Mariners Musings

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

Saturday, June 21, 2003


Wait! Don't go! This is indeed the same Mariners Musings. It was just time for a face lift. There may still be several tweaks throughout the week. When I started this thing back in February, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Well, maybe not absolutely no idea. I know how to write, and I know about baseball. It's that whole visual, web design, html thing--that's the hole in my swing. When I started, I really didn't care about how it looked. All that mattered to me was the content and writing good stuff, so that's all I gave what little time I had to. And after all, who but me was actually reading this? It turns out somebody else is reading this, and so now it's time to get rid of that bizarre neo-gothic sculpture thing, and hopefully the script is a little easier to read. I'm still working on that. Let me know what you think of the new Mariners Musings before I go boast "the New and Improved."

A very big, hearty "Thank you!" goes out to new blogger buddies Shannon Fears of the P-I Mariners Weblog, Eric McErlain of Offwing Opinion and David Pinto of Baseball Musings for the traffic you sent my way. Also Baseball News, Aaron's Baseball Blog, Bobby's Sports Bloggy, No Pepper, Replacement Level Yankees, Christian Ruzich of All-Baseball.com, John Perricone of Only Baseball Matters , Todd Muchmore of Baseballblogs.org and Dan Werr of Baseball Primer for all the links over the past couple of months.
|| Peter @ 6/21/2003

When I said I expected fireworks yesterday, I meant for the Mariners. The Mariners, Rondell. The Mariners!

Ouch. That really smarts. Right on the bottom. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Rondell the Giant Killer took his sling and stone with him to the batter's box. To be up 3-0 with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th and then lose feels something like trying to breathe after being unexpectedly punched in the stomach by a very large man with a goatee named Bubba, or in this case one with a bat named Rondell. I'm sure it made beautiful Cinderella-story headlines in San Diego.

Now Bob made a rather intriguing statement following the game:

"Klesko's the one guy you don't want to beat you," manager Bob Melvin said. "Not that White's not a good player, but you like the right-vs.-right matchup with Nellie and White" (P-I).

Is he saying they semi-intentionally walked Ryan Klesko with the bases loaded? Maybe I'm misunderstanding. After all, Bob's been in baseball for as long as I've been alive, and he's actually paid quite well to make these decisions. So I've got to be missing something, but is walking a batter with 2 outs (intentionally or semi-intentionally) that scores a run and puts the tying run in scoring position, as well as the winning run on base, a bright idea at all? Klesko hits righties .295/.407/.597, and White actually hits righties better than lefties .310/.363/.548 with 10 of his 12 home runs. Smells like a job for Arthur, but he was used in the 8th. So why not bring in Shiggy or (gulp) Matt White? And why not the leftie White here. He needs some innings, some action. Sure, there's men on base, but this is the Padres with 2 outs, not the Yankees. I'm just asking. Remember when Bob pulled Arthur with 2 outs in the 9th against the Braves? I still don't see any rhyme or reason to Bob's bullpen methods.

Yet again, the M's starters can do no wrong. Meche threw 97 pitches in 7 innings, 63% for strikes, 8 baserunners (6 hits, 2 walks) and none of them scored. Gil also struck out 4. Perez was definitely back to his April form, as the Mariners worked him for 6 walks and 101 pitches in just 5 innings. But they only managed 3 runs.

Dominating the Padres is a must. In the AL West, it's critical that the M's maximize this glitch in the schedule, and the grossest imbalance of interleague play: The M's are playing the worst NL team while the A's are playing the Giants and the Angels have the Dodgers.

Today I close with Bill Simmons:

"You're not officially a writer until someone interrupts you while you're typing, and you try to be nice about it, but you secretly want to start screaming like Nicholson in The Shining."

It's just been one of those days.
|| Peter @ 6/21/2003

Friday, June 20, 2003


Well, the Angels and their Rally Monkey avoid getting swept with the shutout. You won't see me complaining though, as the the M's wrapped up the homestand 6-4 against the Expos, Braves and Angels. No sirree, no complaining about that. What's amazing is that in 5 of the 10 games, the winning team needed just 2 runs to be victorious. Safeco allowed just an average of 5 runs per game over that 10 game stretch.

Despite the loss, today is reason to celebrate, for numerous reasons...

#1 - Moyer pitched an usual game for him: His 108 pitches carried him through the 8th inning. That's the first time he's done that all year. But it's understandable with the Angels who take their hacks and consistently put the ball in play. Jamie threw 64% of his pitches for strikes. He allowed just 5 baserunners (4 hits, 1 walk) and struck out 4.

#2 - Rafael Soriano came in to pitch the 9th. (I'm sure we're all shocked it wasn't Carrara.) Keep in mind that the Anaheim Angels go to the plate the put the bat on the ball: They're 7th in batting average, 11th in base on balls and dead last in the American League in strikeouts. Enter Soriano. Darin Erstad strikes out looking on 3 pitches. Tim Salmon strikes out looking on 4. Garrett Anderson amazingly takes a walk. Then Troy Glaus struck out swinging after getting ahead in the count 2-0. Has anyone struck out the side against the Angels this year?

