amazing is that they only gave up 4 runs to the Red Sox.

 

AL News/Notes

The Mariners defense has been atrocious this season and it could be taking more of a toll on the pitching staff than the lack of run support. Felix Hernandez has already given up five unearned runs which are about 30% of his total runs allowed on the season. Nothing gets into a pitcher’s head more than bad defense behind him and it usually results in pitcher’s trying to avoid contact and a higher walk rate ensues. Also not calculated in the numbers is how poor defense can result in more earned runs by fielders who can’t turn double plays or hit cutoff men.

Athletics owner Lew Wolff claims that he is not interested in buying the Dodgers. Red Sox chairman Tom Werner made similar statements regarding the Dodgers ownership situation when asked.

Erick Aybar has returned from the DL for the Angels and there’s now an abundance of infielders who need playing time. Manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t worry as he plans to shift players around to give everybody playing time.

The Blue Jays sent the struggling Brett Cecil to AAA to work on his mechanics. Cecil has suffered from control problems and his velocity has been down. Infielder Chris Woodward has been called up to add depth to the bench.

With both Delmon Young and Justin Morneau suffering from the flu, the Twins might be considering placing one or both onto the DL on Friday. Young also has sore ribs and would be the more likely one of the two to go on the DL if his MRI shows anything bad. The Twins offense has struggled and middle infielder Trevor Plouffe makes the most sense to bring up since the Twins don’t have strong hitters at second and short.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland is keeping the faith that second year CF Austin Jackson is going to snap out of his season long slump. Jackson is hitting .157 on the season and his OPS is below .500. Jackson impressed last season with his solid rookie campaign when he hit .293 and scored 103 runs. So far Jackson has only crossed home plate 7 times in 19 games, causing a huge gap in production for the Tigers struggling offense.

Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis left Thursday night’s game against the Angels after hitting a ball off his left shin. Reports after the game indicated that the x-ray was negative but the soreness could keep him out of the lineup for a few days.

 

NL News/Notes

The Rockies are tied for the best record in baseball at 13-5 and one of the reasons has been the production of leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler.

Amanda Comak of the Washington Times gives us a rundown of the current Nationals injuries, including updates on pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Chien-Ming Wang. Wang could essentially become a quality midseason pickup if the Nats are still in contention.

Braves RF Jason Heyward was out of the starting lineup on Thursday as he’s struggled in the early season. Heyward has only 5 hits in 33 road at bats as the Braves head for a weekend series in San Francisco.

Andrew McCutchen returned to the Pirates after leaving the team for a day to visit with his ailing father. He was back in the lineup against the Marlins.

Marlins LF Logan Morrison has his left foot in a hard cast and will be out 2 to 4 weeks. Manager Edwin Rodriguez says that Scott Cousins and Emilio Bonafacio will replace Morrison in the lineup.

Ryan Braun signed on with the Brewers for an additional five years at $21M per season. He’s now signed through 2020.

It looks like Wade LeBlanc will be called up by the Padres to face Roy Halladay on Sunday.

 

Streak of the Day

  • Dodgers Andre Ethier extending his hitting streak to 18 games
  • Royals Alex Gordon extended his career long hitting streak to 15 games
  • Royals Wilson Betemit extended his career long hitting streak to 12 games

 

Top Friday Matchups

7:05 EDT White Sox (Buehrle 1-1, 4.50) at Tigers (Verlander 1-2, 3.41)

8:05 EDT Royals (Francis 0-1, 3.00) at Rangers (Holland 2-1, 3.66)

8:15 EDT Reds (Volquez 2-0, 6.75) at Cardinals (McClellan 2-0, 1.89)

10:05 EDT Red Sox (Lester 1-1, 3.20) at Angels (Haren 4-0, 1.16)

10:15 EDT Braves (Hanson 1-2, 3.86) at Giants (Bumgarner 0-2, 7.36)

 

Last night’s balks: 0

MLB Daily Balk Morning Rundown 4/20

Enter Sandman, Exit Loss

Best of Yesterday April 19

James Shields crafted a complete game victory for the Rays over the White Sox. Shields gave up only 4 hits, 1 BB, and 1 run while getting 9 strikeouts in the 2-1 win. The Rays have now won 8 of 11 and only trail the Yankees by 2 games in the AL East.

