David · August 4, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

I’m turning the short bullet point into something of a habit. Apparently, I’ve been channeling Larry King. I’ll try to actually write a post about one subject sooner or later. Until then:

  • Email topic of the day revolved around MLB’s draft rules, with lots of people writing in to say that Arizona can’t have the #1 pick next year because they alternate years and it’s the AL’s turn. They changed that rule, and starting next year, worst record determines draft slot regardless of league.
  • Lots of other people writing in to chide me for not getting to my trade deadline recap just yet. Mea Culpa. Maybe tomorrow.
  • Rafael Soriano skipped his appearance yesterday due to a sore elbow. Not good. Definitely a setback, and at this point, wisdom might just be to shut him down. It is very rare that a player will have continuing pain like this and not have a serious injury. The odds of Soriano having major surgery at some point are pretty high. At this point, it could be dubbed somewhat likely.
  • The M’s requested waivers on the entire team on Monday. This is actually pretty standard, as team’s hope that the sheer quantity of work required to claim everyone results in someone slipping through the cracks. We should know tomorrow who cleared waivers and who didn’t. I’ll fill you in with what I hear.
  • Here’s a name to keep an eye on in free agency, as the Mariners are internally showing quite a bit of interest: Jacque Jones. The club sees him as a quality defensive CF who is only playing RF to accomodate Torii Hunter. He’s a left-handed pull hitter with power, and like Ibanez, has a swing that should work in Safeco Field. I don’t have an opinion on this yet. Jones is an overrated hitter who doesn’t walk, but his outfield defense has been tremendous in right and he was a quality defensive CF in 99/00. The M’s badly need a flycatcher in center, and Jones is a better hitter than most of the defensive whiz types. If you could get him for something like 2 years at $3 million per (the standard Jose Guillen contract), I might be interested.
  • I hearby nominate Mike Myers role to be renamed. He’s no longer a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY). He’s now a NORM (No Out Run Machine), continuing the tradition of the acronym’s namesake. Now we just need to come up with a snazzy abbreviation for Shigetoshi Hasegawa that fits into AYALA and we can relive the horrors of the mid-90’s all over again.

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DMZ · August 4, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

I wouldn’t ever bring a pitcher back in after a signficant rain delay. Say, 30m or more.

A pitcher preps for a game for a long time, throwing mostly low-intensity warm-up tosses, and then goes into the game. After they come out, you’re working on trying to keep their arm warm, the pitcher hydrated, and you can only do one of those things if they’re in the clubhouse watching “You’ve Gotta See This” reruns. They’re likely to tighten up or strain something, and what’s the alternative — have them toss a little in whatever batting cages the stadium has, possibly for hours, before they come back in?

Just pull them. If you’ve got a Villone in the bullpen, a good swingman suited to spot starts and extended relief, bring that guy in. Or even skip to the next starter if the game’s close. This also allows you to (without being a jerk about it) possibly swap L/R pitchers and gain an advantage over the lineup they’re throwing at you.

Then depending on how far they got into the game, push them up in the rotation for the next turn.

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DMZ · August 4, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

To expand on Jason’s point:

April: .256/.326/.376

May: .266/.325/.383

June: .243/.325/.373

July: .277/.337/.421

August: .350/.392/.562

Meanwhile, the pitching…

April: 5.25 ERA, 27 HR, 83 BB, 137 K

May: 4.15 ERA, 32 HR, 91 BB, 189 K

June: 3.67 ERA, 25 HR, 92 BB, 181 K

July: 6.33 ERA, 55 HR, 108 BB, 169 K (no, really, 55 HR in 27 games)

August: 6.38 ERA, 4 HR, 10 BB, 16K

That got ugly in a hurry. There’s a lesson here: power scores runs. Shocking, isn’t it? The team’s scoring more in large part because they’re finally hitting for some power, and they’re getting beat up because they’re tater-riffic, not because other teams are stealing bases and laying down the sac bunt against them.

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JMB · August 4, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

M’s offense, pre- and post-All Star break.

Pre: .256/.324/.380, HR every 46 at-bats, 4.03 runs/game

Post: .293/.356/.439, HR every 32 at-bats, 4.95 runs/game

For comparison…

2000 season: .269/.361/.442, HR every 28 at-bats, 5.6 runs/game

2001 season: .288/.360/.445, HR every 34 at-bats, 5.7 runs/game

2002 season: .275/.350/.419, HR every 37 at-bats, 5.0 runs/game

2003 season: .271/.344/.410, HR every 40 at-bats, 4.9 runs/game

So. It’s pretty clear the offense has been getting worse each season (except from 2000 to 2001, where it was pretty much the same), a trend that continued in a big way this season before all the changes were made. Now they’re basically scoring one extra run per game since the break, with quite a bit more power to boot. Part of this is Ichiro and Winn getting hot, yes, but part of it’s also Justin Leone and Bucky Jacobsen.