There are rumblings about making Soriano into a closer. I think that's a foolish long-term option given Soriano's talent and minor league track record. In the short-term, however, I think it's a great idea given he pretty much does not have anything left to prove in Tacoma and the Mariners already carry 5 more than capable starters. I was at the game last year when Soriano started against the Cubs. For 6 innings, or more precisely twice through the lineup, he absolutely dominated. But the third time around, the Cubbies were making adjustments and Soriano's game plan apparently fooled major league hitters once, twice, but not three times. He got lit up for 4 runs in that inning on back to back moon-shots by Sammy and Crime Dog. Coming in as a closer, I think he can dominate like few can, as he'll only see batters once in a game. It's a great idea, but only until Kaz comes back. Then he needs to be starting. Either that or have him rack up some saves in the next month, overvalue him as a closer and ship him to Boston in a package for minor league on base machine 3B Kevin Youkilis. (Yeah, yeah, I just finished Moneyball.)

Earl Weaver said it was easier to find 4 starters than 5. But what do you do with 6? Or 7 when you consider Rett Johnson who could be ready by September? Every team wishes it had this problem.

Reason #3 to celebrate: Giovanni is now the Rainiers' problem. I'm giddy.

And reason #4: The M's squandered the bases loaded with none out in the 4th inning thanks to a Cameron strike out, a Winn strike out and a Cirillo fly out. And that pretty much summarizes the offense for the past 10 days. Here's the OPS for the starting lineup over the past week: Ichiro (1.278), McLemore (.411), Boone (.970), Edgar (.570), Olerud (.734), Cameron (.662), Winn (.273), Cirillo (.345), Wilson (.180). Save Ichiro and Boone, it's just horrible. So why is this a reason to celebrate, you ask? Because the Mariners start a 3 game series today in San Diego, and who better to wake those slumbering bats than the Padres? San Diego is last in the NL in ERA, last in walks allowed and 13th (of 16) in home runs allowed. Their offense isn't too pretty either. This should be a pretty lopsided series and I expect fireworks.

The matchups look to be Gil Meche (3.13 ERA, .671 OPS against) versus Oliver Perez (6.62, 1.006) tonight, Joel Pineiro (3.86, .681) versus Adam Eaton (4.41, .727) tomorrow and Ryan Franklin (3.29, .726) versus Jake Peavy (4.45, .785). Don't let Perez' numbers fool you. He struggled mightily in May and was thus sent down to AAA Portland. After shutting down the Pacific Coast League through April and into June, he's made one start since being called up. It was a 1-0 shutout of the White Sox where he struck out 6 in 6+ innings. I still stand by my prediction that Perez/Eaton/Peavy can be the next Zito/Hudson/Mulder. Not this year, but possibly next. Boy, I wish I could see this series.

I'll be checking out Ducksnorts for the Padres angle on the series.
|| Peter @ 6/20/2003

Thursday, June 19, 2003

(thru games of 6/18; short method; 48 wins=144 win shares)
Offense - 86.95; Defense - 57.05

Bret Boone 19
Ichiro 17
Edgar Martinez 12
Mike Cameron 11
John Olerud 10
Carlos Guillen 9
Randy Winn 9
Jamie Moyer 7
Shiggy Hasegawa 5
Ryan Franklin 5
Gil Meche 5
Ben Davis 5
Arthur Rhodes 5
Jeff Cirillo 4
Jeff Nelson 4
Kaz Sasaki 4
Mark McLemore 3
Joel Pineiro 3
Dan Wilson 3
Willie Bloomquist 1
Greg Colbrunn 1
Freddy Garcia 1
John Mabry 1
Rafael Soriano 1
Julio Mateo 1
Pat Borders 0
Matt White 0
Giovanni Carrara 0

(I know, I know, the numbers tally to 147. Gimme a break, my degree was in English. And even if I did carry all the decimals, the stat is still an approximation. I just want a rough idea of who's contributing and who's not.)
|| Peter @ 6/19/2003

Let's talk shutouts: That's now 9, or as many as the Cubs and A's have combined, or more than Houston, Toronto, Atlanta, Texas, Milwaukee, Detroit and Tampa Bay combined. The M's now the best ERA (3.45) in not only the AL West (better than Zito/Hudson/Mulder) but all of the American League, and only the Dodgers are better (2.87).

Is Freddy back? Gee, I don't know, but there's really nothing to complain about what he's done in June: In 4 starts (against the Twins, Mets, Braves and Angels), Freddy is 4-0 with a 1.72 ERA, 9 walks, 22 K's in 31.1 innings. He's allowed just 2 runs in his last 24 innings, which includes the National League's most prolific offense and the 2002 World Champions, and that my friends, is impressive.

