May In Review

Dave · June 1, 2005 at 1:36 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Here is the second in our month in review roundtables. Keep in mind that most of this was written Monday, so the numbers are a couple of days old. The points remain the same.


The Good:

Thanks to a late push, Jeremy Reed was the most valuable everyday player for the month, posting a .298/.366/.464 line while playing a solid centerfield. He’s still not showing a whole lot of power on the season, as just 14 of his 44 hits are extra base knocks, but if he keeps his OBP over. 350 during his rookie season, we’ll take it.

For the second straight month, the bullpen was very good. Guardado, Nelson, Putz, and Mateo all posted ERA’s under 3.50 for the month. While everyone freaks out about Putz’s home run issues, they’re missing the fact that he walked nobody all month and struck out eleven guys in 10 1/3 innings. He’ll be fine.

The Bad:

The rotation was terrible. Amazingly awful. 137 innings pitched in 24 starts, or just 5 2/3 innings per start. 5.78 ERA. 62 walks, 70 strikeouts. Not one member of the rotation posted a K/9 above 6.00. Ryan Franklin led the staff in strikeouts, which is never a good sign. Jamie Moyer and Joel Pineiro were especially abominable. Even Aaron Sele, who everyone wants to get excited about his rebirth, managed to walk 14 guys and strikeout just 12. Sele, in May, was the rebirth of the 2001 version of Paul Abbott. Don’t be surprised if his June looks a lot like 2002 Paul Abbott.

Adrian Beltre hit .211/.235/.347 for the month. Yea, he’s hitting the ball hard, and no, I don’t think he can struggle like this for too much longer, but posting a .235 OBP for a month is just totally unacceptable. He was an offensive sinkhole, killing almost every rally he came in contact with. You can’t have your team’s #3 hitter putting up numbers that would fit into Rey Ordonez’s career line and hope to win ballgames.

Miguel Olivo followed up a bad April by hitting .115/.130/.250 with 1 walk and 18 strikeouts. This pitiful performance got him replaced by a 42-year-old who was hanging out in the International League, and now finds himself in Tacoma. At this point, Miguel Olivo may have played himself out of the big leagues for quite some time. One of the saddest offensive performances you’ll ever see by a position player.

The recurring theme of how terrible this bench is. Greg Dobbs went 2-16 and struck out 8 times. Justin Leone’s not a major leaguer because he strikes out too much, but its okay that Dobbs is doing the Rob Deer impression, just minus the walks and power? The fact that the M’s had no one capable of pinch hitting for Olivo or Wilson Valdez in the 9th inning of a one run game tells you all you need to know about the team’s reserves. This is the worst collection of backup talent the major leagues has seen in quite some time.


The team went 8-17, were outscored 130-98, posted a .296 OBP, and a 5.23 ERA. They played terribly, and they deserved to lose as often as they did. 9 of the 25 players currently on the roster have negative VORP’s, meaning you could expect equal or better production from any run of the mill Triple-A player getting. Put bluntly, in May, this team sucked eggs.

What to Expect in June:

Lots of changes. The division is getting out of reach, and the talent on hand isn’t good enough to make a run anyways. The team is going to look to make some moves and change up the roster. Olivo is likely headed to Tacoma and several young players-including Doyle and perhaps the King-will be up sooner than later. Beltre has to come around eventually, and I’d expect the offense to pick it up a notch, but there’s not much reason to be optimistic about the pitching. The good value performances from Sele were smoke and mirrors, and no one in the rotation has shown glimpses of even being an average starting pitcher.


C’mon Dave, tell us how you really feel.


This team blows. And I’m working on Memorial Day.


Where are all the shrill voices that, before the year, were chirping
that an 82 win prediction was sheer defeatist negativism?

Let’s talk about what has gone wrong. The team’s moves to upgrade the
offense have sputtered. Hopes that the catcher position might have
been upgraded have proved unfounded.

The slugging third baseman has played up to his reputation
defensively, but Billy Joel’s hit more things with his car than this
guy has with his bat. At least the youngsters in the squad’s five-man
rotation offer hope for 2006, though.

