Game One Recap

Dave · April 5, 2010 at 9:57 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Yay, 1-0!

I’d like to start off on a cheerful note, but unfortunately, there is one glaringly obvious thing to talk about, and it’s not positive; the seventh inning choice of relief pitchers.

Sean White had a nice ERA last year. Wak has a belief system with him. I get it. He’s still not a good pitcher, and the M’s need to be smart enough to realize that. His xFIP, a much better indicator of actual ability, was 4.80, two full runs higher. His ERA was a massive fluke, based on an unsustainable .235 batting average on balls in play. He struck out 28 batters in 64 innings, which is terrible, and he doesn’t make up for it with good command. He’s got a decent sinker, but nothing else, and that doesn’t even work all that well against LHBs.

But, despite having a fully rested bullpen, Wak went to Sean White to get a lefty out with the tying run on base in the 7th inning. With Brandon League and Mark Lowe just sitting there, Wak bypassed them both to put in the 5th or 6th best reliever on the team (depending on how much you like Kanekoa Teixeira). White doesn’t do anything better than League, and the only advantage he has over Lowe (ground balls) doesn’t matter when there’s two outs. White, predictably, gives up a couple of hits and the game ended up tied.

Wak doesn’t have long to get over his Sean White fetish. Sean White is not a good pitcher, and his manager has to learn this in a hurry. He should not be used in close games unless he’s the only available option. When he’s the first guy out of the pen on opening day in a close game, that’s a problem. Learn from this, Wak.

Moving on, Felix had an interesting night. It was one of those classic good stuff/no command nights for him, made worse by the fact that Tim Tschida’s strikezone was stupid and inconsistent. But, because of the movement Felix was getting on his fastball, the command problems were minimized by a ridiculous amount of ground balls. It’s really hard to score if you can’t get the ball out of the infield, and for most of the night, the A’s couldn’t. Felix is good enough to succeed even when he has no idea where the ball is going. It wasn’t his best performance, but it showed how tough he can be, even when he’s not entirely on.

Offensively, the approach to the at-bats taken by Figgins, Kotchman, and Bradley were fun to watch. Those guys took advantage of the dancing strike zone and Sheets’ control problems, running up his pitch count and getting themselves on base. They might not be sluggers, but there are going to be a lot of innings where those three take 20 pitches between them, and that has value.

Watching Figgins and Ichiro steal second at will was fun. Watching Ichiro get thrown out at third and Bradley get picked off was less so. Aggressiveness is nice, but if you have to give up two outs in your pursuit of three bases, its not worth it.

Lopez looked pretty good at third. I still don’t love the switch, but it was good to see him make all the plays and start a couple of double plays.

Rob Johnson crushed a Ben Sheets fastball on the same night that Jeff Mathis went yard for the Angels. It was bad hitting catchers home run night in the AL West, apparently. You’ll hear about Johnson’s off-season surgeries every time he does something good, and he’ll almost certainly hit better than he did a year ago simply because its hard to be that bad two years in a row, but don’t expect many repeats of that power display.

You saw one of the benefits of the 11 man staff in the 8th inning. When Jr doubled, Byrnes pinch ran for him, giving the team a better chance of getting the go ahead run in on a base hit. That’s not possible if you don’t have Langerhans around to serve as the extra outfielder. It’s a small thing, but it helps, and keep in mind that it’s only possible because the M’s were willing to go with just six relievers. Every time someone mentions how nervous they are about that, remember that it comes with benefits too.

Congratulations to Casey Kotchman for some big hits and to the Mariners for starting the season off on a winning note. They’ll have to play better than this to win on most nights, but a win is a win, and I’ll take it.

Comments

119 Responses to “Game One Recap”

  1. wtnuke on April 5th, 2010 10:05 pm

    That was the worst strike zone I’ve ever seen. Just because you’re consistent, doesn’t mean you’re not terrible.

  2. lupos on April 5th, 2010 10:05 pm

    at this rate Kotchman will have over 600 rbi this year. Go Ms!

  3. Sports on a Schtick on April 5th, 2010 10:07 pm

    Maybe Wak is saving Lowe for the train wreck of a rotation that follows Felix *shrugs*

    Whatever, it’s one game. That being said I’m about 87% more confident going forward with Kotchman than I was yesterday.

  4. henryv on April 5th, 2010 10:08 pm

    Kotchman’s post game interview was about the most awful thing ever.

    It’s pretty obvious he’s been in a big city playing baseball, `cause he is a MASTER of the baseball cliche.

    “Yah know.”

  5. Typical Idiot Fan on April 5th, 2010 10:11 pm

    You show me a baseball player that isn’t good at the “Crash Davis Cliches” and I’ll show you Milton Bradley, hated baseball personality*.

    *Or Erik Bedard, hated baseball personality.

  6. MarinerManic on April 5th, 2010 10:12 pm

    1 win down… 89 more wins to go. Sean White scares me. Thanks for the quick recap Dave

  7. Carson on April 5th, 2010 10:13 pm

    I literally wanted to punch my TV at that strike zone. I probably shouldn’t drive myself more mad when the graphs are available, but I’m sure I will.

    Kotchman’s post game interview was about the most awful thing ever.

    You haven’t heard many Bedard interviews, have you?

  8. Jordan on April 5th, 2010 10:13 pm

    A win is a win and I can definitely get used to the Ichi, Figgy special at the top. The strike zone was garbage and I cringed when Wak didn’t let Felix get the final out. Glad Kotch picked us up, but we shouldn’t have to try so hard with our ace on the mound; hopefully, not a sign of things to come.

  9. DHawk on April 5th, 2010 10:16 pm

    Yeah, that strike zone was insane. Kotchman looked good tonight, but can he keep it up? And yes, his interview was horrid. But, oh well. We win! Yaaay!

  10. ima-zeliever on April 5th, 2010 10:17 pm

    Wak cost Felix a win by putting in White.

  11. Liam on April 5th, 2010 10:18 pm

    Casey Kotchman’s post game with Brad Adam was hilariously bad; he kept trying to get more out of him than one sentence.

    That’s fine with me though. The post game interview is like some bizarre ritual that’s completely unnecessary.

  12. spankystout on April 5th, 2010 10:19 pm

    Oh my god OBP is now actually a legitimate tool with the M’s! I love our GM so much I would wash his feet. In Jack I trust.

  13. griffin on April 5th, 2010 10:19 pm

    Anyone want to recap what Kotchman said? I don’t have cable so I was streaming the game online, and it didn’t show any after stuff.

    Bradley breaking his bat after his last strikeout- awesome/scary. Though he should definitely watch himself, I do like the fire/heart he has out there, though I do suppose he needs to control his feelings and actions out there.

  14. nepacific on April 5th, 2010 10:21 pm

    Grasping at straws, maybe, but I think it’s reasonable to use a lesser reliever in a game with a top starter, so your better relievers (in a perfect world) are more available in games with lesser starters. Didn’t work out, but at least Wak found out something without actually losing — although losing his ace a win.

  15. Briggstar on April 5th, 2010 10:24 pm

    I was only able to catch the top of the first and the bottom of the ninth tonight. Naturally I jumped over here to get the scoop on everything in-between.

    Great win for the M’s and a great day for baseball fans everywhere (unless Pujols is playing against you in fantasy).

  16. ima-zeliever on April 5th, 2010 10:27 pm

    nepacific,

    that seems like wearing tennis shoes with a suit.

  17. IwearMsHats on April 5th, 2010 10:35 pm

    Casey Kotchman’s post game with Brad Adam was hilariously bad; he kept trying to get more out of him than one sentence.

    That’s fine with me though. The post game interview is like some bizarre ritual that’s completely unnecessary.

    I agree, and I loved it. I laughed pretty hard. This guy has learned nothing but baseball.

  18. spankystout on April 5th, 2010 10:35 pm

    I concur in the Sean White usage. I think he should be the fourth or fifth string (if I may) arm outta the pen’ In a tight game a guy who isn’t going to miss many bats with one average pitch isn’t the wisest choice. Live and learn. At least he kept the team in the game but my cuticles are a little raw. Oh yeah that ump was horrific. I personally loved the back to back three ball walks in the sixth (according to the pitch tracker). He did give a few back to the M’s but it was far from “consistent”

  19. Wilder83 on April 5th, 2010 10:37 pm

    I cringed when Wak didn’t let Felix get the final out.

    Actually, Wak did allow Felix to get the final out. Felix ended up walking the guy and it was obvious with the high pitch count and bad command that he had to be replaced.

  20. SonOfZavaras on April 5th, 2010 10:39 pm

    As far as I’m concerned, if the A’s had won that game, you’d have to credit Tim Tschida with a “hold”.

    As in holding Felix down and costing him a win with a freaking ridiculous floating strike zone.

    And someone should tell Casey Kotchman it’s okay to go out on a limb a little and not answer in baseball cliches. You can answer questions directly, nothing Brad Adam asked was loaded with trouble.

    Thank goodness I just checked out to be in tip-top coronary health- I have a feeling I’ll need to be to watch 100+ ballgames of the Mariners this year.

    1-0 is mighty fine, any time.

  21. allenwu on April 5th, 2010 10:42 pm

    Mariners Nation unite! xD

    Just kidding. There was good baserunning and bad baserunning in this game, but I think the bad baserunning could be excused for the sake of pressuring opposing defense. The pressuring definitely paid off when Figgins stole from first-third twice today.

    And Kotchman… I kind of get what the “not a traditional power hitter” was about. He has power, but it’s gap power, not homerun power. He has the ability to hit hard liners (two of them today, though one of them was called out).

    Gonna be exciting to watch this year. Go M’s ^_^

  22. spankystout on April 5th, 2010 10:42 pm

    I feel sorry for Kanekoa Tex. Having to wear the obligatory and equally emasculating barbie backpack (the 808 will be all over that)

  23. Liam on April 5th, 2010 10:47 pm

    I don’t really get the rookie hazing, but as a guy jumping to the big leagues from AA I’m sure that he’ll find a way to manage.

  24. dlukas on April 5th, 2010 10:58 pm

    Seriously, how is that guy a professional umpire? That was SO frustrating. For the A’s too I’m sure.

    I would not hesitate to send Ichiro again in that situation. He got a bad jump, which he does, what, .001% of his base-stealing attempts. Between decently patient hitters and havoc-wreaking baserunners, we are a potential nightmare for any opposing pitcher who is anything less than 100% mentally on.

  25. PackBob on April 5th, 2010 11:04 pm

    A decent umpire who can either see or remember where the strikezone is at and Sean White never even gets in the game.

  26. msb on April 5th, 2010 11:06 pm

    Per Drayer, per Wak, White was in as he hadn’t pitched in several days, and League was in in the 8th, to give him a quick baptism.

  27. Breadbaker on April 5th, 2010 11:15 pm

    Felix’s pitch count was 101 on a cool April night. It was obvious he had to come out when he did.

    That said, White’s batting average against is a cool 1.000. I would like to never see him come in mid-inning with the tying run on base again. Like: ever.

    The A’s do not look like a good team right now. Cliff Pennington getting thrown out for the third out when he had no way of knowing the tying run would count was just bad baseball. Kurt Suzuki’s sailboat into center field was the kind of thing we expect from Mariner catchers. Weird strike zone or not, Sheets was not impressive.

    I saw some signs that the Lopez-Figgins thing may make sense. Not only did Lopez look comfortable on a couple of non-routine plays at third, but my eye on groundballs, accustomed to Lopez’s range after all these years, was very impressed by Figgins’ agility and range afield.

    Finally, it’s so good to see guys in the middle of our lineup controlling the count. Opposing starters shouldn’t be able to depend on seven pitch innings. If this is Zduriencik-Wakamatsu baseball, I say bring it on.

  28. spankystout on April 5th, 2010 11:16 pm

    League was good to get out that jam. His baptism easily could’ve been a drowning. (I can’t sleep hence the multiple posts) go 808boys!

  29. marc w on April 5th, 2010 11:22 pm

    Sean White. A pitcher should really be more interesting to generate this much commentary, but…

    There’s a massive, yawning chasm between White’s ERA, and how Wakamatsu views him, and his xFIP (and how our fearless leader views him).
    He’s nowhere near as good as Wak thinks he is, but I still think he wasn’t as bad as Dave thinks he was in 2009. It’s tough to be good when you can’t generate swinging strikes on a pitch you throw 75% of the time, and if you’re not getting a lot of GB outs, then that problem is magnified. But if you’re keeping the ball down somewhat and not allowing HRs, then you’re not god awful.
    xFIP and FIP offer very different solutions to the same problem: we don’t know how to assign ‘control’ to a pitcher’s HR/FB rate. It’s certainly not 100% (as FIP implicitly assumes it is), but it’s also not 0% (as xFIP assumes). By tRA, White was a tiny bit above league average, and that makes sense to me – White was very, very close to average in 2009. That’s not amazing, but it’s also nothing to sneeze at.

    The problem is, he threw 93+ on average last year, and today was in 91-92+ range. I’d make more of this if Brandon League’s velo wasn’t also low, but given White’s injury, it’s something to keep an eye on.

    White’s usage wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t crazy either. He got hammered in two ABs, but it was two ABs. He’s someone to watch; if his velo and movement aren’t great, then (as a guy without a functional breaking ball) he’s going to be trouble. But he wasn’t as bad as xFIP said in 2009, and he may not be as bad as he looked tonight.

  30. Dave on April 5th, 2010 11:25 pm

    No, it was crazy. It would be like choosing to pinch hit with Adam Moore instead of Milton Bradley.

    Sean White is a Triple-A reliever, a replacement level guy, and nothing more.

  31. spankystout on April 5th, 2010 11:32 pm

    Could White be our beater arm out of the pen? (multiple low leverage innings?)

  32. RickMirerManiac on April 5th, 2010 11:43 pm

    For the record, about the umpire problems…… I am stuck down here in the bay area for the first time, and even their announcers were questioning how Felix was getting squeezed. That being said, there was one call when DA was wrapping things up that was totally bizarre. I think it was the first batter he faced. That was the wildest, most inconsistent strike zone, for both teams, that I have seen in some time.

    1-0. Wooo!

    Rob Johnson is on pace to crush the previous single season home run record by 89 round trippers. Could be worse! :)

  33. lightbat on April 5th, 2010 11:47 pm

    I was absolutely beside myself with glee to see the new stats FSN was putting up. For example, I loved that BABIP made an appearance alongside breaking ball percentage, and hope that all of those are a season long thing.

    Does anyone have any insight as to whether that will continue?

  34. Miles on April 5th, 2010 11:50 pm

    Wak doesn’t have long to get over his Sean White fetish. Sean White is not a good pitcher, and his manager has to learn this in a hurry. He should not be used in close games unless he’s the only available option. When he’s the first guy out of the pen on opening day in a close game, that’s a problem. Learn from this, Wak

    Dave, get over yourself. Maybe you just don’t know what you’re talking about. Wak would mop the floor with you in a minute.

  35. behappy on April 5th, 2010 11:53 pm

    Another move that Wak made that made me scratch my head was, why didn’t he put Byrnes in LF for the last two innings after he pinched ran for Griffey?

  36. Carson on April 5th, 2010 11:58 pm

    18 pitches clearly in the zone that were called balls, according to p/fx. A few more that are touching the zone but I can live with.

    Look at League’s graphs for some hilarity. Two pitches called balls that should get Tim canned immediately. K, I’m done. I promise.

  37. spankystout on April 5th, 2010 11:59 pm

    haha…… it doesn’t take a “professional” to see that Sean White is an average pitcher. But dave has said it before that average is still valuable. He is concerned with the timing of using an average player in a high leverage situation. Lowe and League should have been the first choices. Not a pitch to contact guy with two runners on in a close game. That is the easiest way to an uppercase L.

  38. allenwu on April 6th, 2010 12:01 am

    behappy, putting Byrnes in LF would have forfeited the DH spot.

  39. hark on April 6th, 2010 12:03 am

    Miles–
    In terms of player management, Wak is almost undoubtedly better than Dave. In terms of situational analysis, you’ll probably never find someone better than Dave. White sucks. This isn’t opinion. It is backed up by empirical analysis; we have evidence. You are not entitled to your own facts.

    behappy–
    Because then you lose your DH spot and Brandon League would have been hitting for Milton Bradley (who would have been pulled from LF). In a tie game, giving up a spot dedicated to run production for a pitcher is just plain stupid.

  40. Axtell on April 6th, 2010 12:18 am

    Dave, get over yourself. Maybe you just don’t know what you’re talking about. Wak would mop the floor with you in a minute.

    Not sure where this comment came from, but it surely wasn’t deserved. White shouldn’t have been in the game, period, and as Dave noted, Wak had several better options available to him. Bullpen health wasn’t a concern (first game and all), so to go to White tonight and cost Felix a win is going to justifiably bring some criticism.

    Maybe instead of criticizing you can do some analysis which states why you think White should have been in the game, instead of breaking out the internet tough guy routine?

  41. spankystout on April 6th, 2010 12:19 am

    Any anti-Griffey talk will be met with .220 BABIP in 2009. He obviously can help a team but he’s looking like a Sr. not Jr……bravo Axtell

  42. JTP224 on April 6th, 2010 12:38 am

    I want to start this off by saying I TOTALLY agree with the umpire’s strike zone being terrible; but isn’t that one of the great things about this sport? By at least the forth inning every batter and every pitcher knew that the strike zone was high and he wasn’t calling anything at the knees. A few of the calls on Chone were ridiculous. Call me crazy but I think that’s what great about baseball, you have to make an adjustment each and every game. It may not be fair, but it’s the game all of us love.

  43. payday0023 on April 6th, 2010 12:39 am

    3 things:
    1) Sean White’s stuff is flat and predictable. His control was shakey and when he threw a strike it was a ball that seemed like A’s hitters could get a good swing on. It sucks that he blew the W for Felix, but that’s how it goes. To sorta echo what Dave said, Felix’s stuff was killer tonight, but he was wild; bouncing some fastballs in the dirt, and too loose with slider.
    2) Home plate umps K zone was stupid. It was a sideways rectangle. He called nothing in the lower third and WAAAAY too many balls up in the zone and off the plate. Sucks because it took away some Ks from Felix and punched out a couple of M’s in the process.
    3) Can’t remember the third thing….. M’s Win!! WOOOO!!

  44. 95Ms on April 6th, 2010 12:50 am

    Are the As going to move? Only 30K on opening night, yikes. That stadium looks bad. Maybe they could move to Portland? If they did that I could just hate them more than I already do. It would make sense though financially maybe. I don’t know.

  45. joser on April 6th, 2010 1:15 am

    The best thing about that game was Figgins scoring a run without anybody getting a hit. Walks to first, steals second, advances to third on the throwing error, scores on a sacrifice fly. That’s a Rickey Henderson special, and it’s awesome seeing a Mariner do it. Not only is that scoring without “Mo powah!” it’s just exciting, entertaining baseball. This is going to be a fun team to watch.

    Now, 161 more please. The perfect season is still within reach!

  46. Axtell on April 6th, 2010 1:23 am

    JTP224, I’m going to call you crazy for saying an inconsistent strike zone is a ‘great thing’ about baseball. In my perfect world, we get rid of as many human errors as possible: we let machines call balls and strikes (the technology for it already exists, let the home plate umpire makes safe/out calls at the plate).

    95Ms: there’s been a number of ballot initiatives over the years to get the A’s to move around the bay area, but they’ve all failed. Their home park has been wrecked by Al Davis. The apathy towards the team’s park is pretty sad, given the rich history of the team, especially when you have teams like Pittsburgh getting a new park (despite being abysmal for decades) and even KC having spent $250 million to refurbish their ballpark.

  47. joser on April 6th, 2010 1:26 am

    Are the As going to move? Only 30K on opening night, yikes

    Yeah, the plan is to move them to San Jose (now that Fremont is out of the picture). It’s just a question of negotiating with the Giants, since that’s nominally their territory. But if MLB could buy off Angelos to let the Expos move in, they can find a way to make this work too. It’s simply a matter of what it will take to make Neukom & Co willing to tolerate the new reality.

    Fortunately that’s at least 3 years away, so the M’s have some time before the A’s have a new stadium deal and revenue to play with.

  48. JTP224 on April 6th, 2010 1:48 am

    Axtell-I don’t blame you for calling me crazy, all I’m saying is that I like the game the way it is. It’s the oldest game around and I like the way it’s set up. It a real bummer that calls like the Kotchman line drive and a lot of Felix’s lower strike zone pitches weren’t called like they should have been, but I think that those type of things are what make they game great and pure. It’s been a game of adjustments for as long as it’s been in existence, but I get why people want technology to call balls and strikes. Aren’t there as many wrong calls in the field on bang bang plays as at the plate? This guy was particularly bad but usually a guy has his own zone and the players know what his zone is like and they make the adjustment. And by the way, in my “perfect world” I’d love all the calls to be right too, but I like when some go the M’s way.

  49. hark on April 6th, 2010 2:57 am

    I’m with JTP. Unlike most people here, I too enjoy the umpire-specific strike zone. Tonight’s case was an extreme example, and Tim Tschida (expletive deleted) off. But in general, as long as the strike zone is consistent and falls within reasonable parameters, I don’t mind that some guys call high strikes and some won’t give low strikes, while some give pitchers the corners and others give hitters the black. I like the necessary adjustments. I’m not saying someone who calls a pitch ten inches off the plate a strike is okay–because, really, it’s not–nor that a strike right down the middle a ball (here’s looking at you, Tschida!) is to be celebrated. But I’m okay with hitter friendly versus pitcher friendly. If the variance in such is +/-10% in either direction, that seems reasonable. Sadly, this study indicates the difference is more like +/-40%. (Tschida, for the record, is tied for the sixth most hitter-friendly umpire in baseball at -16%.

    But I don’t grant much quarter for a blown trap call. That’s garbage. There is no “personal adjustment” from umpire to umpire. Any umpire who saw a catch would rule an out, and any ump that had seen it bounce would call it a hit. It’s a mistake, and that’s human, but mistakes ought to be corrected.

    Strike zones are pretty much the only place where I grant some leeway, because I think it makes for interesting strategy between hitter and pitcher, building gameplans according to those zones. But the degree to which the adjustment must be made is awful. MLB needs to find a way to minimize this. Pronto. By the way, we should all love Mike Wegner. He demonstrates a 0% net change with PitchFX data. He’s a good umpire.

  50. djw on April 6th, 2010 5:45 am

    I want to start this off by saying I TOTALLY agree with the umpire’s strike zone being terrible; but isn’t that one of the great things about this sport?

    NO.

    This has been another edition of ‘short answers to strange questions’.

  51. djw on April 6th, 2010 5:50 am

    Slightly longer answer–the “personal strike zones” are an abuse of power; they make the game about the umpire rather than the players. If I were interested in watching baseball because I enjoyed the jazzy, free-form stylings umpires that aren’t very good at their job, there would be no reason to bother with MLB; attending local little league and HS baseball games would suit my needs just fine.

  52. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 5:55 am

    I don’t mind the occasional minor quirk, but this is a huge problem. (Credit to Jeff at LL for the link)

    When an individual umpire clearly predetermines that he is going to ignore the rule book, in a very specific way, that goes past “oh isn’t that cute, he’s got his own special strike zone!” into unacceptably altering the outcome of a game.

  53. akampfer on April 6th, 2010 6:01 am

    I think the thing I liked the best was David Aardsma pitched so well. I watched him in spring training and he looked awful. Good to know he can turn it on when he has too.

  54. florient on April 6th, 2010 6:15 am

    When Ichiro got caught stealing 3b was that the first out? I was a bit confused by this move. Is this a prudent risk to take with no outs?

  55. djw on April 6th, 2010 6:20 am

    In a general strategic sense, no. Two further considerations are:

    1. It is prudent to (generally) trust Ichiro’s judgement about when he can steal, given his track record of an unusually high success rate.

    2. It is also prudent to not be completely predictable, only ever attempting to steal when ‘the book’ recommends it, lest your baserunning becomes too predictable and therefore, perhaps, more preventable.

  56. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 6:26 am

    Replays also seemed to show that Ichiro was likely safe, although it was a really close play.

  57. florient on April 6th, 2010 6:31 am

    Yeah, he looked safe… and I agree about the potential benefits of unpredictability. Perhaps taking these types of risks early in the season pays benefits later on in the form of other teams scouting reports. However, the out made me cringe. How much better do the odds get that a runner will score from third with no outs than from second?

  58. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 6:37 am

    Not much. Basically, you can score on a sac fly as opposed to a single.

    I don’t think it was a great risk to take, but I’m pretty content to let Ichiro do what he wants, from a running perspective.

  59. zzyzx on April 6th, 2010 6:53 am

    Did anyone else find that the HD strikezone chart thingie was mostly off the side of the tv or was that a quirk of my set?

  60. ivan on April 6th, 2010 6:53 am

    Here we go with the robot ump argument again. It was apparent to everyone watching, and to all the announcers, who referred to it continually, that Tschida wasn’t giving the pitchers the low strike.

    The players and the managers had to know this too, and they all had time to adjust.

    Tschida needs a thorough reaming from the umpiring officials for his calls in this game. I have watched him behind the plate many times and if he is always this bad, I don’t remember noticing it, or hearing it commented before.

    The beauty of baseball is that it’s the same game in the bigs as it is on the sandlots. Same rules, same dimensions, same everything.

    Insert robot umps and you change all that. The argument for robot umps is at its base an elitist, classist argument. It’s “I’m paying for it, so I should have my new toy, and if you can’t pay for it, you shouldn’t have it.”

    I’ll take the human umps, warts and all, and I’m guessing that so will the vast majority of fans, for the same reasons. Ultimately, it will boil down to a political argument, and I expect the human umps to prevail.

    This is my comment on that subject for the season, and I promise not to revisit it on this blog for the rest of 2010. I would prefer that this become a “comments off” subject, just like steroids is.

  61. rsrobinson on April 6th, 2010 7:08 am

    I don’t mind an umpire not calling strikes at the bottom of the strike zone as long as he’s consistent for both teams, but this guy was all over the map. Truly awful.

    I love the chaos on the basepaths that Ichiro and Figgins will be wreaking on opponents this year. Figgins’ aggressiveness may be spurring Ichiro to be more aggressive, perhaps a little too much on that attempted steal of third.

    I agree with Dave on Sean White. I groaned when he entered the game with Lowe and League available.

    It’s a shame that Felix got robbed of a win by a bad strike zone and a questionable decision by Wak, but a win is a win. I’ll take it.

  62. Paul B on April 6th, 2010 7:09 am

    Tim Tschida’s strikezone was stupid and inconsistent.

    Ever since the days of the Kingdome, I’ve been convinced that Tshida is a strong contender for worst umpire in MLB title.

    Tonight we saw how bad he is behind the plate. He’s even worse on the bases. He’s one of the few umpires that I have seen be overruled by the other umpires on multiple occasions.

  63. nwivoryhunter on April 6th, 2010 7:30 am

    Wak cost us a few games last year with his pulling the pitcher early crap! This is definately worrisome! Also, Kotchman cutting that ball off on Ichiro’s throw home was a bad choice! He had him nailed… Oh well, hope they learn from it.

  64. Miles on April 6th, 2010 7:36 am

    Maybe instead of criticizing you can do some analysis which states why you think White should have been in the game, instead of breaking out the internet tough guy routine?
    Axtell,
    You’re completely right.

    I come check out the site after a nice win by the M’s and the first thing I see is a write up that starts the season off in the negative.

    How about a nice write up and then come in and ask about White as an after thought.

    Why not talk about the 4 double plays, the 8 walks or the 3 stolen bases that made a difference in this game. Why not start off the season talking about how Lopez made the plays he needed to make last night.

    Heck, there could even be some talk about how the pitch sequences early in the game to Lopez and Johnson were nearly identical except that Johnson laid off the high fastball out of the zone and got a meaty 3-1 fastball unlike Jose who chaced the high heat and ended up 2-2 instead of 3-1 and struck out on a nasty curve. Good job Rob.

  65. florient on April 6th, 2010 7:42 am

    Miles, speaking for myself, I can get that info from reading the unwaivering positivity provided from the mlb.com/mariners.com reporters. I come here for a different take on the game.

    Try this

  66. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 7:43 am

    Miles, the things you mentioned are nice stories, but Wak’s inexplicable decision to go to White could have very well cost the Mariners the game. It merits talking about prominently in the game recap, whether you think it’s “too negative” or not.

    I would prefer that this become a “comments off” subject, just like steroids is.

    Not happening. You’re entitled to your opinion, but so is everyone else.

  67. DMZ on April 6th, 2010 7:53 am

    The argument for robot umps is at its base an elitist, classist argument. It’s “I’m paying for it, so I should have my new toy, and if you can’t pay for it, you shouldn’t have it.”

    Thanks for letting us all know that we’re a bunch of elitist, classists. I might have gone for hours or days without realizing it.

    I’ve long supported better umpire training to reduce mistakes, particularly in calling the strike zone, which I’d like to see better defined. Does that make me elitist and classist for wanting to see the number of mistakes go down, and the strike zone called match the one in the rule books?

    And at that point, I think the vast majority of fans you’re fond of citing as opposing “robot umps” is going to agree whole-heartedly that fewer errors and a better, more consistent strike zone is good.

  68. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 8:08 am

    Not to mention that the bad calls last night certainly weren’t restricted to balls and strikes. There were at least two, if not three, very questionable calls on plays in the field.

    Jeff Sullivan sums it up pretty nicely in his game recap:

    1) With men on the corners and one out in the top of the first, Milton Bradley took off while Ben Sheets still had the ball in his hand, and Sheets stepped off and threw to second base. Bradley was called out, but replays showed that he beat the tag. The run expectancy difference, using this simple table: 1.08 runs.

    2) With none out in the top of the third, Ichiro – standing on second base – took off for third on a pitch that walked Chone Figgins. Kurt Suzuki threw down in time to get him, but replays again showed that Ichiro narrowly beat the tag. The run expectancy difference: 1.331 runs.

    3) Leading off the top of the eighth, Casey Kotchman hit a sinking liner to center that Rajai Davis trapped. The umpire, however, ruled it a catch. The run expectancy difference: 0.656 runs.

    You can call it elitist and classist all you want, but umpire error is costing teams significant opportunities to win games. If baseball wants to retain its credibility, the quality of umpiring simply has to get better.

  69. coasty141 on April 6th, 2010 8:19 am

    “If baseball wants to retain its credibility, the quality of umpiring simply has to get better”

    Do you think it is getting worse?

  70. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 8:23 am

    Do you think it is getting worse?

    I don’t think we can say that for sure, really. But we have better tools to evaluate umpires with now, so we’re certainly much more AWARE of the mistakes than we were even five years ago.

    I just don’t see the current state of umpiring being sustainable in a world that has things like Pitch F/x and easy access to HD replay footage.

  71. coasty141 on April 6th, 2010 8:31 am

    I certainly agree with your line of thinking.

  72. Carson on April 6th, 2010 8:33 am

    But we have better tools to evaluate umpires with now, so we’re certainly much more AWARE of the mistakes than we were even five years ago.

    Exactly what I was going to say. Interesting that baseball’s own technology is going to be the cause of rage towards their umpires. Perhaps baseball is ok with that.

    But, there’s the umpires union. Wasn’t there some thought of early retirement packages to get rid of some of these older guys who refuse to change?

    My guess is that with this better technology the training is improving. But, just like a 29 year old hitter isn’t likely to change his approach much, a 49 year old umpire isn’t either.

    We need turnover, and it’d be nice to get it soon.

  73. AssumedName on April 6th, 2010 8:38 am

    When Sean White came in, my son (8) said, “They’ve got that snowboard guy?” A brief moment of levity before the wheels came off.

  74. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 8:41 am

    I think it’ll be brought up during the next CBA, definitely. But that won’t be until 2014.

    The umpires’ union has traditionally fought any form of evaluation as hard as they possibly can, and I don’t see that changing, so it’ll be like pulling teeth. But I think we’ll see something more robust than the current implementation of QuesTec as part of the next agreement.

  75. Seminaryhill on April 6th, 2010 9:38 am

    I consider myself a little more purist than most. However, how hard would it be to put an extra ump upstairs, and have him look at all close plays? If he sees something, he gets the info down to the field. Kind of like the last 2 minutes of the quarter in football.

  76. Coach24 on April 6th, 2010 9:49 am

    @ nwivoryhunter:

    It is generally the Catchers call for a cut off. Johnson may have called for it for a number of reasons(throw off line or not in time etc.) More than likely he decided that it was better to keep the runner from advancing another base given time of game and score. All of that said, Kotchman could have pulled a bonehead move and just caught it.

  77. JMHawkins on April 6th, 2010 9:51 am

    Interesting that baseball’s own technology is going to be the cause of rage towards their umpires

    I dunno, the technology might give irate fans data to back up their observations, but honestly it was (and has always been since the invention of the zoom lens in CF for TV broadcasts) perfectly obvious how bad Tschida’s calls were. And since instant replay, blown calls like Davis’ trap of Kotchman’s blooper as well.

    Myself, I’m with hark – I don’t mind a 10% ump-to-ump variance in the strike zone (as long as it’s consistent). I like the idea of humans behind the plate making the calls. But nights like Tschida’s are really not acceptable. I am in favor of the league using pitch f/x to evaluate (and fire if necessary) umpires. I’m 100% against using it to replace them (and 1,000% against using instant replay the way it was done last year – what an exciting spectacle, to see the umpires trudge off into the tunnel…).

    Grasping at straws, maybe, but I think it’s reasonable to use a lesser reliever in a game with a top starter, so your better relievers (in a perfect world) are more available in games with lesser starters.

    Strategically, I’d take the opposite approach. Do what you need to in order to ensure you close out the wins when your good pitchers start – odds are you won’t have that luxury with your back-end guys. Or, to make it simpler, use your best relievers in high-leverage situations regardless of who started. A two-run lead in the 7th with men on is a decently high-leverage situation. There’s a reasonable good chance that will be the highest leverage situation a reliever faces in the series. I’m guessing that Wak, going by the book, didn’t put League in because he’s the 8th inning guy. Is using White an artifact of not having a lefty in the pen?

  78. JasonJ on April 6th, 2010 10:09 am

    Tschida has been around since 1986 so it’s kind of pointless to spend so much time complaining about the pathetic strike zone. They aren’t getting rid of him.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but at this point it’s on the players to know what his strike zone is and adapt. Even the schmucks at home were able to figure it out after a couple of innings.

    As far as the game goes, I felt it was really entertaining and it was great to see the new additions all contribute. Kotchman did well getting the ball in play with RISP and looked good with the glove. Figgins did what he does best and surprisingly it was Wilson who made the error.

    The A’s look pretty bad, but they will be a scrappy team and they have good arms. I’m just really bummed we don’t get to see the two-headed monster with Cliff on the DL. Would be nice to have a strong possibility of starting 2-0. Now I think the offense is going to have to really get rolling until Felix’s next start.

  79. dballer1992 on April 6th, 2010 10:20 am

    does anyone think that Casey Kotchman is oddly familiar to a guy named John Olerud? i mean in 01′ Olerud put up 173 hits, 21 hrs, and 95 rbi’s. with a .302ba and .401obp. and almost identical numbers in 02′.
    he ends up with high amount of hits (173, 166) and gets alot of walks 94 and 98.
    kotchmans has, i think, the potential to break out into some of the numbers that olerud was putting up back in the M’s hay days in 01′.
    maybe not in the walks category, but i mean i can see him batting about .300 and a almost .400 obp.
    he doesnt have as much pop, but with ichiro and figgins almost guaranteed to score 100+ runs a piece why can he put up 100rbis.
    Dont forget, they are both plus defenders over there at first base, minus the batting helmet for Kotchman.
    let me know if you agree or if there is flaws in my analysis

  80. joser on April 6th, 2010 10:45 am

    How much better do the odds get that a runner will score from third with no outs than from second?

    According to Tango, a man on 2nd with nobody out has a Run Expectancy of 1.189; a man on third with nobody out has an RE of 1.482, for a difference of .293, or somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of a run. Which isn’t much. However, the difference between having a man on 2nd with nobody out and having nobody on with one out (RE=.297) is .892, or almost a full run. Which is why conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t risk making the first out at third base.

    That said, as others have noted there may be an benefit to “serving notice” early in the season that you’re going to be running a lot, and certainly slavishly following the book creates undesirable predictability (though I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s noticed Ichiro’s somewhat predictable tendency to try to steal third on the very next pitch after stealing second). It’s also possible that the odds of success are higher early in the season before the pitcher and catcher and fielders are in mid-season form, and Ichiro knows this; and it did look like Ichiro might have actually been safe.

  81. JMHawkins on April 6th, 2010 10:46 am

    there’s been a number of ballot initiatives over the years to get the A’s to move around the bay area, but they’ve all failed.

    California has massive government finance problems that aren’t going to get better any time soon. I would be astonished if they got a new stadium built.

  82. joser on April 6th, 2010 10:54 am

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but at this point it’s on the players to know what his strike zone is and adapt. Even the schmucks at home were able to figure it out after a couple of innings.

    How do you adapt to “random”?

  83. Carson on April 6th, 2010 10:56 am

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but at this point it’s on the players to know what his strike zone is and adapt. Even the schmucks at home were able to figure it out after a couple of innings.

    That’s not goin to get an argument from me usually. Some umpires never call a pitch at X location a strike.

    The problem with his zone is that it’s not consistent. The low and outside corner was, but there were pitches right down the middle he called balls. Literally. Look at the graphs on Brooks. How on earth does a pitcher adapt to a fastball down the heart of the plate being called a ball?

  84. eponymous coward on April 6th, 2010 10:58 am

    does anyone think that Casey Kotchman is oddly familiar to a guy named John Olerud?

    Yes, in that they are both bipedal humanoids who play first base and bat left-handed. I suppose you could call that “oddly familiar”, if you consider the Mariners having a LH 1B “odd” and “familiar”.

    let me know if you agree or if there is flaws in my analysis

    The flaw in your analysis is John Olerud was a better hitter coming out of college at age 23 than Casey Kotchman is after several thousand plate appearances in professional ball at age 27. If Olerud had held up better in his late 30′s, he’d be a decent HOF candidate (and his case right now isn’t terrible, just pretty marginal). Kotchman has had one year with a line similar to Olerud’s career. One swan does not a summer make.

  85. hark on April 6th, 2010 10:59 am

    dballer–

    Comparing players to look for potential “break out” seasons is in the realm of scouting, stuff you pull from the vapor. I’m not saying it’s impossible or that your analysis is wrong, but it’s not really the stuff of statistical rigor.

    For what it’s worth, on a statistical level, Kotchman’s BB% has been consistently lower than Olerud’s career line, and even his career arc in their early years. Moreover, becaue Kotchman has been a fairly strong groundball hitter, his BABIP has always been lower than ‘Rud’s, along with his SLG. These two factors result in wOBA lines that aren’t even close.

    There was talk in camp about retooling Kotchman’s swing to get more balls in the air. Jeff’s game thoughts over at LL observed: ” tonight, all four of his balls in play caught some air. Proof that he’s fixed? Not hardly. Indicative that there’s reason to hope? You bet.” If the coaching staff has even moderate success in putting Kotchman’s bat together, we might see a lot more offensive upside out of Kotch than the league gave him credit for. But I don’t expect a career .372 wOBA to be touched by him.

  86. JasonJ on April 6th, 2010 11:30 am


    I can’t believe I’m saying this but at this point it’s on the players to know what his strike zone is and adapt. Even the schmucks at home were able to figure it out after a couple of innings.

    “How do you adapt to “random”?”

    I’m mostly talking about the pitches at the knees that didn’t seem random to me at all. He flat out wasn’t calling it.

  87. HititHere on April 6th, 2010 11:42 am

    @JMHawkins:

    I dunno, the technology might give irate fans data to back up their observations, but honestly it was (and has always been since the invention of the zoom lens in CF for TV broadcasts) perfectly obvious how bad Tschida’s calls were. And since instant replay, blown calls like Davis’ trap of Kotchman’s blooper as well.

    I clearly saw the ball had been trapped on the original play, before the instant replay. Yes, because of the camera us TV viewers had a good angle on the play. But the 2nd base umpire should have had as good, if not a better, view of the play.

    To me, there is an enormous difference between semi-subjective calls dealing with a strike zone, and black-or-white calls like “Did he catch the ball, or trap it after it bounced a foot in front of him?”

    That call was outrageous, and I’d be happy if I never saw THAT kind of “bad call” again.

  88. spankystout on April 6th, 2010 11:50 am

    I go to sleep and everyone gets sand in their trousers…..robot umpires huh? Maybe I’m still sleeping.

  89. opiate82 on April 6th, 2010 11:59 am

    While I don’t think you can replace umps with robots, what you could do is put a little vibrating buzzer in the umps pocket that goes off if the PitchFX (or whatever technology) says that was a strike. It would really help normalize things.

  90. LongTimeFan on April 6th, 2010 12:00 pm

    The base running by the Mariners in this game got me thinking about an issue that I’ve never been able to satisfactorily get my mind wrapped around in the past and may be a subject worthy of its own post by Dave if it hasn’t been discussed in the past on this site.

    I’ve been a baseball fan going on 20 years now and I think I have a reasonably broad and deep understanding of all things relating to baseball. I’ve also been regularly visiting this blog and LL for about a year now and am slowly learning more about sabermetric analysis. Having said all that, here’s my question:

    Why is it that teams try to maintain a successful stolen base rate close to 70-80%, when an OBP of .400 would be considered good as a team? Doesn’t analysis suggest that teams should attempt more stolen bases as long as the stolen base % exceeded the team’s OBP? Am I missing something on this?

    Take last night’s game as a case-in-point. The Mariners were 3/5 in stolen bases which is only 60%. Didn’t those attempts help score runs more than they hurt? Both of Figgins’ attempts led to throwing errors which resulted in a total of 4 bases off of his steals, so in effect the Mariners successfully stole 5 bases. Even without considering the fact that the two caught stealing were blown calls, 3/5 seems to be well worth the risk. What am I missing?

  91. Dave on April 6th, 2010 12:11 pm

    A stolen base is worth about .25 runs, but a caught stealing is worth approximately negative .50 runs. It takes two successful advanced bases to counteract the negative from making an out.

  92. LongTimeFan on April 6th, 2010 12:23 pm

    Dave,

    So that would suggest a baseline target success rate of 67%. Do these run values include certain side benefits from steal attempts, such as throwing errors, the ability to score from 3rd on a wild pitch, etc?

    I remember an allstar game broadcast where Joe Morgan was mentioning that although there are fewer benefits to stealing 3rd base than 2nd, there were still 7 different ways in which a run could be scored from 3rd base but not 2nd base.

  93. Dave on April 6th, 2010 12:34 pm

    They do. The run values are calculated from historical results of average runs scored from different base/out states. They include all the possible outcomes.

  94. 95Ms on April 6th, 2010 12:39 pm

    Thanks for the data on SB comparison.

  95. LongTimeFan on April 6th, 2010 12:43 pm

    Thanks, that is really helpful information.

    So, in the case of last night’s game, how should we evaluate the performance of the running game? 3 steals out of 5 attempts would be only 60% success and then would indicate negative cumulative run value. On the other hand, Figgins’s steal attempts directly led to errors that resulted in 2 more bases, so do we evaluate the game as picking up 5 total bases on 5 attempts which would indicate a positive run value? What’s your take on that specific game’s results?

  96. 95Ms on April 6th, 2010 12:55 pm

    Hmm, I was wondering about the pop of San Jose and I learned that the city has 1 million (about double Oak), and that both area’s metro area is 7 million. Is that counting SF for Oak though? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. Portland has half a million and about 2 million metro.

    So, I guess San Jose could work, at least pop-wise.

    Anyone know why the attendance #s are so low in Oak? How much is the stadium vs. competitiveness vs. other? I guess stadium & competitiveness are related to a degree (of which people might disagree the level). Yeah, the As do have a rich history, true.

    As for paying for a new stadium in any location, yay, who is going to pay for it in this economy (esp in CA where things are worse than others even)? Anyone know if there is possible private money ideas in the news?

  97. LongTimeFan on April 6th, 2010 1:09 pm

    Dave,

    Never mind the last question about evaluating last night’s running game, you already answered that question in your original post, plus after looking at last night’s play-by-play results it appears that we may have given up a run as a result of base running in the 1st inning, but probably got one back in the 3rd, so it was probably a wash at best. Although if the correct calls had been made on either one or both of the Ichiro and Bradley stolen bases obviously the results would have been favorable.

    Was it just me, or did it seem like Bradley wasn’t so much trying to steal as simply get a good jump on a 2-strike pitch?

  98. xeifrank on April 6th, 2010 1:10 pm

    Vegas opening lines gave the Mariners a 44.05% win probability for tonight’s game. My simulator came in at 43.29%. A big key to the Mariners season will be how they do on days that Hernandez and Lee do not pitch.

    [stop with the signature thing, you've been told this before]

  99. MrZDevotee on April 6th, 2010 1:18 pm

    Did you guys here who are “poo-pooing” the umpire criticisms actually see the graphs of the game?

    I’m about as unclassist and unelitist as they come, and don’t mind at all the slight skew of each umpire’s subjective strike zone, but it doesn’t take a robot to call a pitch that ends up dead square in the middle of the plate a strike.

    And this wasn’t a single game discrepancy. As I posted on the game thread last night, out of curiosity I went back and checked out a couple of Tschida’s games behind the plate from last year– same thing. Anywhere from 3-10 pitches in the center of the plate inexplicably called balls.

    It’s just odd when you see him consistently miss these pitches. He’s in the top of umpires with 20+ games behind the plate in the categories of BBs/game and runs scored/game.

    Some of us don’t actually want robots– we want better accuracy from humans. (Okay, so perhaps that’s elitist– to expect human flaws to be slightly more subtle than Tschida’s.)

  100. hark on April 6th, 2010 1:26 pm

    MrZDevotee–

    I think you’ll find that’s what most of us are saying. From me:

    I’m not saying someone who calls a pitch ten inches off the plate a strike is okay–because, really, it’s not–nor that a strike right down the middle a ball (here’s looking at you, Tschida!) is to be celebrated. But I’m okay with hitter friendly versus pitcher friendly. If the variance in such is +/-10% in either direction, that seems reasonable. Sadly, this study indicates the difference is more like +/-40%.

    [...]

    Strike zones are pretty much the only place where I grant some leeway, because I think it makes for interesting strategy between hitter and pitcher, building gameplans according to those zones. But the degree to which the adjustment must be made is awful. MLB needs to find a way to minimize this. Pronto.

    and from Jeff Nye:

    I don’t mind the occasional minor quirk, but this is a huge problem. (Credit to Jeff at LL for the link.)

    and from JMHawkins:

    Myself, I’m with hark – I don’t mind a 10% ump-to-ump variance in the strike zone (as long as it’s consistent). I like the idea of humans behind the plate making the calls. But nights like Tschida’s are really not acceptable. I am in favor of the league using pitch f/x to evaluate (and fire if necessary) umpires. I’m 100% against using it to replace them (and 1,000% against using instant replay the way it was done last year – what an exciting spectacle, to see the umpires trudge off into the tunnel…).

  101. Jeff Nye on April 6th, 2010 1:26 pm

    Well, the problem with Tschida is less about “mistakes” and more about him clearly and deliberately ignoring what the rulebook says the strike zone is.

    By rule, it goes to the bottom of the knees; but at least last night, he very clearly decided it was going to stop mid-thigh, Because Tim Tschida Said So.

    I just don’t understand how people can pass off something like that as being “part of the charm of the game.” Aren’t the umpires supposed to be the ones ensuring the rules get followed?

  102. behappy on April 6th, 2010 1:27 pm

    So, in the case of last night’s game, how should we evaluate the performance of the running game? 3 steals out of 5 attempts would be only 60% success and then would indicate negative cumulative run value. On the other hand, Figgins’s steal attempts directly led to errors that resulted in 2 more bases, so do we evaluate the game as picking up 5 total bases on 5 attempts which would indicate a positive run value? What’s your take on that specific game’s results?

    I was thinking the same thing. I love the pressure the running game puts on the defense also, the extra attention the pitcher gives to the player on base. Some of those things can’t be summed up in a formula. However, I am not a big fan of stealing 3b, unless it is a high% attempt.
    That was a GREAT game to watch, so much fun.

    Also, regarding the Men in Blue, why don’t they just have an extra umpire upstairs looking at replays. Not for balls n strikes but, for all other close plays? It would only take an extra 30 seconds to replay the blown call. The trap call made me sick. And Ichrio was safe at 3b as well.
    That would fix most of the issues we have with the umps.

  103. LongTimeFan on April 6th, 2010 1:42 pm

    After looking more closely at the play-by-play from last night (admittedly not the best method of game analysis, yet still maybe helpful in some ways), it appears that the running game no matter the possible outcomes had zero run effect in the 1st inning (neither created or prevented runs), but in the 3rd inning the Mariners would not have scored any runs without attempting a steal and may have scored an additional run if Ichiro had been safe at 3rd base (he would have had to score on Figgins subsequent steal attempt of 2nd if Kurt Suzuki had still attempted a throw and air-mailed it).

    So one could argue that it appears that for this specific game, aggressive baserunning led to 1 additional run.

  104. Dave on April 6th, 2010 1:54 pm

    It’s impossible to know what would have happened in an alternate reality where the SB attempts don’t occur. We cannot assume that the pitcher would throw the same pitches with the runner at first instead of third. We cannot assume the hitters would take the same approach, especially when they’ve been coached since childhood to try to hit a fly ball with a runner at third and less than two out. We just can’t assume that everything that happened would have happened anyway.

    That’s why we use average run values from those situations in history. That allows us to see what likely would have happened in either scenario.

  105. MrZDevotee on April 6th, 2010 2:01 pm

    Hark–
    I think you misunderstood my post… by “poo-pooing” the ump criticisms, I meant the guys who were saying we were making too big of a deal out of the umpire’s calls. I was inline with you, JMHawkins, and Jeff on the subject.

    There are plenty of folks who complain about calls in all sports that really could go either way, but I don’t think that was the case last night at all.

  106. LongTimeFan on April 6th, 2010 2:11 pm

    That’s why we use average run values from those situations in history. That allows us to see what likely would have happened in either scenario.

    I agree completely, that’s why I said that play-by-play analysis is flawed and simply that it is possible to argue that in this particular game, aggressive baserunning may have contributed and does not seem to have hurt the run total. This would seem to be corroborated by the fact that 60% baserunning is not too far off of the break-even point of 67%. Of course, with baserunning, situation analysis makes all the difference. It does appear that this team will be aggressive on the basepaths and hopefully that will pay off over the course of the full season.

  107. msb on April 6th, 2010 2:16 pm

    Four umpires (and crew chiefs) retired this year, and sadly, Tschida was one of the existing veterans to be named a new crew chief.

  108. dietrich on April 6th, 2010 3:24 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Casey Clutchman.

  109. Breadbaker on April 6th, 2010 3:30 pm

    It wouldn’t even take an extra umpire in the booth. All it would take is a couple of video technicians and a monitor. This is baseball, where nearly all the plays take place in a single discrete place (the run-scoring situation at the end of the seventh is the rare exception, and the video showed the umps got that right). There might be some rare cases where you have to look at more than a single frame (did he have possession long enough to make it a catch before he dropped it on the transfer?), but a huge number of plays can be determined by isolating a single frame: did he make the tag? did he miss the base? did he trap the ball? The trap last night was more easily determinable by replay than most borderline home run calls, where the camera may or may not be in the right position and you have to account for seeing in two dimensions what happens in three, but baseball allows those to be replayed.

  110. Alfalfa on April 6th, 2010 3:41 pm

    I also thought in one of the later innings, Ichiro hit a ball down the line that appeared to be fair. I rewound it several times and watched it, it was pretty close, did anyone else notice this? It definitely bounced inside the line before the bag..

  111. hark on April 6th, 2010 4:00 pm

    Alfalfa–

    I think you’re referring to the AB when Ichiro! struck out looking against Blevins in the top of the 7th. I watched the replay a couple times, and yes, it was close, and yes, the ball did strike inside the line.

    But the rules state that a ball must cross the base (any part of it) in fair territory. The initial angle suggested to me that it was fair, but subsequent shots were inconclusive. Striking inside the line doesn’t make a ball fair. I’m willing to give the ump the benefit of the doubt (even though it may have robbed Ichiro! of a double).

  112. turin07 on April 6th, 2010 4:07 pm

    I don’t know. Its a little early to pigeonhole a guy. I think getting some innings for White is a good idea. Obviously it backfired, but on its face I dont condemn the decision based on matchups there. White improves every year and could improve this year.

  113. djw on April 6th, 2010 4:30 pm

    A little early? He’s got six seasons and about 600 innings pitched at the professional level.

    I’m not sure where you get “improves every year” except that his 2009 was better than his 2007 in terms of results. Over the course of his minor league career, he’s never really excelled; he’s always been mediocre to terrible. I can’t think of a good reason to have faith that will change soon.

  114. Alfalfa on April 6th, 2010 4:53 pm

    Really Hark? You want to give the ump the benefit of the doubt in THAT game. Alrighty then.

  115. Wolfman on April 6th, 2010 4:53 pm

    I feel pretty good about the win but I have to say I am in agreement with the posters regarding the umpire. You guys amaze me, knowing the different umps and their history, etc. I didn’t know the plate umpire but I thought he was horrible. The one strike Felix needed was right at the knees and the tracer showed it was dead-on in the zone….and he calls it a ball. It wouldn’t bother me a bit to see balls and strikes called consistently and correctly by a machine. Let the umps call everything else. Of course, I say that and now I’m going to agree that Ichi was safe at third. I guess you’re always going to have bad calls.

    I also agree on Sean White. When I saw him coming in the game, all I could think was, ‘Noooooo!’ We have a lot better relievers than that. It easily could have cost the game. Nick Hill wasn’t better? I don’t get it.

    I really, really like Ichiro and Figgins at the top of the lineup. I also like Milton Bradley’s fire but he needs to put it to better use. Don’t get yourself hurt and quit breaking bats! We may need those bats this year. Seriously Milton, it was only the first game of the season! Deep breaths…

  116. JMHawkins on April 6th, 2010 6:02 pm

    LongTimeFan,

    The numbers Dave quoted, +0.25 runs for a successful SB and -0.50 runs for a CS are averages. Errors like last night do happen, and they do make a small difference, but over the course of a season, an average team is still going to average +0.25 runs per SB and -0.50 runs per CS.

    Now, the 2010 M’s aren’t a typical offensive club – you could argue that they benefit a little more from the extra base and suffer a little less from the out, but it’s still going to be close to +0.25/-0.50. For the 60% success rate the M’s had last night to break even, it would have to be +0.30 runs and -0.45. That’s a .05 run swing both ways, and that’s a huge gap. That’s like turning 40% of your leadoff singles into doubles. Nice if you can do it, but not realistic.

  117. Typical Idiot Fan on April 6th, 2010 6:15 pm

    For all the folks chirping about how umpire-to-umpire strike zones bring something good to the game, need I remind you that MLB cracked down on the really exaggerated strike zones almost 10 years ago in an attempt to try to bring the stupid things back closer to the rules?

    Yeah, kindly remember that “umpire strike zones” used to include a foot off the outside corner, and for no reason at all other than the umpire felt like calling it a strike. Certain pitchers got preferential treatment based on their control, etc. Yeah, “charm”. Bullshit.

  118. JMHawkins on April 6th, 2010 6:15 pm

    Or perhaps I ought to say the gap (0.100 run expectancy) is nearly 40% of the difference between a leadoff single and a leadoff double.

    If the M’s averaged 3/5 SB for the entire season, they would score 40 fewer runs than otherwise expected and win 4 – 5 fewer games.

  119. LH sock puppet on April 6th, 2010 6:28 pm

    A couple things that I haven’t read in the preceding 100+ posts:

    Ichiro! was safe at third. He knows what he’s doing.

    Each time I read chone, Chone, or CHONE, I don’t know whether the reference is to our new 2b or an analytical tool. To avoid confusion, I propose giving the player a nickname that doesn’t end in y. How about:

    Sean

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