Hitter’s meeting, PI bit

DMZ · May 26, 2005 at 10:25 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Hargrove shares our pain. He and Baylor held a meeting to talk about trying to be more selective, get your pitch and drive it or walk — from the PI:

Manager Mike Hargrove said he called the meeting specifically to address the dearth of walks.

“There are certain hitters on any club who aren’t going to draw a lot of walks,” Hargrove said. “We’ve got our share of those. So we’ve got two, three, four guys who should swing most of the time.

“I’m not going to name names, but we had guys tonight swinging at three pitches out of the strike zone,” Hargrove said.

Holy mackeral! I don’t know how effective this is going to be, but I think we can agree that at least Hargrove’s watching the same team we are. Though… only three? Did he mean “clearly out of the strike zone”?

This week’s column in the PI is on the different starts of the two big off-season signings, and my increasing despair over Beltre’s start. Check it out, or don’t… no pressure.


87 Responses to “Hitter’s meeting, PI bit”

  1. paul on May 26th, 2005 1:59 pm

    Man, I hope you’re kidding.

    In view of the frequency of arm injuries to M’s pitchers, sitting Felix till his body develops might not be a bad idea.


  2. Evan on May 26th, 2005 2:02 pm

    We don’t want to sit Doyle because he needs regular playing time. I would, however, love to see the team take a chance and let Leone be our everyday SS.

    Boone is currently hitting right around Jose Lopez’s 50th percentile PECOTA projection. That’s gotta say something.

    Incidentally, I’m the guy who got Joe Sheehan to write about Richie Sexson, today.

  3. Dave on May 26th, 2005 2:02 pm

    TINSTAAPP is the worst piece of baseball “analysis” to come out of the sabermetric community. Ever. It’s a total joke.

  4. paul on May 26th, 2005 2:15 pm

    EC – that is a good point about team morale. You’d make a good manager.

    Dave – a lesson I take from TINSTAPP is that injury rates to young pitchers make forecasting almost a crapshoot. Is that an incorrect conclusion?

  5. Dave on May 26th, 2005 2:26 pm


  6. Jim Osmer on May 26th, 2005 2:27 pm

    The tricky thing is your best two hitters at AAA are Doyle and Choo both lefty corner outfielders with low power numbers.

    Leone and Lopez are both hitting well but both out with hand injuries. Morse is doing okay but not really tearing it up at Tacoma and no one seems to like his defense.

    All these injuries are tying the M’s hands somewhat. for the same reason, shakeups on the pitching staff are worrisome. Only Felix, Campillo and Sherrill (now hurt too) are pitching well. IF you call those guys up you have nothing ready to cover for other injuries.

    What about trading Choo and Morse for a shortstop? Both these guys seem unlikely to start with the M’s anytime soon.
    Leone is not bad at shortstop from what I have heard. IF he was healthy, he should be on the bench instead of two lefty clones.

  7. Cliff on May 26th, 2005 2:31 pm

    Gee, it is too bad Carlos Guillen was forcing Freddy Garcia to go out drinking every night, other wise we would have a .367 hitting shortstop.
    This team is not nearly as bad as the ’86 M’s, but in all due honesty that famous Clemens 20 strike out game came in the midst of a road trip of such horror that it was NOT a surprise. I am afraid that this year’s version also teeters on that brink. Of course, we probably won’t face an ’86 Clemens any time in the near future, so we got that going for us.

  8. paul on May 26th, 2005 2:32 pm

    Any Seattle pitcher would worry me, especially Felix Hernandez (TINSTAAP). Will Carroll, April 4, 2005

  9. Brett Farve on May 26th, 2005 2:33 pm

    I would, however, love to see the team take a chance and let Leone be our everyday SS.

    I second that … In one of my rare visits a week ago I suggested the same but I think the comment got drowned out by backgound noise!

  10. DKS on May 26th, 2005 2:34 pm

    Sigh, Leone’s still out for another week at least. I remembered hearing that he was hurt but couldn’t remember when that was.

  11. ray on May 26th, 2005 2:36 pm

    Heck, the Fo is in denial. They upset the baseball gods for going for the quick fix and that just doesn’t work. They need to stop denying they are in the first year of a 3 year plan. Once the FO admits this the M’s can start to recover. If they don’t, then next year, and the following will as bad as this year.

  12. Dave on May 26th, 2005 2:42 pm

    You want to shut down Felix Hernandez because Will Carroll quoted a bogus theory?


