Today’s M’s news, PI bit on the bench

DMZ · April 28, 2005 at 10:18 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Check it out. Or, you know, don’t. I was happy to turn this in last night and then this morning see they brought Hansen in.

In other M’s news, bad news on Pokey: the team recommended surgery, which would put him on the 60-day DL (opening a roster spot) and could end his season.

From the PI, on last night’s non-argument from Hargrove:

Manager Mike Hargrove said he thought it might be a bad call, but he didn’t have a great angle on it, so he didn’t go out to protest.

Ahhh, it’s like a return to the calm days of Melvin. Mr. Hargrove: it’s okay to go out there and say “boy, it sure didn’t look like that from where I was” and make your point, even if you don’t have the benefit of six camera angles.

The PI also gets this gold quote from Hargrove on the 12-man staff:

“We’ve got a 12-man staff and we’re going to go with that for the foreseeable future,” he said. “It’s working OK for us. We’ve been able to keep everybody fairly active.”

Um… you have? Because it sure doesn’t seem like it.

But what do I know? As long as he finds a way to work pitchers into the game the day they’re in the papers whinging about not having work, everything should work out.

A 12-man pitching staff might be useful in some circumstances, like you’ve got a rotation of Meche clones. But even then… this team needs some random bats and a quality backup outfielder, not a Jeff Nelson who pitches once a week.


41 Responses to “Today’s M’s news, PI bit on the bench”

  1. SAF on April 28th, 2005 10:31 am

    Yeah DMZ!

    That’s the kind of article we have been missing since you writing PTPs. Your best PI effort to date.

    Good job.

  2. Xteve X on April 28th, 2005 11:14 am

    Great stuff DMZ. I’m just waiting for the first “But Willie’s from Port Orchard!” comment.

  3. MoscowJeff on April 28th, 2005 11:21 am


    I thought I was just overthinking the current state of affairs when I saw Nelson being brought in yesterday from the bullpen on the same day of his comments in the papers.

  4. Brian Rust on April 28th, 2005 11:29 am

    Good article Derek. I appreciate your honest assessment of WB without going all W”F”B on us. Truly a professional approach.

  5. NC on April 28th, 2005 11:31 am

    In the tradition of BP’s DiSar awards, there should be a contest called the Bloomquists: Which Major Leaguer will last longest into the season with an OBP less than his BA?

  6. Todd on April 28th, 2005 11:40 am

    If Bucky is healthy and Grover sticks with 7 relievers, who would comprise the bench? And any word on Spiezio? I cannot imagine that we need Spiezio, Dobbs, and Hansen on the same bench. Hargrove should have them compete in a 3-way death match to see which back-up corner infielder gets the honor to pinch-hit for Valdez when the team is down 8-0 in the top of the ninth.

  7. Aaron on April 28th, 2005 11:44 am

    Alfonso Soriano did that (AVG > OBP) for a good deal of the year one time, I think his first or second full year. Not sure how he finished.

  8. Ralph Malph on April 28th, 2005 11:50 am

    Hansen has to be bad news for Dobber — surely they won’t keep both of them on the bench.

    A bench of Bloomquist, Hansen and Bucky wouldn’t be all that bad. I’d rather add an OK like Doyle or Strong to it instead of the 12th pitcher.

    Surely even Hargrove would find ways to use that bench.

  9. Paul Covert on April 28th, 2005 12:00 pm

    Aaron (re. #7): See Soriano’s Retrosheet page for 2001. He was hitting .277/.275/.406 through April 28 that year (96 AB’s by my quick count), before drawing his first walk on the 29th. Through May 24 he was hitting .279/.284/.391, with one walk and one HBP in about 174 at-bats. Then finally on May 25 he apparently decided not to be allergic to ball four, and finished the season at .268/.304/.432 (29 walks to 574 AB’s).

