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Both Geoff Baker and Larry LaRue are blogging from ST, which is totally awesome. It's nice to be able to see how these guys write outside of their typical element, and their respective output doesn't disappoint. From Baker's blog we learn that Felix has impressed more than anyone else so far, throwing fastballs and changeups that fooled Rivera and bounced off of his glove/shinguard/face. Normally your initial response would be "I think that's bad" but then you remember that Rivera sucks at his job and everything's all right. If the front office was already thinking about replacing the guy with a veteran backstop before Opening Day, a few more dropped balls certainly might tip the scales even further. But then, that assumes that people within the organization are aware of Rivera's countless shortcomings, which history indicates isn't the case at all. History indicates that it's actually the complete opposite of that.

We also learn from Baker that Mariner players have taken to calling Horacio Ramirez "Ho" because they can't pronounce his name. On top of that, it doubles as a frightening allusion to how opposing hitters will probably treat Ramirez during the regular season.

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Meanwhile, from Larue (a few days ago):

After three consecutive last-place finishes, Mariners ownership increased payroll by more than $20 million over 2006, and the roster Seattle has put together this season is now owed $111 million.
...
As it stands, the Mariners figure to open the season with the third-highest payroll in the American League, behind big spenders New York and Boston.

They also have ~$67m tied up in guaranteed 2008 salary (to nine players), with the possibility of a lot more than that should Jose Guillen trigger his option. The increased budget is a long overdue blessing, but no team with the third-highest payroll in baseball should have to be in a situation where they're praying to get out of last place. Spending more money is a good first step; now they need to learn how to spend it wisely before the bad contracts snowball and leave the franchise in ruins. So, we're halfway there. With any luck, the fear of being compared to the recent Orioles will be enough to keep the front office from doing anything stupid. Or maybe they'll do something stupid anyway, lose their jobs, and get replaced by competent members of society. I'm not sure which I'm hoping for.

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(Photos: Yahoo!)

Still with the chin thing. Lost in all the hoopla over Felix's lost weight and impressive ST debut is the fact that he's still a young kid with violent mechanics. The elevated chin is part of that - Felix's head is off balance throughout his delivery and snaps down upon release, which I have to think makes it more difficult to control the ball. The whole point of a smooth delivery is limiting the number of moving parts outside of the arm and hips, and Felix doesn't really do that.

Not that there was any reason to expect him to look different, mind you; I don't recall any talk over the winter about addressing his posture. I just don't like it is all. Felix is the most talented (young) pitcher in baseball, and I expect him to start looking like it this year, but he's not without his little problems and downsides, this being one of them. I wonder if the head/chin thing isn't something he does in an effort to get more snap on the ball at release. I can't say for sure, but it'd certainly explain why nobody seems particularly inclined to "fix" it.

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This guy talks about Jarrod Washburn's un-Christian history with Jose Guillen. Washburn claims that now "it's water under the bridge," and that the two are united by the common goal of beating the crap out of the pathetic Angels, but one cross word might incur a knifing that gets us off the hook for more than $28m over the next three years. Not that I'd support that kind of thing, but, you know. Accidents happen.