Friday, June 30, 2006

Mr. Shapiro, I'll take those Magic Beans

Good Lord, not 48 hours passed since my last post before Bavasi pulls the trigger on EXACTLY the kind of deal I warned against making.

Bill Bavasi, you suck.

We sent fringe prospect Asdrubal Cabrera to Cleveland for fringe major-leaguer Eduardo Perez, apparently to platoon him with Carl Everett at DH. Replacing Roberto Petagine. In Perez's half-season so far, he's doing quite well (the 12-year vet RH 1b is hitting 303/343/636 in all of 104 plate appearances as the platoon partner of Ben Broussard, playing mostly against lefties)...but somewhere between that and his well-established career line of 250/327/441 is closer to what we can expect in a Mariners uniform. He's 36 years old, doesn't help the M's get better for the future, and isn't the answer to any of our weaknesses in 2006.

But, you say, we didn't surrender much value to get him, right? Yes and no. I'm not high on Cabrera as a hitter (particularly with our current middle-infield tandem apparently set for several seasons to come), but his defensive skills do have value, including more trade value than an Eduardo Perez. Moreover, the M's lack a great deal of farm depth in the first place, so Cabrera was ranked by Baseball America (who knows a little something about prospects) as Seattle's 6th best prospect coming into this season. Sure, that says more about the inept building of our minor-league system than anything else, but it's what we have to work with. (Just by way of comparison, minor-league guru John Sickels saw Cabrera as the M's THIRD best prospect as recently as 26 February.)

This is EXACTLY the wrong kind of trade to make. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Now, as a fan, I hope that Mr. Perez joins the team, continues his lefty-mashing ways, and makes a difference in the 2006 AL West. But my irrational rooting interest doesn't leave me incapable of rational analysis, and on the purely rational level, this trade is a very minor disaster. It has limited downside, to be sure, but if it's any kind of indication of what the Bavastard is preparing to do for the rest of July, then we Mariners fans are in deep deep trouble.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bill and the Beanstalk

OK, this is getting ridiculous. Sure, the AL Worst is ripe for the picking, but how on Earth can THIS Mariners team, with THIS pitching staff, possibly be as close as 2 games out of the division lead nearly halfway through the season??? Congrats, fellas.

Sure, I love it. But I'm oh-so-skeptical that we can keep it up. We don't get to feast on the NL Worst all season long...there are those pesky AL teams to play, and they will be a tougher test ( is it that we're about 2.8 light years above .500 facing the NL this season?).

Well, let's enjoy the ride. But the franchise is in a very dangerous place. After all, Bavasi's job (and Hargrove's job) is on the line, so these clowns have nothing to lose by swapping the team's future for some shot at passing Oakland and Texas, a.k.a. "magic beans." Compounding the personal temptation to make later-for-now moves, the organization surely is sensitive to the fans' collective yearning for any sort of meaningful run at a title...I have no delusions that the Powers-That-Be(TM) will do anything other than enthusiastically endorse dealing the M's meager prospects for other teams' meager major league bench players.

Look, with a longer perspective on the Mariners' history, you can't help but be skeptical of dangerous moments like the next full month holds. Once the trading deadline hits, I'll feel a little better, but July could be pretty deadly. I'm all for deals in which we give up nothing of consequence, but those trades tend to bring back bad contracts and/or nothing of consequence in return. We must be patient. The astonishing Tigers are built mostly from within, and the Mariners need to do the same, since the men pulling the levers are incapable of doing so through free agency (despite a money advantage over both Oakland AND Texas).

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The double switch

We've lost two in a row so I get to go negative right?

I don't think Hargrove really gets the double switch.

Friday night he double switches with Lopez, arguably his second or third best hitter all season, and then Beltre, arguably his hottest hitter right now. So now he is getting ABs from Bloomquist and Morse instead of just pinch hitting for his pitchers. Brilliant.

This example here gets a little convoluted so bear with me. When Grover brought in Fruto, he double switched with Lopez, who had batted last in the previous inning. This puts Willie in the game at second batting 9th. Fruto gets the last out of the 6th and pitches a 1-2-3 7th. The Willie flies out in the 8th and Fruto's spot comes on deck at the end of the inning. So he doulbe switched and moved the pitchers spot two spots down! Making it very likely that the old spot and the new spot would come up in the same inning!

