Really, Geoff? Really?

DMZ · April 24, 2008 at 3:36 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’ve been trying not to bite on a couple of Baker’s blog posts, because I don’t think we can evaluate the team’s offseason yet. But this —

Bring in a hitter at the expense of upgrading the starting rotation? That was what many were calling for, if not Jeff in particular. Let’s see, had the club kept Adam Jones in right field, it would now have a .632 OPS hitter playing that spot rather than Brad Wilkerson. Net gain there, despite Jones being slightly “better” if you can call it that, would be about zilch.

I’m not sure that anyone called for “bringing in a hitter at the expense of upgrading the starting rotation”. If anyone proposed that, let me know.

But really? This is a serious argument? That Adam Jones, a good defensive outfielder who hasn’t hit well but has still hit way better than Wilkerson, would be a “zilch” upgrade over the dessicated corpse of a player we’ve seen for 45 at-bats?



And what about the bullpen? For all the writing Baker’s done about the bullpen, here he’s omitting that the M’s traded, along with that right field upgrade, George Sherill, and when Putz was out we all saw what happened. You don’t think there’s a game in that?

In the meantime, we’ve gotten diddly/squat out of Bedard. So if you want to evaluate that part of the off-season so far, it stunk. It was horrible. The M’s got robbed.

Now, that’s just how things have gone so far, sure, and maybe Bedard will go 20-0 over the rest of the season while Jones doesn’t get another hit.

But if you’re going to pass judgment on the trade now, it was awful. There’s no getting around this. The M’s would at this point in the season have done better if they hadn’t made that trade.

And if you want to argue that there’s no way to know that, that we can’t predict how they would have performed if they hadn’t made it (and so and so forth) then I don’t understand how you could say that a certain course of action wouldn’t have helped or not. If it’s all impossible to say, then it’s all inconclusive and no trade is either good or bad at any point in time. We can never judge anything.

This offense is to the point where one big bat isn’t going to make much of a difference. The team needs some of its existing bats to get going. It also has the option of interchanging Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement with some existing hitters if things don’t improve.

That’s silly. If you’ve got an offense of Ichiro and Beltre, you don’t have to get seven new hitters to get better. You need one. And then another. It’s not like the team is down a ten foot well and getting two feet up only causes them to slide back down. Fewer outs means more runs means more wins. Improvements help.

This offense doesn’t have to be night and day better than it is right now. Just more consistent. Too many games, as one of you noted, where the team scores four runs or less. Even with standout pitching, it’s tough to always hold opponents to three runs or fewer. Add another run per game, though, and the one-run wins should start to pile up in Seattle’s favor.

Ron Fairly? Is that you? I remember you from that “four runs or more” point you repeated over and over.

Subtract a run given up, and they’ll win more too.

The whole concept of “more consistent” is silly. It’d be great if you could get players to schedule their hits, but you can’t. It’d be great if you could stop scoring runs in a blowout and stash those for an extra inning game later, but you can’t. Has there ever been a team that was able to score four runs a game every game? Or even three runs a game, every game? Can you build a team around offensive consistency?

No. No one’s ever scored the same number of runs. No team that’s been better at scoring runs has been better at scoring runs at the same level game after game. They score more runs in general, and they get them in bunches and they get shut out. It’s the way offenses work.

Try to score more runs all the time. Try to prevent more runs all the time. Win more games.

Come on, Geoff. I expect better from you than that.


36 Responses to “Really, Geoff? Really?”

  1. batura on April 24th, 2008 3:55 pm

    Yeah, and getting Geoff Jenkins would have really been a massive sacrifice to the budget. Nothing like paying Vidro his millions to suck.

  2. tgf on April 24th, 2008 4:00 pm

    Come on, Geoff. I expect better from you then that.

    At this point there is little reason to expect better from Geoff, in my opinion. He just isn’t that great of a beat writer. Better than his predecessor, sure, but that’s like saying Wee Willie is better than Nick Punto.

  3. CaptainPoopy on April 24th, 2008 4:02 pm

    I really wish we would have gotten the Brett Favre of baseball. That would have made me happy.

  4. Jeff Nye on April 24th, 2008 4:05 pm

    I’m really increasingly disappointed with Geoff Baker.

