Future Forty Update

August 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 33 Comments 

It’s a few days early, but the September update of the Future Forty is now available. There’s some shuffling in the top 5, as Jose Lopez passes Clint Nageotte and Travis Blackley. The poor showings in Seattle haven’t helped the confidence of either pitcher, and I’d been contemplating moving both down for a while anyways. Their performances in the big leagues seemed completely out of line with their Triple-A numbers, but park effects could have been skewing our expectations.

Nageotte at home: 31 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 28 K, 2.03 ERA
Nageotte in all PCL parks besides Cheney Stadium: 49 2/3 IP, 62 H, 22 BB, 35 K, 5.98 ERA

Blackley at home: 51 IP, 35 H, 19 BB, 45 K, 1.59 ERA
Blackley in all PCL parks besides Cheney Stadium: 59 1/3 IP, 65 H, 28 BB, 35 K, 5.76 ERA

Cheney’s a good pitcher’s park, but those are ridiculous splits. Sample size comes into play, and I’m not trying to say that Nageotte and Blackley aren’t good prospects anymore. I do, however, think that their Triple-A performances weren’t as impressive as first appear, and we all believed they were rushed anyways. At this point, neither has conquered the PCL, and both need a good deal more work before they see the majors again.

Also, Bucky Jacobsen and J.J. Putz lost eligibility and have found their way off the Future Forty. Josh Womack and Bryan LaHair played their way off the list. Three new arms appear in the 30-34 range, led by converted catcher Rich Dorman, who is posting eye-popping K numbers but just can’t throw strikes consistently. Newly claimed Brett Evert and non-drafted free agent signee Brandon Moorhead also make their first appearances on the Future Forty. Oswaldo Navarro finishes out the list at #40, coming back to the list after dropping off earlier this year.

You’ll note the brief comment about Mike Morse being suspended. This is one of those cases, like Rett’s “personal issues”, where I don’t feel like it benefits anyone to reveal the details of what happened. It’s a fairly serious issue, and I’ve been asked to keep this one to myself. On stuff like this, I think it’s a reasonable request, and therefore, I’m going to do so.

This will likely be the last appearance on the Future Forty for Lopez and Madritsch, who will see their rookie eligibility expire fairly soon. Removing those two from consideration, the M’s farm system over the offseason is going to rank among the bottom tier, despite King Felix’s presence. There’s a pretty serious lack of impact players througout the system. Thank you, Frank Mattox.

Also, interestingly, despite the sentiment that the system is rich with arms and not so much with bats, the Future Forty is split right down the middle with twenty pitchers and twenty hitters. 14 of the top 22 prospects are hitters. I’d say that sentiment has long past lived out its truthfulness. This is no longer a “pitching rich” system.

Beltran, redux

August 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 49 Comments 

Thanks to everyone who commented on the Beltran thread. A few things: That Scott Boras is his agent is no longer a reason why the M’s won’t sign him. Gillick didn’t deal with Boras, but Bavasi has a good relationship with him from his time in Anaheim. Villone’s a Boras guy, for example. Now, the fact that it’s Boras may mean the money is an issue, but Boras himself isn’t a big deal anymore as far as I’m concerned.

As for the money… yeah, it’s not going to be cheap. I don’t care. As many have said, wouldn’t you rather overpay for quality than for Scott Spiezio? Beltran is a premier talent who isn’t old and who plays a premium position. If you’re going to break the bank, this is the sort of guy you do it for. There are a number of contracts coming off the books this winter. After next season, the likes of Boone, Moyer and Cirillo come off. This team makes money hand over fist. Cash shouldn’t be an issue.

Also, I don’t care if signing him means holes next season — this team isn’t winning 90 games next season anyway. Sign Beltran while you can, continue to break in the youngsters next season, and shoot for winning again in 2006. If you finish at .500 next year, great, that’s just gravy. If they go crazy and try to win next year — quick, sign a closer! and a veteran starter! — they won’t get any better in the long-run.

Sign Carlos Beltran.

Melvin job watch begins

August 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 10 Comments 

Larry LaRue writes the first local column that says Melvin’s going to get fired.

