Time for a notes post

Dave · August 17, 2007 at 10:04 am · Filed Under Mariners 

This is one of those ideas where I had a whole bunch of good ideas and don’t have time to finish any of them, so in lieu of a real post, have the abbreviated version.

1. Geoff Baker has spent the last few days blogging his thoughts on the Adam Jones situation, the value of experience, how rookies earn playing time, and so on. He’s done a good job of laying out the argument and articulating the organization’s philosophy on the issue of how players are evaluated. Not surprisingly, I think he’s wrong, and I’ve got a mountain of evidence to back me up, but it’s not the kind of post I want to spend 20 minutes on and slap up as a counterpoint, so a rebuttal will have to wait until next week.

2. Somewhat related to that, the Tigers are designating struggling veteran Craig Monroe for assignment today and calling up 20-year-old Cameron Maybin to take over as their regular left fielder. Maybin was promoted to Double-A last week, played five games there, and is now on his way to the show. You can add Maybin’s name to Andrew Miller, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, Philip Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and the ever growing list of highly talented rookies who have displaced veterans and been handed prominant roles on playoff contending clubs as teams decide that talent trumps experience.

3. Jose Contreras takes the hill against the Mariners tonight. I’ve heard from multiple people that this is essentially an audition for the M’s – if he pitches well tonight and the scouts like what they see, he could be joining the Mariners as soon as tomorrow. He’s undoubtedly a huge upgrade from Horacio Ramirez, but the remaining 2 years and $20 million left on that contract are ugly with a capital U, and the fact that he cleared waivers when every pitcher of any value is getting claimed should tell you just what the rest of the league thinks of that deal.

4. Speaking of waivers, Jayson Stark reported that Richie Sexson was claimed on waivers and pulled back by the Mariners. This news generally sparked a lot of anger among M’s fans, since dumping Sexson’s salary and handing his at-bats to Ben Broussard sounds like a win-win situation to a lot of people. However, I’ve been told that one of the claiming teams was the Detroit Tigers, and as much as I’d like to see the M’s move Sexson this winter, I can completely understand the organization’s reluctance to hand Sexson to a team they’re trying to beat out for a playoff spot.

5. Yes, there’s a Future Forty update coming soon. Probably early next week. Short version – Carlos Triunfel is awesome and Chris Tillman has made big strides lately. The farm system is in better shape now than it has been at any time in the last five years.

6. Wily Mo Pena has been traded to the Washington Nationals. I’ve been joking for a few years that I think Jim Bowden’s Baseball America subscription ran out in 1997 but he still uses the old issues as his main reference when trading for players, but he just keeps giving me reasons to keep running that joke out there. The man has a toolsy outfielder fetish that is unrivaled in the history of the game. I’m somewhat surprised he hasn’t flanked Wily Mo with Ruben Mateo and Kenny Kelly yet.


196 Responses to “Time for a notes post”

  1. rsrobinson on August 17th, 2007 1:33 pm

    Angels lose game one 8-4.

  2. Sports on a Schtick on August 17th, 2007 1:34 pm

    Regression to the restroom.

  3. sparky on August 17th, 2007 1:34 pm

    Wily Mo still has tons of potential. I’d say that a big part of the problem is that he didn’t spend enough time in the minors. He could benefit from some time in the minors learning how to play the field. He is such a butcher these days, that a team can’t afford to keep him as a full-time player (except as DH).

  4. Jeff Nye on August 17th, 2007 1:42 pm

    Mmmm, Twinkies.

    I don’t know anything about Wily Mo Pena except that he was a pretty good prospect in my MLB game for PS2 a couple years back.

    There has to be some upside, so probably not a bad deal as long as Bowden didn’t give up too much to get him.

  5. Logger on August 17th, 2007 1:45 pm

    I disagree about the Twinkie issue. I see Vidro as more of a Choco-Bliss guy.

  6. HamNasty on August 17th, 2007 1:51 pm

    Twinkies or Choco-Bliss he will regress to his hot dogs.

  7. rsrobinson on August 17th, 2007 1:52 pm

    Wily Mo has a funny name. I’d trade for him for that reason alone.

