Yea, He’s Good

June 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 15 Comments 

No shame in getting shut out by Roy Halladay. He’s awesome.

Tonight was his 6th complete game of the season. The Mariners team has 7 complete games… since the start of the 2007 season. 7 CG’s in their last 244 starts for the M’s, one more than Halladay has in 17 starts this season.

Or, put another way, here’s the Complete Game Leaderboard for 2008.

Team	CG
Halladay	6

Yea, he just tied Cleveland for the major league lead in complete games. By himself. Uh huh.

Game 82, Blue Jays at Mariners

June 30, 2008 · Filed Under Game Threads · 146 Comments 

Halladay vs Dickey. 7:10.

It’ll be interesting to see what Riggleman does with his lineup now that they’re back home. The road trip was a mixed bag but overall a decided improvement on McLaren. Here’s hoping Riggleman continues to put out serviceable units on the field..

No clubhouse chemistry forecast yet: you’d think that the San Diego sweep would energize the team and bring everyone together towards a shared purpose, but who can say? Only the experts, the experts tell us, and unfortunately, they’re not talking.

2008 Trade Value Post (Sorta)

June 30, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 60 Comments 

So, the last few years, I’ve written up posts on the most valuable players in baseball, taking age, contract, and salary into account. I’m doing it again this year, but as a week long series over at FanGraphs. I’ll be doing five players at a time, twice a day, through Friday, leading up to #1-#5 on Friday afternoon.

#46 to #50 is up now, and #41-#45 will be up in about 5 1/2 hours.


June 29, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 23 Comments 

The Padres suck.

Game 81, Mariners at Padres

June 29, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 75 Comments 

Bedard vs. Peavy. (Throwing up a placeholder so there’s a game thread, sorry all.)

Baek isn’t durable

June 28, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 32 Comments 

In response to some comments made on the broadcast tonight, I did a real quick and dirty check. In 2007, Baek made 12 starts for the M’s and went 70 1/3rd innings, in sometimes short-notice circumstances. That’s just shy of 6 innings a start, which isn’t all that great for a starter, no, on the face of it.

That’s better than everyone in the M’s rotation today except Felix. Better than Bedard, Washburn, Batista, and the guy he’s facing tonight, Silva. Of course we never get that kind of pointed criticism leveled against them, and I understand why — the broadcasts are there to sell the team, not to tell the truth. But there’s something particularly ugly about this attempt to slag a decent enough guy just because the M’s were ineptly run. It’d be like harping on how Norton could really only play the corner infield positions while we watch Turbo and Maxi-Turbo struggle to get their daily singles.

I’ve always thought Baek was a decent enough back-rotation guy with some attractive qualities, and if you remember I got pretty ticked when they threw him away for no reason. The least they could do is say nothing, and let that speak for the situation. This kind of pettiness does them no favors.

Game 80, Mariners at Padres

June 28, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 165 Comments 

Carlos Silva, free agent extravaganza, versus Cha Baek, who the M’s discarded for no reason early in the season. 7:05.

The trade value post

June 28, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 80 Comments 

During yesterday’s game thread, I mentioned that I might try and crank out a giant trade value megapost, and someone mentioned “won’t you get depressed putting “no value” over and over?”

And that’s pretty much what happened. In response, I’m scaling back my ambitions.

Hitters with value:

Ichiro. Don’t. Just don’t. Ichiro’s why I tune in every game, why I still drag myself to Safeco to buy tickets. Don’t do this to me.

Ibanez. Including his defense, he’s a wash in spacious Safeco Field’s left, but you might be able to mitigate somewhat in a smaller park. Generally, though, you’re looking to move him to a team that needs a LH DH. His contract, in its last year at $5.5m, makes him an attractive pickup for a team that wants the stretch drive help. So who could use him? Unfortunately for our purposes, the teams you can see contending and needing an upgrade at DH are more likely to hold out hope for their current guys (like Sheffield, for instance). Similarly, I don’t see a team with an LF hole they might swap Ibanez in at.

Beltre. He’s got another year at $12m on his contract. Here’s a really interesting one to think about. First, we’ve been arguing for ages that Beltre’s been a fine signing, a bargain when compared to what his peers are getting, but because his defense is largely unappreciated and that first year was such a drop from his 04 it created this whole “Beltre’s contract was a bust” belief that seems to circle endlessly around the national baseball media circles. And we’ve seen articles with anonymous front-office types claiming he’s not a good pickup (or whatever) — though I’d encourage everyone to always heavily discount those kind of blind quotes for reasons that should be obvious — and if there’s a perception in front offices that he’s overpaid, that’ll affect his trade value.

Smart teams though will recognize the potential value and may see opportunity — you get him for the stretch and you get the 09 year which is still a good deal — and with so many teams out of the bidding, maybe it doesn’t take much. But then what teams are smart, need a third base upgrade, and willing to take on that kind of salary? I don’t see a good fit.

Lopez. This is very nearly the opposite of the Beltre argument. Now we’re looking for a team that likes the high average and doesn’t see (or doesn’t care about) the defensive questions. He’s got three more really cheap years if you count the team option (seriously, it’s $1.6m in 09, $2.3m in 10, and a $4.5m option for 11)(actually, it may be more than that, but that’s complicated and it’s still cheap). The problem is that you’re still looking for teams that need a second base upgrade. Cano’s collapse in New York might open that door, but it’s hard to believe that as unbalanced and crazy as that team is they’d give up on Cano like that. Would the Mets give up on Castillo as they try to get back into it? I don’t see a huge market here, either.

(and Clement, but they’re not trading Clement if they’re rebuilding)

Hitters with potential valueL

Betancourt. He’s young, undeniably talented, and can hit some — why, just look at last year’s line! Sure, his defense went from great to abhorrent, but pay no attention to that. We’d like to get out from under his contract before he puts some more weight on and gets even less mobile, and you, uh, you have a good conditioning coach and nutritionist on hand you think he’ll listen to. It’s a perfect match.

Reed. He’s had two great years in the PCL and he’s cuffed pitchers around since he came up, which might validate those performances in the eyes of some teams that would otherwise have dismissed him. There’s always some attraction too in former top prospects who seem to be coming back into glory. Plus, unlike Ibanez, he’s not defensively limited.

Hitters without trade value:
Sexson. Expensive and worthless. Even if they have some brain parasite that makes them deranged and impulsive, they’ll give up nothing.
Vidro. Expensive and worthless. Expensive and worthless. Even if they have some brain parasite that makes them deranged and impulsive, they’ll give up nothing.
Johjima. Expensive and no one’s going to trade for a catcher hitting this badly, just signed to an extension and in the process of losing his job.
Bloomquist. He’s a good enough spare part, but no team’s going to give up anything of importance when they almost certainly have someone somewhere in their system that can provide the same skills for free.
Oh yeah, and Burke.

Pitchers with value:

Felix. This is difficult for me to say, but this might be the best time ever to trade Felix. If the M’s can get a huge haul in blue-chip prospects, it’s worth thinking about. Felix is a tremendous talent, but we’re a couple years in seeing him at the major league level and in a way we’re asking the same questions we did about Garcia in the day. Felix’s best pitch isn’t his fastball, as we saw with Freddy, but over and over he chooses not to go with his best pitch to get outs, insisting on trying to throw the fastball. This year we’ve seen his game take a big step back in every way but the most widely accepted stats like ERA. I worry he’s not ever going to learn to harness his ability, and we’ll see exactly that Garcia path.

Yet the perception of Felix as a rising star is as strong as ever, and his superficially impressive stats make people drool.

Set aside plausibility for just a second and just consider this. Tampa Bay calls tomorrow and says “Did you read what Hank Steinbrenner just said about us? We’ve been up all night drinking Red Bull and planning revenge and we are going to mess that guy up. We’re making a run at this thing, and we want Felix. We’ll give up Evan Longoria, two of our ML-ready mid-rotation guys, and one of our top pitching prospects — take your pick. Come on, help us stick it to the Yankees.”

That’s how it was pitched to me. And If you’re like me, you didn’t have a ready answer, and you’re going to have a lot of confusing and dismaying thoughts for a while. I was surprised my answer wasn’t an immediate “no” when confronted that way, and the more I thought about it… I know, but there it is: the M’s are so deeply screwed right now, my worries about Felix are substantive enough, and his value is high enough that there are trades I’d make for Felix and, what’s more, those trades may well be out there this coming month.

Bedard. Sure, call him inconsistent, fragile, a baby, a horrible interview. He can pitch, and he can be a legitimate ace. Teams making the playoff charge may well look to that as a gamble with a huge potential payoff. Plus, you can always do the PTBNL thing, where they say “We’ll give up two decent prospects for him now. If he does well and we get to the playoffs where he does well, you can pick a guy off list A. If he does well and we miss the playoffs, list B. If he pitches horribly, list C.” Plus he’s cheap.

Pitchers with possible value:
Washburn. He’s got another year on his deal and he’s not very good but he’s left-handed, an innings-eater and so on, and there could be teams out there that get fooled into thinking he’s turned it around. Please, let there be teams that get fooled.

Pitchers with no value:
Batista. Not right now, that’s for certain.
Silva. There’s no rescue from this deal.

And I’m assuming that they won’t consider moving Morrow, and the young pitchers who’ve been effective in the pen (like Green, and Lowe) won’t be moved either. Rhodes possibly, but I don’t see that either.

Jarrod Washburn’s Still An Idiot

June 28, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 25 Comments 

After last night’s game, Jarrod Washburn continued to give credit for his recent drop in ERA to a mechanical tweak made by his pitching coach a few weeks ago. The local media continues to repeat his claim that he’s pitching better since then like its the gospel.

Apparently, we’re the only ones around willing to actually do any kind of fact checking. I wrote this post a few days ago, and it still stands as true. Let me quote the relevant parts:

Pitchers do this all the time – they struggle, they make some minor change, and the struggles end, so therefore, the minor change fixed the problem. Unfortunately, it’s almost never true. Here’s Washburn’s performance up to the phone call and since, broken down by metrics that actually judge pitching effectiveness, rather than a useless measure such as ERA.

April 4th – May 21st: 47 2/3 IP, 1.89 BB/9, 5.67 K/9, 11% HR/FB, 4.75 FIP, 4.93 xFIP
May 25th – June 21st: 29 IP, 4.97 BB/9, 6.21 K/9, 4% HR/FB, 3.92 FIP, 4.98 xFIP

If we were going to evaluate the usefulness of Washburn’s mechanical tweak based on a ridiculously small sample, we’d be forced to conclude that it destroyed his ability to throw strikes and was otherwise pretty useless. The uptick in strikeout rate is basically meaningless (it’s two strikeouts total over five starts), and the decrease in allowing runs is due to one very obvious unsustainable performance – the home run per fly rate.

If we update that second line to include last night’s start, his new ratios since “The Tweak” are 4.18 BB/9, 5.41 K/9, and a 5.1% HR/FB.

His command – not better. His stuff – not better. His pitching – not better.

His opponents in his last four starts: Toronto (4.12 R/G, 3rd worst offense in AL), Atlanta (4.56 R/G, but Chipper didn’t start that game, so hack off a quarter of a run), Washington (3.65 R/G, 2nd worst in baseball), and San Diego (3.58 R/G, worst in baseball). Yea, I have no idea why his results are better. It’s not like he’s had a run of starts against terrible teams that can’t hit, including a couple where he got to face the pitcher hitting instead of the DH.

Results based analysis is stupid and wrong. Jarrod Washburn isn’t pitching any better now than he was at the start of the season. Learn from your mistakes, people – ERA is useless. Stop using it to draw conclusions.

Pre-game chemistry forecasts

June 27, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 21 Comments 

Hey, if chemistry’s so important to a team’s success, why doesn’t anyone report the clubhouse mood before each game? Seems like that’d be just as important as the lineups, which we get about an hour ahead of time.

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