Guardado’s Option

September 26, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 109 Comments 

Okay, this isn’t so much a post as it is a thread for you guys, since Jason was the only saving grace for us abandoning you guys over the weekend.

The Mariners hold a team option for $6.5 million on Eddie Guardado for 2006. He has a player option for $4.25 million that he can opt to pick up if the M’s decline their team option. If both sides decline their options, he becomes a free agent.

What do you want to see the Mariners do with Eddie? Bring him back at $6.5 million? Turn down the option and put the ball in his court?

For what its worth, relief pitcher is by far the most saturated part of the upcoming free agent market. If Guardado did become a free agent, he’d be joining a talent pool that consists of a ridiculous amount of quality relievers. Among those are Billy Wagner, B.J. Ryan, Kyle Farnsworth, Bob Wickman, Todd Jones, Tom Gordon, Ryan Dempster, Trevor Hoffman, Guillermo Mota, Rudy Seanez, and Al Reyes. Even Ugueth Urbina and Jose Mesa get to carry around their Proven Closer cards.

Personally, I’d decline his option. If he picks up his player option, fine, he’s a nice buy at 1 year for $4.25 million. If he doesn’t, I’m willing to make a run at a guy like Farnsworth to replace him as my relief ace.

Game 156: Mariners at Tigers

September 25, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 68 Comments 

“Not even Jason is paying attention today” edition.

Game 155: Mariners at Tigers

September 24, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 51 Comments 

LHP Jamie Moyer vs. RHP Jason Grilli, 4:05pm, KSTW & KOMO.

“Apparently Jason’s the only one paying attention” edition.

Grilli was a pretty hot prospect back in the day, a first round draft pick of the Giants way back in 1997, then was dealt to the Florida Marlins for Livan Hernandez in 1999. Despite never having much success in the minors, he spent time in the majors in 2000 and 2001 before missing almost all of the 2002 season. Since then he’s been bouncing around, having been a Rule 5 draft pick of the White Sox, and finally, a minor league signee of the Tigers last winter.

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

Game 154, Mariners at Tigers

September 23, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 65 Comments 

“Sorry, asleep at the switch there” edition.

RHP Ryan Franklin vs. RHP Sean Douglass, 4:05pm, FSN & KOMO.

RF Ichiro!
CF Reed
LF Ibanez
3B Beltre
1B Dobbs
SS Betancourt
DH Hansen
2B Lopez
C Rivera

Dobbs 5th and Betancourt 6th. Wow.

Week #26 in Review

September 23, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 44 Comments 

Nine more games until the off-season. Normally this news would depress me. This year it doesn’t. That’s what depresses me.

Vital Signs
Wins: 66. Losses: 87. Games out of first place: 21.5.

The Angels are on a 6-game win streak. The Mariners were swept by the Rangers. Not that it really matters at this point, but the M’s drop another 4.5 games in the standings in just a week. Third place is now 9 games away. So the Rangers have nearly the chance of catching the A’s that the Mariners do of escaping last place. And on the list of likely things to happen, escaping last place isn’t there for the M’s. According the third order wins, the M’s are playing nearly 6 games below what we would expect. Thus, the loss column looks a bit worse than it actually should.

Runs Scored: 676 (12th in the American League, nearly 200 fewer runs than the leading Red Sox). Batting average: .258 (last). On-base percentage: .318 (last). Slugging percentage: .396 (tied with Minnesota and Kansas City for last). Home runs: 127 (13th). Bases on balls: 435 (8th). EqA: .250 (tied with Chicago at 11th). The American league average is .268/.329/.425.

Runs allowed: 709 (7th). Staff ERA: 4.48 (7th, tied with Yankees). DIPS ERA: 4.67 (12th). Strikeouts: 835 (last). Bases on balls: 476 (9th). Home runs allowed: 171 (11th). Starters ERA: 5.00 (11th). Relievers ERA: 3.37 (4th). Defensive efficiency: 70.2% (7th).

The M’s suffered a four-game sweep against the Bunyan-esque Rangers. It was the fifth time this season the Mariners had lost four games in a row. They then split a four-game set against the Blue Jays. All six of the losses were by margins of either 1 or 2 runs, which makes for a heart-breaking week. The M’s were out-scored 40-34 over the past seven days. While the Mariners collected nearly as many extra-base hits as the Rangers and Jays (22-23), they were out-slugged 12 home runs to 5. But they drew more bases on balls, 22-20.

Richie Sexson went 9-for-27 (.333/.419/.704) with a pair of home runs, a pair of doubles, a triple and four walks. In what is sure to make the very short highlight reel of the Mariners’ 2005 season, Sexson dramatically ended Monday’s game with a ninth inning grand slam on the first pitch from Miguel Batista, which turned a 4-3 deficit into a 7-4 lead and eventual victory for the M’s on Monday night against the Blue Jays. Jose Lopez also went 7-for-19 (.368/.429/.737) with four doubles and a home run. Sunday in an 8-6 loss to Texas, Lopez doubled twice scoring two of Mariners’ runs and driving in another two.

