Each day brings new hope

DMZ · March 27, 2006 at 1:42 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Man, the Mariners get stomped twice. T-Rex couldn’t have done a better job. I wonder if life’s worth living if the M’s are going to get so trampled. This season is going to be one wacky adventure.

Lopez has been annoited the official starting second baseman for the Mariners. I think I sighed in relief along with all good Mariner fans at the news.

PI: Felix forced to sit by pain from shin splints. Back in the day I ran cross country with shin splints. Holy crap did that hurt. I’m wincing just typing this. The danger, really, is that leg pain forces him to alter his delivery to compensate and then BAM! we’re screwed. Also, the M’s want to take extra bases this season. Even if it means getting thrown out more. Which is dumb. And there are two unclaimed bullpen spots. Noted as locks for the bullpen: Guardado, Putz, Soriano, Mateo, Sherrill, which would leave one LHP and one other, no handedness required.

The Times concurs on the bullpen thing. Also, Dobbs getting hit in the jaw wasn’t good.

O’er at the TNT — the shin splint thing.


45 Responses to “Each day brings new hope”

  1. Typical Idiot Fan on March 27th, 2006 2:14 am

    Repeat after me:


    Hope that helps. Trampled, stomped, a bunch of our minor league scrubs are getting pounded by Nick Swisher and Darrin Erstad. I’m not worried. Craig James and whatever Blanco weren’t even supposed to pitch in that game against the A’s, and we all knew that Cruceta had no business overachieving the way he had been before this game.

    Oh, and you also already knew Harris sucked.

    Look at it this way, the Mariners have basically put together the perfect combinations to get thrashed in terms of pitching. Foppert just isn’t ready, followed by Baek, followed by two lefties who got left in too long, followed by two A-ball scrubs. Then it was an extremely incosistent Nageotte, Cruceta, Harris, and Atchison.

    C’mon. It’s not like we sent out a pack of Felixes (Felixii?) and they got owned.

    And am I the only one who doens’t find those T-Rex comics funny?

  2. DMZ on March 27th, 2006 2:16 am

    Yes. You are the only one.

  3. BelaXadux on March 27th, 2006 3:10 am

    Shin splints are plain bad news, and I worried when I read the big guy had ’em, as you do. I hope the team doesn’t even let him step on a mound till they’re cleared up. Lopez was always going to win the job ad 2B; Vina and the Willie Talk were patently efforts to push him. But I’m glad that he ‘made the grade’ and so forth.

    . . . The Ms have sucked liquid crap all spring. Yes, most of the bad, BAD pitching has been by guys who never were in the picture, extended, floptastic auditions. But the team just hasn’t played well—just like they didn’t play well LAST year in camp. They can talk up ‘getting in the work’ all they want, but I’d like to see a two time 90-game loser make a little effort, wouldn’t you? Not too much evidence of that. BTW Pinero got racked in a B game, too; probably dead arm time, and the pen will look better once the real show begins undoubtedly. Still, this team doesn’t show to much evidence of playing smart, hitting big, pitching good, or caring all that much, either. A bunch of individuals playing their own games, just like last year. I _know_ it’s going to be a long year.

  4. gwo on March 27th, 2006 3:55 am
  5. Baseball Musings on March 27th, 2006 4:53 am

    Felix Felled…

    U.S.S Mariner notes that Felix Hernandez won’t make his Wednesday start due to shin splints. The young pitcher may turn out to be the biggest draw in Seattle this season, so this isn’t good news. Baseball Musings is conducting a……

  6. David M. on March 27th, 2006 5:21 am

    shin splints are caused when the muscles that run up the inner leg (attached to the fibula) are too weak to handle sudden and sustained impact, like an uptick in running due to, say, starting spring training. They’re often a ‘lay-off’ injury, in that people get them after long periods off from training.

    what it says to me is that Felix was not doing any impact training (such as running) during the offseason. If he had been doing so, those muscles would have been able to stand the impact.

    Bottom line, if we had worries about his conditioning before, those worries should grow.

  7. phil333 on March 27th, 2006 6:11 am

    Well this is great news to wake up to.

