Bullet Points for 8/7

marc w · August 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Several unrelated factoids for your delectation this Tuesday. None is worthy of a post on its own, but the combined power of several unrelated notes can… well, it looks better on the screen.

1: I know, I know: I jinxed the M’s with my game preview last night. I’m still stunned that Chris Tillman was able to slice through the M’s line-up despite having demonstrably worse stuff than when he faced them in July. I didn’t mind the M’s looking lost against a guy throwing 95+ with a great curve ball, but last night, Tillman dared the M’s to hit his 90-92 fastball, and the M’s politely declined. To be fair to Tillman, he was able to halt his velocity decline, and he hit his highest velocity of the game on his final pitch – a 94 mph fastball that Munenori Kawasaki hit for a single.

Tillman has now faced the M’s three times in his career, and is 3-0 with an ERA under 1. He’s held the M’s to a slugging percentage of .173 and an OPS of .381. Against *every other team,* Tillman’s 9-16 with an ERA over 5.5. He’s given up a slugging percentage of .492, and an OPS of .856. Against everyone else, batters average out to something like Shin-Soo Choo, Adrian Beltre or Joe Mauer. The M’s, collectively, have hit a bit worse than Clayton Kershaw.

There’ve been quite a few “Mariner Killers” down the years, from Rafael Palmeiro to Vlad Guerrero – but these have generally been great players who were just a bit better against Seattle. I asked on twitter and I’ll here: can you think of another replacement-level (or close to it) player that’s been this good against the M’s? If you grew up in the 80s, you might think of Mike Gallego, the Tacoma Tigers/Oakland A’s stalwart who seemed to come up with big hits against the M’s – but while he hit better against the M’s, it wasn’t anywhere near the kind of disparity we see with Tillman. Graham MacAree brought up Jeff Mathis, but he’s got similar splits to Gallego – noticeably better against Seattle, but not even the M’s have made him look like a good hitter. Rodrigo Lopez comes to mind for his six-game run in 2005-06 in which he went 5-1 with an ERA of about 2 (in previous seasons, the M’s knocked him around, as you’d expect). Do you all remember any terrible players that’ve played like all-stars against the M’s?

2: One of the great names in the M’s system, and all of minor league baseball for that matter, is no more. No, Forrest Snow didn’t change his name or anything – I mean Rashynol Michel is gone. For a blog with an analytical bent, you just can’t help but root for a guy named Rashynol, as irrational as that may be. Michel’s an outfielder from Curacao who’s been with the M’s AZL affiliate in Peoria. He hasn’t done a whole lot, as he’s put up .515 OPS as a 19 year old in his first US action. Perhaps in an effort to jump start his season, he’s now listed as “Raysheron Michel” which is still quite a good name, but that doesn’t quite get the stathead blood pumping. Curacao’s putting out some amazing ballplayers these days, and some even better names. Jurickson Profar manages both, but while Michel can’t match Profar’s tools, I think he’s got the edge in name. I’ll be on the look out for another saber-leaning prospect (we’ve had a Joba, so a Woba can’t be out of the question, and if we’ve had a Billy Sample, I’m holding out for one of his descendents nicknamed ‘Tiny’). Until then, I’ll always have old box scores where the “Rashynol” moniker lives on.

3: Larry Stone argues that the time has come for the M’s to DFA Chone Figgins. This isn’t the sort of post that can inspire a good debate, with each side making a good case for their point of view, but it’s good to see. The M’s wanted to rebuild his value in order to induce some sucker team to take on a portion of his remaining salary. That plainly hasn’t worked, and the team’s reluctant to use him and he’s been awful when they’ve done so. I think they gave this particularly experiment too much time as it stands, but they just need to pull the plug and move on.

Stone notes correctly that there’s really no one in Tacoma (or Jackson) who’s a natural fit to replace him, but he’s also quite right that just about any young prospect deserves the at-bats more than Figgins. Alex Liddi and Vinnie Catricala have suffered through sub-par seasons in Tacoma, but they’re at least going to be around next year. Erasmo Ramirez is going to need a 25-man spot when he’s brought back up soon (he was on a rehab assignment, but the M’s optioned him to give him a bit more time), and Franklin Gutierrez will need one when he’s recovered from his concussion.

Of the options Stone lists, I’m somewhat partial to Darren Ford, the right-handed CF the M’s got from the Giants organization this spring. Dave thought he might come up last month, but the team went with Trayvon Robinson instead, as Robinson was already on the 40-man. DFA’ing Figgins obviously opens up a 40-man spot, so it might be a good time to reward Ford for his solid (if brief) season. Ford is a better CF than Robinson (by a lot) and perhaps Wells (Ford covers more ground, but Wells’ arm keeps things close), is a good baserunner and has some contact skills that might play a bit with Seattle. He’d be somewhat superfluous if Gutierrez was healthy, but Gutierrez isn’t healthy. In any event, what’s *really* superfluous is having Chone Figgins around playing two or three times a month.

4: The stories about the M’s amazing road offense have died down, as they currently sport a 95 wRC+ on the road. That’s not bad, and it’s a far cry better than their home splits, but it shows that they’re still below average. There were a lot of stories about the M’s leading the league in runs scored on the road, but that was always driven by the fact that they’d played more road games than any other team, and now that other teams have caught up (and now that games in Arlington make up a smaller fraction of their total), the M’s have settled into the lower tier of road offenses. Again, there’s still a major gap between home and road, and something’s clearly depressed offense at Safeco this year, but Safeco didn’t destroy an above-average offense.


17 Responses to “Bullet Points for 8/7”

  1. Mariners35 on August 7th, 2012 12:24 pm

    LRod is the obvious callup.

  2. Westside guy on August 7th, 2012 1:27 pm

    I don’t have an answer to your question in point 1, but I have an anti-answer of a sort – an otherwise excellent player who’s somehow been terrible when he’s up against the Mariners. Yu Darvish.

  3. marc w on August 7th, 2012 1:44 pm

    Good call, Westside guy.

    LRod would be a decent call-up, Mariners35, but he’s 32 and doesn’t figure in the M’s long-term plans. He’d be a great stop-gap, and I’m somewhat surprised he didn’t come up earlier, but he’s essentially a small Kyle Seager. He switch hits, but I think he’s better as a lefty batter, sort of like Trayvon Robinson, and I think Stone’s on to something when he talks about the M’s wanting a righty bat, especially after they’ve added Thames.

  4. IdahoInvader on August 7th, 2012 2:40 pm

    M’s killers are an interesting subject. I’m old school and go all the way back to before the AD/Reynolds/Langston days, so there’s probably many more than I can remember.

    Some guys I DO remember Neihaus lamenting over & over were Gaetti, Randy Bush (both of the Twins) and John Valentin of the BoSox in his first few years. I think he was even involved in a triple play against us. Seems like Frank Tanana, even soft tossing, used to drive us crazy.

  5. just a fan on August 7th, 2012 2:42 pm

    Seems like Figgins is filling the 6th IF/5th OF role right now, so Liddi, Catricala or Luis Rodriguez (with Carp doubling as 5th OF) would make more sense than an OF like Ford.

    For instance on Sunday, with Ryan banged-up and Carp visiting his new baby, the M’s would have been down to 3 IFs with Ford (although I guess Jaso?).

  6. kcw2 on August 7th, 2012 3:32 pm

    Speaking of “good” names, like Tiny Sample: I forget who it was that wished Diego Segui had played in San Diego and been traded or cut. The obvious headline, “San Diego Sans Diego.”

  7. marc w on August 7th, 2012 3:41 pm

    Gaetti’s a good one as he had 30 HRs against Seattle, but he had more vs. Milwaukee, and he had an .800 OPS vs. SEA compared to something in the mid .700s overall. It’s obviously much tougher to have mind-blowing splits in the 80s because there were fewer teams/no interleague, so people racked up tons of PAs/games against each team, meaning there was plenty of time for regression to the mean.

    Tanana had better numbers vs. Seattle than the rest of the AL, but again, the gap narrowed considerably, which figures given that he threw nearly 300 innings against the M’s. I actually thought of Tanana early on, as I had the same memory you did, Idaho. I always hated seeing Tanana or Dave Stieb, but the M’s had more of a chance against both of them than I remember.

    Valentin’s good too, but suffers the same problem – too many PAs, meaning his split is noticeable, but not out and out amazing. And Gaetti, Tanana and Valentin were very good players; they were poor man’s Palmeiros or Tejadas in a way… all-star level players who were a bit better than average against Seattle. (And yes, Valentin turned a triple play against Seattle when he was playing 3B for Boston once).

  8. marc w on August 7th, 2012 3:46 pm

    jaf –
    That’s a fair point, but they’re down an IF and an OF right now, and if I had to bet, I’d say Ryan comes back before Guti. That pushes Kawasaki to the bench. I think they’d love another RH infielder, so I’m with you on Liddi, but LRod is better lefty. He’d be really useful giving Ackley a day off here and there, but Ford could help spell Thames and give Saunders a day off too – he’d also allow them to go with three RH OFs at one time if they wanted to (Robinson, Wells, Ford).

    I think you can make a case for either, and both are hitting well at the moment… I won’t be mad if they choose Liddi or Luis instead, but I just want them to make a move.

  9. IdahoInvader on August 7th, 2012 4:03 pm

    Marc, those are good points. I think there are two factors going here regarding who was a true “M’s killer.”

    One such factor is how LONG they were Mariner killers. This applies at least to Valentin. He was a killer his first few years IIRC and then tailed off vs the M’s. The other factor was WHEN certain players hurt us. Seems to me Randy Bush was a thorn in our side because of key hits w/ RISP late in the game, not necessarily due to gaudy overall numbers.

  10. SonOfZavaras on August 7th, 2012 4:38 pm

    Some guys I DO remember Neihaus lamenting over & over were Gaetti, Randy Bush (both of the Twins) and John Valentin of the BoSox in his first few years.

    You can count Nomar Garciaparra as a Mariner Killer, as well. But it’s Randy Bush who sticks out to me. That dude was never anything more than your 25th guy on a roster- but give him a pitcher in a Mariner uniform, and he was effing Ted Williams.

    He just used to kill us with pinch-hit triples, home runs, doubles.

    I for one was elated when I heard about his retirement.

  11. spuuky on August 7th, 2012 4:49 pm

    No idea at all if stats corroborate it but I always remember Jim Leyritz killing the Mariners. Hate that guy.

  12. Bremerton guy on August 7th, 2012 5:34 pm

    Luis Jimenez.

  13. FredBrack on August 7th, 2012 5:35 pm

    Don’t understand this hate-on-Figgins meme. Okay, I do understand it. (Signing Figgins was a Jack Z analytical failure, even if Figgins had performed at his average level; two powerless leadoff hitters at power positions consuming 30% of the player budget?)

    But DFAing him just to purify the 25-man roster? That, too, would be an analytical failure. Right now he’s a classic utility man. He can fill an infield or outfield spot in an emergency. He can pinch-run. He can pinch-hit when a bunt is needed. Meanwhile, he sits down and shuts up.

    Bringing up a even a marginal prospect who needs to accumulate more ABs and then sitting him on the bench 99% of the time while Saunders, Wells, Robinson, Thames, (Guti?) et al. get as many ABs as possible so the M’s can better evaluate them? That makes no sense.

    As for Ford, “rewarding” a veteran minor-leaguer — and making a opening for him on the 40-man roster! — for a team that’s trying to build a winner by sorting out its prospects makes no sense, either. If such rewards must be handed out, as in Little League, at least wait until September. Besides, the M’s are short of IF bench players. Getting rid of one who can step into an emergency at three positions just to gratify the hate brigade is not the way to run a Major League team.

    Sure, Jack Z erred mightily in signing Figgins. Throwing him overboard now would just be compounding that error.

  14. Johnny Slick on August 7th, 2012 6:11 pm

    Fred, I’m sorry but that’s simply not true. First up, Figgins most certainly does *not* “sit down and shut up”. He got Wak fired. Beyond that, he’s useless as a pinch-hitter (“when the team needs a bunt” is essentially “never”). He has more positional utility than a lot of guys but what does that matter when he’s so horrible a hitter that you can’t really take advantage of that utility in a meaningful way? You’re better off spending two separate roster spots on an IF and OF that can sort of hit than an IF/OF who can’t hit for any position except maybe pitcher.

    The reason he needs to get cut are:

    a. He’s worse right now – forget about the future for a second – than several players who are currently in AAA. As rough of seasons as Vinny Catricala and Alex Liddi have had, they are still adequate hitters in AAA and that is a couple levels higher than where Figgins is at the moment.

    b. There is virtually no chance that he will ever be better than those several guys at Tacoma, not now, not next year, not in 2023. This has nothing, really, to do with the M’s minor league system and everything to do with just how bad Figgins is at baseball now. He can’t play the game. The team owes it to himself to bring in someone who can.

    I think the fallacy that you’re stepping close to, actually, is the sunk cost one. The deal is this: Figgins will cost the M’s another $13M or whatever is left on his deal whether he plays another at-bat for the team or not. It’s clear now, after 2 1/2 years of horrible baseball, that he is not just not worth that money but he is actually worth less to the team than guys they can figuratively pick up off the street. That means that the longer he wears an M’s uniform (well, I guess he can wear one on his own time if he wants to, although if I were him I’d want to forget this chapter of my life ASAP and get right into scouting or selling real estate) he costs the team additional money *on top* of the $13M the team’s already going to pay him. All they can basically do at this point is cut their losses and move on. They ought to have done this during the offseason but hey, there’s still a year left to go and so I’m not complaining too much… yet.

  15. MKT on August 7th, 2012 8:50 pm

    Another Mariner killer: Reid Nichols. Played mainly with the Red Sox; career .716 OPS, but .895 against the Mariners, the highest of any team (except for 3 teams with tiny sample sizes; total of 37 PAs against those 3).

    Nichols was extra notable for a couple of reasons: he somehow managed to have a lot more plate appearances against the Mariners than against any other team (119; 2nd highest was 95 against Cleveland). And after a game or two where he got dramatic walk-off hits against Mariner ace closer Bill Caudill, Caudill showed up in the clubhouse with a t-shirt that said “Who the hell is Reid Nichols?”

  16. The_Waco_Kid on August 7th, 2012 11:03 pm

    Figgins should go because they barely use him. Their hope of trading him seems is becoming futile. He’s an albatross. It’d be better to just end the awkward sadness that is Figgins’s tenure here and let someone else play. Granted, as a bench player, Liddi or whoever wouldn’t get a ton of playing time, but it’s better for the long-term and frees up a roster spot.

  17. refusetolose on August 8th, 2012 7:00 am

    Marco Scutaro with Oakland, he killed the mariners.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.