Baker foreshadows, Spiezio sucks, secrets of pitching turn out to be obvious cliches

DMZ · February 25, 2007 at 2:21 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

From Baker’s Blog:

To celebrate a sunny, gorgeous Sunday morning, I’ll answer some of the questions forwarded to me.

Yeah. I got up this morning and rode around Bainbridge Island in the rain. It was cold and miserable. Geoff Baker’s in Arizona, where it’s sunny and gorgeous. That must be nice. Rrrr.

Anyway, I wanted to point out one of his answers:

Q: Why are you trying to scare players away from Seattle by pointing out what could go wrong for the Mariners in 2007?

A: We in the media do not get paid to be cheerleaders. And it is very rare, in any baseball season, that something will go completely right for a team. The way these Mariners have been built, they need plenty to go right. […] A year ago, I took all types of flack from Toronto fans online for predicting the Blue Jays would win 85-88 games. When they won 87, no one wrote in to apologize. It’s part of the job. See it that way.

Uhhhhh, is Geoff Baker aware that he works for the Seattle Times? Is there going to be some unpleasantness later in the season when the team wants him to flog some crazy financial story, or slag a player ahead of a trade?

Because that would be awesome.

Larry Stone looks at the Cardinals as they approach this year.

This Scott Spiezio comment is priceless.

“Just because we won last year doesn’t mean jack squat for this year,” said Spiezio. “I think in 2003, we just didn’t have a game plan as a team. A lot of guys did the shows and autograph signings and things like that. Before you know it, the season was upon you, and a lot of guys weren’t ready. We got off to a slow start, and then I think we started panicking.”

Because if anyone knows what’s it like to show up unprepared and get off to a slow start, folks, it’s Scott Spiezio. Way to provide that veteran leadership there.

There’s also this awesome quote:

“I’ll spend quite a bit of time with my ring,” Wainwright mused dreamily. “I’m preparing myself. Maybe I’ll make a little bed for it.”

Larry Stone rocks. I didn’t make a big deal out of this yesterday, but consider this: Jim Moore’s in the Grapefruit League, hassling former Mariners when he’s not hashing out Mitch Album-style pablum. Larry Stone’s writing informative, insightful pieces about Snelling, the Cardinals, each time explaining the history, why things are or aren’t important, finding humor without pointing to it and yelling “look how funny I am”… Larry Stone rocks. It’s why he’s USS Mariner endorsed.

Mike Hargrove and pitching coach Rafael Chaves have solved pitching. No, really.

All Seattle pitchers arrived at the Peoria Sports Complex Sunday morning to find a new blue T-shirt hanging in their lockers.

The front reads ”Pitch to win.”

The back reads: Relentless: Work fast, work ahead, execute.”

You may be thinking “why doesn’t he just give everyone a picture of a kitten hanging off a branch with ‘Tenacious’ written on it?”

Because this T-shirt is the summary of… well,

Hargrove had Chaves work over the winter clarifying the most important facets of pitching. He got it down to 10, all of which were printed on a laminated card headlined ”The Mariners’ 10 absolutes of pitching.” The cards also were given to the pitchers Sunday.

The top three absolutes wound up on the back of the T-shirt.

Uh huh. Here’s the thing. Assume execute means “throw the called pitch in the intended location.” If pitchers could consistently throw strikes to get ahead in the count and hit their spots, they’d already be great. If they can’t, putting it on a T-shirt doesn’t help them. You can’t walk up to Jeff Weaver and yell “throw faster!” and then collect a manager of the year aware because he turns into Roger Clemens.

Anyway, it’s great to know that over the winter, Hargrove had his pitching coach writing out ten bromides for him. I bet Chaves acted like it was going to be the greatest task ever, and involve him traveling across the world and consulting the greatest minds in biomechanics, pitching gurus and athletic trainers, so unfortunately he wouldn’t be available to do anything else, and Hargrove said “that’s fine, just as long as you come to spring training with the list” and Chaves went home, laughed until he cried, wrote ten pitching cliches on a pizza box, and then re-copied the box the day onto a sheet of paper before he flew out to camp.


40 Responses to “Baker foreshadows, Spiezio sucks, secrets of pitching turn out to be obvious cliches”

  1. katal on February 25th, 2007 2:29 pm

    I really am enjoying the Seattle Times sports section right now. Baker is a huge improvement over Finnigan, and like you wrote, Larry Stone rocks. This post was making me pretty happy.

    … then we got to Hargrove’s pitching solutions. I’m confident that being reminded to “execute” is going to lead to a rejuvinated Batista and Ramirez this year.

  2. Evan on February 25th, 2007 3:02 pm

    Or a lot of headhunting.

