2006-04-14T16:05:13.956-07:00Year W L RS RA P/PA BB/PA RC/27
2005-04-24T17:27:45.823-07:00With today's 8-inning gem, Jamie Moyer hit some pretty amazing milestones.
2005-04-14T22:03:27.036-07:00. . . on your 1001st major-league win today, which coincides with the Mariners' first above-.500 appearance in the standings since sometime in late 2003, I think.
2005-04-13T17:44:35.140-07:00The M's climb back to .500. Remember that?
"It's interesting about pitches per plate appearance and it's a trend that I think we should watch as the season progresses. What is more disturbing to me is the BB/PA which is at a four year low of 5.5% compared to 7.7% last year, 9.3 % in 2003,
and 9.9% in 2002. Boone and Olivo have yet to draw a walk."
2005-04-13T22:16:57.310-07:00Today marks my annual ritual of forking over $15 to MLB for my yearly subscription of MLB radio for the main purpose of avoiding the noise of Rick Rizzs invading my ears. I will gladly pay $15 for this service. I wonder if the Mariners are aware how much fans disdain this broadcast crew and moreover wonder how much they care. I suspect that their advertisers care however, but how does one get that message across? Hmmm...
2005-04-12T23:25:06.940-07:00We are all now in agreement that it is early. Brian Roberts leads the American League in home runs with four (his career high is 5), the slimmed down Edgardo Alfonso is hitting .519 without the luxury of hitting behind Barry Bonds, and Greg Zaun has 10 RBIs in seven games (his 10 year career high is 36).
2005-04-12T15:28:39.106-07:00Jeff Shaw, over at the USS Mariner, has already lent us all this cautionary piece of advice about drawing conclusions about a baseball team's season based on one week of play: "If a baseball season is a marathon, a week is one city block."Apart from my own smartass observation that it is really more like one mile of a marathon, he's absolutely right. Take all this with a grain of salt. Statistically speaking, it's really early, and a tiny sample from which to draw conclusions. That doesn't stop us from forming opinions, and some of the observations we're making might be meaningful. Sorta. Kinda.First, my prediction that despite his 0-13 start Jeremy Reed is going to be OK . . . seems to be on track. After that 0-13 start, he's been 5-for-his-next-13 (.384), and three of his five hits have been doubles. That's good -- though probably no better indication of Reed's long-term ability than the first thirteen ABs were, or even his first-25-game (64 ABs) career line of .333/.404/.417. I note that I heard Harold Reynolds say on Baseball Tonight that, in his opinion, Reed might be among the most overrated rookies to come along in a while and that the Mariners expectations for him are too high. Reynolds made a comment about "lots of holes in his swing." I dunno. Maybe Harold caught him the first part of last week instead of last September. When he is on, my observation is his approach at the plate is as good as any rookie hitter I've seen in a good long while. Then again, Harold does have a bit more experience with the game than I do . . . but I'd venture to say I've watched Reed more closely than he has.My friend Dave Cameron at USS Mariner has some interesting comments today about the Mariner offense, all previous caveats noted. I have a slightly different take.While it is hard to fault an offense that is scoring runs as the Mariners have, I agree with Dave that the hitting with runners on base and in scoring position will regress to the mean over time. Their overall numbers -- which aren't so good -- are a bigger sample and I would argue more telling (even if neither is very telling at this point). So what may account for this not-so-good hitting early, and is there any reason to disregard the early trends?Well, I have a theory. One thing I've noticed early this year is a lot of Mariner hitters swinging pretty early in the count. Most people who reading an obscure basesball blog like this are aware that getting deeper into counts (particularly when ahead in the count) benefits the hitter, who will see his rate stats jump considerably the more patience he shows. Occasionally, you jump on a first-pitch fastball that is too good to pass up, but most pitchers (like Johan Santana in the Mariners second game) will make the adjustment if you develop a pattern of it, and the second and third times through you won't see the same pitches, nor experience the same success. Patience is a virtue.Anyway, I decided to check this out, and was surprised to learn that every batter in the Mariner line-up except Raul Ibanez and Randy Winn is seeing significantly fewer pitches per plate appearance than they did in either of their past two seasons. Most of them are seeing pretty dramatic drops (yes, this is most likely a product of small samples): Ichiro is at 3.26 (vs. 3.51 and 3.50 in the previous two seasons); Adrian Beltre is at 3.40 (vs. 3.74 and 3.80 in the last two); Richie Sexson is at 3.34 (vs. 3.93, 3.95); Bret Boone is at 3.39 (3.96, 3.93). Some of the bit players are chiming in, too: Miguel Olivo is at 2.75 (vs. 3.84, 3.97); Dan Wilson is at 3.14 (3.87, 3.52), and Willie Bloomquist is at 3.25 (3.81, 3.76).I believe that, for the vast majority of players, a high P/PA average is a good predictor of offensive success. To have this many players significantly below their established levels -- if it continues -- is troubling. Not only do players with low ave[...]
