Game Two Thoughts

Dave · April 7, 2009 at 8:51 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The end sucked. We’ll get to that in a second.

So, you know how I mentioned that we’d get a decent idea of whether Bedard is healthy from his velocity and the movement on his curveball? He’s healthy. That curveball was just sick. Forget the ERA – that’s the stuff the M’s were expecting last year. Whether he can continue to stay healthy is obviously up in the air, but for right now, enjoy having two all-star starters back to back.

Gutierrez continues to impress with his approach at the plate. He’s doing a great job of laying off pitches out of the zone and making them throw him something he can handle. So far, our new CF has been nothing but aces.

Chuck Merriwether needed more time in spring training, apparently.

Amy’s comment after seeing Betancourt slide into home safely: “Did the fat guy just score?”

Roy Corcoran – exhibit 8,413 that spring training performances don’t mean much. That was as good as I’ve ever seen him.

Aardsma, on the other hand, had about as bad a 1-2-3 inning as you can have. Let’s just say that his fastball command still needs some work.

Speaking of fastball command, Brandon Morrow… that wasn’t much fun to watch. This isn’t new, of course – Morrow doesn’t have a career BB/9 of six for nothing. He didn’t have much of a spring training, and he’s still working out the kinks. Hopefully it doesn’t take long.

And, finally, the decision to replace him with Batista. Our first chance to really second guess Wak, but this is what it is. I mentioned in the strengths and weaknesses post the other day that his options in the pen are “bad command, worse command, or horrible command”. This is the downside of having a bullpen full of live arms who struggle to throw strikes. Should he have stuck with Morrow? Maybe, but of course, people would be calling for his head if that didn’t work either. At the time of the move, it was a coinflip – the guy who can’t throw strikes and didn’t get a real spring training or the washed up veteran who doesn’t have an out pitch?

It would have been nice to start off 2-0. But, don’t go overboard – it’s still just one game.


72 Responses to “Game Two Thoughts”

  1. finndawg on April 8th, 2009 9:05 am

    Although a heartbreaker last night, I thought: Bedard looked really good – keep in mind if he actually got the strike he threw in the 5th, there would have only been 1 run scored on him; Corcoran looked really good; I thought bringing in Batista was probably the right thing to do – Morrow was missing by feet, not inches. Batista got Span to do exactly what he wanted, but unfortunately it took a faux grass bounce…it will be interesting, to say the least, to see how the M’s react today

  2. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on April 8th, 2009 9:09 am

    Also, I’m disappointed to see the level of small sample size enthusiasm.

    Nobody is saying it’s not a small sample…read the threads from the opener even…everyone I think is moving forward cautiously optimistic. 1-1 plus the games themselves are much, much better than this team could have started. No one is saying winning season, playoffs, etc. So why not be happy when you observe good things? Will it keep up at this rate? Of course not…no one has said that it will either. but is it god right now…you better believe it!

  3. DMZ on April 8th, 2009 9:21 am

    I’m disappointed to see that low level of comment quality. I expect it from a lot of comments, but not from philosofool. For shame.

  4. coasty141 on April 8th, 2009 9:34 am

    “We have no reason to think Gutierrez is a better hitter than he was last year”

    -Dave isn’t talking about results with Gutierrez. Dave’s talking about his approach at the plate and how he thinks it will serve him well.

  5. slescotts on April 8th, 2009 9:45 am

    “Aardsma, on the other hand, had about as bad a 1-2-3 inning as you can have. Let’s just say that his fastball command still needs some work.”

    –Agreed, but he still had a 1-2-3 inning. Aardsma should be our closer. Too many clubs have tried to make into a starter, too many fail at that and put him in the pen. I’ll take a bad 1-2-3 ninth with one pitcher over a blown game by two.

  6. joser on April 8th, 2009 9:50 am

    I expect better from Dave Cameron. We have no reason to think Gutierrez is a better hitter than he was last year. We have no reason to think that Bedard is the Bedard of 2007.