Freddy threw 102 pitches in his 8 innings, allowing 8 baserunners (5 hits, 3 walks), none scored and he struck out 3. Other than a wasted one-out double by Garret Anderson in the 3rd, the Angels didn't have a prayer until the 7th. With the score 1-0 M's, Spiezio and Fullmer led off with back to back singles, and Davanon sacrificed them over to put 2nd and 3rd, 1 out. Kennedy walks to load the bases. For those in awe of Mike Scioscia's managerial cunning, one has to wonder about what happened next. Pinch hitting for Jose Molina and his .381 OPS is a no brainer. But with Ben Molina and his .685? Not Shawn Wooten or Eric Owens? Anybody that can beat out a double play grounder? It's better odds, yes, but still not in Mike's favor. But hey, it's his team, not mine. 1-2-3 double play. Freddy's out of the inning, shut out intact. Thanks for the freebie, Mike.

Doesn't it just feel like old times again, Ugueto pinch running for Edgar, stealing bases, scoring runs?
|| Peter @ 6/19/2003

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


A pair of emails crossed me since the Olerud post of Monday morning. The first from Jen regarding the Mets:

They took a huge dive in 2001, but they didn't have a sub-.500 season until they got Fat Mo.
I think losing Olerud was the end of their infield defense, though. Their infield errors have ballooned ever since. You ever notice how sometimes Carlos Guillen has a really interesting arm? The only reason it's not even more interesting is because of Olerud. Zeile was an ok defensive replacement but Mo Vaughn is really just scraping the bottom of the barrel. Not that they'll have to worry about that anymore except for the paycheck part.

Watching Guillen in person last year led me to the subjective observation of his "interesting" glove. When they were handing out gold gloves to the rest of the defense in spring training, someone missed the memo and gave Carlos an iron one. That's probably a bit harsh, and Carlos is no Derek Jeter, but flanked by Cirillo and Boone with Olerud at first and 3 Centerfielders behind him, his defense does stick out like a sore thumb. I'm sure Olerud and his Hoover for a right arm make up a bit for that, though.

My analytical mind is extremely suspicious of defensive stats for reasons I won't expound at this time (I'm saving that for as soon as I finish Moneyball, possibly the weekend, to go with all the wonderful baseball thoughts that has whirling through my brain). One thing I'd be interested to know is just how important the first baseman is to the defense, especially the infield. The popular thought seems to be that if you have a slugger who can hit but can't field, you put him at first, maybe left, where he doesn't have to be very mobile or throw any distance. Players like Manny Ramirez, Mo Vaughn and Jeremy Giambi come to mind. But is that the most advantageous position to place a defensive liability? When you think about it, every ball picked up in the infield winds up in the glove of the first basemen. He's the funnel that nearly every infield putout comes through. Sure, if every throw hits him square in the chest it's a best-case scenario. But how many infielders throw a laser beam 60-70 feet to first on a squiggler down the third baseline and Ichiro or Rocco Baldelli charging out of the box? Chuck Knoblauch couldn't do it even from second base. A first baseman who can suck the ball out of the dirt and stretch off the bag like John Olerud and JT Snow puts confidence in not only his pitchers but the three other fielders giving him throws. A first baseman that can't catch the ball with a sofa puts added pressure on the pitchers to keep the ball out of play and on the other fielders to make sure there throw is 100% online.

So my question is: What value does the first basemen have to his team’s defense? I don't know the answer. If the question has been answered, somebody point me in the direction. If it hasn't, somebody with a database and more free time than I have needs to get to work.

Obviously the degeneration of the Mets infield (I remember that SI issue with Olerud, Alfonzo, Ordonez and Ventura on the cover boasting them as the best ever) from Olerud to Zeile to Vaughn has been costly. Eric McErlain also took the time to put me in my right place:

Saw your response to my Olerud post, and I don't think you're giving it it's proper due. Because outside of the win totals, the slide in the Mets offensive production began right after his departure from New York.
As I wrote:
"Sure, the Mets were able to make it to the World Series in 2000 without Olerud. But you can't help but notice that while the Mets scored 853 runs in 1999 (Olerud's last season in New York), that production dropped to 807 in 2000, and 642 in 2001."
If the Mets were able to clinch the Wild Card in 2000, it was because of Mike Hampton's addition to the pitching staff. Without him the following year, the slide continued, and the difference between having Zeile in the lineup in place of Olerud became even more apparent.
Later in your post, you demonstrate some detailed knowledge of Olerud's current OPS and Walk totals. Why don't you take a look at the Mets totals between 1999 and 2001? How can you fail to notice that Olerud has 125 walks in 1999, compared to Zeile's 75 walks he had in Olerud's place a year later?
I don't mean to bash Todd Zeile, a guy who has made a living playing for plenty of major league teams. But at this point in his career, he simply isn't the same sort of hitter that Olerud is. As a hitter, Zeile is always looking for a ball to drive; meanwhile, Olerud has always been a patient hitter who will take a walk if he can't get a pitch he can drive.
Something else I didn't mention. Zeile's failure to adequately take Olerud's place in the lineup led directly to the trade for Mo Vaughn after the 2001 season -- another nice direct link from Olerud's departure to the mess the Mets currently find themselves in.

Alright Eric. "Uncle." That's the last time I blog until 2 a.m. with the wife barking over my shoulder, "Are you coming to bed yet?" That was sloppy research, and for that I sincerely apologize. Eric also further delved into the topic on Monday on his blog. What really gets me going now that I'm looking at this stuff is how the acquisition of Olerud was the genesis of sorts for the Mariners' mini renaissance. But first the Mets.

