Game 160: Athletics at Mariners

September 30, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 166 Comments 

RHP Kirk Saarloos vs. LHP Jamie Moyer, 7:05pm, FSN & KOMO.

Well, it’s almost over. Tonight begins the final series of the year, as the M’s and A’s play out the string with three meaningless games. Why watch? Other than King Felix going on Sunday, Ichiro! needs just two more hits to reach 200 for the fifth consecutive season. It’s not exactly 262, but it’s a remarkable accomplishment just the same. And of course, there’s tonight’s feel good story: Dan Wilson will start at catcher, catch the first inning, and then leave the field to what I’m sure will be a very long ovation.

Moyer, in his final start of the season, tries to run his Safeco Field record to 10-0 against a team which has beat him up in 2005 — 26 hits and 15 earned runs allowed in 15 2/3 IP over three starts. Saarloos, one of my favorite pitchers thanks to his generally good control and extreme groundballing ways (2.33:1 GB:FB this year, 2.27:1 career), dominated the M’s in his one start against them this year: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, and 7 K in a 127-pitch effort back on June 23rd.

RF Ichiro!
SS Betancourt
LF Ibanez
1B Sexson
3B Beltre
“DH” Dobbs
2B Lopez
CF Bubela
C Wilson

Week #27 in Review

September 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 49 Comments 

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends…

–T.S. Eliot, 1925

Vital Signs
Wins: 68. Losses: 91. Games out of first place: 24.

The Angels clinch the division title for the second consecutive year, and the AL West repeats its same finish as 2004. And yes, that’s the Mariners in last place, again. This week they coasted another 2.5 games down the standings. But what’s another 2.5 games at this point, really? The slipped further away from the Rangers and third place, which is now an 11-game gap. According the third order wins, the M’s are 5.6 games below their expected wins. Interestingly, only the Mariners have fewer W3 than the Angels in the division, which will be something to watch in the playoffs.

Runs Scored: 689 (13th in the American League). Batting average: .256 (last). On-base percentage: .318 (last). Slugging percentage: .392 (13th). Home runs: 128 (13th). Bases on balls: 458 (8th). EqA: .258 (13th). The American league average is .268/.329/.425.

Runs allowed: 738 (7th). Staff ERA: 4.49 (8th, tied with Yankees). DIPS ERA: 4.66 (12th). Strikeouts: 875 (last). Bases on balls: 493 (9th). Home runs allowed: 178 (10th, tied with Baltimore). Starters ERA: 4.97 (11th). Relievers ERA: 3.49 (5th, tied with Los Angeles). Defensive efficiency: 70.2% (5th).

It was a run starved week as the Mariners drop four in row for the second time in two weeks. In their six games, they scored 4 runs only once and no more than 2 in four of their games. They went 2-4 against the Tigers and Rangers as they were outscored by a landslide 29-13. The Mariners drew more bases-on-balls than their opponents 23-17, but that’s the only positive in a week where the offense embarrassed itself to the tune of .214/.300/.286 and was out-homered 7-1.

Well, Rene Rivera hit 5 singles in 10 at bats (.500/.500/.500). Seriously, that’s the kind of week it was at the plate for the M’s. Richie Sexson hit the lone home run and went 4-for-15 (.263/.450/.533), drawing 5 walks on the week. Adrian Beltre also drew 5 walks in 24 plate appearances. Jose Lopez continued is double barrage with four more, bringing his double total to 11 on the month, tops in the AL for September.

As revenge for the dishonor of the previous week, King Felix demanded tribute from the boastful Rangers and held them to 2 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks as he finished the ninth inning for the first time of his career. He also struck out 7. Unfortunately, the Mariners similarly scored only 2 runs and lost the game in 11 innings.

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Few Yankee Fans Down Under

September 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 15 Comments 

I’ve seen three Yankee hats so far in Australia. As you can imagine, that’s amazingly cool to not constantly be needled by the brand of a hated rival franchise. The three:

1. Brisbane, guy carrying a pizza away from “NY Slice” pizza restaurant, suspected delivery man.
2. Port Douglas, German tourist.
3. Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), Spanish tourist.

