Thursday, January 29, 2004

I'm glad that the MBSBL got San Shin back posting again. It's been very entertaining, especially his ten questions for Finnigan and Stone. And he got two answered. My favorite is definitely
Is this the worst bench in major league history? If Edgar gets injured, what abysmal hitter will replace him at DH? And seriously, will any Mariners bench players get a pinch hit all year? — Jeff, Bellingham
B. F.: No question, the bench is thin at this point. But the bench was supposed to be one of the strengths last year, and barely came into play. The most likely DH if Edgar gets hurt would be outfielder Quinton McCracken. Another option is use Scott Spiezio at DH, and have Willie Bloomquist play third base.

Yeah, Finnigan, that sounds like a great plan!?!? I thought this team wants to contend for the World Series. And oh by the way, you might want to add Sodo Oh No to you reading list.
Who do you think will be most improved this year in the Mariners rotation? — Mark C., Seattle
B. F.: The smart guess would be Ryan Franklin, if he gets more offensive help than he had last season, which is what the Mariners spent the winter trying to assemble. The longshot guess would be Freddy Garcia, going into his free-agent season.

I guess you missed John's last post comparing Franklin to Dave Fleming!.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

With a pick of Ichiro, the Safest Blog on the Web has kicked off the Mariners Blogsphere Simulated Baseball League draft. There are 10 teams competing. The draft site has the rules of the draft and you can follow along with the picks. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

This blog is now Atom enabled if you want to try read it using any alternative devices. I'm going to try it with Avantgo, I'm sure Mike will give it a whirl on his HipTop.

The Sasaki paperwork should be filed today to grant Kazu his unconditional release and then to put him on waivers. This is one case where the fact that baseball is "a gentleman's game" helps out the M's. In real business someone would claim Kaz just to put the screws to the M's.

I really don't understand the "need" to wait until all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed before trying to spend the money. It's not like Kaz had the $8 million in his pocket and it needed to be returned to the M's before they could spend it.

Popular opinion is that the M's will make a run at Pudge. While I agree with Mike that he'd be a significant upgrade at an offensive black hole on the team my endorsement goes to the USS Mariner plan to think outside the box and go after a younger player like Beltran.

Guess this pitching line from last year....

3.15 ERA 85.2 IP 69 H 13 BB 71 K 14 HR .96 WHIP

Give up?

Julio Mateo. I didn't realize just how good his year was until I looked at the numbers. He's got to get the HR numbers down but that's a darn fine year from the last guy in the bullpen.

How about this line....

3.57 ERA 212 IP 199 H 61 BB 99 K 34 HR 1.23 WHIP

Yup, it's Mr. Ryan Franklin...The extremely low K numbers and high K/BB ratio just lends credence to the idea that he should be traded as soon as we can find a team that will over value his ERA and IP.

Compare his numbers to this line from the past...

3.39 ERA 228.1 IP 225 H 60 BB 112 K 1.25 WHIP

Notice the K/BB ratio and closeness in WHIP? Want to guess who this M from the past is (Hint, These are the numbers from his first full season and he was out of baseball in 4 years).

Remember Dave Fleming anyone?

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Wheelhouse led me to this News Tribune story, M's should choose sanity, eschew Pudge and Maddux. It's kind of amazing to me that something like this could get printed. I mean how about this quote:
As tempting as it might be to have either in a Mariners uniform, it's just not necessary. Catching and pitching are not weaknesses for this team.

Well, one out of two ain't bad I guess. I don't mind if the casual fan thinks that Wilson is a good catcher. When you hear something constantly six months a year it tends to stick (e.g. "pitching and defense wins championships.") But, for a professional sportswriter to write in a article that catching is not a weakness of the Mariners is an outrage! Here is the contents of the email I just sent Mr. Beene.


Dear Mr. Beene.

