Pike Place Panic:
May Day in Seattle
This is a win-or-else year for the Mariners, in particular for General Manager Bill Bavasi. They didn't spend $48 million on Carlos Silva and trade five players for Erik Bedard so they could look up at the Angels--and the rebuilding A's! -- in the standings.
They paid Brad Wilkerson $3 million to play right field, then fired him after one month. Wilkerson hit .232 with no home runs, and the Mariners designated him for assignment last Wednesday, when they promoted Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien from the minor leagues.
Balentien replaced Wilkerson in right field. Clement, a former first-round draft pick from USC, took some at-bats from catcher Kenji Johjima (.190) and some from DH Jose Vidro (.200).
"There's no need to have patience," Bavasi told reporters in Seattle. "We'll just keep making moves until something works."
Johjima is 31. Five days earlier, Bavasi had signed the catcher to a three-year, $24-million contract extension.
But can he hit like Micah?
Max Scherzer makes his first major league start Monday, joining a Diamondbacks rotation of former Cy Young Award winners Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson, 2007 All-Star game starter Dan Haren and slugger Micah Owings, who won four games in April and hit a score-tying home run as a pinch-hitter.
Scherzer, 23, made his debut in relief last Tuesday, retiring all 13 men he faced and striking out seven. The Diamondbacks promptly put the phenom in their starting rotation, in place of Edgar Gonzalez.
Perhaps the Padres could trade for Owings -- and his career .354 average -- and put him in the outfield on days he does not pitch. The Padres had scored the fewest runs in the majors through Friday's games, with their left fielders hitting .202. Jake Peavy urged the Padres to sign Kenny Lofton, and not anonymously.
"Stir it up," he encouraged San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Tim Sullivan.
The crowd was bigger in Central Perk
The Marlins and Padres had just finished the eighth inning Friday when Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson ran into left field at Dolphin Stadium, chasing a dog. The Marlins, who turn windfall profits every year by maintaining low payrolls while cashing large revenue-sharing checks, had consented to the brief interruption of a game for the filming of a movie scene.
Can't wait to see how Hollywood touches up those 60,000 empty seats.
It's a beautiful day for a ballgame
On Wednesday, the day the NBA's Dallas Mavericks fired coach Avery Johnson, where was owner Mark Cuban? He was at Wrigley Field, sitting next to the Cubs' dugout and watching the team he'd like to buy. The Cubs won, 19-5. The Mavericks didn't win by 14 in any of their final nine games. . . . On Friday, a corporate sponsor pledged $10,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. for each home run the Astros hit. They hit five, including back-to-back-to-back homers from Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. . . . Fired up, naturally: The Brewers' Mike Cameron, activated after a 25-game suspension for a second positive test for amphetamines, reached base in his first four plate appearances. . . . The Marlins' Mark Hendrickson has five victories, tied with Brad Penny for second in the National League. Hendrickson won four games for the Dodgers last season. . . . The Angels' triple-A Salt Lake affiliate finished April at 23-2, giving the Bees a shot to become the first minor league team to win 100 games since 1992. The Braves' double-A Greenville team did it, with Chipper Jones at shortstop and Javy Lopez at catcher. The manager? Grady Little.