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

Friday, May 28, 2004

 

The High Cost of Smoking McCracken

With McCracken designated for assignment, Q will probably be gone. (He's got a guaranteed contract, and by refusing a minor league assignment becomes a free agent.) Cabrera has essentially taken over his spot on the roster.

That closes the chapter on an inglorious sequence of roster moves made by the Mariners in recent years - initiated by the signing of Gregg Colbrunn as a free agent. What's the tally?
  1. $750,000 million [correction: should be "$750,000", not"$750,000 million"] paid to Colbrunn to sit on the bench, even when healthy.

  2. $375,000 given to the Diamondbacks to even up salary in the trade of Colbrunn for McCracken

  3. $1.75 million to be paid McCracken this year for contributing pretty much nothing.

  4. forsaking a first round draft pick to Arizona as compensation for signing Colbrunn. The Diamondbacks used that pick on Conor Jackson, a first baseman out of the University of California. This year Jackson is at Lancaaster in the California League, and with the following stats for the season so far:

    GABH2B3BHRBBSOAVGOBPSLG
    461785313183025.298.400.517

    In 2003, Jackson played for Yakima and put up a .410 OBP and .533 SLG.
I do think it proper to give some credit to the Mariners for recognizing that Q was not worth keeping.

 

Nageotte Up; McCracken Gone

Seattle Mariners News:
Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Bill Bavasi today announced that the Mariners have recalled right-handed pitcher Clint Nageotte from Triple-A Tacoma.

Nageotte is expected to be available for tonight's game in Boston vs. the Red Sox. He will wear #37.

To make room on the Major League, 25-man roster, outfielder Quinton McCracken has been designated for assignment. The Mariners now have 15 days to trade, release or outright McCracken.

 

Closing in on 50,000 Visitors Since Last November

Sometime this weekend the counter in the right sidebar will record Visitor #50,000 to Mariners Wheelhouse. The counter only records unique visits - meaning that multiple visits in the same 24 hour period only get counted once. Since some people come by more often than once per day, the actual number of visitors is a bit higher.

Whew!!! When I started blogging in earnest last Thanksgiving, I would never have imagined that many people would be interested in my thoughts on baseball and the Mariners. If I make 100,000 visitors in 12 months, I'll have to celebrate - maybe a Mariners Wheelhouse get together at Pike Place pub.

Thanks for your interest and support.

 

Escape from Darwinianism

David Pinto at Baseball Musings links to a NY Daily News story about an 11-year old banned from a church baseball league because he's too good.

I've got to disagree with Dave on this one. It sounds to me as if the goal of the church league is for kids to have fun, not to develop professional ballplayers. I played in church basketball leagues as a boy, and it was fun to not have to undergo the Darwinian selection that occurred in rec leagues. I didn't belong in a rec league- it was a horrible experience when I tried it. Church league gave me a chance to continue to play, have fun, and enjoy sports at the level of my abilities.

There are organizations, Little League in this cae, in which dominating players such as this boy are welcome and belong. I congratulate Mr. Gambino and the St. Athanasius organization for keeping their priorities and values straight.

 

An Ugly Day for Many AL Starting Pitchers Yesterday

Yesterday was an interesting day in the AL for starting pitchers. Out of 14 starting pitchers, all but one recorded a decision. The only one who didn't was Standridge for Tampa Bay; who only lasted three innings while giving up four runs (all earned). As an interesting side note, the Tampa Bay pitcher that got the win in relief of Standridge is the same pitcher who holds the Mariners team record for consecutive starts in which he recorded a victory.

Obviously, the starting pitcher took the loss for every AL team that lost yesterday, and it was a pretty ugly day overall for those pitchers. The table below shows the lines for each losing AL pitcher yesterday …


AL Losing Pitchers – May 20, 2004
PitcherTeamIPHRERBBSO
MecheSEA3.1108830
PonsonBAL4.2108813
DreseTEX4.187711
SilvaMIN6115401
AndersonKC4126611
ArroyoBOS3.179622
WashburnANA783332


As indicated, Washburn was the only losing pitcher who had a decent outing. Silva was mediocre. All the others pretty much stunk.