I'm Mike Houser, one of the authors of the Mariners weblog Sodo Oh No ( I'm writing to pass on some information in response to your article, "M's should choose sanity, eschew Pudge and Maddux." In it you declare that catching is not a weakness of the Mariners. I did some quick research at Baseball Prospectus and here is a list of Major League catchers ranked by Value over Replacement Player (VORP) which measures relative offensive production compared to a generally available player (say from AAA).
Rank NAME            TM    AVG    OBP    SLG    VORP

1 Lopez_Javy ATL 0.328 0.378 0.687 75.9
2 Posada_Jorge NYA 0.281 0.405 0.518 56.5
3 Rodriguez_Ivan FLO 0.297 0.369 0.474 46.3
4 Kendall_Jason PIT 0.325 0.399 0.416 45.5
5 Lieberthal_Mike PHI 0.313 0.373 0.453 36.4
6 Varitek_Jason BOS 0.273 0.351 0.512 33.5
7 Pierzynski_AJ MIN 0.312 0.36 0.464 30.7
8 Hernandez_Ramon OAK 0.275 0.333 0.46 30.3
9 Myers_Greg TOR 0.307 0.374 0.502 28
10 Piazza_Mike NYN 0.286 0.377 0.483 23.4
30 Davis_Ben SEA 0.236 0.284 0.382 2
56 Borders_Pat SEA 0.143 0.2 0.214 -1.4
76 Wilson_Dan SEA 0.241 0.272 0.339 -4
(data via VORP by Position table at

Catcher is by far the weakest position on the Mariners and it's not close. Our current starting catcher is ranked 76th in the league and ranked below replacement level. A change to Pudge (ranked 3rd) would radically change the complexion of the Mariners lineup. It certainly would not solve all of the teams problems, most notably that their bench is universally unable to hit, but it would go a long way toward making the lineup more dangerous.

Mike Houser

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Ah Kaz. I can't say I'm sorry to see him go but I did enjoy his stay. Kaz was a big part of a fundamental shift in the bullpen turning from biggest weakness to possibly biggest strength. But at this point there are plenty of options to take his place.

Now that Meche and Pineiro are signed this looks to be an unremarkable spring training camp. Baring injury there will be competition for only one position, bullpen lefty. And again there will be an embarrassing wealth of pitching riches log jammed in the minors.

For hitting I'm sure that Bavasi is quite satisfied with his many moves signifying nothing. It may have helped to know about the Kaz money earlier but I doubt it. If they had a chance at all at Vlad they would have had to overpay by a large amount and I don't think that is something this organization will ever do. I don't mind the money being a trade deadline long as they use it.

I'm feeling generous tonight and thinking that Bavasi has a plan and it involves making a big splash next year when many of the current contracts come off the books.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

John Levesque continues some good writing with a piece on why the voters for the hall of fame are writers.

Art Theil writes in his best Emmitt Watson impersonation about the M's failing to make a big splash and the difference between corporate and individual ownership. Of course Art forgets that the M's aren't corporately owned, they're just run like a stuffed shirt company. Art also forgets to mention that the M's were big spenders on the free agent market this year. They just got back very little for their money. More accurately they got a lot of a little for their money. That's what happens when you approach the offseason without a plan and a backup to that plan and a backup to your backup, etc....

There have been lots of attempts at predicting the M's win total for the season. I may as well throw my hat into the ring. Based on the unbalanced schedule, the relative parity in the AL West (notice I did not say the strength of the AL West, none of the AL West teams come close to Boston and NY) and the weakness of the M's bench, I'm going to predict 81 wins, most of them by the score of 2-1 :-(

Don't forget to sign up for the Mariners Blogsphere Simulated Baseball League. It's a lot of fun to test your GM capabilities.