    He started out so well, but he really seems to be deciding that his niche is to play the contrarian viewpoint to “those darn statheads”.

    It’s lazy journalism at best, mean-spirited at worst, and I had such high hopes for him when he started.

  5. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on April 24th, 2008 4:10 pm

    This was a fun venting post, Derek. I responded on his blog (at 1:28) to his arguments (some of the same responses you’ve made here, some different).

    I also added that assuming Jones -in a new city, on a new team, with a lot more pressure since he’s viewed THE primary return on Bedard, and a different schedule, etc.- would hit exactly the same in Seattle as he has with Baltimore the first three weeks was a wrong way to look at it with such a small sample size. Might Jones settle in better in a team he’s been a part of longer, playing in familiar surroundings, not being taken out of the line up against “tough” pitchers, etc.? I honestly don’t know, but either does Geoff. I also made the point that Jones’ defense would have already saved us a least a couple of runs (Willie’s blind man attempt last night comes to mind, that, if not caught, would probably have been handled better after it dropped in).

    2 trends in Geoff’s thoughts have got me typing like mad to him:

    a. Bad defense that doesn’t, alone, cost you the game in a single play is not a problem. Apparently additional pitches, baserunners, extended innings, etc. don’t have any effect on the game or odds of winning; range apparently never factors in at all;

    b. An sort of “I told you so” approach to discussing the trade’s success when discussing Jones limited performance (without mentioning Sherrill at all).

    b1. – Vidro should hit more doubles. He can’t and won’t, but oh well.

    I am unable to resist responses to this kind of thought, and am glad you responded here. I like Geoff a lot – even have a picture I am pretty proud of when he came to meet me at Spring Training – but I just go crazy with this kind of logic.

  6. PositivePaul on April 24th, 2008 4:19 pm

    He started out so well, but he really seems to be deciding that his niche is to play the contrarian viewpoint to “those darn statheads”.

    Yeah, and he’s butted into a blog-o-sphere where that role already exists, amigo…

  7. Wallingfjord on April 24th, 2008 4:22 pm

    When Wilkerson is at the plate, with his scrunched-up game face on, he reminds me of a miniaturized Jason Giambi. Take a look when he’s back in the lineup. It’s uncanny.

    As far as Geoff Baker’s column – I like it. But the “Just back from the clubhouse!” aspect of it does work as a bit of a disclaimer. As in, “You folks are on the outside, handicapping with mathematics; I am *in* the stables, checking the temperament of the horses personally, and getting whispers I cannot repeat from other insiders.”

    But I do like his column, and if you’re going to agree to disagree with someone, he’s better than most. And for a daily in Seattle, that’s good enough.

  8. Carson on April 24th, 2008 4:23 pm

    Jeff Nye – I’m with you. He has been in a Sexonish slump as of late. I expected so much more after being impressed early.

    But, hey. That’s why they write the columns.

  9. Ben Ramm on April 24th, 2008 4:43 pm

    My comment is free from spelling errors, is the post?

    ” Come on, Geoff. I expect better from you then that.”

    Then that” or “than that?” Come on Derek, I expect better from you than that.

    Seriously, though, Derek: why? Why do you expect better than that from Geoff? He’s a fine reporter, but a mediocre analyst.

  10. Jeff Nye on April 24th, 2008 4:45 pm

    But the “Just back from the clubhouse!” aspect of it does work as a bit of a disclaimer. As in, “You folks are on the outside, handicapping with mathematics; I am *in* the stables, checking the temperament of the horses personally, and getting whispers I cannot repeat from other insiders.”

    Not trying to pick on you in specific, but:

    For me, this is a little like the “clogging the bases” chestnut; it’s something people repeat as if it’s significant, but if you press them on why, they can’t really tell you.

    What, really, could Geoff or any other “insider” learn that we can’t, by simply observing the games? What could be hidden in the clubhouse that would so significantly impact performance?

    Is someone filling Vidro’s jockstrap with fire ants, making him too uncomfortable at the plate to hit?

    I’m just not convinced that “insider information” has as much value as people would like to make out, and I think it’s often used as an excuse to be condescending towards people who aren’t part of the sports journalism “establishment”.

