Game 72, Reds at Mariners

June 24, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 291 Comments 

Arroyo vs Batista, 1:05 pm.

At this point, I’ll be driving back from Atlanta. Still nothing pithy to say.

Game 71, Reds at Mariners

June 23, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 117 Comments 

Lohse vs Washburn, 7:05 pm.

I’m in Atlanta and I wrote this intro Friday night, so I have nothing pithy to say.

I’m at Redmond Town Center tomorrow morning

June 22, 2007 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · Comments Off on I’m at Redmond Town Center tomorrow morning 

I’ll be let out of Clarion briefly tomorrow to attend a 11:00 am summer book event at Borders. Link here.

Game 70, Reds at Mariners

June 22, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 208 Comments 

Harang vs Feierabend, 7:05 pm.

For a lot of people, tonight is a big deal. Ken Griffey Jr returns to Seattle for the first time since he was traded to the Reds, and the M’s are rolling out the welcome mat. They’re having a welcome back pre-game ceremony, had him autograph 1,000 commemorative “Griffey returns” baseballs, and have been pushing this series as a must see event all year. It’s Junior coming back to where it all started and the city is basking in nostalgia.

And I know it’s weird, but I don’t care. I tried to, but I don’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fond memories of Griffey as a Mariner. I am the target audience for this kind of thing. I was nine years old when Jr made his major league debut, and he was the star of the show as I learned how to fall in love with baseball. I had the Upper Deck rookie card and the candy bar. I loved the home run swing, the leaping catches, the backward hat, and everything that went along with The Kid. When he broke his wrist catching the Kevin Bass flyball in 1995, I remember a hopeful season being flushed down the drain. And I remember where I was when he took John Wetteland yard for a game winning home run three months later to ignite the amazing comeback. I jumped up and down when he raced around the bases to beat the Yankees just like everyone else, and I cried when the Indians ended the dream a week later.

Junior was a huge part of my childhood. But he was never the player that I admired. For me, that guy was Alvin Davis, then Dave Valle, Erik Hanson, Bill Swift, Dave Fleming, Brian Turang, Darren Bragg, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Mike Jackson, Mike Cameron, Chris Snelling, and now, Felix.

Those were the guys that I loved, that I adopted as my own. Why? I don’t know, honestly. I can explain some of them, but others, they’re inexplicable. And it’s okay, because they’re emotional attachments, which aren’t the most rational thing on earth to begin with.

But Junior never cracked that group. He was always the great player, the franchise, the most talented player I’d ever seen. But I rooted for him because he was a Mariner and admired him for his abilities, but the deep emotional attachment that others are remembering? I don’t have that with Junior. I never did.

I don’t begrudge anyone their nostalgia, and for a lot of people, I’m sure tonight is going to be a lifelong memory. That’s awesome. I hope you have a great time.

When they do a welcome back for Brian Turang, call me. I’ll be fired up for that.

Sullivan on Felix

June 22, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 61 Comments 

I posted a lot of my comments in last night’s game thread and was planning on just throwing up a quick recap of why last night’s performance by Felix didn’t impress me much, but Jeff Sullivan did me one better. Just go read that instead. He nails it.

Game 69, Pirates at Mariners

June 21, 2007 · Filed Under Game Threads · 274 Comments 

Hernandez vs Van BenSchoten, 7:05 pm.

(Doyle Update: Mike Curto interviews the beloved Aussie outfielder on the Tacoma Rainiers pregame show at around 6:55 pm – listen here)

Same line-up as last night. Here’s to hoping for a Happy Felix Day for the first time in a while.

Some news

June 21, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 76 Comments 

A couple of quick items that deserve mention on the blog.

Ryan Feierabend is replacing Cha Seung Baek in the rotation, and will start on Friday night against the Reds. Baek probably didn’t deserve to lose his rotation spot so quickly, but for one game at least, it’s a better matchup – the Reds are a significantly better offense against RHP than LHP, and Feierabend should have more success against the Reds LH sluggers. I’m glad to see Feierabend get another look in the rotation, honestly, and Baek’s still around to replace Weaver if he struggles again in his next few starts.

Also, the A’s rid themselves of Milton Bradley today, designating him for assignment. This is now the fourth organization that has decided that they don’t want him around even when he’s playing well, as the Expos, Indians, Dodgers, and now the A’s have all come to the conclusion that he’s just not worth the trouble. He’s probably running out of chances, at this point. This definitely makes the A’s a worse team on the field, however, so it’s somewhat good news for the Mariners.

Weaver: Better Stuff?