The Brewers pitchers shut out the Phillies at Citizens Bank. Starter and ex-Phillie Randy Wolf went 6 innings giving up only 2 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5.

Jake Arrieta led the Orioles pitchers in shutting out the Twins at Camden Yards. Arrieta’s battery mate, Matt Wieters drove in 4 of the O’s 11 runs. Buck Showalter was impressed with Wieters.

Travis Snider broke his bat over his knee last night before hitting the game winning double in the 10th inning to give the Blue Jays a 6-5 win over the Yankees.

Ryan Roberts of the Diamondbacks blasted two homers, drove in 3 runs, and even stole a base in the D’backs 5-4 win over the Reds. Roberts is now hitting .382 on the season and might not even be in the majors if Geoff Blum hadn’t been injured before opening day.

The Marlins Josh Johnson continues to establish his Cy Young credentials during the first month of the season as he threw 7 scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.00 on the season. His 9 strikeouts give him a 27-6 K-BB ratio in 27 innings this season.

Rookie 1B Mike Trumbo delivered his 3rd homer and drove in 4 runs in the Angels rout of the Rangers on Tuesday night. Rangers starter Colby Lewis and the rest of their pitchers were feeling labor pains throughout this one.

Royals starting pitching Bruce Chen went to 3-0 on the season after giving up 2 runs in 7 innings in the Royals 5-4 win over the first place Indians on Tuesday night. Chen’s ERA is now at 2.42 and the Royals are 11-6 and one game behind the Tribe in the AL Central.

Panda time as Pablo Sandoval took Ubaldo Jimenez deep in the first inning for a 3-run homer as the Giants beat the Rockies 6-3 on Tuesday night. There are only two games separating the teams in the NL West now.

The Athletics Brett Anderson was spectacular in their win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night. Anderson won his first game by shutting out the Sox for 8 innings, giving up only 4 hits, 1 walk and he had 8 strikeouts. His ERA is now 1.63 on the season.

Ichiro and Chone Figgins combined to go 7 for 9 and steal 3 bases at the top of the order for the Mariners in their 13-3 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night.

What Happened Yesterday?

Mariano Rivera showed that he was human as the Yankees iconic closer as he blew his first save opportunity of the season on Tuesday night in Toronto. The usually immaculate Rivera walked one and gave up four hits in the 9th inning and only a brilliant double play initiated by 3B Eric Chavez kept Mo from losing his first game.

Terry Francona got tossed for the first time this season in the Red Sox 5-0 loss at Oakland. Francona was arguing a, you guessed it, a balk that wasn’t called on A’s pitcher Brett Anderson in the 4th inning when Dustin Pedroia was picked off first base.

Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero is hitting a gaudy .380 so far this season. But the backstop committed his fifth error of the season against the Reds on Tuesday night. There’s no DH in the National League to hide your glove, Miguel.

The Dodgers entered the top of the 9th inning against the Braves down 2-1 and hoping for another walk off win. Unfortunately, Dodgers relievers Kenley Jansen and Ramon Troncoso didn’t get the memo and gave up 8 runs between them in the inning. That’s going to leave a mark on their ERAs for awhile.

The Daily Balk’s Take

Geoff Baker writes that the Mariners won’t be trading ace Felix Hernandez this season, but might entertain that possibility during the winter or next season.

  • The bottom line here is that Felix is 25 years old and under contract through the 2014 season for very palatable salaries. The Mariners, or any team, would be foolish to trade a pitcher of this quality and value until they know if their young talent is going to pan out for them. If the young players don’t improve enough for the Mariners to contend by the end of the 2013 season, then maybe the Mariners could look to deal Felix. Until then, it just doesn’t make practical sense.

 

AL News/Notes

Sam Fuld of the Rays has led them to an 8-4 record since moving into the leadoff spot. The once 0-6 Rays are now right back into the AL East race at only 2 games behind the Yankees. Rays manager Joe Maddon even believes that Fuld is playing defense better than Carl Crawford in left field.

