Game 55, Mariners at Rangers

May 31, 2006 · Filed Under Game Threads · 418 Comments 

RHP Felix Hernandez v LHP John Koronka, 11 something.

“When you start thinking, ‘Let’s try something new’ — that’s a panic move”
— Mike Hargrove

Ichiro! – RF/L
Beltre – 3B/R
Lopez – 2B/R
Ibanez – LF/L
Sexson – DH/R
Johjima – C/R
Bloomquist – CF/R
Morse – 1B/R
Betancourt – SS/R


Game 54, Mariners at Rangers

May 30, 2006 · Filed Under Game Threads · 456 Comments 

5:05. RHP Gil Meche v Kevin Millwood… and if you were complaining that Hargrove was locked into his lineup, check out this thing:

Ichiro – RF
Beltre – 3B
Lopez – 2B
Ibanez – LF WILLIE BLOOMQUIST steps into the breach!
Everett – DH
PETAGINE (!!) – 1B
Johjima – C
Reed – CF
Betancourt – SS

I have to think this is some kind of prank, and closer to game time they’ll say “kidding!”

Seriously — Beltre at #2? Abandoning L/R/L? Did Hargrove get suspended?

Tacoma haps

May 29, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 57 Comments 

I thought I’d write about the guys in Tacoma, as I’ve seen these guys (many of them, in Tacoma and in Everett) and have followed their careers closely. Interesting things are afoot, and I’m sure the next edition of Dave’s Future Forty will be cause for some great discussion.

Michael Garciaparra’s hitting decently after being promoted to the PCL so Ismael Castro could get playing time at AA. Right now he’s hitting .306/.432/.361. The lack of power’s strange, and the plate discipline’s a step up from anything we’ve seen from him before. He’s only been up a while, but I’m watching his starts, because his progression through the system’s been quite interesting. At 23, there’s room for growth yet. I really soured on him over his defense and his erratic lines, but I’d love to see Garciaparra be what the M’s hoped for when they reached to draft him.

Asdrubal Cabrera’s similarly intriguing. He’s hitting .266/.380/.394 and playing good defense at short. Without hitting for a higher average and a little more power, he’s not a good candidate for advancement. But he’s 20! 20! I’m a big fan.

Adam Jones is only a year older, converted to center field this fall, and looks great, if sometimes raw, in the outfield. He’s still putting a charge into the ball, but rarely: a .233 average with excellent power doesn’t make him ready to replace the Reed/Bloomquist platoon. But he’s 21!

Then there’s Doyle. After scorching the ball on his return, he’s cooled dramatically: .244/.392/.293 is a weird line. He’s still got crazy pitch recognition skills, even if he hasn’t hit for power yet or contact lately. He’ll come around. Whether he comes around fast enough to prevent Carl Everett, your 2007 DH, well… cross your fingers.

What else? Choo’s hitting okay, but he’s looking more and more like a tweener – at 24, we haven’t seen enough from the bat to pass him off at a corner spot, and his defense in center’s not good enough to put him out there regularly either. As a 4th OFer with some basestealing ability, he could help the team, and there’s still the chance he’ll make a leap forward.

Hunter Brown, at .267/.338/.458, continues Tacoma’s proud tradition of having their third basemen outproduce Seattle’s (seriously, how much of a difficulty adjustment do you have to apply to get that down to Beltre’s .221/.285/.295?)(also, how sad is that).

The most interesting thing on the pitching side is the ascension of Cruceta. He’s had a couple of stellar starts lately, and his season line now stands at 2-3, 4.22 ERA, 42 2/3 IP, 1 HR (!), 26 BB, 57 K.

As Appier has fallen out of serious consideration for promotion, Cruceta’s stock has risen. If the team looks to revamp Seattle’s pitching soon, he’s the most likely to get the tap.

Game 53, Mariner at Rangers

May 29, 2006 · Filed Under Game Threads · 251 Comments 

LHP Jarrod Washburn v LHP John Rheinecker, which means… that’s riiiight….. Bloomquist starts in center! WOO HOOO!!!


Only article I read that didn’t depress me by reminding me of these last few games: Larry Stone on the upcoming draft.

Charting Felix article

May 29, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 43 Comments 

I’ve got an article up at the Hardball Times summarizing the data from the four games I’ve charted into the Felix Database to date. If you’ve read the other posts, you’ll recognize the conclusions, but there are a few bits of interesting data that are in there that I hadn’t seen before culling all this stuff together.

The thing that jumps out is just how poor the pitch selection has been in the first 15 pitches of each ballgame. Of the 58 pitches I’ve charted to start the game, 48 have been fastballs against just 5 curves and 5 change-ups. 83% of his pitches to start the game are fastballs. Opposing hitters are hitting .542/.633/.708 off Felix on the first 15 pitches of the game this year.

Seriously, the M’s have to realize that the scouting report going around the majors tells hitters to go up looking for nothing but fastballs in the first inning. That’s exactly what they’re doing, and they’re lighting him up. After the first 15 pitches, he actually starts mixing his pitches, and he pitches just fine. It’s those first 15 pitches that are killing him.

