Saturday, September 11, 2004

Say hello to Randy Williams. Although there's no specific mention of a corresponding roster move to accomodate the southpaw, I'm assuming that Sherrill's going to the DL. More to come as I hear about it.

Williams is a 28 (29 in a week) year old lefty who's pitched for San Antonio and Tacoma over the last two seasons. He's had moderate success, and has put up the following numbers:

4.03 ERA
7.11 K/9
4.89 BB/9
1.46 K/BB
0.77 HR/9
7.97 H/9

1.73 ERA
8.21 K/9
1.51 BB/9
5.43 K/BB
0.43 HR/9
7.13 H/9

(Now that I've done all the dirty work, you can view his numbers here.) It should be noted that Williams had a bit of a rough transition to AAA in 2003 before becoming one of Tacoma's most dependable pitchers out of the bullpen this year.

What makes this move more interesting than other September promotions is that, for lefty relievers, early performance determines career path. Any southpaw who displays even the slightest ability to get hitters out will stick in the Majors for several seasons, building up a comfortable bank account over the duration. Most often, you'll find these guys hanging around fringe contenders during their best seasons, getting traded for spare parts every July and signing $500k one-year contracts with Pittsburgh in the winter.

Randy Williams has a chance to turn into a poor man's Scott Radinsky (I'll take "Phrases You Never Thought You'd Hear for $500", Alex), but a few unfortunate walks and doubles could force him down the Erik Plantenberg career path. It's something to pay attention to between Ichiro!'s at bats, anyway.
Aaron Taylor was probably hoping to pitch a little better tonight.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Will Carroll chimed in about a few Mariners today in his latest UTK.

The Mariners got a message today from the surgical table. Eddie Guardado had planned surgery to fix his painful left knee a couple weeks back, returning to Seattle on Thursday. He told the media that he was sure that his shoulder was injured compensating for the pain and lack of range in his damaged knee. Sources tell me that Eddie quietly questioned the M's pitching and medical staff for ignoring his pain. Guardado is trying to rehab his injured pitching shoulder rather than have surgery. If the injury truly was a cascade, he may well avoid it. The M's will lose cult hero Bucky Jacobsen for the rest of the season. He'll have surgery to correct a minor but painful problem with his patella.

Now, I'm always hesitant to copy and paste these kinds of things, because I have ethical qualms with providing for free what others intended to be paid for. As such, I strongly urge you all to consider purchasing a subscription to Baseball Prospectus - it's more than worth it (Carroll's psuedo-daily Under The Knife pieces are worth the cost by themselves).
"Those who fail to learn the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them."
-George Santayana.

Matt Hasselbeck, last January:

"We want the ball, and we're going to score."

Mike Vanderjagt, yesterday:

FOXBORO, Mass. -- So confident was Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt that he would make a tying, 48-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining in Thursday night's league opener against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium...that he turned toward the Patriots' sideline before setting up for the kick and rubbed a few of his fingers together.
Big news:

The fellows over at The Baseball Cube have updated the database to include individual minor league stats for 2004. No longer will we have to open separate windows for the Cube and BA (at least, until the next season begins), which means fewer "window not responding" error messages, and thus a generally happier America.

Be amazed by Michael Garciaparra's .242 career batting average! Observe in shock and awe Michael Garciaparra's .314 slugging percentage! Pinch yourself when noticing that Michael Garciaparra has grounded into five times as many double plays as he has hit home runs! Run in horror from Michael Garciaparra's position in the 2001 amateur draft!

And there are a bunch of other players, too.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Didn't take long for Reed to take a bad route to a catchable ball.
Speaking of Ichiro!, Dayn Perry offers a follow-up piece responding to reader feedback regarding his original Ichiro-isn't-an-MVP-candidate article. His conclusion this time around, in response to the question "What else is expected of an MVP?":

A level of performance that's as high or higher than any other player in the league. Ichiro's good, but he doesn't pass muster with that particular criterion.

Ichiro's 71.2 VORP leads the AL, 2.4 points ahead of Melvin Mora.

It would appear that, to Perry, win shares carry more credibility than VORP in defining a player's overall value; Ichiro's 20 WS have him tied for 10th in the AL, seven off the lead (Sheffield). However, this would be inconsistent with Perry's track record as an analyst, as he has often cited Value Over Replacement Player as his personal metric of choice. See for yourself:

Oakland's Offense
Best Projected Rotations (BP subscription required)
Stars In The East
Jimy's Poison Pen
The Way We Were

...and the list goes on and on. There are plenty more where that came from.

Let's take a closer look at one article in particular. In his piece "Stars In The East", Perry attempts to construct: "All-Star Team" using only Yankees and Red Sox that's better than the team that could be cobbled together using every other team in the league

He goes on to state:

First, some criteria. For each position, I'm selecting the player with the highest Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) from the available pool of players.

