Friday, February 27, 2004

Baseball Prospectus has the M's as part of today's free triple play. The BP guys come across as pretty bitter in this article. I'm sure they are trying to express sarcasm but it just reads as angry (sort of like the last Harry Potter book). Whoa...for a minute there I was channeling the Mariner Optimist.

Melvin, Melvin, Melvin.....either the great communicator is dumb like a fox in the quotes he gives the local scribes or the paralyzing brain disease that starts with Howard Lincoln is communicable. Actually I shouldn't call Lincoln dumb, lets just refer to him as a guy who either has no interest in winning or no ability to assemble an organization capable of winning. Pick the former or the latter and you still get the same results. The big question is, when (if ever) will the ordinary fan start to notice?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Box 'o Rocks = Idiot Savant?

Check out this great Musings post on Melvin's ridiculous bullpen theories. Last year I had a pretty open mind about Melvin and I don't think he did much harm, nor did he help much. The more I read about how he's going to me more active in in-game decisions, the more nervous I get. Assuming things break right for the Mariners with respect to injuries it could be a very close race...close enough that manager's decisions could make the difference, for better or worse.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

For those of you visiting Sodo Oh No for the first time because of our mention in the PI, welcome. Mike and I need to thank my wife for coming up with the catchy name.

A quick update on the MBSBL, we are well into the last few rounds of the draft. It's amazing how truly mediocre the talent is. And this is only a 10 team league with 25 players on the roster. It make me appreciate a bit more how tough it is for a GM to field quality players around the few superstars in the league. Does this mean I'll give Gilvasi a little more slack? Heck no. It's what he's paid to do and he's assembled the worst collection of supporting cast members this side of Milwaulkee with a payroll approaching $95 million dollars.

On now to the press release the M's released on Sunday under the not very clever guise of an actual sports article written by Bob (I lack the capacity for independent thought) Finnegan. In this PR piece the M's asserted the following;

1) Had they know that Tom Hicks was willing to eat $67 million of the A-rod deal they would have been "right in there".

2) Using their "unique" Mariner math ability they concluded that they offered A-rod "more" than Steinbrenner is paying A-rod to stay as a free agent in 2000.

3) It was all Scott Boras fault that Alex left because he "suggested" the M's offer him a shorter deal and A-rod was insulted that the M's were the only team to not offer him 8-10 years.

4) Assertion #1 is moot because Hicks wasn't going to trade A-rod within the division anyway and A-rod wouldn't have waived his no trade to Seattle.

5) The A-rod contract is why Texas isn't competitive.

The whole article is a perfect example of why only truly independent media sources are worth reading. It's a total corporate PR piece published under the byline of someone who pretends to be a journalist.

Let's refute all the statements in the story.

1) Isn't it the job of a baseball organization to know what is going on in the rest of the league? I knew A-rod was being dangled, I knew Hicks was open to any offer to get rid of his "perceived" albatross contract. There are only 30 clubs in MLB. How difficult is it to contact one when you know the premium player in the game is being shopped around? Reading between the lines I fully expect Hicks to sell the team before any of the more extended deferred contract money comes due. The guy was just looking for anyone to take the current money off his balance sheet. BTW, does anyone really think that the budget stickly M's would have been willing to go $16 million over their costs for this year? Even taking all the Sasaki money and applying it to A-rod would have meant taking on $8 million this year. It's not going to happen with this ownership group.

2) Alex is making $25 million a year. No matter how much funny math you apply to this, he took no pay cut to move to the Yankees for the next 4 years. Some of his deferred payments from 2007 and beyond got pushed out (which will cost him some real vs. future value money) but there is no way the M's offer in 2000 comes close to what he's making now.

3) If I'm the GM of a pro baseball team I make damn sure that my actual offers reach the player. If I'm negotiating with a once a generation player I go around the agent if I have to to get my offer put in front of him. What's the downside? Does anyone actually think Boras (or any other agent) will refuse to negotiate with a club in the future if they make the agent angry? That's not going to happen. We're down to 8-9 clubs that can make the big offers, with only 2-3 interested in any given player at any given time. No agent is going to eliminate one of those clubs from the negotiation list because of previous issues. The M's continuing to blame Boras is the pot calling the kettle black.

