Jeff Weaver, Junkballer

Dave · August 13, 2007 at 7:18 am · Filed Under Mariners 

After yesterday’s performance, Jeff Weaver now leads the American League in complete game shutouts. I bet you could have gotten 1,000-to-1 on that being true back in May. To close out a successful 5-1 road trip, Weaver threw his best game of the year, dominating the White Sox in a way that makes you ask how it happened. Weaver’s been a lot better since his return in early June, but he hasn’t had any starts like this. What made the difference yesterday?

To try and answer this, I dove into the Pitch F/X system to look at the velocity and movement of his pitches yesterday in handy sortable form. There are some pretty noticable trends that jump off the page.

Breaking Ball, thy friend is Weaver.

Thanks to Weaver’s repertoire, categorizing his pitches is extremely easy. Unlike Felix, who has an assortment of pitches that travel in varying velocities anywhere from 78-99, there’s a significant velocity difference between Weaver’s pitches. He threw 51 pitches with a velocity between 87.0-92.6 MPH, but his 52nd fastest pitch was 83.6 MPH. He didn’t threw any pitch between 84-87, making the distinction between fastball and offspeed pitch very easy to recognize.

On the day, not counting the two HBPs that the Pitch F/X system didn’t register, Weaver threw 51 fastballs and 62 off-speed pitches. The slow stuff was an assortment of mostly sliders and curve balls with a few change-ups mixed in, but he clearly decided to attack the White Sox with breaking balls.

This became even more dramatic as the game wore on. Of his final 30 pitches, 25 of them were offspeed pitches. That’s 16% fastballs and 84% offspeed stuff. On the day, of the 113 pitches the Pitch F/X system recorded, only 22 of them were 90+, but 36 of them were 79 or slower.

The best pitch is strike one.

Here’s how Weaver started each hitter he faced:

Owens, fastball, called strike
Fields, fastball, called strike
Thome, curveball, swinging strike
Konerko, fastball, ball
Pierzynski, curveball, ball
Dye, fastball, called strike
Podsednik, fastball, foul
Uribe, fastball, called strike
Cintron, curveball, ball
Owens, fastball, called strike
Fields, fastball, called strike
Thome, curveball, called strike
Konerko, fastball, called strike
Pierzynski, curveball, called strike
Dye, fastball, ball
Podsednik, hit by pitch (no data)
Uribe, fastball, swinging strike
Cintron, slider, double play
Owens, curveball, called strike
Fields, slider, swinging strike
Thome, slider, ball
Konerko, curveball, called strike
Pierzynski, fastball, called strike
Dye, slider, called strike
Podsednik, curveball, ball
Uribe, fastball, called strike
Cintron, curveball, called strike
Owens, fastball, groundout
Fields, slider, pop out
Thome, curveball, called strike
Konerko, fastball, called strike
Pierzynski, curveball, called strike
Dye, fastball, called strike

The White Sox were content to go up to the plate staring at Weaver’s first offering, only swinging six times. 19 times, they stared at strike one. He only went to six 1-0 counts the whole game. When you’re working 0-1 on almost every single batter, you’re at a huge advantage.

Don’t throw anything straight.

Even when Weaver threw a fastball, it was moving. Without getting too deep into the complexities of how the Pitch F/X system calculates movement (essentially, it takes the movement minus the expected break of a hypothetic pitch with no spin), you can look at the PFX value and see that he only threw one pitch that could be defined as arrow straight, and it was out of the strikezone. When he put it in a hitters zone, it was diving all over the place.

Essentially, yesterday, Weaver pulled a Moyer. He commanded everything with movement, threw strikes, mixed his pitches, and attacked the hitters with offspeed stuff.

It worked to perfection, obviously. The White Sox aren’t a good offense, but as we saw, that ballpark is a total joke in the summer, and even ordinary flyballs can get out of there once they get up in the air. Weaver avoided pitching to contact and took advantage of Chicago’s take-then-hack philosophy, peppering them with pitches they weren’t expecting nor could they do anything with.

We probably won’t see a better pitched game by a Mariner all year long. The August 12th version of Jeff Weaver is a testament to just how successful you can be with command and movement. Let’s hope Felix was taking notes.

Comments

155 Responses to “Jeff Weaver, Junkballer”

  1. fetish on August 13th, 2007 7:36 am

    Can pitch F/X tell when Weaver “drops down”?

    It also appeared that in addition to his normal drop-down throw, he unveiled an extreme drop down where it looked as if he was stepping towards third base as well.

  2. Dave on August 13th, 2007 7:37 am

    There are tracking markers in the system for release point, but for various reasons, I don’t trust them yet, nor am I smart enough to assign the numerical release point value to an arm slot.

  3. WhyOWhy on August 13th, 2007 7:47 am

    Keeps you humble, doesn’t it?

    We all were calling for Weaver’s head just as he turned the corner.

    Kudos to Bavasi on this one, for knowing that Weaver had it in him to be productive for a few months, and sticking to that conviction when he looked absolutely awful.

  4. drjeff on August 13th, 2007 7:56 am

    Not having followed Moyer’s career at the beginning, was this his evolution as well? No one ever talks about a “crafty” young pitcher, so it has to happen somewhere on the career timeline. Is there a chance in hell that this kind of change will STICK?

  5. UofMichgoMs on August 13th, 2007 7:56 am

    Thanks for the analysis of yesterdays game. I had been wondering how Weaver did what he did being unable to watch the game myself. This is exactly the sort of thing I look to USSMariner for since you certainly can’t get a breakdown like this on ESPN or Sports Illustrated.

  6. dennismk on August 13th, 2007 8:02 am

    This may come under the heading of intangibles that are impossible to account for, but since baseball is a game that relies on minute changes (the distance on the bat surface between a ball being hit squarely and a routine pop-up), I wonder if Weaver’s success was also influenced by the following issues, each of which were minimal/minor but when combined added up to a substantial ‘plus’: (1) an early lead that was added to in the 2nd-3rd innings. (2) hot temperature combined with non-oppressive humidity that allowed for more subtle ball movement. (3) ‘luck’ (the first inning Thome smash that was the closest I’ve ever seen a ball NOT go out of the field). (4) lighter jerseys providing tangible gametime relief. (5) the high-contrast, bright sunshine with not much in the way of shadows.

    Now granted, (1) is nice but when you’re pitching at home is not a factor in the first. (3) is great anytime but should not be THE factor that turns a start into a productive, successful start. I do think he is a smart enough pitcher to realize the values of (2) and (5), and perhaps (4) was the factor that helped take him over the top, particularly when you consider that tonight at Safeco, (2) and (5) will not exist.

  7. argh on August 13th, 2007 8:07 am

    Dave, how repeatable (within reason, of course) is Weaver’s performance yesterday and against what kinds of teams?

  8. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on August 13th, 2007 8:11 am

    Great analysis Dave. Although I am not convinced we have a sustainable situation here, I do think – and some of the after-game comments seem to support – that Weaver is a pretty bright guy. He’s obviously doing some homework on teams and trying to apply what he learned. All pitchers do this to a degree, I suppose, but if he’s trying to pitch to the tendancies of the opposing team, and mixing his pitches well against them, then I am hopeful that we are taking a step forward even beyond the expected regresssion we’ve discussed since the beginning of the year. He’s no ace, but he’s been keeping us in there.

    I almost choked on my cereal, however, when Weaver started talking about changing leagues/unfamiliarity with hitters in the AL as the cause of his problems . . .yeah, I am not sure that’s a crutch that’ll get you too far.

    Still nothing made me more happy than shutting up the dyanmic duo in the Chicago booth, who were sure that “because a lot of Chicago hitters had Weaver’s number,” that they were going to have a good day. It was a beautiful thing to hear them shut up and then focus almost exclusively on the relatively meaningless (for the ChiSox’s season that is) record. If one had tuned in late, they’d have thought the Mariners had lost listening to those guys. Don’t get me wrong, it is an impressive thing for a reliever to do, but I just kept yelling back at the t.v. – “yeah, but you guys still suck!” I suppose people were saying that when Ichiro reached the single-season hits record.

  9. Dave on August 13th, 2007 8:12 am

    Kudos to Bavasi on this one, for knowing that Weaver had it in him to be productive for a few months, and sticking to that conviction when he looked absolutely awful.