The bullpen brigade of Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Gil Meche, Rafael Soriano, Julio Mateo and Matt Thornton combined to pitch 12.1 innings this week, allowing just 3 hits between them, without giving up a run. Soriano allowed the only walk, and they all struck out 9.

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Game 153, Mariners at Blue Jays

September 22, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 175 Comments 

Joel Pineiro vs Gustavo Chacin.

Chacin is a rookie of the year candidate thanks to a 3.51 ERA, but in a few years, when looking back on the incoming crop of young players, I don’t expect people to be mentioning Chacin in the same sentence with guys like Felix, Huston Street, or Scott Kazmir. His Fielding Independant ERA is 4.32, which isn’t bad, but isn’t spectacular, either. He’s a flyball pitcher who has marginal control and doesn’t miss many bats. Not exactly the skillset of a superstar in the making.

But, hey, he’s having a nice year. Let’s see if it continues tonight.

Game 152: Mariners at Blue Jays

September 21, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 246 Comments 

RHP Felix Hernandez vs. RHP David Bush, 4:07pm, FSN & KOMO.

King Felix tries to bounce back after a pair of unKing-like starts. Torrealba caught both of ’em; I thought we might see Ojeda out there tonight for a change of pace, but apparently not.

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

Ooh, breaking news — Tampa Bay will reportedly buy out the last year of Lou Piniella’s contract this winter.

Bargain Hunting

September 21, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 231 Comments 

— Seattle, WA
November, 2005

Bill, this is Scott. How are ya? Yea, I know, not the best of years for you guys. Sorry about Adrian. But I want to make it up to you. I’ve looked at your pitching staff, and, well, to be honest, I’ve got better arms in the high school ranks that I’m ‘advising’. Not so good, that rotation of yours.

Anyways, I’ve talked to K-Mil, and while he loves Safeco, I’ve got a 10 year, $300 million offer on the table for him. So, if you can match that, and toss in a dinner at the Met for me, you’ve got yourself a new starting pitcher.

Umm, excuse me? That’s anatomically impossible, Bill, and you know it. Okay, so you’ll pass on Kevin #1. Well, that’s fine. I’ve got another Kevin that you may like. I know, I know, you’re asking, ‘What can Brown do for you’ (chuckle chuckle). Oh man, I slay me.

No, seriously, Kevbo can help you guys. Yea, he’s 40, but that just means he’s got experience. You’re concerned about the 6.51 ERA? Well, you gotta admit, with the Yankee defense playing behind him, he should get a medal just for having it under 10.00. Back problems? What back problems? He got a new tempur-pedic mattress, and wham, he’s in the best shape of his life. And man, he’s motivated. K-Brow is so fired up, he’s even authorized me to take a 1 year contract so that he can reestablish his value and cash in next offseason as the top pitching arm on the market. You don’t want to miss out on this one, Billy boy. I’m telling you, Brown’s going to deliver, no pun intended, for you or somebody else. Holla at me when you’re ready to deal, B-Bav!

That conversation, or something roughly mirroring it, should take place sometime this offseason. And while poking fun at Scott Boras is always a good time, in this instance, I’m actually going to stick up for the point of the parody.

I’m endorsing Kevin Brown, the broken down 40-year-old with an ERA of six and a half as a free agent target. And I’m not insane. Here’s some numbers for you.

2.1 walks per game. Among the 45 American League qualifiers, this would tie him for 11th best in the AL, well above average.

5.5 strikeouts per game. From the 45 qualifiers, that would put him 22nd, tied with Mark Buehrle. His strikeout rate, essentially, is league average for an AL starting pitcher.

0.55 home runs per game. Among the AL qualifiers, this ties him for best in the AL with Scott Kazmir. He’s allowed 80 flyballs and just 5 home runs. Even if you normalize to an 11 percent HR/FB ratio, he’s only giving up about 20 homers over a full season, making him one of the hardest pitchers in the AL to take out of the park.

1.73 G/F rate. If you put him in the AL qualifiers, he’d rank 3rd, behind Jake Westbrook and Daniel Cabrera. He’s still a dominant groundball pitcher.

Fielding Independant ERA: 3.66. Among those 45 qualifiers, Brown’s 3.66 FIP would rank fifth in the American League. Bartolo Colon, the likely league Cy Young winner, has a Fielding Independant ERA of 3.63. Remember, FIP is a far, far more reliable predictor of future pitching performance than actual ERA. And FIP thinks Brown pitched very well this year, right in line with what he’s been doing the past 10 years.

So, why on earth does Kevin Brown have a 6.51 ERA? Two main reasons:

The defense behind him has been absolutely abysmal. Just 61.5 percent of all his balls in play have been turned into outs, which is just absolutely awful. It’s not like he’s getting torched, either. His line drive percentage is basically league average. We’ve been over the DIPS theory many times, but for the new readers, basically, most pitchers are going to generally fall in the range of a .300 average against on balls in play. Hitters whacked Brown to a .385 average on balls in play, which is most likely a factor of the players behind him simply being unable to get to balls in the hole. The average on balls in play against Brown in 2004 was .290 while his other rate stats were basically the same as they were this year. That’s defense, not pitching.