  8. mln on March 27th, 2006 6:18 am

    For those who enjoy masochism, here is an even more pessimistic analysis of the Mariners.


  9. David J. Corcoran on March 27th, 2006 7:05 am

    T-Rex Comics= Mucho Confusing and not that funny.

  10. Dave on March 27th, 2006 7:09 am

    Good to see that the baseball toaster gang is insulating Will Carroll with folks who know even less about the game than he does. That’s gotta be nice for him.

  11. CCW on March 27th, 2006 8:00 am

    Regarding shin splints… here’s another real problem, beyond the shin splints themselves: shin splints generally result from hyper-tightness in the back of your body. Basically, your calves are tight, which puts stress on the front of your legs, because the larger muscles in the back aren’t doing their job. It isn’t just that, though. Usually, if you’ve got tight calves, you’ve are risk for hamstring issues and back issues. Flexibility is absolutely essential for a big young pitcher like Felix. You can get by without a serious stretching regimen until you’re 20, but eventually that tightness is going to catch up with you. I have absolutely no confidence that the Mariners have any sort of rigorous pre-hab or flexibility regimen. I’ll admit I’m an alarmist when it comes to the health of the Ms pitchers, but Felix having shin splints is quite concerning.

  12. Rusty on March 27th, 2006 8:00 am

    Shin splints are almost always avoided with proper running shoes and running technique. Whoever the M’s trainers are, it’s surprising that they’re not explaining these things to the players.

  13. Adam S on March 27th, 2006 8:06 am

    The baseball toaster piece is one of the worst bits of writing I’ve read this whole offseason including this gem

    Seattle’s offense was pretty terrible in 2005 … and it won’t be better this year.

    That’s almost mathematically impossible unless Johjima has an OPS of .600.

    So are the Mariners keeping 12 pitchers (PI) or 11 (TNT)? And if they keep 12 isn’t Gonzalez then a strong candidate? And does Rivera have the backup catched locked down as the PI suggests? I read that Miller was having a strong spring and they might want RIvera to play every day at AAA instead of once a week.

  14. Tek Jansen on March 27th, 2006 8:09 am

    Re: #11 — Felix should work out with Ichiro!

  15. louder on March 27th, 2006 8:10 am

    Well, yeah, it’s spring training, but I’m still bummed by the bullpen. Soriano will be a good set-up man to pitch the 7th & 8th innings, making way for Guardado — Soriano can even take over the closer spot if Guardado fails. But after those two, man, to things look shaky. Looks like there might be a lot of games where the Mariner’s will have to score eight runs to have a chance to win a game. Not a good thing to have to do to reach .500

  16. Mr. Egaas on March 27th, 2006 8:49 am

    Our bullpen was one of the strong points last year and we traded the weakest link (Thornton) last week.

  17. DMZ on March 27th, 2006 9:07 am

    I’m not familiar with the guy who wrote the Baseball Toaster thing — is the whole point that it’s supposed to be overly negative to the point of hyperbole (which it doesn’t seem like) hence the title, or… or what? I’m confused.

  18. msb on March 27th, 2006 9:11 am

    my glass-half-full is that the sore shins may help Felix realize that his conditioning and weight will continue to affect him as he gets older….

    the Herald has their Felix shins story, tells us that the M’s don’t want a repeat of last year where steroids are concerned, and that Roger Hansen loves catching

  19. Russ on March 27th, 2006 9:13 am

    My tactic for keeping faith deeper into this season has been to not follow the Spring games. Typically I love to watch the games, read everything I can find and look for signs of life.

    This year…I’m going to just wait for the season to begin and try, beyond any reason, to take things one game at a time.