    Actually, I’d argue that Weaver is a prime example of one of the main tenets of the blog – results based analysis is often wildly wrong, and success is better predicted by looking at the underlying process.

    When the M’s put Weaver on the DL after 6 starts, his peripheral stats were as follows:

    7% BB%, 10% K%, 42% GB%, 13% HR/FB%, 5.28 xFIP

    Since returning from the DL, his peripheral stats are:

    6% BB%, 13% K%, 38% GB%, 5% HR/FB%, 5.21 xFIP

    It’s an improvement, certainly, but not one of drastic proportions. The uptick in strikeout rate offsets the fact that he’s giving up more flyballs, but he’s not pitching all that differently. The results are drastically different thanks to a reduced batting average on balls in play and home run rate, but that’s 90% regression to the mean and 10% improvement.

    Results based analysis, which I’m firmly against, said that Jeff Weaver was done as a major league pitcher in May. His peripheral statistics, the ones that reveal an underlying skillset, disagreed, and suggested that he was still capable of helping a major league team.

    I’d chalk Weaver up as a point in favor of exactly what we’ve been preaching on the blog for a while now. Forget the results, look at the skills. It’s the same thing I’m preaching with David Wells – I don’t really care that his ERA is 14+ in his last four starts. The underlying skilset to be a useful 5th starter is still there.

  10. pinky on August 13th, 2007 8:13 am

    “Let’s hope Felix was taking notes.”

    That line made me throw up a little. Mostly because it’s true.

  11. Jar on August 13th, 2007 8:14 am

    So Dave, do you think Weaver can keep doing this? Obviously this start stands out, but I mean the Weaver we have seen for the last few months, do you think he can maintain this? If so, I think he would fit nicely in the back of the rotation going forward, no?

  12. Notor on August 13th, 2007 8:17 am

    Yes but the heat also causes fly balls to carry much farther to the point where it would be more advantageous to the batter, especially in that park. I don’t think there’s really much else to account for the fact that he gave up no home runs other than he had superb command and control of his pitches.

    True the Thome double came really close, but in any other park on any other day that ball wasn’t even going to be close at all, so it’s hard to fault Weaver’s performance for that.

    Let’s hope this is a trend that continues: Aside from two starts since coming off of the DL Weaver has been superb for a 4th starter, last night he was practically throwing like he was the anchor of the rotation.

  13. Dave on August 13th, 2007 8:19 am

    Dave, how repeatable (within reason, of course) is Weaver’s performance yesterday and against what kinds of teams?

    It’s not. The White Sox have the worst offense in the A.L., so while Weaver deserves credit for pitching his best game of the season, we can’t ignore the fact that he was doing it against guys like Jerry Owens, Alex Cintron, Scott Podsednik, and Juan Uribe. And Thome came about a quarter of an inch away from a two run homer, so the line between shutout and a mere good start was as thin as could be.

    As mentioned in the earlier comment, Weaver’s still a pitch-to-contact strike thrower that will rely on hitters to get themselves out and the defense to make outs behind him. He’s going to have some good starts and some bad starts, because this skillset is tailor made to pitch to the level of his opponenents. You don’t want to bet on him doing anything like this against a real offense, and a team like the Yankees could still take him apart.

    Over the rest of the year, I think expecting a mid-4s ERA is probably fair, which makes him a useful arm, but he’s not an ace or anything like it.

  14. natebracy on August 13th, 2007 8:21 am

    Dave,
    What is your take on ‘second half’ players? Would you consider Weaver to be one, given his early year struggles the last few seasons?

  15. Dave on August 13th, 2007 8:23 am

    What is your take on ’second half’ players?

    They’re mostly a myth. People tend to associate talent with random occurrances. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but they’re a lot more rare than people think.

    Would you consider Weaver to be one, given his early year struggles the last few seasons?

    No. I’d argue (and did, both times, while he was struggling) that his early season struggles weren’t indicative of his actual talent level, and regression to the mean was bound to kick in. In both cases, it did.

  16. Rick L on August 13th, 2007 8:28 am

    Dave, I believe it was after his previous shut-out that you wrote a post saying essentially that Weaver put on a clinic in how to pitch. It seems yesterday was even better. His pitching style, like Moyer’s, is to upset the hitter’s timing. When Felix gets hammered it is because the hitter’s timing is not upset by fastball after fastball.

  17. Dave on August 13th, 2007 8:32 am

    Dave, I believe it was after his previous shut-out that you wrote a post saying essentially that Weaver put on a clinic in how to pitch.

    Weaver mixes his pitches very well, and his biggest asset as a pitcher is his understanding of disrupting timing. His stuff is well below average, which is why he’s no better than a back-end starter despite his knowledge of how to pitch, but he succeeds essentially because of his knowlege of pitching. Looking at the guy, you’d never guess that he wins because of his smarts, but there you go.

    When Felix gets hammered it is because the hitter’s timing is not upset by fastball after fastball.

    That’s not always true. It is occassionally, but he also has the habit of hanging some pretty hittable pitches from time to time. You don’t have to be looking fastball to tee off on his 89 MPH mystery meatball pitch.

  18. Slippery Elmer on August 13th, 2007 8:41 am

    Dave, thanks for the very educational post.

  19. mariners23 on August 13th, 2007 8:53 am

    If he continues to pitch like this whats the possibility the M’s resign Weaver at the end of the season?

  20. The Ancient Mariner on August 13th, 2007 9:05 am

    I guess we’d just like to believe that Weaver can reinvent himself as another Moyer (or maybe Bob Tewksbury would really be a better reference), somebody who can go out and pitch well even against good teams despite uninspiring stuff.

  21. Uncle Ted on August 13th, 2007 9:10 am

    Great post, thanks. Any chance someone knows a link to a P F/X explanation?

  22. bellacaramella on August 13th, 2007 9:12 am

    Weaver’s performance to start the season hardly fit the definition of “struggles.” He was *so* awful during that stretch that the idea of returning to the mean was ridiculous at the time.

    What rumblings did you hear as to the cause, Dave? Was Weaver actually hurt? Or in poor condition to start the year? Or was he just missing pitches and doing it against better competition?

  23. billT on August 13th, 2007 9:16 am

    I’m not Dave, but I’d imagine the biggest change for Weaver has been that he’s stopped trying to throw his very hittable two-seamer every pitch to induce grounders and is instead mixing in all of his pitches.

  24. Dave on August 13th, 2007 9:20 am

    He was *so* awful during that stretch that the idea of returning to the mean was ridiculous at the time.

    No, it wasn’t. People just wildly overreact to results.

    Back in 2005, Jamie Moyer had a four game stretch from April 30th through May 18th where he was absolutely terrible. 13 2/3 IP, 35 H, 23 R, 9 BB, 7 K, and a 14.49 ERA. If you go back and read the game threads from those starts, you’ll see people driving nails into Moyer’s career, proclaiming him done as a major league starter and saying that the results proved that his stuff was no longer good enough to get major league hitters out. You’ll also see me trying to point out that you can’t draw any conclusion from 14 innings, no matter how bad they are.

    Moyer threw 154 innings the rest of that year, posting a 3.73 ERA, and he’s still getting people out two years later.

    Weaver didn’t pitch well in his first 6 starts. No one would argue that he did. But the results weren’t anywhere close to his true talent level, and regression to the mean was obvious.

    Essentially, people just need to stop evaluating players by their results, especially in small samples.

  25. Nuss on August 13th, 2007 9:24 am

    Did you compare Weaver to Moyer? I think I almost got ridiculed off the site when I did something like that once … ;-)

  26. AuburnM on August 13th, 2007 9:25 am

    Weaver, Batista and Washburn aren’t top of the rotation aces. But as difficult as it is to find decent pitching we are damn lucky to have them.

  27. The Ancient Mariner on August 13th, 2007 9:29 am

    Or maybe it was just a matter of ridiculous bad luck?

  28. lokiforever on August 13th, 2007 9:29 am

    That’s an inflammatory statement. Lucky to have them? Since we could have had Andrew Miller, or could have developed Morrow into a starter, I’m hard pressed to agree with that sentiment. Batista, yes.

  29. The Ancient Mariner on August 13th, 2007 9:31 am

    My last comment was of course in response to bellacaramella in #22. Just another example of people operating out of the assumption that results are meaningful beyond themselves, when they often aren’t.

