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A website devoted to serious bull on all things regarding the Seattle Mariners. We invite interesting input: send your thoughts to rickmichels@juno.com - we also invite you to join discussion at thebullpen@yahoogroups.com

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Let's compare Left fielders:

Rondell White:

YEAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 94 349 45 95 11 3 17 57 22 56 1 4 .272 .324 .467 .791

Randy Winn:

YEAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 103 399 65 112 22 2 8 47 29 71 17 3 .281 .335 .406 .741

I think I'd rather have Winn. But it still hurts to think we couldn't get Ventura. I had to think we could have outbid the Dodgers - certainly in prospects. But Steinbrenner couldn't stand the idea of strengthening the Mariners. Oh well, let's kick his butt in October.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Don't look now, but Justin Leone is threatening to win the Texas League triple crown.

He's hitting .304 - behind Brian Gettis's .314 and Jake Weber's .308 (Ramon Nivar is hitting .347 but is in AAA and will likely fall short of official at bats).

He has 17 home runs: 4th in the league, where teammate A.J. Zapp leads with 22

And he's 3rd in RBIs - 7 being the leaders at 85.

However, in the important catagories, Leone is the class of the league: leading the league in slugging by a country mile at .569 (Zapp is a distant second at an impressive .527) and in walks with 62 - 11 ahead of the next man - teammate Mike Curry). He is second in doubles, 1 off the leader with 31, leads the league in runs scored with 81 (10 ahead of second place Curry), and even has 6 triples and 16 stolen bases. The U.S.S. Mariner reports he has impressed with his glove as well.

Leone is by far the class of the league - the MVP. He's 26, but it's his first year at AA, so although he's "old" for the league, he's not necessarily taking advantage of the inexperience of others as a wily vet. This tells me he still has upside. I am sure the Mariner brass is taking notice. You can't help but notice. Earlier in spring training, people were talking about Greg Dobbs as a prospect. Dobbs had a nice lefty stroke and played 3rd base. But Dobbs is also 26. It's great to see a kid like Leone come out of nowhere to dominate a tough league like the Texas League. Of course, Leone's stats are helped by the fact he doesn't have to face Mission pitching which is the class of the league as well.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Here are the stats for a lefty dh hitter, David Ortiz who was waived at the end of last year, picked up off the scrapheap by Boston and signed for a measly $1.2 million:

YEAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 74 254 43 73 26 1 11 51 32 46 0 0 .287 .367 .528 .894

Compare this to Edgar Martinez:

YEAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 90 309 44 92 13 0 19 65 53 64 0 0 .298 .403 .524 .927

The point is - it is not that hard to get production from your DH at a bargain price. I find it interesting that with many fewer at bats and fewer on base appearances, Ortiz has scored only one fewer run. No doubt a lot of that is due to better hitters coming after Ortiz than Martinez. But Edgar's slowness has to play a significant part of that as well. And it is just stupid to be clogging the basepaths with Edgar and Olerud, but have no big bat behind them to create the 3 run homers. We're asking a lot from Cameron, and we're being stupid to expect Randy Winn to drive these guys in. It's a great defense, don't get me wrong. But offensively, we're very poorly constructed.

Boston has done an excellent job here of creating an offensive dynamo of a team - picking up players like Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Todd Walker - that other teams never gave much of a thought about. Kinda reminds you of the Mariner teams of the 90's doesn't it? Production up and down the lineup, shaky bullpen, one dominant and tempermental starter.

We've got to face the fact that as good a hitter as Edgar is, and as good a fielder as Olerud is, the lack of speed in the former and lack of power in the latter are hurting the offense. It's really tough to watch the Mariners struggle agains Texas pitching.

I keep hearing that Gammons says the Red Sox want to move Trot Nixon. I find that hard to understand, but if we can swing a deal for him, I'd do it. But it's not enough.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I'll be out at the Gorge this weekend, enjoying the blazing sun and listening to about 35 Christian Rock bands. Some of these guys can kick as- er I mean, can rock! See ya on the flip side. Go get em M's. I love it when we play the A's - (I love it more with Giambi gone). Great rivalry.
Wow, is Rett Johnson for real or what? Going into tonights game, he had a 1.13 ERA. Tonight he goes 8 IP gives up 1 earned run on 4 hits and 2 walks with 6 Ks. Is he our answer to Oakland's Rich Harden?
Here's someone who's been refreshed by the All Star break. Michael Garciaparra, a Mariner 1st round draft pick and shortstop for the Wisconsin Rattlers, entered the break hitting a paltry .222. Since then, he's been on a tear - going 10-23 for a robust .435, including a double, a triple and 3 walks. His average has climbed to .233 and he went 2 for 5 tonight. Sure, he's still booting the ball around in the field, but high errors are not uncommon and to be expected for a shortstop in low A ball. This is Michael's 2nd year in professional ball, he barely showed up for the tail end of Everett's season last year - so I'm encouraged.
What a difference a couple of days makes. Winn and Wilson power the M's to two straight wins. Ryan Franklin is steady and solid. It's a shame the Brian Giles trade stalled out, but it would be interesting to see what kind of power the M's could get for Freddie Garcia, or Garcia and a reliever. J.D. Drew is very appealing, an exciting left handed bat. But Drew is Griffey lite when the gimp factor is taken into account.

