Dog bites man, Vidro is terrible and shouldn’t be hitting #4

DMZ · July 12, 2008 at 8:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 


That’s Vidro’s line when he was written into the cleanup spot tonight.

What kind of protection is this supposed to be? You could not find a worse non-Vidro hitter to bat behind Ibanez without taking a Tony Pena Jr-type player who plays a premium defensive position.

Johjima’s hitting worse than Vidro, but not by much. Where’s he batting? 6th, rarely, 7th, more often, 8th most of the time.

Yet there are other fans who may have it worse. Who’s as bad as Vidro, offensively, on other teams? Bartlett, in Tampa. He bats #9. That’s good, makes sense… Michael Bourn, in Houston. He bats #1. Gathright bats #1 or #9. Freddy Sanchez bats first or second.


Vidro’s terrible. He’s not protecting anything, no matter what Riggleman says. The essential proposition of protection is that by being in front of a good hitter, the protected hitter sees more fastballs because — well, it starts to break down in practice, and there’s not a lot of evidence that protection does much for even the best hitters.

But just dwell on the insanity of this for a moment. The manager is claiming that the performance of Ibanez is improved by having one of the worst hitters in the major leagues, one with absolutely no value at the plate, behind him.

To the reputation question: how long, exactly, are we supposed to believe that teams will pursue a poor strategy because of old information? Every team’s employing video guys, advance scouts, and producing reports for their pitchers on how to go after each hitter.

Vidro’s probably just reads “throw pitch”.
Or one word: “Done.”

Are we really supposed to believe that other teams are producing scouting reports that read “Was once kind of good ten years ago, be careful! Don’t be afraid to walk him instead of giving him something he can put into play for an out.”

No. Of course not. It’s absurd. If that were true, and Vidro’s fearsome reputation helped him hit better, he wouldn’t be at .217/.265/.316.

But really — how long? Are we talking about his fearsome 2007, when he hit .314 and drew some walks with no power to be a little above league average (as a DH)? Or is this the remnant of his 2001-2003 run, when he hit some home runs to go with his doubles?

Meanwhile, Vidro, one of the worst hitters in baseball, gets middle-of-the-order at bats behind a rare productive offensive sequence. He gets more at-bats than the guys behind him who are more productive… like Reed, for instance, who at .260/.322/356 is a substantially better hitter in every sense even with that unimpressive line.

Batting Vidro at #4, even thinking that Vidro at #4 is defensible, requires someone to hold a set of beliefs that are variously long-disproved, unbelievable, wishful thinking, and deluded.

Unless they’re losing on purpose. If so… well played.


40 Responses to “Dog bites man, Vidro is terrible and shouldn’t be hitting #4”

  1. Elwood P. Dowd on July 12th, 2008 8:21 am

    Absurd. This is fast replacing the Cairo as firstbaseman trick as the biggest mystery of the year.

  2. msb on July 12th, 2008 8:39 am

    well, the topic made the postgame discussion last night, with some strong words about the futility of Turbo as DH, let alone as a 4th hitting DH.

  3. jro on July 12th, 2008 8:59 am

    The only thing Vidro could possibly be protecting is a march toward next year’s pick of Strasburg.

  4. jefffrane on July 12th, 2008 9:03 am

    I simply do not understand how anyone, especially a manager, cannot look at Turbo and see how god-awful a hitter he is. He’s virtually a guaranteed ground-out and has almost the same guarantee to hit into a double play. It’s simply not possible to watch him play, game after game, and not see it. It’s not as if he was marginally bad, he’s just terrible. I really don’t get it.

  5. Go Felix on July 12th, 2008 9:04 am

    What happened to Pepe?

  6. Badbadger on July 12th, 2008 9:06 am

    What is really odd is that even if you believe that Vidro is about to snap out of his slump at any second and repeat last year, he didn’t have any power last year. 4th was the wrong position for him even back when he was average.

  7. Dave on July 12th, 2008 9:10 am

    Riggleman said that Vidro’s hitting fourth because everyone they would like to have hit 4th hasn’t performed well enough to stay there.

    Adrian Beltre’s OPS: .773
    Raul Ibanez’s OPS: .774

    Apparently, Beltre’s performance is so bad that they can’t use him in the #4 hole, but Ibanez is doing great as a #3 hitter.

  8. Taki on July 12th, 2008 9:13 am

    I just do not see the point. It’s not even about about how good or bad Vidro is, its about using a starting DH spot for a player who will not be contributing to the team next year. I personally don’t care if Joh is hitting worse than Vidro, he is going to be part of the team next season (like it or not), so might as well give him more playing time and figure out how bad he REALLY is. Or, of course they could give the spot to young prospects who have any kind of chance to contribute next season.

