Fun with numbers

Dave · July 29, 2007 at 10:52 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Since rumors continue to persist that the Mariners are shopping for a veteran right-handed setup man to work the 8th inning, I just thought I’d point out the following.

Sean Green, July: 10 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 6 K

Green has inherited 13 runners this month. Not one of them has scored. He’s had two significant issues holding him back in his career – a lack of command and an inability to get left-handed hitters out. He now hasn’t walked anyone in his last 14 appearances, and he had no problem retiring Nick Swisher or Jack Cust today, the two best left-handed hitters in the A’s lineup.

And, to boot, we’ve got this:

Brandon Morrow, last four outings: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K

Morrow’s last four appearances are his best stretch of pitching as a pro. Even when he wasn’t giving up runs in May, he was having trouble throwing strikes, putting nearly as many balls out of the strike zone as in it. In these recent appearances, however, 74 of his 102 pitches have been strikes. To boot, he’s showing far more confidence in his splitter, throwing 10 of them in his last appearance against the A’s on Friday.

The only thing this team needs less than a new right-handed reliever is a new center fielder.


134 Responses to “Fun with numbers”

  1. Tek Jansen on July 30th, 2007 10:06 am

    #98 — Would Morrow even benefit from going down to the minors now, at this point in the season? I suppose that if the M’s feel that there is no use for him on the major league club, sure, but they have already made their mistake with him. I don’t think a month or two in the minors will rectify it. Morrow is clearly better than Reitsma, and if the M’s want to turn him into a starter (which I doubt will happen) they might as well wait a couple months.

  2. scraps on July 30th, 2007 10:06 am

    98: You don’t understand! The team needs more middle relievers! We can’t send Morrow down; then we’d have an even bigger hole!

  3. awolfgang on July 30th, 2007 10:07 am

    People who want a reliever because our starters can’t make it past 5 innings are missing the point. THE PROBLEM IS THE STARTER!!!! You don’t trade prospects (or anyone in my opinion) for relievers to eat up the 6th and 7th innings, those guys should be in your farm system (which I think they are, and some are already on the club). We should only consider trading our prospects for TOR SP (ummm, do you see any available, really??), or a LHB/OF Defense (since the M’s don’t seem to want to bring up Jones).

    More to the point, if the M’s “add” anyone outside of the organization, I’m scared. Instead they are in the classic addition by substraction position, i.e. subtract Vidro/Sexson/Ibanez (or atleast subtract their playing time.

  4. JMHawkins on July 30th, 2007 10:14 am

    PROVEN veterans…

    Y’know, listening to Reitsma come into the game on the radio yesterday as I drove through Redmond (I was the guy in the white truck pounding his forehead on the steering wheel), it occured to me that perhaps the M’s don’t realize “proven” is really only half an adjective. For all their “proven” guys, perhaps they should ask the quesiton, “Proven what?”

  5. Nat Irons on July 30th, 2007 10:16 am

    Echoing 98 & 101 — is there a realistic hope that Morrow eventually spends some time in the minors to work on becoming a starter, even next year? Or has he been pigeonholed for life?

  6. msb on July 30th, 2007 10:17 am

    I’ve decided I am going to cling to the line Larry Stone used today … “[they] may come to the conclusion that nothing available is better than what they have.”

  7. Notor on July 30th, 2007 10:18 am

    Another thing that really grinds my gears: All this talk about needing a set-up for Putz. I really hope we don’t waste Balentein or Clement on a reliever we do not need at all. If there is anywhere the Mariners shine (Reitsma aside) it’s typically been late in the game, why are we fixing something that isn’t broken at all?

    Personally I think we should move Balentein for a decent starter. Ramirez is atrocious and he needs to be off the team right now, even if we can’t land a stellar difference-maker we can at least improve our #5 spot, and Wladimir isn’t a vital addition provided Jones is ever called up.

    It’s possible that the reason Jones has been stuck in Tacoma is that the FO was hoping to bait someone into making their anchor available, such as Bedard with the Orioles. That didn’t happen, so now I’m just hoping they won’t trade him for someone who’s worth a lot less than he is and once again leave the Mariners up sh*t creek after a trade.

