Game 65, Mariners at Giants

marc w · June 16, 2015 at 12:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

JA Happ vs. Tim Lincecum, 12:45pm

Yesterday’s game was one of those great games that makes the disappointment of this year and the past several years…well, not “worth it,” but “more tolerable.” The M’s looked like the team we thought we’d get. Taijuan Walker was great again, and it’s easier to see him as a fixture in the rotation now. The M’s got timely hits to take a lead, then added to it late in the game. The bullpen quietly did their job. The cynic in me argues that this was the easiest game for them, facing a pitcher who seemed like a good bet to struggle against the M’s lefty-heavy line-up. But it was a game – just one game, of course – that pushed cynicism out of the way for a couple of hours, and that was refreshing. Please don’t completely overwrite that memory with another ugly, punchless loss like you did in the Houston series, M’s.

Seattle’s prodigal son returns next week, but the M’s pay him a visit today. The right-hander’s glory days of 2008/2009 are long gone, but Lincecum’s enjoying a modest improvement over the ugly 2012 and 2014 campaigns…seasons that ended in World Series wins, of course. His runs allowed and FIP are lower than they’ve been in a while thanks to an improvement in BABIP and HR/FB, which casts some doubt about how “real” this improvement really is. Lincecum’s K rate continues to fall – it’s fallen every year since 2009 – and his walk rate has edged back up over 10% as well. Likewise, his velocity continues its long-term slide. He debuted averaging 95, then sat in the low 90s in recent years. This year, he’s just under 89mph.

That said, he’s clearly still capable of brilliance – he’s tossed no-hitters in two of his worst seasons, after all. It’s consistency that’s eluded him; 95mph and a dominant split/change gives a pitcher a margin of error that 89mph doesn’t, and when he’s not on, he’s gotten roughed up. Since the start of 2014, he’s thrown 6 games of at least 7 IP in which he’s given up no runs. But he’s also thrown 6 games of under 5 IP with at least as many runs allowed as innings pitched, and he lost his starting gig late in 2014 because of it. Interestingly, at least to me, is that he’s never had platoon splits. Over his career, his raw splits are slightly reversed, with lefties faring a bit worse than righties. By FIP, it’s essentially a dead heat.

One of the reasons for that is his splitter/change-up. Lincecum’s fastballs have almost no armside run (his four-seam is cutter-like in that it moves *away* from righties), and the same is true for the split – its break is almost entirely vertical, and it generates lots of whiffs, even as it (and the rest of his arsenel) has lost velocity over the years. Lefties see the pitch a lot – about 40% of the time. To righties, he uses his slider (79mph) and the occasional curve ball (75mph). Lefties see more of his sinker, while he throws his four-seam to right-handers. Since the start of 2012, righties are slugging over .500 on that four-seam fastball while lefties are under .400 against both four-seam and sinker. Given the pitch’s movement and these results, I don’t get why Lincecum wouldn’t reverse things, and throw righties more sinkers, as they’re generally much better against same-handed hitters.

1: Morrison, 1B
2: Smith, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Jones, CF
7: Miller, SS
8: Zunino, C
9/SP: Happ

The Rainiers bullpen day started a little slow yesterday, with Reno taking the lead off of Logan Bawcom, but Tyler Olson was great for 4 IP and the bats came alive, leading the Rainiers to a 10-4 win. Chris Taylor doubled and tripled for the Rainiers. Stephen Landazuri starts today against 80s teen-movie villain Parker Frasier.

Jackson, as mentioned yesterday, beat Mobile 6-2, and they’ve got a travel day today before welcoming Birmingham to West Tennessee tomorrow.

Bakersfield beat Inland Empire 9-8 in extra innings. The bats bailed out starter Dan Altavilla, who was knocked out in the 2nd after giving up 6 runs. Despite not having an extra-base hit, the Blaze pieced together 12 singles and 7 walks to get their 9 runs, and won it in the 10th on a walk-off wild pitch. Tyler Pike starts today for Bakersfield.

Clinton was rained out in Fort Wayne, meaning that yesterday was perhaps the first time every affiliate won, or, more accurately, didn’t lose. It’s been a rough year in the M’s minors.

The M’s draft picks have begun signing contracts. Nick Neidert signed a slightly over-slot deal for $1.2m, while Andrew Moore signed for just under-slot at $800,000 even. Moore will report to Everett, who start their campaign on Thursday, with a home series against Eugene. Slugging small-school 1B Ryan Uhl was a senior, and signed for a well-under-slot bonus of $50,000 – he should be in Everett too. Righty Kyle Wilcox, out of tiny Bryant College, signed for just under slot at $225,000. HS righty Cody Mobley, whom the M’s selected in the 8th round, had a commitment to the University of Evansville, but the M’s gave him a bonus equal to the slot value of a pick a few rounds earlier. 10th round pick Darin Gillies, a RHP out of Arizona State, signed for $10,000.

The biggest story in baseball isn’t that the Padres called up Pat Murphy to manage the club, but the investigation into the hack and leak of Houston’s internal trade discussions last year. You may remember when Deadspin published 10 months of internal wrangling and haggling near the trade deadline. Well, the FBI’s been investigating the hack, and they’ve named a suspect: The St. Louis Cardinals. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow came from STL, so maybe he just never changed passwords, but this seems like a pretty big deal. We’d all been wondering what the next analytical insight in baseball might be, and what sorts of problems math/IT genius could apply their skills to. But maybe it’s simpler than all of that: maybe hacking is the next market inefficiency? (Hat Tip: Mike Curto)


16 Responses to “Game 65, Mariners at Giants”

  1. kaleyk on June 16th, 2015 12:55 pm

    Yesterday’s win was a “comfortable” win. M’s pitching dominated and the offense scratched out five runs. Kinda expected to see a lot of games like that in 2015.

  2. Seatt101 on June 16th, 2015 1:25 pm

    Do the Mariners do come from behind wins and if so when was the last when they scored 3 to do so?

  3. Seatt101 on June 16th, 2015 1:44 pm

    Cy Young pitcher on the mound
    Worst OBP in baseball as batters
    You have to pity Happ – 5 no decisions in last 6 with no real prospect of a win yet era 3.3 same as Lincecum

  4. kaleyk on June 16th, 2015 2:05 pm

    May 8th … the M’s trailed the A’s 3-1 after six innings. The M’s won 4-3 in 11 innings.

  5. Seatt101 on June 16th, 2015 2:29 pm

    Thanks for that
    Having just chased Lincecum let’s hope the next one is today
    Go Zunino or are we expecting too much – too late flyball to Aoki

  6. jak924 on June 16th, 2015 3:39 pm

    This team just sucks.

  7. bluemoonking on June 16th, 2015 3:48 pm

    The farm is bare, the draft was a puzzle and nothing you can trade to make the team better. Maybe the Mariners can hire a couple of hackers and steal a clue as to how to run a sports franchise. Too soon?

  8. kaleyk on June 16th, 2015 4:18 pm

    Aw, come on, the road trip ends 4-4, .500 on the road is ok!

    There is a lot of failure in the tenure of JackZ. Ackley, Smoak, Montero, and Saunders represent failed development. Imagine where the team might be today if those four had developed as anticipated! In 2009 the M’s pissed of Kenji Johjima and the team has struggled for a catcher ever since. Zunino, an excellent defensive catcher, rushed to the major leagues, very likely will be a developmental failure due to lack of time in AAA. Brad Miller, great game today, looks like a legit major league player, especially if the M’s will quit screwing with his defensive position.

    The only player developed in the period is Kyle Seager and one could make the argument that Seager developed despite the Mariners. Pushed to third base by the star of Ackley and the bomb of Figgins, Seager has become a gold glove winner and a very consistent hitter.

    Tons of failed acquisitions, starting with Figgins. Maybe no one saw that coming, but a talent evaluator like JackZ maybe should have. How about Milton Bradley!! Michael Morse, Jason Bay, Kendrys Morales x2, Ibanez 2.0 and a ton of “maybe” players that failed to amount to anything; Casper Wells, Corey Hart, Chris Denorfia, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Langerhans, Kelly Shoppach, Jack Wilson and the list goes on. Doubtful that Cano has plunged off a cliff, but if he has, wow.

    Griffey 2.0 was probably a marketing success while also being a roster failure. That marketing success is countered by the marketing failure of the inability to retain Ichiro. Beyond the marketing appeal of Ichiro, the team didn’t have a better outfielder in 2013/2014 (Ackley, Almonte, Bay, Chavez, Ibanez, Morse, Peguero, Saunders, Denorfia, Gillespie, Hart, Jackson, Jones, Romero).

    The problem probably goes beyond JackZ. Where is the M’s Joc Pederson? Paul Goldschmidt? There seems to be a systemic failure in the organization to develop major league hitters.

  9. sawsatch on June 16th, 2015 4:40 pm

    Remember at Safeco we were to be built on Pitching, Defense and Speed. We were to add bats as needed.
    What happened to the Defense and Speed?
    I don’t notice the Hawks sacrificing defense because they acquired J.G. They stick to their plan.
    The Mariners don’t seem to have one.

  10. mrakbaseball on June 16th, 2015 4:42 pm

    I wouldn’t lump Saunders in with the rest of those guys, he showed last year he was a capable big leaguer, he’s just injury prone and a Bavasi draft pick as well. Bradley was only acquired because the team wanted to rid itself of Silva, another Bavasi signing.

  11. Westside guy on June 16th, 2015 6:20 pm

    Of course Saunders only blossomed after he went outside the org for help.

    Regarding his injury history: Condor is sort of the anti-Gutierrez. Guti’s body keeps attacking itself, while Michael’s keeps getting attacked by inanimate objects – sprinkler heads, outfield walls, Eric Thames’ forearm…

  12. ck on June 16th, 2015 7:29 pm

    The Howard Lincoln business model is a major contributor to the demise of the M’s. Lincoln is happy to turn a profit, with his family friendly baseball themed park, and media revenue. He gives lip service to winning, and after just a few more years of miserable failure, Jak Z will find himself on the hot seat of yore…

  13. LongDistance on June 16th, 2015 10:59 pm

    ck. Baseball is a business, of course, a professional show of elite athletic skill. But what you’re talking about is correct: that the M’s organisation and Howard Lincoln, incapable of creating solid elite teams, focussed on the hotdogs and bat-nights, which might amuse 6-year-old kids, but is just irritating after a while for people who pay to see some elite baseball being played. The panic spree of winter 2013 and its little brother in 2014 was not due to suddenly understanding something about team building, but to the vast and growing wasteland of empty seats at Safeco.

    You really have to love baseball, to hang with this situation all these years. And, incredibly, Seattle still has a fairly solid core of fans of all stripes, all the way from former Little Leaguers who like to root, root, root, to those who like the stat mining and sometimes esoteric discussion at sites such as this.

    And in my opinion, the only fully professional baseball product Seattle baseball fans have been handed since … god, what? … 2003, is the FO’s yearly public-relations/marketing campaign.

  14. WestyHerr on June 17th, 2015 2:17 am

    The Orioles scored 19 runs and A Jones didn’t even play. Hoping we score 2 against Bumgarner.

  15. ayrbhoy on June 17th, 2015 10:54 am

    I was at yesterday’s game at the AT&T. First, what a ballpark and what a brilliant HD day to take in a ball game. Not a bad seat in that ballpark. If anyone gets a chance to visit SF I highly recommend visiting that park- interesting diverse and eclectic mix of fans. Btw, M’s fans everywhere yesterday!

    Although it was sunny and warm (for SF,) it was very windy and that wreaked havoc with the OF’s. I thought we’d see a couple more home runs cause at times that (3-4 club) wind was blowing straight out to CF.

    I was really surprised with how well the Giants hit- it seemed that both Happ and the Bartender threw good pitches, ‘pitchers pitches’ but the hitters managed to get at least 3 or 4 bloopers to drop in between Robbie C and the OFers. What can you do.
    Also, was really impressed with Matt Duffy’s bat speed- interesting because he seemed to be the smallest hitter on the field. Comparable to Rory Mcilroy on the PGA Tour, not the biggest guy on tour but one of the longest hitters.

    Lastly, this was my first time seeing James Jones ‘up close,’ he was much bigger than I thought with blazing speed. I understand he’s struggled at the plate over the last year but why don’t we replace Ackley w Jones in LF? Surely JJ can hit better than Ackley’s .198. Yeah he didn’t get a hit yesterday but if he can get on base twice each time he goes hit-less he can make an impact on this ball club.

  16. Westside guy on June 17th, 2015 1:12 pm

    We saw plenty of James Jones last season. He’s really fast, but he’s not a good defender and is a bad hitter to boot. I don’t think he’s an upgrade over Ackley, as surprising as that might seem.

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