Felix, Mixing Pitches, And The Power of the Internet

Dave · July 7, 2007 at 5:43 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Via Geoff Baker:

“Chaves gave me a report,” Hernandez said. “On the internet, they say when I throw a lot of fastballs in the first inning, they score a lot of runs. I tried to mix all my pitches in the first inning.”

Today, Felix threw a slider on the 3rd pitch of the game, then a curveball on the fifth pitch, getting Shannon Stewart to flyout to center. All told, he threw 3 breaking balls in his first 8 pitches, threw a first pitch slider to the 5th hitter of the game, and attacked almost every hitter with a variable selection of fastballs and breaking balls.

He gave up 2 hits in 8 innings.

Now, correlation is not causation. Maybe the A’s hitters just aren’t very good, and maybe Felix is just bound to dominate line-ups like this because his stuff is off the charts.

But you know, I love seeing Felix trying something new. Its extremely encouraging that he took some information made available to him and made adjustments to improve his approach.

That Chaves was able to use the the open letter from the blog to help drive home a point he’d already been making, well, that’s just the cherry on top. But Felix deserves all the credit in the world for this. He and Chaves did the work, and they’re the ones who tossed a shutout at the A’s today. We just get to enjoy the fruits of Good Felix.

Long Live King Felix.

Comments

88 Responses to “Felix, Mixing Pitches, And The Power of the Internet”

  1. DoesntCompute on July 7th, 2007 5:53 pm

    Bravo to USS Mariner. Bravo to Chavez for using this information provided. Bravo to Felix for listening.

  2. milendriel on July 7th, 2007 5:54 pm

    Hooray Internet!

  3. Thom Jimsen on July 7th, 2007 6:07 pm

    So, Dave … think this will make USS Mariner more of a player at the Mariner table? Or even just the Seattle-sports-media table? Or do you see USS Mariner as really peripheral to all this?

  4. awolfgang on July 7th, 2007 6:07 pm

    Can you send a letter to Beltre and have him stop appealing his own check swings?

  5. Dave on July 7th, 2007 6:12 pm

    So, Dave … think this will make USS Mariner more of a player at the Mariner table? Or even just the Seattle-sports-media table? Or do you see USS Mariner as really peripheral to all this?

    You know, this might sound like false humility or something, but I don’t want to take the credit for this. Chaves has been telling Felix this long before I wrote my open letter. Chaves showed the letter to Felix. Chaves said “hey man, try something else”. Felix tried something else.

    They get the credit. I didn’t tell the team anything they didn’t already know.

    So no, I don’t think this gets us “a seat at the table” with the Mariners,. nor should it.

    Does it give us some credibility with the media? Maybe, I don’t know. That’s up to them. I think people like Geoff Baker already respect the work we do, and honestly, I didn’t start this blog with a goal to get a segment on KJR or anything.

    I’m really happy about this, but I don’t want the credit for it.

  6. Bodhizefa on July 7th, 2007 6:14 pm

    I tried explaining just how amazing this whole internet communication thing had gotten to my mom today by using this example (along with a few other interesting ones), and she seemed genuinely impressed and intrigued. She’s held off on learning how to surf the net, email, etc., but I just got an email from her a few minutes ago to say hi (she got the addy from my stepdad, lol).

    Whatever happens with this Felix pitch selection ordeal, I’m truly impressed that something written from an intelligent guy living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina could ever so much as reach the M’s doorstep, much less go all the way to the pitching coach and into the young King’s ear. The internet has given the people a voice, and I’m just glad we have a guy like David Cameron doing the speaking every now and again.

    Awesome work, Dave. Keep up the good fight.

  7. skipj on July 7th, 2007 6:17 pm

    Great game. I’m reminded of seeing BB King at the Circle Star Theatre, near Oakland years ago. The had a weird rotating stage so everyone would get a full view. BB’s playing, drunk chick wanders down the aisle and starts yelling “You know I want it baby! You know I need you BB!” This keeps up for a full rotation of the stage, when BB is face to face with her; in the middle of a solo, he steps up to the mike and says “Everybody knows it by now, honey.”

    I have this image of Chavez and Felix… ‘But Raffy I like to establish my fast ball early!’
    Chavez hands Felix the USSM letter.
    ‘Everybody knows it by now baby.’
    Kudos to USSM. And Chavez and especially Felix. And the crankmees can bite me, even when they lose, they mange to tick me off.