Meche had a lot of company yesterday.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

 

Dominican Players: Mondesi to sign with the Angels

Mondesi to sign with the Angels. That gives me a good reason to root against the Angels this season.

Seriously, this year I've really been enjoying all of the teams in the AL West. The Mariners, of course, are first loyalty, but after that each team has a nice story. It's always fun to see Billy Beane and the A's taking on the rest of baseball and doing more with less. Texas and Anaheim in recent years have seemed pretty blahh, but not anymore. Texas is an exciting young team - much like I wish the M's were. In Anaheim I"ve been intrigued by Arte Moreno, and his dream of making the Angels to southwestern Hispanics what the Mariners have been to Japanese baseball.

Mondesi's presence, though, sullies that organization. Much the same as signing Ben Christensen sullies the Mariners.

 

Ed, I Want to Close With You, Each Game, But Only the Ninth

If anyone still had any hope that Sunday's game caused Melvin to change his thinking about using Guarado, we have this Melvin quote from today's Tacoma News-Tribune:
So Melvin went to closer Eddie Guardado, who struck out three Indians in a row to pick up his eighth save.

"They call him Every Day Eddie, and every time we get a lead in the ninth we're going to let him earn the name," Melvin said.
You know how the Mariners often play specific music selections for certain players? In the finest tradition of Sports and B's I hereby nominate a Kinky twist to use with Eddie Guardado (with apologies to Ray Davies):

    Each Game, But Only the Ninth

    I'm not content to have you pitch when we're behind
    Ed I want to close with you, each game, but only the ninth
    The only time I feel that's right is when it's not a tie
    Ed I want to close with you, each game, but only the ninth
    Each game, but only the ninth
    Each game, but only the ninth
    Each game, but only the ninth
And unfortunately I was not the Million Dollar Baseball Magic contestant in last night's game.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

 

Indefensible Defense

Going into tonight's game, Cleveland's defensive efficiency was 0.678, good for 29th worst out of the 30 teams in MLB. The only team worse was Minnesota, at 0.658.

I've only been able to catch pieces of the game this evening, but so far I've seen:
  • Vizquel getting a late break on Olerud's single in the second inning.

  • Jodi Gerut totally misplaying Ichiro's double in the third.

  • Jodi Gerut (again) diving to try to catch Randy Winn's triple in the 5th, instead of cutting off the ball. Gerut's attempt wasn't even close, and Winn ends up on third.

  • Belliard dropping a line drive hit right to him by Willie Bloomquist in the 5th, then almost throwing the ball away on the throw to Merloni at first.
In addition to these misplays, Victor Martinez makes one of the worst throws to second base that I've seen on Ichiro's steal of second in the 5th. Gerut's two misplays cost the Indians at least one run, and possibly two runs.

These plays also show how fielding percentage is such a meaningless measure of defense. Because none of the above plays resulted in an error, the Indians fielding percentage has actually improved despite the ghastly defense.

 

Are Anaheim Fans Ready to Grill Weber?

From 6-4-2 -- an Angels/Dodgers double play blog, How Bad Is Weber?:
Weber has appeared in 16 games and allowed runs in 12 of them. That puts him squarely in the ranks of the worst pitchers in the majors. …

What's frightening about that list is only Lopez and Weber are relievers. In other words, Weber's getting as many chances as starting pitchers for teams dying for starting pitching, like the Rockies, Indians, and Detroit.

 

Flushing Local: Wright for Garcia? Wrong for the Mets

Flushing Local comments on Garcia for David Wright:
So, Jim, is the reward high enough to consider swapping Wright, Huber and Diaz?

Remember you're not insane. Because you'd have to be to board this particular flight of fancy.

The Mets do have a sudden hole in their starting rotation that Garcia could fill nicely. And the hole gets bigger next year when Leiter is (likely) gone and massive the year after that when Glavine's contract (probably) runs out.

But as I noted yesterday, we have a sudden hole at 3B, too. And that hole is much harder to fill without David Wright around. Expensive starting pitchers are routinely shopped around come June and July, but how often are solid thirdbasemen with extra-base power and good gloves put on the market?

