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

Saturday, July 10, 2004

 

Don't Understimate a Pitcher Who's Just Had a Good Meal

Batgirl gives an entertaining account of today's game between the Twins and the Tigers.

I wonder what's going to happen next time the Twins and Angels meet. If Colon's around, the Twins might be missing another player off the roster. Post-game, the Twins might have to do a Colon-ectomy.

 

Subterranean Homesick Blues

After the game tonight, KOMO played portions of a pre-game press conference with Melvin.

Melvin was more animated and articulate than I have ever previously heard him. He was forceful and animated, and you could actually detect anger in his words and tone. He said the team is going backward. He was emphatic that major changes were going to be made to the roster, and that players currently in the minor league system were going to get looks. He said the veterans should understand that changes are going to be made.

He also stated that the Mariners expected to contend next year, and the goal of the rest of this year was to assess minor league talent as part of the process of deciding what moves would be made this offseason. In the course of his comments on this topic, he specifically mentioned Leone and Jose Lopez. He did not specifically say that Lopez would be called up. He simply mentioned Lopez in the context of evaluating players in the minor leagues.

Nevertheless, it sounds as if the team has decided to give Lopez a look in the majors. That, by the way, will use up one space on both the 40-man and 25-man rosters, and will start the clock running on his major league service time.

I also would not be surprised if the team delayed filling the 40-man roster spot created with Aurilia's departure. Having a vacant spot on the 40-man roster makes it easier to do trades. There's also no reason to add a Jacobsen or Zapp to the 40-man roster until the team is ready to promote that player to the 25-man roster as well.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. (Bob Dylan)

 

Aurilia Released

As Ibañez returns from the DL, Aurilia is released to make room on the 25-man roster. Immediate thoughts:
  • This means Leone stays on the 25-man roster. Leone should receive significant playing time as the team assesses his future.

  • This also opens a space on the 40-man roster. I think the M's will leave this spot open to create additional flexibility in making trades. If they fill the spot now, then in future deals they may need to send a play through waivers to clear a spot. If the Mariners do decide to fill the spot, my guess is that Jacobsen will be added to the 40-man roster.
And thus the book is closed on one of the more disastrous roster adjustments in recent years - the dumping of Guillen for virtually nothing and the signing of Aurilia to take his place.

 

A Tale of Two Starters

Both Melvin and Guillen stayed with their starting pitchers in the 7th inning of last night's game at junctures when many managers would have brought in a reliever. As the inning started, the White Sox were leading 3-1.

Garland opens the top half of the inning by walking Martinez, then gets Spiezio to hit into a fielders choice. Aurilia singles, moving Spiezio to third and taking second when the White Sox make a play on Spiezio at third. At this point, Garland has thrown 93 pitches, and he is wobbling. Guillen elects to stay with Garland though. The next batter, Cabrera, swings at the first pitch (naturally) and hits a grounder to third. Spiezio is running on contact, and is easily out at the plate. Hansen pinchhits for Leone, and Garland pitches him carefully, knowing that Wilson is on deck. Hansen draws a walk. Wilson then swings at the first pitch (naturally) and flies out to right to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, Piñiero gets two outs, then Rowand and Ordoñez hit back to back singles. The next batter is Carlos Lee, and Piñiero has thrown over 110 pitches. Mateo is ready in the bullpen. Niehaus expects a switch to be made, and expresses his surprise when Bryan Price comes out of the dugout instead of Melvin. On the second pitch to Lee, Lee hits a monster shot to put the game out of reach 6-1.

Two starting pitchers in similar straits in their respective halves of the same inning late in the game. Both managers make the same decision to leave the starter in the game. The decision works for one but not the other. For one it was the best of innings, for the other it was the worst of innings.

Perhaps it was easier for Guillen to make the decision. Garland had thrown fewer pitches, and he also was facing the bottom side of one of the weakest offenses in baseball. Piñiero, on the other hand, had thrown more pitches and was facing the heart of one of the most potent offenses in the league.