  13. data on May 26th, 2005 2:59 pm

    Hideki Matsui, 2003 – 2005, when it is “close and late”:


    Ichiro!, 2003 – 2005, when it is “close and late”:


    Albert Pujols, 2003 – 2005, when it is “close and late”:


    Carlos Beltran, 2003 – 2005, when it is “close and late”:


    David Ortiz, 2003 – 2005, when it is “close and late”:


    Derek Jeter, 2003 – 2005, when it is “close and late”:


    I think that ESPN means 2003 to 2005 for its 3-year splits (even though it says 2002 – 2005.)

  14. paul on May 26th, 2005 3:04 pm

    Pass on this if you don’t want the thread hijacked. Your response would be appreciated since your answer would respond to those who want to call him up. Why is the theory bogus?

  15. Dave on May 26th, 2005 3:11 pm

    Because there is such a thing as a pitching prospect.

  16. Evan on May 26th, 2005 3:12 pm

    I expect Dave is thinking that the presence of a high risk of injury-related collapse is no reason to believe that pitchers, as a group or individually, are not projectable.

    And if they’re projectable, then there is such a thing as a pitching prospect.

    I’d also be interested to see if collapse rates are actually higher among young pitchers as compared to young hitters, or if we just think they’re higher because pitching collapses tend to be so sudden and/or complete.

  17. paul on May 26th, 2005 3:17 pm

    Tinstapp does not say there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. (Don’t be fooled by the name of the theory.) It says there are risks in drafting pitchers which relate to age and translating high school performance.

  18. Dave on May 26th, 2005 3:25 pm

    I’ve had more discussions with the people who created TINSTAPP about this than you can care to imagine. I know what it means, and it’s still a total load of crap.

  19. DMZ on May 26th, 2005 3:28 pm

    TIN.. is like an expletive, it means different things in different contexts. Without debating whether this is true, for instance:

    In general, it’s used to mean “any pitching prospect can have his arm fall off, so you should seriously discount their value”

    In specific contexts, like drafting things, it’s used for “drafting high school pitchers high is bad, because they’ve got years ahead of them to have their arm fall off”.

    And so on.

  20. paul on May 26th, 2005 3:42 pm

    TIN.. is like an expletive

    Great simile. I bow to your wit.

    As applied to the M’s: Do they have the knowledge and expertise to prevent arms from falling off? My argument is that until we know that they have this ability, shut down Felix until he is beyond the injury nexus.

  21. Paul Covert on May 26th, 2005 3:42 pm

    Re. “TINSTAAPP”: Keep in mind, of course, that it has to be taken in the spirit in which it’s intended. I don’t think anyone means it literally (I believe it was Huckabay who emphasized that in a recent interview or something). It’s more of a hyperbolic way of reminding us of the risks involved with young pitchers, and that pitching prospects have traditionally been relatively overrated compared to hitters.

    (Unfortunately for me, my article on the subject came out right as Prior and Beckett were coming up, and they now seem likely to be the first pitching megaprospects to turn in good careers since at least Steve Avery and Ben McDonald, breaking a long run of Taylor-Van Poppel-Salkeld-Ankiel-Ryan Anderson futility. Good for them, of course, just bad for me.)

    My current theory is that the best risks among pitching prospects are guys who come up with descriptions of “picture-perfect mechanics” hanging off of them at every level (on the grounds that these guys will be the most likely to avoid injury). I was relatively optimistic about Greinke when he came up, and still am. But since even Prior has had some injury woes (although not career-threatening to this point), I’m not sure if this one will hold up.

    The question in Felix’s case is: What reason do we have to think that he’ll escape the shoulder/elbow woes that have afflicted pretty much everyone else to come up through the M’s system? Being dominating doesn’t seem to make a guy less of an injury risk. Is he doing anything different from the other guys (as opposed to just being more talented)? If so, I’ve not heard about it.

    However, it’s not clear what this means for the team’s ideal Felix policy. At some point he has to actually pitch for the team, or he adds no value (just like Ryan Anderson didn’t). I can see the argument for holding him back a bit this year, since he still has a few lessons to learn and the big club’s going nowhere this year anyway. Will pitch counts help? I hope so, but they haven’t always done that in the past. Will the no-slider policy help? Again, I hope so but have no way of knowing. I wish I did.

  22. Evan on May 26th, 2005 3:51 pm

    There’s not a lot of evidence that a slider puts any more stress on an arm than any other breaking pitch, and Felix is still allowed to throw his curveball.

    Still, I applaud the M’s for trying something creative in an attempt to keep Felix healthy.

  23. Ralph Malph on May 26th, 2005 4:03 pm

    As I understand the proposal it is to put Felix on the shelf so we can admire and preserve him, like a piece of fine china.

    Do we have any reason to believe that he would move past his “injury nexus” by simply sitting around and not pitching? And would he develop as a pitcher by simply getting older?