    There are reasons for hope:

    Ichiro! He just may emerge as a clubhouse leader due to his experiences at the WBC. He could pick up people with his play alone, if he can be the one who shares the joy of winning and encouragement, he can also be one who carries a team. I’ve said before that perhaps for Ichiro! to have another Japaneese speaker will give him the encouragement to speak up and take on a leadership role. I think he owes the team that much. He is one with the most tenure with the team and he can lead both by example and by taking on the role of elder statesman. At his salary and ability, having him the quiet locker room mouse is plain BS on his part. He needs to step up and take this team somewhere, especially if he enjoys winning. Standard caveats

    Kenji! He is a better player then we’ve had at catcher for a long time, perhaps ever? I like everything I’ve heard about him and his play so far is exciting. Go Japan.

    Richie! nuff said.

    The King! nuff said.

    Betre! He has to bounce back to a level that we expected. If he gets to 80% of his 2004 season, he is one of the best in the league.

    WFB! He isn’t starting at 2nd this year.

  20. Matt on March 27th, 2006 9:14 am

    PBF and and Dinosaur comics mixed with Baseball commentary? Man this place gets better all the time. Now I just wish I could find the link to Future Dinosaur comics. Albeit I’m sure it’s not too hard to figure out what it’s like.

  21. Tek Jansen on March 27th, 2006 9:22 am

    I was surprised that one paper was mentioned that the M’s would only carry 11 pitchers. Have they told Hargrove? But there is no sense in carrying a 12th pitcher whow is unprepared to pitch in the majors, earns the job by default, and would not be utilized. Keep a deeper and more useful bench. Hopefull Hargrove will learn how to platoon in the OF and at DH with Reed out.

  22. CCW on March 27th, 2006 9:25 am

    Felix absolutely should work out with Ichiro. The whole Ms team probably should. And then the Ms trainers should take lessons from him.

  23. Russ on March 27th, 2006 9:37 am


    Basebal in general is stuck in the 50’s when it comes to training methods.

    Compared to sports like bike racing and other endurance sports, baseball is ignorant. The average professional ball athlete is getting stronger and bigger but is still being carried by the same size bone/ligament structure. To not train those tissues is asking for trouble.

    I do some winter exercizes on the bike that cannot be done safely by a recreational or even a racer with only a year or two of work under their belt. It really takes a few years to build up the ligament strength to handle high loads. It also doesn’t take much time (3-4 months) to lose a good portion of that strength.

  24. DMZ on March 27th, 2006 9:38 am

    Oh boy, that makes me feel good about my largely inactive winter and this year’s ride ambitions.

  25. T-dawg on March 27th, 2006 10:20 am

    wow… DMZ, i love irony and python-esque humor, but i’m just not feeling the dinosaur thing… i read about 10 back days. while i wouldn’t say it is absolutely NOT funny, i also don’t see it as funny enough to warrent bookmarking.

    from my playing and coaching career i’ve seen shinsplints be a bothersome hindrence but never something that is unworkable. Generally a week off with icing and a different routine will fix all but the worst cases, and i’m certain the team therapists know how to make it better faster than i do.

  26. eponymous coward on March 27th, 2006 10:33 am

    I especially like this part from the Baseball Toaster:

    Lopez isn’t ready, but the Mariners really didn’t expect the Great Bret Boone Implosion of 2005, and they didn’t have much of a backup plan.

    Because, you know, just because he’s slugged .500 in AAA ball (in a fairly tough park to do it in) at age 20-21 doesn’t mean he might turn out to be a decent hitter…

  27. eponymous coward on March 27th, 2006 10:37 am

    And getting thrown out on the bases is good? Great. I suggest ALL Mariners should take leads off of first base that will cause them to be thrown out for the entire season. We’ll certainly win the World Series that way.

  28. lokiforever on March 27th, 2006 10:51 am

    I see taking longer leads and testing arms a little like a credit policy for a business. If you have tight credit policies, such that you never have any bad debts or bad accounts, one can canclude that you are running a tight business…but you are in fact missing out on sales.

    If Raul never gets picked off first base….. he’s missing out on opportunites to break up double plays or to go from 1st to 3rd on a long single to right. It seems reasonable to test our players and opposing players.

    But you have to learn from testing, from pushing the envelope. Just ask Terrence Long.

  29. eponymous coward on March 27th, 2006 11:21 am

    I see taking longer leads and testing arms a little like a credit policy for a business. If you have tight credit policies, such that you never have any bad debts or bad accounts, one can canclude that you are running a tight business…but you are in fact missing out on sales.

