Real quick — I don’t have fielding info from Japan, but didn’t Ichiro play center his entire career over there? In that sense, he’s played it a heck of a lot more than Winn has, albeit not as recently.
In any event, I think it’s pretty clear the outfield should be Winn (decent range, poor arm) in left, Ichiro (good range, good arm) in center and Ibanez (OK range, better arm than Winn) in right.
Reader Cliff Classen writes:
The Texas GM calls and says: “Hey, my nine for your nine, straight up.” Do you answer something along the lines of basically working out the transportation details?
Ah, John Hart, wacky team-swapper.
What are you getting? Assuming it’s the starting best nine —
Huge young stars: Hank Blalock, Mark Teixeira
Not as young stars who might not really be able to keep their level of productivity up but then again might be: Alfonso Soriano
Good prospect-y guys: Gerald Laird
Decent semi-young guys: Mike Young
Decent players still developing who might have promise and might not: Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix (I could write about that for a while, but I won’t)
Servicable regulars being paid as such: Fullmer
And you’d be giving up
Stars: Edgar, Boone
Really good guys who maybe don’t contribute at that same level but are still cool and I like a lot: Ichiro!
Servicable regulars, some of whom are paid enormous amounts of money: Ibanez, Aurilia, Spiezio, Winn, Wilson
Old guys dragging boulders around: Olerud
Given too that this season looks like a wash, I take the offer and wonder what Hart’s been smoking. Then I deal Soriano off (because we’ve got Lopez & Friend to play next year). Well, no, I don’t, because I couldn’t bring myself to trade Edgar. I’d wuss out and have to have an assistant take the offer. If you’re going to play for next year, the Rangers offer you a bunch of players that will be better in a year that you can build your team around. The Mariners are built to win now, and they’re losing.
Tacoma News Tribune ran an article about Winn that contains some weird statements:
On the difficulty of catching balls in the sun:
In fact, that was the impetus behind [Griffey’s] famous “demand” that the Safeco Field roof be used for cover on an otherwise pleasant afternoon.
Look, no one knows. Griffey’s a guy who may have told many people many different versions of the story — I really do like Griffey, but following his career there’s a lot of post-event justification that goes on when he’s done something wacky.
During spring training, when Winn was being groomed for his return to center field – he alternated between left and center in Tampa Bay – manager Bob Melvin urged patience, as the veteran was adjusting to a position whose difficulties were masked by the elite likes of Griffey and Mike Cameron.
Small problem here. Winn’s defensive positions, by year
1998, 70 CF games, 16 LF games, 12 RF games
1999, 77 CF games
2000, 18 CF games, 29 LF games
2001, 48 CF games, 62 RF games, 9 LF games
2002, 138 CF games, 8 RF games
Soooooooooo he didn’t alternate so much between left and center in Tampa as much as he alternated all over the outfield… and then played center full time. Or focusing on his last couple of years, you could say he played center and right field.
I know that’s kind of picky, I’m sorry… but doesn’t anyone besides Larry Stone and David Andriessen fact-check their assumptions before they file their stories? We could write a “media watch” column every day where we go through the local dailies and point out things that are wrong in each story. Could do that with the broadcasts, except we can’t point to broadcast transcript URLs and there’s so, so much in three hours.
The point here being that Winn played 371 games in center field just at the major league level before this season, and many more in the minors. It’s not as if we’ve transported him to some wacky planet where the gravity is twice Earth’s and he has to run across uneven formations space crystals to get to the ball. He’s just not a good center fielder out there. He’s okay, but he’s not good. There’s a temptation (as in that article) to dismiss the downgrade as a perception thing, that he only appears to suck because Cameron was awesome, but that raises three issues:
– He seriously is below-average in center field
– Where were these people when many M’s fans (like us) kept protesting that Cameron’s glove far outweighed his problems hitting at home?
So… what’s the solution? It’s crazy! It’s revolutionary! It’s something we’ve been pushing since Cameron was booted out of town:
Beyond a blockbuster trade – and it’s too early to talk about that – here’s a simple solution: restore Winn to his comfort zone in left, move Raul IbaÃ±ez to right field (he’s played it, on and off, since high school) and switch Ichiro Suzuki to center.
Ichiro is a world-class right fielder, but let’s face it, a world-class right fielder is a luxury when the center fielder is Mike Cameron. When the center fielder is a mistake waiting to happen, the best defensive player in the outfield should man the busiest station in the outfield.
It’s never too early to talk blockbuster trade, but beyond that… hey, here’s a problem, though: if veteran outfielder Randy Winn’s having all these problems adjusting to center field, wouldn’t Ichiro! have the same problems?
On today’s game:
What a tough game to watch. The rain delays, the length of time it took to get to a loss… watching the team chip away at the lead only to have Texas put up 3 in the seventh, and then see the Mariners answer that three but fall short… just watching I felt like I’d had a lot taken out of me.
Hard to find fault in the offense: they were patient and drew four walks off Drese and nine on the night, really whupping up on some of that middle relief. Problems again giving up the extra-base hits, which we almost never saw last year. But the real problem again came from the defense and the long ball, both problems that continue to dog the team. Tonight Pineiro faced 28 guys. He struck out six, walked one, and gave up two home runs (ow) (and they still count for a full run if they’re solo shots). Of the 19 batters he saw put the ball into play, 11 of those went for hits. 11! That’s crazy. We got to see balls get by Davis as well as the infield… just ugly play all around.
When your pitcher goes almost 110 pitches, throwing 61% strikes and racking up a strikeout an inning (even while getting slapped around), you’ve got to think he’ll walk away with a win. 11 hits on 19 balls in play. Ow, ow, ow.
I noticed, though, that the Rangers have a lot more electronic noise between pitches and stuff than Safeco does this year. It tends to grate on me, but I don’t seem to have noticed its absence. I’d gladly trade the dumb in-game annoyances for the “Rally Jig” even if I’d rather not have either. I want to watch the game, talk to my friends, maybe score, drink a beer, have an Ivardog. I see a ton of games every year, and I don’t like the hydros (though, again, I prefer the simplified hydros to the hyper-active, waving-camera hydro races of last season). And while people think that the casual fan comes to the game for the music and crazy videos, I think maybe they come to the Mariners game for the baseball, like me.
Note on the missing post:
Deleted a post today, a lengthy riposte to the Seattle Weekly letters to the editor about the stat rats article. One I disagreed with in a sort of civil manner, though I think the writer’s quite wrong. The other involved name-calling and threats to force-feed me my stats. My responses weren’t that great.
I wrote a long thing about how I was trying to elevate my work and hopefully the quality of debate. Umm… here it is.
I’m going to keep working on that. So if you see a lame post from me and later it goes away, that’s me trying to self-edit. Sorry. I planned a much longer article on the nature of chemistry at some point. But I’m going to defer to Rob Neyer, who hit this in his chat today:
Dan, Chicago: Whenever anyone talks to me about the Yankees’ lack of chemistry, I think of the 72-74 Oakland A’s. Is there any reason why chemistry should affect this Yankees team negatively if it didn’t affect the A’s?
Rob Neyer: No. And there’s a better example, closer to home: the 1976-1981 Yankees, who fought each other all the time. But you already know what I think about “chemistry.” Often discussed, never explained.