Archive for the ‘Mariners’ Category

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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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Trading Jarrod Washburn

April 24, 2008

As Matthew Carruth identified in his pre-season post (will add Link once Lookout Landing’s server recovers) on our pitchers, Jarrod Washburn is the biggest collapse candidate in the rotation.  To this point Jarrod has pitched fairly well, running a 4.35 xFIP which backs up his solid results.  Washburn may be pitching better than he ever has as a Mariner, but this is where the Mariners organization needs to think outside the “He’s performing well, we’ll use that performance for us!” box they always think in and instead think along the lines of “Hey, x team has an injured/underperforming member of their rotation, so offloading the overperforming Washburn to them will grant us some salary relief!”

The biggest problem here, however, is that if we as fans know that Washburn is overperforming then other MLB franchises will know as well.  Regardless, a player who is performing well will almost always net more in trade than a player performing poorly.  The Mariners need to change their ideology on when to trade players, and while they won’t, let’s pretend they have and look to indentify potential suitors for a Jarrod Washburn trade.

The Brewers seem like a good fit.  There are injury concerns for them with young stud Yovanni Gallardo, Chris Capuano, and Ben Sheets.  Also, aside from being an injury risk David Bush ran a tRA of 4.97 last season showing that even when healthy he is not an asset in the rotation.  A move to the NL should help Washburn and provide stability for an injury-prone staff like Milwaukee.  They could flip one of Guillermo Mota, David Riske, or Derrick Turnbow our way.  We don’t have to use them and they could become quick DFA candidates should they perform poorly.  Basically this gets us out from some of the money we owe Washburn and we only have to deal with one of the traded relievers for 2008 freeing up payroll space for next year.

Detroit is another interesting possibility.  With Kenny Rogers starting the year so terribly it’s not a reach to think the 43-year old may lose his roster spot soon.  Their current rotation of Verlander-Bonderman-Rogers-Robertson-Gallaraga could definitely use improvement, so flipping Washburn for someone like Bobby Seay could work.  With Detroit desperate to win now and their pitching holding them back it seems like it would be a good fit for them to add a mediocre back end starter to their rotation if nothing else but for stability.

Philadelphia would likely welcome Washburn with open arms as well.  I mean come on.  This rotation has Kyle Kendrick, Jamie Moyer, and Adam Eaton.  They need all the help they can get as they play in the same division as the Johan Santana led Mets.  Jarrod Washburn isn’t good but once again moving to the NL would be a plus, and the difference between Philly and New York is maybe two or three wins, so Washburn could close the gap/widen it a little (depending on who you think holds the advantage)  Plus with Gillick’s love of ex-Mariners, this seems like a no-brainer.  Make a Washburn for Ryan Madson swap or something similar and call it good.  Just as long as you get out of some or most of Washburn’s contract.

Ok, so assume Washburn’s been traded one of those places.  I think we can be just as competitive with Rowland-Smith, Cha Seung Baek, or R.A. Dickey making Washburn’s starts, plus we’d be saving a lot of money.  Getting out of Washburn’s contract is absolutely essential for the signing of premier talent in the 2008-2009 offseason–not to mention getting Washburn out of our rotation now may actually upgrade the current roster.

This team needs to make a bold move by trading one of it’s beloved veterans.  This team needs to trade Jarrod Washburn.

–Brett

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Players That I Would Like To See Wearing Mariner Blue Volume 1

April 24, 2008

It’s no secret that the Mariners need another power hitter.  With the obvious options next off-season being Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark Teixeira, I’d like to take this in a new direction.  (Not that we shouldn’t go after Teix and Griff–and let’s be honest it’s pretty much guaranteed that Jr. is wearing #24 in Seattle next year)  There’s one hitter on the market who doesn’t play well to this ballpark but would still inject this lineup with the power and patience it so desperately needs.

That hitter is Pat Burrell.