The Yankee fans I have found so far are Japanese tourists who are Hideki Matsui fans. the guy I met yesterday noted with a big smile that Ichiro “is having a minus year” after my wife and I tried to argue the merits of Seattle’s finest.

Those three Yankee caps are the only MLB team caps I’ve seen since I got here.

No Doyle sightings yet.

Game 159, Rangers at Mariners

September 29, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 100 Comments 

Good news folks, it’s Ryan Franklin’s last ever appearance as a Seattle Mariner.

Adios, cowboy.

Guest Post At Baseball Analysts

September 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 16 Comments 

I’ve got a guest post today at Rich Lederer and Bryan Smith’s fine Baseball Analysts site. It’s about why I love baseball, and why I keep doing this.

It kind of follows in the footsteps of Dave’s post from a few weeks back where he took a trip down nostalgia lane and wrote: “‘Why do you love baseball?’ is a pretty common question for me. I’m never really sure what to say. I just do.” My post tries to figure out what I should say when asked that question.

Game 158, Rangers at Mariners

September 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 140 Comments 

Joel Pineiro vs Chris Young.

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Betancourt, SS
3. Ibanez, DH
4. Sexson, 1B
5. Beltre, 3B
6. Dobbs, LF – yuck
7. Lopez, 2B
8. Choo, CF
9. Rivera, C

Half the line-up was in Tacoma in July.

“[Forget] The Veterans”

September 28, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 67 Comments 

Passed on with minimal comment: Miguel Cabrera is the latest example of a tumultuous Marlins clubhouse.

Those of you around for the game thread last night may recall that Dave considers Cabrera one of three players he would trade King Felix for. Knowing how Dave feels about Felix, that says a lot. No reasonable person would dispute the young man’s talent, or his future.

His attitude, though, has come under recent scrutiny. First he kept showing up late for things. Then he refused to shag fly balls, relenting only when asked by Tony Perez. When Jeff Conine suggested that one of the team’s veteran players take Cabrera aside, the 22-year-old’s response was measured and well-reasoned. Oh, wait, no it wasn’t:

“[Forget] the veterans,” he told the Post. “They haven’t told me anything and they better not come tell me anything, either … I’m not going to go crazy worrying about these things.”

I’m guessing that the word they swapped out for “forget” begins with the same letter.

This comes after A.J. Burnett’s outburst and subsequent punishment by the organization. Short version: he dissed them, they dismissed him. Manager Jack McKeon is also reportedly gone at season’s end.

First thought: what is going on with the organization here? It’s like an open mutiny, to use a nautical analogy. Next thought: there is no way, save temporary insanity, that the Marlins would trade Miguel Cabrera for anything less than overwhelming value. So don’t get your hopes up.

Yes, I am talking to myself with that last sentence.

Game 157: Rangers at Mariners

September 27, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 416 Comments 

RHP Kameron Loe vs. RHP Felix Hernandez, 7:05pm, FSN & KOMO.

Wherein, King Felix enacts his revenge upon the hated Rangers of Texas for their refusal to kneel before his throne ten days ago. Justice will be swift, but painful.

Loe, who stands a healthy 6-8, made his major league debut one year ago yesterday. Ah, good, the lineups are up. So now I can stop boring you with useless information like Kameron Loe’s major league debut. Thanks for pretending to be interested.

RF Ichiro!
CF Reed
LF Ibanez
1B Sexson
3B Beltre
“DH” Dobbs
2B Lopez
SS Betancourt
C JoeJessica

Offseason Planning

September 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 170 Comments 

All three local dailies check in with a story about the M’s convening meetings, starting today, to plan their offseason. The difference in quality between those stories is astonishing.

Bob Finnigan launches the Times six-part season retrospective with a piece on the outfield. Because we’re trying to be nice to Finnigan, I’ll just point to the link and leave it at that. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, right?

John Hickey pens a story for the P-I that points out the M’s glaring need for help in the rotation, and discusses the M’s preparation for next year with Mike Hargrove and Ron Hassey. He makes a few uncited assertions that raise eyebrows, mainly the possibility of a Morse/Dobbs platoon in left field, which would be something you’d expect of the Devil Rays or the Royals. But overall, it’s a solid piece.

