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Series Preview: Seattle Mariners @ Boston Red Sox

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MARINERS (43-55) Δ Ms RED SOX (59-37) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA) -117.2 (30th) 3.3 103.4 (1st) Boston
FIELDING 26.8 (4th) -0.1 55.5 (1st) Boston
ROTATION (tRA) 32.6 (5th) -2.4 -4.9 (17th) Seattle
BULLPEN (tRA) -3.8 (19th) -2.2 28.7 (1st) Boston
OVERALL(RAA) -61.6 (25th) -1.5 182.6 (1st) BOSTON

I have a memory of a time, I think I was about eight, when I was at the Little League year that transitioned from coach pitch to kid pitch for the first time. Mostly, I enjoyed that because I liked pitching and because I remember feeling that this was more like baseball. Coach pitch was kind of silly. However there was a downside to the change. In coach pitch, the league used these sort of composite baseballs. The balls were more rubber-based and the seams were prefabricated, not sewn into a leather hide. I think those were more durable and since the balls were used at the lower levels, who cares?

Those balls also happened to be a bit softer. They have more give to them and though that meant it was more difficult to hit them for a lot of power (because they yielded to compression more easily), it also meant they hurt less when you mishit them. That part I liked because I was never a strong hitter. I was young for the league and was a scrawny kid. I learned quickly to be the Willie Bloomquist of Little League. I hustled, I was versatile on defense and I would crowd the plate. Since this was the first year that kids pitched to other kids, they were wild and I made a non-existent living by drawing walks or getting plunked.

So I liked those rubber balls because when they hit me, which seemed to happen about once a game, they would hurt less. Also, when forced to make a usually futile swing -- it didn't help that unbeknownst to me at the time, my natural vision was starting to go. Baseball's are hard to hit when they're blurry! -- the contact would ring back on my hands less harshly. It made me more confident at the plate.

Now, some of those balls were still floating around in kid pitch. I don't remember whose responsibility bringing the balls were, but there was always a couple coach-pitch ones mixed in with the regular hard balls and they'd end up laying near the dugout in that haphazard pool of balls used by the fielders to warm up during the half-inning switches. I made it a habit then, when my team was transitioning to batting, to try my best to glove the ball on the mound as I came off the field if it was a hardball and then slyly attempt to toss a coach-pitch ball out there without anyone noticing.

That is the Mariners. A group of scrawny kids over matched at the plate and desperately hoping nobody notices that they're trying to pull off a switch to an easier ball to hit. I can't blame them. After all, nobody in my Little League ever walked on three pitches.

Fri 22 Jul 16:10

FELIX HERNANDEZ JOHN LACKEY

The Red Sox are a juggernaut of a team, but they have some weaknesses. So far, John Lackey has been their biggest in a mix of flukey categories and real warning categories. He wasn't exceptional for Boston last year either. The Red Sox have two absolute dragging contracts in their starting rotation alone and whatever. Of course they get Josh Reddick to come up and wOBA a million. Of course they do.

Sat 23 Jul 16:10

BLAKE BEAVAN JOSH BECKETT

Hey, you're not Erik Bedard! You're still Blake Beavan! With a limitation coming soon on Michael Pineda's innings -- supposedly -- I suppose Beavan might stick around or perhaps come back in September when the rosters expand. That's something I guess, since the most likely scenario is that the Mariners will need a starter to replace Erik Bedard in 2012. If Beavan can use the time now to show that he's a serviceable option for the back of the 2012 rotation, then huzzah!

Also, with Josh Lueke's new promotion, I can finally write this. Last year Seattle traded Cliff Lee to the Rangers for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson. Zduriencik later traded Lawson for Aaron Laffey straight up so in effect the Mariners gained Smoak, Beavan, Laffey and Lueke. All four of them are now on the Mariners' active roster.

Sun 24 Jul 10:35

MICHAEL PINEDA TIM WAKEFIELD

Taking the two starting pitchers, and their respective most used pitch, has there ever been a bigger mismatch in speed than this one? It's almost 30 miles per hour! I will amuse myself with that for an inning or two before the frustration of the Mariners not hitting a knuckleball overwhelms me. Of all the pitches out there, I feel watching a team hack away at a knuckleball is the most irritating. Congratulations, Mariners, you're going to get bested by air currents.