His reasons are all screwy:

Last week at Safeco Field, the Old Lion and the Young One were all too evident. Melvin made the right calls – at one point bunting what could have been the winning run into scoring position, only to watch his best hitters fail to bring it home.

Piniella bunted, too, and his players got the job done.

Um.. not so much. And he insinuates (“these are things that have gone wrong, though I won’t directly say it’s his fault…”) that Melvin is responsible for a lot of woes (like pitching) that are due in large part to Bavasi’s awful moves.

His basic premise: that the team sucks and Melvin hasn’t done a good job, are sound.

Soon we should expect the dreaded “vote of confidence”.

Also interesting:

When his third option was signing Rich Aurilia or holding on to Carlos Guillen, everyone with a vote – including Melvin – went for Aurilia.

If true, this is crazy. What kind of an organization agrees so completely on a decision that was so close? Even we felt it was maybe going to be a modest upgrade, and had reservations about it. They’re the Mariners!

This only goes to prove something we’ve been saying for a long time — that the team doesn’t have anyone who dissents, who’s willing to say “hey, maybe this is a bad move for us.”

The P in PFD stands for what

August 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 22 Comments 

Another great question on this — where’s the Public Facilities District been? They’re supposedly responsible for oversight of the Mariners’ operation of the park.

Here’s their mission statement:

To site, design, build, and operate an excellent and attractive baseball park that is an asset to the community and the region, that promotes the success of Major League Baseball in the State of Washington, that contributes to fan enjoyment of baseball, and that can be achieved within the available resources.

How does that ugly-ass, cramped, atmosphere-destroying permanent temporary seating section contribute to the fan enjoyment of baseball? How does it make Safeco Field excellent or attractive?

Even their vision statement cries out against this —

The stadium is expected to combine the look and feel of traditional ballparks with the convenience, amenities, and revenue-generating features of a modern, state-of-the-art facility. Traditional ballparks generally emphasize the pastoral nature of the sport of baseball, incorporate unique and often asymmetrical design elements, and provide fans with a sense of intimacy and proximity to the players.

How are the new stands a unique design element? If the original stadium design balanced the look and feel of traditional ballparks with the revenue-generating features of a modern facility, doesn’t this upset that compromise?

These are good question for the PFD Board Members, who unfortunately don’t have contact numbers or email on their site. The only information we have is “The office phone number is (206)664-3076, FAX (206)664-3194.” Kevin Callan, who is listed on the contact us page (and who we’re supposed to “Feel Free” to contact) has the same contact info as the main switchboard.

Man, I’m steamed about this.

Quick notes

August 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 4 Comments 

Ichiro had four hits in the double header, giving him another 50-hit month.

Nageotte on the 15-day DL; Cha Seung Baek back up from Tacoma.

How much is your stadium’s atmosphere worth?

August 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 6 Comments 

If you’re wondering what the Mariners hoped to make by installing those seats:

I count 240 seats in section 101 (and it has got to suck to be in the middle). Assume they all sell, every game.
240 * $24/seat * 81 games = $466,560

Plus say two home games in the first round of the playoffs @ $36 = $25,920
Three home games in ALCS @ $48 = $34,560
At least three home games in the World Series at $72 = $51,840

Maximum possible return on destroying the beer garden: maybe $600,000 for the season if the team’s competitive and sells the section out all season.

What did we pay to build Safeco Field as a civic treasure for all to enjoy, blah blah blah? About $340m from the food tax and rental cars, right?

How about this for a compromise, Mariners — take out the bleachers and then you can bill us every year for that $500k you didn’t make, and we’ll take it out of your tab. In 680 years, we can revisit the issue.

Local media on permanent temporary seating

August 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 9 Comments 

The PI wrote about this, albeit in passing —

Q: Samantha Marshall asks: “What’s the deal with the temporary bleachers installed in the center-field landing at Safeco Field? What do those seats cost? How do you purchase them?”

