Mariners Analysis

Monday, January 28, 2008

Drama continues

Two things could happen to make this week a little brighter. Peter Angelos kills the deal or the name "Triunfel" is not mentioned when it's official.

But assuming recent reports are true and the deal is going down, I expect there to be lots of conversations around our bullpen, outfield and rotation. Some big questions include:
- Who replaces Jones in the outfield, and could they have possibly mismanaged the Guillen situation any more?
- What's the plan with HoRam? What possible role/value does he bring?
- What budget remains to solve the bullpen hole created by GS52 leaving? (you know how Baker and the team likes veterans in the relief role)
- What to do with Morrow?
- Why does this mean Washburn is getting traded? (as some are suggesting)

And while we ponder these questions, just imagine a world where the M's rotation is Bedard, Felix and Lincecum. THAT would have competed with the Angels. I'm just not sure what we have today really gives us a chance at the division, but that's why we play the games, right?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Depressing M's conference yesterday

Wow, yesterday listening to the M's try to get the fans excited had exactly the opposite effect. From Charlton's thinning, gray hair slicked back, McLaren in that ridiculous black leather coat... and then of course Bavasi and his comments.

The team all but came out and said "we are trying everything we can to trade Jones and company to get top-line pitching" but can't seem to find any takers. You seriously have to wonder if Adam might be better off in a different setting, as the current "brain trust" seems hell bent on trading him; the only way he sets foot in Safeco wearing Mariner blue is if other teams don't play along with Bavasi's "plan." By then the hype/expectations for Jones will be so high among casual fans they'll expect nothing short of Griffey-esque numbers that most will call him a failure no matter what.

Just as some have argued Morrow will be better off pitching for a club that isn't in a "win now" mode, Jones might well be better off playing for a club (Baltimore) where the team isn't expected to contend in 2008. Half the Mariner fans think Jones is a bust waiting to happen, and the expectations are going to be high. If Bavasi has his way, Adam Jones will be in Minnesota, Pittsburgh or Baltimore shortly.

The other depressing part was listening to Charlton and his insane "pitching inside" and "establish the fastball" mantra. I couldn't tell if he was the bullpen coach or a Scientology representative. Let's put up a list of clubs that don't believe pitchers should do either...

Club #1.... Mariners 2007 (according to Charlton)
Club #2.... umm, can't find any.

Seriously, this is like the hitting coach coming out and declaring in 2008 we are going to hit the ball harder. And farther. Because that's how to be an effective hitter, and we didn't do enough of that in 2007.

Felix didn't throw inside more in 2007 because he can't locate his fastball consistently. See, in order to throw your fastball to a particular location you have to actually know where it's going. Apparently Charlton has never actually watched Felix pitch because otherwise you would have never said what our bullpen coach spouted in front of the camera. You can go to any number of game logs to find games where every pitch was a fastball in the 1st inning by Felix.

I'm all for our coaching staff being excited about 2008 and getting our fans excited. From a PR perspective I would have rather seen the spin of "we have amazing prospects coming on board" and then had the team explain they found a deal they couldn't refuse if they had to part with them.

Instead the team finds itself in a bit of a predicament. They have essentially notified the fan base the young kids are being used as trade tokens because they believe they cannot help the club enough to win this year. So if for some reason the trades don't go through, then what? You tell the fans we are disappointed you couldn't get the players you wanted, so I guess we'll play out the year with our sloppy-seconds?

Bavasi had made it clear the present farm system is being used as trade tokens for the players they really want. I'll leave it up to you to decide if that's the way modern teams build for success.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yes, Bedard would make the team better

It's funny, as we all wait for something to happen, sometimes both sides of an argument talk so much they forget what the other is saying. In this case, the Pro-Bedard folks start believing the anti-Bedard-at-any-cost folks don't like Bedard.

Nothing could be farther from the case. I have never seen ONE coherent argument that Bedard doesn't make the M's better. He does. If you just throw Bedard onto the team and he didn't cost you anything, the team is much, much better. No one has ever argued otherwise.

Where the disagreement comes in is simply cost.

Over at Geoff Baker's excellent blog he now tries to argue innings make the difference and how the team will be better at having a staff go deep into a game.

