The Scholarship Vote

November 20, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 127 Comments 

I’m thrilled that this thing finally ends tonight, so we just don’t have to talk about it anymore after tomorrow.

Anyway, I’m down by about 800 votes. Voting closes at midnight PST, so to win, I’d have to close that gap in 14 hours, or about 60 votes every hour from here on out. So, if there’s a few thousand of you out there that haven’t voted yet, now would be the time.

Win or lose, I still have a baseball team I can have hope in, though. I can’t imagine being any happier about how things have gone since Zduriencik got hired.

More Great News

November 19, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 40 Comments 

“Don Wakamatsu is a friend of mine,” Peterson said Tuesday night. “I am very happy for him. It would be an honor and a privilege to be his pitching coach.”

That Peterson is Rick Peterson, former A’s and Mets pitching coach. Peterson is exactly the kind of new school pitching coach this organization could use, getting as far away from Mel Stottlemyre and his “fastball, fastball, fastball” mentality as possible. This team badly needs a new approach to pitching, and Peterson’s work stands on its own.

If Wakamatsu as manager means that Peterson as pitching coach is a realistic option, then we should all be doing back flips right now.

It’s Official: Welcome Don Wakamatsu

November 18, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 79 Comments 

KING 5 either broke the story or guessed right this morning, depending on your point of view, but Baker et al confirm that there’s a press conference tomorrow to name Don Wakamatsu as the new manager of the Mariners.

As we’ve said hundreds of times here, the field manager matters a lot less in baseball than in most sports. For the most part, they’re all very similar – they basically all do the same things, so the difference from one to another is mostly minor. There are a few guys who definitely have an impact on their clubs one way or another, but the majority of them are all pretty much the same.

However, I still think we should be encouraged by this hiring. Not necessarily because we have any reason to think that Wakamatsu will be one of those few that make a significant positive impact, but because of the way this entire process was handled. I know a lot of you were concerned when Zduriencik was hired that this was just going to be more of the same, with huge amounts of micro-managing from Armstrong and Lincoln, and a perpetuation of old school, 20th century ways of running an organization.

Instead, we’ve seen Zduriencik clean house in the front office, make his #2 guy a man with significant statistical leanings and empower him to create a department of baseball research, and now interviewed seven managerial candidates with no experience and picked the guy whose reputation is for being extremely well prepared in pregame analysis and comes from the A’s organization. In picking Wakamatsu, he bypassed Joey Cora, who was clearly the guy the suits upstairs had a preference for, and went with the man he felt was best equipped to help this team win.

There’s no way to describe the last month as anything but total and utter change of direction. And that, in and of itself, is encouraging.

Welcome to Seattle, Don Wakamatsu. Please win.

MVP discussion

November 18, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 15 Comments 

I’m tired every year of writing about how crazy the voting is, or how absurd the criteria used is. This year it’s been fine: Pedroia’s not so bad, and Pujols obviously is a great choice (I probably would have taken Sizemore, but that’s just me).

But I used to really care who got the awards, and now I can’t quite get worked up about them.

Still — congrats. And apologies for not having a several-thousand word dissertation this year.

Tuesday vote-mongering: a new chance

November 18, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 54 Comments 

Hey all, I know I’ve been pushing everyone to vote Dave Cameron, but it would make me feel great to see him win in recognition of all his long-time efforts here.

Now’s your chance: it looks like they’ve reset the IP locking, so if you were trying to vote from work, and someone beat you to it, you can go for it. And if you already voted… well, you have the opportunity to make your voice count twice. Try here.

Update: your mileage may vary


November 18, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 19 Comments 

Larry Stone checks in with a quote from Wakamatsu saying he hasn’t heard anything yet, and a Mariners source saying they haven’t offered the job to anyone yet. None of this directly contradicts the KING 5 report from this morning that Wakamatsu is the choice, but it seems unlikely that an official announcement will come today. At least, not in the terms of a press conference.

For what it’s worth, here’s what Jamey Newberg, the esteemed leader of the The Newberg Report, had to say about Wakamatsu:

Love him. Players love him. Cool under pressure. Lots of integrity.

By all accounts, he’s a very calm, mild mannered person. He’s not going to berate players or throw dirt on the umpire. But the people who have worked with him speak glowingly of his character and hold him in very high regard, and if he can simultaneously command respect without being loud and angry, then he has the skills to be a very good leader of men.

This year’s Washburns

November 18, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 12 Comments 

I was looking through this year’s crop of free agent starters for bargains, and I thought I’d share.

An average pitcher strands about 70% of the runners they allow — they don’t score. If a pitcher gets lucky, they can get a low and deceptive ERA and a huge free agent contract. Like Jarrod.

So here’s the top five:
CC Sabathia, 77.7%
Ryan Dempster, 76.7%
Jamie Moyer, 76.6%
Ben Sheets, 75.5%
Paul Byrd, 73.9%

If you see any of those guys get a huge contract in part because of their ability to pitch out of jams, may it not be your team doing the signing.

Conversely, if you look in the other direction, you might find someone who had terrible luck in their free agent audition and may find fewer teams sniffing around.

The worst five:
Kenny Rogers, 66.6%
Sidney Ponson, 66.2% (do not want)
Livan Hernandez, 64.8%
Mark Hendrickson, 64.3%
Greg Maddux, 64.1%

I’d love to see Maddux in Safeco, seriously — he’s ridiculously smart, he’d be able to pitch to the park, right? And he’s Greg Maddux. It’d be great.

Or for a different way to look at this, here’s the players with the biggest gaps between their ERAs, which appear on their baseball cards, and their FIP (which stands for something) as a rough cut:

Who, ERA to FIP
Livan Hernandez, 6.05 to 4.94
Andy Pettitte, 4.54 to 3.71 (and in Safeco Field…)(and who remembers his drug use anyway?)
Mark Hendrickson, 5.45 to 4.76
AJ Burnett, 4.07 to 3.45
Kenny Rogers, 5.70 to 5.22 (still not particularly good)

(best? Jamie Moyer)

A quick pallette cleanser

November 18, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 3 Comments 

KING reports Wakamatsu one step from being named manager

November 18, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 29 Comments 

Only owner approval remains

So Much For Affeldt

November 17, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners · 22 Comments 

One of the guys I wanted the M’s to go after this winter was Jeremy Affeldt, who is probably the most underrated relief pitcher in the game. He signed a two year deal with the Giants today.

Oh well.

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