Inside Information: Q&A with Lookout Landing

Sexsonsad4_mediumThe Orioles look to win back-to-back games as they start a three game series with the Seattle Mariners tonight at 10:10 p.m. Pitching matchups for the series are Brad Bergesen vs. Doug Fister, David Hernandez vs. Jason Vargas, and Kevin Millwood vs. Felix Hernandez (yeah, that's fair).

The Mariners got off to a disappointing start to the season, going 2-6 before winning four in a row and now sit at 6-7. Not great but still keeps them in the mix. Man, I'd kill to be 6-7. Much like the O's, the Mariners have had trouble scoring runs, scoring 2 or less runs in six of their seven losses.

Lookout Landing is the Seattle Mariners blog on SB Nation and is one of those places where they're all a lot smarter than me. Matthew Carruth is one of those smart fellows and he answered some questions for us. See what he had to say below the jump.

1. I don't really have a question about Felix Hernandez given that we all know how awesome he is, but on behalf of all American League East teams not named the Yankees and Red Sox, please pass along our thanks to the Mariners for locking him up for the next five years. I hope he has many happy years in Seattle

You are welcome. However, we’re a bit strapped for cash now, so to better demonstrate your thanks, please send $5 each to the Seattle Mariners care of me. Trust me; it’ll go to better investments now that Billy B is gone.

2. If my deduction skills are on point and nothing unforeseen happens, it appears that the Orioles will face Doug Fister, Jason Vargas, and Felix Hernandez in this series. We all know what Hernandez is capable of and Jason Vargas has been around for awhile, but what can you tell us about Doug Fister? His numbers aren't very impressive but he pitched a great game vs. Oakland a few days ago. Does he have any kind of future or are he and Vargas just kicking around until Lee and Bedard are healthy? Also, does saying Fister make you laugh?

I can tell you a lot about Doug Fister. He likes his oatmeal warm and with milk. He prefers plastic to paper because the paper bags are harder to carry, but he feels slightly guilty about not being more environmentally conscious. He wonders why inflammable and flammable mean the same thing.

Oh, did you mean baseball stuff? Well, he’s tall (6’ 8") and right-handed. I reject your notions that his numbers aren’t very impressive. He’s run pretty solid strikeout to walk ratios thanks mostly to good control. It’s a wonder he doesn’t pitch for the Twins actually. He’s no future ace by any means, but could top out as a decent middle rotation starter. His fastball is mediocre, but he locates his changeup very well and uses a solid curve to get what few strikeouts he does get and it’s also a great groundball pitch.

Saying Fister was funny the first time I heard it, but when you have to deal with 500 jokes about it each time he pitches, it gets old in a hurry. The easy jokes are rarely funny.

(Stacey's note: Matthew is clearly more sophisticated than me because I can't ever imagine not giggling at Fister. But I'm 12. As for Fister's (hee) stats, he's very Bergesen like in that he doesn't strike enough out but compensates for not walking many either. As we all know that's a very fine line to walk. And while he's controlled it relatively well so far in his 13 major league games, he gives up a lot more hits than I'd be comfortable with.)

3. Franklin Gutierrez for Adam Jones, straight up. Do you do it? Can Gutierrez possibly be as valuable this year and in the future as he was in 2009?

No, I would not do that trade. Guti’s defense in center is legitimately amazing (http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/333051/guti120.gif) and his bat is acceptable. Jones will likely end up being the better hitter, but Guti has much better defense and Gutierrez has a team friendly long-term contract already signed. Six wins was probably the peak for Gutierrez, but while his defensive numbers should come down a little from sheer regression, his bat might make up for some of that. I think Franklin can can maintain four-plus WAR for the near future. Plus his health is better, haven’t you heard that Jones has a degenerative hip condition?

4. Will the Mariners offense be able to produce enough to keep the team competitive? Any players you think will have especially good or unexpected years at the plate?

That’s the $64,000 question. On paper, they should, projecting to around 725-750 runs or so, but it hasn’t looked pretty so far. I don’t have any players that I think will really surprise anyone, but I think the overall package of what those hitters do will surprise a lot of people who cannot look past the loss of Russell Branyan from an anemic 2009 lineup.

5. What's the word on Cliff Lee? How about Erik Bedard? If Bedard is healthy and back in the rotation by mid-year does it even matter if the offense can score any runs?

Both Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard are reportedly throwing without any discomfort so at this point it’s just a matter of getting them stretched out. Lee’s injury took him out of Spring Training so his endurance just isn’t up to snuff yet. If it had happened in July, he would already be back in the rotation. The current timeline has Lee back the first week of May and Bedard around the end of May. If both of those come back healthy and pitching like they do when healthy, this is going to be a tough team to face in short series’.

6. What's the general feeling of Mariners fans this season about the team? Is there optimism in the air?

There’s a lot of optimism in some people with the rotation and defense and a lot of pessimism with the lineup. Overall, I think fans were overly optimistic before the start of the season, but the 2-6 start probably quashed a lot of that and now people are properly anticipatory. 

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