Season Salvaging Time

Dave · May 4, 2008 at 1:33 pm · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting 

It’s May 4th, and believe it or not, the Mariners season is on the verge of extinction. They currently stand six games behind the Angels (who are winning 4-2, which would push the deficit to six and a half games) with 130 games to play. That sounds like a lot of time until you realize just how large of a hole that really is.

To win the division, the Mariners would have to outplay both the Angels and A’s by a significant margin. To put some context to this, here are the winning percentage pairs from here on out that would lead to the M’s ending up with just one more win then Los Angeles (ignoring the A’s for right now), ranging from 89 wins to 95 wins for the Mariners.

Angels – .527 – Mariners – .585
Angels – .535 – Mariners – .592
Angels – .543 – Mariners – .600
Angels – .550 – Mariners – .608
Angels – .558 – Mariners – .615
Angels – .566 – Mariners – .623
Angels – .574 – Mariners – .631

The Angels have played .594 baseball through their first 32 games without John Lackey or Kelvim Escobar and with Vladimir Guerrero off to the worst start he’s had in years. Even assuming they aren’t going to get Escobar back this year, Lackey takes a while to regain his previous form, and Guerrero doesn’t rebound all the way back to his prime levels of production, it’s still hard to see this Angels team playing much worse than .550 baseball the rest of the way.

A .550 winning percentage is an 89 win pace over a full season, and that’s about what I expected the Angels to finish with before the year started. If the Angels playing .550 ball from here on out, they’ll finish with 91 wins, and the Mariners would have to play .608 baseball to end the year at 92-70. No team has played a full season of .608 baseball or better since the 2005 White Sox and Cardinals won 99 and 100 games respectively.

It’s really freaking hard to play .608 baseball for any sustained period of time, even if you’re a truly excellent team. And let’s be honest, this Mariners team isn’t excellent. For a team of this quality to play .600 ball for five months is almost unheard of.

So, the M’s simply have to start winning, and doing so soon. They need to beat up on Texas, the White Sox, and the Padres, who they play their next 13 games against. They need a 9-4 or 10-3 stretch to make up some ground or else it just becomes too prohibitive to think they can close this gap.

It’s May, but it’s getting late for the Mariners. They don’t have any more time to struggle. They have to start winning, and they have to start tomorrow.


76 Responses to “Season Salvaging Time”

  1. joser on May 4th, 2008 9:23 pm

    I think those of us who have followed the M’s for a few decades may be suffering from Post Traumatic Mariners Disorder. I know I am. Here’s proof: I’m reading an innocent golf story and the appearance of a certain name…

    Kim birdied the first and fifth holes to pull away from playing partner Heath Slocum, who shot a 73 and finished at 8 under.

    …made me yelp out loud. “Aaaaaaaaah!”

  2. Tek Jansen on May 4th, 2008 9:25 pm

    Soriano for HoRam was worse. It precipitated a whole host of badness. Morrow goes to the pen in ’07 rather than start in the minors. And since the M’s cannot then even ponder using him in the rotation during 2008, they sign Silva and trade for Bedard.

  3. Choska on May 4th, 2008 9:32 pm

    How about not drafting Lincecum in favor of Morrow.

    There are so many GREAT reasons to fire Bavasi, and to do it right now.

  4. The Unkown Comic on May 4th, 2008 9:32 pm

    I feel I have earned the right to root against the Mariners and so far this year I am having some fun rooting against them.

  5. north on May 4th, 2008 9:32 pm

    The decisive arguments for signing Barry or not signing him are probably ethical, not performance related- … As such, the team floundering at the plate doesn’t have much to do with it.

    The ethics argument is malarkey. Management is supposed to strive to win. The Ms need a miracle – a major bat talent that doesn’t cost them talent from their roster. The only conceivable miracle is Bonds.

    But, this issue goes beyond the Ms. Bonds appears to have been blacklisted at a league-wide level. The funny thing is that this blacklisting is simply making the league look silly – and certainly doesn’t make them look ‘ethical’.

  6. abender20 on May 4th, 2008 9:46 pm

    Yeah the drafts really have hurt. I can’t pretend to know how difficult it is to assess talent and see the future for a player… but Morrow over Lincecum boggles the mind. Especially puzzling when you consider Lincecum was local and the team should have seen his body of work.