    Considering that a 66% success rate for stealing second base means you are breaking even in run expectancy, and I could give you a list as long as my arm of teams that win pennants with good offense and not particularly flashy base stealing numbers…I’m going to go with “The Mariners are focusing on the wrong things here”. Consider that the team was already arguably one of the top 10 teams in terms of base stealing and team speed, and it did not a damn thing for offense (13th in the league).

    Basically, to really add anything of value on the base stealing side, you need to be at a very high success rate. Otherwise, you’re just running yourself out of innings. Saying “well, it’s OK if we get thrown out more often because we’re testing the other team” is just silly.

    My kingdom for Earl Weaver…

  30. Evan on March 27th, 2006 11:35 am

    I thought shin splints were caused by having muscles on your shins that were vastly weaker than the muscles on your calves.

    I occasionally get some awful pain in my shins when I walk downhill, but I suspect that’s just lactic acid.

  31. argh on March 27th, 2006 11:43 am

    Appropos yesterday’s debacle against the Angels — it was billed as a spring training outing to get a look at a string of bull pen candidates all of whom turned in horrifyingly bad performances. If you want a good look at possible relievers why would you do it with your relief catcher? Is the margin between Jojima and Rivera, as catcher, that small? Or does it just effect everyone more or less equally, so no harm, not foul?

  32. Russ on March 27th, 2006 11:51 am

    I occasionally get some awful pain in my shins when I walk downhill, but I suspect that’s just lactic acid

    If walking down hill causes you to exert beyond what is sustainable for more than a few moments, you may right. However I’m going with you have muscles that are not trained for walking downhill and walking downhill is efforting them beyond what they are capable of. Basically, you’re blowing up the muscle cells in those downhill walks because the muscles are not strong enough to handle the load. This is kind of like doing big weight/low reps while lifting weights.

    Lactic acid burn is when the body can no longer produce energy aerobically and has begun producing anaerobically.

    #24 Derek, the good news is that one doesn’t need to do a whole lot to ride a bike. It’s the racing a bike where the training comes in. Sadly, I’m old enough to race in the Master’s catagory and even more sadly…many of those who also race with me are former National champs who’ve been racing since they were kids. They can flat out fly.

  33. msb on March 27th, 2006 1:00 pm

    in the USA Today (under the classic headline: “Washburn may pep up Mariners rotation”) Paul White looks at Washburn & the M’s…

  34. msb on March 27th, 2006 1:01 pm

    crap. here.

  35. eponymous coward on March 27th, 2006 1:15 pm

    “It’s hard to win games if you don’t pitch well,” Washburn says.

    So, I guess we can hire Jarrod as a color guy for the TV broadcasts once Ron “Fairly Obvious Facts” retires.

  36. Matthew Carruth on March 27th, 2006 1:56 pm

    Still it’s a welcome difference from Ryan “I pitched well except for the four they hit over that wall thingie” Franklin.

  37. lokiforever on March 27th, 2006 2:08 pm

    EC – Thanks for the stat – stealing 2nd at 66% = breakeven. And I would agree there are potent offenses that are not good at base stealing. (But even the RedSox needed Dave Roberts at a crucual moment against the yanks best of 7)

    But aggressive base running is not alway equated to base stealing. Runners discombobulating some pitchers by being such a distraction, breaking up double plays, stretching a base hit, staying in a pickle long enough to let the other base runners advance – all are part of aggressive base running. Hate to see an inning end on a base running mistake though.

  38. scraps on March 27th, 2006 2:22 pm

    Aggressive baserunning, like all “pressure” strategies in sports, only works well against less talented, less disciplined teams. It’s not a viable overall strategy: it does not compensate for a lack of hitting ability.

    The cost of mistakes on the base paths is generally greater than the benefits from the aggression (especially phantom benefits like distracting the pitcher: I remember evidence from way back showing that if anything steal attempts were a distraction to the hitter). Outs are much more precious than bases.