Seriously, it's madness to even propose this swap. Garcia is a free agent after the end of the year. He's not at the top of his game, he's dancing around it sideways. But Wright looks like the Real Deal - one of the top 10 prospects in minor league baseball today. You don't trade a solid shot at 10 years of production and stability at 3B for an underachieving starter who can walk away after four months. And you certainly don't toss in a couple of other promising position players along with him.

McGrath seriously overestimates the Mets' desperation level. Mets fans are delighted just to be competitive again, not stalking management with pitchforks and torches.

 

Melvin After the Mariners Win on Sunday - that was an anomaly and won't soon be repeated.

Nate at Hope Springs Eternal wants to believe that in Sunday's game against the Tigers, Melvin sized up the situation in the 8th inning after Putz had to come out of the game and decided, "screw the roles, I need strikeouts and I want Eddie". In reality, however, Melvin didn't experience epiphany; he just didn't think he had options.

As I've mentioned previously, Melvin manages by defining roles for his players, then deploying them as those roles appear in the game. He gives little weight to analyzing a given situation to determine who has the best skill set for the situation. Today's Times article on the pending callup of Nageotte again shows how Melvin's role-defined view of the pitching staff:
"Our roles from the right side aren't near as clear as they are from the left side," Melvin said.

He said the left-hander roles include Ron Villone as the long reliever, Mike Myers as the situational pitcher and Eddie Guardado as the closer.

But, he added, "We've struggled from the right side. We might have to shuffle those cards again. We're just not as productive."
In Melvin's view, the problem he sees is getting people to produce in their roles to which they've been assigned. If someone isn't producing in a role, he may shuffle the people, but the roles are static. And when the game situation calls for a certain role, Melvin uses the player who has that role, irrespective of whether there isn't another player who might do the job better in that situation. If that means consistently using your 11th or 12th best pitcher in a critical situation, so be it. Melvin clearly believes that, on the whole, teams perform better when players have defined roles and they are used in those roles. I suspect that if pressed on the issue of being more situational, Melvin would say that stepping out of roles hurts team chemistry because players become uncertain about when and how they will be used.

That is Melvin's management approach, and expecting him to change that style is just as unlikely as you seeing your boss suddenly change his or her management style. One of the reasons Mariners management likes Melvin so much is because that matches the overall Mariners management approach. Everything Mariners do is "by the book", from scouting to player development to in-game strategy.

It's worth noting, as well, that doing everything "by the book" almost guarantees below average results. One of the few areas where a manager can actually create a tactical advantage is by adopting strategies that are a bit smarter than what opponents are doing. If two opposing managers each do everything "by the book", then neither will gain an advantage by outthinking an opponent. But as soon as one opponent goes against the book when doing so makes sense, that manager gains an advantage over the other one.

We saw that on Sunday when Melvin felt forced to use a player out of his role and bring in Guardado in the 8th inning. He created an advantage that led to a win. And what is Melvin's reaction? Does he say, "that went pretty well, I should do that more often"? Nope, Melvin says, that was an anomaly and wouldn't soon be repeated. So, consider Sunday's win an anomaly that won't often be repeated.

 

As I Was Saying ...

it's not yet time to praise Melvin.

From today's P-I:
Things have been so tough that Guardado went two weeks between saves on May 6 and Sunday.

To get the Sunday save, he had to throw the final two innings. Melvin said that was an anomaly and wouldn't soon be repeated.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

 

More on Mondesi

Last Saturday I opined that Mondesi walked out on Pittsburgh as part of a calculated strategy to become a free agent and secure a better contract than the one he had with Pittsburgh (He Succeeded in Making Scott Boras Appear Ethical).

An article in today's Boston Globe supports that reasoning:
The Pirates signed him for just a fraction of the $13 million he was paid by the Yankees in 2003, giving him a contract for $1.15 million in 2004 and an $8 million option for 2005 with a $600,000 buyout. Mondesi's agents are confident he will sign a new deal that will guarantee him more than the $1.75 million he would have received from the Pirates, and they are looking for a two-year deal.
And it appears as if Raul Tavaras, who does the Dominican Players blog from Santo Domingo, sees it the same way: It's not about the Family, it's about Raul's Money. Tavaras also takes the opportunity to jab at Mondesi's character and manhood:
Pirates fans will be very upset if he signs with an other team after selling the idea that it was about the family, kids go to school in the winter, we don't have a winter in the Dominican Republic, he stays here from October to February, he don't drive his kids to school for the simple reason that schools starts at 8:00am and he's never sober and/or awake at that time, that's the simple truth



Maybe if he plays serious ball in the winter and stays with his family hi would have 100 rbi's for the first time in his career.

