Game 17, Mariners at A’s

April 26, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 279 Comments 

Batista vs Kennedy, 12:35 pm.

Standard line-up for the M’s, even with a lefty on the hill.

For all the new readers who think I hate the Mariners.


Also, Derek’s at Powell’s on Hawthorne tonight at 7, so if you’re Portland, swing by and talk Cheaters Guide, Mariners baseball, and how I’m a horrible person. He’ll also be on KFXX 1080AM at around 6:00 to 6:20 for those of you in PDX, so feel free to tune in and listen to him talk before you go see him talk. It’s all Derek, all the time for Portlanders tonight.

Credit Stealing

April 26, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 192 Comments 

Predictably, the analysis of last night’s game is showering Jarrod Washburn with praise. Washburn himself called it “one of the best games I’ve ever pitched”. Mike Hargrove said he didn’t “know that he left a ball out over the plate all night long.” Geoff Baker talks about how this is the “prototype the Mariners envisioned for the mound staff.”

In this Mariner-centric analytical universe, the results on the field are dominated by the influences of the Mariners players. In this case, since Jarrod Washburn threw a complete game shutout, he’s getting credit for having pitched a great ballgame, with few hints that other people factored into the outcome as well.

In reality, Jarrod Washburn was a witness to the A’s shutting themselves out. They ran out a line-up that would have trouble scoring against a PCL pitching staff, then proceeded to hack their way into easy outs. There’s not a pitcher in the major leagues that would have struggled to shut down last night’s A’s team. Their offense is a mess.

However, that’s not how mainstream baseball analysis works. For whatever reason, it’s not good enough to note that the competition imploded upon themselves. Instead, we’re required to shower our guys in accolades, because clearly they were responsible.

Jarrod Washburn was throwing the same 86 MPH below average fastball he throws every game. He threw it over the plate, just like always, and the opposing hitters put it in play, just like always. This was the same stuff, and the same location, he has every time he takes the mound. Good hitters tee off on his below average fastball, while bad hitters get themselves out.

Unless the Mariners play the A’s every game the rest of the year, you won’t see that approach to pitching achieve those results again. The A’s shut themselves out last night. Jarrod Washburn just happened to be the scheduled pitcher.

Game 16, Mariners at A’s

April 25, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 237 Comments 

Washburn vs Blanton, 7:05 pm

Standard M’s line-up. A’s go Stewart-Ellis-Chavez-Piazza-Crosby-Johnson-Buck-Kendall-Putnam.

Blanton owned the Mariners last year, and pitched well against them earlier this season even while giving up four runs in six innings. The M’s offense is still pretty terrible.

On the other hand, the A’s have approximately four healthy players, and their offense is likely the worst in baseball. This game could last all of about two hours and end 1-0 without either pitcher breaking a sweat.

Events this week: Portland tomorrow, Elliot Bay Saturday

April 25, 2007 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · Comments Off on Events this week: Portland tomorrow, Elliot Bay Saturday 

A quick reminder, I’m doing an event in Portland at Powell’s at Hawthorne at 7 Thursday and Elliot Bay in lovely downtown Seattle at 3 on Saturday, ahead of the game. It’d be great to see my USSM people.

Mariner fandom checks boxes for anxiety, depression, fatigue, flu-like symptoms

April 25, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 86 Comments 

“The problem, Jim, is that people who are really suffering from a medical condition won’t receive the care they need because someone in this office is coming up with all this ridiculous stuff. Count Choculitis.”
“Sounds tough.”
“Why did you write that down, Jim? Is it because you know I love Count Chocula?”

Game postponed, to be made up in July. Whee. However… we got some Larry Stone! Writing… well, check this out: here’s the opening paragraph:

This is the wrong year for the Mariners to expect patience. They have already burned that bridge.

Yeaaaaaaaaaah. Came with a handy chart. “Vidro heating up” Vidro’s temperature is now ‘tepid’

However, Jamie Burke, official backup catcher of USS Mariner, is off to a nice start.

At the PI, Greg Johns pointed out the offense has sucked.

Fifteen games into this stop-and-start season, the Mariners have made no positive strides in their attempt to be more patient at the plate, work more bases on balls or increase their on-base percentage.

A year after ranking 27th among the 30 big league teams with an on-base percentage of .325, the Mariners again sit 27th in that critical statistic with an even-lower .305 mark.

When it comes to walks, the Mariners have dropped from 29th at 2.5 per game to dead last at 1.9.

It’s a fairly substantial blow for a leadoff piece in a notebook. Nice.

The Bad of the Good

April 24, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 191 Comments 

Mike Hargrove needed a win last night as he fights to quell the growing calls for his job. The team needed a win last night to keep the losing streak from becoming a repeat of the 2006 debacle. So, facing a bases loaded, one-out situation in a tie game, Brandon Morrow gave both Hargrove and his teammates a huge lift. His strikeouts of Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz took the game out of the Rangers hands. As he threw 97 MPH gas past one of the leagues hottest hitters, everyone in Seattle saw why the M’s decided to bring him north with the team out of spring training.