Tyson Ross will take over for the injured Dallas Braden in the Athletics rotation. Ross pitched well in spring training and almost won the fifth starter’s job. Ross is ranked by Baseball America as the A’s 4th ranked prospect and if he pitches well, could join the rotation fulltime or become a trade piece for GM Billy Beane to use to improve the offense in June or July.

The A’s are 26-22 against the Red Sox since 2006. That’s the best in the AL over that time period.

First baseman Kila Ka’aihue of the Royals is only hitting .151 this season in 15 games. With top prospect Eric Hosmer off to a quick start in Omaha, Ka’aihue’s days in KC could be numbered.

NL News/Notes

Starting pitchers for the Pirates, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton have combined for the most complete games in April, 2, by the Pirates staff since 1992. The 92 Bucs won the NL East and lost to the Braves in the NLCS in Barry Bonds last season in Pittsburgh.

The Cubs and Padres will play a day-night doubleheader at Wrigley on Wednesday after Tuesday night’s rainout.

Crazy weather in St. Louis sets up a doubleheader on Wednesday at Busch between the Nationals and Cardinals. This will be a day-night doubleheader like the Cubs and Padres.

Ike Davis of the Mets has been in the majors for a year now.

“Five Finger” Mike Leake of the Reds is still scheduled to make his start on Thursday despite his legal issues from Monday.

David Hernandez and JJ Putz have stabilized the 8th and 9th innings for the Diamondbacks. Last year, the D’backs were historically bad.

Opposing hitters are batting .524 against the Braves Tim Hudson in the first inning this season. Hudson has yielded 7 runs in the first inning and only 6 runs for all of the other innings combined. Also, Hudson’s pitch in the vicinity of Jerry Sands’ head on Monday night was a purpose pitch. But Hudson signed a ball for him after the game.

Cody Ross is back with the Giants but was not activated for Tuesday’s game at Colorado. He should be in the lineup on Wednesday.

Brandon Belt of the Giants turns 23 on Wednesday and could get a plane ticket to Fresno as a “gift” from manager Bruce Bochy.

Streak of the Day

The Royals Wilson Betemit and Alex Gordon both extended their career long hitting streaks to 11 and 13 games respectively.

Top Wednesday Matchups

3:10 EDT Giants (Cain 2-0, 1.42) at Rockies (De La Rosa 2-0, 3.18)

3:35 EDT Red Sox (Buchholz 0-2, 6.60) at Athletics (Gonzalez 2-0, 0.47)

8:05 EDT Angels (Weaver 4-0, 1.30) at Rangers (Harrison 3-0, 1.23)

8:10 EDT Indians (Masterson 3-0, 1.33) at Royals (Hochevar 2-1, 4.21)

8:15 EDT Nationals (Zimmerman 1-2, 2.45) at Cardinals (Garcia 2-0, 1.35)

Last night’s balks: 1 – Bobby Parnell of the Mets against the Astros

Seattle Mariners Opening Day Overview

Seattle Mariners Opening Day Overview

Manager: Eric Wedge     GM: Jack Zduriencik

  Lineup:
1 RF Ichiro Suzuki
2 3B Chone Figgins
3 LF Milton Bradley
4 DH Jack Cust
5 1B Justin Smoak
6 C Miguel Olivo
7 CF Ryan Langerhans/Franklin Gutierrez
8 SS Brendan Ryan
9 2B Jack Wilson

 

Ichiro has led the AL in hits 7 of the 10 season he’s been in Seattle. Despite leading the AL last year, his averages dropped and the Mariners are going to need him to get back to his normal levels to make a surprise run at the AL West title. He had an OPS of only .753 last season and a return to his career average of .806 is what the Mariners need.

Figgins was signed away from the rival Angels and all of his production declined both offensively and defensively. He’s back at third base this season after playing at second last year and the Mariners hope that his bat reverts back to 2009 form as well. Figgins hit a career low .256 last year and slugged an atrocious .306, which is .070 points below his career average. The M’s need him to go back to being that dynamic top of the order hitter who gets on back to walking more and taking advantage of the size of Safeco to leg out extra base hits.

