Some thoughts

Dave · July 13, 2007 at 7:28 am · Filed Under Mariners 

(Quick Roster Note – M’s have signed Tomo Ohka to a minor league deal. He’s going to hang out in Tacoma and act as Horacio Ramirez insurance for a few weeks.)

Good win for the M’s last night. Felix pitched better than the box score will show, consistently lighting up the radar gun for the first time in a couple of months and getting a ton of ground balls. Curtis Granderson’s double was the only well struck drive of the game, and everything else just found a hole. When he got in trouble, he busted out the knockout slider to get some swinging strikes, showing that the Felix we saw in Boston is still in there, ready to be summoned when help is needed. If it keeps him healthy, I’m totally fine with Felix not trying to throw a perfect game every start. Note to Rick Rizzs, however – Felix’s fastball command is still terrible.

Sean Green deserves his own post. I’m going to give him one eventually.

At what point do we ask if J.J. Putz has put himself into the Cy Young race? Through the awesomeness of Win Probability (which accounts for high leverage performances, making it a reliable indicator of what actually happened but not a great estimator of talent), we can show that J.J. has added 4.2 wins to the team so far, a full run better than any other reliever in baseball (Takashi Saito, at 3.1 wins, is second), and a win and a half better than the next AL reliever (Hideki Okajima, 2.7 wins). In fact, J.J. Putz is #1 in the majors in Win Probability Added, with Alex Rodriguez being .3 wins behind him at 3.9 Wins Added.

Because of the way they’re used, closers get a WPA boost thanks to the high leverage nature of their innings, but no matter how you slice it, J.J. Putz is currently having a remarkably valuable season. When Eric Gagne won the Cy Young award in 2003, he posted a WPA of 6.74 – Putz is on pace to blow that number out of the water. In general, starting pitchers are far more valuable than relief pitchers, but J.J. Putz is not your average reliever, and he’s not having your average closer season. The guy’s a true relief ace, and if you’re wondering how the Mariners are 14 games over .500 with this roster, he and Ichiro and reasons 1A and 1B.

And, finally, let’s talk about John McLaren for a second. Remember all the hand wringing over the team suffering a letdown when Hargrove left? Yea, that didn’t happen. This team hasn’t played any differently since the resignation. They also haven’t been managed much differently. McLaren’s used his bench a little bit more, but overall, he’s just maintained the status quo. And watching him set the line-ups and employ his bullpen, I have to point this out, because it just defies logic.

John, when it comes to platoon splits, pick a fricking side. Either they matter or they don’t. When you set your line-up, they clearly don’t. Left-handed hitters are 2 for 28 against Andrew Miller this year, a ridiculous .071/.156/.107 line that makes even George Sherrill envious. Right-handers, meanwhile, are clipping along at a .260/.356/.425 rate. So, who did you hit third last night? Raul Ibanez, he of the .245/.258/.298 line against lefties. Ibanez, predictably, went 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts, with his first three outs coming in rally situations with a runner on base. When you turned in your line-up card, you made a clear assertion – the left/right match-up is not as important as having your “best hitters” face their guy as much as possible.

Then, in the 8th inning, you faced a decision. You used Sean Green to get Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen out to end the 7th, and he looked like his typical awesome self, mowing down the two-all stars. Due up for the Tigers – switch hitting Mike Rabelo, left-handed hitting Sean Casey, and right-handed hitting Omar Infante. Sherrill has been the team’s best setup guy, and with a switch hitter and a lefty due up, he might seem like the natural guy to go to.

But here’s the rub – the Tigers had Craig Monroe sitting on the bench, and while he’s not having a great year, Monroe does have one skill – mash lefties. In fact, he’s hitting .333/.342/.609 against them this year, and he has a career OPS of .830 against LHPs versus .728 versus RHPs. Sherrill vs Monroe isn’t a good matchup in a one run game – Sherrill’s a flyball guy, Monroe’s a home run hitter, and one mistake ties it up. So, if you bring in Sherrill, you know they’re pinch-hitting for Casey, and you’re going to have a bad matchup, based on platoon splits, on your hands.

You brought in Sherrill anyways, sending Sean Green to the showers. Sherrill got Rabelo out. The Tigers pinch-hit Craig Monroe for Sean Casey.

And then you decided platoon splits mattered. So, out comes George Sherrill and in comes Chris Reitsma. Reitsma, of course, is a far inferior pitcher to Sherrill. But he’s right-handed, and Monroe doesn’t hit right-handers very well, and he’d be followed by two more right-handed hitters (even if not particularly good ones in Infante and Inge). With three righties due up, you went and got the team’s fifth best relief pitcher and stuck him in the game. Why? Because of the right-right matchup.

Why do platoon splits matter so much that you remove a dominant lefty for a mediocre righty in the 8th inning of a one run game, but they don’t matter enough to not hit Raul Ibanez third against a 6’7 flamethrowing southpaw who is absolute death to left-handed hitters. How do those two opinions coexist? Either platoon splits matter or they don’t. Right now, we’re getting the worst of both worlds, with line-ups configured to put automatic outs in the middle of the line-ups and inferior pitchers replacing our dominant lefty setup guy.

In the end, the decisions you made last night worked in that you won the game, but let’s look at their actual results. In the first inning, Raul Ibanez’s strikeout took 3% off the team’s win probability, as you handed Andrew Miller an easy out with a runner on base. In the 3rd inning, Raul Ibanez’s fielders choice took 3% off the team’s win probability, forcing Vidro out at second base and again hurting a rally. In the 5th inning, Raul Ibanez’s flyout to right field took 4% off the team’s win probability, again harming a rally by making an out with a man on.

Ibanez’s first three at-bats combined to make the Mariners 10% more likely to lose the game. This is what ignoring platoon splits gets you – a bad hitter in situations where the team needs a good hitter. I’d love to hear a rational explanation for this. How do you continue to justify hitting Raul Ibanez third in the order while tacitly acknowledging the power of platoon splits with your bullpen management? I just don’t get it.

Comments

112 Responses to “Some thoughts”

  1. AuburnM on July 13th, 2007 7:35 am

    Dave,

    Agree 100%.

    And why not pinch hit Broussard in the 9th for either Sexson or Jo against a rightie?

  2. AuburnM on July 13th, 2007 8:00 am

    Dave,

    Ohka > Feirabend?