    This is a silly suggestion. In order for a pitcher to be of value to a team he has to pitch.

  24. J.R. on May 26th, 2005 4:06 pm

    “shut down Felix until he is beyond the injury nexus.”

    What good is he if he is shut down and not developing?

    I know nothing about this TINSAPP or whatever, but just in what I am reading here it sounds like complete nonsense.

  25. J.R. on May 26th, 2005 4:11 pm

    Well, we can sit him until his arm starts to get weaker, then throw him into the bigs and ask him to pitch 97 mph fastballs on an arm that hasn’t pitched in a year, that will really lower his injury risk….

    /end sarcasm

  26. msb on May 26th, 2005 4:25 pm

    Dave said:”I think, as much as we like to believe that plate discipline can be taught, it’s still a matter of acquiring hitters with the skills necessary to be patient.”

    Blowers made the same point last night, assuring a caller that in fact Baylor has talked to Olivo about going the other way, that Olivo has done it in bp, but that as soon as he gets in the game, he forgets to actually do it.

  27. Bela Txadux on May 26th, 2005 8:15 pm

    To #71, Paul Covert,

    It’s too early to say that the run of high-end pitching prospects breaking down is over: Chin-hui Tsao is the case for trend continuity. Totally dominating at all levels of the minors, great stuff, —blew his elbow. Come up to the Rockies last year and this as a ‘reliever,’ —just having shoulder surgery now. . . . It’s a cryin’ shame.

    We’ll have to see how Matt Cain and Felix el Rey play out, although I’ll say Felix looks as durable and smooth in his mechanics as anyone could.

  28. Bela Txadux on May 26th, 2005 8:30 pm

    To circle back to thread topic, I’m glad Hargrove called the hitters’ meeting, using the term ‘hitter’ loosely of course. The major, obvious disappointment with this team to this point is their collective indiscipline of their hitters. The offense has no continuity. Other teams’ pitchers are very well aware that they can get a couple of guys a night to go fishing and kill any rally, so there’s no fear by the opposing side. No team playing at Safeco that’s tenth in the league in walks can win, period. I remember remarking on this the second week of April or so, and I wish that I’d been wrong, but the offense is fulfilling my worst expectations since then.

    And there’s little that a meeting can go about it, since to paraphrase Dave’s earlier remark the guys on the team already have established skill sets as hitters, and little is going to change there. Ibanez and Sexson are the only two who qualify as ‘patient hitters,’ and other than the unique case that is Ichiro they are the only two having consistent, effective performances. Reed seems to be taking a few more pitches, but at this point he’s looking like the living image of a ‘Punch and Judy’ hitter, and that gives me no inspiration at all. The only way to change the offense is to change the personnel—which is why I was and remain disappointed that the FO only did half the rebuild this last offseason.

  29. Bela Txadux on May 26th, 2005 8:46 pm

    So Derek,

    That was a smooth article comparing Sexson and Beltre, giving credit where credit was due. The better comparison even so is between the 3bman the Ms signed, Beltre, and the one they didn’t: Troy Glaus. Now, I know that Phoenix is very nearly the best place to take your cuts if you’re a righthanded power hitter, and that Safeco is one of the worst. It is a reasonable inference that in the NL Glaus will get a few more fastballs on hitters counts than Beltre will in the AL. I also know that Glaus has more than twenty walks, and an OBP north of .400. To go along with his 13 doubles and 12 HRs.

    Glaus is three years older with a major injury, now behind him evidently, not that it ever kept him from hitting, and there remains good reasons to think that over the course of their respective contracts Beltre can and will still outperform Glaus. I haven’t even given up on Beltre for this season, and regardless I wasn’t expecting 48 HRs this year. For example, I was watching a recent AB of Beltre’s (Monday?): 1-1, took a called strike; 1-2, took a good curve, inches outside; 2-2, took an outstanding curve, inches outside, I fully expected the ump to reward the pitcher even though it was a ball, if barely; 3-2, got a fastball down, looked like a two-seamer, hit a bullet to the 3Bman who threw him out. So there is cause for optimism there, Beltre _is_ both reading the pitches, and beginning to lay off some of the ones that have given him the most trouble. —But the 3-2 pitch was probably ball four. And THAT’s the problem. As long as Adrian WILL NOT walk, he’ll keep hitting pitcher’s pitches for outs. Which will translate into four more months like the two now done (plus ST which makes three), and the worst year of his career.

    To me, the good news is that this is all in Beltre’s control. His approach at the plate is has a major and exploitable flaw, and pitchers are exploiting that flaw, but his tools are outstanding, and he’s hitting every ball he reaches hard. I just don’t know whether he’s going to get religion this year or next.

