Great to see Borders come through and the Mariners finally get a win. This was a perfect Franklin night: he took his lumps and kept plugging it in there, didn’t give up the walks and only had one ball aspire to home run length. The Expos kept him in business, and then Melvin brought in the closer with a tied-freaking-game. I was shocked and overjoyed, and it all paid off. Guardado got through the “power” section of the lineup, and notched the strikeout against the only guy the Expos were going to send up that can seriously rake in Nick Johnson.
Two huge baserunning gaffes tonight — aren’t those exactly the kind of boneheaded mistakes that alert, well-managed players aren’t supposed to make What was Cabrera thinking about when he got picked off, where they were going to dinner after the game? Nobody around me at the game saw what happened until they had him in the rundown because no one in their right mind would think he’d get picked off like that at third with two outs!
And Buntin’ Bob can’t.. stop.. calling.. for.. sacrifice.. arrrghhh.
Weirdest decision though is Robinson leaving Livan out for the ninth. Livan had thrown a ton of pitches, wasn’t all that effective at any point, letting the M’s do the work for him, and the Expos had fresh arms ready in the bullpen. Especially when Hansen pinch-hit: perfect time to bring in the lefty. Melvin’s burned Bloomquist early, and Bocachica’s on the basepaths. There’s no right-handed batter on the bench of any consequence left, so then you’ve got 1 out, 2 on, and if you get Hansen out the worst thing that happens is Borders gets on and then it’s a force-anywhere for groundball machine Ichiro with a really slow dude on first and none-too-speedy Aurilia at second: force anywhere in the infield.
I don’t get it.
The cool thing about Livan though was that 60mph pitch he threw to Edgar in the ninth to get the strikeout. That was straight ballsy, busting that out there, and I tip my hat to him for making it work.
Well, the Mariners aren’t worst in the AL, so this isn’t quite the worst v worst matchup it might have been (thank goodness Houston didn’t stick around for another day). And yet…
Friday, 7:05, RHP Franklin v RHP Hernandez.
Saturday, 7:05, LHP Moyer v RHP Vargas
Sunday, 1:05, RHP Pineiro v RHP Armas
Montreal has the worst offense in baseball, Mariners the 26th-best. The Expos, though, have been without Nick Johnson and Carl Everett, among others, while the Mariners really hadn’t suffered much from injuries before Ibanez went out. Still, the gap is so huge that even when I ran some numbers with Ibanez out, the Mariners only dropped one, two slots — the Expos are waayy behind. The park-adjusted gap between the #1 team and an average team is 25-35 runs so far this season, while the difference between those average teams and Montreal is 80-90 runs. The gap between the 26th-best Mariners and the Expos is 50 runs. That’s crazy, how bad the Expos offense has been.
Also, it doesn’t look like Ibanez is going to be back in the lineup in the immediate future. If he’s back in another 10 days, I’d be happy. Hamstring injuries aren’t easy rehabs, either — ask Edgar.
Montreal has a top-five starting rotation, and Livan’s arm still will not fall off, oppenly mocking those of us who worry about pitch counts. “Ha!” the arm says. “I mock your pitch counts and workload statistics!” The Mariners have a middle-of-the-road rotation.
Montreal’s bullpen’s been worse than Seattle’s by a fair sight, but overall, this looks like it’s going to be a low, low, low-scoring series, and the Mariners may well have a chance to threaten the major league scoreless innings streak (43). In fact, they could do it tonight if the game went into Bonus Baseball.
On the continuing Garcia-for-Contreras straight up rumors: I’d make this trade, no additional players involved. But we have to get Cashman for Bavasi too. This isn’t without precedent: Billy Beane was almost traded for Youklis.
In fact, I would trade Garcia and Bavasi for a state-of-the-art GM right now, mid-season, no throw ins required, because the payoff for the rest of the dumping would be so much greater it’d be worth it.
Stark has another column on interleague play and how it’s never ever going away (“Interleague play is now so ingrained in the baseball landscape, you couldn’t uproot it with an earthquake.”)
It’s not. I’m sorry, but it’s not. Nothing is. Sixty years ago, the three major sports in the US were baseball, boxing, and horse racing, and they were insanely popular. If you had told someone then that baseball would have interleague play, they’d have scoffed. Or re-alignment, or… there was a time there was no DH!
In another forty years, we might not have baseball at all. Baseball might be played in regional leagues, or one giant league, or in some kind of nutty round-robin divisionless format Commissioner Selig-Preib comes up with.
I still think interleague play is a crock of crap, but then I once argued that if baseball destroyed itself that might be pretty cool if it meant we got a crop of crazy PCL-type regional leagues across the country. Which must be one of the weirder arguments I’ve ever made, for sure.
Interleague play isn’t any more ingrained and integral part of baseball than the wild card. Things that are part of the game are things like nine innings, three outs a half-inning. Stuff about how the teams are organized, or when and how they play each other? It’s superficial, and to compare it to the three-strike rule is… I don’t know what Stark was thinking.
Yeah, Winn’s got a bad arm he makes up for with bad technique.
Which is weird… some of baseball’s bad habits, I understand — if a player comes up with a weird hitch in their swing and they don’t hit without it, well, maybe they live with it. But stuff like “when you catch the ball, be ready to throw it”? Why couldn’t Winn figure that out? Couldn’t someone tell him? Isn’t that part of Melvin’s job? It’s a thirty-second conversation:
“Randy, I don’t want to embarass you, but you know as well as I do that every team’s starting to run on you. I think they read the U.S.S. Mariner or something.”
“I’ve noticed that, skip. I love their commentary but I wish they hadn’t been so vocal about the advantage to be gained by exploiting my defensive inadequacy.”
“Here’s the thing, Randy. You’re not going to suddenly grow a third arm that’s really good at throwing.”
“I have been trying.”
“It’s not going to happen. What you need to do, Randy, is set up to throw when you can get under a ball and need to throw it back in.”
“Huh? How would I do that, skip?”
“I’m happy you asked. I’ve asked Ichiro to demonstrate.”
“There he is, in right field. I didn’t notice. And hey, you have a bat and a bag of balls here at home plate.”
“Yes. Now watch what happens when I hit an easy fly ball to Ichiro….”
“Wow, skip, I see exactly what you meant! Now maybe I can be as good an outfielder as Ichiro!”
(everyone has a good laugh, fade out)
So let’s talk about something else. I recently off-handedly referred to the A’s draft as a “flop”. I’d like to be a little clearer about that. The A’s draft was obviously not a Mariners-with-Mattox-like disaster. It produced a bunch of productive players. What I meant, and I should have explained this a lot better, is that in many places, not just in Moneyball, their college-heavy draft was held up as an example of a triumph of statistics over scouting, that the tide had finally changed, and the Blue Jays followed in their footsteps, and so forth.
It wasn’t a triumph, by any means. As I’m sure Dave will be happy to explain at length, because he Dave’s forgotten more about the drafts than I’ll ever learn, the great finds the A’s made in going against the traditional scouting views and signed for little money, relative to their position (but not, we should point out, relative to where they might otherwise have been drafted) are almost as a whole not doing well. And relative to the impression you’d get reading the book and the publicity that draft got, the draft didn’t approach the greatness it was set up as.
So flop? Sort of. Not really. If no one had said anything about it: no book, no coverage either way, we’d probably think they overachieved, because Baseball America would have rated it as extremely bad but it’s already looking like there are some good players there.
And to tie this all together with Dave’s post on Neyer’s column: while I’m sympathetic to Dave’s view here, Neyer’s got a point, which is this: “But you read those reports, and you understand just why at least a few baseball executives think they have to add at least a modicum of precision to the process.”
Now, they’re not reports, really, so Rob’s wrong in that sense, sure, but Rob’s right. This is why scouts aren’t respected — the every player carries a team. The descriptions of players as if they’re being introduced in a bodice-ripper of a romance novel (“His tanned, long limbs stretched out before her in a loose, graceful action. Oh, he would put on muscle as he matured, and Melinda saw the man she would make of Gary the Pac-10 shortstop…”). There’s such a wide gap between the “this player can clearly hit .300, because he hits .300 every year” performance analysis and the world of the scouts that it’s hard to meld the two. The language each side uses plays a big role in this. That’s not the issue Rob really raises, but his column demonstrates it clearly.
Now, there’s a legitimate gripe here that Rob’s making fun not of an actual scouting report but sort of a 50-word scouting report summary, but at the same time, that is the kind of language real scouting reports use. And it’s part of what frustrates Beane, who if he got that kind of a report would want to know “Can he hit or not? Because I’m a long-limbed guy with graceful actions, and I sucked.”
He wouldn’t have that reaction of course, because an actual scouting report has a lot more objective analysis, space for ratings, and is a lot longer than 50 words.
Does that make any sense? I feel like I’ve written this whole thing and I still haven’t explained what I meant well enough. Ah well, it’s late, my sleep patterns are totally screwed for this week.