Screw establishing the fastball. Establish outs instead.

Week 8 in review

May 28, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 20 Comments 

WLWLLLL. Split with Baltimore and then work on putting together a quality losing streak.

I don’t have that much to say. Watching Hargrove manage this team has become ridiculously painful (everyone should read Dave’s post on today’s game). Go look through the game threads if you’re in any doubt. When your hardcore fans are able to cheer for your manager to make the worst move possible in a given situation and the opposing team also anticipates that move and reacts to make it even less productive, isn’t that reason enough for a change?

I know Rohn’s a small-ball guy, a fairly predictable double-stealer, but I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be a huge improvement. How long do we have to wait this out, another two weeks? A week if the team goes 0-7 or is otherwise hugely embarassed? Getting severly beat up by Texas to drop in the AL West chase (it’s a chase, I can’t believe it’s still a chase) would help, but I don’t want the team to lose. I want Hargrove canned *and* a sweep in Texas. Oh well, I can hope.

The good:
Ichiro! is being Ichiro! Over .400 with a double and a triple this week. Woo!
Sexson hit a Sexson-like .269 with 3 doubles and a home run. Stick around, big guy.
Beltre hit a .296/.321/.407. It’s not the Beltre I want but I’ll take any improvement.
Bloomquist hit .313 for a total line of .313/.389/.313. He took a walk! No, really!
Betancourt hit .348.

Good starts from Felix and Meche (!)

Overall, the bullpen had a really good week, when they weren’t blowing games. I know that sounds weird, but if you saw the games, you know what I’m talking about.

The bad:

Really ugly weeks for Everett, Lopez, Johjima, and Ibanez in particular.

The rotation got beat up pretty severely, and Putz, Green, and Woods all took some poundings.

The ugly:
The bunting. The baserunning. The lineups. The management. The feeling of being a fan while watching these games.

How far is Hargrove from getting canned?
Totally uninformed rumor-mongering without any basis in fact or any conversations with anyone in the Mariner front office*

A sweep by Texas, particularly a severe stomping, might do it and get Rohn in ahead of the KC series. A decent showing would bring him back to face KC/Minnesota at home, and an embarassing performance there, in front of ownership and fans, would almost certainly finally get him his well-deserved termination.

So: team goes .500 against the next two weeks, it’s a coin toss
Sweep by Texas: 75% he’s gone.
Escapes Texas but team goes 2-5 in the June 2-8 homestand: gone
Ichiro finally snaps after the team fails to score him from first with no outs in an inning and finally says something clear about Hargrove (which will, I suspect, be exceedingly subtle and delicately worded: “While I am not a manager and have the utmost respect for Hargrove as the head of this club, I wonder if, as I am suited to right field and do my best work as a leadoff hitter, managers also have situations in which they are best at, and situations where they are not the best fit…”): gone

* really

Just jaw-droppingly horrible

May 28, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 124 Comments 

I’m on record as stating that, by and large, managers don’t matter. They’re basically all the same. They all do pretty much the same things in the same situations, and with only a few exceptions, they all make decisions that will lead to the least amount of public criticism, regardless of whether it’s in the best interests of the team. Good teams can, and often do, win in spite of their manager.

But sometimes, if they’re nutty enough, managers can have a big impact on a ballgame. Today, Mike Hargrove has been a disaster. As mentioned in the game thread by Dave Clapper, “If Pete Rose had managed this way, they’d have used it as evidence that he was betting against his own team.”

I mean, just look at this:

Seattle – Top of 3rd
Y Betancourt doubled to left.
I Suzuki bunt popped out to first.

Ichiro’s hitting about .800 the last few weeks. Betancourt’s already in scoring position with nobody out and the top of the line-up coming up. Bunting in this position is absurd. The Mariners didn’t score.

Seattle – Top of 5th
Y Betancourt reached on infield single to third.
I Suzuki singled to left, Y Betancourt to second.
J Lopez sacrificed to third, Y Betancourt to third, I Suzuki to second.

Jose Lopez, in his first two at-bats, homered and walked. He leads the team in homers and RBI’s. There is already a man in scoring position. The run expectancy in this situation, on average, is 1.6 runs. With Lopez/Ibanez coming up, it’s higher than that. The M’s came away with one run.

Seattle – Top of 7th
I Suzuki tripled to deep right center.
J Lopez bunt popped into double play, pitcher to third, I Suzuki out at third.

The infield was in, making a hit far more likely than normal and the squeeze far less likely to succeed than normal. Any ball in the outfield likely scores Ichiro. Bunting here with Lopez, again, is absurd.

Seattle – Top of 9th
W Bloomquist singled to center.
R Rivera sacrificed to first, W Bloomquist to second.
Y Betancourt grounded into fielder’s choice to shortstop, W Bloomquist out at third.
Y Betancourt caught stealing second, catcher to second.

