Dave · August 29, 2007 at 6:27 am · Filed Under Mariners 

That one hurts. Up 5-0 after the first inning, having chased the other team’s starter, and end up losing 10-6? There’s failure on all fronts in that kind of performance.

1. Jeff Weaver failed. Spotted a big lead against a team that doesn’t have a great offense, he allowed the Angels to put the bat on the ball far too often and bad things resulted. Now, this is part of the deal with a pitcher of Weaver’s skillset, so it’s hard to be too tough on him – he’s a mediocre #5 starter, and stuff like this happens to mediocre #5 starters. But it was bad timing, to say the least.

2. The offense failed. After knocking Ervin Santana out early, they proceeded to let Dustin Mosely get through the next 5 1/3 innings on 54 pitches. We all know the M’s have built an aggressive offense, but seriously, do these guys have no ability to take a pitch? Ever? You’ve just bounced the other team’s starter in the first inning, and now their bullpen is going to have to get 25 outs, plus you’re playing them in a day game tomorrow – make the arms work and churn through their bullpen. That it only took the Angels three pitchers to finish out the last 8 2/3 innings is a total joke.

3. The bullpen failed. They’ve been the rock of the team all year long, so they’re allowed to let some runs in occassionally, but Sean Green and Brandon Morrow chose a bad time to stop being unhittable.

4. And finally, John McLaren failed. Spectacularly. He continues to demonstrate a massive lack of understanding of actual baseball strategy that is staggering in depth. Sean Green gets to face Vladimir Guerrero with first base open because Vlad was 0 for 4 career against Green? That’s the kind of analysis I’d expect from a six year old. You have to have a complete lack of understanding of the the uses of statistics to decide that an 0-for-4 means something, but McLaren clings to it to make a terrible, and crucial, decision in a game that could swing the tide of the playoff race.

Then, the unbelievable capper.

Bases loaded, two outs, top of the 8th, trailing by one run – this is the most important at-bat of the game, even before accounting for the fact that Vladimir Guerrero is the one coming to the plate. The leverage index of this situation was 2.92, and remember, its scaled where 1.00 is exactly average and anything over 1.8 is considered high pressure – 2.92 is nail-biting, game-changing, biggest-play-of-the-game territory.

John McLaren chose Rick White. Rick White. The worst pitcher in the bullpen. Rick White would be the worst pitcher in almost every bullpen in the American League, and certainly the worst pitcher on any contending team in the A.L. He’s not a major league pitcher, and he hasn’t been for a while now. The people who tell you he is simply don’t understand how to evaluate pitchers. The only scenario where carrying Rick White is a defensible position is if you intend to use him to pitch in already decided games, for multiple innings, and let him be a veteran voice for the kids in the bullpen. Rick White’s skills, at this point, are essentially those of a coach, not a player.

That’s not how John McLaren sees him. John McLaren sees a guy who has experience, and above all else, he values track records, and of course, Rick White has a track record against Vladimir Guerrero. 2-12 in his career – this must be a good matchup, right? Uhh, no. Look at the years when those matchups occurred. Individual batter-pitcher stats mean less than nothing. They should not be used to make any kind of in game strategical decision.

It matters not that Rick White has as much business on the mound as you or I do in a close game in a playoff race. The result, of course, wasn’t hard to see coming – a couple of base hits, the bases clear, and the game is essentially over.

George Sherrill is then brought in to pitch mopup work in the 9th inning of a game the team trailed 10-6 and had little chance of winning. J.J. Putz never pitched. The Mariners, in a game that could very well cost them a chance at the division title, chose Rick White over George Sherrill or J.J. Putz. That’s incompetence of a level that I can’t even define.

Last nights game was a team wide failure. You can lay blame at the feet of practically everyone on the roster. At this point, there’s only one thing to say:

Please, Felix, save us.


95 Responses to “Ouch”

  1. joser on August 29th, 2007 9:09 am

    While it’s minor compared to everything else, what was with all the running-into-outs last night? I mean, it’s great that Guillen has everybody fired up on the basepaths, but some people (I’m looking at you, Raul) shouldn’t be trying to steal bases. It was like a throwback to Hargrove’s failed “agressive baserunning” approach of a couple of years ago.

