<$BlogRSDUrl$>

In God we trust. Everybody else needs data. - Rick Peterson

Saturday, January 10, 2004

 

WE COULD HAVE HAD BOTH CIRILLO AND CEDENO

from The Seattle Times: M's may stop to take side order of Cedeno, December 8, 2001:
En route to the winter meetings in Boston that begin tomorrow, Mariners executives Pat Gillick and Lee Pelekoudas were thought to be stopping in Florida yesterday for a meeting with the agent for free-agent outfielder Roger Cedeno.

 

MCCRACKING AT CRACKING THE SAFE

Jim at Cracking "The Safe" has a couple of posts today on McCracken talking about McCracken's career numbers and suggesting that people look at his career stats. I would like to point that in my initial post about McCracken on December 13, Lessons from Sesame Street, I did look at McCracken's career stats. Not only that I put them in a nice chart for everyone to look at, and here is that chart again:
McCracken stats, 12k

As can be seen, save for the fluke season of 2002, for the last six years McCracken has not had a batting average over .250, an OBP higher than .317, or a SLG greater than .324. Looking at his career stats as Jim urges, I don't see how you could reasonably expect McCracken to post the 270/.330/.360 line the Jim says we should expect. McCracken's career stats say that he was an OK player until about age 28, but since then has ranged from roster filler to abysmal (with one exceptional season).

McCracken is a good example of why career average numbers should not be used as indicators of expected performance. A players performance in recent years is more reliable than career totals, and McCracken's recent career stats suggest we should expect his performance to be more like .220/.300/.300. Note that this is not much different from the 2003 Womack line of 226/.251/.307 that Jim rightly condemns.

And there were some of us in the blogging community who were worried that the Bob-o-head was going to ask the Gillivasi to add Womack, or that the Mariners were going to trade Cirillo for Womack.

Friday, January 09, 2004

 

BOONE AND SPIEZIO

Corey at Mariner Optimist has piece today discussing Spiezio as a potential 30-year old veteran "breakout player" similar to Boone. I think Boone-type breakouts are pretty rare. (Single year fluke seasons are not uncommon - see Aurilia, Rich and McCracken, Quinton for examples.) But for those who are interested, here is a comparison of Boone's and Spiezio's OPS and SLG by age at start of season. It is an interesting comparison:

Boone and Spiezio OPS and SLG comparison

Corey suggests that maybe the Mariners management knows something, giving them credit for picking up Boone. That is a bit much to stomach.

As I have mentioned in other posts, the Mariners were ready to let Boone walk after the 2001 season, hardly what you would expect if the organization had successfully predicted Boone's career breakout. Boone was demanding a raise and a multi-year contract to reflect what he had accomplished in 2001. Gillick didn't think Boone was ever going to have another sesason like the one Boone had just had, so Gillick essentially said, "Thanks Bret, don't let the door hit you on your way out."

Gillick offered Boone arbitration so the Mariners could collect the draft pick, but then was very upset when Boone accepted arbitration. Gillick then negotiated Boone's current conract, and made sure everyone knew how unhappy he was with it and how it was going to hamstring the Mariners operations. The Mariners had second base staked out for this up and coming second baseman named Willie Bloomquist, and now Bloomquist's progress was blocked by Boone. (And that arbitration experience with Boone is a significant part of why the Mariners did not offer arbitration to Rhodes or Cameron this year).

If Mariners management had gotten their desires, Boone wouldn't be on the Mariners today, and second base would have been Willie Bloomquist's to lose in Spring training 2002. So I don't give the Mariners management credit for finding Boone or for having him on the team today, and I think its silly to imply they have some special gift for finding players in their 30's who are ready to breakout. If, in fact, they had talent to predict Boone's breakout, they wouldn't have been so eager to shove him out the door and replace him with Bloomquist.

Corrections and revisions to my comments about Boone's contract: After e-mailing with Corey, I reviewed the Times archives on the Boone negotiations, and my memory is faulty. The Mariners did offer Boone 3 years and $23 million. Boone wanted a fourth year, which the Mariners were not willing to offer. Boone was upset, because the Mariners were acquiring Cirillo, with four years left on his contract. Boone felt that if the Mariners were willing to give four years to someone who hadn't yet done anything for the team, they shouldn't have a problem giving him a fourth year.

When the Mariners would not yield on the fourth year, Boone tested the free agent market. After not getting any significant offers, he accepted the club's arbitration offer, much to the club's surprise. Pelekoudas commented about how unusual it was for players to accept arbitration, and comments were made by by some parties (but none by the Mariners that I found) about Boone holding the Mariners hostage. Ultimately the current deal was negotiated the day before the arbitration hearings were to begin.

