Mariners Musings

Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White

Saturday, May 31, 2003


That's 3 in a row against the AL Central leaders (cross your fingers for a sweep tomorrow: Freddy takes the mound). That is 5 in a row and closes out May 19-8. Not too shabby at all.

Frankie pitched 7 innings with just 85 pitches, 73% for strikes. He allowed 2 runs on 7 hits, a walk and struck out 3. Now that's an efficient outing. Sasaki picked up his 9th save.

At the plate, the M's swatted 11 more hits. Ichiro fell a double short of the cycle, and Edgar contributed a solo homer. Just glancing at the batting averages in the box score, the M's top 5 are hitting over .300, three of them over .310 and Carlos paces the team at .321.
|| Peter @ 5/31/2003

Jo-El: That looks a bit like Superman's Krypton name. I have been waiting all year for this line: 9 innings, 121 pitches, 69% for strikes, 4 hits, 2 walks, 0 runs, 12 strikeouts. Beautiful. This is the most excited I've been from an M's win all season.

Lohse and Pineiro, in my mind, are the two best young starting pitchers in the AL (that do not pitch for Oakland), and twice now in the past week we have been blessed with their facing off, and each working a gem.

I had been watching earlier in the day Wade Miller handcuff the Cubs with a 102-pitch complete game with 2 hits, a walk and 14 strikeouts, and wondered when, oh when, would we see a Mariners pitcher achieve something even close to that.

Oh, happy day!
|| Peter @ 5/31/2003

Friday, May 30, 2003

After much blood, sweat, wrestling and grappling with Blogger (maybe that's a bit over the top), the archives are now functional. I know, I know. It's about time. Enjoy.
|| Peter @ 5/30/2003

With the season at the one-third marker, Aaron Gleeman posts his top 5 MVP choices for each league. Aaron's a pretty informed individual, and he ranks Boonie and Edgar 2 and 5, respectively, in the AL. And yes, that's Boonie over Soriano.
|| Peter @ 5/30/2003
The middle infield ballot is filled with youngsters and some of the worst hitters baseball has ever seen.
AL - The American League is a two-horse race: Alfonso Soriano and Bret Boone:

From 2000-2002
Bret Boone - .290/.347/.494 with 80 home runs and 63 RCAA (and 322 RBI to boot, but who's counting?)
Alfonso Soriano - .282/.315/.490 with 59 home runs and 21 RCAA

Sure, say that Soriano was not a regular until 2001. Over the past 3 years Boone has 1694 at bats and Fonzie has 1320 at bats--maybe half a season more. In 2001, while Boone put together an MVP season and set the record for homers by a 2B, Soriano put together numbers just average by 2B standards. If you argue for Soriano, it's for his performance over a year and two months, and does that quantify an All-Star? He will start his fair share of midsummer classics, but not yet, at least if I had it my way. Boone edges him, just barely in average and slugging, but by quite a gulf in on-base. And as I pointed out earlier today in my game comments, Boone edges him in OPS at the moment in 2003. Boone is my AL 2B vote.

NL - It's not really close in the NL really. Overall the field has more recognizable names, and there is more talent.

Jeff Kent - .315/.387/.556 with 92 home runs and 146 RCAA
Roberto Alomar - .304/.375/.464 with 50 home runs and 74 RCAA
Ray Durham - .278/.357/.456 with 52 home runs and 18 RCAA
Jose Vidro - .321/.376/.506 with 58 home runs and 68 RCAA

I used to think Durham was the most underrated 2B in the game. I think that might be Vidro. He's hitting .321 over a 3-year span; he has created more runs above the league average than Boone; his on-base is comparable to Alomar. Kent, though, is the anomaly when it comes to 2B. He ranks 16th all-time in career RCAA among second baseman (tied with Ryne Sandberg), and among active players behind Alomar and Biggio who are both in the late twilights of their careers. He is 35 and was not a productive player until the age of 30, which hurts him in the "Best 2B All-Time" debate. My vote goes to Kent.

If you want the worst...
AL - Carlos Febles - .246/.326/.341 with 14 home runs and -57 RCAA
NL - Pokey Reese - .248/.311/.362 with with 25 home runs and -56 RCAA

And to think Pokey was almost a Mariner in the Griffey deal. Thank the maker.