Not following the White Sox, I can't put any context around Guillen's decision. For the Mariners, though, it looks as if Melvin has lost confidence in his right-handed relief pitching and felt he had to ride Piñiero through the 7th inning. He had Mateo ready but didn't use him. It wasn't the 8th, so he probably wouldn't be thinking of Hasegawa, since Hasegawa's role is pretty much the 8th inning only, and Melvin especially won't use someone out of role while they are struggling with their current role. Putz is also not being used in high pressure situations anymore.

Friday, July 09, 2004

 

From Whence These Sadistic Impulses?

When I was a lad, I don't think I was excessively cruel to sentient creatures. Ok, I did pull wings off of flies occasionally. And sometimes, on a sunny summer day we used magnifying glasses to focus the sun's rays directly on ants as they went about their business as ants. (We used to play "antball" - frying one ant at a time was a single, two was a double, three was a triple, four was a home run.)

I also salted snails and slugs, but doesn't everybody do that? Now that I'm older, though, I set out pie tins filled with Miller or Bud, and let the slugs drown in drunken stupor. (That is the only practical use I've ever found for Miller and Bud.) If I were a slug, I might compose a poem comparing death by salt and death by beer, and I would end the poem by concluding that "beer is dear, and less severe".

I'm so old that microwaves ovens weren't invented until after I got married. In the interests of a happy marriage, I have resisted all urges to release flies inside a microwave oven, though I do ponder if they really would explode like popcorn. I never asked my kids what they might have put in the microwave when we weren't around; my wife has trained me to not ask questions where we might get an answer we're not ready to hear. I think we were better off not knowing for sure the origins of some of those splotches inside the microwave.

So, given all of that, what's the source of this sadistic urge that causes me to post updates on the progress of Conor Jackson through the Diamondbacks minor league system? Why this glee in continually reminding Mariner fans of what could have been - and of how the Mariners, while starving for position prospects, sold the right to draft Jackson for a proverbial bowl of pottage?

For those who don't know about Conor Jackson, he is the player the Diamondbacks selected with a first round compensation pick, 19th overall, that they received from the Mariners when the Mariners signed Greg Colbrunn. Colbrunn, of course, spent most of the 2003 season injured, but when he was available, Melvin didn't use him anyway. The Mariners then sent Colbrunn and cash to the Diamondbacks for Quinton McCracken, and all the value he brought to the Mariners this year. So, in exchange for Jackson, the Mariners got the combined contributions of Colbrunn and McCracken these last two years, and the Mariners paid about $4 million in salaries for those guys as well.

Playing 1B for Yakima in the Northwest League in 2003 (Jackson's first year of pro ball), in 257 ABs Jackson hit .319, with a .410 OBP and .533 SLG. More than half his hits were extra base hits. For that, he was promoted this season to Lancaster in the California League. I last updated Jackson's progress on June 25, when he had compiled the following line:
Games   AB   AVG   OBP   SLG
67 258 .345 .438 .562
Reduce those numbers some because Lancaster is one of the most hitter friendly parks in the minor leagues.

Shortly after I made that post, the Diamondbacks promoted Jackson to El Paso, their AA affiliate in the Texas League. After appearing in 15 games, Jackson had 55 at bats, and was hitting .345 with a .438 OBP, and a .418 SLG. He hasn't found his power stroke yet in AA ball, but other than that he appears to be making the transition well.

Jackson is 22 years old this season.

 

New Sidebar Links

New links added to the right sidebar.

 

Angels in Flight?

The LA Times is reporting that, with Colon continuing ineffectiveness, the Angels may be interested in Randy Johnson. I think that would be splendid for several reasons:
  1. We would get more chances to see Johnson pitching in Safeco.

  2. The trade would remove prospects from the Angel's roster, enhancing the Mariners position in future seasons.

  3. Most importantly, Johnson wouldn't be going to the Yankees!
I think I could learn to really like this Arte Moreno guy.

 

Sweet Josias!

Mike Berardino of the Miami Sun-Sentinel has an article on Josias Manzanillo, the former Seattle Mariner with an eternal place in team lore.