4) What's the point of writing the article if it's all moot and based on conjecture anyway? If I'm running the M's and want to put out the "we're trying really hard" puff piece. I actually make a run at A-rod and then get to concretely release that "We tried but A-rod wouldn't waive his no trade deal." not an article full of speculation.

5) This has been explained so many times it's not worth rehashing here. The Rangers spent money foolishly, but it wasn't the cash they spent on Alex. They had a great, young, inexpensive infield surrounding A-rod (Blalock, Teixiera, Young). If they spent their remaining $50 million wisely they should have fielded the AL West champs with a total payroll of $75 million. They didn't. Now they've capitulated to the public impression that it was the A-rod deal that was flawed and the private demands of their superstar to get out of dodge.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Well, we made the paper - no doubt thanks to John's clever name. If you're new here or to the Mariner blogsphere, welcome. Let me give you a little background.

During last season I eagerly looked forward to daily updates from the U.S.S Mariner. They provided a fresh and intelligent perspective on the Mariners that I just wasn't getting from the local papers. Let's face it, the sports media has a fairly large conflict of interest. They need to keep good relationships with the players in order to get their quotes and with the management to keep their access. You never found any articles in the paper pointing out the fact that, while Dan Wilson is certainly from all appearances a great human being, that does no change the fact that he was one of the worst catchers in the major leagues, just as an example.

I was content to just be a reader until the hiring of Bill Bavasi and the strange and bizarre off-season moves began. John and I weren't the only ones as there seemed to be a new blog everyday for a while there. The count is over 20 now and each is interesting in its own way.

I hope you enjoy you tour around the blogsphere. I'd also like to point you to Baseball Prospectus, a great general baseball site that helped me gain a much greater understanding of the game.

Have fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2004

We're still here. I'm hoping John get back from vacation soon with some good ideas for posts! I guess it's good to be busy but just keeping up with the M's blogs is tough right now.

Thanks to the Wheelhouse to leading me to the Arron's Baseball Blog post on Paul DePodesta's welcome to Dodgertown by a member of the press. A bad sportspress corps is definitely a problem, but I much rather have that than a bad organization.

I've put the AL West study on hold for a bit. I'm going to account for the A-Rod trade and then get it going.

Come back, John! :-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Octavio Dotel and Johan Santana have caused some controversy. I'll address the starter/reliever situation in this FAQ update.

Q: There are some pitchers marked as relievers but they started games in 2003. Can I use them in the starting rotation?
A: Probably. Diamond Mind has a rating for each pitcher as both a starter and a reliever. Unfortunately I did not notice this in my move this year from Strat-O-Matic. I only listed what the engine thinks is their primary role. Sorry for the confusion. I don't really have time to fix this for this go around, so if you have a question about whether a particular pitcher can start, drop me an email. For the pitchers in questions, Santana can be used as a starter, but Dotel cannot.

Q: Can I use a four man rotation?
A: No. All pitching rotations must have five pitchers. But, you can set your rotation to skip the fifth starter if off days make this possible.

Thanks to all who have been writing up some great posts on the draft, it's been very entertaining reading.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Update: A call for help...

Before anyone gets to far with this I wanted to let you know that I found exactly what I was looking for. The good folks at Baseball Primer's Transaction Oracle keep up to date roster and team lists in Diamond Mind format. I've already started the AL West power study and I'll publish the results soon.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

A call for help...