  10. David on April 28th, 2005 12:00 pm

    It struck me as strange that on the one hand you praise Valdez’s 2005 numbers (.254/.279/.288) and tout the value of cloning him to fill the bench, and then use WB’s small sample size 2005 numbers (based on 15 at bats) to evaluate him while never mentioning his career MLB numbers (.262/.315/.343) that are almost indistinguishable (actually better) to those of the 2005 Valdez. To me, that smacks of someone trying to present the evidence that supports the point they are trying to make, as opposed to someone examining all of the evidence to see what it shows. I am no WB fan and I agree with the basic point that we could (and should) find someone with more upside out there — but if you are setting the bar at the Valdez Value (as opposed to the Mendoza line), then Willie’s probably above it, isn’t he?

  11. eponymous coward on April 28th, 2005 12:02 pm

    Right, but Hargrove would actually have to USE the bench. It seems he likes having the same 9 guys on the lineup card.

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of having players play 162 games. Yes, I know, Ichiro and Boone want to be out there every inning, Ripken’s record, blah blah blah. Well, you know what? It’s also important to have game-ready substitutes in case of an injury, and if players can’t deal with the fact that they might sit because of that, that’s a problem with THEIR egos. Ideally, (assuming anyone would be stupid enough to make me a major league manager) my “regulars” would get about 150-155 games, tops- with a handful of those games coming as DH days or pinch-hitting where they get part of a day off anyway… and I’d have a bench of useful spare parts ala Stan Javier, Dave Hansen, John Van Der Wal, and so on.

    Oh, and a 10 man staff where ALL 5 pitchers can go multiple innings if need be, and at least 2 long guys capable of coming in in an early inning and going to the 6th-7th inning…

  12. Russ on April 28th, 2005 12:03 pm

    You diss’d WFB? You are going to get a lot of flak email for your honest appraisal.

    God bless you and God help you.

  13. DMZ on April 28th, 2005 12:10 pm

    There’s no praise there for Valdez’s numbers, and the comparison you cite is only to point out that so far, the guy they found on the scrap heap had outperformed everyone on their highly-paid bench. It’s a limited comparison, the limits are noted, and it’s entirely valid.

  14. eponymous coward on April 28th, 2005 12:15 pm

    A bench of Bloomquist, Hansen and Bucky wouldn’t be all that bad. I’d rather add an OK like Doyle or Strong to it instead of the 12th pitcher.

    If you’re going to have a utility infielder who can’t hit (WFB), why not at least have one who can field well, instead of having the ability to be below average at a lot of positions?

    Doyle NEEDS TO PLAY EVERY DAY. Can’t stress that enough. He’s had exactly zero professional seasons where he’s shown the ability to stay off the DL while playing regularly. Unless your plan is to turn Doyle into the 23 year old version of Dave Hansen, professional PH, bringing him up does nothing to determine if he’s capable of staying healthy while playing baseball.

    Strong…the problem is he can’t play RF, and has Randy Winn Disease in CF (weak arm), in a form even more advanced than Randy Winn. Ideally you’d want your backup OF to be able to play in all 3 OF positions- and if, god forbid, Ichiro went down, the only RF we have is usually the DH, so we’d lose the DH for that game if we subbed in the way we should. Strong’s the best backup OF we have…but we really should have a better OF option.

  15. Ken Hanselman on April 28th, 2005 12:17 pm

    Yes! That’s the DMZ that I’ve been missing when reading the PI pieces! I know you were trying to find a “voice” that was a bit more digestable to the general public, but this column shows more honesty. Sadly, now that you’ve gone and declared your displeasure with the M’s facination with WB, I wouldn’t be surprised if this piece was your last!

  16. Steve McCatty Nation on April 28th, 2005 12:22 pm

    Agreed – best article yet, Z-Man! With all the lazy sports journalists we’re subjected to in the various Seattle medias, it read like a broadcast from another planet. We have satellite radio – are you “satellite journalism”?…

  17. Todd on April 28th, 2005 12:23 pm

    Abraham Nunez can play all OF postions decently and bats right-handed (actually switch, but better from the right side). And he is the definition of replacement level talent at minimum wage.

