Weekend Transactions

March 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 23 Comments 

From this link (and others around the web, I’m sure):

To Tacoma: RHP Cha Seung Baek, SS Jose Lopez, OF Jamal Strong
To minor league camp: C Ryan Christianson
Sold to San Francisco: 2B Mickey Lopez
Back via Rule 5: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith

Dave and I are both fans of RRS, so I think I can speak for both of us in saying we’re glad he’s back (Rowland-Smith was a Rule 5 selection by the Twins last winter, but wasn’t going to stick on their maior league roster. I suppose it’s still possible the two clubs work out a trade and he winds up in Minnesota’s minor league system).

In other news — and speaking of the Rule 5 — I see the Royals sent Luis “Rule 5 Kid” Ugueto to their minor league camp.

Roster suggestion

March 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 26 Comments 

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers have placed Brooks Kieschnick on waivers. Kieshnick is probably the most successful two way player MLB has seen in decades and is an extremely valuable reserve as a combination outfielder/relief pitcher.

The M’s could definitely use his bat off the bench (in 306 at-bats, he’s a career .248/.315/.444 hitter, which would instantly make him our second best pinch hitter), and having the versatility to have him throw 40-50 useful innings of relief work would allow the team to not need to carry a long man.

There’s no way Kieschnick should make it through waivers. He’d be a very nice addition for the M’s, and I’m rooting for the club to make a move.

Jonah and Derek book signing tonight

March 26, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 10 Comments 

In case you haven’t made hot, rainy Saturday plans yet that don’t involve this — Jonah’s going to be doing a book signing tonight and I’ll be heckling. We’ll probably both be signing copies of Baseball Prospectus 2005, actually. Which reminds me — as we’ve been wandering around, we’ve been signing copies we can find at local bookstores, so if you miss the signing, you may find that your corner store has a bunch we’ve tagged.

Signing info–

Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park , Sat Mar 26
Saturday, March 26 @ 6:00pm

17171 Bothwell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

I’ll see you there, hopefully.

Injury notes

March 25, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 25 Comments 

A few quick injury notes:

Scott Atchison is having some pain in his elbow and is going to be shut down for a few weeks. You know the drill by now.

Ryan Christianson channeled the spirit of Chris Snelling and, just as he was finally showing that his injuries may be behind him, broke his finger today and is out for two months.

2005 Schedule

March 24, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 26 Comments 

I’m not happy with the M’s 2005 schedule. Opening the season with Minnesota? Playing Kansas City and Chicago the second week of the season? Yuck. In 2001 (for example), they played their first 19 games exclusively against the AL West before venturing out into other divisions. In 2002, after opening with the White Sox (again, I don’t like it), they at least played their next 19 against the division. This year, they won’t play their 19th division game until — wait for it — June 22nd.

What’s worse than the way they open the season, however, is the way they close it. To me, division races should be decided by head-to-head play. In 2001 and 2002, they finished the season with 19 and 20 division games, respectively. This means that for nearly the entire final month, you’re playing your division rivals. And that’s the way it should be, in my opinion.

This year? They close with three against Texas and three against Oakland. This after playing seven games in Toronto and Detroit. Yes, those 19 divisional games are there in the month of September, but they’re broken up by Baltimore, Toronto and Detroit.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I don’t like it.

Derek’s Newest P-I piece

March 24, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 44 Comments 

Derek’s latest Off the Wall column is up over at the P-I. He talks about the follies of making assessments of players based on spring training statistics, especially in circumtances where we have years and years of major league data to make an informed evaluation of a player’s ability. Here’s the most important sentence he writes:

The lesson of any serious examination of spring training statistics is that it’s a mistake to put any weight on them.

Now, I want to add on a little bit here, and I don’t think Derek will disagree with me, even if it seems like I might be contradicting his column a bit.