Hargrove sends Everett to the on-deck circle to bat for Fruto in that inning. If Ichiro had reached, and Jurassic Carl come to bat, Hargrove's double switch would have accomplished nothing except to get Lopez AND Everett both out of the game! If he had played the inning without a double switch, he could have pinch-hit Willie for the pitcher in the nine spot, Lopez would have batted in his regular spot and Everett would have still been available for later! To make matters worse, he let Fruto pitch to two more batters and then pulled him. He took Lopez out of the game so that Fruto could pitch to two extra guys. Crazy.

Thursday he double switched Johjima and the pitcher so that Rivera could bat in the pitcher's spot. Rivera! Who is hitting a buck forty-three. He pulled the switch to get Rivera's bat into the game. I was dumbfounded. That is possibly the worst double switch of all time.

He's got Everett and Petagine to just straight pinch hit for his pitchers and yet he keeps doing double switches with no point. He's using Rivera, Morse and Bloomquist instead of guys who can actually hit. Double switches make sense when you switch for someone who's bat you won't miss later (Reed anyone?), when you were going to bring a guy in for defense anyway, or when your pitcher's spot is coming up next inning and you don't want to take him out of the game. At this point Hargrove is doing it just to do it.

And you know what? He's not even close to the worst manager ever! I suffered through the Bill Plummer Era after all.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dare we dream?

4 in a row.

7 of their last 10.

13 of their last 18.

Beltre in June: .278/.342/.556

King Felix in June: 3 wins, 2.86 ERA, 19 K's in 22 innings

11 more games against the NL West, whom we are 7-0 against so far this year.

This might get interesting.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bonds, up close

Got to take Saturday's game in, in person. It was nice to see a full house.

The Bonds Boo Birds started earlier, had more volume, and lasted longer than the pro-Barry set, but at least in my section, I think there were more cheerers than not.

I am surprised by this. Bonds is the very public face of what seems to be a very big problem in baseball. Even though he claimed it was inadvertent, he did admit, in sworn grand jury testimony, that he did use both the "clear" and the "cream." He's an admitted user.

And while we cannot know exactly how much benefit he got from illegal substances, surely he felt like he was getting a benefit, or he wouldn't have been using them. Further, his denials and non-denials are compounding the problem. For example I have much more respect for Mike Morse and Matt Lawton at this point than Ryan Franklin and Rafael Palmeiro and I don't think I'm in the minority. We would much rather hear, "Yes, I did it, I made a mistake, I'm sorry and I accept my punishment," than all the various excuses and prevarications that other guys have made. I tell my kids all the time that you only make things worse by lying about it, I think this holds true for adults as well. And ballplayers.

I'm not advocating booing Bonds, by the way. I myself, feel somewhat conflicted, because I was genuinely looking forward to seeing the man in person on Saturday. I was coming to see him basically and I think that makes me part of the problem. Chicks, and bloggers it seems, dig the longball. I was just surprised by the number of people who were up and cheering, giving him a pass, essentially, on all of the above.

Sweep, Swept, Sweep!

Talk about yer highs and lows! Three over Anaheim, Oakland roughs us up for 3, then we return the favor upon the A's Bay-mates by sweeping the Giants.

There certainly is a quality of opponent adjust to be made, but still. Does it say something about our Mariners that they have been in three straight sweeps? Are they more up and down than most teams? Is there a special something, a two-of-three gene that they lack?

I suspect not. Small sample size, random variation, call it what you wish. The M's are what they are. A generally round .500 ballclub (4 games under at this point) with a moron for a manager.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mariners Week in Review: June 5-12

Hoo-wee. That was a pretty good week. 6-1, with the Monday win against KC, 2 of 3 from the Twinks, and a sweep of the Angels in Anaheim.

The M’s offense was very good, hitting 295 and slugging 500 for the week to raise their season long numbers to .268 and .414 respectively. They are a decidedly middle of the pack offense at this point. The M's are 9th in runs scored at 315, but closer to first than last. 10th in Ops, 9th in SLG, but 11th OBP. The Angels have passed them in the last month in SBs to put them in third and their percentage has fallen off from early in the year to a middling 70%, right near or slightly below the sabermetrically accepted cut-off points for efficiency.

Ichiro was unbelievable this week, hitting 559/571/794. Two homers to go with 19 hits. Zowie. Ibanez, Yuni and Reed also had good weeks, with OPS'’ north of 1.000. The not-so-much all star for the week is Jurassic Carl, who put up a 174/240/304 . His OPS of 544 is lower than Ichiro'’s batting average for the week. Kenji, Beltre and Sexson all had tough weeks, though for AB and Sexson they weren'’t nearly as awful some of the April bad weeks.

