This Made Me Laugh

Dave · April 9, 2008 at 11:31 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Behold – the most inaccurate baseball column you will ever read. From what I’ve heard, Seth Kolloen is a nice enough guy, but the P-I should demand a refund for this stinker. The hilarious part is that I actually agree with part of his premise, and John McLaren is overly attached to his veterans. I have been beating this drum myself for a while but I still can’t help but shake my head at how bad this article is. Let’s dive right in. We’ll shower when we’re done.

And now there’s an even more illogical addendum: Perform well, and I’ll mess with you.

On Monday and Tuesday, McLaren fiddled with the lineup. No, he didn’t replace any of the three hitters in his lineup who were batting below .115. Instead, he dinked around with the guys who actually were hitting.

For Tuesday’s game, Adrian Beltre moved from fifth in the batting order to third. Raul Ibanez moved from third to fourth.

Yes folks, John McLaren is messing with Adrian Beltre by moving him from the #5 spot to the #3 spot. Because, you know, we wouldn’t want the team’s best power hitter in a position to drive in Ichiro as often as possible. For as much as we get on McLaren, this was a good move, and I said so at the time he made it. By getting Beltre in front of Ibanez, we avoid the annoying Lopez-bunts-Ichiro-over, opponent-walks-Ibanez-to-get-to-Sexson situation that the previous line-up led to. He made the line-up better and took away a tactical weapon from the opposing managers, and this is what Kolloen chooses to criticize?

Brad Wilkerson, Kenji Johjima and Jose Vidro, none of whom are hitting a jockey’s weight, stayed in the lineup.

Not noted is the fact that all three of these players are better than the reserves on the bench. Seriously, the M’s bench sucks (it’s their own fault, but it’s also reality). Removing any of those three from the line-up makes that days team worse. Again, of all the things to get on McLaren about, and you pick one thing that he’s doing right.

Jim Leyland’s Tigers started out slow — none slower than Jacque Jones, who started the season on a hitless streak.

How long did it take Leyland to sit Jones?

Two games.

Ooh, a hitless streak. That sounds serious. Except, you know, that streak consisted of 8 at-bats. And, just for the record, here’s Jacque Jones’ 2008 performance through yesterday’s game: .222/.263/.222. If no Tigers have started slower, what does Seth think of Ivan Rodriguez, Placido Polanco, Miguel Cabrera, or Edgar Renteria? Believe it or not, Jacque Jones is outhitting all four of them. When he wrote the article, Jones was the Tigers fifth best hitter to date (which explains why they were 0-7 before tonight, but is still reality). However, Kolloen chooses to ignore the facts that Leyland hasn’t at all done what Kolloen is crediting him for doing. Leyland isn’t benching his struggling veterans to teach them that poor performance won’t be rewarded – he’s sticking with the guys who have long track records of success. Which is exactly what good managers do seven games into the season!

Yes, Jacque Jones got the 3rd game of the season off, while Marcus Thames played in his place. Do you think that maybe that had something to do with the fact that Thames has 44 home runs in 600 at-bats over the last two seasons for Detroit? Seriously, 44 home runs in just over a full season’s worth of at-bats. He’s a flawed player, but he’s a hell of an asset for a reserve, and giving him at-bats isn’t scandal in the making. Also, note that Jones has started every game since. Some benching.

But wait, it gets better. This is the best part.

And, as further motivation, Jones has a young teammate who’s ready to take his spot.

Leyland has the Tigers’ equivalent of Adam Jones, center fielder Clete Thomas. But instead of carving up Triple-A pitching while the big club’s offense flounders, as Jones did last year, Thomas is up with the Tigers, taking the odd start away from veterans. And in four starts, Thomas has gone 7-for-15.

With Thomas lurking, what’s going through Jacque Jones’ mind?

Clete Thomas, Detroit’s equivalent of Adam Jones. This Clete Thomas, the 24-year-old who hit .280/.358/.405 in Double-A last year. The one who posted a .697 OPS in Class-A ball the year before. The Clete Thomas that ZIPS projected to hit .217/.274/.304 in 2008. No, seriously, that Clete Thomas.

