Mariners Musings

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

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Random playoff thought of the day

"Physically I could have pitched today," Schmidt said. "If I have to pitch today, I will do that. It would probably be in everybody's best interest if I didn't. Somebody has to pitch tomorrow."

Manager Felipe Alou wanted to go with Schmidt, who went 17-5 with a 2.34 ERA during the regular season and pitched a three-hitter in the Giants' 2-0 victory in Game 1.

But the right-hander, who has a history of elbow problems, said he preferred to wait an extra day. (Long, AP)

Looks like nobody's pitching tomorrow for the Giants, and Jason Schmidt's extra day just became an extra five months.

When the Marlins signed Pudge Rodriguez I did a double take. When Loria boasted the Marlins could win 90 games, I scoffed.

How huge has the addition of Pudge, and to a lesser extent Jeff Conine, been to these Marlins? I'd say it's been a career-defining 24 hours for Pudge Rodriguez.
|| Peter @ 10/04/2003

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Hall plaque for Stand Pat?

You know, just two years ago the Mariners had finished the greatest regular season in baseball history and their no-superstar-bottom-line-business was the model to the industry. Ain't it funny what 186 wins and zero playoff games later will do to the columnists?

Yesterday, I received an email from Kevin, introducing me to his new Mariner blog One Hundred Sixteen, and also pointing me in the direction of John McGrath's article endorsing Pat Gillick's Hall of Fame enshrinement. To which I do my best Keanu impersonation: Whoa.

I've taken plenty of shots at Gillick this year for things like failing to make an effort to improve the team after April 1. But while this season proved to show that the game has passed Gillick by, that wasn't always the case. Even recently. 393 regular season wins is nothing to scoff at. While it's become fashionable to rail on Gillick for his approaching the July 31 deadline like a 5-year-old approaches a plate of vegetables, this is the same Pat Gillick whose first task as Mariner General Manager was trading and finding a replacement for Ken Griffey. This is the same Pat Gillick who, yes, let Alex Rodriguez walk, but more than adequately filled that hole with both Ichiro and Bret Boone. He couldn't be counted on to make a trade in a pinch, but more often than not, the sum of his winter free agent acquisitions somehow always exceeded the talent that left.

The summer of 2001 in Seattle was the greatest season by a team a city of baseball fans has ever seen. And it happened in Seattle. It didn't happen in New York. It wasn't a Chicago team. Not Boston. It wasn't even LA. It was Seattle. And Pat Gillick was responsible for putting together that team. So for the summer of 2001 in Seattle, I thank you Pat.

When I read McGrath's article, I wasn't sure about the precedent for GM's in the Hall, but I know Branch Rickey (well, not personally) and there's something just not right seeing their names together. A little homework turned up this piece by Doug Pappas featured on ESPN back in June. It turns out there are four GM's in the Hall, and none post-1960. To review in short:

Branch Rickey: Integration. The minor league farm system. Spring training. Rickey invented the modern amenities of the game.

Larry MacPhail: In 1935, MacPhail experimented with something called "lights" so his Cincinnati Reds could play seven night games. It was a huge success. In 1939 with the Dodgers, he dabbled in some half-crazy idea about broadcasting his games on something called "television." Maybe you've heard of it.

Ed Barrow: Barrow is Exhibit #321 in "The Curse of the Bambino is a Bunch of Malarkey." He managed the Sox to that final '18 World Championship and turned to the Yankees to general manage in 1921. When the Bronx Bombers won their first title in '23, "half of their starting lineup and five of their six top pitchers were former Red Sox." Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio were Yankees because of Ed Barrow. Barrow oversaw the club between 1921 and 1944, winning 15 pennants and 11 World Series. Just sick.

George Weiss: He followed Barrow in New York and was GM from '47-'60, winning 10 pennants and 7 World Series in 13 years.

