May In Review
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.
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 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
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
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.