Friday, January 16, 2004

In the moment I've been waiting for, BP's Transaction Analysis has posted on the AL West (BP Premium link). It was as good as I was expecting:

No great disaster comes out of nowhere, without a long chain of causes acting together to spark a war, trigger a heart attack, or snuff an aging but viable team. Every historian can look back and find their own tipping points: the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the double bacon cheeseburger eaten the night of March 10th, or the Carlos Guillen trade. But as fascinating as it may be to debate whether you can actually blame the Great War on Friedrich Krupp, his sex scandal, and his resultant suicide which passed control of the arms manufacturing concern to Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, we can't unravel the farcical tapestry of world history, and unraveling Bavasi's tenure three years from now will be a comparably pointless task.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Announcing the Mariners Blogsphere Simulated Baseball League

It's the slow time of the off season and I have an idea to pass the time. We challenge all the Mariners bloggers to participate in a simulated draft league. Hopefully we and our readers will find this interesting. Here is the information:

  • The games will be played with the Diamond Mind Baseball computer simulation program using the 2003 season players. The draft will be run with a web draft application that I wrote.
  • One team per Mariners blog. Blogs with multiple authors will have to work out how to decide their draft picks. Use the contact email address from your blog when you create your team so I can tell it is really you.
  • The draft will be 25 rounds in snake order. There will be no player injuries.
  • All batters with at least 100 PA and pitchers with at lease 20 IP are available to draft.
  • After each pick the next team will be automatically notified through email.
  • After 25 rounds I will send out a form to fill out for manager profiles (starting lineups, rotation, bullpen rolls, etc.)
  • I have not decided how fast to play the games. I'm leaning toward playing a month of games over a weekend and then having the week to do profile changes and trades.
  • I will post standings and statistics after each session.
  • For the postseason I'll have the top four team play in playoff rounds. The postseason would be one game per day.
  • I'm certainly willing to listen to feedback to make this better.

    OK, so go to the draft web site and create your time. I'll give it about a week to get teams signed up and see where we are at. Enjoy!

  • Tuesday, January 13, 2004


    Ok, this is right in my wheelhouse. That's the Ichiro figure for the new MLB SportsClix game from WizKids Games. It's a collectable miniatures baseball game which pretty much means it would be more convenient if I just direct deposit my paychecks with them when the game comes out (well, half, Magic gets the other half). They just posted the rules and they look very interesting.

    I collected and played the MLB Showdown card game when it came out. This was a good but flawed game with the collecting being a problem. There were just to many cards. I don't know how many figures will be in the first set of SportsClix. Hopefully it will be more reasonable to collect.

    I've always like John Levesque as a writer. He was really good as a TV critic / reviewer for the PI (we had very similar TV tastes) and I'm glad to see his career as a sports writer moving forward. He had the guts to call Slick Rick on his interview with the 49ers and he's off to a good track applying some independent thought to the Mariners. Rather than being a crusty curmudgeon , he's apparently decided to be a thinker. We'll see how long he's allowed to continue down this path.

    Mike and I have been mostly bemoaning the M's bench strength for the past week. The starting 9 will be a little better on offense than last season but woe to the M's if any of their starters go down for any length with an injury. Oh, the horror!

    Will Vlad make the Angels the favorites in the AL West? Yeah, I think so. Bill Stoneman has shown the ability to build a good team. He'll figure out that Erstad at 1st base isn't the best solution for the halos and make a move. He's sort of backed himself into a corner signing Guillen and Vlad while already having Erstad and Anderson (it's a nice corner to be in though). Anderson is looking for a contract extension and may price himself out of Anaheim (damn, I'd love to see him patrolling the outfield for the M's next year).

    Someone at the PI forgot to give the new guy the memo. With John Levesque's column this morning it doesn't look like he's totally in the Mariners' pocket.
    Now that the Mariners have signed Raul Ibanez, Eddie Guardado, Scott Spiezio, Rich Aurilia and Quinton McCracken -- the Five Queasy Pieces -- fans are wondering if the local club has any interest in going after Arte Moreno.
    As an Expo in 2003, Guerrero batted .330 with a jaw-dropping OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.012 in an injury-shortened season.

    With Cincinnati and Oakland, Guillen, also injury plagued, hit .311 with an OPS of .870.

    With the Angels, Anderson batted .315 with an OPS of .886.