To even suggest that Gillick belongs in that company is a farce. Yes, he's been good, very good, but I'm having a hard time even justifying him as the best of his contemporaries. John Schuerholz's 12 consecutive division titles in Atlanta come to mind. Sure, we all mocked the Kevin Millwood/Johnny Estrada trade, but remind me again who's playing baseball this weekend? No, not the Phillies? Brian Cashman developed a dynasty in New York (albeit with a slight financial advantage). Brian Sabaen in San Francisco is another one that comes to mind. Signing Barry Bonds in '92 has to be the most significant signing since, well... ever. How come nobody in Pittsburgh talks about a "Curse of Barry Bonds"? And those are just off the top of my head.

I suppose that, as with most in life, time will eventually provide the proper perspective for Pat Gillick's legacy.

After watching Christopher Guest's A Mighty Wind, a couple of things came to mind. First of all, the mockumentary is getting stale as a genre. Nothing will ever match his classic Waiting for Guffman. But if he insists on another, might I recommend the Independent Leagues as mockumentary satire fodder. I can see it now: Guest stars as a washed up Rickey-esque ex-major leaguer, still hanging on for pure love of the game. He'll talk in the third person. Fred Willard plays the Earl Weaver-like manager of the team. Eugene Levy is the local beatwriter who covers the team, as his is dream since childhood, just as if it were a major league team. The story revolves around the rumor of a scout from the Yankees who may or may not be following the team. I'm telling you, that'd be a great movie. Get me Guest's agent on the phone. It's either the Independent Leagues or the in-home-demonstration vacuum industry. There's another ripe subject for some kind of mockmentary Glengarry Glen Ross/Boiler Room satire.
|| Peter @ 10/02/2003

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Random playoff note of the day

You think the guys in pinstripes will be forced to start sacrificing some of that Yankee loyalty for some guys that can actually play defense? (please Cammie, don't go to New York) If it costs them another humiliating elimination they just might.

I was getting all excited about following the Red Sox/A's starting at 10 while I work. For some reason my brain didn't register the "p.m." Geez, it's been six months and my neurological synapses still misfire translating Eastern Standard to Pacific Coast time.
|| Peter @ 10/01/2003

If you can't beat 'em, recruit 'em

Larry Stone in today's Times:
Billy Beane had just come out of the Oakland Athletics snack room yesterday, following the team's morning workout, when he was asked, inevitably, about his interest in the Mariners' suddenly vacant general manager's job.

"What?!" the A's GM retorted in mock astonishment. "I'm interested in eating my sandwich."

And John Hickey in the P-I:
A longer shot might be Billy Beane, who almost left Oakland last year for Boston, but decided he wanted to stay on the West Coast. It's possible that Beane, whose A's teams have won the AL West three of the past four seasons, would consider the Mariners a plum job after working for cash-strapped Oakland.

Enemy #1 for the Mariners is the Oakland Athletics. The creative force of the Oakland Athletics is Billy Beane. Whoever Pat Gillick chooses as his replacement (and I would be far from shocked if that choice wasn't already make months ago), the Mariners, their fans, and their players, have to know that the guy will match Beane in wits, creativity, intelligence, resourcefulness and aplomb. The desire to match and best Beane's desire for strategic advantage should be at or near the top of the list of criteria for the candidate. If Gillick is stepping down, as he says "for someone else to give it a try and see if they can get over the hump," hiring a Gillick-clone, a company-yes man is a recipe for disaster. Beane needs a foil, a nemesis, a Superman to his Lex Luther.

I wish Dave and Derek would just stop it because it only reiterates the fact that there are dozens of qualified, intelligent and creative candidates, and I know, I know, I know, I have every full confidence that Yamauchi/Armstrong/Lincoln, whoever ultimately calls the shots, doesn't have the guts to go that route, much less court the idea of wooing Beane himself.

With Gillick still part of the brain trust, and his bitter distaste for and complete misunderstanding of Moneyball, considering Beane isn't even a long shot. It's a no shot. And that is a truly sad reflection on the Seattle Mariner organization.