2005-04-09T12:56:49.770-07:00Well, that was a season of gross inactivity.Fortunately, we can't say the same for the Mariners. After watching as much Spring baseball as I could, and attending Opening Day in some awesome new seats (section 237, row 3), I am convinced that (a) Adrian Beltre won't be too negatively affected by Safeco, and (b) Richie Sexson has enough power to hit it over the left field bleachers and onto Royal Brougham, regardless of prevailing winds. Also, please ignore the collective hand-wringing over Jeremy Reed going 0-for-his-first-13 at-bats this year. The kid has a fine approach at the plate, and he will come around nicely (I just wish I could say the same thing about Miguel Olivo). Finally, Ichiro! is Ichiro! I know I am about the eleven-millionth person to make this observation, but I think he is the one guy who would not surprise anybody if he made a run at baseball's most hallowed records -- Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, and becoming the first man since Ted Williams to hit .400.Now, if only we could do something about that pitching.I truly believe the Mariners will be better this year. Actually, it's hard not to improve on a 99-loss season, but I mean "improvement" in a more meaningful way than that -- .500, or maybe a game or two better than .500. Still, this is not a team that should contend. I know that stranger things have happened, and I'm not ruling it out or anything, but until we address that pitching, I don't expect contention out of this team, and I will be very happy with a .500 club.It says something about your staff when your Opening Day starter is a 42-year old change-up artist. No disrespect to Jamie, but he is not exactly "ace" material, even if I do think he will bounce back nicely this year, to a 14-15 win season. Now, granted, if Joel Pineiro was healthy, he would have gotten the Opening Day start, but does anybody really think Joel is a #1? I think it is a stretch to call him even a #2. Let's face it: the Mariners have an entire starting rotation filled with once and future #3 starters. That may be good enough to get to .500 (if they stay healthy -- and please, Bobby Madritsch, get well soon), but it isn't the kind of staff you contend with. Next year? That's a different story. I haven't given up on Clint Nageotte, or Travis Blackley. At some point in 2006, those guys may be ready to help the club. But, better than that, Felix Hernandez has potential "ace" written all over him, and he may be ready this year. In fact, I put the over/under on his major-league arrival at July 15 -- his first post-AAA-All-Star Game turn in the Rainers' rotation (of course, I expect he will pitch in the AAA All-Star Game, but . . .). Add to that a healthy Rafael Soriano, and you have significantly upgraded both your starting staff and your bullpen. There are not a lot of good free agent pitchers coming available this next offseason (it's a list populated with guys like Paul Byrd, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Millwood, Kevin Brown, Shawn Estes, and Ryan Dempster . . . though a few names, like A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny (if healthy), and Chris Carpenter are reasonably intriguing), but I expect the M's to pursue somebody who is a solid #2-#3 type. Like this year on the offensive side, I think next year they will be players for the best 2-3 pitchers available on the market (assuming they can figure out who those pitchers are -- I still twitch at the memory of the 2003-2004 offseason and what it showed us of the Mariner front office "talent evaluators"; yes, they've redeemed themselves somewhat this past offseason, but I am still in "show me" mode). Gone are the Ryan Franklins (if he wants to start, anyway) and Aaron Seles of the world, to be filled with the bought and the promising. Hitting + pitching = contention. Hitting + a staff of stopgaps = .500, hopefully.So there you go. Hopefully, Jack and I can get up for bl[...]
2004-12-03T22:14:30.120-08:00It's time to break this bout of writer's block once and for all. It seems inevitable at this juncture that we are going to be signing one or the other of Richie Sexson or Carlos Delgado this off season to a multiyear contract. In fact, it would seem as though we may have already made offers to both of them with the intention on signing one.
2004-10-20T07:42:11.876-07:00Is it my television set or does AROD have purple lips?