Be a man and admit that you did not want to be with the Pirates, but guess what Raul? You don't deserve to be playing in the Majors.
This is a big change for Tavaras, as up to now Tavares has ardently supported Mondesi.

Mondesi and his agent, Jeff Moorad, are playing a serious game of chicken, gambling that some team that is desperate for a mediocre outfielder will pick up Mondesi on a multi-year contract and pay him significantly more than $1.75 million. Because teams can add Mondesi without giving up prospects, Moorad and Mondesi also expect that will increase Mondesi's value.

Personally, I think this is going to blow up on them, and Mondesi will eventually sign a one year contract for less than he was receiving from Pittsburgh. In the end, Mondesi will have lost salary for the time away from Pittsburgh, he will sign a contract that will pay him less than he was receiving from Pittsburgh, and he will have lost the buyout of his 2005 option he was going to receive from Pittsburgh. It will rank with the umpire's walkout as a negotiating blunder.

I also think that the mention of Mariners interest is pure smoke from Mondesi's camp. It's probably nothing more than Moorad having talked to Bavasi and Bavasi politely saying "we're evaluating our situation and we'll get back to you if we want to do anything".

 

Our Favorite Guillen "Injury"

From Mariners Intelligence:
My favorite part of John Levesque's article analyzing the Carlos Guillen trade and subsequent acquisition of Rich Aurilia is the litany of injuries Guillen endured as a Mariner. But where's the DUI, John?
Personally, I liked that he blamed Guillen for coming down with tuberculosis in 2001, when the real blame should have been with the Mariners medical staff for not knowing the difference between tuberculosis and a common cold.

 

Pop Flies and Ground Outs

Taking inspiration from the Mariners offense, today I'll offer up some pop flies and ground outs, addressing the Mariners fixation on tools, my shared outlook with Jeff Shaw, the importance of trading Gil Meche, the effectiveness of scouting in the amateur draft, and a link to good series on protecting the arms of young pitchers in Little League and high school. I'll tie it together with some not very clever alliterative subtitles.
  • The Terrible Tools

    David Cameron discusses players the Cincinatti Reds are likely to dangle for Gil Meche. It's discouraging that David's analysis is probably spot on. With the team's fixations on tools and on speed and athleticism over actual performance, the Mariners most likely will gravitate to players such as Wily Mo Pena, Reggie Taylor, Jason Ramano, and Jacob Cruz. And that would be true of deals they would strike with almost any team, not just the Reds.

    Astute GMs realize that the Mariners are a good place to offload their toolsy players who aren't making it in the big leagues. Remember that the Mariners front office is the same crew who signed Ben Davis to a $1.4 million contract last winter, because "We see untapped resources screaming to get out with Ben".

  • Joining With Jeff

    Jeff Shaw had many of the same reactions I had after reading David Andriesen's No Quick Fix column in today's P-I. Jeff highlights the comments about Cameron made by the unnamed AL East GM, and points out that it could have easily been made by three of the five AL East GMs, with Baltimore and Tampa Bay being the two uncertain teams in his mind.

    I want to add that Jim Beattie at Baltimore (and formerly with the Mariners front office) has shown signs of perspicacity about bullpen management ("We finally got sick of seeing our games being lost by our 11th or 12th best pitcher in some matchup situation."). So I don't have to stretch far to see Beattie also appreciating Cameron's values that were depreciated by the Mariners brain trust.

    For the record, the comments of the unnamed GM are below:
    "They really need to address their defense," an eastern AL general manager said. "They have good pitchers, but they don't have strikeout pitchers, so they need to have guys who can go and get the ball. That's why I was surprised they let (center fielder Mike) Cameron and (shortstop Carlos) Guillen go.