I bought Diamond Mind Baseball mainly to run draft leagues, but I also want to use it for some simulation studies. My first idea is to run an AL West power study. I want to take the four teams and set up a balanced 162 game schedule just among the AL West. I'll run it 100 times and get the average results. The problem I finding is getting time to setup realistic rosters and lineups for the four teams. I tried to start with the projected lineups from Mariner Musings but I just don't have time to get it done. So, this is a shout out for help. If anyone want to send me some projected info, I'd appreciate it. What I need for each team is:
  • 25 man roster
  • Starting lineups vs Left and Right handed starters
  • Starting rotations
  • Bullpen with projected rolls (closer, setup vs. left and right, long relief, mop up)

    If you'd like to take this on drop me a line.


  • Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Hey, I was at that game also. We were sitting down the 3rd base line, directly in front of the M's bullpen. (Remember the"bullpen" in the kingdome? Basically 2 pseudo mounds down the line complete with folding chairs for the relievers). We went to the game early to watch RJ warm up. What a site that was. This gangly 6 foot 10 inch guy, with long stringy hair letting it all air out warming up. We were about 15 feet away from him. That day is when I truly appreciated the skill required to play in the major leagues. I'm talking about anybody with the cajones to stand in against RJ and those few that manage to actually hit a ball pitched by him. Even when I rag on players like Quinton McCracken I realize that he is one of the elite few who's been able to reach the top rung in baseball. That does take talent.

    Anyway, I digress...When Big Mac connected off of RJ you could hear the crowd go completely silent and then everyone just let out collective oooooohhhhhhhhh as the ball sailed into left field where no ball ever went before. It was mammoth. There was no parabola. The ball seemed to launch directly off his bat to about 100 feet in the air where it stayed on a line until it finally hit an immovable object. Frankly I half expected the ball to explode out the back wall of the dome and continue its trajectory.

    Hey, I'm out of here for a week in the snow at Big White. I'm sure Mike will continue our drafting strategy if Jeff Shaw would ever let a player we wanted slip through to us and hopefully we'll be finished all 25 round in MBSBL when I get back. I'm also hoping that the Kings of VORP in my other league continue to get amazing starting pitching and some contribution from my 1st base platoon.

    After reading some of the blogsphere's posts I went looking around on Retrosheet. Here's the boxscore I was looking for from 1997. Me and my buddy Jason decided to go to the game that night after work. We got the cheapest tickets at the gate (this is the Kingdome) and cruised around. As the fifth inning was starting we were looking at the stuff at the deep center field souvenir stand on the concourse at the top of the lower deck. We took a seat in the top row to watch the action. It was then I saw a sight I will never forget. Mark McGwire connected on a Randy Johnson fastball. It truly was the strangest sight as the ball was coming directly at us on a line. It just kept getting bigger and bigger, not appearing to move and any other direction. The guy in front of me caught the second row from the top of the section. Just incredible. Randy went all the way in the 4-1 loss. You just never know what you'll see when you go to the ballpark.

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    The latest Transaction Analysis is up at BP:
    ...but in a disastrous winter that should have quickly reminded everyone why Bill Bavasi was an ex-GM, you have to start mistaking the silverfish for silver lining every now and again. Otherwise, you start thinking about how the Mariners are spending close to $5 million to let Dan Wilson and Ben Davis split the catching chores, and you can start to see why Kaz Sasaki decided to go home.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004

    LHP Terry Mulholland and OF Eric Owens agreed Feb. 10 to minor league contracts with the Mariners.

    Parade in October !

    Lots of questions around Villone's contract. Is it guaranteed? What are the chances for him to reach another million incentives? Just how clueless is Bill Bavasi? Is it ever a good idea to base a hiring decision on the family legacy of the candidate instead of judging his qualifications?

    BTW - If you follow the link to Paul DePodesta's article take some time and read the presentations by the other speakers. Those are some deep thinkers in that group.

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    Did everyone see Joe Sheehan's quick comments on the Angel's bullpen?
    What's scary is that Shields is probably the #5 right-hander in the Angels' pen, behind Donnelly, Troy Percival (sixth on the list above), Francisco Rodriguez and Ben Weber. That's a ridiculous bullpen, a competitive advantage that not only means that the Angels will be tough when they have a lead, but they will have the ability to stay in games in which their starter gets knocked out early. Where most teams have a soft spot in the back of the pen--one the "take and rake" approach is designed to exploit--the Angels can bring out guys like Shields and Weber to keep games close.

