M’s at Rangers, 9/24 game thread

September 24, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 21 Comments 

Go Ichiro! Another chance to see Madritsch try to end the season tied with Moyer for the most wins. If someone had told me before this season that no Mariner pitcher would finish the year with more than ten wins, and one of the most valuable pitchers would be Madritsch, I would have said “what, did the team all get crippling season-long bouts of chicken pox?”

And sort of, yeah, they did.

But if I may suggest another game to watch… Yankees at Red Sox, 4:05 our time, Mussina versus Martinez. I know Mussina hasn’t been himself this year, but this is potentially a great game in the making, and in Boston, late-season, I think this could be good. And if it’s not good, it’s only an hour before the start of the M’s game.

And if you’re one of our Jewish readers and observing Yom Kippur, you could watch the first game, drink beers, gorge yourself on nachos, wings, and whatever else you wanted, keep going through most of the Mariners game (at 5:05) and be happily contented to start your fast at 7:01. Actually, beer’s probably a bad idea, because you’d get much thirstier later. But you get my point.

Hickey on Melvin

September 24, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 44 Comments 

John Hickey writes the best possible defense of Bob Melvin that you could write, hitting a lot of truths on his way. While I don’t agree that Melvin should be retained, there aren’t many things in the article to quibble with. Hickey basically makes three points:

1. The collapse of the team this year is not his fault.

This is pretty obviously true. There’s no way you can pin the collapses of the veterans on the manager. There isn’t a coach alive who would have won with this team.

2. Melvin is the scapegoat for the front office, the real culprits of this team’s decline.

Also true. Over the past two years, Gillick and Bavasi combined to build the team we have, and the majority of the blame for this season’s results fall on their shoulders.

3. Melvin’s personality can work, ala Joe Torre in New York, when given good players.

Again, a legitimate point, and a solid response to those who want to fire Melvin for his personality.

Hickey’s basic point that firing Melvin because this team failed is unfair is accurate. I don’t believe Bob Melvin should be fired because this team is awful. I believe Bob Melvin should be replaced because he’s not one of the 30 best baseball managers under contract to a team. He has shown a significant amount of weakness in in-game strategy as well as role development. If you’re going to cost your team wins during the game, you have to offset them through some kind of ultra-motivation that causes your team to overachieve. Melvin hasn’t shown that ability, and his lack of tactical skills is a sufficient reason to replace him.

The M’s took a flyer on Bob Melvin. It didn’t work out, and in the same way that the organization wouldn’t have problems replacing a prospect who got the call and didn’t perform, the M’s shouldn’t have any qualms about moving on here either. Bob Melvin doesn’t deserve to lose his job for what has happened; he deserves to lose his job because there are more qualified individuals ready to take his position.

Me vs Ichiro!

September 23, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 21 Comments 

For the first time since I took semi-organized baseball back up over softball, I had more hits tonight than Ichiro! (1-2, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 1R) and got to catch a couple of innings too. I know, it’s lame, but it was the last game of the year and I finally got some good hacks in, played some catcher and only made, uh, one really bad throw… I’m a happy dude tonight.

And I’m hella sore this morning — it was just over 50 last night, and that ball snaps in your hand when it’s that cold, blocking the ball hurts, and, uh, I got my gong rung once (folks, don’t catch without serious equipment, that’s my public service message for you)… and this morning I’m dying.

I have no idea how Pat Borders, or even Dan Wilson do this for so long: catching hurts.

More techie help

September 23, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 15 Comments 

Last time I asked for help on something like this, we got swamped with emails. You guys rock. This one’s a bit more complex, but hopefully one of you guys will be able to help me out, as my company’s helpdesk has refused to support this problem.

Here’s the basic lowdown: I’m having issues with WEP encryption and my Cisco Aironet wireless card despite the system showing a connection (using Win2K). If anyone out there is a VPN-wireless network guru and wants to lend me some help so I can actually work without heading into the office tomorrow, that’d be fantasic. Email me or respond to the more details post in the comments.

Update: In typical USSM readership response time, it took you guys about two hours to diagnose and fix the problem. Satori, you’re the man.

First comment attack

September 23, 2004 · Filed Under Site information · 22 Comments 

First comment spam attack on the site began this morning, advertising Party Poker Online. Thanks, Party Poker, your outstanding business practices have ensured I will never use your service and will actively encourage others to do likewise.

Bans are in place, you shouldn’t notice anything.