How solid is Drew? He's given the Cardinals 375-420 ABs for the last 3-4 years and he's on target to do it again. Certainly the Cards don't need his bat as much as they need a starter (It's gotten so bad Fassero started for them yesterday! Four innings and only one earned run. Not bad. Fassero and Tomko have been holding down the fort over there, so it's not like the Cards have an aversion to Mariner arms). Anyway, If Drew is up to it, a platoon with Winn is appealing.

All eyes will be on Meche tomorrow. A good outing, and Freddie becomes that much more expendable.

With all those outfielders and now Shannon Stewart, I gotta think the Twins would entertain offers for Jacque Jones. Actually, Todd Sears is another left handed bat who would be interesting in Safeco - although Jones would definitely cover more ground. Low OBP, but we could learn to live with that, with the speed and left handed power he would bring. The Twins did not want to take Santana out of the pen (although I did not pay $19 for a middle reliever in my roto league). If the Twins are looking for an arm or two, I smell a deal.

Justin Leone is out of his slump. Two HRs tonight and one last night - he's back to mashing the ball and he has continued to get on base,drawing walks throughout the year. Sure would like to see him get a shot at 3rd.
A few years ago, the Blue Jays got a Jose Cruz Jr. from the Mariners for their lefty/righty setup team of Spoljaric/Timlin.

With the way Soriano and Mateo are throwing, and with the soon return of Sasaki and the continued brilliance of Hasagawa, with Big Country Aaron Taylor fitting in, well, I wonder what kind of left fielder the lefty/righty combo of Rhodes/Nelson could fetch on today's market?

Hey, I'm just wondering....

Monday, July 21, 2003

Geez, isn't your team supposed to be refreshed by the All Star break? The M's simply look tired.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Why, why, why, must we be tormented by Jeff Cirillo - day after day after day after day after day? Is this what hell is like? No, purgatory. This is purgatory – continually hoping that a past of some decent good works will someday pay off - only to be dashed, again and again.

On the bright side, it appears Everett may have two young phenoms. Felix Hernandez we've talked about. Now there is Thomas Oldham, a lefty. Look at these numbers:

Oldham, Thomas 2- 0 1.35 ERA 20.0 IP 8 Hits 5 BB 19 K
Hernandez, Felix 5- 0 0.82 22.0 IP 12 HIts 11 BB 31 K

Oldham is 21, Hernandez – 17


Ya gotta love those Royals. Especially now that the A’s are next. Darrell May – great story. As a Braves prospect He was a phenom in A league – did well in AA – got a call up, got waived, tossed around, did well in Japan, came back, got lit up, but also got a chance to pitch some innings in KC last year, and now he’s producing with a 5 game winning streak. Very Moyeresque. How I love those 30 something lefty late bloomers. I think it was those years in the Kingdome of watching Tommy John and Frank Tanana baffle our kiddie corps time after time.

Whether it’s Ibanez, Lima, Guiel, or May, places like KC, Pittsburgh, an Milwaukee give them a chance to prove themselves, after they were unable to get through that slight window during their first chance. These teams and their fans need to be rewarded sometimes. Go Royals.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

I wonder if the M's are thinking much about Tim Hamulack as a second spot lefty in their bullpen. Tim is putting up some pretty nice numbers as a situational lefty in AA: 1.14 ERA, 31 K's in 31.2 innings, with opponents hitting .178. I have no idea what he throws or how hard, but I am impressed.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Minor leaguers to watch during this second half:

Justin Leone - if he has a strong second half in San Antonio (.288/.393/.522 with 12 errors at 3rd base), we may have something here. But if he fades, as he appears he may be, then chances are better than 65% he'll spend the rest of his career in AAA.