    I’ll take Dave or DMZ’s opinion on the M’s over Baker’s every day and twice on Sunday, regardless of how much insider information he claims to have.

  11. Breadbaker on April 24th, 2008 5:03 pm

    10: I think it works the other way. When you’re “in the clubhouse”, you have to work around Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro and Richie Sexson everyday. And even if you don’t want to talk to them, you’re probably needing to talk to someone who’s friends with them. So the usual thing for a beat reporter to do is to mimic the party line (“we need veteran leadership”) rather than say anything that will upset the quote machine.

  12. Sammy on April 24th, 2008 5:16 pm

    re: Jeff Nye and all the Baker-haters

    It’s lazy journalism at best, mean-spirited at worst, and I had such high hopes for him when he started.

    Erm… are these kinds of comments necessary? We may not think Geoff is good analyst, but I do believe he his fairly open-minded and, above all, civil. I would completely understand if Geoff got a little antagonistic at the blogging community after reading faceless commenter after faceless commenter making attacks on his character and impugning his ability as a journalist (which I consider respectable; have you read his series on doping in Latin America?)

    What, really, could Geoff or any other “insider” learn that we can’t, by simply observing the games? What could be hidden in the clubhouse that would so significantly impact performance?
    Have you read this story? Or this one?Do you consider such stories without merit? That they are irrelevant to your enjoyment of the game? Cause I eat shit like that up. Do you honestly read these stories and think “These don’t offer a single shred of analytical insight… Worthless!” Without the insiders and the beat reporters, we’re just watching a bunch of video game characters with variable performance attributes. I like knowing that the people I’m watching are human beings.

  13. Sammy on April 24th, 2008 5:19 pm

    *We may not think Geoff is a good analyst, but I do believe he is fairly open-minded and, above all, civil

  14. Some Dude on April 24th, 2008 5:24 pm

    I like the inside point of view that his blog attempts to present, but you kind of have to take that information the same way you would take a press release straight from the team.

    Generally speaking, I think he’s not nearly critical enough of the team he covers.

  15. JI on April 24th, 2008 5:25 pm

    I think he’s not nearly critical enough of the team he covers.

    I find it amazing we have someone who is critical at all.

  16. galaxieboi on April 24th, 2008 5:38 pm

    I don’t mind Geoff. It’s some of the douch bags who comment on his blog that piss me off.

    I guess what iritates me the most is that people really respect what he’s saying. And if he’s spreading bs than that sucks. Most of us have a pretty good bs detector when it comes to baseball, but most people who don’t. So while we can weed out the crap, Mr. X can’t.

  17. Jeff Nye on April 24th, 2008 5:43 pm

    Hoo boy.

    To work backwards through your post, Sammy:

    No, I don’t think those sorts of stories add anything to baseball analysis. They’re designed, nay crafted, to do exactly what you describe: address the human element of the game. Which is fine, and does have a value of its own, but it doesn’t add anything to baseball analysis. That’d still be fine, except for the fact that “insiders” often pooh-pooh “non-insiders” from an analytical standpoint, without any real basis, when all (I firmly believe) they can really add is “fluff” pieces like those.

    As far as Baker goes; why shouldn’t we call a spade a spade? He’s got the truly excellent Larry Stone to use as an example…but instead, he’s chosen to go down a path I’d expect from Jim Moore at the P-I than from someone who showed so much initial promise. It’s the journalistic equivalent of “get off my lawn, you young whippersnappers!” and it does nothing to elevate the conversation around the Mariners in specific and baseball in general.

    Note, I’m not saying he’s a bad guy and that I wouldn’t have a beer with him (well, I don’t drink but the sentiment is the same), nor do I think his writing is without merit; I’d just like to see him move back towards the insightful, open-minded sort of writing we saw from him early on, rather than feeling like he needs to be some sort of “voice of reason” reining in those darn blogger kids.

  18. JMHawkins on April 24th, 2008 5:46 pm

    The only real problem I have with Baker is best illustrated by reminding people that the USSM authors were pretty strongly against the Ibanez signing back in, what was it, 2004? Turns out they were wrong, and Ibanez was a pretty good signing. Dave and Derek have been perfectly willing to acknowledge they were wrong, and they’ve never tried to load up that mea culpa with caveats. Jeez, sometimes you’re wrong predicting the future, and they handle it well when it happens to them.

