Friday, March 31, 2006


I am not sure how you are supposed to equate spring training numbers to regular season performance, but if there is any relation at all the Mariners are in serious trouble.
The Mariners left Arizona with a 8.18 ERA. Sure they pitched a ton of guys that aren’t going to be in the big leagues this season, but on the other hand in the last two nights Moyer allowed 8 runs in 2 innings and Pineiro allowed seven in six innings.

All of this will look at a lot better when the pitchers get to throw in the Northwest cold of April and May in Safeco Field. However, what happens when they hit the road.
<-p> The optimism of this starting staff starts and ends with one man, Felix. There is no reason to believe he will be anything, but terrific. However, the Mariners are still managing him with kid gloves and would like to keep his season total innings pitched, including spring training, under 200.

From there it will be a crap shoot. In reverse order, nothing new pitching coach Rafael Chaves has done has changed Gil Meche and his performance. Dr. Phil is the only hope. My best guess is we get 5 starts from Meche before everyone throws there hands in the air and says I quit. There is nothing in his make-up that makes me believe he will be able to translate into a top line pitcher.

Joel Pineiro, despite his last outing, give the opening day optimists some room. Pineiro’s arm was never right last year and on occasion he showed signs that when it is right he can be terrific again. Truly the Mariners need a #3 quality season out of Pineiro because it is somewhat inevitable that either Washburn or Moyer will fade.

Speaking of Washburn, let’s forget about the contract for a moment. Yes, we all know it was bad, but the Mariners believe that since they paid for the hitters they had to follow the next season paying for pitching. I might not pass debate class if I had to defend it, but that is what they believe. Anyway, Washburn is a terrific inning eater who when blessed with a really good offense will keep you in enough games to win. He might be Aaron Sele before he got old. That is the best I can imagine out of Washburn. I doubt there will be many days when we say, “Washburn controlled that game.”

Lastly, we have Moyer. Can he only pitch at home? My concern with this staff is when Moyer throws up a stinker on the road, like he did every time last year, who is going to be able to stop the bleeding of the bullpen on a road trip.

Final thought. The reality and cruelty of injuries is that the Mariners will need two more starters this year to combine for almost 30 starts. Think about the Yankees last year. That is where this all falls apart. Who is getting those starts? Can they keep the M’s in games? The 30 extra starts is what separates staffs in baseball.

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