Before I sign off for the night…
If any Blogger-types are reading this, I’d like to toss in my two cents and say I don’t care for the new publishing system. Not only is it harder to use, it just posted my previous post four times.
The M’s had a good SS glove man, Ruben Castillo, in the organization the past few years, but as far as I know he’s no longer around. He was pretty much what Derek was talking about, too, in that he couldn’t hit at all — .211/.263/.252 in 337 AAA at-bats last season, and .218/.251/.292 at AA the year before that. He sure could pick it at shortstop, though. I don’t think they have one of those this season, but I’ll admit I haven’t seen Eriberto “Eddie” Menchaca play in person. It’s worth noting that he may only have a good defensive rep because he can’t hit, though, as often happens with minor league middle infielders (and catchers).
I’m not sure what to think about Jose Lopez. I know Dave isn’t as high on him as the general feeling about him, which is probably a wise opinion. Lopez’ skill set sure looks like Tony Batista, too. A couple of things about that, though — Batista is no great shakes, particularly since he peaked in 2000, but there are a heck of a lot of teams who would gladly take 25+ homers and solid defense at shortstop. It’s not Batista’s fault his teams have chosen to play him at 3B (though admitidly, his range is on the decline; nevermind that, we’re talking offense).
The other thing (about Lopez, I mean) is his age. About a year ago I had the opportunity to see the San Antonio Missions in person for three games, thanks to my writing gig for the Grand Salami. It was a great trip — not only did I see Rett Johnson take a no-hitter into the 8th before settling for a one-hit masterpiece, but I also saw the Missions clinch the 1st half title. Last year’s San Antonio team was much like the 2001 M’s, in that they could seemingly do no wrong and won games at a ridiculous clip. It was a kick to be up close to that, even if only for a few days.
In any event, even though I knew he was a top prospect, I came home unimpressed by Jose Lopez. When I mentioned that to Dave, he told me that perhaps the toughest thing in evaluating players is trying to get a good gauge on players who are young for their league; Lopez played in the AA Texas League at age 19 last season, and while he didn’t set the world on fire, he certainly held his own against older competition.
Of course, I’d like to see him get a full AAA season. And heck, maybe two more AAA months next year as well. That said, if Aurilia goes down for any extended period, I’d certainly like to see what Lopez could do against even older competition.
Also, May 12th is the first not-at-all-official USS Mariner road game get-together. This one’s on the Eastside at ~5 for the game vs. the Twins. If you’re interested in hanging out and enjoying a game in the company of other high-quality Mariner fans, drop us a line and I’ll send you information. Should be a good time.
Next email, from Willis McDonald:
odds right now of the Ms
-winning 81 games
We’re almost 1/5th of the way through the season and the M’s are 12-18. .400 … Ow. At this rate they finish the year at 64-98, and one of the most brutal seasons since 1992, when Bill Plummer and the good ship Mariner went… 64-98.
I thought they were a .525 team. If I was right, and they play that well the rest of the season starting right now, they’ll make 81 wins exactly. Now, luck being luck, figure it’s about 50-50 if my initial prediction was right:
About half the time, luck will push the team up, either not enough to flip a game, or up to (say) four games if almost everything possible breaks their way the rest of the season.
About half the time, luck will hold the team down, either not enough to flip a game, or down antoher four games if almost everything possible breaks against them the rest of the season.
However, we haven’t seen any injuries yet, and this is a team ill-equipped to handle serious injuries to certain players.
So I’d say… 40% they make 81 wins. And as I type that, I feel that’s the optimistic fan in me, and it really should be more like 33% or even lower.
I see the percentages like this:
85 wins: 1%
84 wins: 5%
83 wins: 10%
82 wins: 15%
81 wins: 58%
80 wins: 15%
except that, let’s be entirely honest here, let’s say this glimpse into bad play has shown us that we made some mistakes pegging them as an 85-win team. Re-figure it, say you think their true value is a .500 team.
Now their final record should end up at about 78-84, and their chances at 81 are much slimmer.
Division title? One in twenty, at the highest. Doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, but we’re hoping not just for the Rangers to cool, which is reasonable, but the Rangers and Angels to cool while the A’s blow up and drop behind us, which would take a lot of doing.
I agree, if you’re going to have one UT on the roster it should be Cabrera. But can he really hit lefties? ESPN gives his three-year splits from 2001-2003 (which are mostly 2001) as .281/.321/.411 which is still… it’s Bloomquist-esque. This year he’s been pounding them, but in 39 at-bats. I’ll take his .389/.421/.500 v RHP this year, but I don’t think Cabrera’s ever hit anyone well. Of course, I don’t have his minor league splits on hand, so if he started to hit them after 2001, I’d have no idea.
But to make an annoying point, this Bloomquist v Cabrera debate illustrates how bad this organization is at finding depth. The A’s will turn over every rock on the beach to find a Scutaro. The Mariners don’t think it’s important enough to invest that kind of energy in.