2004-10-19T06:53:00.050-07:00Carlos Beltran has just priced himself out of Seattle.
2004-10-07T15:06:57.866-07:00So where do the Mariners go next year? The first of many questions you have to answer in order to come to any conclusion to that Big Question is how much money will the Mariners have to spend? Well, first we need to figure out how much they have already committed. According to Dugout Dollars, as near as I can tell the M's have about $55.5M in salary committed for next year (Boone $9M, Cabrera $1M, Franklin $2.4M, Wiki Gonzalez $2.25M, guardado $4.5M, Hasegawa $3M, Ibanez $3.75M, Jarvis $500K buyout, Moyer about $7M with all earned incentives, Pineiro $4.2M, Spiezio $3.1M, Ichiro about $11M with earned incentives, and Winn $3.75M). Benefits (which the Mariners do count when the quote us payroll figures) are about $7.5M. Gil Meche will make a minimum of $3M in his first year of arbitration-eligibility. They have to pay non-arbitration-eligible players on the 25-man roster about $350K, and "optioned" players who are on the 40-man roster generally earn a pittance of about $50K. Being generous with salaries and those who will be kept around, I would add about another $9M to that (Atchison $400K, Bloomquist $400K, Bucky $400K, Blackley $50K, Choo $50K, Dobbs $50K, Leone $50K, Lopez $400K, Madritsch $400K, Mateo $400K, Meche $3M, Nageotte $50K, Olivo $500K, Putz $400K, Santiago $50K, Snelling $50K, Soriano $400K, Strong $50K, Taylor $400K, Thornton $400K, Reed $400K, Sherrill $400K, and some extra just because). This is generous, because not all these guys will be here, many I've counted as making the major league roster won't, and most of those who do will make the minimum rather than $400K. Add to this $5M for contingencies and unexpected incentives met, and the Mariners have "committed" $77M. Now, Howard Lincoln claimed yesterday that the M's ownership group is willing to sustain "an operating loss in the many millions of dollars" in order to turn things around. What does that mean? Well, Howard Lincoln just said on KJR that it means they will keep payroll right where it is (which isn't "top ten," Howard). I guess that means they think they will lose money based solely on attendance losses, which doesn't add up. In 2001, based on figures that Major League Baseball itself released, the Mariners were the most profitable team in baseball by a wide margin ($14.8M after revenue-sharing, based on gros revenues of over $202M; that's more than $6M more in profit than the Yankees made). Components of Mariners' revenue reported there that can only have remained steady or, more likely, increased since then are: $38M in local radio, TV, and cable contracts; shared national TV/media/licensing revenue of $24M; and "other" local revenues (things like parking, concessions, naming rights, etc.) of $56M. "Game receipts" or ticket revenue, can vary. The Mariners reported $77M in game receipts for 2001 (a figure some $3M less than what the Team Marketing Report average ticket price and attendance figures would indicate, by about $4M, BTW), but since then average ticket prices have increased by over $2 a ticket, so even though the 2004 Mariners drew roughly 600,000 fewer fans in 2004 than they did in 2001, the net loss in ticket revenue is only about $6M from what they reported in 2001. That figure is very likely made up by increases in local and national revenues (the latest radio contract, from the 2003 move to KOMO, covers most of this alone). The other variables are player payroll (up), revenue sharing (up), and national and local expenses (way down, due to retirement of debt after the 2002 season, and the fact that they counted the $13M they paid to Orix for the right to negotiate with Ichiro in that figure). In 2002, MLB made no convenient financial disclosures, but we know that Forbes estimated the Mariners profit was $23M (and Forbes' fig[...]