  8. rrose on July 7th, 2007 6:20 pm

    re: Beltre’s appeals on his own check swings…

    Ya know, I think that gesture, as quirky as it may be, actually works in his favor. The first base ump may see it on some level as a show respect. And that kind of deference is more likely to accrue to him the benefit of the doubt – it’s just basic psychology. It’s also my strictly unquantified impression that the tactic works often enough to be useful (at least for him, and for the time being).

  9. vitalogist on July 7th, 2007 6:23 pm

    #4 – lolololololol!

    dave –

    UN
    BE
    LIEVABLE!!!

    this is just a testament here. the average fan actually CAN make a difference. you probably never thought that letter would ever be read by chaves, let alone mentioned to the king. my hat is off to you – GREAT WORK.

  10. Thom Jimsen on July 7th, 2007 6:24 pm

    The thing is, Dave, why do you think Felix started listening just now? Why wasn’t what Chaves (and maybe even Hargrove) telling him before good enough? Was it maybe the thought that: “Hey, if this sort of info is out on the Internet, then probably every other team in the AL has it too”? Did Felix maybe have nowhere to run any longer from the growing realization that the league had him pretty well clocked?

  11. Rusty on July 7th, 2007 6:27 pm

    I was struck by how many “STRIKE LOOKING” events I saw in the Gamecast. Most of the A’s lineup were looking at 2 strikes before they got the bat off their shoulders. Not sure if that’s a recipe for success against Felix, as there were a lot of weakly hit balls on the ground or the air on those 3rd strikes.

    It did drive up his pitch count, though.

  12. waitin_4_series on July 7th, 2007 6:33 pm

    Hey, I got a mention as a Fan Beforehand. Just call me the postman from now on. :-)

    I did post an update last night to yesterday’s thread in case you missed it. The letter actually went to Ryan Rowland-Smith before it got to Chaves. Nice to see that our team is so accessible.

    Anyone planning to go to the game tomorrow?

  13. Thom Jimsen on July 7th, 2007 6:34 pm

    #12: Well-done.

  14. PositivePaul on July 7th, 2007 6:47 pm

    They get the credit. I didn’t tell the team anything they didn’t already know.

    Well, uh, I’d just like to take a comment or two and say that the way Dave’s handling this should nip some of those folks in the bud. You know, the ones who call Dave a pompous know-it-all.

    Yeah, he helped this this problem, but he’s continuing to deflect the credit to the guys who also deserve kudos for listening and doing something about it.

    USSM presented the King with his crown. USSM and Lookout Landing helped instruct Felix on how to proudly wear it.

    Awe. Some.

  15. bhsmarine on July 7th, 2007 6:55 pm

    Not to piss in our cheerios, but are we sure it was a USSM letter that Chaves had? I know we are not the only ones preaching pitch selection.
    I hope it was, and either way we had the same idea. I am just curious.

  16. Thom Jimsen on July 7th, 2007 7:03 pm

    #15: Baker, in his blog, cites USS Mariner specifically as the source.

  17. Karen on July 7th, 2007 7:03 pm

    I’m dreading the moment when Skippy…er, Steve Kelley or one of those smarmy smart-@$$es on ESPN surf by here and read all this. That’s all we need, hooting on ‘Net blogging by someone who only WISHES they had an effect on a pitcher’s mindset.

  18. mln on July 7th, 2007 7:05 pm

    How about an open letter to the Mariners requesting that they provide free rally fries during home games from the 7th inning on?

    And, also, a free Wii for Derek.

  19. coltrane on July 7th, 2007 7:06 pm

    In one of the audio clips on Baker’s Blog, Felix still refers to his fastball as his best pitch. Scary.

  20. Thievery on July 7th, 2007 7:12 pm

    This report provides confirmation that the work Dave does actually has an impact for the team. That’s very encouraging to know…

  21. waitin_4_series on July 7th, 2007 7:12 pm

    #15 – I can guarantee it as the “Fan Beforehand” See posts in game #83 thread by the end. Note that it was posted before today’s game.

    :-)

  22. JMHawkins on July 7th, 2007 7:24 pm

    Okay quick, someone hand Mac the “Appeal for Action” post.

  23. bhsmarine on July 7th, 2007 7:33 pm

    21- Good to know.

  24. Free Range Chicken on July 7th, 2007 7:36 pm

    With Felix heading in the right direction and Hargrove gone, I can feel some of that old excitement returning. Over the last four games, the Mariners have only allowed four runs. As of yesterday compared to last year, they’ve scored nearly the same number of runs, but have allowed around 20 fewer runs in the same number of games. With a starting rotation in constant shambolic rotation, I wouldn’t have thought that to be the case.