    And what the hell was Johjima trying to do? Was that a flat out steal attempt, or a blown hit-and-run? If the former, someone needs to remind Johjima that basestealing is not in his skillset; if the latter, someone needs to remind MacLaren that a hit-and-run requires the guy at the plate to be able to get the bat on the ball, and Bloomquist isn’t likely to be that guy. (If it had been a bunt attempt, I might be feeling a bit more charitable about it). That was just embarassing, watching the ball arrive in the 2nd baseman’s glove and then waiting for Johjima to chug his way into the camera frame.

  2. revbill on August 29th, 2007 9:12 am

    I guess I never saw a picture of White or anything, so my first reaction was “why is he wearing that weird fake beard?” Then I thought “he sure looks like Burl Ives in that Christmas special with the puppets.”

    Last night I had that familiar Mariners fan feeling of being teased into being optimistic, and having the rug pulled out from under me. It didn’t help that I was sitting in the same room as I was in 2001 for the end of the ALCS. Here’s to hoping for a crazy run that proves all our doubts wrong.

  3. natebracy on August 29th, 2007 9:13 am

    I’m hoping that the M’s take care of business today and going forward, or next week we will be seeing a post similar to this one about the NY series. Not to be too negative, but why in the world would we think that that series will end differently?

  4. ArtfulDodger on August 29th, 2007 9:13 am

    I’m not a huge critic of McLaren. I generally think it takes a hell of a lot of baseball sense to become a minor league coach (except for the that guy in the braves system who launched rosin bags like hand grenades), much less make it to the bigs. I tend to give the coach the benefit of the doubt and assume he knows way more than i do. Even if i’m armed with all kind of crazy stats. Yet, i still was left scratching my head so hard it almost bled when i heard he was bringing in Rick freak’n White to face the best hitter in baseball with the bases juiced and the game on the line. There is no sense in mudville.

    No doubt this was a big game for more reasons than the standings. Momentum. Losing a big lead, etc. BUT, let us not lose sight that it still only counts as 1 game. We still have 32, that’s right 32 left. THat’s almost half as many as the NBA plays and twice as many as the NFL. There is much baseball left and we are still 1 game up in the WC and only 4 back in the division. Anything is possible.

  5. marc w on August 29th, 2007 9:20 am

    “The leverage index of this situation was 2.92”

    Hmm, if only this team had a shut-down righty in the ‘pen. Maybe a closer – I mean, the Angels only had four more outs to go. Well, guess with the revolving door of scrubs that’ve manned that position for the M’s it made sense to go with the newly-promoted journeyman.

    btw, what the hell was on Mr. White’s face? It looked like a brace of gerbils were attacking his lip.

  6. PositivePaul on August 29th, 2007 9:30 am

    Again, as I said in the game thread. When given the choice of White vs. Sherrill to come in to face Vlad with the bases loaded and one out, I’m not saying it’s entirely unreasonable to bring in White instead of Sherrill. White has very solid groundball numbers and a groundball to a fielder gets you out of the inning. He got the ground ball, in fact, and it just eluded Beltre.

    The problem was not warming up Putz in the first place. THAT was indefensible, barring injury or illness of Putz. Having White on the team in the first place is probably indefensible. Not bringing in GS52 earlier is certainly questionable. Green pitching to Vlad was questionable, if not completely stupid.

    And the difference between strike zones given to the two teams is indefensible.

  7. Dayve on August 29th, 2007 9:31 am

    M’s just aren’t in the same class as the Angels and going head to head with them this year has proven that. M’s can be good, have potential, a great bullpen, etc., but the Angels have something else that keeps them consistently ahead: Good coaching, good game plan, good execution. In both of these game here the M’s have looked like a AAA team against them. Their desperation to make big plays has been embarassing. Their inability to react to good moves by the Angels is painful to watch.

  8. Russ on August 29th, 2007 9:33 am

    Hard game to watch last night. McLaren has been a great disappointment so far and doesn’t look to

  9. rsrobinson on August 29th, 2007 9:34 am

    I’ve been something of a devil’s advocate here but I’ll go along completely with Dave on this one. McLaren’s use of the bullpen yesterday was incomprehensible.

  10. Dan W on August 29th, 2007 9:35 am

    It’s hard to even talk about that game. I’m impressed that you guys can do it. Like #54, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the guys in the dugout and FO, but man, that really went out the window last night, along with with any quality execution after 1 1/3 innings. This was a team failure, top to bottom, unlike any I’ve seen in an important Mariner game.

