Mariners Musings

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

Saturday, September 13, 2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   90 56  --

Oakland 88 60 3.0

Boston 86 60 4.0

Seattle 85 62 5.5

15 games left
|| Peter @ 9/13/2003

Friday, September 12, 2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   89 56  --

Oakland 87 60 3.0

Boston 85 60 4.0

Seattle 84 62 5.5

16 games left
|| Peter @ 9/12/2003

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   88 56  --

Oakland 86 60 3.0

Boston 85 60 3.5

Seattle 83 62 5.5

17 games left
|| Peter @ 9/11/2003

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

For the sake of momentum

"You only think I guessed wrong - that's what's so funny! I switched pitchers when your back was turned! Ha-ha, you fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia', but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never pitch to Raffie Palmeiro in Safeco field when the game is on the line!' Hahahahahah!" --Vizzini, from the Princess Bride

At least I think that's how that one goes. I going on memory here.

So the morning after juicing myself with an extra dose of optimism I get this reply:

Armando Benitez: "I'm not a Goonie."

But still! Oh never mind. A high profile Bennie meltdown in Mariner blue was overdue.

Are my hard-pressed attempts at optimism now broken? It certainly is a chore of Sisyphusean magnitude to hold my chin up high after games like this. Extra inning loss to the Rangers? Have the Mariners EVER lost to the Rangers in extra innings? And might at 10th inning single by Mark Teixeira be the official death knell of the Mariners 2003 season?

From a strategic standpoint, the Mariners had this game. Too much intervention by Mr. Melvin and the rest of us watched it slip through his fingers.

Seventh inning - Franklin, who by the way did not only not give up a homer to Raffie Palmeiro, but didn't allow a home run all evening, retires Michael Young. The Rangers are down to their final 5 outs. Down by 3 runs. The three Rangers who own Mariner pitching (as I noted yesterday) are due up. Hank Blalock is 1-3 with a double. Palmeiro is 0-3 grounding into a double play. A-Rod is 1-3 on the evening with a single. After 105 pitches, Melvin pulls Franklin. Scroll through the archives over there on the right. 102 seems to be the magic number, no matter who's on the mound. You can argue that by this part of the season Franklin should finish the inning, he's done well so far. That's fine. You can also argue you've got a 3-run lead with 5 outs left in a can't-lose game.

Making the pitching change, naturally, Melvin brings in Arthur Rhodes to face the leftie Blalock. But here's the trick: Two of the next three hitters are lefties and Buck Showalter has A-Rod sandwiched in the middle. By far, the leftie I'm more concerned with is Palmeiro. So Melvin is looking at L-R-L. One scenario, which I'm sure was foremost on Bob's mind, was leftie Rhodes retires Blalock. Bring in rightie Benitez to pitch to rightie A-Rod. Inning over. Palmeiro leads off. Makes sense, but it's a poor decision.

Again, 3 run lead. 5 outs. Melvin takes the worst possible route. Last week, I detailed how Arthur is, at best, the third best option out of the pen to face lefties. There's no margin for error and if either Rhodes or Benitez fail to record their outs, the Rangers most dangerous bat in Safeco is up to bat against no other options but right-handers as Rhodes is out of the game. That shouldn't matter though, because Shiggy's more effective against lefties than Rhodes. He can record the 5-out save starting with Blalock. A-Rod's split is neglible. He'd mash the ball if the pitcher threw the ball with his left foot (
|| Peter @ 9/10/2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   87 56  --

Oakland 85 60 3.0

Boston 84 60 3.5

Seattle 82 62 5.5

18 games left
|| Peter @ 9/10/2003

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

"Goonies never say die"

Season ain't over yet. 19 games left. Bring on the Rangers.