The Mariners are hoping that Bradley can stay in control this season, first and foremost. When focused on the game, Bradley is a talented hitter with solid power that can drive in runs. Last season he only hit .205 for the M’s. All the Mariners need again is an average season out of Bradley. He’s has a career .809 OPS that highlights a very good ability to draw walks. That kind of production would be just fine for first year manager Eric Wedge.   

Cust comes over from the A’s and can’t help but improve the atrocious production that the Mariners received last season at DH. Cust is an on-base machine as his .378 career OBP with only a .245 AVG would indicate. He’s shown very good power as well before last year’s drop off. With a solid pitching performance, the Mariners are just asking for another average season where Cust can exceed a .800 OPS and create some runs.

Smoak was the key part of the Cliff Lee trade to the Rangers last summer. He struggled in his rookie season last year after coming through the minors at an accelerated pace. He’s got good power potential and showed an ability to walk in the minors. If he can hit above .260 and get over 50 extra base hits, the Mariners should be satisfied with the results.

Olivo has bounced around over the years and the 32 year old is a solid receiver who has shown some good power in his various stops. This is his second stop in Seattle and the Mariners hope that it goes better this time. If he produces like he has over the past 5 seasons, then the Mariners should be happy. He’s averaged about 16 HRs and hit in the .250s during that time.

Langerhans is the injury replacement for Gutierrez. Hopefully for the Mariners, they don’t have to go with Langerhans that long because the only contribution that he makes offensively is by walking. Gutierrez dropped off last season after hitting well in 2009 after coming over from the Indians. In 2009, he hit 18 HRs and batter .283 while getting an OPS of .764. While that isn’t a great OPS, it’s pretty decent for a very good defensive centerfielder that hits mostly in a pitcher’s park.

Ryan is the temporary shortstop for this season and maybe a little next year before top prospect Nick Franklin makes it up to Safeco. Ryan comes over from the Cardinals where he hit well every other year. With his average being better during odd years, the Mariners can only hope for a return to his .292 of 2009. If not, then 2B Jack Wilson can slide over when Dustin Ackley comes up to play second.

Wilson is now at second warming the seat for the Mariners #1 prospect Dustin Ackley. With $5M coming his way this year, Wilson could be traded if he shows any ability to hit. He only played in 61 games last season and the 33 year old veteran of losing teams probably won’t last the season at 2B in Seattle. The best case scenario for the Mariners would be a hot start by Wilson followed by a call from a team needing a middle infielder.

  Starting Pitching
1 RHP Felix Hernandez
2 LHP Jason Vargas
3 RHP Doug Fister
4 LHP Eric Bedard
5 RHP Michael Pineda

 

Felix was the 2010 Cy Young winner in Seattle despite not winning. Nobody in the AL had better numbers than the King last year. With some decent run support, an encore performance could earn Felix 18-20 wins and another Cy Young.

Vargas pitched decently in his first full season with the Mariners. He’s not a future star, but he was able to compile a 2-1 K-BB ratio and give up less than a homer per game. If he can do that again this season with better run support, he might win 12-14 games.

Fister defied the percentages for awhile last season as he was surprisingly among the league leaders in ERA in May, but came back to Earth as the season progressed. Without any hard stuff it’s tough to imagine Fister being anything better than an average performer in this rotation. He’s probably going to be targeted for replacement by one of their top prospects if gets hit hard early. The Mariners would be thrilled if he could repeat last season’s performance and win double digit games with more run support.

Bedard was expected to be a top of the rotation starter when the Mariners got him from the Orioles before 2008. But Bedard hasn’t been healthy and missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. If he can come close to the pitcher that he was in Baltimore during 2006 and 2007, then the Mariners are a legitimate threat in the AL West. He won 28 games over those two seasons and led the AL in ERA in 2007 with a 2.71. His combined numbers in Seattle have been solid, but he hasn’t started more than 15 games in a season. If he can provide at least 4 months of pitching the way he’s pitched over his career, then he can win 10-12 games and help the Mariners stay in contention.