So the issue was not money, but length of contract. The Mariners were ready to let Boone walk before offering him a fourth year. To this day the Mariners continue to be very reluctant to offer guaranteed four year contracts, even to premier free agents.

 

A REMINDER THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO SUCH THING AS AN UNTOUCHABLE PITCHING PROSPECT

ESPN.com - `Little Unit' is designated for assignment

Three years ago the Mariners could have traded Ryan Anderson for almost any prospect in baseball. Now he is worthless (as a baseball prospect).

Given the frequency with which the Mariners blow out young pitchers arms, the Mariners should understand that better than any other team. Yet they still hoard young pitchers.

 

WHY WAS GUILLEN WORTH NOTHING?

From Times beat writer Finnigan's story today on the Aurilia and Guillen deals:
Santiago, who made $307,000 last year as a rookie, won't get much more than that this year. But if Guillen were the shortstop, Seattle would have needed a more experienced/expensive man in reserve — just in case.

"If we'd have had Carlos, we couldn't have gone with a youngster like Santiago as a backup," a Seattle official said. "No question, Carlos is a nice player. But you just never knew when something was going to happen to take him out of the lineup. If it was bad enough, you needed a more veteran guy to play a longer period."

This, in short, is the rationale for the flip-flop at short.
In essence, the Mariners felt that with Guillen at short, they would need an experienced backup, who would cost more money. With Aurilia they felt they could go with Santiago.

My quick takes on this are as follows:
  • I'm not sure who or what the Mariners had in mind as the type of backup they would need had Guillen stayed at shortstop. Experienced shortstops have been a pretty common commodity in the current free agent market. For example, Denny Hocking, whom I mentioned in an earlier post, will probably be available for near league minimum, and could also sub in almost any other position on the team. Ordinarily, I would not be enthusiastic about a player such as Hocking, except that the Mariners bench looks so bad right now that even Hocking would be be an upgrade.

    Over at USS Mariner, they have often questioned the Mariners' understanding of the replacement player market. This would seem to be another example - in the current market I just don't see where the backup player the Mariners might bring in would be any different in salary whether you have Guillen or Aurilia on board.

  • Carlos is a league average shortstop, with remaining upside potential, who is signed to a decent, one-year contract. I have a hard believing he was worth no more than a non-prospect and someone who probably would not even make the 25-man roster on 24 of the 30 major league teams.

    This trade is so lopsided as to appear that Bavasi negotiated with even less leverage than Gillick had in the Griffey deal. The only way I can make sense of this is to assume that Bavasi was committed to making a deal with Detroit, no matter what they offered. He was unwilling to walk away and try to find another deal, so had no alternative but to accept whatever was offered by Detroit. Meanwhile Dombrowski realized that Bavasi didn't have any other options, and Bavasi would accept whatever Dombrowski offered. So, Dombrowski gave the Mariners the player he didn't want anyway and the pick of any of about 100 players in their organization that had no chance of ever making the big leagues. In other words, Detroit got Carlos for free.

    Do you think that other teams have realized that the Mariners are easy pickings right now?
Personally, I'm largely indifferent about Aurilia versus Guillen; I don't perceive that swapping Aurilia for Guillen makes a substantial difference in the team. If Aurilia does bring anything extra, that extra is offset by the age differences (i.e, Aurilia is likely on the downside of his career, while Guillen probably has a year or two of remaining improvement). With a one-year contract, Aurilia is not going to be an albatross.

The epitaph on Guillen, though, is that Bavasi turned something to nothing.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

 

"BENCH OF DOOM" OR "HOCKING MASS"?

According to the LA Times, Denny Hocking is talking to the Mariners.

For the record, here's his splits:

Year   Split        AB     AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS

==== ========== === ===== ===== ===== =====
2001 Total 327 0.251 0.315 0.339 0.654
2002 Total 260 0.250 0.310 0.323 0.633
2003 Total 188 0.239 0.291 0.362 0.653

2001 vs. Left 81 0.222 0.300 0.296 0.596
2002 vs. Left 76 0.342 0.404 0.434 0.838
2003 vs. Left 64 0.172 0.197 0.281 0.478

2001 vs. Right 246 0.260 0.320 0.354 0.674
2002 vs. Right 184 0.212 0.269 0.277 0.546
2003 vs. Right 124 0.274 0.336 0.403 0.739
.650 OPS; .766 OPS+MWCF. Veteran player over 30 years old.