    But if Ichiro went down and there was not another true outfielder on the roster other than Ibanez, I assume that Reed would play right on a regular basis.

  18. Cliff on April 28th, 2005 12:39 pm

    Can anyone actually PROVE Mike Hargrove is actually at the games? As much as we all dissed BoMel last year (now managing 1st place AZ!?), can we really say the Grover is managing the team in a more creative and aggresive fashion than what we regularly saw last year? The bench is something that the manager may be saddled with, but the facts are that Mike had some kind of input in to who is sitting there, and he has 100% control over how that bench is used. And it seems that Grover is the one insisting on that 12 man pitching staff in case the M’s have back to back 15 inning games…

  19. vj on April 28th, 2005 1:05 pm

    re Abraham Nunez, here’s a witty line from his ESPN scouting report:
    “Equally mediocre from both sides of the plate, Nunez is a poor two-strike hitter whose focus on hitting fastballs often causes him to beat breaking pitches into the dirt.”

  20. urchman on April 28th, 2005 1:15 pm

    Yeah, I’ll jump on the bandwagon. Your PI article was on the money, DMZ. Now, we just need to see how much Hansen helps when he joins the team. I wish Hargrove would abandon his 12-man pitching staff, but it doesn’t look likely.

  21. Greg on April 28th, 2005 1:39 pm

    DMZ – I agree with your point but I do think your arguement was poorly supported by emphasizing the offensive numbers from such a small sample pool. In order for numbers to be meaningful, you need a larger data set. For example, highlighting 17ABs for Dan Wilson and comparing him to a NL pitcher just rings hollow. The guy has been playing for years and although you may have been able to suggest a downward trend in his productivity and weak offensive contribution to the bench, we all know he is better than the numbers listed next to his 17ABs for this season.

  22. DMZ on April 28th, 2005 1:52 pm

    we all know he is better than the numbers listed next to his 17ABs for this season.

    Which I pointed out! Right there in the article!

    And Wilson, even as we concede that he’s getting old and that all those years of catching have caught up to him and his bat, should still be a better hitter than this.

    The whole thing was “so far, pitchers in the NL have out-hit the Mariner bench”… that’s all.

  23. Grizz on April 28th, 2005 2:00 pm

    First off, no one is by any means advocating the launching of And Leone is obviously the better choice for the role of right-handed pinch hitter. But given Bavasi’s failure to find a legitimate fourth outfielder, the organization would be better off with Nunez as the backup outfielder and Choo playing everyday in Tacoma. In (hopefully) very limited playing time, he would probably post Valdez-like numbers with some power and adequately back up all three outfield positions. Meanwhile, Choo could continue to develop and be ready in case a starting outfielder goes on the DL. I suspect Choo got the call in the first place because he is already on the 40-man roster, but if Reese or Madritsch goes on the 60-day DL, it would open a spot for Nunez (at least until someone better comes along via the waiver wire or minor trade).

  24. Adam S on April 28th, 2005 2:02 pm

    Obviously a bit of small sample size going on, but I though Derek qualified the comparison as “so far” even if he didn’t say that explicitly. Obviously the Mariner bench is better than NL pitchers; at the same time, they haven’t shown it.

    Derek, a suggestion for your next piece (and perfect followup) — the 12-man pitching staff, really the 7-man bullpen. Might be interesting to note how the Ms relivers as a whole perform on > 3 days rest versus regular use. Also how this wastes a roster spot (though I’m not sure having another position player would help us).

  25. eponymous coward on April 28th, 2005 2:13 pm

    “Better than a pitcher hitting” isn’t exactly a high bar to jump over, and an average bench (backup C included) probably gets around the equivalent of a single regular player’s playing time, between pinch hitting, days off, and so on.

    When combined with the regular SS (Valdez or Pokey, take your pick) being an offensive zero along with the regular C (Olivo)…well, people are wondering why the M’s aren’t score runs like you’d think they should? It’s because the M’s are on pace to get 1000+ plate appearances at SS/C/the bench from really crappy offensive players. That’s a lot of easy outs to hand to your opponents…but hey, Willie Bloomquist “hustles”, so it’s all worth it, right?