I’ve been kicking this idea in my head the last week or so and the more I think about it the more it makes sense.  Burrell ran a .256/.400/.502 line last year while being hated on by Phillies fans the whole way.  He took 114 BB’s which would’ve easily been the highest on the Mariners last year.  And also, he cranked 30 long balls, once again more than any Mariner hit in 2007.  He’s 31 this year so age is a concern but it appears Burrell’s just now hitting his best years…it’s not totally out of the question that a hitter who’s prime skills are patience and power may prosper in his early thirties.  I’d figure it would take 3/$40 or 4/$55 to get him wearing Mariner blue.  That’s about what we paid Sexson, but Burrell is the superior hitter by a fair margin.

Now I know he is a right-handed pull hitter which doesn’t suit Safeco too well but his home runs are generally towering shots.  They’re not cheap, despite the ballpark he plays in.  If Burrell signs with Seattle, I would expect no less than .250/.385/.475, which is a damn solid line and a true cleanup hitter considering he would play half his games in Safeco field.

You can also hide his defensive shortcomings in the smaller right field of Safeco, allowing Wladimir Balentien to take LF with his superior range so Ichiro can shade more towards RF to help Burrell.

Burrell is down on my list of priorities but he is a free-agent this offseason and would a punch to a lineup that could really use it.  Priority number one is signing Teixeira, two signing Griffey, three trading Washburn to free up some payroll, and four signing Burrell.  That’s not to downplay the importance of this move.  This team needs power.  This team needs patience.

This team needs Pat Burrell.

–Brett

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Peter Angelos is a Terrible Man

February 7, 2008

So we’re getting Erik Bedard.  Well, Erik Bedard is totally awesome, so I’ve gotten over the loss of Adam Jones.  But for goodness’ sake, when will we actually get Erik Bedard and lose Adam Jones?  This saga has dragged out over a month and has gone from terrifying to exciting to boring to downright hilarious.

Erik Bedard is in Seattle today.  Wait no, he’s still in Canada.  Oh hey, another source is confirming him in Seattle.  But Andy McPhail doesn’t know what’s going on.  Kind of strange for a GM of a baseball team not to know what’s going on with his team, but I’ll just pretend that makes sense and take it.  Hey, Tillman’s been notified he’s in the trade.  Wait a minute, nevermind, this source says he’s unaware he’s been traded, but he has been asked to stop working out in Peoria.

It’s just a big basket full of ridiculous, a basket that needs to be emptied.  Adam Jones and George Sherrill took their phyiscals days ago now.  It should take hours to review physical results, not days.  Peter Angelos has a reputation for looking over physical results with far too much scrutiny, but this is insane; this is simply illogical.  If Angelos has not given the go-ahead to Bedard to take a flight to Seattle, then Seattle ought to just start weakening the package.  This is, after all, a business and timeliness does matter.  You’re wasting time we could be spending looking for a new bench bat?  Fine, take your time, but we’re taking Mickolio out if Bedard isn’t here in Seattle tonight.  Tell Angelos that and I bet you Erik Bedard is arriving at Sea-Tac before the end of the night.

Angelos ego and hubris have cost him before.  He vetoed Aaron Sele’s contract due to what he deemed to be an important medical issue before Sele signed with the Mariners and went on to be a key part of some good Mariner teams.  If Angelos doesn’t sign off on this deal he’ll have to deal with watching Adam Jones become an All-Star and at least one of the three pitching prospects make some sort of contribution to the big league roster in the next few years.  Not to mention, he’ll have to watch an elite setup man dominate hitters at the same time.  So I’m fine with Angelos not signing off on the deal.  I’m fine with Angelos putting this deal through.  The only thing I’m not fine with him doing is what he’s doing now–stalling, waiting, laboring to make a decision.

Angelos may be a great lawyer, but he’s a terrible baseball man.  He has no idea how to run a team or how to let his general manager and medical staff do their jobs.  You’re an idiot, Mr. Angelos.  No one in the game respects you, and no one is going to remember you after you kick the bucket for being anything but a greedy, foolish old man who didn’t have the mental capacity to realize he’s been hurting his baseball team for years.  You’re a fool, Peter.  So please, for the sake of all of us, sign off on this deal and do us all a favor and sell the franchise.  There’s a nursing home calling your name.

May the Mariners never do business with your terrible organization ever again.

