The positive

DMZ · September 30, 2006 at 11:24 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I wanted to talk a little about what I’m happy about as a fan. No caveats – no “ignoring his contract…” – just what I see as the strong positives in the team this year.


Adrian Beltre: His .266/.327/.456 line was the best non-2004 year of his career (unless you want 2000, when he played many fewer games). On the road, he hit .283/.343/.462. This is the best offensive season from a 3B we’ve seen since Russ Davis’ monster 1997, and Beltre’s way better on defense.

Yuniesky Betancourt: watching his defense regularly, we get a little too used to it, but comparing him day to day to the other visiting shortstops, he’s as good any day as anyone else I saw play the Mariners this year.

Felix Hernandez: I wonder if having a non-Cy Young season might not be the best thing in the long term, offering some important lessons as he took his lumps. When Felix was using his breaking and off-speed pitches to get outs, he showed us what could be, and what we should look forward to.

Raul Ibanez: a great year for Raul. He didn’t wear out playing left, as I’d feared, but instead put up an excellent offensive season.

Kenji Johjima: transitions from Japanese baseball are always dicey, but Johjima came through. A .291/.333/.453 line from a catcher is a solid offensive contribution, plus he played solid defense and provided stability at a position that has just killed the team in recent years.

Adam Jones: less than a year after his conversion, he was flying around centerfield. His natural ability showed through the roughness. We saw some of his offensive potential, too, in the sheer jolt he put into balls when he made good contact. Jones should have a fine career.

Jose Lopez: in an up and down year we saw his offensive talent and over the course of the year he took a big step forward to being an important piece of the team for years to come.

JJ Putz: he really came forward this year, stepping up from being a hard-throwing reliever into a guy who could come in and get anyone out. Impressive outing after impressive outing.

Chris Snelling: As the High Epopt of the Cult of Doyle, what do you think I’m going to say? He came up, he hit the snot out of the ball. Even when he’s having his bad at-bats, he sees more pitches than most everyone else on the team, and displays a great eye for pitch location. And when he’s on, making contact consistently and swinging at the right pitches, he’s the best hitter on the team. Hopefully as he gets his swings and playing time in, we’ll see him have better and better at-bats, and be a contributor to the team. And his defense! And I told people he had an arm, but they’re still surprised!

Rafael Soriano: happy to see him back, and I admit I’m glad I wasn’t around to see him get drilled in the head. Soriano pitched through some minor injuries and was still the second-most effective reliever on the staff. I’m looking forward to seeing if he cracks the rotation next year.

Ichiro: I love watching Ichiro play. His defense in center is stellar. There’s no other hitter like him in baseball.


Bullpen: teams don’t have to spend a ton of money assembling their bullpens if they’re smart about it, and the M’s did a great job of this. They filled their roster with guys from the organization, finding roles they could pitch well in, and are in a position to have a cheap, effective bullpen for years to come, even if they end up trading some of their surplus away.

Farm system: the system’s in much better shape than it was, and it’s getting better. The drafts are better, they’re not punting picks for free agents, and the player development organization is doing a good job of finding minor leaguers who can help – this year it was in the bullpen.

That’s what occurs to me right off the bat. Are there positives I’m missing?


32 Responses to “The positive”

  1. David J. Corcoran I on September 30th, 2006 11:46 pm

    Mark Lowe.

  2. David J. Corcoran I on September 30th, 2006 11:47 pm

    Heck, you could even make an argument for Feierabend as looking like a solid piece in the future.

  3. dnc on September 30th, 2006 11:56 pm

    Richie Sexson’s second half.

  4. Mr. Egaas on October 1st, 2006 1:08 am

    Honorable mention to George Sherill?

  5. Mr. Egaas on October 1st, 2006 1:22 am

    Sherrill. My bad. Why can I never get that right? Got it now.

    Here’s my case: LOOGY nation. He has his spot in the pen for years to come and will be cheap to boot for quite a while. With Grover in place for next year (if he makes it that far, ha, ha…) he’s go-to guy to nullify lefties.

    29:9 K to BB ratio, .143 BAA vs. lefties. Stud.

    There’s always the question whether a minor leaguer can make that jump and be what he has been in the minors. With a year under his belt, Sherrill has shown there’s a new sheriff in town, get’r’done style.

  6. Evan on October 1st, 2006 1:25 am

    Definitely Mark Lowe.

    And maybe Carl Everett taught the team a lesson about veterans.

  7. _MFAN_ on October 1st, 2006 1:31 am

    I really can’t believe the season ends tomorrow (or later today). It seems like yesterday I was getting ready for Moyer vs. Colon.

    I would put Moyer as another positive. He had another solid season before being traded.

  8. Josh on October 1st, 2006 2:36 am

    Agreed, Lowe. Even though his time up here was somewhat brief, it was damn impressive and one of the more sparkling silver linings this year. If they decide to keep in him the ‘pen for the foreseeable future, he shall still be mighty helpful and a lot of fun to watch. In fact, I rather like it and may prefer it that way.

    This was a great piece, thanks Derek.

