Thursday, April 29, 2004

This team is horrible. I am a proud member of the pessimist blogging nation. I thought they would be bad this year. I never thought that the 2004 Mariners would be as bad as this. This team is colossally bad. Pitching, hitting, defense...all bad. Bang your head against a brick wall bad. Even before the O's series Mike calculated the team would have to play over .650 ball in order to win 90 games. That just isn't going to happen. Twenty two games into the season and I'm ready to throw in the towel. It's been over 10 years since I felt that way about this team.

Friday, April 23, 2004

For those of you fortunate to have both Comcast, digital cable and HDTV sets. Here is the lineup for this years HDTV Mariner games broadcast on Comcast channel 100. It's an interesting mix of getting the HDTV feed from a station broadcasting back to Japan and the local audio from guys looking at the standard def feed on their monitors. Hence the audio commentary will often not reflect what the viewer is seeing. The high def picture is fantastic. Frankly I anxiously await the day when all feeds are in high def, particularly for sporting events. It's truly a shame that Cox and Comcast haven't been able to reach an agreement in carrying the KIRO HDTV feed over cable in the Seattle area.

It's amazing that the schedule only shows 2 games against teams in our division.

Friday, May 7: New York Yankees at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 8: New York Yankees at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 9: New York Yankees at Mariners 1:00 p.m.
Friday, June 11: Montreal Expos at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 12: Montreal Expos at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 13: Montreal Expos at Mariners 1:00 p.m.
Friday, June 25: San Diego Padres at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 26: San Diego Padres at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 27: San Diego Padres at Mariners 1:00 p.m.
Friday, July 16: Cleveland Indians at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 17: Cleveland Indians at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 18: Cleveland Indians at Mariners 1:00 p.m.
Monday, July 19: Boston Red Sox at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Friday, July 23: Anaheim Angels at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 24: Anaheim Angels at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 13: New York Yankees at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 15: New York Yankees at Mariners 1:00 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10: Boston Red Sox at Mariners 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 12: Boston Red Sox at Mariners 1:00 p.m.

[ Thu Apr 22, 05:07:21 PM | John Metzger | edit ]
Melvin holds Guardado out of last night's tie ball game in the 9th inning only to use him today in an 8-2 blowout? That's an amazing display of baseball intellect. After watching the past 2 games I truly recognize how important the winning the first two games of this series were. The M's could have easily been swept by Oakland and could currently be sitting at 4-12 after today. How important do those Ibanez blasts look now in retrospect?

I'm getting really close to pushing the panic button on the M's offense (or lack thereof). I see Boone got a day off to think about settling down and not trying to win every game in every at bat. Edgar's OPS is .780, Ichiro's OBP is .324, Aurilia's is .305, Olerud hasn't rebounded and the bench (save Hansen) is as bad as predicted. Starting Cabrera and Bloomquist in a single game is horrible but when you combine them with Aurilia and Wilson the team gives up 4 outs for 9 players. We've only scored 63 runs while giving up 79. That's as telling an indicator as a 6-10 record.

If I was the GM I'd be pounding the phones now. Strike during the post spring training lull and before the mid summer trade action starts. The M's continue to do nothing with their backlog of AAA pitching talent. Time to start playing with the cards you have in your deck. Take on salary or start rebuilding but stop trotting out this team of mediocrity each night.

Leftover post from Sunday's game that both Mike and I went to with respective family groups. He, being a much braver soul than I, brought his daughter, a friend and his 15 month old over on the ferry. I brought my soon to be 12 year old daughter.


It’s 12:20 and we’re on the ferry! We won't make first pitch but I'm happy I'm here at all. I really started to have second thoughts last night about taking the baby. It's a good thing I started this topic or I might have chickened out.

We made it to the stadium and we’re standing to watch Ichiro hit. Looks like a great day - and Ichiro punches up the middle for a single!

Well, we're supposed to be in the first row in the left field bleachers but the folks up there are spread out pretty good and I don't feel like fighting wedge us in. We'll just walk for now. The kids are starting their sugar frenzy the Dippin’ Dots. Tough second for Joel. So what's the problem this year? I haven't watching closely enough to see if there anything obvious wrong with his mechanics. He's just having a hard time getting outs. Ah, Enter Sandman for Sand Frog...very clever.