I find this argument a case of overthinking. You are so wed to your idea you start trying to argue the same point over and over with just slight variations.

What Geoff is really saying is innings come from good pitchers. The better the pitcher, the longer you want them in the game. This is a talent issue. The other factor is health. You want them on the field, not on the trainers table. What Geoff is saying is he wants talented, healthy pitchers to make up the M's starting rotation. Surely no one would argue otherwise.

When you look back on last years roster, Ramirez and Weaver were two of the worst pitchers in baseball. If you read blogs at all last year you can find many, many stories of wanting to cut bait on both in June of last year. We know what happened instead.

So I think it's a little too simplistic to look at innings totals last year and then try to justify a trade-at-any-cost acquisition based on that number. Of course you have no where to go but up when you have a Ramirez on the team, and if inning totals mattered as much as some would have you believe Ryan Franklin would still be pitching as a Mariner.

Talent wins games. If you want your pitcher to go 7+ innings all the time, he'd better be giving your team a chance to win and talent decides that over the course of a season. The reason a Washburn can't pitch 8 innings every night isn't a mystery. He 's just an ok pitcher, he's not an ace and he's not a top-10 league ERA pitcher. He is what he is. A $37 million pitcher who hits a wall after 90 innings.

Bedard is an excellent pitcher, but the Orioles want a lot for him. Right now it's hard to see the team being much better than 80-85 wins, so it's asking a lot to expect Bedard to make up the 10-15 more it normally takes to win the division.

I don't care how many innings he pitches.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Debate on Bedard winding down

As fans we all wait for what we expect to happen- Jones+ is sent to Baltimore for Bedard. The debate raged and people took sides, but pretty much everything that can be said has been hashed and rehashed and now we just wait.

Clearly Geoff Baker isn't going to suddenly reverse course and say "you know what, I've listened to the Jones crowd and believe I was wrong for what I wrote earlier." Just as unlikely is Dave at USSM coming around on the trade either.

I still will continue to hammer on the side who wants to acquire Bedard to explain how they will replace Jones and Sherrill. I am guessing the signing of Rhodes coming off of TOMMY JOHN surgery doesn't qualify as a plan for most (sorry, but with both Reitsma and Rhodes being the only signings of note pitching wise I'm a little on edge).

The most curious development over the weekend was clearly Jones being pulled from Winter ball, but now has suddenly returned. I would love to hear a good explanation for it. The only thing that really makes sense is the team thought they were really close to pulling the deal and then one side backed up. Without more data it's the only explanation we have at this point.

I will also continue to hold it against Bavasi when he clearly is hell bent on trading Jones and yet never tendered arbitration to Guillen. The lack of prospects + no back up plan for Jones is just galling to no end. The lack of interest in Jenkins is icing on the cake and again leads any logical observer to conclude there is no offseason plan in place, just a series of unconnected moves that let the market and other teams dictate the roster.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Forget about Anderson

As the debate continues, I notice a common argument among casual fans who are in favor of dumping half our farm system for Bedard. Exhibit 1 is often Ryan Anderson.

Yeah, we get it. He was a highly touted prospect who looked to be the next Randy Johnson. But it turns out he had severe injury issues crop up and never made it.

Was it because the scouts were wrong and Ryan Anderson never had the talent to get anyone out?


Was it because a bunch of stat heads hyped up his potential only to see him flame out under pressure?


He got hurt, just like tens of thousands of other prospects in professional sports who coulda been a contenduh... Bedard could get hurt tomorrow, so could A-Rod, so could Adam Jones. The list is endless.

There is a reason Cal Ripken is famous. Sure he had a nice career, but his ability to play regularly made him a freak of nature, just like Bret Favre (who I hope has a bad game tomorrow).

But just because Ryan Anderson didn't pan out is no reason to by so cynical about every player coming up in the system. Felix has been amazing. Should we have dumped him when he was still in the minor leagues for some "guaranteed veteran?" Of course not.

So those who fear Jones or others will be a bust need to get over the Ryan Anderson's of the world. Believe me, there are plenty of execs, family members and gas station attendants out there who wake up in a cold sweat over a woulda, coulda, shoulda career that never happened.