The Mariners have got to do this deal. Not only does Hocking have all the needed credentials, he would literally make the bench into a Hocking Mass.


 

MISCELLANY

  • Updated Mariners blog links.

    While I was tweaking the template, I updated all of the Mariner blog links in the right sidebar. Please let me know if I'm missing yours.

  • Links to blogs for other teams

    I'm also working on adding blogs for other teams. If you've got a favorite for another team, let me know so I can take a look at it.

  • A Christmas tradition

    My daughter, who is now 25 years old and doing graduate work in Los Angeles, seems to have started a most enjoyable Christmas gift tradition. A couple of years ago I had expressed how difficult it was to stay on top of what was happening in many areas of the contemporary music scene. She has pretty eclectic and wide-ranging tastes, and shares my appreciation for soul derived musical styles. So for the last two Christmases she has given me three CD's for Christmas that are her selections of artists that she thinks I might enjoy.

    Last year I got Norah Jones (before Come Away With Me became hugely popular), India Arie, and Maxwell. This year I got Alicia Keys, Wyclef Jean, and the new Aretha. All most enjoyable.

    I happened to be listening to Wyclef Jean when I was composing the entry just below - that was why I mentally jumped for Roster Man to Rasta Man, and settled in on Rosta' Man.



 

THE ROSTA' MAN

By the way, lest anyone be confused, my post last night about stats and tools was totally facetious.

Mariner Optimist seemingly would like us to believe that Bavasi is baseball's New Contrarian. That theory goes as follows:
  • Beane filled his roster with high OBP, high OPS players (the "stat" guys), because he saw the "stat" guys were undervalued. Hence he could get more wins per dollar spent by signing "stat" guys.
  • Now that many other teams are pursuing "stat" guys, the price for "stat" guys has gone up and bargains are not available.
  • In the rush to sign "stat" guys, teams have neglected the "toolsy" players they once coveted, making "toolsy" players the current great bargains.
  • Hence, Bavasi is being this year's Beane by going after those undervalued "toolsy" players.
The value of high "stat" guys has undoubtedly gone up. But that does not mean the future belongs to the "toolsy" guys. Some basic principles still apply:
  • Teams score runs by not making outs at the plate. If you can avoid making outs, you will score runs.
  • The number of runs a team will score is very predictable from basic offensive stats, and the more players on the roster who show those skills, the more runs a team will score.
  • A player can have all of the tools in the world, but if he doesn't show the types of stats that lead to runs being scored, those tools don't contribute anything.
  • If you want to go after tools players, you need to go after tools players who show they can turn those tools into production - i.e., they have the stats to go with the tools.
The notion of contrarianism has much of its roots, and best applications, in financial investing. The heart of contrarian investing is always investing in equities that are fundamentally sound, but for varying reasons, are currently regarded with disfavor. The fundamentally sound criterion is quite important; contrarian investing is not investing in trash equitiies simply because they are out of favor. Usually trash is trash, for good reason.

Vince Faison is one of many "toolsy" players who have had ample time in the minors and have fallen far short of even the minimum standards to be considered a prospect. Such players are the dot-coms of the baseball world. They were initially acquired with great hopes for future glory and performance. They have since crashed and burned, and shown that, with rare exception, they are worthless and never will return anything on any further investment in them. Acquiring such players is not contrarian, it is a waste of resources. While there may be an occasional player with promise, the amount of effort involved to identify and salvage those players is not worthwhile. That same effort is simply better spent working with players for whom the major leagues are more realistically attainable.

Contrarian roster building, though, looks at what value factors are being overlooked among legitimate big league players. In that context, what are some of the skills that demonstrably contribute to winning that teams might be overlooking - where true contrarian values might now be found?

If I had the time and energy to do some investigating, I would look into the following areas:
  • Bunting as an on-base strategy. If a player can lay down a bunt with a 40% or better success rate, that seems to me to be a good strategy for getting on base and not making an out.
  • Base stealing. Base stealing is a lost art, and players need to succeed at least two-thirds of the time to make it worthwhile. A team that had four or five players who stole bases frequently with 75% or greater success rate would gain a significant edge if those players had an average or better OBP. Light hitting (but high OBP) base stealers would probably be relatively cheap. And base stealing is a teachable skill.
  • More effective platooning. Most players don't like to be platooned, but teams could easily platoon regularly at three our four positions. When you look at the lefty vs. righty splits that most players have, there are few players who shouldn't be considered candidates for platooning. Platoon partners can obtained relatively cheaply, they often provide total offense that rivals or equals even the best non-platoon players at that position, and provide greater lineup flexibility.
Please note that I am not saying the future belongs to "small ball" as that phrase is conventionally understood. Traditional "small ball" involves many low return strategies that give up outs. I am saying, though, that in a pell mell rush towards walks and big hits, some other fundamental skills that involve getting on base and advancing runners without making outs are undoubtedly being neglected. And those are the areas that offer opportunities for contrarain roster building.

