July 30, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Trading season has begun in a big way, and let’s all throw our hands to the sky and rejoice that we aren’t fans of the New York Mets. A quick recap of what’s gone down so far.

The Mets decided to mortgage their entire future to try and help save a 49-52 team that is in 4th place in the NL east and has no shot at the wild card. Not wise. In two seperate deals, they acquired three pitchers; Kris Benson, Victor Zambrano, and Bartolome Fortunato. Benson is a decent 3rd starter who is leaving at the end of the year, Zambrano is a back-end starter who can’t throw strikes, and Fortunato is a flamethrower with no idea how to pitch. For picking up a decent pitcher, a mediocre pitcher, and a minor league pitcher, the Mets sacrificed their top minor leaguer (Scott Kazmir), their top minor league catcher (Justin Huber), their third best minor league arm (Matt Peterson), a potential middle reliever (Joselo Diaz), and the man who started at 3rd base for them most of the year (Ty Wigginton). That’s just a ridiculous price to pay.

Translated into Mariner terms, this would be akin to trading away Clint Nageotte, Miguel Olivo, Jose Lopez, Aaron Taylor, and Bobby Livingston. You give up that much, you darn well better get Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen in return.

The Royals get Huber for Jose Bautista, who they claimed off waivers from Baltimore, who picked him from Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 draft. Not exactly a piece of big time value. Great deal for Allard Baird.

The Pirates get the aforementioned Bautista, Peterson, and Wigginton for Benson. A decent haul, but considering some of the other talent that the Mets shipped off today, they could have done a lot better. Kazmir and Huber would have been a better package.

The Devil Rays get Kazmir and Diaz for Zambrano and Fortunato. Unbelievable. Turning a mediocrity and a longshot into a top prospect and a decent throw-in. Chuck LaMar with one of his best deals in history.

Moving on to the other side of the country, the Dodgers sent Guillermo Mota, Paul LoDuca, and Juan Encarnacion to the Marlins for Brad Penny, Hee Choi, and Bill Murphy. This is all a precursor to possible Randy Johnson and Steve Finley trades, so we’ll wait to see where the carousel stops for these guys before breaking it all down. Right now, the Dodgers are the big winners, with the Marlins making themselves worse, older, and more expensive.

In other moves, the Padres picked up Brad Fullmer for a player to be named later. The old sentence that resided here has been deleted due to changing circumstances.

So, a brief rundown so far: Big kudos to Kansas City and Tampa Bay (are you kidding me?), with the Dodgers getting a thumbs up so far, the Pirates getting an “eh” for effort, and the Mets fans having good reason to burn down Shea Stadium.

July 30, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

While I wouldn’t compare him to Jason Kendall, Jason’s point is valid. Ichiro has some pretty big flaws in his game, mainly the humungous lack of power, that prevent him from being an other worldly player. And with his contract extension, he’s getting paid like an other worldly player. There aren’t too many ways around the fact that, for what he does on the diamond, Ichiro is overpaid.

However, there are two other points that are irrefutable in this case:

1. Ichiro makes the Mariners a ton of money, and probably would even if he made $25 million per year.

2. Ichiro’s a very good player, making up for the lack of power through copious amounts of singles, stolen bases, and defense. It’s really hard to be a top notch player without hitting for power, but Ichiro pulls it off.

Ichiro is overrated by traditional fans, underrated by statistical analysts, overpaid for what he does on the field, underpaid for the attraction he is at the gate, and simultaneously an immensely valuable player who fails at the things that make most players immensely valuable.

He’s one of a kind, and totally unlike anything else in the game. But make no mistake, he is a tremendous player, and all three of us are glad he’s on the roster. We’d just like it a little more if he played center field.

July 30, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Thanks to everyone who wrote in offering their congratulations. I’ll apologize in advance for not emailing you back… it feels weird just getting away for five minutes to make this post. To answer the most common question I got, no, I don’t think he can pitch yet. That said, I figure I’ll start grooming him to be a left-handed reliever before too long — Tony Fossas found work for years.