    Is “important Mariner game” an oxymoron again?

  11. toddi on August 29th, 2007 9:36 am

    I was at the game as well and I offer these observations to chew on… It’s always easy to second guess the manager and McLaren is certainly not the best tactician in the game. However, 5 runs in the first inning of arguably the biggest game of the year, Santana is gone in a third of an inning and then??? Weaver, the ‘veteran’, starts moping cause he doesn’t get some calls, loses his focus and essentially lets the Angels back in the game… inexcusable, but indicative of the mindset of this team. Bottom line is that they are not nearly as good a team as the Angels and it starts with the lack of quality starting pitching, which has finally caught up with this team as it begins to take a toll on the bullpen.
    Look at it this way, if the situation were reversed and we were playing in Anaheim and the Angels scored 5 runs in the home half of the first, the game would have been over. No Question.
    Or look at it this way, with the Angels having come back and just having taken a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh inning in a tight, very important game, M’s fans show their displeasure by doing this new ‘cheer’ that I think is called the Wave. There is a metaphor there and it bears examining.

  12. tubby on August 29th, 2007 9:36 am

    If Mac was a good manager, he’d have been given a chance long before now. Look at how many retreatds got 2nd chances before he got his first: Hargrove, Grady Little, Charlie Manuel, 72-year-old Jack McKeon (though he won a world series). I can’t believe you’re not putting more emphasis on Ibanez misplaying that ball. Jones catches that period. Why is he even on the roster?

  13. VaughnStreet on August 29th, 2007 9:36 am

    We’re still in the pennant race in the same way Larry Craig is still in the U.S. Senate.

  14. Chris Miller on August 29th, 2007 9:37 am

    #54, while I do understand they d have lots of experience and do know a lot of things from that experience, but proper game strategy is not always one of them. Things like WE and Leverage are way over their heads even though those basic concepts could help virtually all MLB managers win more games.

  15. HamNasty on August 29th, 2007 9:41 am

    You don’t need to understand the numbers of leverage to understand the concept.
    Situation 1- 10-2 score, 0 runners on in the 8th inning.
    Situation 2- 5-5 Runners on 2nd 3rd in the 8th inning.

    Where do you want your best pitcher?? Not rocket science and no need for numbers to tell you that White shouldn’t be any where near Safeco for situation #2.

  16. Dan W on August 29th, 2007 9:43 am

    #63 – more than that, you don’t even need to know about WE and Leverage to make those bullpen calls – you only need common sense.

    #61 – as pissed as I am, that line drive over Ibanez was not his fault. Jones might have had a better chance to make that play, but it’s far from a given that ANYONE would have run that hit down.

  17. davepaisley on August 29th, 2007 9:45 am

    “How many more at bats does Richie Sexson need, by the way?”

    We’re just waiting for Richie to break out. Any day now.

    Or maybe he’ll just hit 23 home runs in the last game of the season.

  18. Tony2B on August 29th, 2007 9:45 am

    Something about the Texas series gave me a sinking feeling and now today it feels like that feeling is here to stay.

    The brutal combination of seeing Raul’s lame attempt to catch Morales’s double and then White’s newly dyed and creepy facial hair just about made me sick.

    McLaren has to have been the only person not to see what was coming. It’s just incomprehensible. It’s only slightly overly dramatic to say the season was on the line in that situation, but you can’t use Putz then blah blah blah.

    And what a treat to watch Sexson hit in the 8th against Shields. [SIMS! ONE M!] kept pointing out on TV how Ben had hit a PH GS against him earlier in the year, clearly expecting the rather obvious PH appearance. But no. The game was pretty much lost by then, but at that point just a small sign that we have a manager who is also a sentient being would have been slightly reassuring.

  19. eddieranch on August 29th, 2007 9:47 am

    Will be interesting to see what kind of Felix we get today. If he’s ready to cement his ace status, this is the time to say, “get on my back and let me bring the angels back to earth.” The team needs someone to rally around. Win today and the Angels are still watching their backs. Lets all forget about last night, it can’t be undone — except by Felix today:)

  20. davepaisley on August 29th, 2007 9:49 am

    51 “someone needs to remind MacLaren that a hit-and-run requires the guy at the plate to be able to get the bat on the ball, and Bloomquist isn’t likely to be that guy.”