Those were the best pitches of Brandon Morrow’s young career. They may also have been the worst possible outcome for Brandon Morrow, Starting Pitcher. Last night’s performance was eerily similar to this game, which I have a vivid memory of. Derek and I were at this game, watching from his seats on the rail of the 300 level, when Rafael Soriano made his major league debut. Soriano then proceeded to blow away Red Sox hitters for three innings with little more than a 97 MPH four seam fastball. He looked unhittable coming out of the pen.

That was an image the Mariners never forgot – the unhittable reliever, Rafael Soriano. Despite significant success in the minors as a starting pitcher, Rafael Soriano was given 8 starts later that year, and after failing to repeat the dominance he showed in that initial relief appearance, he was then shifted back to the bullpen for the 2003 season. He never made another start for the Mariners.

Brandon Morrow made an impression last night. The people in the organization won’t soon forget the kid throwing 97 MPH fastballs right past Ian Kinsler. That impression isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Brandon Morrow’s success last night just bought himself a very short leash if he ever is moved back into the rotation in the future. The M’s have a strong bias towards shifting power arms to the bullpen and putting finesse pitchers in the rotation to begin with, and Morrow’s performance will simply enhance their belief that his stuff is going to be best suited to relief work.

Last night was a win for the Mariners in the short term, but it very well could have been a huge blow to Brandon Morrow’s career as a starting pitcher. If he never gets a real chance to pitch in the rotation again, you can point to last night as one of the primary reasons why.

Game 15, Mariners at Rangers

April 23, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 442 Comments 

Baek v Millwood. 5:05 our time, FSN.

(Happy Cha Seung Baek day? It’s just not the same.)

CF-L Lofton
LF-L Catalanotto
SS-R Young
1B-B Teixeira
DH-R Sosa
3B-L Blalock
2B-R Kinsler
RF-R Cruz
C-R Laird

Jamie Burke starts at catcher for Johjima.

Why I’m a Baker fan, one in a continuing series

April 23, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 9 Comments 

From his latest blog entry, I just wanted to point this out:

Spoke to Jeff Weaver at length. He doesn’t think he had a problem “putting guys away” in 0-2 counts. He kept insisting that he’s not a strikeout pitcher and that it’s his job to get ground balls — which he did at times, with some of them finding holes.

That may be. Trouble is, Weaver needs to get those grounders earlier in counts. If he keeps throwing 68 pitches through three innings, he’ll have trouble getting even five frames in. It wasn’t his strikeouts, it was the fact he kept getting balls fouled off or taken for balls before they were finally put in-play.

Got the word from the player, does some cogent thinking, presents a view that’s not precisely dissent but more… illumination? Pointed expansion?

His ground/fly ration is 1.44, which is up there with his career highs back in Detroit, but yeah — Weaver’s averaging 3.9 pitches per batter faced this year, which is not good.

I know, it’s not revelatory, he’s not quoting line drive percentages, but when was the last time, pre-Baker, we saw any kind of reasonable post-comment analysis like this in M’s coverage, where there’s that next step in writing it up?

Wheel of GM speculation

April 23, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 108 Comments 

So Geoff Baker at the Times wrote something really interesting to me a while ago: he said that the M’s, if they fired Bavasi mid-season, would be looking for an interim GM, someone currently serving as a GM but with previous GM experience. Presumably, a name.

First, if they do, I’ll be shocked: firing the GM mid-season, especially ahead of the draft, is rarely done, and with good reason.

But second — who would that be? Who would want that job, and who would give their assistant GM permission to leave mid-season to take the job?

We can pretty reasonably assure no one in the AL West would be so generous.

So… assistant GMs who’ve served as GMs. Who was Baker hinting at?

Jim Duquette, of the Orioles?
Gord Ash, of the Brewers? Possible bonus points for previous Blue Jays (and thus, presumably, Baker) connection.
Dan Evans is right here, but he’s “Special Assistant to the GM”

Update-clarificaton: Dylan wrote

Baker actually responded to a comment I made via E-mail concerning the possible interim GM’s. He told me that the interim candidates were from within and had previous GM experience, with one of the candidates even having previous managerial experience. Who in our front office fits the bill?

Thatttt’s even more interesting.

And see Dave’s comments, below: he thinks it’d be likely to be Pelekoudas.

We don’t even get a day off to recover

April 23, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 51 Comments 

In a few hours, Baek takes one for the team (unless that noted source of disinformation, the Mariner team site, is wrong again), facing Kevin Millwood in Texas. If he can somehow pull out a win, it would be the team’s first win since last Sunday, also against Texas.

There’s a break in the schedule ahead, as the M’s face Kansas City for three after getting out of Oakland Thursday. But if they come home from the road trip playing .300 ball, is that a slow enough start for changes to be made before that?

Baker’s hunch is that Hargrove gets canned if the streak goes to to ten. I don’t know, though — if they go 1-3 and then come home to get whacked around by the Royals, it’s unlikely Hargrove sees May.

But then, what do I know? I thought he was going to get fired after last season too.

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