  3. Tek Jansen on February 25th, 2007 3:13 pm

    What the hell was the M’s pitching motto last year? “Work slow, work behind, collapse?”

  4. firova on February 25th, 2007 3:24 pm

    DMZ: You didn’t post the best part of the blog today. Here is the first fan comment on Baker’s Lopez issue:

    “I also disagree with your analyis of the most pressing M’s problem at the moment. You weren’t here last year to observe, but Lopez is the most expendable of the starters; why? because we have the best back-up in the AL in Willie Bloomquist. Although Jose is a better hitter, he is going to bat 8th. He did improve his fielding, but is still only average. Willie would be a golden glove winner if he played as a regular 2B. We have no satisfactory replacements for the other positions.”

    No comment; just providing a public service.

  5. DMZ on February 25th, 2007 3:27 pm

    Oh, I saw it – but msb posted it in the comments on a previous thread.

    I don’t understand why Bloomquist is regarded as the better fielder of the two, much less why he’s seen as that much better. There’s really no evidence or reason to think that.

  6. MickeyZ on February 25th, 2007 3:40 pm

    I hope they put “Pitch to Win” upside down so the pitcher can read it more easily when they glance downwards. It would sort of defeat the whole purpose if they came off the field to shower up and had to slap themselves in the forehead when they got the shirt off, going “I knew there was something I was supposed to be doing out there!”

  7. Jerry Pezzino on February 25th, 2007 3:43 pm

    Oh!! You wanted us to pitch GOOD?!? Well, then, no problem skip!

  8. Jerry Pezzino on February 25th, 2007 3:46 pm

    Burns: Strawberry! Hit a home run!
    Strawberry: Okay, skip!

    Burns: I told him to do that!

  9. Evan on February 25th, 2007 3:47 pm

    Won’t “Pitch to Win” just make them whine about run support?

  10. yofarbs on February 25th, 2007 3:57 pm

    No comment on Spezio’s denigration of Seattle?

    “It’s a pitcher’s park, that’s for sure. But part of the whole deal here [with St. Louis], we have the fans behind us, we have a front office that wants to win, and teammates that play hard and are team players. None of the above are over there.”

    Not a single finger pointed at himself.

  11. Ralph on February 25th, 2007 4:18 pm

    He is somewhat correct, both about the park and the FO. A “pitcher’s park” will always favor the team with the best pitching, and that’s rarely us. And a FO that “wants to win” would never sign him to a 3-year contract to be the everyday 3rd baseman, so he’s also correct about that.

  12. Ralph Malph on February 25th, 2007 4:24 pm

    The fact that Weaver ignored Spiezio does say something good about Weaver.

  13. DMZ on February 25th, 2007 4:34 pm

    He is somewhat correct, both about the park and the FO. A “pitcher’s park” will always favor the team with the best pitching, and that’s rarely us.

    Why would a pitcher-friendly park favor pitching heavy teams?

  14. Dash on February 25th, 2007 4:40 pm

    Why didn’t they just give the pitchers a t-shirt that reads “Strike hard, strike fast, no mercy, Sir!”

  15. jwz on February 25th, 2007 4:57 pm

    W. Edwards Deming’s 10th Principle for transforming business effectiveness: “Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets asking for zero defects or new levels of productivity.”

    That’s exactly what this thread says: telling someone to do something better is a worthless effort. You have to change something to get different results. I’m guessing Grover would fail in any management job, anywhere.

  16. FrayLo on February 25th, 2007 5:41 pm

    #1, re: the Seattle Times sports section

    I’d be a much happier subscriber if they got rid of talentless hack Steve Kelley.

    Who writes every article.

    Like this.

    Which is pretty damn.


    Especially when you realize.

    His articles provide no insight.

    And a trained monkey.

    Could do a better job.

    Than he could.

  17. Steve T on February 25th, 2007 5:46 pm

    Just don’t let Gil Meche get his hands on one of these shirts; he’d win the Cy Young.

  18. DC Mariner on February 25th, 2007 5:50 pm

    I don’t understand why Bloomquist is regarded as the better fielder of the two, much less why he’s seen as that much better.

    A friend of mine mused that when a player hangs around awhile, with no discernible offensive talent, he ends up getting labeled as a defensive specialist, no matter how bad his defense actually is. He pointed to Juan Castro as the Twins SS last year, and I’m sure Wee Willie would also apply.

  19. DMZ on February 25th, 2007 6:05 pm

    There’s an interesting thought – there’s a theory about that I’ve heard of for catchers, where their considered defensive prowess is inversely proportional to their offensive incompetence. I forget who came up with it, though. Shoot.

