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Sunday, May 25, 2008

I Got Nothing: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 0

I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about the Mariners lately, in part because they were supposed to be the Angels' big rivals, or at least, were supposed to be in pretty good shape to make a run at the division after winning 88 games last year. They ended up getting a game back of the Angels as late as August 25, only to be dominated in three straight, including a game the Mariners should have won but didn't thanks to a managerial blunder by John McLaren to call in 38-year-old journeyman Rick White to snuff out a latent Angels rally (he failed, by the way). The same brain trust has assembled the 2008 Mariners under the apparent delusion that the 88 wins they achieved last year was something other than an overperforming fluke.

I bring this up because I was scanning U.S.S. Mariner late tonight, and I came across this wiseacre comment about the scintillating performance of one Jose Vidro, a 33-year-old slap-hitter originally drafted by Montreal and now principally employed as the Mariners' designated hitter. The Dodgers, it seems, are about to make nearly the identical mistake as the Bill Bavasi-led Mariners, although worse in ways I shall explain presently.

The guy they plan on calling up, Terry Tiffee, has never really had a major league career. At one time considered a real third base prospect, he trimmed himself from a ponderous and practically immobile 260 lbs. to a much svelter but still pretty hefty 230. Drafted by the Twins out of Pratt (KS) Community College as a Jayhawk League MVP in 1999 in the 26th round, Tiffee repeated A ball and eventually also repeated AAA — three times with the Twins' International League affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings. He incurred multiple injuries in 2004 while on the major league roster, dealing with back and hamstring problems, and also a dislocated shoulder. Cut loose as a minor league free agent in 2006 following two years of extremely uninspired offensive numbers, the Orioles picked him up in 2007, where he was almost exactly the same player: a shockingly low batting average and poor eye (his 2007 .272/.307/.394 line for AAA Norfolk was in line with the two previous years he posted with the Twins) got him the boot again.

So, transliterated to the Pacific Coast League and its high-elevation parks, Ned Colletti apparently believes that Tiffee and his .422/.464/.609 line (playing first, third, and left field in roughly equal measure) represents a great leap forward?

It's possible that he will be better on the bench than, say, Mark Sweeney, who is showing every sign of late-career collapse. But for him to be playing ahead of Andy LaRoche, and to be getting a callup ahead of LaRoche, is just criminal.

As for the game itself: Brad Penny once again blew up in one inning, the four-run third, and the team never recovered, as the offense was unable to get anything going against Kyle Lohse, whose last name I still can't spell without looking. They were dead, they were flat, say whatever cliches you want about offenses that don't work, but it was just ugly.

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That must be "Mark" Sweeney. Mike is hitting over .300 for the A's. Mark has never had much of a career to collapse from.
Fooey. Corrected above.

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