    I don’t know what Jeff Clement is going to be doing in the long run, but that 2005 draft was insanely talented, with the likes of Zimmerman and Braun going right after Clement, Tulowitzki, Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin, Colby Rasmus et al. going later. Here’s hoping that Clement is every bit the hitter that he can be, but I would like the team to make better choices in situations like Morrow / Lincecum.

  7. Mat on May 4th, 2008 10:14 pm

    The Baseball Prospectus playoff odds report had the Mariners at ~10% going into today. That seems about right.

  8. xeifrank on May 4th, 2008 10:14 pm

    Well, there’s always the wild-card. That might only take 91 wins to achieve! 🙂
    vr, Xeifrank

  9. PoleAx on May 4th, 2008 10:29 pm

    “For a team of this quality to play .600 ball for five months is almost unheard of.”

    Over the last 6 years an average ~3 teams a year played above .600 ball after May 4th (41% of which had a losing record on 5/4). Thus, teams can come back from a rough April, but most of them were pretty good to begin with (arguable much better than the current M’s roster).

    NYY–.607 after 5/4 (.444 on 5/4)

    MIN–.634 after 5/4 (.393 on 5/4)
    NYY–.603 after 5/4 (.577 on 5/4)

    NYY–.627 after 5/4 (.444 on 5/4)
    CLE–.603 after 5/4 (.423 on 5/4)
    STL–.603 after 5/4 (.692 on 5/4)

    STL–.674 after 5/4 (.519 on 5/4)
    NYY–.632 after 5/4 (.577 on 5/4)
    BOS–.610 after 5/4 (.577 on 5/4)
    ATL–.606 after 5/4 (.520 on 5/4)

    ATL–.618 after 5/4 (.645 on 5/4)
    SFG–.603 after 5/4 (.700 on 5/4)

    ATL–.667 after 5/4 (.484 on 5/4)
    OAK–.659 after 5/4 (.533 on 5/4)
    NYY–.654 after 5/4 (.581 on 5/4)
    LAA–.639 after 5/4 (.483 on 5/4)
    STL–.629 after 5/4 (.467 on 5/4)

  10. mln on May 4th, 2008 10:43 pm

    The Mariners’ season is quickly becoming like the Pink Pony Chariot … that has plunged into a ditch on the side of the road.

    And it’s lying upside down with the wheels spinning, and a dazed, muddy McLaren asking, “What hap…hap… happened?!”

  11. Steve Nelson on May 4th, 2008 10:54 pm

    But, but .. this is team carefully assembled with a core of gritty veterans who know how to play the game. The kind of players who don’t panic and get thrown off when things don’t go right. The kinds of players who know how to do the little things to win games.

    That the Mariners handily beat their Pythag record last season wasn’t a fluke; it was the direct product of filling the roster with players of character, integrity and veteran savvy. [/sarcasm]

    I think the current team situation directly relates to perceptions of last years team. Many fans, and apparently the Mariners FO as well, believed that last year’s team was a valid contender (or almost contender) – that the record at the end of 2007 was a true reflection of the ability of the team. Buying into that notion leads directly to the conclusion that if a few holes are patched (primarily in the rotation) the team is a true contender. Clearly, that’s the way the FO saw the team last winter. I’ve mentioned in several posts over the last several months that the I think the FO viewed the 2007 season as vindication for their thoughts about roster construction, viz. that a roster assembled with the proper intangibles will outplay their true talent level – said team will win more than their “fair share” of games because the will do the things needed to win games and will play as greater than the sum of the parts.

    This season can be viewed as a test of that notion. Many here (myself included) saw that belief as a misperception; the Mariners were not as good as their record and that they Pythag record was a better indication of the teams true talent level. I will gladly eat crow if I am wrong, but so far this season would seem vindication.

  12. planB on May 4th, 2008 11:05 pm

    Argh, so much Ichiro! going to waste…

  13. naviomelo on May 4th, 2008 11:09 pm

    Ichiro’s running wild this year. I’m sure it’s a function of the team looking to manufacture runs, but he’s on pace to have more stolen bases than he’s had any other year in MLB so far.