Detroit traded away practically their entire farm system to get Cabrera and Willis. They stripped it bare, selling off everyone with talent except Rick Porcello, who they weren’t allowed to trade due to rules about recent signees. The Tigers farm system is one of the worst in the game at present. Baseball America didn’t rank Clete Thomas, their “equivalent of Adam Jones”, among the Tigers top 10 prospects. They thought less of Clete Thomas than former cast off Mariner relievers Yorman Bazardo and Francisco Cruceta.

Seriously – Clete Thomas is barely a prospect at all, and he’s about as close to Adam Jones as this column is to War And Peace. He’s Willie Bloomquist with slightly better outfield defense. Seth could have figured this out with about 45 seconds of research, or an email to anyone who knows anything about Clete Thomas. Instead, he really allowed himself to write that Thomas was Detroit’s answer to Adam Jones. A stupider comment won’t be published in any form in 2008.

Take a mulligan on this column, Seth. It was the Clete Thomas of baseball articles.


32 Responses to “This Made Me Laugh”

  1. earinc on April 9th, 2008 11:40 pm

    Hear, hear. An ass-kicking post. In an age where newspapers are cutting and cutting and running wire stories over local pieces, the least we can ask for is quality from what’s left. Otherwise, they’re doomed. Anyone want to wager on whether the P-I is still in business in a decade? I don’t wish that – I think it’s really bad, actually. But this kind of b.s. doesn’t help.

  2. Seth on April 10th, 2008 12:02 am

    Dammit, Dave, I’m just about to go to bed and this comes up on my RSS reader?

    I actually wrote this on Monday, when Jones hadn’t yet caught up statisically with his teammates. But, I think the point stands–still don’t think Leyland would’ve sat Jones if he (Jones) had been killing the ball, Thames’ 44 homers notwithstanding.

    As for Clete Thomas, I didn’t mean to imply that he was the equivalent of Adam Jones, but I sort of did, by, um, writing that he was “the equivalent of Adam Jones.”

    What I meant to say was that he was playing the role that Adam Jones ought to have on the 2007 M’s–as an option at outfield that would push the veterans to perform better. Whether he’s actually good isn’t the point. But I failed to get that across. Bad on me.

  3. 300ZXNA on April 10th, 2008 12:48 am

    What really strikes me is just how much we’ve been conditioned to mediocrity on the bench. The Tigers have a guy on their bench who probably has better power potential than anyone in our lineup . . . and on our bench, we get Willie Bloomquist and Miguel Cairo. F*#$.

    I know that guys like Thames aren’t the norm for an MLB bench, but still . . .

  4. DAMellen on April 10th, 2008 1:07 am

    And then kick him in the nuts. The motherfucker has it coming.

  5. OppositeField on April 10th, 2008 2:02 am

    Cheers to Seth on the timely response (if that’s really him, I don’t fully know my way around this blog yet). It’s all a conversation, and that conversation only pushes all of us to do better going forward. While I couldn’t possibly agree with Dave and the prevailing opinion on this site more than I do right now, I think there is something to be said about the difference between writing for a blog with a fanbase of hardcore, sabermetric friendly readers, and the PI with its fanbase of, well, everybody else. The folks reading Seth’s columns by and large probably don’t know who Adam Jones is, and his column makes a lot more sense when read in that context. Not that we should excuse the lack of knowledge we sometimes get from baseball writers, but we need to at least be understanding of the difference in audiences. I’m looking forward to the paradigm shift in baseball analysis just as much as the rest of y’all, and maybe that won’t happen until we crucify every beat writer who generalizes statistics and puts out softball columns to appease the fanbase. But if that’s the case, it’s not a good time to be Seth Kolloen, trying to write about the Mariners for a living for a baseball ignorant fanbase.

  6. hub on April 10th, 2008 2:18 am

    The P-I should just stick to what they do best: “Griffey To Seattle?” columns.

