|Cracking "The Safe": The Seattle Mariners|
|~ Everything to do with the Seattle Mariners ~|
Monday, June 12, 2006
Some guys are destined to be relievers. Maybe their fastball and changeup are lights out, but their curveball is out of the park. Maybe their control takes a vacation from time to time. For these men, the seventh, eigth, and ninth innings are their chance to go toe to toe with baseball royalty and play the hero or the goat. Relievers, by this rationale, must be forgiven for their unbridled enthusiasm when closing out the bottom of the seventh with a nasty slider that leaves the opposing hitter floundering.
Then there are talents like Felix Hernandez. His struggles this season have been well documented. His fastball has strayed. His command has wandered. He has missed target after target. But Felix has also shown enough poise to do what the great ones do in times of distress. They buckle down.
Consider that today a 20 year old kept the Angels hitless for 5 innings after surrendering a run in the first. The scary scenario for Mariner opponents is that Felix Hernandez gets BETTER as the game goes on. The book on him now reads, "get to him in the first couple of innings or you are in BIG trouble". The King is learning what has kept Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and countless others successful through the years. You have to adapt. Fastball not treating you so well? Throw the deuce. Mix it up. Throw away the script. Pitch off instinct not charts. Hitters read those too.
This season hitters are lighting up Felix in his first 15 pitches. They are hitting .487, have an on-base percentage of .571, and an OPS of 1.200. In the next 15 pitches, those numbers get cut in half. By the time Felix gets between pitches 76-105 (where he likely gets taken out to avoid being overworked) opponenents can only muster a .183 BA, a .274 on-base percentage, and a .547 OPS.
Ladies and gentleman, don't worry, The King is just fine.
Out of hiatus, I'm back to the blogging.
I've been following the M's closely this season and it's been really hard not to chime in the good, bad, and ugly.
After last nights game, I had a couple of observations. Gil Meche held a good hitting Angels team in check despite horrible command of his fastball. Sound familiar? It should, Mariner starters have all had their bouts with "fastballitis". But even though Gil Meche has been consistently inconsistent throughout his career, his secondary offerings (mostly changeup, curveball, occasionally slider) are good enough to compensate for a rough fastball. And he managed to get off the hook against the Halos despite a miserable groundball to flyball ratio. That's right, two groundball outs, THIRTEEN flyball outs.
More alarmingly, the case can be made that Gil Meche psychologically pitches himself out of games OUTSIDE the friendly confines of Safeco Field. This year, batters are hitting a paltry .206 in Meche's six starts at The Safe. In 40 innings, he has yielded 29 hits, 3 HRs, walked 13, and struckout 42. All that with an ERA of 2.70.
On the road, we get to see FrankenMeche. In seven starts, Meche has ripped to the tune of a .322 BA. He has only managed 37.2 innings, but given up 48 hits, walked 24, and struckout only 20. His road ERA? 6.38.
His three year splits support the idea that he is better at home than away. But not this much better. The law of averages says that Gil will pitch better on the road for the rest of the season and his home numbers should get worse. But Meche's worst starts this year have come on the road and against Cleveland, Boston, and Texas, all teams that can mash with the best of them.
Here's to hoping that Meche can continue to improve his command and challenge hitters with his plus arsenal. The guy obviously has talent, and maybe this is the year he becomes less of a headcase.
On a seperate note, Bavasi made some remarks concerning Jeremy Reed before yesterday's game that should spark some interest. He basically said that the time has come for Reed to produce or his time in Seattle is over. He mentioned the platoon situation with Bloomquist as something that they like. Reed will probably be another Seattle cast-off that has a great career elsewhere so hopefully we can get something of value for him.
One quick note that I hadn't seen mentioned elsewhere about Snelling's injury (sorry if somebody else already mentioned this) was that:
A Mariners spokesperson said the surgery went well and Snelling, who previously broke the hamate bone which never completely healed, could be sidelined for about six weeks.
So really, this isn't a new injury at all. Just like Snelling suffered a reaccurance of his knee injury, he reinjured his hand. Certainly, Snelling's style of balls to the wall play has been harsh on his body, but this injury is old news.
I couldn't pass up this lovely nugget from Baseball Prospectus' glossary of statistical terms....
The Ugueto Effect is name given to the phenomenon in which very poor players are associated with very high Breakout scores. It is far easier for a player like Luis Ugueto, who would produce about 40 EQR over a full season, to improve upon that figure by 20% than it is for Alex Rodriguez; as a result, his Breakout score is likely to be higher. This does not mean that Ugueto is a player you'd want anywhere near your roster.
This makes a lovely addition to the Mendoza Line made famous by former Mariner Mario Mendoza. All we need now if the Cirillo Quagmire, the problem created by having a black hole at third base for two seasons.
There is this dream I can't shake, it goes something like this.
All the Major League owners are sitting in a large conference room around a giant marble conference table. Marble? Maybe oak. Oak is more like it.