And, the 25th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night is fast approaching. Mark your calendars. Since disco is pretty much dead, we need to pick another genre to trash. I suggest you celebrate by putting some Kenny G discs on a nice hot barbie. Friends don't let friends listen to Kenny G. And if you can't find any Kenny G, Yanni is a fine alternate.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

 

Resignation Rather Than Resolve; Foreboding Instead of Frustration.

Toronto 10, Mariners 8 as Guardado can't hold a two run lead, giving up two home runs, includig a walkoff game winning 3-run homer to Delgad. AP game recap here.

Has fatalism overtaken over the team during this losing streak? Prior to this road trip, I think they believed that things would turn around.

Now the basic emotion reflected in many faces looks to me like resignation rather than resolve. And where players previously vented frustration at each other, now they slip each other glances of foreboding.

Feel free to post your comments using the "comments" link below.

 

Beckett’s blistering heat is also his curse

from the Sun-Sentinel (Miami), Beckett’s blistering heat is also his curse:
Beckett's blisters come midway or later in games, meaning it takes a while for the skin to come undone. But when it does, it is the equivalent of the leader's tire blowing in a NASCAR race. Beckett is done, and not just for the night.

Beckett is on the 15-day disabled list for the fifth time since the first blister appeared in April 2002.
If Beckett can't reliably handle a starters workload without getting blisters, why not move him to the pen? If he pitched one to two innings every other game, on average, the Marlins could get 100 to 150 innings of output, and he could be the main reliever handling high-leverage situations late in the game. That seems to me to be a lot less risky than tinkering with his delivery.

 

A Popped Clutch?

This morning it occurred to me that it's probably been at least two weeks since I've heard Rizzs tell us that Spiezio is "one of the best clutch hitters in baseball". Is this just because I'm actively minimizing my exposure to Rizzs, or is the absurdity now so obvious that even Rizzs doesn't believe it anymore?

 

You can never go wrong by tagging somebody

During Mariners games, Ron Fairly has repeatedly suggested that Mariners infielders should let a ball drop when the infield fly rule is called. The idea is to nab a baserunner who believes he is forced to go to advance because of the dropped ball. In the Twins game against the Royals on May 30, it happened, with exactly the result expected by Fairly.

The Royals load the bases, with Beltran on first, Berroa on second, and Relaford at third. Sweeney hits a popup in shallow right field, and the infield fly rule is called. Mientkiewicz drops the ball, and Carlos Beltran heads for second. Unfortunately Angel Berroa hasn't advanced, so Beltran heads to back to first.

In the meantime, Relaford tries to score from third. Mientkiewicz picks up the ball and fires to home to try to get Relaford, except Mientkiewicz nails Sweeney, who is standing near first base, square in the back. Sweeney drops like a wounded duck, and the ball goes into foul territory between home and first. Catcher Henry Blanco retrieves the ball.

Jacque Jones, playing right field, sees the mix-up with Berroa and Beltran at second and observes that no one is covering first base. Jones runs in to cover first base, receives a throw from Blanco, and tags out Beltran returning from second base. Jones later comments: "I was trying to be sure. You can never go wrong by tagging somebody."

Sound confusing? Well, Batgirl has it all nicely laid out, complete with Legovision. And this whole post is really just an excuse to post a link to Batgirl's site because she has a neat blog, she uses Legovision, she's a Twinkie fan, she has less stats and more sass, and she's a she.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

 

It is incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial... or something. -- Butt-head

Mariners 13, Toronto 11. Ooops ... that's the number of hits by each team. The actual score was Toronto 12, Seattle 4.

Just when you think this season can't get more absurd, we get a game like this. The Mariners outhit their opponent in a game they lose 12 to freakin' 4!!

I could say the Mariners define ineptitude, but that wouldn't be fair to the inept.