2004-10-07T13:02:31.506-07:00I have been digesting all that last weekend meant to me as a baseball fan, which I will post about at some point along with my thoughts about a new manager and the direction the organization should take with overhauling this team. In the meantime, I can't resist reacting to Art Thiel's interview with Howard Lincoln in the P-I today. I'm just going to throw out the many jaw-dropping quotes (somewhat edited here) and react: "Q: If you were a major shareholder of a company whose main rival for three years put out a better product at half the price, do you think the CEO of that company might be vulnerable? "A: I certainly think that CEO would be subject to legitimate criticism. . . . I'm cognizant that our fans -- and I'm one -- are very, very disappointed with what happened in 2004 and, while we had winning records in 2002 and 2003, we didn't go to the playoffs. [However,] I'd . . . point out that in the five years we've been doing this we've been to the American League Championship Series twice and we've had four years of good baseball. I think overall it's fair to say we've brought great joy to the community and we've turned an entire region to Mariner baseball. ". . . While I know our fans are upset now, I venture to say that they would agree to the following: When I take my 2-year-old grandson to the park when he's 10, . . . the last thing on my mind will be the win-loss record of the 2004 season. Instead, I will be saying to him, 'This is the field where Edgar Martinez played, and I was here for his last game. This is the field where Ichiro Suzuki established the new single-season hit record. I was there. Baseball is more than wins and losses. It's the joy of coming to Safeco Field and watching extraordinary performances by world-class athletes. . . . I would hope that 2004 would be viewed as an aberration (that no one) in the organization felt was acceptable."There is a lot that bothers me about both the tone and content of Lincoln's response to this question. First, it is telling that it is so obvious that Lincoln views major league baseball as a business like any other that Thiel feels the need to phrase the question this way. While it may be a business, it is certainly unlike any other, given both its legally-sanctioned monopoly status and the reality that nearly every franchise is highly subsidized with public dollars. But, even accepting the construct of the question and Lincoln's thinking, does anybody think that Lincoln -- a former president of a publicly-traded company in a highly-competitive field -- is being straight with us here? You regularly get your butt beat by a lesser-capitalized competitor and all the CEO should expect from shareholders is "legitimate criticism"? Please. Any CEO of a company like that knows his head is on the block, and rightfully so. We are the "shareholders" of this operation, folks, because we are citizens of the country whose government has legitimized the monopoly that is major league baseball, and of the city, county, and state that (through the leverage provided by that monopoly status) was squeezed out of some $350 million provided to this operation -- not to mention nearly free rent for and free reign over a public asset. We have the right to expect some public accountabilty from the Mariners for the way they have mismanaged their product. And I'm not just talking about "legitimate criticism" here. Some may say that the time is not right for a clean sweep, one season of abject failure after consecutive 93-win seasons -- and I might be convinced to allow this management group one more season to make good progress toward righting the Good Ship Mariner. However, let's not kid ourselves: this is not one season of failure, but the culmination of three [...]
2004-10-02T15:14:54.056-07:00On September 1st I predicted that Ichiro would fall five hits shy of breaking Sisler's single-season hit record. Eleven hits in three games down in Anaheim against the Angels put him over the hump to seal the deal. Congratulations to Ichiro...I'm very happy that I was wrong.
2004-09-30T15:54:00.013-07:00* I know Jeremy Reed has a very small sample size of just 50 major league at bats, and guys like Willie Bloomquist (.455/.526/.576 in 33 ABs two Septembers ago) are constant reminders of the danger of reading too much into a 2-3 week hot streak, but . . . MAN! .440/.491/.520! It's damn clear Reed's no Willie Bloomquist, either. Willie was a career .255/.294/.310 hitter over 491 ABs in AA, and .257/.304/.352 over 540 ABs in AAA, while Reed hit .409/.474/.591 over 242 ABs in AA, and .289/.361/.436 over 509 AAA at bats. I think there is plenty of statistical evidence to conclude that Bloomquist's September Surprise was far flukier and less representative of what might follow than Reed's. This is a guy who regularly shows an understanding of the strike zone and good patience. After an initial adjustment to major league pitching (he went 0 for his first 5 with no XBH or BB until his sixth appearance, at which point he was hitting .308), he seems to be showing he has the potential for at least gap power -- since he got that first XBH, he's hit .486/.547/.590 over more ABs (37) than Willie got in his big September . . .. What's not to like here? I'm not saying that Reed can come close to sustaining this over a rookie season, that he will have enough power for a corner outfielder or the arm and instincts to play centerfield (I like his