    "Sure, Cameron struck out a lot. But he walked, he hit for power in a tough park for hitters and he ran the bases good. Most of all, he caught anything hit in the air to center. I feel for Randy Winn, because it's going to be hard to look good with people remembering all the catches that Cameron would make."
  • More on Meche

    Andriesen's column also had this excerpt about Gil Meche:
    The tough times being endured by reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa (1-3, 6.20 ERA) and starter Gil Meche (1-4, 5.68) have sparked questions.

    "Meche went from something like 60 innings to almost 200 last year," a western AL general manager said. "In my view, that was too much to put on a guy coming back from the surgeries he had. I think it may be working against him this year."
    As noted by Will Carroll the other day, labrum tear surgeries are completely different from "Tommy John" procedures (ulnar collateral ligament repairs). Carroll says that of 36 major league pitchers with labrum tears, only one - Rocky Biddle - has fully recovered.

    In my preview of Mariners starting pitching for this year I discussed the Mariners abuse of Meche last year:
    As indicated, after his July 1 start all of Meche's peripherals declined significantly except for his strikeout rate. While Meche logged 20% fewer innings in the second half of the year, he logged only 7% fewer pitches. That means he was using more pitches to get out of innings, reflecting that he was pitching in trouble more often.

    I think the Mariners management of Meche last year was abominable. Meche was coming off two arm surgeries, and hadn't pitched in two years. There was an immediate and abrupt decline in his performance as soon as he crossed the 100-inning threshold in that July 1 start. Given Meche's declining performance, his history of injuries, and the fact he was coming off rehab, the Mariners should have been tracking his perforamance closely, and should have shut him down immediately, or at least decreased his workload greatly, at the first signs of stress or declining effectiveness. Despite Meche's obvious loss of effectiveness after reaching 100 innings, the Mariners continued to send Meche to the mound every fifth day, and let him run up his highest pitch counts of the season in the second half of the season.

    Many people concerned with pitcher health believe that when considering pitch counts, the stress of the pitching situation is also important; pitches made when a pitcher is in a jam are significantly more stressful than pitches made under low stress conditions. Meche was obviously pitching in high stress situations much more frequently in the second half of the season. So even as Meche was obviously tiring in the second half of the season, his effective workload and stress levels were increasing.

    As I have posted previously, the Mariners have one of the highest rates in baseball of blowing out young pitchers arms. The team's management of Meche last year is a disgrace, and indicates that the Mariners medical and pitching development still didn't "get it", at least through the end of last season.
    If Meche is in demand by other teams, he should be traded while he has value. If he stays with the Mariners, the chances of him blowing out his arm again are probably pretty high, and almost any team but the Mariners would probably manage his workload more closely. But with Meche's luck he would probably wind up pitching for Dusty Baker, which is perhaps the only setting that would be worse than the Mariners.

  • Deconstructing Draft Data

    Over at Sons of Sam Horn, philly sox fan put up a long and detailed post evaluating the amateur free agent drafts from 1987-1992 (and a tip o' the hat to Texas Rangers Blog for pointing out that link). The study is quite good, and focuses on a question I have pondered, viz., Do high draft picks actually have a better probability of success than lower round picks?. I've been interested in that question for two reasons.

    1. It addresses the issue of how effective scouting is in identifying prospects and assigning relative values. If scouts generally have little ability to discriminate in evaluating talent, there would be relatively little difference in success rates betweeen high and low round picks. Conversely, high success rates for early draft picks argues for the value of scouting in evaluating talent.

      Because the period considered ends in 1992, the results reflect drafting based almost purely using traditional scouting and player assessment tools (i.e, before the "sabermetric" era).

    2. The Mariners have willingly and gladly forsaken high round draft picks in recent years, both by forfeiting picks in signing free agents or by lowballing players in negotiations. By better quantifying the importance of high round picks, we can better understand the value the Mariners are forsaking.

    In this regard, philly sox fan concludes that:

    1. To no one's great surprise, the probability of any pick in any round being a "good to great" player is pretty small. (The criteria for "good to great" = 40 Wins Above Replacement Level, or WARP, determined from Baseball Prospectus data). The average WARP for a first round pick is 14.7. Since some of the players in this draft are still playing, the numbers can change a bit, but most of these players are past their peaks so the overall WARP numbers should not change much.