Here's what the AL West Second Half standings (a la the Texas League) would look like as of today...
Oakland  30  21  --

Texas 26 24 3.5
Seattle 24 26 5.5
Anaheim 21 31 9.5


What good news there is for the Mariners is how they've fared against the AL West thus far: 22-17. Yet, that's nearly identical to Oakland's 22-18 mark. Meanwhile the Angels and Rangers have their exact reciprocal records against their AL West competitors: 18-22 and 17-22, respectively.

The Mariners lead the season series over the Rangers 7-6 at this point, despite being outscored by the Rangers this year 66-61. Five Rangers have 47+ at bats against Mariner pitching this year. Three of them have 1.000+ OPS's against the Mariners. A-Rod is hitting .367/.456/.694 with 3 homers, 3 doubles and 2 triples in 49 AB. Hank Blalock is hitting .392/.415/.667 with 4 homers in 51 AB. Rafael Palmeiro is hitting .277/.397/.617 with 5 homers and something like 500 of his home runs at Safeco Field.

I say Palmeiro takes Ryan Franklin deep in his 2nd AB. And I predict a 3-homer game for Viagra man against Gil Meche.

The Mariners will certainly miss Doug Glanville, one of like 20 crummy OBP leadoff/center fielders traded to Dusty Baker to replace Corey Patterson, who hit Mariner pitching .149/.149/.234 in 47 AB. Thankfully, the Rangers still have Einar Diaz (.240/.269/.280 in 25 AB) and especially Mark Teixeira (.083/.128/.111).

Pitching wise, the Mariners offense has not dominated this worst staff in the majors as they should. The Rangers ERA for season is 5.74. Against the Mariners, it's a full run less at 4.70. Last year's Mariner rental Ismael Valdes has manhandled the M's to just 3 runs over 12 innings (2.25 ERA). John Thomson has made 3 starts against the M's and allowed 8 runs over 22 innings (3.27 ERA). Colby Lewis, quite possibly the worst pitcher in the American League this year, looks quite average against Seattle, allowing just 6 runs in 12 innings (4.38 ERA). And closer Francisco Cordera has struck out 13 M's in 8 innings.

From the view of the home team against the Texas Rangers, the M's have four hitters with 47+ AB against the Rangers, and three of those have OPS's over .900. Ichiro has hit the Rangers .346/.452/.462 in 52 AB with 5 stolen bases. Randy Winn is hitting .375/.436/.521 with 4 doubles in 48 AB. Bret Boone is hittins .255/.368/.596 with 5 homers. Seeing John Olerud's numbers against the Rangers makes me pine for the days Greg Colbrunn was available. Not that Melvin would use him anyway. Olerud has hit the Rangers .186/.314/.209 with just one XBH in 43 AB. Mark McLemore is another one who needs to stay away from the batter's box for the next few days (heck, why not the rest of the year) as he's hit that pathetic Ranger pitching
.220/.304/.244 in 41 AB.

The pitching for the next few days is bad-good-really bad for the Mariners. Tonight they send Ryan "Homer Me" Franklin to the hill. With 32 gopher balls, Ryan Franklin tonight sits tied for 4th on the all-time Mariner list of homers allowed in a season. He's just 3 shy of Scott Bankhead's 35 way back in 1987. Franklin has made 2 starts against the Rangers, allowed 9 ER in 12 innings (6.75 ERA) giving up 4 homers. Jo-El Pineiro pitches tomorrow evening. Pineiro's only start against the Rangers this year was July 26: A 126-pitch, 3-hit shutout, his best start of the year. He's overdue to repeat it. Gil Meche is scheduled to pitch Thursday. The Rangers ate Gil Meche for breakfast in April. They ate him for lunch in July. And they're ready for dinner. He's made 3 starts, lasted just a total of 14.2 innings and allowed 13 earned runs (7.98 ERA) and 7 home runs. Do Price and Melvin really need any more reason to insert Soriano into the rotation for Thursday?