  25. Rumpelstiltskin on July 7th, 2007 7:45 pm

    Thank God! If it weren’t for Al Gore and Fox we might have seen bad Felix today…

  26. The Ancient Mariner on July 7th, 2007 7:46 pm

    Way cool. Way, way cool.

  27. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on July 7th, 2007 7:56 pm

    This is very exciting. It’s not about who should take credit, it’s about a lot of folks very genuinely interested in this team winning and this young man getting the most out of his amazing gifts that has resulted in this first step.

    It’s not going to give Felix magical command over his fastball, or produce results like today every day out, but it’s a great thing for people, like Chaves, who can influence a pitcher’s approach to say, “you know what, this data supports what I’ve been saying, and since I didn’t have it in this form, I’m going to offer it up to Felix and see if it makes a dent.”

    In the end we all want the same thing, success for Felix and a winning team. I’m just glad Dave and others are willing to stick their necks out a little to do what they think is right. I am even more glad that folks who can make an impact take that offering and make use of it, not letting pride write it off. Lots of people to thank on this one.

  28. Slippery Elmer on July 7th, 2007 8:05 pm

    First, props to all who deserve them for this turn of events.

    Next, #10, Thom Jimsen:
    “. . . Was it maybe the thought that: ‘Hey, if this sort of info is out on the Internet, then probably every other team in the AL has it too’?”

    That was exactly the assertion of the radio postgame crew. I wouldn’t discount it, either.

  29. _David_ on July 7th, 2007 8:11 pm

    Bedard just faced the minimum and struck out 15! I bet we could make a non-all-star team that could beat up on either roster.

  30. Oly Rainiers Fan on July 7th, 2007 8:12 pm

    I’ll echo Jim Thomsen (or Thom Jimsen) above – the only thing that’s troubling about this is that Chaves was telling him before, and Felix wasn’t listening. It’s that ‘not listening’ part that is of concern. Is he not listening because he’s so full of the ‘I’m the King’ stuff, not listening because he doesn’t respect Chaves, not listening because he’s still just a young kid?

    the true test to whether this is the happy event is probably more about his willingness to listen in the future.

  31. JG on July 7th, 2007 8:13 pm

    Now you guys gotta just keeping plugging for Jones.

  32. hcoguy on July 7th, 2007 8:15 pm

    29. Wow, overshadows Felix’s start big time. I think that is the top gamescore of 07.

  33. Lucky Number on July 7th, 2007 8:17 pm

    Really Dave, I think we are all getting sick and tired of your rabid anti-Marinerness. Just pack it in so we can all go to the ESPN forums and get the “real” scoop on what is going on with this team.

    /super sarcasm

    Also #12, I’m not sure about the rest of the blogosphere but I will now refer to you as “The Postman”. Cheers to you, Dave and all others who are trying to help this team win games.

  34. scraps on July 7th, 2007 8:19 pm

    “They told us that he had a pitch count so we tried to make him throw some pitches,” Beltre said. “He didn’t really help himself. He was throwing a lot of balls early in the ballgame and that helped us.”

    Do you think someone could tell the team that the other team’s pitcher is always on a pitchcount? Becuase, effectively, they are.

  35. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on July 7th, 2007 8:20 pm

    #28 – The problem with that line of thought is that even if hitters know Felix is going to use all of his pitches in an unpredictable way, it doesn’t prepare them for what is coming. The problem with Felix’s approach had been that it was almost all fastballs. No guess work, and they knew what was coming. Simply stating that he’s going to mix things up going forward doesn’t really give any advantage to the hitter, except that they know not to count on a fastball. I’ll take that risk given the improved benefit of keeping folks off balance.

  36. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on July 7th, 2007 8:34 pm

    Apologies to #28 if all you were saying is that if the too many fastballs pattern was known to USSMariner, it was known to other teams. I somehow read what you said to mean that the correction of mixing pitches would be known to AL teams. That doesn’t seem to be a reasonable reading looking back.

  37. Lefebvre Belebvre on July 7th, 2007 8:44 pm

    Longtime reader, first time writer.

    What a great first day to write on the blog. This is another feather to stick in your cap Dave regarding your baseball and Mariner knowledge. That is, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

    Your next goal should be to have someone pass a piece of paper to Bavasi that says “Bench Vidro – call up Jones!”

  38. Wells on July 7th, 2007 8:54 pm

    What’s McLaren done different from Hargrove that should give one the idea that things are substantially changing? I love the improvement in the ballclub, and want to somehow feel some basic shift in the move to McLaren, but it seems like the lads are just continuing to play better.

