Hargrove on KJR

January 27, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 44 Comments 

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.

Felix out of WBC, spring training invites

January 27, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 32 Comments 

From the Seattle Times,Check it out, looks like no extra pitching for Felix.

Here’s the list of NRIs as they’re known, with some sorting for your convenience. Lotta unfamiliar names. I’ll be updating this as I run stuff down.

RHP Kevin Appier
RHP Scott Atchison
RHP Dave Burba
RHP Francisco Cruceta
RHP Rich Dorman
LHP Lindsey Gulin (Issaquah High School grad)
RHP Jeff Harris
RHP Jeff Heaverlo
RHP Chris Jaile

IF-B Asdrubal Cabrera
C-L Jeff Clement
DH-L Greg Dobbs
C Andy Dominique
C Rob Johnson
CF-R Adam Jones
?-R Rayon Lampe
C-R Corky Miller
IF-R Jose Morban
IF-R Cody Ransom
1B-L Todd Sears
SS/?-R Matt Tuiasosopo
2B-L Fernando Vina

Meche signs

January 26, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 45 Comments 

One year, $3.7m. Could be almost $4m if he hits targets for innings pitched.

Frank Thomas signs with the A’s

January 25, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 28 Comments 

1y, $500k.

So here’s why this is totally awesome:
– Frank Thomas is a great bet to pound the ball when he’s in the lineup. He may not hit .250, but he’ll draw a ton of walks and hit for good power

Here’s why this kinda sucks:
– He’s not going to be in the lineup that often. He’s old, he seems to be increasingly fragile. He’s barely played in 100 games over two seasons
– So you have to be prepared to have someone else play instead, and expect they’re going to get at least 40 games and maybe all season
– Pasting the ball if you can’t manage to hobble to second turns him into a single/walk/home run/out machine

For $500k? That’s not a bad deal at all, especially for a team like the A’s that stock their AAA team with interesting players who can step in to help the roster flex around injuries. I mean heck, if he tears up his knee in spring training and spends all year on the DL, they’re not out that much money at all.

It’s a nice little gamble.

NY Times: Partisan thought is unconscious

January 25, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 17 Comments 

From the Paper of Record (and other things):

Using M.R.I. scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favored candidates or criticisms of them. The process is almost entirely emotional and unconscious, the researchers report, and there are flares of activity in the brain’s pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected.

There’s a lot more here, and it’s really good.

This seems applicable to baseball thought, and particularly the “camps” debate.

From personal experience, I immediately thought of the stadium debate, when I didn’t know enough about it and was too emotionally tied up in it. You can go back and look through the Usenet archives and see me running around acting like a goat, and while the other side wasn’t conducting itself particularly politely, I look back on some of it now and think “that one guy made a perfectly logical series of arguments, and I just really angry about it.”

The realization that untoward belief in one side or another can lead to an weird state of dedicated ignorance unsettled me, and I think it’s played a big part in my long and rocky development as a writer.

Anyway, it’s interesting to ponder.

Nightengale: M’s get new attitude

January 25, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 47 Comments 

When was the last time this was the off-season storyline? I think it wassss… 2004? That went really well.

Anyway, quality quote fodder in this column. There are some pretty smart Bavasi comments, and there are also some put-down-the-beverage-first gems:

“I loved our moves,” says closer Eddie Guardado, a clubhouse leader. “We needed some attitude in that clubhouse, and we got it. Those guys are good players, but to me, that attitude they bring will be huge for us.”

I thought you were supposed to provide that attitude. What happened? You were supposed to be the joker who kept things loose, and Sexson was the guy who’d keep them focused. What went wrong?

On Everett:

“(Manager) Mike Hargrove really wanted this guy,” Bavasi says, “because of his approach to the game. We gave him his choice of a couple of guys (Jeromy Burnitz and Jacque Jones), but he pushed for Carl the whole time.”

May the universal wheel of karma deal out appropriate justice. May Everett fight with you all year long while hitting .000 and otherwise making your life miserable until you’re fired and replaced with Dan Rohn mid-season.

Evaluating Defense

January 24, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 42 Comments 

If you’ve been hanging around the blog for any length of time, you’ve probably come to realize that we like numbers. They give us a better way to evaluate what we think we saw, and they compensate for our internal bias’. Since a lot of baseball is essentially a set of isolated individual plays, it’s fairly easy to evaluate a player’s value to the team through their statistics, if you know which ones to use.

However, defensive evaluations have always been elusive to the statistical community. The numbers that were recorded, such as fielding percentage, were basically useless information, more misleading than anything else. For years, the players who have made the most memorable plays have been regarded as the elite defensive players simply because we’ve had no real objective standard of how to evaluate defense.

In the past 3-4 years, however, we’ve seen significant steps forward in the realm of defensive statistics. People interested in understanding the game better have begun purchasing play-by-play data that gives them far more information than we’ve had available previously, and have used that specific information to create systems that do a much better job of figuring out just how much value a player’s defense adds to his team. However, the age of defensive statistical analysis is still in its infancy, and as such, there is not a consensus system that is correct, or established as the industry standard. There are several systems built on solid theories that evaluate different parts of defensive prowess, and sometimes, these systems give widely contradictory results. So, what do we do then, if two systems, both well designed, can’t agree?

At this point, my preference is to take a prism perspective. All of the systems have strengths, and all have flaws. So I’d rather not take any of them at face value, but instead develop a general idea of a player’s abilities based upon as much good input as I can get. So, since it’s been requested and there’s nothing going on in Mariner-land, here’s an overview, with links for those interested, for the defensive statistics that I lend some credence to, and how I attempt to put them together to get an overall idea of a player’s contributions with the glove.

Read more

USSM Mailbag: Meche heads to arbitration

January 23, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 58 Comments 

First in a series of slow-news-day posts.

Meche is going to make what in arbitration? Really?

Yeah, I know. Meche made $2.5m. He asked for $4.2m, and the team offered $3.35m. They may well yet agree, as they did last year, on a split-the-difference one-year contract.

But you might well be asking “What the hell? Why would Meche get even $3.35m?”

That’s a good question. Read more

Shiggy retires

January 23, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 16 Comments 

Former Mariner Shigetoshi Hasegawa has announced his retirement.

To call Hasegawa something of a pioneer would be an overstatement, but he was a reasonably important figure in the exchange of baseball talent between Japan and the U.S. Hasegawa wrote a book, “Adjustment,” about adapting to life and baseball in America. This feature by Jim Caple from a while back discusses that.

We were critical of the contract that Shiggy was given after his impressive 2003, but he was always an easy guy to root for. Happy retirement, Shiggy.

[You’d think he would have finished his website before the announcement. But when it’s completed, you’ll be able to read it in Japanese, English or Korean!]

Red Sox deal almost certainly means that Reed stays

January 23, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 41 Comments 

I made a pretty flippant “Dealing Marte for Crisp is crazy” comment in another thread, and on further thought this warrants a bit of a post. My initial reaction came mostly from my belief that Marte’s an absolute blue-chip stud prospect, and Coco Crisp is a good player. But this makes a lot of sense. Read more

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