In review...
AL: C-Posada, 1B-Giambi, 2B-Boone
NL: C-Piazza, 1B-Helton, 2B-Kent
|| Peter @ 5/30/2003

Leonard Koppett has a bitter little piece today about the uselessness of pitch/strike/ball counts. What he says is true, not every strike is a "good" strike, 3 home runs are the same as 1 strikeout. That stat certainly is not the end-all stat to evaluating a pitcher's performance, but just because it's not perfect, does not infer it is meaningless. What can be inferred by the pitch/ball/strike count, and what interests me when I post it on a daily basis is the pitcher's efficiency and economy. A pitcher should spend his pitches like dollars, wisely. Why waste the effort to strike out a hitter when he will ground himself out on the first pitch? Why spend your 100-120 pitches in 5 innings when you can spread them out over 9? I know pitch counts are a hazy gray zone surrounded by recent controversy. But can anyone really justify a pitcher throwing 100 pitches in 5 innings?

Just like OPS, pitch/ball/strike counts are not perfect. Though they are blunt tools, they are still tools that show us something. So repeat after me: "Fewer pitches. More strikes."
|| Peter @ 5/30/2003

Sabermetric saint and ESPN columnist Rob Neyer gives his take on the M's. After sleeping on it, I was all ready offer my two cents, but Dave Cameron beat me to, and what's to add, really?

The bench is not a strength thus far, as it was boasted over the winter and spring. And to me, that's the biggest weakness. It will get bigger and bigger as we enter August and September, the point where the Mariners faltered last year. Davis is the only one hitting anything (.854 OPS). Colbrunn is .687, Mabry .695, Bloomquist .503 and McLemore .688. Those just are not pretty, and not acceptable when the compeition are teams like the Twins and Red Sox that have more quality starters than slots int he lineup.

Dave's rebuttals of the column are based on the stats of May and April, and May and April a season make not. Raise your hand if you think Rob is a fan of small sample sizes. This is especially true in the case of Cirillo. His .629 OPS so far ranks him 18th among all AL third basemen. He only has 134 ABs. Do we really think he's going to hit .313/.362/.391 the rest of the season, as he has in May? For a fleeting moment after reading Rob's column I fantasized about releasing Cirillo and the Mariners joining the Mike Lowell Sweepstakes. Fantasy. Not going to happen. Cirillo is not a sunk cost because of his glove and his perceived improvement at the plate.

What Lincoln/Gillick will have to consider come July is what constitutes a championship team beyond just a competitive team.
|| Peter @ 5/30/2003

The barage continues: That's now 46 hits and 30 runs in the last 3 days. Last night everybody was in on the action except for Winn and Wilson, who went a combined 0 for 10. Guillen, Boonie, Olerud and Cammie combined for 7 extra base hits. Guillen was 4 for 6, raising his OPS to .856. He now ranks 3rd among AL shortstops in that category, just behind some guys named A-Rod and Nomar.

Boonie was 3 for 6 with 2 doubles and smoked a 1-0 pitch from Radke to center field for his 200th career home run. He is now sitting on .970, which is tops among AL 2B. Yeah, better than Alfonso Soriano's .961, but more on that in a minute.

And the two of them turned that spiffy double play in the 9th.

Gil Meche tossed just 88 pitches through 7+ innings, 67% for strikes. After the 7th, I was starting to wonder if Bob would give him the complete game, but it was not to be. It's never a good thing to give up nearly as many home runs (3) as record strikeouts (4), but when those homers are solo shots and your offense is scoring like the Mariners are, it really does not sting that bad. Minus the 3 homers, the leadoff double in the 8th that eventually scored, the Twins only mustered a measly 2 singles and a walk against Meche. And that is mighty good to see.

For crying out loud, how often do you see a pitcher surrender 2 earned runs in an inning and keep his ERA below 1.00? Shiggy did it; he tripled his ERA from 0.33 to 0.94. Amazing.