  8. RealRhino on August 17th, 2007 1:55 pm

    It’s silly to use words like “meaningless” and “useless” when discussing the effect of Turbo’s recent hot streak on predictions of future performance. Of course it is meaningful; it has some use. It happened. More data generally means more accurate predictions. Doesn’t mean you don’t discount the weight when making predictions, but it adds *something.*

    I also think we can’t forget the human aspect. No, managers shouldn’t always make decisions just because it’s what “the book” says to do, but I’m not sure a veteran player revolt is such a good thing, either. And a baseball player’s belief in “hot streaks” is probably stronger than an average person’s.

  9. Sec 108 on August 17th, 2007 2:03 pm

    Wily Modesto Pena was born in Laguna Salada. Laguna Salada is a short drive from Mao, which is exactly what Vidro has been doing to Twinkies, Choco-Bliss or maybe even Arepas.

  10. rsrobinson on August 17th, 2007 2:04 pm

    And a baseball player’s belief in “hot streaks” is probably stronger than an average person’s.

    Baseball players think that if they have a good game while wearing a certain t-shirt that they should keep wearing that t-shirt. I’m fairly certain that benching a player while he’s on a hot streak would go over in the clubhouse like a fart in an elevator.

  11. eternal on August 17th, 2007 2:05 pm

    I was playing MLB 07 this morning and Reed hit 4-5 with a HR. He’s hot. I think we should bring him up…

  12. Gomez on August 17th, 2007 2:06 pm

    Wily Mo’s one asset, his immense power, will be somewhat neutralized by playing home games in RFK Cavern. Does Bowden not notice these things?

  13. scraps on August 17th, 2007 2:09 pm

    I also think we can’t forget the human aspect. No, managers shouldn’t always make decisions just because it’s what “the book” says to do, but I’m not sure a veteran player revolt is such a good thing, either. And a baseball player’s belief in “hot streaks” is probably stronger than an average person’s.

    As I said at the start, I understand why a manager overvalues a streak and makes decisions accordingly. I was disagreeing with the people here who think that Vidro should in fact hit better because he’s on a streak; that he’s on a streak because he is actually performing better, anyone can see it, it’s “obvious”. rsrobinson, for example, wasn’t arguing that there’d be a veteran revolt, etc; he was arguing that you should leave Vidro in because he’s on a hot streak.

  14. sparky on August 17th, 2007 2:11 pm

    162…I may be wrong, but it almost seems that WMP would be better suited to hit homers in RFK than your average power hitter. When he connects, it seems like he hits it harder/farther than an average homer. Obviously this is just my observation, but it’s an interesting theory I guess.

  15. Jeff Nye on August 17th, 2007 2:12 pm

    His middle name is Modesto? Really?

  16. sparky on August 17th, 2007 2:13 pm

    Also, when is the new stadium in DC going up? If it is in the next year or two, RFK’s park factors might have a smaller impact on personnel decisions.

  17. davepaisley on August 17th, 2007 2:14 pm

    “Doesn’t anyone want to talk about Wily Mo Pena?”

    I always imagine his name being pronounced Wye-lee, not Will-ee, thereby making him seem to be some sort of Looney tunes character. We should have way more cartoon characters in baseball, except maybe canaries with glasses.

  18. JMHawkins on August 17th, 2007 2:17 pm

    Why I’d love to talk about Willie Mo Pena.

    for the 10 games immediately preceeding July 26th, Willie Mo when 2 for 21.

    On July 26th, he went 4-5 with 2 doubles, a Funk Blast, 4 Ribeye steaks, for a .800 AVG, 1.800 SLG, and an OPS of 2.600 for the day.

    Since then, he’s gone 4 for 19, for a .211 AVG, .316 SLG and a .634 OPS.

    For anyone who would rather talk about Vidro, well,

    From July 12 through July 23, he went 17 for 34. A .500 AVG! Hot! Keep him in the lineup!

    From July 24 through July 29, he went 4 for 20. A .200 AVG. Not hot. Bench him!

    From July 30 through August 4, he went 9 for 22, a .409 AVG. Hot! Get him back into the lineup!

    Yay for believing in the predictive powers of hot and cold streaks.

  19. Paul B on August 17th, 2007 2:18 pm

    Should we stop pitching Jeff Weaver because there is no way he keeps throwing CG shutouts?