The other huge factor has been his inability to strand baserunners once they get on. Brown has left just 60.3 percent of the baserunners he’s allowed on the bases when the inning ends. Jose Lima, probably the worst starting pitcher in baseball, stranded 61.4 percent. Stranding runners is not inherantly a skill. Good pitchers do it because they’re good pitchers, and bad pitchers don’t because they’re bad pitchers, but you won’t find many examples of pitchers who succeed in almost all aspects of pitching and then just can’t get anyone out when there’s a runner on base. In fact, Brown’s opposing batters lines with runners on and with the runners empty aren’t dramatically different. In other words, he just allowed an awful lot of clutch hits that happened to pick up baserunners, and he got outs when it didn’t matter as much. Unless you want to believe that after 15 years of dominance, Kevin Brown suddenly began to wilt under pressure, there’s little reason to expect his strand rate to stay so low. Even a bounce back to a Ryan Franklin level strand rate-70 percent-would be a drastic improvement.

When people criticized Jamie Moyer for not wanting to go pitch in Houston or New York, maybe they should have looked at Kevin Brown. Moyer and Brown, at this point, are similar pitchers. The difference between them? Environment. Moyer has succeeded, and is in line for another nice paycheck, thanks to his home ballpark and the defense that surrounds him. He is the perfect complement to the Seattle environment. Kevin Brown is what Jamie Moyer would be with an abysmal defense behind him and a park that doesn’t allow you to make mistakes.

Their talent levels are comparable, and so is what you should expect from them next year. Thanks to his ridiculous ERA and the fact that, at 40 years old, most people are going to view this season as an age related decline that should lead to retirement, Kevin Brown will almost certainly come cheap. Give him a 1 year deal with a base salary of $1 million and a bunch of incentives and get yourself the bargain signing of the offseason.

So starts the Bring-Kevin-Brown-To-Seattle bandwagon. All aboard.

Game 151, Mariners at Blue Jays

September 20, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 144 Comments 

The Blue Jays throw Josh Towers at the Mariners tandem-starter combination of Jeff Harris and Gil Meche. Meche will come out of the pen at some point and pitch several innings. If he’s successful in this stint, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the M’s continue it the rest of the year, and give some thought to using Meche as a reliever going forward. He’s been a disaster as a starting pitcher, and a move to the bullpen might be the last resort to salvage his career.

Also, in non-Mariner related news, we have official documentation that people from Idaho are totally insane. Sorry Corco, but I mean, seriously, the Japanese caused Hurrican Katrina? And this guy is a local celebrity?

Postseason Future Forty

September 20, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 121 Comments 

Now that the minor league seasons have come to an end, I’ve updated the Future Forty. As we head into the offseason, we’ll cease the monthly update and go into “as needed” mode, meaning I’ll probably update it once, maybe twice, more before spring training rolls around. Also, the team assignment has now been changed to refelect a projection of where I believe they’ll begin the 2006 season.

The final regular season update sees us say goodbye to four players – Bucky Jacobsen, Justin Leone, Casey Craig, and Mike Flannery. Jacobsen, as we discussed yesterday, has been released and will not be back. Leone is expected to sign elsewhere as a minor league free agent. Craig’s stock has slipped badly this year, thanks in large part to a pretty serious attitude problem, and Flannery didn’t impress in his short stint after coming over in the Ron Villone deal.

Replacing the four departed are newcomers Stephen Kahn, Robert Rohrbaugh, and Justin Thomas, while returning to the list is Hunter Brown. Kahn, Rohrbaugh, and Thomas were considered the best of the pitching bunch that saw time in Everett this year. Kahn showed the kind of power arm that the team lacks, though his command needs work. Rohrbaugh is a polished college arm who throws strikes with underwhelming stuff (stop me if you’ve heard that before), and Thomas, while a reach where the M’s tabbed him, has an interesting repertoire including a change-up that can be highly effective. All three are different types of pitchers and have a ways to go, but each has something interesting to offer. Brown is the new Leone, a player that lacks physical skills but is versatile in the field and has hit his way through the system. His upside is as a cheap reserve off the bench, but in this organization, that passes for a prospect.

Jeff Heaverlo and Bryan LaHair were 41 and 42 respectively, by the way. You could easily make a case for either one getting on the list, but neither has tremendous upside, so it’s basically splitting hairs.

It will be interesting to see how Baseball America puts together the M’s top ten list after the season, considering that nearly every interesting young player in the system no longer has rookie status. Adam Jones and Jeff Clement will fight for the top spot, though I’d give a slight edge to Clement at this point, but then what? Bobby Livingston, who profiles as John Halama if everything goes well? Chris Snelling, who we love but just can’t stay healthy? The M’s have two solid prospects that both need some more development in Clement and Jones, and then a lot of maybes. Adding Felix, Reed, Betancourt, Lopez, and Sherill to the major league club made this a very successful season for the farm system. The M’s shouldn’t look forward to anything near that kind of help coming from the farm in 2006, however.

As always, this is the thread to use for any minor league question you may have. I’ll do my best to answer as many as humanly possible.

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