Hargrove on KJR

Jeff · January 27, 2006 at 6:25 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

In an effort to stem the inexorable tide of Derek posts, I rise from the sickbed to summarize Mike Hargrove’s appearance on local radio. There’s not much that will surprise you here; only one item leaped out at me.

On the World Baseball Classic: It’s a benefit to baseball and helps grow the game internationally.

On Carl Everett: He’s a proven winner and run producer who has played on good teams. Also: “It’s good to have someone in the clubhouse that will speak their mind.” Passed on without comment.

On pitching: Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro are among the keys to the rotation. He “saw Joel get stronger as the season went along” (huh?), but for Meche, “his first half was pretty decent,” but his second half “was not good” (double huh?).

In a perfect world, Hargrove said, his rotation would include Meche, Pineiro, Moyer, Washburn, and Felix. Someone could beat one of those guys out, but he doesn’t expect it. Felix will most likely be the fifth starter, which Hargrove said will make it easier to keep track of his workload. They’ll keep him under 200 innings — unless the team is in contention, Hargrove said, drawing gulps from most everyone.

He made a very enlightened comment about pitch counts. Hargrove said that he monitors them closely not just for Felix, but for everyone, since high pitch counts undermine pitcher effectiveness over subsequent starts.

The team is planning on carrying a seven-man bullpen that will include Rafael Soriano. There was some consideration given to trying out Soriano in the rotation, but — among other factors — the signing of Washburn sunk that idea. “There may be one or two spots open” in the bullpen, he said, but had good things to say about J.J. Putz.

On What His Opening Day Lineup Would Look Like: Here’s the mildly surprising part. While acknowledging that it was terribly early, Hargrove dropped the following potential batting order:

1. Ichiro!
2. Johjima
3. Ibanez
4. Sexson
5. Everett
6. Beltre
7. Reed
8. Lopez
9. Betancourt

Now, I know batting order has little importance. I also understand the value of breaking up the lefties in one’s lineup. But Beltre sixth? Hargrove talked about how Beltre “got into some bad habits” at the plate last year, and was doing “one or two little things” that impeded his progress. This may be an indication of the skipper being pretty down on his third baseman.

On the other hand, I like Johjima second in the order. Shows faith in this year’s big acquisition.


44 Responses to “Hargrove on KJR”

  1. Jim Thomsen on January 27th, 2006 6:28 pm

    I’d love to see someone beat Washburn out of a job. He could sit disconsolately at the end of the bullpen every day to serve, as Paul Newman said as he solemly considered the burned-out hulk of the world’s tallest building at the end of “The Towering Inferno,” “… as a monument to all the bullshit in the world.”

  2. Smegmalicious on January 27th, 2006 7:09 pm

    Ibanez batting third? Beltre sixth? What kind of crazy world are we living in that this happens?

    If Ibanez bats thrid for the bulk of the season I’m going to have an aneurism.

    Not to mention the new hitting coach thinks a lot of Beltre’s problems were confidence related and having him hit behind guys like Ibanez and Everett is only going to make that worse. What a slap in the face.

  3. Jim Thomsen on January 27th, 2006 7:14 pm

    Why is batting Ibanez third a bad thing? Dude hits for average, power and now draws walks. Seems to me he sets the table pretty well for Sexson.

  4. Matthew Carruth on January 27th, 2006 7:17 pm

    By Joel getting stronger he might have meant the steady increase in velocity Joel displayed as 2005 progressed.

    BTW, in case people didn’t notice, 2006 PECOTA is out. Felix projected to have third best ERA among AL SP behind Johan and Randy.

  5. terry on January 27th, 2006 7:24 pm

    Gawd….people…..clearly Joel was much stronger in the second half…if you take out his worst four starts after the all-star break….

    Clearly Meche was pretty good during the first half….he had 9 wins for gosh sakes…. You cant go by his ERA because that doesnt mean anything 😛

    Hargorve is right to put BEltre in the 6 hole….I mean until Beltre starts fouling off more pitches its clear he isnt three-hole material..