Bug Selig is MC'ing the whole shindig in a cheap suit that he bought from George Zimmer, smiling his slippery smile. Each owner scribble their team's name on a coaster from Hooters and tosses them into a giant Cubs hat, the same hat Steve Bartman was wearing that fateful night in Chi-Town.
Just like drawing straws, each owner draws a name from the size 50 hat, and discovers the identity of his new team in silence. All except for one, good ol' Georgie Steinbrenner. You see, George isn't so happy about his pick. He is already flashing his money clip at Arte Moreno even though Moreno now holds the Devil Rays. But Moreno is biting, he likes Lou Piniella and himself dreams of Rocco Bobblehead Nights for years to come. John Henry is all smiles because he gets a six-picture deal in LA (word on the streets is that Michael Douglas will reprise his famous Gordon Gecko role for a new film about a spoiled owner who hires a no-good, lousy, cheat to throw money at helpless ballplayers).
Georgie is pissed because he drew Seattle. Outside of the confines of his lucrative TV market, Steinbrenner fears that he won't have a snowballs chance in hell to win the World Series. Rather than face shame, Steinbrenner opts out and sells his share to Howard Schultz who promptly renames the team The Seattle Decaf Double Tall Nonfat Extra Foamy Cappucinos.
Tell me, what does it all mean?
Crack open a sixer and head on over to Olympia Mariner. Welcome, Welcome, drinks are on you guys!
While Bob Melvin sounds very optimistic that Soriano will be ready for Opening Day, I am not holding my breath. It took Dan Wilson longer to return than was originally expected after he suffered a similar injury last year.
The clearest beneficiary of this bad news would be anyone with a right arm, who talents preferably lie in the realm of shutting down two to three batters at a time. To all the Aaron Loopers and Rett Johnsons of the world, this has to be the best news in a long while. The Mariners have a ridiculous back-stock of right-handed relievers. We gave away Allan Simpson to the Rockies rather than lose him in a garage sale. The point is that Soriano figures to play a HUGE role in the pen this year, but other guys will get a better chance to shine and prove themselves.
John Olerud seems to think that the onus is squarely on his shoulders to rebound from a poor 2003 campaign and help be the bat that the M's need. He's partly right, and while there were moments last year that I felt it was time for Johnny O to hang up the spikes, one glimpse of his sweet swing in a batting cage this week squelched that thought. Nobody takes a more professional approach to the game than Olerud and I expect better things from him this year. I'm rooting for you John.
One thing is very certain, this team bears very little resemblance to its 2003 predecessor.
I love Grand Salami, no matter what they say about me! =)
Here is the an early version of the new template....hope your eyes enjoy.
I haven't dropped off the face of the planet, so don't stop checking back in. VERY soon I will start a new series of posts revolving around Spring Training.
Also keep an eye out for a whole new look to this blog....
Extreme Kudos to the St. Louis Cardinals for locking up Albert Pujols for the next 7 season for $100 million.
This is a great signing because:
A. Pujols is obviously one of the games rising stars. If not for Barry, he is the reigning MVP. With this deal, St. Louis has locked him up from age 24-31, all of his prime years.
B. This sets the price infostructure for any big deals that get signed next offseason. A-Rod and Manny's deals will be the last of their kind for a long time. Next offseason, players like Carlos Delgado and Eric Chavez will not command more than the deals signed by Vlad, Tejada, and now Pujols. That puts the maximum dollar figure per year in the $12-14 million range. The downward trend in salaries should at least hypothetically make the M's players in next seasons Free Agents bidding.
Pitchers and Catchers Report Soon.....
Which means that I will have something other than the Mariners Blogosphere Simulated Baseball League to write about.
Listening to Groz and Gas on 950 KJR this afternoon reminded me that February is the most boring month of the year for a sports fan. Is anybody excited about who gets a minor league invitation to try out for a major league team in Spring Training? What about those Sonics? No? I didn't think so.
The aforementioned MBSBL draft continues at its lovely pace of about a round every day. If so, we still have two weeks to go. The commentary is plentiful but I should point out that now that the obvious "big names" are off the board, we get to see some rather strange picks.
For instance, The Mariner Optimist has yet to pick a starting pitcher through Round 9. IN stark contrast, MarinersWeekly made Carlos Zambrano their 9th Round selection, giving them FOUR top notch starters (Zambrano, Pedro, Oswalt, and Vasquez), but they have yet to obtain anyone for C, 2B, 3B, SS, and CF. I would love to have their pitching staff, but I shudder to think who they will be running up to the plate.
Fire Bavasi made the best, and worst picks simultaneously. Picking Chipper Jones to end the 9th Round was a clear steal, but in a strange twist, he made a move that could ironically be called "Bavasi-esque" (sorry, I couldn't resist), and picked Craig Wilson with the first pick of the 10th Round. Craig Wilson? He has nice splits against LHP granted, and some positional flexibility, but FireBavasi already used a 7th Rounder on Jason Varitek. Do you really want to use a 7th Round pick on a platoon candidate? These moves are head scratchers for me, but Craig Wilson indeed looks to be the first bench player selected.
