Mariners Analysis

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mariner fans feeling good

It seems like most of the columns, blog posts and fan comments today are focused on the recent success of the team. A sweep of the Red Sox is always sweet, and it's understandable after years of doom and gloom around this team it's nice to to be able to bask in the glow of winning for a bit.

Yesterday we saw the good Dice-K, not the early version the Mariners teed off on somewhat surprisingly. Lost in the feel-good nature of yesterday was Hargrove and his opinion on Matsuzaka as a pitcher.

Earlier this year, Hargrove was asked what he thought of the new Japanese star. The basic response was sort of a "no comment" with a sly "if only I could tell you what I really feel." It only made me hate Hargrove more at the time, since only an idiot could look at the pitchers ability and not see reasoning for the hype (and I know Hargrove is not an idiot). While someone could reasonably argue he's not a $100 million pitcher, you can't argue he has no value to a team. Yesterday we saw him locating his fastball, and normally when a pitcher holds a team to one run, you expect to win the game. Who would have guessed a pitcher Hargrove didn't want (Matsuzaka) could be outpitched by another pitcher (Feierabend) who's only playing because the pitchers he really wanted sucked so bad!

It was an interesting case study. The Mariners refused to bid for Matsuzaka for reasons that are still unknown. They went out and signed pitchers who either suck (Weaver) or traded for pitchers who suck (HoRam) and only went to the minors through necessity, not insightful planning.

This wasn't a case of the Mariners realizing they had better prospects and didn't need to throw $52 million at a posting fee. This is a case of a pitching plan that failed miserably, and while entering plans D and F they might have possibly learned something.

The lesson isn't that Feirebend is a better pitcher than Matsuzaka. It's the lesson that really, really good pitchers are worth big money to smart teams, and not-so-good pitchers (Weaver, HoRam) are often times sitting in your own system.

If Hargrove was paying attention yesterday, he might have noticed the other teams pitcher would have looked pretty damn good in a Mariner uniform.

But for now, we'll leave that for another day and just try to remember what it feels like to root for a team that doesn't completely suck.