  30. Dave on August 13th, 2007 9:32 am

    It’s not difficult to find decent pitching if you understand how to evaluate pitching talent. The guys I stumped for as offseason acquisitions – Rodrigo Lopez, Angel Guzman, Claudio Vargas, Tim Redding – have all essentially matched or beaten what the M’s have gotten from their overpaid veterans in performance (granted, Lopez and Guzman have battled arm problems). I also stumped hard for Tim Hudson, who has rebounded as expected. And, of course, there’s Scott Baker, who I advocated trading for while Minnesota still had him in Triple-A back in April. And J.P. Howell. I’d also argue that Matt Belisle is capable of helping the Mariners, while the Reds apparently think he’s better off in Lousville.

    Most people just don’t know how to evaluate pitching. If you use ERA, you’re going to fail.

  31. Dave on August 13th, 2007 9:44 am

    Great post, thanks. Any chance someone knows a link to a P F/X explanation?

    There’s not really a good one posted anywhere online. It’s a very complex system that’s still essentially in beta mode. If you have a specific question about it, I can probably answer it.

  32. Mere Tantalisers on August 13th, 2007 9:47 am

    There must be somthing different in Weaver’s stuff from April to now. While certainly he was getting etremely inlucky early in the season, a BABIP of .500, which is where he was sitting at the time, seems ridiculously inflated.

    Every ball that was hit off him was hit on a line and into a gap. The worst hitters in opposing lineups were hitting like all star sluggers and the few strikeouts came on homerun swings that were a tad off.

    I find it hard believe that the same guy with the same stuff has struck out 8 major leaguers over 9 innings. OK, so its the White Sox, and yeah, he was lucky much of the time, and as Dave points out, their approach was terrible. Nonetheless, last spring’s Weaver could not have done this.

    The only differnce that is obvious enough even I can see it is velocity. Earlier, he could not even touch 90, while now the FB brushes 93 with some regularity. I understand there is also some movement to the FB that was not there earlier. The slider has a lot more bite to it than in his early starts, per the post game interviews. And finally I would venture that his confidence returned after the Pirates game.

    OK, this is maybe too long winded. The gist of this is that I’m not expecting any shutouts from Weaver, but I would be very surprised to see him massacred like he was earlier. After all he’s been very successful against good lineups as well as bad. His most memorable start for me was his 0-1 8IP loss in Toronto, which has some tough hitters.

  33. Dave on August 13th, 2007 9:56 am

    There must be somthing different in Weaver’s stuff from April to now.

    His velocity is up a tick or two. Not much, but a little. I’d argue that the main thing that’s different now is his command. If you go back and watch some of those April starts again, he threw a lot of pitches up in the zone and down the middle. He’s not throwing as many mistake pitches now.

    But he’s still throwing some. The main difference isn’t in how Weaver’s pitching, but in the hitters conversion of turning mistake pitches into line drivers. Every mistake he threw early in the year was crushed. Now, he’s getting away with some of them. The results, obviously, are a lot better. But that’s not really something that is within Weaver’s control.

  34. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 9:57 am

    6 of his first 7 starts were against good teams. That’s part of it, and his LD% was 24% at that time, largely because of the 5/5 and 5/10 starts against the Yankees and Tigers.

  35. lailaihei on August 13th, 2007 9:58 am

    32: I agree. There is a difference in his pitching between the first 6 games and the rest of the season. Every single ball hit seemed like a line drive, and there were very few weak grounders. His upwards .500 opponent BABIP isn’t even close to logical unless most of the balls hit were hard hit line drives. If Weaver had gone into that game yesterday pitching the exact same pitches that he did in any of the first 6 games of the season, he wouldn’t have anywhere near a shutout yesterday. Although there was a small sample size, a .500 BABIP is very unlikely to maintain throughout six starts.

  36. Evan on August 13th, 2007 10:00 am

    I’d be interested to see how likely a BABIP of .500 was over Weaver’s first 6 starts if the true level is actually .300.

    Sure, those 6 starts were a fairly small sample, but it wasn’t a tiny sample. And while outliers should be expected, that’s a really ig outlier – it’s nowhere near the expected performance.

    So, how likely is it that a pitcher with an expected BABIP of .300 (like most pitchers) would show a BABIP as high as Weaver’s over a sample of comparable size. I can’t do the math right now, but I’m guessing it’s really quite small.

  37. rsrobinson on August 13th, 2007 10:00 am

    Weaver didn’t pitch well in his first 6 starts. No one would argue that he did. But the results weren’t anywhere close to his true talent level, and regression to the mean was obvious.

    True, but Weaver’s start was historically bad and he’d had a pretty lousy season the previous year until late in the season and the playoffs. It was hard to believe that a guy who was getting chased in the first inning by the likes of the KC Royals and who’d only had a handful of quality starts the previous year was going to turn things around.

  38. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 10:01 am

    Yeah, the difference is the Angels, the Yankees, and Tigers and the Red Sox as opposed to the Orioles, the White Sox, the A’s, and the Blue Jays

  39. Mike Honcho on August 13th, 2007 10:04 am

    I also see that Weaver threw off-speed pitches as a first pitch 16 times – nearly 50%. Another thing for Felix to observe and remember.

    Dave, I agree with your comment about Weaver’s movement completely. Given that, would you advocate Felix start using his two-seamer more? Personally, I wouldn’t mind a 70/30 split of two-seamers to four-seamers.

  40. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 10:04 am

    Keep in mind, while the Royals aren’t that good, there’s some good young talent there, and a team full of young talent are going to have those days, where everything starts to click. That and, as Dave said, there’s some evidence he’s pitching better beyond the .500 BABIP and god-awful ERA, just not THAT much better.

  41. AuburnM on August 13th, 2007 10:06 am

    #30

    Dave,

    I’m sure you’re right. Still, our rotation has been good enough to get us to 14 over and in the race. Good is not the enemy of perfect.

  42. Dave on August 13th, 2007 10:08 am

    There is a difference in his pitching between the first 6 games and the rest of the season.

    Everyone agrees with this. No one’s saying he’s the same guy. His strikeout rate has gone from 10% to 13% and he’s throwing slightly harder, while also commanding his pitches better.

    We’re just saying that he wasn’t nearly as bad as his ERA said he was in his first 6 starts, and he’s not nearly as good as his ERA the last 12 starts make him look. He wasn’t a 14.32 ERA guy and he’s not a 3.16 ERA guy. He’s a 5.00ish ERA guy who pitches half his games in Safeco. Significant deviation from that is mostly not within the realm of his control.

  43. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 10:09 am

    The entire rotations BABIP was through the roof during that same stretch, not just Weaver. The defense was downright awful, even though it’s still not that good.

  44. Dave on August 13th, 2007 10:10 am

    I’m sure you’re right. Still, our rotation has been good enough to get us to 14 over and in the race. Good is not the enemy of perfect.

    I’d say our bullpen has been good enough to get us 14 over, while the offense and rotation have just hung around for the ride.

  45. argh on August 13th, 2007 10:15 am

    Given the power of the bullpen, if Weaver can turn ~4.5 ERA performances for the rest of the year and pitch ~7 innings per start in the process that would be a pretty healthy contribution.

  46. gwangung on August 13th, 2007 10:15 am

    But he’s still throwing some. The main difference isn’t in how Weaver’s pitching, but in the hitters conversion of turning mistake pitches into line drivers. Every mistake he threw early in the year was crushed. Now, he’s getting away with some of them.

    Interaction effect, doncha think? With improved command and better disruption of batters’ timing, batters can’t square up on the ball effectively, even if it is a mistake. If they’re guessing more on where and how fast the pitch is, he (and I think any other pitcher) can get away with more mistake pitches.

  47. AuburnM on August 13th, 2007 10:18 am

    #44

    Really? Can a team win like we are with bad to mediocre starting pitching? I don’t think so.

    Bullpen: Great
    Offense: Great
    Defense: Good
    Starters: Good

  48. Dave on August 13th, 2007 10:19 am

    The offense is closer to average than great and the defense is disastrously horrible.

  49. Dave on August 13th, 2007 10:22 am

    Interaction effect, doncha think? With improved command and better disruption of batters’ timing, batters can’t square up on the ball effectively, even if it is a mistake.

    Sure – they’re obviously related. But again, I don’t think Weaver’s meatball throwing ways early in the year was predictive of how he was going to pitch. Having command within the strike zone isn’t the repeatable skill that most people think it is, at least, for 99% of major league pitchers.