  3. bdunn02 on July 13th, 2007 8:01 am

    Some day I’d like someone to test my hypothesis that a computer with a decent algorithm would be the best manager in the majors. (In terms of game management at any rate.)

  4. Dave on July 13th, 2007 8:05 am

    Ohka > Feirabend?

    No, not really. Ohka’s not a major league starter anymore. Since he’s free, there’s no real harm in signing him, but he’s not going to help the Mariners.

  5. Crooklyn Banks on July 13th, 2007 8:08 am

    Justin Lehr > Ohka

    He’ll do alot more now for us then Ohka can.

  6. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 8:23 am

    5- I’d like to see Lehr get the next start instead of Feirabend, Ramirez, or Ohka…it would be at home vs. the Orioles…that wouldn’t be the worst time for his first start…

  7. Mere Tantalisers on July 13th, 2007 8:24 am

    Thanks for the post Dave. One question: my understanding of win probability is that all teams start with .5 at the beginning of a game, thus a .5 WPA for a player means that he has single-handedly won the game for his team, taking the win probability from 50 to 100 percent. Would that not mean that Putz has been worth 8.4 wins?

  8. Dave on July 13th, 2007 8:25 am

    The Justin Lehr bandwagon is borderline out of control at this point. He’s not a major league starter either. When they signed him, I was pretty happy about the move, and I think he’d be a semi useful 11th or 12th reliever, but if Justin Lehr is your 5th starter in a pennant race, you have a problem.

  9. built2crash on July 13th, 2007 8:35 am

    Dave,
    do you think at some point Felix will realize he’s healthy and stop babying his arm by throwing only a few sliders a game? I know no one (myself included) wants to see him hurt, but at the same time he’s been throwing that slider his whole career with no problems till earlier this year, hopefully it was a fluke. that pitch is nasty and would make his life a whole lot easier if he threw it more. IMO

  10. nfreakct on July 13th, 2007 8:38 am

    Unfortunately I don’t think J.J. Putz will get much mainstream consideration unless he starts racking up gaudy save numbers and leads the league in that category. Thanks a lot baseball writers of the world!

    Ibanez is honestly looking pretty terrible right now either against righties or lefties. And it’s even worse when you take out that one game where he went crazy for 4 XBHs. At this point I wonder if there’s any chance left that he hasn’t fallen off that cliff called declining skills due to player aging.

  11. B_Con on July 13th, 2007 8:40 am

    Man, that Florida exec really doesn’t like the Ichiro deal.

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/323586_mbok13.html

  12. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 8:43 am

    8- i just want to see what he can do…

    also dave, quick comment/question…

    i went to the Mavs/Blaze game the other night…starting pitcher was terrible (four runs scored on wild pitches), Hargrove was awful (short, chubby first baseman), but i was there to mainly see Triunfel because you rave about him on the posts and in the future forty…he looked bad at the plate (only a single), but looked SMOOTH at short…he looked GREAT on defense…and physically, my buddy and i couldn’t figure if he looked more like Tejada or Sosa…the kid is put together…

    so my question is, with Yuni signed long-term, what is in store for Carlos at the MLB level? will they move him to third? how far away is he?

    Thanks as always…

  13. Carson on July 13th, 2007 8:48 am

    I really hate to say this. I think I’m going to start missing Hargrove soon. I rejoiced when he resigned, and I’ve always wanted to see Mac get a shot, but boy, this is scaring me now. Some of these moves really leave me scratching my head, and I figure it could only be a matter of time before the luck factor swings the other way.

    Had Froemming got that call right to begin with, Beltre would have been called out on the third tag by Carlos. Only two runs score, and we have a tie game. Who knows what happens next.

  14. 88fingerslukee on July 13th, 2007 8:50 am

    #11 – Wow that guy was incensed. I still back the deal. Ichiro’s game doesn’t lend itself to sharp dropoffs in skill level due to old age. The guy swings a magic wand. Age has no effect on magic.

  15. Carson on July 13th, 2007 8:51 am

    10 – Well, he is starting to get some national recognition. Unfortunately, I’m sure the casual fan around the country saw his All-Star performance, and said “I thought this guys was supposed to be lights out?”

    I fear that’s going to hurt his odds.

    And yes, baseball writers suck. Did anyone catch that horrible AL West Analysis on mlb.com? Our three “Gold Star” Players this season have been: Ichiro, JJ, and Turbo.

  16. terry on July 13th, 2007 8:57 am

    Can we have a seperate thread just for linking to comments that Florida exec made about the Ichiro deal?

    The thoughts on win probability and the platoon advantage is great stuff. Man, this game is poised to be a changin’….

  17. MarinerMatt on July 13th, 2007 9:03 am

    I almost cringed last night when Turbo got his three hits. It’s going to very difficult to justify benching a .290-.300 hitter regardless of his lack of power. Say what you want about Turbo but he still takes pitches and doesn’t hack at everything he sees. However, it won’t do a lot for the “free AJ” transition that needs to take place soon. Damn!

    Also, has anyone else noticed Sexson’s horrific pitch selection? He must have had 2-0 counts three or four times last night only to swing at pitches around his ankles each time. Is this guy going to wake up? With Beltre clutching up the way he has the past few weeks, Mac should drop Sexson back down in the lineup. I’m sick of watching Sexson hit with runners on and less than two outs, only to come up empty.

  18. msb on July 13th, 2007 9:05 am

    hey, Mark Lowe pitched last night for Tacoma

  19. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 9:05 am

    17- watching last night, it looked like when Richie would get ahead 2-0, he just swung at anything, assuming a fastball was coming and he could crush it…that’s all my speculation, but that’s what it looked like to me last night…

  20. Tek Jansen on July 13th, 2007 9:08 am

    Thanks in advance for the upcoming Green post.

    Nothing wrong witht he Ohka deal. I assume that this could help free up Feierabend for a potential deal if anything comes up and HoRam is not healthy enough to pretend to be a major league pitcher. As it stands right now, the 5th spot is between HoRam, Feierabend, and the newly signed Ohka. This is none too appealing.

  21. johnb on July 13th, 2007 9:10 am

    Don’t forget Cha Baek, he is still in the mix when he comes off the DL.

  22. Aaron on July 13th, 2007 9:14 am

    Re: Ibanez in the 3-hole.