Jamal Strong - if Cammie moves on in 2004, as the smart money says he will, can this kid move into Center Field? A good reason to watch Tacoma baseball (and there hasn't been much reason to this year). It's a stretch, but he's fast, and can get on base.

Chris Snelling - top M's hitting prospect. Coming back from a real bad knee injury, he picked up at AA where he left off - hitting .325. Snelling has never struggled in AA. Some are nitpicking over his lack of walks this year, but I'm not concerned. I think he's proven he can hit AA - (including a home run tonight) - let's move him to AAA, keep him around - the M's may find his left hand bat useful later this year. I'd like to see Greg Jacobs, the 26 year old hitting machine tearing up the California league, move into Snelling's spot. Jacobs has proven he can hit the A league. At his age, he needs to be on an accelerated schedule. A year and a half of AA should tell us if he's got a chance to be a major league hitter.


A.J. Zapp - lefty slugger in AA, hitting the heck out of the ball down there (.305/.370/.556 - 10 errors - which seems high for a 1st baseman). May have the kind of swing Safeco is waiting for, and he's only a young 25 - young for a Mariner slugger.

And thanks to Dave at the USS Mariner for turning us on to AquaSox phenom Felix Hernandez. This 17 year old was throwing serious heat in last night's game (95 mph), and was getting outs with a curveball. C'mon, is he REALLY 17?
I was very surprized to see Bloomquist start at 3rd tonight. I was very certain Melvin would think, "well, maybe a week off will clear Jeff's head and he'll get going again." I expected two more games with Cirillo at 3rd, his final, final chance - so to speak.

But Melvin's going to stick with Willie, and apparently give him a full chance to take that job. Now, if we can only get him to do the same for Ben Davis.

Bloomquist unfortunately is very human tonight. And so is Edgar and Boone and Cammie and Freddie. It seems that Freddie REALLY NEEDS to spot that fastball or it is incredibly hittable. And even when he spots it, like he did to Angel Berroa, it is still hitable. When's the last time we saw Freddie blow people away with heat? It seems he needs to offer a steady diet of sliders and curves these days. And still, the Berroas of the world are sitting on that fastball.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I'm not in agreement with most of the baseball literari regarding doing away with the rule that says each team must have one representative on the All Star team. I think it's especially important to the very young fans of a ball team to be able to root for the local all star hero. I imagine it's tough for a kid to be growing up a baseball fan in Detroit these days. Or Tampa Bay. But local heroes are important to the kids. I remember being a Seattle Pilot/Milwaukee Brewer fan and taking pride in having an All Star to represent my lowly team: Mike Hegan and Tommy Harper. It doesn't matter so much to me anymore, but I think we forget about those future fans. If I were a 10 year old in Tampa Bay, I would have really wanted to see Aubrey Huff or Rocco Baldelli in the All Star game. I'm still not sure why they chose Lance Carter over Huff - a truly legitimate All Star. But that does bring up a further point - All stars from bad teams can get left out very easily, and at times this rule can act as an equalizer.

Being a 6th grader during the Seattle Pilots one season and then seeing the team leave town and break my heart, I tend to take a young person's point of view when it comes to major league baseball. Losing the Pilots so abruptly cut a big hole out of my childhood. In serious denial over the loss, I was determined to do whatever I could to keep my team, and became an avid Brewer fan, watching the boxscores, riding my bike miles to find a Sporting News with all the teams stats and a little writeup on my team, fiddling with the old radio when the Brewers played in Oakland to get radio reception.

My younger brothers and sisters developed their own Mariner favorites 5 years later. There wasn't much to take pride in as a Mariner fan those long years. An All Star here and there, a stretch of winning baseball - perhaps a series victory over the Yankees or a faint scent of a pennant race, and hope for the future was pretty much it. Why take the All Star representative away from fans like these as well?

Many kids build an affinity to the local team and it's heroes, and the organizations as well as the players should try to keep them, the most vulnerable of fans, in mind when making decisions. These are the ones who will buy the tickets down the road.

Bud Selig stole my heroes and robbed a piece of my childhood in 1970. In maintaining this rule, he's making amends in a small way.