  50. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 10:28 am

    I’d hardly consider our rotation good. We’ve managed to patch together a decent enough rotation, and if “The King” would show up for a stretch, then we can potentially call our rotation good. You have to keep Safeco in mind when evaluating pitchers here.

  51. Ralph Malph on August 13th, 2007 10:31 am

    An offense that contains the remnants of Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez, along with the guy who occasionally hits like we once hoped Jose Lopez would, can’t be described as “great”.

  52. chi sf on August 13th, 2007 10:33 am

    The defense is only good if they hit the ball to center or 3rd.

  53. Grizz on August 13th, 2007 10:44 am

    Dave, earlier in the year, you suggested that Weaver should throw fewer two-seam and more four-seam fastballs. Have you observed any increase in four-seamers by Weaver?

  54. lokiforever on August 13th, 2007 10:44 am

    Dave,

    Given defensive Metrics are still being perfected, I’m curoius as to the basis for such a strong statement…”disastrously horrible”.

  55. Dave on August 13th, 2007 10:46 am

    He’s throwing slightly harder and his FB% is up, so circumstantial evidence would say that he is, but I can’t be sure, honestly. I would guess the answer is yes, but without asking him, I wouldn’t take it to the bank.

  56. Dave on August 13th, 2007 10:49 am

    Given defensive Metrics are still being perfected, I’m curoius as to the basis for such a strong statement…”disastrously horrible”.

    Still being perfected is not equal to totally unreliable. The Mariners, as a team, turn 68% of all balls in play into outs, despite playing half their games in a park that makes it easier to turn balls (especially flyballs) into outs. Only Tampa Bay and Texas turn fewer opportunities into outs in the A.L, and even if you want to blame the pitchers, you’re going to run out of luck – the six guys who have pitched the most innings in the rotation this year have seen their BABIP, as a group, rise 20% compared to last year.

    People drastically underestimate our ability to quantify defense. The margin for error is higher with defensive metrics than offensive metrics, but it’s still very easy to figure out which teams play good defense (Oakland, Toronto) and which teams play terrible defense (Tampa, Seattle).

  57. batura on August 13th, 2007 10:49 am

    After just finishing the Cheater’s Guide to baseball and watching the highlights from the game last night, I would swear that at one point one of Jeff’s pitches broke waaaay too much, like it had something on it. That would be awesome if his comeback involved some form of foreign substance.

  58. Sammy on August 13th, 2007 10:53 am

    Great post and nice follow-up comments, Dave. Looks like Weaver is starting to give Guillen a run for his money as the M’s best off-season acquisition.

    At this point, how would you rank Batista/Weaver/Washburn in terms of how effective you think they will be from here on out?

  59. Dave on August 13th, 2007 10:55 am

    Great post and nice follow-up comments, Dave. Looks like Weaver is starting to give Guillen a run for his money as the M’s best off-season acquisition.

    Weaver has a long way to go before he catches Batista for that title.

    At this point, how would you rank Batista/Weaver/Washburn in terms of how effective you think they will be from here on out?

    They’re all pretty similar, but I’d go Batista-gap-Washburn-Weaver.

  60. robbbbbb on August 13th, 2007 10:55 am

    57: Ask his kid about it. “It’s a hard slider.”

  61. Sammy on August 13th, 2007 10:56 am

    59. I was thinking more along the lines of best contract, not best acquisition. Don’t want to push this thread OT, but I’m still skeptical about how Batista’s contract will look when it’s all said and done.

  62. gwangung on August 13th, 2007 10:58 am

    #54

    Yeah, but even given the primitiveness of the measuring instruments, if multiple methodologies give you roughly the same results, you can trust that those results are valied.

    The problem with “primitive” measuring instruments is that the precision isn’t there; I don’t think we can specify how much a team’s defense is worse than average with as much confidence as we can peg how much worse a team’s offense is than average…

  63. rsrobinson on August 13th, 2007 11:04 am

    So, presuming we get a Jeff Weaver for the rest of the season who is somewhere inbetween the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde we’ve seen so far this year, do we talk about re-signing him for next season?

  64. Brian Rust on August 13th, 2007 11:05 am

    Evan,

    From ESPN.com splits (which omit HBP), Weaver in his first six starts gave up 50 hits on 103 BIP, BABIP = .485. This represents a binomial probability distribution of 50 (or more) events in 103 trials. Assuming a “true” probability of .300, the probability of 50 (or more) hits in this sample is .00006, or less than 1 in 10,000. FWIW, it’s .0005 against “true” = .325 and .003 against “true” = .350.

    Here’s my take on what this means: If we were using this sample to test a valid causative hypothesis we would conclude that the result is NOT random, but rather the result of causative factors addressed in our hypothesis. To claim that the variation was simply random (and that “regression to the mean” would naturally follow) isn’t really a valid application of statistical inference, and stretches the bounds of credulity.

  65. Sammy on August 13th, 2007 11:08 am

    Re: why people can’t evaluate/underrate defense

    I think a large reason is because piss poor defenders can go through long stretches looking perfectly competent, fielding routine fly balls and such. It’s not everyday that you get to misplay a fly ball that goes for a two-run double on what should have been a long out.

  66. Mere Tantalisers on August 13th, 2007 11:09 am

    You don’t need defensive metrics to know the defense ain’t good. C’mon, do you watch the games?

    Stats are a nice way of quantifying it, so you can say ‘so and so is 30% below average on LF flies.’ But if you want to make a qualitative statement, like Defense: Good, you only need to see them play. And it’s not pretty.

  67. revbill on August 13th, 2007 11:11 am

    …do we talk about re-signing him for next season?

    He’s going to try his best to get a multi-year deal, so I say no. He came here for a year to prove that he’s better than he looked the first half of last year, so he’s not going to be signing another one-year deal if he’s useful at all for the rest of the season.

    Dave’s offseason advice to avoid the Meche sweepstakes and go for the one-year Weaver deal is looking pretty good. It’ll probably look better later into the Meche contract, too.

  68. Dave on August 13th, 2007 11:11 am

    Given just how many hundreds of thousands 103 BIP samples there are over the course of a major league season, the fact that we got a 1-in-10,000 occurrance isn’t surprising. In fact, if we looked hard enough, I’m sure we’d find several more.

  69. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 11:11 am

    I think if you take in mind the Mariners team defense and the offenses he was facing you’ll close some of the gap, but I agree, there’s just no way it’s 100% random, but he wasn’t THAT bad.

  70. Brian Rust on August 13th, 2007 11:15 am

    Yes, Dave, I’m sure we would. But that doesn’t make them any more random. What I’m trying to say is that there ARE reasons for these results. Unless, and until, R-squared(process) = 1, the intelligent fan will be trying to find reasons the “process” doesn’t consider.

  71. Notor on August 13th, 2007 11:18 am

    I wish Weaver would give Felix some tips of mixing his pitches. Unlike Weaver he’s got wicked stuff, but doesn’t make the best use of it.

    If tonight is another Felix 100% fastball night I don’t like our chances against the likes of Santana, even with Minnesota’s offense not being exactly stellar.

  72. Dave on August 13th, 2007 11:20 am

    Yes, Dave, I’m sure we would. But that doesn’t make them any more random. What I’m trying to say is that there ARE reasons for these results. Unless, and until, R-squared(process) = 1, the intelligent fan will be trying to find reasons the “process” doesn’t consider.

    If we run 50,000 trials, and get five 1-in-10,000 results, you’re really going to argue that those five aren’t random, and that clearly, there’s an explanation for them?

    Not me.

  73. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 11:22 am

    I think one of the problems looking at baseball stats, especially for starting pitchers IS the game to game variance. 6 starts sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It’s not like any of us have NEVER had a bad month at something we’re good at. If it starts getting mental, you could very well have a stretch of being “off”. That may not actually represent the future, but if for 6 starts you just didn’t give 110%, or you had some medical issues people weren’t aware of, or mental issues of some kind, it could certainly be that for those games you were in fact that bad, but in the long term you rebound. It’s part sample-size, part being a human being. An entire season is a small sample for pitchers.

  74. Benno on August 13th, 2007 11:26 am

    I had my beliefs that Weaver had become a junkball pitcher a few games after he returned from the DL. I think it was after that second game back he made some comments about going back to the pitcher he was, but started to change his release point and mix his pitches a lot more often.

