Week #9 in Review

Jeff · May 27, 2005 at 7:17 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Legend has it that REM’s 1991 album was named one afternoon when the record label got sick of waiting for the band to come up with a title. Drummer Bill Berry picked up the phone, nodded, looked to his bandmates and said: “we’re Out of Time.”

This morning, so was Peter White, who tapped me to put the finishing touches on the post you are currently reading.

“Jeff,” he says. “I’ve got this almost done, but I have to leave the country on secret business. The post is basically finished. It just needs some spicy color.”

“Peter,” says I, “this looks fine to me as is. And besides that, color, being a visual concept, cannot possibly be ‘spicy.'”

He was most insistent. So I agreed. And as payment for my agreeance, I get the best of all possible worlds: Peter does 99 percent of the work, I add a sentence or two, and I get to play off anything you don’t like with “oh yeah, Peter wrote that part.”

Hope you enjoy. If anything tastes spicy or looks colorful, that was me.

Vital Signs
On this Friday we find the Mariners 18-28. First the good news: The Mariners are not in last place. Now the bad news: They slipped another game-and-a-half behind the leader. They are now 8.5 games behind the Rangers and Angels. The Rangers have been feeding off perhaps the weakest part of their schedule at taken 6 in a row from from Houston and Kansas City. If you think the Mariners aren’t doing so hot, you should check out the Astros and Royals. Yech. And on another positive note, according the third-order
, the Mariners are 2 wins behind where the Mariners should be.

The offense ranks 12th in the league, scoring 189 runs, just one behind the Angels and Royals. Their 33 home runs rank 13th in the league and their 127 walks rank 9th in the league. Meanwhile, their .306 on-base percentage ranks 12th and their .376 slugging percentage is also 12th.

The defense has allowed 215 runs, ranked 8th in the league. The gloves are turning 71.2% of balls in play into outs, good for 2nd in the league. The pitching staff is looking league average, with an overall ERA of 4.53. The starters have been well below average with a 5.23 ERA, while the bullpen has remained a strength with a 2.97.

So basically, the team’s strengths boil down to “can catch the ball” and “can usually get outs late in games.” Those are good things, but unless they are complemented with “can hit rotating horsehide spheroid to an uninhabited locale between white lines,” they’re looking at a whole lot of weeks like this one.

It was a 2-4 week. Things looked sharp at the beginning of the week as the Mariners took 2 of 3 from San Diego. However, that Baltimore series was just brutal. Overall, the Mariners were outscored just 20-16. They were out-homered 6-4 (I could have sworn Rafael Palmeiro hit more home runs than that) and out-walked 18-11. But check out that .265 OBP. The M’s were making outs like they were going out of style.

On the minus side, all the free-swinging from players that can’t hit is driving Mike Hargrove crazy. So crazy that he’s already pled in the media for his hitters to be more selective. On the plus side, at least they’re losing quickly, so if Hargrove enjoys golf, he can get in more of it on the road.

Jeremy Reed finally had the week we’ve all been waiting for. He led the team hitting .368/.429/.632 with a pair of doubles and his first major league home run. Reed was promptly rewarded by a caller to Thursday’s postgame show suggesting the M’s bench him in favor of Doyle.

[As a sidenote, there is no more depressing spectacle than listening to the postgame show on radio. It’s like a netherworld of random opposite-of-true observations. Sometime, I will endure one, in the interests of science, to document the atrocities in a post. Maybe we’ll ask Evil Rick Rizzs to liveblog it.]

Proving that even blind squirrels can find nuts, Aaron Sele pitched 9 scoreless innings last Friday against the Padres. Of course, his defense played a large part by making 24 of those 27 outs for him.

The next time you get down on this rotation, consider this: how bad would they be performing in front of a below-average defensive team? Then shudder.

Not-so-much Heroes
I’ve been thinking about writing a post about how I can no longer for Bret Boone as an All-Star with a good conscience, and this week gives me more reason (not that one single week should make or break an All-Star). He went 3-for-22.

To think that, just a year ago, Mariner Musings mused about Boone’s Hall of Fame chances.
True, we concluded “Slim and none — and slim just left town.” But watching Bret treat ground balls like the Corbin Bernsen character in Major League makes it seem stunning that the question was ever raised.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa hadn’t made an appearance in over a week. It showed Thursday night as he pitched one inning and gave up a 2-run home run to Miguel Tejada in the 8th inning, essentially ending the game.

Remind me why we have a 12-man pitching staff, but no right-handed bench bat that wouldn’t be better off just praying for a walk.

Coming to a Stadium Near You
On the road to Tampa Bay. Yeah. Back to Seattle for Toronto.


24 Responses to “Week #9 in Review”

  1. ray on May 27th, 2005 7:28 am

    I can’t believe I am the first one. Must have been a late night post. Anyway, I shudder when I just hear the name “Mariners”. I have become so jaded by all the bad playing that I don’t care if they win or lose anymore. I’m just concentrating on a few players and rooting for them to do well, win or loss.

