More Randomness

August 18, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 187 Comments 

Lots of short stuff to get to today, none of it deserving of its own post, so back to the notebook we go.

1. Doyle!

Let’s be honest – the M’s haven’t been any fun to watch lately, but getting to see Chris Snelling take some hacks in the 9th inning last night was legitimately enjoyable. Yea, he struck out on a swing with far too much of an uppercut, and his recent performance in Tacoma doesn’t do much to support our cries for him to get regular playing time earlier in the season, but the kid’s been through hell the past four years, and the fact that he’s a major leaguer again makes my day a little brighter. I know we won’t see him much, but I’m glad he’s in Seattle.

2. Shut down Raffy. Please.

It’s not too often that you’ll see a guy strike out the side and cause pain and consternation at the same time. But that’s what Rafael Soriano did last night. The results were terrific, but he’s clearly not healthy. His fastball was 90-92, he threw a ton of sliders, and he’s been complaining of soreness for weeks now. The M’s season is over, and the guy missed two seasons because the M’s tried to let him pitch through arm problems back in 2004. Don’t make that mistake again. Shut him down.

3. How do you pronounce Nageotte? “Dun.”

After last nights performance, Clint Nageotte has thrown 16 2/3 innings in four August starts, facing 86 batters. He’s given up 23 hits, walked 14, hit 2 guys, and struck out all of 4 batters. He’s not even getting groundballs anymore. He’s throwing 87-89 and his slider doesn’t even resemble the pitch it used to be. At this point, the only chance his career has is a move back to the bullpen and a prayer that some velocity returns in shorter stints. But even that’s a longshot. Yet another cautionary tale of the attrition of young pitchers – Clint Nageotte isn’t even really a prospect anymore. I’m not sure he’ll still be on the next version of the Future Forty.

4. Hello Curve Ball.

How do you post gaudy strikeout numbers in the low minors? Feature a big breaking ball with all kinds of movement. Guys in short season ball just haven’t seen that many true 12-6 curves that start at their heads and end at their toes, and they often look foolish when they face a kid who can break off an Uncle Charley. So, meet the M’s newest low-level strikeout master, 2nd round pick Chris Tillman. Here’s his line from last night:

6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K

In two starts, he’s struck out 15 of the 37 batters he’s faced in the Northwest League. His command still needs all kinds of work (7 walks and a hit batter in 8 2/3 IP), and he’s got a ton of growing up to do, but he’s going to post some ridiculous strikeout numbers. That breaking ball is just going to outclass low level hiters.

Sunset Supper

August 18, 2006 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 9 Comments 

If anyone’s going to be at Sunset Supper at Pike Place Market tonight (Friday), look for me — I’ll be working at the Canlis booth. We’ll be serving Dungeness Crab and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta and Cerignola Olives. If you’re not familiar with Sunset Supper, here’s more info. It’s a bit pricy to get in ($85), but there are a ton of great restaurants as well as wineries and breweries all serving up tasty tidbits. There’s also live music. You can find the full list of restaurants, etc., as well as their menus, by following the link.

10-29 versus the AL West

August 17, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on 10-29 versus the AL West 

Eight losses in a row, sixteen straight losses against AL West opponents. Or, no wins against the AL West in the second half so far.

Last win against an AL West team: June 11th, on the Road against the Angels to sweep a three-game series.

1-15 versus Oakland
2-8 versus Texas
7-6 versus Anaheim LA.

Game 121, Mariners at Angels

August 17, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 263 Comments 

LHP Jamie Moyer v RHP Kelvim Escobar, 7:05, FSN.

Okay, gotta break out of this funk, right, who better to do it than Jamie, right?

RF-L Ichiro
2B-R Lopez
3B-R Beltre
LF-L Ibanez
1B-R Sexson
DH-L Broussard
C-R Johjima
SS-R Betancourt


Bloomquist, since he without notice took over the CF job: .313/.450/.563 !! It’s September 2002 all over again!!!!! HOORAY FOR BLOOMQUIST!!!

ALL HAIL BOOM BOOM WILLIE!!!!!11!!!!!1 b00m b00m w1ll13 == teh winnah!!!

If Jones isn’t going to play, he should be in Tacoma taking the field. Bloomquist is not the future of the franchise in center field.

Given this slide, what more pretext does the team require to make a managerial change?

The fiery veteran leadership of Carl Everett

August 17, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 55 Comments 

7/26/2006 Designated DH Carl Everett for assignment, Carl leaves team
W @ Toronto
LWW @ Cleveland
WLW @ Baltimore
LLL vs Oakland
8/7/2006 Released Carl Everett
WWW vs Tampa Bay
LLLL @ Texas
LLL @ Oakland

8-12 since Carl left the team, a .400 team. With him, they were 48-52, .480

Carl Everett – the can’t-hit-at-all version – was such a great clubhouse leader, brought so much energy to the team that they were a dramatically better team with him than they are without him and getting much better offensive production from the DH.