    You bench him if you have someone better to take his place.

    If Jeff Weaver was your 5th pitcher, and your team suddenly acquired Johan Santana, would you keep Weaver in the rotation because he pitched a complete game shutout?

  20. Sec 108 on August 17th, 2007 2:19 pm

    Modesto, really.

  21. Cynical Optimist on August 17th, 2007 2:21 pm

    162, 164 & 166 – The new park in DC will be ready for Opening Day 2008. No use worrying about RFK effects any more.

  22. JMHawkins on August 17th, 2007 2:22 pm

    Modesto, really.

    And here I thought it was Fresno.

  23. Sec 108 on August 17th, 2007 2:27 pm

    Modesto means modest in Spanish. Fresno means Ash Tree, which I believe is what Wily Modest Pena’s bat is made of. If and when he manages to make solid contact with his Fresno bat he can hit it out of any ballpark.

  24. julian on August 17th, 2007 2:28 pm

    Here’s a thorny issue:

    How do you tell whether a player’s “hot streak” is simply due to stochastic (random) fluctuations or is actually an indicator that the player has improved in some way (eg. made a swing change, has increased confidence/experience, etc.)? Or do these factors usually have a negligible effect?

  25. rsrobinson on August 17th, 2007 2:33 pm

    rsrobinson, for example, wasn’t arguing that there’d be a veteran revolt, etc; he was arguing that you should leave Vidro in because he’s on a hot streak.

    I never said anything about a hot streak, I said Vidro should be in the lineup right now because he’s been hitting well. Those are different concepts. A hot streak implies random good fortune is involved while the other is performance based.

    It should be obvious to anyone watching Mariners games that over the past month Vidro has been hitting the ball harder and more consistently than earlier in the season. Even many of his outs are well-struck balls. His increased production isn’t due to sunspots, the alignment of the stars, or “rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot bare” it’s because he’s performing at a higher level than earlier in the season.

  26. Bearman on August 17th, 2007 2:35 pm

    As far as this rumor goes that Contreras if he pitches well againist the M’s they will aquire him as soon as tommorrow is utter nonsense.

    As I said in other blogs and in the forum of the 4 SPs to have cleared waviers that Jay Stark article on ESPN points out only 2 of the four would be a good fit.
    Both are short term and if the FO wants the SP to have an option in his present contract:
    It’s Steve Trachsel.
    If the FO wants to retain the option to decide to keep or not to keep:It’s Josh Towers
    Both have better ERA and Whip than HoRam,Contreras,and Perez (being the other two wavier wire clears).
    Both Trachsel and Towers with the exception of aquiring FA P David Wells are cheap compared to Contreras.

  27. NBarnes on August 17th, 2007 2:40 pm

    I didn’t dislike the Arroyo-for-Pena trade at the time, though I think that Boston handled it badly. If they were going to stick Pena into the regular lineup and let him develop, it’s a fine trade. But they half-assed it and then signed Drew, so Pena’s value to them was never what it could have been to a team that had an outfield spot for him. And if they aren’t going to use Pena for what he’s good for (trying to turn him into Jesse Barfield), why trade a valuable commodity like Arroyo (solid starter with a way below market contract) for him? They turned Arroyo into cash considerations and a PTBNL, and that’s pretty bad.

    The Nationals are a pretty logical team for Pena; he really wants to be the DH on a bad AL team (Texas, maybe, or Oakland if Beane hadn’t had Cust work out so well), but they can play him regularly without fearing that they are giving up meaningful wins. And they didn’t pay much for the privilege.

    It’d look better if Drew were slugging above 400 this year. >_

  28. Bearman on August 17th, 2007 2:44 pm

    As to Sexson waiver claim situation if the Tigers were among the clubs then I can see it as you do.
    Why help a rival when you’re both after the same prize?That would be like a prizefighter showing his oppoent his chin.

    As to future top forty prospects looks like if the M’s play their cards right within 2 to 4 yrs they will have plenty of inhouse MLB help coming out of the minors at ALL positions,rotation AND pen.