  8. Ben Ramm on July 30th, 2007 10:19 am

    “The Mariners are not intentionally running out a worse roster just to spite the blogosphere. I can’t even comprehend what it would take to believe that to be true.”

    Dave, you’ve misstated the issue.

    The issue is not “to spite the blogosphere,” it’s to retain credibility with the baseball world.

    I read once that every NFL head coach is auditioning for his next job as an assistant coach. A head coach who takes too many risks or deviates too far from the conventional thinking will not be hired to be anyone’s assistant once fired as a head coach.

    If Bavasi or McLaren look like they take advice from Dave, then they reveal that they have few insights to offer their next employers that is not freely available on the internet. If they continue as they have, then they explain their failures by saying “baseball is a funny game,” or “we needed another set up man,” or “the veterans didn’t perform like we thought they would,” etc. Pick the cliche.

    They’ll show themselves as the sort of people whom veteran ball players can trust and whom other baseball people like — qualities far more important to obtaining employment than actual success.

  9. gwangung on July 30th, 2007 10:19 am

    Y’know, listening to Reitsma come into the game on the radio yesterday as I drove through Redmond (I was the guy in the white truck pounding his forehead on the steering wheel), it occured to me that perhaps the M’s don’t realize “proven” is really only half an adjective. For all their “proven” guys, perhaps they should ask the quesiton, “Proven what?”

    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    Coming back from injury does NOT mean you’re proven!

  10. JMHawkins on July 30th, 2007 10:27 am

    So yeah, from that you can conclude that the M’s most pressing need is…. bullpen help.

    Something just occured to me. Of all the various subassemblies on the team, the bullpen is the one the M’s have had the most luck putting together. The rotation is a mess, the lineup is adequate at best, the defense is suspect. Perhaps the M’s figure relievers are the only parts they know how to evaluate, so they’ll play to their strengths.

    Okay, yeah, it’s a joke. But it also reminded me of Dave’s “Track Record” post. The M’s have actually been pretty bad at evaluating relievers. Their bullpen is good because of the talent they acquired without any significant track record (Putz, Sherrill, Green, Lowe, Morrow lately) who have surprised the team by being much better than expected (or, in Green and Sherrils cases, recognized).

  11. Mike Honcho on July 30th, 2007 10:34 am

    Just for comparison:

    Dotel in July: 8 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 13 K

    Reyes in July: 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 3 BB, 5 K

    What, exactly, are we missing?

  12. John in L.A. on July 30th, 2007 10:42 am

    One thing bad management teams like to do is lower expectations. Part of that is often setting (and broadcasting) reachable goals, as opposed to, for example, desirable goals.

    I don’t know if this is the case here or not… but it sure started to seem like it as we watched this ridiculous need-a-set-up-man story trickle out through predictable sources.

    Other than stunning incompetence, it’s the only rational explanation I can come up with – set the bar low (bullpen help) so we can reach expectations.

    It’s tried and true – if you can’t meet expectations, then you have to lower them.

  13. CouchGM on July 30th, 2007 10:43 am

    Wouldn’t even Jason David (?) been better than Reitsma?

  14. Mike Honcho on July 30th, 2007 10:48 am

    Jason David is better suited to stay in the NFL. I don’t think his fastball is that good…

  15. JMHawkins on July 30th, 2007 10:54 am

    Jason David is better suited to stay in the NFL. I don’t think his fastball is that good…

    Yes. Jason Davis on the other hand would be an improvment. Not that his performance has been any better than Reitsma, but the team doesn’t have confidence in him and so would use him in lower leverage situations.

    Argh. It’s like trying to convince my 1-year old she’d rather play with a stuffed bunny rabbit than a book of matches. She wants the matches…

  16. Notor on July 30th, 2007 10:58 am

    Yes I think Jason Davis would manage an appearance with an ERA under 20. With Lowe back we don’t really need him or Reitsma though.

  17. natebracy on July 30th, 2007 11:13 am

    107- I thought you meant Doug Creek at first.

  18. MarinerMatt on July 30th, 2007 11:22 am

    Just a thought, but if Reitsma is sent back down to AAA or put on the DL, who will we call up?