    With this roster configuration, is there a better alternative? Lineups don’t matter a whole lot – if he was hitting 9th, maybe the 10% drop in WE goes to 8%. Each little bit helps, but the problem isn’t the lineup, it’s the roster. If you want to get a righty in there, it’s Bloomquist or Ellison, which isn’t much of an upgrade (last Sunday notwithstanding). Then again, maybe the defensive upgrade with either of those two makes it worthwhile anyway, but the team clearly needs another OF who can hit lefties.

  23. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 9:15 am

    21- i can’t believe i actually miss Baek…

  24. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 9:16 am

    22- jones is on the way…patience…

  25. erich39 on July 13th, 2007 9:18 am

    18- any word on his velocity?

  26. Tek Jansen on July 13th, 2007 9:20 am

    #21 — OK, I will add Baek to the mix for the 5th spot. The list still doesn’t make me swoon.

  27. Dave on July 13th, 2007 9:21 am

    do you think at some point Felix will realize he’s healthy and stop babying his arm by throwing only a few sliders a game?

    Felix throws plenty of sliders. He threw a ton of them last night.

    so my question is, with Yuni signed long-term, what is in store for Carlos at the MLB level? will they move him to third? how far away is he?

    Triunfel’s not sticking at short, even if you thought he looked smooth in one game. He’ll move to 3rd in a year or two, where his glove plays better. The bat is so good though, they could move him to DH and he’d still be a terrific prospect.

    With this roster configuration, is there a better alternative?

    There’s a lot of them. Flip Beltre and Ibanez, at least.

    Lineups don’t matter a whole lot – if he was hitting 9th, maybe the 10% drop in WE goes to 8%

    Well, first off, that’s not true – the #3 hitter is going to see more high leverage situations than the #7 or #8 hitter over the course of a season. Secondly – there’s no reason to punt any advantage in a pennant race.

    but the team clearly needs another OF who can hit lefties.

    Man, it sure would be nice if the M’s best prospect sas a right-handed hitting outfielder who was tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A and could play some defense to boot.

  28. Grizz on July 13th, 2007 9:21 am

    The bullpen could have used Kam Mickolio last night.

    Props to Dave for picking him at the start of the season as the leading candidate to be this year’s Mark Lowe. Unfortunately, with this year’s bullpen depth, he may not get the same break as Lowe.

  29. huhwhat on July 13th, 2007 9:22 am

    25 – Last I heard he was high 80′s low 90′s, but he’s going to add arm strength.

  30. SDRE on July 13th, 2007 9:25 am

    It was my first opportunity to see Andrew Miller in person and he look as good as hyped. You mentioned before that we passed on him because he wanted over slot money that the M’s shy away from. If that wasn’t the case, do you think we would of picked him? Or was Morrow better in the FO mind. I was thinking we still would of passed b/c of the Ryan Anderson nightmare still in the FO’s mind.

  31. Jeff Nye on July 13th, 2007 9:32 am

    I can’t believe that anyone at this point would take the opinion of an executive for the Marlins about running a baseball team in a fiscally responsible way seriously.

    Regardless of whether you think the Ichiro deal is a good idea or not, the level of histrionics is entirely unwarranted.

  32. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 9:35 am

    31- i heard that idiot talking trash about the deal the night it came out…couple days ago…i never brought it up, and i assume others didn’t because his opinion doesn’t really mean much…i’m sure that he would pay the same money for ichiro, being that they have ZERO at CF, but his owners would never let him…sour grapes…

  33. Evan on July 13th, 2007 9:38 am

    The only explanation for Mac’s decisions are the belief that opposing players have platoon splits, but Mariners don’t.

    Or, perhaps that all players have platoon splits, but they don’t believe they do, so Mac doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of his own players by platooning them, though he’s happy to shatter the confidence of opposing players.

    He’s treating Mariner hitters differently from how he’s treating opposing hitters, and unless there’s some material difference between the two, iut’s a bad decision.

  34. Tek Jansen on July 13th, 2007 9:47 am

    Mac’s reasons for keeping Ibanez at #3 are the same as Grover’s. He is an established, proven veteran hitter. Demoting him would be an insult, in their minds, and they do not want to insult a veteran like Ibanez until the results resemble Everett ’06.

  35. Dan W on July 13th, 2007 9:47 am

    Checking in from Halo-ville. The LA Times (OC edition of course) had the Angels penciled in for the World Series 2.5 weeks ago. I don’t think the writers (or most of their rah-rah ’02 bandwagon fans) figured they would lose another game this year.

    This morning, in the Times’s mid-year review, the Mariners are their pick to win the West, due to their “superior lineup, comparable bull-pen, and improving rotation”. Folks down here are getting a little antsy, and it makes me happy. Of course, the Angels will settle for the wild card.

  36. timc on July 13th, 2007 9:49 am

    Maybe McLaren is being particularly cautious with Ibanez’s feelings at this time, what with the talk of Adam Jones coming in and pushing Raul to the DH. Perhaps in the end, if a few games of Ibanez in high leverage spots vs. tough LHPs means a happy Ibanez in the DH spot (instead of a pouting Ibanez sitting and Vidro getting his ABs), it might be the right call.

    /huge stretch

  37. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 9:51 am

    35- i’m in bakersfield, and it’s mostly Dodger fans here, but the few Angel fans that are here are worried too…i moved down here in 2001, and this is the best summer for baseball since…Go MS!!!!!!!!!

  38. robbbbbb on July 13th, 2007 10:01 am

    Sean Green deserves his own post. I’m going to give him one eventually.

    Yes, please. Every time you do a post about a player, it’s fun to read.

    Is it easier to write about the M’s when they’re winning?

  39. quickkick87 on July 13th, 2007 10:05 am

    Dave, question about last night’s game and that weird play with Beltre.

    Assuming that all those calls were correct (which they were not), and Guillen never tagged Beltre and Beltre never touched second, when the Tigers appealed and threw the ball to second after the play and stepped on the bag, it seems to me that that should not have been cause for Beltre to be called out. Since he was not a force out at second, shouldn’t they have had to walk over to third and TAG him with the ball in their appeal? I don’t get it…

  40. quickkick87 on July 13th, 2007 10:09 am

    ps – if anybody else knows the answer to that question, feel free

  41. Dan W on July 13th, 2007 10:13 am

    39 – if you miss a base, you appeal by doing exactly what the Tigers did – before the next pitch, step off the rubber and throw to said base. Display ball to umpire (with appropriate pleading or smug expression, depending on confidence level), and wait for umpire’s signal. If the umpire agrees that he missed the base, he will signal ‘out’.