 

More on Mariners Medical Incompetence - Revisiting Carlos Guillen's 2001 Tuberculosis Infection

The following is from an October 2001 Seattle P-I story about Carlos Guillen's 2001 tuberculosis infection:
Dr. Charles Nolan, director of TB control for Public Health/Seattle and King County, said it's "extraordinary" that Guillen developed such a severe case of pulmonary tuberculosis before it was diagnosed last Friday.

Other area physicians, who declined to be identified, were less charitable.

Many said the symptoms Guillen had should have prompted the team's medical staff to consider TB as a possibility much earlier. A negative skin test, such as that done on Guillen during spring training, they said, does not rule out disease because it has a relatively high rate of "false negatives" -- meaning it fails to detect the infection.
See this link on my right sidebar for more information on this idiotic episode. I hadn't seen this article in any of my previous Google searches on this topic.

No real new information here, except that I had not been aware of that comment by Dr. Nolan. To say the situation was"extraordinary" is about as close to "incompetent" as a public official can get in a public statement. And, as the article noted, other physicians, speaking off the record, "were less charitable" than that. And that's about as close to "incompetent" as the P-I can get without being able to give names.

In case anyone was wondering, Larry Pedegana and Mitch Storey are still the Mariners team doctors. Why you might ask? Possibly it's because they pay the Mariners for the privilege of advertising themselves as "the Seattle Mariners team doctor"? About half the teams in North America's four major sports leagues actually sell the rights to be team doctor. Are the Mariners one of those teasms?

When team physicians are selected based on how much they will pay for the privilege, rather than on which physicians are the most competent, incidents of substandard care and misdiagnoses are the probable result. The bungling of Guillen's tuberculosis infection is the reality.

 

The Worm Within

I've assumed that the unnamed parasite that has struck Jason Giambi and Kevin Brown (and now Giambi's wife) is Giardia. But what if, they have tapeworms?

And Page 2 at ESPN.com features an interview with the critter.

 

Having Your Cake and Eating It, Too

Paul at Nice Guys Finish Third registers his comments on the midpoint of the season. His thoughts are much the same as mine, less the tables, numbers and "composite rankings". But, true to the quote from Rick Peterson on the header of this page, I give you data - stupefying, mind-numbing, bludgeoning reams of data - all to show what we already know. Our 2004 Mariners are a bad team.

Paul does make the following comment that I disagree with, however:
But what it comes down to is that the Mariners' conservative "business plan" is killing them on the field. No matter how much you want to, Howard Lincoln, you cannot run the Mariners like any other business. Sports doesn't work that way. In sports, you have to be prepared to lose money in order to win games.

But here's the kicker. The M's make a TON of money. They don't even have to lose money - they just have to be willing to make less. They just have to be willing to do SOMETHING. With every loss, and every day that goes by with no more deals or player movement, all the goodwill that was flowing Bavasi's way after the Garcia trade will vanish completely by the end of the month. I'm not much for hyperbole, generally, but the month of July is shaping up to be one of the most critical months that the Mariners have faced in a long time.
The real boggler with the Mariners is that they can win more games and make more money as well. The Mariners are very inefficient in spending their money, throwing money away on excessively large contracts, giving multi-million dollar contracts to players who could be replaced for major league minimum salary, and failing to protect their investments in arms of young pitchers in the organization.

The Mariners operate with a business model that is being eclipsed. If ownership insisted that the Front Office be more efficient in fielding a competitive team, and were willing to alter the business model if necessary to do so, the Mariners could win more games and be more profitable.

BTW - doesn't anyone ever wonder about the expression that "You can't have your cake and eat it, too"? Offhand, I can't remember ever receiving a piece of cake without being allowed to eat it, too.

 

Money, Motivation, and Maturity

The TwinsGeek provides some commentary on the Garcia's contract extension with the White Sox. He thinks its a good deal for Twins fans.

I generlly agree with TwinsGeek here. Last winter I initially thought the Mariners should non-tender Freddy instead of paying him the $8 million he likely would have received in arbitration. Later, I (weakly) supported the Mariners signing Garcia to the one-year deal that they struck to avoid arbitration. I thought the Mariners overpaid, but if the alternative was giving Bavasi $7 million of extra payroll to spend, Bavasi was sure to spend even more stupidly than reupping Garcia was. I also thought that Garcia was a good bet to rebound in his walk year, and if he did, the $7 million salary would be reasonable.