If Bavasi were trolling in those areas I would be elated. But he is not. Right now he is doing the baseball equivalent of pouring every bit of money he can spare into companies such as webvan.com and eToys that have no product and no future. Even if he is lucky and the players develop, the best return we could expect is a roster filled with Brian Hunter clones. And even Bavasi's predecessor eventually realized that investing in the Brian Hunter's of baseball was a losing idea.

 

NOTHING FOR SOMETHING

I did call it in my post last night. We traded stats for more toolsy Luis Uguetos.

Here is the take on these guys from the ProspectReport.com 2003 Detroit Tigers Update from last August:
  • Ramon Santiago

    Rated the eighth best young player on the major league roster.
    His fielding is the only reason he's remained up at the major league level, as his offensive production has been putrid at best. Santiago does have a decent eye at the plate, but doesn't project to be much more than a .260 hitter at the major league level at best. He'd have to worry about losing his job next year if anyone else in the organization could hit. He doesn't have much to worry about.
  • Juan Gonzalez.

    No report. Not rated among the Tigers Top 10 Minor LeagueProspects.
So, even the people who rate players by tools think these guys are pretty bad. It appears to me that we turned a serviceable major league shortstop into almost nothing. Actually, the trade looks pretty much like a straight salary dump, with the Mariners getting a couple of non-prospects.

 

HOW DO YOU FIX A WILD BEAR?

For the first time in 33 years, New Jersey is allowing hunters to thin out its burgeoning black bear population. Animal-rights activists have assailed the six-day hunt, arguing that the state should sterilize the bears instead. How, exactly, does one sterilize a black bear in the wild? …

Here's the link to the rest of the article: How Do You Fix a Wild Bear? - First, do no harm. Then, use pig membranes. By Brendan I. Koerner

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

 

SWAPPING STATS FOR TOOLS - THE MARINERS MACHINE GAINING MOMENTUM

One of the interns here at Mariners Wheelhouse pointed out a previously overlooked connection between the Cirillo and Colbrunn deals. It's a great observation, showing craftiness and direction we had not previously recognized in Bavasi.

When the Mariners signed Colbrunn last year, the Mariners forfeited a first round amateur draft pick to the Arizona Diamondbacks, No. 19 overall. The Diamondbacks used the pick on Conor Jackson, a slugging first baseman out of UC-Berkeley, who tore up the Northwest league last year (his first year of pro ball). Playing 1B for Yakima, Jackson hit .319 in in 257 ABs, with a .410 OBP and .533 SLG. More than half his hits were extra base hits, which is usually a good indicator of signficant power potential.

This is where our intern had her revelation. Vince Faison, the minor leaguer the Mariners received in the Cirillo deal, was the 20th pick overall in 1999, virtually the same draft position as Conor Jackson. Suddenly, she realized Bavasi had recovered an equivalent player to the one the Mariners gave up when they signed Colbrunn. And with that, we can close the books on the one-year relationship with Colbrunn. Not only do the Mariners have McCracken, they have an "equivalent" pick to the one they gave up when they signed Colbrunn. Better yet, Faison spent most of his time last year in Double-A, so Faison is that much closer to contributing on the big club.

And, to top it off, Faison is a better match for the Mariners than Conor Jackson ever would be. Bavasi doesn't like the "big bopper" offense that players such as Jackson provide. He believes successful teams use speed and putting runners in motion to score runs and win. Faison, with his .355 slugging percentage and 98 stolen bases in five years, is exactly the type of small ball player Bavasi is looking to build around. Plus, stats are irrelevant when players have "tools". As Bavasi put it yesterday, "[Faison's] a tools guy (good arm, bat and speed) and we want to give him an opportunity to bloom a little bit". Bavasi really nails Beane and Epstein right there - with all the expectations for performance, the tools players in those organizations never get a chance to blossom.

Of course the Mariners won't talk about this too loudly. Bavasi doesn't want other teams to know that the Mariners are aggressively seeking players like Faison, because then the asking prices for those players will go up. But from now on watch carefully; almost every Bavasi deal will swap players with overrated "stats" for underappreciated "tools" guys. We first saw this when "stats" Colbrunn was swappped for "toolsie" McCracken. Now, we see "stats" Sweeney swapped for "toolsie" Faison. I'm sure we'll see it again in the Guillen deal. Detroit's organization must have lots of players who were drafted because they had tools, but who have never been able to develop because they couldn't produce stats.

