Mariners can still Play Spoiler against Rangers

August 26, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 1 Comment 
HITTING (wOBA*) 5.6 (12th) -18.4 -8.9 (18th) Mariners
FIELDING (RBBIP) -28.6 (27th) -3.6 22.3 (6th) Rangers
ROTATION (xRA) 9.1 (14th) -4.5 31.3 (4th) Rangers
BULLPEN (xRA) 1.1 (17th) 4.5 -6 (23rd) Mariners
OVERALL (RAA) -12.8 (16th) -21.9 38.7 (9th) RANGERS

It appears that my strategy of ignoring the Mariners entirely while I was on vacation in the hopes that my lack of attention would free them from an emotional burden and thus allow them to get in a groove failed. Record-wise, the Mariners went 7-11 while I was away. That stretch downgraded them from a 76-win pace to a 74-win pace.

Looking over the hitting numbers from below, it appears that I did not miss much in the way of encouraging performances from the Mariners’ younger hitters.

I did miss Yoervis Medina turning back to the Yoervis Medina we thought we knew and I did miss a domineering stretch from Danny Farquhar. The last unintentional walk or hit batter that Farquhar issued was back on July 27. Since then, 26 strikeouts and just one intentional walk.

Having not seen any game action for roughly three weeks now, I don’t have any more to quip on. So on to the numbers.

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Mariners have Awkward Reunion with Expansion Siblings

August 5, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 6 Comments 
HITTING (wOBA*) 24.0 (9th) 9.1 -8.4 (17th) Mariners
FIELDING (RBBIP) -25.0 (27th) 3.3 -6.6 (19th) Blue Jays
ROTATION (xRA) 13.6 (10th) -1.6 -13.4 (23rd) Mariners
BULLPEN (xRA) -3.4 (21st) 0.7 9.2 (10th) Blue Jays
OVERALL (RAA) 9.1 (11th) 11.4 -19.2 (17th) MARINERS

That’s a way to rebound, taking two of three from the Orioles and showing off some hitting skills while doing it. As area that I’m finding encouraging is that while Miller and Franklin are both struggling a bit lately, they both are maintaining some positive traits. For Miller, it’s the plate disciple as he has five walks to just seven strikeouts (and remarkably, only one swinging). With Franklin, it’s the power as his ISO over the past two weeks is over the .200 mark.

They’re (hopefully) both in slumps, but unlike some of the players we’ve seen (*cough* Ackley *cough*), neither appears to turn into a completely useless player while in the slump.

Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales on the other hand are just all kinds of hot right now, in the hitting streak department. And Justin Smoak’s .293/.396/.415 line from the past fortnight is basically what I hope he’s able to maintain over the long haul: decent average, good walks, mediocre power. Sure, good power would be better (duh), but I aim for achievable, I hope.

Just in case you forgot, the Blue Jays have Steve Delabar and he’s pretty awesome. The Mariners traded Delabar for Eric Thames, whom they never really used and eventually traded for Ty Kelly, who’s actually doing quite well (.905 OPS) down in Tacoma. So I guess you never know. You never know.

It’s R.A. Dickey for the Blue Jays tonight against Iwakuma. It’s always a little fun to watch Dickey pitch as I bear neither him nor the team any ill will over their separation. Dickey was bad as a Mariner, it made sense to let him go. Then he figured something out and got incredible, then he was average again, then he was incredible, and then this year he’s been average again. Guess what! You never know. But you can click through to the pitching charts in case you’ve been curious what color I assigned to knuckleballs in the scouting graphs.

I actually managed to come up with positive stuff here, which surprises me a little. True, it’s always easier to be upbeat after a winning series. But the Mighty Seahawks are about to start fake-real games and the Sounders just did what the Mariners basically never have — spend out their nose to bring in a missing piece in the midst of good season. And the Mariners just keep on being the Mariners.

I guess I’ve just re-calibrated my expectations bar at this point to where I’m only looking for them to be passively interesting. Congrats, Mariners, you are managing to clear that bar. Care to try for the next rung?