Pineda is the Mariners top pitching prospect and will be the 5th starter. He’s got explosive stuff as he’s been clocked at over 100 MPH. He pitched well but dealt with some bad luck at AAA last year after dominating the first half at AA. He’s good enough to enter the AL ROY conversation if he stays the whole season, keeps his ERA under 3.50 and wins 12-14 games. That’s all doable if the offense helps out.

  Bullpen
CL RHP Brandon League/David Aardsma(DL)
SET RHP Chris Ray
  RHP Josh Lueke
  LHP Aaron Laffey
  RHP David Pauley
  RHP Jamey Wright
  RHP Tom Wilhelmsen

 

Aardsma starts the season on the DL and League will fill in. Aardsma will miss the first few weeks with a hip injury. Aardsma brings the heat and has done well in two seasons with the Mariners. His 2-1 K-BB ratio is nice, but if he could lower the walks and increase that ratio to 3 to 1, then he could enter the top echelon of closers. League has a great split finger pitch that helped him strikeout better than one per inning. He struggled a little last year but a return to his 2009 numbers would be huge for the Mariners, especially with Aardsma’s issues.

Ray pitched well for the Giants and Rangers last year and won a ring. He was a solid closer with the Orioles before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007. He improved in his second year back last season and could be a valuable contributor in the 7th and 8th innings this season.

Lueke has a world of talent but has had problems in the past. If he’s able to put it together on the mound, he’s got the potential to be a top closer some day.

Laffey is a lefty who will probably be called upon to be a situational reliever. Pauley pitched decently last season in the rotation and could return there if there are some issues. Otherwise he’s probably in the middle relief group and can do long relief as well. Wright is a veteran righty and will used in long relief. Wilhelmsen is an older prospect who once retired for four years after being suspended for a season in the Brewers organization. He’s 27 now, he’s big, and he throws hard. The Mariners are intrigued enough to see if they can find him a role.

  Farm Prospects who could help in 2011
1 2B Dustin Ackley
2 LHP Maurecio Robles
3 RHP Dan Cortes

 

Ackley is a big time hitter who’s adequate as a fielder. He was drafted as a first baseman and might end up back there someday. He should be up by June as he’s most likely in the minors to avoid early arbitration. Robles is a top starting prospect who could get the call if he’s impressive at AAA and they need to upgrade the rotation. Cortes is a potential closer who could be called upon if there’s problems in the pen.

Three Questions:

1. Can the Mariners score a run this season?

  • That’s a joke, but seriously the Mariners had incredible difficulty generating offense last season and the biggest indication of that was 13 game winner Felix Hernandez taking home the Cy Young award. Never before had a starter win the award with so few victories. The good news is that almost their entire prospective lineup performed worse than their career averages and they should expect a correction to their averages, right?

2. Can the Mariners young pitchers make them the surprise team of 2011?

  • The Mariners have young Michael Pineda as their 5th starter and a couple of other young arms in the bullpen. In addition, they have a really good starting prospect in Robles and a good reliever with Cortes who could contribute as well. Remember, Felix is only 25. This young group could develop quickly and help the Mariners get back on top quickly.

3. Will the constant calls (on the east coast) for Felix to be traded subside?

  • It seems like a day doesn’t go by where either people in Boston or New York aren’t coming up with ridiculous trade proposals to bring Felix Hernandez to their town. What those people don’t realize is that it’s completely unrealistic since Felix is signed through 2014. Why would anybody who can afford his contract, which the Mariners can, trade the best young pitcher in baseball?

 

Projection

The Mariners have loads of upside especially if their lineup can perform to their career averages. It might sound obvious, but everybody on last year’s team performed well below their typical levels and it resulted in an atrocious offensive output. In addition, if the Mariners can work some of their young pitching into the mix, they might have enough depth to deal for some more offense at the trade deadline. While it’s going to take good seasons by a lot of their players, the Mariners have a realistic chance at winning in the mid to high 80s and being in contention for the AL West title.