The Hawk moved from Toronto to Gotham prior to the 1997 season. As Eric points out in his table, the Mets' walks jumped by over a 100, which can be chalked up to the addition of John Olerud who walked 85 times. Replacing Jeff Kent (21 walks) with Edgardo Alfonzo (63) also helped. Interestingly, despite the spike in walks, the OBP climbed just 6 points because the team batting average fell from .270 to .262. Most importantly, though, the Mets scored more runs from the year before.

For the '98 campaign, the Mets switched out Todd Hundley (.394 OBP in '97) with Mike Piazza (.417 in '98). Olerud posted an OBP of .447, the 2nd highest mark of his career. Brian McRae (.360) replaced Carl Everett (.308) in center and Butch Huskey (.300) picked up for Alex Ochoa (.300) in an even swap. The team walked more, but the OBP dropped a point and the team dropped 71 runs from the previous year. Still, they made their first playoff appearance in 10 years thanks to a pitching staff, lead by new acquisition Al Leiter, that improved by 132 runs.

In '99, the Mets broke out for an improvement of 145 in the walk department, 33 points on their OBP and 147 more runs. What happened you ask? Well, for starters, the Mets brought in the godfather of getting on base, Rickey Henderson (.423), to man left in his last great season, effectively replacing Bernard Gilkey. Rookie Roger Cedeno (.396!) took over from Huskey in right. Robin Ventura (.379) moved Alfonzo to third, the final piece in that defensive masterpiece.

In 2000, Olerud moved west, and Steve Phillips brought in Todd Zeile to replace him. That was a drop in OBP from .427 to .356. That's huge. Further, the entire outfield of Rickey, Roger and Brian McRae was turned over for Benny Agbayani (.391), Jay Payton (.331) and Derek Bell (.348). The drop off in offense was inevitable, but still better than '97 and '98. As Eric points out, the Mets made up the difference by grabbing Mike Hampton from Houston to complement Al Leiter in the rotation, even though their runs allowed climbed by about 20.

In 2001, the bottom fell out with shockingly the same lineup (Timo Perez took over right for Derek "Operation Shutdown" Bell) in what has been a traumatic fall out for Mets fans. Phillips tried to right the ship in 2002 as Alfonzo was moved back the third to accommodate Robbie Alomar. Mo Vaughn replaced Zeile, and Jeromy Burnitz took over for Payton. And we all know the rest of the story.

With Olerud (1997-1999):
273 wins, 2336 runs, 1839 walks, .342 OBP

Without Olerud (2000-2002):
251 wins, 2139 runs, 1706 walks, .331 OBP

That’s an 8% decrease in wins over three years, an 8% decrease in runs scored, a 7% decrease in base on balls and a 3% decrease in on base percentage since the loss of John Olerud. I made a rash judgment in the wee hours of the morning the other day just glancing at the won-loss column. The peripheral numbers tell a different story that indeed John Olerud was an integral piece of the Mets’ puzzle. Between his above average skill getting on base and his near flawless glove and Steve Phillips’ inability to adequately fill that void is the reason the Mets find themselves where they are today.

What's fascinating to me is how Mariners' history was altered the moment John Olerud switched coasts. I'm so glad Eric brought up what I will forever call the "Hatteberg Principle," as that's what happened in Seattle in 2000 and 2001. The difference between Steve Phillips and Pat Gillick is how they were able to deal with the "Hatteberg Principle." Here's a chart similar to Eric's of the Mariners with and without The Hawk, with wins in there, too:

1999 (Segui) 79 wins, 859 runs, 610 BB, .343 OBP
2000 (Olerud) 91 wins, 907 runs, 776 BB, .361 OBP
2001 (Olerud) 116 wins, 927 runs, 614 BB, .360 OBP
2002 (Olerud) 93 wins, 814 runs, 629 BB, .350 OBP

In the three years prior to Olerud (1997-1999):
245 wins, 2643 runs, 1794 walks, .347 OBP

In the three years since acquiring Olerud (2000-2002):
300 wins, 2648 runs, 2018 walks, .357 OBP

That’s an incredible 22% jump in the win column, while the runs scored are nearly identical, a 12% increase in walks and a 3% increase in on base percentage. Where the Mets declined in each of these statistics without Olerud, the M’s improved on every count. And just look at the difference between 1999 and 2000. The M’s walked 166 more times and their OBP climbed nearly 20 points.

To account for the massive increase in wins compared to the microscopic improvement in runs scored, consider the pitching staff that improved from 2593 runs allowed to 2106, a 19% improvement. Consider also the move from the homer-friendly Kingdome to the pitcher haven known as Safeco Field, as well as the departure of two of the best offensive players of their generation (Junior and A-Rod) and the offensive improvement is much more pronounced.

Then there’s the defensive component. Listed below are the M’s first baseman and the team’s infield errors, similar to Eric’s Mets chart:

1997 – Sorrento – 106
1998 – Segui – 83
1999 – Segui – 83
2000 – Olerud – 72
2001 – Olerud – 63
2002 – Olerud – 55

That’s 272 errors during the three years prior to Olerud, and 190 in the three years of the Olerud era, an improvement of 30%. The errors have steadily declined each year and have been cut in half from the Wilson/Sorrento/Cora/A-Rod/Davis infield to the present-day Wilson/Olerud/Boone/Guillen/Cirillo incarnation.

