Saturday, July 10, 2004


Not much time tonight, so this calls for a lightning round!

  • We're only 2.5 games out of last place in baseball. With a few more veterans yet to be jettisoned, we have a very good chance of bringing up the rear by season's end. At last, something to root for!

  • If we were to go undefeated for the rest of July and August - 46 games - we'd still hae a lower winning percentage than the current Yankees and Cardinals.

  • Matt Thornton didn't pitch too badly until the tumultuous fifth inning, when he walked in two runs and nearly handed Chicago a third. It's easy to see why he makes so many scouts drool, while quantitative analysts are more cautious; he reaches the mid-90s with little to no apparent effort, and mixes in a deceptive changeup, the foundation of a potentially devastating one-two punch should he ever find his control. However, unless he plans to become the next Victor Zambrano, he walks far too many hitters to be considered a legitimate Major Leaguer. Thornton's command of his fastball is extremely hit-or-miss, and when you aren't able to throw strikes with your most basic pitch, you're going to become prone to meltdown innings and short outings.

  • If Jeff Cirillo is good for one thing, it would be teaching Justin Leone how to play defense. His footwork is a mess...

  • At least he roped one off Buehrle for a hit today. It's nice to see Leone batting #6, where he'll get more chances with men on base than he would lower in the lineup, behind Wilson and the Wee Willie Experience. I wonder, though, had Ibanez reached base in the ninth, would Melvin had pinch-hit Hansen for Leone again? It's like the guy is still trying to win ballgames, or something...

  • Edgar Martinez looked absolutely awful in the ninth against Takatsu. Not that Boone or Ibanez looked *good*, mind you, but Edgar just isn't reading the ball very well this year. He's striking out once every 5.2 times he comes to the plate, easily a career worst. It's always depressing to witness the decline of a star.

  • Wee Willie went 3-for-3 today with a double and a steal. Rejoice, Bremerton, for this is a rare opportunity indeed!

Moyer/Garcia tomorrow. Nice matchup to end the first half of the season. If Olerud isn't in there against the righty, then you know something's up.
Another thing to think about with Aurilia being DFA today, within 10 days he will bew off the 40 man roster, opening a spot. Couple that with Borders imminent demotion, the M's will have two more roster spots opening up within the next two weeks. Bucky and Sherrill anyone?
Bavasi offered this quotation while announcing that Aurilia's been DFA'd:

"we're going to use the second half to see what we have in the minors".... "September callups usually play against September callups and we want to see how our position players and pitchers do against major leaguers"

Apparently, the club is serious about giving playing time to its young players. With Aurilia being chased out of town and Borders preparing to return to Tacoma once Olivo comes back, there is no immediate threat to Justin Leone's spot on the 25-man roster, which delights me to no end. Of course, it looks like he'll get a lot more playing time at shortstop than anyone could reasonably desire - yeah, he's versatile, but he's not gifted enough defensively to play the 6 hole on a consistent basis - but as long as he hits, then Melvin will surely put up with his shortcomings.

I remain optimistic that an NL club will take Aurilia in a trade, but I'm not expecting anything more than a low-level live arm in return.

During today's broadcast, Neihaus was discussing the potential youth movement when he noted that "five current Mariners began the year in Tacoma - Borders, Leone, Blackley, Bocachica, and Thornton."

First of all, Putz started there, too. Secondly, I don't think Borders should really count.
Raul Ibanez was activated for today's game and in order to make room for him on the roster, Aurilia was designated for assignment. THe M's will have 10 days to trade, release or send him to the minors, (he will more than likely be released). Bloomquist, Cabrera, and Leone are expected to split time at SS for the time being.

Olerud is not in the starting line-up again, which will be the third time in five games.
During last night’s coverage of the game, the Chicago White Sox announcers were discussing the impact of managers on their ball clubs and how players can actually adopt the manager’s persona. While I don’t want to point the finger squarely at Melvin for this horrendous season, the truth of the matter is that these M’s appear to have adopted Melvin’s complacent attitude this season. In the recent years, there have been some studies which focus on the roles of personality traits in professional sports. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, or MBTI, is the most common used test/tool used to help identify, with remarkable accuracy, personality characteristics and traits. The MBTI uses four scales with opposite traits or poles. The four scales are: (1) extraversion/introversion, (2) sensing/intuitive, (3) thinking/feeling, and (4) judging/perceiving. By narrowing down the various combinations of the four scales, one will come up with a four letter combination which corresponds with one of sixteen personality types. While I don’t know Melvin personally, it is hard to accurately depict which trait to choose. By using his managerial tendencies and how he deals with the media, I came up with what I feel is a semi-accurate personality type for BoMel, an ISFJ, (Introvert, Sensor, Feeler, Judger). The definition of the ISFJ personality type:

People of this type tend to be cautious, gentle, and thoughtful; hesitant until they know people well then affectionate and caring; very literal and aware of the physical world; uncompromising about personal standards and easily offended; diligent and conscientious, organized and decisive. The most important thing to ISFJs is living a stable, predictable life and helping people in real ways.

Again, this is just an educated guess about Melvin’s coaching personality, which more than likely, bleeds into his off the field personality as well. Bottom line, human beings will blend in with their surrounding environments. Think about how you act around one group of friends, as opposed to others. At the office, or sitting on the couch watching the game with your buddies. It is a natural reaction to adapt to their surroundings.

There have also been laboratory studies where a group of docile male adult mice were placed into an environment together. In the first test, an overly aggressive male mouse was added to the cage and one of the docile male mice was removed. Over time, the once docile mice became more aggressive in nature. They then removed the aggressive mouse and replaced him with the docile male mouse they had removed earlier. Again, over a period of time, the mice adopted and returned to the more docile personality. This leads us to our beloved Seattle Mariners. For the past couple of years, the M’s have gone after talented, but nice players who are involved heavily in the community. Lou Pinella was the once dominant/aggressive mouse. When BoMel replaced Piniella, the M’s had the best record in the first half season of last season, only to roll over and give up in the second half. BoMel appears to be the docile/nice mouse, with the same original personality traits as the rest of the team, which like the other mice in the test, seem to have returned. I am not pointing the finger squarely at Melvin. Rather, I am point my finger at what appears to be a lack of at least one dominant personality, (one of Jeff’s favorite terms).

In his post from last night, Jeff makes some good points regarding scouting, as he tries to rationalize Leone’s struggles in yesterday’s game, (it’s okay Jeff, everyone has bad days at the office). One of the major flaws in relying solely on scouting reports when evaluating players is the amount objectivity that goes into each report. Similar to an ink blot test where someone might see a butterfly, another might see a child crying because he hates his father. Same thing goes for scouting. There are no set guidelines to help control the wording used on a scouting report, which more times than not, causes conflicting reports. Don’t get me wrong, scouting reports are a vital part of the game. In my opinion, statistical analysis can be used for players in the high minors and major leagues, but when it comes to evaluating players in high school through the low minors, scouting reports are crucial. Maybe down the road teams will adopt a more structured and modern style of wording scouting reports, but for the time being, we are going to continue seeing the sometimes confusing and contradictory reports.

Quick Notes:
~ Depending on the weather forecast, Ibanez could be back in the line-up tonight. BoMel and trainer Rick Griffin both are leery about allowing Ibanez to play on a rain soaked field. Rich Aurilia is still the rumored player to be “moved.”
~ Miguel Olivo is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Monday, Tuesday at the absolute latest.
~ Dave Hansen likes it in Seattle, and wouldn’t mind finishing his career as a Mariner. It’s nice to hear, but he will more than likely be one of the first players shipped out.
~ You cannot stop Randy Winn you can only hope to contain him. Offensively at least.
~ Since John Olerud used his no trade clause on July 4th, he has played in two of the four games. Bavasi and Melvin wouldn’t stoop to something as petty as benching Oly, would they?