    Seriously, Ibanez is a consistent hitter with some pop….I dont have a dramatic desire to wretch with him in the three-hole. Frankly, Beltre’s numbers last year fell within an expected range of performance for his career as framed by the variance (i.e. while unhappily on the low side of his career means, they were not statistically significantly different than his career averages). Given that, I dont think he should be automatically penciled into the three-hole.

  6. DMZ on January 27th, 2006 7:42 pm

    Beltre’s performance was bad, and was statistically significantly bad. We’ve been through this before. It’s significantly worse than even his career stats w/2005.

  7. Matthew Carruth on January 27th, 2006 7:44 pm

    Sorry to be off-topic,

    [deleted, ot]

  8. terry on January 27th, 2006 7:54 pm

    #6: you are incorrect and I can verify it by simply pasting the calculations in this thread but frankly anyone with a spreadsheet can easily verify it. If anything, his last year as a Dodger is the statistical outlier.

  9. BelaXadux on January 27th, 2006 8:05 pm

    Hargrove’s MPL (most probable lineup) looks completely rational, to me. Ichii’s going to lead off. Joe-Jim is a patient hitter who understands the strikezone and will walk. Ibanez is (sad to say) the best all round hitter on the team, and has some lefty power. Sexie’s gonna hit cleanup, that’s set. I can’t find anything good to say about Everett other than he’s a left hand hitter, but Hargrove clearly thinks he brings something (note: remember that when Carl stinks/tanks on the team, he’s Hargrove’s acquisition). Beltre . . . stunk last year, and I’m relieved to gather that his manager _is_ down on him. No more ‘Beltre, team leader, ‘n’ all around saviour of the franchise’ music, that’s nice to know. Different things may be expected of the guy this season, evidently. Confidence an issue? that was why the guy kept swinging at pitches way out of the strike zone?? _Over_confidence, if anything. Lopez will outhit Reed in my view, but Reed hits ahead of him to break up the righties, that’s understandable. Betancourt is the ninth man based on performance.

    Can’t get too excited by that lineup, naw, but all of that shows a certain amount of sense.

  10. DMZ on January 27th, 2006 8:05 pm

    I’m wrong? Really.

    Career, including 2005: .271 .327 .455
    2005: .255 .303 .413

    Unless you seriously think that 15 pts of average, 20 pts of OBP, and 40 pts of slugging aren’t “significant” and then you’ve just got a bad definition of significant.

  11. BelaXadux on January 27th, 2006 8:14 pm

    Re: Beltre’s progression, I don’t see any disagreement here, fellas. Adrian’s ’04 season is demonstrably the outlier of his career so far, and while his ’05 is the lead balloon of the whole sequence it’s closer to his career norms than is the outlier. Both statements are true. I wouldn’t expect Adrian to turn in anything near his ’04 season this year, but he’ll likely uptick a bit from ’05. . . . About good enough to hit sixth, yeah.

  12. msb on January 27th, 2006 8:15 pm

    and FWIW, the line-up question came out of the blue, and Hargrove was clearly flummoxed at first. I was more interested that he flat said a 7-man bullpen….

  13. msb on January 27th, 2006 8:16 pm

    oh, and IIRC, Beltre batted 6th in LA at different times, and knows how he hit last season– he may not be quite so sure it is a slap in the face…

  14. Mr. Egaas on January 27th, 2006 8:17 pm

    Ibanez is our most consistant guy and most capable guy of reaching those seats in right. Although, I think potentially rally killer Carl Everett in front of Beltre is ridiculous. People are too fixed on the righty-lefty thing.

