Well, here’s a fun article.
But Boston plays the “Moneyball” style — never bunt, don’t take chances on the bases, sit back and let your hitters hack away and do the work regardless of the game situation, regardless of the identity of the opposing pitcher.
This is just what Derek was talking about the other week, with respect to Dave Henderson’s comment about stolen bases (“Which GM was it who said the stolen base was obsolete?”). Nobody ever said “never bunt.” The Red Sox are attempting a stolen base roughly every game-and-a-half. If you want to go on and on about productive outs that’s fine, but there’s no need to likewise go on and on about this so-called “Moneyball” style. It was just one book, people!
All time, All Mariner team
— by games played —
DH: Edgar Martinez, 1,914
C: Dan Wilson, 1,1137
1b: Alvin Davis, 1,166
2b: Harold Reynodls, 1,155
SS: Alex Rodriguez, 790
3b: Jim Presley, 799 (no joke)
RF: Jay Buhner, 1,440
CF: Ken Griffey Jr, 1,914
I’d forgotten about Presley. He’s not responsible for holding Edgar back (the M’s are), but looking over his career it’s easy to see what the M’s fell in love with: his power. Maybe his gaudy RBI totals, too. But here’s Presley’s lines:
1984, 22, .227/.247/.402
1985, 23, .275/.324/.484 (he’s a useful player! woo hoo!)
1986, 24, .265/.303/.463
1987, 25, .247/.296/.433
1988, 26, .230/.280/.355
1989, 27, .236/.275/.385
A danger of falling in love with what a player can do without acknowledging his limitations. At his best, he was a lot like Russ Davis: a third baseman who could knock out 20 home runs a year, not the player pushing your team towards a championship but not the guy keeping the team out, either. Presley was a little better with the glove, of course, too.
But say the team committed to Edgar full time in 1987, swapping out Presley for the young slugger. Edgar would have had three more years in his career (he played only 13, 14, and 65 games in 87-89), and would have eye-popping career numbers: maybe another 100 doubles, thirty home runs (at least), 500 hits… Most baseball players peak at 27, 28, and then it’s a matter of staving off the decline. Generally as players age they lose average, speed and defense, and they become more patient and hit for more power, and it’s a race between conditioning, experience, preparation, and inevitable aging.
Edgar didn’t get a regular job until 1990, when he was 27. Those pre-peak years are gone, wasted. Edgar belongs in the Hall of Fame now, even with those missing years. But one of the things voters consider is post-season performance, and whether the player brought home the pennants. And if you want something to be really, honestly mad about, take that: Edgar through his career has taken extremely modest salaries given his talent because he’s wanted to play for this team, and the team has taken his generosity, tied weights to it, and thrown it in the sound.
Does Edgar ever train just hard enough to be modestly competitive in the batting title race? When he’s doing his eye-strengthening exercises, do you think Edgar gets a couple done and says “that’s probably good enough for the fans”? Edgar deserves better than what this team gives him. He deserved better in 1987, he certainly deserved better when he stuck with the team in lean years, and now he’s playing on an awful team again, working his ass off because that’s what Edgar does.
If this team wanted to repay Edgar, they’d have spent all the money they squeezed out of him over the years on payroll, just this year, and spent it well, on Tejeda at short, Guerrero in right (Ichiro to center!) and Rodriguez to catch, maybe Ibanez in left, sure, maybe Batista to pitch instead of Garcia (hey, saving money on that one)… and if they had to overpay on all of those long-term deals, knowing Rodriguez would be a DH/1B in two, three years, if they put up a fight they might start to pay Edgar back for what he’s done for this team.
One of the things we rail on Bavasi about is that he didn’t have answers. How much worse is Winn than Cameron, defensively? “Oh, we think he’ll be fine.” How much defense do you think you traded for offense? “We traded some, but we’ll make it back.” How? “We brought in some veteran hitters…” How many more runs do you think you’ll score? “We’re an improved unit.”
Now the team is 7-15 — 7-15 — and Bavasi’s baffled. He still thinks he’s got a good group of veteran leaders who’ll come around because (and this is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard for a slow start) it takes veterans longer to come together.
Funny, Bill, that didn’t happen with all the Gillick veteran teams.
No one thinks the Mariners will go .300 for the season. But doesn’t it occur to Bavasi to at least ask some questions at this point and have decent answers? If I’m driving somewhere and I get totally lost, I don’t think “Hey, I’m a veteran driver, sometimes it takes me a long time to get to my destination”. I think “Where did I go wrong? Where’s my map (and my compass!) so I can figure out how to get where I was headed?”
Edgar deserves answers to these questions, and he’s not going to get them.
I’ve been a stranger around these parts lately, but have no fear, I’ll be back as a regular contributor soon. Just a tough week.
Some random thoughts that I’d like to turn into longer posts, given time.
1. There’s no way around it; when it comes to in game strategy, especially handling the bullpen, Bob Melvin just isn’t very good. His ideas on how to handle a roster are questionable at best, and trying to figure out his game theory is like doing a rubix cube blindfolded with one hand. Despite that, I don’t think he’s anything close to the source of the Mariners problems, or even much of a factor at all. Bob Melvin doesn’t deserve to lose his job for the team’s poor start, and I’m not convinced that anyone on earth could make this team play better. Firing the manager is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic right now.
2. I’m still stunned that we overrated this team. I’m not sure it was possible for us to like this offseason any less than we did, outside of a contract extension for Kevin Jarvis and instituting punch-in-the-groin night perhaps, and we still missed the boat on just how badly the organization screwed this team up. Unreal.
3. For the couple of bloggers already pontificating on who the M’s could unload at the trade deadline, yes, it’s still too early. And no, Edgar Martinez isn’t available under any circumstance. Period. End of story. You do not trade Edgar.
4. Gil Meche to the bullpen is inevitable and would be a step in the right direction for the M’s. Ron Villone as the replacement, well, let’s just re-use that rearranging the deck chairs analogy.
5. As someone who downplayed the value of defense for most of my life, let me issue one giant mea culpa; we were just so wrong. Team defense is ridiculously valuable and still underrated by just about everyone in the game.
6. This isn’t any fun. Personally, this has been one of the more challenging weeks of my life, and it would have been a great time for the M’s to toss me an encouraging bone every night. Being 7-15, getting beaten by the Rangers and Orioles, playing like a team devoid of potential, well, this sucks. But I’m not giving up. The M’s aren’t this bad, and there’s still hope. Has anyone noticed that the AL West isn’t exactly stellar this year? For how good Anaheim looked against us, that is one weak first place club.
New GM Watch
April 29th edition
a brief comparison of GMs in their freshman year at the helm of their teams
Paul DePodesta, Dodgers, 13-7, .650[last year .525]
Dan Oâ€™Brien, Reds, 12-9, .571 [last year .426]
Bill Bavasi, Mariners, 7-15, .318 [last year .574]
I believe the Mariners last year were the best team in the major leagues last year at turning balls put into play into outs. This year they’re 23rd out of 30 teams.