By the way, did you also notice Bavasi's great facility with words? Never would I have ever thought to use "bloom a little bit" to convey the aroma around a player who has a batting average of .237 and a strikeout average of .308 after five years in the minor leagues.

I have to admit that we may have been underestimating Bavasi. I can hardly wait to see what he does to recover the picks we gave up when we signed Guardado and Ibañez.

 

CAN'T WE JUST PACKAGE TOGETHER THE GUYS WE GOT FROM CIRILLO AND GET ONE USEFUL PLAYER?

I've gotten a couple of e-mails on this question, and I've seen it raised a couple of times in comments at the P-I Mariners weblog.

The answer is "Not unless you can find another GM less competent than Bavasi". I'm looking, but I don't think I've found one. (Cam Bonifay, where are you in our hour of need?)

The players we received have no trade value. The only reason San Diego could move them was as part of a "toxics trade" - they take our Cirillo, we take their Jarvis and Gonzalez.

As has been discussed, Jarvis and Gonzalez simply do not belong on any team's 40-man roster, and Hansen can only marginally justify a roster spot. I don't see why Faison ever made it out of Low A ball.

Adding Jarvis or Gonzalez to any deal would reduce the value of anything the Mariners would get back. Including Faison in a deal would add about the same value as a self addressed stamped envelope.

Hansen might be able to return another player who would be the 25th player on most major league team's rosters.

Since the Mariners seem to have actually saved almost $1 million in salary, the smartest thing to do is to immediately cut Jarvis, Hansen, and Gonzalez. Hansen will likely catch on with another team, saving the Mariners another $300,000. Most likely Jarvis and Gonzalez would be out of baseball, but if someone did pick them up, the Mariners would save even more money.

But, as I mentioned before, the odds of Bavasi cutting any of the players immediately is pretty slim. The only rationale for doing the deal (instead of simply cutting Cirillo) is to be able to say he at least got something back for Cirillo. Cutting the players received would be like saying he traded Cirillo for nothing.


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

 

THERE'S A PRICE ON BRIAN SWEENEY'S HEAD

John at Trident Fever has the monetary breakdown on the Cirillo trade. It seems the Mariners saved a net $0.975 million. (John had $1.275 million, but he ignored Sweeney's salary. I think we should assume that Sweeney makes the San Diego 25-man roster and earns major league minimum.)

The basic deal is Cirillo for Hansen, Jarvis, and Gonzalez. Faison is a meaningless throw-in (or at least he ought to be valued that way, but these days the Mariners logic is pretty hard to fathom.) So the Mariners essentially traded Sweeney for a bit under $1 million.

Jan 7 Update: John at Trident Fever pointed out to me that in backing out Sweeney's money as I did, I am implicitly assuming that Sweeney would have been on the Mariners major league roster in 2004. That, of course, is not certain (and probably not likely). So John's $1.275 million figure is probably the better one to use.

 

KEVIN TOWERS REVEALS HIS PLAN TO REVIVE JEFF CIRILLO'S CAREER

From the ESPN.com story on the Cirillo trade:

Kevin Towers has the following quote:
We kind of look at [Cirillo] as a super utility guy, who can protect Burroughs when we face someone like Randy Johnson,"
Sounds to me like Kevin plans for Jeff to take a few for the team. Jeff could be baseball's first designated HBP.

 

VINCE FAISON - BILL BAVASI'S BOLD MOVE TO UPGRADE THE 40-MAN ROSTER

The Cirillo deal is approved by the Commish. Was there ever any doubt?

Now we know the name of the Padres minor leaguer - are you sitting down now - it's Vince Faison!! Ok, you can exhale now. And thus the whole deal comes into perspective.

Vince Faison is a former first round pick of the Padres, drafted 20th overall in 1999. In five years in the minor leagues Faison has a batting average of .237 and a slugging percentage of .355. He draws walks at the astounding rate of just under once every 10 at bats. (That makes sense; why would any pitcher not throw him strikes if the pitcher had a better than three-in-four chance of getting Faison out by not walking him, and if the pitcher doesn't get him out all he gives up is a single anyway.) Now here's the great part, his strikeout average (K/AB) is .308!! That's right, folks. He strikes out more than 30% of his at bats. (slightly under 30% if we use PAs instead of ABs).