  30. LB on May 27th, 2005 1:22 am

    The notion that the M’s offensive woes are due to the hitters’ lack of patience is not supported by the data. I posted a comment about this in a game thread during the NY series and was told by another commenter that I either couldn’t do math or couldn’t read a box score, and that NY’s hitters were way more patient than Seattle’s. Someone else was kind enough to crosscheck my math (thanks John D) and prove me right.

    The M’s are #4 in all of MLB (#3 in the AL) in pitches per PA so far this season. Boston leads the pack with 3.90, Cincinnati is next at 3.86, Oakland follows at 3.84, and the M’s are next with 3.84.

    So, it’s not that the M’s are “swing at anything early and often” hitters. It is that they are not reaching base enough to put pressure on the opposing battery. If you have any doubt about this, you can cross-check it by seeing that Boston leads the majors in absolute number of pitches seen (7075), but that Seattle is a distant #19 (6524). And it is probably not coincidental that Seattle is #26 in runs scored this year and Boston is #4.

    I’m going to crib a bit from Ted Williams here: it’s not about being patient and watching pitches go by for the sake of patience. It’s about getting a good pitch to hit and then hitting it hard.

  31. paul on May 27th, 2005 9:26 am

    To summarize: There is consensus among posters here that the M’s know how to prevent pitching injuries and would let Felix continue to pitch in spite of the huge risk.

    My proposal is to shut him down until the problems causing the rash of injuries to young pitchers can be diagnosed, evaluated and solved. The proposal assumes that the (present and future) costs of an injury to Felix is greater than the cost of the loss of his services for 2005.

    The proposal is based on the evidence that 2005 is lost. The strategy is to get prepared for 2006 and more likely 2007 (when the M’s have a better chance assuming Bavasi knows what he is doing.)

  32. paul on May 27th, 2005 9:28 am

    In order for a pitcher to be of value to a team he has to pitch.

    Exactly, Malph. And in order for a pitcher to pitch he has to be free of injury.

  33. DMZ on May 27th, 2005 10:24 am

    To summarize: There is consensus among posters here that the M’s know how to prevent pitching injuries and would let Felix continue to pitch in spite of the huge risk.

    Um, what? No.

    My proposal is to shut him down until the problems causing the rash of injuries to young pitchers can be diagnosed, evaluated and solved.

    So never, then. Seriously: the team will never, ever figure out why all these guys went down over the last couple of years. Given that, Felix is at risk, but there’s no other choice unless you don’t want him to pitch again, ever.

    The proposal assumes that the (present and future) costs of an injury to Felix is greater than the cost of the loss of his services for 2005.

    You can’t shut players down because they might potentially get injured. You’d never play anyone again. You’d stop playing Ichiro! right now, for instance, because you need him more in 2006 than 2005. You’d stop playing Doyle at all, as desperately as he needs at-bats, because he might hurt himself or get plunked again.

    Felix is a valuable commodity, but he doesn’t continue to improve unless he’s pitching. To be of value to the 2006 team, he must pitch this year. To pitch this year, he has to risk injury.

    And therein lies the rub.

  34. paul on May 27th, 2005 10:35 am

    You’d stop playing Ichiro! right now, for instance,

    Come down, man! The chance of injury to Ichiro is FAR less than the chance of injury to Felix. Sure, one has to live with risk. But, rewards factor into the equation too. Those rewards come in 2006 and beyond.

    Why won’t the M’s ever solve the injury problems of their young players? Why won’t the M’s ever reduce the injury rates of their young pitchers?

  35. Brett Farve on May 27th, 2005 11:08 am

    Not playing Ichiro is eqiuvalent to not playing Felix, just as DMZ pointed out (I don’t think he was exaggerating).

    On a different note:

    I am not aware of any evidence that the M’s are causing pitching injuries at a rate that is significantly higher than other organizations.

    Are they?

  36. paul on May 27th, 2005 11:38 am

    That is a good question. I don’t have the answer. I don’t know if it’s relevant because whether or not the rate is higher than the norm, they still want to eliminate injuries. And, given that they don’t draft and produce major leage talent well, they need to achieve 99% health to stay competitive.

    The difference between Ichiro and Felix is that Ichiro knows how to prevent injuries whereas Felix likely does not.

  37. Brett Farve on May 27th, 2005 12:21 pm

    Ichiro can only prevent injury by not playing. I don’t think it is a correct statement to say that he “knows” how to prevent injuries.

    Risk is low for some positions, say batboy, and high for others, say anyone playing 3B while Marzano is catching.