There no question in my mind that the acquisition of John Olerud had a devastating cascade effect on the Mets while a gloriously positive one for the Mariners. As Pat Gillick watched Ken Griffey and Alex Rodriguez flee for greener pastures, he was able to find a way to replace them with pieces like Olerud, Mike Cameron, Bret Boone and Ichiro that were a greater sum together than the void left behind. Pat Gillick efficiently replaced two MVP-caliber players. Steve Phillips couldn’t even replace John Olerud.

As a post script: Did you know that in 14 major league seasons John Olerud has played for 7 teams that won 90+ games? In only his final 3 seasons in Toronto (including strike-shortened '94) did one his teams finish with a losing record. He has seen 6 post seasons winning 2 World Series while with the Blue Jays.

A special thanks to Baseball Reference and Lee Sinins Sabermetric Encyclopedia for all the numbers.
|| Peter @ 6/18/2003

Yes indeedy, now that those National Leaguers are back on the east coast, the power switch is back on in Safeco. The Angels and M's combined for 7 home runs on the evening, accounting for all but two of the runs. Come on Boonie and Edgar, a walk and sac fly with the bases loaded? We won't rib them too hard about it, though. Astute reader Aditya points out:

It's not quite as interesting as the Mets playing in three straight 1-hit games, but the M's have now won three straight doubling their opponents score.

I don't know about you but I'll take outscoring the opposition 2:1 over being 1-hit every other night any day.

If you take away the 4 home runs that Franklin gave up, he didn't allow a single Angel to see the light of 2nd base and just 3 stood on first base safely through 8 innings. He threw 110 pitches, 64% for strikes with 4 K's. Franklin has just been electric the past 6 weeks: His ERA since the 1st of May is 2.65 and his WHIP is 1.05. Gil Meche may be getting a lot of the attention, but Ryan Franklin is my vote for Surprise Mariner of the Year so far. Really, did even in you wildest imagination pick Ryan Franklin to rank among the AL's top ten pitchers in ERA and WHIP midway through June?

Boonie followed his 4-hit night with a grand slam and 5 RBIs on the night. He came up again in the 7th with the bases loaded and heaven only knows the quote he would have provided. I'm sure it would have been some eloquent pontification on the Great Boonie. Instead of hitting the ball out of the park and providing us with a priceless soundbite, he did the next best thing: Coaxing a 4-pitch walk from one of Anaheim's ace relievers to bring up Edgar with the bases juiced.

Edgar's another story. He uncharacteristically hacked at the first pitch for a sac fly. Over the past week, his OPS is .353. He's struck out 8 times, walked twice and has no extra base hits. I think it would behoove Bob to weasel Edgar into the lineup somehow in San Diego this weekend. Then again, starting McLemore, Bloomquist and Ugueto would level the playing field and give the Padres a sporting chance.

And then we have Ichiro. Two and a half years of playing with Boone is starting to rub off:

"I was a pitcher," he said, breaking into a broad smile. "And if I pitched to me now, I don't think I would get this guy out" (Hickey, P-I)

Ichiro managed the 4-4-4-2 box score line. With 2 home runs to boot. And that homer in the 3rd, he nearly did boot it. It was below his knees, just above his ankles. I can think of any two other men that could hit a ball that far out of the strike zone that far: Vlad Guerrero and Alfonso Soriano. What Ichiro did in May was pretty impressive: .389/.415/.558. What Ichiro is doing thus far in June is downright Bonds-ian (if you trade the IBB for infield hits, okay maybe that's a stretch, but he is getting on base nearly half the time): .459/.484/.623.

Tonight makes for a pretty interesting matchup. Aaron Sele has been struggling thus far with a 7.72 ERA in 7 starts. But Safeco should make him feel right at home, as he sports a 3.68 ERA in 36 starts there since 2000. Freddy likewise has yet to really find a groove this year, but he has a 3.76 ERA in Safeco over the same span.
|| Peter @ 6/18/2003

Tuesday, June 17, 2003


Mariners of the game, in descending order...

#3 - Mike Cameron - In one evening Cammie hit as many homers as the rest of the M's have hit in nearly a week. Somebody finally turned the power switch in Safeco back on.

#2 - Jo-El Pineiro - If Jo-El could ever figure out how to get out of the 2nd inning, the Cy Young will be his on a silver platter. Mark my words. Freddy who? On Jo-El's first 15 pitches per start, he's being lit up .344/.511/.594. In the first inning, opponents have an .885 OPS and scored 11 runs. What eats him up more than anything are walks in the early innings: 29 walks in innings 1-3, 10 walks innings 4-9. And last night was no different as the Angels jumped him for 3 runs up front. He walked 2 in the 2nd inning with no further damage, but after that, it was all gravy. Between Garrett Anderson's double in the 3rd and Tim Salmon's 2-out single in the 8th, not a single Angel touched first base safely.Jo-El's line for the night was 109 pitches in 7.2 innings, 61% for strikes. He allowed 7 baserunners (5 hits, 2 walks) that scored 3 runs and struck out 4, including Troy Glaus 3 times.

