Oh, Felix

May 31, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 43 Comments 

I can’t feel anything but happiness after watching that.

Game thread, whoops, my fault, #56 Tigers at Mariners

May 31, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 96 Comments 

Felix Day! And he’s looking good! And the M’s are ahead!

This is good, this is good

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 56 Comments 

We now know that having your GM tear into your players gets them to play crisp, effective baseball for exactly two games before they start botching catches, pitching poorly, and not hitting (certain players excepted).

All we have to do is get Bavasi tear into the team after every second game and we should go undefeated for the rest of the year.

Game 55, Tigers at Mariners

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 247 Comments 

We cranked out 12 posts here since the last game. That’s a lot.

Robertson v Silva.

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. This could be a really ugly game. Fortunately, the M’s are playing with a new attitude! Tighter, more focused baseball! They’re coming together as a team! Just like the Tigers did when they swept the Mariners! Let’s see these two rejuvenated franchises go at it! Woooo! Go M’s!

Lineups are out! WOOOOOO!!!
CF-L Ichiro
2B-R Lopez
DH-B Turbo
LF-L Ibanez
3B-R Beltre
C-R Johjima
RF-R Balentien
1B-0 Cairo
SS-R Betancourt


Resource Allocation

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 62 Comments 

When looking at the Mariners roster and their performance to date, there are two aspects of the team that need significant improvement; scoring runs and defense.

The Mariners are scoring 4.02 runs per game (compared to a league average of 4.4 runs per game), and even after adjusting for Safeco Field, the offense is a pretty big problem. Their .687 OPS is better only than Kansas City and Cleveland, ranking them 12th out of 14 American League clubs.

Defensively, they’re the worst team in baseball. The Hardball Times +/- metric has them at 30 plays (or about 24 runs) below average for the season so far, with only the Royals and Pirates even within shouting distance of that futility. They don’t cover much ground, regularly put two guys on the field who have no business ever wearing a glove, and even their more talented defenders have issues with misplays and errors.

The common link between the offense and the defense, of course, is that they’re the same players. The pitchers haven’t been as good as expected, but the position players… well, they suck. The Royals are the only team in baseball that have a worse starting nine than the Mariners, and they aren’t running a $117 million payroll while trying to contend for the playoffs.

We know that run scoring and run prevention are both really close to 50% of winning baseball (despite what you hear about pitching winning championships – it’s good teams that can do both that win titles). We also know that defense is about 25 to 30% of run prevention, with pitchers making up the rest of that total. So, we could say that a breakdown of win importance would look something like this:

Offense: 50%
Pitching: 35%
Defense: 15%

You can fiddle with the numbers a bit if you want, but you can’t stray too far from that general guideline. And, when you look at it, you’ll notice one obvious conclusion – position players are responsible for something like sixty-five percent of winning. Position players matter almost twice as much as their pitching brethren. Pitchers simply don’t have the same impact on wins and losses, because they only impact part of the half, while the position players impact the whole of one half and part of the other. Good teams have good position players, because they matter a lot more than pitchers.

The Mariners even admit this is true in their actions, even if they won’t do it with words. Of the $117 million they are spending on payroll this year, $72.3 million of that (62%) is dedicated to the team’s position players. Think about that for a second – the position players that are responsible for third worst in AL offense and worst in baseball defense are collecting $72 million this year. That figure is higher than the total team payrolls for the Rockies, Rangers, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Royals, Twins, Nationals, Pirates, A’s, Rays, and Marlins.

If the Mariners entire pitching staff was working for free, and the team’s salary was strictly based on what they’re giving to the position players, the Mariners payroll would still rank 19th in baseball. The kicker – The Diamondbacks, Rays, and Marlins are all currently in first place, while the A’s and Twins are both playing like wild card contenders. Out of the eleven teams whose total payroll is less than that of just the Mariners position players (the ones killing this team), two to four of them will make the playoffs.

There’s been a lot of talk about accountability lately, so to the upper management of the Seattle Mariners, I ask a simple question – how on earth are the people responsible for paying $72.5 million for a group of position players rivaled only by the Kansas City Royals for ineptitude part of the solution and not part of the problem?