  9. msb on July 12th, 2008 9:20 am

    pshaw, you young folks and your numbers.

  10. killer_ewok18 on July 12th, 2008 9:47 am

    Bizarro Manager Strikes Again!

  11. sass on July 12th, 2008 9:49 am

    We’re going to need more than Vidro to finish last in the majors this year. I mean, we have to contend with the likes of the Nationals and Padres. It is harder than it seems to earn that number one pick; we have ourselves a race!

  12. killer_ewok18 on July 12th, 2008 9:52 am

    1) Nationals… —
    1) Mariners… —
    3) Padres… 1 GB
    4) Rockies… 2.5 GB
    5) Indians… 3.5 GB

  13. killer_ewok18 on July 12th, 2008 9:54 am

    Actually, the M’s are .5 back. My bad.

  14. JMHawkins on July 12th, 2008 10:05 am

    Riggleman said that Vidro’s hitting fourth because everyone they would like to have hit 4th hasn’t performed well enough to stay there.

    This must be more of their frustratingl reliance on anecdotes and made-up roles. Beltre probably struck out once in some critical situation while batting 4th, so the M’s entire antediluvian brain trust thinks he’s not cut out for the role, regardless of what the numbers say.

    This, the Wilson deal, Cairo, it all just tells me that the current management, from coaches on up, will never get it. I don’t know if the roster needs to be blown up to get a competitive team, but the FO and coaching staff sure do.

  15. klosetfann on July 12th, 2008 10:15 am

    Why is this team so ignorant?? Shouldn’t these coaches with there 20 years of experience understand what any common fan knows. The guys here are more qualified to lead this team. Ahhh, the lives we lead as M’s fans.

  16. JerBear on July 12th, 2008 10:31 am

    Who are other teams afraid of? Here are the M’s first half 2008 IBB Leaders:

    Ichiro! – 9

    Ibanez – 9

    Beltre – 8

    Lopez – 2

    Vidro – 2

    Bloomquist – 1

    Everyone Else – 0

    Yup, those pitchers are shaking in their cleats when Turbo steps up…

    (Just for a little context, Miguel Cairo has 8 in his entire career.)

  17. JJD on July 12th, 2008 10:34 am

    The Mariners’ OPS from the #4 spot is .648. How bad is that? Consider:

    AL #4 spot OPS
    1 TEX .414/.555/.969
    2 NYY .390/.524/.914
    3 DET .377/.530/.907
    4 MIN .386/.510/.895
    5 BOS .379/.496/.875
    6 CHI .349/.471/.821
    7 LA .343/.448/.790
    8 CLE .348/.425/.773
    9 TB .348/.413/.761
    10 BAL .331/.416/.747
    11 TOR .330/.415/.745
    12 OAK .336/.397/.733
    13 KC .293/.433/.726
    14 SEA .313/.335/.648

    That’s not even CLOSE to 13th. Theoretically, the #4 hitter should be the highest OPS and the #9 hitter the lowest OPS, right? The AL AVERAGE for #9 is .649 – one point BETTER than the M’s clean-up spot.

    The 84-point gap to 13th is the second-biggest in the AL in any line-up spot.

    #1 – OAK 65 points behind MIN
    #2 – LA 18 points behind CHI
    #3 – CLE (at .644!) 12 points behind LA
    #5 – CLE 25 points behind MIN
    #6 – SEA (at .586!) 91 points behind CHI – the biggest gap
    #7 – KC 9 points behind BAD
    #8 – SEA (again) 74 points behind KC
    #9 – KC 52 points behind TB

    The good news? To get up to 13th, all the M’s need from Vidro (prob) tonight is a 7-7 with 7 HR performance. That would boost their OPS to .732. Go-go Turbo!

  18. Jake N. on July 12th, 2008 10:37 am

    Vidro’s inability is without equal in MLB, aside from [Sexson]. [This club’s failure to do] anything well makes me wonder how they Forest Gumped [their] way into finding Felix Hernandez. Someone in the [background] has at least some eye for talent. Why that person does not have more control of the roster makes me laugh. The Mariners are the [oxymoron (although you probably wanted ‘opposite’)] of well run organizations like the A’s and [T]wins.

    How I would love the team to back up 3 years and just make the right choices with youth and [development]. It just makes me sick to think what we would have on the field just with the players that went through our minors. [A] real FO management team had everything a team needed to be [successful].

    How much money have they just burn[ed][?] I cannot imagine the owners looking at this [situation in] the same [way] anymore.

    The reality is bleak. With the huge [movement towards] youth throughout MLB for many teams like the As, Twins, [b]oth [F]lorida teams, Indians, Rockies, Arizona, [and the] O’s. The minor leagues are quite a bit thinner th[a]n last year. It is like a game of musical chairs [-] [t]he Mariners are left without a chair. There is no [t]eam really looking for [veterans] like Ibanez or Beltre. Bedard is a wilting flower and our younger players are imploding. The only value we have as a team is Felix and Ichiro. We[‘]re screwed no matter how [much] the FO is improved this next off season. Trades? With who? For what? With what? We[‘]re just screwed. The definition [of] the Trojan Horse should be [rewritten to include] a picture of Bill Bavasi.

  19. Steve T on July 12th, 2008 10:49 am

    And here I thought we were done with “Sexon” and “Sexton” and so on.

    My theory is that Riggleman takes a look at what a rational lineup looks like, and even with his limited information thinks “oh, jeez, that’s just terrible; I’ve got to try to break that up a little” — seeing only how the huge clump of consecutive automatic outs hurts, and not how breaking up his only mini-clump of decent hitters hurts as well.

  20. Sklyansky on July 12th, 2008 10:51 am

    Why doesn’t the media actually try and call out the team on stuff like this? When Riggleman says Vidro hits fourth, because “everyone they would like to have hit 4th hasn’t performed well enough to stay there”, somebody who gets paid to follow the team should say something, as Vidro certainly hasn’t performed well enough to stay there (or be on a ML team for that matter).

    I doubt SEA would revoke their access, as it’d be ridiculous for the only news about the team to come from the team’s website. Although I guess that wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility (nothing the M’s do seems to make sense).

  21. hoser on July 12th, 2008 11:17 am

    As a fan, I want a good general manager and manager next year. The worst thing would be to have the rest of the year go well enough that management hires Lee Pelekoudas and Jim Riggleman for next year if they suck.

    So my first question is: do they suck?
    Answer: seems like it, so far.

    If they do suck, I want the team to have a bad enough record that no one is tempted to let them suck any more.

    So playing Vidro is ridiculous, but could have a silver lining.

    I’d still rather see someone younger with a possible future hitting .162 and getting accustomed to the majors.

  22. Paul B on July 12th, 2008 11:33 am

    When Felix pitches, the Mariners should let him hit, and they should use the DH to hit for…

    the DH.

    OK, that doesn’t make sense. They could use the DH to hit for the firstbaseman instead, but that assumes that Vidro is a better hitter than Cairo.

    Be honest here, recall back in January when people were discussing whether the M’s would have a chance to be competitive this year? What if someone had told you that by July the full time Mariner firstbaseman would be… the 34 year old rotting corpse of a backup middle infielder?

  23. MattThompson on July 12th, 2008 11:48 am

    Who are other teams afraid of? Here are the MÂ’s first half 2008 IBB Leaders:

    Beltre – 8

    Note that two of these came Thursday vs the A’s, in close-and-late situations with a runner on second and who else but Vidro hitting behind him.

    Both times, having Vidro in the heart of the lineup (hitting fifth that night) allowed the opponent to take the bat away from one of the M’s only good hitters in favor of Vidro. That strikes me as pretty much the opposite of protection.

    Of course, Vidro did have an RBI-single in the first of the two at-bats. Results, baby! Or, a blind squirrel finding an acorn. This didn’t scare the A’s the next time around, though, as they gave Beltre another IBB. Hm, a team that makes the proper tactical decision, regardless of previous results.

    Look, the idea of protection isn’t even relevant for most plate appearances, due to game situations. But we do know that in the last two meaningful situations in which a good Mariner hitter came to the plate with Vidro behind him, the good hitter was passed over in favor of the almost-sure-out Vidro.

    Riggleman can make all the claims he wants, but recent in-game evidence tells us what other teams think about Vidro as ‘protection.’

  24. Doc Baseball on July 12th, 2008 11:49 am

    Even if you wanted to follow the theory of protection, wouldn’t any normal thinking person do something like bat Beltre 3rd, Ibanez (the veteran who can handle the pressure of hitting clean-up) 4th, with Clement 5th (another lefty to protect Ibanez)

    or Reed 5th….

    or Ibanez 3rd backed by Beltre 4th and Lopez 5th….

    or Ichiro 3rd & Ibanez 4th….

    Or any of ten other very legitimate alternatives….

    Seriously, does ANYONE know what the M’s are actually thinking here — anyone with any inside info? It is beyond all belief that they are doing this. Even ther world’s biggest idiot would hit Johjima 4th before they would hit Vidro 4th (if either one were to return to form, Johjima is the one with more power potential). They have to know they are a laughing stock of all of baseball, and that can’t be fun….

  25. edgar for mayor on July 12th, 2008 11:58 am

    DMZ you’re my hero *dreamy eyes*

    Ok time to snap out of it, but seriously, I have been able to laugh at everything this year, except this. Vidro batting 4th makes my blood boil every night, and Rigglemans B.S explanation does too. My image of this organization, like most of you here, is that it is run by a bunch of old school baboon lawyers who refuse to modernize with the rest of baseball. Well they promised us a change, but its hard to believe them with the way things are going. Vidro batting 4th…well thats just sugar.

  26. Evan R. on July 12th, 2008 12:17 pm

    Kudos to whoever moderated Jake N.’s post.

  27. AuburnM on July 12th, 2008 12:28 pm

    Agree with every word

    I defended Vidro last year, but even last year’s Vidro shouldn’t hit clean up. This year’s Vidro needs to join this year’s Sexson in oblivion.

  28. Steve T on July 12th, 2008 12:40 pm

    Vidro hitting cleanup doesn’t make my blood boil as much as Cairo starting at first base does.

  29. smb on July 12th, 2008 12:45 pm

    That like being asked, “Would you rather be punched in the nuts or kicked in the teeth?”

  30. JJD on July 12th, 2008 12:52 pm

    Kudos to whoever moderated Jake N.’s post

    Except that it is “Forrest Gump.”

  31. edgar for mayor on July 12th, 2008 12:58 pm

    “Would you rather be punched in the nuts or kicked in the teeth?”

    Considering I experienced both…I will take kicked in the teeth. Oh yeah and I’ll take Cairo at 1B if Vidro is DFA’d.

  32. Graham on July 12th, 2008 1:01 pm

    Except that it is “Forrest Gump.”

    I don’t pay enough attention to ancient movies to know if their titles are being misspelled.

  33. Evan R. on July 12th, 2008 1:20 pm

    Except that it is “Forrest Gump.”

    I totally noticed that, but totally forgot to mention it.

  34. Breadbaker on July 12th, 2008 1:22 pm

    Beltre – 8

    Note that two of these came Thursday vs the A’s, in close-and-late situations with a runner on second and who else but Vidro hitting behind him.

    Two others came last Sunday against the Tigers with Sexson hitting behind him. Right now, Lopez would be a far better cleanup hitter.

  35. scott19 on July 12th, 2008 1:59 pm

    Right now, Lopez would be a far better cleanup hitter.

    Either him or Yuni, for that matter…and it actually might help pump up their respective SLG/OPS’s a little by doing so. Gee, what a novel idea!

  36. don52656 on July 12th, 2008 3:37 pm

    Isn’t Vidro batting 4th the AL equivalent of batting the pitcher 4th? I don’t care who is hitting what while batting cleanup, there is simply no excuse or rational reason to have Vidro in the lineup, much less batting 4th. Riggleman looks like a fool for doing it, and then trying to defend it.

    I’m guessing the “protection” that Vidro provides is that he is a switch-hitter, and maybe Riggleman thinks that the opponent won’t pitch around Ibanez to get a platoon advantage. That’s nuts, because opponents wouldn’t pitch around Ibanez to get a platoon advantage, they’ll pitch around Ibanez because Vidro is up next, no matter which side he’s hitting from.

  37. G-Man on July 12th, 2008 3:38 pm

    Grasping at straws, I’ll guess that maybe Rigg doesn’t want to put anybody else in a spot he shouldn’t hit in. Ergo, we have a pathetic #4 hitter but everyone else is in a slot Rigg thinks he can handle and will be comfortable in. It is reminiscent of how Mac or Grover would stick WFB in the #1 or #2 spot when he was subbing for the guy who usually held that spot.

    Or maybe Jose is keeping the spot warm while the M’s sign Barry Bonds.

  38. MorePineTar on July 13th, 2008 2:58 pm

    Joe Posnanski also wonders why Jose/Pepe is batting fourth. Arguing that Vidro should be batting cleanup is so nonsensical it is like ‘arguing whether an apple would taste better than the verb “placate.”’ Priceless.

  39. joser on July 13th, 2008 4:20 pm

    As a switch hitter, Vidro would make an OK bench player…. if he was making the league minimum. Paying him millions of dollars to do that, when better hitters sit at home unemployed, or can be found by kicking over a rock in any minor league park, is just incomprehensible. Starting him is crazier. And batting him fourth is just batshit insane.

  40. joser on July 13th, 2008 4:42 pm

    That Posnanski article is priceless, though it’s nothing we haven’t seen right on this blog all year. I wonder what it would take to get the Time or PI to hire him? Because even if was wrong (and in this case he was very, very right) judging from this he’s a funnier writer than everybody writing for the Seattle newspapers put together. And at this point, reading funny things about baseball is about the only enjoyment I get from baseball. Certainly watching the local version of a pro team actually play doesn’t qualify as “enjoyment” even if you try to imagine we’re in a Slapshot/Major League movie where the team is trying to fail.

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