Monday, April 23, 2007

Mariners Q&A With Lookout Landing

It may be hard to believe but at this point last week the Seattle Mariners were sitting atop the AL West division. That’s when we sent out a few questions to Jeff over at the exceptional Mariners blog Lookout Landing. Since the Mariners are our favorite team I thought it would be a great conversation about how well the season is going. Oh what a difference a week makes. Welcome aboard Jeff! Your new site logo adequately reflects this last week for all Mariners fans.

My Opinion on Sports: Are you surprised about the way Felix Hernandez is pitching right now and is there another pitcher in the league off to a better start?

Jeff: In no way am I surprised by the early season success of Felix Hernandez, and sadly, I'm also in no way surprised that he's come up with elbow trouble. The prognosis is good, but still, I think most of us have been expecting something along these lines for a while now. Anyway, when Felix is healthy, he really does have arguably the best repertoire in the league; while Santana has that killer changeup, Felix can come after you with an A-grade four-seamer, two-seamer, slider, or changeup of his own. What he did on Opening Day proved his ability to Seattle; what he did in Boston a week later proved his ability to the world. When he comes back in a week or three, he's going to resume his pursuit of the first of several Cy Youngs.

My Opinion on Sports: Adrian Beltre is hitting .233 with 10 RBI’s, Ichiro is at .290 with 8 runs scored, and Richie Sexson is batting .192 with 2 homers and 8 RBI’s. At this point who is the most dangerous bat in the lineup?

Jeff: The best bat so far has been Kenji Johjima, with Ichiro in second. Unfortunately this is sort of damning with faint praise, since outside of one or two games, the lineup has been miserable. Going forward things should get better, and Ichiro and Sexson should emerge as the top two threats, but until the group starts taking a few walks, the runs'll be coming in inconsistent spurts.

My Opinion on Sports: Who is playing better than you expected at this point?

Jeff: Aside from Johjima, nobody on the team is exceeding expectations. That's sad.

My Opinion on Sports: Who needs to step up their game?

Jeff: Um. Geez. Well, uh, I'd say that Jeff Weaver, Miguel Batista, Horacio Ramirez, Brandon Morrow, Julio Mateo, Jose Lopez, Jose Guillen, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Richie Sexson all need to step up their games. Jose Vidro should, too, but I don't know how much more "up" he can go. This current five-game losing streak has been a disaster that's exposed every little weak spot on the roster, and - surprise - there are a bunch of them.

My Opinion on Sports: Tell us what was going through your mind when Hernandez upstaged DiceK on Wednesday night.

Jeff: Instead of going on and on for paragraphs about how incredible that game was, I'll just link you to this: Magical

In short, being in Fenway that night was the most unbelievable, amazing live baseball experience of my life. And I wouldn't be surprised if it stays that way until I die.

My Opinion on Sports: Finally, at this early point in the season who poses the biggest threat to the M’s right now in the AL West?

Jeff: The biggest threat to the Mariners in the AL West is, um, the competition. I can't really point to any particular team since they're probably all at least a little better than the Mariners are. I guess the Angels could be the best of the bunch, but all the teams are pretty bad, and have a handful of glaring weaknesses. It really wouldn't take that much for the M's to pull away and take first place. Unfortunately, the obnoxiously intelligent part of my brain says they don't have it in them.

Thanks for your time Jeff. It’s been great having you on board and good luck the rest of the season!