    You make a good counter point to Geoff Baker’s about rookies with your point about the Tigers gambling on calling up Maybin from AA to replace soon to be DFAed OFer Monroe.
    The M’s have to be willing to take the gamble with Jones as the starting LFer and assign 4thOFer duty/DH duty to Ibanez.

  29. RealRhino on August 17th, 2007 2:48 pm


    I think that’s really the key question. Just looking at it from a numerical standpoint, of course Vidro hitting well since the AS break (or any other short period you choose) doesn’t in itself suggest anything about his likely future performance. The numbers have to *mean* something. If you think it’s because of random chance, then it’s silly to think it will continue. If you think it’s because of a new grip, laser eye surgery, a healed injury, a new stance, etc., then it is at least possible that it can continue (to some degree, at least). If Felix learns a new grip on his curve and starts blowing people away with it at unprecedented rates, we’d have no problem accepting that his improvement was due to some fundamental change, rather than random luck. But when Vidro starts hitting at a .350+ clip, we can’t accept that something has changed b/c we don’t know if it has. We just don’t know. I suppose we could get somewhere by showing that he hasn’t fundamentally changed how he’s hitting (same LD%, GB%, FB%, HR/FB, etc.), which would suggest that he’s just getting lucky.

    As a manager, I’d probably take the easy way out and play him just until he has enough bad games that the vets wouldn’t grumble when I started replacing him with Jones (same with Raul).

  30. DMZ on August 17th, 2007 2:51 pm

    How many games is that, though?

  31. Jeff Nye on August 17th, 2007 2:52 pm

    Oh, well, if it should be /obvious/, then I guess there isn’t really anything else to talk about.

    Let’s go back to talking about Wily Mo Pena’s middle name.

  32. RealRhino on August 17th, 2007 2:53 pm


    Here’s the thing. I think that their promotion of Maybin shows us nothing. Or, if anything, shows that they don’t necessarily think what we think they think.

    First, they aren’t replacing a guy hitting above his baseball card. They are replacing a guy who has been terrible. They’re not taking much of a chance that Maybin will be worse, ’cause it’d be hard to be worse. Monroe’s OBP is around .265 for the year.

    Second, Monroe is hitting well below his career numbers, to the tune of some .120 of OPS. If they really believed that short-term performance was not indicative at all of near-term future performance, it seems they would hang on to Monroe b/c he’s just about to turn the corner.

    I don’t think the situations are at all analogous.

    Now, swapping out Sean Casey for Richie Sexson might show exactly what has been claimed.

  33. Gregor on August 17th, 2007 2:56 pm


    I am looking forward to Monday’s post since it ties into something I have been wondering the last couple of days. Clearly, “hot streaks” aren’t a good predictor of a player’s performance in the immediate future. On the other hand, looking too far in the past (“Sexson is bound to come around because he was good three years ago”) doesn’t make sense either. Has anybody tried to determine the time interval that yields the most accurate predictions, i.e., the interval that best balances sample size against actual changes in a player’s skills?

    Of course, this is complicated by offseaon breaks, injuries, etc.

  34. Jack Howland on August 17th, 2007 2:57 pm

    I’m disappointed that the Mariners decided not to let the Tigers have Sexson. I understand the argument of not trading him to a contender, but the idea of getting the $14M off the books for 2008 outweighs it in my opinion. It is certainly not a foregone conclusion that Sexson would even help Detroit’s chances.

    I think that the Mariners are being a little shortsighted in basing a Contreras decision on this one start. What are they going to see tonight that they couldn’t have seen on any of his other starts? Basing this decision on one outing put together with their inability to evaluate major league pitching talent makes this a real ominous evening in my opinion. I hope Contreras gets shelled tonight.

  35. joser on August 17th, 2007 3:04 pm

    I was looking at the leaderboard at Baseball Reference and just had to giggle. There on the list of shutouts, littered with names like Bedard and Buehrle, Halladay and Verlander, Sabathia and Santana, (not to mention the King), all alone right at the top: Weaver-SEA 2

    I’m sorry, it just makes me laugh.

  36. Manzanillos Cup on August 17th, 2007 3:05 pm

    If we sign Steve Trachsel, I might just decide to end it all.