  2. Alex on May 27th, 2005 7:59 am

    The things that’s really frustrating to me (looking at it in a big picture fashion) is the fact that the hitters we obtain (either via free agency or trade) never seem to hit as expected. Cirillo was a bust (understatement of the year), Spiezio (sp?) was even worse than his normal mediocre self once he arrived here and the same can be said for Rich Aurilia.

    This year, I thought that he finally got it right (at least in terms of the Beltre signing). Ironically, however, it’s the signing that I liked the least (the Sexson signing) that seems to be paying the most dividends. Sexson has done almost everything that we could expect from him as a hitter (I’d like to see a higher OBP, though). But Beltre looks like he’s completely lost at the plate. With respect to Beltre, I often hear/read about him needing to “adjust to American League pitching” and such. Does anyone really feel like that theory holds much water anymore? Between interleague play and the fact that free agents switch between the NL and AL all the time (both hitters and pitchers), should this really be that huge of a factor anymore?

    Sorry for my rant, but I just had to get those things off my chest. Thanks for your understanding.

  3. Jeremy on May 27th, 2005 8:20 am

    R.E.M.-related: R.E.M. hasn’t been the same since Bill Berry left.

    And there’s definitely nothing shiny or happy about the Mariners right now.

  4. rockymariner on May 27th, 2005 8:53 am

    A little off topic here but this mornings edition of The Rocky Mountain News is claiming that Arizona is ready to sign Stephen Drew and will then draft one of the two pitchers. Thus dropping Upton or Gordon to us? That would be pretty cool!

    And by the way, color can indeed be spicy! ( Or warm or cool or bland for that matter).

  5. mln on May 27th, 2005 9:38 am

    Zach Day has been designated for assignment by the Nats. He is relatively young, has good stuff, and doesn’t have a big contract. Would he be a good pick up for the Mariners who need starting pitching?

  6. Evan on May 27th, 2005 9:47 am

    I’ve always liked Zach Day. He was one of my favourite young Expos, and the M’s could use someone with his GB/FB ratio.

    The upside of Boone’s obvious decline: Maybe the O-Dog will get the gold glove he deserved last season.

    Back to the Mariners, with Reed coming around, this might mean we’ll now have 3 adequate hitters in the lineup. That shoudl make games more bearable.

  7. Dave on May 27th, 2005 9:48 am

    Zach Day is Dan Reichert’s twin brother. Heavy groundballer, no control at all. I’d take him for free, but he’s basically a Triple-A pitcher.

    Even though the M’s don’t need another reliever, Claudio Vargas could be a nice pickup.

  8. Tom on May 27th, 2005 10:29 am

    Listening to ESPN radio on the way to work this morning and the two heads were doing a bit on “in it” or “done” and listing the marginal teams from both leagues. The M’s were the first AL team on both of their lists for “done”. How sad. The good news is tickets will be easier to come by cheaply. My wife is a die hard Red Sox fan so this Mariner season is nothing but pure torture for me after her team won it all last year. Good for them but as of late yesterday the Yanks were .5 games in front of her beloved Sox. We are not in a happy place right now.

  9. Russ on May 27th, 2005 10:46 am

    “done” is right. I’m also done buying tickets from the Mariners. If I go to a game, I’m buying tickets from a scalper just to avoid giving the the FO anymore money to piss away on things like multi-year deals on 42 YO pitchers and mid-30’s 2nd basemen. Hell, I might just quit listening to the radio and watching them on TV also. If they are going to do so poorly with the resources given them, why give them anymore. I should think they could field a equal team for the Tampa Bay payroll range.

    To me, having the payroll and flexibility that the Mariners should have squandered in such a fashion is firing offense.

  10. Phil on May 27th, 2005 10:52 am

    Haha, I already booked a trip to Seattle at the end of August to see the M’s play the Yankees. Hopefully tickets won’t be too bad.

  11. Tim K. on May 27th, 2005 10:54 am

    Another week like this and we may have cause to replace the Week 10 review with the 2006 roster construction thread. Even statheads need reason for hope.

  12. Alex on May 27th, 2005 11:16 am

    #9 – Believe me when I say that I understand the frustration. I’ve been a fan of the team since about ’86 and have seen many lost summers. What keeps me going is the fact that I know that these things are cyclical. When they eventually start to win again, it’ll make all of this frustration and pain seem worthwhile.. it’s the nature of sports.

  13. Harry on May 27th, 2005 11:25 am

    It’s the pain of the losing seasons that make the winning ones so sweet. My hope now is to see Gandalf come thump Beltre on the forehead and drive Saruman from him, and he wakes up to being the hitter we know he is.