  39. JMB on July 7th, 2007 9:13 pm

    The Internet, is that still around?

  40. Sidi on July 7th, 2007 9:33 pm

    But we all know “the internets” are just full of child molesters and scam artists (between the porn), as the local news constantly reminds us. How could a tool that allows nearly limitless discourse and interaction actually lead to something good?

    I hope this sticks with Felix. Everyone can see the talent, it just needs to be applied consistantly.

  41. msb on July 7th, 2007 9:49 pm

    hey, speaking of Derek… did he ever get his pony?

  42. jeffinfremont on July 7th, 2007 9:50 pm

    http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=2917579

    The story’s on Fark.com. Now you’re really going to be famous!

  43. msb on July 7th, 2007 9:51 pm

    I have to say, OT though it may be, I love the way Prince Fielder shakes like a bowl full of jelly when running the bases.

  44. Goose on July 7th, 2007 9:57 pm

    42 beat me to it.

    The news is starting to spread.

  45. Thom Jimsen on July 7th, 2007 10:31 pm

    Fark sat alone in a boggy marsh ….

  46. OscarTehGrouch on July 7th, 2007 10:38 pm

    Is there any other fan blogs for other teams that have as good content as USSM or LL?

    If any of you can link me to some, that would be a great help to furthering my baseball knowledge…

    Thanks Dave and crew… I thoroughly enjoy reading USSM and the content it offers. I’m very grateful I got linked here from a Bill Simmons article. I simply wonder though if other teams have great blogs running for them like the M’s do.

  47. Paul on July 7th, 2007 10:49 pm

    Dave, Thank you! I explained the abbreviated history of Charting Felix > Open Letter to my wife and she now sorta understands why you guys rock. Life just got slightly easier in this household.

  48. derubino on July 7th, 2007 10:58 pm

    You know what I like about this? People who hate sports like to say things like how they don’t understand how we can like something we can’t affect. Problem is, when I pace around in the 9th hoping for the save or when it’s 4th and inches, sometimes it crosses my mind that I can’t do anything cause I’m just a fan. Well, when things like this happen it reminds me that we aren’t completely detached. Nice work Dave!

  49. DizzleChizzle on July 7th, 2007 11:01 pm

    #4 Get over it. I hope that McLaren focuses on the bigger issues with this team and that Beltre appealing his own check swing is near the bottom of his “things to fix” list.

  50. teacherrefpoet on July 7th, 2007 11:33 pm

    I’m a little worried this will sound like outrageous overstatement, but this is the kind of unique, huge change that we all hoped and thought the Internet would bring about. The idea that your thoughtful, evidence-backed analysis got to the people who needed to see it–and quickly–well, it wouldn’t have happened fifteen years ago. That’s awesome.

    I like the way Chaves said in Baker’s audio clip that “sometimes it helps to hear it from another source.” He’s a true teacher…when plan A to teach Felix to mix pitches didn’t work, he found a plan B that did. I respect Chaves immensely for reading and passing on the letter. What a great guy.

  51. fetish on July 8th, 2007 12:03 am

    I mean, this is as big a slam dunk (sorry to mix metaphors) as this blog could achieve. Kudos for not boasting too hard…

    But God knows what has been wrought this day. Can the USSenstien ever be stopped?

  52. moocow on July 8th, 2007 12:09 am

    Wow, that is unbelievable stuff! Nice work.

    How about an open letter to Bavasi now on calling up Jones?

  53. Jordan of Boise on July 8th, 2007 12:25 am

    I understand folks excitement about the letter to Felix and his big day, but don’t think that the front office would be nearly as receptive to advice on decisions about personnel or the lineup. Helping improve the performance of the star ace is a win-win for everyone, there’s no reason for the team not to want to make that happen. But bringing players up or sitting players down isn’t so easy. ‘Baseball people’ seem to have such a problem with hearing from the general public (see Derek’s F-Rod expose and how even the Open Letter was acknowledged somewhat grudgingly, and ignored by the national press) and if anything, the increasingly loud outcry to put Turbo on the pine and bring up Mr. Jones seems to be making the team and its FSN mouthpieces defensive about the topic.

    So please, no one go handing love letters about personnel changes to coaches or players at BP – let the team think it’s their own idea to fix things up and maybe that way they’ll actually do it.

  54. mark s. on July 8th, 2007 12:29 am

    USSM has helped me become the envy of all my friends for my new understanding of baseball. (yes, I qoute my sources) Now USSM has played a part (however small) in helping the team, we are all so connected to.