After a leadoff single, the run expectancy with average hitters coming up would be .94. In other words, if the M’s just swing the bats, they’re pretty darn likely to score, even with Rivera and Betancourt due up. Bunting the runner to second reduced the run expectancy to .73. Rivera’s a pretty bad hitter, so that might be defensible if it was an isolated incident. Bloomquist’s baserunning gaffe, certainly a result of the Agressive Baserunning philosophy Hargrove has pounded into the team, made the entire bunt useless, though. And then more Aggressive Baserunning ends the inning. Just an abomination of an inning.

Seattle – Top of 10th
I Suzuki reached on infield single to second.
J Lopez singled to center, I Suzuki to second.

What’s not shown here is that Lopez attempted 4 bunts before swinging away. That’s right – he was having Jose Lopez, the team’s best hitter to date, lay down a third consecutive sac bunt. Thankfully, he couldn’t get it down, and he then got a base hit on his only swing of the at-bat.

Seattle – Top of 11th
Eddie Guardado pitching for Seattle
L Ford homered to right center.

Guardado has had a severe problem with the longball. Putting him into a tie ballgame on the road, where a home run ends the game, is just foolish. Especially with J.J. Putz just twiddling his thumbs in the bullpen.

This was just an amazing display of out-wasting by Mike Hargrove. Mismanaging your job that poorly, in any other environment, gets you a reprimand and possibly terminated.

Mike Hargrove earned his pink slip today. When he’s fired, they simply have to show him tape of this game, because no amount of excuses can wave away just how terrible he was today.

Just astoundingly bad. Fire Mike Hargrove.

Game 52, Mariners at Twins

May 28, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 303 Comments 

Pineiro vs Santana.

Also, Jose Lopez!

Game 51, Mariners at Twins

May 27, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 294 Comments 

LHP Moyer v RHP Boof Bonser. 4:10.

I noticed something interesting while looking into today’s game to see what Jamie’s 3-year road split in Minnesota. Moyer hasn’t pitched in the Metrodome in years. And looking through the press notes, I found a tiny note at the bottom of the page that mentioned he hadn’t pitched there since 8/29/02.

You’d might guess the results were so disastrous that the team might have been working to keep him off the mound there, but he threw 7 innings, struck out 7, walked one, and no runs scored (the Retrosheet box score).

Fortunately, the Twins have looked really bad against left-handers this year: they’re hitting .263/.334/.369, according to ESPN’s splits.

Worst team in the majors against southpaws? Your Seattle Mariners, hitting .220/.289/.314 against them. Oww.

I’ve harped on this before, but when a team’s hitting that badly against one side, and it’s not sample size but what looks like an exploitable weakness, I would do everything I could to use it against them. The M’s batting split L/R is worth about 1 1/2 runs a game. That’s not worth benching your best right-hander, but at the end of the rotation, if you’ve got some lefty arms in AAA hanging out, call them up and watch them look like stars for a game each. But then I’m a big fan of doing whatever you can to exploit the other team’s weaknesses to win games.

Charting Felix, 5-26 at Twins

May 27, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 18 Comments 

Look for an article on the subject shortly that will delve into his last few starts in more detail. In the meantime, here’s the numbers from last night. The numbers don’t tie exactly because of two pitches that weren’t shown by the Twins broadcast, but those two pitches aren’t a big deal.

Pitches: 103
Balls: 30
Swinging Strikes: 38
Called Strikes: 16
Balls in Play: 16

Fastballs: 52 (50 %)
Curveballs: 34 (33%)
Changeups: 15 (15%)

First Pitch Fastballs: 15 (62%)
First Pitch Curveballs: 6 (25%)
First Pitch Changeups: 3 (13%)

Singles: 1-0 fastball, 1-0 curveball, 1-1 curveball
Double: 1-2 fastball
Home Run: 1-0 fastball

And, for fun, here’s the pitch selection broken in half.

Pre-Mauer Home Run: 26 fastballs, 12 curveballs, 4 changeups. 12 batters faced, 6 outs, 1 via strikeout, 5 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs.

Post Mauer Home Run: 26 fastballs, 22 curveballs, 11 changeups. 14 batters faced, 14 outs, 7 via strikeout.

The trend is once again obvious. Establish the fastball early – 12 of his first 13 pitches were fastballs – and often. The first 12 batters of the game, he threw 62 percent fastballs, about the same as in the last start against the Padres. He quickly gave up 3 runs. He then switched tactics, throwing only 44 percent fastballs the rest of the game, and retired the next 14 batters he faced.

The Twins helped him out some by chasing a few pitches out of the zone. Their aggressive approach nullified a bit of his wildness and allowed him to pitch ahead in the count more often. The results spoke for themselves; more offspeed stuff, more strikeouts, more outs in general.

Forget the three earned runs in 7 innings. Felix was dominant. The pitch to Mauer was a bad one, and he got away with a few hanging curveballs, but all-in-all, he probably only threw 4 or 5 “bad pitches”.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been preaching less fastballs, more offspeed stuff. Last night, we saw less fastballs and more offspeed stuff. And it was good.

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