Four More Days

Dave · March 31, 2010 at 9:59 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

It’s probably that this spring training has been a never ending series of bad news for the Mariners, but I have never been this ready for a season to begin before. March took forever this year. It’s finally over, but we still have to wait through one more weekend without meaningful baseball.

With a couple of days left before the season starts, I realized I only have time left for one or two classic too-long-USSM-posts, and so I’ll open this up to you guys – have any last minute things you’d like to read? What hasn’t been written about enough that we really should talk about before the season starts? (If you say Mike Sweeney, I will burn your house down. But don’t worry, Sweeney will buy you a new one – he’s just that nice.)

I’ll go through the suggestions, then knock out the best idea and post it tonight. Expect some kind of season preview thing tomorrow or Monday, once I figure out what I want that to look like.

Oh, and I should mention that if you want to chat on Monday, I’m going to be hanging out over at FanGraphs with a whole bunch of neat people. Jonah Keri, Dan Szymborski, Tim Marchman, Dave Studemund, and others have agreed to swing by, and we’ll be talking baseball all day. I’ll be in and out in the morning, but should be around in the afternoon. Feel free to swing by and talk baseball with us over there.


44 Responses to “Four More Days”

  1. spankystout on March 31st, 2010 10:07 pm

    Anything new coming out to quantify defense or stabilize stats like UZR?…. Thank Buddha, (real) baseball is back!

  2. ck on March 31st, 2010 10:13 pm

    Are the Mariners now finished ( for opening day )with the 25 man roster ? Please estimate how many starts you think each Mariner pitcher who starts this year will get. Thank you.

  3. Breadbaker on March 31st, 2010 10:28 pm

    You guys have really covered pretty much everything. I suppose it might be interesting to discuss the actual batting order a bit, and how much we lose by, say, not batting Gutierrez clean-up instead of Griffey.

  4. mwinkel on March 31st, 2010 10:29 pm

    In the spirit of looking forward to mariners games counting, is there anyone else out there who is going to be attending the mariners season opener in oakland? I always get to the games early to tailgate and watch bp and I would love to have fellow intelligent mariner fans to join me in consumption and conversation.

  5. Kazinski on March 31st, 2010 10:35 pm

    The last major roster decision is whether Cliff Lee starts the season on the DL, and if he doesn’t, do the Mariners go with 12 pitchers + Lee, or just 11. If Lee starts the season on the active roster it is likely they won’t put Sweeney on the 40 man roster until Lee serves his suspension.

    I think they should start Lee on the 15-day DL, and then bring him off the DL to serve his suspension 5 days before they actually think he will be ready. That’s a little cute, not to mention risky, if it turns out he is not ready to go when projected.

  6. MrZDevotee on March 31st, 2010 10:41 pm

    Might be cool to update projections for the M’s (and if you’re feeling ambitious, the other AL West teams) now that we are fairly certain of the actual starting lineups/dh’s/pitching staff, whereas all the various winter projections were obviously much more speculative and general about what AL West opening day rosters would be. (ie- Not only are we without our #2 starter, and lose those WAR numbers, but what’s the co-effect of everyone else moving up and essentially starting a #6 pitcher at the #5 spot– unless we pick someone up over the next couple days.)

    Might shed light on just how much of a limp the M’s have heading into the season (versus, say, our ripe anticipations at the beginning of 2010).

  7. Liam on March 31st, 2010 10:49 pm

    With all the sites in the Mariners blogosphere and the local media, it’s hard to come up with something that hasn’t already been talked about.

    – Maybe talk about your experience as an East coast Mariner fan and blogger. (How often you watch live, the condensed version or simply read the game summary. As you’ve come to learn more about the game with regard to advanced statistics and having to write about it, has that changed how you feel? This was something Jeff and Matthew commented on in their podcast, where their brain is always thinking in-game and how it’s a very different experience when you don’t know nearly as much. Matthew contrasted this with hockey, to which he just recently got into.)