    Thanks guys.
    Go USSM!
    Go Felix!
    Go M’s!

  55. BKM on July 8th, 2007 12:36 am

    I suppose this is the “one shining moment” for USSM.com, when a member of the coaching staff gives it a shoutout, even if indirectly. While you’re all busy patting Dave’s back for his great insight, do realize that even Chaves said in post-game that it’s not something they didn’t know or that they hadn’t told Felix more than once or twice. While it must have taken time and energy to slavishly monitor every pitch during a game, instead of just… watching the game, anyone could have come to that conclusion.

    The front office will call up Adam Jones when it feels Adam Jones is ready to contribute to the Mariners in the midst of what could be a great stretch run, not because some columnist says he’s ready, not because some blog says he’s ready. Like it or not, they’re the baseball professionals, and we’re not.

  56. Thom Jimsen on July 8th, 2007 12:48 am

    USS Mariner now has a prominent mention in the Times’ game story:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2003779682_mari080.html

  57. Thom Jimsen on July 8th, 2007 12:49 am

    Chaves sounds pretty flustered:

    “Chaves also had a copy of the posting e-mailed to him by Jason Churchill, a freelance newspaper contributor who runs his own baseball Web site detailing Mariners farm prospects.

    “The one person is not telling me, or telling us, something that we don’t know,” Chaves added. “It’s just that we … I don’t know it all. That’s for sure. I’m making sure that you guys understand he didn’t give me something that I was not aware of.

    “But it’s good that sometimes you hear something from a different source,” he said of Hernandez. “It opens up your eyes a little bit.”

  58. Celadus on July 8th, 2007 12:51 am

    #38: The one major thing so far that I see McLaren doing that Hargrove didn’t is extending the starters for more innings.

    I don’t know what is motivation is, but what I’m hoping is that, if successful, it will lead to a situation in which one or two less pitchers are needed, hence one or two position players are acquired or brought up from Tacoma, thereby adding more flexibility to the bench.

  59. Thom Jimsen on July 8th, 2007 1:00 am

    Methinks Chaves bleats in protest a tad too much. There’s more to this story.

  60. hcoguy on July 8th, 2007 1:13 am

    Not sure why so many people want to rush to say “see, they knew all along, they are the experts and they know everything exactly right before us detached third party observers figure it out by pooling our collective resources…”

    Seriously. If history has taught us anything its that besides repeating itself, there is always something that is perceived to be correct that later turns out to be wrong and there was at least one person who had logical, reasonable evidence why that would be so. Saying that the M’s F.O. and coaches are completely on top of every strategy and idea tossed about on every blog is ridiculous. Of course they havn’t thought of everything, no team has. To think that they do their jobs with the greatest efficiency due to being “around” the game for decades is absurd. By that line of reasoning no one can point out anything they believe DUBYA does wrong since A. he is the president and the office holds noble distinction and B. his father also held the position and he has been “around” politics most if not all his life. Proximity does not necessarily breed true knowledge and insight.

    I am thrilled that this has reached the level it has but I fear the backlash that has already began where several scenarios play out. The M’s get embarassed for acknowledging a popularly perceived uncredible source for help or they go the opposite and start polling the general blogging public for major decisions (yeah I know this won’t happen, just making a point) or continue about their usual business of searching for a nut all by their visually-impaired squirrelly-selves. Comments such as 55 are the ones that irk me the most as they assign omniscience to the staff and really think that nobody outside the game can ever have any unique insight in to strategy and the inner workings of baseball doctrine.

    Probably none of that happens and the only consequence is that the site crashes every fifth day for the rest of the year. :)

    I am not saying Chaves is lying or anything, just that the current people in charge have NO results to show of that they are open to change. Hell, if it wasn’t for Guardado we probably would barely have a serviceable closer situation, let alone the best in the league. Management didnt help to teach him the splitter.

    Anyways, this is coming off far more negative than I meant it to as I’m just drunk and still happy to have seen good felix today. Well, at least the 10 seconds of coverage on BBTN as my mlb.tv premium subscription failed to cover ALL the games as it explicitly advertises.

    I can see the next bad start. Chaves in front of a congressional committee saying, “we had some bad intelligence, we thought the Tigers had some WMDs we needed to throw fastballs at early and often but it turns out that the opposite was the case. We blame that damn myspace friend Felix has that informed us”

    58. SSS. It could be just shitty lineups that our pitchers have faced since Grover left.

  61. msb on July 8th, 2007 7:10 am

    Chaves sounds pretty flustered

    I dunno– if you heard him say it, rather than reading it, he didn’t sound flustered, he was pretty matter of fact about it.