As Stone concludes:
Perhaps the bigger question than Beane's interest in the Mariners is the M's interest in him. His maverick style may not mesh with Howard Lincoln's management philosophy.

Sad indeed.
|| Peter @ 10/01/2003

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

In breaking news

Domino #1: Gillick resigns.
"Gillick will remain with the organization as general manager until a successor is found. After that, he will become an advisor with the club in a consulting role" (Finnigan, Times).
|| Peter @ 9/30/2003

A Mariner note

Mariners hitting coach Lamar Johnson was fired yesterday.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove was fired yesterday. If you ask me, Grover got a bad rap. When he came to Baltimore four years ago, he was asked to win with a lineup anchored by Albert Belle and a rotation led by Scott Erickson. Belle was out of action with a debilitating hip injury that prematurely ended his career after just that first year. Erickson has made a total of 34 starts in 4 years. On top of that, the farm system is one of the most barren in baseball, and that's far from Mike Hargove's fault.

You might better remember Hargrove as the Human Rain Delay (before Nomah), who posted a lifetime on-base percentage of .396. Or you might remember Hargrove as the manager of that dynasty in Cleveland during the mid to late 90s that made a certain Charlie Sheen film (and yes, Pedro Cerrano is the President in 24) severely dated. In Cleveland, Grover mentored such young hitters as the aforementioned Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Brian Giles, Jeff Kent and Richie Sexson also spent limited time in Cleveland before finding full-time gigs elsewhere.

Might Mike Hargrove be willing to take a hitting instructor position? Might he consider Seattle's opening? Man, I wish.

Kumar: I lost my touch, man. I last my touch.
Dignan: Did you every have a touch to lose, man?
Bottle Rocket

And in other news, this is from Peter Gammons' latest:
"It's already presumed that Tejada will end up in Anaheim and Kaz Matsui in Seattle, but their agents insist nothing is close to set in stone. In fact, there are those who think Matsui will end up with the Dodgers or the Mets."

Now, I think every kid grows up assuming their parents are the infallible experts in everything there is to life. At some point, for some earlier than others, you realize your parents really had no clue and were just making it up as they went along, trying to make the best of everything. That thought keeps coming to mind these days whenever I read Rob Neyer and Peter Gammons, who were two of my absolute favorite baseball writers, even not so long ago. Maybe it's them. Maybe it's just me. Bob Montgomery shares my sentiment of Neyer.

Is there one single newsworthy, verifiable fact in the above quote? "It is presumed...", "there are those who think...", "their agents insist nothing is close..." Of course their agents will deny any and everything. That's what I expect. That's their job. That's not newsworthy.

Now it's been a good seven or eight years since my last experience in journalism (editing the sports section of the high school yearbook), and as I recall, I'd have been blasted quoting presumption and anonymous sources who "think." Now I admire Peter Gammons. I really do. He has, in my opinion, the most covetable job in the world. I'm just disappointed that when I look for insightful news and commentary, I find speculation, hearsay and gossip reported to me as news. Peter Gammons is in danger of becoming baseball's version of Pat O'Brien. Maybe it's just me. Or maybe he has been all along and I'm just seeing the light.
|| Peter @ 9/30/2003

Random playoff note of the day

My predictions? Well, way back in the infancy of this blog, I picked the A's/Giants. But I also picked the Phillies, Angels, Cardinals, White Sox and Astros to make the playoffs, so I wouldn't recommend putting money on my picks. Do/read all the analysis you want. The playoffs are a crapshoot at best. Anything can happen in a 7-game series, and certainly a 5-game. My heart is with the Red Sox. Honestly. But as a fan of baseball, there are a dozen matchups I'm more than happy to see in the World Series:

Game 7: Prior vs. Pedro
Barry Bonds hits a walk off homer against Mariano Rivera
Twins vs. Marlins, just to spite Fox and Bud
Johan Santana against Barry Bonds
A's pitching versus Cubs pitching
Anything, please anything, other than a Braves/Yankees series (yawn)

