Gil Meche

Dave · August 22, 2004 at 4:44 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m going to take advantage of our new fangled comments to start a discussion on Gil Meche. I was thinking about posting my thoughts, but I’ll hold off for now. I want to hear what you guys think. I really don’t have a good feel for the majority opinion on him.

Obviously, we’ve all been indoctrinated by the “Gil Meche has all-star stuff” doctrine, which I’m not sure I agree with, but most people have bought full force. It appears to me that most folks think his problems are almost all mental, and once he “learns how to pitch”, he’s going to be a frontline major league starter. The fear of letting him go seems very high.

So, what do you guys think? The M’s have to offer him arbitration in two months, meaning he’ll make a minimum of $1.9 million next year, and possibly more. Do you spend the $2 million to bring him back and hope he turns a corner next year, or use his stuff as trade bait and let someone else try to get him to live up to the hype?


73 Responses to “Gil Meche”

  1. Alon Lewis on August 23rd, 2004 9:06 am

    I really like Meche as a #2 or #3 starter. I never expected him to be an ace. So, I like what I have seen so far. In terms of what happened this year, I think it is simple. He has tried too hard to “go to the next level.” If he stays within himself he is going to be solid. I would try to lock him up for a three year deal for 2.5m a year. If he doesn’t pan out, big deal. Meche is going to be OK. I think the larger concerns are 3rd and getting that Number One starter in here. Hmmm, maybe if we had a true number one that could spur the pitching into having better years.

  2. Ralph Malph on August 23rd, 2004 9:13 am

    Pineiro’s elbow makes me very nervous, and tells me we have to take a chance on Meche. Not to mention the lack of promise shown by all of the Tacoma guys except Madritsch. Though I still have hopes for Blackley.

  3. David J Corcoran on August 23rd, 2004 10:00 am

    Mike- Glaus can mash the ball, but can he stay healthy? That is the question.

  4. Sergey on August 23rd, 2004 10:24 am

    Sign Glaus as a regular and Leone as a backup at 3B. $300, 000 only for Leone.

  5. David J Corcoran on August 23rd, 2004 10:32 am

    I’m just not a believer in Glaus…2 injured seasons in a row. He is Griffey, 3rd Base version. I am not a believer in Leone either, although I am not quite sure WHO to put at 3rd…. Mike Lowell maybe? I would love to work out a trade with Houston for Morgan Ensberg….hmmm….

    Gil Meche for Morgan Ensberg. I’d do that. Houston could use a decent starter with a he ll of a lot of talent…. (Although I’d still rather hang on to). Houston may not do this though….

  6. Mark on August 23rd, 2004 10:49 am

    I think Meche has done enough lately to justify a 1 yr deal at 1.8 to 2 mil. If he proves he can be consistent all year next year, offer a 3 yr deal. If he still struggles next year, try him out in the pen.

  7. Jim Thomsen on August 23rd, 2004 11:36 am

    I agree with the folks who believe Meche has shown enough to warrant $1.9 million (who knows, maybe a little less) in arbitration. He’s 25, has a great arm that hasn’t been destroyed despite the team’s best efforts and, most importantly, has some history of success. You don’t run a guy like that out of town because of what you FEAR he might not be able to do. You keep running him out there till he runs himself out of town.

    He’s a gamble, and I’ll cheerfully admit I’m wrong if he starts next year 0-4 with an 11.80 ERA. But there’s a reasonable chance that he’ll have a 3.45 ERA in his first six starts with a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Whereas there is NO reasonable chance of anything close to that with Matt Thornton (there are a million Thorntons out there, guys with good stuff who never got a handle on it, and he’s not likely to suddenly learn how to pitch now that he’s almost 28).

    Meche might be a Jamie Moyer, a guy who need to flunk a few trials before finding himself. Or he might be Brad Havens, a guy who had spectacular breaking stuff and always seemed to pitch well while getting his brains beaten out over an agonizing decade of auditions. Time will tell … and it hasn’t yet. That’s what we need 2005 to show us.

    By the way, I love this new site, and the new comment feature. The discourse here is about 15 times superior to the inarticulate, often-divergent blather that dominates the P-I Mariner blog. (Sorry, Mike Thompson, I know this happens despite your best efforts but it’s true.) Congratulations to Dave, Jason and especially Derek for their hard work on our behalf.

  8. Pete on August 23rd, 2004 11:47 am

    In post 10, Dave voiced his skepticism about our young Louisianan, and listed a few ballparks he considered “pitchers’ parks.” He listed Camden Yards as one of them…

    Is it just me, or is that one of the most ludicrous things you’ve ever heard. As far as I know, Camden yards is a bandbox, easily one of the best places to hit in all of baseball. Left field, right field, center field, both alleys – all short porches.

    Some of Meche’s recent success could be linked to outings at the Safe and at Comerica, but Camden is no pitchers’ paradise.