Will the sizzling Mariners offense continue against Kyle Lohse (3.06 ERA, .634 OPS against)? Stay tuned.
|| Peter @ 5/30/2003

Thursday, May 29, 2003


For those that do not know, Win Shares is a Bill James metric that combines the offensive and defensive value of a player into one number. In essence, it measures how many wins a certain player is responsible for. Runs Created takes a players raw stats and approximates how many runs he is responsible for. Win Shares does the same and shows what contribution a player makes in the actual wins of his team. It's not a very accessible stat for Average Joe Fan, and it's quite a mindful for anyone that even took Statistics 101 in college, but it is great for two reasons: 1) It combines offense and defense value, and 2) it puts hitters and pitchers on the same scale. A team gets 3 Win Shares for each victory, so as the Mariners currently have 33 wins, there are 99 Win Shares to go around. Any questions? Read the book. I am using the short form here.

Bret Boone 12.4
Edgar Martinez 10.2
Ichiro 9.0
Mike Cameron 8.3
Carlos Guillen 8.1
Randy Winn 8.0
John Olerud 6.6
Shiggy Hasegawa 4.8
Ben Davis 4.1
Gil Meche 3.9
Dan Wilson 3.2
Jeff Cirillo 3.0
Kaz Sasaki 2.8
Jamie Moyer 2.7
Jeff Nelson 2.6
Ryan Franklin 2.5
Mark McLemore 2.4
Arthur Rhodes 1.6
John Mabry 0.9
Willie Bloomquist 0.8
Greg Colbrunn 0.5
Rafael Soriano 0.4
Joel Pineiro 0.3
Julio Mateo 0
Pat Borders 0
Giovanni Carrara 0
Freddy Garcia 0
|| Peter @ 5/29/2003

This week pits the current top two teams of the AL against each other in a rematch of last week, and no, it does not involve any members of the AL East. The surging Twins are 18-6 in May with a 3.27 ERA and hitting .300/.359/.478, scoring 5.7 runs per game for the month. In comparison, the Mariners in May are 16-8 in May with a 4.20 ERA and hitting .303/.367/.487, scoring 6.0 runs per game. The offenses are nearly identical, but the Twins' pitching staff is allowing a full run less per game than the Mariners. The pitching matchups are the same as last week, except the fourth game: Radke/Meche tonight, Lohse/Pineiro Friday, Reed/Franklin Saturday afternoon and Rogers/Garcia on Sunday. Again, Friday looks like the best one of the group. The Twins took 2 out of 3 at the Safe, so it would be great to return the favor, taking 3 of 4. A split might be a more realistic outcome.
|| Peter @ 5/29/2003
It's a slow day at work...

Sarah, I hope you got as much excitement out of your first trip to Yankee Stadium, as I did following the final innings on Gamecast. For 8-1/2 innings that was a brilliant game: Mussina dominated, the Sox, down by 5 with only 3 outs left against Mariano Rivera, tied the game, and had the winning run thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Brandon Lyon deserves a one-way ticket to Sarasota for that performance. You do NOT walk in the winning run to end the game. That's not acceptable. It was the defense, however, that gave Matsui third base with only one out. I can see walking Soriano. But I would have taken my chances with Jason Giambi, at least the Jason Giambi that is hitting .219/.371/.396. The only run that matters is the one standing on third base, so bases loaded, 1st and 3rd, that does not matter. What the Sox needed was a ground ball double play, a shallow fly ball or a strikeout. Curiously, Soriano and Giambi lead the Yankees in strikeouts with 47 and 43, respectively. But Grady Little must not have noticed that detail. Jorge Posada is 3rd on the team, but he's more likely to get on base than Giambi, hitting .253/.366/.532. It's no contest. Grady Little blew it. I say, with the bases loaded, one out, put the pitcher with the best BB/IP ratio on the mound. That would be Mike Timlin (30 innings, 1 walk). But wait, he pitched the 7th inning. The Sox's bullpen is failing because 1) poor resources (Lyon, et al.) and 2) Grady Little cannot even manage what he has.

The game was also a great example of why the "win" is a stupid and meaningless statistic. Mike Mussina pitches 8 innings with just 105 pitches (64% for strikes), allowing 3 runs on 6 baserunners. No, the "win" goes to Mariano Rivera who blew the save, allowing 2 runs and 5 hits in 1 inning. It's just silly.
|| Peter @ 5/29/2003
I forgot to mention...

