Mariners Analysis

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Road trip went as expected

It would have been great to have taken the Anaheim series, but overall the road trip went about as well as could be expected. As I said before they left, taking both series in KC and Tampa was a reasonable expectation, and you hoped to not get swept in Anaheim. They swept the Royals which was a pleasant surprise, but otherwise the trip went about as well as a .500 team would expect to do.

It was tough watching Felix pitch- he clearly was leaving pitches up and paid the price. I did think the strike zone was inconsistent and he got screwed on a few that should have been strikes but weren't. For some reason he wasn't throwing his curve as much and he stuck to his fastball a little too often... so tough to watch.


If Weaver is really being put back in the rotation, I simply give up on this issue. What more can we say? The team is not interested in winning, puts pride over wins etc... it's so obvious why it's a bad move. I hope public opinion is overwhelmingly negative and Weaver, Hargrove, Bavasi and the rest of the decision makers get an earful.

How hard will you cheer for Weaver when he pitches after refusing a rehab assignment?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Feierabend impresses

I agree with other bloggers and fans who argue Ryan Feierabend showed enough last night to already be given a roster spot over Weaver or Ramirez. This will be yet another dilemma for the front office- to let money and pride compete with trying to win games. If this was strictly a baseball decision, Feierabend would get the nod for sure over those two yahoos.

He showed me plenty to be excited about. I am most impressed with the velocity differential between his change and fastball, his two best pitches. If you can throw strikes and get 10+ mph differences in your pitches, as long as your deliveries sound your going to succeed more often than not. That 76-78mph change will keep hitters off balance consistently if he can throw it for strikes. He's already good enough to be at least an average reliever, if the club felt that was a priority. If not for a break here of there, it could have very easily have been a 2-1 Mariner loss last night, and everyone would be raving about his performance. I hope Hargrove was really watching last night- he had to notice the upgrade in Feierabend over Ramirez. There's no way a person with as much experience as Hargrove can't see how Feierabend is a better pitcher than Ramirez. If he really is trying to save his job this year, he should be in Bavasi's office right now lobbying to get him at least 2 more starts.

Last night was a great example of small sample size. Sure, the team lost the game, but anyone watching could see reason for optimism. He surely deserves the opportunity (like Baek) to help the club now. In fact, I have considerably more optimism in Feierabend than I do Baek, as I think his ceiling is higher. But that's another story.

The club lost last night, but I was impressed. I hope Bavasi and Hargrove had reason for optimism as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ok, they passed!

I said before the organization would have to be crazy to try and pitch Weaver tonight, and with the official news Feierabend is joining the club, we can all breathe easy. They sometimes do stupid things, but pitching Weaver tonight is fortunately not one of them.

As for the teams recent success, I'm simply ecstatic. So this is what winning feels like! (let's face it, it's been way too long...) I thought the team would be happy with simply winning both series in KC and Tampa, and then hope to stay competitive in Anaheim. With the win last night against Colon, they are clearly exceeding my expectations and I couldn't be more happy.

The number one thing I want to see tonight is Feierabend to pitch well. I would love to watch the M's stay competitive all season, and I don't see that happening with Weaver or Ramirez in the rotation. I've been saying that all season long, and I hope I don't see either one start a game again this year. That alone makes the team better, and helps the team compete with Anaheim and the inevitable Oakland streak in the second half.

It would really force this teams management process to have Baek and Feierabend pitch so well they have to make hard decisions on removing them from the roster. The lesson of not being afraid to use pitchers in your organization as 4th and 5th starters is HUGE.

Let's hope Feierabend pitches well, and let's hope we the M's management learns something in the process.

Go M's!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Competency test

Situation- the FO has two terrible starters they brought in, despite warnings signs showing extreme risk of failure.

The first pitcher, Weaver is off to a bad start of historical level. He is completely ineffective, and has cost the team multiple victories already after being allowed to take the mound despite the obvious lack of ability.

The second pitcher is Ramirez, who is also off to a bad start, although he has at least pitched decent in several home starts.

The team now realizes they need a starter in the near future after the Ramirez shoulder tightness. The test will be if they are stupid enough to actually put Weaver back in the starting rotation with no rehab assignment.

For comparison, many have used the Yankees situation with Kei Igawa. Despite investing FAR more money and resources in Igawa, despite having multiple injuries to their starting rotation, the Yankees never hesitated in sending Igawa down. The team realizes they cannot afford to give away games by playing the lottery and HOPING things would fix themselves out.