  15. BelaXadux on January 27th, 2006 8:22 pm

    Sorry to hear that the team has settle on the bullpen for Rafe Soriano, though. It was good to see (in the Times and the other thread) that Atchison and Heaverlo will both get invites to camp, and I’d like to see them throw well. But even with a seven-man pen, there isn’t room for both of them in the pen. So . . . we’re headed for the same problem as the bullpen had last year: too many arms in similar roles so that nobody stays sharp except Eddie G. I can’t say that Hargrove impresses me as a manager of his bullpen; he’s not awful, but he just doesn’t seem to see maximizing what guys do as part of the manager’s job. Seven in the pen is true to Hargrove’s career preference of a disinterest in his bench, though. At least Mike’s consistent.

  16. Jeff on January 27th, 2006 8:26 pm

    The seven in the pen comment was something I noticed, too. I also took it to mean “we don’t have enough good bench bats, so might as well carry another arm” thing — in addition to being a buffer against Felix throwing too many innings.

  17. Mat on January 27th, 2006 8:27 pm

    That doesn’t look too bad for a lineup. I’d switch Reed and Everett, but given time, hopefully Reed can make that decision an easy one. Beltre’s play last year earned him the 6th spot. If he hits like I think he will (his career averages or a little better), he won’t be there for very long, though.

  18. Tek Jansen on January 27th, 2006 8:28 pm

    #12 — Why was the 7 man bullpen interesting? I expected it. He had it all of last year, except for the two or so games that he had an EIGHT man bullpen. It is a shame that Grover feels that he needs a 7 man bullpen. It is one thing see that a sixth starter is needed and then add a 12th man to the pitching staff, but to start out with the notion that 7 pitchers are needed in the ‘pen seems less than an optimal use of the 25 man roster. But I have not complaints about the lineup. If Beltre outhits Everett, which is highly likely, the two will flip spots. No big deal.

  19. terry on January 27th, 2006 8:58 pm

    #10: I offer this as an honest attempt at discussion… at least anyway, it hopefully explains what Im trying to say.

    Here’s an quickie breakdown. If you treat each year as an entry in a data set with obp, slg, and ave as variables, then its possible to get a career mean and measure of dispersion for each. Ive dropped Beltre’s first year from the analysis because it wasnt a full year and it was so bad that I think it mostly just contributed noise (obvisouly dropping this year helps Beltre’s numbers). So over the next 8 years here are Beltre’s mean +/- standard deviation for BA/OBP/SLG:

    career BA: .271 +/- .029; This means it wouldnt be a great surpise if Beltre hit .300 next year but likewise he could hit .242. Clearly his ’05 average was within a single standard deviation of his career mean so there is no way the difference between the two was statistically significant. While the performance was dissapointing as hell and had consequences on the field for the M’s ability to produce runs, its impossible to say that his ’05 numbers were somehow an anomaly.

    career OBP: .326 +/- .035; so once again his ’05 OBP of .303 was within a range that wouldnt be considered statistically significantly different from his career mean.

    career SLG: .452 +/- .074; once again his ’05 SLG of .413 is well within a single standard deviation of his career mean.

    Last year was a *low end* year for him but it certainly wasnt an outlier comapared to his career. It fell sqaurely within a range that his career numbers predict. Obviously often a player’s numbers improve during the course of his career and dip as he nears the end of his career (suggesting an analysis such as the one im offering is biased since he would be penalized for his early years). But Beltre’s career thus far hasnt followed that pattern. In fact his numbers throughout the eight years ive considered have been remarkably consistent with the exception of ’04.

    If you compare his ’04 numbers versus his career, virtually every category is greater than a standard deviation from his career mean. While I didnt run the actual significance tests for this specific comparison (afterall im kinda beating the horse now), I think its a credible argumnet to suggest ’04 is much more an outlier in his career so far than ’05.

    While it may seem like we might be arguing semantics, I dont think the distinction between *statistically significantly different* and *significantly different (relative to impact on the field)* is a trivial one when using statistics as a predicitve tool. Obviously .271 is different from .255 on the field. But in the case of Beltre the two arent different from a theoretical statistical point of view and no one shouldve been surpised by ’05.