Seven months ago, Perry believed that VORP provided the closest approximation of who was the best player under any given conditions (best at his position, best overall player in the league, etc). All of a sudden, when VORP fails to support his belief, Perry ignores the metric in favor of more general statements (such as the fact that Ichiro doesn't hit for much power) that highlight Ichiro!'s weaknesses while downplaying his strengths.

I respect Dayn Perry as both an analyst and a writer, but I'm disappointed with his most recent pieces. As of this moment, Ichiro! is the most deserving of all AL MVP candidates, and I consider it irresponsible journalism to blatantly ignore arguably the most telling and objective statistic when it doesn't agree with the author's opinion.
One of the things you'll often hear about San Francisco is that no other team depends on a single player as much as the Giants do, that without Barry Bonds, they'd be doomed to a virtually meaningless, irrelevant existence among the Colorados and Cincinattis of the world. Which isn't necessarily untrue by any means - If you were to replace Bonds with a typical minor leaguer, the Giants' record would reverse itself to 64-77. But the statement got me thinking: who relies more on its token superstar, San Francisco or Seattle? After all, the Mariners would be abount 44-94 with a replacement-level bat in right field, also significantly different from the team's present record.

Barry Bonds 2004 VORP: 128.2
Barry Bonds 2004 Win Shares: 42
Giants Total 2004 VORP: 429.5
Giants Total 2004 Win Shares: 219

Barry Bonds % of total team VORP: 29.8
Barry Bonds $ of total team Win Shares: 19.2

Ichiro 2004 VORP: 71.2
Ichiro 2004 Win Shares: 20
Mariners Total 2004 VORP: 312.9
Marinres Total 2004 Win Shares: 153

Ichiro % of total team VORP: 22.8
Ichiro % of total team Win Shares: 13.1

Clearly, Barry Bonds accounts for a greater percentage of San Francisco's total production than Ichiro does Seattle's, but the gap isn't as wide as one would think. Indeed, the Mariners rely on Ichiro more than any other AL team does one player. Still, another thing to consider is the quality of the supporting cast. Do Seattle or San Francisco have other players who are valuable, but whose contributions are overshadowed by the team's best player?

Sum of San Francisco's #2-5 VORP: 138.9
Average: 34.7
Sum of San Francisco's #2-5 WS: 62
Average: 15.5
% of total team VORP from #2-5: 32.3
% of total team WS from #2-5: 28.3

Sum of Seattle's #2-5 VORP: 109.2
Average: 27.3
Sum of Seattle's #2-5 WS: 39
Average: 9.8
% of total team VORP from #2-5: 34.9
% of total team WS from #2-5: 25.5

What this shows us is that both Bonds and Ichiro have had almost equivalent supporting casts, as compared to the total team performance. Thus, given that the teams have relied on their respective supporting casts to similar degrees, we may safely conclude that Barry Bonds is more important to the Giants than Ichiro is to the Mariners - although, sans Bonds, they'd still avoid the cellar.

What's sad is that you could replace Barry Bonds with Jeff Conine, and the Giants would still have the same total team VORP as the Mariners. Another way of looking at this is that Seattle is a Barry Bonds away from contending for the Wild Card. Or, if you prefer a more realistic statement on the condition of the team, you could replace the 2004 Scott Spiezio with the 2004 Alex Rodriguez and the 2004 Raul Ibanez with the 2004 Lance Berkman, and we'd still be fringe contenders. Just a little something to consider when we talk about the impact of signing Carlos Beltran or Adrian Beltre.
Skimming through a few of my favorite sites, I came across this piece at RoyalMania that mentions two Mariner minor leaguers, Zapp and Reed. The summaries are brief, and don't really tell us anything that we didn't already know - Zapp's a powerful dude, and Reed could end up as one of those oft-underrated corner outfielders with doubles power - but any report that uses the phrase "poor man's Calvin Pickering" is worth a link.

...actually, it's worth two links, so just in case you missed it the first time, here you go.
Just two games have reached their conclusion so far this afternoon, but it's already been a historical day. Kansas City beat up on the Tigers 26-5 in the first game of a doubleheader, as Joe Randa went 6-7 with six runs scored and 13 consecutive Royals reached base in an 11-run third inning. Courtesy of Retrosheet, we find out that:

  • Joe Randa is the fourth player in history to score six runs in a game

  • Randa is the *third* player in history to score six runs and record six hits in a game, and the first in the AL

  • The 26 runs are the most allowed in Tigers history

  • The 13 consecutive baserunners ties a Major League record

  • The 26 runs are also the most scored in Kansas City history

Also, thanks to Redbird Nation for pointing out that this was the first 26-5 final score in the history of baseball.