If you still have not heard the Baseball Prospectus Radio interviews with Billy Beane and Michael Lewis, what in hades are you waiting for? All four segments are available together today only, so they say, that is, until by popular demand they post them yet again.
|| Peter @ 5/29/2003

Dan Wilson 3 for 4, 2 doubles and 3 ribbies? Ichiro 0 for 5, 3 strikeouts and 4 left on base? Wow, what a day.

It was Jamie's day. His mug headlines the ESPN baseball page, and he racks up his 8th win. In one of his most economical starts of the season, he only threw 98 pitches in 7 innings, 64% for strikes. He only struck out 2, but he allowed just 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. Nelson and Kaz then pitched their innings without any snags. High fives all around.

I consider Jamie one of the most underrated pitchers over the last 5 years. Yeah, he's never won a Cy Young; he's never been the best pitcher in the league, yet he's been consistently among the dominant pitchers in the AL. And, by some freak of nature, he keeps getting better. He rarely, if ever, gets attention outside of Puget Sound, but Jim Caple, albeit a Seattle-ite ESPN contributor, writes a dandy of a piece about how The Rocket wasn't the only ace the Red Sox let go in '96.

With his current 8-2 record, Jamie's on pace for a 25-6 record. Okay, that won't happen, but he is just two wins south of halway to 20, and it's not even June yet. Only 4 pitchers in all of baseball history have won 20 games at the age of 40 and beyond: Fellow lefty Warren Spahn won 21 games in 1961 at the age of 40. He topped that with 23 wins two years later. The immortal Cy Young also did it twice with 21 wins in 1907 and 1908 at 40 and 41. In 1927, Grover Alexander won 21 games at the age of 40. The last to do it was Phil Niekro in 1979, who won 21 at the age of 40. At 6-3 so far, Roger Clemens as a shot this year, but not likely. This is a story to pay attention to, though, this year.

In his years with the Mariners, between the ages of 34 and 39, Moyer ranks 23rd all time in Runs Saved Against Average with 93. That list is topped by ex-M Randy Johnson (269), Lefty Grove (250) and Cy Young (221). Among active pitchers, he is 4th on that list, behind Johnson, Roger Clemens (172), Greg Maddux (114), and a hair ahead of Kevin Brown (91) who has lost a good chunk of that time to injury.

The other day I found the Baseball Prospectus 2001 for sale at a used book store for $8. If I weren't so cheap I would have bought it. As I thumbed through the Mariners section, I came across the comments for the then-38 Moyer and humorously it was something to the effect of: "The end is near!" Maybe not quite that dramatic, but nontheless false prophecy, though a Sheehan-igan not yet worthy of stoning.

In Mariner blog news, go check out Bobby's Sports and News Bloggy. Bobby has a plethora of baseball blog and mainstream press links, but most importantly a week-by-week analysis of the Mariners that is about as thorough as you can get. Keep up the great work, Bobby.

USS Mariner provides a link to a very astute report on Freddy from a different angle. Greg Johns of the King County Journal rebutts the Freddy's-overpaid lament. While it does not justify his present malaise, it does point the finger at the front office for its sour pus attitude about the arbitration loss in the spring. So I suppose things could be worse: We could be paying him Kevin Millwood money for this meltdown.
|| Peter @ 5/29/2003

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


Revenge, sweet revenge. And what did I say about a hitters game? Just as I suspected, the mainstream media is all sun and roses on Freddy's win. But you know, you give a pitcher with an ERA of 5.90 run support of 6 every time out, and he will win 20 games. There was no chance in Hades Bob was going to let Freddy blow an 11-spot after 3 innings. Here's my favorite quote from the P-I's report:

"Garcia pitched seven innings. He threw 112 pitches, most of them good."

Really? Most of them good? Can you be a little specific? Alright, I will. Garcia pitched 7 innings. He threw 112 pitches, 71 strikes, or 63%, which is good for, oh maybe a #3 starter on a staff that does not wear green or blue. He walked 2 and struck out 3, which is not good for Freddy. To his credit, only 2 of his 4 runs were earned, and he didn't allow a hit until the 4th inning. I know, that's stretching it a bit. Call it downward expectations.