  20. Smegmalicious on January 27th, 2006 8:58 pm

    The three hitter is traditionally your best hitter. If Raul Ibanez is our best hitter next year I’ll eat my hat.

    I know it doesn’t mean that much, but I’ll bet it matters to a guy whose confidence is low to be hiting behind Ibanez and Everett.

    Sure Ibanez can hit .280 with 20 dingers (like he did last year in 162 games) but that’s not exactly scaring the crap out of opposing pitching. Plus he’s 33 and not getting any younger.

    I just look at it like this, with the game on the line would you rather have Ibanez get that extra AB or Beltre (or any of the guys hitting behind him). For me the answer is not Ibanez.

    I like the guy, I just think he’s miscast as a #3 hitter. I think he’s more of a #5 or #6 guy.

  21. Jim Thomsen on January 27th, 2006 9:01 pm

    “The three hitter is traditionally your best hitter.”

    One, I guess I don’t agree with this.

    Two, screw tradition.

  22. Smegmalicious on January 27th, 2006 9:09 pm

    I understand that this site and most of the readers really don’t care about tradition, but I think there’s valid points other than ‘that’s the way it’s been done’. Like I said, who would you rather have getting the extra at-bat if it comes to that? Also I think it matters to the players. I know it mattered a lot to basically every guy I played with.

  23. terry on January 27th, 2006 9:12 pm

    #20, with the game on the line, id be happy to get an extra base hit from anybody 🙂

    But I do offer these career numbers:
    Ibanez: .283/.341/.460

    Beltre: .271/.327/.455

    Given that Ive just argued that Beltre’s career numbers are biased high by his ’04 season and of course ignoring which arm the pitcher wears his glove on, Id take Raul in the hypothetical you propose….

  24. chris d on January 27th, 2006 9:17 pm

    If I remember correctly Beltre in 2004 was batting 5th or 6th with the Dodgers to begin the season and once they saw what that he was hitting the crap out of the ball they moved him to 4th. Maybe Hargrove isn’t so much displeased with Adrian but wants to put less pressure on him to see if he can get confidence back.

  25. Jim Thomsen on January 27th, 2006 9:17 pm

    All that, plus you need your #3 hitter to be a good contact guy, somebody who can situationally hit to all fields. Ibanez is hardly ideal, but I’d take him over anybody else who might be considered a candidate for the role.

  26. Smegmalicious on January 27th, 2006 9:19 pm

    So you think Raul Ibanez is going to have a better year than Adrian Beltre next year?

  27. Smegmalicious on January 27th, 2006 9:24 pm

    #26 was directed at terry.

    I just think that the team fails if Raul is in that spot. Sure he’s a bit above league average, stat-wise, and he’s a good little hitter, but this is the guy who’s going to be driving in Ichiro all year. I just can’t get my head around the fact that the best guy for that job on the Mariners next year is Raul Ibanez.

  28. terry on January 27th, 2006 9:26 pm

    I think its just as likely as not that the two look like clones next year offensively speaking. Beltre has the *potential* to be much better but he hasnt shown a consistent ability to be so during his first 8 plus years at the dance.

  29. terry on January 27th, 2006 9:29 pm

    Hey if Beltre puts up identical numbers as Raul during the course of his contract, then Beltre would be instantly inducted into the M’s Hall of Fame at third base…

  30. Smegmalicious on January 27th, 2006 9:40 pm

    He would also be a huge bust since we’d be overpaying by about $8 million a year.

    I think Beltre will get better. He’s young, experienced and has more potential and ability than Ibanez ever did.

  31. Jim Thomsen on January 27th, 2006 9:45 pm

    #30: I don’t disagree, but you don’t shove Beltre into the three-spot before he shows his improvement. You start the year going with what you know.

  32. Smegmalicious on January 27th, 2006 9:49 pm

    Good point, Jim. Maybe I’m just too hopefull.