    Criticize Dave for what he wrote, not whatever you make up in your head. The question was about Bedard’s health — is he capable of throwing the pitches that the healthy Bedard of 2007 could throw. You don’t need a dozen starts and hundreds of pitches to determine that. He can either throw a curve or he can’t. Right now he can. Right now he’s healthy. We don’t know if that will last, as Dave noted, and Bedard certainly has been fragile. But right now Bedard looks to be healthy version of himself the team thought they were getting. And since we have no reason to think his stuff went away while he was healing, we can be optimistic that his performance last night was an indication of how he’ll perform as long as he remains healthy. That doesn’t mean he’ll put up the same numbers he put up in front of a different team in a different home ballpark in a different division in a different year, but it does mean we can be (cautiously) optimistic we’re going to see the same sort of pitcher he was then.

  7. joser on April 8th, 2009 10:03 am

    A lot of people are telling me I am wrong and I get that, but no one is bringing up what, if any, numbers they would look at to make that decision.

    You can look at platoon splits, if the batters coming up have a strong one and you have an appropriate pitcher in the pen (though as Dave has noted, this has been taken to ridiculous extremes of LOOGY over-specialization lately). Some pitchers don’t have an out pitch against an opposite-handed batter: that’s not someone you want to call on in that situation. You can look at GB and FB rates if, for example, there’s just a man on first and you’re looking for a double play (in other words you don’t want to be a Hargrovian idiot and bring in Mateo, the most FB-oriented RP in baseball, to “try to get a groundball out”); conversely, if you’ve got a couple of pull hitters coming up and the field is likely to hold them — righties at Safeco on a damp night, for example — a FB-oriented guy might work.

    But when you’ve got the bases loaded and not much lead to work with, a lot of those considerations go away and you have to go on pure stuff. You can’t afford a walk, which means you need a guy with good command. Unfortunately, as Dave already noted, there aren’t any of those guys in the M’s pen. And you need a guy with good stuff to get an out. Unfortunately, the guy with supposedly the best stuff was already on the mound, and his oft-absent command wasn’t there with him. Really, there isn’t a numerically supportable decision to make there. Wakamatsu could’ve picked any one of the arms in the pen and it could’ve worked out, or not, and we’d be arguing about it today without really much of anything in the way of data except the result. If he’d picked one of the kids and it worked, that kid would be the instant sensation… until the next time, when it might not, and we’d be where we are today. If he’d picked a kid and it didn’t work, we’d be hearing about “the closer mentality” and how you don’t put a green guy into a high pressure situation like that. (For that reason alone, or at least having to endure the second-guessing in the media, Wak can probably defend his choice of Batista). If he’d picked Lowe, and it worked, lots of people would be calling for him to be the new closer; if it didn’t, we’d be hearing about those Spring Training numbers and how they made it obvious he wasn’t the right guy for that situation. And on and on.

    In the end, we’re talking about very small sample sizes (whether it’s your 5 AB matchups or Morrow’s 17 save situations last year) and fluke-ish things like the Metrodome turf have outsized effects (much larger than any numerical predictions you want to use). It’s quite possible Morrow will go out and dominate the next time, and everyone will celebrate. But the issues with his command remain, and that means we’re going to see something like this happen again. And that’s true of most of the other current closer options as well. Dave argues that the most important characteristic of a closer is the ability to get opposite-handed batters out (because, unlike setup men, closers are left in to face them). In other words it’s about stuff, not numbers. In that respect Morrow is probably the best choice. It may be that Codero or Fields pushes into the job later in the season. It may be the team tries out several guys and we end up being unhappy with all of them. Or maybe another Putz arises out of obscurity, finds his command (or a splitter, or whatever), has a good run, and is widely proclaimed to have “the closer mentality”… whatever that is.