That the Rangers just purchased the contract of Tony Mounce from AAA Oklahoma to start tonight's game has me quite concerned. We're all well aware of the Mariners record against unfamiliar pitchers this year. John Thomson pitches tomorrow against Pineiro, in what looks to be a nice matchup. Against Meche on Thursday, the Rangers have another rookie and former Angel Mickey Callaway. He's yet another young pitcher the M's haven't yet seen, and as Callaway has a 7.28 ERA in 47 innings this year, all signs point to a no-hitter against the Mariners.

I find I'm a pessimist by nature. It must be some emotional defense mechanism to lessen the blow of disappointment. I'm ready to throw in the towel on the M's chances in 2003. But no. There are still 19 games left. Three weeks. Season ain't over yet.

I'm not riding up Troy's bucket just yet.
|| Peter @ 9/09/2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   86 56  --

Oakland 84 60 3.0

Boston 83 60 3.5

Seattle 82 61 4.5
|| Peter @ 9/09/2003

Monday, September 08, 2003

Pythagorean Rankings: Week 23

(last week's rank in parentheses followed by runs for and against)

1. Seattle (1) 706-570 Since 1990, the only teams to win the World Series with the best run differential are the '98 Yankees and the '02 Angels. Six games in September isn't much, but on the road against Tampa Bay and Baltimore the M's hit .222/.298/.324. Edgar's OPS (with the broken toe) has been .485, Boone .549 and Ichiro .577, and the Mariners are nothing without those three. Postseason odds: 43%.

2. Atlanta (2) 801-654 While Javy Lopez's first half was really, really good at .307/.352/.636, his second half has been even better at .360/.422/.734. Meanwhile, Robert Fick has tanked the second half with .207/.302/.298, that's 6 XBH in 121 AB.

3. Boston (5) 863-723 Cowboy up? Kevin Millar's first half went .294/.361/.511, and the second has gone .254/.344/.438. Not like the Sox can't handle losing a bat or two from the lineup. But they could use something more from Derek Lowe than a 4.43 second half ERA. A Sox vs. Sox series this weekend will be exciting, but Boston sees Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Cleveland to finish the season. Postseason odds: 82%.

4. (tie) Oakland (3) 662-564 In the second half, Terrence Long is hitting .241/.281/.374, Mark Ellis .247/.305/.356, Erubiel Durazo .204/.317/.359 and Chris Singleton .196/.271/.277. That's four big outmakers in the lineup, and that has to put at least a glimmer of hope to Mariner fans. But if I'm Billy Beane, I'm calling up the entire Sacramento staff to pitch to the clueless Mariners. Meanwhile, Keith Foulke has allowed just 3 runs in the second half, all solo home runs. Postseason odds: 79%.

(tie) Houston (6) 696-594 The 'Stros won series in LA and San Diego this past week and sit a half game behind the Cubs for the division. No more games against the Cubs, but six more against the Cards. Another second half bust: Morgan Ensberg .312/.418/.613 in the first half, .250/.303/.386 second half. Postseason odds: 26%.

6. Philadelphia (7) 686-599 Putting the heat on the NL Wild Card race winning six straight. All but six of their remaining games are against the Braves and Marlins. Randy Wolf has suffered since the All-Star break, 3.31 ERA, .204 BAA before and 5.64 ERA, .272 BAA after. Postseason odds: 63%.

7. NY Yankees (4) 746-653 Derek Jeter Batting Champion? Tied with Bill Mueller? That's the case as of this morning. Jeter's current .322/.391/.459 will reverse the three-year spiral of his rate states. Jason Giambi has been doing nothing but getting on base the second half: .196/.392/.444. Postseason 92%

8. San Francisco (8) 634-568 The One Man Team: Barry Bonds has created 130.7 of the Giants' 634 runs. That's 1 in every 5. Here's a breakdown of their offense, by their top 9 in AB: 1 with an OPS +1.200, none 1.100-1.200, none 1.000-1.1000, none .900-1.000, none .800-.900, six .700-.800, and two .600-.700.