  20. coasty on February 25th, 2007 6:24 pm

    I don’t want to hijack the post but I have a question regarding the best way to get spring training tickets. Is it best to purchasse them in advance or are they available to walk up fans? Thanks

  21. DMZ on February 25th, 2007 6:45 pm

    They’re available for walk-up, but depending on the game and venue, you might not want to rely on that, especially if you want decent seats.

  22. coasty on February 25th, 2007 7:01 pm

    So here is my dilemma… I need four tics for the game on the 24th vs the angels at the peoria complex. Best available through ticketmaster is four seats in section 219. What should I do?

  23. DMZ on February 25th, 2007 7:05 pm

    Buy now, probably. That’s not as bad as a Cubs weekend game, but still.

  24. Joshua Buergel on February 25th, 2007 7:18 pm

    Sherri Nichols coined the Nichols Law of Catcher Defense.

  25. DMZ on February 25th, 2007 7:26 pm


    “a catcher’s defensive reputation moves in inverse proportion to the quality of his hitting”

    Lasting wisdom.

  26. Mat on February 25th, 2007 7:28 pm

    There’s an interesting thought – there’s a theory about that I’ve heard of for catchers, where their considered defensive prowess is inversely proportional to their offensive incompetence. I forget who came up with it, though. Shoot.

    Nichols’ Law of Catcher Defense. Despite playing a different position, it certainly applies to Juan Castro. How he passes as a plus defender in some circles is beyond me.

  27. Mat on February 25th, 2007 7:29 pm

    And that’s what I get for taking so long to respond…

  28. msb on February 25th, 2007 10:08 pm

    You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends.

  29. msb on February 25th, 2007 10:43 pm

    Drayer on Betancourt’s family

  30. Joe on February 25th, 2007 11:24 pm

    That Drayer piece is great. It’s fantastic Yuni got his family out of Cuba (and it’s good he managed it last year, before things got unsettled at the top). I can’t imagine they’re enjoying the winter weather here in Seattle, however. Still, having them safe and nearby can’t hurt Betancourt’s performance on the field (separating that out from having a full year’s MLB experience will he a fools errand, of course). I’m pulling for him to lead the team in triples this year.

    Oh, and there’s this note from Drayer:

    Academy Awards tonight. Hargrove’s pick for best picture “Letters from Iwo Jima”…

    At least we now know Hargrove’s judgment and predictive skills are consistent across all aspects of his life. Picking best picture, picking best pitcher to get a ground ball out…

  31. msb on February 25th, 2007 11:43 pm

    IIRC, Hargrove has said the only nominated film he’d seen was Letters from Iwo Jima, which would make it a logical pick for what he thought was the best picture….

  32. vj on February 26th, 2007 2:37 am

    re 30: while I haven’t seen it yet, I bet that Letters from Iwo Jima is actually quite good. So’s “The Departed”, though. And Scorses was overdue.
    Seriously, bashing Hargrove for his taste in movies is pointless.

  33. CSG on February 26th, 2007 3:26 am

    ummm…so high. conversation point: what team, if any, would put blooomie in their starting lineup?

  34. msb on February 26th, 2007 7:47 am

    Larry Stone sez “Pineiro open to becoming a closer for Boston”

  35. idahowriter on February 26th, 2007 8:07 am

    “In related news, a Mariners team source reports that manager Mike Hargrove also gave a t-shirt to Richie Sexson that reads ‘Hit 40 Home Runs. Don’t Strike Out.’ When asked to comment, Ichiro mused, ‘The problem is not with the t-shirt. It goes much deeper. The problem is with the dumbass words ON the t-shirt.'”

  36. louder on February 26th, 2007 9:07 am

    T Shirts. To help the pitching staff. Great. World Series here we come! Somebody wake up Hargrove and tell him this isn’t High School. This team has a chance to be good, but with Grover, forget it. It needs a young, aggressive guy to light a fire under the players, not a sleep walker.

  37. frenchonion on February 26th, 2007 9:48 am

    How about a T-shirt that just says: “Wolverines!”

    Now *that* would be inspirational! The guys could do the little fist pump and everything.

  38. Ralph Malph on February 26th, 2007 9:49 am

    Hey, I’m open to becoming the closer for Boston too. Pineiro’s chances of doing it effectively are only slightly greater than my own.

  39. David A. on February 26th, 2007 7:40 pm

    Re: The Pitchers… Jim Bouton strikes again. Among the many times I laughed out loud while reading Ball Four was at his description of the useless scouting reports given to the pitchers: “He can’t hit the pitch low and away,” again and again. Bouton then points out that if they could all throw that pitch consistently, no one could hit them.

    Dammit, Jarrod! Hit the black at the knees EVERY TIME!

  40. vj on February 27th, 2007 1:55 am

    re 39: I thought the line was “smoke ’em inside”

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