    Basically, it looked like Scioscia called a pitch-out. The ball was 2 feet outside and low. Bloomquist swung at it but didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of touching the ball. The catcher was ready for it and fired to second in plenty of time to get, as you note, a chugging Joh.

    WFB may not do a lot as well as we’d like, but he did all he could on that busted play. McLaren was simply out-managed in much the same way that Hargrove was.

  21. ArtfulDodger on August 29th, 2007 9:50 am

    “We’re still in the pennant race in the same way Larry Craig is still in the U.S. Senate.”

    So witty i don’t even have a followup, nicely played. But of course, i hope your wrong (not necessarily about Craig)

  22. Pete Livengood on August 29th, 2007 9:50 am

    I agree with just about everything said here, especially about Rick White. I will play Devil’s Advocate about the decision to have Sean Green pitch to Guerrero, though.

    It seems to me, from comments McLaren was quoted as making in Geoff Baker’s blog, wasn’t just relying on Vlad’s 0-4 record against Green, but on the skillset match-up, which most of us would agree (as DMZ recently noted in a comment) is a defensible way to make a decision on whether to have a certain guy pitch to a hitter:

    “We know what kind of a hitter he is, we know he’s an animal,” McLaren said. “We just thought with his (Green’s) sinker and his breaking ball away, we would take our shot there.”

    I am only speculating, but perhaps McLaren thought he was using his lefties situationally too early (with Vlad likely to get at least one more AB at that point, in what should have been a close game) if he walks Guerrero and then brings in O’Flaherty or Sherrill to pitch to Anderson. It seems evident that he didn’t feel comfortable going to Sherrill there, that early, since he went to O’Flaherty after Guerrero’s hit, and maybe he didn’t have enough confidence in O’Flaherty in that role to walk Vlad.

    I’m not saying I agree with that decision, or that I would have made it that way, but I can understand it. It’s at least a marginally defensible decision. Bringing in White to pitch to Vlad later (or even allowing him to face him AT ALL in a high-leverage situation) cannot be defended. Certainly not when J.J. was available and rested.

  23. scott19 on August 29th, 2007 9:50 am

    2: Interesting that “The Anvil” comes to mind — since Scott Steiner also had a bleached-blonde goatee for a while as well.

    However, either Neidhart or Steiner would have done a better job pitching to Guerrero last night than Rick “The Washout” White did!

  24. VaughnStreet on August 29th, 2007 9:51 am

    #65 — To me the issue wasn’t whether Ibanez could have caught it. It’s that Ibanez looked like he didn’t know what the hell he was doing out there. If the ball had been 5 feet closer to him it wouldn’t have made any difference.

  25. Mat on August 29th, 2007 10:08 am

    If bringing other pitchers in wasn’t an option, I don’t necessarily have a problem with White facing Vlad (though his 0-4 record against him is meaningless.) But bringing in other pitchers was an option. Walking Vlad and bringing in Sherrill to face Garrett Anderson seems like the best option in that scenario.

  26. Carson on August 29th, 2007 10:08 am

    Simply put, the fact that Broussard and Sherrill were both brought in after the game had essentially been decided should tell you everything you need to know.


    What’s worse is that Broussard striking out probably convinced Mac that he’s no better than Sexson. Thank goodness for the deep chorus of boos for Sexson. That should be enough to get Broussard into the lineup today, but I’m not going to hold my breath. The boos must keep coming, and coming hard.

  27. The Ghost of Spike Owen on August 29th, 2007 10:17 am

    62 – hilarious

  28. Dayve on August 29th, 2007 10:33 am


    I don’t know who Larry Craig is and that’s still funny.

  29. G-Man on August 29th, 2007 10:33 am

    In today’s P-I, John Hickey reports that Jose Guillen is about to get a 3-year deal, and he mentions the blocking of Jones and Wladimir Balentien.


  30. eponymous coward on August 29th, 2007 10:38 am

    Again, as I said in the game thread. When given the choice of White vs. Sherrill to come in to face Vlad with the bases loaded and one out, I’m not saying it’s entirely unreasonable to bring in White instead of Sherrill. White has very solid groundball numbers and a groundball to a fielder gets you out of the inning. He got the ground ball, in fact, and it just eluded Beltre.