And look at those teams they did win series against — Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Cleveland. None of them above .500. Over the whole stretch they faced sub-.500 competition ((Toronto 1 * .533 + Cleveland 3*.450 + ….)/total # of games).

Bring back Carl, folks. I don’t think anyone else has signed him yet, maybe we can make some kind of amends. Guarantee next year’s option. What’s it going to take?

10-28 versus the AL West

August 16, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on 10-28 versus the AL West 

Seven losses in a row, fifteen straight losses against AL West opponents. Or, no wins against the AL West in the second half so far.

Last win against an AL West team: June 11th, on the Road against the Angels to sweep a three-game series.

1-15 versus Oakland
2-8 versus Texas
7-5 versus Anaheim LA.

Game 120, Mariners at A’s

August 16, 2006 · Filed Under Game Threads · 234 Comments 

RHP Gil Meche (good Meche or bad Meche?) vs RHP Dan Haren. 7:05.

Win! For the love of Edgar, even the Devil Rays win a game against a divisional opponent once in a while! Win! Win! ARRRGHHHH!!!

O’Flaherty up, Dobbs back to Tacoma

August 16, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 56 Comments 

The M’s have made the first in their forthcoming series of roster moves. Eric O’Flaherty has had his contract purchased from Tacoma (thus putting him on the 40 man roster, using the last open spot) and Greg Dobbs has been optioned back to Tacoma to make room for him. The team will go with a 13 man pitching staff for tonight’s game. I’m not kidding. Tonight’s bench is going to be Rivera, Bloomquist, and Morse. It’s a trio of three of my least favorite players. They could only make it better if they brought back Rich Amaral.

Tomorrow, they’ll go back down to 12 pitchers, as Chris Snelling will be activated from the disabled list. He’s in Oakland with the team. He’s actually going to stick this time, it sounds like. A pitcher will be removed tomorrow – likely Pineiro (DFA), Soriano (DL), or Green (optioned to Tacoma).

Friday, Sexson returns to the club, which will send Mike Morse back to Tacoma.

O’Flaherty, by the way, is pretty good. He was drafted out of Walla Walla HS in the sixth round of the 2003 draft. They tried him as a starter in ’04 with poor results, but improved after a move to the bullpen and a repeat assignment in Wisconsin last year. He started the season in Inland Empire and worked his way up to Tacoma while sustaining lights out success at each level.

He throws 90-93 from the left side with good sink on his fastball. He has an above average slider and good command. The interesting thing about O’Flaherty is that he’s effective in wildly different ways against lefties and righties. Lefties can’t touch him (6 BB, 32 K), but when they do, he’s about half and half grounders or flyballs. He struggles to throw strikes to right-handed batters (16 BB, 41 K) but is a dominant groundball pitcher against them.

The best guess that I can take away from his numbers is that he’s attacking RHB’s with sinkers down in the zone, refusing to leave a pitch up, even if it costs him a walk. Lefties just can’t touch his breaking ball, and he eats them alive with it. When they do hit it, they might get it in the air, but the tradeoff is worth it.

He’s just 21 and has taken a big step forward this year. With his sinking fastball and effective out-pitch slider, he could be a very good left handed reliever. He’s pretty much major league ready, and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him pitch quite well the rest of the year.

Edit to add: Joel’s been removed from the rotation. Jake Woods will start Sunday. We’ll see if Joel goes away for good tomorrow.

Simmons: who will wear the AL Crown?

August 16, 2006 · Filed Under Mariners · 169 Comments 

Bill Simmons, who I know reads us at least occasionally which means he’s probably read some of the cracks on him, runs down the AL Teams by suckiness. The M’s are ahead of Tampa, Baltimore, and KC in their chances to win the World Series.

So what’s the scoop? I guess Putz is on steroids (nice). Big three reasons they suck:
– Felix
– Hargrove (with bonus Lowe/Soriano example!)
– Beltre and Sexson are killing them

The real gold in this column, though, comes later:

Second-strangest thing about the Tigers: Six years ago, they offered Juan Gonzalez a $150 million contract that would have destroyed them for the rest of the decade if he wasn’t dumb enough to turn it down. It’s almost like the entire franchise had a near-death experience. Anyway, they took advantage of that second life and now they’re headed for 100 wins. … Meanwhile, Juan Gone is playing in the Independent League along with my buddy JackO’s pal from home, and after JackO drove to Jersey to catch one of his friend’s games, they stopped at a Subway for dinner afterwards, and who walked in but Juan Gonzalez? That’s right, the two-time MVP Juan proceeded to sit down at a table and eat a Subway sandwich by himself. These are the things that happen when you turn down a $150 million contract. I feel like you need to know these things.