June 21, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 55 Comments 

This morning, everyone’s trying to wrap their heads around what happened last night. The guy who entered the game with an ERA of 10.97 just threw a complete game shutout? It’s one of those things that makes no sense. After giving up a couple of hits per inning in his first eight starts, he gave up four hits in nine innings. What just happened?

Here’s Weaver’s take:

“I felt I was making too many quality pitches to get crushed the way I was,” he said. “The last three starts, I can tell the stuff’s got a lot of life, there’s a lot of sharpness on the off-speed stuff.”

Weaver’s three starts in June, he’s posting a 1.89 ERA and opposing hitters are only putting up a .225/.253/.352 line against him after destroying him in the first two months of the season. Has his stuff actually improved?

Lucky for us, all three of Jeff Weaver’s last three starts have come in ballparks that have MLB Advanced Media’s Pitch F/X system installed – essentially, there are a network of high speed cameras aimed at the plate and the mound, and they track the flight of the ball as it leaves the hand until it crosses the plate. The system measures velocity and break with significant accuracy, theoretically giving us the ability to quantify just how good a guy’s “stuff” was.

So, for comparison’s sake, I’ve pulled in the velocity and movement data for his last three starts, as well as the April 28th debacle against the Kansas City Royals where he gave up 6 runs and got 1 out. I’ve dropped the information into excel for an easy side by side comparison.

Let’s start with early game velocity.

Pitch	6/20	6/14	6/9	4/28
1	86.8	83.6	86.8	89.2
2	88.6	86.7	89	87.3
3	75	86.5	88.4	90.6
4	88	86.7	89.2	77.5
5	89.4	86.6	88.4	89.4
6	75.7	88.2	81.4	89.2
7	73.2	79.6	90.5	88.1
8	78.5	87.3	91.9	80
9	78.2	77.7	92.1	0
10	88.1	83.5	89.9	90.5

In the first 10 pitches of the game, his fastball velocity looks to be pretty much the same – 87 to 90 with a 91 or a 92 here or there. However, there is one clear difference – he threw a lot more breaking stuff early last night than he had in the other three starts. Against KC, SD, and CHN, he was pumping fastballs to start the game (where have we heard this before?). Last night, not so much.

But that’s just 10 pitches. Let’s look at his next 21 pitches, which will run us through the end of his horrible start against the Royals.

Pitch	6/20	6/14	6/9	4/28
10	88.1	83.5	89.9	90.5
11	90.2	85.6	81.3	90.9
12	78.8	76.2	0	89.9
13	74.5	87	0	75.3
14	80.4	77.3	90.6	74.6
15	74.6	78	88.4	85.6
16	90.4	0	90.8	85.8
17	74.3	83.4	88.8	88.2
18	0	83.6	90.7	79.2
19	86.8	83.5	81.8	89.3
20	73.8	87.1	81.7	87.8
21	87.3	86.6	75.1	89
22	86.8	73.5	80.7	77.9
23	87.2	71.8	79.7	77.6
24	88.2	87	89.9	79.1
25	89.8	87.7	86.3	88.2
26	73.1	79.7	90.2	88.4
27	88.3	88.9	77.6	89.9
28	73.9	74.7	90.1	89.7
29	81.1	78.2	90.9	80.1
30	78.9	77.8	89	79.7

As you can tell from the Royals start (4/28), he basically just pumped fastballs, one after another, with only an occassional breaking ball. There’s an awful lot of 88s and 89s in there. Only 8 of the 30 pitches recorded against KC were thrown at 80 MPH or less. Last night, 13 of his first 30 recorded pitches (gameday missed one pitch in each sample) were 80 MPH or less.

Of course, mixing your pitches only matters if you have major league breaking stuff. If Weaver was throwing meatball 78 MPH sliders, well, it doesn’t do him any good to mix those in and watch hitters tee-off on them. So, let’s look at the movement on his pitches in these four starts. Now, this is where the data gets somewhat confusing, because the PFX data in gameday measures things almost exactly backwards of how you’d expect – a higher PFX number means less break, and a lower PFX number means more break. It’s based off expected drop. Anyways, it’s complex, but I’ll interpret this at the end of the next chart.