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Mariners Swept Down to Baltimore

August 2, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 1 Comment 
HITTING (wOBA*) 14.9 (9th) -3.7 -5 (15th) Mariners
FIELDING (RBBIP) -28.3 (27th) -3.8 14.4 (10th) Orioles
ROTATION (xRA) 15.2 (11th) -0.8 -38.2 (28th) Mariners
BULLPEN (xRA) -4.1 (22nd) -1.5 -1.1 (18th) Orioles
OVERALL (RAA) -2.3 (12th) -9.9 -29.9 (19th) MARINERS

I also recently attempted going to Boston but instead ended up in Baltimore. I know how it feels, Mariners. It feels crummy and stiflingly humid.

That was some collapse. It seems almost unfair that it happened in a game in August between a team already likely to go to the playoffs and a team already likely to not go to the playoffs. In the grander sense of the story line for the season of these two teams, that game didn’t matter. It should, being nearly monumental in individual scope.

Instead, there’s some expected statements and now the team moves on to Baltimore, the organization where most Mariner trade rumors were connecting to at the deadline. Now’s your chance, Morse and others, to show them in person what they missed out on trading for. Or possibly the Orioles weren’t interested at all. Or perhaps they were and even offered above value but the Mariners turned them down. There are many possibilities. I wish each team kept an official historian who recorded all the behind-the-scenes stuff and later released it to the public.

As mentioned in the podcast and other places, Nick Franklin’s strikeout rate is quite elevated recently. You can see after the jump that he’s at 21 strikeouts over the past 14 days. That’s a whole hell of a lot. Literally. Hell is a unit of measurement; look it up. Anyways, on the positive side is that Franklin’s swing and contact rates are both still fine, not at all in line with producing so many strikeouts going forward.

Orioles’ reliever Tommy Hunter has faced 42 hitters in the past four weeks. He’s walked one of them and he’s struck out two of them. The other 39 have put the ball in play. So that’s pitching to contact.

Chris Davis has only two home runs since the All-Star Break. Jinxed!

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Mariners Travel to Much Tougher Opponent

July 30, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 2 Comments 
MARINERS (50-55) ΔMs RED SOX (63-44) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA*) 18.6 (9th) 2.2 30.7 (6th) Red Sox
FIELDING (RBBIP) -24.5 (27th) -1.3 19.0 (6th) Red Sox
ROTATION (xRA) 16.0 (8th) 7.4 20.3 (6th) Red Sox
BULLPEN (xRA) -2.6 (20th) -2.8 2.5 (14th) Red Sox
OVERALL (RAA) 7.6 (11th) 5.7 72.5 (6th) RED SOX

A split of the home series against the Twins — especially after the Mariners beat them down in the first game — is not what I hoped for out of that series. No longer having much insight or confidence into what makes the upper management (the people above Zduriencik) tick, my outlook shifts more and more toward the near-term than the long-term.

Perhaps the Mariners dropping many more games in what is pretty surely already a lost season will result in a regime change in the front office. And perhaps that could even be a positive development. I don’t know, obviously and I find myself starting to not care much either. I sort of just expect the Mariners to always be mediocre. I’m willing and waiting to be surprised by a sustainable winner and in the meantime, wins are more fun to occasionally watch than losses, so come on winning.

Koji Uehara is amazing you guys. Maybe I’ve successfully avoided the “east coast media” tongue bathing, but I feel he’s under appreciated for how awesome he’s been in the Majors and he’s having one of, if not his, best season this year.

Speaking of relief pitchers, the Angels traded Scott Downs for a minor leaguer. Scott Downs wasn’t really good, but he was used in decently high leverage situations by the Angels. That they didn’t attempt to get anything of immediate value in return probably means they’re actualizing that 2013 is a lost season for them. Don’t worry, fellas, only eight more Albert Pujols seasons to go!

Mike Morse returns and might end up pushing playing time away from Michael Saunders and/or Dustin Ackley. Nope, I take it back. I still do care about the long term because just typing that sentence irritated me. By the way, Jaso’s OBP is near .400 in more PAs than Morse has. S’ok though, because the Mariners sure are loaded at catcher and have no need for players under club control beyond this stellar 2013 season.

Stats and breakdowns below.

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Mariners Have Chance to Near .500

July 25, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 3 Comments 
MARINERS (48-53) ΔMs TWINS (43-55) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA*) 16.4 (11th) -0.2 -23.1 (23rd) Mariners
FIELDING (RBBIP) -23.2 (25th) -1.1 -20.7 (24th) Twins
ROTATION (xRA) 8.6 (12th) -1.8 -45.4 (29th) Mariners
BULLPEN (xRA) 0.2 (17th) -1.6 5.3 (11th) Twins
OVERALL (RAA) 1.9 (12th) -4.8 -83.9 (29th) MARINERS

With a four-game set against the quite awful Twins, the Mariners could climb even further toward that break even .500 mark. Even though the playoffs are a miracle away, it’s still enjoyable to have the team winning more than losing and not feeling like every deficit is insurmountable, every opponent a potential powerhouse.

The Twins rotation is terrible. Their highest individual strikeout rate is 14%, which is in the Joe Saunders and Blake Beavan territory. Collectively, their 12% strikeout rate is the lowest in the majors by over three points.

That’s long been the stereotype for Twins pitchers, but before they’d make up for that somewhat by not walking hitters. Now, their walk rate is only middle of the pack, giving them baseball’s worst K to BB ratio among starting rotations.

The Mariners, by contrast, have baseball’s fourth best K to BB ratio among starters.

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Mariners Continue Rolling, Face Indians Next

July 22, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 3 Comments 
MARINERS (46-52) ?Ms INDIANS (52-46) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA*) 16.6 (8th) 12.6 14.9 (9th) Mariners
FIELDING (RBBIP) -22.1 (26th) -5.4 -2.3 (17th) Indians
ROTATION (xRA) 10.4 (12th) 4.8 1.4 (15th) Mariners
BULLPEN (xRA) 1.8 (15th) -0.4 -20.7 (29th) Mariners
OVERALL (RAA) 6.7 (11th) 11.7 -6.6 (13th) MARINERS

The Mariners’ offense is rolling, and all without Michael Morse. Remember him? Oh well. Franklin’s grand slam yesterday was his seventh home run and that took me by surprise, that he already had seven. He’s established himself quite quickly.

The deltas above are from the past two series as I didn’t get a preview up for the Astros.

With a minimum of 250 PAs this year and a majority while playing first base, Justin Smoak’s current 126 wRC+ ranks the tenth best in the majors. Sustainable? I don’t know. He’s not going crazy with the power so I don’t view that as a risk. He’s walking a lot more but he’s also swinging at dramatically fewer pitches outside the strike zone, so that makes sense.

You can point out the elevated BABIP and that’s true, but his line drive rate and all around contact seems to be vastly improved so perhaps this is his new normal. Whatever happens, this is a welcome worry compared to before. The numbers and more, after the jump.

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Mariners End Disappointing First Half

July 12, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 8 Comments 
MARINERS (40-52) ΔMs ANGELS (44-46) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA*) 4.0 (11th) 13.0 56.3 (3rd) Angels
FIELDING (RBBIP) -16.7 (23rd) -2.5 -7.6 (19th) Angels
ROTATION (xRA) 5.6 (13th) -3.5 -31.0 (27th) Mariners
BULLPEN (xRA) 2.2 (14th) -3.4 -9.0 (26th) Mariners
OVERALL (RAA) -5.0 (12th) 3.5 8.6 (11th) ANGELS

The final series before the All-Star Break begins today and despite actually being about 57-58% through the season, it’s considered the mid season mark. The record is a disappointment for sure but a lot of the underlying factors are trending positive.

For the first time in a long while, the offense ranks as above average. Sure, a lot of that is Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales, but Smoak, Seager, Franklin and Miller are producing and after a stint in Tacoma, perhaps Ackley will get back on track as well.

That the Mariners’ -5 overall run mark ranks 12th shows a bit how the teams are slightly lopsided this season, tilted toward some legit powerhouses like Detroit, Boston, St. Louis and, somehow, Pittsburgh.

I’m out and about again this weekend so this is yet another abbreviated commentary preview. Here are some bullet points. This series I’m feeling:

Most optimistic about Kyle Seager. There’s nothing to pick out as a problem.

Most pessimistic about Nick Franklin. Franklin’s one walk and 19 strikeouts in the past two weeks is a blaring klaxon PTSD’ing me to Ackley.