    But if you want to talk strictly about what Wak should’ve done in that situation with men on and the score close and one out to go… well, it’s not really about numbers at that point. If you’re Wakamatsu signalling to the dugout, the numbers just can’t tell you anything especially useful. They can guide you away from some guys (no Mateo in a groundball situation, no groundballers on Metrodome turf) and toward others, but they can’t tell you who is clearly best for that situation — if they could, they would’ve told you to put that guy on the mound to start the inning… and you did. Now you’re pretty much in coin flip territory, and you may be thinking about other things — what happens with the bullpen if this ends up tied and you go to extra innings? What if it doesn’t stop there — who can best handle the agony of giving up the winning run? Batista can pitch into extra innings if necessary, and he can probably absorb the loss… and if makes him a mental wreck, it’s not a big deal vs wiping out one of the kids who still show some promise. I’m not saying Batista was the best choice — who knows, Lowe might’ve been able to save the day, or he might’ve walked in the winning run — but it’s a defensible decision on grounds other than “the numbers.” And unfortunately that’s all we have, because “the numbers” just don’t provide the level of detail we need to argue otherwise.

  8. WTF_Ms on April 8th, 2009 10:18 am

    Lincecum did only go 3 yesterday…so given Morrow’s diabetes issues, and lack of Spring training innings, I think he did well.

    I’d rather have a very young inexperienced pitcher blow it than a veteran with a good record (JJ Putz a while back). Franklin and Wlad looked good though, so overall, I think we brought in some good players, and the pitching has a chance to work itself out. Let’s see if Silva can turn last year around tonight.

  9. JMHawkins on April 8th, 2009 10:30 am

    85 pitches when he was on a 90-95 pitch count was a good time to pull him.

    Yeah, that’s only 17 pitches/inning, which is okay, especially considering the number of Ks. He should go deeper when the team lifts his pitch count. But he will need to average more than 91 ptiches per start once the season gets moving.

    A lot of people are telling me I am wrong and I get that, but no one is bringing up what, if any, numbers they would look at to make that decision.

    Look at the pitcher/hitter left-right splits (and keep in mind pinch hitters available). In the situation last night, GB% wouldn’t matter much, but in other situations it might.

    But the basic idea is, you need at least a few hundred ABs before the difference due to random luck is less than the difference in skill between, say, Ichiro and Betancourt.

  10. CougJustin on April 8th, 2009 10:38 am

    Thanks JMHawkins that makes sense.

    For a true measurement wouldn’t you also want to consider the caliber of player? Is there any number that left-right splits but weights it against On Base or slugging or OPS or some other hitting measure, just so someone like Ichiro isn’t weighted the same as Jay Bruce or some other left handed batter just because they are from the same side of the plate.

  11. skeets35 on April 8th, 2009 11:29 am

    It would have been nice to start off 2-0. But, don’t go overboard – it’s still just one game.

    To me this is the key point, it is just one game. And, we are seeing exactly what we thought we were going to see this year. A team that will be around .500.

    Solid starting pitching from our 1 and 2. Relievers that, when they are on they are great, but are really erratic. Really good OF D. Lots more speed, and limited offense (though I have seen a little more than expected, but it is just two games at Hefty Bag Field).

    I will start drawing conclusions in another eight weeks or so.

    I am not on the ledge, or even near a window, just enjoying the view for the moment.

  12. bigdad03 on April 8th, 2009 11:46 am

    Yeah, yeah, it’s only ONE game but it resurrects images of last year and it SUCKS. Morrow continues to do the same crap he did last year and that was to overthrow. The guy can pitch in the high 90’s without batting an eye, yet he continually looks like he’s trying to throw harder than necessary and what comes naturally; thus getting wild. He needs a therapist.

  13. jzalman on April 8th, 2009 11:58 am

    Can we get an official nickname for this bullpen?

    I nominate: The Wild Bunch

    Put a banner up on the bullpen wall. PR should promote it. They’re young, they’re fun, they’re wild. We should just embrace it.

    The Wild Bunch…Come feel the HEAT!!!!

  14. MKT on April 8th, 2009 12:01 pm

    And, we are seeing exactly what we thought we were going to see this year. A team that will be around .500.

    True, but with one qualification. The Ms have gone through their two best starters, and are at .500. Their next three pitchers are a lot less likely to keep them at .500 level (granted, all teams’ Back Three starters are going to be of lesser ability than their Top Two — but with the Mariners, the drop off is especially steep).