  33. Jim Thomsen on January 27th, 2006 10:02 pm

    I hope you prove to be right.

  34. J.L. on January 28th, 2006 1:53 pm

    #27 RE: Raul Ibanez and hitting in the #3 hole:

    “I just can’t get my head around the fact that the best guy for that job on the Mariners next year is Raul Ibanez.”

    Again, thinking as the #3 hitting as the premier position in the lineup (the Ken Griffey Jr. spot, if you will), then Ibanez is not the guy you would pick. But that’s not important. Just getting another consitent hitter in front of the power bats afterward (yes, I just mean Sexson at this point), then I would think that would create more run-scoring opportunities. Which is all that matters. I think we have much more things to worry about. This comes right after concocting aplan to get Willie Bloomquist to come down with food poisioning 162 times this year.

  35. John in L.A. on January 28th, 2006 4:42 pm


    Now, let me preface this by saying I am completely unknowledgable about the math behind statistics, all I have to go on is common sense.

    But if I’m reading what your post said, you are giving:

    A 60 point spread in average
    A 70 spread in OBP
    A 148 point spread in slugging

    And saying that anything that falls into that range isn’t statistically signifigant???

    Heck, that’s the difference between:

    Joey Cora’s batting average and Tony Gwynn’s batting average.
    Joey Cora’s OBP and Barry Bonds OBP.
    Joey Cora’s Slugging % and Sammy Sosa’s slugging %

    So, it’s entirely possible I’m reading your post wrong, I’m the first to admit that.

    But to the layman the difference between Joey Cora and The Three-Headed Hall of Fame Monster Joey The Cora… seems statistically signifigant.

    (if the statistically signifgant part only regards the =/- one way, then it becomes:

    Joey Cora with:
    A-Rod’s batting average
    Ricky Henderson’s OBP
    Carlton Fisk’s Slugging percentage.

    Still seems signifigant.)

  36. msb on January 28th, 2006 4:57 pm

    #18– interesting in that there was some discussion by Bavasi earlier that they might not go for a 12 man staff if they thought they could get away with it, but that it was dependent on what the starters (and the bench) might bring to the table

  37. msb on January 28th, 2006 4:58 pm

    oh, and Hargrove said that they’d talked about looking at Soriano as a starter, and that he may still get the chance later down the line, but now he and they need him in the bullpen

  38. terry on January 28th, 2006 6:56 pm

    #35: Its not high powered math its just that using standard deviation as a measure of dispersion is informative in the special case of Beltre’s career to date.

    The point I was trying to make was that based upon what Beltre has done thus far in his career, last year was much closer to what you’d expect from him than ’04 was. In fact if you omit his ’04 season from the 8 year totals, last year was virtually identical to his career avarages for BA/OBP/SLG. The *spread* suggests the guy is capable of hitting .300 but its also possible that he’ll hit .240 next season. Its most likely he’ll hit somewhere around .265.

    Im glad that you brought up the issue of spread because it really highlights the fact that ’04 was was a statistical outlier for Beltre. When the ’04 season is dropped from his career numbers, the *spread* also dramatically tightens. Generally, a ball player struggles early, gets steadily better, reaches the golden years and does his best and then finally declines after a certain age. Thus, using standard deviation in the blunt way Ive argued wouldnt necesarily be very meaningful because the spread would be pretty huge and it would ignore the upward trend in production associated with the laturation process. However, Beltre’s numbers dont fit the typical maturation curve. He’s been pretty flatline. Beltre has had two decently solid years (his first two full ones), 5 pretty average seasons (the next four and then last year) and one really impressive year. Thus, *spread* is blunt it is more meaningful in Beltre’s case.

    Sabermetrics suggests Beltre should improve if for no other reason than he is entering the golden years. He’s still young and obviously could get better. However, he looks like one of those guys that dont fit the projection models very well. He’s had 8 full seasons in the bigs and with the exception of ’04, he’s been remarkably consistently average. Nothing in his past suggests you should expect a repeat of ’04 as there is no trend toward better production. Frankly if he gives the M’s Ibanez-type numbers next season, everyone should be pretty happy. I just worry that with Beltre, what youve seen is basically what youre gonna get.

