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Mariners First Half Review

IchiroNobody can be disappointed with the first half the Mariners just turned in. Between snowouts, struggles at the back end of the rotation (to put it lightly), injuries to Felix and several bullpen arms, and the stunning resignation of Mike Hargrove, the first half wasn't particularly easy. Yet somehow, through all that, the Mariners find themselves only two and a half games behind the Angels for the AL West lead. The team should get a collective pat on the back for a job well done, and that's largely what this post is going to be. Using my hitter and pitcher rating formulas, I have rated every player who has appeared for the Mariners this season. They are listed in order from best to worst.

Ichiro (95) - What more is there to say? Ichiro is at it again. Despite all the great seasons he has had, this is arguably his finest offensively, and defensively he is amazing. I know Ichiro has six gold gloves, but he's not getting the credit he deserves this year. He's right there with Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Cameron in their best years in Seattle. Really, he is that good. If the M's get into the playoffs, only Magglio Ordonez can stop Ichiro from being the AL MVP.

Jamie Burke (88) - Once again, what more is there to say? In limited action, Burke has been sensational. To properly estimate Burke's value I should include AAA and/or MLB at-bats from previous years (which would knock his rating down considerably), but this is the M's first-half review and this is what he has done when he has played. I hope McLaren plays Burke a little more and gives Kenji more rest. It wouldn't hurt Kenji, and thanks to Burke it won't hurt the M's.

J.J. Putz (85/95) - J.J.'s "true" value is an 85, but an average reliever is a 65 instead of a 75. So, basically, Putz in his role is a 95, and there is no better closer in baseball. I never thought he could live up to last year, but he might be even better. Make no mistake, Putz is the best closer in Mariners history, and there is nobody else in baseball I'd rather hand the ball to in the ninth inning right now.

George Sherrill (84/94) - J.J. has turned games into eight-inning affairs, and George Sherrill has turned them into seven-inning ones. Hargrove used him pretty much solely against lefties, and admittedly that is tempting because nobody is tougher on lefties in all of baseball than him. However, it looks like McLaren knows that George is also pretty darn effective against righties too. Hideki Okajima got the All-Star nod, but Sherrill was just as deserving. Sherrill and Putz have re-captured the Rhodes-Nelson-Sasaki magic, if not taken it a step further.

Jarrod Washburn (83) - Rather quietly, Washburn is putting together a really good year. On a starting staff that's had consistency issues, Jarrod has really been a rock. He's no ace, but he's going to go six innings and keep the team in the game. Washburn has really earned his money this year, and should get a little more credit for the M's success this year than he has.

Felix Hernandez (80) - Felix's rating is adjusted to reflect his time on the DL, and with no adjustment it would've been 86. It's really amazing how off his game he can be and still end up being a really good pitcher. Felix looks like he has regained his form, and he could be heading for a monster second half.

Ben Broussard (79) - Relegated to the bench by Hargrove but called upon when injuries mounted, Broussard has been another real bright spot on the ball club. I hope McLaren gets Ben on the field more, because he's a more than adequate fill-in for Ibanez, Guillen, or Sexson.

Kenji Johjima (78) - Kenji has really trailed off in the last month, but he still had a great first half, especially for a catcher. I think a little more rest would be good for him, and luckily the M's have a surprisingly great back-up in Jamie Burke.

Adrian Beltre (78) - Beltre was red-hot as the break hit, and with the M's he has tended to put up much better numbers in the second half. This is the best first half he has had since being a Dodger, and it will be interesting to see if his surge continues.

Jose Guillen (77) - The Mariners took a risk when they signed this guy, but so far it could not have turned out any better. Guillen's range in right field leaves much to be desired, but he has provided some needed punch to the lineup.

Jose Vidro (75) - Vidro doesn't supply any power, but he does still know how to hit. He's not the most inspiring DH, but thanks to him the position is no longer the black hole that it was the last couple years.

Cha Seung Baek (74) - Baek's ERA doesn't show it, but he was really a solid starter for the M's. His rating would have been higher if not for going on the DL too. Baek is no ace, but he stepped up when Weaver was horrible and Felix went down with the arm injury. Baek also deserves more credit for the M's first half success than he has received.

Raul Ibanez (74) - After a career year, it should have been expected that Ibanez would regress some, but not this much. He's been a little banged up the whole year, but seems to be getting healthier, and with improved health his power seems to be returning. The offense will be even better if Raul can return to his career averages in the second half. Even if he duplicates his first half though, he's still serviceable.

Jose Lopez (73) - Jose's production doesn't match his talent, and it's because he still isn't very selective at the plate. He's slowly improving, but until he gets better this is about what to expect.

Eric O'Flaherty (73/83) - The whole bullpen is filled with unsung heroes, and O'Flaherty is another one of them. I thought he needed more seasoning in AAA, but he's proven me wrong. He's tough on lefties, but can also be stretched out and go multiple innings. His emergence has provided depth in the bullpen that wasn't expected.