    Which is crazy of course, since the same ump had already signaled ‘safe’. If he had seen him NOT touch the base there would have been no call at the time.

  42. Logger on July 13th, 2007 10:17 am

    Kudos to Carlos Guillen for when he missed, missed, and missed the tag on Beltre and then proceeded to argue with the ump instead of doing what he should have done – throwing Beltre out at 3rd or nailing lumbering, lead-footed Sexson out at home.

  43. quickkick87 on July 13th, 2007 10:18 am

    Yeah, I understand the appeal process, but I was under the impression that that sort of appeal worked only on a missed tag-up on a fly ball. I mean, technically if Beltre didn’t touch second, the play is still live, right?

  44. quickkick87 on July 13th, 2007 10:19 am

    PS – dan, you’re probably right, I was just wondering. And I think it’s clear that the ump just thought he had made the wrong call originally and was compensating the Tigers by calling Beltre out.

  45. scraps on July 13th, 2007 10:21 am

    I wonder if Froemming is doing a make-up call at that point.

  46. carcinogen on July 13th, 2007 10:25 am

    Question for the L.A. denizens above. Do the Angels still have that ridiculous rally monkey? Do I have that to look forward to for the rest of the year.

  47. giuseppe on July 13th, 2007 10:25 am

    Dave, is the tone of the blog going to continue in this vein now that you have some insider handing open letters to Chaves? Do you think he’ll get this one to McLaren?

    Just kidding. I actually hope he does.

  48. Mike Honcho on July 13th, 2007 10:26 am

    Man, it sure would be nice if the M’s best prospect sas a right-handed hitting outfielder who was tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A and could play some defense to boot.

    It would be even nicer if they had two such prospects…

  49. JMHawkins on July 13th, 2007 10:31 am

    if Justin Lehr is your 5th starter in a pennant race, you have a problem.

    I’m happy for Lehr’s success, but yeah. He’s 30, walks 3 and K’s less than 5 per 9 innings in AAA. Plus, his name isn’t even Justin (“He’s not even Dutch!”). Also, he’s not on the 40-man, and although we have a slot open thanks to the 60-day DL, Lowe needs it if he’s activated. On the other hand, if HoRam’s your 5th starter in a pennant race… what was the asking price for D-train again?

    Speaking of the Marlins front office, shouldn’t Bud be calling Mr Samson to have a chat about tampering or something? The deal isn’t announced (please, please annouce soon guys – I want to know it’s final) so why is an exec from another team commenting on it at all?

    I almost cringed last night when Turbo got his three hits

    If Geoff Baker is right, hitting more singles won’t keep Vidro in the lineup. Baker thinks the M’s want doubles out of they guy. I remember a post Dave had earlier in the year where he noted Vidro changed his swing and approach to try hitting more balls in the air and maybe squeeze out a little more power at the expense of average. Is he still doing that, or has he gone back to hunting worms and GIDPs?

  50. quickkick87 on July 13th, 2007 10:33 am

    Did anybody hear Jeff Nelson last night inanely blathering on the 950 post game show about how Vidro is “doing a fine job” and how bringing up Jones would “be a mistake” because things are going well.

  51. MarinerMatt on July 13th, 2007 10:33 am

    Did anyone read Keith Law’s (ESPN)article this morning about the “lucky” M’s?

    While giving us a little credit, the tone of his article is generally about the huge amount of “luck” we’ve had so far.

  52. bakomariner on July 13th, 2007 10:38 am

    the rally monkey is still alive, unfortunate as it is…although to a much lesser extent…

  53. tgf on July 13th, 2007 10:41 am

    While giving us a little credit, the tone of his article is generally about the huge amount of “luck” we’ve had so far.

    Yeah, good thing they won’t subtract the lucky wins from the final standings. Nothing in that article not already discussed by lots of people, including Dave. Maybe this is unfair, but ever since Keith Law called Choo an excellent defensive center fielder when he was flogging the M’s for trading him, I’ve pretty much disregarded everything he writes.

  54. Nintendo Marios on July 13th, 2007 10:43 am

    McLaren makes lineup decisions like a rotten kid who behaves well just before Christmas.

    The thought process seems to be, “To hell with L/R splits, unless the game is on the line & I might be criticized for not paying attention to the L/R splits.”

    How do we get John to seek every advantage from the outset, when he’s filling out the lineup card, rather than just mailing in Marketing’s suggested pro forma lineup?

  55. jake squid on July 13th, 2007 10:50 am

    Maybe this is unfair, but ever since Keith Law called Choo an excellent defensive center fielder when he was flogging the M’s for trading him, I’ve pretty much disregarded everything he writes.

    Well, given that he writes that Green is a lefty and Feierabend is a righty and doesn’t seems to know that Sherrill is on the team, I think there is good cause to disregard him.

    Is it too much to ask that writers look at a roster or that editors check facts before publishing?

  56. billT on July 13th, 2007 10:51 am

    Law also called Green a lefty and Feierabend a righty. Can’t ESPN employ someone to check those sort of things?

  57. planB on July 13th, 2007 10:56 am

    Yeah, I understand the appeal process, but I was under the impression that that sort of appeal worked only on a missed tag-up on a fly ball. I mean, technically if Beltre didn’t touch second, the play is still live, right?

    Yes, that’s why Richie Sexson’s run counted. He didn’t go home until Guillen dropped the ball, and Beltre wasn’t out until the appeal was made.

  58. Tek Jansen on July 13th, 2007 10:57 am

    Maybe ESPN will rectify the situation by claiming that Sean Green is “More Now” than Lebron James. And since Green had enough self respect to not attend the ESPYs, he probably is.

  59. Carson on July 13th, 2007 11:03 am

    41 – You are correct mostly. It’s stupd baseball rules, but a missed base is indeed an appeal play, and is not ruled on by the umpire until after the play is dead, and an appeal is made. The safe call made by Froemming was in regards to the “missed” tag.

  60. Bozo on July 13th, 2007 11:03 am

    The Keith Law article cited above revealed interesting facts about lefty Sean Green and righty Ryan Feierabend. How many other teams have two pitchers that throw with their off hand ?