  7. bunk_medal on April 10th, 2008 4:37 am

    I can’t help thinking this is a little over the top. I’m all for waging a war on ignorance, but tearing into a relatively obscure column like this doesn’t seem to achieve anything. Most of the objections raised here have more to do with a sloppy writing style than any general concepts or principles which are worth berating. The last three paragraphs are apparently motivated solely by a passing reference to Adam Jones which, for all its inaccuracy, has little substantive impact on the general point being made.

  8. b_rider on April 10th, 2008 5:43 am

    In response to the content of the article: I don’t think there is much wrong with how McLaren has used his starting position players so far. For one thing, it is early in the season, and Wilkerson and Johjima will eventually come around. For another, as Dave points out, he has no good options on the bench. I think that Dave’s point is that you don’t play an awful player like Clete Thomas just so that you can scare the veteran players. They are trying, and you only hurt the team by putting them out there at this point.

    There is much more room to criticize McLaren on his use of the bullpen and on the fact that he refuses to pinch-run or use defensive replacements, despite the fact that this was what the bench was built to do. It’s baffling. Last night, in the eighth inning, he had Sexson on second and Vidro on first, needing an insurance run or two to make the game safe. Instead of putting in Willie or Jimerson, who might actually be able to score on a single (the most likely hit for Burke), he left Sexson in. It didn’t make a difference, but shouldn’t he at least use his players in their “roles”?

  9. Mere Tantalisers on April 10th, 2008 6:41 am

    I think its pretty great there’s a guy named Clete. I thought is was just a Simpsons character, but no.

  10. BrianV on April 10th, 2008 6:55 am

    I think its pretty great there’s a guy named Clete. I thought is was just a Simpsons character, but no.

    First: Clete Boyer

    Second: The Simpsons character’s name is Cletus.

  11. rea on April 10th, 2008 6:58 am

    Thames isn’t, strictly speaking, a bench player for the Tigers–he’s the righthanded half of the leftfield platoon. Leyland gave Thames the start that day rather than Jones because (1) Thames has a better record against Zach Greinke than Jones, and (2) Leyland wanted to get Thames into a game(Leyland believes that if you’re on the major league roster, you ought to get enough playing time so that you’re not rusty when the team needs you). At the same time he gave Thames the start, Leyland told the media that Jones was not being benched, and would start the next day.

    Clete Thomas is on the major league roster because Curtis Granderson is on the DL, they had to have another outfielder, and Thomas had a good spring. He’ll spend most of the year at Toledo (although he’s done everything the Tigers asked of him so far).

  12. Brian Rust on April 10th, 2008 7:28 am

    And don’t forget Clete Casper, quarterback for the Cougs back in 1982. Yeah, yeah, before you were born, or able to read the sports page.

    But the point is, he shared time in a 2-QB system, and I don’t remember the other guy’s name. I remember it because Clete is a GREAT name for a QB.

  13. Tek Jansen on April 10th, 2008 7:39 am

    I do think that the point Dave makes about how the struggling M’s starters are still vastly superior to players on the bench cannot be emphasised enough. Giving Wilk or Joh a day off is one thing, replacing them with Morse or Burke (and I do like Burke) will not make the M’s better. And sad as it is to say, not one bench player on the M’s 25 man would be more productive than Turbo.

  14. whiskeychainsaw on April 10th, 2008 7:39 am

    Judas Priest on a pony! I thought Cletus was a deputy in Hazzard County, under Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane. Now where’s that little dog Flash?

  15. msb on April 10th, 2008 7:47 am

    The P-I should just stick to what they do best: “Griffey To Seattle?” columns.

    tchaw. that is the Times’ bailiwick.

  16. Mr. Egaas on April 10th, 2008 7:48 am

    Curious: Was the team playing 2 lefties on the day that Jones sat and Thames played?

  17. the clock on April 10th, 2008 8:01 am

    i have to admit, i agree with Seth. or, rather, i disagree with you. some of your “counter-points” are very elementary. ie, Seth never said that moving Beltre to 3rd and Ibanez to 4th was wrong…he was merely pointing out that if THIS is McLaren’s idea of a big “shake up”, well, we’re in trouble. and, how can you be sure that no one on our bench could provide a little more than the sub-.150 averages of wilkerson, kenji and vidro? i doubt any of our bench guys have career averages that low, and Seth was merely pointing out that “these guys are slumping, give ’em a day off”. Sorry Dave, i’m a longtime reader, and a fan, but this post just sounded like somebody was cranky.