Next email from Ryan Pederson:
If Rich Aurilia continues (not) hitting like has for another two weeks what should the Mariners do? And, what will the Mariners do?
Bloomquist or Cabrera are abviously not everyday shortstops. Ramon Santiago has been, well, Ramon Santiago and is clearly not an option. Do we see Jose Lopez in Seattle?
What should they do? Jeez… work the phone lines. Turn over rocks. Work the streets. One of the things frequently neglected in stathead circles is that in the importance of finding hidden offense, we often overlook the possibility of hidden glove men. If there’s a guy out there, even if he can hit .000, who can catch everything hit between second and third and turns the double-play like butter, and Aurilia continues to not hit and not play defense, plugging the defensive wizard starts to make sense. And with the M’s defensive struggles, it’s worth thinking about.
Now how you find those guys… no clue.
I don’t think promoting Lopez is the answer. And yet… while there are counter examples, in general I don’t think rushing a hitter to the majors is as big of a deal as rushing a pitcher. If Lopez continues to tear it up, and Aurilia continues to not hit at all, yeah, maybe you go for it if you think he’s ready.
But jeez, Aurilia can’t not hit this much for much longer, can he? Yeaaaaaaaaaaagh. I think you give him some more time.
And hey, what’s Paul Molitor doing on this team if he can’t help players with this stuff, huh?
Bret Boone is a gold glove second basemen. One of the best second basemen in the game. He is not, however, a guy that should be hitting 3rd in a lineup – even though he may be our best option.
How can a team with a $90+ million dollar payroll not have one guy that is suited to hit third in a lineup?
I haven’t really bit into the lineup position thing:
1 = high OBP, speed
2 = high average, to move the runner over
3 = best hitter
4 = also best hitter
5 = power
6-9 = all spin, all spin
But I understand what you’re saying. What do you do with these guys?
Part of the problem, and we’ve discussed this here before over and over, is that this isn’t a team constructed with a mind for the whole. Bavasi and Co. didn’t spend the off-season thinking “How can we best build a cohesive team that allows us to win games any way we can? How do we build good lineups? How do we remain excellent defensively?”
Instead, they were asking questions like “How do we get that left-handed power bat that we know we need so badly but while also bringing in a good clubhouse guy so Melvin doesn’t have to actually manage personalities or anything, and it’d also be good if this guy we needed had some Seattle connection too, huh?”
So while we needed another really good hitter to stick in the middle of the lineup with Boone/Martinez, we have Raul Ibanez — who, yes, is performing well. But he’s not Vlad. Or Tejeda. Or Pudge.
By the way, do you know where I can find a list of all the old Mariners slogans?
“Anything can happen”
“Playing for Keeps”
Mariners are playing hardball”
Ahhhhhhhhh. I’ll throw that open for readers. Is there any kind of archive of that stuff?
Now, Derek, I think this is where looking at what a player can’t do in total hides his usefulness. Jolbert Cabrera has some gaping flaws, mainly an inability to hit major league right-handed pitchers. Bloomquist does this slightly better, and this makes him appear to be more useful on the surface. But since neither one is starting, they should be viewed in light of which role they can play to help the club win, and through that filter, Cabrera is eminantly more valuable.
1. Cabrera can actually hit southpaws. This team badly needs reserves who can hit against lefties, what with Olerud/Ibanez being regulars and Spiezio’s problems against southsiders last year.
2. Cabrera is the best defensive CF on the roster. Well, Ichiro may be, but we’ll never know, since he’s the Best Rightfielder In The Game (TM, Mevlin, 2004). So, at minimum, Cabrera is the best defensive CF on the roster who has a chance to actually play there. I suggested at the time of the Cabrera trade that Cabrera should be Ibanez’s platoon partner, starting in CF and shifting Winn to LF vs lefties. Melvin won’t do this, but at least he could.
3. Cabrera is reasonably fast. No, he’s not a great basestealer, but if you’re going to pinch run between Cabrera and Bloomquist, Cabrera is the choice.
These aren’t the skills of someone you want to trade for, or pay $1 million to, but now that he’s here, let’s realize that Cabrera can actually help this team if used effectively. The things Bloomquist does, well, not as badly as the rest of the things he does, aren’t needs this team has. He doesn’t fill any holes or provide anything that someone doesn’t do better. He’s completely redundant on this roster, and really any roster not in the PCL.
As a major league regular, Cabrera’s not very good. As a role player, he has some uses. He’s probably the M’s most useful reserve, and jettisoning him because he doesn’t hit righties very well isn’t seeing the whole picture.