    For my part, the difference with him is that he’s stopped trying to be a finesse pitcher, hitting the corners, etc. He’s throwing the ball hard, over the plate, and keeping the hitters off-balance with his nasty(!) curve, and sometimes-effective change.

    It’s got nothing to do with ballparks…he’s just pitching the way he did the first half of last year, in which he pitched in AL parks, both big and small – he’s pitching aggressively.

    If he continues to forget about the corners and just throw his 96-er over the dang plate, he will continue to be very successful throughout his career.

    And yes, he is a bargain at $2 million. The Mariners should jump on retaining him for that price, and add one top-notch starter this offseason. A rotation of
    Moyer (pitching without inspiration in a lost season – he’ll be back)

    sounds great to me. Move Franklin back to long relief, or package him for a top-notch closer/set-up guy like Braden Looper. We’d be set.

  9. Pete on August 23rd, 2004 12:02 pm

    I agree Jim. Let’s all make a deal: NO ONE TELL THE P-I BLOGGERS ABOUT THIS!!! Leave them to their insanity…

  10. Kelly Gaffney on August 23rd, 2004 12:06 pm

    An aside inspired by the discussion of Gil Meche. As the Mariners have called up pitchers from Tacoma, it is the players in their mid to late twenties that have performed or at least indicated that they may have a present, not just a potential future, in the majors. The one clear exception being Matt Thornton who I think clearly demonstrates the distinction between those players who have succeeded and those who have not — command. Nageotte, Blackley, and Thornton have walked HUGE numbers of hitters. Madritsch, Sherrill, and Atchison are all around 3 walks per game, while Nageotte, Blackley, and Thornton in aggregate have walked 7.6 per game. I think if Meche can stay under 4 walks per game — worse than his August performance, but better than his historical performance — he will be a valuable member of the team. I think the issue comes down to projecting the likelihood of that occurring, and this holds for all of the Mariners’ pitching prospects. I just don’t know what the odds for gaining command are? For every Randy Johnson and Dazzy Vance, how many Kelvim Escobar and Kazuhisa Ishii do you get? Command is clearly a talent, not just a learned skill, so whether these pitchers become quality major leaguers is as much a matter of if as when.

  11. Dave on August 23rd, 2004 12:17 pm

    The whole belief system of Camden Yards being a hitters paradise is a myth completely unsubstantiated by facts. The last three years, Camden has posted park factors of 965, 959, and 959, with 1000 being league average. That means Camden has consistently supressed run scoring by about four percent. The park factors for Safeco the past three years are 961, 942, and 949. Safeco supresses run scoring by about one percent more than Camden, but both are clearly pitchers parks.

  12. adam on August 23rd, 2004 12:24 pm

    Just looking objectively at Gil from the pitching coach perspective, what skill does he not possess? He has shown he has it all, just go look at the tape from a 2003 when he wasn’t giving ANY runs at all.

    He had Maddux type control. So in my mind command isn’t a weakness for the most part(although for whatever reason his mechanics fall back into a pattern and he seems to lose his command TOTALLY at any juncture. Ala Freddy Garcia)

    He has the fastball, the curveball, the changeup, and alot of times the control.

    And if nothing else, bring him out of the bullpen and have him close. If you let him throw all out for one inning I think we have our next closer, the guy hits 95+ sometimes. This will help reduce the strain on that shoulder.

    Pitchers can take a long time to figure things out. And he still won 15 games last year. I mean look at Greg Maddux’s first full season, 6-14 with a 5.61 era. Meche, who alot of people want to just throw away, was 15-13 with a 4.59 era in his first full season.

    I’m just saying, he’s worth the chance.

  13. Mark on August 23rd, 2004 1:48 pm


    Could your stats that point to Camden as being a pitchers park be skewed by weak O’s teams the past couple of years? This is just so contrary to the commonly held belief that it is a small, homerun-friendly park.

  14. Chris W. on August 23rd, 2004 1:56 pm

    A lot of people seem to be ignoring that Meche has had two major shoulder surgeries in the past 3 years. I don’t think there is a single pitcher that has ever come back to be successful in the long-term from such injuries / surgeries. So, yeah, it’s a gamble whether Meche is going to be good going forward. But the real gamble is whether he’s going to be healthy, and the way the Ms have been treating him, I’d bet against it. I give him a 50% chance of surviving next year at all…

    Bottom line… my gut says take the risk, if it’s just 2 years, and it’s just $2M/year, but only do it if (a) he finishes the rest of this season strong; and (b) you’re willing to commit to letting him be a 180 inning/year guy until those injuries are way way back in the rear-view mirror.