The Mariner Optimist thinks my selection of Richie Sexson is odd. Surely I would take the best 2nd baseman available right? Well, my answer is that Jeff Kent (at least the 2003 version) is incredibly overrated.
Outside of Boone, Giles, Soriano, and Vidro, I didn't think that any second baseman warranted a high pick.
Jeff Kent posted a nice .860 OPS, sure, but his EQA last year was .284. Compare that with the the other four guys I mentioned and the dropoff is a trend.
Boone: .311 EQA
Giles: .310 EQA
Soriano: 296 EQA
Vidro: .291 EQA
Kent had enough question marks attached to make me take a pass. Sexson was just too good to pass up. He will make much more of an impact on my lineup. I actually plan on playing him at 1B were he has more range than Delgado. I'm avoiding platoons wherever possible. I'll take the 2002 Kent anyday, but not the 2003 Kent.
Gabe over at the "well worth your reading time" The Safe has my team ranked third out of 10 through 6 rounds. He likes my "underappreciated" stategy as well. He was a little baffled by my pick of Reggie Sanders though.
Well Gabe, quite simply, Reggie Sanders was the best RF prospect left. He mashes LHP to the tune of a 1.015 OPS. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough RH hitters so I took Sanders over Bobby Abreu.
Here's a better sneek peek at the splits of my team thus far:
Key: Versus LHP and Versus RHP
Carlos Delgado: .284/.395/.475/.870 .310/.439/.649/1.088
Edgar Renteria: .391/.503/.670/1.173 .316/.364/.434/.798
Garret Anderson: .310/.329/.504/.833 .318/.353/.562/.915
Aubrey Huff: .318/.353/.477/.830 .308/.374/.596/.970
Reggie Sanders: .301/.368/.647/1.015 .278/.335/.533/.868
Milton Bradley: .402/.500/.634/1.143 .287/.387/.445/.832
Richie Sexson: .279/.448/.557/1.005 .271/.359 /.545/.904
Balanced splits are the name of my game.
Taking a cue from The Mariner Optimist, I thought I might give my own predictions for what each team in the MBSBL Draft will pick. In a sense, I will be donning the "Draft Guru" hat.
Here we go:
- Sodo Oh No just took Jeff Kent who I would have selected with my next pick. All the impact 2B are now off the board. Half the teams will now turn to secondary options to fill this spot.
San Shin: Jeff Bagwell - This team needs a first baseman and would have snagged Sexson if I had let him slide. Bagwell isn't far behind on the numbers. Jeff might gamble that Bagwell or Derek Lee will slide back to him in the next round, but by my tally, The Safe needs a firstbagger and has two picks before Jeff is up again. I wouldn't bet that Bagwell slides and he is the better pick.
WTHH: Chipper Jones: OK, so defensively he stinks according to Diamond Mind. But Chipper is the only outfielder left with a .900 or better OPS. He posted an awesome .402 OBP as well. WTTH has many positional needs, but Chipper is the best player on the board to fill one of those needs.
116: Andruw Jones: Jones plays Gold Glove centerfield. Defensively, nobody else on the board can touch him. Other options like Preston Wilson and Jay Payton should be avoided due to the obvious park inflation of their stats.
The Safe: Derek Lee: The Safe should take Derek Lee. Lee is a great fielder, has nice power, can steal bases, and sports a nice OBP. After Lee, the pickins are slim.
The Safe: Carl Everett: The best option left in the OF actually hit better in the second half of 2003. He can play any of the outfield spots and is a switch hitter.
116: Barry Zito: Zito would complement Beckett nicely and give the 116'ers a nice 1-2 punch in the rotation. Zito is a great pick here.
WTTH: Bobby Abreu: Abreu slid this far, he shouldn't last through the 9th round. His EQA for 2003 was very nice. Abreu doesn't do any one thing amazingly, he does each thing well. Very well. How can you complain about a .300 hitting, 20 base stealing, .409 OBP pulling guy? You can't. Larry Walker is another option but the dreaded Coors effect might hurt Walker enough to make that pick risky. But WTTH did take Todd Helton first so maybe that reasoning doesn't scare him....
San Shin: Jeff could go any number of directions but I think he will go back to pitching here and take a strong look at Roger Clemens. If not, there are always a number of top closers left. Mariano Rivera would make a nice addition here. The more I think about it, Rivera sounds like a good bet.
Sodo Oh No: Edgar Martinez: The Sodo boys bring the best DH in baseball home and solidify a fierce lineup of hitters. Gar drives in runs with the best of 'em. Oh No is what opposing pitchers will say to this pick...
Cracking The Safe: I've got needs to address and many directions to go. A lot of the aforementioned players would be good in consideration if they slide. Which way I go depends entirely on those picks.... We'll see what happens.
Fantasy Drafting is so much fun because it puts the average joe in a GM's shoes for a day. Agonizing hard over these picks should give some people pause before they criticize GMs to harshly.