Let the games begin. And as the Christmas carolers sing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." It'd be better if the Mariners were still in it, but let's not let that get us down just now.
|| Peter @ 9/30/2003

Ain't that something

I'm working on my forward thinking
Working on my self control
Process this ugly mess
And figure out how to make it whole

Choke down a bus ride to the city
Chase it with a trip to the East Side
It seems like over time
I'll get so numb that I won't mind

Some days I actually forget
That this is really something
One look from you and that is it
This is really something
Being hard is hard so sick of it
This is really something good
This is really something good now

Go change the oil go get the taillight fixed
Go buy some groceries in the dark
Earth shakes, gets rearranged
And I realize I missed the mark

Some days I actually forget
That this is really something
One look from you and that is it
This is really something
Being hard is hard so sick of it
This is really something good
This is really something good now

--Aaron Sprinkle, "Really Something"

Happy Anniversary, Corinne.
|| Peter @ 9/30/2003

Monday, September 29, 2003

Pythagorean Rankings: Week 26

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

This week's theme: Heroes and Villains, or the MVPs and LVPs (why doesn't anyone talk about Least Valuable Players at season's end?)

1. Seattle (1) 795-637 Bret Boone: .292/.363/.530 with 34 home runs, 115 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 19 chances (84%). That's three consecutive years of 100+ RBI. Coupled with that superb defense, Boone just completed one of the top 10 seasons for a second baseman. Jeff Cirillo: .205/.284/.271 with 13 XBH in 258 AB. Sayanara, Jeffrey. Be sure to tell the grandkids that you lost your job to Willie Bloomquist. And the mailman just handed me my copy of Out of Left Field. I'll have plenty of blogging material to last the next six long baseball-less months.

2. (tie) Atlanta (5) 907-740 Gary Sheffield: .329/.419/.606 with 36 homers, 86 walks to 55 strikeouts and 18 stolen bases in 22 attempts (81%). He's the "other guy" in that MVP race. Shane Reynolds: 5.43 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, only 94 strikeouts in 167.1 innings. You think the Astros knew what they were thinking?

(tie) NY Yankees (4) 877-716 Jason Giambi: .250/.412/.527 with 41 homers and 129 walks. Thank God he's not on the A's anymore. Jeff Weaver: 5.99 ERA, 1.62 WHIP. Left-handers hit a .922 OPS off of him. Please Joe, give him the ball against the Twins.

4. Oakland (2) 768-643 Tim Hudson: 2.70 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 2.66 K/BB. Opponents just hit .205 against him in the Coliseum, and his ERA is a full run less at home. Jermaine Dye: .174/.261/.257 with 10 XBH and 7 walks in 167 AB. Remember the Royals traded him for Neifi Perez? It's not looking so bad now for the Royals.

5. (tie) Boston (6) 962-809 Manny Ramirez: .325/.427/.587 with 37 home runs and 97 walks. The Sox better employ the buddy system for Rain Man to keep him up to speed throught the playoffs on the number of outs, proper methods of calling time, etc., just in case. Ramiro Mendoza: 6.85 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, just 20 strikeouts in 65.2 innings. Theo, I hope you've learned a valuable lesson in employing ex-Yankees.

(tie) Houston (3) 805-677 Lance Berkman: .287/.412/.509 with 24 homers and 107 walks. He led the Astros with 6 triples. Minute Maid Park is no juice box for Berkman as he hit just 10 homers at home and 14 on the road. Brad Ausmus: .230/.305/.293 with 18 XBH in 447 AB. This guy qualifies for the batting title, for crying out loud. No amount of defense/"leadership" is worth this.

7. San Francisco (8) 755-638 Barry Bonds: .339/.528/.747 with 45 homers and 148 walks in just 387 AB. Did you really think I was going to pick someone else? Neifi Perez: .256/.285/.348 with 24 XBH in 328 AB. Did you really think I was going to pick someone else?