    Every time I consider the Angels, I like them a little bit more. That bullpen is just one big reason why.
    Ugh! My expectations just get lower and lower.

    Sunday, February 08, 2004

    Several blogs pointed me to Paul DePodesta's article for the CSFB Leadership Forum The Genesis, Implementation, and Management of New Systems. What I knew of DePodesta was based on his portrayal in Michael Lewis' Moneyball. He was discussed extensively, by the Mariners blogsphere at least, while the Mariners were searching for a General Manager to replace the departing Pat Gillick. I remember agreeing with some of conventional wisdom at the time that he would be to much in the opposite direction and did not have enough respect for the "old school" to be effective in the organization.

    After reading this article and getting a glimpse of DePodesta's intelligence and acumen, I now consider the hiring of Bill Bavasi to be a turning point moment for the Mariners. The Mariners organization has been riding a very successful run since the miraculous comeback in 1995. I truly do not believe that they will be able to maintain this success for much longer. The Mariners are an organization that is ripe for change. Imagine what would happen if DePodesta would bring his "Winning Baseball Operating System" to an organization with the financial resources of the Mariners.

    By the end of the article I was feeling an array of emotions from disappointment to envy to anger. The hiring of Bavasi without any serious consideration of Paul DePodesta is a missed opportunity that I will not be able to forget.

    Saturday, February 07, 2004

    Wow! I just finished three straight hours of catching up on the M's blogs - that's what happens when you miss a week! I haven't even got to the new entries I've heard about. I've been working on the draft leagues quite a bit and that's been cutting into my blogging time. The good news is that my server difficulties have been solved and the MBSBL is back online and should be a lot more responsive. The other good news is that I've started playing games for my work league and I've got a better feel for how the simulation works and I can pass on some information.

    For a preview of what it will look like when the games start, check out the FSBL Stats site (my team is the Bainbridge Bashers and John is the Kings of VORP...hmm, can you guess our draft strategy :-) I'm impressed so far with the variety of the simulated games. In the first few weeks there have been close games, blowouts, come from behind wins, and even ejections! Here is an example box score (I'm sure that John won't mind that I chose his team's gut-wrenching opening day loss where his bullpen coughed up a 5 run lead in the 9th :-)

    Now for some FAQs:
    Q: What about injuries?
    A: There will not be any! Draft accordingly.

    Q: How will players with limited playing time be handled?
    A: The philosophy of the simulation is that it won't hinder them because of the time that they played. This allows the simulation to be use for experiments like "what would have happened if the star player had not been injured half-way through the season." John and I put some controls in place to avoid the problem of a Joe Blow with a HR in 2 ABs being super-human over the course of a season. No player with less than 240 PAs is available. With pitchers it's harder to do but all the pitchers are rated as a starter or reliever and relief pitcher won't be allowed to start games.

    Q: Can I play a player at a position he does not have a rating for?
    A: The short answer is no. The longer answers is you can't assign a player to be a starter at an unrated position, but in the course of a game an emergency situation might arise and the computer will have to move the player there.

    Q: How much control do I have over the computer manager?
    A: After the draft I'll be having the computer generate what it thinks is a good manager profile for each team and I will send it to all the teams to modify. You control starting rotation, bullpen rolls, lineups vs. left and right starters and a bunch of manager tendencies (bunting, hit-and-run, etc.) So far I'm more impressed with the Diamond Mind manager than I was with the Strat-o-Matic one that I've used in the past. It does a good job of in-game substitutions and I haven't seen anything really stupid happened to my team.

    I want to thank Mariner Optimist and San Shin for doing some great write-ups on the draft as it has proceeded. It looks like the participants are having a good time as we struggle through waiting for Spring Training.

    I'll try to add two cents about the Mariners soon here as well.