Is there anything positive? Surprisingly, there is. Last year his MjEqA (Major league equivalent average) was .218. As David Cameron at USS Mariner details in his Bench of Doom entry, that is better than three of the players who currently look as if they might be bench players for the Mariners next year. Since it is also better than Luis Ugueto (who is on the Mariners 40-man roster), it appears that Bavasi has brilliantly upgraded both the Mariners bench and the 40-man roster.

Please someone, help me! What is the point in taking a player such as Vince Faison in a deal? Is there someone in the organization who really wanted to draft him in 1999, and now sees a chance to "fix" a mistake? Did he hit one of his few homeruns one time when Bavasi was walking by the park, causing Bavasi to vow to not miss a chance to grab him if the opportunity presented itself?

 

OHIO SCAMS - FROM THE "TWINS GEEK"

One of my right sidebar links is to Twins Geek, a Minnesota Twins blogger. Jon Bonnes, the Twins Geek, was my initial contact into blogging, after Rob Neyer mentioned Twins Geek in one of his ESPN.com columns.

Jon's entry today, Ohio Scams, is an interesting discussion about signing young, popular players to long term contracts. That concept has become almost universally heralded ever since John Hart used it so successfully in the early 1990's to build the Cleveland dynasty.

Right now the Twins are working out contract details with Johan Santana. Santana wants a long term deal, and doesn't it seem as though Santana would be exactly the type of player a team would want to lock up on a long term deal? But Terry Ryan only wants to give him one-year deal.

Here's some of Jon's comment on the issue of long term deals for young, arbitration eligible players:
…And so now, whenever a teams signs a contract with their own player prior to free agency, everyone - management, players reps and sportswriters - points to the Cleveland plan as the only proof necessary to show that their management is on top of things.

More often than not, it's bunk. That's because the devil is in the details, and most fans don't want to pay attention to the details, especially when they involve math. The trick isn't to sign a popular young player to a long-term guaranteed deal. All young players, popular or not, want long-term guaranteed deals. The trick is to sign a popular young player to a long-term guaranteed deal considerably below their anticipated market value, and that's the kind of research and math that makes many sportswriters' brains hurt.

For a long-term deal to be beneficial for a major league team, they need to get significant concessions in salary for taking on the risk of signing a young player, because giving a young player a long term guaranteed deal is a risk, and a big risk at that. Young players get hurt, especially young pitchers. Young players can feel the pressure of trying to live up to a multi-million dollar price tag and fail spectacularly. Young players - hell, young people - are easily distracted, especially when success comes too fast. And if any of these things happen - ANY of these things - it becomes questionable if a player will live up to his expectations (and expected salary) over the life of the contract.
As Jon describes later in his article, the Twins have been burned badly by these types of contract.

Pat Gillick also was very reluctant to give long-term deals to young players, even though doing so was the baseball management mantra. I think Gillick's approach on this was sound.

 

SOME FINAL LATE NIGHT RANTS

I'm getting so agitated I can't sleep anyway.
  • Marvin freakin' Bernard??? You build a bench with players like Bloomquist, McCracken, Hansen, Bernard, Gonzales, and Borders?

  • In followup to my post earlier about the added perspective that bloggers provide, be sure to read the stories in the Times, P-I and other papers about the Cirillo trade and the pending swapout of Aurilia for Guillen at shortstop. Consider the rationale being presented to justify those moves. Isn't it clear that the papers are simply parroting back the Mariners logic? Why don't they question the rationale for the moves? Why aren't they asking the Mariners to provide any more than platitudes about their decisions?

    Frankly folks, if you want independent perspective about the Seattle Mariners activities this off-season, you've got to go to the blogs. I'm not saying we're right - or even half-right; that's for you to decide. But I hope we give you some additional things to think about, and I hope we help you realize that every now and then you might be getting duped.

 

ADDITIONAL QUICK COMMENTS ON CIRILLO TRADE

At least Ben Davis will be a Mariner foranother morning.

I'm not too familiar with Dave Hansen, but a quick perusal of his numbers indicates that he will be another of those 35-year old veteran players who should be forcibly retired but clogs the Mariners roster. Below average defense at third (where he would likely see most of his playing time). Offensively he has dropped .300 in OPS since 2000, and all of his power has disappeared. In other words, the type of player that can be found for major league minimum on any number of Triple-A teams.

Since the Mariners 40-man roster is full and the Mariners are receiving at least one more player than they are giving up, I think the Mariners need to either release one of the players they just acquired or make a roster move.