8. Philadelphia (7) 790-697 Jim Thome: .268/.388/.577 with 47 homers, 131 RBI and 111 walks. That's three consecutive years of 45+ homers and five years of 110+ RBI. Simply the best free agent signing of last winter. David Bell: .195/.296/.283 with 18 XBH in 297 AB. He did walk 41 times against 40 strikeouts, though. Simply the worst free agent signing of last winter.

9. Chicago Sox (13) 791-715 Frank Thomas: .267/.390/.562 with 42 homers and 100 walks. Will the Sox take a chance again with the 36-year-old Thomas? He did slug left-handed pitching .732 and hit 29 of his homers in Chicago. Paul Konerko: .234/.305/.399 with 18 home runs and 19 doubles in 444 at bats. He posted a measly .596 OPS in Close and Late situations.

10. St. Louis (9) 876-796 Albert Pujols: .358/.440/.667 with 43 home runs and 50 doubles. He also walked 79 times to 63 strikeouts. He posted a 1.241 OPS with runners in scoring position. And he didn't even get to hit against the Cardinal pitching. Brett Tomko: 5.28 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and he gave up 35 home runs in 202.2 innings. Maybe Tony should only send Tomko to the mound in St. Louis. His ERA was 2.88 in Busch Stadium, but 7.77 everywhere else.

11. Florida (11) 751-692 Derrek Lee: .271/.380/.509 with 31 homers, 88 walks and 21 stolen bases in 29 tries (72%). He put up a 1.090 OPS in September, but just a .585 OPS Close and Late. Vladimir Nunez: 16.03 ERA, 2.63 WHIP, 7 walks and 7 home runs in just 10.2 innings. Optioned to Albuquerque on September 11. The Giants are disappointed.

12. Toronto (12) 895-826 Carlos Delgado: .301/.425/.587 with 41 homers, 38 doubles and 109 walks. Worth every penny of his $17.5 million. Cory Lidle: 5.75 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 112 strikeouts in 192.2 innings. Not worth his $5+ million. Not even in Canadian dollars.

13. Chicago Cubs (16) 725-683 Mark Prior: 2.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.43 K/9, 4.9 K/BB. Did I mention he's just 23, only two years removed from pitching to aluminum bats? Shawn Estes: 5.73 ERA, 1.74 WHIP. He walked 83 while striking out 103 in 152.1 innings. Dusty says it was the heat.

14. Minnesota (15) 801-758 Johan Santana: 3.07 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.61 K/9, 3.6 K/BB. I really want to see Johan pitch in the World Series. I really want to see Johan pitch to Barry Bonds in the World Series. Joe Mays: 6.30 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 50 strikeouts and 21 home runs in 130 innings. I'm sure many Twins fans would not like to see Joe Mays pitch to Barry Bonds in the World Series.

15. Arizona (14) 717-685 Brandon Webb: 2.75 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 167 strikeouts and just 11 homers in 176.2 innings. Who thought a rookie would be this year's best Diamondback pitcher? Rod Barajas: .218/.265/.327 with 18 XBH in 220 at bats. With an .871 OPS with runners in scoring position, Rod's a much more valuable pinch hitter than starting catcher.

16. Los Angeles (10) 574-556 Kevin Brown: 2.39 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, just 11 homers in 211 innings. And it wasn't all Chavez Ravine, as Brown's ERA at home was 2.40 with 8 home runs and on the road it was 2.38 with only 3 homers. Cesar Izturis: .248/.279/.313 with 28 XBH and 25 walks in 553 at bats. I think a more passive approach at the plate would do wonders to Cesar's offensive game. And he didn't have to hit against that Dodger pitching, either.

17. Montreal (17) 711-716 Livan Hernandez: 3.20 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8 complete games in 233.1 innings. The best spring training trade of the year. Endy Chavez: .249/.293/.353 with 35 XBH and 31 walks in 481 at bats.