Third inning. Are you kidding me? My first game and it's a Willie start! Hey, I thought this was a MAJOR League baseball game...OK, I guess I'll take the single :-)

Oh my, Ichiro's OPS must be about 650. .315 OBP with 2 doubles...ack look at Winn's .300 OBP with 5 doubles. Is his OPS even .600? What a top of the order!

Whoa, look at Nix. .400 OBP with power – and batting seventh. It's not looking to good for Joel with another walk. We took a seat in the top row of 147 down the first base line. I like these seats since there's usually not many people around. I'm getting more and more like my Dad as I get older. He just could not handle full stadiums. The worst thing was that he started planning our exit strategy pretty much as soon as we got there. We would drive two hours to see a game in Baltimore (Memorial Stadium) and he'd want to leave in the seventh to "beat the traffic." I've already told my daughter to just start making fun of me if I ever do that to her. Wow, three quick outs for Joel and now the M's have some real hitters coming up. Uh, so much for that with a Boone first pitch double-play.


Yesterday I parked farther away from the stadium than I ever did, brought in my own food, bought no souvenirs and 1 drink.

Do you think the M's even bother to see if lowering prices would bring in more revenue? I don't think they are smart enough to try it. The North Seahawks stadium lot used to charge $10 to park for M's games and the lot was always around 3/4 full about 10 minutes before game time on Sundays. Last year they went up to $15. Walking through the lot yesterday (no, we didn't park there) my 12 year old daughter, who attends with me 2 or 3 times a year noticed that the lot was barely 1/4 full. We then had a nice discussion on microeconomics and the laws of supply and demand. She quickly understood that there is no way this lot makes the money it used to make and the business wasn't running at anything close to maximizing it's revenue.

I also took some perverse pleasure in seeing the most sparsely attended 35,000 person crowd (announced) that I've ever seen. My guess was around 27 - 28k in actual attendance.

I did enjoy the pop up Ben & Jerry's segment on the score board. I also enjoyed Spezio contributing more offense in 2 days than Cirillo did in 2 years.

Other things I noticed...

Randy Winn has a limp noodle that rivals Bernie Williams attached to his shoulder.
John Olerud will earn his keep just scooping up wayward throws from SS and 3rd this year.
Spezio will field 3rd just fine. He'll make all the plays he should make. He won't be Greg Nettles.
Bloomquist is not adequate for a backup SS. Even to spell Aurilla occasionally.
Ben Davis now has at least an OBP, even if his average is still .000
Texas has a lot of hitters that can rake, and they are patient.
Joel needs to find the plate if he's going to take it to the next level. 110 pitches in 6&2/3rd, only 68 strikes. At the end of the 3rd he had as many balls as strikes thrown.
Ryan Drese has a nice compact wind up and delivery.
Winn should not be batting 2nd.
Boone is still a joy to watch in the field.
Michael Young is a heck of a SS, especially and a second baseman playing out of position.
Alphonso Soriano still swings at any breaking ball in the dirt once you get ahead in the count.

It was good seeing you at the game...and good seeing two homeruns in an inning!

And Sand Frog provides an insurance run with another homer. Wow, we have to go to games more often! They just about doubled their season homer output in one inning!

And we made it to the end of the game! My kids were good and we had a good time.

Katie was very happy that the M's won. She and her sisters have running commentary over the course of the season as to who is a good luck charm and who is a bad luck one. Life is much easier on Dad when all the kids are good luck charms. After watching the first 2 weeks of the season I don't think life is going to be easy for Dad this year :-)

Even after a win the walk back to the car is a lot longer than the walk to the stadium.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wow, did I need that half inning! I just came in from umpiring a Minors softball game. I'm a coach of my daughter's Majors team the Storm and I got volunteered to work a Minors game as they are short on umpires. There's just nothing like to feeling of striking out an eight-year-old girl and having her look back at me in disbelief. So, I could use some cheering up and Dave Hansen provided that joy with an amazing pinch-hit three run homer off Hudson. Let's go for five in a row!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I'm tired. A 14 inning game does that to you. The funniest thing was when my wife came into the family room at around 9:30, took a look at the time and the inning and said "This is a fast game". Two and a half hours later I groggily switched off the set in the bedroom (having moved there after inning 10).

Eighteen baserunners and only 2 runs last night and there is only 2 at bats that I was upset about. At bat #1 was Dan "red hot" Wilson coming to the plate in the bottom of the 9th against Jim Mecir. Mecir had previously hit Spezio with a pitch, gave up a single to Aurilia and then walked Ibanez. He had thrown 31 pitches and only 9 strikes to 3 batters. What does Wilson do? First pitch hacking at a ball way too low and away. It was out of the strike zone and it had wicked downward movement. The only thing Wilson could do with that pitch is hit a lazy ground ball. Even before he came to bat I said to TLMM (the lovely Mrs. Metzger) "I'll be really upset if Dan swings at the first pitch".

