Paul at the good ship S.S. Mariner writes a neat bit on Ibanez and the good-guy thing.
I’d like to add one thing: if the manager’s job is to keep the team running smoothly and massage personalities (because the bench coach handles strategy, and so forth), what’s the point of having him when your clubhouse is composed of all these happy-go-lucky clubhouse presences? Why not forgo the manager, throw his salary on the pile with Kazu’s money, and invest it all in bonds? And not Barry Bonds– that would be smart.
I’ll say that again:
I want to make it clear that this is intended to make a point, and I don’t support this at all
I don’t think Raul Ibanez’s contract was the worst ever. I don’t think he’s somehow responsible for their losses. My point was only that you could, if you wanted to, pretty easily construct an argument that that was the case, just as it’s been argued that because he contributed to some wins, he’s a great pickup and Bavasi’s amazingly keen for having picked him up.
Just for clarification, I don’t think Derek was really serious when he called the Ibanez signing the worst in team history. As much as we dislike his contract and think that it exemplifies everything that is wrong with the organization right now, he’d have to suck at astronomical levels to match the head-scratchers handed to Greg Hibbard, Pete O’Brien, or either of the last two contracts given to Dan Wilson, especially the 3 year, $13 million anchor that he got after the 1999 season.
My posting will be erratic (read: likely nonexistant) through the weekend, so, to make sure our tremendous readers don’t feel neglected, here is what is on top for next week at USSM: An updated Future Forty and more in-depth look at the team’s defensive performance in 2004, compared to the rest of the league, as well as your usual daily banter and game recaps.
Oh, and Chris Snelling missing yet another season just sucks. Seriously, baseball needs guys like Chris Snelling. The M’s need a guy like Chris Snelling. There was absolutely nothing bad about the Chris Snelling, major league player story, and for it to have gone this horribly wrong just sucks.
Derek and I were at the game today, so as you might imagine, a good time was had by all (despite the loss).
He’s not kidding when he says the defense was awful. And by defense, we mean “Randy Winn.” Well, primarily at least. Eric Karros’ “double” in the 7th was a joke — Winn was in position to make the play and simply dropped the ball. Honestly, I don’t know what the Safeco official scorer is smoking sometimes. Next up, Winn misplays a single to center, allowing Karros to score from second (note: I see they changed this one to an error, which I actually disagree with, because it’s debatable Winn would have thrown him out anyway). Finally, Bloomquist misplays a grounder between first and second, allowing Dye to score from second (another note: wouldn’t they be better off defensively with Bloomquist at second and Cabrera at first?).
OK, I’m not quite done yet.
Willie Bloomquist at first base. This is wrong on so many levels. How sad is it when your first baseman, who should be one of the two or three best hitters on your team, has to bat ninth? I’m glad to see Melvin sitting Olerud against a tough lefty like Mark Mulder, but the guy taking his place shouldn’t be Bloomquist. It should be a guy like Karros, who the A’s picked up for a mere $550K. Or Greg Colbrunn, who we even had once upon a time. These guys are around; you just have to find them.
At the same time, if you’re going to sit Bret Boone, why not do so against a tough right-hander? Arg.
In response to this column (and I want to make it clear that this is intended to make a point, and I don’t support this at all, and Raul Ibanez is not the worst signing in Mariner history)
(seriously, this is a parody, and not to be taken seriously)
Raul Ibanez was a terrible signing, worst in Mariner history.
When the Mariners got out to a 0-5 start, where was Ibanez? He was responsible for those losses:
April 6, 5-10: Ibanez gets a hit but fails to drive in any runs as the Mariners lose their home opener. A cleanup hitter needs to drive runners in, and Ibanez utterly failed to do so.
April 7, 7-10: Ibanez again fails to drive in any runs in this tight loss, even leaving one in scoring position with two outs. That’s when you want your clutch guys to come through, and that’s what Ibanez is here for. His failure to produce in the clutch costs the team a win and starts them off 0-2
April 8, 1-5: For the third game in a row, Ibanez utterly fizzles as the cleanup hitter. Not even a single RBI to this point for the team’s go-to man, the left-handed power bat that is supposed to drive this offense. The team is swept by Anahiem and now things look bad. Morale deteriorates, and it’s time for Ibanez to show some leadership and bring the team around.
April 9, 6-8: Ibanez fails to do so. Benched in favor of McCracken, Ibanez wastes his pinch-hit appearance, leaving a runner in scoring position with two out, killing a rally and ending the team’s last good chance at winning the game.
April 10, 1-2: Ibanez finally produces in the clutch, hitting a single to score Ichiro. However, in his other two at bats he lets the team down, when any hit would have provided a spark to break Tim Hudson’s rhythm. Ibanez also fails to homer, which would have tied the game.
And after a win, Ibanez immediately returned to skunking the team.