  14. daveblev on May 5th, 2008 12:49 am

    Well the magic number is 124, kind of early to be looking at that but it’s time to stick a fork in the season. I am a MLB TV subscriber but lucky for me I have been at sea with the exception of a week home in April. I was was able to catch one M’s game online, but I’m just thankful I haven’t witnessed any of the recent games and the current tailspin. I’ve read about it and the skipper of my air squadron is also an M’s fan, he told me he didn’t want to hear from me unless they won, that’s been a few days. O found DMZ’s book at the Navy Exchange before we left…might be team to start reading and stay away from the M’s for a bit, since it’s been aggravating to read about it.

    I’m not one for rosterbation but what about Dmitri Young? He’s about to head to extended spring training to start hitting again since his back sprain and hip flexor pain are not much of an issue. No timetable on when he’ll be ready.

  15. Tom on May 5th, 2008 1:51 am

    Someone give me a good reason why investing in Mark Texiera isn’t a good idea when all he does is produce RESULTS? Seriously.

    Maybe the contracts of Richie Sexson, Mo Vaughn, etc. at first base didn’t turn out well because maybe they weren’t really superstar players?

  16. Tom on May 5th, 2008 2:01 am

    #65: Actually, scratch that about Mo Vaughn.

  17. Milendriel on May 5th, 2008 6:03 am

    65- Because there’s no MLB player named Mark “Texiera.”


  18. Steve T on May 5th, 2008 6:19 am

    Acquiring Mark Texeira is exactly the kind of bonehead move that got us into this fix in the first place.

  19. argh on May 5th, 2008 7:47 am

    “But,” says Steve Kelley, “It’s not McLaren’s fault.”

  20. terry on May 5th, 2008 7:48 am

    “For a team of this quality to play .600 ball for five months is almost unheard of.”

    Over the last 6 years an average ~3 teams a year played above .600 ball after May 4th (41% of which had a losing record on 5/4). Thus, teams can come back from a rough April, but most of them were pretty good to begin with (arguable much better than the current M’s roster).

    I think the key is how “team of this quality” is defined. The point is how likely is it that a roster of guys who project like the Ms will be able to play .600 ball for 4/5ths of a season.

    Sure teams can start slow and dig themselves out of a hole. Good teams can that is….

  21. argh on May 5th, 2008 7:52 am

    That was supposed to contain a link.

  22. cheapseats on May 5th, 2008 8:03 am

    The sad thing is they will probably crawl back up towards .500 over the rest of the season — which will be duly interpreted as some sort of hopeful sign by the FO going into next year.

    Hotstove anybody?

  23. msb on May 5th, 2008 8:47 am

    Jayson Stark has just noticed that maybe the Ms weren’t constructed to win, after all.

  24. Steve T on May 5th, 2008 10:00 am

    You know, looking forward, there is some hope for the future. Our biggest weaknesses are the easiest holes to fill — 1B, DH, corner OF. Move Ibanez to DH where he belongs, and we’re three journeymen away from an average offense.

    The sad thing is that to do this we’re relying on the team that assembled the worst 1B-DH-RF-LF I think I have ever seen.

  25. badperson_ny on May 5th, 2008 12:31 pm

    I attended yesterday’s game at the stadium…painful experience.
    I was confused as to why silva came back in the fourth after getting rocked in the third, the bullpen actually did a nice job the rest of the game.

    I was wondering while enduring yankee ovation after ovation, if I prefer this to the power lineups of the mid-90s being destroyed by a weak bullpen…all things considered, I think this variation has a better chance of winning.

    I agree with the overall thesis of today’s post, but hold out hope that the m’s can get hot, and other teams can run into trouble…although it’s clear at this point the m’s need the help of other teams (being considerate and losing)in addition to them winning.

  26. bookbook on May 5th, 2008 3:27 pm

    Baseball’s a phenomenally streaky sort of enterprise (especially with the travesty of home-and-home snoozer series that the current administration has saddled us with).

    Last year, we wrote off the M’s several times, at which point they would go on a seven game tear.

    (And then we wrote them on, and they would play down to their level of talent for a few weeks.)

    This season isn’t nearly over – though the M’s might be better off if they acted as though it were.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.