Incidentally, speaking of Tommy Harper, it's nice to get every player in an all star game, but when he made his all star appearance in 1970, he merely pinch ran in an early inning. What a letdown. I would have preferred Earl Weaver kept him on the bench, where he may have been available to play a major role in that exciting extra inning finish (it was the year Rose bowled over Ray Fosse to score the winning run). Tommy was crushing the ball that year, and entered the game as one of the league leaders in home runs. He finished the season with 31 homers, 35 doubles, 38 stolen bases and a .296 average with 77 walks and a slugging average of .522. He had a huge first half. To me, it was an insult for Weaver to merely have him pinch run in something like the 4th inning - as if all he had to offer was speed. Harper deserved at least a pinch hitting role in a late inning. I would have preferred he stayed on the bench than to throw him something as lame as an early inning pinch runner. For that reason, I'm not impressed with the idea that we have to get every player in the game. Get them to the game, and let the game dictate who plays and how much.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Most surprizing thing about the All Star game? Ichiro walks twice! He seems to be working on working the count lately.

Monday, July 14, 2003

How could Bloomquist possibly be worse than Cirillo? Man, he would have to be completely awful to lose the 3rd base job back to Cirillo.

Career major league stats:
BA OBP SLG OPS
Cirillo: .300 .370 .437 .807

Bloomquist: .288 .370 .381 .752


2003:

Cirillo: .218 .292 .289 .581

Bloomquist: .233 .314 .344 .658

Sunday, July 13, 2003

The best thing Willie Bloomquist has going for him is that he is not Jeff Cirillo. He will outhit Cirillo, though probably not by much. And he looks to have a darn good glove over there.

Even if Bloomquist is a replacement level player, he's an improvement. And he's somewhat of a mystery player, because of that tremendous season he had in the high A California league where he hit .379.

Willie struggled in AA, and didn't set the AAA Pac Coast league on fire. But he has been hampered by injuries - so there is hope that he is better than what his minor league stats suggest he is: a .250 hitter with little power and good speed. His upside may have been hidden due to those injuries. He warrants a good long look. I mean, what have we got to lose?
Just caught Mariner top prospect Clint Nageotte throw 2/3 innings in the Futures game. Gave up a homer but, boy, what a great slider this kid has. Throws hard with good movement.
In talking about the availability of 40 home run guys,

I suppose Juan Gonzalez, a 40 HR guy, would nix a trade to Seattle. The way the ball has been flying out of Safeco the last couple days (e.g., Boonie's 2nd deck blast to left, even Antonio Perez is knocking them into the bullpen), it seems like he'd fit right in!
Peter A. on Safeco field home run production:

Well we may differ over whether the evidence of the HR production is a small body or not, but one thing we KNOW is that Mariner players ON AVERAGE hit substantially fewer homeruns in Safeco than on the road. Pick your anecotes and hypotheses to make some finer point, but it seems to me that the average of all Mariner players is the best indicator you can possibly have for projecting the effect on some future unknown player.

Nevertheless, it's certainly not a reason to NOT pick up a 40 HR guy. Because HRs (and runs) are fewer and farther between at Safeco, the runs that said player would produce would be more valuable than the average run produced. As Bill James has pointed out, the value of runs produced in a certain park (i.e. how much they help contribute to wins) is relative to the total number of runs scored in that park. A 30 HR guy in Safeco is probably no less valuable than a 40 HR guy in a neutral park. We just should not let the park effects lead us to underestimate the abilities of players we have relative to players who don't have such a handicap. In the case of someone like Cirillo, this is unlikely to be a problem, I would think.

And of course it would be silly to focus on 40 HR guys -- as we are highly unlikely to acquire one of those in ANY event.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

The Sporting News' Ken Rosenthal says Gillick needs to make a move:

http://www.sportingnews.com/voices/ken_rosenthal/20030708.html




Yes, Gillick needs to bolster the offense. But there are some assumptions in this story I take serious issue with:

"Even if Gillick does nothing at the deadline, he again is delivering a
balanced, fundamentally sound team that is perfectly suited for its
ballpark, pitcher-friendly Safeco Field."

Perfectly suited? Cirillo? No left handed power bat?

and:

"The answer is not to upgrade in left, even though the Mariners are last
in the A.L. at that position in on-base/slugging percentage (OPS). Winn is a
superior fielder. Mike Cameron, Ichiro Suzuki and Winn form the league's
best outfield defense -- a necessity for their club, considering the
vastness of Safeco and the fly-ball tendencies of the pitching staff."

With Ichiro and Cameron in the OF, you can afford to put a lumbering slugger
in left. I'll bet the pitchers wouldn't mind.

And he goes on to quote Melvin as saying:

"Still, Gillick concedes the team needs more offense. And there's another
consideration. 'In our ballpark, if you go out and get a 40-homer guy, he
turns into a 25-, 30-homer guy,' Melvin says."

