More projection goodness (badness)

March 31, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 19 Comments 

Over at the Replacement Level Yankees blog, check out this post which projects 2007 standings using Diamond Mind Baseball and a variety of projection methods for player performances. Short story: M’s look bad and win the AL West ~6% of the time. As always, please don’t take exercises like this too seriously.

Cheater’s Guide reviewed in the New York Times

March 31, 2007 · Filed Under Book reviews · 31 Comments 

Jim Bouton, of Ball Four fame, reviews the Cheater’s Guide to Baseball. It’s kind of a good review, and it’s also not really a review of the book, which he wants to get off his lawn. The whole thing’s a little baffling.

Like in the Billy Martin chapter, because Martin said that he’d play Hitler and Hirohito, I put together a baseball team of the worst people in history.

Why he has Mussolini on the mound, as opposed to Genghis Khan (SS), say, or Pol Pot (C), may be a good subject for blogging, another hobby of Zumsteg’s.

Zing! Blogging = not serious. Also, I did discuss how I assigned player/positions later, but whatever. Or the betting games, or… anyway.

Not only do you get the complete history of — and instructions for — bat corking, you get a step-by-step recipe for how to tamper with an aluminum bat: (1) Buy an industrial aluminum forge plant. (2) Hire new workers, as needed. (3) Retool plant. (4) Take existing bat to plant. (5) Melt bat down. Etc.

By this time you realize the book is less an examination of cheating and more a glimpse into the mind of a particular kind of sports addict. The kind who, when he’s not at a ballgame with his buddies, sits in front of the TV with the remote, checking the scores to see how much money he’s won or lost.

And I’m not sure why it’s so personal – I’ve met Bouton briefly at one of his Seattle book events, and he seemed like a good guy. I don’t remember ever slashing his tires.

In any event, if you’ve read it, you can speak as well about the difference between book-as-reviewed and the actual book as I can.

It’s really a huge thing to get reviewed – it means that the editors saw the book as good and interesting enough to assign, even if it didn’t get to someone who would have got the jokes, or seen past the jokes to the interesting serious content.

Late game threadation

March 31, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 68 Comments 

Aaaaaaaand sometimes they slip between authors, and we don’t notice until mid-game. Sorry.

Jeff Weaver goodness.

M’s in Vegas

March 30, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 128 Comments 

Against the Cubbies! 7:15! On broadcast TV! I’m excited!

I’d also like to saw that so far, I find Dave Sims to be so far superior to the former alternate television broadcaster that it’s ridiculous. You can try and talk me out of it, tell me that he’ll wear on me eventually, but I’m loving it so far.

USSM redhot book giveaway!

March 30, 2007 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting, Site information · 78 Comments 

Hey, I’ve got a paperback copy of “Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong” edited by friend-of-the-site Jonah Keri, with a new afterward. Jonah did an awesome job with the book, it’s chock-full of good stuff, and it’s free. I’ll spring for postage and everything. Drop a comment here indicating your interest in this free book.

One rule: you must have registered before today. I will check. If I pick you and you registered today, I’ll pick again.

You may wonder “Derek, it seems like if I could somehow show that I purchased or gave a nice review of your book, the excellent Cheaters Guide to Baseball, that my chances of winning this seemingly unrelated giveaway would dramatically increase.”

And I would say “With that kind of mindset, I know just the book for you: a Cheaters Guide to Baseball. But you’re welcome to try to influence the outcome that way.”

Strengths and Weaknesses

March 30, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 76 Comments 

Opening day is two days away. Huzzah! The M’s start at 0-0, just like everyone else. So, in that vein, lets take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the 2007 Seattle Mariners.


Felix Hernandez

The best arm of any starting pitcher in baseball along with an apparent dedication to hard work and improving his game. If there’s one thing to love about the M’s, its Felix. Not only is he a competitive advantage over every team in the division, he’s also 20 years old. All hail the king.

Infield Defense

Adrian Beltre and Yuniesky Betancourt are two of the best defenders at their positions in baseball. Jose Lopez is good enough to man second base. Richie Sexson’s glove is a problem, but if you’re going to have a bad defensive infielder, first base is the place to have one. This well above average collection of groundball vacuums should benefit the pitching staff, as well as those who just love to watch the leather being thrown around.

Line-Up Depth

The opening day line-up is going to have Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt batting 8th and 9th in some order. Both are projected to be nearly league average hitters, and they’re filling out the last two spots in the batting order. What the offense lacks in thump, it attempts to make up for in balance.

J.J. Putz

If his arm gets loose and he can unleash 98 MPH fastballs and 90 MPH splitters on the AL, he’s as good as it gets in the 9th inning. Closers are generally overrated, but when you have a relief ace as good as Putz, the hype is justified by the wins he adds.



The Mariners aren’t a team that can survive multiple injuries. There’s not a capable major league replacement in the organization for Johjima, Beltre, Betancourt, or Lopez. If any of those four get hurt, the downgrade is going to be significant and swift. The same goes for Felix and Putz, the two good power arms on the team, who would be replaced by the likes of Cha Baek or Jake Woods on the roster. If long term injuries strike any of these key players, the season’s over.