Thaaaaaaaaaaaat’s what I read Simmons for.

Baker’s columns on Moneyball

August 16, 2006 · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners · 16 Comments 

Here are some reader-submitted Baker snippets (thanks msb!)
“Rain Man rules Jays”, September 28, 2002. Kinda rags on Keith Law a little, also mentions the ill-advised purge of Blue Jays player development personell Ricciardi carried out.

It takes a journey deep inside a maze of SkyDome offices before one hears the telltale tapping sounds of the mysterious Blue Jays employee that curious colleagues have dubbed “Rain Man.”

The sole job of this first-year hire, nicknamed after the character in the Oscar-winning Dustin Hoffman movie, is to peck away at an ultra-fast computer laptop and conjure up statistics he can then spend the rest of the day arguing about with his boss. It helps when that boss is Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, a modern breed of baseball executive who shuns tradition in favour of business methods many of his peers consider off-the-wall.

That’s why the 43-year-old Ricciardi’s approach to the business of baseball doesn’t include any stopwatches, radar guns, or notepads stained with chewing tobacco. It’s instead about hiring Rain Man – a 29-year-old Harvard graduate whose only previous baseball experience came as a fan – to crunch a myriad of statistical percentages, probabilities, and cost factors into his computer and then giving him top-level input into the most serious player decisions the Jays have to make.

And anyone in the Jays’ organization who doesn’t play along with Ricciardi, Rain Man, and their statistical approach will quickly become as much a part of history as all that baseball tradition.

This is a little misleading. Ricciardi did many, many things that drove the sabermetric-oriented columnists batshit crazy.

“It’s time to turn the page on Moneyball theories,” 12/3/2004 argues that Moneyball’s full of crap

The biggest hole was the book downplaying the impact of Big Three starting pitchers Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito on the A’s success. Anyone who crunched the numbers from 2000 to 2003 would have seen a gradual decline in Oakland’s offensive production coinciding with a sharp rise in the Big Three’s fortunes.

In other words, a book could have just as easily been written about how the key to winning on a budget is to gather three potential Cy Young Award winners and use any remaining cash on assembling a mediocre offence. That’s not as sexy as the Moneyball premise, but arguably more accurate as Beane wrestles with what to do now that the Big Three are heading towards free-agent status.

Yeah, that was a disaster, wasn’t it? Essentially, this article argues that Moneyball was about offense, no closers, etc, and that pieces of it were disproven. I’d argue that Moneyball, for all its flaws, was about trying to be smarter than the competition and exploit market conditions to find ways to win, rather than the simplistic “OBP, no-name offense, draft college players who look horrible in jeans” it was boiled down to.

He returns to this in 2005 with “Chisox disprove the theory of ‘Moneyball'” 10/28/2005.

One additional passenger joined the Chicago White Sox on their private plane here and flew off into the sunset with manager Ozzie Guillen, slugger Jermaine Dye and the rest of baseball’s champions.

That would be the concept of Moneyball, a great read but lousy franchise blueprint that appears to have bid adieu to the baseball world after these 2005 playoffs. Sure, there will still be more teams rightfully employing statistical experts to assist front offices in player decisions, a trend that began well before author Michael Lewis penned his 2003 best seller.

But the idea that Billy Beane and his Oakland A’s had discovered the divine formula to success at the expense of traditionalists, scouts and supposed “dinosaurs” was laid to rest in a post-season that culminated Wednesday night with Chicago’s four-game dismantling of the Houston Astros to win the World Series.

Again, I’d argue that it’s not a magic formula, few people would argue that you can dispense with scouts (and those people are nuts) and so on. It’s a convenient straw man.

Then there’s the “Old is new in baseball again” 12/3/2005, which hails a counter-revolution:

Philadelphia’s entrusting of Gillick to secure a championship is being hotly debated by fans burning up online chat sites with their opinion. At a time when the role of statistics based analysis in baseball is being questioned like never before, it’s impossible to ignore Gillick’s stature as one of the sports grandest “old guard” members, the same way Epstein and DePodesta were hailed as the vanguard of the new-wave “Moneyball” movement.

I’m a little discouraged by these pieces.

It’s easy to make “statheads = online geeks” arguments. USSM gets tarred as being a bunch of statheads a lot, which always strikes me as laughable since Dave’s been as strong an advocate for “get as much data as possible, and understand that the value of any school varies” since before Moneyball became a controversy, and I’ve argued that there are no camps and the whole fight is an artificial construction of people with axes to grind (or agendas to pursue or books to sell) on one side or the other.

It’s easy to point a finger at statheads like they’re a homogenous group of AD&D players who’ve taken to rolling stats instead of dice, but that’s ridiculous, an easy crutch. It’s a bully’s approach, and I’m disappointed to see it appear in these pieces.

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