#1 - (drum roll please) John Olerud -

"[First Basemen] #53 John Olerud: A career .300 hitter who walks 100 times a year and has some power, no speed. His stock will shoot up if and when his career numbers start to pass milestones" (The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, p. 452, 2001).

If you didn't see Olerud's game-tying blast and 2,000th career hit, click here. Choose "Plays of the Game" over on the right. You'll need Real Player, but it is free. It's a beauty, and that's Dave Niehaus with the call. It's not everyday you see a player of Olerud's class reach a milestone with such style. I guarantee you he wouldn't boycott the Hall of Fame over a cap. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and 2 ribbies.

Existenstial question of the day: Is the guilty pleasure factor greater to see the Yankees no-hit by Houston, or 4-hit and slaughtered 11-2 by Lou's Devil Rays?
|| Peter @ 6/17/2003

Monday, June 16, 2003

(last week's rank in parentheses)

1. Seattle (1) Did you know Ryan Franklin leads the staff with 10 Quality Starts? Moyer has 9, Freddy 8(!), Meche and Pineiro both 7. The Mariners are 2nd only to the Dodgers in ERA (3.50), as they lead the majors with 8 shutouts. No other team has more than 6.

2. NY Yankees (2) David Wells has 8 wins and 4 walks in 91.2 innings.

3. Atlanta (4) Javier Lopez just has some weird numbers. Sure, the 19 homers get him a lot a attention. He has only 38 RBI, so half of those are driving in himself, but you can't really fault him that hitting behind Shef and the Jones boys. He's scored only 33 runs, so less than half of those are non-home run runs. He has a 1.016 OPS despite a .333 OBP. He has walked only 9 times. Fluke? We'll see.

4. Oakland (6) Who would have thought that at this point in the season Chris Singleton would have a hight OBP (.344) than reigning MVP Miguel Tejada (.281). You really think the A's will miss him next year? Might they trade him before the deadline?

5. Philadelphia (5) At least Jim Thome is hitting .308/.453/.554 with runners in scoring position.

6. San Francisco (9) Let the 2003 Barry Bonds Barrage commence: .372/.518/.860 with 6 homers and 13 walks in June.

7. Anaheim (7) A 6-7 record disguises just how good Jarrod Wasburn is going this season: 3.61 ERA, 1.06 WHIP.

8. Houston (8) Jeff Bagwell has only 27 extra base hits to go with his major league leading 15 ground into double plays.

9. (tie) St. Louis (3) The Cards have 3 in their lineup with OPS of 1.200+ with runners in scoring position: Rolen (1.229), Pujols (1.231) and Drew (1.266).

(tie) Toronto (11) Perhaps the most astute free agent pick up of the winter: Frank Catalanotto .324/.367/.516.

11. Los Angeles (12) The Dodgers aren't just not hitting; they're not getting on base at all. They're just 3 walks better than the Devils Rays last among major league teams. Their OBP is also 29th at .309.

12. Boston (13) "And you, young Skywalker, we shall be watching your career with great interest" part I - Freddy Sanchez .286/.286/.357 in his first 14 major league at bats.

13. Chicago Cubs (10) Corey Patterson is hitting for power (.556 SLG with 12 homers) but still won't take a walk (.333 OBP with just 7 walks).

14. Minnesota (14) "And you, young Skywalker, we shall be watching your career with great interest" part II - Justin Morneau hitting .350/.381/.400 in his first 20 major league at bats.

15. Arizona (17) Whatever happened to Junior Spivey? His OBP is just .323.

16. Baltimore (17) New philosophy in the works? The Orioles are 9th in OBP (Oakland is 24th) at .344. Hmm… but they're 24th in walks. They're 7th in hits, better than the Rangers, Twins or Yankees.

17. Montreal (15) The secret to Brad Wilkerson's success? He sees as many pitches per plate appearance as Edgar Martinez (4.5), best in the majors.

18. Florida (19) Did you see Gammons write "Mike Lowell" and "Seattle Mariners" in the same sentence? (sigh) Lowell is tied with Delgado for the major league lead in extra base hits (43). He has also grounded into 10 double plays, the same as Bret Boone, tied for 8th worst in the majors.

20. Kansas City (20) It's Lima time again! He gave up 4 earned runs in 6 innings in his first start on Sunday against the Giants.

21. Chicago Sox (21) Frank Thomas just eats lefties for breakfast: .397/.531/.810 with 6 homers and 17 walks in 63 at bats.

22. Pittsburgh (22) Will Kris Benson ever come around? His ERA is an even 5.00, he's giving up nearly a runner and a half per inning with a K/9 of just 5.78 and coughed up 12 homers in 81 innings.

23. NY Mets (25) "And you, young Skywalker, we shall be watching your career with great interest" part III - Jose Reyes hitting .222/.222/.370 with a grand slam in his first 27 major league at bats.