September 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 29 Comments 

Bartolo Colon putting on display all the reasons why giving long, big money contracts to mid-tier starting pitchers is bad bad bad. I can’t imagine the Angels could give away the 3 years and $37 million left on his contract. How bad has Colon been this year?

Colon’s VORP: 19.7. Ryan Franklin’s VORP: 19.1


In the last 13 innings, the Mariners have 28 hits.

Raul Ibanez is hitting .312 in September. He’s also slugging .376, thanks to only three of those 24 hits going for extra bases. Our cleanup hitter has spent the last month doing a Luis Castillo impersonation.

Mariners at Angels, 9/22

September 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 27 Comments 

Go Ichiro!

Multi-ball! Multi-ball! Multi-ball! (whack whack whack whack)

4 hits tonight. He’s going to do it.

Levesque on Section 101 removal

September 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 11 Comments 

M’s fans reclaim patio space

Troy Glaus

September 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 33 Comments 

In our continuing series of mini-articles on prospective free agents, I’m tackling Troy Glaus today. I’m hoping to knock out two more later this week. If you guys have any requests for players you think we may not discuss, bring them up in comments, and I’ll see what I can do.

For me, Troy Glaus has been on the verge of becoming a superstar for about six years now. I talked him up a great deal when he came out of UCLA as a shortstop, and his tear through the minors gave the appearance of a potential hall of fame slugger. In 2000, at age 23, he hit .284/.404/.604 and was tremendous defensively, making him worth about 11 to 12 wins over a replacement level third baseman. That’s an MVP type season, and at age 23, put Glaus in rare company.

Glaus has never gotten back to that level of productivity however, and his .284 average that season is beginning to look like an outlier. His BA in other seasons run .218, .240, .250, .250, .248, and .267. That’s a pretty consistent pattern of production, and when coupled with his high strikeout rates, he appears unlikely to post averages in the .280 mark with any kind of regularity. His power has remained consistant as measured by extra base hits as a percentage of total hits, basically a determination of how often he hits the crap out of the ball. In that 2000 season, 85 of his 160 hits, or about 53 percent, were extra base knocks. In 2001, when his BA, OBP, and SLG dropped to .250/.367/.531, 81 of his 147 hits, 55 percent, were extra base knocks. The decline wasn’t due to any loss of power, but simply a reversion to a lack of hitting singles that he’s displayed throughout his career.

Injuries have taken their toll on him the past few years, but he looked healthy in spring training. In April, I wroteI have this feeling that (Glaus) is going to take the Carlos Delgado leap from good player with big time power to dominant, offensive wrecking ball.“. More shoulder problems ruined the makings of that career year for Glaus this season. He hit .270/.341/.662 in April and followed it up with a .353/.476/.765 May before more shoulder problems shut him down. He hasn’t been nearly the same hitter since returning in September, hitting just .207/.313/.431. Clearly, Glaus has shown throughout his career that when he’s healthy enough to make consistent contact, he can be a monster, one of the best hitters in the game, but his health is a legitimate concern at this point, and even when healthy, he still has not quite been the superstar that he could be.

BP’s PECOTA system projected a nice bounceback year from Glaus, but a plateau for most of the next few years with only a remote possibility of a return to his 2000 form. Glaus was projected to be worth between 3 and 4 wins above replacement for the next three years, with his decline coming around age 31, a bit earlier than most. His continuing shoulder problems and lack of playing time will probably make him even more comparable to Dale Murphy types who fell apart long before one would expect them to, based on normal aging patterns.

So, what about Glaus as a Mariner? He could certainly infuse the team with some needed power and production from third base, but the risk is very high. Between his apparently chronic health problems and near total reliance on his power for value, he’s not likely to age well. He should not be counted on to play well into his thirties, and giving him more than a two or three year contract looks like an unnecessary risk. Depending on how the market treats him, Glaus may actually prefer a one year deal this offseason, giving him another chance to have a big year and cash in while still in his prime.

Based on expected performance, Glaus should be worth about $8 million per season for the next few years, but he comes with considerable risk of returning nothing on that investment, likely knocking down his value in the marketplace. If he can’t find someone to give him a 3 year, $24 million deal (the top endof what I feel he should expect), I would be in favor of the M’s making a run at him with a 1 year deal for $8-$9 million and a club option for the second year. The potential is there to infuse the offense with needed power and, at worst, he’s a decent trade chip at the deadline. A one year deal for Glaus is relatively low risk with solid upside, but the Mariners would almost certainly have to outbid all other teams financially to convince him to take the trip up north for only one guaranteed year. However, I’m uncomfortable guaranteeing Glaus a significant part of the 2006 or 2007 budget, and his health problems make him virtually uninsurable.