  62. Christopher Michael on July 8th, 2007 7:26 am

    Well it makes for a great story. Fan hands letter from the internet to team. Player listens.

    The publicity seems more “fun” than anything else. Since we all know that what matters is that this is the start of a great second half for Felix. And since not enough people in these comments said it. Thanks Postman -12-!

  63. Adam S on July 8th, 2007 7:31 am

    do realize that even Chaves said in post-game that it’s not something they didn’t know or that they hadn’t told Felix more than once or twice.
    I have no idea to what degree Chaves is telling us the truth and to what degree he’s covering his/the Mariners ***, but like hcoguy I’m not sure why people are so quick to dismiss the influence of the USSM letter. Think about it…
    1) If the letter was news to Chaves, what would he say? “We got this brilliant analysis from a blogger that told us things I didn’t know about Felix’s pitching pattern.”
    2) If he knew this was the problem and had talked to Felix, why didn’t he fix it earlier? Can’t he just tell Johjima/Burke to call more off-speed stuff in the early innings? Do you really believe a letter from a fan had more impact than his coach?
    3) If hearing it from a third party had magic influence, wouldn’t that have come when the letter was emailed to Chaves, not when he got it handed to him a second time?

    My hunch (and it’s all hunch), Chaves knew Felix was throwing too many fastballs early and had mentioned this to him. But he really hadn’t tried to change Felix. When he got the letter the first time, he skimmed it and dismissed it. When he got it the second time and saw the HARD NUMBERS, which he didn’t have before, he took it more seriously and met with Felix. And showing Felix the numbers, not just “they’re hitting your fastball hard”, got the point across.

  64. thowe1 on July 8th, 2007 7:40 am

    53 —- Jordan, I couldn’t agree with you more on this. Man, massive Kudos to Dave and all of the regular stat junkies here on USS Mariner for being another witness on the stand for Chavez to present his case to the young King, and hopefully we’ll be seeing returns on this by way of his pitch selection and approach for weeks to come.

    However, for all of those who are thinking of flooding the front office with cries for having Adam Jones brought up off the farm, or having Turbo plant his fat ass on the bench for a couple of months, I ask you take a quick step back and see it still won’t change a thing. M’s baseball is a business, people, and they are in the business of making a return for their investors (the fans). Just as in the corporate world, they are just as concerned with turning a buck (getting that win) as you are, however, they have their own approach, their own style, and their own ability to make decisions. The minute they start listening to the general public, sifting through fan mail while taking BP or installing vote buttons in the box seats on whether to steal or stay, all credibility is out the window, and the owners will begin that great question of “Why don’t we just bring in the USS Mariner staff as consultants????”

    Now, as I don’t see that as being a bad idea (‘Ol Bill could use all the help he could get right now), you have to understand, no one wants to look bad, especially by asking the public “What would you do in this situation?” Good on you for the Open Letter, bigger kudos on the delivery and recognition by the Times and Geoff Baker, however, I think this is the last we’ve heard of the bench and office talking suggestions from the fans.

  65. terry on July 8th, 2007 8:18 am

    #3: Lets give credit to where it’s really due……Al Gore

  66. Steve T on July 8th, 2007 9:08 am

    Congratulations, Dave. USSM is above the fold on the front of the sports section. I’m really pleased for the Mariners and for you.

  67. waitin_4_series on July 8th, 2007 9:22 am

    As the guy that was there in person, I would tend to take Chaves at his word. It’s highly possible that they previously discussed it. When Ryan Rowland-Smith called Chaves over to hand him the letter we only chatted for 10 or 20 seconds. Long enough for me to say that the letter was from the internet, they’ve been charting Felix’s pitches and he’s throwing almost all fastballs to start every game. At the time Chaves didn’t even look at the letter and all he said was “okay thanks” as he folded it up and slipped it into his back pocket, and went on to Ryan’s bullpen session.

    At the time, the way Chaves handled it, I was wondering if he already knew about it, or was not that interested in it, or would even read the letter since the it was folded in half when it was handed to him and he didn’t even bother to sneak a glance before he folded it up and slid it into his pocket. Chaves did wave and say thank-you again as he left the field when batting practice ended, but that was the entirety of the interaction.

    Based upon what he said in the Times article, its easy to believe that he’s been discussing this for some time with Felix. I didn’t get the impression that I was teaching him anything that he didn’t already know. It’s not like we sat there and went over the whole analysis as he listened intently. That’s not what happened.