    Go M’s!

  18. rea on April 10th, 2008 8:04 am

    Was the team playing 2 lefties on the day that Jones sat and Thames played?

    If you count Carlos Guillen, yes–there were two lefties in the starting lineup for the Tigers.

  19. rea on April 10th, 2008 8:05 am

    And darned if I can figure out how to make the “link” thing work, or I’d show you a link.

  20. okobojicat on April 10th, 2008 8:37 am

    The most important critique of Seth’s post is that Thomas is only on the roster because Granderson is hurt. If Granderson isn’t hurt, then Thomas is picking up at-bats at AAA and Inge is playing supersub and starting everywhere.

    Also, if Granderson is healthy, how different is that offense? No one on that team is hitting yet, but having someone who gets on base and scores lots of runs not at the top of the lineup has to hurt.

  21. JI on April 10th, 2008 9:02 am

    I’ve seen more idiotic, and more unintelligible, but that’s was the worst I’ve seen locally in a long time.

  22. RITTEM1 on April 10th, 2008 9:10 am

    Props to Seth (#2) for his post. At least there is hope for the future when a local journalist is willing to say he at least partially got it wrong.

  23. JI on April 10th, 2008 9:22 am

    I thought Jones and Thames were platooning.

  24. JMHawkins on April 10th, 2008 9:40 am

    Seth, thanks for showing up, that’s very cool – like Dave said, take a Mulligan (and do better next time). Maybe a column on what b_rider pointed out:

    There is much more room to criticize McLaren on his use of the bullpen and on the fact that he refuses to pinch-run or use defensive replacements, despite the fact that this was what the bench was built to do

    That’s the amazing thing, and fits a pattern the M’s have had for a couple of years now – making roster moves and then not using the players acquired. It’s almost like two different organizations are running the club and not talking to one another. The M’s are running the “Jose and Pepe Vidro” commercial. Do you think maybe John McClaren had a twin brother? Maybe his name is Clete. So Clete McClaren tells Bavasi he needs defense and pinch runners on the bench, and then John McClaren wonders why the best pinch hitter on his bench is the backup catcher?

  25. byronebyronian on April 10th, 2008 9:41 am


    How can you not like Burke as a backup catcher? He’s a good backup compared to a lot of what is considered a reserve catcher in this league.

    Am I wrong to think this? The guy has a good eye and hits. While he’s never been a power guy, he’s reliable and that makes him a valuable backup in my mind.

    I agree with you about the rest of the bench (even though I don’t think Morse is a bad reserve either).

  26. smb on April 10th, 2008 9:47 am

    This was the Clete Boyer of rebuttal posts.

  27. waldo rojas on April 10th, 2008 9:51 am

    Give him a break. The guy went to Garfield.

  28. OppositeField on April 10th, 2008 10:12 am

    27 – that explains everything! Roosevelt alum right here.

  29. Taylor H on April 10th, 2008 11:06 am

    Woot! Garfield! Our jazz band is filthy!

  30. Mere Tantalisers on April 10th, 2008 11:18 am

    BrianV (#10)
    1)Didn’t know about Clete Boyer.
    2)You may have noticed, since you were the one to point him out, that Clere’s full name is Cletis. This may tip you off that the Simpsons character’s name is also Cletis (not Cletus) or Clete for short.

  31. djw on April 10th, 2008 1:00 pm

    Two (additional) things Seth should have thought about before writing this column:

    1) The concept of sample size.
    2) When your starting catcher gets a day off after a half dozen or more consecutive games in modern baseball, it’s possible it may not be a “benching” at all. It may be using a backup catcher in the most ordinary way imaginable.

  32. Milendriel on April 10th, 2008 3:04 pm

    I’m just happy to come across words like “bailiwick” when reading about baseball. I feel dumb.

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