Also of note is the fact that Lino Urdaneta was charged with six runs without recording an out. A Rule 5 selection last December, Urdaneta spent the year pitching in the minors, putting up a 6.17 combined ERA before getting the call. If anyone is going to allow all six of the hitters he faces to reach base, Urdaneta looked like as good a bet as any coming into the day.

By the way, Detroit is beating Kansas City 6-0 in the sixth inning of the second game at this typing. Can we please stop asking idiotic questions like "How are they going to respond?" after a team gets pummeled? The Mariners continued playing outstanding baseball after the Indians' miraculous comeback in 2001. The Yankees came right back to beat Cleveland after the 22-0 game a few days ago. The Tigers have come out and laid a beating on the Royals just hours after being served their own asses on a silver platter. I think it's safe to assume that these guys are all professionals, and that they're fully capable of putting a disastrous performance behind them and concentrating on the present an future, rather than the past.

For Lino Urdaneta's sake, this had better be true.
Did anyone notice that JC Romero hasn't allowed a run since June 11th?

That's a shiny 0.00 ERA (and RA) over 34.2 innings.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bucky Jacobsen to the DL; he'll miss the rest of the year after getting arthroscopic knee surgery. He's had this problem for several years, but is only now getting it taken care of.

The plus side to this bit of news is that it gives Melvin the flexibility to put Ibanez at first and play Reed every day, but whether or not he takes advantage of this possibility remains to be seen. Expect a lot more of Spiezio, Bloomquist, and Cabrera.

There's also the slim chance that the organization reconsiders calling up AJ Zapp, now that there's a place for him to play, but doing so would requiring freeing up another spot on the 40-man roster, which they probably don't want to do.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Players the Mariners have let go:

John Olerud: .312/.393/.419
Rich Aurilia: .270/.345/.392
Quinton McCracken: .291/.337/.417
Mike Myers: Lefties just 1-for-12 since he left
Kevin Jarvis: 6 runs in 2 innings (thankfully)

Players the Mariners have traded:

Freddy Garcia: 4.79 ERA
Pat Borders: 2-for-8
Ben Davis: .264/.296/.473
Dave Hansen: 1-for-15

You want a contribution from an ex-Mariner, claim it, don't trade for it.

Edit: Myers was traded, but the point remains: grab the castoffs.
I got my TV in the mail today. With available on the computer and full cable to my right, I don't think I'll ever leave the room (except for classes).

Anyway, I've got a few more things for you:

First, an interview with Bobby Livingston. Livingston, a 22 year old southpaw, had a solid campaign with high-A Inland Empire, putting up a 3.57 ERA in 186.2 innings while fanning 141. His main attribute, however, is his control - he's walked just 72 hitters in in 445 innings of professional baseball. The owner of an underwhelming repertoire, Livingston succeeds by hitting his spots, and his 2005 performance in AA will make or break his prospect status. A highlight from the brief interview:

ITP: How are you able to keep such a command of the strike zone?

BL: By bullpens and repetition. Also feeling the ball out in front, mechanics, driving the ball to the plate and keeping your balance. I have a really good feel with my pitches. I’m just blessed to be able to have that feel and be able to throw any of them for strikes.

ITP: If you happen to lose the feel for a pitch, how do you get it back?

BL: I have to focus more, even in bullpen sessions. In the bullpen, I don’t throw a slider or a curve, just my fastball and change up because I can throw the breaking ball for a strike without a problem.

The other bit of news is that Bob Melvin won't play the September call-ups very often. To quote the skipper:

"After this series with Cleveland, we play Boston and everyone in the American League West," Melvin said. "We owe it to the league and ourselves to put our best team on the field against teams fighting for the postseason."

Nevermind that slotting Bloomquist, Santiago, or Spiezio into the lineup doesn't exactly constitute putting the best team on the field.

Something else that Melvin says in the article:

"Last year before he got hurt, he was a bit like Rafael Soriano," Melvin said, "a guy we could bring into games late and he'd make hitters miss."

Before Taylor injured himself last year, he had allowed 23 baserunners and 12 runs in 12.2 innings of work for Seattle. He also didn't really act as a setup man, as the Mariners were just 2-8 in games in which Taylor appeared. And, for good measure, only once did Taylor enter a game where the two teams were separated by three runs or fewer, as he spent the majority of his time pitching in games that had already been decided. It isn't that Bob Melvin has a selective memory as much as it is that he's playing make-believe with Taylor's background.