18. Anaheim (19) 736-743 Garrett Anderson: .315/.345/.541 with 49 doubles and 29 home runs, though just 31 walks in 638 at bats. That's now 8 consecutive years of 600+ at bats for Anderson. Aaron Sele: 5.77 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 58 walks and 53 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. Like Tomko and Estes, Sele yet another ex-Mariner LVP. Glad to see they got rid of these guys.

19. Kansas City (18) 836-867 Carlos Beltran: .308/.388/.523 with 26 homers, 10 triples and 41 stolen bases in 45 attempts (91%). That's now three consecutive years of 100+ runs scored, 100+ RBI and 30+ stolen bases. And he deserves a gold glove. Brent Mayne: .245/.308/.345 with 23 XBH and 32 walks in 371 at bats.

20. Colorado (21) 853-892 Todd Helton: .358/.457/.630 with 33 home runs, 49 doubles and 110 walks. And he had a .947 OPS on the road. Aaron Cook: 6.02 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 57 walks and only 43 strikeouts in 124 innings. Lefties posted a .925 OPS off him, and his ERA was 5.57 on the road.

21. Pittsburgh (20) 753-801 Brian Giles: .299/.430/.521 with 30 doubles, 16 home runs and 85 walks to just 48 strikeouts in 388 at bats before being traded. Jack Wilson: .253/.300/.345 with 28 XBH and 49 walks in 584 at bats. I've got a feeling Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow would have been more productive.

22. Baltimore (22) 743-820 Melvin Mora: .317/.418/.503 with 33 XBH and 49 walks in just 344 at bats. Now if he can just stay healthy next year. Tony Batista: .233/.269/.392. Don't be deceived by the 26 homers and 99 RBI. That's 47 XBH and 28 (!) walks in 627 at bats. That's plain ugly as Tony's face.

23. Cleveland (23) 699-778 Milton Bradley: .321/.421/.501 with 34 doubles and 64 walks in just 377 at bats. Gameboy can play, as long as he stays healthy. Brandon Phillips: .208/.242/.311 with 25 XBH and 22 walks in 370 at bats. This is what the Indians got for Bartolo Colon? And at 22 years of age, might he have been rushed?

24. Texas (24) 826-969 Alex Rodriguez: .297/.395/.599 with 47 home runs and 87 walks. He put up a 1.126 OPS in Close and Late situations but just .904 with runners in scoring position. Did I mention he's a shortstop? Colby Lewis: 7.30 ERA, 1.83 WHIP with 70 walks, 88 strikeouts and 23 home runs in only 127 innings. And yet against the Mariners, Colby was 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 18.1 innings.

25. NY Mets (25) 641-753 Cliff Floyd: .290/.376/.518 with 25 doubles, 18 homers and 51 walks in just 365 at bats. Too bad his Achilles tendon was his, um, Achilles heel of his season. Rey Sanchez: .207/.240/.236 with 4 XBH and 12 walks in 174 at bats. Then he gets traded to Seattle and hits .294/.330/.335 with 6 XBH and 8 walks in 170 at bats. Go figure.

26. Tampa Bay (26) 714-853 Aubrey Huff: .310/.366/.554 with 46 doubles and 34 home runs. Huff is the greatest thing for Tampa baseball since, well, ever. Joe Kennedy: 6.13 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 19 home runs in 133.2 innings. And he was the Opening Day starter.

27. Milwaukee (27) 714-873 Richie Sexson: .274/.380/.551 with 45 home runs and 97 walks. He put up a .994 OPS with runners in scoring position but .711 Close and Late. I wonder what would happen with his right-handed power in Safeco Field. Royce Clayton: .228/.301/.334 with 27 XBH in 482 at bats.

28. San Diego (28) 678-832 Mark Loretta: .315/.374/.438 with 184 hits and 54 walks. It was that kind of year in San Diego. They've got the baby-faced core, new stadium and a little cash to make a splash as soon as next year. Let's just hope they don't become 2004's Cincinnati Reds. Jaret Wright: 8.37 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, 9 home runs in just 47.1 innings. And he was claimed off waivers by the Braves back in August.