Carrera yet again justifies his jettisoning from the roster with his 6-baserunners, 3-runs in 2-innings effort. Righthanded relievers are just too plentiful in Tacoma to let Carrera continue. In the month of May, in 12.2 innings, Giovanni has given up as many home runs as he has collected strikeouts (4) with a 9.24 ERA. On this season, it's now 6.49 and hitters have an OPS of .953. In other words, he turns the entire lineup into Alfonso Soriano. Which, when you look at his career numbers (minus the last two seasons in Chavez Ravine), is nothing new for him, actually a little better.

Now that all the griping is out of the way (didn't I do this the last time Freddy/Carrera pitched together?), let's look at the offense that scored 11 runs in the first 3 innings. Edgar, whoa Edgar, blasted his 6th first-inning home run of the year. He hit another in the 3rd, so now exactly half of his 12 homers have come in the first. The M's collected 20 hits on the night (in addition to drawing 7 walks) and only 6 were for extra bases: 4 homers and 2 doubles. But really, who's complaining? Every Mariner starter had collected a hit by the end of the second inning except for Cammie and Willie, who finished the evening 0 for 5 and 0 for 4, respectively, and they both stranded 6 baserunners. Even Mabry and Colbrunn combined to go 2 for 2.

Randy Winn made a millionaire of some Safeway shopper with his 5 for 5 performance. That raised his batting average 20 points and his OPS 41, from .727 to .768.

Let the bludgeoning continue at 2:05 Eastern.

In a completely different corner of the baseball universe, I've got my eyes on the Boston/New York game this evening. You see, a week ago Saturday, my sister Sarah (sometimes referred here as "Driller Girl") graduated from high school. Now, when I graduated from high school, Mom and Dad bestowed on me the down payment for my own car for college. And, I don't blame them for the fact that it had pretty much fallen apart by the time I graduated from college. I'm still paying for the repairs 2 years after I got rid of it. I am, I confess, a bit, perhaps a little envious that they're taking Sarah to New York for her graduation present. But then, I guess, those are the perks of being the baby girl of the family. Anyway, they leave today and get back Sunday, and what most has my attention is the fact they are going to be in Yankee Stadium tonight. Well, go Red Sox.
|| Peter @ 5/28/2003

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Today begins the longest roadtrip of the year: Kansas City, Minnesota, Philadelphia and New York. We begin in Kauffman Stadium for 2: Freddy goes against Chris George (5.11 ERA, .772 OPS against). That'll be a hitters game. Tomorrow afternoon it's Jame Moyer against Jeremy Affeldt (4.25, .741).

I grew up in Tulsa, and while the Drillers were the farm team for Texas at that time and guys like Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa came through town in those years, Kansas City was the home team I followed. It was the days of childhood when you're favorite player is the first one to give you their autograph, in my case Kevin Seitzer. For several years, my family took an annual summer vacation to Kansas City to see George Brett, Bret Saberhagen and Bo Jackson (and of course Seitzer) take on the Bash Brothers of Oakland. I saw my first major league game at Kauffman stadium, and after Safeco Field, have spent the most time soaking in major league baseball. I'll probably always be enamored of the fountains in right field. I've had friends recently come back from games there and report it's a terrible place to see a game. To a 10-12-year-old, there is no bad place to see a baseball game. And to me, Kauffman will always be that idyllic childhood paradise.

But now, give me a sunny Sunday afternoon with the roof open in Safeco.

Go vote.

The First Basemen

AL - This is probably the toughest pick after the NL outfield. There are several guys you can make great arguments for: Delgado, Giambi, Palmeiro, Sweeney. That doesn't leave any room for John Olerud. Delgado's presently terrorizing AL pitching and currently my pick for 2003 AL MVP. Here's how those five compare 2000-2002:

Carlos Delgado .301/.429/.586 with 113 home runs and 197 RCAA
Jason Giambi .330/.462/.634 with 122 home runs and 278 RCAA
Rafael Palmeiro .278/.389/.564 with 129 home runs and 128 RCAA
Mike Sweeney .325/.399/.541 with 82 home runs and 107 RCAA
John Olerud .296/.399/.467 with 57 home runs and 94 RCAA

I can find no justification to pick Palmeiro, Sweeney or Olerud over Delgado or Giambi, so it's a two-horse race. And between the two, I am voting for Giambi, as he edges Carlos in every single one of those categories. He's also been among the top 3 offensive producers the last 3 years. He was the deserving MVP in 2000. It's a tight call with Ichiro and Bret Boone in 2001, and again in 2002 with A-Rod and Jim Thome. Yeah, I'm voting for Jason Giambi.