 

How Much do the A's Miss Tejada?

When Miguel Tejada left the A's last winter, many observers projected that the A's would have little or no offense this year. In a post last February, I suggested that reports of the demise of the A's offense were greatly exaggerated. If Dye showed even a minor rebound from past seasons and Crosby came through with even a modest season, the A's could easily replace the offense lost with Tejada's departure.

Here is an excerpt from that post:
In one of my posts leading up to the collaborative blogging effort, I talked about Basic Bad Assumptions that people make when they project the past into the future:

As humans, we remember and apply immediate past experience much more readily than we do more distant experiences, and we give more weight to recent history than to more distant memory. So, when we evaluate our players and our teams, our memories are very strongly influenced by the season just concluded, and we generally start by assuming that, without changes, the next season will be like the last season.

I think that many fans are far too pessimistic about Jermaine Dye. Jermaine Dye has been an very good player in the past, and there is a very good possibility that this year he will finally get over the injury problems that have slowed him greatly the last several years.

The chart below compares OPS for Dye and Tejada:



As the chart indicates, with the exception of 2003, Dye's OPS numbers compare very favorably with Tejada's; in fact, until 2003 overall Dye was generally a bigger offensive contributor than Tejada. It is not difficult to imagine Dye returning to at least a .750 OPS level (and possibly more). If Dye can provide that contribution, and Crosby provides a .700 to .750 OPS contribution from shortstop, the A's would easily make up for Tejada's bat.

The Oakland offense is not the barren waste that many people want to believe it is.
Through games of July 6, essentially the halfway point of the 2004 season, the A's are generating 5.12 runs per 27 outs, versus their 4.75 rate of 2003. That's an improvement of 0.37 runs per game, and not the offensive black hole that many predicted.

The tables below compare 2004 and 2003 batting data for Oakland's overall team offense, for Jermaine Dye, and for the shorstop position (Crosby vs. Tejada):

YearOBPSLGOPS
Oakland Team Offense
2003
.327
.417
.744
2004
.339
.434
.773
2004 vs. 2003
.012
.017
.029
Jermaine Dye
2003
.261
.253
.514
2004
.350
.521
.871
2004 vs. 2003
.089
.268
.357
Miguel Tejada 2003 vs. Bobby Crosby 2004
Tejada 2003
.336
.472
.809
Crosby 2004
.331
.472
.803
Crosby 2004 vs. Tejada 2003
-.005
-.003
-.006


As indicated, Dye and Crosby have performed beyond the modest contributions I posited. In fact, with Crosby completely replacing Tejada's bat and Dye's hitting returning to normal, the A's offense is better in 2004 than it was in 2003, despite Tejada's departure.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

 

Checking to See if the Patient Still has a Pulse

We're at the halfway point of the season. I had been planning to revisit my preseason team reviews about this time, but I don't have the time and energy to get into that right now.

Instead, I'm going to compare the Mariners 2004 season to date with the overall franchise performance history. All of the rankings below represent the ranking from best to worst. The 2004 pitching staff, for example, ranks 22nd in HR/9. That means that in the 28 years of franchise operation, 21 of the pitching staffs had a better HR/9 ratio than the 2004 pitching staff has posted so far.

You might want to wait until after the children are in bed before viewing this.

Pitching
Stat
2004 to Date
Ranking in Team History
dERA*
4.46
16(tie)
H/9
9.09
11
SO/9
6.53
8
BB/9
3.50
10
SO/BB
1.87
6
HR/9
1.11
22

*dERA is defense independent ERA. The formula used is Voros McCracken's "Quick and Dirty DIPS, which does not include park factors.

Hitting
Stat
2004 to Date
Ranking in Team History
OBA
.324
18TIE
SLG
.378
23
OPS
.702
22

No park factors are included in the hitting stats.