The Mariner FO is in a similar situation. They have two starters who are completely ineffective, yet they continue to rely on luck and divine intervention to bail them out, rather than sound reasoning.

The smart thing to do for both Weaver and Ramirez is to put them through a rehab assignment that includes minor league games before either sees the mound as a Mariner again. If the FO fails this simple test, we have yet again direct evidence our management is clueless.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ramirez injury

As I've said all season, I have little faith in Ramirez as a successful pitcher. There was a reason the Braves were ready to dump him, and the Bavasi trade gets worse after every outing.

The one fear I have with the injury today is Bavasi using it as spin re: the trade. You can just see the quotes now in tomorrows paper- "Ramirez would have been a great pickup, if only he didn't get injured..." or "we know Ramirez is a great pitcher, and this injury explains everything..."

Bavasi got fleeced in the trade, and the injury is just icing on the cake.

Hopefully the injury will force the team to look for permanent alternatives within the organization, and highlight for the FO why the trade was indefensible in the first place.

I'll take 'em

As the M's go for the sweep, I'm of course happy to see them win. While you don't expect to see this team sweep anybody, of course it could happen at any time. Certainly we all expect them to sweep a few series over the season, and Tampa is as good a place as any to do it. They have looked absolutely awful the past few games.

Kansas City has been quietly playing better the past week. The Meche/Felix matchup should be pretty interesting to watch, and at least adds a subplot to an otherwise fairly boring series. For those that are against interleague play, I don't see how the Padres are somehow a letdown compared to the bottom dwellers of the AL. This has been a pretty boring series, if for no other reason you don't feel as much joy when they win. It's more of a "at least we didn't lose" feeling than any sort of real elation. I'll get more enjoyment when the team plays a little stiffer competition, and the Anaheim series is going to be real interesting.

I'm not a big fan of HoRam, but today is a chance for him to take a step forward and at least not be completely useless on the road. Let's see how he and the rest of the team plays out the final game.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sums up the offense pretty well

This doesn't need much more analysis-
1st inning-
I Suzuki singled to center.

J Vidro grounded into double play, third to second to first, I Suzuki out at second.

J Guillen singled to center.

R Sexson struck out swinging.

Is there anything to add?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Don't understand the predictions

Plenty of people are arguing the team needs to finish 7-2 during the next 9 games in order to be in the division race. The optimism is based on KC and Tampa, and then hoping for a good showing in Anaheim.

I really don't see why everyone sees these games as so winnable. Sure KC and Tampa are two of the worst teams in the AL, but are they really that much worse than Seattle? The Mariners haven't swept a series of three or more games all year, and yet we are pinning our hopes on a smackdown on the road no less? I just don't see it.

Realistically you hope the team can win both series against Tampa and KC. That puts them at 4-2. Against Anaheim on the road, you hope to win one game. That's put the team at 5-4 on the homestand, and seems more realistic to me.

Now of course it would be great if the team could take the series with the Angels, but it's also just as likely the team doesn't win both series with KC or Tampa. Again, 7-2 or better seems like a dream at this point.

The Mariners are a .500 right now. I just don't see them beating up on the cellar-dwellars like many others do. We'll see who's right.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Soft schedule

A week ago the Mariners were hoping to take sole possession of first place. Now they find themselves in 3rd place and starting to feel some pressure. The local columns are dominated by stories pointing out the need to beat up on the Rays and Royals appearing on the horizon.

Of course as I've pointed out, .500 teams have a way of driving you crazy. They can look absolutely awful one series, and sweep the next. They can put up a ton of runs one night and look hopeless 24 hours later. Because the team was constructed in a way that doesn't allow it to dominate in any one particular area, you get a lot of inconsistency. As soon as you start penciling in wins because you think the team SHOULD beat the Royals you're bound to be disappointed.

Most of us felt this team was going to win around 82 games. They are currently 1 game under .500 i.e. they are right about where we all thought they should be. Of course it's disappointing to see the Padres take 2 of 3, but we all saw this coming. I mean, there was a reason we all criticized the offseason and the disastrous plan Bavasi came up with.

So the team is a little stuck right now. They really, really need to win to keep the division within reach (the wildcard is so not happening) but they have so few choices available.