You’re surprised I said that? What, isn’t this Athletics Nation? The
last two paragraphs are about the A’s, not the Mariners. Memorial Day

If schadenfreude is the only pleasure you can take in the season so
far, then look south down I-5: someone has it worse. The M’s and the
A’s are scraping the AL’s barrel-bottom in terms of basically every
hitting category, but the Alameda County Athletics have been —
shockingly — even more pathetic.

batting stats
tell a tale of Oakland woe, where basically the only
advantage the A’s have is scant seven points of OBP. The Mariners,
anemic though they be, have outpaced Oakland in just about every other
offensive category you could name.

But I’m not telling you this just to say “hey, someone else can’t
score, either!” There are comparisons to be drawn. Since neither team
is stacked from top-top-bottom, both rely on their big guns’
productivity to be succesful. Have a look at these numbers:

.217 .275 .317 .593
.235 .262 .358 .620

Without checking, did you know what line belonged to Adrian Beltre and
what dismal tally to blame on Eric Chavez? Both of these guys have
been albatrosses for their respective clubs so far, if albatross meat
went for roughly $55,000 per pound.

Luckily for the Mariner faithful, there is an easy solution to
Beltre’s struggles. Just get David Locke to write an “Adrian Beltre is
done as a prime-time player” column. Hey, it worked for Ichiro.

Of course, the A’s actually have a rotation with some promising
major-league pitchers — something the Mariners can’t say. Dave argued
earlier this year that he’d trade any one of the M’s five starters for
Barry Zito. This seems all the more prescient in retrospect. They also
have Rich Harden and Danny Haren.

Whither the M’s pitching staff? The recent talk of trading Joel
Pineiro, leaving aside the question of likelihood, raises a dark
spectre of a question: just who exactly is going to be in this
rotation next year?

Moyer is almost surely done; Gil Meche is arbitration eligible and
likely to depart; Bobby Madritsch’s injury situation is rapidly
placing him squarely in “anybody’s guess” territory; and Ryan Franklin
is Ryan Franklin.

Even if Derek’s wrong about Pineiro being hurt (and, for the record, I
agree with him), that’s a lot of holes to fill. With Ryan Franklin as
the surest thing going. The pitching staff has made me very wary not
just about 2005, but about next year as well. We all love King Felix,
but something else is going to have to happen — like human cloning of
19-year-old phenoms — to brighten the future up.

Like Satchel once said about the past, the season is a long and twisty
road. We haven’t seen the last twist yet. Let’s hope it isn’t one that
makes next season even longer.


We also saw the strange 10-day “assignment” of Joel Piniero, after which
he returned as baffling as when he left. His upside now appears to be
the pitcher we’ve seen a couple innings of: a limited starter with an
88-mph fastball. I think every start brings him closer to breaking down.

On Beltre: I don’t understand what Don Baylor, or any hitting coach,
does. If it really was a foot problem that caused Beltre to lay off that
low, outside ball, shouldn’t Baylor by now have figured out some way to
bust Beltre’s foot? Or offered some stance adjustment, like bringing
that back foot in? It’s so frustrating as a fan to see obvious,
exploitable flaws in a player’s swing and not feel like either the
player or the coach tasked to helping with those things is doing anything.

On Olivo: at least we wouldn’t have to watch him at bat unless we went
down to Tacoma. Ugh. If he was the only one on the team playing this
badly, I’d have trouble believing how awful he’s been, but couched in
the context of the team’s failure, it doesn’t seem to hurt so badly.

On Dobbs: dude, have you seen that sweet swing? He’ll start hitting any
day now. Plus, you’re forgetting how hard it is to be a pinch-hitter.

On June: that’s all possible, but where would they stick Doyle? If he’s
up I want him in the lineup every day getting his at-bats, and
preferably I’d like to see it in a situation where they can DH him
depending on turf conditions, like the Rainiers have been doing (which,
side note, is pretty smart of them).