  9. noel on October 1st, 2006 2:52 am

    The organization making a conscious decision to not over-use Felix is a major positive… let’s hope the new philosophy is applied to all their young pitchers in future.

  10. David* on October 1st, 2006 3:20 am

    Addition by subtraction:

    The end of Joel and Gil.

  11. BelaXadux on October 1st, 2006 3:31 am

    Moyer is gone so it’s easy to forget he had a pretty solid season—and a fantastic season for a player of his years.

    I would slightly rephrase #10, David* in saying that the org may have finally realized that the starting pitchers they’d been using to fill out the rotation just haven’t been good enough, and that actual change rather than tough love and kisses is needed. Several guys, maybe good and surely bad, have gotten starts since the team fell out of it, and that change in _approach_ is all to the good here. None of that “We’re proud that five guys (three of them not very good or at all consistent) started all year long” stuff, finally. I’m not going to say anything negative about the prospects for improvement here, but simply agree that signs of impending sea change for the rotation are good, and the org looks ready to put the oars in the locks and start pulling in the right direction.

  12. BelaXadux on October 1st, 2006 3:35 am

    Also, I’m not sure what to make of Broussard, even less that the org will keep him rather than package him, but he’s a useful bat is sensibly deployed—I said I’m not going to accentuate the negative possibilities here—and much better than any other available option. He was able to sustain rallies at times, and may keep the FO from a panic-acquisition this winter, which by itself would be good; a security blanket for bedwetters, say.

  13. Typical Idiot Fan on October 1st, 2006 4:39 am

    More positives:

    Smarter trading. Getting something for nothing in dealing Guardado for Travis “No I’m not related to Lauren” Chick, Moyer for (The Law Offices of) Baldwin & Barb, and using Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin Soo Choo (and a very useless Shawn Nottingham) to get two players who most certainly could have helped us surge forth this year and beyond towards contention without breaking the bank or the farm. I think we have to look at Bill’s track record this season of trades as a huge positive that he does know what he’s doing, even if his free agent ideas don’t always pan out.

    A pretty good draft and international signing season has given us some very interesting talent in the lower farm system. If just a few of those guys pan out, we could be looking at a very bright future of winning seasons.

    Dare I say it? Good clubhouse chemistry and comradery? Whether it be Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Felix Hernandez forming Double-Play-Three-Stooges-Team, or Ichiro and Jojima finding a unique vein of being Japanese people outside of Japan, or Adrian Beltre blaring some really bad Latin music after the game, there just seems to be a good vibe amongst the crew.

    The AL West not looking as strong as anybody thought. Texas’ attempts at fixing the starting pitching still ended up having mixed results, and continues to mask the fact that the Rangers vaunted offense is more a product of it’s bandbox ballpark then superior talent. Oakland still manages to do the unpossible, but this team had to rely on another late season surge in order to make the postseason; coupled to that a feasting on the Mariners and the A’s don’t inspire a lot of fear in me. The Angels get older and have, seemingly, no patience for their younger superior talents; if they don’t perform immediately (Weaver, Napoli) they’re demoted and disgraced (McPherson, Kendrick, Morales, Kotchman). Until they fix this bad habit and give their younger guys a chance over meh players like Adam Kennedy, Macir Izturis, Chone Figgins, and Darrin Erstad and aging albatrosses like Garret Anderson, Orlando Cabrera, and (the admittedly still effective considering) Tim Salmon, they’re not going to get much better then they are.

    That’s about how I see things.

  14. Typical Idiot Fan on October 1st, 2006 5:43 am

    Switching gears:

    “We’ve got a lot of things to do in the offseason,” Lincoln said. “I didn’t say this in the letter, but if you are confident in the horses you are riding and you’re in the middle of the stream, you don’t switch horses. Cutting through everything else, having confidence in Bill and Mike is the basis of this decision. There are a lot of things that have already taken place, and I think there are opportunities for ’07 and my expectations are very high.”

    I’m sure this has already been mentioned, but this is a positive for me. In that I was pretty “positive” that the team’s reason for putting the nonsense that Hargrove would be retained for 2007 was the old “don’t change horses in mid stream” excuse. I’d link to my post where I mention this but.. meh. Who really cares?

    We’re focusing on positives here!

  15. Devon on October 1st, 2006 5:48 am

    Regarding the Doyle commentary… Isn’t anyone concerned by his altered approach in 2006?

    2006 AB: 95 BB: 12 K: 38!!
    pre-2006 AB: 56 BB: 7 K: 6

    Granted… We’re in small sample territory, but 1 K every 2.5 AB is alarming! And… We know he didn’t hit during his rehab stint in Tacoma this year, either:

    Tacoma (AAA)
    2006 AB: 241 BB: 31 K: 60 OPS: .667
    2005 AB: 246 BB: 36 K: 43 OPS: 1.005

    Cause for concern, or is he still recuperating from his latest injury?

  16. Typical Idiot Fan on October 1st, 2006 6:22 am

    Devon, this is a happy place where we discuss positives! POSITIVES!

    More then likely a “concerns” or “question marks” or “negatives” post will be along shortly.

  17. terry on October 1st, 2006 6:43 am

    his altered approach to the plate?

