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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, March 25, 2004

It's nice to see Melvin notice what a good spring Bocachica is having. It's nice to see Melvin realize he can do a lot of the things Bloomquist can do. Here's hoping the guy makes the team. Bocachica has the potential to play himself into some significant time on this team. It's more than a matter of a marginal player having a hot spring. Bocachica has been the victim of bad starts, the inability to take advantage of chances like Bloomquist did in September of 2002. Thus he's been relegated to the status of a marginal player.

If Bocachica gets a chance to play, it's a good bet he'll play quite well. An OPS of .831 in San Antonio in 1999, and .950 in Albuquerque in 2000. From there, he spent 3 years riding benches. Yet he's still only 28. He knows how to get on base, and he's got power. He's also got speed. The Mariners don't luck into good players very often, and they especially don't know how to sniff out bargains like this one could be. They may have here. If Ibanez or Winn go down, it's possible that Bocachica could step in and really surprize some people.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Fisking Bob Melvin:

From the Seattle Times, Melvin guarantees a roster spot to the worst player on the squad:

Melvin: Bloomquist 'great fit'

When it comes to worries, there may be some for fans of Willie Bloomquist, who went into yesterday hitting .233 while Ramon Santiago was pounding away at .480.

Not to worry, Melvin said.

"For me, Willie's on the team," Melvin said. "He's such a great fit on a club, he's got so many attributes that may not be noticeable to an outsider, but he really helps a team."

Yeah, Bob, they were hard to notice because the obvious was staring us in the face and screaming to us so loudly. Could it be they aren't noticable, because of his aenemic .317 OBA and .321 SLG last year.

For example, in Friday's 8-5 victory over San Francisco, Bloomquist reached second base on an infield hit and error, advanced to third on one infield out and scored on a second, a bouncer to third.

"He got such a great jump on that ball," Melvin said. "He brings a lot of intangibles and a great understanding of how to play the game."

What is it about managers who get so excited about infield hits from a guy who can't hit the rest of the time? An infield hit is a mistake, a poorly hit ball that by pure chance eludes the infielders. Intangibles? Great Understanding? For what? advancing on errors and groundouts? Geez, Bob, I can do that. Can I be on your team too? Well, kudos to Willie for running his ass off after topping the ball. Yessir, doing the same thing every little leaguer to College athlete is expected to do. Sign him up, and hurry.

In addition to his baserunning, Bloomquist made two John Olerud-like snags of low throws at first base. "On the first, I was kind of just hoping and I got it," Bloomquist laughed. "The other one was a good play, a good scoop."

Well, that's certainly a positive. When Olerud is pulled late in the game for a pinch runner, Bloomquist can take over his position. But hey Melvin. Olerud really struggled against lefties last year (.318 OPB). What do you do if Olerud comes to the plate and the opposing manager brings in a lefty? Will Willie hit for him as well (.307 OBA vs. lefties)? Will lefty Dave Hansen hit for John? McCracken (.320 OBA vs. lefties over 3 years, .247 last year)? Wouldn't it be useful to have someone on the bench who could hit lefties as well, if you are going to be looking to pull Olerud in these situations? Someone like, oh a Greg Colbrunn (.969 OPS vs. lefties over the last 3 years). Oh that's right, Colbrunn was traded for McCracken, in order to provide all those "intangibles" we already get in bushells from Bloomquist.

Well, you can't have enough intangibles, I guess. But it would sure be nice to have a few extra base hits from the bench as well, to kind of, you know, bring balance.


Bloomquist also plays with enthusiasm and spirit, and plays a number of positions.

Isn't that what we trading Colbrunn for McCracken for? Enthusiam and spirit? Would it be nice to have some hitting on the bench to go with all this good feeling, or am I asking for too much?

"This is a guy we can use at shortstop or center field and don't worry about what kind of game we get," Melvin said. "How many players at any level can you say that about, and we're talking majors here."

Not many, Bob, because, like Charles Gipson, they aren't really all that valuable if they can't hit, can't get on base, and can't drive in runs. But, you can SAY that about a lot of ballplayers, Bob. A WHOLE LOT of ballplayers. Hiram Bocachica is one. But you got me there, Melvin. Not many of them are guarenteed major league spots.

And what do you mean by "don't worry about what kind of game we get"? Are you saying Willie is a top notch OF and SS? Are you saying he's average? What kind of game are you REALLY expecting from Willie?

But hey, Bob, while you're at it, what the heck is wrong with Hiram Bocachica? Both he and Gipson, er I mean Bloomquist, play the OF and infield. But whereas Bloomquist has never had an OBA better than .331 in over 900 at bats beyond AA, Hiram went .354 in his first full AA season (1997), and after splitting time between three teams in 98, went .382 in AA in '99 (.449 SLG for an OPS of .831 in San Antonio) and .390 in 2000 (a .950 OPS in Albuquerque!), before he spent four years on benches doing Bloomquist like work for the Dodgers and Tigers.

Hiram's also got speed. I'll bet he can handle first base. He handles OF, 2nd and 3rd.

Here's the thing Bob. Yes, Willie's a great guy. It's nice to give him a chance. He and Hiram have pretty much produced the same aenemic numbers in roughly the same number of major league at bats - Hiram more power (.389 SLG in 311 ABs vs. .358 in 229 for Willie ), and Willie more OBA (.348 to .261). But a good look at minor league production demonstrates that Hiram could be quite a hitter if given the chance. Willie's minor league numbers are pretty lame outside of a superb half season in A ball. Hiram's got some pop from the right side (10 home runs in major league ball to 1 for Willie, even McCracken only has 17 in 2,000 at bats). You need a right handed bat on your bench.