  61. Logger on July 13th, 2007 11:08 am

    It absolutely amazes me that Law, an ESPN writer, totally disregarded the M’s best reliever not named JJ Putz.

  62. Dave on July 13th, 2007 11:09 am

    A couple of years ago, I made a decision that has greatly improved my quality of life – I stopped caring about the opinions of national baseball writers.

    The job is obsolete. With the rise of the internet and the in depth analysis of each organization by intelligent fans who are highly motivated, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from team specific sites and blogs.

    Because USSM essentially only covers the Mariners, we can spend a great deal of time on things that a national writer cannot, as his job is to be relatively informed on the game at large. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for someone to have an in depth understanding of the workings of 30 organizations.

    We know more about the Mariners than Keith Law, Rob Neyer, Joe Sheehan, Peter Gammons, Aaron Gleeman, or whoever else you might find writing about the game as a whole. That’s a function of our dedication to following one team with intense scrutiny. They can’t know the organization as well as we do – it’s physically impossible.

    There’s just no reason to care what they think. They’re paid to do a job that has been outdated for several years now. Eventually, people will realize this, and the national columnist job will go away.

  63. davepaisley on July 13th, 2007 11:11 am

    That article is brutal, made up of snippets randomly plucked from elsewhere (Felix relies too heavily on his fastball? Where have I heard that?)

    Maybe he thinks Jones is the lefty power bat we need?

    On the one hand, we’re a bad team that’s been lucky, on the other hand, we’re poised to make a run. Make up your frickin’ mind, Keith.

  64. scraps on July 13th, 2007 11:19 am

    I think we are a flawed team that’s been lucky, and we’re poised to make a run. Management has to make decisions that take advantage of our options, but still, it is both true that we have been lucky and that a playoff spot is ours for the taking.

  65. Dave in Palo Alto on July 13th, 2007 11:27 am

    Dave,

    Love your work, but have to disagree with your conclusion that national baseball columnists will go the way of the dodo. Most fans simply don’t have the time or energy to mine the internet resources for 30 separate organizations. People who want quick takes on other clubs will go to Gammons, et al., or the local writer charged with keeping tabs on non-local clubs (in SF, John Shea). You may not learn much in survey classes, but that’s where you start.

  66. lokiforever on July 13th, 2007 11:28 am

    I read the article and took it for what it was. The M’s getting some love and PR from the Yankess/RedSox news team. It was a fair, albeit cursory assessment of the team highlighting the key players and characterstics of the season thus far. Just the sort of thing my out of state relatives should read.

    Few K’s, Few BB’s. Not enough Power. Good bullpen, starting rotation problematic. Bring-up Jones, bench Vidro.

    And of course my favorite quote, “removal of Mike Hargrove, one of the worst tactical managers in the game.”

    I’m surprised readers here find this article problematic. It’s a diluted version of many of the themes found here, on the good ship USSMariner.

  67. msb on July 13th, 2007 11:32 am

    Did anybody hear Jeff Nelson last night inanely blathering on the 950 post game show about how Vidro is “doing a fine job” and how bringing up Jones would “be a mistake” because things are going well.

    Jeff Nelson’s Baseball Wisdom:

    You have to make a move to show the team you want to win

    You can’t just bring up an unproven minor league player and mess up a good thing.

    Raul Ibanez’ numbers as an outfielder are so much better than those as a DH.

    It would be worth trading Adam Jones for Jon Garland or Erik Bedard

    Ichiro will never be as popular as Griffey, Edgar or Jay.

  68. timc on July 13th, 2007 11:35 am

    62 – I strongly agree with your suggestion to stop caring about what the national baseball writers think. I can’t bring myself to read most of what’s out there on any of the major sports websites.

    But I do think there’s a place for national columnists to act as filters to sort out what’s interesting for general fans, as opposed to fans of specific teams or players. Human interest stories, for example, are something that I do read on the major sites. There was a piece on Dmitri Young recently on Yahoo sports – I had no idea about his diabetes, and it’s something that I was interested to read about even though I don’t care about the Nats or about Young.

    Also, while I wouldn’t risk a penny on any analysis that he presents, Peter Gammons is probably a special case as more or less a reflector of what baseball people think. While one may not agree with what some particular team’s GM thinks of a certain player, for instance, having that information still gives us fans some insight.

  69. Dan W on July 13th, 2007 11:41 am

    Carson, just a nitpick. Umpires don’t (or shouldn’t) make a ‘safe’ call on a missed tag. If the runner gets to the base before the tag, or if the tag is missed THEN the runner reaches the base, that’s when ‘safe’ is indicated. It’s meant to signal reaching base safely, not whether a tag is made or not. Think of a runner caught in a rundown – no signal is given till a tag is made or the runner reaches a base.

  70. bermanator on July 13th, 2007 11:45 am

    I agree that the national columnist job isn’t going away anytime soon.

    I don’t think this is as new as it may appear. The best part of the Sunday Globe back when I was in college and had the time to read it was Gammons’ notes column … which was his observations of the Red Sox and information he gathered from other teams, both by making calls on his own and getting information from the local beat writers who knew more about that team than he did. He may not have been the expert about, say, what the Twins were doing, but he knew where to go to get that information.

    That kind of one-stop-shopping still provides a service. And the good columnists are starting to gather more material from non-traditional sources, as people here are well aware.

  71. davepaisley on July 13th, 2007 11:47 am

    66 – yeah, I’ll take the “worst tactical manager ever”, but the tone veers so far from one side to the other, numerous times, that it’s hard to figure out what he really wants to say.

    Then there’s the rambling analysis of the bullpen (minus GS52) and getting Feierabend and Green mixed up. And no mention of the worst DH in baseball(tm)? For shame.

    Sloppy work overall.

  72. CouchGM on July 13th, 2007 11:49 am

    [Sexson]

  73. Evan on July 13th, 2007 11:52 am

    Dan W is correct. If Umps were to signal safe whenever a runner was not out they’d be signalling constantly throughout the game.

    As the runner approached the base, he’s neither safe nor out, and thus no call gets made. If he gets tagged, the ump makes an out call. If he reached the bag without being tagged, the ump makes a safe call. But as long as neither of those things has happened, no call gets made.

