Thursday, June 9, 2011

Miguel Olivo and family farewells

Well, Miguel Olivo did it again last night.  A solo homer to give Jason Vargas an insurance run in the eighth, and when that didn't quite work out, a two run double in the 10th to give the M's the win, 7-4.  I was an unenthusiastic supporter of Olivo's signing this winter.  I saw a catcher who was an upgrade, but only a modest one, over our corps from hell last year, and who potentially was blocking the development of Adam Moore. Hoo boy, I was wrong, and I admit it.
Miguel Olivo's thousand watt smile is just one reason to like what he's done for the Mariners.
Right this moment Olivo is carrying this team.  Geoff Baker had a great blog post about Olivo's contributions this morning.  While his numbers won't jump off the charts at you at .246/.298/412 they continue to rise.  And the guy has just been clutch.  The homers and RBI doubles have come when we needed them, not in the middle of some rout or off some late-inning mop up guys.  His extra base hits last night both put the Mariners ahead, and he's been like that ever since his bat awakened from a long frozen slumber in Detroit on April 26th.

All is not perfect.  While Olivo is in the top five for most defensive ratings, he leads catchers in errors with four, and is second in passed balls with five.  Miggy was a passed ball producing machine last year, and he's on track for more than his ten of 2010. Even so, it's clear Mariners pitchers like throwing to him, and that's huge.  It must account for some of their success. 

Last, but not least, I have no way to back this up, but I believe Olivo is a team chemistry guy.  Again, I point to the pitching staff.  Yes, Felix is great, but how much confidence does Miguel give to young guys like Pineda?  Does Olivo give the amazing Eric Bedard the confidence to use his changeup more and have success, despite the slight loss of speed off his fastball?  How much is he responsible for the continued improvement by Vargas and Fister?  The man is always smiling.  And it's an amazing, electric smile.  He loves to play the game, he loves to win, and he loves to be a Mariner.  He's my kind of guy.

*      *       *       *     *     *
This week our baseball family lost two wonderful ballplayers.  Jose Pagan died on June 7th from complications from Alzheimer's disease.  He was 76.  Born in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, Pagan broke in with the San Francisco Giants in 1959.  Primarily an infielder, and chiefly playing 3rd base and shortstop, Pagan was one of those nifty glove guys.   He was a useful bat, and could do the little things, bunt and hit and run.  Pagan had one of his better years with the Giants in their pennant year of 1962.  He was traded in '65 to the Pirates, where he may be better remembered as a contributor to the Clemente-led world championship.  Pagan finished his career with the Phillies in 1973.  Pagan died in Seabring, Florida.

Jim Northrop's two run triple off Bob Gibson (!!!) beats the beloved Cardinals in the 1968 World Series.  I've never forgiven him.

Jose Pagan was a handy utility infielder by the time he was willing silly Pirates hats on the 1972 World Championship team.
Jim Northrup died June 8th at the age of 71.  He'd been ill for a number of years and his passing was not unexpected.  Northrup came up with the Detroit Tigers in 1964 and played in the outfield with Al Kaline.  Known as a no-nonsense guy, Northrup became a leader on the 1968 world -champions.  I've never forgiven him for his game winning triple off Bob Gibson to win the 7th game.  When manager Mayo Smith was gone after the '72 season, Northrup could not abide the managerial style of Billy Martin and got himself traded, first to the Expos and then Baltimore where he finished his career in 1975.  From 1966-1973 Northrup was very good.

No comments: