New Users: Please Be Patient

March 15, 2010 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting, Site, Site information · Comments Off on New Users: Please Be Patient 

Hey folks, a quick moderation note:

We’re currently in the midst of fending off a simply disgusting amount of comment spam from people trying to sell knockoff shoes, etc. (I think I’ve gotten rid of something on the order of 100 comments in the last few days)

Until it subsides, please understand that any comments from a new user go into the moderation queue specifically to help keep things like this under control; this means that if you are a new user, your posts won’t show up until an author or mod has a chance to go in and flag you as not being an automated spam robot.

This isn’t anything NEW per se, but I’ve seen a couple of legitimate comments get lost in the flood and I wanted to make sure that you all understand it’s nothing personal.

I’m leaving comments disabled to have one less comment thread I have to delete spam from; if you have questions or comments, send us an email.


Overwhelmed or Overjoyed?

February 24, 2010 · Filed Under General baseball, Off-topic ranting · 39 Comments 

Hello – I’m marc w, a frequent commenter here and at Lookout Landing. Dave asked to help out at USSM as the blogging equivalent of a utility player – I’ll be discussing the minor leagues with JY a bit, debating the positional battles with Dave, and discussing sabermetric research in a Mariner context. Hopefully a bit more ’01 McLemore than ’05 Bloomquist.

Like a lot of you, I’ve been interested in the discussion prompted by Minor League Ball’s John Sickels’ post a week or so ago. In it, Sickels expressed some frustration with sabermetrics – essentially saying that reading many sabermetric articles now felt like more of a chore thanks to increased ‘granularity’ that, in his mind, obscure the beauty of the game behind an array of formulae and esoteric math.

While I understand that feeling at some level (I’m more comfortable talking about Marco Scutaro than Markov chains), it’s important to point out that fans with 7th grade math and some curiosity not only have access to more information than ever, that information describes more facets of the game, in more accessible ways than ever. That is, people are doing more than squeezing another percentage point in accuracy (however you define it) from pitching metrics, they’re providing entirely new ways of looking at pitching.

Ten years ago, stats began changing the way I thought about what kind of players good teams needed (why choosing a lead-off hitter based solely on speed or batting average might be counterproductive), but struggled to give a fuller picture of any given lead-off hitter’s overall value. They could tell me that ground ball pitchers had certain advantages, but couldn’t tell us which fly ballers might be worth a risk in certain contexts. They were valuable in using larger sample sizes to temper enthusiasm about a random ‘hot streak’, but couldn’t pick out when a pitcher learned a new skill.

All that’s changing now, thanks to Pitch FX and an army of amateur analysts who’ve provided pitch databases to anyone who feels like poking around in them. We can guess why Joel Pineiro succeeded in 2009 without resorting to short-cuts like ‘Dave Duncan is magic.’ Going beyond an increase in GB rate, we can say what changed about his sinking fastball. We can say why Yuniesky Betancourt was one of the worst position players in baseball without limiting the discussion to his on-base percentage. Instead of talking about his declining range in isolation, we can talk about the impact of that decline on the M’s pitching staff.

Perhaps more importantly, these sorts of stats have begun to break down the supposed dichotomy between scouting and statistical analysis. Now, both sides can help illuminate what makes a pitcher’s ‘stuff’ so effective (as an aside, I’ve always loved the broadness and imprecision in the word ‘stuff.’ It’s the perfect umbrella term encompassing a pitch’s velocity, break, deception, consistency and degree of wiggle. No other term could describe Felix’s arsenal as well as Tim Wakefield’s.). As you can tell, I’m incredibly excited about sabermetrics right now, and I think we’ve only scratched the surface.

As Mariner fans – and as USSM readers – much of this may sound obvious. We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when a team marries new-fangled analysis with great scouting, and many of you have been in the room when the front office explains why there isn’t some adversarial relationship between their scouting department and Tony Blengino’s shop. Has seeing Franklin Gutierrez made it more difficult for me to really ‘get’ John Sickels’ complaint? Probably. Dave Allen’s graphs here or here help too. What do you think? I know this isn’t a representative sample, but do you think stats are continuing to change the way you watch the game, or have we entered a period of diminishing returns? Has watching the M’s success in 2009 (or watching a panel discussion including Tony Blengino AND Carmen Fusco) made you more likely to pay attention to new developments at Fangraphs or the Book Blog, or are you perfectly content to outsource that work to Jack Z and Tony B? Are you overwhelmed by the information available these days, or do you get just the right amount from gatekeepers (whether Fangraphs, USSM, Lookout Landing or others)?


October 7, 2008 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 17 Comments 

From the Improving Safeco thread:

Long time commenter scraps has had a stroke. You can learn more details at:


Our best wishes are with scraps and those close to him. Come back soon.

Game 162, Athletics at Mariners

September 28, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting · 38 Comments 

Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn:
Seattle, 60-101
Washington, 59-101

Philly having clinched is scheduled to rest Hamels against Perez… please, pitch Hamels. Give him a couple of innings. Keep him loose.

Seattle, desperate for the loss, puts Dickey out. But Oakland attempts to block with Outman!

What’s the worst lineup the M’s could plausibly run out there without getting a nasty call from Selig? I’m thinking:

DH-L Valbuena
C-R Johnson
1B-L LaHair
2B-L Hulett
SS-R Betancourt
3B-R Cairo
LF-L Ibanez
CF-L Reed
RF-L Ichiro!

I’m playing for the platoon disadvantage there.

Officially The Worst Trade In Franchise History

September 17, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting · 103 Comments 

John Hickey gets Bedard to talk, and it’s not good.

“The start after I hurt my hip, I felt discomfort in the last inning I pitched,” Bedard said. “I know exactly when I did it. After that it got worse and worse”.

“We knew what it was after the MRI — it’s a tear in the labrum and a cyst,” Bedard said. “Surgery was always an option, but you want it to be the last option. You’re never 100 percent sure what will happen in surgery.”

“The surgery we’re talking about can be six to nine months (of rehabilitation) or it can be longer,” Bedard said. “To not be able to pitch, that’s the most frustrating part of the whole season. To not be able to do what you love is hard.”

A torn labrum isn’t quite the career ender it used to be, but it’s still as bad an injury as a pitcher can have. Apparently, the whole “exploratory surgery” thing was a lie, as Bedard clearly believes he’s having his labrum repaired when they cut him open.

Realistically, this news puts Bedard out until at least June or July of 2009. Since Bedard’s eligible for arbitration this winter and the team would have to offer him at least $6 million, there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to be non-tendered. In which case, he’d almost certainly sign elsewhere, and the Erik Bedard era in Seattle would be over.

80 meaningless innings in the worst season ever – that’s potentially Bedard’s entire Mariner career. No trading him for some prospects to try to recoup the losses. No draft picks when he leaves as a free agent. Just labrum surgery and a potential release, while the M’s try to rebuild without the core of their farm system, now enjoying success in Baltimore.

In terms of results, this is easily the worst trade in franchise history. Everyone involved in making that trade should resign in disgrace.

Current GM Handicapping

July 8, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting · 47 Comments 

A semi-random gauge of who’s likely to get the job. Based on current press coverage, rumors, substantiated and un, educated guesses, and so on. We claim no insight into front office machinations. Please, no wagering.

For names and brief resumes, check our potential GM candidates post.

Who Percent
LaCava 30%
Woodfork 20%
DePodesta 10%
Pelekoudas 7%
Antonetti 5%
Avila 5%
DiPoto/Hinch/Hoyer 5%
Ng 5%
White 1%
Evans 1%
Forst 1%
Towers 1%
Field 10%

“Field” is everyone not listed.

Rick Sutcliffe is a horrible person and ESPN’s no better

June 11, 2008 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · Comments Off on Rick Sutcliffe is a horrible person and ESPN’s no better 

This is still bugging me hours later, so:

I was watching ESPN’s broadcast of the Braves game tonight, and there was a really, really weird moment where they were discussing Rick Sutcliffe taking time off to go get cancer treatment, and Erin Andrews was in the stands and wished him well or something — I wasn’t really paying attention, it seemed totally pointless — at which point Sutcliffe went off on a bizarre rant about her, how good she looked, her skirt, and how everyone was watching her and her skirt and when they cut to the broadcast booth, his partner had this weird look of terror and shock on his face, and they chatted about how distracting she was around the batting cage.

This should be Rick Sutcliffe’s last job announcing anything. He shouldn’t be hired to do dog races. He shouldn’t be able to ever get a quarter for hawking wares at garage sales.

I don’t care that he has cancer.

I don’t care that Erin Andrews is attractive, or that she wore a skirt.

He should be fired for making comments like that. More than that, he should be fired for this rant, about her.

I don’t care what your opinion of her is: Erin takes an enormous amount of entirely unjustified personal crap. She’s been treated badly by players, awkwardly clutched by coaches. If you put her name into a search engine you need to get decontaminated within minutes of just looking at the results or your eyes will melt. Erin is objectified and degraded in a way that no male sports media figure has ever had to face, and Rick Sutcliffe, working with her, should know that and, if he can’t support her, at least shut up.

It is amazing and embarrassing that no one on the broadcast crew stopped Sutcliffe. No one cut his mike, nothing, and his partner didn’t stop him but instead ended up playing along. The broadcast team and the network let someone use game time to slobber all over another broadcaster for absolutely no reason.

That’s it, that’s all I have. Fuck you, Rick Sutcliffe. Fuck you, other guy in the booth. You’re embarrassments to my gender.

Update: here’s the video.

Felix Day!

May 8, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting · 166 Comments 

Ist das die Sonne? Day 45” by Arwen Abendstern, cc-licensed

Is it Felix Day?
Yes, it’s Felix Day, child.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Here’s a dog licking her* chops with excitement.

Annie licks her chops” by Barbara L. Slavin, cc-licensed

* presumably

Season Salvaging Time

May 4, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting · 76 Comments 

It’s May 4th, and believe it or not, the Mariners season is on the verge of extinction. They currently stand six games behind the Angels (who are winning 4-2, which would push the deficit to six and a half games) with 130 games to play. That sounds like a lot of time until you realize just how large of a hole that really is.

To win the division, the Mariners would have to outplay both the Angels and A’s by a significant margin. To put some context to this, here are the winning percentage pairs from here on out that would lead to the M’s ending up with just one more win then Los Angeles (ignoring the A’s for right now), ranging from 89 wins to 95 wins for the Mariners.

Angels – .527 – Mariners – .585
Angels – .535 – Mariners – .592
Angels – .543 – Mariners – .600
Angels – .550 – Mariners – .608
Angels – .558 – Mariners – .615
Angels – .566 – Mariners – .623
Angels – .574 – Mariners – .631

The Angels have played .594 baseball through their first 32 games without John Lackey or Kelvim Escobar and with Vladimir Guerrero off to the worst start he’s had in years. Even assuming they aren’t going to get Escobar back this year, Lackey takes a while to regain his previous form, and Guerrero doesn’t rebound all the way back to his prime levels of production, it’s still hard to see this Angels team playing much worse than .550 baseball the rest of the way.

A .550 winning percentage is an 89 win pace over a full season, and that’s about what I expected the Angels to finish with before the year started. If the Angels playing .550 ball from here on out, they’ll finish with 91 wins, and the Mariners would have to play .608 baseball to end the year at 92-70. No team has played a full season of .608 baseball or better since the 2005 White Sox and Cardinals won 99 and 100 games respectively.

It’s really freaking hard to play .608 baseball for any sustained period of time, even if you’re a truly excellent team. And let’s be honest, this Mariners team isn’t excellent. For a team of this quality to play .600 ball for five months is almost unheard of.

So, the M’s simply have to start winning, and doing so soon. They need to beat up on Texas, the White Sox, and the Padres, who they play their next 13 games against. They need a 9-4 or 10-3 stretch to make up some ground or else it just becomes too prohibitive to think they can close this gap.

It’s May, but it’s getting late for the Mariners. They don’t have any more time to struggle. They have to start winning, and they have to start tomorrow.

Game 27, Mariners at Indians

April 29, 2008 · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting · 216 Comments 

Silva v Carmona. 4:05 our time.

CF Ichiro
2B Lopez
LF Ibanez
3B Beltre
DH Vidro
1B Sexson
RF Wilkerson
C Johjima
SS Betancourt

Carlos Silva and Fausto Carmona both carry the sinkerballer label, but they are total opposites. Silva isn’t really a groundball guy anymore, but just throws a ton of strikes and hopes the results work out for him. Carmona throws a nasty, diving “turbo sinker”, but has lost his ability to put the ball in the strike zone with regularity.

The Mariners need to let Carmona get himself in trouble. An aggressive mindset against him is just going to lead to a lot of weak groundouts. Take the walk, boys.

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