Miguel Batista (73) - He isn't worth the money, but he continues to get better as the season wears on. He's now a consistent bet to pitch six innings and keep the M's in the game.

Ryan Rowland-Smith (70/80) - Surprised to see this guy so high? Granted, the vast majority of his innings are with the Rainiers this year, so this rating is pretty much a reflection of his AAA stats adjusted. However, The Hyphenated One has looked good in the limited chances he has had, and I hope the M's strongly consider keeping him in the bullpen for the remainder of the year. A trio of lefties like Rowland-Smith, O'Flaherty, and Sherrill could give the team a huge advantage.

Sean Green (69/79) - I also included Green's AAA numbers for his rating, and adjusted it accordingly. However, he has seen extended action with the Mariners this year and has forced himself into later roles thanks to the job he has done. His ERA is deceptive because it should be higher, but that doesn't take away from the really good job he has done.

Brandon Morrow (68/78) - I'm interested to see what the ballclub does with Brandon as other pitchers get healthy. He probably does have the best stuff of anyone down in the bullpen, but he's easily got the worst command. It all adds up to about an average reliever right now, though as he learns to harness his stuff he'll really be something. Personally, I would send Morrow down once Mark Lowe is healthy and start to develop him into a starter.

Yuniesky Betancourt (68) - Of the position players, Betancourt is the biggest disappoint this side of Richie Sexson. He's young though, and he was in a slump at the plate to end the first half. By the end of the year, I think his throwing problems will be mostly hammered out, and his batting average will be approaching .300.

Richie Sexson (67) - Here's the biggest disappointment on the team, and even Richie is showing signs of life. He's still got his power, and if he can have a second half as good as last year's, this offense could be really dangerous. I'm not sure he will rebound, but there is reason to believe he will.

Julio Mateo (64/74) - At this point, Mateo's adjusted AAA numbers have more weight than what he has done with the Mariners. It looked like Seattle had a hard decision with what to do with him after his assault charge, but thanks to the emergence of so many guys in the bullpen he shouldn't be with the team right now, even if he did not have any legal troubles.

Jeff Weaver (62) - How can Weaver's first half be summed up with one rating? Really, it can't, but given his horrendous start it's hard to fathom that his rating is even this good. I really have to give the M's credit for sticking with him.

Willie Bloomquist (62) - Willie's .272 batting average and two homers are much nicer to look at, but he's still a bench player, though a valuable one thanks to his versatility.

Jon Huber (62/72) - The focus is on Ramirez and Lowe as they rehab, but Huber's close to returning too. He's likely to stay in AAA once completely healthy, but he's another solid option to call up if someone gets injured.

Sean White (58/68) - White's injury has dampened his rating some, but at this point he shouldn't be with the team once he's healthy. The only problem is he'll have to be returned to the Braves if not put back in the bullpen. Maybe Bill Bavasi can go to the Braves and work out a "trade" that allows the Mariners to send White to Tacoma.

Horacio Ramirez (57) - The Ho-Ram era has been far from glorious, but he's a better option than Feierabend as the fifth starter. Plus, he has been much better than this over his career, so there is reason to believe that he can bolster the rotation in the second half.

Ryan Feierabend (51) - Speaking of Feierabend, here he is. His adjusted AAA numbers are factored in for his rating too, which really works in his favor thanks to some really rough outings he has had recently. The bottom is that he's just not ready right now, no matter how much departed manager Mike Hargrove likes his competitiveness and grit.

Chris Reitsma (50/60) - This isn't a very fair rating thanks to two DL stints, and trying to pitch through arm problems. Chris is another candidate to do much better in the second half, and I'm glad McLaren has decided to make him the primary set-up guy instead of Morrow.

Jason Davis (49/59) - Davis just got DFA'd, so the chances of him ever wearing a Mariner uniform again are pretty low. He was ineffectively wild in his brief Seattle tenure, but he did eat up some innings, which was worth something with how the first half schedule unfolded.

Jake Woods (46/56) - Woods was up at the beginning of the year for a little bit, and he's a far cry from what he was last year. He may get called up with the expanded rosters in September, but he shouldn't be before that.

Jason Ellison (45) - This isn't a fair rating at all since the guy never gets to hit, but maybe he'll get a few more opportunities with McLaren. Mac is already using him as a defensive replacement more, which is good to see. Ellison does get big props for sprinting in with his fists clenched to defend Ichiro from Joe Blanton yesterday. Plus, Ellison and Willie Bloomquist were great friends in high school, so it's nice that the two of them can keep each other entertained while they sit around.

It's nice to write about a bunch of bright spots and pleasant surprises. Here's hoping that the second half is just as good, if not better.