Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Youth Movement Kicks Off for M's

The Brad Wilkerson Era in Seattle has come to a sad conclusion. "Wilky" as he was dubbed by adoring teammates has been handed his walking papers. I'm really going to miss that sub-.200 average with no pop or range in right field.

In all seriousness, too bad it didn't work out. It was a nice idea if he could have hit and played defense, but from opening day he looked like a broken-down horse on his last legs. Sort of like an NFL running back who loses a few steps, when the skills start to go on a power-hitter, they go quick.

But don't fret M's fans. The baby M's are on the way! The M's have recalled not only Wladimir Baltentien from Tacoma, but they have ALSO called up the top catching prospect in baseball right now in Jeff Clement. KJR speculates that at least Balentien will be in the lineup tonight and is basically your new right fielder. Also, Clement is now in the mix for backing up Johjima at catcher, while getting the majority of his hacks from the DH spot. Jose "Turbo" Vidro likely becomes an $8.5 million dollar pinch-hitter for the rest of the way. Given that Turbo has a vesting option on his deal for next season if he gets a certain number of plate appearances, this should be the beginning of the end for the ground ball specialist (which isn't a good thing to be when you are a hitter!).

Clement is a hell of a hitter and is simply on fire right now. He was hitting .397 and an onbase-plus-slugging percentage of 1.200+. That's pretty remarkable. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is almost 2-to-1. He's part of that great 2005 draft class with Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, Jeff Zimmerman, Troy Tulowitzki, and Clay Bucholtz among others. He's done everything he can in the minors and is a perfect fit with his left-handed stick in Safeco. M's scout Roger Hansen said the other day that he could very well be better than Jason Varitek. The kid is ready.

Balentien has shown tremendous progress in the last year and change. He has always had fantastic power, but the strike-zone judgment was an ongoing issue. Something changed last year though, and ever since the 2007 season he's been a different, more mature hitter. The P-I had a nice piece on him today, so give it a look.

The M's also DFA'd Greg Norton, which is a little unusual. I guess he was the cheapest, non-guaranteed guy to dump, which is probably why the corpse of Miguel Cairo and his guaranteed MLB deal is still on this team. At least Norton had some punch from the left side and hit 17 HR's last year. Too bad. But Greg Norton off the bench isn't going to save this team. They desperately need hitting, and they are going to give it a go with their two top hitters that both look ready to go. The M's starting pitching has been simply fantastic this year, in the top 3 in the bigs in terms or starters' ERA. You can't continue to waste such good efforts on the mound with a few runs here or there. It should be an interesting month of May!

Moving on, another day, another good read on Gary Rogers, this time in the Everett Herald. The pride of Kamiak is finally getting his chance. The more I read and hear about Rogers, the more I think we are all going to be walking around next fall muttering "IF ONLY he had more eligibility....."

Finally, Cougfan has a decent take on the WSU hoops revenue. The revenue almost doubled for the '07-'08 season, up to $950K. Nice. But per the article, we have quite a ways to go. Hard to believe that it costs $9,000 at Arizona as the entry-level donation for just the right to buy season tickets, yet at WSU it's a measly $75. WOW. Arizona hoops is a big deal in Tucson, but supply and demand makes you think a bump in our hoops ticket prices is on the way. Given the quality of the product of late, it would be hard to argue against it.

Happy Humpday!


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