Game 2, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · April 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Jarrod Parker, 7:05

Jarrod Parker was one of the most important reasons the A’s were able to beat expectation by a cool 20, 25 wins or so in 2012. The key acquisition in the Trevor Cahill trade, Parker was a top prospect who’d lost some luster following Tommy John surgery. His velocity had mostly returned, but the A’s needed him to rack up innings, and that seemed like a tall order. As it happened, the A’s top two pitchers in innings pitched were the rookie hurlers they got in two less-than-lauded trades. Parker (and Tommy Milone) steadied the rotation while Bartolo Colon went down for performance-enhancing drug use and Brandon McCarthy went down with a skull fracture. By the end of the year, they were effectively veterans alongside the mid-season call-ups like AJ Griffin and Dan Straily.

Parker uses a low-90s four-seamer and sinker, a slider and the rare curveball, but his bread and butter pitch is his change-up. When batters swung at it, they whiffed nearly half the time. Half! It’s a major reason why Parker, unlike so many young phenoms, doesn’t exhibit any real platoon splits. He throws it some against righties, particularly if he’s ahead in the count, but lefties get a steady diet of the pitch, and they struggled against it, tallying 20 hits (no HRs) and 8 walks against 58 Ks. The M’s are going to have a lefty-heavy line-up out there, since that’s the by-the-book play, but the hitters need to look for a fastball early and not have to expand the zone later in the at-bat. Helpfully, Parker throws first-pitch fastballs almost 70% of the time to lefties.

One guy who might want to look first pitch fastball and swing the bat is Dustin Ackley. I know, I know, part of the reason he’s valuable is that he’s got a discerning eye and he can make pitchers work by fouling off pitches and laying off borderline balls. But Ackley hasn’t been able to utilize those skills to regain his footing if he falls behind. If he puts the first pitch of an at-bat in play, he’s great – he’s hit .377 with a .597 slugging percentage. But he’s done so only 78 times. He’s got 13.6% of his total bases from the 7.5% of the time he’s put a first pitch in play. After falling behind 0-1, his OPS is only .580, though of course *Everyone* has a crappy OPS after falling behind. But even if he takes the first pitch for a ball, he’s hitting .235/.364/.358. With two strikes, his OPS is .473, which looks a bit like Brendan Ryan’s .490. The standard caveats apply: his career is still in the “small sample size” realm, and splitting it up by count or whatever just magnifies that. So take the preceding as something to watch, rather than as something we *know.*

Hisashi Iwakuma is going to be critical to the M’s chances this year. As the best blend of talent and experience in the rotation behind Felix, the M’s need him to pitch the way he did after taking a rotation spot last year. I know I’m a bit more sanguine about pitcher depth than Dave, but that doesn’t mean Iwakuma’s replaceable. He’s the biggest ground-ball guy on the staff, which is huge if you plan to trot out Morse or Bay in LF. The M’s combination of Hultzen and Ramirez can slot in for someone at the back of the rotation, but replacing a #2 is tough for any team in baseball. All of this to say: Iwakuma’s right shoulder needs to hold together this year. The veteran righty is now over a full year removed from shoulder soreness, but he’s also about to turn 32. Fingers crossed.

Today’s line-up:
1: Saunders, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Montero, C
8: Ackley, 2B
9: Ryan, SS
SP: Iwakuma

2nd game, and the first without Gutierrez, as the M’s continue to bring along slowly following his leg tightness. Again, if you’re going to make the fateful Ibanez-for-Gutierrez move in the line-up to face a righty starter and get Guti some rest, *this* is the day you do it. Keep it on the ground, Hisashi.

The M’s had a successful open house at Safeco Field last night, using the new video board to broadcast the game to about 15,000 fans. The weather undoubtedly helped, but I’m stunned there were what sounds like long lines to get into Safeco to watch a game on TV (albeit a really, really big one) and check out the new park. The pictures and comments I saw via twitter and blogs were universally positive. With the next ‘Supreme Court’ for Felix taking place on the 11th, it seems like a decent time to point out that the M’s communications/outreach staff seem like the best in baseball. This is not a bad attempt to curry favor or anything; with the comments Dave and I have made about the Jaso trade, it’d take a hell of a lot more than this to restore their view back to ‘indifference.’ It’s not the front office advantage I’d most prefer, but it’s the front office advantage we’ve got, and I feel like we should acknowledge them. Nice work, Kevin/Jeff/Rebecca/Randy/et al.

Your reminder: the full-season minor leagues open on Thursday. The Rainiers start the year in Fresno, while the Jackson Generals begin 2013 in Jacksonville, FL. High Desert begins in the almost-as-crazy conditions of Lancaster, while Clinton starts in Burlington. All of the full-season clubs and the M’s began the year on the road. Hmmm.

Some quick numbers from Felix’s opening day gem: Felix threw 24 change-ups in the game (the pitch fx pitch selection numbers mentioned during the broadcast were way off, a product of the algorithm having trouble differentiating Felix’s change and sinker), and got 10 swinging strikes. He got three ground-outs and one pop-up when the A’s put the pitch in play. As Felix’s FB has gotten a bit slower, it’s also gotten straighter. His four-seamer’s horizontal movement’s dwindled until he essentially had none to speak of for much of last year; his four-seamer acted more like a cutter, which presumably made the arm-side run on his sinker look more impressive. At least for last night, his four-seamer had more run than we’ve seen. I have no idea if this was a conscious adjustment, a pitch fx calibration error or just an outlier based on just 14 pitches. I can’t wait for Felix day again.


84 Responses to “Game 2, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. The_Waco_Kid on April 2nd, 2013 10:11 pm


  2. gwangung on April 2nd, 2013 10:13 pm


    Two dingers in a game makes up for a fair amount of bad defense.

  3. MrZDevotee on April 2nd, 2013 10:15 pm

    Me like Morse. Muscles good.

    (Sorry, but we’ve been starved for true power for so long… It’s nice. It’s like the difference between telling yourself “if we hit him in the toe with enough little stones, the Giant will go away” versus “Yeah, but if I just put my fist through his face, he’s dead?!?”

    (PS- Nice rip, Guty!)

  4. Slats on April 2nd, 2013 10:15 pm

    Beast power!

  5. BobbleHeadJunkie on April 2nd, 2013 10:22 pm

    Love having Morse back even though Dave didn’t like the trade.

  6. marinerbullpen on April 2nd, 2013 10:23 pm

    Is that Jaso trade working out for the M’s?
    Looks like he made a pretty fine catch tonight too.
    Go M’s.

  7. MrZDevotee on April 2nd, 2013 10:26 pm

    Run differential, 2 games into the season:

    Runs For: 9
    Runs Vs: 1

    Me likey.

    Iwakuma was looking good, too.

    Go M’s.

  8. Slats on April 2nd, 2013 10:27 pm

    Mariners have the best record in baseball!

  9. Breadbaker on April 2nd, 2013 10:32 pm

    That’s it, start the World Series today.

  10. MrZDevotee on April 2nd, 2013 10:55 pm

    This is nice too, in tonight’s stat lines:

    8 BB’s, 2 K’s

    1 BB, 9 K’s

  11. Westside guy on April 2nd, 2013 11:00 pm

    Was watching most of this delayed… Morse has an awful swing, but man he is so strong he can get away with it.

    Seager and Saunders looked good as well. Guti too, although its obvious we’re going to be enjoying him in smaller doses.


  12. tame on April 2nd, 2013 11:17 pm

    My 100-1 bet on Mariners to win the world series already in the bank

  13. dewey on April 2nd, 2013 11:45 pm

    regardless of projections, MIke Morse did more to effect this game than John Jaso would have, and i expect that trend to continue.

  14. currcoug on April 3rd, 2013 7:25 am


    The first HR was a great piece of hitting by Morse…and there is nothing “ugly” about his swing…

  15. Paul B on April 3rd, 2013 8:56 am

    regardless of projections, MIke Morse did more to effect this game than John Jaso would have, and i expect that trend to continue

    You make predictions based on one game?

  16. RaoulDuke37 on April 3rd, 2013 9:10 am

    We have ‘King Felix’, ‘Condor’, ‘Death to Flying Things’. I feel like we need something for Mike. Especially when he hits those long balls. How about WARMORSE! (even better when said with an uppity British accent)

  17. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 9:27 am

    Paul B,
    Um, pretty sure he’s basing that on Morse’s history in the MLB versus Jaso’s.

    They’ve both played more than 1 game, if I recall correctly?

  18. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 9:28 am

    Don’t forget “Death to Grounded Things” (Ryan)…

    Morse actually comes with a name already… “The Beast” and his power hitting is called “Beast Mode”.

  19. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 9:39 am

    Looking at the last 3 seasons, Jaso has provided 5.1 WAR.

    Looking at the last 3 seasons, Morse has provided 3.5 WAR.

    So what “historic” metric is it that would lead a person to expect Morse to provide more value than Jaso?

  20. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 9:42 am

    Looking at the last 3 years OPS+ Comparison



  21. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 9:42 am

    currcoug, I watched the game. Any swing that leaves you on one knee afterward – which happened twice last night – is not pretty, even if it is effective.

  22. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 9:44 am

    Also Westy-

    Morse has 5.5 WAR last 3 years.

    But I prefer the OPS+ for a comparison between Jaso and Morse, because what this team needs more improvement in is, literally OBP + Slugging %.

    And, the difference is larger, if you consider Jaso’s 144 was against mostly same-handed pitchers, not full-time playing.

  23. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 9:59 am

    “And, the difference is larger, if you consider Jaso’s 144 was against mostly same-handed pitchers, not full-time playing.”

    To comment on myself, there’s something in there that deserves giving Wedge some credit for the way he used Jaso last year… Guy went from an 84 OPS+ to being used “situationally” and putting up a 144 OPS+. And being traded for Mike Morse, when we traded a stigmatized pitching prospect for Jaso just a year earlier.

    There is the possibility that Wedge created a value in Jaso that doesn’t actually exist, if he were an everyday, full-time player. Which we’ll see, one way or another, in Oakland, probably.

  24. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 10:05 am

    OPS+ conveniently ignores defense… but you know that. So unless Morse moves to DH, that’s not really looking at the complete picture.

  25. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 10:08 am

    Also Baseball Reference’s WAR hasn’t been updated to use the agreed-upon new WAR calculations, while FanGraphs has. So check back in a couple of months and you’ll find the numbers you’re quoting will no longer exist.

  26. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 10:14 am

    Also, WAR assessments are understandably a bit skewed in this direct comparison, since Jaso gets a big boost in “positional adjustment” versus Morse, being diametrically opposed to each other in playing the most valued defensive position (catcher: +12.5) and the least valued position (OF: -7.5).

  27. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 10:25 am

    I would still argue that OPS+ is more important in this comparison– not in the vacuum of league-wide statistical analysis, but in the analysis of which player will have a larger impact on Mariners’ games. Which was the original contested point.

    The Seattle Mariners, literally, lack good OBP+Slugg% (and in the “+” sense, adjusted for parks/league factors)…

    Running Morse out in the outfield, versus Trayvon Robinson, Carlos Peguero, Casper Wells, Mike Carp is not a significant change.

    Neither is running Montero or Shoppach behind the plate, versus Jaso.

    So we’re really talking offensive comparison, yeah?

    Numbers show Morse has the greater potential to effect the outcome of games at the plate than Jaso does, if we agree that the Mariners need an excellent mix of OBP+Slug%.

    I’d still like to have Jaso. I like Jaso. As much as I like Morse.