AG: Those temporary bleachers are considered Section 101 and cost the same as other outfield reserve seats ($24). These bleachers, which were only used for the most popular games earlier in the season, are in place for the remainder of the season. That decision was made in March and was based upon demand for tickets in past seasons; it cannot be rescinded now, despite diminished demand in this dreary season, because Section 101 tickets have been sold for remaining games. The great drawback to these seats is they severely diminish the amount of space on the center-field landing, one of the ballpark’s best features and the prime spot for singles to mingle. Those avid meet-and-greeters have tickets for other seats, so they provide no added revenue. Seats in Section 101 add to the team’s revenue, hence the squeeze on the mingle landing.

I love that he manages to take a couple shots in there without looking like he’s taking shots.

Anyway, there are a couple of interesting points that come out of this, but I’m particularly interested in one:
The Mariners decided before the season to use these all the time. They’re not temporary at all, not used for certain series, they decided before the season to sell them for every game this year.

Now, I may be wrong about this one: the Mariners made a decision to destroy the landing, and this is the only press it got. No one wrote a column about how the M’s made a deliberate decision in which they sacrificed the enjoyment of many for a modest increase in revenue, and the only paper willing to say anything was the PI.. on June 29th. The Seattle Times (“Paper of Quality”) hasn’t written a word about it.

I say that I might be wrong because searching through the archives of papers is always hit-and-miss. One of the ways the insane Ann Coulter lies is by doing searches where she says “The New York Times never mentioned how insane I am” and her endnote says “Lexis-Nexus search revealed no results for New York Times articles containing Ann Coulter, mental disorder, pathological liar, and marshmellow topping.” I was looking for anything refering to Section 101, the landing, the beer garden, temporary seats/bleachers — and I found zip in the Times on any of them.

I know I’ve said some mean things about the Times in the past. I’ve called their beat reporter “Pocket Lint”. This makes it absolutely clear that the Times has a rotten, corrupt sports section either so lazy-eyed they’re unable to see a set of permanent bleachers, straight out from the press box they sit in every single home game — or that they hold such a low, contemptable opinion of the fans that they don’t think that something this significant is something passing on to us, much less investigating.

And if they’ve written about it and I missed it, I’ll go back, edit this post, and apologize.

A brief word on comments

August 28, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 13 Comments 

I’ve been impressed with the quality of dicsussion we’ve had since we brought comments up. Lots of great stuff, and I’m happy I did it. We’ve only had a couple dick-y posts, and while I’d feared I’d end up hacking together some register-to-post-comments script (which may eventually happen anyway) that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon.

That said, I want to lay out the basic philosophy of comment moderation:
I will do no moderation.
I will, however, ban people.
If someone’s on dialup or has dynamic IP addressing, so they can get around banning and that means I have to ban ranges, preventing innocent people from posting, I’m going to do that.

I know that sucks. But… I don’t have time. To avoid being banned, when you’re posting in reply to people, pretend you’re arguing with an umpire.
“You blew that call, he was safe by a mile.” — Okay
“You blow.” — Ejected

I’ll eventually write this up as a gentle policy reminder, but… I don’t want to, because then I have to write up “don’t post copyrighted material, blah blah blah” and stuff and I’d rather argue whether Beltran’s worth signing as a free agent, or knock something off my page-long to-do list for tweaking USSM 2.1 to make Dave happy ($@##%@^ link formatting).

And if you know of a hack for WordPress that would allow a registration barrier for comments, drop me a line.

Carlos Beltran

August 28, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 24 Comments 

Carlos Beltran has his season line at a very nice .271/.364/.569 right now. He has 35 homers, 68 walks and 33 stolen bases (in 36 attempts). Beltran’s a switch-hitter who hits both righties and lefties, and plays Gold Glove-level defense in center field. Best of all, he’ll only be 28 next season, easily leaving five or six “prime” years left on his career. He’s also a free agent at the end of the year. He’s everything the M’s need — how can he not be your #1 target this winter?