On Jeff’s rotation question:

It’s a horrible situation, no doubt. I’m going to assume that Pineiro
goes down for 2006 with something.

Franklin’s a free agent. I wouldn’t bring him back, but I’m not the team.
Madritsch, as Jeff notes, nobody knows. I wish him all the best, but we
shouldn’t count on anything.
Meche isn’t going to be asked to arbitration if he keeps this up (and
I’d argue, even if he improved)
Moyer’s a free agent, and they’d be crazy to bring him back.

#1 Hopefully a free-agent acquisition of modest years and immense talent
#2 Felix Hernandez
#3 Jorge Campillo, who’s amusing but not anything special
#4 Baek?
#5 Franklin?

Wait, is that Damian Moss pitching well in Tacoma? Wow. When did that
happen? I remember when he was a highly-regarded prospect. Sorry.

Unfortunately, that spot I had at #1… who the hell do you get for that
job, Jeff Weaver? Ugh. A.J. Burnett? Matt Morris? I don’t see anyone you
can throw in there. And as much as I like Bobby Livingston (though I
haven’t seen him yet) I don’t know if he’d be ready to take over a
rotation spot.

And even then you’re in trouble: you’re looking to a rotation full of
prospects, and if nothing else the team would need to sign quality
minor-league free agents for insurance.


I don’t know if this fits here, but I’d like to see the team take a
long look at Daisuke Matsuzaka. There are questions about his
workload, but not his talent, and it would be interesting to see the
gyroball in the major leagues.


Really? With this team’s success keeping pitchers healthy? At some
point, you stop giving puppies to Lenny.


Plus, they could use that double-secret international budget. Which is
so secret it doesn’t even exist, like Groom Lake.


They’ve acknowledged that they account for it differently — the
Contreras negotiations, in particular, which led to the whole question
of how in the world that can be true, and why.


Browising the division:

LA – In May, .299 OBP, .368 SLG. Jose Molina (.310/.356/.571) was the
only Angel hitter with more than 10 AB and an OPS north of .810. The
only thing keeping the Angels afloat is their pitching staff with a
May ERA of 3.19.

Texas – In May, .342 OBP, .517 SLG. Six of their starting lineup are
slugging over .600. Richard Hidalgo hit nearly as many home runs (8)
than Adrian Beltre and Bret Boone have combined all season (5 each).
May ERA of 3.57. Kenny Rogers made more starts (5) than he allowed
earned runs (4).

Oakland – In May, .318 OBP, .342 SLG. Bobby Kielty was the only
hitter with an OPS over .800, and though he walked 14 times in 87 AB,
he hit only one home run. Four starters have OBP’s below .300. Their
staff had an ERA of 5.73.

Some questions on my mind: Could the Mariners have been expected to be
this bad? Sure hindsight’s 20/20, but what else could the Mariners
have done to prevent this miserable team? And what now?

Looking back at the May schedule, they played Oakland, Los Angeles,
Boston, New York, San Diego, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Given those two
weeks against the Red Sox and Yankees and series against first place
Baltimore and contending San Diego, we couldn’t have expected the
Mariners to post a winning month. Probably not this bad, but still,
the results aren’t shocklingly out of the ordinary.

If our expectations for the season were an 80-win team (and mine were,
I thought optimistically), I’m not crying over the last month. So the
division’s out of reach. I didn’t expect Richie Sexson and Adrian
Beltre to vault us to the top of the division anyway. According to
third-order wins, the M’s should be 22-27, which is two games
unluckier than their real record.

Looking ahead to June, the Mariners play Toronto (1), Tampa Bay (3),
Florida (3), Washington (3), Philadelphia (3), New York Mets version
(3), Oakland (7, and one of these teams will have to win those games)
and San Diego (3). Strength of schedule stat formulas are flawed, but
just glancing at this schedule, June should be much more favorable to
the M’s than May was.

And it seems just yesterday that the M’s touted strength was their
young pitching. Man, what the hell happened to that?


I’ll chime in with some good: Pat Borders homered, which is cool, good and amazing all at once. Of course, I’m somebody who’d take Rickey Henderson back, too. And why not Oil Can Boyd?

