Random notes

Dave · June 20, 2005 at 7:31 am · Filed Under Mariners 

There’s a lot of stuff to talk about, so forgive me for going all Peter Gammons on this post.

  • I mentioned it in a game thread last week, but for everyone else who hasn’t heard, King Felix has been shut down due to “shoulder bursitis”. He’s expected to be reevaluated next week, though most people don’t expect him to take the hill again until July at the earliest. Bursitis, by the way, is a recurring condition, and Felix claims he’s had this pain before and its gone away. Light a candle.
  • Mike Morse has made a huge splash since getting called up, hitting .407/.468/.537 in 54 at-bats. How big of an offensive upgrade has he been over the M’s shortstops that preceded him? Morse’s early level of production gives him a 500 at-bat projected VORP of 93.5. Wilson Valdez’s 500 at-bat projected VORP was -27.0. How astounding of a difference is that? Over the course of a season, that’s approximately 12 wins in the standings. Morse has already accumulated more run value offensively than Edgar Renteria despite 216 fewer plate appearances.

    The lesson here, though, isn’t that Mike Morse is a tremendous player. He’s not. He’s a mid tier prospect who is having a phenomenal hot streak to begin his career. The lesson of Mike Morse is the one we’ve been clamoring for the front office to learn for years: the perceived dropoff from major league to Triple-A talent isn’t nearly as vast as a lot of people think. Rather than spending millions of dollars on players who have proven to be mediocre or worse at the major league level, the team could improve remarkably by simply reallocating those resources to upper level players and giving opportunities to younger, unproven players with similar skills. Paying a premium for players with a major league track record of failure has cost this team dearly over the past few years. If there’s one thing we can hope comes from the ridiculous start that Morse has had, it’s that the organization may begin to realize that freely available talent often can outproduce the bottom rung of major league players, and do so for the league minimum.

    Oh, and if you’re one of those wondering why Morse can’t keep this up, 82 percent of his hits in the majors have been singles. Besides Ichiro and Luis Castillo, two burners who get a huge amount of infield hits, there aren’t productive major league hitters who avoid extra base hits at that kind of clip. A realistic projection for Morse for the rest of the season is still something along the lines of .250/.290/.360.

  • Jose Lopez: 13 plate appearances, 2.2 VORP. Bret Boone: 262 plate appearances, 1.7 VORP. Lopez contributed more offense to the team from Friday through Sunday than Bret Boone has since opening day. Wrap your mind around that.
  • The team’s ERA in June is 2.80. As you’ve heard, that’s the best in the American League. Their defensive independant pitching ERA for June? 3.85. The biggest factor the pitchers have had has been keeping the ball in the park. They’ve allowed 3 home runs all month after allowing 36 in May. While pitchers have more control over home runs allowed than balls in play, that’s simply not a sustainable rate.
  • Actually, building off that last sentence a bit, you’re probably going to see me use the term non-repeatable skills a lot more in the future. I’ve been pondering some things in my mind the past few weeks, and one of the things that I’ve been uncomfortable with has been the statistical communities willingness to credit so many things we can’t explain to “luck”. It’s a term that immediately draws the ire of players and other analysts and fails to get the point across that we’re trying to make. Luck implies that the player had little to do with the outcome in the first place, while non-repeatable skills, at least to me, conveys the message that yes, we acknowledge that Player X accomplished Outcome Y, but we don’t believe he can do it consistently. Things like inducing a groundball to the second baseman are skills, but not one that a player can repeat on a regular basis. By differentiating between repeatable skills and non-repeatable skills, I think we’ll be able to more effectively communicate our opinions about certain players.
  • The Everett Aquasox season kicked off last night with their annual exhibition against the Everett Merchants, and the regular season begins tomorrow night at Everett Memorial Stadium against the Boise Hawks. The Frogs are one of the best entertainment products for a good price in the area, and you should definitely head up there and check the team out. Go often. I’ll have a breakdown on a few players to look for later this week. And yes, I’ll be on the air with Pat Dillon during the pregame shows on a regular basis again this year, so we’ll give you the heads up when you can hear me and Pat talking baseball on their new affiliate at AM 1380.
  • Comments

    115 Responses to “Random notes”

    1. Ralph Malph on June 20th, 2005 5:37 pm

      Androstenedione — which is a “banned over-the-counter supplement” — is an anabolic steroid.