The second upsetting at bat was in the 12th inning. Ichiro leads off with a single and then Winn sacrifices. I understand Melvin's managing to the book but I would have preferred to give Ichiro a few pitches to see if he could steal 2nd. Duchscherer is a righty with a slow move to the plate and not a good pickoff move (as seen later). Melhuse was behind the plate and his preliminary stats don't show a great caught stealing %. At that point in the game I'd risk Ichiro stealing 2nd, having Winn sacrifice him to 3rd then and then see what happens.

Hey, a win is a win and I'll gladly take 3 in a row. The good news is that everyone other than Dan had really good at bats in extra innings. There were several shots that were either ripped foul or right at people. Most of the batters showed very good patience, laying off balls they could not hit and anything out of the zone. Freddy pitched well, the bullpen did well getting out of jams and even Jarvis found a nut. Why did Bob bring Jarvis into a tie game in extra innings ahead of Villone?

Saturday, April 17, 2004

I'm really getting tired of listening to Rizzzzzzs, Valle and Hendu apologize for the M's on air. Last night I listened to several innings of Rizzs and Valle wax poetically on Chan Ho Park. Some great quotes for the evening....

"This isn't the same pitcher who started the first two games of the season"
(ed: Yes it is, he's exactly the same pitcher, the only difference is that the A's and Angels can actually hit)

"Park has gained 4 to 5 miles an hour on his fastball from last season"
(ed: This was presented with exactly zero evidence, of course this is because it isn't true)

"Park really has that back door slider working tonight"
(ed: The truth is that Park was throwing a series of breaking balls that never broke. They were hangers that the M's never pulled the trigger on. The M's hitting is much worse than I thought entering the season)

I understand the announcers are employed by the team but it doesn't mean I have to like listening to them fall all over themselves praising a 2-8 team lose to a pitcher with a 6+ ERA that can barely find the plate.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I've got my MLB Estimated Win Shares report back up and going. I'm using the simple formulas from the first chapter of James' Win Shares and they are certainly not perfect. I like the report though because I can get a quick thumbnail of all the players on one page. Let me know what you think.

By the way, I'm curious, did anyone out there read the Seattle Mariners Fact and Stats page I used to have going. I started this page in 1995, continued in 1996 and 1997 and then brought it back for 2001. At the time there was not nearly the statistical resources available today. Note my invention of "Loss Shares" on the 2001 page, before James came out with Win Shares.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Latest John & Mike discussion......


Let's assume that this years Mariners finish the same as last year with 90 some odd wins and out of the playoffs. Which team would you enjoy watching more, the 2003 or 2004 M's?

Myself, I prefer to watch the crisper defensive version of the M's. I'll live through the momentary pain of a Cirillo at bat or a frustrating Cameron strikeout when all he needed to do was make contact or a FrankenFreddy start in order to watch every ball hit into the outfield tracked down or an infield defense that committed hardly any errors (physical or mental). I guess I'd rather see the highest highs and live with the lower lows than watch a team that is totally mediocre across the board.

I felt the same way watching the M's in the early 90's. I would stop what I was doing to make sure I caught every Griffey at bat because he was something extraordinary. I looked forward to days when The Big Unit pitched because something amazing could happen. The team as a whole was good, not great, but they held my attention a heck of a lot better than the current M's do. Even the "gold standard" team of 2001 with 116 wins had a lot of really good on it and a couple of really greats (Boone & Ichiro).

Several pundits are predicting the M's and Angels will end up with around the same record. Which team would you rather watch? A team with Vlad, Guillen and Colon balanced out with Eckstein and Erstad or a team of Winn, Aurilla, Ibanez?

Is the joy of watching Barrry Bonds play worth it if he's surrounded by Neifi Perez, Michael Tucker and Edguardo Alphonzo?


Well, this team has been quite ugly to watch in the opening going. I'm having a hard time getting excited about it - it really is bland. We talked about how the starting lineup would be improved, but my goodness, there is just no power and I don't see where it's ever going to come from. Spezio is certainly not going to solve that problem.