    For the sake of comparison, here are the same-category results for the trio likely to be starting the 2004 season in the Mariners outfield: Raul Ibanez, .294, .799; Randy Winn, .295, .771; Ichiro Suzuki, .312, .788. Not bad, but not nearly as powerful. (For those who find OPS more valuable with RBI numbers folded in, the new Angels outfield had 281 runs batted in last year, the Mariners 227.)

    Sunday, January 11, 2004

    Rob Neyer has just posted on Angels. Here's his thoughts on the 2004 Mariners:
    If we assume 1) the Athletics will hold steady because their offseason additions have balanced their losses, and 2) the Mariners will decline by four games because they lost Mike Cameron and two of their best players are on the wrong side of 40, then we might guess that 95 wins is the baseline figure for winning the division title.
    I know that analyzing the Mariners was not his intent for the column so he probably did not put a lot of thought into it, but I think this is a pretty good summary of the Mariners' offseason. No noteworthy additions, old team, and a crippling drop-off in outfield defense which the low-strikeout, fly-ball pitching staff is reliant on.

    Ugh! The news of Guerrero signing with the Angels has me reeling. The internal news has been bad enough but at least up to this point there has not been a lot of improvement in the rest of the West. I blew off the Angels signing Colon - they were a fluke right??? The M's have a very real chance of coming in third, and with any injuries to hitters it would be a distant third.

    Thursday, January 08, 2004

    Welcome to the blogsphere Mariner Optimist. You are indeed a nearly lone voice. We have had a lot to complain about in the Bavasi era, and I think rightly so. But I am an optimist at heart. I've been talking to my partner John today about the M's (what else) and he got me thinking about how many wins we can expect. My current prediction is 87 - which may win the division. Now, the team would have to be very lucky for this to happen. No injuries to any starting position player is an absolute must. If any of the killer bench gets significant playing time it's all over. But if they can stay healthy they should hit slightly better than last year. It won't be enough to make up for the defensive shortfall in the outfield, but it may be enough to win it. A lot depends on Oakland's remaining moves and, more importantly their moves at the trading deadline. Unlike years past I expect the M's to make deadline moves, but frankly I don't expect them to help. The Bavasi track record so far is clear.

    More on the bench of doom. I got my copy of the Bill James Handbook today and came upon the manager comparason section. Melvin was 13th out of the 14 AL teams in pinch hitter usage (74 PH's, he beat Hargrove's O's by one). As I said earlier, even he knew his bench could not hit. And this year's bench looks to be even worse. If they're not going to be used, why not just bring up some career AAA guys and pay them the minimum. The frightening thought is that they are just one injury away from becoming regulars. The team has no depth and it will be a scary year.

    Trident Fever is keeping a running total of the M's payroll. Take a look and prepare to be amazed at how little $89 million buys.

    Oooops...we're up to $92.5 million now....

    You know, I can go along with Aurilia deal to some degree. Cracking "The Safe" made some good points about the move being more than a wash, especially the performance against lefties. The problem I have is moving Guillen.

    We all know that the 2004 M's bench could be one of the worst ever - especially for a team the imagines it will contend. I haven't run any numbers yet but it seems like the starting nine will be slightly better offensively than last years (but will it make up for the defensive drop off). But, the moment you put any of the current subs into that lineup there is a huge drop off. I don't think that Melvin is a complete idiot and he is going to see that his bench stinks too. The only way to win will be to overuse the regulars and we know what will happen then. The 2002 and 2003 pattern will repeat as the team goes down the drain.

    Instead of this imagine Guillen on the bench. Now we have a guy who can pinch hit, and start anywhere in the infield. Remember Javier and MaClemore on the bench. Those guys were useful and you did not groan when you went to a game and one of them was starting. Guillen has been slowly progressing as a hitter and is entering the prime of his hitting career. That sounds like a well spent $2.5M.