  26. John in NV on April 28th, 2005 2:43 pm

    Great article; nice to see the case against WFB in simple numbers, even if the gritty apologists and excuse-makers still won’t get it.

  27. David on April 28th, 2005 3:26 pm

    Derek —

    When you write for the general public, it is much easier to mislead them by use of small sample size arguments, and by doing so, you perpetuate the use of such arguments. Joe Sixpack relies on Bloomquist’s one good month to justify his place on the roster, and here you are telling him that the bench’s performance over four weeks of the season makes them each of them less valuable than an NL pitcher.

    You now claim that “the whole thing” was that “so far pitchers in the NL have out hit the M’s bench.” But if that was your point, then why say that 9 random pitchers from the NL would “have a close game” with the M’s bench? The question is one of ability, not performance, isn’t it? You are taking the bench’s (small sample size) 2005 performance, comparing it to the performance of the NL pitchers, and then suggesting that makes the two comparable if they actually competed. I guess you didn’t mean to imply that, but you did.

    Similarly, you say that if we cloned Valdez, we “would dramatically upgrade” the bench, right after quoting his (small sample size) 2005 stats. Putting the two together implies that you think his 2005 performance is representative of his ability and what we can expect from him (or any other replacement level player) the rest of the year.

    Lastly, you describe the bench as “highly paid.” Certainly that is true for Spiezio and Wilson, but not true for Dobbs and WB, both of whom make the major league minimum or close to it. If you want to replace WB (and believe me, I agree we should do it if we want to improve), then picking up another Valdez is not the way to do it.

    I’m picking at nits here, but they are bothersome nits because when we pick at them, you say they aren’t there. But they still seem to be biting . . .

  28. Robot Pegasus on April 28th, 2005 3:30 pm

    Good, constructive article. I’m glad that the ‘mainstream’, one-game-a-week-I-wish-Sweet-Lou-were-still-here crowd now has access to a frequent and relatively enlightened viewpoint dropped (sadly, like so much old and overripe fruit) from the bo-gaha of DMZ’s noggin. I would like to know if there will, at some point (all current batting trends continued) be an article calling out certain very expensive corner infielders who are hitting like Mike Felder.

  29. Kevin K on April 28th, 2005 3:41 pm

    I agree with the other posters that this was DMZ’s best P-I post to date. The others seemed a little flat compared with the USSM writing, but this one was informative and funny, with a distinctive voice. The only enhancement I would have made would be to point out how WB’s minor league performances should be expected to translate to the show–to the uninformed, .281/.341 in the minors might not seem so bad.

    I hope these make it in to print, since I suspect most of the people who read the P-I sports page online have already found their way to USSM. Keep up writing like this and I’m sure that will happen.

  30. Bill J on April 28th, 2005 3:44 pm

    Bucky Jacobsen, were he healthy, would be a huge right-handed bat who could play DH on the days Hargrove decides he wants to ride the Raul Ibanez Left Field Adventure thrill ride.

    Comedy gold, Derek. Comedy gold.

  31. Jim Thomsen on April 28th, 2005 3:50 pm

    Um … what?

    Mike Felder, Seattle, 1993: .211 BA, 342 ABs, 1 HR, 20 RBIs, 22 walks, .262 OBP, .269 SLG

    Adrian Beltre, 2005 to date: .244 BA, 82 ABs, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 3 walks, .276 OBP, .354 SLG

    Richie Sexson, 2005 to date: .254 AB, 67 Abs, 4 HR, 16 RBIs, 10 walks, .351 OBP, .493 SLG

    I don’t see the comparison … unless you really think Beltre and Sexson are not only that bad, but likely to get worse. I will admit I’m surprised by how low Beltre’s OBP and SLG is … but it’s completely out of whack with his career levels and thus, I think it’s reasonable to state that it will likely be a short-lived aberration.

    Sexson, to me, is doing just fine.

    How about just saying, “They’re not hitting like their last full years led me to expect they would, and I’m disappointed.”

    I bet by the time Derek wrote a column analyzing it, the “problem” will have started to clear itself up.

  32. John D. on April 28th, 2005 3:59 pm

    Re: (#s 5, 7, and 9) OBP

  33. Christopher Michael on April 28th, 2005 4:04 pm

    #27 Several of those players haven’t shown much of anything in the past either. I’d take 4 Mike Hamptons on our bench any day. Heck, maybe we can trade for Rick Ankiel?

    The points he made were extremely valid and needed to be said. You can’t possibly tell me that you’re happy with our bench. I know I’m not.

  34. anotherjeff on April 28th, 2005 4:05 pm

    I liked the article. More specifically I liked it because it wasnt the typical ray of sunshine and pretty flowers piece that is usually painted for the M’s in the papers.

  35. DMZ on April 28th, 2005 4:05 pm

    I’m picking at nits here, but they are bothersome nits because when we pick at them, you say they aren’t there. But they still seem to be biting . . .

    They’re biting you, sure. But if your argument is that the bench isn’t highly paid on an individual basis when I refered to them, as a whole, as expensive… relax. I’m doing the best I can.

    Or, to quote Contact — small moves.

  36. jason on April 28th, 2005 4:44 pm

    it’s funny, i happened to stop by the PI web site and read this article before I stopped by here today (not sure what my problem was today), but I didn’t notice who wrote the piece in the PI as I was reading it, and I remember being surprised that one of their writers would go out on a limb all by themselves and speak the truth. . . alas, their writers are still trying to find their spines. oh well.

    nice job!

  37. D'ohboy on April 28th, 2005 4:58 pm

    Derek, good article, although maybe you should have pointed out to the casual reader that, while the bench may seem insignificantly marginal (especially the way Grover uses it), the tightly clustered nature of the AL West means that the marginal stuff becomes relatively more important. Also, you may have wanted to refer readers to your post on Grover a while back. I seem to remember that you said he runs the same nine guys out every day until illness or injury intervenes and only uses the bench sporadically. In that same piece, you also mentioned that Hargrove has been known for overusing his pitchers, so, given that the M’s staff seems to be as fragile as Michael Jackson’s nasal cartilage, maybe the 12 man staff isn’t the worst thing for the time being. Do you know if he used a 12 man staff regularly in Cleveland or Baltimore?

    Have you ever thought of doing a PI piece that analyzes the pros and cons of keeping developing prospects like Lopez, Hernandez and Shin in Tacoma rather than having them in Seattle? Right now it seems like, talent-wise, our best bench would be comprised of younger players who need regular playing time. However, this would be short sighted for the organization’s development as a whole. Anyhow, I’m sure that you could write something pretty interesting on the subject.

  38. John D. on April 28th, 2005 8:06 pm

    [# 32, before the gremlins got it] OBP

  39. John D. on April 28th, 2005 8:19 pm

    Oh, well. check out GREG BRILEY. 1992

    BTW, has anyone dared to ask DON BAYLOR what he thinks of the 12-man pitching staff?

    Nice work. Too bad it’s not in the print edition, so that everyone can read it, including the “greatest fans in the world.”

  40. Robot Pegasus on April 28th, 2005 9:29 pm

    #31– Good call on my egregious misuse of hyperbole: you must have a couple minutes and mad cut-n-paste skills. However, I do think you are entirely right that the ‘problem’ will sort itself (at least I hope), and Sexson’s production has been just dandy and will hopefully continue to be so. Beltre’s present production can be reason for at least mild concern in my book, especially his very clear lack of certain skills that help a hitter, viz. his three walks to date.

  41. vj on April 29th, 2005 12:15 am

    I’d say given Sexson’s paycheck, his performance is not quite “just fine” or “just dandy” but around the minimum of expectations.