Matt Thorton vs . Mark Buehrle. Not a marquee match-up, but one that should be entertaining nonetheless as Thorton gets his first ML start.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma lost again to Fresno, 5-3. Another "yeah, he's OK" kind of start of Gustavo Martinez who went seven innings. A pretty punchless Tacoma offense wasn't much help, however Greg Jacobs and Brian Moon both had two hits each. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
Jeremy Reed: 1-3, 1 BB.
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-4, 3 K.
A.J. Zapp: 1-3, 1 RBI.
Greg Jacobs: 2-4.
Greg Dobbs: 0-4.
Brian Moon: 2-4, 1 double.

El Paso edged San Antonio, 3-2. What a wild ninth inning in San Antonio, check it out:

El Paso Top 9th
- Varner, N grounded out to ss.
- Brown, N singled through the right side.
- Brown, N stole second.
- Snyder, C hit by pitch.
- Jackson, C reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop; Snyder, C out at second ss to 2b; Brown, N advanced to third.
- Quentin, C homered down the lf line, 3 RBI; Jackson, C scored; Brown, N scored.
- Taylor, A to p for Done, J.
- D'Antona, J grounded out to ss.

San Antonio Bottom 9th
- Bulger, J to p for White, B.
- Lindsey, J walked.
- Lindsey, J advanced to second on a wild pitch.
- Christianson struck out looking.
- Morse, M singled through the right side; Lindsey, J advanced to third.
- Bohn, TJ singled through the left side, RBI; Morse, M advanced to third; Lindsey, J scored.
- Oliveros, L grounded out to 2b.
- Bohn, TJ advanced to second; Morse, M scored on a wild pitch.
- Menchaca, E struck out swinging.

That was all the scoring in the entire game. You have to feel for Juan Done who pitched 8.2 outstanding innings before making his first "oops!" pitch. Notables:

Juan Done: 8.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-4.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-3, 1 BB.
Michael Morse: 2-4.
T.J. Bohn: 2-3, 1 triple.

Lancaster thumped Inland Empire, 10-8. Bobby Livingston was roughed up in his six-plus innings of work giving up nine hits and six runs (four earned) while striking out six. Jesus Guzman smacked two doubles and Matt Rogelstad chimed in with three hits of his own including a triple to lead the 66'er offense. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-3, 2 BB.
Jesus Guzman: 3-5, 2 doubles.
Jon Nelson: 1-4, 2 RBI.
Josh Ellison: 1-5, 1 RBI.
Brian Lentz: 1-4.
Matt Rogelstad: 3-5, 1 3B, 2 RBI.
Michael 'I'm just like Wilton!' Garciaparra: 0-5.

Cedar Rapids breezed by Wisconsin, 9-4. Jason Mackintosh wasn't good, we'll just leave it at that. The offense, however, were single-slapping fools this evening (12 H, 3 XBH). Chris Collins and Nick Orlandos both hacked three. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 1.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 HR.
Nick Orlandos: 3-5.
Adam Jones: 1-5, 2 RBI.
Bryan LaHair: 2-5, 2 doubles.
Chris Collins: 3-4.
Wladimir Balentien: 0-4, 1 RBI.
Josh Womack: 0-4.

Tri City beat Everett, 5-4. Kendall Bergdall can thank Mumba Rivera (yes, Mumba) and mediocre offense for tonight's loss which he gracefully wasn't charged with. Asdrubal Cabrera and Trevor Heid doubled, and that was the offensive fireworks for the Sox tonight. Notables:

Kendall Bergdall: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Brandon Green: 1-3, 1 RBI.
Yung-Chi Chen: 0-3.
Elvis Cruz: 0-4.
To answer a question that keeps popping up:

I think the White Sox signed Freddy to a reasonable deal. I'm also glad that we weren't the ones to give it to him.

That makes seven. Two more losses to the ChiSox - who'll throw Buehrle and Garcia at us over the final games of the series - will make three consecutive sweeps. Could there be a more fitting way to conclude the first half of the season?

Scouting is a funny thing. Everyone reading this has, at one point or another, thought themselves to be reasonable judges of talent. We've all offered amateur scouting reports on certain players and tried to sound professional in doing so, but more often than not we fall into the usual trap. Consider these two hypothetical reports:

One: Pinpoint command of all of his pitches. Knows how to pitch, and doesn't leave anything on the field. Intense. Not afraid to go inside at any point in the count. Fools hitters and makes them miss with ease. Big kid who will add velocity as he fills out.

Two: Good velocity on his pitches. Mixed in three different pitches - fastball, curveball, changeup - and had good movement on each of them. Has fluid, consistent mechanics, and has the same delivery, arm speed, and release point on all of his pitches. Changeup sinks down and away from right-handed hitters. Very quick off the mound in defensive situations.

Which of the two has more merit? They both have good things to say about the pitcher, after all. The first scouting report, however, is problematic, in that it cites a number of attributes that cannot be confirmed by watching a single game. Perhaps the pitcher is actually pretty wild, but was feeling good on this particular day and managed to hit his spots. Perhaps he was really missing his spots, and just throwing pitches to the strike zone in general - the inside pitches may have been outside fastballs with poor location. Maybe the other team has really bad hitters who don't make consistent contact. And how can you determine whether or not a player is "intense"? It's possible that the pitcher had a rough day and was very angry at the time of the game.

What a scouting report should do is make note of the things that won't change from game to game. Velocity. Delivery. Repertoire. Pitch movement. If a guy is throw a 90mph fastball one day, he's going to be throwing 90mph in the next game, as well. Similarly, offspeed pitches don't just disappear between starts. These are "permanent" attributes that an organization can use to determine whether or not the pitcher is worth signing. If he has smooth mechanics and a consistent release point, chances are he's going to have pretty good control. If you combine a fluid delivery with good velocity, he's probably going to strike out a bunch of hitters. It isn't the scout's job to form hypotheses based on anecdotal evidence and a one-game sample size. Rather, he's just supposed to make note of the things that aren't likely to change any time soon.

...which brings us to Justin Leone. He's started two games with the big league club and has collected just a handful of at bats - a pretty good approximation of how much a visiting scout would see before moving on to the next prospect. So, why not try and create a little scouting report, based on what we've seen? Remember, only consider Leone's permanent abilities, rather than wasting ink by noting that he made an error on a routine groundball.

Good speed. Footspeed stays with a guy until he retires (for the most part), and Leone flashed some quick legs by beating out two infield singles and easily stealing a base last night.
Good power. Leone nearly hit home runs in consecutive games, and smashed a grounder to the hole yesterday. (Confirmed by looking at his minor league track record.)
Very selective hitter. Leone doesn't like to swing early in the count unless he gets a fastball over the plate. He watches a lot of borderline pitches go by because he can't drive them as well as pitches down the middle (this can be confused with having a good batter's eye). From this, the organization could, for example, infer that Leone will be vulnerable to called third strikes that catch the corners of the strike zone, and that he won't be very good at protecting the plate when he's behind in the count.
Reads the ball well. Leone hasn't shown a propensity to lunge at offspeed pitches. He stays back and puts the weight on his back foot until the pitch crosses the plate. Rather than pointing out that he may or may not have fanned on a curveball, it would be more prudent to mention that he has the right approach to breaking pitches, which means that he's more likely to start hitting them in the future.
Poor footwork in the field. Although he's quick, Leone doesn't set his feet very well when he's making a play, which results in inaccurate throws and a handful of errors. Although Olerud made a fine scoop yesterday, it was still a bad throw by Leone that could have gone into foul territory for an error.
Strong arm. Although it was off-target (due to bad footwork), Leone made a strong throw from his back foot to first base to get an out. The organization could then infer that Leone has the arm strength to play the hot corner, and just needs to work on setting up properly before making a play.