    I don’t see Baker do that when he’s wrong. Instead, he tries to half-measure it. Vidro, for instance. Baker tries to salvage his support of Vidro-as-DH by claiming Vidro needs to hit some absurb number of doubles, a number Vidro’s no longer capable of hitting, to be worth it. When he doesn’t hit 40 doubles this year, Baker can claim he was “right” about Vidro. Except he’s not, because he’s implying there’s some reason to think Vidro might hit 40 doubles. If there was a good chance Vidro could hit 40 doubles, he might have been a more popular choice on USSM.

  19. The Ghost of Spike Owen on April 24th, 2008 6:06 pm

    I’ve stopped reading Baker’s blog altogether this season, which is a shame, because we had such high hopes for him when he arrived prior to last season.

    The only thing worse than somebody always crowing about how right they were, is somebody doing it when they weren’t actually right at all.

  20. Sammy on April 24th, 2008 6:19 pm

    I’m pretty sure Baker’s admitted that getting Bedard in the offseason was much better than flipping Jones midseason last year for, who was it, Dan Wheeler? Al Reyes? And I’m pretty sure that he’ll be on the Vidro-must-go bandwagon if Vidro doesn’t pick it up by June. Look I never claimed Baker was a good analyst…

    I don’t have a problem with that first paragraph. I was just commenting that human interest stories are often of equal or greater interest to the baseball fan. I thought The Blind Side was just as compelling as Moneyball.

    With regard to your second graph, well, I think you’re being a little thin-skinned about this. The worst thing I’ve heard him say about the blogging community is that we can sometimes look, to the outside observer, like sheep, absorbing and preaching the Gospel of Dave and DMZ to the letter. (And I can’t say I really disagree). I have never heard him talk about Dave or DMZ in anything other than the highest regard.

    Baker does a very good job at interacting with the blogging community (both here and at his own site). He puts in a ton of work into that blog on top of his duties as the newspaper man. He tries to remain civil and respectful when a ton of commenters don’t. He didn’t and doesn’t have to do any of these things. He made a decision to engage with us on baseball issues; and we’re supposed to be in the right calling him names and dragging his name through the dirt because he doesn’t always agree with us or go about his analysis in the way we believe to be correct?

  21. JMHawkins on April 24th, 2008 6:43 pm

    I’m pretty sure that he’ll be on the Vidro-must-go bandwagon if Vidro doesn’t pick it up by June…

    Oh, sure, but that’s exacly my point. He’s been wrong about Vidro pretty much from the get-go, but instead of saying “Hey, I was wrong, those other guys were right, Vidro wasn’t a good choice for DH” he says, what amounts to “I’m right about Vidro, I was always right, and it’s not my fault Jose didn’t come through and rip a double into the gap every few ABs like I thought he would…”

  22. Jeff Nye on April 24th, 2008 6:44 pm

    Wait, you massively misrepresent me as dragging Baker’s name through the dirt and calling him names, and I’m the thin-skinned one?

    Sorry, I’m not giving you the fight you’re very clearly looking to pick.

  23. b_rider on April 24th, 2008 6:51 pm

    I was just commenting that human interest stories are often of equal or greater interest to the baseball fan.

    Excellent point, Sammy. The fact is, different fans approach sports in different ways. Some are interested in the strategic aspect of building a team and analyzing performances; some are interested in having a group of people whom they can sympathize with and care for. The latter sort of fan are turned off by the former, because they see the excessive analysis as a betrayal of the people they have come to care for. If you are rooting for Washburn, you don’t like people going on and on about how crappy his peripheral stats are. Similarly when Boone and Olerud were falling apart a couple of years ago, or when Moyer was traded. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t be both kind of fan at the same time, but there is a tension there that cannot be ignored.

    It seems to me that Geoff Baker tries to reconcile these two tendencies, sometimes with difficulty. But I appreciate the fact that he tries, and that he is open-minded about different points of view. That’s not to say he doesn’t say silly things, but he’s trying. Really, analysis just isn’t his job.

