Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Defense does matter

It's funny to watch the post game chatter after another loss to the Angels and hear/read how the error by Yuni cost the team the game. Baker in the Times actually wrote "courtesy of the latest Yuniesky Betancourt mishap in the field" in todays paper.

I find it funny because this same reporter wrote very passionately earlier this season how the Mariners were poised to make a run at the division yet defense didn't seem to be a huge concern at the time.

Consider what was written last January-
"The defense could be slightly worse than last year, or slightly better depending on who replaces Jones and the progression of the middle infield."

Considering Jones was one of the better defenders in baseball before he got hurt I think we can safely say the Mariners defense was downgraded when the trade was made. But the last part of the statement is telling- even the Times beat reporter knew before the season started the progression of the middle infield was important. He's also stating the defense, which already was one of the worst in baseball last year, had the chance to get a little worse or a little better.

In other words, the same reporter who predicted the team would win the division knew full well the teams defense was at best bad. The range was basically worst in the league to maybe bottom third. And guess what- the teams defense is as awful as Geoff feared.

Yet now the defense is costing us games, or so says the paper.

See if you agree with this timeline-
2001: 116 wins and best defense in baseball
2002-2003- decline in wins and defense
2004-2007- defense in bottom 5 in baseball
Jan 2008- Times reporter predicts team will win division while acknowledging defense will be poor
August 13, 2008- Times reporter writes article listing defensive mistake as critical moment in game, leading to yet another loss

So fans need to make a decision. When a team goes in to a season with a terrible defense, do you act surprised when the terrible defense costs you games?

That's what it feels like the Times reporting is doing. When they had a chance earlier this year to read the many articles and computer predictions that showed the Mariners defense stunk and was a leading cause along with an inept offense for a disappointing season, they ignored the evidence. Did Steve Kelley take all the evidence given to him and take that in to account when writing about the Mariners before the season started?

I think not. Did Geoff Baker believe the defense was a critical issue that may well determine the teams chances of being successful this year? His articles and blog posts quite clearly answer that question; defense was not a major concern coming in to the season. He knew it would be bad, and used the NY Yankees as an example of a poor defensive team who still makes the playoffs.

I bring this up just to voice my overall disappointment when I hear fans make a conscious choice to ignore evidence at the beginning of the season and then choose to highlight it when the mood strikes them. It's cherry picking at its worst.

A telling stat for this team is this will now be the FIFTH year in a row it has given up more runs than it has scored. This team has to go back to 2003 to remember what it feels like to score more runs than they give up. They are a bad team. Bad pitching. Bad hitting. Bad fielders. Lack of talent. Lack of power. Lack of patience at the plate.

They all were visible during last nights game. This team was poorly constructed coming in to the season, and had ZERO backup plan when things went sour.

Don't single out Yuni or Lopez or any single player.

It's a collective effort to be this bad, and to focus on a single player or play during a game while the team marches to 100+ losses just doesn't make sense to me.