Added note: According to the Times, the Mariners are also going to send to the Padres a player from their 40-man roster.

This is great, we take three players who don't belong on a 40-man roster, plus a minor leaguer who is probably not on their 40-man roster and is probably not any kind of prospect. In exchange, we give the Padres two players who are decent prospects, plus $ 8 million cash.

Bavasi is going to need to get more minutes on his cell phone this week. Every GM in baseball with crap they want to get rid of is going to start calling Bavasi, anxious to do deals and see what other useful players they can pry out of Seattle. The word has to be getting out that the man in the Mariners Wheelhouse doesn't have any maps and doesn't have a course.

Ben Davis, your time in Seattle may be running out.

Correction (Jan 6):Wiki Gonzalez is not on the Padres 40-man roster, so with Sweeney included in the deal the Mariners do not need to make a roster move.

Monday, January 05, 2004

 

THE POWER OF THE BLOG

Added notes:Jon Weisman pointed out that BP is really not a blog - it's a direct journalistic endeavor. That's a good point, Jon, I should have caught it, and thanks for pointing it out. So the thrust of my comments should be more generally about the use of internet as an enhanced way to share opinion and commentary, rather than exclusively to blogging. With regard to blogging, though, the blogging community is making it easier for people to share and publish ideas. For example, I would not have found any of Jon's commentary, nor would any of you picked it up, had he not been blogging.

I'll make one quick comment on the Cirillo trade, and a bit lengthier comment on the Baseball Prospectus/Pete Rose matter.

Cirillo

I simply don't see how the Mariners have a stronger roster after this trade than they had before the trade. As I have posted before, it appears that Bavasi considers getting something for Cirillo to be better than nothing. When I picked up my engineering degrees, I recall being pretty sure that negative numbers are less than nothing.

Baseball Prospectus story on Pete Rose

Now on to the issue with Baseball Prospectus (particularly Will Carroll and Derek Zumsteg) reporting last August on the deal to reinstate Rose. I want to set aside the issues of whether or not they are vindicated, in favor of something that I think is more significant, the growing power of the blog.

As I noted below, I just turned 10,000 visitors on my counter, and I am amazed that there are that many people who come by here. But that also means that people are reading and they are considering the information and analysis that we bloggers provide.

In that way, we bloggers are adding to the coverage of events in our community. Blogging, however, cuts through all of the filtering and manipulations of information that comes through the major news outlets. I think this is great - at just the time that news media and information sources are becoming more concentrated, blogging emerges with the power to totally reshape sharing information and opinion.

For example, if you're a Seattle Mariners fan and you troll the blogs with an open mind, I think you have to be impressed with all of the commentary and opinion about the Mariners roster moves that we bloggers have presented, but that has been totally ignored in the major newspapers. That doesn't mean we're right or correct or precise - that's not the point. The point is that you, the readers, get more perspective that you can use to make up your own minds. And that is democratic. And that is good.

When BP broke the story by Will Carroll and Derek Zumsteg, it wasn't ignored, it set off a storm. That is the real import of the story. If bloggers were just a triviality, the story would have been ignored, just as supermarket tabloid stories about Hillary Clinton's secret impregnation by space aliens are ignored. But the story was attacked, and Will's and Derek's credibility was assaulted. And that means that Major League Baseball and the news media perceived Will and Derek as having both credibility and influence. Similarly, in my Addressing Injustices entry on January 2, I posted about how Rich Lederer laid out a compelling case for Bert Blyleven's Hall of Fame candidacy in his blog, Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT, and how his article has actually caused at least one writer to change his mind. Again, testimony to credibility and influence.

I'm tired now, so I'm going to wrap up. (As Jeff knows, I was up late last night.) So if you're interested reading more on this topic, I'll point you to a couple of additional blog entries using the BP/Pete Rose story to address the power of the blog:Finally, for my fellow bloggers, a quote from Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts :
I don't want BP and bloggers like us to be dependent on scoops to gain respect. I want us to gain respect because our analysis deserves it and our writing deserves it - before, during or after the fact.


That's a good standard for us to strive towards. In this New Year, with each additional 10,000 visitors, I hope I have progressed toward that goal.

 

10,000 VISITORS - I'M HUMBLED!

It's been only six weeks since I took the wraps off this site and started blogging seriously. Now I'm over 10,000 visitors. (For those who care about the details, those are unique visits, meaning that many of you who might check in several times during the day only get counted once. So the actual number of site visits is probably much greater.) From my referral stats, I know that the vast majority of my visitors are repeat visitors. I am amazed and humbled that there are so many of you out there who have not only found this site, but consider it worthwhile to come back regularly.

