Why, you ask, should Jose Vidro be a Mariner legend and inspiration?
Well, maybe not a legend, but certainly an inspiration. In 2007, Vidro, playing mostly at DH, and one without any power, hit .314. He is the last Seattle Mariner, other than Ichiro to hit over .300 in a season.
BUT THERE IS MORE!
At Safeco Field he hit .330! Can you imagine that? For two years, talking heads in Seattle radio, as well as baseball beat writers, have suggested moving the fences in, that it is too hard to get hits.
People’s memories are short. Or perhaps they have long term memory loss. Ichiro hit .365 at Safeco in 2007, but that was before age caught up to him in 2011.
BUT THERE IS MORE!
In 2007 Yuniesky Bettancourt hit .295 at the Safe; Bloomquist .293. In fact most of the team hit in the .270’s. Adrian Beltre hit .264 and he was one of the lower average hitters.
Safeco Field, up until last season was considered an average park for hitting and pitching, one of the fairest. But the new kids on the block may have been rushed. Or maybe they were overrated. Or maybe they are in a learning curve. Maybe it is all in their heads. Maybe they will get better.
But it does not matter. They should all look to Vidro, the man who hit .330 at the Safe. Eric Wedge should print out past Vidro stats at the park, in fact other hitters numbers at the park, show them to the new kids and say, “You see boys, it can be done.” Then point to a large Fathead full life poster-if not statue-of Jose, and say “If Jose can do it, so can you.”
Wedge can watch the Knute Rockne biopic and learn from Pat O’Brein how to give an inspiring locker room speech. Or bring in Jose. Make him batting coach.
Am I the only one who can find answers to Mariner woes? They should hire me.
San Diego came into Safeco Field with a 6-31 road record. Their ERA on the road is 4.95. They have one of the worst offenses in baseball and have hit the fewest home runs. Yet they win game two 1-0 on a home run by a player with fewer homers than Ichiro. Edinson Volquez who had not won since May 12 made Mariner batters look silly in the final game.
All in all a very embarrassing series that drew a paltry 44, 321 for the three games. The good news is that after hitting .181 against the Dodgers, Mariner hitters slugged .243 against the Padres. They just couldn’t score.
The problem is not Safeco Field. It’s dimensions are not that big, there are much bigger parks to hit in. It is a great place for gap hitters. Here are some numbers to prove my point.
In 2001 Mariners hit .283 at home, 293 away. In 2002 .264 at home, .285 away. In 2003 .264 at home, .278 away. 2004 .255 at home, .284 away. They hit better at home in 2005 .260 to .252 away. In 2006, .265 at home, .277 away. 2007 .283 at home, .290 away. Once again they hit better at home in 2008 .271 to .260 away. In 2009 .255 at home, .260 away. 2010 was balanced, .235 at home, .236 away.
Then we come to 2011. They hit .223 at home, .242 away. The numbers are worse this year. The point is that though the road numbers were ususally better, they still, for the most part had good averages.
The common theme the last two seasons is that the team is made up of young players trying to establish their careers. And Safeco Field is getting into their heads. It is the elephant in the room. You tell yourself not to think about elephants, but all you think about are elephants. All the players think about is that they can’t hit at home.
It is an aberation, one that needs a talk from the manager, the hitting coach, or a psychologist to get them thinking correctly.
You watch them on the road and you see confidence. You see them at home and they flail away at bad pitches and look like little leaguers at the plate.
The Padre series is the low point of the season so far. The Mariners for some reason have fared better against good teams and with the Giants, a better team than the Padres, it is time to get untracked.
It is tempting to say Ichiro needs to hit for the Mariners to win, but he is not the key to winning. Ichiro is rumored to be batting first or second tonight, Friday, June 1, against Chicago, with Seager moving to the three hole. It will be a permanent change. It needs to be.
Considering Ichiro is a singles hitter, not a power hitter needed for the third slot, it is best to move him. The experiment was ill-advised. to begin with. A week ago he was batting .157 with runners in scoring position and leads the team in hitting into double plays.
And Kyle Seager is hot. Back to back games with two doubles in each game. Now that is a three hitter.
But the man Mariner fans want to see get hot, or should, is Dustin Ackley. In games he started and the Mariners won he is batting .337, but in losses he is hitting .182. So watch Ackley and if he is hitting, chances are good the M’s win.
The Mariners also hit .259 on the road, but only .193 in Safeco. More on that in the future.
The key to beating Chicago besides Ackley is stopping Paul Konerko. A true Mariner killer. In the last 25 games against the Mariners he is batting .404 with 9 doubles, 10 home runs, and 17 rbis. And he has 31 career homers against the Mariners.
Another move is the addition, to no one’s surprise, is Steve Pryor, who struck out 15 in 12 innings in Tacoma without a run scoring. He hits 100 on the radar gun. He needs to cut down on walks, something that plagues many young fireballing pitchers.
He will be the closer in the future, but will he be eased into that role, or will they throw him in. I hope for the latter. Let’ s see what he has. He replaces Steve Delabar, another strikeout pitcher whose main problem is giving up home runs. It does not help to throw hard if you are giving fast ball hitters good pitches to hit.
The Mariners have concluded their first home stand. It was a disaster and it will get worse the next two weeks.
They went 3-6 at home, including an ugly home opener that saw 46 thousand pumped up fans witness a disapointing 4-0 shutout loss to Oakland. On Ichiro bobblehead night when they were giving away 20, 000 little Ichiros, they drew 19, 947. Have they ever had left over bobbleheads? For Ichiro?
And of course Phil Humber pitched a perfect game against imperfect hitters. The home stand did nothing to help the hitters, as the team batting average dropped to .223. The fans have stayed away as attendence for the nine games averaged 20, 654.
Yes the kids are in school, yes gas prices are high, but excuses will not suffice. I believe there is a growing segment of the fan base that are becoming disenchanted. It looks early in the season much like the last two years. Fans are saying they have seen this show before.
And it will get worse as Seattle embarks on a 10 game road trip, playing three with Detroit and Toronto, and finishing with a four game series in Tampa Bay. The trip begins Tuesday and there are no off-days.
Then Seattle comes home for a short six game series with Minnesota and Detroit, then hit the road to New York, Boston, Cleveland, and Colorado.
Sometime in May Mariner fans will once again say, “Wait til next year.” To this point they are 7-10, but what is lost is that they are 5-2 against Oakland, which is like winning an intra-squad game. Against the rest of the league the M’s are 2-9 and they are now playing the rest of the league.
When is that first pre-season game for the Seahawks anyway?