First email of the night, from Dylan Wilbanks:
Those family restrooms are for FAMILIES, not for fat-butt single guys who
hog them for 15 minutes while my baby girl’s diaper is filling with more
feces than a Howard Lincoln interview. The next time I catch one of you guys
walking into the bathroom when I’m on sanitation duty, YOU’RE changing her
OK, game related… Soriano’s velocity is down 3-5 mph, and it seemed to
bother him; he was overthrowing and trying to hit targets that he can’t hit.
I’m wondering if maybe he’s being rushed back, and that bothers me
considering how many good RHPs we have in Tacoma who might have made it
through that inning unscathed.
Yeah, as much as I’ve stumped for Soriano to be in the rotation, he looks bad right now, not like the Soriano we saw last year at all. It seems weird though that they’d put him down on a rehab assignment and clear him to come back if he wasn’t ready to pitch at the major league level, though.
Oh, and the first part reminds me:
If Jolbert Cabrera can play utility, what’s the point of keeping him and Bloomquist on the roster? And how do you make the choice?
The evidence in favor of Bloomquist boils down to this: in July of last year, he got 74 at-bats and hit .270 with a little bit of pop — .270/.341/.392 was his line, which if he could keep it up for a full season, would be bad (really bad) for a third baseman, but for a utility player, probably would have been a plus. Except that he didn’t, of course — .250/.317/.321 on the season, which is baaaaaaaaaaaaad, and in line with his minor league stats, which are baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.
Cabrera essentially duplicates Bloomquist’s skill set, except that he got two nearly-full years in Cleveland (2000-2001) where he hit .251/.290/.314 and .261/.312/.348 to pretty well prove that he couldn’t hit at the major league level, where Bloomquist gets endless excuses for being rushed (or whatever), not having a regular role, and so forth.
Cabrera’s also much older than Bloomquist (31 to 26) and he’s not from Bremerton. If I had to pick one honestly, if I was the GM, I’d pick Bloomquist, because he’s young and there’s a chance that some other club might take a shine to him if he has a hot month and I could trade him for something shiny.
And yet… maybe this is a case where you don’t, because if he has a hot month where he lucks into some game-winning RBI, and his fan club grows immensely, management forces you to give him a three-year, $9m deal, and then you’re really screwed.
Whereas Cabrera… I don’t mean this as a dig, but Cabrera’s 31 and doesn’t have the local ties. If you play Cabrera as your UT this year, no one will raise a stink about him being the future of the franchise when you make him go away, and keeping those PAs from Bloomquist keeps him out-of-sight and makes your job easier.
Or would, if you were the M’s GM, and I sincerely wish you were.
I try and stay away from this, but I’m going to comment on some things that came up on tonight’s broadcast.
– If you’re struggling to score runs, don’t sacrifice more often. That’s only going to make it harder to score runs, and it’s not as if one run by playing small ball would somehow make the offense significantly better.
– If you’re facing a pitcher who can’t get an out, for crying out loud, the last thing you want to do is give them an out. If they can’t find the plate and are grooving pitches down the middle when they’re behind in the count, why in the world would you sacrifice anyone over?
1: You don’t get anything from a successful sacrifice anyway and
2: Your return on a normal at bat against a struggling pitcher are far, far higher than the returns on a sacrifice
I get frustrated sometimes when I watch these games and the announcers constantly harp on the importance of pitching inside, inside inside inside, gotta go inside, gotta have the guts… and the inside pitches get drilled just like the outside pitches by hitters who can turn on them. Go inside to Alex… home run. But does anyone ever mention this? Of course not — they’re on to talking about the importance of manufacturing runs.
Speaking of which: for all the constant carping about how important it is to move the runners along, put pressure on the defense, whatever, how you can’t rely on the long ball yadda yadda yadda, is it so hard to give credit to the long ball? The great Mariner offenses hit for huge power and scored runs by the bushel. The Yankees today knocked the stitches off the ball to come back and win — is it really that hard to admit that while over-reliance on power brings a set of problems, that hitting for power is by far the easiest way for a team to score runs?
Arrrrrrrgh. I feel drained, and while I’m trying to come up with something interesting and orignal to say, I really just want to shake my head and see if there’s any other really good games on…
Philly v Arizona? Steve Sparks? Well, I do love a knuckleballer.
Drop us a line if you’ve got something you want us to talk about. I promise to hit at least one tonight.
I’ve gotten a couple of emails about this, so…
Yes, for some reason I neglected to put Wisconsin OF Josh Ellison on the Big Board. He’s off to a hot start, too, hitting a robust .400/.516/.600 in his first 25 at-bats. Also, note that he’s walked six times and fanned just three times in seven games. Not too shabby. Ellison showed a decent walk rate but nothing in the way of power last season (only 20% of his hits went for extra bases) at Everett, and hit just .269 in 182 at-bats, though he did steal 12 bases in 16 attempts. He turns 21 this July, so he’s not exactly young for the Midwest League, either.
In any event, I’ll add him at the next update.