NL - It is not quite as crowded as the AL, but there are several deserving names to debate: Bagwell, Helton, Sexson, Thome. Interestingly two of those are former Indians. Here's how they compare:

Jeff Bagwell .296/.408/.568 with 117 home runs and 137 RCAA
Todd Helton .346/.441/.655 with 121 home runs and 210 RCAA
Richie Sexson .274/.352/.517 with 104 home runs and 49 RCAA
Jim Thome .287/.419/.607 with with 138 home runs and 191 RCAA

Bagwell is a player in the twilight of his career. He is still productive, just at a notch below this competition. And obviously, Sexson does not belong. I threw him in for curiosity's sake. But I guarantee he will be at this year's game. Somebody has to represent Milwaukee.

So it comes down to Helton and Thome. Helton has the edge in batting, on-base and slugging, while Thome has hit more home runs. Quibble the Coors Effect if you like, but RCAA is adjusted for park effects, and Helton still has the edge. My vote goes to Helton.

For the worst possible choices:
AL - Travis Lee .254/.338/.401 with 42 home runs and -22 RCAA
NL - Wil Cordero .267/.325/.424 with 26 home runs and -20 RCAA

In review...
C - Jorge Posada
1B - Jason Giambi

C - Mike Piazza
1B - Todd Helton
|| Peter @ 5/27/2003

Monday, May 26, 2003

(last week's rank in parenthases)