I want a winning team and I don't really care how they do that, but if the team is going to lose, I'd certainly want there to be a special player or two to watch. Am I the only one that has lost the fascination with Ichiro? I mean running out those singles and staying out of double plays is nice, but he's our franchise player and it doesn't look like the 2001 Ichiro is going to be showing up again.

This off season has just killed me. Last year was the "let's sign our own players" off season - it is was kind of OK. Yes they had a fade, but they almost made it and with the pitching and amazing defense we seemed to be always in the game. Now, with two years of fades, they made changes - but it looks like for change sake. The simply had to get one of Tejada or Guerrero and should have gone for both - how about at the expense of Ichiro. And I don't want to hear about mortgaging the future. Does any team have more of a sweetheart deal with it's stadium and revenue?

If my initial sabermetric education (thanks Rob Neyer, BP and USS Mariner) led me astray anywhere it was in undervaluing defense. The Mariners historic defense has collapsed and there is no sign that the offensive changes will come close to making up for it. I guess the Mariner Optimist is right - I am a pessimist. Of course I'm rooting for the team to win, but I'm going to have a hard time hanging in with the bad times when they were so clearly of the teams own making.


So to summarize....On a good playoff bound team, we don't care what they look like, if you're going to field mediocrity at least give us something extraordinary to watch over the course of the game.

I just came across this "baseblog" article on Slate:
Like the political blogosphere, the same sites—Redbird Nation (St. Louis Cardinals), the Big Red C (Chicago Cubs), and U.S.S. Mariner (Seattle Mariners)—show up in blog roll after blog roll. But no matter which team you root for, even if it's the Milwaukee Brewers or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, there's a beat blogger working hard to keep you up to date.
It's great to see U.S.S.M mentioned in a national article. I've been doing a lot more reading than writing lately and I'm trying to change it, but the M's bloggers are doing a great job of keeping me up to date.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Interesting article here on franchise value and revenue. The M's are now worth an estimated $396 million dollars as a franchise (5th) and bring in $169 million a year in revenue (3rd). Not a bad ROI for the initial investors is it?

What I find particularly interesting is the Yankee revenue ($238 million / year) compared to their $183 million dollar payroll. George really has it figured out. Continue to invest in the product and your franchise value will continue to increase ( $832 million ). You don't try and run a baseball team as a positive cash flow. M's ownership has chosen to pull cash out of the team to repay their "losses" during the Kingdome years. The minority partners in the M's purchase put up $20 million of the initial $120 million purchase cost, roughly 17% of the initial cost. That 17% is now worth over $67 million, an increase of 336% in 12 years giving a yearly ROI of 12%. Not too bad given the stock market performance over the same time frame.

Of course it really helps if you run the franchise intelligently as the M's did from 1994 - 2002 as opposed to how they appear to be running it now.

After the opening series I'd rather talk finances then on field performance. Every weakness noted in the off season of blogging was exposed in the opening series. The good thing is that baseball is a marathon instead of a sprint and the M's have the resources to correct their weaknesses in transit. The bad news is that we have is Captain Sawyer of the HMS Renown at the helm.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Color me confused on the blackout strategy imposed by today. According to the schedule every game today is blacked out due to national broadcast restrictions. According to the schedule there are 7 simultaneous games going on and I can't see any of them unless I'm sitting in front of a TV. I don't get it. The feed is exactly what the network shows including commercials. What revenue are they possibly losing if they chose not to black out games across the country?

I guess being a techie I simply don't understand the mind of marketing. For example take a look at this interview in Hardball Times with the brilliant head of Victory Network which owns Twins games. This business decision by the Twins amazes me. It appears to equal the "negotiations" between Cox and Comcast on allowing our local cable company to carry the CBS HDTV feed in its stupidity. The inability to reach mutually acceptable negotiations between giant corporations continues to hurt the consumer. Any marketing experts out there want to enlighten me on what I'm missing?

I'll get off the soapbox now. At least I can listen to the audio feed of the Red Sox vs. Orioles.

As far as the M's opening day debacle....ugh...

The Angels scare me. Despite the pundits pointing to Erstad playing 1st base as the reason why the Angels won't win the West, I'll point out that a lineup that contains Guillen, Anderson, Salmon, Glaus and Guerrero is pretty damn imposing compared to what the M's have to offer. I've always believed in Earl Weavers philosophy in GP + 3 R HR = Win. ( Good Pitching and a 3 run home run equals a win). I'd expand on it even more with GP + 4 BB + 2 HR = Win for baseball in the new century. I stated it through most of last year that the M's lack of power will continue to hurt them. They just have to string together too many positive events to score runs ( Punch and Judy ). I expect their runs scored to drop this year as their power continues to diminish and their team OBP continues to drop.

Spezio's injury is now being listed as "soft tissue with some disc activity" and he's expected back in 3 weeks. Don't count on it. I have a partially herniated disc that made my life hell for 6 months until I got a cortisone shot. Then I embarked on a lengthy rehabilitation phase before I could play soccer again. It's always there, although it only impacts my life when I let myself get inactive. Most back injuries eventually go away without surgery but it takes time and proper care. I fully expect Sand Frog to suffer several recurrences over the course of the season as he tries to play through the injury. I hope I'm wrong. The M's need his bat to have any hope.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

We said we wanted to get away from it all - and we did. I'm coming to you from a 10 min/$1 internet terminal in Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia. I just sat down in front of the TV to find out the Mariners score and while spinning the channels I saw the following: Mike Cameron single, steal second and score; Carlos Guillen single driving in a run; and back to Cameron who walked and scored on a double. Then I saw the Mariners score - a 10-5 loss to Anaheim. What a start to the season. I just can't help rooting for the Mets and Tigers. It's not that big a reach for the Tigers to contend. As for the Mets, aside from Edgar, Cameron was my favorite Mariner (he was certainly all the pitcher's favorite) and I just like rooting for him. Better luck tomorrow for the M's.

Opening Day is here. I could write a lengthy diatribe or wax poetic but it's been done so many times by writers better than myself. This is the first opening day I've missed in a few years. I could have had tickets but frankly I'm in total wait and see mode on the 2004 Mariners. I feel like the Batman villain Two-Face. On one hand I want them to be really successful because I love following the team and I really want them to win a championship. On the other hand I want them to be truly miserable because it's going to take a radical event to force ownership to evaluate their current situation.

I truly believe that M's ownership feel that they can be "successful" with their current team management strategy.

       1) Invest x% of team revenue back into player payroll.

2) Field a "competitive" team in a 4 team division.
3) Continue sucking profits out of the franchise and distributing them to ownership.
4) Run the franchise the same way baseball franchises have been run for 50 years.
5) Market the team as "nice guys"

The only action that is going to make them take a second look at their strategy is if attendance and TV revenues begin dropping to a point where the team begins to run in the red. A truly smart group of managers does not need a catastrophic event to inspire change. They look ahead of the curve. Frankly I'm surprised with several minority owners being Microsoft executives that the M's are such a passive management group.

Anyway, a lukewarm "Go M's" from this fan.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The Diamond Mind simulations for 2004 are in and posted on The M's are predicted to finish at 87-75, 5 games back of Oakland at 92-70. The simulation predicts that the M's will allow 83 more runs this year than last while the offense remains around the same as last year.

The simulation does have the M's winning the division 25.8% of the time and the wild card 2.5% so there is some hope if everything comes together for the M's and the Angels and A's have some bad luck. If there's anything to be learned in playing in MBSBL it's that luck has a lot to do with final record (Just ask San Shin and his record in 1 run games ).

Frankly, being a pessimist blogger, I noticed that the diamond mind predictions don't really mention injuries and bench strength into the equation. All you have to do is take a look at the latest foolish Bavasi trade because Spezio is on the DL with back spasms and you can draw your own conclusions on what stupidity Bavasi is going to do if Edgar, or god forbid Boone, go down for any length of time.

I can't believe they got rid of 2 serviceable major league pitchers for a cast off utility infielder.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Heh heh. From Baseball Primer's Mariners Preview
It's not just that Piñeiro is good, it's that he's also young. I don't know what you call someone who's both good and young, but it's usually not "a Seattle Mariner."

The Indians have announced that Milton Bradley will be traded within 72 hours after his altercation with manager Eric Wedge. Head over to the USS Mariner for their take on acquiring Bradley.

It's put up or shut up time for the M's. Bradley is exactly what they need in a player. A young, power hitting, excellent defensive center fielder. Go get him now. With Bradley you've got an excellent 4 player outfield rotation, you've strengthened the bench by making the Q man the designated pinch runner for the team (Yes, I know the team should just cut him but Bavasi will never admit that the Colbrun trade was a mistake and we're going to live with Q on the roster).

If the team is going to continue signing veteran re-treads to man the bullpen, they should at least use some of the young pitching in trade.