This team is bad. But even worse, they’re unwatchable for the most part. Ichiro! is still doing his thing, but there’s very little else worth watching at this point. It’ll be much more interesting if they’re able to purge the roster in the coming months and give the youngsters a trial like they did last season — but keep King Felix in Tacoma as long as possible.

Oh, and good work by Jeremy Reed. He might be the one non-Ichiro! brightspot at season’s end.


Can we add home run slugger Richie Sexson to that brighspot list?

The last time a Mariner showed up near the top of the home run leader
boards was A-Rod in 2000.

I’d like to enjoy this while it lasts.


74 Responses to “May In Review”

  1. JoeM on June 1st, 2005 5:59 pm

    I think a lot of the starting rotation is directly attributable to Olivo, the guy cannot call a consistent game from the starters when they: a) don’t have their best stuff, b)are location/junkballers (Moyer/Sele) or c)are used to working with Dan and Dan Wilson only.

    Moyer’s insistence on only having Dan Wilson catch him means he doesn’t respond well to anyone else, and doesn’t have the trust required. The fact that Pat Borders came in and got quality starts (I don’t care about K’s as much as most) out of Sele and Moyer is the reason Olivo was sent down. The veterans didn’t have any confidence in Olivo, which was tearing up the rotation, because Gil, Joel and Franklin (Franklin of the little runs support) had to assume that the bullpen is already tired by the time they make their starts. They obviously can’t rely on any of the old guys all year. Borders, Moyer and Sele will all be dog-tired by the end of the year and I expect August to look a lot like May.

    Numbers-wise CNNSI notes that several Mariners are actually in the top 3 at their position using sabermetric breakdowns: Reed, Sexson, Ibanez, Ichiro.

    The M’s will be lucky to finish .500, anything better than that is gravy. And they will be in much better shape when they can unload some of their contracts such as Boone, Winn (Randy may be underrated, but he’s still overpaid) etc..

    But look at the last two weeks and tell me these guys are as bad or worse than last year: They won 2 Series against good teams (San Diego, Boston) and even staged a mini-comeback last night. They made their first come from behind win last week I think and are starting to show some spark. If Ichiro heats up some (he had a VERY plain May) then I think even the easy outs of Betre and Boone will mean less and less.

    I also like the post mentioning the problems in keeping the pitchers healthy may rely just as much on the Trainer staff as BP. Joel has obviously seriously lost velocity since coming back up. An MRI might not be a bad idea.

  2. Mords on June 1st, 2005 6:03 pm

    K’s are nice because they don’t give the opposition a chance to put the ball down. The percentage of balls put into play that turn into hits is not entirely inconsistent.

  3. Tom on June 1st, 2005 6:11 pm

    DMZ, of course if some team were stupid enough to sign them to a deal before the arbitration deadline, then the M’s could get a free pick.

    But no team would be stupid enough to do that, unless that mediocre talent was named Raul Ibanez and the stupid team was named the Seattle Mariners.

  4. JoeM on June 1st, 2005 6:14 pm

    I understand, but I don’t think that it takes into account our Rotation’s strength (or lack thereof) so to have a chance with what we have to work with…getting outs by groundball/pop-up is better than looking for the K and giving up the homer. No one in the starting Rotation has a decent + fastball. That sucks.

    Given the situation, Borders is 100 times better than Olivo even if he hits .025 and no RBI’s. Least he’ll eke out a few wins from a sub-par staff.

  5. fiction on June 1st, 2005 6:37 pm

    Free Agent pitching prospects indeed are grim. Jerrod Washburn only because M’s will need a lefty and he can eat innings.

    Milton Bradley is an interesting talent. His character may not fit M’s. Wonder if the D-Rays yelling fan singles out Bradley when Dodgers play in Tampa? I would watch that game.

    Could Hideki Matsui And Ichiro play on same team? Is here anyway Yankees let him get away?