1. Oakland (2) ESPN.com currently is running a survey of who you think the best defensive team is. Unfortunately, you can't pick the A's, who still lead the majors with a defensive efficienty of .758. No, our choices are Minnesota (.738), Seattle (.729), St. Louis (.730) or San Fran (.720).
2. (tie) St. Louis (5) The Cards are 5 wins short of their projection thanks to several blow-out victories and a stunning 13 one-run defeats.
(tie) Los Angeles (9) Where to start for the Dodgers? The pitching staff has a 2.45 ERA for the month of May. They've won 10 straight. They're a half a game behind the Giants and going into a stretch against Colorado, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Chicago Sox, Detroit and Cleveland before facing the Giants June 17. The Dodgers will be firmly entrenched in first place by the 17th. Mark my words, John Hill.
4. Seattle (3) Maybe 2001 wasn't a fluke after all: Boonie hitting .303/.377/.569, on pace for 40 homers and 119 RBI, and ranks in the top 10 in 5 AL offensive categories.
5. Chicago Cubs (4) Opponents are hitting .215/.276/.313 off Mark Prior, while he himself is batting .345/.345/.552 in 29 at bats. He's 3rd on the team in OPS!
6. NY Yankees (1) As I type this, the Yankees are en route to losing their 5th in a row, and after that spectacular 18-3 start, are currently 8-15 in May. They survived without Jeter, but I'm willing to bet they won't without Bernie. How long before Steinbrenner explodes?
7. Montreal (8) Montreal/San Juan's offense humming to the tune of 5 starters with .900+ OPS in May: Vlad (1.007), Wilkerson (.948), Cabrera (.936), Cordero (.935) and Vidro (.917).
8. Atlanta (7) Yes, that's Vinny Castilla, he of the hideous .616 OPS last year, hitting .314/.364/.600 this May. On the year, his OPS is .806, and the last time he did that in a season, he played half his games at Coors Field and The Matrix played second fiddle to The Phantom Menace.
9. Philadelphia (6) Millwood (2.84 ERA), Myers (2.88) and Wolf (3.13) could make a very lethal playoff rotation.
10. Minnesota (10) Kyle Lohse put on a clinic Saturday night against the M's: 112-pitch complete game, 71% of his pitches for strikes. His ERA is down to 3.06 and his K/BB ratio is 3.18.
11. Boston (11) Tied with Toronto for the most prolific offense in baseball (305 runs), and Nomar hitting .352/.365/.682 this month.
12. San Francisco (11) No longer Cruz'ing: After a .308/.439/.593 April, Junior having a .209/.307/.314 May.
13. Toronto (15) Carlos Delgado (1.103 OPS, 15 home runs) for MVP. After 4-game sweep of the Yanks in Yankee Stadium, now just 2.5 games behind the Yanks for 2nd place. The AL East is now a 3-team race.
14. Anaheim (13) 2003 definitely not the year of The Closer as Percival looks like he could be the next one gone for the season. He surrendered the first grand slam of his career Thursday night. His ERA leaped from 1.98 to 4.50 with that one pitch.
15. Houston (14) Kent catching fire (.366/.438/.598) with Bagwell cooling off (.242/.324/.297) in May.
16. Baltimore (19) Holy smokes! Melvin Mora currently ranks 2nd in the AL in OBP (.440), 3rd in BA (.346) and 4th in OPS (1.006).
17. Kansas City (17) Beltran increasing his value before the trade deadline with a .293/.391/.547 May with 6 homers. To the Dodgers in a package for Beltre?
18. Colorado (18) Preston Wilson ranks 1st in the NL in RBI (47), 7th in SLG (.603), 9th in homers (12) and 9th in OPS (.979). His on pace to drive in more runs (152) than trips back to the dugout swinging and missing (130).
19. Arizona (16) Bob, you're done. The team that led the NL in runs scored last year now ranks 12th, below the Brewers and the Marlins.
20. Florida (20) Baseball Tonight raving about Dontrelle Willis, whose 4.50 ERA and .302 BAA not impressive, but 26 K in 22 innings is. Meanwhile, Pudge struggling at the plate with a .164/.246/.327 May.
21. Texas (22) Mark Teixeria final starting to strut his stuff this week: .273/.360/.682 with 2 homers this week.
22. Chicago Sox (21) Frank Thomas walks to first (34) nearly as often as he hits to get there (39), which accounts for the 150-point difference in his BA and OBP (.253/.403).
23. Pittsburgh (23) Kenny Lofton has 23-game hitting streak and hitting .333/.478/.667 this past week.
24. NY Mets (24) Jae Weong Seo has an impressive 3.19 ERA and 2.91 K/BB walk ratio in 9 starts.
25. Cincinnati (25) One more homer and Adam Dunn (18) and Austin Kearns (13) would have as many homers together as the Dodgers (32).
26. Milwaukee (27) Ben Sheets allowed a baseball-leading 16 home runs.
27. Tampa Bay (26) Jeremi Gonzalez has a 2.08 ERA in 2 starts so far. That's a bright spot.
28. Cleveland (28) Sabathia 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in May.
29. San Diego (29) In serious danger of challenging the Tigers. While Detroit sports middle-of-the-pack pitching to go with their putrid hitting, the Pads exhibit ineptitude all around. They're 27th in runs scored, squeaking past the White Sox and Dodgers, while 28th in runs allowed, barely ahead of Cincinnati and Texas.
30. Detroit (30) Congrats to Gary Knotts and Franklyn German's combining for the Tigers' first shutout of the year, a 1-0 duel against Esteban Loiaza and the White Sox.

AL - Michael Young (Texas) 23 AB, 6 R, 13 H, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, .565/.583/.826, 1.409 OPS
NL - Marquis Grissom (San Francisco) 27 AB, 7 R, 14 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 2 BB, .519/.552/.852, 1.404 OPS

AL - Tim Hudson (Oakland) 1-0, 15 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO, 1.80 ERA
NL - Matt Morris (St. Louis) 2-0, 18.0 IP, 13 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO, 0.00 ERA

AL - John Valentin (Chicago Sox) 21 AB, 4 R, 2 H, 2 SB, 2 BB, .095/.174/.095, .269 OPS
NL - Jose Cruz (San Francisco) 23 AB, 2 H, 1 RBI, 1 BB, .087/.120/.087, .207 OPS

AL - Todd Van Poppel (Texas) 1-0, 2.1 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO, 27.00 ERA
NL - Pat Strange (NY Mets) 0-0, 1.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO, 37.80 ERA

Questions/concerns/discussion/debate is greatly welcome via email.
|| Peter @ 5/26/2003
If you missed it last week, Baseball Prospectus Radio is again making available for download their interviews with Billy Beane, GM of the A's, and Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball that chronicles Beane's economic creativity. These are great interviews, and if you missed them the first and second times around, go now.
|| Peter @ 5/26/2003

This game was for the team that made the fewest mistakes. They weren't many, but they sure were costly...