    Please tell me it’s not Davis or Freirbrand. Maybe it’s time to give Mateo another shot?

  19. Grizz on July 30th, 2007 11:47 am

    At this point, the M’s probably would not send Morrow down in order to avoid burning an option (or at least until August 13 — like Adam Jones last year, an option is not burned unless the player spends 20 days in the minors, so the M’s could recall Morrow on September 1 when rosters expand).

  20. Paul B on July 30th, 2007 11:48 am

    Something I would find uproariously hilarious would be when BB gets canned, he is told “we have to let you go, Bill, because you signed too many veterans”.

    One more comment on platooning,

    I guess it’s just a “by the book” thing, plus a general tendency to value winning games less than not having to explain lessened playing time to a regular. Though I would think as long as it is made clear coming out of ST it shouldn’t be a problem (occasional problem-child players excepted).

    If a manager went to a veteran player, and said, “which would you rather do, be a part time player on a contending team with a decent chance of playing in the post season, or be a full time player on a team that was out of the race?” what do you think the answer would be 9 times out of 10, or more?

  21. Colm on July 30th, 2007 11:50 am

    It isn’t time to bring back Mateo. He has had a four year shot to show us what he’s got. Here’s my summary:
    1. Serious, scary extreme flyball tendencies
    2. Declining ability to strike anyone out in the majors
    3. Sharp teeth
    4. No manners
    He’s lucky he’s even in Tacoma. According to the wise men around here, Mickolio is a much better bet.

  22. Colm on July 30th, 2007 11:53 am

    I fear that few competitive athletes are going to be receptive to the notion that a contending team is ever better off with them on the bench.

    “Hey Jose Guillen, you suck against righties so I’m going to have this rookie Jones take your playing time because it makes the team better. Are you alright with that? I’m sure it won’t affect the money you make in the offseason when you’re negotiating a new contract.”

  23. joser on July 30th, 2007 12:03 pm

    Yeah, exactly. There’s no guarantee that the team is going to contend, so the player can’t really accept that deal on face value. And if the team isn’t contending, you know he’s going to want more playing time either because he knows he’s the bat they need, or because he wants to look good to get the hell off the sinking ship. Some players — particularly young ones — might be happy to take the “sure contender but less playing time” trade off if it was a sure thing, but it’s not. And the older players are unlikely to be happy, period.

  24. Puffer on July 30th, 2007 12:07 pm

    I really like Brandon Morrow. He was thrown into the fire right of the bat and rose to the call.

    He’s had some growing pains and no doubt has more in store, but could the Mariners ruin him by inserting him into the rotation?

    If not, I would like to see us take a flyer on this kid because he’s shown he’s a competitor and I would rather give it a try than trade for Steve Trachel.

  25. joser on July 30th, 2007 12:15 pm

    The issue is not “to spite the blogosphere,” it’s to retain credibility with the baseball world.

    The way to maximize your credibility is to have a winning team. I have a hard time believing Bavasi would deliberately make the team less optimal just for appearances, whether the audience for that is the rest of baseball or the wild and woolly internet. I highly doubt Bavasi’s future potential employers are going to say “You know what, because you did something that was mentioned first on the internet, we don’t trust your judgment so we’re not going to hire you.” Everything gets mentioned first on the internet, both crazy crap no sane person would do and rational moves that are also getting talked about by scouts and GMs for other teams (such as “promote Adam Jones”). If nobody in baseball is allowed to make any move that’s suggested first on a fan website, nobody in baseball is allowed to make any move, period.

    No, the only rational reason AJ is still down in AAA is that Bavasi thinks something else is more valuable than whatever Jones would bring to the club — whether that’s team chemistry or respecting his veterans or dangling trade bait, or some combination, or something we haven’t imagined.

  26. Nuss on July 30th, 2007 12:15 pm

    Dave: I was checking out B-R’s stats, and I ran across something a little disconcerting.

    Sean Green in the 8th inning.

    .361/.435/.525, OPS+ 162. It’s a relatively small sample size (21 games, 70 PA), so I wonder if it is skewed by a bad early performance or something (didn’t have time to go through the box scores). Also, his 8th inning BABIP is a ridiculous .449.