The good news is that Jeremy Reed's call-up to Seattle leaves open the possibility of a unique promotion at Safeco in which fly balls are hit to Reed, Randy Winn, and a randomly selected blind patient from a local hospital, and whoever gets to the ball first is the winner. Fans whose ticket stubs feature the name of the victor receive a complimentary appointment at a nearby optometrist's office, along with a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card good for a single field sobriety test.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Also, while I'm in sporadic posting mode (to continue until I'm settled and comfortable here), I've got two 2005 free agent lists for you.

1) Peter Gammons' piece

2) Rotoworld's predictions
Greg Dobbs, Mickey Lopez, and Jeremy Reed joined the Mariners today, following the Rainiers' season finale.
In response to all the emails regarding Kendry Morales workouts. This past Tuesday and Wednesday, Morales played in two games with other Dominican players trying to get signed by major league ballclubs. Over the course of these two games, with between 15-20 ballclubs in attendance, Morales went 7 for 16 with two home runs. He also had a private workout with an unknown team two weeks ago and went 6-8, hitting for the cycle.

No word on if anyone from the Mariners organization attended the workout or if they have scheduled a private workout.
A few notes:

John Hickey mentions potential September call-ups at the foot of his article. Aaron Taylor will be coming up, Jeremy Reed could be, and Felix Hernandez almost certainly *won't*. The Cryptic Quote Of The Day comes from Bob Melvin:

Four players total are expected to be called up, including what Melvin called "one that will surprise you."

Other than speculation regarding AJ Zapp and Greg Jacobs, there isn't much of a hint about who that surprising promotion will be.

The other note is that Jimy Williams is looking at our minor leaguers. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be important - just another scout offering his opinions on the Missions' roster - but a handy rule of thumb is that any franchise looking to Jimy Williams for advice is in dire straits.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tucson smashed Tacoma, 11-2. Bryan Ward wasn't as bad as the final score would indicate, but that doesn't really let him off the hook as he went five mediocre innings giving up four runs (two earned) on seven hits. With the exception of Rene Rivera's homerun, the Rainier offense never really posed a threat tonight. Notables:

Bryan Ward: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.
A.J. Zapp: 1-4.
Ryan Christianson: 1-4.
Greg Jacobs: 0-2.
Rene Rivera: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Josh Ellison: 1-3.

Round Rock followed Tucson's suit and destroyed San Antonio, 12-2. Chris Key was absolutely lit up tonight as he lasted only two innings and was punished on almost every pitch. The Missions did manage ten hits with one of those end-of-the-season-so-let's-mix-it-up kind of lineups. Notables:

Chris Key: 2.0 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR.
Rob Gandolfo: 3-5.
Shin-soo Choo: 2-4, 1 BB.
T.J. Bohn: 1-4.
Brian Moon: 0-5.
B.J. Garbe: 2-4.

Inland Empire shutout Rancho Cucamonga, 5-0.
More brilliance for Thomas Oldham as he was fantastic in his six innings of work. Wladimir Balentein and Jesus Guzman homered and Carlos Arroyo tripled to lead the 66'er offense. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-3.
Jesus Guzman: 1-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 1-4, 1 triple.
Wladimir Balentein: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Michael Garciaparra: 1-3, 1 RBI.

Fort Wayne edged Wisconsin, 6-5 (10). Jason Mackintosh wasn't bad...and that's about all you can say about his performance. Adam Jones flashed some power and homered to the Rattlers in the losing effort. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Josh Womack: 1-4, 1 double.
Adam Jones: 2-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Bryan LaHair: 2-4, 1 double.
Chris Collins: 1-3, 1 RBI.

Everett slammed Salem-Keizer in their season finale, 15-5. How about a little Oswaldo Navarro? Navarro went 4-6 with a couple doubles and a homerun (four on the night for Sox batters) as Everett finally took the game home in the seventh with a four run inning that put it out of reach for Salem. Aaron Jensen wasn't real impressive, but obviously it didn't matter much. Nice way to go out for the Aquasox. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.
Oswaldo Navarro: 4-6, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-3.
Elvis Cruz: 2-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI.
Brandon Green: 1-6, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 2-5, 1 RBI.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 1-2, 3 BB.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I've arrived in Hartford, and am in the process of unpacking. In the meantime, here's your AL MVP race, as decided by VORP (as of yesterday, prior to Ichiro's 5-for-5 effort):

1. Melvin Mora: 67.8
2. Ichiro Suzuki: 67.0
3. Carlos Guillen: 66.2
4. Vladimir Guerrero: 65.1
5. Miguel Tejada: 64.9
6. Travis Hafner: 64.0
7. Manny Ramirez: 61.4
8. Gary Sheffield: 61.0
9. David Ortiz: 58.5
10. Ivan Rodriguez: 56.4

You have to go to #4 to find a player on a contender, and #7 to find a player on a team likely to go to the playoffs.

If you include yesterday, Ichiro is probably leading the American League.