I've also managed to evolve to Slithering Reptile status in the TTLB Ecosystem because of people posting links to this site. So not only do I have visitors, but some of those visitors - even outside the Mariners blogosphere - have made links back to here. I don't know quite how to respond to that!

Thanks for your support, and I hope I can continue to inform, entertain, and make it worthwhile for you to continue to visit.

P.S.: If one of you is the person who formerly did the "boxofchocolates" blog at typepad, drop me a note. I looked at your cached page, and I'm just curious to know a bit more about why you stopped blogging and what it was about Steve's Mariners that led you to link to me.


 

I REMEMBER, TOO!

...when Will Caroll and Derek Zumsteg broke the Pete Rose story last August: The Return of Pete Rose

I figured that it was just a matter of time; methought the principals protested the BP story too much.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

 

INTRODUCING “MARINERS WHEELHOUSE CHARACTER FACTOR” – AN ESSENTIAL TOOL FOR INTERPRETING PLAYER STATS

Through diligent work and clever sleuthing, the research team here at Mariners Wheelhouse has quantified the extra value the Mariner’s assign to “player character”. The missing piece we were looking came with information from Drew Olson of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Al Martin “signed with the LG Twins, becoming the first active major-leaguer to join the Korean League. He received a $100,000 bonus and a $100,000 salary with incentives. "

From this information we deduced that Al Martin is not good enough for any team in baseball. But we do know that the Mariners value Quinton McCracken sufficiently to trade a very strong right handed bat for him. Needless to say, the Mariners could have had Martin for almost nothing, so we know the Mariners freely chose McCracken over Martin.

Here are Martin’s and McCracken’s lines from last season:
Player       AB    AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS

========= === ==== ==== ==== ====
Martin 238 .252 .306 .357 .663
McCracken 203 .203 .276 .271 .547
Difference nil .049 .030 .086 .116
So now we know the Mariners value “character” at somewhere around .116 OPS. Admittedly, this is crude, but it’s the best we have to work with at the moment. And since Mariners Wheelhouse is outing this stat, we’re going to claim it as our own; we’re going to call it MWCF, for Mariners Wheelhouse Character Factor. It’s a simple “yes-no” situation in which .116 is added to a player’s OPS if they have MWCF. (Hey, we’ve got a better claim to this than Aaron Gleeman has to his GPA stat – at least the research and data collection is ours.)

Now we can look at some player 2003 stats, presenting “Raw OPS” and “Adjusted OPS” where “Adjusted OPS” incorporates MWCF Bur first lets review some of the components of good character and bad character that govern MWCF:
  • Good character

    - never criticizing team management
    - being a veteran player over 30 years old
    - never criticizing team management
    - avoiding Pioneer Square and Belltown bars and clubs
    - never criticizing team management
    - rescuing orphaned puppies
    - never criticizing team management
    - being a favorite player of team management

  • Bad character
    - criticizing team management
    - being friends with Freddy Garcia
    - criticizing team management
    - being visibly upset with team performance
    - criticizing team management
    - accepting the team’s offer of arbitration
    - criticizing team management
    - complaining that the batter’s backdrop at Safeco prevents you from seeing 97 mph fastball aimed straight at your head
Now let’s apply MWCF to some players that are either on the Mariners roster or who have played significant roles in the Mariners offseason activities:
                     OPS

---------------
Player Raw Adjusted
Carlos Guillen .753 .753
Omar Vizquel .657 .773
Rich Aurilia .735 .851
Jose Valentin .776 .892
Miguel Tejada .807 .807
Ichiro Suzuki .788 .904
Bret Boone .902 .902
Dan Wilson .611 .727
Raul Ibañez .799 .915
Randy Winn .771 .887
Mike Cameron .774 .774
Scott Spiezio .779 .895
As you can see, after accounting for MWCF, all of the Mariners off-season roster moves make perfect sense. We can also see how much the Mariners have accomplished to upgrade the offense.

Some readers may wonder why Tejada did not get MWCF. Tejada is combative and fiery in the clubhouse, like Lou Pinella. He also shows emotion after good plays, and had that ugly scene at the end of last season. So he does not get any character points, and that influenced the offer the Mariners were willing to give him. Knowing that Aurilia was on the market undoubtedly tempered their offer for Tejada; in fact it is likely that management probably put a premium into their offer to Tejada (above what they felt he was truly worth) in recognition that local fans really wanted to se Miggy as a Mariner.

MWCF – know it and use it. I suggest you print and save this column for future reference.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?