range, but his arm has looked suspect at times and so has his ball trajectory/route judgment -- remember that throw that hit the back of the mound? Very Winn-esque; remember Reed pulling up on a Trot Nixon shot off the base of the wall that Reed thought had left the yard?), but he certainly deserves a fair shot at the 25-man roster next Spring. If he can get 300 major league ABs next year, I don't see that sending him back to AAA will serve any useful purpose except saving a year of service time and extending the time the M's can cheaply keep Reed around further into his prime. That's not insignficant, but for a team with the resources of the Mariners, it shouldn't be the much of a concern, either. * Man, Ichiro! just laced number 256. I don't want to root against him, but I sure hope he doesn't get more than one more hit today. It's bad enough that he could tie the record in Oakland; I definitely don't want him to break it there -- especially since I bought tickets to Friday's game specifically to see him break the record. [Post-game update: only one hit, thanks to a nice running catch by Eric Byrnes . . ..] * Speaking of Ichiro!, there is a good discussion on USSM about whether Ichiro's Japanese statistics should be considered for Hall of Fame purposes. Derek makes some rough translations of what Ichiro might've done had he been in MLB his whole career, not to make the argument that he would have done those things but rather to give him the benefit of the doubt in considering a likely short but excellent MLB career that he was capable of putting up HoF numbers had he been given a full chance. At least that was my understanding of Derek's argument . . .. Anyway, most of the comments focused on the imperfect analogy between Japanese baseball and the Negro Leagues as they relate to the Hall of Fame, the fact that Cooperstown is not an international Hall of Fame but the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and therefore Japanese players and performances shouldn't be considered. Here's my take: Unlike black ballplayers before Jackie Robinson, Ichiro and other Japanese ballplayers at least had the opportunity to sign with MLB teams (ala Mac Suzuki) rather than pursue a career in Japan. While it is true that agreements between NPB and MLB prevent players in the NPB system from freely moving for something like 8 years once they[...]
2004-09-27T10:45:49.213-07:00[Editor's Note, 9/26: I noticed this weekend that I had screwed up the probables here, listing Harden before Zito, when in fact it will go Zito-Hudson-Harden-Redman-Drese-Rogers-Park. I have adjusted the post to correct the errors. Ichiro got three hits over the first three games profiled in this post, to sit at 251. he needs 7 hits over the last 7 games. He needs to hit something around .230 -- depending on how many ABs he actually gets -- to break the record. I think that is very do-able for Ichiro. I do think he will fade some over the last week, but I think much less than about 8 hits (.275 or so) is unduly pessimistic. Let's say two against Zito, maybe one each against Hudson and Harden, one or two against Redman -- Ichiro will be at 256 or 257 on Friday, at home. Personally, I think the record will be tied and/or broken on Friday against Drese. In fact, I am confident enough about that that I made sure I had tickets for Friday (to go with the Saturday tickets I already had, and the Sunday-Goodbye Edgar-tickets I still plan to get). This record is going down.] Hits: 247 Games Remaining: 10 AB/G: 4.37 Projected ABs Remaining: 44 Hits/Average Needed to Break Record: 11, .250 Average Needed to Break Record in 154 Games: .846 (11-13) Average Since July 18: .451 Hits/ Average Needed to Hit .400: 35, .795 Next Five Games' Pitching Probables: (R) J. Benoit, 5.83 ERA, 5.0 IP/ST, .274 BAA, IchiAVG: .188 (3-16) (R) C. Young, 4.50 ERA, 5.0 IP/ST, .242 BAA, IchiAVG: never faced (R) R. Drese, 3.80 ERA, 6.1 IP/ST, .274 BAA, IchiAVG: .500 (8-16) (L) B. Zito, 4.47 ERA, 6.0+ IP/ST, .267 BAA; IchiAVG: .386 (17-44) (R) T. Hudson, 3.33 ERA, 7.0+ IP/ST. .265 BAA; IchiAVG: .211 (12-57) Aggregate IchiAVG vs. Next Five Pitching Probables: .301 (40-133) Aggregate IchiAVG Against Texas Relievers: .313 (25-80) Aggregate IchiAVG Against Oakland Relievers: .365 (19-52) Pete's Prediction for Hits Over Next 5 Games: 6, leaving 22 projected ABs to get 5 hits (.227) to break George Sisler's record. My first instinct was to say seven, but I think once again it will be better to err on the low side. Of course, I hope he maintains this ridiculously hot streak over the next 3 games, and breaks the record in 154 games. Certainly, with Ichiro, anything is possible . . . but I think that is more than a bit unlikely. I had been seriously overestimating Ichiro's number of hits per each 5 game period between these updates, until the last (9/18) edition, when I underestimated the number by 5. Overall, I am only off by two hits (too many) over the last 15 games, though. This illustrates one of my favorite points to make about statistics, very well: average is only a poor approximation of reality/truth, which you can only really see in variation of performance. Over short bursts, just about anything is possible, and average over small samples isn't really very instructive. I think, as I've been saying for the better part of a month now, that Ichiro will break the record. I expect he will do it either on Friday, October 1, or Saturday, October 2. [...]