9. Chicago Sox (10) 688-625 Every game matters is more than a cliche in Chicago: 7 against the Twins, starting today, 3 against the Red Sox, 7 against the Royals and 3 against the Yankees. The Cy Young is Estaban Loiaza's to lose. Right-handers hit him .188/.221/.309. Postseason odds: 47%.

10. St. Louis (9) 778-710 Matt Morris has allowed just three runs over his last 4 starts (28 innings). Mr. Consistent: Albert Pujols hit .368/.432/.690 the first half and .358/.461/.659 and the second. The lineup is not just Pujols, though. Scott Rolen has a .913 OPS and Jim Edmonds .905. Postseason odds: 11%.

11. Florida (12) 662-608 Six more games against the Phillies will decide their October fate. Jeff Conine hitting .160/.214/.160 thus far in 25 at bats in round 2 of Mr. Marlin. Among the eight starters in the second half, only Derrek Lee (.486) is slugging over .440. Four of them are below .400. Postseason odds: 25%.

12. (tie) Toronto (15) 788-743 Give the man some at bats: Josh Phelps hit .262/.348/.437 the first half and .304/.396/.609 the second with 8 homers and 11 BB in 92 AB. Postseason odds: 1%.

(tie) Arizona (11) 624-589 Shea Hillenbrand is hitting .218/.243/.358 the second half, while Raul Mondesi is at .319/.394/.509. They both have exactly 13 XBH. If the Snakes can just get there, Johnson/Schilling/Webb is a scary threesome. Postseason odds: 1%.

(tie) Los Angeles (13) 504-476 Congrats to the Bums for cracking the 500 mark before the Tigers. The Dodgers have not won back-to-back starts by Kevin Brown since June 11 (Tigers) and 17 (Giants). Hideo Nomo is the bizarro pitcher of the National League. His ERA is actually better out of Chavez Ravine (3.32 in LA, 2.43 on the road). His BAA has jumped from .202 to .260 since the break, but his ERA has dropped a third of a run from 2.97 to 2.64. Postseason odds: 6%.

15. Anaheim (14) 674-646 From World Champs to AL West spoilers: All but six of their remaining games are against the A's and Mariners. They're 6-7 against Oakland with a 4.59 ERA and .704 OPS. Tim Salmon loves those A's with a 1.337 OPS and 7 homers in 44 AB. Meanwhile, against the Mariners, the Angels are 5-8 with a 4.38 ERA and .707 OPS. Lucky for the Mariners, Brad Fullmer (.990 OPS vs. Seattle) has been on the DL since June.

16. Chicago Cubs (18) 634-609 There is much jubilation at Clark & Addison as the Cubbies took 4 of 5 from the Cardinals and swept Milwaukee. The pennant is really theirs to lose facing the Expos, Reds, Mets and Pirates the rest of the way. In the second half, Mark Prior is 7-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 7 starts (54 innings). Opponents are hitting just .191 off of him. Postseason odds: 69%.

17. Minnesota (17) 700-683 Only the White Sox have won as many games as the Twins since the All-Star break. Brad Radke is 6-1 with a 3.93 ERA. Shannon Stewart (not Rey Sanchez) has proved to be the greatest offensive mid-season acquisition hitting .345/.401/.505. Doug Mientkiewicz has been on on-base machine (.436 OBP) with no power (.438 SLG). Postseason odds: 52%.

18. Montreal (16) 638-643 Losing 8 of their last 9 and against the Phillies and Marlins effectively kills the playoff hopes of the Expos. Javier Vazquez ranks 1st in the NL in IP (209), 2nd in strikeouts (217), 5th in complete games (4), 6th in WHIP (1.13), 9th in ERA (3.27) and 10th in BAA (.233).

19. Kansas City (20) 725-743 Just where would the Royals be without Darrell May? He'll be ignored for his 8-7 record, but his ERA is 3.70, he's 7th in the AL in WHIP 1.19, 7th in BAA (.243) and 10th in IP (187). Postseason odds: 4%.

