Dave · April 9, 2009 at 7:03 am · Filed Under Mariners 

I can’t recommend Baker’s blog post on Silva enough.

I guess, what I’m saying here is, for your own sanity, try to judge Silva within the context of what’s happening right now. He did not pitch well enough to win tonight — two bad change-ups or not. You give up a pair of two-run homers the first two innings, you usually lose. Silva has to change that. Has to reduce those big mistake pitches and close the gap between being a pitch or two away from winning and actually winning for a change.

But he also isn’t 0-10 to start the season. He’s 0-1. Look to see whether he can make some corrections between now and his next start and judge accordingly. It’s like I told you with 10-game increments and trying to judge a team that way, instead of changing your mind every day in a 162-game season. Look for trends. And look for them this year.

Yea, last year sucked. Yea, last night sucked. But one of the repeated themes over the last few years is that good decisions are made based on process, not results. Silva’s true talent level is better than what we’ve seen in Seattle. Regression to the mean is coming. I know, it’s frustrating to watch, but patience is a virtue.


42 Responses to “Silva”

  1. JLP on April 9th, 2009 7:24 am

    Agreed. Right now, I’m still in the “I’m just happy baseball is back” phase. The losses suck, but I’m willing to give this team and front office time.

  2. Kunkoh on April 9th, 2009 7:29 am

    He’s right & you’re right. It’s also nice to see that he truly IS trying to improve and be a better team player. That’s good to see. I’m glad he is – it’s a good process. Hopefully the results will match. If his velocity is the same, and he’s getting the same %’s of LD, FB, GB, and all the other good stuff…. (obviously it’ll take quite a few more games to really see that)

    But man, watching him pitch burns like hygiene. Or maybe it’s “my eyes, dees goggles do nu’ting!”

  3. Go Felix on April 9th, 2009 7:36 am

    Sorry, I’m patient with every one else on this team but Silva and Washburn are lost causes to me. Silva is a bust, there isn’t anything he can do in my mind to take that away.

    I’m excited for this team. Jakubauskas, Lowe, and our offense were exciting to watch last night. They all really made things happen. Then Silva, once again, shit the bed.

  4. slescotts on April 9th, 2009 7:46 am

    What concerns me is that he also stunk in the WBC… Yeah, the WBC isn’t the MLB. Still, he’s a ‘stinkerball’ pitcher right now and I can’t help but think he is: a) way up in his head and devoid of confidence (getting shelled continually might make a guy stressed enough to retreat) b) injured, c) wearing lifts or platform shoes, d) tipping his pitches, e) been around long enough for hitters to know what he does, f) all of the above.

  5. bergamot on April 9th, 2009 7:55 am

    Silva will probably pitch better in his next start when he’s not distracted by ads for Blue Bunny ice cream.

  6. louder on April 9th, 2009 8:00 am

    I’m sorry, but the guy is 1-16 since last April. Wasn’t he supposed to work on controlling his emotions on the mound also? But there is was, in the 5th, when things were going wrong, dropping f-bombs all over the place. So, I’m not too optimistic. I know he’s not going anywhere, but maybe Wak should think about taking some of the pressure off, making Silva do long relief for awhile, so he can get himself together, and people off his back. I’m willing to suspend judgment, but the Mariners’ staff need to start thinking about what’s good for the team, and not $$$$$.

  7. pygmalion on April 9th, 2009 8:01 am

    I haven’t analyzed Silva’s peripherals for the WBC but as I recall his results were great until the semi-finals. So it doesn’t really make sense to say that he stunk in the WBC, although he did collapse in his most important start.

  8. Dave on April 9th, 2009 8:07 am

    Win Loss records are useless. You have to get away from judging players by results.

  9. slescotts on April 9th, 2009 8:08 am


    Regarding his WBC credentials, yes, he did pitch 11 solid innings against Italy and the Netherlands.

  10. pygmalion on April 9th, 2009 8:09 am

    You shouldn’t analyze Silva’s performance by his win-loss record. Even ERA is better than that. And Silva has, thus far, been shortchanged by his ERA, at least if FIP means anything.

  11. party4marty on April 9th, 2009 8:23 am

    What if last year was his mean and he technically reverted to the mean last year? What we get this year and next is the down side of that mean. So we get 7 or 8 ERAs to make up for the 4’s he got in Sota. How long of a rope does he get?

  12. pygmalion on April 9th, 2009 8:29 am

    That’s not regression to the mean works.