    So, if Beltre did, according to Froemming, miss the bag at second, Froemming shouldn’t have made a safe call. That he made a safe call told everyone in the park 9including Beltre) that Beltre had safely reached second base, and thus was clear to advance to third at his own risk. So Beltre did that, and then Froemming retroactively changed the call, even though Beltre wouldn’t have tried to advance to third if he’d know Froemming thought he’d missed the bag (and Froemming had clearly communicated that he had by making the safe call).

    Froemming called his safe. And then later decided he never had been.

  74. terry on July 13th, 2007 11:56 am

    Thats said about national sportswriters Dave, doesn’t a guy like Gammons still get access to inside information that dedicated outsiders may only get after it’s filtered down through the organisation and may be stale or less trustworthy?

  75. Dave on July 13th, 2007 11:59 am

    Thats said about national sportswriters Dave, doesn’t a guy like Gammons still get access to inside information that dedicated outsiders may only get after it’s filtered down through the organisation and may be stale or less trustworthy?

    Sure. I like Gammons, and you can see how much ESPN’s baseball coverage has gone downhill since he stopped contributing as regularly. I’m not saying to ignore him. I’m saying you shouldn’t really care about his opinion on the quality of the Mariners bullpen (if he even has one).

  76. gwangung on July 13th, 2007 12:09 pm

    As the runner approached the base, he’s neither safe nor out, and thus no call gets made. If he gets tagged, the ump makes an out call. If he reached the bag without being tagged, the ump makes a safe call. But as long as neither of those things has happened, no call gets made.
    So, if Beltre did, according to Froemming, miss the bag at second, Froemming shouldn’t have made a safe call. That he made a safe call told everyone in the park 9including Beltre) that Beltre had safely reached second base, and thus was clear to advance to third at his own risk. So Beltre did that, and then Froemming retroactively changed the call, even though Beltre wouldn’t have tried to advance to third if he’d know Froemming thought he’d missed the bag (and Froemming had clearly communicated that he had by making the safe call).

    And, functionally, that’s the way it had to be. One of the roles of the umpire is to call the play. Another role is to CALL IT UNAMBIGUOUSLY, so the players know what the call is and act from there.

    It simply isn’t fair to the player to change the decision after the fact and penalize them for that.

  77. mmccall on July 13th, 2007 12:11 pm

    Regarding national sportswriters, we as consumers of information just need to understand the depth and quality we are receiving. Topical information about sports teams becomes stale almost as soon as it is published. Is it realistic to believe that a writer will do thorough leg work to produce quality analysis on 30 teams, especially when the content may only have relevance for a day or two? Ideally, yes but practically speaking, probably not.

    This is exactly the reason reading both this site and LL are a huge part of my daily routine. If I skip reading CNNSI.com or espn.com, no big loss.

  78. Dave Clapper on July 13th, 2007 12:17 pm

    43: Think of it this way: if a runner veers to far out of the baseline, he’s out. 3rd base is way out of the baseline from 1st to 2nd, no? It is an odd rule, though, in that it forces the defending team to actually ask the umpire to make the call, rather than the ump just calling the guy out.

  79. _David_ on July 13th, 2007 12:17 pm

    Assuming the Mariners are waiting for something, or have a set of requirements that need to be met in order to come to the decision to call up Adam Jones, what more needs to happen? Is there something specific that they want him to work on further in Tacoma? Does Vidro need to approach a slightly lower level of suckiness in order to tip the balance? Do they believe a happy Vidro is more important to success than a better team on the field? Will it take losing a game on a bases clearing 2-out double on a ball that Raul can’t quite catch up with? I assume there is something that they are waiting for that hasn’t happened, like AJ going 10 games in a row without striking out?

  80. huhwhat on July 13th, 2007 12:18 pm

    So Ichiro’s news conference is at 1:30.

  81. J from Issy on July 13th, 2007 12:21 pm

    Ichiro Press Conference @ 1:30 Today

    National Sportswriters are needed for more caual fans. We are a little more hard core. This is the same reason that the statistics that are flashed up on the screen (regardless of how outdated they are) will never change because casual fans are familiar with it. If you changed it then you would push away fans who are comfortable with the stats because they are common.

  82. carcinogen on July 13th, 2007 12:21 pm

    72: Its like yesterday’s discussion never happened…sigh.

  83. Spadam on July 13th, 2007 12:21 pm

    Official news at 1:30!

  84. Ninja Jordan on July 13th, 2007 12:29 pm

    Ohka > Ramirez > Fierabend

  85. Ben Ramm on July 13th, 2007 12:38 pm

    I was wondering when we’d get some discussion of where Green came from:

    “The Mariners made two moves today to create room for Ron Villone and Adrian Beltre on the 40 man roster. They traded Aaron Taylor (#22 on the Future Forty) for middling non-prospect Sean Green. This is basically a rehash of last years Allan Simpson-Chris Buglovsky swap, where the Mariners send a potentially useful reliever to Colorado for minor league roster filler simply to open up space on the 40-man.”

    December 20, 2004.

    http://ussmariner.com/2004/12/20/40-man-moves/

  86. terry on July 13th, 2007 12:41 pm

    #85: maybe in the upcoming thread devoted to him?

  87. Mike Honcho on July 13th, 2007 12:46 pm

    FYI – It’s official.

    Ichiro is an M through 2012.

    Woo-Hoooooooooooo!

  88. _David_ on July 13th, 2007 12:46 pm

    Anyone have the odds of the newsconference being anything other than Ichiro?

  89. fetish on July 13th, 2007 12:52 pm

    from Keith Law today,on ESPN.com:

    “The substitution of Adam Jones for Jose Vidro, giving them another power bat, more speed, and an outstanding defensive outfield with three plus-plus arms and two center fielders with excellent range.

  90. fetish on July 13th, 2007 12:53 pm

    addendum

    that was written as if it has already happened. See the “Prognosis” section.

  91. Logger on July 13th, 2007 12:53 pm

    Now that it is finalized, does anyone know the financial terms of Ichiro’s new deal?

  92. Colm on July 13th, 2007 12:55 pm

    It seems Law has corrected his solicisms. Feierabend is now credited as a lefty, and there’s no mention of which hand Green choses to use.

    I was struck that he did write this:
    “Seattle’s ace, Felix Hernandez, has the stuff to be one of the five best starters in baseball, but he has struggled with an elbow problem and a tendency to overuse his fastball, which (despite coming in at 92-96 mph) is probably his worst pitch.”