    I think it’s a huge positive….he could approach the plate without needing crutches!

  18. The Ancient Mariner on October 1st, 2006 7:53 am

    Yeah — Doyle stayed healthy, that’s the biggest positive, along with the fact that he snapped out of whatever was causing his slump after he hit (and I do mean hit) the majors.

    Let me second that Lowe deserves his own nod, not just as part of the bullpen, and argue that Beltre deserves a little more love; it’s not just that he put up the second-best full-year numbers of his career despite a park that eats him alive, it’s that he came back from a nightmare start to do it. Dude was arguably the worst player in baseball in April (granted there were other contenders), but he didn’t let it sink him — instead, he put together a fine year despite that.

  19. terry on October 1st, 2006 8:13 am

    #18: there were other contenders on his OWN team….

  20. Dave on October 1st, 2006 8:45 am

    More good news:

    “The most important thing I learned is that, at the major-league level, you can’t fall behind hitters,” Hernandez said. “You have to throw strikes all the time, and you really have to mix your pitches up.”

    Amen, Felix, Amen.

  21. msb on October 1st, 2006 8:55 am

    Finny retired…..

  22. Mr. Egaas on October 1st, 2006 10:17 am

    Another positive is today is the last time we have to gauge our eyes out at the screeching tones of Ron Fairly.

  23. joser on October 1st, 2006 10:36 am

    On the contrary, there’s one less voice to dilute the far more eye-gouging “insights” of Hendu….

  24. joser on October 1st, 2006 10:41 am

    More positives: Safeco is still not the Kingdome, and too-deep fence in left field under a blue summer sky is still better than falling tiles from a permanent concrete overcast. The M’s are still in the AL West, not the AL East, and only have to climb over three other teams (none of them the Yankees) to win the division — even if they end up playing each of them way too frequently. The triple-A team is still in Tacoma, so we can still easily go see rising stars in the system whenever we want.

  25. Steve T on October 1st, 2006 11:31 am

    The best thing that happened to the Mariners this year was Ichiro moving to center. In right, he’s good, but not truly in the elite tier; in center, he’s MVP quality every year. And it’s doubly good, because it seriously upgrades TWO positions: we get the best CF in the league, and we open up RF to some power. Whether that’s Snelling in the long run or not, it’s great for this team. Should have happened three years ago.

  26. The Ancient Mariner on October 1st, 2006 11:55 am

    “Way too frequently”? Nah. Here’s a positive: all we have to do is figure out how to beat the A’s to make the playoffs. 🙂

  27. DMZ on October 1st, 2006 12:26 pm

    Positive! Positive!

  28. Typical Idiot Fan on October 1st, 2006 1:45 pm

    joser!: On the contrary, there’s one less voice to dilute the far more eye-gouging “insights” of Hendu….

    GTFO! HAPPY PLACE! Positives!

    The Ancient Mariner: “Way too frequently”? Nah. Here’s a positive: all we have to do is figure out how to beat the A’s to make the playoffs. 🙂

    I SAID POS… well okay. You’re saying we’re a good team who woulda made the playoffs if we play the A’s better. That’s positive! Sorta. I will allow it!

  29. ColanderOfDeath on October 1st, 2006 1:46 pm

    Putz’ control:
    101 Ks
    13 BBs (1 Intentional)
    7.77 K:BB

    Did any player in baseball with a decent # of innnings have a higher K:BB ratio?

    It was great to see Sexson (1.005 OPS) and Beltre (.897 OPS) go from horrid to torrid after the all-star break.

  30. Spencer B on October 1st, 2006 6:11 pm

    How about clearing more bad contracts off the books? Speizio, Guardado, Pineiro.. I feel like I’m forgetting somebody.

  31. joser on October 1st, 2006 11:37 pm

    Speizio, Guardado, Pineiro.. I feel like I’m forgetting somebody.Dunno, but whoever it is their name must end in -o…

  32. joser on October 2nd, 2006 2:02 am

    Did any player in baseball with a decent # of innnings have a higher K:BB ratio?

    I’d like to introduce you to Ben Sheets:
    106 IP, 116 K, 11 BB
    10.55 K/BB

    But he’s the only one (and Putz only needed 77.1 IP to get those 101Ks).
    Next closest is Curt Schilling:
    204 IP, 183 K, 28 BB
    6.54 K/BB

    The rest of the “top 11” is pretty much a who’s who of pitching:
    Cla Meredith 50.2 IP 37 K 6 BB 6.16 K/BB
    Joe Nathan 67.1 IP 93 K 16 BB 5.81 K/BB
    Jonathan Papelbon 68.1 IP 75 K 13 BB 5.76 K/BB
    Justin Duchscherer 55.2 IP 51 K 9 BB 5.66 K/BB
    Huston Street 69.2 IP 67 K 12 BB 5.58 K/BB
    Johan Santana 233.2 IP 245 K 47 BB 5.21 K/BB
    Keith Foulke 49.2 IP 36 K 7 BB 5.14 K/BB
    Mariano Rivera 75.0 IP 55 K 11 BB 5.00 K/BB
    (I’m pretty sure that’s not going to format correctly, sorry about that)

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