Won-Loss Record
Stat
2004 to Date
Ranking in Team History
Winning Percentage
.395
23TIE


To get a quick look at how 2004 to date compares overall with other years, I calculated the average ranking for each year from the above tables. For pitching I used the dERA ranking, and for hitting I used the OPS ranking.

The results of those overall rankings are summarized in the table below:

Composite Rankings of Each Season in Mariners History
Year
dERA
dERA Rank
OPS
OPS Rank
Winning Percentage
Winning Percentage Rank
Composite Score
Composite Rank
2001
4.14
2
0.805
4
0.716
1
2.33
1
2002
4.22
5
0.769
9
0.574
2
5.33
2
1997
4.42
14
0.839
2
0.556
5
7.00
3
2003
4.32
9
0.754
11
0.574
2
7.33
4
1995
4.35
11
0.798
6
0.545
6
7.67
5
1993
4.15
4
0.745
12
0.506
9
8.33
6
1998
4.40
13
0.812
3
0.472
13
9.67
7T
2000
4.58
20
0.803
5
0.562
4
9.67
7T
1990
4.07
1
0.707
20
0.475
12
11.00
9
1991
4.31
8
0.711
18
0.512
8
11.33
10
1996
4.91
27
0.850
1
0.528
7
11.67
11
1989
4.15
3
0.703
21
0.451
17
13.67
12T
1999
4.86
25
0.798
6
0.488
10
13.67
12T
1988
4.29
6
0.716
17
0.422
19
14.00
14
1987
4.69
22
0.763
10
0.481
11
14.33
15
1984
4.34
10
0.708
19
0.457
15
14.67
16T
1994
4.49
18
0.786
8
0.438
18
14.67
16T
1985
4.66
21
0.738
13
0.457
15
16.33
18
1982
4.44
15
0.692
24
0.469
14
17.67
19
1981
4.30
7
0.682
25
0.404
22
18.00
20T
1992
4.46
16
0.725
15
0.395
23
18.00
20T
1986
4.56
19
0.724
16
0.414
20
18.33
22
2004
4.46
16
0.702
22
0.395
23T
19.00
23
1979
4.78
24
0.735
14
0.414
20
19.33
24
1983
4.36
12
0.661
28
0.370
26
22.00
25
1977
4.99
28
0.693
23
0.395
23
24.67
26
1980
4.70
23
0.664
27
0.364
27
25.67
27
1978
4.86
25
0.673
26
0.350
28
26.33
28


As indicated, the 2004 Mariners are on pace to be about the 23rd worst team in this 28th season of Mariners baseball. You have to go all the way back to the early days of the franchise, 1983, to find a team that overall has performed as badly as this one. Given the expectations and payroll of the 2004 Mariners, however, this season is clearly the worst season in the history of the franchise.

As expected, pitching has been the "strength" of this team. The 2004 Mariners rank 16th out of the 28 teams in dERA. That's close to the franchise average mound performance. Many of the individual pitching parameters are above average for franchise history; the 2004 pitching staff currently ranks 11th in franchise history in H/9, 8th in SO/9, 10th in BB/9, and 6th in SO/BB. Unfortunately, this staff also ranks 22nd in HR/9.

To no great surprise, the offense is the real weakness of this team, tied for 18th in franchise history in OBA, 23rd in SLG, and 22nd in OPS. As with the composite rankings, you need to go back to the early years of the franchise, when the Mariners were still an expansion franchise, to find a worse team offensive performance.

The combination of a slightly below average pitching performance, a putrid offense, and poor overall performance has driven this season to the scrap heap.

Note: the pitching and hitting statistics do not include tonight's game 81 versus the Blue Jays.

 

A Buffa with no Basso?

The Mariners now stand at 32-48. It's comedic the way the Front Office was talking about getting back into the race after making a run against the underside of the NL. Then the Mariners got back to playing some good teams, and were promptly reminded to quit their pretensions. If we were to think of baseball as opera, the Cardinals series would be a buffa, a comedic opera, in three acts and the story behind the buffa would be the comeuppance of a fool.