    Friday, February 06, 2004

    Burks signs with Boston despite the M's offering him $500k more. The whole thing is beautifully describe in Mariner Musings and Sports and Bremertonians.

    The MBSBL draft continues through round 4. Mike and I picked up Richard Hidalgo and Luis Gonzalez to fill out our outfield. We both thought that drafting the highest OPS available was a better strategy than trying to fill out our infield with lesser players. We may have gotten some more VORP at 3rd base but couldn't pass up either of these two guys. I was sort of hoping that Berkman would slip down to us ( I love switch hitters with .412 OBP that can play 2 outfield positions) but that was not to be as TT took him 2 picks before us.

    How many days until pitchers and catchers report?

    Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    The Red Sox are on the cusp of signing Ellis Burks. A guaranteed $750,000 with potential to double it based on incentives. The article is here. That's a pretty good deal for top flight pinch hitter and potential DH platoon with David Ortiz. As the article mentions the Red Sox sped up their pursuit after the M's were mentioned as other possible suitors. Maybe Gillvasi is removing the rose colored glasses and taking a longer look at the anemic bench he's dealt Box. Too bad he's too late after Stairs and the rest of the low cost excellent hitters have already been gobbled up.

    A quick perusal of the remaining free agents shows John Mabry (ha), Troy O'leary (anemic), Ron Coomer (decent vs. Lefties), Andres Galarraga (another decent left handed pitcher crusher) and Fred Mcgriff ( a righty crusher).

    Most of these guys are either too old and hence expensive or too bad. Another case of being too late to the party.

    San Shin drafted Melvin Mora right out from under Mike and I. Hence we were forced to draft the proverbial "best player available" by picking super ace Curt Schilling. Hey, I'm always happy drafting a member of the Red Sox.

    The Mariners blogverse has been foaming at the mouth over the prospects of Magglio or Carlos becoming available. I tend to think today's article in the Times really reflects the M's thinking at this time. They're too chicken to risk a big trade so they're going to wait and see what happens with the Royals and White Sox over the first 1/2 of the season. If either of them fall behind (tough to do in the anemic AL Central) the M's will make an offer for one of their pending free agents at that time.

    There are a lot of flaws with this approach.

    1) The M's may be well out of the race by July. One injury to the starting 9 and this is inevitable.
    2) Both the Royals and White Sox may be contending in July. Just look at the Twins last year to see how bad you can be in the first 1/2 of the season and still win the division.
    3) The other big boys, their hunger currently satiated, will be back on the prowl by mid year.
    4) M's ownership calculates how much they would make by putting the $9.5 million into treasury bonds.

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    The mighty Patriots win their 2nd Super Bowl in 3 years. I moved away from Massachusetts only 13.5 short years ago and now they decide to get good :-) What's next, the Red Sox winning the World Series?

    Frankly there isn't much to report on in these dark and dull February days. The M's brass probably have the unexpected Kaz money whittled down to $1.49 that they are free to spend. Bavasi has probably convinced himself that Dan Wilson is better than Pudge (as one incredible idiot wrote into the Times, published on Sunday 2/1). Lincoln probably watched the Patriots and used them as proof that a team of no superstars is superior to having 9 Barry Bonds on your squad. Bob Finnigan continues to prove that you can be a paid writer and have absolutely no knowledge of the subject matter you write about.

    The MBSBL draft continues after Mike recovered from a server crash. We've crawled through 17 picks in 5 days. Mike and I snagged A-rod with pick #5 (hoping that somehow Bonds dropped into our laps, alas he was taken with the 4th pick) and continued with our strength up the middle strategy with Jim Edmonds in the #16 slot. It's pretty apparent that we have a classic mix of "pitching and defense" GMs and sabermetric GMs.

    M's should be concentrating on Maglio Ordonez and/or Carlos Beltran but I have a sinking feeling that Bavasi is all tied up reading the manual for his new electric pencil sharpener.

    "Bill, it's a pencil sharpener. Pens don't need to be sharpened." said Bill's exasperated administrative assistant.