2004-09-17T13:09:02.466-07:00There's been a fair amount of talk about Melvin letting Bobby Madritsch and Gil Meche throw too many pitches in recent games. Madritsch has thrown over 120 pitches in two of his eight starts (the last two). Since he was called back up, Meche has thrown 120+ pitches in three of eight starts, including 2 of his last 4. It's tough to justify letting two pitchers with the collective history of shoulder trouble these two have throw that many pitches in a lost season, when both are being counted on to play significant roles in next year's rotation. The "risk vs. reward" analysis weighs heavily in favor of the "risk" side. I went to several of these games (Meche's 8/10, 8/15, and 9/12 starts, and Madritsch's 9/9 gem), and at least at the 9/9 and 9/12 games bent the ear of my seat partners about pulling them before their last inning -- not necessarily because they were no longer effective but because it just doesn't make sense to ride these guys so hard in games that don't matter. But let me play Devil's Advocate here . . . there is another side to this argument. Two years ago, Bobby Madritsch was pitching in the Independent Leagues, and came up this July after not much more than a couple of months (12 starts) in AAA -- he spent almost a month and a half on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle -- and fewer than 40 games pitched above the Independent Leagues/A-ball. Two months ago, Gil Meche was struggling to a 1-3 record and 5.05 ERA over 57 innings (over ten starts) in Tacoma, after being demoted for stumbling out to a 1-5 record with a 9.00 ERA over 43.1 innings (over ten starts) in which he averaged over 20 pitches per inning. In their second-half call-ups, I'm sure it has been important to Bob Melvin -- to the extent their performance would allow him -- to help each guy gain confidence, come to believe they belong in MLB, and learn to pitch through a variety of situations. For example, take a look at Madritsch's comments after the 9/9 game against Boston (in which Madritsch threw 126 pitches in eight innings). They are telling, both about how he had developed confidence over his previous 6 starts, and how Melvin letting him pitch through the 8th helped build on that. Madritsch walked the first batter of the 7th inning of that game, and even though he came through it unscathed, he threw 23 pitches to get through the inning -- not a huge number, but more worrisome than it would otherwise be because it came later in the game. After the inning, Madritsch had thrown 100 pitches, and he led 7-0. I would have been just as easy to let Madritsch take a seat with a win in his pocket and only 100 pitches thrown, but the kid is throwing a shutout, and the confidence gained by working through the top half of the order of the best offensive team in baseball. This is what happened, as described in the P-I: "If there was one moment when Madritsch could have wavered, it was in the eighth inning. With one out [the ninth hitter, Gabe Kapler, grounded to third on Madritsch's 104th pitch], he walked Johnny Damon [on 7 pitches] and Mark Bellhorn singled. All that did was bring up MVP candidates Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, who came into the game with 235 RBIs between them. Seattle manager Bob Melvin let Madritsch work out of trouble. 'When he didn't come out to get me, that's a load of confidence for me,' Madritsch said. 'He could have taken me out there. But I had confidence in what I was doing.'"Ramirez and Ortiz did what they usually do -- they worked the count -- but Madritsch got Ramirez to ground into a fielder's choice (on a nice play by Jolbert Cabrera), and Or[...]
