Game 20, A’s At Mariners

April 21, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 173 Comments 

Hernandez vs McCarthy, 7:10 pm.

Happy Felix Day.

I touched on this briefly in my article for Brock and Salk today, but you don’t need to worry about Felix. His xFIP last year was 3.14 – this year, it’s 3.11. His early season BABIP of .338 won’t continue, and when the balls stop finding holes, he’ll strand more runners than he has so far. His 54.2% LOB% is ridiculously low for any pitcher, especially one as good as Felix. He’s fine.

On the other hand, the M’s face Brandon McCarthy, who has made some significant mechanical adjustments (hat tip to Jeff Sullivan and is pitching quite well for the A’s. Without Justin Smoak around, this offense is still pretty miserable, and they’re going to have to face a guy who is pitching as well as he ever has.

Don’t expect a high scoring game tonight.

Ichiro, RF
Figgins, 3B
Bradley, LF
Cust, DH
Kennedy, 1B
Olivo, C
Saunders, CF
Ryan, SS
Wilson, 2B

Return Of Dave To Brock And Salk

April 21, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 8 Comments 

At 11:00 this morning, the dulcet tones of my nasally voice will return to 710 ESPN, as we resume our segments with the boys over at Brock and Salk. This year, I’m sharing the spotlight with the tremendously awesome Jeff Sullivan, as he and I will alternate writing pieces for the site and appearing as guests with Mike and Brock to discuss the pieces that we wrote and the team as a whole.

In fact, my first piece for their blog is up now. I’ll throw the first few paragraphs in here, but you can read the whole thing over at their site. We’ll have a piece up here from Salk in the not too distant future as well.

After last season’s debacle, the focus on the 2011 Mariners is understandably on the offense. After all, we all had to suffer through one of the worst offensive seasons in baseball history, and this year’s line-up isn’t exactly the 1927 Yankees either — witness Adam Kennedy hitting third yesterday as an example.

This team has real offensive problems, and their inability to score runs will continue to cost them wins going forward. However, if we do an honest appraisal of how the team has played so far this season, we find that it’s actually run prevention, not run scoring, that has been the real problem.

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Game 19, Tigers At Mariners

April 20, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 106 Comments 

Bedard vs Porcello, 12:40 pm.

The M’s close out the series with Detroit with a day game, where Erik Bedard tries to get his results to match-up more closely with his underlying statistics. His 3.94 xFIP is actually pretty encouraging, but obviously, he needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the park.

With Smoak away from the team and Bradley getting the day off, Adam Kennedy is back in the #3 spot in the line-up and Carlos Peguero gets the start in left field. This looks like a spring training line-up, honestly.

Ichiro, RF
Figgins, 3B
Kennedy, 1B
Cust, DH
Saunders, CF
Rodriguez, SS
Peguero, LF
Wilson, 2B
Gimenez, C

Carlos Peguero

April 19, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 29 Comments 

Let’s be clear: this is about as minor as personnel moves get. Justin Smoak can be on bereavement leave* for a maximum of 7 days, so we’re really talking about a handful of games. The M’s felt confident enough in Ryan Langerhans and Chris Gimenez to hold down the fort at 1B and instead called up a left-handed outfielder, Carlos Peguero.

As you saw if you watched tonight’s game, Peguero’s huge. He’s 6’5″ (at least) and probably over 250 pounds at this point. He’s been playing CF in Tacoma the past few games, though that’s due to injuries – the M’s will use him in LF and at DH. So: why bring up a lefty corner OF when the M’s have Langerhans/Saunders?

1: The M’s don’t really need a 1B for so few games. Langerhans/Gimenez offers them a natural platoon; the true 1B option – Mike Carp – doesn’t offer much more than a slight edge in contact over Langerhans. Defensively, it’s a push at best, and in any event, Carp hasn’t played much 1B this year at all: the Rainiers are trying to get Matt Tuiasosopo as many innings as they can. Tui’s a known entity, but that’s a double-edged sword. Peguero’s moderately hot right now (Tui and Carp really aren’t), and while the sample size is tiny, he’s struck out less than Carp/Tui. None of these guys will be confused for Dustin Ackley.
2: Peguero’s different/somewhat exciting. He’s a hulking man with a swing that’s breath-taking in its ferocity. While you can certainly see why Peguero’s racked up impressive strike-out totals at every stop in the minors. He’s been better in the infancy of the 2011 season, but I’m not going to suggest that he’s now a contact hitter. Still, when Peguero makes contact, he hits the ball hard. Last Friday, Peguero was responsible for perhaps the hardest hit I’ve seen at Cheney stadium. That’s an anecdote and not a compelling argument, but it highlights why I’m OK with this move. Peguero’s entertaining. If I know he’s coming up, I’ll watch. Given the sample sizes involved, this factor dwarfs any performance-related metric. Over the next week, who would you rather see face a righty? (Ackley? Personally, I’d rather he play every day than get 5 at-bats sprinkled over a few games). The M’s were recently shut down by Bruce Chen and Josh Tomlin in games that were almost unwatchable. I’m not crazy about Peguero long-term, but I’m really not crazy about feeling like watching the M’s is an obligation/chore. Go get ’em Carlos.

* This is certainly not minor for Smoak.

Game 18, Tigers At Mariners

April 19, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 222 Comments 

Fister vs Coke, 7:10 pm.

We’ve said from day one that this season wouldn’t be about wins and losses, but about how the players that are actually important to the future develop. Chris Ray blowing a game in the 8th inning is, in the grand scheme of things, not all that relevant to this organization’s future. He won’t be here much longer anyway.

However, one guy who will be here for a while is Justin Smoak. After hitting another home run (to left field, at Safeco, in April) last night, he’s now up to .291/.403/.491 on the season. Most importantly, he’s cut the strikeouts down significantly from where they were last year, and has demonstrated the kind of approach at the plate that made him a top prospect to begin with. While we can nitpick about the fact that he only has two home runs, seven of his 16 hits have gone for extra bases, and he’s hit a bunch of balls on the screws.

It’s still early, but Smoak is looking like the player the M’s hoped they were getting last summer – a switch-hitter with power and patience who can hold his own in the middle of the batting order. The M’s might have lost last night, but with every good at-bat from Justin Smoak, they’re winning the long term war.

Game 17, Tigers At Mariners

April 18, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 197 Comments 

Vargas vs Scherzer, 7:10 pm.

The Tigers did not give up a home run in 63 innings pitched last week. Their chances of extending that streak are pretty good.

The M’s send Jason Vargas to the mound, and while his 2011 season only consists of three starts, his pitch selection bears watching. In 2009, his first year in Seattle, he threw 69% fastballs. Last year, he threw 60% fastballs. This year? 49% fastballs. It looks like he’s relied on his slider a lot more frequently in his first three starts, and he still throws a ton of change-ups – his best pitch by far. Given that his fastball is 87 without a ton of movement, throwing it less often seems like a pretty good plan to me.

Ichiro, RF
Figgins, 3B
Bradley, LF
Cust, DH
Smoak, 1B
Kennedy, 2B
Olivo, C
Langerhans, CF
Ryan, SS

Minor League Wrap (4/7-17/11)

April 18, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues · 9 Comments 

Hello, and welcome to the first giant wall of text this season, to be followed by more, sometimes even larger walls of text later in the season. We have a listing of games for you, some transactions, some items of interest, and a whole lot of real and pretended analysis.

To the jump!
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Game 16, Mariners At Royals

April 17, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 120 Comments 

Pineda vs Francis, 11:10 am.

No line-up as of yet, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not going to be full of sluggers. Francis was a guy I lobbied for hard this winter, and he’s off to a great start for the Royals. As a strike-throwing lefty, the M’s aren’t going to be able to work the count against him much, so they’re actually going to have to get hits to score runs. Will be interesting to see how Pineda does against a line-up that is likely to have five left-handed bats in it. So that’s one reason to watch. Probably the only one, honestly.

Game 15, Mariners At Royals

April 16, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 81 Comments 

Hernandez vs O’Sullivan, 10:10 am.

Happy Felix Day!

Sorry about not getting a game thread up last night – had some stuff unexpectedly arise yesterday afternoon that kept me out of the loop all day. I’ll try to make sure that’s the only time all year we miss a game thread, but I’m glad Marc had reports on Tacoma’s home opener as a fill-in.

Since I didn’t see last night’s game, I don’t have many comments, but I will throw this out there:

2009 Bedard: 3.69 BB/9, 9.76 K/9, 42.3% GB%, 9.3% HR/FB, .269 BABIP
2011 Bedard: 3.95 BB/9, 9.88 K/9, 34.0% GB%, 28.6% HR/FB, .357 BABIP

Bedard’s performance isn’t quite as good as it was pre-injury two years ago, but the main driver of his poor results so far this year are an insane HR/FB rate and a ridiculously high batting average on balls in play. While I’m sure we can point to those things as examples that he’s been throwing hittable pitches, the rate at which hitters are making him pay for those hitters is simply unsustainable. Every pitcher makes mistakes, but so far, all of Bedard’s mistakes are getting whacked. That won’t continue. His 3.97 xFIP so far is a better indicator of his future performance than his 8.56 ERA. I know it’s hard to be encouraged by what you’ve seen, but don’t overreact to his poor start – it’s based on factors that won’t last.

Ryan Langerhans is hitting third for the M’s today. I’m wondering if anyone has ever hit 3rd and 9th for their team in the same week before.

Ichiro, RF
Figgins, 3B
Langerhans, CF
Cust, DH
Smoak, 1B
Rodriguez, 2B
Saunders, LF
Gimenez, C
Ryan, SS

Tacoma Rainiers Home/Stadium Opener

April 15, 2011 · Filed Under Mariners · 33 Comments 

The weather’s a bit sub-optimal, but the Rainiers will open the remodeled Cheney Stadium tonight in Tacoma. The Rainiers face Sacramento tonight at 7:20, with Chaz Roe taking the hill for Tacoma against Cuban righty Yadel Marti of the RiverCats. It’s still raining in Tacoma, but the forecast has the showers tapering off around gametime.

It’ll be on 850am, and it sounds like the livestream at is now working.

I’ll try to get some photos and updates on the game, Dustin Ackley, Alex Liddi and any bullpen candidates to replace Chris Ray tonight.

Update: 6:50
It’s that wonderful spring half-mist, half-just-really-humid thing. It’s wet, but this game’s going to start on time. The rain isn’t so much falling as hovering, and I feel like I’ve just walked through a watery net. Probably isn’t helping the paint dry.
1: Ackley
2: Kazmar
3: Tuiasosopo
4: Carp
5: Liddi
6: Peguero (CF)
7: Bard
8: Limonta (LF!)
9: Bonilla (RF)

With Mike Wilson ailing, the Rainiers found the one guy who looks even
more like a defensive end to play CF.
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