    2. The first round does stand out from all other rounds. As philly sox fan states:
      On average each draft class produced 15.8 players with 20-39.9 WARP careers, 10.2 with 40-79.9 WARP careers and 2.7 players with 80 and more WARP careers. The number of Good to Great players on average was 12.8. If you assume 5-10 of the 20 WARP players will cross over into the G2G range you end up with about 15 useful players and 15 Good to Great players per draft class. Again, somewhere around 15 players seems to be the divide between good and useful.

      Nearly one third of the G2G players came from the first round. Between the supplemental round and round 5 there is another 27%. Rounds 6-8 produced 11% for a total of 70% of the G2G players in the first 8 rounds. The other 30% is comprised of some fairly big spikes in rds a 11, 13, 17, 18 and 30 that produced 2 or 3 players and the rest randomly distributed down to Mike Piazza in rd 62.

      Note that the first round is the only one to average more than one G2G player per draft class. By the 6th round most of the production spikes amount to one G2G player every 2 or 3 years.
    If you accept the philly sox fan analysis, I think you wind up with the following conclusions:

    1. Traditional scouting does have some modest ability to identify players likely to succeed at the major league level, and that ability is limited to 30% to 40% of the players who will succeed. The remaining successful players are not readily detected by traditional scouting. The corollary from this is that any team that develops a good way of identifying the 60% to 70% of players who fly under the radar of traditional scouting will have a huge advantage. The success of the A's strongly argues that use of statistics with college players taps some of that 60% to 70% of players not identified by traditional scouting.

      Thus, teams that effectively link scouting and advanced player evaluation techniques (including statistical analyses, biomechanical analyses of pitchers, etc.) will have a huge advantage over teams that do not use those techniques. Conversely, teams that rely solely on scouting, such as the Mariners, will be at a significant disadvantage.

    2. By discarding first round picks, the Mariners are taking themselves out of the market for at least 30% to 40% of the players who will eventually be good or great. Furthermore, if advances in player evaluation techniques (such as Oakland As style focus on college players using statistical evaluations) have pushed higher the percentages of good to great players drafted in the first round, the Mariners are cutting themselves off from even more player talent.

  • Protecting Pitchers

    Here's a link to a nice series of articles in the Cincinatti Post about protecting young pitchers arms. The articles feature information from Dr. Tim Kremchek, the Reds Medical Director. The Reds probably rival only the Mariners in their history of blowing out young pitchers arms - in the last two year Kremchek has performed more than 20 surgeries for arm injuries to Reds pitchers. Unlike the Mariners, the Reds have decided this is unacceptable and are doing something about it. And a tip o' the hat to the blogger who pointed me to this article, but I can't remember who it was.

Monday, May 24, 2004

 

Shutting Down the Mariners Bats Means Nothing

Ken Rosental mentions the Mariners in today's column:
Scout: Mariners look "pathetic"

A scout who saw the Mariners-Orioles series declined to assess the victories recorded by Orioles rookie RHP Daniel Cabrera and rookie LHP Erik Bedard, saying, "You can't be going worse than Seattle is. It's pathetic, just awful." RHP Freddy Garcia, a potential free agent, remains the leading candidate to be traded, but one scout notes, "Everyone wants (RHP Joel) Pineiro," noting Pineiro could bring more in return. . . .
So it has now reached the point where shutting down the Mariners means nothing when scouting pitchers.

 

Is the Mouse Ready to Roar?

The restructuring rumors gain some credence, with a featured Finnigan story in today's Times and David Cameron indicating some confirmation from his sources. Although Finnigan often fantasizes about Mariner roster moves, I think this story is probably serious since Finnigan doesn't make a single reference about repatriating Griffey. The good folks at USS Mariner have contacts inside both MLB and the Mariners office, and are generally cautious about only reporting rumors when there is some secondary information or corraboration. So, I think readers should take these reports seriously.