  6. Dave in Palo Alto on June 1st, 2005 6:40 pm

    On trading Unit Petit, DJC in 40 makes my point — Anderson might have been bait for a blockbuster trade. No prospect, not even Felix, should be considered off-limits to the right offer.

  7. Mords on June 1st, 2005 9:19 pm

    Don’t all jump at once, but two questions that I should know the answers to:

    One) What are the three true outcomes?

    Two) What determines what class free agent a player is?

  8. benjamin Ramm on June 1st, 2005 9:41 pm

    After reading one of Derek’s posts, I think that Dave should rename the pitching section of his future forty “Puppies for Lenny.”

  9. benjamin Ramm on June 1st, 2005 9:47 pm

    RE: 56

    What would it take to give up on Hernandez? BJ Upton. Sure, Hernandez isn’t untouchable.

    Would you want Albert Pujols? OK, maybe. But, why? Why would St. Louis give up on him and why wouldn’t Hernandez mean more to the Cardinals than to the Mariners.

    For a trade of someone like Hernandez to make sense, the other player would have to be underpriced, under contract, and over talented.

    But a team with that player is going to keep him, hoping to turn around the team next year.

    It’s not that Hernandez is untouchable, it’s just that it’s really hard to see how a trade could be worked out for him, or a prospect like him. Too many strange stars would have to line up.

  10. Jerry on June 1st, 2005 10:16 pm

    I think that Bodhizefa bring up great points:

    -Furcal is young and talented. He does incredible things on defense, and he is a good hitter. Although we already have a lot of tablesetter types, he is worth picking up. Besides, his value might not be that high if he continues to struggle

    -Soriano in the rotation is also a possibility. Lets see how he pitches when he comes back, but that is definitely something to keep in mind.

    -trading Guardado is also a great idea. His contract might be a bit difficult to move, and he has a no-trade clause, but there are a load of contenders with major bullpen issues (SF, Atlanta, NYM, Boston?, Florida). Getting a catcher would be great. However, the M’s should just wait and try to get the best package of players. If the Giants would give up, say, Jesse Foppert and Merkin Valdez, I would wait on finding a catcher. Given what the Cubs just got for LaTroy Hawkins, I think that Guardado might bring the M’s some good players back in a trade.

  11. msb on June 1st, 2005 10:45 pm

    #51–JoeM said: “Moyer’s insistence on only having Dan Wilson catch him means he doesn’t respond well to anyone else, and doesn’t have the trust required.”

    fwiw, Moyer didn’t ‘insist’ on Wilson catching him– it has just made sense, what with the 7-8 pitches he throws, the head games he plays with batters, and especially with Moyer’s mysterious set of signs:

    viz Norm Charlton: “There’s all kinds of elaborate things you can do to conceal your signs. (Jamie) Moyer’s great at it. He’s got first sign, second sign, third sign, a sign on odd days, even months, odd years, when it rains outside, when he drove his truck to the park. You’re basically not going to steal his signs.”

  12. Rusty on June 1st, 2005 11:51 pm

    Re: Rob Deer comparisons…

    I think Sexson is looking awfully Rob Deer this season.

    Where do you guys come up with some of this stuff?

    Deer’s highest alltime OBP for a single season is .355. Sexson is currently .359.

    Deer’s highest alltime SLG for a single season was his last at .547. His next highest season was .493. Sexson is currently .536.

    Deer’s best (lowest) strikeout rate K/AB was .311. His 2nd lowest was .333. Sexson is currently .327.

    So if you’re going to compare Sexson to Deer, at least put in the qualifier that Sexson looks like Rob Deer at his very, very best.

    If you don’t like Sexson then just say so, but don’t make spurious comparisons.

  13. benjamin Ramm on June 2nd, 2005 12:22 am

    Sexson and Deer? What about adjusting for eras? Didn’t Deer hit in an era when many fewer people got on base at the clip Sexson has achieved.

  14. Typical Idiot Fan on June 2nd, 2005 1:51 am

    And as much as I like Bobby Livingston (though I
    haven’t seen him yet)
    I don’t know if he’d be ready to take over a rotation spot.