20. Baltimore (21) 674-695 Sign of the apocalypse #1: Following an 8-game losing streak, the Birds win consecutive series against Oakland and Seattle, allowing just 15 runs over 6 games. Larry Bigbie is hitting .321/.387/.529 since the break.

21. Colorado (19) 745-772 The Rocks have lost 8 straight and 13 of their last 14. How said is it to be outscored 24-11 by the Dodgers at Coors Field. Let that sink in a minute. And is Larry Walker reaching the end of the line? He's slugging just .388 in the second half with only 9 XBH in 116 AB.

22. Pittsburgh (22) 647-706 Matt Stairs is hitting .330/.446/.639 with 7 homers in 97 at bats since the break. Reggie Sanders is hitting .302/.377/.680 with 15 homers in 169 AB. Really, Pat Gillick, how much would either of these guys cost back in July?

23. Cleveland (23) 623-697 It takes talent to lose three in a row to the Tigers, and the Indians did just that this week, though they were outscored just 16-12. Travis Hafner is hitting .295/.372/.545 since the break.

24. NY Mets (24) 597-678 The Mets team OPS since the break is .705, but they've outscored their opponents 205-203. Al Leiter is 6-2 with a 1.60 ERA and 8.13 K/9 in the second half.

25. Texas (26) 741-870 Sign of the apocalypse #2: The Rangers have won more games (26) since the break than the Mariners (24). It's not their pitching though: Nine different starters in the second half lead a staff 5.37 ERA. Hank Blalock hit .323/.375/.524 with 14 homers in 313 AB the first half. He's hitting .289/.349/.543 with 11 homers in 173 AB the second half.

26. Tampa Bay (27) 634-746 Sign of the apocalypse #3: The Devil Rays just won consecutive series against Seattle and Oakland in September, outscoring them 35-19 over six games. They've won more games the second have (25) than Seattle. Lou's finest hour? At least a big middle finger to his former employers.

27. Milwaukee (25) 633-748 Look out Eric Gagne. Danny Kolb has an 0.86 ERA with 16 saves in 21 innings the second half. Doug Davis has a 1.91 ERA in five starts as a Brewer.

28. San Diego (29) 597-731 Phil Nevin leads the team with 9 homers in the second half, but his OBP is a pedestrian mark of .325. Mark Loretta's hitting .343/.406/.471 since the break.

29. Cincinnati (28) 621-784 The Reds have lost 7 of their last 8. Can they just end their season now? D'Angelo Jimenez is hitting .304/.363/.438 the second half.

30. Detroit (30) 500-794 The Tigers are paying nearly $12 million to Bobby Higginson's line .238/.317/.371, 27 XBH in 412 AB. That's absolutely criminal. Really, how does he sleep at night?

Chicago/Minnesota at New York
Boston at Oakland
Chicago at Atlanta
Philadelphia at San Francisco

AL - Ben Broussard (Cleveland) 23 AB, 7 R, 10 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, .435/.519/1.087, 1.605 OPS
NL - Albert Pujols (St. Louis) 29 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 9 BB, 1 SB, .310/.487/.552, 1.039 OPS

AL - Roy Halladay (Toronto) 2-0, 19.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 15 SO, 0.47 ERA (that was a 9-inning complete game and first 10-inning complete game shutout since Jack Morris in the '91 Series, and he did it with 99 pitches)
NL - Matt Morris (St. Louis) 2-0, 16.0 IP, 8 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 13 SO, 0.00 ERA

AL - Chris Singleton (Oakland) 19 AB, 2 H, 1 RBI, 1 BB, .105/.150/.105, .255 OPS
NL - Jack Wilson (Pittsburgh) 22 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, .091/.130/.091, .221 OPS

AL - Andy Pettitte (NY Yankees) 0-1, 2.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 30.86 ERA
NL - Jose Mesa (Philadelphia) 0-1, 0.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 67.50 ERA
|| Peter @ 9/08/2003

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Lost at sea

I'm on your side
Nowhere to hide
Trap doors that open
I spiral down
You're living in a fantasy world
You're living in a fantasy world
You're living in a fantasy world
I'm lost at sea
Don't bother me
I've lost my way
I've lost my way
You're living in a fantasy world
You're living in a fantasy world
You're living in a fantasy world
--Radiohead, In Limbo

"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'

'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.