24. Cincinnati (26) What a curse to have 4 outfielders with OPSs of .850+, and the only one of those below .900 is the one leading the NL in home runs.

25. Milwaukee (24) Opponents are hitting Glendon Rusch to the tune of .360/.412/.521. But on the bright side, base stealers are 0 for 5.

26. Texas (26) Francisco Cordero strikes out 10.38 batters/9 innings, but his ERA is 4.15 and he's blown 6 of 8 save chances.

27. Cleveland (27) Losing Ellis Burks and his .769 OPS hurts. That's how bad this lineup is.

28. Tampa Bay (28) Lou so far has used 12 different starting pitchers. Jeremi Gonzalez (3.25 in 6 starts) and Victor Zambrano (4.38 in 9 starts) are the only ones with ERAs below 4.50.

29. San Diego (29) Bruce Bochy has likewise used 12 different starters. Save Kevin Jarvis who pitched just 5 innings in his only start, Adam Eaton leads this bunch at 4.46.

30. Detroit (30) Other than Dmitri Young, the only other Tiger with an OPS north of .700 is Kevin Witt, who is hitting .290/.347/.464 with 3 homers in just 69 at bats.

AL - Jay Gibbons (Baltimore) 21 AB, 4 R, 10 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, .476/.542/1.048, 1.589 OPS
NL - Mike Lowell (Florida) 21 AB, 6 R, 9 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 5 BB, .429/.556/1.000, 1.556 OPS

AL - John Garland (Chicago Sox) 1-1, 15 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 11 K, 1.80 ERA
NL - Mark Redman (Florida) 2-0, 15 IP, 14 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1.20 ERA

AL - Torii Hunter (Minnesota) 21 AB, 2 H, 5 RBI, .095/.095/.095, .190 OPS
NL - Mark Grudzielanek (Chicago Cubs) 23 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, .087/.125/.087, .212 OPS

AL - Jay Powell (Texas) 0-0, 2.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 23.14 ERA
NL - Javier Lopez (Colorado) 0-0, 1 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 1 K, 81.00 ERA
|| Peter @ 6/16/2003

Eric McErlain has an interesting little theory about the beginning of the end of the Phillips-era Mets being John Olerud's homecoming to Seattle. Which got me thinking, "Really? That's pretty interesting." So I looked it up: In '98, the Mets were 88-74 and finished 2nd in the AL East. In '99, Olerud's final season in NY, the Mets went 97-66, finished 2nd, yet again, to the Braves but clinched the Wild Card. They beat Arizona in the NLDS, but lost to those pesky Braves in 6 games. With Todd Zeile filling Olerud's shoes in 2000, the Mets finished 94-68, 2.5 games off their 1999 mark, but advanced all the way to the World Series, steamrolling the Giants and Cardinals, but hitting a brick wall against the invincible Yankees. In 2001, two years removed from The Hawk, the Mets fell to 82-80 and 3rd place. So Eric, I'm not seeing the Olerud connection. You can't have him back, though.

Speaking of Olerud, I'm deeply concerned. I notice he has just 2 home runs. He's on a pace for 5. The lowest he's ever had in his career was 8 in 1995. His slugging is .405, and the only time in his career that has dipped lower was said '95 season at .405. His doubles are still where we'd expect them, a pace for 44, but his walks are slightly down. His OBP is still flirting with .400 but his OPS is sitting right on .800, and he's never posted that lower since his 2nd full major league season way back in 1991. Where, oh where, has your power gone, Big Rude?
|| Peter @ 6/16/2003

For one day out of the week I try and convince myself there are more important things in life than blogging and the Mariners, which is why I try my darndest to stay off the computer on Sundays. But I have to get something off my chest from yesterday's game before I get into today's. Friday's game was a gift to the Mariners on a couple of Braves' mistakes. On Saturday, Bob handed a gift-wrapped box to Bobby Cox. Cammie tried stealing in the 9th off Smoltz, no outs, down by 2, and whether that was Bob's call or Cammie's, I don't know, but it was a dumb move. However, that's not my beef. Perhaps prophetically, Zumsteg said on USS Mariner the other day:

"I can see where he could be badly outwitted by another manager who traps him into bad matchups based on Melvin's L/R fixation, or the M's losing a game where Melvin fails to make good pinch-hitting decisions in a situation where they could have generated some runs. The Torre-Zimmer duo particularly would give Melvin fits."

How about Cox, Mazzone and Co.? The use of the bullpen in this series was just laughable. Particularly in Sunday's game, there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to Melvin's bullpen usage, and the 8th inning was Derek's comment in living color on how rookie manager Melvin was overmatched and flat out out-stategized by a superior manager in a chessmatch of a tight game.