      I don’t know if he was busted for andro, but there aren’t all that many “banned over the counter supplements” that I’m aware of. Ephedra is another one that comes to mind, but it’s now illegal (and not available over the counter).

      Andro and related substances weren’t banned (by law, not by baseball) until 2004, so Morse could have been buying something like that last year legally, but violating baseball rules by doing so.

    2. Metz on June 20th, 2005 5:59 pm

      While it isn’t fair to call Morse a steroid abuser under MLB’s older policy of non disclosure it is equally invalid to claim because he was banned for taking supplements it wasn’t steroids.

      Previous posts have noted that Andro is a steroid (or at least it metabolizes in the body into one) and to claim Morse is pure because it wasn’t injected is foolish. You also can’t look at his body type and claim he’s clean either. Having a string bean body is just the reason for a pro to take steroids (in an attempt to put on muscle).

    3. Mords on June 20th, 2005 6:03 pm

      Will people stop comparing Morse to Roberts as if Roberts is the paradigm of a breakout player. Since April and the beginning of May, he’s reverted to what he was last year

    4. DMZ on June 20th, 2005 6:08 pm

      Hi. Briefly — steroids speculation is out-of-bounds at USSM. See the comment guidelines. If anyone wants to say that either or both of Morse’s suspensions were due to steroids or OTC supplements, please provide citations. Otherwise, the only real answer is “we don’t know”.


    5. Feldor on June 20th, 2005 6:12 pm

      Honestly, I’d be happy with Morse’s lifetime minor league numbers, compared to what we were getting from Valdez and WFB. If he can improve his glove he could evolve into a solid, if not exciting, ball player.

    6. world series on June 20th, 2005 6:37 pm

      Good post Isaac (96), especially last 2 paragraphs. I took out of some of the previous posts the same thing.

    7. eponymous coward on June 20th, 2005 7:17 pm


      Point taken.

      I was a bit surprised to see post #25 in response to my question, especially since you folks at the USSM were very circumspect about discussing Morse’s suspensions last year and even earlier this year…but I wasn’t going to ask why, on the grounds that steroids talk tends to lead to wrecked/locked threads in nothing flat.

      Anyhee… I wouldn’t be happy with Morse’s lifetime minor league numbers, but I suspect he can build on them, as I mentioned above.

    8. DMZ on June 20th, 2005 7:24 pm

      Wellllllllll…. here’s my problem. The Times and the PI are both floating that themselves without actually saying it (see Larry Stone for instance.

      If a Mariner player were suspended for steroids violations, but the team couldn’t say anything openly, but people knew, what we’d see in the local press is exactly what we’ve seen. If it wasn’t true, it’d be all rumor-dismissive, not rumor-generating.

      Soooooo…. I’m not really sure what’s to be done here.

    9. DMZ on June 20th, 2005 7:30 pm

      I also should point out that Stone in that linked article mentions that it was and then quotes an old interview where Morse denies it’s steroids or anything similar.

    10. isaac on June 20th, 2005 8:29 pm

      im not a dave hater, or a stathead hater, or a scout hater. only a yankee hater.

      ..another line drive the other way….

    11. Tim on June 20th, 2005 9:42 pm


      Not trying to jump on Dave here (well maybe a little), but if you guys talk about steriods, we are going to talk about steriods. Its like when a parent tells his kid to stop hitting and then smacks him when he does.

    12. DMZ on June 20th, 2005 9:50 pm

      To me, there’s a distinction there that I’ve tried to make clearer… and seem to have failed.

    13. Brian Rust on June 20th, 2005 10:38 pm

      A distinction? How about this: Dave mentioned steroids only in his opening disclaimer, very discreetly mentioned the player without any accusation, and actually spelled and punctuated correctly throughout his entire post of one sentence. That was it until someone flamed.

    14. Ralph Malph on June 21st, 2005 9:28 am

      Morse did not deny “using steroids or anything similar”. He said “it did not involve drugs or substance abuse or anything like that.”

      Now I don’t think a non-denial is an admission, but you can’t say he denied it.

    15. DMZ on June 21st, 2005 10:10 am

      Steroids aren’t drugs?