She-Fan Exclusive: Scouting Report On Mariners

Fresh off the sweep of the Mets, the Yankees face another injury-riddled team.

I’m such an ancient mariner that I still remember when they were called the Pilots, talk about a lame logo.
Without Beltre at third, Chavez in left and Betancourt at short, their whole left side is hurting.
Even so, they could be dangerous. We should take nothing for granted and absolutely not come out looking like flu victims.
OK. Here we go. They’ll be changing their lineup around, but these are the main characters.
1) Ichiro Suzuki.
Obviously, he’s a great outfielder as well as a hitting machine. I think he’s got an 11-game streak right now. And his current average is a sick .372. But that routine he does at the plate – the sleeve tugging, the bat pointing, the whole drama – is really annoying. Tip to Yankees: The pitchers should step off the rubber and stall in order to screw up his timing.
2) Russell Branyan.

He’s played for the Indians, the Reds, the Brewers, the Padres, the (Devil) Rays, the Phillies, and the Cardinals – almost as many teams as LaTroy Hawkins. Now, he’s the Mariners’ first baseman and he’s batting .303 with 19 homers. He’s also struck out 73 times. Tip to Yankees: Throw him nothing but high cheddar.
3) Jose Lopez.
A happy-looking Venezuelan who covers second or third base, he tied a Major League record last year with three sac flies in one game. Tip to Yankees: Try to get him to hit the ball on the ground.
4) Ronny Cedeno.

Another Venezuela native and former Cub, he’s taken over the shortstop role in Betancourt’s absence. Although he had his first career grand slam in ’08, he’s batting .133. Tip to Yankees: Don’t walk him.
5) Kenji Johjima.
The Mariners’ catcher, Kenji (I love saying his name out loud for some reason) has a museum in his honor in his hometown of Sasebo, Japan, despite only having a .269 career batting average. Tip to Yankees: Show him respect by spinning him off the plate now and then.

6) Franklin Gutierrez.

Yet another Venezuelan, he played for the Indians before becoming the Mariners’ center fielder. In 2008, he swung at the first pitch only 11.8% of the time, the fifth lowest in the AL. Tip to Yankees: Throw him first pitch strikes.
7) Wladimir Balentien.

No, I didn’t misspell this outfielder’s first name. It starts with a “W” but is pronounced “Vladimir.” He’s from the island of Curacao and played for the Netherlands in the WBC, and now he’s filling in for the ailing Endy Chavez and hitting .230. Tip to Yankees: He’s no Vladie, as in Guerrero.

8) Chris Woodward.

He was originally signed by the Blue Jays and did time with the Mets, and is one of those guys who’s played every position except catcher. A few years ago, he was the first Toronto shortstop to hit three homers in a game. Tip to Yankees: Keep the ball down and away.

9) Ken Griffey Jr.

First of all, am I the only one who didn’t know his real first name is George? And I still don’t get why he has a thing against the Yanks; that story about his father isn’t the stuff of post traumatic stress syndrome. He’s hitting a paltry .218 as the DH, and yet he’s “Junior” and he’s HOF bound. Tip to Yankees: Let him crank one out in a game if we’re leading by a lot.

I’d make a prediction for this series, but I’m too superstitious.
P.S. Programming note: The segment I taped for the YES Network’s “Yankees Magazine” about my book will start airing this Wednesday, July 1. I think the show is broadcast twice a day for a week – at 11:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET – so my friends in New York need to tell me if they see it. I don’t get YES out here in California except for the actual Yankees games, so I asked the producer to send me a copy of the show. Maybe I can upload it and post it at some point.


  1. scofid

    The Pilots had a short run in Seattle…wasn’t it just one season before they were purchased out of bankruptcy court by Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee? I still have bad memories of losing to Seattle every time the Yankees would make the trip to the Kingdome back in the early 80’s. I still have nightmares of Tom Paciorek coming to bat. I hope that Phil Hughes doesn’t fizzle now that the press has started to pick up on his outstanding performance in the bullpen. We don’t need any Veras-like breakdowns. I agree…wouldn’t mind a Griffey HR so long as it doesn’t impact a Yankee victory.


  2. phi8008

    First of all that Pilots logo is horrendous. And I have to say I had no idea Ken Griffey Jr’s real name is George, and as much as I like him I’m not sure why he’s still in the Majors. Maybe he should be, maybe he shouldn’t, but if I’m the GM I’m not having a DH/OF who’s batting .218. Nice post.
    Just put up some videos I took from inside the stadium during the Phillies Parade:

  3. raysrenegade

    Nice review of my second favorite team.
    And do not forget the fact it has one of the best views off the left field porch of any ballpark in America.
    Puget Sound and the cityscape……..amazing!
    Jay Bruhner night was the best in the old park……….even women were going bald for free tickets to the game. lol
    This is a team that can surprise you with quick runs and a pitcher friendly ballpark.
    Hopefully the roof will be open to make the ball travel farther.