Game Report, M’s over Royals 7-5

August 27, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 14 Comments 

“Japan Night” at the ballpark.
( 日本夜 at Safeco Field) (hopefully you have the Japanese character set and that worked)

This is going to sound dumb, but this is one of my favorite themed nights:

  • Bilingual player announcements
  • Biographical reels of Japanese players with career notes
  • Super-young highlights of Ichiro! acting emotional, before he adopted the on-field assassin attitude

It’s cool to see the Mariners give Japanese baseball some respect, when every year we seem to have the same xenophobic debate over whether first-year players from Japan should qualify for the same award first-year players from every other country and background qualify for.

Anyway… Overheard at the Ballpark, 8-27-04.
“Can you imagine raising that kid?” — woman on the size of Bucky Jacobsen

Olivo got the coveted exclamation point on my scorecard tonight — and then two more: HR! in the 5th (how that got measured at 397 and Lopez’s at 392 is beyond me) and HR!! in the 6th. Olivo isn’t a young Dan Wilson, and it’s important for us to remember that. This is one of Olivo’s big strengths… power. Olivo also has a little speed on the basepaths, and a good arm for shutting down the running game. He’s not good at the kind of pitch-blocking goalie work you may be used to out of your catcher, especially the agile young version of Dan Wilson. But that’s a tradeoff worth making: Olivo rocks. I can’t believe we got him and Reed.

On a larger point, though — this is how you win huge ball games. You manufacture runs by hitting home runs and breaking open big innings against your opponent. Ron Fairly may speculate “How many times do we see a team play for one run and get more than that?” but the real questions are “How many times do we see the M’s play for one run and get none?” along with “How many times do we see the M’s hit a home run and not score?”

Also, blown error calls by the Safeco scorer again.

One of our huge complaints this season is that the M’s were built almost entirely around singles, a one-dimensional team if we ever saw one. Seeing the team do different things makes me happy. You would hope that giving the manager more options would make him more effective but… honestly, I doubt it. Melvin would probably be most effective with a lineup of 2 .300-hitting singles guys, followed by two mashers, and then a bunch of modestly effective switch hitters. Actually, they should all be switch hitters. Sometimes if you’re committed to a manager you have to build part of the team to protect their weakness, like the Mariners did with the effective Piniella bullpens.

Part of the respect given to Earl Weaver is due to the fact that he won with all kinds of teams. Young, old, power-hitting with no speed, speed and less power, every year he’d sort out how he could give himself the best chance to win and then tear up the league.

Given what we’ve seen in Melvin’s two years here, is there any evidence that he’s strategically adaptable, and can play with next year’s team which (we hope) will feature some good free agent acquisitions with disparate talent sets, a mix of good players, temporaries, and modestly talented young stopgaps who will require nursing?

I don’t see it. I don’t know who that manager would be, as I sit here typing, but it’s going to require an adaptable artist, and Melvin is a conventional player’s manager.

It’s so great to look at my scorecard and see a run of squares marked in as HRs. What a great game. And quick, too, unlike last night’s death march.

Can we start seriously talking about Meche as a reliever? Here’s another game where Meche came out looking strong, though not racking up the Ks so much, and then in the fifth after about pitch 75, he starts to get roooocked.

Actually… let’s look that up. How are opposing batters hitting Meche?
Pitches 1-15: .319/.407/.511 (ow)
16-30: .286/.375/429 (better)
31-45: .327/.365/.571 (oooowwww)
46-60: .205/.373/.282 (that’s pretty nice)
61-75: .306/.340/.551 (wince)
76-90: .268/.318/.463 (huh?)
91-105: .308/.379/.500 (yow)

Okay, so that doesn’t do anything for my point at all. Looking at his two year composite, though, which doubles the sample size… and using OPS because I’m getting lazy…
1-15 .716
16-30 .716
31-45 .713
46-60 .640
61-75 .785
76-90 .938
(at which point he continues to get rocked and gets pulled).

Meche as reliever allows the team to use him in long relief, make the most of his stuff by applying it in situations where today we’re stuck with Hasegawa, gives them a multi-inning reliever that probably will serve them in the swing roll Villone was in, and also allows them to keep his workload extremely low per-game while allowing Meche the chance to work regularly but around his health, making sure he’s healthy.

Then maybe you try to start him again next year.

By the way — back to my regular seats, M’s win, good game. They should pay me to sit in my regular seats and not move around.

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