It's Bavasi's problem... it will be interesting to see what he comes up with.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vidro update

We took a look earlier this year and compared Vidro and Snelling. At the time, Chris was putting up better numbers, and was cheaper.

Time to check in again.

As of May 17th, we have Snelling on the DL. Uh oh, if you are not a Snelling fan this is probably all you need to hear to want to tip the trade in Bavasi's favor.

At the same time, we keep hearing from the M's propaganda machine how Vidro is one of the teams best hitters.

If we look at Vidro's current numbers, we get:

I doubt many fans of this trade will try to justify a .705 OPS from a DH. However, when you project those numbers out to a full season is when it really gets ugly. If Vidro continues as he has for a full season, his totals would be:
9 HR
43 RBI's

Yep, that's right. Jose Vidro, batting behind Ichiro is on pace for 43 RBI's! And earning almost $8 million in the process.

Snelling will be back in two weeks, and we can pick this up later in the season. But even if you don't like comparisons between the two, you have to admit we need more out of our DH.

At what point will Hargrove realize Vidro simply cannot reside at the top of the order? He's seriously hurting this team offensively, no batter what Sims., Blowers or the rest of the PR reps are saying.

If Bavasi and Hargrove are serious about winning this year, they need to sit Vidro more and move him lower in the lineup.

Sorry, but the numbers don't lie.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I'll take the win

Any time we beat the Yankees, I feel pretty good the rest of the day. So taking two of three from NY was good for me and the team, and gives them some momentum as they gear up for Anaheim.

But while Ramirez had spectacular results yesterday, I still have major reservations. He still pitches to contact, and doesn't show me anything to believe he can reliably get hitters out. He is the definition of a 5th starter. He can throw shutout baseball for 5 innings, or he can get lit up and be out of the game in 3. He's what you expect out of your least talented starting pitcher, and certainly not what you'd give up a top-flight reliever for.

Consider what Alex had to say about Ramirez:

“He gave us some great pitches to hit,” Alex Rodriguez said. “That was more puzzling than the bullpen. The bullpen came in throwing 100 miles an hour; it is what it is. But a guy like Ramirez, you’d like to feel you could score four or five runs.”

I felt watching the game yesterday it was more a case of the Yankees getting themselves out instead of a great performance by Ramirez. I'm also not buying the Safeco argument- it helps him to be sure, but you can't be an effective pitcher if your success is tied solely to your home park.

Happy for the win- still have reservations about HoRam.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Washburn opened some eyes last night

Dave at U.S.S Mariner argues Washburn was brilliant last night. Which everyone totally agrees.

However, I disagree this was a one-time outing. I've been arguing two things consistently based on observations during the season.

One, Weaver is really, really bad and not close to getting even decent anytime soon. (I also see no evidence HoRam belongs in the rotation, but that's a different topic.)

And two, Washburn's a different pitcher this season.

The rub on Washburn from critics early in the season was to downplay the opponents he faced. But it was quite clear to me he was pitching in a manner that would maximize his effectiveness regardless who was hitting, and we saw that last night.

A number of people have wondered what the differences are between Washburn and Weaver. Both throw in the mid-to-upper 80's and both rely on trying to keep hitters off balance rather than overwhelm them with filthy pitches.

The differences are subtle but as you can see make a huge difference. The primary differences are location and movement. Weaver's pitches have moderate movement and catch way too much of the plate. Washburn's pitches have more movement and he keeps them on the edge of the strike zone.

That's pretty much it. If you watch Washburn pitch this year, he consistently throws borderline pitches. When he throws a ball, it's not generally out of the strike zone much, and the hitters fall behind it they take too many pitches because the majority of his pitches are strikes. His control has been outstanding. Combine that with a mix of off-speed pitches and Washburn is drawing comparisons to Moyer. I think it is a very fair comparison, and if Washburn develops into a Moyer his contract will become more palatable.

Now history says Washburn can't keep this up. And if critics of Washburn want to point to that, fine. But last night was not a one-time outing. It's indicative of his pitching this entire season.

Kudos to Washburn- the key is if he understands why he's been effective, and if he can continue his pinpoint control.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hargrove and Bavasi lose again

I'm past the point of blaming Weaver for a loss. The guy clearly wants to succeed, but simply doesn't have the ability to do it right now. Every time he gets sent to the mound, the onus is squarely on Hargrove and Bavasi to try and justify why they keep giving games away.