There's your scouting report. None of the attributes mentioned are likely to change on a game-to-game basis, creating an accurate image of the player from which a given team may extrapolate further information and determine whether or not Leone's faults 1) can be remedied, and 2) are outweighed by his positive qualities. It's a simple process, but one that is often screwed up by people who try to learn everything about a player in one or two at bats.

The game itself was a yawner, and I shut it off when Melvin pinch-hit Hansen for Leone int he seventh (seriously, with the season well out of hand, was that move really necessary?). Randy Winn increased his trade value with a solo shot in the eighth, while Jolbert Cabrera did some yardwork of his own, causing Ken "Hawk" Harrelson to suggest that Cabrera may be the most valuable Mariner this season. When a guy is making outs in 70% of his plate appearances, and he's being mentioned as a valuable player, you know that something is awry, either with the announcer, the team in question, or both.

Is it just me, or does it feel like Willie Bloomquist is hardly part of this team anymore? But then I look at the game log and realize that he's appearing in the majority of our games, and it just sends me hurtling back down to Earth...

Jeff Cirillo, circa 2002:


Rich Aurilia, circa 2004:


Cirillo also had a pretty decent June that year. Hmmm...

Nobody in the Major Leagues has a more inconsistent release point than Joel Pineiro right now. He's bouncing curveballs and beaning terrible veteran catchers with sidearm sliders far more often than you'd like, and one can only hope that the All Star break gives him the opportunity to work things out with Price. Combining an erratic delivery with a tendency to overthrow, and you've got the makings of an elbow blowout.

Thornton goes against Buehrle tomorrow at 4:05 PST. The White Sox are fourth in the AL in walks drawn, but Frank Thomas' absence will make things a little easier for the kid in his first ML start. Not that I think he'll last five innings.

Friday, July 09, 2004

I was wrong.

Leone can be stopped.

Don't think we'll see him in the lineup tomorrow.
At least he has a fall back career.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Fresno jumped on Bobby Madritsch early, as the Grizzlies beat the Rainers 7-4. Madritsch making his third start since coming off the DL with an oblique strain was having a hard time keeping the ball down and Fresno took advantage. Notables:

Bobby Madritsch: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
Jeremy Reed: 1-4, 2B, 1 R
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-2, HR, 2BB
Ramon Santiago: 2-2
Greg Dobbs: 1-4, 2 K (has yet to take a walk in 75 AB)

San Antonio squeaked out a 1-0 win against El Paso, as Chris Buglovsky continued his stellar season. Notables:

Chris Buglovsky: 7.0 IP, 5H, O R, 3 BB, 4 K
Dustin Dellucci: 1-4, 2B
Hunter Brown: 1-4
John Lindsey: 2-4, 2B
T.J. Bohn: 1-2, RBI, 2 BB
Ryan Christianson: 1-3
Michael Morse: 0-3

Inland Empire defeated Lancaster 6-4. T.A. Fulmer got some serious run support as he picked up the win. Notables:

T.A. Fulmer: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Juan Gonzalez: 1-4, R
Gary Harris: 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Carlos Arroyo: 2-4
Rene Rivera: 1-3, 3B, BB

Cedar Rapids knocked off Wisconsin 5-2. Thomas Oldham threw a good game surrendering only 3 R (2 ER), but Cedar Rapids' Michel Simard was better. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Adam Jones: 1-4, K
Josh Womack: 0-3
Chris Colton: 3-4, 3B, RBI
Bryan LaHair:0-4, 2 K

Tri City beat the Aqua Sox 6-3. Aaron Jensen threw four solid innings, only to have the defense and bullpen let him down, giving him his first loss of the season. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-5, 2B, R
Brandon Green: 3-5, 2 K
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4
Mike Wilson: 2-3, 2B, R

This team is on a six-game losing streak, and is 3-13 since June 21st, when the infamous Howard Lincoln vote of confidence was issued. After closing to within nine games of first place, the Mariners have given back seven games in just over two weeks. And you know what? I hardly noticed. This could be due to a few reasons:

1) Apathy. A veteran team with a boring style of play has rendered me indifferent towards the action on the field. Exciting plays like home runs, late run-scoring base hits in close ballgames, and diving catches take place so infrequently that I'm surprised that I still pay attention.
2) Redundancy. Even when they won, I expected them to lose, so it comes as no surprise when the team embarks on another lousy streak.
3) Irrelevance. There's no reason to hope that this team wins games. We're well out of the race, and the more often we lose, the more likely it is that we wind up with a tasty draft pick that we can't blow on Raul Ibanez.
4) Allocated enthusiasm. Rather than cheering for the team as a whole, I've taken to rooting for minor leaguers like Leone/Blackley/Nageotte/Thornton to do well instead. Since the pitchers have been getting lots of opportunities and Leone has played well, my happiness has distracted me from the resulting score.

This team is on pace to finish 62-100 - our worst record since 1983. Having already dealt Garcia and showing signs of purging the roster of other veterans, there is the potential for this team to finish even worse than that, should the young guys struggle when they come up. Still, though, the record doesn't matter; the second half of the season should be spent figuring out which of our younger players can and cannot be counted on to contribute in competitive seasons down the road. Given that Wee Willie Bloomquist passed that test in 2002, clearly the bar is not set too high, so you could very well see a bunch of ex-Rainiers stick with the big club for a while. Which is good news, because every so often one of them comes up and goes...

  • ...2-for-3 with a steal and HBP. Justin Leone flashed a bevy of positive attributes today, reaching base three times, scoring two runs, making some tricky plays on defense and narrowly missing his first big league home run. The first thing an observer would have noticed today was Leone's speed - he beat out two infield singles today, and got a terrific jump on a stolen base (his lead was so good that he didn't draw a throw). Next, said observer would have noticed Leone's plate discipline. He didn't swing through a single pitch today, watched some close pitches go by for balls, and took cuts at driveable pitches - fastballs over the heart of the plate. Indeed, while Leone hadn't drawn an overwhelming number of walks in Tacoma, it's becoming clear that he has a pretty good eye, and runs into trouble when he takes called strikes and falls behind in the count. Third, the observer would have noticed Leone's power. After coming about seven feet short of a homer in the ninth inning yesterday, Leone hit a long fly ball to dead center today that was caught on the track against the wall. His first single was a sharply hit groundball on which Gomez made a good stop. When Justin swings, he usually hits the ball pretty hard. That's already more than you can say for the rest of this lineup. Finally, the observer would have noticed his good glove at third base, which made a few stops, including a flashy backhand on a tricky shorthop (Leone then made a good, strong throw to first base). The only thing that went wrong today was a throw that Olerud had to dig out of the dirt at first, saving an error. But what else is defense at first base for? Leone certainly earned himself another start, so we'll see what kind of playing time he gets against Chicago.

  • This may not be a Justin Leone fan site to Devin and Trent, but it is to me. Nothing on the order of the Bucky Backers, mind you, but Leone's my favorite player on the team, so that has to count for something.

  • Ryan Franklin needs to go. To the bullpen, to Pittsburgh, to somewhere that isn't Seattle. There is absolutely no excuse for a Mariners starting pitcher to have a 5.28 ERA tossing half his innings in Safeco. Hell, it could be worse, given how Franklin escaped a bases loaded, no-out jam in the first (thank you, Carlos Delgado). I don't want to hear any of that "Franklin just gets the job done" garbage, because - quite simply - he doesn't. He had a nice run, but I would appreciate it if he would go somewhere else to have Elmer Dessens' career, because we certainly don't have the kind of productive offense that can make up for a lackluster back of the rotation. The only thing Franklin can contribute on a relatively consistent basis is innings, but even that ability is being called into question now that he's having trouble getting to the sixth.

  • Bill Bavasi already sold high once, bringing in a shiny package from Chicago in return for Freddy Garcia. Will he dare do it again? Winn is certainly a useful player - he can run, send balls to the gaps, and even get on base a little bit. The problem is, he doesn't hit enough to play a corner, and doesn't field well enough to play in center - a classic 'tweener. All right, that's a little harsh - Winn's acceptable in CF, as long as you have skilled defensive corner outfielders - but he's 30 years old and under contract through 2006. Bavasi needs to assess the situation before he decides whether or not to make a move. Randy Winn circa 2004 is a useful player, hitting well and taking advantage of Ichiro's range in right field to look decent in center. Winn is also 30 years old and will be due $3.75m in each of the next two seasons. Will Winn lose a step as he ages, forcing him to a corner position for which he doesn't hit enough? Will his bat slow, turning him into a slap-hitting singles hitter with a little speed? PECOTA doesn't have Winn aging particularly well, and Bavasi should be as aggressive as possible in his effort to move Winn to another team. He's riding a terrific hot streak that has pushed his numbers up beyond the league average for his position, making him appear quite valuable to contending teams in need of an athletic outfielder. Bavasi needs to sell high, here, and worry about who's playing where some other time. The first order of business should be clearing out as many poor contracts as possible, and this is as good an opportunity as any, with Spiezio struggling and Ibanez not yet back from injury.

  • No, Eddie Guardado's trade value did not plummet today. Teams in need of a closer know that he can pitch, and will look beyond a belt-high fastball to Carlos Delgado to see him for the excellent reliever that he is. Even with the four runs today, Guardado's ERA sits at 2.06, and he isn't even allowing a baserunner per inning. I find myself waffling over the issue of whether or not we should try to trade Eddie this year. On the one hand, he's an old closer on a team that doesn't need one, and he could bring a nice package in return, but on the other, he's an effective pitcher who's signed to a reasonable contract, and who could play a critical part on a 2005 team that could easily become a contender, should the front office make the right decisions. Right now, I'm leaning towards hanging on to him, but I've been known to change my mind.

Piniero against Garland tomorrow at 5:05 PST. Magglio Ordonez has returned to what was already one of the best offenses in baseball (although Frank Thomas is out), so it will be a big game for Joel, as it would be nice for him to head into the All Star break on the heels of a strong start against a good team. Anyone else looking forward to Sunday, when it looks like we'll be facing Freddy?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The New York Mets are a daring organization.

According to The New York Daily News, Cuban defector Alain Soler has agreed to a $3 million deal with the Mets. While team officials have never seen the 6-3, 230-pound Soler pitch, the belief is that the right-hander -- who throws in the low-90s and is purported to be 24 years old -- could be in the rotation after several minor-league starts.
You can't stop Justin Leone, you can only hope to contain him.
Clay Davenport introduced some recent changes to the minor league statistics listed at the Baseball Prospectus website. Rather than simply listing raw numbers and equivalent EqA, Davenport has gone a step further to project "how players (DTs) and pitchers (PDTs) will perform at their peak in the majors". What does this mean? Ask Clay...

First of all, what do I mean by "their peak"? It does not mean their best season; I would expect most players to do better than what is shown for their best season. I am talking about the expected level of performance we would get from this player when he is between 27 and 31. This is a new projection scheme, developed by comparing players' entire minor and major league careers (not just individual seasons). The resulting routine is substantially different from the 'MjEqA' found on the league pages.

The projection system takes into account six main factors that determine a player's likely development.

  • Age - the younger a player is, the more he'll likely improve than an older player. However, older players have more predcitable futures, whereas teenagers and 20 year olds have a wider peak range.

  • Age compared to league - a player who is old for his league will usually struggle upon promotion.

  • Differential changes in statistics - the four components of EqA (hitting for average, hitting for power, drawing walks, and stealing bases) are treated separately, to account for how aging affects each individual part.

  • Size - simply put, small players are less likely to develop power than bigger players.

  • Strikeouts - players who whiff pretty often usually don't develop particularly well.

  • Extremes - peformances that are wildly out of the ordinary (his example is Jeremy Reed's singles rate last year) are rarely repeated.

So, without further ado, here's a list of certain interesting young Mariners:

-Jose Lopez: .286/.357/.571
-Bucky Jacobsen: .243/.341/.461
-Justin Leone: .218/.289/.417
-Jeremy Reed: .321/.367/.461
-Jamal Strong: .285/.371/.382
-Greg Dobbs (AA): .286/.327/.438
-Shin-soo Choo: .284/.350/.472
-Luis Oliveros: .249/.309/.434
-Rene Rivera: .250/.303/.392
-Adam Jones: .268/.333/.435
-Wladimir Balentien: .261/.314/.478
-Josh Womack: .252/.300/.379

-Travis Blackley: 2.79 PERA (ERA based on his peripheral statistics, like strikeouts and walks)
-Clint Nageotte: 5.42
-George Sherrill: 3.77
-Bobby Madritsch: 3.96
-Felix Hernandez: 2.63
-Bobby Livingston: 3.44
-Ryan Feierabend: 3.33
-Thomas Oldham: NC17
-Shawn Nottingham: 2.47
Matt Thornton is starting on Saturday.

With my recent purchase of MSN Premium - which includes a complementary subscription to MLB All Access - I was excited to get home from work in time to watch Travis Blackley throw against the Blue Jays.

Should've known better.

In retrospect, there were enough early signs that this one wasn't worth watching; no Leone in the starting lineup, Pat Borders getting the nod behind the plate, and Josh Towers getting the start on the hill for Toronto. Seriously, if watching Steve Trachsel can put you to sleep, watching Josh Towers is like having a team of paramedics scramble to stick you with an IV drip of a particularly strong sedative while you stare at the ocean and Enya's A Day Without Rain whispers soothingly in the background. Many years ago, Towers was approached by a cadre of large armed men who threatened to do some physical damage if the pitcher didn't improve his control and throw more strikes, thus shortening the duration of the game. Toronto fans should thank their lucky stars that this conversation took place, because had Towers turned into a run-of-the-mill junkballer throwing 45% balls, stadiums would relieve their ennui by collapsing in on themselves around the third or fourth inning of one of his starts, thus putting dozens - even hundreds of Skydome patrons in harm's way on 15 separate occasions during the year.

  • Justin Leone's first career Major League hit came off Justin Speier with two outs in the ninth inning. It was an impressive at bat, to say the least; Leone fouled off the first three pitches before taking three balls (the second being just off the plate) and fouling three more. The tenth pitch of the AB was a belt-high fastball that Leone drilled to the left-center gap, bouncing off the track and over the wall for a ground-rule double - the only extra-base hit of the game for the Mariners. Although it would've been nice had the ball sailed another ten feet in the air, this was as encouraging an at bat as anyone could have hoped for, as Leone showed contact ability, patience, and power, all in a single plate appearance. Given Dan Rohn's feeling that Leone is a little *too* patient, this may be one of those situations where Seattle's new aggressive gameplan at the plate pays off, as Leone could stand to offer at fastballs earlier in the count. Most importantly, though, he hit the ball, and hit it hard, which will force Melvin to consider putting him in the lineup for tomorrow's game.

  • Travis Blackley, for the second straight start, started out very sharp before faltering in the middle innings. He flashed a terrific pickoff move in the first to nail Gomez (and almost got Rios in the third on what was ruled a balk), and need just 23 pitches to get through two scoreless innings. Blackley ran into trouble in the third, but escaped a jam by fanning Orlando Hudson and getting Reed Johnson to pop up. After four innings, he had allowed three hits, a run, and a walk while striking out three. Great start, right? Well, after Jolbert Cabrera ended a huge threat in the top of the fifth (hooray for put-it-in-play hitting!), Blackley hit some problems in the bottom half. Rios reached base on a wild pitch, despite striking out, and then Josh Phelps hit a bomb to even the score. Three more balls were hit sharply - one going through Spiezio's wickets - before the inning was done, and the Blue Jays had the lead. Despite these sudden problems missing bats, Melvin decided to stick with the kid until he allowed a walk and a single to start the sixth. Now that we have a recap of what he did, how'd he look? What can we infer from his performance? Well, first things first - Travis didn't have his best control today. He was missing spots throughout the game, including during the early innings; even on some of his strikeouts, Borders had to move the target a fair distance to receive the pitch behind the plate. Blackley's changeup was all over the place, which let hitters wait on his fastball, with predictable results. Not that this is something you should get used to; Blackley has always had very good control, with three quality pitches, and by using his curve and change properly he will avoid the fate of becoming Josh Towers v2.0. The only problem is that on the occasion that he *doesn't* have his offspeed stuff working, bad things happen. When you top out at 87 and nothing else is working, hitters are going to have a good time, as they did today.

    Something else that came up was how often Blackley was trying to go low and in to right-handed hitters. With such good downward movement on his pitches, he was probably hoping for the balls to get pounded straight into the turf, but as has been alluded to, he was missing his spots and having to go with unfortunate pitches.

  • Blackley should be doing a lot of stamina training this winter; he wasn't ridden particularly hard throughout his minor league career, and it's showing in the Majors, where he's running out of steam around 80 pitches. A large factor in this, of course, is that he's been pitching in jams pretty often, which takes a bigger toll on the arm, but it's hard to get anywhere when you become a batting practice machine in the fifth inning.

  • Bret Boone is hitting .432 since June 28th, with four doubles and two homers...

  • Jolbert Cabrera is hitting a robust .277/.302/.391 over nearly 200 plate appearances. Ryan Ketchner and Glenn Bott have combined for a 3.53 ERA in AA with pretty strong peripherals. Remind me again why this is considered to be a shrewd move? Between Cabrera, Bloomquist, and Bocachica, we're all but guaranteed to have at least one low-OBP singles hitter in the lineup every day.

  • Yeah, Julio Mateo is performing below his 2003 level, but I wouldn't worry too much; his secondaries are still strong, and his ERA is inflated by opponents having inordinate success against him with runners on base, which is likely to regress to the mean (taking the ERA down with it).

Just one other quick thought before I go to bed. For all the flak Pat Gillick is getting for his bizarre comments regarding productive outs, consider the teams he built; the 2001 Mariners, arguably the greatest team of all time, had a lineup core featuring Edgar/Boone/Olerud/Cameron, who were each All Star-caliber players who got on base and hit for power. This strikes me as one of those situations where actions speak louder than words, because the Gillick Mariners have always had a reasonably productive middle of the lineup.

It's the Bavasi Mariners who like Jolbert Cabrera in the #3 slot...

Ryan Franklin (ugh...) against David Bush tomorrow, a command righty who works primarily off of a two-pitch repertoire. How many hands will it take to count all the broken-bat grounders?
If someone would've told you that the M’s would be 15 games out of first place, four games before the All-Star break, what would you have said? Tonight the M’s dropped their fifth straight game to the Josh Towers and the Toronto Blue Jays 12-4. That’s right, Josh Towers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Towers has limited opponents to an outstanding .331/.376/.885 line. And who can forget the 1.68 WHIP?

Despite what the box score reads, Blackley had his second respectable outing. Blackley’s line may have translated a little differently, had Mateo not given up a grand slam to Josh Phelps to add 2 more ER to his tally. Blackley was able the Blue Jays off balance for most of the night, but unlike the minors, if you accidentally hang a breaking pitch, Major League hitters are going to hit the ball hard.

Of course, what game recap would be complete without congratulating Justin Leone on his first major league hit, a double in the ninth inning. So far this season, Leone is 1-4 with 2 K’s and a double. Hopefully he will get a start against the rookie David Bush tomorrow.

The most entertaining moment of the game came during the eighth inning of tonight’s game. Neihaus and Rizz were discussing, (or informing, however you want to look at it), how there are going to be changes to the ball club in the coming weeks and how players are going to be traded in order to make the club better. The cameraman then panned over to Spiezio and Hansen, then to Winn, Cabrera, Aurilia and Bocachica. And to end it all, Willie Bloomquist. Nothing like some good foreshadowing.

I’m not sure if anyone else has picked up this yet, but the M’s are starting to push Bucky Jacobsen on us like an electronic store employee pushes an extended warranty. He is more prevalent in the papers and I counted at least a half dozen Bucky reference’s during the coverage today. Sounds to me like the Mariner’s are informing fans of the player in AAA putting up ungodly numbers, possibly preparing us for a call-up in the not so distant future?

Couple Quick Notes:
~Miguel Olivo rejoined the club today after leaving the hospital Monday. While he won’t be activated until after the All-Star break, Olivo said he wanted to be with the club and continue to get to know everyone.
~Ibanez will rejoin the club in Chicago on Friday and the M’s will decide whether or not they will activate him. He is currently 4 for 17 on his rehab assignment in Tacoma.
~Randy Winn and Bret Boone have picked the right time to get hot, as Philly scouts continue to follow the club. Coming off a very good June, (.286/.377./.863), Winn hot hitting has spilled over into July (.360/.407/.967). Boone also has had a great month of July, hitting .440/.462/.1.182.
~George Sherrill has almost become automatic in the ninth for Tacoma, collecting his 13 tonight.
~For all you fantasy junkies out there, if Josh Phelps is available in your leaguers, consider picking him up. Phelps second half line from last season, .278/.373/.901.

Tomorrow’s game pits Ryan Franklin against rookie David Bush. The M’s are facing a pitcher they have not seen before and so far this season, the results have not been good. Franklin is also throwing against a decent Blue Jay line-up in one of the best hitting parks in the game, not good. My prediction: 7-5 Blue Jays.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Tacoma came back to beat Salt Lake, 5-4.
Two late runs saved Gil Meche and his mediocre start. Greg Dobbs, Raul Ibanez and Jeremy Reed all had mulit-hit nights for the Rainiers. Notables:

Gil Meche: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.
Jeremy Reed: 3-4, 1 BB.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-5, 1 double.
Raul Ibanez: 2-5, 1 RBI.
Greg Dobbs: 2-4, 1 triple.
A.J. Zapp: 1-4, 1 RBI.

San Antonio pushed past El Paso, 4-2. Nice start for Rich Dorman who went seven, scattering seven hits and two runs with ten punchouts. John Lindsey and Dustin Delucchi both doubled to lead what was a pretty punchless offense (four hits all night). Notables:

Rich Dorman: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-4, 1 double.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-3, 1 BB.
John Lindsey: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 0-3.
Michael Morse: 1-4, 1 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 0-3.

Inland Empire defeated Lake Elsinore, 5-3. Excellent start for Juan Sandoval who has been pitching well as of late as he went eight innings giving up five hits, a run and striking out six. Josh Ellison had three hits on the evening helping lead the 66'er offense. Notables:

Juan Sandoval: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-4.
Jesus Guzman: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Rene Rivera: 2-4.
Josh Ellison: 3-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI.

Wisconsin fell to Kane County, 3-2 (10). Michael Moorhead wasn't letting anyone hit the ball, but he was extremely wild, walking six in six innings. In the end, he only gave up two hits and a run. Michael Cox's homerun was the offensive highlight of the evening as it seemed most Rattler hitters took the night off. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 7 K.
Nick Orlandos: 0-5.
Adam Jones: 1-4.
Bryan LaHair: 1-4.
Michael Cox: 1-3, 1 homer.
Wladimir Balentien: 0-4.
Justin Ruchti: 1-4, 1 RBI.

Everett is crushing Tri City 14-3 in the top of the ninth. Box soon.
Justin Leone collected his first ML hit today; a double off Justin Speier. While we aren't a Leone fansite, we obviously have a place for him in our hearts.
Raul Ibanez hopes to return on Friday.

The Mariners are hoping to activate outfielder Raul Ibanez in time for Friday's series opener at Chicago, but the team will hold off on that decision until his pre-game workout. "We'll see, nothing's for sure," manager Bob Melvin told the Seattle Times. "We may have Raul go through the pre-game stuff before we decide whether he'll play." Ibanez has been on the disabled list for the last five weeks with a strained hamstring.

No time for a recap on this one. Which isn't too bad, really, considering how it went. Tomorrow's game, at the very least, will feature Travis Blackley, and potentially Justin Leone as well, so I'll be sure to get something up and written on that one.

Five games left before the All Star break. Godspeed, Optimist.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma fell to Salt Lake, 8-6. Bucky Jacobsen hit his 25th home run, but a lousy start by Craig Anderson - now 0-7 on the year - negated the effort. Notables:

Craig Anderson: 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R (4 ER), 1 K, 1 HR
Jeremy Reed: 1-5
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-3, 1 homer, 2 BB
Greg Jacobs: 1-4
Raul Ibanez: 1-4

Error-prone San Antonio came back to defeat El Paso 5-4 in ten innings. Felix Hernandez was strong once more in his second AA start, but the Missions couldn't take the victory until Hunter Brown hit a sac fly in the bottom of the tenth. He led the offense with three hits, including two doubles. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 7 IP, 4 H, 4 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Aaron Taylor: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Dustin Delucchi: 2-5, 1 BB
Hunter Brown: 3-4, 2 doubles
Shin-soo Choo: 2-5
TJ Bohn: 0-4, 1 BB
Michael Morse: 0-4, 1 BB
Luis Oliveros: 0-2, 2 BB (!)

Inland Empire lost to Lake Elsinore, 5-1. Jon Nelson and Matt Rogelstad had the only hits for the 66ers, who were dominated by Clark Girardeau. Ryan Rowland-Smith threw a decent six outings, but the offensive support wasn't close to sufficient. Notables:

Ryan Rowland-Smith: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 7 K
Michael Garciaparra: 0-4 (Go away.)
Rene Rivera: 0-3
Matt Hagen: 0-3
Gary Harris: 0-4

Wisconsin lost to Kane County, 8-7. Three unearned runs ended Ryan Feierabend's day after five innings, and the Rattlers committed four errors in all. Bryan LaHair and Michael Nesbit had three-hit days for the visitors, who blew a 5-0 lead in the sixth. Notables:

Ryan Feierabend: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 4 K
Josh Womack: 0-4, 1 BB
Bryan LaHair: 3-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Chris Colton: 1-5
Wladimir Balentien: 2-4

Everett was wiped out by Vancouver, 12-3. Ruben Flores had a forgettable start, yielding eight runs in 1.2 innings for the loss. The Aquasox could muster just five hits and a walk all day long, with no single player reaching base more than once. Brian Schweiger accounted for said double. Notables:

Brent Johnson: 1-4
Brandon Green: 0-4
Omar Falcon: 0-2
Yung-Chi Chen: 0-4
Mike Wilson: 1-4

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

This morning, I had the pleasure of reading an article out of last weeks The Sporting News this morning at work. The article dealt with OBP vs. BA, one of the hot topics in baseball circles. This article contained some serious gems and I figured I could have a hay day picking apart some of Pat Gillick’s comments. But upon further review of the blogging community, I discovered that Peter White, over at Mariner Musings, had already done a very good job in offering some insight into the faults of relying on BA and productive outs when evaluating talent. Instead of me echoing his comments, I strongly suggest that readers glance over his piece and draw your own conclusions.

Freddy Garcia signed a three year, twenty seven million contract extension with the Chicago White Sox today. Providing Garcia can keep his 2004 form and not revert back to the Garcia from last season and the last half of 2002, the White Sox should be happy with the return on their investment. Freddy seems to be taking less than market value with this extension, (his agent reportedly told Seattle it would take four years for $40 million for Freddy to return), and could have fetched a much larger contract on the open market this winter, but money doesn’t always buy happiness. It’s a good deal for Freddy and I wish him all the best for the rest of his career.
Freddy Garcia signed an extension with Chicago, reportedly a $27m/3yr deal.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Salt Lake stomped Tacoma, 7-4. Clint Nageotte picked up where he left off in Seattle (read: not very good) while trading control issues for grooving pitches. Bucky Jacobsen drove in two and A.J. Zapp tripled to lead the Rainier offense. Notables:

Clint Nageotte: 6.0 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.
Elpidio Guzman: 2-4.
Jeremy Reed: 1-4.
A.J. Zapp: 2-4, 1 triple.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Raul Ibanez: 0-3.

Arkansas beat up San Antonio, 7-2. Phil Devey was passable for six innings before Renee Contez decided to hand Arkansas the game on a silver platter. One extra-base hit, a double thanks to Shin-soo Choo, pretty much sums up the Mission offense. Notables:

Phil Devey: 6.0, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 2-4.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 0-4.
Michael Morse: 1-4.
T.J. Bohn: 0-3, 2 K.

Inland Empire beat Lake Elsinore, 5-3. Tanner Watson was strong for six and a third as he got adaquate run support from the top of the order (6-19, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR). Notables:

Tanner Watson: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-4, 1 double.
Jesus Guzman: 2-4, 1 R.
Gary Harris: 1-3, 1 triple.
Jon Nelson: 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Rene Rivera: 0-3.
Michael Garciaparra: 0-2.

Wisconsin fell short in the ninth, losing to Kane County, 5-4. Nibaldo Acosta was touched up for ten hits and five runs before being knocked out after 5.1 IP. Nick Orlandos conintue his hot hitting with two more hits. Notables:

Nibaldo Acosta: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Josh Womack: 2-5, 1 triple.
Nick Orlandos: 2-5.
Adam Jones: 0-5.
Bryan LaHair: 1-4.
Wladimir Balentien: 1-4.
Justin Ruchti: 2-4, 2 RBI.

Another high scoring affair for Everett as they beat Vancouver, 9-8. It was a night of fives for Ivan Blanco (see below) as Brandon Green lead the Aquasox with a homer and three RBIs. Notables:

Ivan Blanco: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.
Casey Craig: 0-4.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-4.
Brandon Green: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R.
Yung-Chi Chen: 3-4.
Omar Falcon: 0-4, 2 K.

Monday, July 05, 2004


About fifteen minutes before the Mariners game started this morning, I was offered an extra ticket to today's Royals/Padres tilt. Never one to turn down a free invitation to an afternoon ballgame, I flew out the door and got to Petco in plenty of time for the first pitch. I was disappointed that I was missing Justin Leone's first career ML start (as it turned out, I didn't miss much), but Mike Wood was on the hill for Kansas City today, with John Buck behind the plate, and that more than satiated my appetite for observing talented youth. Brief scouting report? Mike Wood causes a bunch of groundballs, but he gets into trouble when his command starts to go, and he strikes me as a guy who'll never become a particularly efficient pitcher (read: lots of five/six inning outings). Buck, on the other hand, was having trouble blocking balls in the dirt, and looks like he'll be a project. In short, today's game didn't really prove to me that the Royals made out very well in the Beltran deal. Other tidbit from the game: when Jeff Cirillo came in for a potentially seriously-injured Phil Nevin, I was the only one booing.

On to the M's, in another eye-pleasing display of bullet points...

  • Yesterday:

    Suppan throws a bunch of strikes - always has - which means that John Olerud will strike out looking at least once.

    Jeff Suppan pitches to John Olerud
    Pitch 1: ball 1
    Pitch 2: ball 2
    Pitch 3: ball 3
    Pitch 4: strike 1 (looking)
    Pitch 5: strike 2 (foul)
    Pitch 6: strike 3 (looking)
    J Olerud struck out looking.

  • Also about Olerud:

    First baseman John Olerud has become the first of the Mariners with a no-trade clause to deny the Mariners' request to waive the clause.

    Apparently, some team that isn't the Red Sox approached Bavasi with a deal, but Olerud wasn't feeling it. John goes on to explain that it's all about his family, that he doesn't want to go anyplace where his family won't feel welcome, and after reading the piece you get the notion that Olerud would rather finish his playing days in Seattle, rather than having to pack up and move somewhere else away from his wife and kid for three months. Which is not to say that I'm angry at John for making such a decision; he's earned that right, and I respect him as both a man and a ballplayer. Unfortunately, while he wouldn't be likely to bring us much in return as part of a trade, letting Olerud stick around indirectly lowers Justin Leone's playing time:

    If the Mariners move Olerud, who is hitting .255 after going 1 for 4 yesterday in a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, that could possibly move Scott Spiezio from third base to first and install rookie Justin Leone at third, his natural position.

    With Bucky Jacobsen's best defensive Major League comparison being a tie between Mo Vaughn and Ted Williams' frozen cadaver, moving Olerud wouldn't give Bucky any kind of opportunity, anyway, so it's not like Olerud is directly blocking the progress of a young, up-and-coming talent. What's most interesting about this whole story is that Bavasi considered the idea of dealing Ole away, which isn't really something you can imagine Gillick doing, were he in BB's position.

  • Justin Leone's first ML start was less than stellar. While he wasn't given much of an opportunity to shine - or suck - at shortstop, he struck out in both of his at bats before being lifted for Edgar Martinez in the eighth. Not that anyone else in the lineup was hitting, mind you, but that's no excuse. It's been suggested that part of Leone's problem with strikeouts stems from having too much patience - a lot like Mike Cameron - that he gets himself deep into counts too often as a result of not being very aggressive. Leone supported that statement by taking a first-pitch strike in his first AB, and then watching three strikes in his second. Still, though, it seems like Melvin wants to see what he can do:

    "His numbers suggest he can hit the ball out of the ballpark, and we've been having a little trouble doing that," Melvin said. "Not like I am telling [him] to go out and hit the ball out of the ballpark today, but he's a guy who has some power."
    Asked how long Leone might stay in the lineup, Melvin said, "We'll see how it goes."
    "Normally, I am not going to hit for him right there..." Melvin said. "I told Justin, 'Nothing against you, but this is my chance to get Edgar up there as the tying run and it's too much to pass up.'"
    While it hasn't exactly been a stellar start to his ML career, Leone's still battling some major butterflies, and Melvin seems determined to give Justin some playing time, rather than sitting him a bunch until he's sent back to Tacoma. Ideally, the Mariners would put Spiezio on the DL to rest his back and give Leone the third base job for two weeks, but the team probably wants Spiezio to get hot and attract some trade offers by the deadline. Nevertheless, Leone might stick for a while; Borders goes when Olivo returns, and Bocachica might be going back to Tacoma when Ibanez finishes his rehab stint. Things are looking up.

  • Jolbert Cabrera's 8.5/1 K/BB ratio is the worst in the Majors among batters with 100+ at bats, just narrowly beating out Jose Molina's 8.25/1.

  • Joel Pineiro in April: 8.26 ERA
    Joel Pineiro since May 1st: 3.26 ERA
    This is the kind of thing we could take advantage of in arbitration, had we not signed Joel to an extension. That bad first month will ruin his final numbers; should he put up a 3.26 ERA over the rest of the season, he'd still finish the year at 4.00, with what will undoubtedly be - at best - a mediocre won/loss record. These are the kinds of stupid things that can mean millions of dollars to an arbitrator. No, I'm not criticizing Pineiro's contract, just pointing out a blessing in disguise that we won't be able to take advantage of.

  • Our team OPS is .699. Thank goodness for Kansas City, who - if they finish the year similar to how they played in this series against San Diego - will inevitably be no-hit at some point in the second half. Hell, they came close yesterday before Dee Brown went the other way with an Eaton fastball.

  • We're currently playing about two games below our Pythagorean record - what our record should be, based on runs scored and runs allowed. I blame this on Melvin being a tool, with no facts to substantiate my claim.

No game tomorrow - play resumes Tuesday with a three-game set in Toronto. Moyer goes against Batista in the opener, with Travis Blackley taking on the animate manifestation of his career's worst case scenario, Josh Towers, in the second game. We're running out of time to get the Optimist back and posting before the ASB.

...speaking of which, Eddie Guardado should be our representative this year, instead of Ichiro, who's been voted into the game despite being the fifth-best American League right fielder so far. But then, saying this implies that I give a rat's patoot about the game itself, which I don't.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma slipped past Salt Lake in extras, 6-5. An OK showing for Gustavo Martinez who went seven in the no decision. Every Rainier had at least one hit tonight as Raul Ibanez made his rehab debut. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.
Jeremy Reed: 1-5, 1 double.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-3, 1 BB.
Raul Ibanez: 1-5, 3 K.
Greg Jacobs: 1-4, 1 homer.
Luis Ugueto: 1-5, 2 RBI.

San Antonio pounded Arkansas, 16-2. Juan Done was solid for seven innings as the Mission offense went off. Six players had multi-hit games and two had four hits (Ryan Christianson and T.J Bohn) in the drubbing. Michael Morse made his debut, finally. Notables:

Juan Done: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 BB.
Shin-soo Choo: 3-4, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 4-6, 1 2B, 3 R.
Michael Morse: 1-5, 2 R, 2 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 4-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R.

Lake Elsinore beat Inland Empire, 4-2. Bobby Livingston didn't fool many as he went six and gave up nine hits and four runs (three earned). The 66'ers had eleven hits on the evening but had trouble getting people across the plate, a seemingly common theme throughout the organization in the past few years. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5.
Jesus Guzman: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 3B.
Gary Harris: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 3B.
Rene Rivera: 0-3.
Josh Ellison: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Michael Garciaparra: 0-4.

Wiconsin fell to Kane County, 5-2. Jason Mackintosh didn't get much help in what was an acceptable start. Michael Nesbit had two doubles and Nick Orlandos, who has been smoking the ball over in Wisconsin this year, had four hits. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K.
Michael Nesbit: 3-5, 2 doubles.
Nick Orlandos: 4-5, 1 RBI.
Adam Jones: 0-5, 3 K
Chris Collins: 0-4.
Wladimir Balentien: 2-4, 1 homer.

Everett won a shootout against Vancouver, 14-13. Obviously, not a good night for Everett's pitching. Kendall Bergdall? Horrible. Vance Hall? Wretched. Kenny Falconer? Disgusting. Cibney Bello? Ah, he was alright. Luckily, none of this mattered as the Aquasox offense came to the rescue. Seven extra-base hits and seventeen hits over all with six players having multi-hit nights. Notables:

Kendall Bergdall: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-4.
Robert Johnson: 3-5, 3 R, 1 3B.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 3-4, 1 2B, 4 RBI.
Marshall Hubbard: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI.
Yung-Chi Chen: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Raul Ibanez started in Tacoma today, beginning his rehab stint.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Portland, 4-3. The Rainiers were limited to just five hits and nine baserunners all game long, but two-run hits by Greg Jacobs (homer) and Bucky Jacobsen (single) provided enough offense for Bobby Madritsch and the bullpen. Notables:

Bobby Madritsch: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
George Sherrill: 1.2 IP, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 1-3, 1 homer
Jeremy Reed: 0-2, 2 BB
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-3, 1 BB
AJ Zapp: 0-3, 1 BB
Greg Dobbs: 1-4, 1 double

San Antonio beat Arkansas by a 4-3 score as well. Chris Buglovsky settled down to pitch a solid game after allowing three runs in the first, and the Missions scored a run in each of the final three innings to pick up the win. Shin-soo Choo's RBI single in the eighth proved to be the winning hit, and Aaron Taylor picked up his third victory of the year. Notables:

Aaron Taylor: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K
Dustin Delucchi: 2-3, 1 BB
Luis Oliveros: 2-2
TJ Bohn: 1-3
Vince Faison: 0-4
Shin-soo Choo: 2-4
Hunter Brown: 0-3

Michael Morse will report tomorrow (finishing up a suspension, according to J at Mariner Minors).

Inland Empire got bombed by Rancho Cucamonga, 11-3. TA Fulmer allowed three runs in each of the first three innings - ending his day after retiring just seven batters - and the 66ers were held to six baserunners over the course of the game by the Quakes. Jon Nelson had two extra-base hits and reached three times to lead the offense in a futile comeback effort. Notables:

A Fulmer: 2.1 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Juan Gonzalez: 0-4
Matt Hagen: 0-4
Josh Ellison: 0-1
Jon Nelson: 2-3, 1 double, 1 homer, 1 BB

Wisconsin's game against Cedar Rapids was suspended in the third inning, with the scored 0-0. Cedar Rapids, as you may or may not know, is the team responsible for Birdzerk:

Everett beat Vancouver, 5-1. Aaron Jensen picked up his third win in as many decisions, allowing a run and eight baserunners in six innings of work, while Joe Woerman pitched a perfect three innings for the extended save. Two Vancouver errors led to three unearned runs crossing the plate in the decisive seventh inning, as the Aquasox only collected six hits (five singles) all game. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Brandon Green: 0-4
Casey Craig: 0-1
Yung-Chi Chen: 2-3
Omar Falcon: 0-4
Marshall Hubbard: 1-3
Trevor Heid: 0-4


The homer-happy Cardinals could have a field day with Franklin, while Mariners fans should expect a healthy diet of straight Marquis fastballs getting hit straight into the ground.

The Cardinals clubbed four extra-base hits - two homers - and eleven hits in all as they disposed of Franklin in six excruciating innings.

The Mariners put 83% of their balls in play on the ground.

Ordinarily, it feels good to nail a prediction, but it's gotten to the point at which it's no longer particularly noteworthy. Who honestly thought that the recently awful Ryan Franklin would be able to survive St Louis' potent middle of the order? Who out there believed that the Mariners' collection of slow bats would be able to lift a few Jason Marquis fastballs deep into the outfield? One of the things people like to say about baseball is that - no matter what the numbers say - anything can happen at any point in time. Today's game is evidence that this isn't always true.

Ryan Franklin 2003/2004 Comparison:
Statistic 2003 2004
K/9 4.20 4.73
BB/9 2.59 3.00
HR/9 1.44 1.27
BABIP .250 .313
ERA 3.57 5.00
dERA 5.26 5.21

Franklin has bumped up the strikeouts by half a point while lowering the homers (although he's allowed six in his last two starts), but some of this gain is negated by the increase in walks. However, these are trivial differences when compared to the difference in batting average on balls in play. Ryan has gone from pitching in front of the best defense in the league to pitching in front of a considerably worse one, and, as we all expected coming into the year, it's taken a toll on his performance. Two things to note about Franklin so far:

  • He's getting hurt by the guys who helped him the most in 2003. His GB/FB ratio is exactly the same as it wasa last year - 0.76 - meaning that balls that used to be caught are falling into the gaps. One quick glance at his numbers lends support to this idea, as Franklin's already allowed 30 doubles and triples this year - three more than he allowed last season while facing 449 fewer batters than he did in 2003.

  • Look at those defense-independent ERA's - they're approximately identical. Last year, Franklin's actual ERA was 169 points lower than his dERA, providing a pretty good idea of just how lucky he was; suddenly, everything's regressing to the mean, and Ryan's feeling the hurt. And he still can't be considered "unlucky".

This is a guy who's under contract for $2.4m in 2005, when he'll provide a 1999 Mike Oquist-like performance for five times the cost. You ever know why the idea of "buy low, sell high" became popular? Because you can turn a quick profit while pretending not to be surprised when the suckers who held on too long get burned. Ryan Franklin's stock came crashing back down to Earth faster than Smash Mouth's, and we can probably quit entertaining thoughts of dealing him away to a contender in need of a strike-throwing innings sponge. Guys who can throw 200 innings have value, but it's not worth seven figures to find out whether or not those innings come with any other guarantees.

Trade Ron Villone. Now. That 3.10 ERA and swingman mentality would look a lot nicer on the Red Sox.

If Jeff Suppan throws a 1-2-3 first against us tomorrow, our team OPS will be pushed back under .700, joining Montreal as the only Major League teams with such low figures. On the bright side, we're 26th in the Majors in team EqA.

To be completely honest, this was just a boring game from the get-go. No Leone in the lineup. No Blackley, Nageotte, or Thornton scheduled to throw some pitches. Olivo's gone for two weeks. We didn't even get to see a C-grade prospect like Putz get thrown into the mix. Ryan Franklin is about as bland a starting pitcher as you'll find in professional baseball, and our lineup featured a 5-through-9 cluster of Aurilia/Spiezio/Bocachica/Borders/Franklin. It's not just bad; it's sleep-inducingly bad, since it's not like these guys are exciting, young, talented players who'll be with the team for years to come. Just as with George Thorogood, guys like Aurilia and Spiezio got a lot of attention back when they were decent young professionals, but now they're washed up and charge too much money to see them play. Man, I can't wait to see Leone in the lineup tomorrow, because at least this potential o'fer day with a handful of strikeouts will be coming from somebody new.

Joel Pineiro goes up against Jeff Suppan tomorrow at 11:15am. Suppan throws a bunch of strikes - always has - which means that John Olerud will strike out looking at least once. Nevertheless, this promises to be one of the most exciting games in a while (for me, anyway), since Melvin has promised that Leone will start the game at short tomorrow. A 1-4 day with a homer, two strikeouts, and and error would be pretty appropriate, don't you think?