Then Larry Larue kicks the crap out of both of them with a terrific piece at the News Tribune. He gets a great attributable quote from Pat Gillick–““That first offseason was a mess for Bill,” Gillick said. “I saddled him with a lot.”–and gets a straight answer, on the record, from Bavasi on every relevant question you could think of.

Can Bavasi see an infield of Sexson, Jose Lopez, Beltre and Betancourt returning next April intact?

“Yes,” he said.

Good news. That’s the best plan, I believe. And no mention of Willie Bloomquist to be seen.

What about an outfield of Ibañez, Reed and Ichiro Suzuki?

“Yes, although I’m not sure whether Raul will be the left fielder or the designated hitter,” Bavasi said. “That might be a place to add more left-handed power, or we might use both Mike Morse and Chris Snelling out there. Left field gives us options.”

He mentioned previously in the article that the #2 priority was adding “left-handed sock”. Basically, that sock is going to come from the LF position, whether it be through the new hitter playing left or DH’ing and pushing Ibanez back to left field. But I don’t think there’s any way they go to camp with a Morse/Snelling platoon as their starting left field plan.

“I don’t think we’ll need to put a lot of money into the bullpen, which means our money can go into our rotation,” Bavasi said.

More good news.

“How many of our starting pitchers will be back for sure?” Bavasi asked, then laughed. “I know one, for sure. Probably two or three.”

That’s Felix, Joel, and probably Moyer. In other words, the decision has been made on Gil Meche. The team knows they need two new starting pitchers, at least. Even more good news.

“I don’t know that we have any players in the minor league system who are a year away now from helping us, but I said the same thing a year ago,” Bavasi said. “ (Infielder) Adam Jones is probably the closest, and he could be two years away.”

Jones’ days as an infielder are probably over, but LaRue can be forgiven for not knowing that. It’s interesting to see that the M’s aren’t looking at Foppert, Cruceta, Nageotte, or Livingston as guys who could help next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of that group actually contributed to the ’06 roster, but I’m glad to see the M’s won’t build the roster counting on it.

“What can we expect (from Beltre) next season? I think if you take the three years prior to his MVP-level season and average them out, then find the midway point between those numbers and his numbers from 2004, you’ll be close,” Bavasi said.

Interestingly enough, that’s basically what every sabermetric analyst worth their salt said at the time of the signing. That’s the kind of comment you would expect to be published at Baseball Prospectus.

“He did a great job. We’re on the same page. We always will be,” Bavasi said. “He’s due a lot of credit for handling so many young players and being positive about it. His approach is very rare. Most managers want nothing to do with young guys because they see them as a serious delay in their chance to win. Mike doesn’t.”

All the Fire Hargrove people can officially go nuts. Of course, all the Fire Hargrove folks are the same people who were screaming Fire Melvin, and that didn’t exactly lead us to the promised land. Maybe, eventually, people will realize that nearly all managers are basically non-factors, and getting so bent out of shape about Hargrove isn’t worth the time or the energy.

Truly terrific piece by LaRue, though, and a lot of good news contained in that article. The Bavasi Plan sounds an awful lot like the USSM plan. Now we’ll just have to see which players they decide to throw their money at.

Nefarious Yankee Cheating Revealed: A USSM Special Report

September 26, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 18 Comments 

Investigative reporting isn’t dead, not even on this Mariner off-day. You suspect the worst of the Yankees, and we’re here to verify those suspicions.

Forget steroids, Bud, and eat your heart out, White Sox: the scandal of the year is neither Texas’ sign-stealing system nor Rafael Palmeiro’s favorite breakfast food. It’s the Yankees, with the help of ESPN, actively stealing runs from opponents.

As Othello might say, here’s the ocular proof from ESPN’s Gamecast. Check out the bottom of the sixth inning, where Baltimore somehow is credited with a negative run.

Yankees Cheat

How could anyone believe the Os would actually give back a run? Sosa wasn’t even in the lineup. Besides, if anyone could have scored a negative run in one inning, it would have been those Mariner teams of the early 80s.

So there you have it: indisputable proof of the pro-Yankee conspiracy emanating from Bristol. [And stealing runs while they’re up 11, no less. That’s just mean.]

My Pulitzer’s in the mail. I can feel it.

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