I believe the Mariners should let Glaus know that they have interest in his services, but would like to let the market establish his value. If he decides to take a one year deal, he’s a good place to overpay, as he’ll come with more potential than just about any other player not getting a multiyear commitment. If he can find a team willing to sign him through 2007, however, wish him luck. That’s just a big commitment with a large unknown that the M’s don’t need to be making.

2005 Mariner veterans

September 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 41 Comments 

In the 2005 Mariner post you’ll see that there are two huge questions we haven’t talked a lot here on the USSM, focusing instead on questions of the day.

Jamie Moyer and Bret Boone are both going to be paid huge sums of money in 2005. Moyer $7.5m and Boone $9m. The M’s are going to have payroll flexibility like crazy, but a lot depends on these two. Has age finally cost Moyer enough that he’s unable to walk that fine line between control-freak artist and all-too-hittable? Did Boone get old, fast, or is there Something More Nefarious going on with his hitting problems (and please, let’s not get into that)(please?).

I think Moyer’s the better bet for a return to goodness. But… maybe not. Here’s why:

Moyer’s striking out batters this year at about the same rate (~14%) as he has since he got to Seattle. His best rate’s about 16%, but 14% is good. His walk rate is ~7% which is higher then we’d like to see: in his good years in Seattle it’s 4-5%. It’s the HR rate that’s way, way up, to 5%. That’s ugly. He’s seeing more balls put into play go for hits, but we’ve talked about the decreased defense.

The walk rate was the same last year, cause for concern, but the hit rate would go down if the team improved the defense next year, and that’d help him a lot. The HR rate’s a real worry. It’s higher than it’s ever been in his career, and while pitchers don’t have as much control on hit rate as you might think listening to the broadcasts, Moyer’s been one of the rare pitchers who consistently has held it down. If he’s not getting weak grounders and pop-ups anymore — if hitters are mashing those over the wall not out of luck but because he’s not quite as fine, then this is trouble.

That said, the home runs are subject to a lot of luck. There’s an argument here that Moyer’s been forced to pitch off his game consistently because the team’s offense has been so weak he’s not going after hitters, afraid that the one hit’s going to be the game, so when he has to work from behind… I don’t know, and I haven’t done the tea-leaf thing with this detailed splits against historicals to look for clues there yet.

Boone, by contrast… there was a point in Moyer’s career where the light went on and he started being the crafty left-hander we’ve known and loved. When Boone came over from San Diego, he was a glove man who had never hit particularly well and suddenly was ripped with muscle and putting up seasons (in Safeco!) that looked like something out of Joe Morgan’s career lines, just blisteringly good. And then okay, and then good again, and then.. this year.

Except this year looks like something out of his early career.

There’s a chicken-and-egg argument over power and walks: that power creates walks because hitters get pitched around, or that by being more selective hitters can get pitches they can drive (Ted Williams, for one, weighs in on this side). Doesn’t matter which side you take, though — if Boone isn’t the fearsome power hitter, he’s not a guy who wants to take a lot of walks on his own, so he’s neither chicken or egg. The argument is kind of pointless with Boone anyway, as he took 40 walks in his monster 2001, 53 in his off-2001 2002, and 68 in his monster 2003 year.

What concerns me is that he’s displaying a normal aging path: if you figure as bat speed goes down and power declines, you’ll see avg drop, power numbers drop, strikeout increase (and walks, usually, but again, Boone-as-non-poultry), that Boone’s season for you. Huge drop in ability to make solid contact, when he does make contact he’s not putting enough on it, and he’s striking out more, either unable to pull the trigger or not getting bat-on-ball.

Average is the most variable of skills, and most people understand that even without the Bull Durham speech. But the whole package here? It’s not to say that players can have late-career peaks (heck, check out Boone, years 32-34) but if the reflexes and bat speed start to go, there’s no coming back from that.

Jason advocated benching Boone to avoid this option year. This is a case where I’d have to defer to the scouts: is this aging? Is he getting the bat around as fast this year? Is there something else going on?

Between the two of them, Moyer seems like the guy who can compensate for aging, who can come back next year and contribute. Boone’s the one I’m much more concerned about.

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