Monday, April 26, 2004

Franklin's history

A quick rejoinder to Steve's recent post about the reasons for pessimism put on display by the Mariners yesterday, one of which is "Ryan Franklin looking much more like the Franklin of his career through 2002."

On the contrary, we would be happy if Franklin were performing as he did pre-2003, because he was effective then. The reason for pessimism about Franklin in the off-season was not because he had a career year in 2003, but because his so-called "peripherals" (Ks, HRs, Strikeouts, BB as opposed to ERA or W/L record) were bad in 2003. The thought was that Franklin's low ERA was masking his declining effectiveness, that he wasn't good, but lucky, in 2003, and that the luck was more than likely to run out.


Besides the low ERA, 2003 wasn't a particularly good year for Franklin. The problem this year is that 1) he's given up more walks per 9 innings than he ever has since he's been a regular major-leaguer and 2) he's giving up a lot more hits, too. The hits allowed probably have a lot to do with a worsened outfield defense, but the walks are all on Ryan.

So my response to Steve is: Yes, Franklin is struggling this year, both because of his own apparent control problems and because of our outfield defensive sieve. But we didn't expect this because of his pre-2003 numbers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Messing with Meche

Down by only two runs, Meche comes out for the sixth inning, and promptly walks two batters, the second on five pitches. His ball/strike ratio is poor, his pitch count is near 100. I'm not listening or watching this, just following it on the pitch-by-pitch "Gameday" from Is there any reason Meche isn't pulled immediately?

Meche stays in, and gives up what looks to me like a near-homer to Mark Scutaro. Runners at first and third, one out, and the pitch count continues to rise. Melvin leaves him in. Meche luckily (or bearing down one last time) gets Adam Melhuse, the next batter, to strike out. EARTH TO MELVIN! PULL HIM NOW!

I started writing this before the next batter, Esteban German, singles in Hatteberg. I don't know how this game will end, but I do know that I would have made the pitching change before German got up to bat. Of course, since Melvin is bringing in Jarvis, I'm not sure things are any better.

I was hoping Melvin would have learned to use his pen a little more sanely than he did last year, but he seems to have adopted the organization-wide practice of refusing to learn new things.

Still, even if we go on to lose this game, taking 2 out of 3 from Oakland is good. But that doesn't make Melvin's decision-making any less ridiculous.

(Well, Jarvis got the out to end the inning. Are you watching, Milwaukee? Isn't he great? Don't you really want to trade for him?)

Sunday, April 18, 2004

It's not the clutch that's your problem; you're just not getting any power

-Does it seem to anyone else that the Mariners are stranding a lot of runners? Well, they're not, even though it seemed that way to me. The Mariners are hitting quite well in so-called "clutch" situations. As a team overall, the Mariners have a .318 OBP. With runners on, it jumps to .352, and with runners in scoring posn., it goes up to .404. If you don't believe "clutch hitting" is a skill, this is yet another ominous sign, since they've actually been lucky to score as many runs as they have (M's are 26th in the majors in OPS, but 20th in Runs scored). If you do believe in "clutch hitting," then this isn't an area likey to improve. As many in the blogosphere have pointed out, the biggest problem has been preventing runs. Of course, if the Mariners had guys who could hit it out more, situational hitting wouldn't matter quite as much.

-The M's have allowed 10 stolen bases this year, and caught 1. That's ugly. The guys at USS Mariner have done a series of posts about how many extra base hits we've allowed so far (a whole heck of a lot). That's the equivalent of allowing opponents to turn 10 walks or singles into doubles, or 1 in 10 (the M's have allowed 99 singles + walks). Put another way, if we adjust the M's current SLG allowed by adding stolen bases to total bases (turning 10 singles into doubles), the SLG allowed increases from .474 to .500. Having Ben Davis find his swing again might be helpful in this regard, since he's had better success throwing runners out than Wilson in the recent past. But Davis won't get playing time unless he starts doing something at the plate.

The semester ends in three weeks, at which point we'll have a better idea about how much this abyssmal start is an accurate reflection of the Mariners' true ability, and at which point I'll be able to pay a little better attention to their games and this blog.