    Guillen is clearly a dead man to this front office. The only baseball reason that makes sense is that he is fragile. Being on the bench could nullify this weakness. Instead it looks like we'll get some cast offs from Detroit of all places, or worse their shortstop. Like everything else this off-season it just doesn't make sense.

    Update: late.

    VORP numbers for Carlos Guillen vs what we'll potentially get in trade from the Tigers.

    Santiago_Ramon AVG = .225 OBP = .292 SLG = .284 VORP = -10.9
    Guillen_Carlos AVG = .276 OBP = .359 SLG = .394 VORP = 24.2

    For comparison numbers for replacement Rich Aurilla

    Aurilia_Rich AVG = .277 OBP = .325 SLG = .410 VORP = 25.9

    Why at a mere cost of 2.5 million aren't the M's hanging on to Guillen to be the utility infielder for this year? If one regular goes down this year the team is doomed. Slot in Willie Bloomquist or any of the other refuse on the bench and you field an offense worse than anemic. Give any regular a day off and you may as well forfeit a batting spot in the order. We may be the first team in baseball history to field a bench with negative VORP. Just (yes, YOU) could go down to pretty much any AAA team, grab a few players and field a bench better than the M's. You (yes, YOU) could do a better job than Bavasi at 1/10th the cost by randomly picking guys off an average AAA affiliate.

    I'm disgusted and I really feel sorry for Edgar.....

    Wednesday, January 07, 2004

    It's taken me a while to post here. With every move that's happen this off season I thought that at least it can't get any worse...opps! Can this really be real? Is this really less embarrassing then just cutting him?

    Cirillo -9.5 .203
    Sweeney 4.0 1.93 (9 ML innings, 4.28 in 141 innings at AAA)
    $4.775 M

    Jarvis -13.0 5.87 (That VORP is 17th worst in MLB...unreal)
    Gonzalez -2.4 .196 (VORP - Wilson: -4.0, Davis: 2.0...catcher is a disaster)
    Hansen 4.6 .261

    Wow, Hansen just became the best player on the "bench." Of course he can only play first and is left handed so he can't platoon with Olerud. I guess that we can say that the off season isn't over yet but is that really true. The roster is full. Jarvis clearly has no business being a major league pitcher, certainly not on a contending team, but unless he is cut he will take a roster spot while pitchers rot in the farm system. I can't even get excited about how bad the A's look right now since I am confident that they have a plan while the Mariners have none.

    OK, I'm going back to work on the sim league I'm running, I need to take my mind off of this mess.

    Sign the Fire Bavasi petition today !

    I listened to part of a Bob Melvin interview today where he spewed out all the corporate BS that got him hired in the first place. Box of rocks mentioned the increased flexibility of the roster this year ( it doesn't matter who you sub in, they all suck), the fact that other than Tejada the M's really didn't see much on the free agent market this year ( why did you sign so many mediocre free agents to multi million dollar contracts then?) and that none of the players received in return for Cirillo is guaranteed to be on the opening day roster ( we all know that Bavasi is going to keep at least one of them around to "show" that the trade was a "good" one.)

    I had to turn it off after 5 minutes because I was starting to long for Pinella to come back. The M's are starting to remind me more and more of the movie Office Space every day. They are one of those companies that requires everyone to wear 5 pieces of flair on their uniform to show their individuality. However the pieces of flair have to fit within the strict corporate guidelines that prevent any actual uniqueness to show through.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2004

    The USSMariner sums up my feelings on the Cirillo trade. This trade is a total PR move. It may be decent from a PR perspective but it's a bad baseball move. These guys are going to clog up the M's 24 man roster and enable the M's management to point at the $90+ million dollar figure and mouth platitudes like "Our players just aren't performing" and "We've got the Xth highest payroll in the game, we should be better".

    They just don't understand VORP and how important it is to building a winning team. You don't spend money on replacement level players and you certainly don't build a $15 million dollar bench out of below replacement level players. Combine an aging starting staff with quite possibly the worst bench ever assembled and you have a recipe for 75 wins.