  15. jzalman on April 8th, 2009 12:13 pm

    You know, if this Morrow outing happened in May-August, it’s a blip on the radar. It happens to be his first outing, so we blow it out of proportion. He didn’t have much of a spring, of course he’s still young, but I’ll take all of last season as an indication of his pitching ability over getting a little wild in one outing.

    He’s still my closer, easily. It’s disappointing, but let’s not panic. Relievers, and starters too, have 1-4 game stretches where they’re just awful. Happens all the time. Let’s just hope Wak sticks with him to give him a chance to correct whatever’s wrong. Think of it this way: He’s a 6BB/9 pitcher. We should have about 4 straight innings with nary a walk!!! (

  16. currcoug on April 8th, 2009 2:40 pm

    It certainly would have been preferrable to have a lefty like Ron Villone come in against the Twins lineup, instead of Batista.

  17. Steve T on April 8th, 2009 3:09 pm

    All numbers have some predictive value. The degree of accuracy goes up with the size of the sample. The problem with batter-pitcher matchup numbers is that the sample is absurdly below what would be necessary to glean something useful from it.

    If a batter is 1-for-5 against a pitcher, or .200 in five chances, that tells you that his true ability against that pitcher is somewhere between .001 and .999. Try gaining value from that statement! If it was 10-for-50, the range might be more like between .100 and .800 or something — still nowhere near useful.

    This is strictly a matter of math and probability. My numbers above aren’t right; they’re just to show how far away from useful these matchup numbers are. If they were useful, people would know what the real ranges were.

  18. Breadbaker on April 8th, 2009 3:41 pm

    Batter versus pitcher is a freak show stat. You’ll always hear about old timers who “owned” some Hall of Fame pitcher or hitter, and can recite their stats against them down to the fourth decimal place. Of course, before 1960, teams would play one another 22 times a year and with four-man rotations and fewer relievers used, there were a lot of matchups that at least meant something. Morrow may face the Twins fewer times in a ten-year career than some of the Dodger and Giant top starters faced each other in a couple of seasons.

  19. hark on April 8th, 2009 4:58 pm

    The only spanking was done by Marriweather, I don’t have any proof other than my own two beer goggled eyes, but Cuddyer’s 2-2 pitch was strike 3, instead of the 2 rbi hit he got after it was called a ball and Erik was forced to paste one.

    You’re not wrong! But after that one single, he still gave up another. With two in scoring position, that’s pretty brutal. We got a repeat in the ninth with Morrow/Batista (only with the bases loaded).

    Merriweather’s strike zone was something else, but the result was Bedard getting an undeserved shalacking. Yes, it was garbage, but Bedard still got beat up for it.

    Sorry for the late reply; just got to it.

  20. Brian Rust on April 8th, 2009 5:12 pm

    Actually, Steve T., the intervals you suggest (at 99% confidence) are:
    1 for 5: .023 to .815
    10 for 50: .092 to .381

    And while you are correct in stating that the degree of “accuracy” goes up with the size of the sample, the degree of confidence also goes up as the observed measurement gets farther from the standard to which we are comparing it. For example, for a “true” .300 hitter, the 10/50 (.200) performance will occur at random roughly as often as a 1/12 (.083) — either about 8% of the time.

  21. JMHawkins on April 8th, 2009 7:05 pm

    Wow, I’m so used to that being a double down the line…

  22. JMHawkins on April 8th, 2009 7:10 pm

    I’m an idiot – that comment above was supposed to be in the game thread.

    For a true measurement wouldn’t you also want to consider the caliber of player? Is there any number that left-right splits but weights it against On Base or slugging or OPS or some other hitting measure, just so someone like Ichiro isn’t weighted the same as Jay Bruce or some other left handed batter just because they are from the same side of the plate.

    wOBA, or Weighted On Base Average, is what you’re looking for. Not sure if anyone computes this for pitchers though (wOBA-Against). But anyway, the stat is accounts for the run value of everything a batter does (e.g. HRs have a higher value than 1Bs, etc), and then scales it to look like OBP.

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