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More on Wilkerson

February 2, 2008

by Brett

Here’s a few notes on some things I didn’t consider on the first post. Here’s some changes I made to my methodology and some new methods I used that will create a more accurate representation on what we can expect our new Right Fielder to do.
–Many people contest that if I removed Wilkerson’s .200 BABIP month of June that I also have to remove his .424 BABIP month of August. Even with that, his season long BABIP is .274, about 16 points lower than you’d expect given his line drive rate. His average should rise to .240 or so even without my adjustment.

–I took the liberty of removing Wilkerson’s really hot .424 BABIP month like many people were saying I should do. He still manages an OPS over .800 with a .230/.327/.475 line. It’s not as prolific as the one if you just take out his worst month, but it’s still an above average corner outfield bat.

–Wilkerson had 3 “unlucky” BABIP months (.250 or below) one “normal” month (.300) one “below average” (.273) and one really lucky month (.424) So on the whole, he spent more time last year being kind of unlucky. .274 is not the BABIP you’d expect from a guy who hits an average amount of line drives like Wilkerson.

–A more mathematical approach finds that including June and August, his outlier months, he is still unlucky. To find the amount of balls in play he had you his AB’s-K-HR (balls that can’t be fielded) and you’re left with how many balls he put in play. From there, you just change a few outs into hits to regularize for the luck until his BABIP is about .290, where you’d expect based on how hard he hits the ball. That’s good for a .242/.324/.479 line. By adding just 3 hits that he should’ve had. (Note: Graham helped me out here, once again)

So really, my overall point here is that you can’t complain that I’m leaving certain pieces of data out. I heard those complaints and did the rest of the research to see what would happen if I took more time to find more accurate results. Of the three ways you can analyze Wilkerson’s luck (take out the bad month, take out both the bad and good month, or just leave them all there and regress based on balls-in-play data) he still checks out as a better hitter than his stat line showed last year by about 10-20 OPS points, and that was my overall point from the beginning.

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Brad Wilkerson: Better Than Advertised?

February 1, 2008

By Brett

I originally created a diary at Lookout Landing about this, but figured it applied here as well.

As we all know now, the Mariners signed OF/1B Brad Wilkerson to a 1-year, $3 million deal with $2 million in performance incentives on Thursday. Many Mariner fans have groaned about this signing, saying we’ve downgraded Right Field from 2007. I don’t think this is the case. Brad Wilkerson has a good chance to both out-hit Guillen, and is just short of a lock to out-produce him defensively. Wilkerson is a good player and that shouldn’t go overlooked.

Now let me first set the record straight here. I like this deal, and I like Wilkerson the player. What I don’t like is that this deal essentially means Adam Jones HAS been traded to the Orioles for Erik Bedard. We didn’t downgrade right field from how it was in 2007, but we did downgrade it from how it was going to be in 2008. That being said, Brad Wilkerson is still an overall improvement over Jose Guillen.

Think Wilkerson’s .234/.319/.467 line is disappointing? Well, it is–despite it adding up to an above average OPS+–but let’s take some time to research how Wilkerson got to that final line.

What does the research reveal? Why nothing but good news, friends! I looked at his splits by month and found that in June he hit an abysmal .179/.286/.373 which is good for a terrible .659 OPS. Why is this seemingly awful piece of information considered good news? Because his BABIP was an extremely unlucky .200. His BABIP was only over .300 one month out of this year. The league average is around .300 for hitters with an average Line-drive percentage. Wilkerson’s was 17% last year which is average, or maybe just a touch below. So you could infer that his expected BABIP should be about .290

I took the liberty of removing his .659 OPS month from his overall stats (basically to regularize for the unsually fluky bad luck he suffered that month–I’ll admit that not smart enough to do an actual mathematical regression) and found a very encouraging stat line. .247/.331/.491….good for an .822 OPS. Now, despite him being a pull hitter you’ve gotta regress for Safeco Field effecting some of his power, but I now believe it’s entirely within the realm of possiblity that Wilkerson manages to put up an .800 OPS, or at least something close to it.

Also, he had 46.2% of his hits go for extra bases (taking out the fluky June month).

So I’m not saying he’s absolutely incredible, but it’s likely he’s a lot better than we’re giving him credit for.

(Thanks to Baseball-Referece.com , Graham MacAree, and FanGraphs.com for the information used in my research)