    Sounds like he’s been hearing Dave’s analysis somewhere along the line.

  93. _David_ on July 13th, 2007 12:58 pm

    How did Felix’s velocity last night compare to his first two starts? I know the FSN gun is fast, but it said he hit 99.

  94. eponymous coward on July 13th, 2007 12:59 pm

    Raul’s a beloved veteran. Platooning beloved veterans (or dropping them in the batting order) is not part of The Book. Compulsively using bullpen pitchers for handedness IS part of The Book (the Tony LaRussa version).

    The sad part is carrying 12 pitchers means you can’t make as many L/R lineup switches- and stacking lineups/platooning/pinch hitting for handedness works as a strategy.

    Someday, some manager is going to have a 10 man pitching staff, with a couple of long relief knuckleballers who can throw 6 inning long relief stints back to back, and carry a decent bench, and win some games. And The Book will be rewritten again…

  95. Matt from Tacoma on July 13th, 2007 1:19 pm

    Dave – should we read anything into the shifting of Mark Lowe from rehab assignment usage (the first inning) to minor league closer usage (last inning)? That implies to me that he’s going to be riding the bus for at least a few more weeks.

    Interesting that usually with elbow problems, command is slow to come back, but Lowe’s numbers sure don’t show that.

  96. Carson on July 13th, 2007 1:44 pm

    69 (Dan W) and 73 (Evan) – I just watched the video again, and I still think the safe call was made by Froemming in regard to the tag attempt by Guillen on Beltre as he slid. The call was a little early, and I don’t think Froemming anticipated Beltre to over slide. I’m convinced the call was not made in regard to Beltre touching or not touching the bag.

    Keep in mind Froemming has been doing this longer than probably 95% of the posters on this blog have been alive. He probably made a mistake here or there.

    As someone who has umpired as high as JV ball, I can tell you that it is not uncommon for an umpire to signal safe when a tag is missed. But it is harped on us to not make any indication about the missed bag until an appeal is made. Again, stupid rule IMO.

  97. davepaisley on July 13th, 2007 2:09 pm

    94 – instead, we just carry several knuckleheads in the dugout.

  98. zeke5123 on July 13th, 2007 2:16 pm

    I am a large proponent of calling up Adam Jones. I recognize the damage Vidro’s bat does to the lineup and Ibanez’s glove to the defense, but lost in all of this is the fact that Ibanez’s bat is hurting the lineup as well.

    I’ve noticed in the last few months it seems like Ibanez is always scuffling. There also seems to be significant talk regarding either platooning Ibanez against righties or simply DH’ing him the whole time. I believe both moves are faulty. Take a quick look at Vidro’s and Ibanez’s combined June and July stats (I compiled them myself using MLB stats, so feel free to check my math).

    Vidro; .278/.351/.330 giving him an OPS of .681

    Ibanez’s; .256/.284/.384 giving him an OPS of .668

    Ok, we know Ibanez struggles mightily against lefties so how much better did he fair against righties?

    .307/.365/.615. A very good batting line. However, we find this stat is slightly misleading. On June 21st Ibanez went off against the CLE Indians to the tune of 13 TB. Subtract this game and his SLG drops to .480 giving him an OPS of .840 which is still 100 points higher than his season .740 OPS against righties. Why is this so out of line with his overall June and July performance and his season performance? I think this is an aberration. I believe his June and July splits against righties were powered by a few good games.

    This leads to my conclusion that Broussard should be the DH against righties.

    Then the problem arise who DH’s against lefties? The only candidate off the new bench is Vidro spotting a sexy .708 OPS when facing lefties. Not a solution. I understand righties who hit well against lefties are easy to find, but if we cant sign one, how about calling up Wlad to hit against lefties? Jeff at LL posted a piece saying that Wlad currently, may be the better hitter than Jones. Sounds like a good solution to me.

    In my opinion, both Vidro and Ibanez need benched, with Broussard given DH duty against righties and Wlad/pickup against lefties.

  99. Adam S on July 13th, 2007 2:44 pm

    The only explanation for Mac’s decisions are the belief that opposing players have platoon splits, but Mariners don’t.

    Evan, I suspect you made that remark somewhat in jest, but it appears to be true. There’s a belief that “professional hitters” like Ibanez, Guillen, and Vidro don’t need to be platooned or moved down in the lineup; they can hit lefties and righties. I’m pretty sure there’s a belief throughout the M’s organization that Ibanez can him lefties. Just ASK McLaren (or Hargrove) why he doesn’t alter his lineup based on whether the opposing starter is a lefty or righty.

    Of course, there’s actual data that disproves that and other teams will use it against us.

  100. RoninX on July 13th, 2007 3:17 pm

    @93

    The stadium gun had him at 92-96 pretty consistently on his fastballs.

    Felix didn’t have his best stuff last night and I missed the top of the first (thanks alot #16 bus!). However, from what I saw that was one of the more “in control” 10 hit allowed performances I can remember seeing lately.

    Actually it kind of reminded me of Clemens in his “late prime” (ex: 1st stint with the Yanks). In that he would occasionally take the mound and less than his best stuff and allow 8-9-10 hits over 7 innings before turning it over to Rivera and Co. Teams would scratch 2-3 runs across but you just had this feeling that with someone else on the mound that game might really have gotten away.

    All in all a very solid performance by the King. I’ve been thinking about the 4th inning and how it never really felt like the game was going to slip away there.

    I know we are all about the numbers here and 10 hits in 6 1/3 inning is Not A Good Thing – yet, I was really impressed last night.

  101. Keith Law on July 13th, 2007 5:46 pm

    Indeed, my article today included some pretty sloppy mistakes. I apologize for that. But I do think there’s merit in the argument that the team is playing above expectations, and that their W-L record is better than their actual performance has been.

    As for why I didn’t mention Sherrill, I’ve seen him twice this year, and his stuff wasn’t very good. I recognize that his #s this year are out of sight, but without an easy way to reconcile that with 1) stuff I didn’t think was that good and 2) a mediocre track record, I didn’t offer an opinion on him because I couldn’t offer a reasonable one. I tried to limit myself as much as possible to players I had a good feel for, and he wasn’t one of them.