    So not trying to be combative about it. Just think Morse is more valuable to what this team needs to separate their “run differential” in a more positive direction.

    Jaso is not a significant improvement behind the plate over who we have now. And Morse is arguably a tad BETTER than much of what we ran out in LF last season.

    Sorry if that’s not what you see. Really. I don’t like the role of “thorn” but I can’t see Jaso and Morse any differently based on the above.

  28. Bremerton guy on April 3rd, 2013 10:49 am

    Westside, why the hate on Morse? Seriously.

  29. currcoug on April 3rd, 2013 11:01 am


    So does Adrian Beltre have an ugly swing too?

    Your earlier cryptic remarks about “veterans” evidences a bias on your part against same. Since Morse actually did what he was acquired to do, your bias compelled you to knock his swing, instead of recognizing that it was good hitting, and to the opposite field at that.

    As for doing things “twice”, Morse homered “twice”, including the mammoth shot to CF, which dwarfed the earlier one by Cespedes.

    Here is another beautiful swing by Morse…LOL…–mlb.html

  30. marcus_andrews on April 3rd, 2013 11:11 am

    Mr. Z-

    While I do think Westy is being too hard on Morse and think the trade isn’t soo bad in isolation (even if I was very against it at the time) but to say Morse is an improvement over just about anyone defensively is a stretch. His UZR/150 the last two years in left field is -19 and -25. That’s really, really bad.

    I think Morse can flat out hit so he’ll be kind of nice to have around and I can’t be too upset when he is replacing the pupu platter of left fielders we’ve had the last few years. However, your argument about the positional adjustment defensively ignored the difference in offense between left fielders and catchers. Morse is an above average (not great) hitting left fielder and a very bad defensive left fielder. Jaso is a great hitting catcher and, likely, a very bad defensive catcher.

    With that said, that’s context neutral and teams are not. Our team had a catcher that could hit well and field poorly and had little in the way of outfielders (although I still think overall Morse and Wells would be something close to equally valuable) that could hit.

    I certainly enjoyed seeing Morse crush the homers and will continue to enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean he’s a better player than Jaso. An argument can be made either way and I think both sides are overstating the degree that one is an improvement over the other.

    For now, let’s just enjoy being in sole possession of first place in the AL West, right guys?

  31. currcoug on April 3rd, 2013 11:22 am

    I like Jaso as a player, and it was painful to see him end up with Oakland. However, it is interesting to read the comments of some A’s fans, who are complaining about Jaso’s pitch framing, game calling, and inconsistent arm.

    On the flip side, I loved seeing A.J. Cole leave the AL West (although I realize he wasn’t MLB ready).

    It will be interesting to see if Morse stays healthy, and whether Seattle extends him.

  32. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 12:51 pm

    Wow. I didn’t know Morse’s UZR was THAT awful (easy enough to look, but assuming “bad” I didn’t bother looking at the actual numbers)…

    But I guess, even at that low a number, how many “runners”/”runs” are we talking about between the two of them in a season (not reaching catchable balls -vs- not throwing out catchable baserunners).

    Agreed though, I messed up on his defensive ability (Morse). Ick.

  33. currcoug on April 3rd, 2013 6:36 pm

    In this series at least, Morse has clearly been the better player…offensively and defensively.

  34. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 7:06 pm

    I’m not sure how not thinking Morse is the second coming of Barry Bonds amounts to “hate on Morse”. He’s a good – not great – hitter, and he’s one of the worst defensive outfielders in the majors.

    And, if you guys consistently read comments, you’d know I’ve previously argued picking up Morse was a reasonable decision, but I thought the team gave away too much in return.

    And yes – Adrian Beltre’s swing is ugly… but I wish I was still getting to see it in a Mariners’ uniform. I’m not sure why people think “ugly” means unproductive, though – it’s an esthetic judgement. Junior’s swing was beautiful, as was Edgar’s.

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