  15. Rusty on June 2nd, 2005 4:01 am

    Sexson is currently hitting an .891 OPS. Deer was a career .772 OPS hitter. Yes, go ahead and adjust for era’s. Deer ended his career in 1996, smack dab in the middle of a hitter’s era. And it’s not like he started his career against Gibson, Carlton, and Seaver in their prime.

    But as long you’re adjusting, remember that the bulk of Deer’s career was in a fair hitters park (Mil) and an extreme hitters park (Det), and we all know where Richie is playing his home games these days.

    Dobbs a modern day Deer? Sure. Sexson? Again, I don’t have any idea how a person makes an .891 OPS compare to a .772 OPS, even from 10-15 years ago.

  16. DMZ on June 2nd, 2005 4:16 am

    w/r/t boggling over my Livingston comment–

    I don’t get it.

    Is it that I shouldn’t say anything about players I haven’t personally seen? I can’t listen to scouting reports, follow their progress, and have a reasonably informed opinion about it and qualify it?

    Or is it just that it’s shocking that I haven’t seen Livingston pitch yet?

  17. Scraps on June 2nd, 2005 5:16 am

    Ichiro! is still doing his thing

    Unfortunately, no. Ichiro has been one of the team’s offensive weaknesses in May, batting .276 with his usual barely existent peripherals. As I said in an earlier thread, I love Ichiro, but at .276 he’s not contributing.

  18. fiction on June 2nd, 2005 6:53 am

    Many fans advocate calling up Doyle, with authors of USSM being voice of reason. Would an outfield of three simular hitting left handers be benefical now and long term? Simulat in the fact do not hit for power.

    Just wonder how effective an outfield of Ichiro, Reed, Doyle would be looking towards next season and beyond. A fourth outfielder righthanded with power to platoon would seem to be necessary.

  19. Evan on June 2nd, 2005 9:26 am

    I don’t actually know much about Deer aside from his being a TTO all-star. My point was that Sexson was going all TTO on us.

  20. Rusty on June 2nd, 2005 10:14 am

    Okay Evan, thanks for the explanation.

  21. benjamin Ramm on June 2nd, 2005 11:00 am

    I think the analogy between Deer and Sexson has more to do with the relative distribution of various talents rather than the overall pool of talent.

    4:2 :: 8:4

    To say that 4+2

  22. Typical Idiot Fan on June 2nd, 2005 1:49 pm

    w/r/t boggling over my Livingston comment–

    I don’t get it.

    Is it that I shouldn’t say anything about players I haven’t personally seen? I can’t listen to scouting reports, follow their progress, and have a reasonably informed opinion about it and qualify it?

    Or is it just that it’s shocking that I haven’t seen Livingston pitch yet?

    All of the above. I would think that such a talented prospect (epsecially since he’s having a very fine year thus far) would be someone that you’d watched at least once. Although to be fair, I’ve never seen him personally either.

    Scouting reports and second hand info are okay in this case because they’re trusted sources of good information, but sometimes I think it’s better that you get a look at someone for yourself before you can say you like someone. It’s the “like” comment that threw me off. “As much as I like Bobby Livingston (though I haven’t seen him yet)” just seems kind of an odd thing to say to me. That’s kind of like saying you like Coors Light without ever drinking it, but going by the fact that it’s a beer that is recommended by the Bartender. The part about not being sure if he’s ready for the rotation is fine. Even though he’s having a nice year so far, he’s not had any experience above AA (I don’t believe), so that’s a fair estimate.

  23. DMZ on June 2nd, 2005 2:23 pm

    Nah, I missed him in Everett that year and then haven’t had the chance. I don’t know what the perception is out there, but I’m Seattle-based and don’t get to travel to see prospects, even highly-regarded ones I like.

  24. Typical Idiot Fan on June 3rd, 2005 1:53 am

    I only wish I had the time and money to do such things myself. I live down here in the Tri Cities, so we have the Single A (Short season) affiliate of the Rockies to watch, but it’s more rewarding seeing Mariner prospects.