  15. Dave on August 23rd, 2004 2:02 pm


    No, they can’t, because park factors include the numbers of the visiting team as well and are calculated by the difference in performance between both teams in a particular park and in other parks. The formula works, and the commonly accepted “wisdom” that Camden Yards is a hitters park is a fallacy. There’s a lot more that goes into a park effect on run scoring than distance to the fences. It’s pretty remarkable that Camden has gotten the reputation that it has in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary.

  16. Troy Sowden on August 23rd, 2004 2:27 pm

    Dave’s right about Camden, and about the park factors. Here’s the real question though Dave: As I implied above, Gil’s improvement since being recalled is almost directly atributable to his (vastly) improved K/BB ratio. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t K/BB ratio tend to translate well into just about any park, pitcher’s park or not?

  17. Dave on August 23rd, 2004 2:44 pm


    Actually, some parks have shown a consistent trend towards decreasing or increasing walks and strikeouts. No one has any real good idea why, though, and the effect isn’t going to be major in any sample of four starts. The comment about Meche’s recent success being in four pitchers parks was more off-handed than anything else. I wasn’t trying to imply that he hasn’t pitched well, but simply pointing out that he’s done it in some pretty friendly environments.

  18. Troy Sowden on August 23rd, 2004 2:47 pm

    Weird. I never knew that. I mean, I guess I can understand Coors lessening K’s (since breaking balls don’t break as much), or something like a bad hitter’s backdrop increasing K’s, I just never knew there was evidence that really played out. Do you know which parks seem to play more towards K’s or BB’s?

  19. Mike on August 23rd, 2004 2:52 pm

    Kelly, I have to disagree with you on command as a talent, especially with your reference to RJ. Randy was as wild as they come until he sat down with Nolan Ryan and learned how to PITCH, not just throw. Command has everything to do with mental make up, preperation, and mechanics. Those are things a quality pitching coach can drive home with most any pitcher. Case in point, Leo Mazzonie(sp?) look at what he has done with pitchers year after year. This year’s prize, Jaret Wright. ERA 3.17, 3.84 BB’s/9 7.57 K’s/9 12-6 record in 25 starts. By far his best stats of his career. He’s always had the golden arm, but no one ever taught him how to pitch. What do you think he could do with Meche? Most pitchers early in their careers get by on talent if they have the stuff to do it. Pitchers who succeed over a long period of time actually learn how pitch. Randy doesn’t reach back and throw 98-99 on every pitch anymore. He picks his spots, throws with control and keeps the hitters off balance. Ultimately the main job of any pitcher is to keep the hitters off-balance. Moyer & Maddux know that better than anyone. Maddux said in an old interview recently re-aired on FSNW that of all the components to pitching he valued shear velocity the least. Hitting spots, changing speeds and above all else late movement on his pitches were valued higher. Garcia was having much of his success earlier this year because he figured out if he took something off his fastball he got better movement. These are all learned traits, that a top flight pitching coach will teach. I have to wonder if we’ve given too much credit to BP when it was out outfield defense making guys like Franklin look good. If Meche was fixed in Tacoma maybe we need to look there again for a pitching coach. We still need to fix the outfield defense for Safeco.

  20. Darrell on August 23rd, 2004 3:19 pm

    Isn’t Camden playing as a hitter’s park this year? Something like fifth or sixth in Park Effects?

    I’m just not ready to fold on Gil – another couple million to stay in the hand sounds okay. Besides, I think they’re going to have a hard time giving away money to free agents this time around. They may find it difficult to spend their (mostly mythical) $95 million budget.

  21. isaac on August 23rd, 2004 4:15 pm

    i almost hate that it comes down to this for me, but i just LIKE gil meche. i always have, and on a team full of unlikable players…(spiezio, villone, winn, bloomquist, SPIEZIO) that has to count for something, right?

  22. Kelly Gaffney on August 23rd, 2004 4:22 pm

    Mike, Some pitchers learn how to pitch, some do not. The point I wish to make is that not everyone will ‘learn’ how to pitch and I doubt that it can all be attributed to mental make-up and coaching. We appear to differ as to the extent to which coaching, experience, and talent determine the ability to pitch with command, but I certainly don’t know how it all breaks down.

    Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson are an interesting case. While Nolan Ryan helped Randy Johnson make a breakthrough, whether Nolan Ryan ever learned how to pitch can be questioned. That Randy Johnson did learn how to pitch explains why Randy at his best has been a much more successful pitcher than Nolan Ryan. So why didn’t Nolan ever learn how to take a little off his fastball? Was he too stubborn work on it, or just not able to master the skill?

  23. Mike on August 23rd, 2004 6:19 pm

    The first few years of his career it looked as if Nolan Ryan would never master his pitches; half-way through his career he seemed destined to be labeled a mediocre pitcher with a great fastball; the last ten years of his career he achieved immortality. Throwing no-hitters as a young fire baller and as a veteran pitcher, Ryan shattered the career strikeout record once held by Walter Johnson.