Two Weeks In
Opening Day was two weeks ago, and the team has played 13 games. The samples are still too small to make any definitive judgments, but there are some things we can glean from the first 10 percent of the season. So, here’s some observations I’ve made over the first couple of weeks.
Our defense is really good. We said before the year started that the gloves would be the strength of the team, and this has been confirmed so far. The M’s are turning 72.5 percent of all balls in play into outs, compared to the American League average of 70.4 percent. Our defensive efficiency is tied with the White Sox for the fourth best in baseball, behind only Florida, Oakland, and the Dodgers. At the other end of the spectrum, by the way, is the Yankees. They are only converting 63 percent of balls in play into outs. That’s awful.
Bret Boone is done. Forget the Lasik. We can stop calling 2004 a down year. Boone is finished as anything more than an average second baseman.
Jeremy Reed is going to go on a prolonged hot streak very soon. His .205 average hides the fact that he’s swinging the bat very well. Half of his hits have gone for extra bases and he has five walks to just three strikeouts. Guys with his skillset are much more prone to streaks and slumps, and I’d guess that a 15 for 30 stretch is just around the corner.
The offense has scored 11 more runs than you’d expect, given their performance. Most of that is their ridiculous hitting with runners on base.
I’m not worried about Adrian Beltre. He’s stinging the baseball and has had several 400 foot outs in the past few days, plus the double off the wall last night. He’s still having problems with breaking balls away, but he hasn’t looked overmatched at the plate. He’s going to start putting up numbers real soon.
This bench is abysmal. Just awful.
The 12 man pitching staff is just a waste of roster spots. By having way too many arms sitting around, we have things like this: Ron Villone, 6 appearances, 2 1/3 innings. Using Villone as a situational lefty one out guy is not a wise use of resources. The M’s would be better off using Villone for an inning or more at a time, and paring the pitching staff back to 11–or gasp, even 10!–pitchers. The extra roster spot(s) could be used to accomodate an actual major league player to backup our regular nine starters.
Aaron Sele still sucks. He’s pitching exactly like he has the past three years. Badly. More walks than strikeouts. Only 2.81 strikeouts per nine innings, a number that makes Kirk Rueter look like Nolan Ryan. Going just over 5 innings per start. There’s no reason to have him on the team.
Ryan Franklin is going to get torched in one of his next two starts. You simply can’t put the ball in play as often as he is and get away with it.
Julio Mateo and J.J. Putz should switch roles. I’m not sure why Putz gets to pitch in tough situations, where his lack of command can be a serious problem, while Mateo is relegated to mop up work.
And, to cap it off, evidence that two weeks of statistics still aren’t all that meaningful; the three best hitters in the American League to date have been Brian Roberts, Dmitri Young, and Shea Hillenbrand.