On the pitching side, the hurlers had a 3.60 ERA for the week, 52 K’s with 23 walks. We are 6th in runs allowed at 313. The M'’s lead the AL in Ks, but are 6th in walks and 8th in Hr'’s allowed. Gil Meche had one great start and one mediocre start, Washburn had a nice start and the King is back in a major way, with 16 ip and 14 Ks for the week, 2 wins and a sparkly 1.69 ERA. Moyer was eh and Jo-el was bad. Putz and Soriano are still studs, with 9 Ks in 8 innings between them. Mateo and Woods both had a good week, Sherrill had control issues in his brief stints, and in the 12th man saga, Sean Green and his 11.57 ERA for the week were replaced by Emiliano Fruto'’s 16.20. Wouldn’t it just be awful to have another bat off the bench or a backup outfielder who is an asset defensively? Yuk. Lets keep that spot for the guys with double digit ERAs. Eddie only pitched in two games this week, not sure where we are going with him at this point.

The M's finished the week at 31 and 34 only 3 games out of first place. Winning 9 of 11 has quieted the Hargrove Death Watch, though he is no better a manager than he was two weeks ago. There is still room for optimism on the offensive side as some guys are still playing below expectations (perhaps balanced by Yuni and Lopez playing over them) and the pitching is what it is at this point. Jo-el and Meche are going to give you some bad start and some good ones, Washburn and Jamie more good than bad, and Felix has a chance to be dominant. The pen is an asset, the bench not so much. The M's are still a player in this division to be sure.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I was simply going to comment on Tad's post, but my comments turned out to be somewhat longer, so...

It's tough to get worked up about the draft just yet...although there's plenty of gloom and doom around the M's blogosphere regarding Morrow over Miller. This was universally regarded as a weak draft class, so nabbing a gem like Miller would have helped the M's immensely (IF he doesn't hurt himself....).

There's plenty of gloom and doom every day in Safeco to go around without having to wail about the future. Minor league pitchers, in the Mariners' system, have turned into pumpkins at an astonishing rate, and COUNTING on even a polished, college pitcher to come up and contribute is unwise.

What's really bad is that as a whole, if the draft class WAS weaker than usual--which to be sure the M's compounded if they skipped over a premiere talent over money--then little of this year's crop can be counted on down the road. Still, it's almost as much quantity as quality in prospecting, since the attrition rate is so high for promising minor leaguers. I DO like the fact that we went pitching-heavy (34 of the 50 picks were pitchers), but I'm not remotely enough of a prospect expert to comment meaningfully here.

Interestingly, in an insanely deep fantasy league that I play in, we held our inaugural amateur draft back in January (this year only; in the future it will coincide roughly with the June MLB draft). Andrew Miller was nabbed by a forward-thinking owner then in the 9th round (of a 40-round draft that included as eligible all MLB minor leaguers retaining rookie status). Morrow went ten rounds later. This was before the college season went down, so that says really quite good things about Morrow, as he hadn't done ANY of the things at that point that turned him into a first-round prospect.

Back to this year's really exciting big-league club....

The Draft

With their first pick the M's took Brandon Morrow, RHP from Cal. By all the local media accounts this was the guy the M's wanted. All the various scouting reports seemed to have him as the third best pitcher in the draft, a notch below Andrew Miller of UNC and Luke Hochevar, who was back in the draft after failing to sign last year.

On the one hand I am slightly disappointed. Miller was available when the M's drafted and if they didn't take him because they were afraid of how much money he wanted (supposedly he asked for 8 million from the Royals, Morrow will probably get 1/2 to 1/3 of that) that is a little bit frustrating. We know the M's have a ton of revenue, they were certainly the highest revenue team picking in the top 10, they should be the team that swoops in and steals the guys that have signability issues. They have the dough to make those kinds of picks. Whether you liked the Tuiasosopo pick or not, that's what they did there.

On the other hand, this is not the NFL or NBA draft. Its not like they just took Sam Bowie over Jordan. Even in the top 5, these guys have to catch some breaks to turn into to stars and I can certainly buy the argument that Morrow is 80% of Miller for half or less of the cost. And having never seen either one of them pitch, I am inclined to trust the organization's judgment on that.

And the outlook on Morrow? Its pretty good. He's a college pitcher with a good fastball. If things go well he could be in rotation by 2008.

We might even be good again by then.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Don't get me wrong...

I'm glad the Mariners won the last game in Texas and then dominated KC for two straight.

But it doesn't mean anything in the global scheme of things, EXCEPT that it delays the Hargrove Death Watch until the next 6 game losing streak.


On the other hand, A Beltre home run! The Two Hole is Magical!!!!!