    The whole time Chaves was very gracious, especially since it was time for the pitcher’s bullpen sessions. Like I said before it made my day, especially since I had brought along a co-worker who hadn’t been to a baseball game before in his life. We like Chaves!

    So why did this work? I have two opinions:

    1. Charts, Tables and Graphs are more persuasive. The detailed table in the letter is easy to understand and gets the point across quickly.

    2. Having a random fan at a out of town stadium demonstrate that they can determine your tendency is probably very alarming.

    The Postman….

  68. scraps on July 8th, 2007 9:56 am

    BKM: You appear to be the type of guy who has to tell people a bunch of stuff they already know when they get too excited.

    While you’re all busy patting Dave’s back

    You bunch of backpatters!

    for his great insight,

    Note the deftly wielded anvil of sarcasm.

    do realize that even Chaves said in post-game that it’s not something they didn’t know or that they hadn’t told Felix more than once or twice.

    Because it’s not like that very point isn’t being discussed all around you.

    While it must have taken time and energy to slavishly monitor every pitch during a game, instead of just. . . watching the game

    You geek, Dave, so busy slavishly monitoring that you fail to just watch the game.

    anyone could have come to that conclusion.

    Even you, eh? See, it wasn’t anything, really; anyone could have seen it. Including, presumably, the many people who’ve disagreed with Dave about this for the last two months.

    Why are you so desperate to downplay it? Is it more fun being the Wise Grump than it is to acknowledge a cool thing?

  69. scraps on July 8th, 2007 10:06 am

    Incidentally, according to Buster Olney, it’s a new grip that has turned Felix around.

  70. bakomariner on July 8th, 2007 10:38 am

    yanks are up 4-0 on the angels in the first…

  71. bakomariner on July 8th, 2007 11:01 am

    This was on MLBtraderumors today:

    Blog Gets Through To Felix Hernandez
    If you’ve watched any Felix Hernandez starts prior to today, you probably noticed a pattern. He tries to establish his fastball early on, throwing the pitch constantly. His heater is a fine pitch and plenty fast, but he leaves it up in the zone sometimes. And a 96 mph fastball can be easy to hit when you see ten of them in a row (relatively speaking – obviously I still couldn’t hit it). Hernandez has an amazing offspeed repertoire, especially his curveball.

    The die-hard fans at U.S.S. Mariner have been painfully aware of this trend for quite some time. Frustration boiled over on June 27th, when Dave Cameron wrote a post: An Open Letter To Rafael Chaves. Chaves is the Mariners’ pitching coach. The letter pleaded for Chaves to make Felix mix up his pitches early on.

    Cameron probably never anticipated that Chaves would actually read the letter. But he did, and the pitching coach actually gave a copy to Felix for him to read. Chaves has been trying to hammer this point home with Hernandez, but the letter helped reinforce the need for better pitch selection. Hernandez tossed eight scoreless innings today, crediting the letter for his early success. How cool is that? Blogs actually can make a difference. Open sentence to Dave Cameron: Mariners fans, fantasy baseball owners, and baseball fans in general thank you for getting through to The King. Next up, teach Rich Hill a third pitch.

  72. Lucky Number on July 8th, 2007 11:16 am

    I think it is very interesting and exciting that so many Mariner fans have differing viewpoints on this whole affair. I suppose that is the great thing about being a fan; you can comment, argue, or talk about them until you are blue in the face, but the fact remains that you still care about the team in your own way. Despite your stance on this whole thing, I think that all fans would agree that this is a very exciting time to be a Mariners fan. Go team!

    And btw #67, “Ride Postman, ride”! Sorry, but someone had to do it…

  73. lemonverbena on July 8th, 2007 11:20 am

    wow… that’s awesome. huge props also to the fan who managed to get it into Chaves’ hands.

  74. Axtell on July 8th, 2007 11:23 am

    68-

    You nailed it…and I have to admit, bkm made me laugh with his post when he dropped this gem:

    “The front office will call up Adam Jones when it feels Adam Jones is ready to contribute to the Mariners in the midst of what could be a great stretch run… they’re the baseball professionals, and we’re not.”

    Yes, because baseball ‘professionals’ are always right and never make mistakes? That’s why baseball ‘professionals’ continue to have Vidro DHing despite his abysmal power numbers?

  75. Jim Thomsen on July 8th, 2007 11:35 am

    If you type “USS Mariner” into Google News serach, you’ll see that the blog — and the Felix Affair — have gotten a bit of national media bounce.