  8. Alex on March 31st, 2010 10:53 pm


    I would love to read an article of the top-10 things that need to go right for the Mariners to have a successful season, whatever you consider a successful to be for them at this point.

  9. frozenrope on March 31st, 2010 10:54 pm

    Here’s a good left-handed bargain bat that might come in handy for us: [use the link button]

  10. mfan on March 31st, 2010 10:55 pm

    If we’re talking seriously long posts here, I, for one, would love to see an in-depth state-of-the-organization post. I think I almost like dreaming on the future more than I like watching the current team. You touched on some of the reasons why you think the organization is set up well for the future in the Fangraphs post, but had to spend most of the time defending your position rather than expounding upon why you think the front office is so great. By front office, I don’t just mean Jack or Blengino or any one person or set of people. What I’m talking about is the overall set of philosophies, from a continued strong presence in the international realm to the new strength and conditioning program that has been implemented to the willingness to take what the market gives them and so on. Having a great front office is like having a great prospect in that it allows one to dream on the future, only it’s better. I’m sure I probably know about all of the things you’d say in this post, but you have a way of organizing your thoughts in a way that helps my scattered thoughts coalesce. That’s what I want.

  11. Kid_A on March 31st, 2010 11:04 pm

    This might be too ridiculous to post before a single inning has been played, but maybe look ahead at some scenarios the M’s may find themselves in come June/July.

    1) What if the M’s are in first place, or just a couple games out. Do they trade some of their best prospects for a guy like Adrian Gonzalez, or stand pat, knowing that they’re still building.

    2) What if they’re 10 games out of first, kinda like a season ago. Not out of it by any means, but certainly with a mountain to climb. Do they make the big acquisition to try and make a comeback, knowing that this Cliff Lee thing could very well last only a season? Do they cut their losses or do they simply make the smaller types of deals they did a season ago (Jack Wilson, Bill Hall, etc.)

    3) Heaven forbid, but the team just struggles this year and finds themselves in the cellar. Clean house? Trade Lee and others? Or still attempt to re-sign the guy and keep him around (doesn’t have to be all about Lee, but he certainly is the most interesting case).

    Anyway, this is insanely hypothetical, but some food for thought.

  12. Jeff Nye on March 31st, 2010 11:18 pm

    Adrian Gonzalez isn’t coming here unless the asking price comes waaaaaay down.

  13. Kid_A on March 31st, 2010 11:22 pm

    I said “like” Adrian Gonzalez cause no other players came to mind. I just mean a big-time, expensive player in general.

  14. TrojanMariner1 on March 31st, 2010 11:26 pm

    How about a schedule for expected roster moves going forward (Lee/Hannahan/Bedard/Langerhans getting healthy and joining the club, development/rehab of players like Ackley, Cordero, and Pineda who we might see this season) and how they might affect the race at that point. There’s alot of speculation there, but seeing it all bundled into one story would be an interesting read. If you’re REALLY anxious you could do a similar piece for the A’s getting their pitchers to old top form, the Rangers getting Kinsler back and developing Feliz, and whatever you can dig up on the Angels. Or, on the flip side, top X injury risks and who will get the temp job.

  15. IwearMsHats on March 31st, 2010 11:52 pm

    You tweeted earlier in the day about a Becket extension being “cheap” and how that makes the chances of the M’s resigning Lee after this season “better”. Is there a topic to be made on this? What are the chances of signing Lee, what would have to happen and what would the contract look like?

  16. Jeff Nye on March 31st, 2010 11:52 pm

    I said “like” Adrian Gonzalez cause no other players came to mind. I just mean a big-time, expensive player in general.

    This organization has shown they’ll make aggressive moves for big names, IF the price is right.

    There’s just no real way to guess at what the trade market is likely to be before the season even starts. But if the team is in contention and they see a piece out there that can help them in the stretch run, absolutely.

  17. SpokaneMsFan on March 31st, 2010 11:55 pm

    I’m very curious about the role the backups could play in the season. Do you have any kind of data on the number of non-starter plate appearances and innings fielded a team usually plays per year, and the normal drop off as far as wOBA and UZR are concerned when compared to the starters? Also any speculation you may have with the current roster as to whether it may exceed the average or not based on injury history. Thank you.

  18. guschiggins on April 1st, 2010 12:00 am

    How about a 12 pitchers vs 11 pitchers post… From what I’ve read, it seems like Langerhans+Byrnes+Johnson+Tui+Sweeney is the bench… Luke French optioned to AAA today means one less guy going for that 5th spot… any thoughts there?

  19. andystacy on April 1st, 2010 12:06 am

    I’d love to hear about how Kanekoa Texeira may fit into the lineup, and the pros/cons to the Mariners having an 11- or 12-man bullpen. I’ve heard lots of reasoning and logic for a shorter bullpen in general, but I’d like to hear what that means for the Mariner’s in the current context, esp. with the team now carrying Sweeney.

  20. Kid_A on April 1st, 2010 12:07 am

    This organization has shown they’ll make aggressive moves for big names, IF the price is right.

    There’s just no real way to guess at what the trade market is likely to be before the season even starts. But if the team is in contention and they see a piece out there that can help them in the stretch run, absolutely.

    No, you’re absolutely right. My post/idea was extremely hypothetical. I just find myself always looking ahead – probably way more often than I should. But it’ll certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  21. SonOfZavaras on April 1st, 2010 12:16 am

    I myself would love an article on Michael “The Condor” Saunders, and what he could possibly become as a major-leaguer.

    He’s always struck me as a bit of an “Oh, yeah, yeah…him” guy in prospect circles, the ones that never get the lion’s share of in-depth commentary.

    And I think he’s one of the more intriguing skill-sets in the system. I say this because when I see him play, I always get the feeling that there’s more there than what I’m seeing him do. His style is almost the anti-Eric Byrnes- when he does something well, he makes it seem easier than what it is. And I’ve heard him get ripped for this quality; that he’s not a ‘max-effort’ guy.

    I’d also welcome a post on what few remaining quality arms there are in the system: Nick Hill, Maikel Cleto, Michael Pineda, Josh Fields and Mauricio Robles (and any others I might’ve missed) and their probable futures. Maybe as a kind of counterpoint to all the depth- Lorin, Pribanic, Adcock, Ramirez,Aumont, et al- we did surrender in trade.

    None of the above which I think we’ll cry over, ultimately…I still lament the loss of Chris Tillman more than any other young pitcher over the last 2-3 years.

    Maybe I’m just asking for a sneak peek at the Future Forty, or something!

    I do have one last idea, but readily admit it may not be viable- if there’s any news on all the IFA signees we’ve made in the last couple years, and maybe any assessments that aren’t laughable because of “lack of track record”. I’m talking guys like Juan Diaz, Seon-Gi Kim (Korean-born RHP), Ji-Man Choi (Korean catcher), Diego Mina (Colombian shortstop), Alexy Parma (Venezuelan OF with supposedly upper-end power) and Guillermo Pimentel (Dominican lefty-hitting outfielder).

    In particular, my crystal ball has zeroed in on (Dominican? Or Puerto Rican?) centerfielder Julio Morban. I’d love to know more about his ceiling.

  22. wanderinginsodo on April 1st, 2010 12:39 am

    Yeah, it’s hard to come up with material that hasn’t been talked about yet.

    For me, this off season has been so fun because of the front office’s ability to surprise. As a casual fan before this year, I never thought about what the front office did throughout the year, but when March rolled around, I really missed the hot stoves, the rumors or even just the press releases. Naturally, the focus has shifted from Jack to Wak and the players in the last month. That is the way it should be, and the Jack wants it.

    Still, maybe I need a transitional piece about Jack and the FO now that the season is starting and where their focus will be.

    Also, I would like to get a better idea of other areas within baseball operations that the front office could extend the momentum they have created. Are other undervalued areas within baseball operations to explore? Where might the surprises come during the year? Predictions? Lastly, now that Jack is a superstar within the baseball world, is it going to hinder some of his biggest strengths?

    Maybe some or all of these ideas/questions have already been talked about, are too random or we don’t have enough information for a long post, but just throwing it out there.

  23. Ballspiker on April 1st, 2010 4:31 am

    Ken Griffey, Jr., given the same walk rate and slugging % as last year, needs to only hit .250 to actually help this team rather than hurt it. Any chance of this happening? Agree or disagree?

  24. edclayton on April 1st, 2010 4:59 am

    Is there a projection for the next update to the Future Forty? That’s always a highlight for me, because there are always new names in there that I don’t know much about. Always fun to see right after spring training, because some of those names are still fresh in my mind.

  25. Pine Tar on April 1st, 2010 5:18 am

    I’d like see something on the next undervalued asset, after defense, that the front office is likely to exploit. It seem they are already doing innovative things to maximize the value of their current assets. Things like new injury treatments (Lee), sports psychology (Hecht), and conditioning (Elliott). With that in mind there is this:

    “Defense might be the new OBP,” says Blengino, “but at some point it’s going to be something else that will be underappreciated. It may be something that has nothing to do with the statistical perspective. A team that figures out how to get 250 innings out of a starter, for example, is going to have a huge advantage. Who knows what the next inefficiency in the marketplace is going to be.”

    Who knows? I bet they have some ideas. Are there innovative things that other teams are doing that the M’s should do? What are the M’s doing that hasn’t been written about? Zduriencik’s been on the job for a year and a half now. What can we infer the from the off-season moves and from the expected 25 man opening day roster about the Front Office philosophy?

  26. Mekias on April 1st, 2010 5:27 am

    There may have been bad news during Spring but there was good news too.

    Adam Moore earned the Wak “seal of approval” for his catching prowess. Considering Wak’s high standards, this might make Moore an immediate top 10 all-around catcher in the majors. Can’t wait to see what Moore can do and I expect him to end up playing 60% of the time this year and finish with a .265 average and 11 homers.

  27. dingbatman on April 1st, 2010 6:26 am

    Ackley, Lopez, Figgins and….Rita Hayworth

    OK not Rita Hayworth but I’d like to see a piece discussing the options and implications surrounding 2nd base.

    I get that the whole Figgy/Lopey switcharoo could makes some sense from a defensive standpoint. But where does that leave Ackley? I thought that conventional wisdom had him moving up to the bigs this year sometime. Where do you put him? Playing musical chairs with Figgins seems unlikely and risky. I know that the market was heavy with second basemen and that diluted trade Lopez value. Is that also the case with third basemen? If Lopez puts up exactly the same offensive and defensive numbers at 3rd this year does his market value increase? Even if Ackley doesn’t make the bigs until next year you’ve still got him blocked by 4 years of Figgins. Is Ackley a trade chit (or is is trade chip? I can never remember)?

    You get the point. Seems like the M’s took the prospect most likely to have an impact at the big league level, switched his position and then immediately blocked him. What gives?

  28. topler on April 1st, 2010 6:31 am

    I would like to see an analysis of the effect of having Chone Figgins lead-off with Ichrio at the 2 hole. This is in reference to SI’s AL West preview where the author posed the question. With Figgins walking so much wouldn’t the team benefit from Ichiro the hit machine knocking him around the bases? Plus the pressure Figgins poses on the base paths may distract the pitcher when he faces Ichrio.

  29. MsFanInAustin on April 1st, 2010 6:43 am

    The starting rotation. Now that Cliff Lee is a big fat question mark for the time being who is going to pitch in the second game of the season? What order do you think the team will go with in April?

    I also haven’t heard much about Eric Byrnes and how he’s done this spring. Will his upside show up this season or will he be roster dead weight?

  30. Jay Yencich on April 1st, 2010 7:26 am

    Maybe I’m just asking for a sneak peek at the Future Forty, or something!

    I’m working on it, boss. We opted for a whole new system, which I like in concept but am still in the process of tweaking. The good news is that once it is in place and we get the details sussed out, I’ll be able to update it more frequently than once a year. Like, twice, or three times let’s say.

    Some of these other things might come up in the team previews which I’m hoping to have time for when minor league season opens up a week from today.

  31. dlb on April 1st, 2010 7:33 am

    I’d like to see an analysis on how the distribution of runs scored per game and runs allowed per game affect the overall winning percentage of teams. Lots of analysis around averages is out there, but I would like to see something that looks at teams who may not score 7 runs in one game and then zero the next because of their all-or-nothing approach, but instead consistently puts up 3-4 runs. It seems as if there should be an advantage to those teams who aim for consistency on a game-by-game basis.

  32. mattlock on April 1st, 2010 7:41 am

    Perhaps an updated version of this article. It’s been long enough since then, combined with so much flip-flopping of players between injuries, reassignments, etc., that it would be nice to get a clear picture of what we’re looking at as we get ready for Opening Day.

    Also, I’ve lost track of where the M’s are at as far as their budget is concerned. I tried to get it figured out from Cot’s, but my head started spinning with trying to decipher who is paying what to which team after the Bradley/Silva and Hall/Kotchman trades.

    Thanks, Dave, for all your efforts with USSM and FG. It is certainly much appreciated…

  33. olystuart on April 1st, 2010 8:12 am

    I would like to see a post, perhaps in bullet point format, on what to watch for in players’ performances that isn’t super obvious. Things like, will pitchers adjust to a particular hitters’ approach by throwing him more pitches in a certain spot than last year? Is a batters’ (GB/FB, K%, whatever) going to regress like we think or can they sustain last year’s (gain/loss)? Will a pitcher (stop/start) using a certain pitch in certain situations? Just … some little thing to look for in each at bat. Would like to see this for every player on the roster.

  34. Mere Tantalisers on April 1st, 2010 8:15 am

    We’ve all followed the M’s March woes very closely, and there’s not much more to be said about Sweeney, Lee, Aardsma, Hannahan, the bench and so on and so forth.

    However, the M’s are not the only team starting the season with some question marks on their roster, and I’d love to hear what you have to say about the rest of the division and how March may have changed their outlook on the season.

    Feliz is to open the season in the pen, while Wilson is set to start for Texas, for example – this is new. Harden seemed like he’s not throwing as hard as he used to.. have you changed your projection of Texas? How has Ben Sheets looked in his starts for Oakland? And so forth.

  35. dlukas on April 1st, 2010 8:19 am

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, can someone PLEASE make me understand how Rob Johnson is taking up a major league roster spot?!?

  36. sstadnicki on April 1st, 2010 9:15 am

    As part of the season preview, how about a handful of games you’re particularly looking forward to, or that you’d especially encourage people to get out to the ballpark for, or whatever? Everything from ‘Here’s your chance to tell your kids you saw Albert Pujols’ to ‘This is a ‘night’ game that might legitimately finish before the sun sets’ to ‘Here are the games that will likely decide the Mariners’ posture at the trading deadline’; obviously it’s way too early in the season for much of this, but are there any games that you’d especially call out?

  37. floydr on April 1st, 2010 9:40 am

    The new lineup is more focussed on wOBA; have there been significant changes to advanced scouting, video, etc. that may help the players hit/walk more, when to steal? It seems that Wak likes to fiddle the lineup; how does that fit in with scouting?

  38. Kazinski on April 1st, 2010 10:09 am

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, can someone PLEASE make me understand how Rob Johnson is taking up a major league roster spot?!?