    Rays Renegade

  4. juliasrants

    Scott would be correct – the Pilots did move to Milwaukee. And, raising her hand, I did know that Griffey’s first name was George. But having the Yankees’ pitchers throwing “cheese”? Have you been listening to Dennis Eckersley on the NESN broadcast? LOL! It’s great to be playing AL teams again.


  5. cheshirecat9

    Great post as always Jane. I love your scouting reports. Hopefully the Yankees will listen to your advice.
    Have you read Ball Four by Jim Bouton? It is about his year with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros and he also talks about his years witht he Yankees.
    I’ll make sure to DVR Yankees Magazine tomorrow!


    Wow — only 5 postings so far and already my thunder has been stolen. Yup, those M’s were not the Pilots, but Seattle battled with MLB for 6-7 years before getting a new expansion team the same year as…the Blue Jays. Recall those first caps they had — with an upside-down pitchfork for the M? That was kinda cool, I thought…! Thanx again for such great scouting — and Our Boys had best not take anyone lightly ever again after that Gnats Debacle. Speaking of debacles, I seem to recall that the great Yankee slide into oblivion in the ’80s began when they got George/Ken Sr. and let Reggie go…Meanwhile, since we easterners will all be in slumberland by the time the games begin, we’ll count on you as always to keep us properly posted…thanks in advance!!

  7. Jane Heller

    Note to Rays Renegade and Dave: The series is at Yankee Stadium, not in Seattle! No roof. No late starting time.

    I do remember the days when the Mariners killed us, Scott. It wasn’t fun to play them. I shake when I think of Edgar Martinez as the first real super-DH. Did we ever get him out?

    I’m sure Junior will pop one out of the Stadium, phi8008. He’s still got that sweet swing.

    I really must go visit that ballpark, Rays Renegade. You’ve written about it on your blog, and it sounds beautiful. One of these days…

    The YES broadcasters talk about throwing cheese all the time, Julia. They all do. Just part of the baseball lexicon, I guess.

    Yes, I did read Ball Four, Cheshirecat. It’s one of my all-time favorites. That’s how I remember the Pilots. And thanks for recording Yankees Magazine. Maybe you can send me a tape if the producer forgets to!

    You won’t be in slumberland, Dave, as I wrote above. So no excuses for not watching the game.

    No Michael Kay associated with my segment, Jeff. You can rest easy. It’s just a taped piece, and the show itself is anchored by someone else. And I agree that the Mariners could be sneaky. They’re trying to gain ground in their division too.

    I’d never take any team for granted, Dillon, especially not a team that’s in contention in their division.

    I hear you, Russ. As I said above, I have no doubt he’ll hit a shot into the seats. I just hope the Yankees have a comfortable lead when it happens.

    Six times in two weeks? That’s too much Seattle, Kaybee.

  8. mlbfreak10

    Reviewing some comments, everything is true. The Mariners are my favorite team, and it was cool to read about them.
    The Pilots were in Seattle for one year, and then they became the Millwakee ( spelling correct?) Pilots, now known as the Brewers.
    I think the games will be great, and I hope Junior hits one out to dead center. That would be a good sign for us.
    I can’t wait to see how the games turn out!
    By the way, congrats to all Yanks fans on Mo’s 500th!


  9. heartruss

    Sigh, Jane, the Mariners had the Dodgers number including George Jr or Ken or whatever he wants to call himself, who hit a homerun. The Japanese contingent was formidable against the boys in blue. Don’t sell any of these teams short cuz sometimes they come out of nowhere. Look at the Rockies who pretty much have blown everyone away after acquiring Jim Tracy. They have a winning record since then.


    Eric Hinske from the Pirates??!! I honestly don’t know enough about him but the initial reactions sound good. I’m sure he’s not going to bring what Tex did but he sub’s infield and outfield positions and seems like a reasonably good hitter. I understand he was unhappy in Pittsburgh because he didn’t get to play enough. Does it seem like he’s going to be used more in NY? We shall see what we shall see.

  11. travelingbballbabes

    I have been infatuated with Griffey since I was a wee tot. He is almost on the same pedestal as Bernie Williams for me (but not quite because no one could ever be Bernie). If there is anyone who is allowed to hit a home run off of the Yankees, it’s Griffey. Unless the Yankees are losing, I’d probably cheer for his home run too.

  12. Jane Heller

    Hey, Marinerkid. Thanks for stopping by. Here’s to a great series. They’re just about to get underway after the rain delay.

    I’m sure they’ll play us tough, Cat. And Griffey’s no pushover, no matter how old he is. I’m ready. I hope the Yankees are!

    I guess Hinske was basically a plug-in for Nady, Diane. I agree he won’t be happy if he thinks he’s getting a lot of playing time. I figured he’d just be another bat off the bench.

  13. Jane Heller

    Griffey almost = Bernie for you? Wow, that’s saying something, Serena. I hope he has a good series then (but not too good).

  14. Jane Heller

    Honestly, the Mets aren’t really on my radar, phi8008. I’m more focused on the AL. I don’t feel the rivalry with them that Phillies fans do.

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