29. Cincinnati (29) 694-885 Jose Guillen: .337/.385/.629 with 23 home runs and 21 doubles in just 315 at bats, before getting shipped to Oakland. Ryan Dempster: 6.54 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 70 walks and 14 home runs in 115.2 innings. He hasn't pitched since the end of July.

30. Detroit (30) 591-928 Dmitri Young: .294/.368/.536 with 34 doubles, 29 home runs and 58 walks in 558 at bats. Those 84 RBI should be considered quite an accomplishment on this Tiger team. Mike Maroth: 5.81 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, just 85 strikeouts and 33 home runs in 187.1 innings. Maroth might make a decent lefty-reliever though, as his OPS against lefties was .687.

AL- Dmitri Young (Detroit) 26 AB, 5 H, 13 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 6 BB, .500/.606/.769, 1.375 OPS
NL - Shawn Green (Los Angeles) 26 AB, 5 R, 11 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 BB, .423/.545/.769, 1.315 OPS

AL - Roger Clemens (NY Yankees) 2-0, 13.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO, 1.38 ERA
NL - Tomo Ohka (Montreal) 1-0, 16.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO, 0.00 ERA

AL - Coco Crisp (Cleveland) 20 AB, 1 H, .050/.050/.050, .100 OPS
NL - Fernando Vina (St. Louis) 19 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, 1 BB, .053/.100/.053, .153 OPS

AL - Ron Mahay (Texas) 0-3, 1.0 IP, 5 H, 8 ER, 5 BB, 0 SO, 72.00 ERA
NL - Eddie Oropesa (Arizona) 0-0, 1.0 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO, 63.00 ERA
|| Peter @ 9/29/2003

Random playoff thought of the day

I know he's a biomechanical freak and all, but here are Mark Prior's pitch counts over the last six games: 133-131-124-110-129-131.

For Kerry Wood, the pitch counts of the last six games go 122-125-114-122-120-125.

I just think that adds a little to the drama in Chicago. Don't you?
|| Peter @ 9/29/2003

The morning after

I'm standing up the morning after"
--from "Say Yes" by Elliot Smith

And so baseball ends a month prematurely yesterday in the Northwest. The Mariners swept the A's in dominating fashion... a week too late. They boast the most wins of any team in the new millennium... with a mere one division title and just two playoff appearances in four years to show for it.

But you know what today is? It's Official Jeff Cirillo Shopping Day! That's right, it's that special day we've all been waiting nearly 18 months for.

"Cirillo will not be back, under any circumstances. The Mariners will begin trying to trade him Monday and won't stop until the end of spring training" (Finnigan, Times).

For a guy whose self-confidence has gone the way of the spotted owl over the last couple of seasons, that has to be pretty harsh knowing one of the club's top priorities is to get rid of you, even desparate enough to pay the remaining $15 million on your contract so you can go play in the Mexican League.

But here's the interesting bit to me...
"The Mariners have been talking with Cirillo and his agent, Rick Thurman, about cutting the size of the limited no-trade clause in his contract. Word is, it will be cut from 10 teams to four, all of them thought to be on the East Coast and/or in Canada."

Maybe I'm missing something, but if the Mariners are so intent on getting rid of Cirillo, then why whittle down their options from 10 to 4? And when the teams willing to risk trading for financial deadweight like Cirillo can be counted on one hand already, this just sounds like the Mariners are shooting themselves in the foot.

The dose of reality comes in this statement...
"Said one National League scout, 'There may be a team or two in our league willing to take him back, if the Mariners are willing to swap problems.'"

So let's rundown the NL East and see if we can't find any viable trading partners in need of an overpriced, no-hit, all-glove third baseman.

