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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Jeff Shaw Has My Back 

From Jeff's latest post:
IthinkFreddyGarcia'sgoingtohaveabigyear.

Okay, now, punctuated correctly: I think Freddy Garcia's going to have a big year.

If I keep spreadin' the Freddy gospel, pretty soon you'll all be converted.

UPDATE (9:28 AM):
My predictions of a big year from Freddy can be found in the following posts: December 17, 2003, December 18, 2003, March 13, 2004

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Bill James Interview 

Thank you Mariner Musings for posting a link to this Bill James interview. What led me to read the interview was this snippet Peter quoted:
And we rely heavily on statistics (though no good analysis in any sport is driven solely by statistics). I've tried for 25 years to keep sabermetrics from being taken over by the bad habits of academicians--overspecialization, discussing issues that are of interest only to other academics, and discussing them in a manner which is inaccessible to anyone who hasn't been following the discussion for years.
James has an excellent point here, but I would hesitate to compare baseball research to academic research. It's more like scientific research. If you want to know, for example, if the suicide squeeze is a play that succeeds more than it fails, you take a look at a large number of recent attempts, and keep track of the results. There's enough quantitative analysis left unexplored in baseball that we'll all be long gone before baseball research regresses into asking the "If a tree fell in a forest" purely academic questions. Even "research" as trivial as my groundbreaking work developing the Suck Ass has as its basis the scientific method.

One other bit from the James interview:
TAE: When you see Ugueth Urbina exchange kisses with Ivan Rodriguez after every Florida Marlins victory you realize that the influx of Asians, Latin Americans, Australians, and so forth has brought cultural changes to baseball. Do you think this is ultimately a good thing for the game?

JAMES: It is a good thing for baseball. It is a way in which baseball is very American in the best sense. We live in a society which searches out the best in everything and embraces it without disfavor. We go all over the world looking for baseball players and say, "We don't care how weird you are. We don't care what color you are. We don't care what habits you have. If you can play baseball, we want you." And that's very American.
The Seattle Mariners are, evidently, not at all American in their approach (big surprise there). Their criteria for player evaluation seem to be (in descending order):

What habits do you have?

Are you weird?

(much lower priority than above)
Can you play baseball?

There's a new Scientific revolution, and it's happening in the game of baseball. Men like Paul DePosta and Theo Epstein, with consistent, sound approaches to talent evaluation, will soon make baseball alchemists like Bill Bavasi obsolete. As a scientist, I can't wait.

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Monday, March 22, 2004

Rosenthal Does His Best Finnegan 

In Ken "Jared" Rosenthal's latest, one of those Say A Couple Of Things About As Many Different Topics As Possible pieces, he reports Padre management's optimism for shortstop prospect Khalil Greene:
Greene is an above-average defender and team officials eventually think he could produce a .350 on-base percentage.
Team officials are hopeful Greene will eventually only suck kinda. I hate to see a writer I like reading resort to this kind of Finnegan-style, arm-up-the-pooper puppeteering of management's propaganda. I guess he gets a free pass this time though. There really isn't anything to write about in March. Just check out my recent posts.

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Cougs 11, Huskies 10 

The Cougar baseball team played their first series in Pullman this weekend, and I was able to attend Sunday's game, against UW. I haven't been to a college baseball game since I saw my cousin's last game at Pacific, and two things struck me right away: Major Leaguers are great defensive players and college players hit a TON of home runs. The jet stream to right certainly helped the hitters, as four of the six home runs (yes, six) were hit down the right field line. Three of the right field shots were by righties. It seems like the wind will blow to right for most games this year, so cheesy Derek Jeter-style home runs look to be the norm in Pullman. As far as the defense went, there were only a couple of errors, but there were also a couple of infield hits that I thought could have been played into outs, as well as a badly misjudged fly ball that was played into a triple.

WSU has made some renovations to its baseball field, adding Field Turf. Interestingly, the entire field is in Field Turf except the mound and the area around home plate. The basebaths, and even the sliding areas around the bags, are turf. A couple of runners fell well short of second base on slide attempts. It will be interesting to see if dirt basebaths are added.

When it's nice outside like it was today, I'll be going to Cougar baseball games whenever I can. I actually got a sunburn on my legs, and it's only March. Nice.