David rightly expresses concern about Bavasi being in charge of this restructuring. I share this concern,
and I have previously referenced other writer's reviews of Bavasi's poor history in making roster moves while Bavasi was the Angels GM. While Bavasi is obviously not my first choice to rework the Mariners roster, if the Mariners do undertake a restructuring, I am willing to step back and tell Bavasi to have at it and see what he can do. I will stand in for the Self-Exiled Optimist here, and cut Bavasi some slack, anticipating (agaisnt reason) that he is learning from previous history. If Bavasi assembles a championship caliber team that has the foundation to be the best in baseball for three to five years, I will gladly admit my errors.

I just can't go totally positive on all of you, though. My guess is that the Mariners will spend money to bring in one or two superstars, and then fill out the roster and farm system with "tools" players who are only marginal producers. The team may be competitive, but not championship caliber. The Mariners will be excited about the talent, believing that they are picking up players that are on the verge of stardom and just need a proper opportunity (probably in Tacoma) to develop and flourish. A few of the players actually will develop, enough to convince the team and fans of their wisdom in picking up those players, but most will ultimately be the marginal players consistent with their stats and projections at the time they are acquired.

Toolsy players who look good and say the right things also market better than do the guys who don't fit the mold but simply go out and perform. The average fan really doesn't care too much about plate discipline, adjusted EQA, park factors, or the other dry numerical player performance barometers. Fans do like to read about and see young players who have tools and a "good attitude", and about whom scouts throughout baseball have been writing glowing reports. This is crtical because the key issue for the Mariners front office right now is fan perception and interest for 2005.

Unfortunately this most likely scenario is also the worst scenario; it means that Bavasi produces a team that is marginally competitive, and a farm system that is of about average production. A good reference point would be the Angels organization while Bavasi was in charge. With that outcome, Bavasi would likely remain as GM for a minimum of four to five years before the Mariners ownership realizes that the team will never reach the top with Bavasi as GM.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

 

It's Not Yet Time to Praise Melvin

While it was nice to see Melvin bring in Guardado in the 8th inning today, we should not be too quick to assume that Melvin has now decided to change how he manages his bullpen. Myers is the reliever that Melvin typically would have brought in after Rodriguez hit the ball off Putz's foot. Myers, however, worked both Friday and Saturday, so Melvin may been reluctant to use him.

With Myers "unavailable", Melvin went with Guardado as his 8th inning LOOGY (because there were a couple of left-handers coming up), then kept him around for the ninth to close. Since Monday is a travel day, Melvin would be less hesitant to use Guardado for two innings.

This is not a radical departure in Melvin's thinking. It's pretty much the same thinking Melvin used on Saturday, when he was ready to bring in Guardado to get the last out in the eighth as a left-hander out of the pen, then close the game in the ninth. He didn't bring in Guardado on Saturday because the Tigers tied the game, meaning the it was no longer a save situation.

In other words, in the eighth Melvin plays matchups and currently sees Guardado as a second option LOOGY. I don't think this is a change in Melvin's thinking as much as it is occasioned by necessity. When it becomes the ninth, though, matchups are suddenly irrelevant because Guardado is mysteriously transformed to a closer.

The notable difference is that Melvin did not use Hasegawa in the eighth. According to Rizzs and Valle, Hasegawa was ready in the eighth.

Before I'm ready to change my mind about Melvin's bullpen management, I'll need to see a few cases where Melvin goes to Guardado in the 8th even though other pitchers are available and meet the matchup requirements.

It's also possible that Guardado has talked to Melvin requesting more work, or that the Front Office has told Melvin to get Guardado more work.

 

Melvin Uses Guaradado in a High Leverage Situation!!

After Putz takes a ball in the foot, Melvin brings in Guardado with two on and nobody out in the 8th inning, and the Mariners up 3-1!!!

And Eddie gets one out on popup bunt, followed by a K, a BB, and a K to get out of the inning without yielding a run. What a change from recent experiences - is it too much to expect Melvin to realize that using his best reliever in a critical situation can be a good idea??

 

"Murderers Row" or "Milquetoasters Row"?

Here's what the Mariners's Murderer's Row looks like today.


Slot OBP SLG OPS
---- ---- ---- ----
#3 .302 .418 .720
#4 .327 .468 .795
#5 .320 .356 .676
#6 .400 .414 .814

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