    I for one am going to start my book over on Rob Johnson. He had double hip surgery over the off season. If he was playing catcher on two bad hips, then what we saw last year is likely to be a lesser version of what we see this year. And if Adam Moore is a superior catcher both offensively and defensively, as we all hope, then having Johnson as the backup will be just fine.

  39. joser on April 1st, 2010 10:13 am

    I rather missed DMZ’s “running the season a thousand times” post this year, but that’s him and not you. (It’s not so much the post itself — other sites do the same monte carlo simulation thing — but DMZ’s commentary and the resulting discussion that is so entertaining. Plus it gives us something to look back on next offseason when there are always yahoos popping up claiming that however the season turned out was “obvious” from the start, though of course said yahoos were nowhere to be found at the time).

    I guess at this point I’d be interested in what you will be watching for in the first 3-4 weeks. Are you resigned to some of the lineup issues, or are you going to be keeping an eye on (say) how often Bradley DH’s and Byrnes plays the field, or how often Griffey is penciled in as the DH vs strictly pinch hitting? Are there bullpen developments you are watching — how secure is Aardsma’s role if he struggles early, is the 5th starter going to be a swingman from the bullpen or a true part of the rotation, etc? Or are you sick of all that at this point, and there’s something else that you’re going to be keeping tabs on?

    we still have to wait through one more weekend without meaningful baseball.

    I was going to point out that there is actually a game Sunday night and then noticed who the teams were so, yes, we still have a weekend without meaningful baseball.

    In the spirit of looking forward to mariners games counting, is there anyone else out there who is going to be attending the mariners season opener in oakland?

    I think there was a group getting together over at LL, if you look in the “Fanposts” section. Or you could just wear every piece of M’s logo’d clothing you can find and go down to the stadium in Oakland a few hours early and wander around. You’re bound to meet similarly-attired M’s fans in the ER.

  40. Toddk on April 1st, 2010 10:18 am

    Mike Sweeney. (Just because I could use a new house)

  41. joser on April 1st, 2010 10:34 am

    For the folks asking about lineups, you might enjoy fooling around with the lineup tool over at baseball musings, plugging in either last year’s numbers or some of the projected numbers. The real conclusion I always draw from that exercise is that, just like everyone says, the order of the lineup really doesn’t matter that much.

    I’d like to see an analysis on how the distribution of runs scored per game and runs allowed per game affect the overall winning percentage of teams.

    That’s a really interesting article idea but I don’t think it’s something Dave is going to be able to research and “then knock out the best idea and post it tonight.”

    Heaven forbid, but the team just struggles this year and finds themselves in the cellar. Clean house? Trade Lee and others?

    I’m sure Z will listen to offers, and if the M’s are way out in the weeds by July and Omar Minaya or Kenny Williams proffers an embarrassment of prospects he’d probably go for it. But outside that unlikely situation, I think Lee stays in an M’s uniform through the end of the season no matter what. In the worst case, he’s a Type A free agent and the M’s get the draft picks.

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, can someone PLEASE make me understand how Rob Johnson is taking up a major league roster spot?!?

    Dave offered to write an article, not perform hypnosis.

  42. spankystout on April 1st, 2010 12:38 pm

    We as M’s fans tolerated Dan Wilson’s mediocre bat because he excelled at defense, and handling the pitchers. Give Johnson some more time with healthy hips, wrist and eyesight. I am amazed he performed as well as he did with all those injuries. A-rod had one hip and opted for surgery! Johnson no hips one wrist and one eye. He is one tough cookie.

  43. behappy on April 1st, 2010 4:27 pm

    I have heard some rumors about Jack getting another SP, any truth to that?

  44. vitalogist on April 2nd, 2010 12:20 am

    I can’t wait either. Heading to the opener, to watch the M’s in Oakland, from 20 rows behind the dugout, in my King Felix jersey (yes, I’m getting some serious beer thrown at me, I know…), it is going to be a great day.

    My question is – do you really think the Washburn signing will happen?

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