Giving any weight to spring training statistics is folly. Giving weight to spring training performance, in some cases, is not. Some players really do improve or decline certain aspects of their game over the offseason, and are different players in March since we last saw them in September. Thanks to the nature of spring training, we don’t have any real way to quantify the effects of these changes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. These are the kinds of outliers that scouts can see before they’re quantifiable. If a player has added 4-5 MPH to his velocity, has improved his footwork or range through an offseason of hard work, added a cut fastball to his repertoire, or made other such significant adjustments, it’s worth exploring.

The key is to remember that these adjustments are rare. There might be one guy per organization that takes that kind of leap forward. If your evaluators are telling you that half your team has taken a huge step forward, well, you probably need new scouts. And Derek’s point about fans who want to see the most optimistic view of every player on the roster, using good spring training stats to back up their assertions that Random Scrub is due for a breakout year, is a good one. That’s not analysis, it’s wishcasting.

Taking a guy like Aaron Sele and extrapolating that he’s back to 2001 levels because he has a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings is the latter; someone looking for any reason to get excited about an opinion they want to hold. However, if a scout who has been watching the game for 15 years tells me that Jose Lopez has shown a more balanced approach at the plate this spring and has improved his footwork around the bag, well, that’s something I want to know. That’s not worthless information.

The best example of what I’m talking about is Albert Pujols. In 2000, in the low-A Midwest League, Pujols hit .324/.387/.565, then hit .284/.298/.481 in 81 at-bats after a promotion to high-A. He had established himself as an exciting prospect with a world of potential, but looked exposed at the end of the 2000 season against A-ball pitchers. He looked like a guy who needed another year, maybe 18 months, in the minors. Pujols showed up in the spring of 2001 as a monster, looking nothing like the kid who had been struggling in Potomac the previous fall. He had put on about 20 pounds of muscle and was tearing the cover off the ball. For the whole of spring training, Pujols was the Cardinals best hitter. At the end of the month, Tony LaRussa just couldn’t send him down, so they brought him north with the club and found him at-bats wherever they could. He hit .329/.403/.610 and darn near won the NL MVP.

At the end of the 2000 season, sticking Pujols in the lineup the following opening day was folly. But the guy who showed up to camp was significantly better than the guy who left the club the previous fall. The Cardinals made the right choice in carrying Pujols, because they recognized the shift in his performance. This is legitimate analysis; we just couldn’t have quantified it ahead of time.

Spring training statistics are worthless. But if a player is knocking your socks off with a performance so vastly different from what you thought you had, its at least worth reconsidering the previous opinion. Its the difference between statistics and performance. A narrow difference, but a potentially significant one.

Three to minors

March 24, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 4 Comments 

In case you haven’t already seen this: C Wiki Gonzalez and RHP Aaron Looper were reassigned to minor league camp. RHP Jorge Campillo was optioned to Tacoma after the game last night.

Jeff’s Limerick-free Mariner Preview

March 24, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 13 Comments 

The Mariners preview I wrote is up now at The Hardball Times. It has no poetry, but does feature a Magic 8 Ball.

These are the first few paragraphs:

“When a Pacific Northwest salmon dies, it doesn’t fool around. The magnificent beast struggles home to its natal stream, where it dramatically flails, expires and rots.

The resultant stench is among the worst things you’ll ever smell, something like rotten eggs baked in the sun. Worse, your dog will roll in it and stink gloriously for the whole summer.

Kind of like the Mariners did last year.”

Running Diary

March 23, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 62 Comments 

If you liked last years Running Diaries, great news, they’re back.

Jorge Campillo getting the start tonight. King Felix will follow him. Let’s Play Ball.

9:05 PM EST Always fun to miss the first three pitches so that National Geographic can push some TV show that four people might watch. One down.

9:07 “Just in time… no, wait, he dropped the ball.” Dave’s in midseason form. But we love him anyways.

9:10 Change up. Curve. Change up. Curve. More like the Mexican Jamie Moyer.

9:13 Pitch sequence to Garret Anderson; change, change, change, curve (launched for a wind aided double).

9:16 Greg Dobbs is hitting 5th. I have no words.
Read more

Game on

March 23, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 2 Comments 

Don’t forget, the M’s are on FSN right now. You’re welcome.

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