I saw no improvement in his last start, and saw nothing today that was even remotely surprising. When hitters are batting almost .500 like they are against Weaver, he really has no place to go but down on every outing. Meaning, he was so historically bad to start the year, that yes you could argue he is "better" and showing improvement, but only by overstating his improvement in the worst way possible.

It all really depends on Felix now. If he comes back as planned, Weaver MIGHT have pitched his last game as a starter.

Let's hope Felix stays on schedule and Hargrove gets Weaver taken away.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ramirez trade looking worse and worse

For all the talk regarding Weaver, the other pitcher killing the Mariners is Ramirez. His inability to make hitters miss bats is causing the team to rely on two starters who are guaranteed to wear out the bullpen.

Much like Weaver, I don't see much that Ramirez can really improve upon. He's an upper 80's pitcher with little movement on his fastball and nothing resembling an out pitch. Most clubs have 5 guys in their farm system indistinguishable from him "stuff" wise. He appears to me to be the classic AAAA pitcher. Not good enough to be effective consistently to earn a spot in the rotation.

The pessimist pointed to the fact the Braves were ready to move him as all the information needed as to his future abilities as a starter. When one of the undisputed kings at pitcher evaluation gives up on a player, buyer beware. Not only did Bavasi bite, he gave up a valuable commodity in Soriano in the process, which led to the misuse of Morrow.

Because the team has so much invested financially and emotionally to both Weaver and Ramirez, the players are allowed to fail much longer than would otherwise happen. Weaver is the absolute worst pitcher in all of baseball right now, but is your starting pitcher tomorrow. Ramirez' has done nothing to hold his spot in the rotation, but is probably a lock for at least the next four starts before the whisperings increase.

The front office is lucky the AL West is so weak this year. If Anaheim or Oakland were 11 games over .500 the pressure would greatly increased. Instead the team can say they are only a game out of first and ready to make a run. They point to improvement in Weaver's last outing and almost sound like they mean it...

The team acts like it can afford to give away games. It will soon find out it can't.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Weaver delivery

A few people emailed me regarding Weaver and his "success" on Saturday. The arguments were generally in two camps:
1) They saw a change in his mechanics
2) They saw better stuff

I've gone on record as saying I thought any argument that Weaver was better on Saturday was a crock of shit. Just as we shouldn't judge a pitcher solely on one outing, or W-L record, or ERA, we need to be careful about throwing praise someones way based on 5 innings.

The danger of course is you trick yourself into giving the pitcher more opportunities then he's earned. Hargrove is convinced Weaver is showing progress. Hargrove knows far more about baseball than I do. Yet he is risking his job by continuing to allow someone to fail by putting them in a situation they have no chance to succeed.

Let's address what some people might be seeing in Weaver and why they think he's getting better.


When a pitcher with at least some record of success starts pitching poorly, two concerns in every pitching coach's mind leap out- injury or mechanics.

With Weaver, we have no reason to believe he's pitching hurt. He has gone on record as saying health is not an issue, and his velocity and movement appear normal for him. So let's assume with Jeff it's not injury related.

The next concern is mechanics. Human beings have a funny way of constantly inserting new routines/habits/positions in their routines, often subconsciously. No matter how many times you practice something, your mind and body have a habit of altering it slightly. Any one who's played golf can attest to this- it makes certain activities impossible to master. Tiger Woods is always trying to remove flaws that weren't there, and pro actively eliminate new ones even while he wins tournament after tournament. As your body ages and muscles lose elasticity and strength, your routines need to change as well.

We don't need inside knowledge to know the Mariner pitching staff has looked at Weaver's mechanics over and over, trying to see what changed between now and last years playoffs. We can also be confident they have suggested changes to his mechanics to try and improve his velocity, command and movement.

You don't have a pitcher experience the disastrous results Weaver has and not try to tweak his mechanics. Whether it's pushing off the mound more deliberately, pitching from the stretch differently, keeping your shoulder closed... you need that pitcher to feel something has changed that improves his confidence, whether it's real or imagined.

So yes, Weaver's mechanics were different on Saturday. Which leads us to point number two.

Did it make a difference?

Not from my vantage point. I didn't see increased velocity, increased movement or better command. Jeff Weaver has not been built on velocity anyway, and command in the general sense has not been his problem. He's not walking batters he used to strikeout, his problem is simply finding too much of the plate.