"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"

--Jesus of Nazereth, Matthew 21:28-31

Once upon a time, two teams set out to win a championship. The first team sputtered around and played uninspired ball at the outset. But by the final 100 games or so, things "clicked." The team came together and peaked just when it mattered most. The bats got hot. The pitchers become unhittable. They were a championship team.

The second team shot out of the gate like a rocket, winning every game with a vengeance. Every batter got his hit. Every pitcher dominated the enemy (except a man named Giovanni). But after 100 games or so, the team got tired. The energy just evaporated. The pitcher's were lit up like Christmas trees. The hitters couldn't even score at the local house-of-ill-repute. It's such a long season, after all.

What do you think? The fans of which team were most happy at the end of the season? (Props to Dan Werr for the tortoise and hare angle.)

That's a 6-6 split of two weeks of home-away against Baltimore and Tampa Bay. That's 8 runs in the last 5 games. The offense is just lost at sea. Might a dose of Ranger pitching at the Arlington bandbox right the ship? Hope and pray. Hope and pray.

For a little perspective, since the All-Star break, the Mariners are scoring 4.74 runs a game, hitting .262/.340/.386. By comparison, over the same stretch, the Dodgers are scoring 3.67 runs per game, hitting .241/.302/.377, and the Tigers are scoring 4.06 runs per game, hitting .253/.308/.414. So maybe things aren't so bad. Then again, the Dodgers are a long shot for the playoffs, and only have a shot because of their outstanding pitching, and the Tigers are historically bad.

Meanwhile, those pesky A's are scoring 4.68 runs a game, hitting .253/.321/.418 since the All-Star break. So might the panic be a little of an emotional knee-jerk reaction? Is it so hopeless? It sure feels like it. Maybe it's because the Mariners haven't gained a game on the A's since what, 1992?

Here are the the before and after OPS splits on the offense and the difference:
C  - Dan Wilson     .578  .731  +.153

Ben Davis .824 .431 -.393
1B - John Olerud .762 .751 -.011
2B - Bret Boone .963 .757 -.206
LF - Randy Winn .679 .895 +.216
CF - Mike Cameron .836 .684 -.152
RF - Ichiro .865 .649 -.216
DH - Edgar Martinez .954 .819 -.135

Team .775 .726 -.049

Shortop and third base have seen turnover since the break. Cirillo hasn't batted significantly the second half. Sanchez wasn't on the team the first half. Guillen's been hurt most of the second half.

Two improvements: Wilson and Winn. Wilson was an absolute cypher the first half, so it was pretty much impossible he doesn't improve. He's still a below average hitter. Winn has been the left field slugger the M's needed at the trade deadline. I was hoping for the M's to pick up Brian Giles and since the break, his OPS is .948, and Winn isn't much behind that.

Meanwhile, Olerud is still consistently mediocre, but the rest of the lineup has tanked. Five regulars whose OPS's have dropped over .100 points, and three of them over .200 points, including the first half's biggest offensive threats Boonie and Ichiro. Ichiro's season has just bottomed out while Boone is now hitting like a mortal second baseman once again.

One lonely bright spot is the chief rivals, Oaklant, New York and Boston, each have their own Achilles heels. Not one of these teams are dominating right now. The three playoff spots will go to the three teams that want them the most.

Three weeks left to find redemption.
|| Peter @ 9/07/2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   85 56  --

Oakland 84 59 2.0

Boston 83 59 2.5

Seattle 82 61 4.0
|| Peter @ 9/07/2003