Mariner I’m most looking for to not being a Mariner is Raul Ibanez. At this point, it’s actually about the potential return in a trade than anything else, but I’m also not sure who takes his playing time in the outfield. Which is itself a horrible and predictable result of this winter’s terrible roster planning.

Rainier I’m most looking forward to being a Mariner is no longer Erasmo Ramirez so, I don’t know, Brian Moran?

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The Seattle Raul Ibanez’s Host the Boston Best Fans Evah

July 8, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 25 Comments 
MARINERS (39-49) ΔMs RED SOX (54-36) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA*) -9.0 (18th) 1.4 32.8 (5th) Red Sox
FIELDING (RBBIP) -14.2 (24th) 2.6 30.0 (2nd) Red Sox
ROTATION (xRA) 9.1 (11th) -2.0 19.5 (7th) Red Sox
BULLPEN (xRA) 5.6 (9th) 1.1 -0.1 (18th) Mariners
OVERALL (RAA) -8.5 (15th) 3.1 82.3 (3rd) RED SOX

Jeremy Bonderman is no more a Mariner, having just been designated for assignment. Taking his roster spot for the time being is reliever Lucas Luetge, but he, or someone else from the bullpen, is sure to go shortly for Bonderman’s rotation replacement. Erasmo Ramirez is the obvious choice, but I suppose there are other feasible options like returning Blake Beavan to a starting role.

I was at Bonderman’s last home start, Sunday versus the Cubs. I haven’t attended many games this season, but somehow that one felt very typical of the 2013 Mariners. The Mariners, including Ibanez, hit some dingers, but three home runs directly resulted in only four runs scored and the Mariners batted 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position while the Cubs went 5-for-11. I ended up spending a decent amount of the middle innings just wandering around the stadium as the Mariners were getting worked over by Edwin Jackson. In the end, they made it exciting, but in the end, they also lost. It was a very fitting game.

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Mariners Venture to Vast Baked Terrain of Texas

July 2, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 28 Comments 
HITTING (wOBA*) -10.4 (16th) 3.4 -15.1 (20th) Mariners
FIELDING (RBBIP) -16.8 (25th) 2.6 17.1 (7th) Rangers
ROTATION (xRA) 11.1 (11th) -3.1 24.0 (4th) Rangers
BULLPEN (xRA) 4.5 (12th) 1.3 -5.0 (21st) Mariners
OVERALL (RAA) -11.6 (16th) 4.3 20.9 (10th) RANGERS

The last couple days of summer heat in Seattle are just a little taste of what every single day is like in Texas. It’s a miserable thing to endure and I’m glad I don’t have to any more. Best of luck, ball players.

By my numbers the Rangers are basically an average team plus Yu Darvish. However, the Mariners will miss him on this series. Which is likely good news, but it is always entertaining to watch Darvish inexplicably scuffle against the Mariners of all teams. Though that usually only lasts for an inning or two and then he settles down to domination mode. So, nice not seeing ya, Yu.

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Mariners Face Should-be Natural Rival Pirates

June 25, 2013 · Filed Under Mariners · 13 Comments 
HITTING (wOBA*) -13.8 (19th) 2.6 21.5 (6th) Pirates
FIELDING (RBBIP) -19.4 (26th) 2.1 23.6 (2nd) Pirates
ROTATION (xRA) 14.2 (9th) -1.5 -7.4 (18th) Mariners
BULLPEN (xRA) 3.2 (12th) 2.7 8.0 (6th) Pirates
OVERALL (RAA) -15.9 (18th) 6.0 45.7 (6th) PIRATES

By mascot, what’s more feared to a Mariner than a Pirate? I’ll tell you what isn’t the answer to that is a Padre. Unless the Mariners is like, enough with the missionaries already! But that hardly seems relevant to today’s age. Pirates still exist. Do you ever stop and realize that? Pirates still exist and are still terrorizing maritime trade. Yet we treat them as protagonists in multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbusters and millions dress up as them for Halloween. America once fought an entire war against pirates. The way history ends up getting treated is so weird.

Also, what? The Pirates are ludicrously good this season. Coming off a three-game sweep of the Angles (ha), the Pirates come to Safeco for the first time in six years.

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