Pitch	6/20	6/14	6/9	4/28
1	11.12	3.25	11.57	10.85
2	11.10	10.40	11.96	0.90
3	2.30	12.20	10.38	10.07
4	13.29	12.62	11.51	4.95
5	10.94	10.84	4.77	9.56
6	4.32	11.97	8.79	11.85
7	4.75	2.00	10.89	4.44
8	2.82	10.33	13.44	3.87
9	2.24	3.28	9.49	0.00
10	10.63	2.17	11.36	11.07
11	13.17	11.59	8.88	9.09
12	3.08	4.11	0.00	9.70
13	5.11	10.21	0.00	4.29
14	10.09	0.21	11.26	4.05
15	4.19	3.51	6.55	2.54
16	10.44	0.00	11.42	2.67
17	7.58	2.72	2.79	11.24
18	0.00	2.29	9.33	3.37
19	11.93	4.03	9.39	12.34
20	3.42	10.37	2.49	8.33
21	8.50	10.48	5.19	13.51
22	11.29	5.44	3.06	7.26
23	10.66	4.97	3.99	3.36
24	11.69	9.71	9.49	0.03
25	12.70	10.31	9.17	9.23
26	4.31	9.23	9.10	11.50
27	12.05	10.43	5.45	11.72
28	5.00	4.37	6.81	12.58
29	10.54	5.92	11.24	1.88
30	3.60	4.47	7.76	4.40

Okay, so, I know that’s just a bunch of numbers that really don’t mean anything. Here’s a basic guide – anything 9+ is almost certainly a fastball, while something in the 2-4 range is probably a slider. Those 5-7 pitches are probably crappy sliders that didn’t move as much as he wanted or maybe a change-up. The lower the number, the more movement the pitch had.

When you look at this data, combined with the velocity numbers from above, you can see that Weaver was really making an effort to mix his pitches last night. He started the game with fastball-fastball-slider-fastball-fastball, then dropped four straight sliders, then went fastball-fastball-slider-slider-fastball-slider-fastball-slider.

It might not be the most unique pitch sequence of all time, but it beats the heck out of how he started the game against the Cubs – 10 consecutive fastballs, then working in a slider that didn’t move very much.

Beyond the pitch selection, however, it doesn’t appear that his pitches moved much more last night than he did in any of the three starts. The average PFX record for the 13 breaking balls he threw in his first 30 pitches last night was 4.05. The average PFX record for the 9 breaking balls he threw in his start against Kansas City was 4.15. His breaking ball doesn’t appear that it was really diving any more than previously, but he was certainly using it more.

Now, none of this is conclusive evidence. We don’t have an historical record of the pitch f/x data to really understand how to interpret it into good versus bad stuff. This kind of analysis is completely in its infancy, and I’m really just offering this up as an interesting point in the conversation. I’m not blaming Weaver’s previous bad starts on pitch selection, nor am I suggesting that he throw more breaking balls in the future (because, honestly, his slider’s a hit-me pitch).

I just think it’s interesting that he clearly mixed his pitches better last night, after coming out in the other three starts with a heavy fastball pattern early in the game. Combined with the Charting Felix work, and the fact that the Mariners starters have almost all gotten torched in the first inning, I think the M’s may want to consider looking into how their starters begin the games.

As for Weaver, well, I’m thrilled that he helped the M’s win a game and gave the bullpen another night off. But this doesn’t really change my opinion about what he is – a guy who throws the ball over the plate with below average stuff and is at the mercy of the talent of the opposing hitters. I’m still afraid of what Boston is going to do to him in his next trip to the hill.

That’s Why We Love Baseball

June 20, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 33 Comments 

Because, sometimes, stuff like that happens. You figure it out.

Game 68, Pirates at Mariners

June 20, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 178 Comments 

Weaver vs Maholm, 7:05 pm.

The Pirates are throwing a lefty, and after my rant last night about hitting Raul Ibanez clean-up against lefties, Mike Hargrove changed the line-up. Really. Ibanez isn’t hitting clean-up tonight.

He’s hitting third.

Sometimes, I feel like Grover does things just to give me the finger. “Hey, kid, you don’t like Ibanez hitting clean-up against lefties? Fine. Why don’t I move him up in the order? How do you like that, punk?” I know it’s not true, but man, he’s good at making it feel that way.

Anyways, here’s the line-up:

Ichiro The Awesome, CF
Lopez, 2B
Ibanez, Guy Who Watches Balls Land In Left Field Area
Guillen, Guy Who Watches Balls Land In Right Field Area
Johjima, C
Beltre, 3B
Sexson, 1B
Vidro, DH
Betancourt, SS

I should probably say something nice about Hargrove moving Vidro to the 8th hole. Do you think they finally realize that he sucks? No, probably not. Because if they did, Adam Jones wouldn’t have taken the field for the Tacoma Rainiers this afternoon.

Anyways, M’s try to end a 6 game losing streak. M’s send Weaver to the hill to stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, at the same time, Juan Ramirez will be making his stateside debut up in Everett, and Pat Dillon is always fun to listen to. Yea, I don’t think I’m going to watch this.

« Previous PageNext Page »