2004-09-14T14:56:54.366-07:00Especially after an 0-fer against Escobar last night, It's probably pointless to even talk about Ichiro! breaking George Sisler's record in 154 games (the number of games played in Sisler's era) anymore. Does this matter? I don't really think so. Larry Stone penned an excellent piece in Sunday's paper that raised some of these issues in explaining that Sisler only holds the modern hits/season record, as a couple of old-timers named Tip O'Neill and Pete Browning each had 275 "hits" in 1887. Of course, in 1887, things were a bit different from what we're used to. For one, walks were counted as hits (so O'Neill actually had "only" 225 hits, and Browning only 220, since the former walked 50 times and the latter 55) and required five balls rather than four. For a couple of others: foul balls were not counted as strikes (and wouldn't be until 1901); "gloves" were little more than just that; the pitching mound was forty-five feet away rather than 60'6"; and pitches were delivered underhand (the latter two rules changing to their modern form in 1893). The game that Browning and O'Neill played was far different from the one Sisler played, and comparing the two is akin to comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. This got me to thinking about how different the game Ichiro! plays is from Sisler's. I'm not just talking about the advent of night games, relief specialists, and computer-chart-assisted pitching and defense (though the role of those things in today's game certainly makes Ichiro's task more difficult than the one Sisler faced). I am also not just talking about the five-fold increase in the pool of potential major leaguers (and presumably similar increase in ability of the best players) over the last hundred years just by virtue of the United States population growth -- not to mention the increases due to inclusion of black players and foreign players, which has likely had at least as big an effect on competitive levels as that. Apart from all that, there were other changes within the game itself during Sisler's time that profoundly affected performance. After the adoption of the foul-strike rule in 1901, mean batting average in MLB fell rapidly from an all-time high of .307 in 1894 (where it had jumped, from the .240s in the early 1890s, after the mound was moved back) -- too precipitously for MLB, which introduced the cork center ball in 1911 in part to counteract this trend and quickly saw mean batting averages move upward. The Black Sox scandal, coupled with the awe that greeted Babe Ruth's mind-boggling 29 home runs in 1919, prompted MLB to adopt several more changes that would again send mean batting averages soaring (breaking .300 for the second -- and only other -- time in 1930). Beginning in 1920, trick pitches were banned; no more spit balls, emery balls, or "shine" balls. Maybe even more importantly, umpires now supplied new white baseballs any time they became scuffed or dirtied. Before 1920, soft, scratched and darkenened balls were kept in use as long as possible; fans were even supposed to throw back souvenir foul balls for continued use. These changes, according to Bill James and others, had as much or more effect as any (unproven) "juiced" ball could have had, and the results were immediate and obvious. I don't think it is coincidental that George Sisler set the record Ichiro! is now chasing in the year these changes were adopted, before pitchers began the slow process of adapting to them. People often argue that the "juiced" 1990s and early 2000s should be looked at as some kind of abberation in baseball, even thou[...]
2004-09-11T16:58:37.213-07:00A few thoughts from my last foray to the Safe (Thursday) and beyond: * Bobby Madritsch is a very pleasant surprise. I thought he would be an effective pitcher, but probably not the best of the Tacoma call-ups, as he has been. Hell, he has been the de facto ace of the staff for the last 4-5 weeks. His periperals are fantastic -- 1.18 WHIP, works deep into games (7.1+ average innings pitched as a starter), pretty good K/9 (6.5+) and K:BB (40:22) numbers, terrific against both lefties (.212/.300/.288) and righties (.238/.317/.338), and as Dave Cameron noted today, keeps the ball in the ballpark. Madritsch has definitely earned a place on the 25-man roster next year, and IMHO, somewhere in the rotation. * Why does Ichiro! think that bunting with two outs and a man on second (particularly when trailing) is a good idea? He must, since he did it two nights in a row. I mean, if you are hitting .460 in the second half, and most base hits will score a run in that situation, how are your improving things by bunting? Even if you think you have a better than .460 shot and successfully getting the bunt down (which Ichiro! didn't do in either game he tried it this week), you only move the runner up to third where he still needs a hit to score him, but you are now relying on a guy who has hit about .285 after a torrid July-- and is slowing (.265) in September -- instead of your .400+ hitter to get that hit. I just don't get it. Bob Finnigan and Bob Melvin did their best to offer up Ichiro's thought process in a piece for yesterday's rag. Melvin says: ""We were down by two runs (5-3 Wednesday), the middle of the order was coming up behind him. I know this is not the most popular play in that situation, but he was trying to put us closer to the middle of the order, with the power hitters. Ichiro is not profiled as a home-run hitter, so it was something he felt he had to do." Sorry, Bob, but that's not very persuasive. Next, Finningan. He first justifies the move on the basis that Ichiro has used it successfully before, this year. I don't think that makes it smart, Bob, and I would be interested to know how "success" is defined here. How many times did Ichiro get the bunt down safely and the following hitters also came through? Finnigan also implies that Ichiro has so few RBIs this year because outfields play him in, and therefore any non-bunt hit he gets in this situation is unlikely to score the runner anyway. I don't buy it. First, RBIs despite a .370+ average with runners in scoring position isn't evidence of outfield defenses successfully squeezing Ichiro, but rather lack of opportunity to drive runners in because of poor hitters hitting in front of him. Second, even if outfield defenses play Ichiro in, the runner is going on contact on that play, which increases the chances of scoring from second over the similar situation with less than two outs, even with the outfield in. Third, even Finnigan doesn't offer the answer to the critical question: if Ichiro is hitting .460 in the second half, and what you need is a base hit to score a run, why are you better off with Randy Winn hitting that Ichiro? Even assuming outfield defense on Ichiro can keep a runner from scoring on 30% of his hits, that still means you're trading a 30-35% chance of scoring for a 26-28% chance . . .. It just doesn't make sense to me. * Jose Lopez looks to me like he's making the adjustments to be a decent major league hitter. When he was first called up, he wasn't hitting for power. As late as twleve games into his MLB care[...]