  24. Sammy on April 24th, 2008 6:55 pm


    To be honest, my little rant is more a reaction to the general mud I see slung toward Baker both here and on LL. But you did say
    It’s lazy journalism at best, mean-spirited at worst […]
    and portrayed him as a codgy old-timer who has nothing but disdain for us Interwebbed types. I don’t believe Baker to be any of those things, which is why I directed my attention to you.

  25. Axtell on April 24th, 2008 8:00 pm

    I, too, am getting sick and tired of these ‘traditional’ sports media types trying to bash ‘statheads’ because they aren’t in the trenches and don’t know how real people play baseball.

    I find it comical he wants to say that Jones for Wilkerson straight up wouldn’t be a big upgrade, that he excludes Sherril and his 6 saves from the conversation, and he omits Bedard being worthless so far this year.

    Using ‘consistent’? Come on, who’s speaking here, Joe Morgan?

  26. Dave on April 24th, 2008 9:57 pm

    Put his opinions about roster building aside for a second. I know, he says some things that make me shake my head too. But take that out of the picture for now.

    Okay, ready?

    Name a better beat writer, in any city, anywhere. Who works harder, gets better information from the players, or writes more about every subject possible? Who interacts with the fan base and regularly links to non-media blogs? Who uses OPS+ on a regular basis?

    The Seattle Times hired Geoff Baker to be a reporter, and he does a hell of a job at that. The analysis/commentary is not what they hired him for, and not surprisingly, he’s not quite as good at that. But he’s got an open mind, he’s willing to learn, and he’s miles ahead of most members of the established media.

    Last year, he did a poor job of using ERA across different eras of baseball to make a point that wasn’t even right to begin with, and I hammered him on it with a post on USSM. He didn’t defend himself – he sent me an email, asked how he could have done it better, and adjusted to start using ERA+ when making similar arguments (hey, it’s a step in the right direction, at least).

    I disagree with a ton of stuff that Geoff writes, but I still have a lot of respect for him. He’s a good dude and a great beat writer. So he’s not the best analyst out there – it’s not his job to be, and if you’re reading this, you probably have enough smarts to figure out when he’s wrong.

  27. Sammy on April 24th, 2008 10:01 pm

    Thanks Dave.

  28. Jeff Nye on April 24th, 2008 10:06 pm

    Mea culpa, I guess.

  29. Dave on April 24th, 2008 10:22 pm

    Meh – you don’t have to agree with me, Jeff.

  30. dnc on April 24th, 2008 11:03 pm

    Great post, Dave.

    It’s funny to me that we’re railing the guy for pointing out Jones’ poor OPS while excluding Wilkerson’s from the discussion, when we would have pissed our pants if Pocket Lint knew how to spell OPS.

    Baker has his flaws, no doubt, but the “I am so disappointed in him” stuff cracks me up. Did anyone expect him to be auditioning for a gig at BaseballProspectus? His analysis is poor, no doubt. It’s still light years better than what we had before, and, dare I say, fairly better than our front office’s.

    It doesn’t compare to yours, but given his background, I don’t know why anyone would have ever expected that it would have.

  31. Ollie in Raleigh on April 25th, 2008 5:09 am

    Don’t forget we also gave up Tillman! Take heart in that you can continue to poke fun at his conclusions for almost as long as we’ll be shaking our heads in disgust.

  32. firemane on April 25th, 2008 8:19 am

    You want some positive-spin analysis on the 2008 Ms? Try this.

    DESPITE the club being in a collective offensive funk, (only 2 of 9 hitters are currently above their career lines) …

    DESPITE having a major meltdown in the bullpen that *ABSOLUTELY NOBODY* foresaw (EOF allowing 16 runs in 7 innings) …

    DESPITE thus far getting only 11 innings out of the ace acquisition …

    DESPITE all of these items, the club has continued to play .500 ball.

    The club is ranked 12th in average, 12th in OBP, 9th in slugging, but is actually 7th in runs scored!


    Thing is – *TEAMS* have ebbs and flows every season. As stated so well above – you cannot schedule your runs. But, before writing off the entire season, consider this.

    In 2008, the 96-win, eventual World Series winning Boston Redsox – went 13-14 in June. The offense posted an aggregate line of .264/.348/.413 during that June swoon.

