Chat with IE 66ers announcer Mike Saeger (PART I)

Nobody knows the Inland Empire 66ers quite like Mike Saeger, the team's play-by-play man for each of the past 10 seasons. Saeger was kind enough to stop by the chat room for two hours on Monday, answering questions on everything from Felix Hernandez to Adam Jones. Here's Part One of the chat transcript.

JKaiser - So, Mike, the obvious question most of us want to know is about Felix. You got to see him for half a season, what impressed you most?

MSaeger - Everything. Amazing arm. Great poise and makeup. The sky's the limit with Felix.

mhfn054 - Where will he start next year, AA?

MSaeger - I'm betting Felix will start in Tacoma and could well be up by the end of the season. He doesn't really need to prove anything else at the AA level. You'd never know he was so young when watching him on the hill.

JKaiser - Mike, what other players in the Cal League impressed you most?

MSaeger - I liked Erik Aybar from the Quakes and Steve Shell and Joe Saunders from the same team. Tim Stauffer from LKE is a pretty solid pitcher. Aybar runs pretty well. I don't know if he'll be a SS at the big league level. He might be a really good utility guy.

JfromSeattle - Did you get a chance to see Matt Cain before he was promoted or not?

MSaeger - Never saw Cain. We missed him the 1st time through and he was long gone the next time we saw SJ.

Manny Parra from HDS is a pretty good LHP. Of course, Lancaster was solid. Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin are both very good. And Jon Zeringue had a great 2nd half after getting drafted.

mhfn054 - With the year Jesus Guzman had last year can he develop into our third baseman of the future or should the Mariners draft Alex Gordon?

MSaeger - Guzman was really impressive and I think he's got some solid tools. He could be a very good player. He hit for more power than I thought he would.

JKaiser - Where do you like him projecting defensively? See him at third?

MSaeger - Most of his errors at 3b are correctable. He made some tremendous plays over there.

mhfn054 - Will he be in AA next year?

MSaeger - Guzman could well start in AA because he proved his point in the Cal League.

Max - Is Michael Garciaparra as bad as the numbers indicate?

MSaeger - Gar missed about two months with a wrist injury. He was off to a horrible start when it happened but he did play better the last couple of months. He's a guy who will likely be back with IE next season. He needs to bulk up so he can drive the ball more. He's a great kid though.

JKaiser – Defensively, you think he sticks at 2b?

MSaeger - That would be my guess (2b)

JKaiser - My question centers around Bobby Livingston. What impresses you most about this kid, and what does he have to improve on when he heads to AA next year?

MSaeger - Bobby's a real competitor but he'll have to continue to focus on making adjustments to move up and be successful because he won't blow hitters away and he's the first to acknowledge that.

mhfn054 - What type of pitcher will he turn out to be?

MSaeger - I think his fastball topped out in the high 80's for the most part. If you pitch smart you don't need to throw hard anyway. He does have pretty good control though. It will be interesting to see him at AA against the more experienced hitters.

Max - 30 BB in 186 IP for Livingston.

JKaiser -There were a lot of players on Inland Empire this past season. Who are you going to miss most and why?

MSaeger - I'll miss Matt Hagen because he's such a great guy. Really nice and a hard worker. Jon Nelson's the same way.

Mariners Gal - Did you get to see much of Rett Johnson at the end of the season?

MSaeger - Saw quite a bit of Rett and I don't know what happened to him. Saw him earlier in his career and then the roof fell in on him last season. Not even close to the same pitcher he was.

JKaiser - In what ways was that most evident?

MSaeger - Big time control problems. I mean big time.

Mariners Gal - Hmm... do he think he has a chance to get called up to the big club this year?

MSaeger - He won't get called up unless he can correct whatever ailed him last season. He had a case of Rick Ankielitis last season.

dawgncarolina - Any idea where rett starts next year? san antone?

MSaeger - I would guess SA. Let's face it - if he didn't have the control problems last year he would have been in Seattle. I hope he turns it around because he's pretty good when he's right.

Mariners Gal - Hey Mike, which potential new 66er are you most excited to see this year?

MSaeger - Well, I'm looking forward to seeing Wladimir Balentien for an extended period. He's got some tools and did very well with us in his brief time. Tom Oldham is another guy I want to see more of in '05. I know WIS had a couple of pretty good starters who didn't come to us last year, guys I'm looking forward to seeing next season.

Mariners Gal - Adam Jones should be playing SS for Inland, right?

MSaeger - Adam Jones will almost certainly be with us. I heard good things about Jones last season.

Mariners Gal - Do you think Rene Rivera will develop the offensive skills that we all hope he can?

MSaeger - Rene does need to improve at the plate, but I think he will and I think his power will continue to develop as he gets older and stronger. He's tremendous behind the plate right now.

err0r - How about Felix's attitude?

MSaeger - Felix had a great attitude. A little cocky but in a good way. He knows he's good but doesn't walk around like he's better than everyone else.

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