He's serving meatballs every night! The fact he gets away with it for a stretch of a few innings doesn't diminish the fact he's not a very good pitcher. Is there any pitcher worse in the major leagues right now?

As he's gotten older, his pitches have flattened, his velocity has dropped and his ability to get outs has diminished. It happens to 95% of all pitchers soon enough- I believe Weaver is likely done as a pitcher. It will take more than just a tweak to his mechanics to have him be a successful pitcher in the AL. I know the M's management doesn't want to hear it, but I believe it to be true.

If you really saw a different Jeff Weaver on Saturday I really hope you're right. While I think he should have been removed from the rotation two starts ago, the experiment continues.

We'll know who was right soon enough.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Disaster weekend

I thought it might be a tough weekend for the Mariners in NY, and I think we can all agree it has been in ways we couldn't have imagined.

First, the Mateo situation. Obviously everything else is secondary when you start talking about domestic violence. We would normally assume Mateo would never pitch for the Mariners again. However, let's wait for more information before we start making assumptions or jumping to wild conclusions.

Second, the Weaver situation. The worst start in major league history continues, and we actually have the ballclub deem his outing a success. I guess they can only mean they figured he would get clobbered even more then he did, so therefore they see improvement.

Jeff Weaver did not make any magic improvements. He did not add a new pitch, develop a new throwing motion or get bit by a radioactive spider. He is the same starter who continues to cost his team any chance of victory, and the fact he will continue to be thrown into a situation where he has no chance to succeed says more about this organization... if this was a normal work environment Jeff Weaver would have been fired long ago. Let's just leave it at that.

Finally, the offense was simply pathetic. Sunday's game was particularly inexcusable. No more words are necessary.

The good news in all this is todays game. If they win, they leave the Bronx with a split and reason for optimism heading to Detroit.

A team with heart will feed off the emotions of yesterdays hit and respond. Let's see what this team has in that department.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Important part of the schedule

We are going to learn a lot about the M's over the next few weeks. They may never be two games over .500 again all year. They could have disaster series and never recover- they could get shelled tonight in Boston, tomorrow in NY and then have Jeff Weaver take the mound trying to stop a two-game slide. It could get ugly real fast.

Or, the M's might steal some wins, stay around .500 and then continue to beat up on the Rangers, Devil Rays etc... and actually be worth investing some time in this summer.

This will be a very interesting time to watch the M's. I mean who isn't getting pumped to see Weaver take the mound in NY? Will he give up 10 runs? Will Hargrove yank him after two innings? Will he pitch a complete game shut-out? It's as close to must-see TV as we'll get all year.

Dice-K on the mound, and the M's better roll up their sleeves. They have a lot of work in front of them.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Washburn pitches well

I know the numbers don't lie- Washburn is pitching against inferior hitters, Safeco etc... but at least to my eyes, when I watch him pitch, he seems to be pitching differently than last year. He does a much better job of avoiding the middle of the plate, much like Moyer when he's on, and gets ahead of hitters by throwing borderline strike/ball pitches all night that convince the hitter to swing rather than get called out on that borderline pitch.

Of course he'll have a much harder time in NY, but who doesn't? The Yankees are historically good when it comes to hitting- Washburn won't be the only pitcher to struggle against that lineup.

Certainly Washburn will come to earth, and his ERA will rise. No one expects him to have a sub 3 ERA when all is said and done. But he is pitching well against teams he should pitch well against, and the Mariners are winning games they lost last year.

The pitcher I continue to have concerns with is Morrow. I know everyone keeps gushing on his strikeouts in crucial situations, but I see him flirting with danger at the same time. You can't keep raring-back and throwing fastball after fastball and develop as a pitcher. His control of his ONE pitch is spotty at best, and he is going to get used and abused by a good hitting team soon.

Last nights 3 strikeout inning was a good example of his playing with fire. One run lead, 8th inning. Morrow walks a batter on 4 straight pitches and faces Jermaine Dye. After following behind 3-1 he throws a pitch chin high that should have seen Dye trotting to first base. Instead Dye bails him out, misses and strikes out the next pitch. Morrow was T-H-I-S close to having two runners on and Hargrove bringing in Putz to save his hide.

I'm happy Morrow is helping the team win, but I feel like his success is not only hampering his ability to grow as a starter, it is unsustainable.

I expect Morrow to struggle. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not nearly as impressed as other observers.