    My only question would be, was Weaver ever a true fastball pitcher? It seems likely, as most young pitchers who are considered top-of-the-rotation pitchers tend to be power pitchers, or have that one killer pitch mixed in with a plus fastball(just my belief, no actual evidence).

    It is good to see that Weaver has realized that he can’t get away with throwing a fastball past a hitter anymore. It does mean that he will get hit periodically, but if he can give the team a good start more often than not, he becomes a solid rotation pitcher, though I wouldn’t be too comfortable giving him many post season starts.

    And I’ll eat some crow right now. I was calling for his release early in the season. While he has not been worth his contract and probably won’t be after the end of the season, I guess I am okay with his being on the team. Those six starts to begin the season were UGLY.

  75. TaylorD7 on August 13th, 2007 11:40 am

    Good stuff Dave….this kind of analysis is what keeps me coming back….

    Dave–you mention the gap between Batista and Washburn…if you don’t mind my asking, what is it that you see separates Batista from the other two? Washburn and Batista have similar numbers/IPs overall, so I am just curious.

  76. Dave on August 13th, 2007 11:46 am

    Dave–you mention the gap between Batista and Washburn…if you don’t mind my asking, what is it that you see separates Batista from the other two? Washburn and Batista have similar numbers/IPs overall, so I am just curious.

    The flaw in Batista’s game is command. The flaw in Washburn’s game is a lack of major league stuff. It’s easier to find your command over a short stretch than it is to add a few ticks to your velocity or develop an outpitch.

  77. batura on August 13th, 2007 11:52 am

    #60 — Awesome reference. A really, really hard slider. But in all fairness, and getting back OT about Weaver’s improved stuff, anything looks like a massive change after he through all of those 76 mph hanging sliders that the beginning of the year.

  78. fetish on August 13th, 2007 11:54 am

    DrJeff, #4 -

    There are indeed “crafy” young pitchers. The best example that comes to mind is former Mariner Dave Flemming, who began his career something like 12-0 withoutsomuch as an 85+ pitch before flaming into oblivion a few weeks later.

    I want to say one of Kris Benson or Josh Fogg are modern examples… some young pirates pitcher at some point this millenium.

  79. Brian Rust on August 13th, 2007 11:57 am

    Weaver’s sucky start is one of 2,000 such samples in a season, not “hundreds of thousands.”

    162 games x 30 teams x 9 innings = 43,740 IP / 22 IP(Weaver) = 1,988 samples.

    If we really do find “several more” similar samples with P=.00001 we have a statistical anomaly that merits investigation. Or, at least, discussion.

  80. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:00 pm

    But, thanks to selective endpoints (which is exactly what we’re using here with Weaver), we can cut those 43,740 innings into hundreds of thousands of slices, and I guarantee you that we’d find several performances that would also fall into the one-in-many-thousands of probability. That doesn’t mean they are beyond randomness – it just means that there a major league season is full of many, many innings, and random endpoints gives us the ability to “find” all kinds of things that aren’t real.

  81. Panev on August 13th, 2007 12:02 pm

    Nine innings. Absolute great break for the bullpen when they really needed a Sunday off.

    Point Weaver.

  82. Midwest Mariner on August 13th, 2007 12:08 pm

    Dave, well done. Aggreed with everything you said until the very end.
    “We probably won’t see a better pitched game by a Mariner all year long.”
    I think Felix and the Red Sox would disagree.
    As impressive as Weaver was yesterday (and he undoubtedly was), it was against a terrible lineup. His post-DL performance certainly is encouraging, but the only decent performance he’s had against a strong lineup was June 25, against Boston.
    Here’s hoping that Good Weaver will be around for the rest of the year. I’m not convinced, though…

  83. AuburnM on August 13th, 2007 12:09 pm

    #48

    “The offense is closer to average than great and the defense is disastrously horrible.”

    Dave,

    Do you really think we have the 4th best record in baseball solely because of our bullpen?

  84. ArtfulDodger on August 13th, 2007 12:10 pm

    Just wondering how Weaver’s turn around should help us view Sexson’s wrestling match with the mendoza line.

    In general, i have noticed a reactionary trend in the posts on this site that are more fitting of managing a fantasy baseball team than an actual big league club. If Sexson isn’t performing, bench’em, if Weaver isn’t pitching well, release him (I’ll admit being just on the edge of this camp); if a couple of bavasi’s off season aquisitions are slumping, can him. That’s easy enough on yahoo, but obviously this isn’t a fantasy.

  85. Sammy on August 13th, 2007 12:11 pm

    79. That calculation seems wrong to me. You’re taking your samples in whole complete blocks that are closed off from each other. Let me try to explain better: your calculation would take samples from innings 1-22, 23-44, 45-66, so on and so forth, when what you really need to do is take a samples 1-22, 2-23, 3-24, et al.

    Sorry, I don’t have the math acumen to correct your calculation or the statistical background to better phrase my critique.

  86. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:11 pm

    If we really do find “several more” similar samples with P=.00001 we have a statistical anomaly that merits investigation. Or, at least, discussion.

    Here you go.

    Shawn Camp, season to date: 198 batters faced, .434 BABIP
    Mike Gosling, season to date: 109 batters faced, .414 BABIP
    J.P. Howell, season to date: 195 batters faced, .402 BABIP
    Scott Eyre, season to date: 187 batters faced, .402 BABIP
    Zach Duke, season to date: 337 batters faced, .376 BABIP

    This isn’t bothering with the random endpoints, but just using yearly totals, but there’s a few more performances of guys with some history of success that binomial distribution would tag as being beyond the realm of probability. And this took me about 90 seconds and almost no research. If we actually bothered to get into random endpoints and run queries, I’m sure we could find a bunch more.

  87. Sammy on August 13th, 2007 12:12 pm

    Dave beat to the punch much more eloquently. Surprise!

  88. westfried on August 13th, 2007 12:13 pm

    I work on a system with 60 million records. Amazingly, we see a “1 in a million chance” happen about, oh, 50-60 times per day.

  89. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on August 13th, 2007 12:14 pm

    Ok Dave, with Weaver regressing (in a good way), Batista and Washburn staying pretty consistent on what we have, and Felix being, well this year’s version of Felix, what do we do with Ho? Anything? Unlike what you’ve outlined about Weaver, Ho clearly can’t hack it out there, and I do think he is as bad as he looks (maybe worse given his freakish home numbers). Does McLaren stick with him, hoping for a short playoff series victory and then going with 4 starters in a longer series if we get that lucky?

    I am comfortable with Weaver in the rotation now (enough that I realize he isn’t going anywhere this year), so spotlight Ho Ramirez, right? I’d argue that we can do a lot better to help our playoff odds by ditching Ramirez in favor of just about anybody, but what’s your educated guess on the M’s’ play? His last outing couldn’t have helped his cause.

  90. Celadus on August 13th, 2007 12:17 pm

    Dave, regarding comment #72: I don’t think many people would suppose that 5 out of 50,000 is random.

    What’s harder for people to realize is that 9 out of 50,000 and 2 out of 50,000 also fall into the random category, and that there doesn’t have to be any other explanation for it.

  91. Celadus on August 13th, 2007 12:17 pm

    Excuse me, I meant, “would disagree that 5 out of 50,000 is random.”

  92. eponymous coward on August 13th, 2007 12:21 pm

    I’d say our bullpen has been good enough to get us 14 over, while the offense and rotation have just hung around for the ride.

    Actually, an offense that’s on pace for a slice over 800 runs isn’t bad for Safeco, especially considering that we’re giving an inordinate amount of playing time to bad players like Sexson and Vidro, and Lopez has to be considered a mild disappointment. They are comparable to the 2002/2003 offenses in runs scored, which were solid.

    The problems that I see are:

    - the offense doesn’t take pitches and is still dependent on hitting singles, so while they are better at it this year, they still will have ugly nights and ugly weeks, much like the months where Ichiro hits .270 and is a reincarnation of Omar Moreno- a slap hitting speedster who kills you on offense.

    - the offense is too right-handed, especially given that Raul is showing clear signs of being totally done (hitting homers in bandboxes off of bad teams doesn’t prove much, IMO- let’s see him do that against the playoff teams in non-joke ballparks), and Mac the Wonder Manager won’t play Broussard over Sexson.

    I actually think the DEFENSE is the weakest point on the team right now (the offense is good, not great, the rotation’s OK but weak at 5 as long as HoRam starts, and the bullpen’s awesome), but it’s masked by Safeco being such an awesome pitcher’s park. The offense isn’t really a problem per se; it’s more that the manager’s too incompetent to use the parts he’s been given. Someone from the Stengel/Martin/Piniella school of managing (where the entire roster gets used) would be much more aggressive in getting Jones and Broussard playing time at the expense of the Vidro/Sexson/Raul axis (most likely Sexson as the weakest link)… and that would certainly improve the defense, too.

  93. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:21 pm

    Ok Dave, with Weaver regressing (in a good way), Batista and Washburn staying pretty consistent on what we have, and Felix being, well this year’s version of Felix, what do we do with Ho?

    Where does this notion about Washburn being consistent come from? First seven starts, he posted a 2.64 ERA. Last 16 starts, his ERA is 5.13. That’s not consistency – that’s a flukey start with predictable regression.

    But, to your actual question, Horacio Ramirez is clearly the worst starting pitcher on any contending team in baseball. He really is a true talent 5.50-6.00 ERA guy, which is basically the definition of replacement level. The M’s should certainly be able to do better.

    Will they? I have no idea. They’re amazingly beholden to track records, and they oddly think Ramirez has one. It’s not like the market is flooded with awesome pitchers, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used this Friday’s game against Jose Contreras as an up-close-and-personal scouting report. If he pitches well against them, it wouldn’t be hard to see them taking his contract off the White Sox hands on Saturday.

  94. Sammy on August 13th, 2007 12:22 pm

    Dave, one thing.

    I seem to remember reading somewhere (I think here) that regression to a .300 BABIP depends upon the pitcher having major-league quality stuff. If you throw a pitcher up there lobbing 80mph straight meatballs every pitch, one would expect their BABIP to skyrocket. This was used as justification that Weaver really was finished and that we shouldn’t expect Weaver’s BABIP to regress too much.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Brian, but I think this is where you’re going by saying not all .400+ BABIPs should be chalked up to statistical anomaly.

  95. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:27 pm

    I seem to remember reading somewhere (I think here) that regression to a .300 BABIP depends upon the pitcher having major-league quality stuff. If you throw a pitcher up there lobbing 80mph straight meatballs every pitch, one would expect their BABIP to skyrocket.

    Yep – I said this and agree with it.

    This was used as justification that Weaver really was finished and that we shouldn’t expect Weaver’s BABIP to regress too much.

    This, I didn’t say, nor do I agree with. During his struggles, I argued that, even if Weaver’s stuff had really taken the nosedive that it appeared to, his true talent BABIP was likely, at worst, something like .360 or so, and that’s what we should expect him to regress back to if he didn’t improve at all. But he did improve, showing that the prognostications about his stuff being totally incapable of major league success were incorrect, and his true talent BABIP is probably closer to .310 or .315 than it is .360.

  96. eponymous coward on August 13th, 2007 12:30 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they used this Friday’s game against Jose Contreras as an up-close-and-personal scouting report. If he pitches well against them, it wouldn’t be hard to see them taking his contract off the White Sox hands on Saturday.

    Oh, HELL no.

    Oh, wait, this is the franchise that decided to give a contract to James Baldwin.

    Gah.

  97. eponymous coward on August 13th, 2007 12:33 pm

    And I’m guessing the Sox scouting report on Weaver (based on what he did during the early part of the year) said something like “He throws a 88 MPH two-seamer out of the zone on his first pitch; take it.”

    I’m also guessing he hasn’t been scouted the last couple of months…

  98. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on August 13th, 2007 12:34 pm

    “Where does this notion about Washburn being consistent come from?”

    That’s not what I intended to say. I said, “.. .Batista and Washburn staying pretty consistent on what we have”

    By that I meant, however poorly articulated, that each was being true to what they are, i.e., we know what we’ve got with each of them. I did not intend to say Washburn was consistent in terms of giving us the same performance each time, but that he was true to form this season for what I’d expect from him. Some days you are happy with how close he keeps the team in the games, some days you scratch your head, but almost always you look back and don’t remember exactly when the pile of runs got tacked on. I also agree with Jeff’s take that he should be yanked before he hits 100 pitches most nights.

    In a nutshell with Batista and Washburn, there’s not a lot of mystery about what kind of pitcher we’ve got, given the data we’ve gone over a million times . There’s also no way either are leaving the rotation.

    Admittedly, I could have worded my point more clearly.

  99. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:37 pm

    Admittedly, I could have worded my point more clearly.

    I just used your off-hand comment to go on a tangential rant. I wasn’t really talking to you specifically there. But there’s definitely a widespread perception that Washburn is one of these consistent innings-eaters who takes the hill every day and gives the team a chance to win. It’s just not true, though. There are so many myths surrounding Washburn that it makes my head spin.

  100. Sammy on August 13th, 2007 12:40 pm

    If Weaver finishes the year strong, do you see the Mariners trying to re-sign him to a multi-year deal? 3/28 or something along those lines? What kind of deal would it take to keep him here and would you want us to re-sign him?

  101. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on August 13th, 2007 12:42 pm

    Fair enough, and agreed. I do believe most of the accusations that you hate the Mariners, secretly want them to lose, and drowned the Mariner Moose’s mother originated from your explanation of Washburn performances, at least this year. I don’t blame you for wanting to set the record straight.

  102. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 12:44 pm

    3/28 for Weaver would be an awful move.

  103. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:45 pm

    Oh, wait, this is the franchise that decided to give a contract to James Baldwin.

    Well, Contreras cleared waivers, so it’s likely they’d kick in a portion of his ’08 salary in order to facilitate a deal. Say, for instance, they picked up $2 million of it, meaning the M’s were on the hook for about $1.5 million the rest of this year and $8 million next year. Is that worth it?

    Maybe. His xFIP this year is 5.22, which isn’t great, but his peripherals basically make him out to be a right-handed Jarrod Washburn with just a few more groundballs. Transport him to Safeco, and maybe he runs a 5.00 xFIP down the stretch. Just to be conservative, we’ll call him a 0.5 R/G upgrade over Horacio Ramirez, though I think it might be closer to 1.0 R/G. That’s a 4-5 run upgrade the rest of the year, or about half a win. Not great, but not totally insignificant either. Certainly worth picking up the rest of his $1.5 million remaining on this year’s deal.

    So, now, you’ve got an $8 million 5th starter under contract for 2008. What’s his market value, even if he struggles the rest of the year? Probably $4-5 million, right? That’s what Kip Wells and Joel Pineiro got last winter just because they were healthy arms with some recent success. So, you’d be eating $3 million above market value, meaning that even if you instantly regret the move, you could probably dump him this winter by just paying someone $3 million to take him.

    If the worst case secnario is that you spend $4.5 million for a guy who is still significantly better than Horacio Ramirez, and there’s upside that he could be quite a bit better, I’m not against that move.

    Yes, he’s more of the old-guy-acquired-for-reputation crap that we’re tired of, but in this specific case, Ramirez is so bad that it could just be worth it.

  104. scraps on August 13th, 2007 12:46 pm

    Dave, I’m not asking you to do a bunch more research or anything, but is it your perception that Weaver has been throwing a lot more offspeed stuff since returning from injury, or should we not infer too much from the pattern of this one start?

    I ask because of the concern earlier this season when Weaver asserted that he was a power pitcher and that’s how he had to pitch. If he’s learned otherwise, that would be progress.

  105. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:46 pm

    What kind of deal would it take to keep him here and would you want us to re-sign him?

    He’s still a pitch-to-contact fringey stuff guy, and I have no desire to pay market value for any of those guys. Let him walk and fill out the rotation with J.P. Howell and Matt Belisle.

  106. rsrobinson on August 13th, 2007 12:46 pm

    Based stictly on gut feelings and without crunching numbers, here’s the order of the level of confidence I feel in each M’s starter:

    1. Felix
    2. Batista
    3. Weaver
    4. Washburn
    5. HoRam

    Is that way offbase when you do start looking at the numbers?

  107. Logger on August 13th, 2007 12:47 pm

    100 – “would it take to keep him here” – are you kidding? We’d be crazy to sign Weaver to any type of deal.

  108. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:51 pm

    Is that way offbase when you do start looking at the numbers?

    That’s about right, though I don’t think anyone who wants to flip-flop Washburn and Weaver would have too tough of a case arguing their point either.

  109. Dave on August 13th, 2007 12:52 pm

    Dave, I’m not asking you to do a bunch more research or anything, but is it your perception that Weaver has been throwing a lot more offspeed stuff since returning from injury, or should we not infer too much from the pattern of this one start?

    I think he threw more off-speed stuff than usual yesterday, but he’s definitely taken to throwing a lot of sliders this year. I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that the increase in breaking balls is the reason for his success, though, as he threw a bunch of sliders when he was getting pounded too.

  110. MarinerDan on August 13th, 2007 1:06 pm

    I would rather call up Robert Rohrbaugh and give him a shot in the HoRam slot than trade for Contreras and pay his salary next year.

    Dave, any reason to believe that Rohrbaugh is more likely to succeed in that role than Ryan Feierabend, who proved he wasn’t ready earlier in the year?

  111. Dave on August 13th, 2007 1:10 pm

    No – Rohrbaugh isn’t even as good as Feierabend. He’s not a major league starter.

  112. mpowercc on August 13th, 2007 1:15 pm

    I’m curious whether David Wells is likely to be a bigger upgrade over Horacio Ramirez than Contreras. And even if he’s not might he be a better value pickup then the bloated, albeit partially subsidized, contract the Sox would be asking us to take on?

  113. Dave on August 13th, 2007 1:21 pm

    Contreras is probably better than Wells at this point, but yea, once you factor in the contracts, Wells is probably the better value. But the team isn’t paritcularly interested in him, so don’t look for them to give him a chance.

  114. lailaihei on August 13th, 2007 1:21 pm

    Dave, do you think there is a decent chance we will pick up a 5th starter that will be better than HoRam? Whether it be Wells, Contreras, or someone else.

  115. eponymous coward on August 13th, 2007 1:24 pm

    If the worst case secnario is that you spend $4.5 million for a guy who is still significantly better than Horacio Ramirez, and there’s upside that he could be quite a bit better, I’m not against that move.

    The thing is David Wells is, well, not going to cost you 4.5 million.

    Contreras’s K/9 IP, last 4 years:

    2004: 7.9
    2005: 6.9
    2006: 6.2
    2007: 4.9

    That’s a big “DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER” for someone over 30 to me- a guy who’s clearly losing feet off his fastball- coming to an organization that has a history of letting people fail for months to be REALLY sure they are done, as opposed to bailing out early. I think David Wells is a MUCH better bet, in that he’s not going to cost you a commitment in 2008 unless he clearly performs, and he’s coming to a ballpark that’s pretty ideal for him (see: Moyer and Washburn).

  116. mpowercc on August 13th, 2007 1:29 pm

    Has anyone with the club stated conclusively why they’re not interested in Wells? Is it based purely on his recent results, or do they have other concerns?

  117. Dave on August 13th, 2007 1:30 pm

    The thing is David Wells is, well, not going to cost you 4.5 million.

    Considering I started the David Wells bandwagon, obviously, I agree.

    That’s a big “DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER” for someone over 30 to me- a guy who’s clearly losing feet off his fastball- coming to an organization that has a history of letting people fail for months to be REALLY sure they are done, as opposed to bailing out early.

    But here’s the thing about decline – when you’re an all-star, you can get a lot worse and still be useful. Two years ago, Contreras was a legitimate middle of the rotation guy, posting a 4.40 xFIP in that joke of a ballpark. Last year, he was a 4.74 xFIP, which would still make him our second best starting pitcher. This year, he’s at 5.22, which basically makes him another version of Washburn/Weaver – a pitch to contact guy who keeps the ball in the park and usually throws mostly strikes.

    In an ideal world, you don’t want four of these guys behind Felix. But it’s not an ideal world – our other option is to continue stumping for a guy they don’t want or to stick with Horacio Ramirez in a pennant race. When staring those realities in the face, Contreras at $10 million for 8 months isn’t the end of the world.

    Or, put it this way – we were all mostly okay with the Weaver signing because it was a one year deal. I’m not sure how picking up Contreras, with the White Sox kicking in a million or two, would be significantly different.

    Not ideal, but not a disaster.

  118. chi sf on August 13th, 2007 1:38 pm

    115 – I think Contreras is an interesting case. His K rate exclaims “Danger” yet if you look at his BABIP, including the absurd .424 in July when he gave up 48 hits and 37 runs in 26 innings, that screams regression to mean.

  119. EurekaJ on August 13th, 2007 1:41 pm

    Its such a pleasure to open up USSM at 4PM here in DC/Northern VA, when work is starting to get me down,and have the chance to read through a 5+ hour comment thread where Dave answers all sorts of questions about Weaver and the state of the pitching staff. You just don’t get this kind of information and discourse (on the M’s and baseball in general) anywhere else. Thanks Dave – and everyone else – for keeping this east coast M’s fan up to date.

  120. SpokaneMsFan on August 13th, 2007 1:43 pm

    Just checked in for the day, thanks for the post Dave, great stuff as always. I feel like this site has taught me twice as much as I knew about baseball the last 20 years I’ve been a fan, and I’ve only been reading for about at year, really appreciate all your work. I was wondering about Contreras when he came in and threw those solid innings, hopefully we beat him 1-0 on Friday so he looks good. Much like the 2004 election I’m on the anyone but Ho-Ram ticket.

  121. bunk_medal on August 13th, 2007 1:44 pm

    117 – Yes, I agree with that. There seems to be a tendency when we discuss trades or FA pitchers to say that you either pick up a “legitimate TOR starter” or you pick up nothing. The reality of the situation right now is that picking up a slightly below average guy who keeps you in most games would make us a significantly better team. A series of small moves can have as big an impact as a large one (see Broussard, Jones’ glove, etc).

  122. bram on August 13th, 2007 1:45 pm

    Dave: From your post:

    The White Sox were content to go up to the plate staring at Weaver’s first offering, only swinging six times. 19 times, they stared at strike one. He only went to six 1-0 counts the whole game. When you’re working 0-1 on almost every single batter, you’re at a huge advantage.”

    So, against a less patient club than yesterday’s White Sox (say, the Angels, the principle in-division contender) we could predict this style Weaver would perform poorly, correct? If one buys that argument, wouldn’t that factor neutralize any advantage Weaver’s pitching in this style might give the M’s, if their goal is to win this division? Would the M’s be worse off, if Weaver were to approach the Angels as he did the White Sox yesterday?

  123. MarinerDan on August 13th, 2007 1:45 pm

    Much like the 2004 election I’m on the anyone but Ho-Ram ticket.

    That didn’t work out too well for you in 2004, though.

  124. eponymous coward on August 13th, 2007 1:49 pm

    This year, he’s at 5.22, which basically makes him another version of Washburn/Weaver – a pitch to contact guy who keeps the ball in the park and usually throws mostly strikes.

    I’m skeptical that a guy who is consistently losing a K per 9 IP a year is going to STAY at his current level going forward… and if he loses another K in 2008 to go to 3.8-4.0 K/9 IP, he becomes a RHP version of HoRam. I suspect the mileage on the arm is getting high, as well.

    Contreras’s advanced peripherals in 2007 aren’t much different from Joel Pineiro’s in 2006 (47.5% GB, 4.92 xFIP, 4.5 K/G, 3.3 BB/G), or this year- and Joel’s contributing in St. Louis’s decimated rotation (and I suspect he’s a possible candidate to get the Dave Stewart/Woody Williams boost Dave Duncan usually gives to pitchers). Assuming Joel was available for a comparable commitment, would you pick him up, or is familiarity breeding contempt?

  125. CaptainPoopy on August 13th, 2007 1:49 pm

    Dave,

    How’s the Aumont signing coming along?

  126. Dave on August 13th, 2007 1:49 pm

    So, against a less patient club than yesterday’s White Sox (say, the Angels, the principle in-division contender) we could predict this style Weaver would perform poorly, correct?

    Perform worse? Yes. Perform poorly? I don’t know that I’d go that far. There are worse things than having an aggressive team swing at first pitch strikes the whole game, and the Angels don’t exactly have a world beating offense. But, yea, part of the reason he was able to throw the CG SHO was because the White Sox let themselves get consistently behind in the count – a better hitting team is unlikely to adopt a similar strategy.