In our buffa, the Cardinals play Busch Stadium as a complete company, with a full set of well-trained voices, hitting the high notes and the low notes, with proper dynamics, and voices blended in perfect harmonies. Had the games been played at the old Kiel Opera House, the cries of Bravi! Bravi! would have probably collapsed that venerable old structure.

Meanwhile, the Mariners, as the visting troupe, were exposed as a third rate company, with lead roles sung by voices that really belong in a chorus, and with many performers forced into roles outside of their ranges.

The voices most noticeably missing from the Mariners opera company are the basses, particularly the basso profundo, the strong voice that takes on the roles associated with power and strength. The Mariners have been filling that role with assorted baritones and tenors, and on occasion the Mariners have even used a countertenor or two. I expect that some game Melvin will give the role to one of the club's castratos. (If baseball were opera, the Mariners would be the only team that would actually find roster positions for castratos.)

Meanwhile, the Mariners do have an apprentice named Bucky Jacobsen, who has amply shown that he can hit his notes in the minor keys. The critics and the fans are all tired of hearing performers trying to hit the low notes, and failing miserably. Today we have Larry Stone standing on the edge of his front row seat, shouting to the company director to get someone on stage who at least has the range, if not the training, to sing a bass part.

A buffa is bad enough, but no basso? Give Bucky the role.

Monday, July 05, 2004

 

Introducing Higher Power Exponents to Pythagorean Projections

My final piece from the NY rags today is courtesy of Alan Schwarz of the NY Times, discussing Pythagorean records (soul-sucking registration required). For those previously familiar with Pythagorean records, there's no new information. But what is interesting is the frank acknowledgement by some teams that they use Pythagorean projections to help evaluate team performance.

It's not surprising that Boston would use Pythagorean information, but when teams such as Cincinnati and Houston acknowledge that they are using the information, then it's clear that baseball in general is paying attention. That means the Pythagorean method is gaining exponents in higher power positions.

 

All the News that Fits the Print

Here are links to stories from New York area papers, mostly talking about things Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox. Items include nasties about Garciaparra and the Red Sox anxiousness to trade him (Garciaparra for Boone?), and the Mets and the Yankees (Myers to the Yankees, the Mets need help in the rotation and the pen, bow the Hidalgo trade has worked out so far for the Mets). All of the NY papers, including the Times, over-hype everything - it's amusing in sports, but infuriating in politics. Soul-sucking registration may be required for some sites.
  • The New York Times - The Nine Days That Shook New York's Baseball World:

    These were the nine days that shook the little world of New York baseball and even rattled windows as far away as Boston.

    They shook the Mets into believing that they really are contenders in the National League East, and they shook the Yankees into again doubting their confidence in their postseason rotation.

    They also shook the Red Sox into consternation over their wild-card chances.

    And now the question is, will the Mets' unprecedented sweep of the weekend series with the Yankees at Shea Stadium shake Fred Wilpon into renting another starting pitcher or a better bullpen setup man in order to overtake the Philadelphia Phillies and keep the Florida Marlins at bay?


  • The New York Times - Hidalgo Puts Punch in Once-Weak Lineup

    Once the Mets' batting coach, Don Baylor, analyzed Hidalgo's at-bats, he saw a player who was too conscious of trying to pull the ball. Baylor theorized that Hidalgo had become too enamored with the tantalizingly short left-field fence at Houston's Minute Maid Park, slipping into the shoddy habit of trying to hit everything to the left side.

    So Baylor has worked with Hidalgo every day on simple drills in batting practice and simple reminders in games so he remembers to use the entire field.

    "They were just small changes," Baylor said. "That's all he needed."

    Hidalgo acknowledged that he had been doing "little things," but he refused to be specific. Piazza said he noticed that Hidalgo's head was unsteady and that his swing was too long, but Hidalgo has quickly erased those deficiencies.


  • Newark Star-Ledger - Moody Garciaparra squarely on trading block

    Convinced they cannot re-sign him after the season --and so repulsed by his behavior Thursday night in the Bronx they no longer want to -- Red Sox officials are seriously considering trading Nomar Garciaparra before the July 31 non-waivers deadline.

