Remember when Bob Melvin was first hired, and he made that comment about batting average and speed versus on-base percentage that made us all feel so much better about his hiring? It went something like, “I’d much rather have a guy who hits .260 with a .360 OBP and doesn’t run well than a guy who runs well, hits .300 but only has a .310 OBP.” Well, get ready to swing back the other way. I present to you this article from the M’s official website about Ichiro’s struggles this season, from which I quote, “The manager pointed out that Ichiro’s on-base percentage remains a respectable .330, which is sixth best on the team and not that much lower than in 2001 (.381) or last season (.388).”
There are all sorts of things wrong with that statement. For starters, a .330 on-base percentage is not “respectable” unless you’re hitting for a good deal of power, which we all know Ichiro is not. The American League had a .327 mark as whole last season, and suddenly .330 is acceptable — nay, respectable — from the guy in your lineup who’s supposed to be setting the table? Second, saying he’s sixth best on the team is both ambiguous and completely devoid of useful information. Does this mean all the guys ahead of him are OBP demons, or that his OBP just isn’t that good? Melvin makes it sound as if it’s the former, while in reality it’s the latter. And finally, since when is 50 points of on-base percentage “not that much lower”? Fifty points! Honestly, I’m baffled by this.
The only explanations I can come up with are: 1. Melvin’s comments were taken out of context; 2. He’s incredibly ignorant about OBP; or 3. He’s so worried about not criticizing his players that he went out of his way to say something nice, even though something nice wasn’t warranted. Please — please — let it be #1 or #3 on that list.
Oh, and Brian Sweeney — that’s a whole lotta tossin’ going on.
Brian Sweeney was just lifted from the Rainiers game after 6 innings with a 5-1 lead. He tossed 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 unearned run, 0 walks, and 5 strikeouts. He’s now tossed 23 2/3 innings and has an ERA of 1.14. He’s walked 2 and struck out 25.
All hail Brian Sweeney.
Speaking of players we have a special fondess for, I happened to notice today that former M’s farmhand Bo Robinson is playing for the Trenton Thunder (a Red Sox affiliate) in the AA Eastern League. I lost track of him at the end of last season and wasn’t sure where he had turned up. Robinson has a nice compact swing and will take his share of walks, but has no power to speak of and is limited defensively to 1B/3B so he’s not likely to ever amount to much, but for some reason I’ve always liked him. So far he’s up to his old tricks, with a .292/.419/.333 line (no, that’s not a typo) through 10 games. I wish him well.
Re: Davis — I know, but Doug Davis is one of several players I have a fond spot in my heart for. He used to mow my friend’s lawn back when Davis was first in the minors and running a landscaping business on the side to make ends meet.
Worried is probably an understatement. The Yankees are averaging nearly 7 runs per game. They have a team OPS of .919, and their two worst regular players so far have been Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui. I fear for the safety of Mr. Meche.
Doug Davis isn’t much of a situational lefty, by the way. Over the past three years, lefties have hit .294/.352/.460 against him, as compared to .291/.362/.434 for righthanders. He may be Joe Sheehan endorsed, but there’s little reason to think he’s an upgrade on anyone the M’s currently have, and he’d cost a waiver claim and a 40 man roster spot. Pass.
The next 12 games consist of home-and-home series with the Yankees and White Sox. I think if we go 6-6 over the next two weeks, we’re doing well. I can see a 4-8 stretch without too many problems, though. The Yankees are pretty darn good.
The Mariners head out for a 5-game road trip to New York and Chicago. I say this reluctantly, but I’m worried.
Meche v. Clemens: this’ll be an interesting outing, but if Dave’s right, and he’s right far more often than I’m comfortable with, the Yankees offense could tear him open and toss his organs to the cheering animals in the NY bleachers.
Moyer v. Pettite: one of these left-handers is good, and I like the M’s chances here.
Pineiro v. Mussina: Mussina has been absolutely lights-out so far this year, Pineiro has… not been
Now sure, the Yankees have faced weak offenses so far, but so have the Mariners. The Yankees offense is off to a great start in part by facing awful staffs, but they’re also undeniably top-notch and much better, I think, than the Mariners are (I think Nick Johnson’s ideal line in a game would be 2-3, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1K).
Also, the Rangers designated Doug Davis for assignment again. Lefty in the pen now, long reliever, Joe Sheehan-endorsed as a possible future Jamie Moyer.
Minor League Highlights for Sunday, April 27
Tucson 13, Tacoma 9. RHP Ken Cloude, perhaps miffed that the M’s passed him over in favor of Rafael Soriano this week, was roughed up and unable to make it out of the fifth inning against Tucson in a losing effort (4 2/3 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). The outing raised his ERA to an ugly 6.08, and he also hit a batter, balked and gave up two homers. RHP Scott Atchison and LHP Tim Hamulack were also hit hard in relief. On the other side of things, 2B Mickey Lopez had four hits to pace the Rainiers’ 14-hit attack. 1B Andy Barkett and C Pat Borders each had two hits to continue their torrid offensive pace.
San Antonio 12, Wichita 3. C Jim Horner went four-for-four, raising his average to .407 since his demotion from Tacoma, to lead a balanced 13-hit effort in which seven Missions had at least one hit, six drove in at least one run and eight scored at least once. All that offense was more than enough for LHP Bobby Madritsch (5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) to pick up his second win in as many starts, evening his record at 2-2 and giving him 22 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings since coming off the DL. Other than Horner, DH John Lindsey had a nice game — single, double, homer, two runs scored and three runs batted in.
San Jose 4, Inland Empire 1. The 66ers were shut down at the plate Sunday, managing just five hits in the game and all were singles. 3B John Castellano, in a rare start, and DH Richard Pohle each had two of the five. Young RHP Emiliano Fruto’s (5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) struggles continued, as he dropped to 0-4 on the year and now has a 5.71 ERA, though the bullpen kept the team in the game. LHP Justin Blood and RHPs Brian Strelitz and Glen Bott combined for four scoreless innings (1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) in relief of Fruto. With the possible exception of San Antonio, strong bullpens seem to be a hallmark of the minor league system so far this season.
Wisconsin 13, South Bend 12 (10 innings). The Timber Rattlers have shown an uncanny knack for winning close games and in extra innings this season, a trend which continued Sunday in a wild game against South Bend. After going up 3-0 in the bottom of the 1st, Wisconsin fell behind 4-3 in the 4th. They tied it up in the 5th, only to see South Bend score 3 in their half of the 6th. Undaunted, Wisconsin scored 3 of their own in the bottom of the 6th. The two teams matched each other again in the 8th, with each side scoring 5 runs in the inning. The Timber Rattlers then won it in the bottom of the 10th on RF TJ Bohn’s second homer of the game. Bohn finished the day 4-5 with two homers, a double, three runs scored and five driven in. RHP Renee Cortez (2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) picked up the win in relief, and Wisconsin has now won five straight since starting the season 5-11.
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