Update:Thanks to Steve at Wheelhouse for reading my little observation and refining and correcting it, showing his customary thoroughness and reason.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Well, I got what I asked for--Bob Melvin used what I thought were our better relievers--and between the two of them, Soriano and Mateo gave up 3 runs in a combined 1 inning pitched. Pineiro didn't pitched very well either, but our bullpen looks downright awful; maybe Jarvis isn't all that much worse of an option after all. The abysmall performers of so many pitchers doesn't give Bob Melvin any good options, so it's absurd to blame Bob Melvin for this loss. What's a manager to do when your best young starter and your two best young relievers hand the game away? The Grand Salami blog, who will get a link here when they give me one on their sidebar, makes Melvin the scapegoat, but the truth is that our pitchers, and not Melvin, were the ones that lost last night's game. And these were all guys who we had last year, so Bavasi had nothing to do with it either. The pen has to start carrying its weight, and untill they stop collapsing, we're in for a long month of losses.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Picking up where he left off

Melvin continues to frustrate with absurd bullpen usage. One would think that especially at the beginning of the season, especially as consecutive losses start to mount, that Melvin would increasingly rely on his best relievers. But we saw Villone and Jarvis yesterday, and Myers was warming up in the bullpen.

Take a look at Mariners pitchers ranked by Innings Pitched. Why is Jarvis not at the bottom of that list?

Granted, we're only six games in. But Jarvis is no. 12 for a reason, and Melvin should use him accordingly.

Well, at least we got the win yesterday. Now let's return the favor and stick it to the Angels in their home opener tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Ouch--but it's just one game

Not a pretty opener, but at least we're playing real baseball now. Critics will be quick to point out that Kevin Jarvis did very badly. I have no doubt that Jarvis is bad, and it may be best if he is so bad for a month that the Mariners give up on him quickly. However, if we are drawing conclusions from one game, then clearly Bret Boone will be a disaster this year, and our only hope is that Melvin starts Willie Bloomquist and Dave Hansen, since they provided the offense yesterday. Oh, and Ibanez did get a hit, so apparently he is not going to be the disaster some are predicting he will be.

Oh wait. It was just one game, which is just a little less than an acceptable sample size from which to be drawing conclusions. Jarvis has shown he's been bad for a years, and that's why he's bad. Not just because of yesterday. Let's not set open the door for someone to turn the argument around on us if Jarvis has a good two innings next time he's on the mound.

Not living in the Pacific Timezone for the first time, it somehow just occured to me that I'll be missing the end of a lot of home games, or will be really cranky for a lot of mornings.

Monday, April 05, 2004

In fairness to the guys at USS Mariner, Jason Michael Barker said he had doubts about giving up Nageotte, and David Cameron said he would do it. That's the beauty of having more than one author on a blog, and I'll try to be more carefull characterizing their statements. Of course, it's all moot now, as Bradley has gone to the Dodgers. Opening day tommorow!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Wished-for Headline: M's acquire Board Game Manufacturer

U.S.S. Mariner first alerted me to the news that Milton Bradley is available, and the M's might be interested despite Bradley's rep as a hothead. Then they say that they agree with the M's previous decision that giving up super-prospect Clint Nageotte is too much to pay. Hogwash. The M's have NO position-player talent in their farm system, and oodles of pitchers. This is a way to take some of that pitching talent they've been hoarding and leverage that to their advantage. And there really is no such thing as a pitching prospect, remember? Nageotte could very easily get injured in a week and never pitch again. He's inherently risky because he's a young pitcher. Bradley is less of a risk, and is more of a need.

Clarifying the experience question

I'm not sure I was clear in my previous entry about the question I was asking. We see that Bavasi puts a premium on "experience," which usually means "old." I am not asking whether older players are better than younger ones, because plenty of work has been done on the age-production curves--when most players peak in their production, and how they decline. Preferring an older player to a younger one--for instance, preferring Rich Aurilia over Carlos Guillen--strikes me as fairly counterproductive. The question is whether years of major league play correlate at all with success. If we compare players with statistically similar profiles, will the one with more major-leauge (or post-season) experience be more likely to improve than the inexperienced one? My instinct is to say "of course not"--but just going on instinct is no better than what Bavasi is currently operating with. I don't have the time or knowledge to put together that sort of a report, but I wonder if anyone has.

A Google search brings upthis article from ESPN and Baseball Prospectus which looks at experienced teams, but that's not the same thing. The google search also brought me to this old exchange by some folks of the Baseball Primer persuasion, who wonder if experience (rather than age) matters for pitchers more than for batters.

Anyone who knows something substantive about this, please drop me an email.

So will the M's be the next Baltimore? That sounds like what Derek Zumsteg fears, when he predicts (in a Seattle Weekly article featuring him and USS Mariner) that "in three years, they’ll be playing .400 ball, will be losing money, and won’t know what hit them: ‘We have such a great bunch of veteran guys! How could this happen?'" (assuming things don't change in the M's front office).