    Why is it defensible to use the worst pitcher on your roster to face the best hitter on the Angels roster? Your argument is comparable to pinch hitting Willie Bloomquist for Adrian Beltre in the bottom of the ninth, one out, runner on second, game ties because Bloomquist has good bat control and is more likely to hit a ground ball that will move the runner over.

    White’s a terrible pitcher, just like Dave says. It’s indefensible to use him in any high-leverage situation while you have ANYONE else in your bullpen.

  31. Karen on August 29th, 2007 10:39 am

    Supposing, somehow, the M’s survive their September schedule, and actually gain ground, despite everything that’s been talked above.

    What good would it do for the M’s to get to the playoffs despite McLaren/Bavasi/et al? The competition only gets tougher.

    It’d just be nice if they could make a good run at the tough teams between now and the end of the season, but after the last 4 games (2 Ls against the cellar-dweller Rangers) that run isn’t starting out so well.

  32. gwangung on August 29th, 2007 10:40 am


    Guillen–OK to good in 2008. Meh in 2009. Off the table in 2010.

  33. bram on August 29th, 2007 10:42 am


  34. byronebyronian on August 29th, 2007 10:46 am

    Is Joe Girardi still available?

  35. zzyzx on August 29th, 2007 10:59 am

    “What good would it do for the M’s to get to the playoffs despite McLaren/Bavasi/et al? ”

    I’ll take 40% odds to get to the ALCS than 0%.

  36. TBone on August 29th, 2007 11:03 am

    81 – The Mariners are actually a great fit for October play. This offense puts a ridiculous amount of balls in play. If we can just get even a little bit lucky and have those balls fall for hits then our offense is unbeatable.

    Basically, over an short period of time this team has the potential to be as good as anyone in baseball.

    On the flipside, we are prone to giant slumps. But if we can just make it there, I think we’ve got a decent shot at winning.

    Plus, any World Series contender has to get a little bit luck, right?

  37. kenshabby on August 29th, 2007 11:24 am

    Of all the horrible things I witnessed last night, the one that caused the most severe intestinal cramping was seeing Rick White’s flaming, Bagwell-esque beard appear on the screen. I had to shake my head. Repeatedly. I had to re-focus my vision. I checked my glasses. I was in utter shock that they had brought this guy in. That he didn’t give up a salami is about the only positive one can take away.

    Of all McLaren’s idiotic moves this season that has to be the capper – though he may yet outdo himself.

  38. davepaisley on August 29th, 2007 11:25 am

    76 “The boos must keep coming”

    You misspelled booze.

  39. davepaisley on August 29th, 2007 11:28 am

    79 – I wonder if Bavasi even looked at Guillen’s splits?

    .748 OPS against righties, who constitute 75-80% of pitchers, and who make up almost the entire complement of tough relievers he will ever see?


  40. joser on August 29th, 2007 11:29 am

    Is Joe Girardi still available?

    He’s still broadcasting, so apparently yes. Unfortunately, his strength (getting the most out of younger players) doesn’t match this organization (which tolerates them in as small numbers as possible, and only when a veteran is absolutely, completely, long past over the hill). He may also have better sense than to work for M’s; he got fired from his last managing job for pointing out, repeatedly and correctly, the failings of the organization he was in.

  41. joser on August 29th, 2007 11:40 am

    btw, what the hell was on Mr. White’s face? It looked like a brace of gerbils were attacking his lip.

    That, my friends, was 100% 70’s Soviet-bloc bleach-bottle hooker muff.

  42. HamNasty on August 29th, 2007 11:53 am

    88- Nice comment. Classic in my mind.

  43. kenshabby on August 29th, 2007 12:02 pm

    91 – Good one.

    I wonder if Rick White has the complete set of Stylish-Yet-Toughâ„¢ Velcro goatees. Maybe next time he blows a critical game he can look extra-dapper in a Magic Magenta or Swingin’ Cyan piece.

  44. Christopher Michael on August 29th, 2007 12:49 pm

    First game I’ve had a chance to go to all season, since I live in Arizona. Thank you coach. Great way to manage that game. Lovely.

  45. bram on August 29th, 2007 2:04 pm

    Tip of the cap to Mike Scioscia and the Angels. Better overall repeatable skill set, better preparation, better execution.

    Time to focus on the Yankees and Tigers (or Indians), folks, because the Angels would have to collapse for the M’s to win this division. Let’s not kid ourselves.

    Is that better?

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