Vidro will vest if he’s not stopped

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 28 Comments 

w/r/t Dave’s previous post (“Larry Stone, Bringer of Light“), I did some math.

He got 625 last year, leaving 525 for this year. He has 159 already, leaving 366. We’re 54 games in, leaving 108 chances for him to get playing time. Vidro has to pick up 3.4 PA/game remaining.

That’s not that hard: last year he averaged 4.25/game played. Though he’s moving up and down the lineup as McLaren goes ever more insane, that’s a reasonable number to use in our calculations. He can certainly manage 4 PA/game.

He only needs 86 (on the low end) to 92 or more starts to get vested. They need to bench him (or for him to be injured) for at least 16 games, between now and the end of the season before he’ll miss vesting, and it’s likely 22 games.

That’s over once a week for the rest of the season if you want it to be close and worry all year.

If you don’t, something has to happen. They need to call up Clement to DH for a while, which may be the plan, or they might be looking forward to the late-season roster expansion, when they can run anyone through that spot. They could just DH someone else twice a week or more. Like Ibanez, say.

But something has to happen. Vidro’s option will vest if he continues to start.

And here’s the thing — as much as I want to believe that the team won’t let it happen, I have no faith in that. This is a team with Cairo on the roster, a team that thought Vidro did a great job last year. If he hits for a hollow average the rest of the way, they’re a risk to pick up the option year even if it doesn’t vest. There is no way I can look at a roster management decision like this and feel sure that the team’s going to make the obvious correct decision.

Hot update: it appears I’m interpreting that quote wrong. Sorry.

The Dayton Game, Mariner-style

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 30 Comments 

Joe Posanski offers this interesting challenge: what Mariner player-skills would rate over 60 on the major-league 20-80 scale for the seven hitter skills? (“hitting, power, speed, defense, arm”). And remember, those tools are in isolation. You can have monster power and suck at hitting. I know, it’s a little dumb.

I don’t think 50 as ML average and 60 = All-Star is quite accurate (especially since 40 is “a tick below average), but for me, anyway, I immediately thought

Okay, Ichiro’s hitting, arm, and baserunning, Ibanez hitting, power, uhhh… shooooot. Sexson power? Betancourt hitting? Wlad power? Beltre defense, Ichiro defense… though compared to CF peers, maybe not… ummm… crap.

Now, that’s just what occurred to me while reading that article. If I sat down and went through the lineup, I might come up with more — but I’m a little shocked that so little sprang to mind. It’s a little depressing.

Thanks to Jason for the pointer.

Baseball projection crosses over

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Cool stuff · 20 Comments 

If you’re like me and a political junkie outside your baseball fandom, you may have seen the rise of FiveThirtyEight, this crazy… I don’t know, meta-poll? Political projection system? It’s made a lot of waves by being particularly accurate in figuring out which way contests will go based on weighting, regression analysis, most similar districts… yeah, it’s Nate Silver, of Baseball Prospectus, the guy behind PECOTA.

Pretty awesome. I didn’t see that coming, though in retrospect I should have at least suspected. I didn’t.

Larry Stone: Bearer Of Light

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 21 Comments 

Stone gets almost official confirmation of what I was told during the spring: Vidro’s option isn’t going to vest:

Speaking of which, for those who are concerned with Jose Vidro’s contract vesting for next year: according to a source with knowledge of Vidro’s contract, his 2009 option (for $6 million) kicks in at 625 plate appearances in 2008, or 1,150 plate appearances in 2007-08, of which 600 of those plate appearances are in 2008.

Vidro had exactly 625 plate appearances last year (leaving him 525 short of 1,150), which means he needs 600 plate appearances this year for his 2009 option to vest (and if it doesn’t, the Mariners can buy him out for $500,000). Vidro has 159 plate appearances so far this year, on pace for 477, well short of 600, especially with Clement getting DH at-bats.

I was told point blank in March that it would take some kind of miracle for that option to vest, and Stone puts the numbers to the speculation. Turbo’s unlikely to last on the roster all season, and there’s basically no chance he’s back next year.

Dave on KJR

May 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 3 Comments 

My irregularly scheduled KJR gig is back today. I’ll be on with Groz at 4:05 pm pacific time, and for the first time all year, we can talk about the M’s sustaining a winning streak.

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