Well Now What The [Heck] Is This

Jeff Sullivan · May 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

In recent years past, the Mariners have had some terrible team offenses. It was kind of the identity — the Mariners were able to prevent runs, but they also prevented too many of their own runs, and so in the end they were not good. Over the offseason, the Mariners prioritized adding good hitters, in order to improve the offense. And they prioritized adding veteran hitters, to take some of the pressure off the younger guys. They felt bad for having forced young hitters into the middle of the lineup, so they went after talented veterans to relieve the psychological burden. It follows that the Mariners figured veterans would be better able to handle the stress than rookies and new guys. Veterans have been around the block, and so on and so on.

Look, here.

[Morse and Morales are] expected to handle the bulk of duties in the Nos. 3 and 4 lineup spots, taking the pressure off younger hitters by bumping them further back in the order.
All kidding aside, Morse says there’s a big difference hitting in the middle of the order compared to other places.
Morales, who debuted in 2006 with the Angels, feels there’s a confidence level required to stay in the middle of the lineup.

Look, here.

“In those situations, sometimes you rarely get to see a fastball. They are going to pitch you different and they are going to pitch you tough. You really have to relax and not try to do too much,” Morse said. “It’s tougher when you are young. It’s a big role and it’s a tough role. They had to learn the hard way.”

On Sunday, Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales were bumped down in the Mariners’ lineup. Morales is batting fourth, after batting third all season. Morse is batting fifth, after batting fourth all season. What’s the deal? We turn to our fearless leader:

“I’m playing around with it a little bit,” Wedge said. “I still stand by the fact that Morales and Morse are just trying to do too much. They know they’re the guys here and I think with that sometimes you put a little too much pressure on yourself to do too much. You see both of them chasing more than they should.”

Morales and Morse were supposed to be stable, veteran additions, immune to trying to do too much in response to batting in the middle. Now, in Eric Wedge’s estimation, they’ve been trying to do too much in response to batting in the middle. It’s not that I don’t believe there’s some difference between batting in the middle and batting somewhere else. It’s not that I don’t believe veterans benefit from their experience. But I think this speaks for itself. In the Mariners’ own words, the experienced veterans aren’t doing what they were brought in to do. Wedge thinks they’re pressing, just like he thought the young guys were pressing.

Yet, furthermore, consider the evidence. Wedge thinks Morales and Morse are chasing too much. Morales has swung at 30% of pitches out of the zone, below his PITCHf/x average of 32%. Morse has swung at 35% of pitches out of the zone, right on his PITCHf/x average of 35%. Neither Kendrys Morales nor Michael Morse are the disciplined sort. They’re the slugging sort, and they’re likely to finish with an ugly ratio of walks to strikeouts. That was easily predictable coming in, and Wedge can’t reasonably allow himself to be frustrated by the veterans doing what they’ve always done. Morse is going to strike out. He strikes out a lot. Morales isn’t going to walk. He doesn’t walk a lot.

So Wedge thinks the veterans are pressing, which would be funny, given the whole idea behind their acquisitions. Evidence suggests they might not be, which would call into question Eric Wedge’s ability to evaluate who is and is not actually pressing. Which would make us reconsider seasons past. As is always the case with baseball posts like this, we have to acknowledge on some level that the guys in the clubhouse have a better idea than the guys like us. Wedge knows these players, and he has a better idea of what they’re going through. But where Wedge has an advantage in terms of that sort of information, we have an advantage in terms of other sorts of information, and we also don’t get wrapped up in generally discardable baseball bromides. Morales already has a home run today. Sometimes good players do well. Sometimes they don’t. Most of the time, there’s not any reason.


35 Responses to “Well Now What The [Heck] Is This”

  1. californiamariner on May 12th, 2013 2:16 pm

    I think the last line sums it up very well.

  2. stevemotivateir on May 12th, 2013 2:32 pm

    This is typical, classic Wedge-logic. Really, it just amazes me that he’s had a job at this level.

  3. Paul B on May 12th, 2013 2:34 pm

    Funny but sad.

  4. alan smithee on May 12th, 2013 2:40 pm

    They could give morales a day off against lefties now and then. His splits are only ok so far due to small sample error. Bay as little usebut giving morales a day off against lhp would be a use. Wedge ‘s move are always pointless flailing. Its not like hes a gene mauch who has a clear consistent viewpoint that is often wrong. He has no viewpoint and he does things at random hoping they will work.

    In general the current group of mlb managers is the weakest in baseball history in part because of the power transfer to the front office and /n part because they are essentially hired as PR flacks instead of managers

  5. MrZDevotee on May 12th, 2013 3:16 pm

    I guess I don’t see the contradiction in Wedge’s thinking…

    They very well could be pressing, because neither has been on a team this bad offensively before and they’re trying to do too much. No matter how much experience they have, it would be hard to NOT think “wow, we don’t score any runs if I don’t hit one out tonight…” (Thank you, Kendrys, for the 3 run shot today, btw.)

    And of course Wedge’s B.S. he has to sell the media during interviews doesn’t make much sense, when it seems like half of what Wedge says is just making crap up because he’s required to say SOMETHING by the league.

    I’m happy to put the 3 highest OBP guys up front and let the big boys hack away.

    Seems like a GOOD managerial move in my book. But then again, I’ve never been a MLB manager (so that might bode poorly for Wedge, on 2nd thought).

    Seemed like a smart move.

  6. henryv on May 12th, 2013 3:55 pm

    Wedge should just say, “Listen, I’m trying to prove that the manager doesn’t have that much effect on the result of the games. So, I’m being the shittiest manager I can be, and we’re still pretty close to .500. Right now, I’m going to have to say I’m pretty close to failing to re.ject my null hypothesis.”

    Maybe Wedge is really smart…

  7. Westside guy on May 12th, 2013 4:10 pm

    I think the in-game decisions and weird line-up choices are enough to show Wedge does not have a significant understanding on how the game actually works.

    But I’m going to agree with MrZ that what Wedge says can’t be looked at too closely (a point Jeff made sometime last year, I believe). I know I’m not consistent about doing this, but we do have to remember Wedge’s job description doesn’t include explaining his decisions to the media.

    Now to go the other way a bit – personally, I believe Wedge does believe these contradictory statements to all be true. But I realize he doesn’t have the option to come out and say “you know what? I can’t do much to help, but I have to at least look like I’m trying stuff.”

  8. beadyeyes123 on May 12th, 2013 4:40 pm

    I am by no means defending Wedge at all. I will say about 75% of MLB managers past and present all say this stuff when a player is not performing up to expectations.

    I say we need to learn that A) all managers say whatever to the press to protect the players. He can’t say “Morse is stinking it up right now so I moved him down in the order” can he? B) They love to tinker to show us they are trying things. Maybe the tinkering does make sense for all we know since none of us are in an MLB clubhouse day to day, maybe not.

    In the end, we need to just accept the fact that no manager can do anything if the talent is not performing up to snuff. Period. Case in point: Mike Scioscia who, IMHO, is just as frustrating a manager as Eric Wedge is. Ask a Yankee fan about Joe Girardi and you get the same comments.

    The manager’s job appears to be, write in the lineup, make substitutions in game and take the heat when dumb things happen.

  9. PackBob on May 12th, 2013 4:56 pm

    Manager practice:

    Take a list of well-worn cliches, another list of players at various levels of success, and try to match them up.

    I doubt Wedge, or most other managers, knows why the players struggle at times, so all he can do is spout cliches and wait until the player starts hitting again.

  10. scraps on May 12th, 2013 5:11 pm

    God, I miss Earl Weaver.

  11. Snuffy on May 12th, 2013 5:26 pm

    Moving Morse to 5 seems fine with me. Kendrys at cleanup makes sense. Seager at #3 seems like a good move. Only he and Condor are hitting well enough to bat in the 3 hole, and Saunders is doing well out of the leadoff spot. I’d sure like Ackley to hit well enough to bat in the 2 hole but that would be 3 LHB in a row and he is back to struggling. Ackley, in a very small SSS, has been hitting LHP better after a ‘0’ for 20 or so start. Why Wedge would bench Ack vLHP just to get Andino in the lineup at this point is goofy. Andino is not a real major league option. Bay is helping vLHP and putting him in the 2 hole works but shows overall lineup weakness. Montero, who has hit LHP well in the past, is horrid this year… again, SSS. We are shy a good hitting corner OF’er vRHP and ss is an offensive blackhole. I actually see hope with ‘Zunio eventually displacing Montero at C. Ackley needs to pick it up… in the last week he is at .105ba. Ugh. Hopefully Miller and Franklin, with backup help from Carlos Triunfel, will give some better middle infield options.

  12. Kazinski on May 12th, 2013 5:30 pm

    I liked the move today moving Bay up in the order. When is the last time we’ve had 4 guys with OBP > .350 hitting 1-4?

    If fact I would be quite happy if Morse was dropped to 6th and move Smoak up to 5th. Then we would have the first 5 with OBP > .350.

  13. Kazinski on May 12th, 2013 5:41 pm

    Andino is not a real major league option.

    DFA him and bring up Triunfel. I am not sure his defense is good enough to start, but he can play every position in the infield and he will be a much better option at the plate. He is 23, he’s spent 2 full years at AAA, and then it allows them to bring up Miller and see whether he can be the everyday SS next year.

    Miller is actually a year older than Triunfel, so hopefully he won’t need as much seasoning at AAA. He doesn’t need any more time in AA.

  14. GLS on May 12th, 2013 6:44 pm

    Sitting Ackley in favor of Andino is the most ridiculous move possible. I don’t care who’s pitching that day. Andino is a nothing entity with the bat. Ackley, for all of his struggles, does actually have talent.

  15. el_presidente on May 12th, 2013 7:31 pm

    But Wedge didn’t seek Morales or Morse out, Jack did. I’m sure Wedge didn’t sit down and analyze their Pitch/Fx numbers before he made those comments. He fully expects these guys to have professional, veteran AB’s because they are professional veterans.

    I also happen to think that his disappointment and the subsequent moves aren’t due to the result, but rather the process. Morse has been having terrible AB’s with RISP. It obvious he’s pressing and has no game plane with runners on. Drop him down and prove a point to a guy that should know better.

  16. Paul B on May 12th, 2013 7:38 pm

    I wish we could have gotten Davey Johnson.

    Or just kept Bob Melvin. He seemed to do OK after the M’s dumped him.

  17. stevemotivateir on May 12th, 2013 7:58 pm

    You can bet that Wedge and Z had many discussions about who they wanted to bring in, and that Wedge’s opinion influenced the moves Jack made.

  18. argh on May 12th, 2013 8:50 pm

    –They very well could be pressing, because neither has been on a team this bad offensively before–

    The problem with that theory is that Morse was a Mariner in 2008 when they went 61-101.

  19. BackRub on May 13th, 2013 1:14 am

    The M’s have a 93 wRC+. The 2011 Nationals had an 89 wRC+. The 2010 Angels: 94 wrC+, 2010 Nats: 90 wrC+. Morales and Morse have been on teams with offenses as “bad” as M’s are now.

  20. gag harbor on May 13th, 2013 3:00 am

    Wedge is pressing! Time to sit him a while and see if he finds his groove. Perhaps he just needs a talking to? Luckily for him, his managerial hyper zeal has not caused the team to miss out on picking up wins against weak pitching and they’ve moved within a half game of 2nd place in the division. That should preserve his role on this team for another 2-3 months. It’s nice having two pitchers like we do in the 1-2 slot.

  21. Westside guy on May 13th, 2013 7:48 am

    Haha, I love that! Wedge needs to sit!

  22. deflep78 on May 13th, 2013 8:51 am

    There are plenty of flights from New Orleans to New York. You have to make a move at SS now to keep the momentum. Ryan and Andino were awful this weekend and I can’t stand the announcers saying “Ryan really squared that ball up.” Really .129, your really stretching guys.

    Make the move, make a run at this thing.

  23. onetreehugger on May 13th, 2013 9:11 am

    Is Wedge the only manager we hear? How many managers ‘speak the same language’ as him? I hear the same stuff from most of the managers who’ve managed to World Series championships. If someone isn’t hitting well and he says it’s too much pressure, we don’t take that as a real answer because there’s no statistical support for it. If someone here looks at the statistics and finds out that the batter is swinging more and missing, and swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone, we tend to take that as why he’s not hitting well and think we’re way ahead of Wedge.

    The problem is that the stats aren’t telling us more about HOW the batter isn’t hitting well than WHY. Why is he swinging at more bad pitches? Obviously, he’s pressing!

    All I’m saying is that the statement that sometimes people hit well and sometimes they don’t is about where our understanding is, and let’s not pretend that all the Wedge-type people are idiots and all the statisticians are geniuses and know why everything happens. (Correlation is not causation?)

    Maybe clubs should hire psychologists to constantly test the players on psychological tests so instead of saying “so-and-so has gained a lot of confidence lately” he can pull out a sixteen-page psychological test, look at the analysis page, and say “so-and-so’s confidence has gone up from 5.8 to 7.2”, and we can plot another point on our confidence graph and say, “Oh, of course he’s hitting better.”

    I love reading this site, but the analysis here doesn’t make Wedge or anyone else an idiot. As someone pointed out the other day, if the Mariner’s problem was the wrong manager, and changing managers would make us better, we should be the greatest team ever because we’ve changed managers so many times over the last several years.

  24. bergamot on May 13th, 2013 9:59 am

    Eric Wedge should stop playing psychologist. Whether he should stop playing MLB manager is still an open question.

  25. gwangung on May 13th, 2013 10:22 am

    Eric Wedge should stop playing psychologist. Whether he should stop playing MLB manager is still an open question.

    Being a major league manager IS being a psychologist. That is, indeed, part of his job.

    And people neglect possible placebo effects from managerial actions. The mere fact of making a change to “reduce pressure” may, indeed, reduce pressure on an individual. Ignoring that effect suggests that people should stop playing psychologist.

  26. stevemotivateir on May 13th, 2013 10:29 am

    I don’t think anyone here has said anything to suggest that the problems with this team are solely on Wedge. Obviously the players have to make things happen, even if that means ignoring Wedge’s advice/demands. Jack was the one who brought in the players we have, so he’s in the mix as well.

    But having an issue with Wedge’s style of management and being vocal about it, should be understandable.

  27. jordan on May 13th, 2013 11:19 am

    If Scioscia gets fired in LA, do the M’s try and get him immediately then cut Wedge loose? Does any team do this or do they all wait till an appropriate time to fire the current manager?

  28. scraps on May 13th, 2013 11:26 am

    Wedge is not going to get fired when the team is playing well (or at least winning).

  29. jordan on May 13th, 2013 1:07 pm

    But if Scioscia is on the table? That’s like saying you don’t get a better first baseman if the opportunity presents itself because Smoak hit .280 for a few weeks.

  30. eponymous coward on May 13th, 2013 1:31 pm

    DFA him and bring up Triunfel. I am not sure his defense is good enough to start, but he can play every position in the infield and he will be a much better option at the plate.

    Andino, lifetime minor league OPS: .683
    Andino, lifetime AAA OPS: .725
    Triunfel, lifetime minor league OPS: 699
    Triunfel, lifetime AAA OPS: .715

    Incidentally, Andino’s line before getting called up in 2008 at age 24? .287/.356/.497 in 43 games, better than what Triunfel is hitting now.

    Again, Triunfel is not an improvement on Andino. He’s essentially the same player, who’s a few years younger, with very similar skill set (or lack of same). People need to quit thinking roster moves like this represent anything other than rearranging deck chairs. Replacing a 29 year old replacement level middle infielder with a 23 year old one does not improve your team.

    You could make a case for promoting Franklin (who, unlike Triunfel, is advancing through his leagues much faster and with better skills- both have shaky defense but Franklin can hit better), and Dave’s gone ahead and done that (and at this point, I’d probably see the logic in not wanting to go with the current setup at SS), but not Triunfel.

  31. stevemotivateir on May 13th, 2013 1:36 pm

    Scioscia probably isn’t going to be available and even if he were, why would he wanna rush into a new team? And it’s not like Jack’s going to fire Wedge, or that the Mariners would be his only option.

    Scioscia is a better manager than Wedge. But there’s other guys who are better than him right now that are available, so that should say something.

  32. californiamariner on May 13th, 2013 2:03 pm

    I might be alone in this line of thinking (although I doubt it), but I would rather have the best GM/front office in the MLB and have Eric Wedge than have our current front office and have the best manager in the MLB. If the right roster is put out there, I don’t care who the manager is, they are going to win games.

  33. stevemotivateir on May 13th, 2013 6:24 pm

    ^I’d rather have a great GM and a great manager;)

    Seriously though, they’re equally as important. A bad manager can still bench his best players because he’s holding a grudge, or run with some bs gut instinct that tells him someone needs to sit, or someone needs to be pulled.

    That’s what gets me about wedge. Just when you think he couldn’t possible screw something up, he does something ridiculous.

    I do get your point. It probably applies to every other manager in baseball. Less so with Wedge, in my opinion anyway.

  34. fwbrodie on May 13th, 2013 9:34 pm

    It’s really discouraging to expect the wrong decision, the wrong advice, the wrong reaction, and the wrong plan at every turn from the guy managing your favorite team… I mean it really, really is. Lame. Depressing. Unfortunate. Tired. Bleh. Fire him.

  35. NorthofWrigleyField on May 14th, 2013 1:21 am

    I thought what followed that was pretty funny… Wedge went on to comment that sometimes Morales and Morse have to take a walk and let the guys behind them pick up the slack.

    First off, I thought that showed the emergence of a Bizarro Wedge. How confused must those batters be? Secondly… guys?

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