    Even the 67% breakeven point is an old calculation. I thought modern thinking had the breakeven point somewhere above 70% (and of course it depends on the situation).

  39. eponymous coward on March 27th, 2006 2:48 pm


    I don’t entirely disagree. All things being equal, you want better baserunning. The thing is the primary component of run production is baserunners (on base percentage) and how many bases they get WHILE HITTING (slugging) and avoiding making outs, as opposed to extra bases while running the bases (stolen bases, sacrifice hits). The effect of baserunning on those basic components of offense is VERY small over a 162 game season. The Mariners could have been as good as the Mets last year (high team SB percentage, high net stolen bases, low double plays), and their offense would have still been terrible.

    Let’s take an example from that article- Lawton praises the skills he learned under Tom Kelly. The Twins regularly finished with high stolen base numbers and occasionally (when they didn’t have anyone with good speed) high caught stealing numbers. Here’s where they finished in terms of league position in runs scored while Lawton and Kelly were there:

    1995: 10
    1996: 8
    1997: 10
    1998: 11
    1999: 14
    2000: 13
    2001: 8

    Nothing personal, but if agressive baserunning helps you score runs, should a manager that teaches it actually, you know, have his team finish in the top half of his league in scoring runs once out of seven years?

  40. Russ on March 27th, 2006 3:03 pm

    To paraphrase some guy name Billy…

    Hit the ball hard, take lots of bases…drink bubbly stuff.

    The stolen base works fine if you’re Ichiro! or someone of similar speed. However if one steals a base and the next two Mariner hitters go down without a hit…That stolen base is pointless. (no pun intended)

    Geez, let’s try scoring runs the old fashioned way…hit the ball often. Run around the bases.

    Last thing we need is Raul or Beltre coming up with a hamstring injury that takes their bat out of the line-up. Richie flat out can’t run fast enough to steal, the only way I see Richie stealing a base is if the catcher stares at him in amazement before lobbing the ball to second. Frankly our line-up is not one anybody in baseball would consider a running threat.

  41. shortbus on March 27th, 2006 3:42 pm

    How does the statistical analysis change when the team in question is a singles-hitting team? A guy on second vs. first means a lot more if the team rarely hits doubles.

    Obviously the thing to fix is the lack of doubles…but I was so damn frustrated last year watching the M’s trot base-to-base all season AND hit nothing but singles. The combined effect was so tooth-grindingly horrid to watch that I’d take a few guys getting tossed out if it meant more guys in scoring position.

    It also seemed to me that Grover was very stingy with the hit-and-run. Lou used it all the time and I came to like it. Again, when the team is hitting nothing but singles it seems to make sense to try it (with the right player at the plate).

  42. Evan on March 27th, 2006 4:41 pm

    John Olerud stole 3 bases in 2001. Edgar stole 4 the same year.* Stealing bases isn’t about speed.

    Though speed helps.

    *It should be noted that Olerud and Edgar were on base a combined 40,000 times in 2001.

  43. eponymous coward on March 27th, 2006 6:32 pm

    I saw Edgar and Olerud do a double steal in 2001. That’s sort of like a no-hitter, right?

  44. scraps on March 27th, 2006 8:34 pm

    The combined effect was so tooth-grindingly horrid to watch that I’d take a few guys getting tossed out if it meant more guys in scoring position.

    You might be happier at the moment, but the team would score fewer runs, so I bet you’d be unhappier in the long run.

    You can’t fix bad hitting with baserunning. It can’t be done. Certainly, every team should try to maximize the baserunning ability they have; if you’re really really good at it, it could be worth a few wins over the course of the year, and that can make a difference. But if you push it too far, you’ll lose runs — and games — much faster than you were winning them.

    Bad teams stress things like baserunning and clutch hitting and character and leadership because they don’t have anything else. Games are fundamentally won with hitting and pitching and fielding. At the top levels, baserunning can make the difference between first and second place, sure. But if your offense sucks and you’re talking about the need for aggressive baserunning, you’re wandering in the wilderness.

  45. eponymous coward on March 30th, 2006 1:12 pm

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