  14. Paul Covert on May 27th, 2005 11:45 am

    A couple of notes from the high-tech stats:

    (1) BP’s EQA shows the AL West has having the three worst offenses in the league (Seattle, the Angels, and Oakland). The four best are all in the East (including even Tampa Bay).

    (2) Hardball Times’ Batting Stats show Beltre with an above-average Line Drive Percentage of .207, which suggests that he’s been hitting better than his numbers show thus far. Unfortunately, Reed’s LD% of .118 is much less encouraging.

    (It would be cool if we could also track the number of balls hit to the warning track, as a secondary measure of power. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what to call the stat; my first thought was “Warning Track Flies,” but then I realized what the acronym at the top of the stat column would look like….)

  15. Shoeless Jose on May 27th, 2005 11:50 am

    With respect to Beltre, I often hear/read about him needing to “adjust to American League pitching” and such. Does anyone really feel like that theory holds much water anymore? Between interleague play and the fact that free agents switch between the NL and AL all the time (both hitters and pitchers), should this really be that huge of a factor anymore?
    I don’t know, but you might ask Vlad Guerrero.

  16. Jim Osmer on May 27th, 2005 12:35 pm

    I know Hargrove is being patient (hey only 40+ games) but for the fans it is actually 200+ games.
    Last year it took way too long for the front office to figure out that Ole, Edgar, Spiezio and Aurillia were done.
    I would rather watch Doyle and Felix (and others) learn on the job that watch this team continue to bore. Camden yards is a hitter’s park and we score 5 runs in 3 games.

  17. Alex on May 27th, 2005 12:55 pm

    #15 – That’s just it: I can’t understand why we seem to sign National League guys that can’t seem to hack in the AL. I’d almost attribute at least part of it to the Safeco Field factor, but I can think back to the Kevin Mitchell trade in ’92 and how disappointing he was even when playing at the Kingdome (I think he had a whopping 9 HR for the whole year, when he had 40+ HR the year prior in SF)…

  18. jim on May 27th, 2005 1:34 pm

    I’m afraid Hargrove has to assume much of the blame for the Mariner’s poor performance. I’ve been wondering, recently, whether the qualifications for a major sport manager or coach are based soley on his ability to manage relationships with the front office and media hacks while keeping the player’s DUIs etc. off the front page. Winning seems to be a secondary concern for Hargrove as it was in Baltimore. We’re not New York where Torre can rely on his stable of stars to kick into high gear but even Torre used the Yankee’s early poor performance to shake up the lineup and make necessary changes. It’s one thing to be stoic and another to be stupid and this guy’s making me real nervous.

  19. Evan on May 27th, 2005 1:52 pm

    Dave: I’d take him [Zach Day] for free, but he’s basically a Triple-A pitcher.

    So that would make him what… our second best pitcher?

  20. DMZ on May 27th, 2005 1:56 pm

    Oh, man, that is… the truth hurts.

  21. Tom on May 27th, 2005 5:17 pm

    #15 and 17. I am personally convinced the current crop of pitchers in the AL are tougher 1 thru 5 because of having to face a DH rather than a pitcher every 9 hole, but this too is cyclical. And as far as the Mitchell trade, that was doubly injurious to the M’s in that he was known to be clubhouse poison and immediately influenced Ken Griffey Jr. in all the wrong ways. He quit running out grounders, started with the attitude with our local media hacks and official scorers and the EZ Boy showed up in front of his locker soon thereafter.

  22. Noel on May 27th, 2005 11:18 pm

    14: The acronym ‘WTF’ at the top of the stat column is actually very appropriate – after all, the batter says ‘WTF’ when he realises that his long fly ball is about to be caught just short of the wall. 🙂

  23. RickL on May 28th, 2005 4:27 pm

    The team lacks offensive punch. Why not bring up ryan Christianson, who is batting .290 at Tacoma? Send Olivo down. Or to a dumpster. Also, they could bring up Chris Snelling, who is batting over .300. Sure they will drop off a bit in the majors, but they would have to drop off a lot to bat worse than the guys we have.

  24. Bernard Aboba on May 29th, 2005 10:10 am

    I would like to put forward a hypothesis. Please feel free to debunk it:

    There are relatively modest things that can be done to improve the Ms performance considerably. With those things, the Ms could be 23-25 now instead of 19-29.

    1. Release Matt Thornton and replace him with Sherrill. In his 19.1 innings pitched, Thornton has given up 14 earned runs. If Sherrill pitches as well as Aaron Sele, he would only give up 9 runs or so (savings of 5 runs).

    2. Send Piniero down if he doesn’t show improvement. In his 44 IP, Pineiro has given up 29 earned runs. Again, Sele-quality pitching would have yielded only 21 runs (savings of 8 runs).

    3. Have a simple rule: no player hitting .200 or under gets sustained playing time. Added up, the Ms have given .200 hitters almost 361 ABs at bats this season. The difference between .250 hitting and .200 at this many at bats is considerable: 18 hits or so.