    I like the guy alot and would be very happy taking his glove and .271/.327/.455 with 20 homers and 80 rbis. However the M’s are giving him alot of jack to do that and a very smart fellow on this blog often suggests that cost must always be considered when determining a players true worth….

    Its a dissenting opinion at least for what its worth…..

  39. BelaXadux on January 28th, 2006 8:24 pm

    So Terry, in a long post on Beltre’s career and hitting patterns back in December which got bleeped, I said that his ’05 couldn’t be more than a standard deviation off his career norms. It’s interesting to see someone actually do the math to demonstrate this, as my take was an eyeball squint on it. My conclusions then are in essence what you say now: there as _NO_ collapse in ’05 by Beltre, he was dead on his career projections. Furthermore, his results are the exact outcomes which one should expect from his approach at the plate, which according to most is also very much like he has hit his whole career. Until and unless Adrian changes his approach at the plate _substantially_, there is zero (0) reason to believe that his results in the next few years will deviate statistically from that career projection, either. His ’04 was a fluke given his career, and there is no rational way to anticipate he will repeat it, or come close.

  40. dks on January 28th, 2006 11:33 pm

    To get back to Pineiro and Meche — actually, Pineiro did get better after the all-star break. He just got more unlucky. Pre all-star FIP is ~5, post is ~4. Meche, though — pre was ~5 and post was almost 6. None of those numbers really counts as “good”, though.

  41. terry on January 29th, 2006 3:08 am

    Id take a FIP of approximately 4 for the starting rotation…. 🙂

  42. CecilFielderRules on January 29th, 2006 10:40 am

    #19 – you’re kidding right? If you’re going to argue about the semantics of using “statistically significant” and “significant”, you should at least do it correctly. Nobody uses +/- one standard deviation as a test of significance. At least +/- 2 times (95%) or even +/- 3 times (99%). I don’t think using a test of statistical significance is really usefull in this case.

  43. bovis on January 29th, 2006 11:31 am

    Regarding batting order: It will probably never happen, but it would have been great to see. There is still a slim chance, but it looks like it is past history. Doyle #3, Ibanez #5..Doyle at DH.
    At least unlike another outstanding Mariner’s hitter-Griffey, Doyle worked hard on conditioning and rehab. Could he make it back?-he is still on the 40 man roster.

  44. terry on February 1st, 2006 2:27 pm

    #42. Ive already conceeded that I was making my point rather bluntly but also defended this approach because 1) Beltre’s career numbers are quite consistent and devoid of apparent age effects meaning that simply looking at standard deviation in his case has predictive meaning, 2)this is a very straightforward and simple comparison that hopefully is useful since it wouldnt take a statistics degree for EVERYONE to be able to chime in and argue about the conclusion.

    You lost me a little bit with your assertion that since I didnt consider two or three standard deviations from the mean, the conclusion must be whacky. But that is precisely my point or to put it another way, your post actually makes my point for me. Last year Beltre’s numbers clearly fall within a single standard deviation from his career mean so, its safe to argue there is no way that the difference is statistically signficant without getting into a technical discussion of statistics. Think it of it this way, graph the career averages for OPB or SLG for example and then add the error bars (i.e. 1 standard deviation). Next consider the value for OPB for example and notice that the error bar overlaps this value indicating that there is no difference between the career mean and his ’05 value given the variation inherent in the data set (i.e. his ’05 performance is within a range you might expect him to perform in). If in fact his performance was 2 or 3 standard deviations away from his career mean last year, then you couldve argued that his performance was unexpected because the difference was too differant to be explained reliably by variation.

    Simply put, youre looking at statistical significance backwards… and it is you that isnt “doing it correctly”.

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