2004-09-09T19:31:28.510-07:001) DePodesta will not be able to move Shawn Green and his $17M contract without paying at least $10M of it. Is it really worth paying $10M just to get rid of Green and then pay another $10M for Delgado?
2004-09-07T11:50:01.090-07:00The team Jack mentions that I've seen most often linked to Delgado is the Dodgers, and I think they'll be interested if they can find the money and/or dump Shawn Green in the off-season. That won't be easy, as I think Green is beginning his decline. He's slumped his way through most of the last two seasons, has seen his OBP and SLG (the components of most of his value, because he's never been a hitter for average -- he's only hit over .300 once, five years ago) erode, and is beginning to struggle against left-handed pitching. Although he has been better in the second half, he's hitting .262/.348/448 on the season, hardly numbers you want to see from your first baseman (where he has gotten 65% of his ABs this year). Why wouldn't the Dodgers be interested in improving at that position? Well, for one thing, Green makes $16.7M this year and a similar amount next year in his contract year. Hee Seop Choi makes close to the minimum, is hitting .198/.319/.302 after the All-Star Break, and only .253/.372/.452 on the season. The Yankees will have interest, but their profligate spending over the last few years will finally complicate things. However, there is no question about their need at the position. Whether Jason Giambi is healthy or not going into next season, there is no denying that his numbers began a slow decline in 2002 that began to gather more speed this year. Though still a dangerous hitter, the 2003 version of Giambi was 92 points worse than his peak (2001) in batting average, 65 points off his peak OBP, and 133 points off his peak SLG. That would be reason enough to worry even if he had held steady at that plateau this year . . . but he hasn't. Instead, he's lost another 29 points off his batting average, 53 points off his OBP, and 124 points off his SLG, while seemingly suffering every malady known to man. I think most people realize Tony Clark is done, at least unless he is hitting right-handed pitching (only .243 average, but an .889 OPS). John Olerud has had a moderately successful stint as a Yankee, but you wonder if he has interest in another year in Gotham at a significantly reduced salary. He and Clark don't make an effective platoon, either, since neither man hits left-handed pitching. It seems to me that the Yankees are in the same boat as the Dodgers: if they could find a taker for even half of Giambi's monster salary ($13.8M next year, $21.8M in 2005, $24.8M in 2006, $21M in 2007, and a $5M buyout of a $22M otherwise owed for 2008), they might be interested. I don't think there will be any takers, and thankfully, even the Yankees have to have some limit to payroll dollars they can commit to aging players, so I agree with Jack that they aren't a likely shopper for Delgado's services. I don't think the Red Sox, Orioles, or Braves will be players, either. Doug Mientkiewicz is under contract to the BoSox for $3.75M next year (and the club has an option at the same salary for 2006), and undoubtedly doesn't want David Ortiz to become a full-time DH if that means Manny Ramirez has to become a full-time leftfielder. The Orioles got burned with a lot of big signings that didn't result in contention in a tough division, and if they spend much this off-season, I think it will be on pitching. Rafael Palmeiro hasn't had much of a year, but he is probably a better bargain at $4.5M (club option) next year than Delgado would be for twice that. The Braves have been in salary-cutting mode for a coupl[...]
2004-09-07T09:55:59.683-07:00I remember reading John Hickey's article on Friday and nearly spitting out my coffee when I read his thoughts that Carlos Delgado "might" have to take a 25 % pay cut when he signs his next contract. I don't see Delgado getting the $60M over four years, but I've been wrong before. I think we need to start by figuring out what teams will even be vying for Delgado's services. Going through all 30 teams I came up with the following list of teams who might need a full time first baseman: