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21-45

June 15, 2008

As of June 15th, the Seattle Mariners are 21-45. They have an impressive three wins since 6/1, and are headed for their second straight twenty-loss month. In honor of this achievement, I thought we might check out where various other teams were after 66 games. Each team’s final record is in paranthesis.

The 2004 Mariners (63-99): 28-38

The 2007 Mariners (88-74): 35-31

The 2001 Mariners (116-46): 52-14

The 1998 Yankees (114-48): 49-17

The 2003 Tigers (43-119): 17-49

The 2004 Diamondbacks (51-111): 27-39

The 2002 Devil Rays (55-106): 22-44

The 1992 Mariners (64-98): 29-37

The 1980 Mariners (59-103): 29-36

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Oh Fox News!

June 11, 2008
Whenever I think they can’t get any outrageous, they go and out-do themselves. This is sexist AND racist. All at once! Well played, FNC.

-Eric

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Sox Nation Mere Bandwagon

June 8, 2008

Red Sox ‘Nation’ Mere Bandwagon

We’ve all heard the chants at Safeco Field. “Let’s Go Red Sox!” followed by the annoying clap-clap clap-clap-clap of literally thousands of card-carrying members of Red Sox Nation, whose love for the Red Sox–the lovable underdog team that has broken these die-hards hearts in the worst imaginable ways–dates back to the great struggle of the 2004 World Championship season. These “die-hards” were born and raised on the tough streets of Bellevue, Renton, and Kirkland, where they had nothing in their lives but the Sox to cheer them up.

Oh wait. That’s not true at all, is it? Ask any of these “hardcore fans” who the Red Sox catcher was before Jason Varitek. They’ll probably be surprised to hear there was a catcher before Jason Varitek. (It was Scott Hatteberg, if you’re curious.)

Now don’t get me wrong here. What the Boston Red Sox did in 2004 was amazing. No team had ever overcome a three-games-to-none deficit in a league championship series in the history of Major League Baseball. I’ll admit it. I was rooting for the Red Sox. I was tired of the Yankees’ reign of dominance. Manny Ramirez is a great player and a more awesome personality. Johnny Damon busting out of his slump to carry the Sox into the World Series back when he still looked like a homeless man was hilarious. And Curt Schilling pitching through ankle tendinitis: the bloody sock game, as fans know it, is truly the stuff of legends. I’ll make no secret that my problem is not with Red Sox players, many of whom are good players and good guys. My problem is with the bandwagon fans who have spent their entire lives in Seattle. People who have never visited Fenway Park, or even visited Boston. People who chose to like Boston simply because they were the Yankees’ rival. But how can they truly be the rival, the lovable underdogs, when they have the second highest payroll in baseball to the Yankees and have won two World Series championships this decade compared to the Yankees zero?

“They can’t describe the Sox’s last playoff appearance before 2003,” said third grade teacher Eric Behrens from a Local Elementary School (changed to protect Eric online). “They likely don’t realize who Hanley Ramirez is. They think in all sincerity that the media ignores them.” This is absolutely true. Despite hours of coverage every day on ESPN, and despite the Red Sox surpassing the Yankees in airtime, you will still hear them complain that the media ignores them in favor of the Yankees. Despite the massive coverage the Red Sox receive, during the Mariners recent series with the Red Sox at Safeco field, I attended all three games and realized that none of these bandwagoners knew the Red Sox were actually in second place to the Tampa Bay Rays. When told of this truth, most of them dismissed it as a lie even after I pointed to the flags displaying the American League East standings that fly over the left-field bleachers at Safeco Field.

The worst part is not the incredible ignorance of these fans, if you can believe that. The worst part is their insistence on taking over Safeco Field. Now as a season ticket holder I know Safeco Field is not a very passionate place. A select few, myself included, will yell and heckle and have some fun at the park. We’ll stand when Felix Hernandez has two strikes on a batter and cheer him on in hopes of seeing a strikeout. We’ll call out bad players and tell them to retire (I’m looking at you, Jose Vidro…and Richie Sexson…and Miguel Cairo…and Jarrod Washburn…wow this list is pretty long) But that’s just not how Safeco Field works. I find myself getting angry glares and I know I’m not alone. In a place where your own team’s fans will get mad at you for cheering and being too loud–strange because it’s right next to Qwest Field where people from the same city know to stand and cheer and yell for their team–it’s just all too easy for bandwagoners to take over.

Case in point: the second game of the Mariners last three game series with the Red Sox. “Let’s go Red Sox!” These bandwagoners chant once more. I turn and boo as loud as I can, trying to get others to join in with me to no avail. I try to counter with a “Let’s go Mariners!” chant. Four or five join in but we’re still drowned out. Manny Ramirez stares either intensely or absent-mindedly at Mariner pitcher Miguel Batista. With Manny, you never know, you just know the man can hit. Two Red Sox have gotten on base prompting these cheers from the crowd of phonies. One pitch later, I’m looking up as Manny Ramirez’s 499th career home run comes right to me, and I reach my hands out and snag it. It’s the first home run ball I’ve ever caught. I love Manny Ramirez the player. But I hate what this home run has done to my crowd, my stadium. The crowd roars as the opposing team ties the game at 3-3.