  13. slescotts on April 9th, 2009 8:29 am

    His FIP!?! He has Feline Infectious Peritonitis!? Just kidding… OK, you have a good point. I keep telling myself that he is experiencing an unlucky streak, it’s just getting harder to convince myself and that stat doesn’t help. He gave up 20 HR’s last year, which is lower than Batista, lower than a lot of guys…but, he was still hard to watch. Remember Weaver? I worry that’s where Silva is heading. Baker’s blog did a good job to calm me down a bit. As for his emotions, maybe we should create a new measurable to the mix: P/I (Profanities per Inning pitched).

  14. pygmalion on April 9th, 2009 8:30 am

    Err that’s not how regression to the mean works, and you really ought to go just check his FIP if you want to know what to expect. Silva gets as long of a rope as the stats indicate he should get.

  15. party4marty on April 9th, 2009 8:32 am

    There was some sarcasm in that post, but thanks. The 84 of 98 fastball count is scary though.

  16. mkd on April 9th, 2009 8:33 am

    So, OK, for the sake of scientific rigor I will refrain from believing that Carlos Silva is officially done. I get that his peripherals say he should be doing better and that we should let the cosmos return to the natural order of things, but like you said in your last post: 84 fastballs in 98 pitches when you’re not blowing people away is a crappy crappy process that yielded predictably bad results. Does his sinkerball even sink anymore?

    Anyway, I’m assuming when the fork pictures start popping up I can get my hate on in peace?

  17. slescotts on April 9th, 2009 8:40 am

    Hey, I am looking forward to Z’s grand experiment–starting 9 closers, one per inning. If Silva doesn’t work out, maybe this will. I do think it could revolutionize the game. It’d also be mildly hilarious.

  18. louder on April 9th, 2009 8:42 am

    Win Loss records are useless. You have to get away from judging players by results.

    Okay, okay. My new season resolution is to read your article on Evaluating Pitching Talent every day until it sinks into my thick head. Even so, I still think won-loss records are nothing to be sneezed at for a starter.

  19. Dave on April 9th, 2009 8:50 am

    Won Loss records tell you approximately how well the pitcher performed, how well the opposing pitcher performed, how well the team’s offense performed, how well the team’s defense performed, and how well the team’s bullpen performed.

    Of those things that it tells you, you don’t really want to know 80% of them.

    There’s just way too much information that has nothing to do with the pitcher themselves. If we didn’t have any way to evaluate just the pitcher, then you could use W-L record as some sort of proxy for how well he pitched, after adjusting for his teammates and his opponents and all that.

    But why bother? We have ways of evaluating just the pitcher, without all the other stuff. You don’t need to use them any more. They’re obsolete.

  20. homi on April 9th, 2009 9:02 am

    Thanks Dave, i missed silva’s innings at work so i didn’t get to see how he really threw besides those two mistakes. I was really excited to see Jak and Lowe pitch so well!

  21. slescotts on April 9th, 2009 9:03 am

    Here’s my question and concern: we keep saying/hearing that Silva will eventually get back to where he is supposed to be statistically. However, how many seasons do the statheads simulate and how realistic is it? I agree that stats should out-weigh ‘gut reactions’ but feel that running 1000 simulated seasons can arrive at models that might be statistically accurate but totally ridiculous. When you say ‘regressing to the mean’, we assume there is a balance point somewhere and Silva is skewing ‘wildly’ one direction. Could the same case be made for Joh and his hitting? Or perhaps these guys’ previous abilities were skewing in positively direction and their recent woes are really a ‘progression’ to another mean. I am not a soothsayer and realize we gotta’ rely on previous performance to build future models. However, saying he ‘should’ is different than saying he ‘might’. Regarding Silva, it seems to be more ‘might get better’ at this point. I agree that 0-1 is too early to know.

  22. eddie on April 9th, 2009 9:04 am

    Silva a problem again this year? Johjima calling the wrong pitches? Flameout by Morrow?


  23. Tree on April 9th, 2009 9:05 am

    One worry is that FIP and stats like that came out of a data set consisting of mostly legitimate major leaguers, but Silva might not really belong in that category anymore.

  24. Dave on April 9th, 2009 9:08 am

    If that were true, than how do you explain his prior success with the exact same repertoire of pitches?

  25. Butwheredoesthemeatgo on April 9th, 2009 9:12 am

    If Silva was not in his contract situation, where it looks like we are stuck with him for another couple years, it seems patience with him would not be the angle writers like Baker would be writing about today. Even if we averaged his last few years statistics and compared it with the rest of the league, his WHIP, his K rate, and other useful stats, he would be in the bottom 20% of all qualified starters and that is including a couple years from his Minnesota days. So with it not really just being last year where he has struggled(gave up most home runs and worst batting average of all qualified starting pitchers in 2006) should we really continue to hold out hope, what is the point when his upside is so low. Even if he managed to find his form from a couple years ago, that is still the form of a below average MLB starter when you average out his Minnesota years. I think that is the frustrating part for fans, is not only has he been terrible in Seattle, but historically his upside is so mediocre.

  26. Tree on April 9th, 2009 9:14 am

    A mysterious change in talent level? Maybe something about pitch location or movement, you’d have to look really close just to make a guess, and the end result would be to keep pitching him regardless.

  27. Go Felix on April 9th, 2009 9:19 am

    That’s the hardest part. There is no explanation. I don’t know why the guy sucks so bad since he has put a Mariners uniform on but he has. Whether he is another victim of our organization or someone took his fairy dust away it really is hard to say what happened to the guy and how did he fall so fast. It’s not the first guy to come over here and have the same thing happen.

    We’re the Bermuda Triangle of baseball, just kidding.

    I’m still not going to give him the benefit of the doubt though.

  28. Ralph_Malph on April 9th, 2009 9:23 am

    Everybody seems to be focusing on pitch selection more than location. When you’ve got mediocre stuff like Silva, you need to locate. When Silva has been successful in the past it has been as a control pitcher.

    On the Morneau HR, Johjima was set up outside, I figure looking for a changeup on the outside corner. Silva put the pitch on the inner half, up in the zone. Not surprisingly, Morneau crushed it halfway to Mars.

    You can’t blame Johjima for that. It was just a poorly thrown pitch, not located where it needed to be.

    If he can’t locate his changeup and sinker, he doesn’t have much choice but to throw all fastballs. Which makes him basically a batting practice pitcher.

  29. Dave on April 9th, 2009 9:23 am

    When you react to past results, rather than doing your best to process useful information to predict future results, you start making really bad decisions.

    Reactions are for fans. Actions are for management. Being patient with Silva is the right course of action.

  30. Butwheredoesthemeatgo on April 9th, 2009 9:28 am

    Please look at his lifetime statistics, they are aweful, he did not drop off the map when he came to Seattle. He did manage to get even worse than he was before but it is not as far off as people who don’t look at his statistical history seem to think. His lifetime batting average against is .304, his lifetime slugging percentage against is .466, in 2006 for the Twins he gave up 38 home runs and a .324 batting average against, even if he regresses to the mean, he will still be well below average. His upside, if he somehow gets slightly better than he has ever been in his career, is that he becomes almost average.

  31. Jeff Nye on April 9th, 2009 9:53 am

    Reactions are for fans. Actions are for management. Being patient with Silva is the right course of action.

    This can’t be stressed enough.

    As a fan, I would be happy to never see Silva pitch for the M’s again. I’m tired of him. (same goes for Washburn but that’s a different post)

    But the team is doing exactly the right thing; his true talent level is higher than what we’ve seen from him, and regression to the mean is bound to happen. It won’t make him a good pitcher, or worth his contract, but it’ll make him better than the other available options.

  32. Dave on April 9th, 2009 10:07 am

    Please look at his lifetime statistics…

    Please learn to look at statistics that matter. There’s a big long post on the left hand side that will be helpful called “Evaluating Pitching Talent”. Read it.

  33. Butwheredoesthemeatgo on April 9th, 2009 10:10 am

    I understand that we are stuck with Silva, contract wise, and trying to pitch him every 5 days, at least for awhile longer is the most logical move for the Mariners. My assertation is that the regression to the mean argument does not suit him as much as people seem to think, as his past statistics are simply well below your average MLB starter, and I feel he is given more credit than that for some reason, maybe people look at his contract and think, well, he must have been well above average at some point, when in reality that has never happened for him. We are simply hoping that he regresses to the mean so he can go from aweful to simply below average, and other than the fact our defense is much better there is no useful information that predicts results for Silva that get him above the below average level, perhaps behind the scenes there is but I cannot speculate on that. Give him about 10 more starts, if his sabremetric #’s are still near the bottom of the league, simply throwing him out there every 5 days because of his contract is no longer the most logical move.

  34. Dave on April 9th, 2009 10:37 am

    Sorry, but you’re just not looking at the right numbers.

  35. ThundaPC on April 9th, 2009 10:44 am

    I thought the blog post was a tad overboard but the point still stands. I didn’t even know Silva had a “losing streak.”