    The Ms current line of .250/.316/.393 is bad, yes. But it is a line built off the reality that almost the entire lineup is hitting below THEIR normal standards. Vidro and Wilkerson may not hit .800. But *NOBODY ON THE PLANET* has projected them to hit .600 or below, (or Joh for that matter, the actual guy on the roster the FURTHEST under his projected results).

    Judging Wilkerson on 45 ABs (while ignoring the rest of his career) is no better than judging David Ortiz solely on what he’s done this year. Yet, everyone seems to be willing to dismiss what Frank Thomas has done this year and assume he would’ve been the magic pixie dust the team needs.

    If the team was performing *AS EXPECTED* and getting .500 results, that would definitely point to vindication for the pre-season pessimists. But 5 of 9 starters are under their (generally negative) ZIPs projections right now – with most of them MASSIVELY under those projections.

    Ibanez is gonna fade some. And Beltre “probably” will, (though his magic season says there is actually an iota of hope that what he’s posting at the moment could be sustained all season). But, the reality here is that the club is playing .500 ball while performing significantly UNDER the most negative pre-season projections of what they would do individually.

    With Putz and Bedard returning. With EOF back in AAA in search of his stuff. And with the starting rotation showing almost universally good signs, there is actually very good reason to be optimistic.

    Put Vidro, Wilkerson and Joh each around a .750 OPS, and what happens? That’s not pie-in-the-sky hope. That’s plausible (and likely) expectation.

    The team, as it exists today, is one that can stumble to a .500 record for quite some time. But when warmed up, it can reel off a 10 of 12 of 15 of 18 streak.

    Go ask the Tigers about REALLY stumbling out of the gate. The 1-6 record in 1-run games hurts. It’s painful to watch, but the statheads KNOW that 1-run games are way random. And no, stellar bullpens do NOT improve 1-run results, (ask the Bosox about their 22-28 1-run record in 2007, (while Tampa was going 22-21).

  33. firemane on April 25th, 2008 8:22 am

    That was supposed to read:

    “10 of 12 **OR** 15 of 18 streak.”

  34. DMZ on April 25th, 2008 8:35 am

    Judging Wilkerson on 45 ABs (while ignoring the rest of his career) is no better than judging David Ortiz solely on what he’s done this year. Yet, everyone seems to be willing to dismiss what Frank Thomas has done this year and assume he would’ve been the magic pixie dust the team needs.

    This misrepresents the argument around Wilkerson.

    No one’s judging him without looking at the rest of his career. There’s a lot of evidence in the last few years that he’s done. This is frequently mentioned.

  35. Jeff Nye on April 25th, 2008 8:59 am

    Sorry, Dave. Check your email.

    To be really, really clear though, I don’t think Baker’s a bad guy, or even necessarily a bad journalist (I probably went a little too far with the “lazy journalism” bit, but I was cranky after reading this article). He’s certainly no Finnegan.

    I just have seen his writing shift from a clearly very smart and very open-minded guy at the beginning, to increasingly seeming like he feels he has to defend conventional baseball wisdom against the rampaging blogger hordes, and that’s something that there’s already a lot of in mainstream sports media.

  36. musicman on April 27th, 2008 12:48 am

    RE 22 and Dave,

    Here’s why I stopped clicking on “his” blog:

    1. While I have always enjoyed his writing style, I am not a fan of his baseball analytical skills.

    2. When wrong, it appears to me that “he” has a hard time not playing “journalist” and actually being human/relating (that’s why I love blogs like this). It’s a bit like going to a car lot and having someone fill you full of it, when you know that’s what he’s trying to do, it just doesn’t feel good. Yeah, it’s his job, but he’s pushing so hard it shows, and like most carbuyers in that situation, I’ll shop elsewhere. (and I’ve been the car salesman…)

    3. When all else fails, “he” will pick a fight, or play devil’s advocate. I did it for a while too. But I’ve come to feel that “he’s” just trying to drive hits to his blog, and do his job. I can’t bring myself to believe he care’s about my team.

    Maybe I’m completely wrong in my emotional state. And Lord knows beings and M’s fan can be emotional, but that’s why I refuse to click on “his” page.

    Go M’s!

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