HOW NOT TO USE RELIEF PITCHERS: In top of the inning, Moyer retires Giles, but then surrenders back-to-back doubles to make it a 3-0 game. Keep in mind through all of this, on Friday Shiggy threw 6 pitches, Arthur 7, and Nellie 13. They're hardly exhausted. But who does Bob call upon to squelch this run scoring and keep the Braves from breaking the game wide open? None other than our favorite bullpen hero, Giovanni Carrera, who proceeds to walk Lopez (who now has 9 walks on the enitre freaking season, and a .333 OBP) on 5 pitches, and then immediately puts Julio Franco (who scientists believe was there when Moses received the 10 Commandments) in the whole 0-2. He finds a way to walk him, too. Bases loaded, one out. I'm working, watching on GameCast, with a hand on each side of the monitor screaming at Bob 4,000 miles away. The duo of Melvin and Carrara escaped utter humiliation though when Gio whiffed DeRosa swinging and, according to GameCast, "Castilla flied out to deep center."

Then in the top of the 9th, who better than to keep a 2-run game within striking distance against the top of the Braves muscled lineup than newbie leftie Matt White, right? To get the tough leftie Bragg and his .339 OPS, right? Bragg bunts on. Furcal bunts into a fielder's choice that erases Bragg. White pops Giles out. As a side note, Giles has a 1.000+ OPS against lefties. So then Bob brings in rightie Mateo to retire rightie Sheffield for the final out. Such micromanagment of a bullpen is like fingernails on a blackboard for me. There's definitely a place for it, but Bob doesn't know when that is. (hint: It was the 8th inning, Bob.) Just ask Bobby Cox.

HOW TO USE RELIEF PITCHERS: Like Moyer, Hampton also ran out of gas in the 8th after walking the leadoff man Wilson. Grybowski relieved and surrendered back to back singles to Ichiro and Mac. So here's the situation... Are you paying attention, Bob, because you will be tested on this in October... 8th inning. No outs. Bases loaded. The go-ahead run steps to the plate in the guise of Bret Ka-Boone, 2nd in the league in home runs, .904 OPS with runners in scoring position, 1.259 OPS Close and Late. Edgar's on deck with Olerud in the hole. Cox pulls Grybowski and brings in what should be the Mariners' worst nightmare in this series, John Smoltz. Cox, I'm sure, realizes that saves are a meaningful stat only to my fantasy team and a closer's agent, so yes, that's the Closer with no outs in the top of the 8th. The best pitcher in the bullpen in the highest-leverage situation of the ballgame. (Isn't that a Bill James idea, Sox fans?) Boone manages a sac fly. Edgar goes down swinging. Olerud grounds out. Threat ended. Braves lead 3-1. And Smoltz makes the 9th look every bit as effortless.

Boy, that was lot more than I intended to write about yesterday. Now on to today. We'll keep this same theme for a moment... So with the scrubs used up yesterday and Shiggy, Arthur and Nelson a day removed from that taxing Game 1, it was no surprise who was coming into this game. Meche lasted to the 8th, but after allowing Franco to first with one out and the top of the lineup due their 4th at bats against him, Melvin brings in Shiggy. Good call. No complaints. It's the 9th that baffles me. Shiggy starts with a single to Sheffield. So Arthur comes in to force Chipper to bat right-handed. He's got an .897 OPS against lefties but Jon Miller and Joe Morgan were quite adament about his injured hand hampering his right-handed swing. Chipper flies out to that corner of the right-center gap, right in front of the 385 sign. Sheffield tags from first and beats Ichiro's throw. Two thumbs up for Sheffield's heads up play. Now the tying run is in scoring position with only one out. If you're wondering about Andruw's splits, his OPS left/right is .894/.969, which makes me a little more forgiving of Melvin leaving Arthur in. But what really sells me on this move is Andruw's batting average split left/right is .228/.328, and that's a huge difference. It's far better to dish up a walk in this situation because any hit scores the tying run. And Jones goes down swinging.

So now I'm all ready to take the dagger and really twist into to Bob for not letting Arthur finish the game after he took down the heavy bats in the order with Julio Franco (I think he played ball with my grandpa) coming to the plate. And as I pull up Franco's splits now though, I'm feeling a bit sheepish. Against lefties - .370/.453/.543 in 46 at bats. Against righties - .216/.298/.255 in 51 at bats. So maybe Bob knew what he was doing after all. Still sounds like fingernails on the blackboard tonight, though. Nelson chalks up a save for somebody's fantasy team and his agent.

Now that Meche is really something, ain't he? 7.1 innings on 102 pitches, 68% for strikes, just 6 baserunners (4 hits, 2 walks) scoring a single run, and 6 K's.

On offense, if you can really call it that, it was the Ichiro and Boone show. Ichiro collected 2 infield hits, swiped 3 bases off of Maddux and scored both runs. Boone hit Adouble that scored Ichiro in the first, and grounded out in third, scoring Ichiro for the only other run.

Pitching was the star of the series, and man is that an understatement. As far as runs go, both teams scored only 5 runs over the 3 games, the Braves out hit the M's 20-16, surpringsly they out-walked them 11-5, and the M's batters struck out 18 times to the Braves 17. I call 2 out of 3 quite a victory.

Let's bring on the floundering Angels. The matchups are Pineiro/Lackey, Franklin/Appier (who the M's accused of scuffing the ball earlier in the year), Garcia/Sele and Thursday is TBA. Anaheim is currently 10.5 out, just 2 games over .500. They are 8-5 so far in June.
|| Peter @ 6/16/2003