    The Angels, Dodgers, White Sox and Mariners are all potential suitors for the aloof Garciaparra, who sat out the finale of the epic Yankees-Red Sox series Thursday, a game that all but finished the Red Sox in the AL East race. Players mentioned as possible return for the Red Sox include Chicago's Magglio Ordoñez, the Dodgers' Adrian Beltre, Seattle's Bret Boone, Toronto's Carlos Delgado and Anaheim's Adam Kennedy and Ramon Ortiz.


  • New York Post Online Edition - Bombers Waiting on the Big Unit

    According to several clubs the Yankees have been talking trade with, they are holding their limited chips until they are convinced the Diamondbacks won't trade Randy Johnson, the No. 1 choice of George Steinbrenner.

    "They are telling people they don't want to do something now, and then have Arizona decide to ask Johnson if he would waive his no-trade clause," an industry source said.

    "They could get [Kris] Benson and probably [Jamie] Moyer right now but are waiting."

 

Get Out the Brooms and Dustbins, Grandma! The Mariners are Coming to Town!

After sweeping the Mariners, the Cardinals now return to playing real baseball teams. Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reaches into the cliche closet (inspiring me likewise), and cleverly notes that the Mariners have been swept more this season (five times) than most people's porch steps.

Now the Cardinals face the Reds in a three-game series. Preparing for the series, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an article in today's online edition about Ken Griffey, Jr. Part of Hummel's story includes a vignette on the aftermath of the aborted trade of Griffey to the Padres, as recounted by Hal McCoy, the Hall of Fame sportswriter for the Dayton Daily News:
McCoy recalled Griffey being even quieter than usual, sullen and moody actually, when he reported in the spring of 2003 after the trade didn't go through.

"He was upset with (Reds general manager) Jim Bowden," said McCoy, "and for a week, he didn't speak to anybody. My wife found these little stickers that said, 'You have the right to remain silent. What you say may be misquoted and used against you.'

"I thought, 'OK, if you're going to be like this, I'm going to make you even madder.' I ripped one off and hung it on his locker. The next day, he saw it and burst out laughing. Halfway through the season, he had the saying printed on a large square and hung it above his locker in Cincinnati. It's there to this day. And ever since that day in spring training, he's been unbelievable - a changed person.

"Now, he's always the lead guy in the clubhouse cutting up. One day, he went back into the equipment room and came out with one of those police loud speakers. He turned it on and said, 'Ryan Freel, I've got it. Ryan Freel, I've got it.' Freel (an infielder) was always running into him."
Classic Griffey, combining moodiness and sensitivity with joy and playfulness. I'm glad for Griffey that the joy once again has sway in his career.

 

No Rude for Olerud

Olerud exercises his "no-trade" clause. I suppose Olerud will catch crap from some fans about this, but I have no problem with it. Olerud has a strong sense of values and priorities, and family considerations rank very highly. That was why he signed with Seattle after leaving the Mets. He negotiated for the no-trade clause in his current contract because it was important to him to stay closer to his family. I see no reason to fault John for his actions.

The Mariners, however, need to respond objectively and unsentimentally. Olerud won't be around next year, and, because of the no-trade clause, there is nothing that he will bring to the club in a trade. Accordingly, the Mariners should not hesitate to bench Olerud if it opens a playing position to assess a younger player.

Personally, I think that the Mariners and Olerud should work out a dignified and gracious retirement ceremony. Olerud announces his retirement, saying that he knows this is his last season, and given the status of the team, his retirement will allow the team to build for the future. He and the Mariners select an opportune home game for the John Olerud farewell game, and provide appropriate events and ceremonies.

I think it would be a pretty classy way for John to make his exit.

Then put him on the payroll and have him teaching plate discipline.

Added note: just to be clear, with the retirement scenario I describe, Olerud would continue to draw has salary for the remainder of this year (i.e., through the end of his contract).

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