Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pitching wars (or why Silva is teh suck)

Lots of fun today in the Mariner blogosphere as Baker defends his position on comma... err sinker ra... err mechanical adju... err I'm not really sure what he's defending.

It's been written many times you cannot rely on pinpoint command as a requirement for being a successful pitcher. You just can't. I keep coming back to golf because anyone who's played can relate.

Let's say the US Open is about to begin, and an analyst says for Player A to win, he needs to hit every fairway and green in regulation to have a chance. In other words, perfect command of where the ball is going.

But is that realistic? Certainly not. Look at the winners of major golf championships and you'll see even the champion misses 3 of 10 fairways over the course of 4 days. To expect perfection is ridiculous. We've all seen Tiger Woods crank the ball over the gallery and land on a cart path with his driver and still par the hole. He possesses the talent and ability to overcome a mistake.

It's no different for a pitcher. You can't expect perfection on every pitch, or some sort of extreme movement brought on by a simple adjustment midseason that is so great it can't be measured! Pitchers leave balls over the plate all the time. Hell, watch Brandon Morrow throw fastballs basically right over the middle of the plate multiple times during an appearance. When the batter swings and misses it's a great pitch. When they hit a home run the analyst says he made a mistake!

Now Morrow possesses movement and speed on his fastball that a guy like Silva or Washburn can never match. We understand not all pitchers succeed in the same way. But we can categorize pitchers into those that have stuff and cause hitters to miss, and those that try to let the batter put the ball in play and get themselves out. Silva and Washburn are clearly in the latter group, and no amount of command or simple adjustment is going to transform them midseason.

Do we really believe GM's are looking at Washburn and saying "Gosh, I'll ignore the lousy offenses he's faced and the fact he's a pitch to contact guy who'll always be streaky, instead I'll look purely on the results of the past X games and cross my fingers..."

Who believes clubs are calling and giving the M's legitimate trade offers for Washburn and the club is turning them down?

Instead, a more realistic scenario sees GM's call the M's and say "I'll give you my bag of crap for yours" or "I'll take that bag of crap off your hands if you include a bunch of money..." type of conversations.

We all remember Jeff Cirillo. He was a complete disaster in Seattle, but the club traded him. If Cirillo can be traded, certainly Washburn can too. But it won't be because he had a few good starts in a row- teams in baseball not run by Bavasi are smarter than that. They'll take him off our hands if we bring his pay more in line with what it should be- say $1 million or whatever a Ryan Franklin type pitcher should be getting (certainly not $48 million like Silva)!

The reality is fans today aren't going to fall for the old "banana in the tailpipe" trick any more than they are "Silva is a Transformer!!" type of articles/analysis.