Scouting the Mariners

  • Monday, October 2, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald Staff

A look at the team’s strengths and weaknesses in various phases of the game going into the postseason:

  • Probable rotation: Tuesday – Right-hander Freddy Garcia (9-5, 3.91 earned run average); Wednesday – Right-hander Paul Abbott 9-7, 4.22); Friday – Right-hander Aaron Sele (17-10, 4.51); Saturday – Left-hander John Halama (14-9, 5.06). Sunday – Garcia.

  • Strengths: When they’re all on their game, this can be a solid mix of power and finesse. Garcia, the probable Game 1 starter, is at his best when he complements his mid-90 mph fastball with a changeup. Sele, after a post-All-Star swoon, is pitching as well as anyone in baseball. And Halama, who hadn’t won a September game in his two seasons until two weeks ago, suddenly has become the Mariners’ stopper by keeping teams off-balance with his curve, changeups and 85 mph fastball.

  • Weaknesses: Jamie Moyer went from weak to worse in his last two starts, and reported tightness in his shoulder (which he denies) could hinder him in this series. Abbott may not be hurting but he hasn’t won since Labor Day, and Garcia let the pressure of the division race throw him out of kilter in his last two starts. Halama and Sele have been the Mariners’ most reliable starters in September, but they won’t be available until Games 3 and 4 because they were needed to nail down a postseason berth over the weekend.

  • Key relievers: Left-handers Rob Ramsay and Arthur Rhodes, right-handers Brett Tomko, Jose Mesa, Jose Paniagua and Kazuhiro Sasaki.

  • Strengths: Rhodes, Paniagua and Sasaki. If only those three are needed, then it means the starters have done their job and handed a lead to the bullpen after at least six innings. When Rhodes, Paniagua and Sasaki have been used sparingly (four hitters or less), opponents have rarely scored. Tomko has accepted his long-relief role and pitched well with it, but his 4.68 earned run average tells a story of inconsistency.

  • Weaknesses: When the starters fail early, the bullpen has been vulnerable. The final homestand proved that when only one starter (Sele) worked past six innings. The result: A relief corps that had a 2.08 ERA in a 31-game period suddenly posted a 5.99 ERA in those seven games.

  • Lineup: Catchers – Dan Wilson and Joe Oliver. First base – John Olerud. Second – Mark McLemore. Third – Carlos Guillen and David Bell. Shortstop – Alex Rodriguez. Left field – Rickey Henderson and Al Martin. Center – Mike Cameron. Right – Jay Buhner and Stan Javier.

  • Strengths: They don’t muff the routine play and often will make the spectacular. McLemore has been the most pleasant surprise at second, where he figured to play only occasionally coming out of spring training after spending much of his time in left field. Javier plays both corners of the outfield, and sometimes center, with little dropoff in effectiveness. Both Oliver and Wilson handle the pitchers well behind the plate, but don’t be surprised to see Oliver get more playing time because he’s the better hitter.

  • Weaknesses: Henderson and Buhner aren’t much more than every-other-day players because of the wear on their aging bodies. Martin can play all three outfield positions, but opponents will run on his weak arm. Guillen’s glove isn’t as reliable as Bell’s, but his bat is better and that may be his ticket into the lineup, especially against right-handed pitching.

  • Batting order: Rickey Henderson, Mike Cameron, Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, John Olerud, Jay Buhner, Carlos Guillen or David Bell, Dan Wilson or Joe Oliver, Mark McLemore.

  • Strengths: The threesome of Rodriguez, Martinez and Olerud should strike fear into an opponent, and all pounded the ball well in the closing series at Anaheim after struggled late in the season. Cameron has cut down on his strikeouts in September and made things happen with walks, base hits and the threat of a home run. The Mariners can manufacture runs as well as anyone and, if their pitching keeps Chicago in check, they can force the defensively challenged Sox into mistakes.

  • Weaknesses: When the big three of Rodriguez, Martinez and Olerud are struggling, as they did in mid-September, the Mariners generate little offense. The Mariners have needed an additional left-handed hitter with power all season, and without it their offense has been incomplete. It’s vital that McLemore at the bottom of the order and Henderson at the top get on base, and then that Rodriguez, Martinez, Olerud and Buhner convert chances to drive them in.

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