  102. Sammy on July 13th, 2007 5:58 pm

    Keith,

    Mediocre track record? Have you looked at his numbers against lefties last year? I, along with everyone else that watches this team regularly, can guarantee you that he’s the third best guy in our pen against righties (after Putz and a surprising Green) and the best lefty-killer in the league, bar none.

    In general, I thought your overall conclusion was accurate, but your reasoning was overly simplistic. To say our lineup consists of Ichiro + a bunch of crappy hitters doesn’t really do justice to the overall strength of our lineup top to bottom, nor to the solid seasons being had by Johjima, Lopez, or Beltre.

  103. Sammy on July 13th, 2007 6:08 pm

    Keith,

    It occurred to me that “third-best option” doesn’t exactly sound like the highest praise; I suppose that’s a reflection of just how fantastic this bullpen is. Do you realize the M’s are 42-2 in games they lead after the 7th?

    By the way, pythags underrate this team a bit. I realize that every team has blowout victories and blowout losses, but we’ve had more than our fair share of the latter. Jeff Weaver’s six starts were historically monstrous. Check this list out (via one of the commenters at Lookoutlanding):

    Weaver:
    L 14-3
    L 11-2
    L 6-1
    L 8-3
    L 8-1

    Feierabend:
    L 16-1
    L 17-3

    Total RA: 80
    Total RS: 13

  104. Sammy on July 13th, 2007 6:08 pm

    Make that 39-2, sorry

  105. Keith Law on July 13th, 2007 6:13 pm

    Sammy:

    My reasoning was simplistic, absolutely. It was a short take on a subject that deserved a longer treatment. I won’t make excuses for that.

    As for the lineup, when I saw the M’s live, I pretty much had the hitters in two categories: Ichiro and Beltre, and everyone else. (That’s not quite fair – Johjima was OK, but he looked very vulnerable on stuff down.) Ichiro’s VORP is 36% of the team’s total, 34% if you knock out the sub-zero guys. Lopez is having a decent year average-wise, but his plate discipline is horrendous. Someone might want to alert him to the existence of the “slider.” And he was beyond lazy in the field in those games. Granted, it was a limited look, and maybe there was something else going on. Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that Ichiro accounts for a significant amount of their offense.

    Regarding Sherrill, I did check his ’06 splits, and I had seen that 43% of righties reached base against him, same as in 2005 (tiny sample). So does what he’s done against 41 righties this year mark a legitimate change in his abilities? I couldn’t answer that question, so I didn’t try to.

    One question you folks might be able to answer for me: Is there some reason Yuniesky Betancourt can’t be bothered to run out a groundball?

  106. lokiforever on July 13th, 2007 6:35 pm

    Keith

    Thanks for coming by to share your views and respond professionaly to some of the critiques offered here. You have Cyber balls.

    One of the critiques, 71, suggested the tone veered from one side to the other…ironically, the articles posted here at USSMariner are at times optimistic and and others pessimistic, as is the mood with us M’s fans over the course of a season. Today, and this last week, we’re all particularly giddy.

    I thought the article was good, (save the handedness bit with the pitchhers, an honest oversight)

    Thank you for showing the M’s some love.

  107. Sammy on July 13th, 2007 6:57 pm

    Re: Betancourt

    Nope, we can’t answer that for you, though we’d like to. Betancourt is one of the largest sore spots of the season for us. Despite his flashes of speed, he’s not a very good basestealer, either. We expected about what we saw last year: .280 average with a bit of pop, no plate discipline, and all-world defense. So far he’s underperformed our expectations offensively, and, despite brilliant plays at short, he makes frequent lapses in concentration on routine grounders and overthrows Sexson at first.

    Lopez has improved markedly on the field this year; he’s easily one of the five best defensive 2Bs in the league. He does seem to miss a ball here and there that he should have gotten, but the times I think that are far and few between. You’re right that he has no plate discipline, but he does have consistent line-drive power and he’s starting to show that. Our whole lineup consists of hackers, and, while it can be extremely frustrating at times, I don’t believe a high .280 batting average is unsustainable for this lineup, not with Beltre and Sexson coming on the way we expect them to.

    I’ll second loki and say that I had absolutely no expectation you would come over here and talk things over face to face (so to speak); that’s a significant amount of respect to be shown by a national columnist, and I do sincerely appreciate it.

  108. Keith Law on July 13th, 2007 7:00 pm

    Loki – you’re welcome. I thought I did a poor job, and when Dave Cameron dropped me a note about the handedness stuff (and that Morrow had lost his setup job), I thought it was only fair to come over and take my lumps.

    I originally wanted to write the article because I thought there was an interesting story here, because the team is so far outplaying preseason expectations. But then I saw them live, and walked away feeling like I’d just seen a .500 team. There wasn’t an easy way to reconcile what I saw with their W-L record.

  109. gwangung on July 13th, 2007 7:07 pm

    I’m not sure the USS Mariner group think that far away from Keith’s analysis, other than we’re fairly higher on the bullpen than he is (given that, say, Sherrill is death on lefthanders and seems to be used as a LOOGY, that data could be used more). I think we’re somewhat mystified as to the extent of the success of the team, just like the national writers; but I don’t think we’re complaining.

    [as far as the offense is concerned...is there an effect from having a team of decent hitters? Traditionalists TALK about the lineup having "no holes" but does that really translate into real world results?]

  110. Christopher Michael on July 13th, 2007 7:45 pm

    I might not agree with your writing but it does help to read more into your thoughts on the matter. Glad you stopped by and explained yourself a bit more. Shows character and accountability.

  111. Cap on July 13th, 2007 9:10 pm

    Maybe this is something, maybe it isn’t: When you remove 3 games from the Mariners first-half results (4/10, 6/22, 7/3, a combined -40 run differential), the run differential on the season takes a huge leap forward into a realm more accurately reflecting their overall record. The argument can be made with every team, but this is a very large run differential over only 3 games during the first half of the season. This data makes me wonder if a case can be made against the “run differential argument” as to why the M’s shouldn’t just be a .500 team. I’d appreciate some thoughts on this. Thanks!

  112. Sammy on July 13th, 2007 9:20 pm

    111.
    You made your own argument:

    The argument can be made with every team

    Every team has a few huge blowout losses. I think what sets us apart is the sheer number of these losses compounded by the fact that the vast majority came from one pitcher during a month and a half long span.

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