So why is Bloomquist guaranteed a spot? Would it be ok if McCracken gave us the intangibles, and let Bocachica produce even the faint possibility of a bat?


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Seattle Times reports this morning the M's are looking at Jason Kendall. Is it just me, or does this guy bear an eerie resemblance to Jeff Cirillo?

Lifetime stats: Kendall BA .304 OBA .385 SLG .422 OPS .807

Cirillo BA .299 BA .369 SLG . 435 OPS .805

Both right handed hitters.

Man, the Cirillo fiasco has really got me spooked these days. Anyway, could we, like trade for Matt LeCroy instead?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I just got my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2004. Haven't had much of a chance to look over it yet, but I must say I am very impressed with the Mariner essay. I assume David Cameron wrote most if not all of it. Very well balanced, objective and insightful. He put everything in proper perspective. Nice work!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Here's what I think may be the Bavasi/Mariner Management gameplan. I don't think it's being done consciously, but it's bound to happen when you fill your team with "gamers" "smart veterans" "character guys" "clubhouse leaders":

Load the team up with decent to good veterans who have in recent years put up some big seasons. Some, like Olerud in 2003, will fall off. Others, like Boone in 2003, will return to approximate or even surpass that year. Some will continue to perform as expected. And there is always the potential that some will have another career type season, or at least play between the average or the career year.

Think about it. Carlos Guillen and Rich Aurelia look pretty similar when you try to project what each SHOULD do. But what you really want is to find some players who have a decent chance to go BEYOND what they should do. That's where championship years are made (see Angels in 2002). So, assuming you want a potential big stick at short, what are the chances a Carlos Guillen will have the kind of year Aurelia had in 2001 compared to Aurelia? Sure, you can't expect Aurelia himself to have that same kind of year, but you're a better bet to do it, if you've done it before. Likewise Speizio's 2002 season. Darn good. Can he do it again. Maybe. Maybe not. But he's a better bet than a Leone or Dobbs, because he's done it before. And that's what you are looking for when pennant hunting: a few career years. It's how the M's won 116 games in 2001.

Ibanez had a very good 2002. Could he repeat in 2004. At Safeco, I think it's a reasonable chance he can surpass it.

The entire M's lineup has a very large upside. Almost every player is capable of putting up big numbers based on the fact each has done it in the fairly recent past: Ichiro, Boone, Edgar, Olerud, Aurelia, Speizio, Ibanez, Winn. Can you count on it? No. But have you overpaid in any of these situations where you are REALLY HURTING if any of these guys don't? Boone perhaps, but we all figure he's the best bet for a big season. If any of these guys tank it, or get hurt, do the M's have options? I'd say yes at the infield corners (moving Spezio to first if it's Olerud who goes down). Perhaps Snelling or Strong could fill in for Winn or Ibanez. You have Santiago for shortstop. Then you have money to pay and prospects to trade to fill in what you need during the season. This the M's lucked into with the Sasaki defection, but it puts them in a strong position as they find out who among these guys is having the good to excellent years vs. who is definitely on the downslope or who is hurt. It's frightening to think the Bavasi M's were ready to go into this season without the Sasaki money in the bank.

Another interesting thing to note is that none of these old guys, outside of Edgar, are particularly injury prone.

I'm not saying it's a particularly good gameplan. It's kinda old school, to be sure. But there's a reasonable chance that it can work, just as there is a reasonable chance it can break down. But with our pitching, it shouldn't break down.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I'm going to put in a plug for Hiram Bocachica. This guy is better than people realize. Besides the fact that he plays both infield and outfield, he has some pretty nice minor league numbers.

In his first full season at AA (a good indicator of major league ability) Hiram hit .278/.354/.409, with 11 home runs in 443 at bats.

In 1999, he improved that to .291/.382/.449 in 477 AA at bats.

Playing full time in 2000 at Albuquerque he hit .332/.390./.560

He hasn't done much with 333 major league at bats spread over 4 seasons. But give Hiram a full season in the bigs, he'll come close to that .354 OBA. Major league players, when given ample time to prove it, tend to prove they can perform at the level they did in their first full season of AA. Do a random check. You'll be surprized at how good an indicator this can be.

Monday, March 01, 2004

The other article in the Sunday Times concerned Edgar's eligibility for the HOF. We continually hear that his late entry into the majors cost him valuable numbers. Why should minor league service act as such a detriment. We calculate ML equivalents all the time. Any Sabermetricians out there care to calculate what Edgar's extensive AAA career was worth and see where he should stand in equivalent lifetime numbers? Why should Edgar be penalized because of decisions made in the front office that were out of his control? If Edgar was a great enough player in his prime to be considered, but the overall ML numbers aren't there because of front office decisions, then by gum, just consider them.

I can understand if neanderthal baseball writers ignore Edgar in their ballots because they don't recognize the value of AA or AAA numbers, or because they don't like the DH rule. But when SABR savvy guys like Rob Neyer make essentially the same kind of arguments, we should call them on it.
Les Carpenter's article in the Sunday Seattle Times was about the Angel's new owner. First, the guy looks at beer prices in his ballpark and decides to cut them. Then he decides the offseason is meant for doing whatever you can do to make the team compete for the championship, and he signs Vladimir Guerrero.

No excuses, no whining about "well, if we only knew he was available and interested, etc." He just goes out and does it.

I'm jealous of Angel fans.

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