    Re Vidro, it would be cool if we had data on the angle and the speed of all balls that Turbo has hit in games this year – to see if he really has been hitting the ball harder. I think HitTracker is working on this…

  37. RealRhino on August 17th, 2007 3:20 pm

    Derek —

    I guess there are no right number of games to stick with a “hot” veteran who is playing over his head. That’s something the manager would hopefully have some idea about (in terms of what his players would be okay with). For me, I’d probably give him 2-3 bad games (or 2 losses) and then put Jones in there with the hope that he performs well enough for me to justify leaving him in permanently.

  38. _David_ on August 17th, 2007 3:34 pm

    Who’ll be more motivated to succeed in tonight’s game? Contreras to get traded to a possible contender who’ll value him more than they should, or The Mariners to protect their roster? I assume our scouts and the front office will look at ability rather than results, though I wouldn’t put it past Bavasi to pull the trigger if he shuts us down Jeff Weaver style.

  39. IdahoInvader on August 17th, 2007 3:45 pm

    128 & 152 definitely made me laugh the most

    Anyway, (apologizing ahead of time if I missed it)…is there a reason Contreras at even half of what he’s owed, would be a more viable option than Joe Kennedy?

    He was DFA’ed by the D-Backs I thought.

  40. _David_ on August 17th, 2007 3:46 pm

    What does everyone think of the Zambrano signing? How much better is he likely to be than Oswalt over the next five years? He’s sure more of an 18 million dollar pitcher than Zito.

  41. _David_ on August 17th, 2007 3:48 pm

    Any chance the D’backs call up Scherzer now?

  42. IdahoInvader on August 17th, 2007 4:03 pm


    I hope for the same thing, MOSTLY because we’d be the ones shelling him

  43. Bremerton guy on August 17th, 2007 4:52 pm

    For Dave’s post on the myth of the hot-handed batter on Monday, it would be interesting on what to do about a batter who, for one season, simply creams his prior stats. Should that guy be taken out of the lineup because his prior year statistics indicate he will regress to the mean? Here is the classic example: in 1959, Norm Cash had 104 AB, .240 BA, and 107 OPS. In 1960, he had 353 AB, .286 BA, and 141 OPS. In 1961, he had a year like never before, and never repeated. In 535 AB he hit .361 with a 201 OPS. That OPS is 51 points higher than he ever hit again in his career. Another example, more akin to Jose Vidro, is the year Jimmy Piersall had in 1961. His first full year in the majors was 1953. Prior to 1961, his highest BA was .291 and his highest OPS was 106. In 1961 his BA was .322 with a 122 OPS. The closest he ever got to these numbers again was 1964 with a .314 BA and 114 OPS. For Cash and Piersall, 1961 were their career years and they were “hot” all year long. It wasn’t a myth, it happened, and at least for that year, they never regressed to the mean.

    I for one would be interested in Dave’s perspective about and explanation for the career year phenomenon and how that ties into the “myth” of the hot hand and regression to the mean.

  44. DMZ on August 17th, 2007 5:08 pm

    You might want to check out the book “Curve Ball” for a detailed exploration of hot streaks, random chance, and other related topics. I really enjoyed it. Short version, for purposes of this argument: random variation can produce huge swings in performance.

    The short answer to the question is: if there’s no underlying change in a player’s skills, if there’s no reasonable explanation for why a player might be hitting better, you’ve every reason to be skeptical and consider benching them in favor of a better option.

    We don’t have the kind of detailed statistical data on Cash, for instance, that would allow us to do the same kind of information that lets you slice it down and find interesting things like whether (as Vidro saw) a spike in infield hits unsupported by what you’d reasonable expect from him as a hitter.

  45. Oly Rainiers Fan on August 17th, 2007 6:28 pm

    169: you’re seriously comparing Adam Jones to Johan Santana? Santana has proven himself repeatedly at the major league level for years, while Jones has had a disappointing stint last year on the big club followed by a good year in AAA, followed by 2 ‘hot’ games on the big club and a dearth of offense since then (not to mention two or more dropped balls).

    Seriously, Santana = the pitching version of Jones?

  46. flippy on August 17th, 2007 7:28 pm

    What you are saying is that just because Vidro has ate 34 twinkies today, there is no evidence to say that he would eat #35.

    But I still think he’s going to.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.