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David · August 3, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

A few notes from perusing today’s box scores.

  • Ichiro goes 6 for 6 with 5 singles. His run the past month has been incredible and one of those things that you just may never see again. His remarkable ability to string together periods where he becomes a one-base machine is historic. Despite the awful start to the year, he’s now hitting .354 and leads the league in batting average. He’s even 9th in on base percentage, and statistically, his value in 2004 is very similar to when he won the MVP in 2001. Amazing what some better teammates do for his magical “value”, huh. Remember that when Scott Rolen is winning the NL MVP this year because Barry Bonds’ teammates include J.T. Snow and Neifi Perez.
  • Can we all thank the Lord that Lou Piniella is not around to watch the walkfest that is the Mariners pitching staff? Can anyone imagine what he’d do to Nageotte, Thornton, and Blackley? For all the Fire Melvin talk, at least he’s not ruining the careers of our young pitchers. When Lou was here, we feared for the safety of anyone coming up from Tacoma. This is one scenario where Melvin >>> Piniella.
  • Bucky Jacobsen is now hitting .321/.424/.661 in 56 at-bats. He’s still not an everyday player. Manny Ramirez is hitting .332/.412/.623. Bucky is obviously going to cool off (the 19 K’s in just 56 AB show obvious struggles), but until he does, play the man. There’s just no point in not having him in the line-up right now. And if that means Edgar is a pinch-hitter the rest of the year, so be it. He’s the Sacred Cow, but he’s not Everyday Sacred Cow.
  • Brad Penny’s firing a two hitter in his Dodger debut, and LA is winning 3-0. Apparently, Paul LoDuca’s heart and grittiness didn’t go with him to Florida, but Penny’s 3.06 ERA certainly came west.
  • The M’s are only a game behind Kansas City in the Justin Upton race after the doublehearder sweep. We’re not going to catch Arizona’s ineptitude, but the best player in the draft frequently falls to the #2 pick, especially when the team selecting #1 threw a ridiculous amount of money at a college shortstop the previous year, as the Diamondbacks are doing with Stephen Drew. If we get the #2 pick, Upton is very likely ours.

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Hello world!

DMZ · August 3, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

Welcome to WordPress. This is the first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

David · August 2, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

The new Future Forty is up and there are some fairly significant changes from the July edition. When I updated the list last month, I didn’t have much in the way of strong reports that I trusted from the Northwest League and absolutely nothing from Arizona, so Casey Craig was the only player on the list not playing in full-season ball. Despite knowing that some of the players in Everett and Peoria were more talented than others on the list, I just didn’t feel comfortable placing them in the Future Forty without scouting reports from people I trusted who have been doing this for 20+ years. Since I’m not in a position to see these guys myself, I rely pretty heavily on the reports I get from scouts who watch them play and are nice enough to give me the rundown. Nearly all of these scouts work for clubs other than the Mariners and aren’t giving me too much spin; what I get from them is mostly what they really believe.

In the past month, though, I’ve gotten quite a few reports from the NWL and AZL and feel confident enough in their consensus to add 4 short-season league players to the list. Give a hearty welcome for the debuts of Aquasox shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Yung-Chi Chen, and starting pitcher Shawn Nottingham, as well as a Peoria shortstop you may have heard of, Matt Tuiasosopo. The reports on Cabrera are glowing; comparisons to Barry Larkin, Edgar Renteria, and Michael Young. His defense is universally praises and his bat is more impressive than most expected. One of the scouts also saw Jose Lopez in Everett and claims there is no comparison; Cabrera is leaps and bounds ahead of Lopez at the same age. Lopez is obviously a better prospect, but that’s a pretty big compliment from a scout who thinks I’m totally off base on Lopez (I’m a pretty well known skeptic of his realistic performance).

The praise for Chen, Nottingham, and Tuiasosopo was more muted, but still pretty resounding. There is a lot of interest in seeing if Chen will play regularly in the Olympics, and most feel he is too good for the Northwest League. Nottingham got high marks for his command and competitiveness, but his maturity was called into question by everyone who saw him. I didn’t hear the popular Travis Blackley comparison, but “Bobby Livingston with a better fastball” suits me just fine. Tui is hitting the tar out of the ball in Arizona, though his swing is still inconsistent and his defense is getting mixed reviews. No one outside of the Mariners organization thinks he’s a shortstop long term, but everyone agrees that his bat has the potential to play just about anywhere.

A lot has been made recently about the Mariners depth of shortstops, and indeed 5 players have SS listed next to their name on the Future Forty. The aforementioned Lopez, Cabrera, and Tuiasasopo are joined by Michael Morse and Adam Jones, giving the M’s apparent depth at the position. However, Cabrera is the only one who doesn’t have a pretty significant amount of detractors when discussing their defensive abilities. Morse’s move from shortstop is a foregone conclusion. Lopez is most likely a 3rd baseman or 2nd baseman long term, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the M’s shuffled him around much like they did Carlos Guillen in his early years. Tuiasosopo is a rightfielder in most minds, and despite a recent power surge, questions remain about Adam Jones’ offensive potential and whether his 95 MPH arm will eventually be the key that gets him to the majors.

Anyways, that’s a pretty brief rundown, but for all the information, click the big link on the left and enjoy.

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David · August 2, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

Eddie Guardado has been placed on the 15 day DL with a dead arm; Walk Machine Matt Thornton has been recalled from Tacoma to take his place.

Lots of emails asking our opinion on the deals over the weekend, especially the Dodgers deal. I’ll try to make that post tonight. Brand spanking new Future Forty coming tonight as well. And, since I’m mentioning prospects, Chris Snelling is alive! He made his season debut in Peoria last night and should rejoin Tacoma at some point this month.

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DMZ · August 2, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

Quick note: the massive size of the front page (because we post long, and frequently) meant that

large readership * massive page = huge bandwith bills for Derek

so I’m working to chop it down from a full week to a couple of days, after which they get archived. I’m doing some stuff on layout and posts to make things more accessible, but that’s still a little ways off.

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David · August 1, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

I’m disappointed that the M’s didn’t get any better offers for Villone moreso than I am that they didn’t move him. I was surprised at how mediocre the actual deals were that the M’s could have made, and in that context, I think the argument that his value to the club now is greater than the potential future value that the prospects would have brought has some merit.

While realizing that this season is lost and the actual win-loss column matters little in the grand scheme of things, the Mariners are still an entertainment product. Getting beat 13-2 while Cha Baek or Matt Thornton take lumps while they should be in Tacoma is not entertaining or helpful to anyone’s development. In this case, Villone’s presence on the roster is not blocking anyone in Tacoma who should be in Seattle, and his removal would necessitate a premature call for someone who simply isn’t major league ready and could use the Triple-A innings.

Toss in the fact that there is still a chance he could be a waiver trade candidate during August (though it’s unlikely) and I’m not terribly upset that he didn’t get moved for what they were offered. I wish teams liked him more than they do, but the market for Villone just wasn’t very high.

In all, I can’t say I really disagree with how Bavasi handled the situation Saturday. The offers the M’s got just weren’t very good. I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on the Burroughs deal because of Payton’s contract. I still believe that the M’s best chance to contend soon is to spend a lot of money this offseason, and giving $4 million to Jay Payton is $4 million they don’t have to give to Beltre, Beltran, Drew, Hidalgo, Garciaparra, etc…

The issue I have with how the deadline was handled was the M’s strategy, but this is nothing new. I’ve made it pretty clear that I think their best course of action was to remove as many ’05 contracts as possible, then rebuild the team’s core in the offseason through free agency. The organization decided not to do this, however, and in the context of that decision, they did fine. Fans are complaining about another deadline passing with no action, but the M’s made their huge deal a month ago, getting a ransom price for Freddy Garcia. Had they made this move yesterday instead, they simply would have been out an extra $1 million in Garcia’s salary, as well as having less time to acclimate Olivo, Reed, and Morse to their way of doing things.

Realistically, the M’s just didn’t have that many pieces to move. Now, it’s fair to say that’s because Pat Gillick and Bill Bavasi have put together back-to-back disastrous offseasons and signed a remarkable number of bad contracts, but we’ve been down that road before, and at this point, we’re preaching to the choir.

All in all, I think the M’s did about as much as they could have. If someone else was in charge, I might be upset that they weren’t more creative and proactive trying to create deals, but I’ve come to accept that this management team is neither creative nor proactive, and my expectations have been lowered thusly. Within the context of receiving offers for players they wanted to move and evaluating which deals to make, they did fine.

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