April 13, 5-7: Ibanez drops to the five hole and does nothing but get a sacrifice fly. The four guys in front of him were on base nine times, and all he got was one RBI? Ibanez’s failure to drive in runs does the team in, as they lose by two runs.
April 14, 5-6: Ibanez goes 0-3 and again can’t manage to drive in any runs, despite having the four guys ahead of him on base seven times. Any hit at any point would have been the balance of the game, plus getting caught stealing ended up snuffing a rally chance, turning a baserunner into an out.
And then again:
April 16, 0-5 : Ibanez is baffled by noted ace Chan Ho Park. Ibanez strikes out twice and leaves six (six!) men on base, a black hole in the center of the lineup, sucking all potential rallies in where they’re never heard from again.
And these last two losses can be squarely laid at Ibanez’s feet:
April 21st, 4-7: Ibanez leaves two men on and fails to drive in any runs as the team goes down to Tim Hudson again. His double play destroy’s the team’s chance to get back into the game and shuts the door on the team.
April 22nd, 2-8: Another no-RBI game for Ibanez, another loss for the team.
There’s no doubting that Ibanez has played a crucial role in every one of the Mariners ten losses. We can only speculate as to how well they’d do without him, but it looks like they’d go 16-0.
Okay, I’m done with that silliness. My point is this: It’s easy to make players look good or bad, and you can assign wins and losses to individual players if that’s what you want to do, but you can’t draw conclusions from that kind of shoe-gazing.
And, now that I think about it, my second point is “If that argument is so dumb and ridiculous, isn’t the opposite argument also equally ridiculous?”
Can someone explain why Guardado was available to pitch the ninth inning of a blowout but wasn’t put in yesterday, when the team desperately needed him? What’s the point?
The defense looked awful, awful, awful. I don’t care if they only get one error, there were many really bad plays.
Here’s an example of how the team’s inflexibility hurts us. Given three players:
Player A, has played centerfield well, played right corner well, great arm, good range
Player B, has played centerfield okay, played left corner well, weak arm, average range
Player C, has played left corner okay, good arm, average, maybe below-average range
And given that you must play all three of them in the outfield, the best solution is clear:
Player B goes to left, where they can use their range while their arm isn’t an issue
Player A goes to center, where they’ll rock
Player C goes to right, where his limited range won’t be quite an issue, but his arm has use
You’ve got the same bats in the lineup, but suddenly your defense plays to each of their strengths and weaknesses, rather than mismatch everyone. I mean seriously, we can’t be the only people who see this. This organizational fixation on keeping players where they’re doing well and never trying to make the most of their talents… it’s near-sighted and dumb.
This is the same thing we see a lot with Melvin: Jolbert Cabrera’s playing second, Bloomquist is at first, and in the ninth, with two outs, Melvin lets Cabrera, a righty, hit against Bradford, a righty-killer, while Dave Hansen goes to the on-deck circle for Bloomquist.
Sure, they’re down 8-2, but if you’re going to start firing your rounds in the ninth, how about pinch-hitting a lefty (Olerud or Hansen) for Wilson and then the other for Cabrera? Sure, you lose your second baseman, but isn’t that what Willie’s versatility is all about? Hansen or Olerud goes to first, Bloomquist to second.
Anyway, longer post to follow.
“Two runs on a sac fly”, two retorts
Christian Ruzich, of the fine Cub Reporter, writes:
I know it was just an off-hand comment, but it got me thinking. I asked the
folks at Retrosheet about two runs scoring on a sac fly and they came back
with a long list (well, OK, nine instances) over the last 30 years where it
MON@ATL 7/12/75 (2) — marked with hash, may be suspect
MIN@BAL 8/26/83 — scoresheet clearly notes 2RBI
CHA@TEX 8/19/83 (2)
KCA@OAK 9/13/87 — files note fielders collided
It also happened in the 1982 World Series:
“St. Louis was already ahead 1-0. With one out, Moose Haas
pitching for the Brewers, and Ozzie Smith at second and Willie McGee at
third for the Cardinals, Tommy Herr hit a fly ball to deep center that was caught by
Gorman Thomas, who then slipped and fell on the warning track. Smith and
McGee both scored on the play, and Herr got credit for an SF and two RBI.”
So it does happen every once in a while, and sometimes requires something wacky to happen. The other rebuttal came from a friend of mine, who wrote “What if it’s a long fly ball to center, fielded by Randy Winn?”
New GM Watch
April 22nd edition
a brief comparison of GMs in their freshman year at the helm of their teams
Paul DePodesta, Dodgers, 10-4, .714 [last year .525]
Dan Oâ€™Brien, Reds, 8-5, .571 [last year .426]
Bill Bavasi, Mariners, 6-9, .400 [last year .574]
Our Atom Feed, so those of you using hip browsers should be able to syndicate us now. Yay.