That night, I learned there’s only one thing that can shut up Red Sox “Nation.” There’s one thing that can give you the rare opportunity to see these fans remove their Red Sox shirts with Jacoby Ellsbury’s name and number on it revealing a Mariners shirt underneath. As an aside, if you’re trying to prove you’ve been a long-time fan of the Red Sox wearing a rookie’s name and number isn’t a good way to throw off the bandwagon scent. On this night though, the few true Mariner fans in attendance got to see what turns these “die-hard” Red Sox fans into the boring, trend following folks from Mill Creek that they really are.

We saw a win.

Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin had allowed runners at first and third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, still a 3-3 tie. Jose Lopez strode to the plate and laced Mike Timlin’s best pitch–the suck pitch at this point in his career–into left field, scoring Wladimir Balentien from third base and ending the game in a 4-3 victory for the Mariners. The few Mariners fans in attendance whipped into a frenzy. There’s nothing like being the worst team in the league and beating one of the best. But the best part was seeing many of these Red Sox fans also jumping and celebrating the Mariners victory, until they realized that they were being disloyal to their fake allegiance.

There’s every reason in the world to hate Red Sox “Nation.” Even after silencing them, I still couldn’t imagine hating a group of people any more than I hate bandwagon Red Sox fans. However, there’s nothing like beating their bandwagon team right in front of them. There’s nothing like watching a sports-ignorant trend follower walk away with a frown on their face on their way to a bad night. There’s nothing quite as fun as seeing sadness in the eyes of a member of the Red Sox Bandwagon.

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Go Rays

June 5, 2008
The Seattle Mariners are on pace to become the first team in baseball history to have both a payroll over $100M and 100+ losses on the season.
 
The Mariners spent four of their first five picks of today’s amateur draft selecting relievers. Relief pitchers are the one single position the organization already had an abundance of talent of.
 
They were swept by an Angels team this week despite Lopez having 3 HR, RA Dickey being awesome, Erik Bedard starting a game, and the Angels playing all three games without John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, and Vlad Guerrero.
 
Beltre has publicly stated that he does not plan on resigning with the team.
 
They gave away Cha Seung Baek to the Padres for next to nothing.
 
They refuse to start Brandon Morrow.
The team literally does not believe in the merits of modern metrics for judging talents’ defense.
Jose Vidro and Richie Sexson still have jobs.
Miguel Cairo: An improvement over Richie Sexson at 1B.
Jose Vidro: Deemed by the team’s management to be a better option at DH than Jeff Clement or Greg Norton.
John McLaren rants about the team’s defense, yet he’s okay with starting Raul Ibanez in left field.
Jeremy Reed and Wlad Balentein are in a platoon.

By the time this team is competive again, Felix will be signing with the Red Sox.

By the time this team is competive again, Ichiro will no longer be a useful ball player.

Bill Bavasi literally made each member of the team sit down in front of their lockers and admit responsibility for being the worst team in baseball.

Despite that Bill Bavasi is responsible for putting this team together.

Jarrod Washburn is still a starter.

Beluga Tits is still a starter.

We’re stuck with Carlos Silva for three more years after this one.

Erik Bedard must hate it in Seattle.

Erik Bedard has an ERA+ of 89 so far on the season.

The team literally does not believe in the merits of modern metrics for judging talents’ defense.

Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre, and Jose Lopez are all competing with one another for who leads the team in OPS. They’re all hovering around .750.

JJ Putz is likely gone this July.

For Chuck James.
 
Kenji is still resigned through 2011.           

Kenji’s extension means that Jeff Clement, who was drafted as a catcher, is likely our future first baseman or DH.
 
The reason we took Jeff Clement over mashers like Cameron Maybin and Ryan Braun was precisely because he can catch.
 
Have you noticed how much weight Yuniesky has gained? He is no longer adequate at shortstop.
 
Even if John McLaren or Bill Bavasi goes, these problems are going to continue for as long as Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong run the front office.
 

Did I miss anything?

 

-Eric

 

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Drafting High School Versus College Players

June 4, 2008

Every year as the MLB draft approaches you start to hear a number of debates on the subject. Who is the top overall talent? Who will be drafted where? Who should be drafted where? Should teams draft based on need or on the best overall talent available? Should a team go after high school or college talent?

I would like to take the opportunity to address the latter point. Everyone knows the basic arguments about high school and college players. It’s a matter of risk versus reward. The most talented high school players will enter the draft after twelfth grade, but being younger, they also have a stronger chance of burning out. Those players who are less talented end up going on to play college ball. The ones who continue to develop while remaining healthy enter the draft after three or four years of university life.

Because arguments can be made for both prep and collegiate athletes I would like to go through the first round of each MLB draft from 2000 to 2005 and classify those who were drafted. Let’s find out how many high schoolers were drafted, how many made it to the show, and then we can compare it to the number of college players.

High School: Out of 92 players drafted, 35 have made it to the major leagues.  That’s a rate of 38%.*

College: Out of 88 players drafted, 51 of those players have touched the major leagues. That’s 57%.