    He pitched the White Sox perfectly, but that same approach probably gets him torched by a good offense. You’d hope that he’d adjust and do something different against a better hitting ballclub, but it is a sign that this isn’t the kind of dominating repeatable performance that guys like Johan Santana throw up with regularity.

  127. Dave on August 13th, 2007 1:50 pm

    How’s the Aumont signing coming along?

    It will be announced tomorrow or Wednesday. Probably tomorrow.

  128. CaptainPoopy on August 13th, 2007 1:51 pm

    So, you’re saying that he’s signed?

  129. Dave on August 13th, 2007 1:52 pm

    He hasn’t put ink to paper yet. But almost every first round pick has already agreed to a contract, but thanks to a “suggestion” from MLB, they’re holding off on the announcement until the last minute.

  130. CaptainPoopy on August 13th, 2007 1:52 pm

    What I meant to ask is… so, you’re saying that he will be signing? Or is that because it’s the deadline.

  131. CaptainPoopy on August 13th, 2007 1:53 pm

    Oh ok… thanks.

  132. msb on August 13th, 2007 1:56 pm

    #128– there was a piece today about MLB and the David Price negotiations, which sprung out of a Daily News note on sunday

  133. Grant on August 13th, 2007 2:15 pm

    Hey Dave,
    Have you heard any word on the health of Cha Baek, and how do you think he compares to Ho, Contretras, and Wells?

  134. Grant on August 13th, 2007 2:24 pm

    Also, I read that Contreras has 10 mil for both ’08 and ’09 left on his contract.
    Josh Towers has cleared waivers whats your opinion on a Towers acquistion Dave?

  135. BrianV on August 13th, 2007 2:25 pm

    Cha Baek threw three innings in a rookie league game yesterday:

    3 IP, 1 H, 6 K

    Sounds like he looked good.

  136. brian_sun on August 13th, 2007 2:42 pm

    [long link]

  137. eponymous coward on August 13th, 2007 2:55 pm

    Uh, yeah. TWO years, 20 million on the contract? Pass.

  138. patnmic on August 13th, 2007 3:04 pm

    Dave,

    At the beginning of the season I remember reading on this blog that Weaver was throwing a sinker that was not a major league pitch and that it was a meatball that was getting hamered. Is he still throwing that sinker or did he abandon that pitch?

  139. Evan on August 13th, 2007 3:11 pm

    Brian Rust wrote:

    From ESPN.com splits (which omit HBP), Weaver in his first six starts gave up 50 hits on 103 BIP, BABIP = .485. This represents a binomial probability distribution of 50 (or more) events in 103 trials. Assuming a “true” probability of .300, the probability of 50 (or more) hits in this sample is .00006, or less than 1 in 10,000. FWIW, it’s .0005 against “true” = .325 and .003 against “true” = .350.

    Here’s my take on what this means: If we were using this sample to test a valid causative hypothesis we would conclude that the result is NOT random, but rather the result of causative factors addressed in our hypothesis. To claim that the variation was simply random (and that “regression to the mean” would naturally follow) isn’t really a valid application of statistical inference, and stretches the bounds of credulity.

    Dave wrote:

    Given just how many hundreds of thousands 103 BIP samples there are over the course of a major league season, the fact that we got a 1-in-10,000 occurrance isn’t surprising. In fact, if we looked hard enough, I’m sure we’d find several more.

    THIS is the sort of excellent analysis that makes USSM the best place for Mariners analysis anywhere online.

    Thanks, both of you.

  140. Evan on August 13th, 2007 3:12 pm

    Josh Towers has cleared waivers whats your opinion on a Towers acquistion Dave?
    I think Towers would be a good fit for Safeco. He throws strikes and he gets flyballs. He’d get Ho out of the rotation and give McLaren another reason not to let Ibanez play left.

  141. DAMellen on August 13th, 2007 3:21 pm

    I thought this article was interesting:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7110738

    It says a bit about what we’ve all been saying: the M’s success is a big mystery. And this guy apparently isn’t even aware that John MacLaren seems to be trying to bring us down from the inside.

  142. GTcolin on August 13th, 2007 3:22 pm

    Who would have thought, Jeff Weaver now leads the league in shutouts, and RAUL IBANEZ is the AL player of the week. You could have gotten 10,000 to 1 odds on that one 3 weeks ago.

  143. SpokaneMsFan on August 13th, 2007 4:17 pm

    Two absolutely hilarious comments from the link above.
    SeattleSlew: “One thing about it is that the clubhouse knows they can win. Its all about team ball and the chemistry that they bring. They are just having fun the way the game supposed to be played. Seattle has never received great publicity even when they won 116. Watch your back halos.”

    Followed by
    SouthernCAAngels: “Seattleslew, I give your team KUDOS for sticking in there. I always liked Bavasi when he was our GM. Thanks for a tight race and may you win the Wild Card. :-)

    (Sorry I don’t how to use the tags to italicize)

  144. Chris Miller on August 13th, 2007 4:20 pm

    I love the “know how to win” quotes.

    I know how to win! Score more runs than your opponent on a per-game basis. That’s all you need to do.

  145. msb on August 13th, 2007 5:31 pm

    Jamie Burke on Weaver:

    “From the first inning on, he had control of four pitches,” Burke said. “When a starter has four, you’re sitting pretty. Hitters try to think with you, so you mess them up. You call different pitches in different at-bats with the same count. “Jeff was throwing strike one all day, getting ahead. That makes it even easier.”

    It was weird because one through nine [innings], everything was the same,” said catcher Jamie Burke. “It didn’t seem like he was losing anything on his cutter or slider.”

  146. beck21 on August 13th, 2007 5:31 pm

    Anyone know where we can look up Beltre’s career #s versus Santana? That’s the only thing I can think of that Mac could be looking at (though I doubt he can see anything where he is with his head so far up his …) I would be interested in seeing Lopez’s career #s vs Santana, too.

  147. gwangung on August 13th, 2007 5:38 pm

    Or is Beltre hurt?

    (But even then…you should keep Lopez in to compensate…)

  148. beck21 on August 13th, 2007 5:40 pm

    Never mind… Finally found it.
    Beltre is 4-14 (.286) w/ 4 K’s vs. Santana.
    Lopez is 1-12 (Though the one is an HR).

    Honestly, the one guy with any sample size is Ral who has .500 SLG and is 11-28 with an HR.

    (From Sportsline.com)

    Still, nothing that makes me think it’s a good idea to take away two great defensive infielders and put in one terrible one and one mediocre one. With a ground ball pitcher on the mound, no less.

    Regardless, GO M’s.

  149. bram on August 13th, 2007 5:44 pm

    Adrian Beltre OPS vs. Johan Santana: .762

  150. beck21 on August 13th, 2007 6:02 pm

    156/Bram … Where did you find batter vs pitcher OPS. That’s what I was looking for (though it probably wouldn’t make a difference to our manager).

  151. argh on August 13th, 2007 6:02 pm

    Well, I’m off to Safeco in a few minutes to study Mac’s latest defensive contraption up close and personal — row 139, row 6 so my opportunity to be killed by a foul ball while watching Willy is low (perhaps only 5 in 50,000) but still on the table.

  152. joser on August 13th, 2007 6:24 pm

    Santana’s splits vs M’s

    Santana has more wins against the M’s than he has against any team not in the AL Central. Though he only has one start at Safeco — the game in April(?) where the M’s were beaten by a double steal, of all things. Well, that started the slide anyway. If MacLaren gets as outmanaged in that game as Hargrove clearly was, I’ll scream.

  153. DMZ on August 13th, 2007 6:34 pm

    Game comments pruned: there’s a game thread for this now.

  154. Dave on August 13th, 2007 6:48 pm

    Sorry about the contract screwup – that’s what I get for going from memory and not looking things up. I withdraw all support for a Contreras trade, in lieu of the extra year tagged on the end of that deal.

  155. [I DID NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE NAMING RULES AND NEED TO CHANGE MY NAME] on August 14th, 2007 4:27 pm

    Even when Jeff Weaver is pitching well, it is still torture to watch him throw. He could have easily blown the game in the first two innings but he got very lucky and got out of a bases loaded jam.
    Only time will tell if Jeff Weaver can pitch like that every fith game. Its the same with Sexson.
    If Weaver starts winning consistently and Sexson starts hitting in clutch sitiuations, the Mariners have a good shot at the playoffs

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