Really? Arod was a 40 homer guy entering Safeco, and remained a 40 homer
guy (Texas made him a 50 homer guy). Boone came in a 20 homer guy, and
turned into a 30-35 homer guy. Has there been a case in which a 40 homer
guy came to Safeco and turned into a 25-30 homer guy? Is Edgar hitting fewer
homer now? Edgar went from an all time season high 29 homers to 37 homers
in his first full season at Safeco I think it's just an assumption we're
making. Griffey assumed after half a season that he couldn't hit at Safeco
and left, but I'll bet he would thrive in Safeco with his power stroke. But
we don't really know, because we've never tried it. But even if Safeco
field was death valley to left handed sluggers, this lineup would still need
one.

Yeah, I'd like to see Gillick make some moves, but I'd rather we be a little
smarter about the moves me make than we've been in the past. And I worry
about assumptions made regarding talent. After Cirillo, we need to be extremely vigilant.

Peter Andrijeski replied:

I agree with the rest of your commetnts, but I don't see how you can
really take issue with the 40->30 HR comment. Yes, A-Rod was a 40 HR guy
at home and he would have been a 50 HR in a neutral park (e.g. in his last
year at Safeco, 13 HR at home, 28 on the road). The Mariners as a team
have hit 34 HR at home this year and 50 on the road. This is fairly
consistent with last year's splits (62 HR at home, 88 on the road). It seems to me
that, on average, Melvin's expectation of about a 25% drop is not too far off.

To which Rick Michels responded:

There's a small body of evidence that suggests this 25% drop in HR production may be the case. But to then make the decision based on that small body of evidence that the team should not pick up 40 home run guys but rather should pick up a .260 slap hitter instead is wrong. Personally, I would rather have a guy who jacks 40 home runs in other parks (so long as those other parks aren't named Coors field) than slap hitting Randy Winn in left field.

And I am skeptical about taking a team's home/away home run production and saying that it will hold true for individual players, particularly those of star quality). First off, how many 40 home run guys are there? Not many. For those few, can you really say a 40 home run guy drops to 25-30 based on the numbers we see from the home run production of guys named Cirillo and Guillen and Wilson? We're not talking about home run hitting teams here. We're
talking about 40 home run hitters. Marginal hitters may get hurt by Safeco field. But what about Very Good hitters? Even Great hitters?

The trends are murkier here. Looking at Boone and Martinez's numbers overall,
you don't see such a split. In fact, you even see a slight advantage at
home:

Martinez: 2002: 9/6 (home/away home runs)
2001: 10/13
Martinez 200-2003: 38/37

Boone: 2002: 13/11
Boone: 2001: 19/18

Again, A-Rod's overall home run production did not drop from a year at Safeco. It rose significantly at Texas. Arod's home/away split in 2000 certainly suggests there's a drop off that will theoretically take place. But Melvin's assertions are still just that - assertions. And they are assertions that are misleading. We've only had "one" 40 home run guy play what would amount to a full season at Safeco, and he remained a 40 home run guy when the dust settled. So let's not put the wrong guy in left field due to this small piece of data. The assumption of the article is that Winn is the right guy for left field, in large part because a 40 home run guy is wasted in Safeco field. I take strong issue with that.

You may want to stay away from extreme fly ball hitters from the right side, like Mike Cameron. Cameron's home away splits for 2000-2002 are significant: 19/50.

But I would look at this limited data and make this observation: certain kinds of home run hitters will fare worse in Safeco than elsewhere. Power hitters who show power to all fields (e.g., Boone and Martinez) fare well at Safeco and do not see their power numbers drop while playing at Safeco.

So, before we have Cirillo redux, let's take a real good look at guys like Mike Lowell, and at how they hit their home runs, before we insert them mentally at 3rd base and salivate. And certainly let's do so before we commit $24 million over 4 years.

And, finally, we have not yet seen what a 40 home run hitter from the left side can do in a full season at Safeco. That is one of the mysteries of Safeco for which I am very curious to see the answer. We have a slight idea of what the answer may be when we look at the only left handed hitter with any sort of power who has played significant seasons at Safeco: John Olerud.

Olerud from 2000-2002 has hit 32 home runs in Safeco and 25 away for a 32/25 split. Shall we suggest that Safeco can take a left handed hitter with home run power (and Olerud's home run power all goes to right field) and increase his home run production about 25%? It may be. Suppose the lefty were a pull hitter with decent home run numbers (I'm not talking Dave Revering here, but Ken Phelps)? We can guess, but I'd like to try the experiment.

It's a more intriguing question that is not served well from a Sporting News writer however, is it?

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