Updated: now why doesn’t that work? I followed blogger’s instructions exactly. Argh
Allowing for the possibility that I missed an explanation for the late inning bullpen usage by being asleep for the end of last night’s game, it appears that Bob Melvin made his first huge tactical error of 2004 with the way he handled the 9th inning. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that any of the local writers felt necessary to ask him about this, as there is nothing about it in any of the daily papers, so if there is an explanation beyond “Melvin screwed up”, we don’t get to know about it.
Top of the 9th inning, tied at 4: Byrnes, Chavez, Dye due up, with Hatteberg and Durazo the men to drive them in if anyone reaches:
The Mariners best relief pitcher, Eddie Guardado, is left-handed, and hadn’t pitched the day before, ostensibly making him available for work. Guardado is ridiculously tough on lefties, holding them to a .195/.217/.262 mark the past three years, but also is effective against right-handers, as they’ve hit .211/.275/.370 against him. Essentially, he’s a very good reliever that turns left-handed hitters into automatic outs while still holding down righties as well.
The middle of the line-up is coming up in the 9th inning of a tie game, meaning that the Mariners have no possibility of getting a save in this game. They will be the final at-bat, and a save opportunity will never present itself in this game. If Guardado is going to pitch, he will do so in a non-save situation.
Over the past three years, Byrnes has displayed the natural platoon split for a right-hander, hitting southpaws significantly better than like-handed pitchers. He’s hit .282/.328/.500 against lefties, just .242/.324/.427 against righties. Melvin chooses to stay with Mike Myers, his lefty specialist, giving Byrnes the platoon advantage and making it much more likely that Byrnes, the go-ahead run, will reach base. Myers command has always been a problem, especially against right-handers, and he predictably walks Byrnes. Bad Decision #1 by Melvin.
Chavez has some of the most extreme splits in the game. He pounds right-handers to the tune of .306/.375/.579, but lefties have reduced him to a .229/.278/.395 hitter from 2001-2003. Clearly, you want Chavez facing a southpaw in any tight situation. Myers was left in so that he could face Chavez. This is the out they were hoping Myers would get, and they were willing to make it likely that Byrnes reached base in order to bring it up. Chavez illustrates further how poor a decision that was, singling to right field, and moving the go-ahead run into scoring position.
Dye has hit both sides about the same over his career, showing no obvious advantage to the opposition whether they face with him a lefty or righty. His three year splits aren’t as relevant thanks to the broken leg that ruined his last two seasons and clearly don’t represent the type of player he is now. He’s clearly not someone you play the matchups with. However, with Myers failing, Melvin goes and gets Shigetoshi Hasegawa, a right-hander, to face Dye. With the go ahead run in scoring position and nobody out, the Mariners are going to need at least one strikeout, probably two, to get out of this inning tied. So Melvin brings in the pitcher with the lowest strikeout ratio on the staff. Dye predictably crushes a two run double to left. Bad Decision #2 by Melvin.
Scott Hatteberg has hit slightly worse against lefties over the past three seasons, posting a .234/.330/.357 line against them, as opposed to his .257/.358/.404 mark against right-handed pitching. Despite giving up the lead and now facing two batters whom have the platoon advantage against him and could be made significantly less potent by bringing in a lefty, Melvin stays with Hasegawa. Hatteberg reaches on an error by Boone that would have advanced Dye to third regardless. Bad Decision by Melvin #3.
Erubiel Durazo has pretty significant splits as well, hitting .247/.344/.398 against lefties but putting up a .267/.391/.510 line against right-handers. With a big run 90 feet away, a batter prone to striking out, and one who pounds right-handers at the plate, Melvin stays with the non-strikeout pitcher who is right handed, and Durazo predictably drives in Dye from third with a long sacrifice fly, giving the offense yet a harder task to accomplish if this game is to be won. Bad Decision By Melvin #4.
In an effort to hold Guardado back for a situation that was never going to occur, he forfeited the platoon advantage against three hitters with significant splits, with the sole intent being that Mike Myers could face Eric Chavez. He made the likelyhood of every other runner reaching base more likely so that our worst reliever could face their best hitter, when the same advantage could have been earned by simply putting our best reliever in the game to start the inning.
Holding your closer out for a save situation at home when you’re not ahead after the 8th inning is stupidity. You’re essentially telling your best reliever that he won’t pitch in this tie game which could be won by the smallest of margins because there isn’t a magical save waiting for him after he walks off the mound. In the 9th inning of a tie game, when the other team has the heart of their order due up, use your best reliever. This is basic baseball, and Melvin screwed it up about as badly as it could be screwed up. He made the wrong choice on just about every hitter, and the A’s predictably scored three runs and won the game.
I’m not one who thinks Melvin needs to be fired and is a bad manager. I really hope someone sits him down and explains that how he ran the bullpen in the 9th inning last night was just poor strategy, however, and he made it significantly harder for his team to win the game. This is the kind of rookie manager mistake that he shouldn’t be making. Let’s hope he learns from it.