  27. joser on July 30th, 2007 12:18 pm

    He’s had some growing pains and no doubt has more in store, but could the Mariners ruin him by inserting him into the rotation?

    I’m no expert, but my understanding is that you can’t expect a pitcher to switch from relieving to starting at the big league level for the first time without some “stretching out” in situations where the team’s place in the standings isn’t affected. There’s a big difference between throwing at max effort for an inning or two and pacing yourself for five or six or more innings, facing a lineup several times. That’s why it’s easier to find relievers than starters.

  28. planB on July 30th, 2007 12:46 pm

    so that only leaves one potential reason

    That is a false dichotomy. Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

  29. planB on July 30th, 2007 12:50 pm

    That was supposed to start:

    so that only leaves one potential reason

  30. planB on July 30th, 2007 12:51 pm

    Hm. Not [quote] or [bquote]…


  31. bunk_medal on July 31st, 2007 3:09 am

    “Personally, I’ve essentially stopped using VORP. The more I’ve thought about this in the last year, the more convinced I became that the best way to evaluate a player is to compare their offensive performance to a league average hitter, add in a defensive component (such as UZR), adjust for position, and then adjust for replacement level at that position.

    Vidro’s recent surge has put him almost exactly at league average as a hitter. So, he’s +0 wins offensively. There’s obviously no defensive adjustment needed for a DH, but the DH position gets a -2 win positional adjustment (the most severe of any position, as it should be), so Vidro has been worth about 2 wins less than an average player.

    Replacement level is set at about 2 wins below average at every offensive position except catcher, so Vidro has essentially been a replacement level player.”

    This may be a better way to evaluate a roster spot, but it doesn’t make a great deal of sense in evaluating Vidro’s contribution strictly as a DH. If we’re talking about a replacement level player at DH then (as you state) we can consider every hitter a potential DH. If we do so and we state (as you’ve stated) that Vidro is at or around league average in hitting, then it would be impossible to conclude that he’s at replacement level in purely offensive terms – replacement level cannot equal league average performance.

    What this really argues is that Vidro is at the replacement level when you factor in defence – i.e. that a replacement level player could match Vidro’s contribution to the roster through offence and defence combined (e.g. the replacement player can hit somewhat worse than Vidro, but can also play the outfield as a defensive replacement). However if both these players were full time DH’s and you ignore any defensive contributions, then Vidro’s contribution would be above the replacement level player’s performance. There’s no question that from a strictly offensive perspective, Vidro is above the replacement level and this argument doesn’t really refute that point.

  32. timc on July 31st, 2007 7:50 am

    There’s no question that from a strictly offensive perspective, Vidro is above the replacement level and this argument doesn’t really refute that point.

    No, replacement level offense for DH’s is 2 wins above replacement level offense for all players. When you look at all potential DH’s you include some players who are above replacement level offense but because of their defensive deficiencies are below replacement level in total (I’m thinking Jack Cust although he probably isn’t the best example). This pushes replacement level offense for DH’s over replacement level offense averaged over all positions.

    Conversely, replacement level offense for, say, CF’s is lower than the “average” replacement level offense because of a no-hit, all D player (e.g. Jason Ellison) can, in total, be replacement level and therefore push down replacement level offense for the position.

  33. bunk_medal on July 31st, 2007 8:45 am

    My point was that if you forget about positions and defence and consider all hitters in total, then a league average hitter cannot be at the replacement level – that’s what I mean when I said “There’s no question that from a strictly offensive perspective, Vidro is above the replacement level”. This is different from the actual replacement level for each position – what you’re referring to – I was trying to make a conceptual point.

  34. timc on July 31st, 2007 9:30 am

    It doesn’t make sense to “forget about positions and defense” if we are, as you state in 131, “evaluating Vidro’s contribution strictly as a DH.” The pool of replacement level DH’s includes players with no defensive value, and should exclude no-hit, all-defense players. These replacement level DH candidates generate more offense than replacement level players as a whole.

    If all you are trying to say is that Vidro is a better hitter than the average replacement-level player, including the no-hit, all-defense players, then sure, I agree with you. But then your point is hardly relevant, because no sane GM would consider Jason Ellison or Pokey Reese as a full-time DH.

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