Atlanta - Vinny Castilla mans the hot corner for the Braves. Offensively, Castilla was the fifth best third baseman in the league, hitting .277/.310/.461 (VORP 24.7). Defensively, Win Shares rates Castilla as the 11th best third baseman (2.91 WS, or 2.33/1000 innings). The Braves are certainly among the few teams with the payroll to absorb Cirillo. The Braves also have to consider how much money to throw at Javy Lopez and/or Gary Sheffield this winter. They do have a salary albatross in Darren Holmes: $7 million for a right-handed reliever with a 4.29 ERA. The Braves are a maybe, but far from likely, scenario.

Florida - The Fish have Mike Lowell, second among NL third baseman offensively, .276/.350/.530 (VORP 48.9). Defensively, Win Shares rates him fourth (4.02, or 3.65/1000 innings). All signs point to the Marlins resigning Lowell, so Florida is a no go for Cirillo.

Philadelphia - The Phillies present an interesting situation. They signed the man Cirillo replaced in Seattle, fellow all-glove-no-hit David Bell, to a ridiculous 4-year contract last winter. Bell hit .195/.296/.283 (VORP -12.3). Offensively, only Brandon Larson of Cincinnati was worse. Jeff Cirillo posted the worst VORP in the AL, but Larson, Bell and Fernando Tatis were all worse in the NL. Defensively, Win Shares rates him at 10th (2.98, or 4.23 per 1000 innings). What's interesting in Philadelphia is that despite the hefty contract, Bell is an expendable piece of the Phillies roster. Their best lineup is Placido Polanco at third and rookie Chase Utley at second. So though Bell is a problem contract the Phillies would want to get out of, they don't need Jeff Cirillo, either.

Montreal - Montreal is another interesting situation. They ran four different players out to third this year: Jamey Carroll (251 AB), Fernando Tatis (196 AB), Edwards Guzman (152 AB), and Todd Zeile (127 AB). Only Zeile posted a positive VORP (2.8). Carroll gets the highest Win Shares rating, ranking 15th in the NL (2.16 or 5.12 per 1000 innings). The Expos need a steady third baseman. The Expos also need Jeff Cirillo's contract as much as they need Bud Selig Appreciation Night. But why run Jeff Cirillo out every night at the cost of $7 million, when you've got Jamey Carroll at the league minimum?

NY Mets - Like the Braves, and unlike the Expos, the Mets have the payroll to absorb Cirillo. But they do have Ty Wiggington at third. Offensively, Wigs rates 10th among NL third basemen with a line of .255/.318/.396 (VORP 18.2). Defensively, Win Shares ranks him sixth (3.60 or 2.76 per 1000 innings). The Mets seem to be committed to Wiggington, who makes the league minimum. The Mets also have bigger fish to fry than taking a risk on Cirillo. Depending on the future of Edgar in Seattle, a creative deal involving Mike Piazza might be worth looking into.

In the AL East, the Yankees have Aaron Boone; the Red Sox have Bill Mueller. Not options. Now Cirillo could replace Tony Batista in Baltimore, but the O's finally get to clear Albert Belle and Scott Erickson off their books this winter, and I'd be surprised to see Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie spend their money on Cirillo. In Toronto, we won't insult J.P. Ricciardi's intelligence by even considering it. Now Tampa Bay... who in Seattle wouldn't love to see a Cirillo/Piniella reunion? But really, Lou doesn't deserve that.

Another couple of intriguing options that are "east" relative to Seattle are the Cubs and Pirates, who both swapped third basemen mid season. Cirillo seems to be just the kind of player that would thrive under Dusty Baker. Dusty could wave his "Veteran Presence Magic Wand" and Cirillo will be hitting .300 in no time. Plus, I'm really, really curious about what Andy MacPhail's asking price on Hee Seop Choi is these days.

The Pirates are sure to let Jose Hernandez blow where ever the free agent winds blow him. They could use a third baseman. They could also use somebody to rescue them from Jason Kendall's contract. That's an idea to mull over.

I don't have my hopes up that Cirillo will be gone by the end of the week. The odds are far greater that the Mariners will be forced to release him in spring training, and then he winds up some place like Montreal with Seattle footing the bill.

I can dream though.
|| Peter @ 9/29/2003