    And apparently, Wak wasn’t happy about the change-ups being called in those situations (the first homerun situation was primarily mentioned but I imagine the second one was too given that it was on a 3-2 count). Wak wasn’t shy about holding both Silva and Johjima accountable for that.

  36. Butwheredoesthemeatgo on April 9th, 2009 11:00 am

    I know it is time consuming to be specific on what those numbers are that paint a better picture of Silva’s upside, but if you find the time in the future, it would be a really interesting read for those of us who have looked at Silva’s past numbers every which way, wanting to find something to give us hope, and see nothing there to be hopeful about.

  37. Steve T on April 9th, 2009 11:06 am

    Um, he already did. Read “Evaluating Pitcher Talent”, over there on the left under “Reference Material”. Has everything you need to know. Dave could copy and paste that article here into the thread, but that would be dumb. It’s right there.

    Silva is not a great pitcher, but he’s a useful innings-eater. He didn’t do it yesterday, that’s all. And please remember that last year he was pitching for a team that (a) couldn’t score runs and (b) couldn’t play defense. Makes any pitcher look bad.

  38. WTF_Ms on April 9th, 2009 11:33 am

    Listening to the Drayer segment on the pre-game show, I agree with the “wait” stance.

    This is a new coaching staff, and Wak is more involved than previous MGR’s. Let’s wait and see how that relationship develops.

    Everyone knows that this team is a stretch to be contenders, so don’t have too lofty of expectations.

  39. Butwheredoesthemeatgo on April 9th, 2009 11:43 am

    Um, yeah, the evaluating pitcher talent is a good read, but I was speaking specifically about Silva. It’s ok, we will just see how he does going forward and not worry about what his “mean” is, if he did indeed regress to his mean.

  40. philosofool on April 9th, 2009 1:43 pm

    I think Silva is a case of someone where you have to look beyond FIP to understand his performance. Because he is an extreme pitch-to-contact guy, it becomes more important than usual to look into his batted ball data to understand his true talent level.

    tRA is a great stat for doing this; it uses linear weights of each outcome in a way that attempts to be as much about the batter/pitcher match up as possible: it looks at Ks, BB, and batted ball results (i.e. LD, GB, etc.) You can find this stat at StatCorner; here’s Silva. Another stat provided by StatCorner is tRA*, which is a lot like tRA except that it regresses each pitcher to the league mean. In so doing, it should factor out a lot of luck.

    tRA and tRA* do not paint a pretty picture of Carlos Silva. The former has Silva about 1 win below replacement in 2006, 2 wins above replacement in 2007 and replacement in 2008. tRA* is slightly more flattering, seeing him slightly better than 2008 or 2006 tTA but very slightly worse in 2007. According to tRA*, Silva lingers around 1 win above replacement. That means that Silva is a vastly overpaid but not entirely worthless pitcher.

  41. mshope on April 9th, 2009 2:09 pm

    I am going to ask this question again, but sanely:

    With our rotation set as it is, is Silva set to pitch this coming Tuesday afternoon for the home opener?

    If so, is it a bit of a worry considering all the debate above, and with yesterday’s results?

  42. Butwheredoesthemeatgo on April 14th, 2009 3:18 pm

    Per your Evaluating Pitcher Talent post you asked me to read to really evaluate Silva. Your two main stats or group of stats you ask us to look at to evaluate a pitcher and how they may perform are noted below. I did what you asked and looked at these statistics for Silva over the meat of his career and I still contend he has never been an above average pitcher and the numbers you reference at what has further proven this. So the point that if he regresses to the mean we will be ok with him is simply not true, he would have to pitch beyond projections based on these more useful stats for him to even be worth the #5 spot on a rotation, if he pitches exactly to his mean he is not worthy of a spot on a rotation anywhere. I understand that he is pitch to contact pitcher who relies on a good infield defense to get to the grounders he forces, the problem is those ground balls he is forcing are being smoked, they are being hit too hard to expect consistant success, the harder a ball is hit on the ground the lower the odds of it turning into an out as the less time an infielder has to move to get to the ball if it is not hit right at him. That is just common sense.
    “So, looking at this breakdown, we see value in BB%, K%, GB%, HR/FB%, and LOB%. Those five statistics will tell you almost everything you need to know about what goes into why a pitcher is performing like he is.”
    “However, it is understandable that people want one number that sums up pitcher performance. If you really prefer to not look through the prism of BB/K/GB/HR-FB/LOB percentages, you can always use FIP, or Fielding Indpendent Pitching (which I often call Fielding Independent ERA, since its scaled to look like ERA), which gives you an expected ERA for a pitcher based on his walk, strikeout, and home run rates.”

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