Ryan Anderson and Adam Jones have nothing in common other than being human.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Clemens interview

The story of Roger Clemens and steroids continues, with news today he finally is going to take legal action. The initial outcry of critics blasting the Mitchell report continues to diminish as more and more players who were "falsely accused" confess.

So while Brian Roberts and Andy Pettite have added much credibility to the report by confessing, neither player has a HOF candidacy to protect. By far the biggest name still out there is Roger Clemens, and last night we finally got to hear his side of the story.

My initial impressions:
- Wallace asked harder questions than I thought he would. Considering he was requested by Clemens to do the interview and his past, I expected softballs. He threw a few high and tight.
- Wallace blew it by not mentioning the Piazza incident. How could anyone discuss steroids and Roger Clemens on TV and not show a clip of him throwing the bat?
- Clemens seemed mighty thirsty during an interview that totaled less than 13 minutes of air time.
- Clemens took steroids.

I'll be the first to admit I suspected he used them when the Mitchell report came out based on the evidence and the fact Clemens hid behind his lawyer. And I admit Clemens has a great point- how come no one has come forward to admit he supplied steroids to Clemens? All we have is someone saying they injected him, not supplied him.

But Clemens did himself no favors when he refused to cooperate with Mitchell. Did you notice Clemens claimed he was blindsided by the report? Does anyone actually believe that?

There is no doubt there will be documents clearly showing Clemens knew well before the Mitchell report was released he was being accused of steroids. Which means Clemens was lying when he told Wallace he had no idea and would have talked to Mitchell had he known.

If he was lying about that, what else was he lying about last night?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Rebuild or Reload?

Geoff Baker of the Times has a funny article on his blog. I don't know if he intended it to be funny, but I sure got a kick out of it.

Basically he argues teams like the Mariners have such a large payroll advantage, they don't need to rebuild they just need to reload. He uses teams like the Yankees and Red Sox to prove his point.

I don't think it takes much analysis to separate a team like the Yankees from a team like the Mariners. Let's see... one team has had a payroll close to $200 million for several years... while the other team crossed the $100 million barrier for the first time. Yessir, they are kissin' cousins and deserve to be treated the same! Both spend tons of money and can essentially guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs ever year.

Obviously I'm joking; the Mariners are nothing like the Yankees. They don't have the fans, the history, the payroll, the commitment from management on winning or really any other similarity other than they both play baseball.

Let's take Geoff's side for a second and actually pretend the Mariners have the ability to "reload." How then can he possibly explain the Mariners coming in last, last and last in the small AL West while supposedly having this huge spending advantage starting in 2003?

Wouldn't it take massive incompetence on the part of the Mariner front office to produce such poor results if they really possessed such a huge fiscal advantage?

Geoff needs to take a position. He's coming around, and has shown huge promise already since last season. He's beginning to use stats he never knew existed a short time ago. His blog is great entertainment and I look forward to his posts. But he's caught between the writer who produced the fluff piece on steroids over the weekend and the writer who's swallowed the red pill and is finally seeing the truth.

Does anyone really believe the fans keep going to Safeco based on the teams payroll in relation to its peers? Does anyone really believe fans are so shallow they disregard the talent on a team and just focus on payroll?

PLEEAASSE. The Seahawks attract fans because they WIN. They like the team because they know the coach absolutely gives a shit whether the team wins or loses and management will do everything they can to field a winner. That's what gets fans to cheer. If the Mariners suck this year and find themselves in the cellar, it won't matter if they spend $60 million or $140 million. Some fans will lose interest.

Safeco attracts people because it is a great place to watch baseball, it's the only major sporting event going on when the weather is actually great and tourists from all over the NW go to have fun. It's not much more complicated than that.

If the team is terrible, the numbers go down. If the team wins 116 games, the fans show up. The formula is pretty established.

A baseline will show up just to sit in the sun. What we are arguing over is the fans who want to see a team win.

If Geoff thinks the M's have such a huge advantage, then he should believe anything less than a final weeks showdown with the Angels is in order. Anything less should result in immediate dismissal of the entire M's front office.

I really don't see how you can argue anything else. If the team can't compete with a payroll advantage, doesn't that mean they are essentially incompetent?

I just think Geoff opened a can of worms on this. The same guy who supported the rookie manager all year and Vidro is now claiming the team is reloading.

I just couldn't help but laugh.