Notable high schoolers that were drafted in the first round over period include Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright, Gavin Floyd, Joe Mauer, Casey Kotchman, Jeremy Bonderman, Zack Greinke, BJ Upton, Matt Cain, Jeff Francoeur, James Loney, Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, Jeremy Hermida, Chad Billingsley, Lastings Milledge, Brandon Wood, Nick Markakis, Delmon  Young, John Danks, Philip Hughes, Homer Bailey, Billy Butler, Colby Rasmus, Justin Upton, Cameron Maybin, and Jay Bruce.

Notable college players that were drafted include Chase Utley, Mark Prior, Mark Teixeira, Bobby Crosby, Noah Lowry, Joe Blanton, Jeremy Guthrie, Jeff Francis, Joe Saunders, Khalil Green, Nick Swisher, Carlos Quentin, Chad Cordero, Conor Jackson, Richie Weeks, Stephen Drew, Jeremy Sowers, Jered Weaver, Justin Verlander, Matt Garza, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman, Jeff Clement, Jacoby Ellsbury, Troy Tulowitzki, Alex Gordon, and Mike Pelfrey.

As a side note, one might initially notice that the draft has been trending towards college players since the start of the decade. However, in 2006 only 14 collegiates were drafted in the first round. The number dropped to 12 in 2007.

* Of course, It should also be noted that high schoolers are drafted younger and that it’s very likely that a larger number of those prep players that were drafted are still making their ways through their teams’ systems. Meanwhile, most college students that were drafted should likely be in the majors right now, if not on the very cusp.

-Eric

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Happy Felix Day

May 18, 2008

Joe Posnanski recently wrote, “I never argue with people who say baseball is boring because, well, baseball is boring, But then, suddenly, it isn’t. And that’s why it’s so great.”

I appreciate that sentiment because it’s very, very true. You have a team winning by three runs, with a pitcher who is shutting the opposing team down. But then there’s a walk, a hit, and a homerun, and suddenly it’s a completely different ball game. Or you have a team who has lost eight of their last ten games, and they’re being beaten again, when boom! Their struggling (but tall!) first baseman charges the mound and throws his helmet at the pitcher. Maybe that’s a bad example, but the fact remains: anything can happen at anytime in baseball.

That’s why Felix Day is special. Because you know his potential for greatness. And you know that for every mediocre start he puts in, he’s going to give you a gem. And that even his mediocre still offer glimpses of his potential.

Last night I opted to go to a play with my girlfriend rather than watch Erik Bedard’s start. I knew he might pitch an outstanding game and that I might end up regretting having missed it. He did have a great outing, but I was able to handle doing something else instead (the play ended up being sold out, by the way, so we took a walk and watched a movie instead). But a Felix Day? There’s no excuse for missing that. Because while good pitchers, like Bedard, come and go, there’s only one Felix.

Eric

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Where They Were At Age 22

May 17, 2008

Last year USSMariner wrote a post that looked at where various pitching aces were at age 21, compared to Felix. The King is a year older now, and I thought it would be interesting to perform this exercise again. Below is a list of eight aces. The list features predominately younger pitchers, although Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez were included out of curiousity.

At age 22:

Jake Peavy – 194 IP, 156 K, 82 BB, 173 H, 77.8 LOB%, .263 BABIP, 4.99 FIP 

Brandon Webb – Spent the season playing for the Lancaster Jethawks in A+ ball.

Josh Beckett – Split the year playing in the minor leagues and with the Florida Marlins. For the Marlins that year his stats read 107.7 IP, 113 K, 44 BB, 93 H, 68.5 LOB%, .296 BABIP, 3.69 FIP.

Cole Hamels – Split the year between three minor league teams and the Philadelphia Phillies. For the Phillies his stats read 132.3 IP, 145 K, 48 BB, 117 H, 72.1 LOB%, .300 BABIP, 3.98 FIP.

Carlos Zambrano – 214 IP (Whoo Dusty Baker), 168 K, 94 BB, 188 H, 73.0 LOB%, .291 BABIP, 3.47 FIP.

Johan Santana – 43.7 IP, 28 K, 16 BB, 50 H, 72.6 LOB%, .316 BABIP, 4.87 FIP.

Pedro Martinez – 144.7 IP, 142 K, 45 BB, 115 H, 72.1 LOB%, .281 BABIP, 3.31 FIP.

CC Sabathia – 197.7 IP, 141 K, 66 BB, 190 H, 75.2 LOB%, .291 BABIP, 3.95 FIP.

So far in the 2008 season, Felix has posted a line of 61.3 IP, 52 K, 27 BB, 63 H, 77.7 LOB%, .324 BABIP, 3.79 FIP.

This is not a bad line. While there is room for improvement (K rate, hits, and his LOB% suggests that he’s been pretty lucky), Felix fits right in with the rest of those names.

As Douglas Adams might say, don’t panic. Felix has not reached his ceiling. He’s not a permanent number two starter. He’s an ace in training who, once he gets his command down, will quite possibly be the best pitcher in baseball.

Eric

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