  76. Jim Thomsen on July 8th, 2007 11:35 am

    Or even “search”

  77. Slippery Elmer on July 8th, 2007 11:40 am

    #36, Mariner Fan in CO Exile:

    I was agreeing with the postgame crew when they said if it’s obvious to fans that Felix was starting the game with nothing but fastballs, opponents must have realized it as well.

  78. scraps on July 8th, 2007 11:47 am

    [T]he postgame crew [...] said if it’s obvious to fans that Felix was starting the game with nothing but fastballs, opponents must have realized it as well.

    It’s a good point, and I’m glad Chaves used it with Felix. But if it is so obvious to everyone in retrospect, why did we never hear it from announcers, analysts, post-game talking heads, etc?

  79. Paul B on July 8th, 2007 11:51 am

    I was looking at Felix’ splits this year on baseball-reference. Something that kind of confused me (I’m easily confused):

    First, something that makes sense regarding this whole topic, hitters against Felix this year have been .345-.383-.517 in hist first 25 pitches in games, completely horrible and reinforces this whole topic. In pitches 26-75, hitters are about .250-.320-.350 (more or less, I just roughly averaged the second 25 and third 25 pitches) which is great at least as far as slugging goes.

    But here’s the strange stuff. Hitters do better against Felix in their second plate appearance as compared to their first (.330-.371-.459 in second plate appearance, .259-.306-.393 in first plate appearance). That is opposite of what I would have expected.

    But, by inning, Felix has done really really well in the second inning (.208-.264-.313) compared to a horrible 1st inning (.358-.404-.528) so that must explain the strange numbers in times facing opponent in game.

    Looking at the by inning splits, the second inning is the best, and the one inning that is worse than the first inning is the 6th (the 7th, 8th, and 9th are great, but those are only a few games where he went that far, and are only in games where he was dominating the other team). The OPS by inning for innings 1 thru 6 (AL average OPS is .756):

    .932 (ouch)
    .577 (yay!)
    .785 (meh)
    .877 (meh^2)
    .709 (ohh kay)
    1.076 (yikes)

  80. Paul B on July 8th, 2007 11:58 am

    2) If he knew this was the problem and had talked to Felix, why didn’t he fix it earlier? Can’t he just tell Johjima/Burke to call more off-speed stuff in the early innings? Do you really believe a letter from a fan had more impact than his coach?

    If this had happened, wouldn’t we have seen Felix shaking off the catcher a lot in the first inning, like every third pitch or so, when they called for something off speed and he wanted to throw a fastball?

  81. Dave Clapper on July 8th, 2007 11:59 am

    Speaking of google searches of USSM, looks like someone is grabbing your content again: Striketwo.net.

  82. _David_ on July 8th, 2007 12:02 pm

    So Triunfel’s in High Desert now…Is that permanent? Is it good?

  83. bakomariner on July 8th, 2007 12:10 pm

    82- it’s good for me…i’m going to at least two of the three games in bakersfield this week…i’ll check the kid out…

  84. davepaisley on July 8th, 2007 12:16 pm

    JMB – “The Internet, is that still around?”

    I hear they have the internet on computers now…

    And Jim T in 76 – que serach, serach…

  85. Sammy on July 8th, 2007 12:27 pm

    78.

    Scraps, I’d heard the M’s announcing crew mention Felix’ predilection for early fastballs at least three or four times.

  86. scraps on July 8th, 2007 12:32 pm

    Sammy: Okay, good to hear.

  87. John in L.A. on July 8th, 2007 4:08 pm

    Two things from me…

    First, this is very, very cool. As mentioned, it is the kind of cool you can tell people about… people who don’t really follow any of this, and they get it.

    I’m very happy that Felix said it, so that it isn’t subject to a hundred posts ridiculing the idea that the blog had anything at all to do with it.

    Which leads me to my second point, to post #55…

    BKM, that is one of the most petty, small-minded posts I have read. What on earth would make you want to come into a thread like this and belittle it?

    No one made more of it than it is, but what it is, is pretty cool.

  88. mwick243 on July 9th, 2007 10:58 pm

    I heard about this site while I was watching the Mariners on MLB Extra Innings. I live in Massachusetts, and have been a lifelong Sox fan, but my liking to Felix has made me a Mariners fan. I love seeing them make a run in the West. I hope they keep it up.
    Also, my buddies over here on the east coast are tough to convince that Felix is a legit pitcher already, even after the King 1-hit the BoSox at Fenway.
    I can’t wait for Felix’s trophy case to be packed with Cy Youngs. I hope the M’s can throw a few AL Champ trophies in there too.

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