Mariners mistake #1 - Ryan Franklin in the first inning threw 28 pitches, only 14 for strikes, walking 3. Luckily, it only cost one run, but I'd have to say walks were the key, not just of this game, but of the series. The Twins coaxed 6 walks on the night. They picked up 4 against Piniero and Mateo Saturday, as the Twins won 7-2. Moyer walked 3 in the series opener. You've got to understand, that puts the Twins past the Dodgers now for third worst in the majors in walks with 141, or once every 12.45 at bats. In comparison, the Mariners are ranked 5th with 189, or once every 8.88 at bats. That's the glaring weakness in the Twins lineup. To compound this, the Mariners' hitters have notoriously whined about these 5 o'clock ESPN games because of the twilight shadows. The hitters can't see the ball with the pitcher in sunlight and home plate in shadows. All Frankie has to do is put the ball over the plate, and the first 3 innings should have been a breeze. But he didn't, and it very likely cost the M's the game.

Mariners mistake #2 - In the top of the 8th inning, the Twins led 2-1. Franklin had shut down the Twins since the 2nd, and Rhodes had come into the game in the 7th. Rhodes at that point had retired the lefty Jones and the switch hitter Guzman for two outs. With Bobby Kielty coming to the plate, Bob Melvin walked to the mound. I often wonder what goes on in those mound meetings, and since ESPN had apparently miked Bob, they provided the following exchange:

Bob Melvin: "You look good." [pause] "You smell good, too."

And with that, Rhodes gave up the baseball. Which, of course, raises 2 concerns: 1) Why take him out if he's throwing so well, and 2) if our manager is making pitching changes based on their smell, we're in trouble. As Jon Miller pointed out, Rhodes has been every bit as effective against righties as lefties (.189/.244/.243 aganist left-handers and .195/.267/.317 against right-handers). But with Bobby Kielty coming to the plate with a split .253/.384/.374 versus righties and .371/.511/.857 versus lefties, we can only second-guess Bob because of what happens next. Jeff Nelson takes the ball and proceeds to walk Kielty on a full count. With Torii Hunter now at the plate, and the count 1-2, Kielty breaks for second, but the pitch in the dirt gets past Ben Davis, going all the way to the backstop and Kielty's now at third. Hunter then singles and now it's 3-1, and the Mariners now have to make up 2 runs against the Twins' bullpen instead of just one.

After the 1st inning, the Twins had their best opportunity to blow open the game in the 5th. Chris Gomez led off with a single. Jacque Jones followed with a single to right. Gomez took his chances against Ichiro, the Man with the Golden Arm, and bolted for 3rd. Guillen cut off the throw, but instead of relaying to 3rd, he fires a bullet to Olerud at 1st, where Jones has made a wide turn of the bag and nails him. Instead of 1st and 3rd, no outs, the Twins now have a runner at 3rd, and one out.

Miller and Morgan kept gushing over Ichiro's defense in this inning, but on the replay you can see Cirillo coming way off the bag, nearly into left field to get the throw. There's no way they could've gotten Gomez at 3rd. I'm a believer that Carlos is the weak link of the infield, but that was one gem of a heads-up play on his part.

Guzman followed and flied to deep right... or so Ichiro fooled Al Newman into thinking. Gomez tagged, and at the last possible moment, Ichiro charged from where he'd planted about 20 feet and caught the ball in mid shallow right, then threw a strike to Davis on the third base side of the plate, nailing Gomez by a good 20 feet. It wasn't even close. And that ended the inning.

What killed the Mariners more than anything was the fact that Bret Boone was the only Mariner to touch 2nd base in the game, and with the exception of his home run trot in the 7th, this wasn't until there was one out in the 9th.

The Twins outfield defense had something to do with that. Torii "I-Make-Prettier-Leaping-Catches-Than-Mike-Cameron" Hunter robbed Carlos of extra bases, while Dustin Mohr stole a game-tying homerun (on Edgar's twelfth pitch against Guardado) from Edgar in the 9th inning.
|| Peter @ 5/26/2003