A month or so ago, Derek and I were sitting at Safeco enjoying an afternoon game. I don’t recall the day, opposing team or outcome, but that’s not relevant to this story. The guy sitting behind us, again in a context I don’t recall, happen to mention Pirates’ catcher Jason Kendall. His buddy immediately chimed in with, “That’s the worst contract in baseball. They’re paying him $10M a year to hit singles.”

Our first reaction was to quickly come up with a handful of contracts worse than Kendall’s, which we did without much effort. My next comment was that while Kendall is overpaid, he’s not awful — he gets on base and plays a defensive position that’s hard to fill with somebody who hits. In case you’re wondering, Kendall is hitting .310/.392/.387 this season, and he’s only making ~$8.5M, not $10M.

At this point you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at, so I’ll move it along. Ichiro, as I’m sure you’ve heard, has a 21-game hitting streak going for himself, during which he’s raised his average from .319 to .347. Good for him, eh? Just how many extra base hits do you suppose he has during the streak? You may be surprised to learn the answer is three. That’s right — three, all doubles, during this hot streak.

I’m sure you see where this is going. The M’s are paying a good chunk of money to a “singles hitter,” who, unlike Jason Kendall, doesn’t draw walks. Ichiro’s hitting .347, which is great, but his .390 OBP is basically the same as Kendall’s .392 mark. Ichrio only has 23 extra base hits all season, or roughly 15% of his season’s hit total. That is a truly horrible mark for a major league hitter, no matter how good he may be at other things, and keep in mind he’s playing a position (right field) out of which you’d like to see a bit more offense than catcher.

No, I’m not saying the M’s should trade Ichiro for Jason Kendall tomorrow. I’m just saying… well, I’m not sure, really. In a season where just about everything has gone wrong, it doesn’t make sense to rip the guy who’s hitting .347, does it? Nah.

July 30, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Keeping Villone wouldn’t be so bad. After all, his performance in the rotation makes him, the #2 starter on the team? Moyer’s season hasn’t been as bad as it looks on the surface. His K:BB ratio is 37:85, for instance, and Villone’s is 38:50. After that, what do you do with Pineiro out? Moyer-Villone-Franklin-?-?

Personally, I think you go Madritsch-Blackley even over Meche. For reasons Dave got into, Meche isn’t likely to be sticking around much longer, and since the team’s started the service time clock on these other guys, better to let them take their lumps. Meche could even run long relief for them.

All of that assumes Villone continues to wildly outpitch his historical level of performance. Ugh.

Good win last night, though. Anything in extra innings is nice, even if you wish they’d put it away much earlier.

Also, uh, hopefully unrelated category:

Top al Qaeda man captured” on day Kerry accepts presidential nomination. The New Republic reported in early July that the Bush administration was pressuring Pakistan for a long time to produce an al Qaida arrest during the Democratic convention. The arrest actually took place last weekend, and they didn’t release the news until yesterday. That’s, um… what’s the argument for the defense here? Do you go for the “Basic Instinct” defense (“There’s no way we’d be crazy enough to go ahead and do something like that after someone published an article saying we were planning to do that”)?


July 30, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

The Seattle Times carries the company line today, quoting Bavasi as saying it will be a “boring deadline”, that the M’s won’t do much, and that there will be “nothing earthshaking”.  They also quote an annonymous member of the front office saying they’d “have to be overwhelmed” to trade Ron Villone.  I’m not getting too worked up about the M’s posturing; they’re just playing poker and saying the things they feel need to be said to drive up the value.  If tomorrow comes and goes and Villone is still on the roster, then we’ll launch into a tirade. 

The part about this article that annoys me is the discussion about the Mariners receiving compensation for Villone if he leaves via free agency at the end of the year.  The only way this could occur would be if the Mariners offered him arbitration, which they refused to do with Arthur Rhodes or Mike Cameron last year.  Offering Villone arbitration would be a complete disaster.  The market for his services wouldn’t come near what he could get in arbitration with a shiny 2.xx ERA, and he’d probably take the M’s to the cleaners for $4+ million.  There’s absolutely no way you risk Villone accepting arbitration. 

In the end though, I expect him to be moved.  I’m disappointed the Mariners haven’t taken a proactive approach to moving Guardado, Boone, Franklin, and Winn, but I’m not surprised.  The reality remains that the Mariners are at the bottom of the pack when it comes to forward thinking creative minds in the front office, and until we insert some fresh blood into the organizational discussions, we’re likely in for a long process of mediocrity.

July 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Folks, check out this nice new server. Here at U.S.S. Mariner labs, we’re working day and night to bring you the best Mariners commentary we can, for free. Why? We’re not sure.

Our new server contains some cool features I’m working on exploiting. The most important, blogspot was okay for a tiny site but with our current massive readership, I felt like it wasn’t good enough: it’s not a big deal if it’s hard for me to log in and use the tools, but when I went to view the site and it took ages to load, or bombed halfway through, or rendered the page in the wrong character set… I can’t have you all put up with that. It’s almost disrespectful. “Thanks for coming to our site, sorry it’s really hard to read anything. Try hitting ‘reload’ ten or fifteen times.”

This should help. I think the only downside is I’m likely to be a little more paranoid about using up bandwith.

The most common feature requests I get are (in order):

– comments

– forums

– uh, something else I forget but people really wanted. I have a to-do list around here somewhere

And our wish list is pretty short:

– better posting tools so Dave can do tables without cursing up a storm (behind the scenes I’m tinkering with WordPress, for instance) (also, I don’t think Dave really curses) (certainly not like me)

I’m working on those, but it’s slow going, and I’m taking the time to do this well rather than something quick (as opposed to many of my posts, yes, it’s an amusing contrast). Me and MySQL aren’t getting along as well as I’d like, for instance. I’m also working on a nice new template and some other good stuff. And in general… I have to say that I’m not convinced that comments and forums will turn out to be worth it.

But given the quality and volume of the email we get every day, I have faith that the USSM readership has a lot to say that’s worthwhile, and maybe I can build something that supports that, and doesn’t turn into Trollorama 20000.

I think I speak for Jason and Dave as well when I say that U.S.S. Mariner has grown from years of email conversations between the three of us into a much larger dialogue with our readers, who absolutely and totally are the coolest bunch of people. It’s been educational, funny, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I’ve been continually impressed that when we make some unrelated comment (XP ate my networking stack again/my wireless phone cuts the network off) we get emails from all kinds of people willing to offer helpful advice or just sympathy.

If investing in our own server, keeping the site ad-free, and adding new features helps us pay back some of the debt we owe to the people who check us out every day, then I would look at that debt and find it still massive.

As always, if you’ve got a feature request or something you’d like to see us do now that we’re freed from the tyranny of a server that doesn’t let us do scripting and stuff, or if you’ve noticed something broken, please drop me a line.


July 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

A couple quick points

  • We wanted Mike Cameron back for his defense.  Despite hitting .165 in May while playing through a broken hand, Cameron hit his 19th and 20th homers today, and as of right now, would rank as the Mariners 3rd best hitter.  Refusing to even offer him arbitration was the Mariners biggest mistake of the offseason. 
  • The sample is ridiculously small, but Bucky’s EqA right now is .351.  Among qualifying hitters, Manny Ramirez leads the AL with a .343 mark.  Since being called up, Bucky has been hitting at a mark that would make him an MVP candidate over a full season.  Good thing Melvin thought Willie Bloomquist had a better chance of getting on base in the 9th on Tuesday. 
  • In case we had all forgotten, Aaron Sele sucks. 
  • Not that line-ups matter even if we weren’t 341 games out of first place, but Scott Spiezio hitting 6th? The man is hitting .208/.282/.353.  If you feel like you need to play him for his glove or because he’s on the roster, whatever.  But why hit him 6th?
  • Gil Meche rejoins the club tomorrow.  If he doesn’t pitch well in the bigs the next two months, I don’t see how you can justify offering him arbitration.  It’s the story that no one is talking about, but unless Meche shows something between now and the end of the year, he’s a non-tender.  Spring Training is filled with non-roster invitees with good stuff who just can’t get major league hitters out.  Gil Meche could very well be one next spring.
  • For the “Willie Bloomquist just needs to play regularly” crowd, he only took 6 days off in July, garnered 48 at-bats, and hit .271/.286/.333.  At this point, there’s absolutely no way to justify a major league roster spot for Bloomquist next year.  If he’s on the team in 2005, it’s simply because he’s from Port Orchard and the team is run by baboons. 
  • The Texas Rangers announced that Grady Fuson will resign at years end after being stabbed in the back by John Hart.  Hire Grady Fuson.  Getting promoted to assistant GM is all-around smart guy Jon Daniels, just 26 years old, who is already John Hart’s right-hand man.  Hart, when giving him a compliment, called him “one of the young, brainy types”.  If you want to see just how far behind the sea change the Mariners are, know that the Texas Rangers are now letting a man make important decisions about their roster construction who would be the third youngest player on the Mariners active roster.  The only people on the active roster who are younger than Daniels are Travis Blackley and Gil Meche.  Not surprisingly, the Mariners front office does not contain any “young, brainy types”.

July 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

I think there’s a better way to look at the switch-outs.

Leone’s hitting .212/.293/.481. Leone and Bloomquist move Spiezio to splitting time at first and third, at first Spiezio bumps Olerud, who was hitting .245/.354/.360.  Bloomquist’s hitting .250/.276/.313 and with Leone also replaces Aurilia, who was hitting .241/.304/.337.  Bucky’s hitting 263/.404/.658, which is awesome. Go Bucky! Bucky’s playing time has come at the expense of Olerud and Edgar. Edgar’s hitting an Un-Edgar .254/.344/.383.

As a whole, the offense is improved. It’s certainly a lot more interesting and powerful, but that power upgrade from Leone’s come with more playing time for Willie F. Bloomquist and a loss of Olerud’s OBP, particularly vs right-handers. As a guy who sees tons and tons of games, I like it.

The real issue, and I’m repeating myself from many past posts, is that I wanted to see Leone play not as 3b of the future but as an upgrade over Cirillo last year/Spiezio’s awful performance this year. Compared to either of those two things, he’s much cheaper. I didn’t expect great things from him, but given that I reasonably expected him to perform as well as those guys and possibly be a lot better (which we should note — would still not be great), calling for Leone to get more playing time made a lot of sense, and given the team’s situation right now, continues to make sense.

What playing these guys all season should tell the team is what we’ve been arguing for ages:

– Bloomquist can’t hit and can’t contribute enough to be a good use of a roster spot. Hopefully getting him a ton of playing time will put this beyond the realm of reasonable doubt and they’ll finally stop keeping him around for local kid pixie dust. This is good.

– the team desperately needs top-level talent, young or old, at SS/3B for the future. Now will they make another Spiezio move or look to do something creative?

July 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Bucky Jacobsen now has as many homers (5) in 38 at-bats as John Olerud had in 261 this season. Justin Leone has as many (4) in 52 at-bats as Rich Aurilia had in 261 at-bats. Hmm.

July 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

I really need to stop reading columns on ESPN.  I’ve thankfully freed myself from the train wreck that is John Kruk, but for some reason, I found myself compelled to read the latest

ramblings from Joe Morgan.  If there is a man who sums up “self-centered” moreso than Morgan, I hope I never meet him.  Keep in mind, Morgan authored “Baseball for Dummies”, which is probably the most appropriately named book in the history of mankind.  Here’s a few gems from Morgan’s latest column:

I have to believe that part of Texas’ success this season has been the addition of Soriano and his winning attitude.

Let’s see here; Alfonso Soriano obviously has a winning attitude because his teams have always been good.  The Yankees haven’t fallen off without him because Miguel Cairo obviously possesses this same winning attitude.  Alex Rodriguez had a winning attitude in Seattle, but didn’t take it with him to Texas, but now that he’s been rejuvenated by moving to New York, has found this “winning attitude” again.  Okay, moving on, before this nonsense causes my brain cells to go on strike.

Moreover, Soriano has excelled at the plate (.281-19 HRs-63 RBI). In effect, the production of the three-time All-Star has replaced Alex Rodriguez (.280-25 HRs-64 RBI).

Soriano is hitting .281/.324/.464 in the best hitters park in the American League.  His road numbers are a mind-numbing .226/.281/.383, reminsicent of the late season collapsed that saw him benched in the world series in favor of Enrique Wilson.  Rodriguez is hitting .280/.372/.518 and is hitting better on the road than at home.  He’s also playing excellent defense at third, while Soriano continues to be an average at best second baseman with the glove. 

Remember, the first job of an infielder — especially a middle infielder — is to play defense. Offense is an added dimension. 

Which is why Rey Ordonez, Neifi Perez, and Deivi Cruz can’t hold a job, and lead-gloves like Jeff Kent and Derek Jeter are on their way to the hall of fame, right Joe? Just for fun, here’s the 2004 all-star middle infielders for the AL and NL:

Alfonso Soriano.  Poor defensive player.

Derek Jeter.  Poor defensive player.

Ron Belliard.  Poor defensive player.

Carlos Guillen.  Average defensive player.

Miguel Tejada.  Average defensive player.

Michael Young.  Above Average defensive player.

Edgar Renteria: Good defensive player.

Jeff Kent: Poor defensive player.

Mark Loretta: Average defensive player.

Barry Larkin: Poor defensive player.

Jack Wilson: Average defensive player.

That’s four bad fielders, four average fielders, and two that could reasonably consider their defense as an asset to the club.  But, hey, defense is what matters. Apparently just not to the fans, coaches, players, or general managers. 

The Cardinals feature Scott Rolen at third (my NL MVP so far)


We’ve covered this before, but there’s absolutely no way you can make a case for anyone in the National League besides Barry Bonds.  You just can’t do it with any kind of rational thinking that doesn’t include a complete hatred of the man’s personality. 

Now let’s look at the question of the best overall infield in baseball history. I’ll admit that I might be biased, but I don’t see how you can top the infield I played with on the Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine team. While I haven’t been discussing catchers in the debate of the best infields today, I’m including the catcher in the best-ever debate. Why? Well, the catcher is of course part of the infield. And our catcher in Cincinnati is the best who ever played.

I mean, just read that paragraph again, and then try to tell me that he didn’t just throw any credibility he might have had out the window.  “I realize I’ve been doing it a certain way this entire column, but I have a point to make that will pad my ego, so I’m now changing the criteria that we’ve been using to allow me to say how great I am.”  Makes me want to punch the guy in the nose. 

Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel are considered by most fans today to be the best defensive shortstops in baseball history


Really? I can’t think of more than a handful of soccer moms who think Omar is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball history.  He’s pretty obviously not, and unless one’s criteria is “most barehanded plays where he should have used his glove”, there’s no case here.

If you’re considering offense and defense and team leadership, Concepcion still might be the best all-around shortstop ever — not counting A-Rod, since he’s a third baseman now.

Davey Concepcion’s career line: .267/.322/.357.  His OPS was above league average in just 6 of his 19 seasons, and for his career, his line is 12 percent below average for that era.  He hit 48 career home runs in 8,723 at-bats.  He’s something of a cross between an old-school Omar Vizquel and Royce Clayton.  If you consider Davey Concepcion to be the best shortstop of all time, you should start following another sport.  There are 22 shortstops in the hall of fame.  Davey Concepcion is not one of them, and for good reason. 

You know the one-hop throw you’ll see shortstops make from deep in the hole? Davey started that. Sometimes he’d make the throw to Perez from short left field. Concepcion would practice those one-hop throws to learn the best place to bounce the ball.

This just shows that Concepcion never bothered to take a simple physics course, as its been conclusively proven that bouncing a throw is significantly less effective than throwing it in the air.  But, hey, great invention.  Toss that right in with the head first slide into first base, and you’ve got two worthless creations born of ignorance. 

This entire piece is an ode to his own greatness and a tribute to friends of his.  It’s drivel, and for a site that extolls itself as the “worldwide leader in sports”, its a black mark on their reputation.  Time to toss Joe Morgan into the John Kruk Memorial Ignored Pile. 



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