Middle Of The Order

You’d be hard pressed to find a worse 3-4-5 combination in baseball than Vidro-Ibanez-Sexson. Vidro’s a contact gap hitter who can’t run, while Ibanez is trying to sustain his late career surge at age 35, and Sexson’s hoping to overpower the decline that is chasing him around the field everyday. All three are flawed players with little upside and would be role players on any other team with hopes of contending. On the Mariners, they’re the run producers.

Non-Putz bulllpen

Last year, the Mariners had one of the very best bullpens in baseball. After giving away Rafael Soriano, throwing money away to try and rehab Chris Reitsma, and counting on Julio Mateo to serve a prominant role in the bullpen, the team is going to have to sweat its way through every 7th and 8th inning lead. The team’s best chance for bullpen success lands on the very inexperienced shoulders of Brandon Morrow. For the 2007 team’s sake, he better be ready.


In general, the field manager doesn’t make as much difference as fans believe. Mike Hargrove is not “in general”, however, and he’s easily one of the least qualified people to be running a team currently residing in a major league dugout. His teams have consistently underperformed under his watch, and his strategic decisions aren’t just poor, in many cases, they are indefensible. The front office hasn’t inspired much confidence in their roster construction, either, and the leadership has clearly taken a win-now approach that could jeopardize future talent in an effort to preserve jobs.

Overall Assessment

This is a flawed team that needs a lot of things to go right to contend for the division. There is talent all over the field, but every player comes with a substantial question about his ability to perform. The only sure thing on the roster is that Willie Bloomquist can’t hit. Everything else is questionable. Going into the season with so many variables leads to a lot of possible paths, from division champ all the way down to worst team in baseball. There’s no scenario you can imagine that isn’t at least somewhat plausible with this roster.

This team is, essentially, baseball’s version of the rusty trunk thats been stored in your grandparents home for 80 years. There’s a real chance that you could find several gold bars, one of the first photographs in american history, and the original copy of the declaration of independence. Or you might find a pair of false teeth, a hoard of rats, and a shirt containing remnants of the bubonic plague.

You won’t know until you open the trunk. We’ll find out on Monday.

Spring training madness!

March 29, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 131 Comments 

Setting aside for a second that Hargrove and the front office are doing things like putting old, never-hit infielders on the active roster for no reason, there’s going to be baseball on! Woooo! The M’s again flout the rule that they’re supposed to take at least two recognizable regular players and one guy on top of that they can point to and claim is a recognizable regular player, putting only Vidro in the early game.

Mariners at San Francisco! 7:15! FSN! In San Francisco!!! Fun note: the Giants are charging $90/seat for premium field club seats to this game. Really. And they’re available.

I was so excited I accidentally queued this up to run yesterday at this time, to briefly hilarious results.

For your game thread discussion: if the M’s spend $110 million and only (as seems to be the consensus prediction) win 73 games, what other teams since the start of free agency will have spent so much so poorly? And I’m not looking for cheap teams who sucked – I’m trying to think of massive spending done to so little effect. Right off the bat, a couple candidates: the 1999-2000 Cubs and Orioles teams.

Ow, ow, ow

March 29, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 70 Comments 

Nate Silver’s got the PECOTA projected standings for the AL West up, and… they sting. The raw numbers: Angels at 86 wins, Oakland and Texas at 80, Seattle at 73.


Oh, and if his playoff predictions pan out, Bob Melvin will win a World Series this year.

The universe works on a math equation

March 29, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 55 Comments 

that never even ever really even ends in the end.

Baker @ the Times: “Ordonez on verge of making Mariners

“Saint” Rey Ordonez, age 36
2002: 460 AB, .254/.292/.324
2003: 117 AB, .316/.328/.487
2004: 61 AB, .164/.190/.262
2005: n/a
2006: n/a

Career: .246/.289/310

Willie Bloomquist, age 29
Career: /257/.312/.329

PI: “Burke appears set as M’s backup catcher

Jamie Burke, 2006 in Oklahoma: 370 AB, .278/.323/.422
Rene Rivera, 2006 in Seattle: 99 AB, .152/.184/.253

PI notebook on cuts.
Cut: C Rivera, RHP Green, LHP O’Flaherty, RHP Small, OF Reed
Players left in camp: 33
Cuts remaining: 8

Felix: 100% ready

Adios to One Stiff, Bienvenidos to Another.

March 28, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 189 Comments 

According to Geoff Baker, we’ve seen the last of Rene Rivera. Hallellujah.

Jamie Burke has made the team as the backup catcher. We’ll see how long he sticks, but anyone not named Rene Rivera is an upgrade.

Also, Jeremy Reed was optioned to Tacoma. The team apparently feels fine with Broussard as the backup corner outfielder and Bloomquist as the backup center fielder, and there’s a legitimate chance that Hargrove The Great carries 13 pitchers on opening day that frees up room for the (dis)organization to carry Rey Ordonez. No, I’m not kidding.

110 million dollar payroll, and the best these clowns can do is Rey Ordonez, Jamie Burke, and rushing Brandon Morrow to the show.

Fire them all. Antonetti in ’08.

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