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Saturday, March 20, 2004

I'm Baaaaaack! 

For both of you who were wondering what happened to me this week, I decided to use Spring Break as an opportunity to be free of Mariners news for a week. Sure enough, nothing happened. A few minor league guys were demoted. Ridiculous trade rumors abounded. Barry Bonds was freaking incredible (I can't believe how quick his hands are).

The NCAA hoops tourney has been remarkably uninteresting. There hasn't been a single buzzer-beater thus far, so when Brandon Roy chucked his three-quarter court desperation heave at the end of the Fusskies' terrible performance against UAB, I half expected him to bury it. Side note -- Roy must feel at least a little slighted by all the attention Nate Robinson has received, considereing Roy's twice the player Robinson is. BTW -- check out Huskies Suck. It's a parody of the UW athletic site. I especially like the poll question: "Do the Huskies suck?" with only one possible response: "Yes." Also take a look at the Husky article generator (linked on the left sidebar of Huskies Suck). BTW II -- UAB must lead the nation in Faces Loved Only By Players' Respective Mothers.

Eastern lost in the first round, and Gonzaga followed suit in the second. Connecticut, my offical Inexplicable Rooting Interest (ever since the days of Tate George, speaking of buzzer beaters) and pick to win it all, is still alive, so I'll keep watching for the time being.

You may be asking, "Chris, what did you do with a week off? Did you travel to a warmer clime? Did you enjoy some good ol' home cooking and a comfy bed in the peace and quiet of Mom's house?" (You may now be asking, "Why would I be asking anything remotely similar to that?") To answer the questions nobody asked, I slept on Mom's hardwood floor (when they say hardwood floors, they should say hard, wood floors), spending my days working at Nintendo of America in North Bend. Sounds fun, huh? No, not really. My job was to put UPC labels on Game Boy Advance packages and Game Cube controllers. Similar in nature to Laverne and Shirley's job, but without the hilarious hijinks. But, a job's a job, and I need the cash big time.

In summary: nothing out of Peoria, less than edge-of-your-seat March Madness action, boring Spring Break. A good week to take off.


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Saturday, March 13, 2004

Blackley For 'Pen 2004! 

I just saw the first few innings of the M's - Rockies game today. What I saw:

Travis Blackley was dominant. No one got a good swing against him, and a couple hitters looked plain stupid facing Blackley. He looks ready right now.

Dobbs, unfortunately, missed nearly all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury. He looks like a good, left-handed hitter. He'll probably be in San Antonio to start with, with a promotion to Tacoma if he does as expected. There's a good chance he'll join the M's for 2005.

Nunez, a pitcher from Cuba for the Rockies, was filthy. No one he faced had any idea what he was up to. He seems to rely on a nasty slider, so he may not be as effective at Colorado elevation, but he sure is impressive at Peoria level. He didn't seem to have full command of his fastball, which if I was a Rockies fan would worry me considerably.

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I Wish I Had More Than Seven Dollars Right Now... 

'cuz I'd be in Arizona, and I would have watched Maddux and Garcia pitch in Cactus League competition. Yeah, it's only Spring Training, but judging by the over-capacity crowd, people are nonetheless excited. Freddy walked three batters in three innings, which needs improvement, but he was getting outs with his fastball by keeping it down. Freddy's woes the past two seasons are due largely to excessively high home run totals, which in turn are due largely to missing high with the fastball. If he is making strides with his fastball command, look out American League. We just might see 2001 Freddy again. Which gives the M's a rotation like this:

All-Star Moyer
All-Star Freddy
Nasty Joel Piniero
Gil Meche
Ryan Franklin

One through three are as good as anyone save Oakland and the Cubs. When Franklin falters, I think we'll see some starts out of Robocob, and all of a sudden the rotation is downright formidable. Great starting pitching can make up for a lot of Quinton McCracken- (or Terrence Long-) sized offensive holes. Here's hoping nobody gets hurt.

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See You Again Real Soon, Adam Jones 

The M's cut Adam Jones yesterday, no real surprise for the 18-year-old. Good luck in AA or wherever you end up.

In what has become a daily tradition, Melvin presented his Quote Of The Day:
Not only does he (Jones) have tremendous potential, but he has a chance to be a five-tool guy.
A chance to be a five-tool guy? What is this chance you speak of? It's my experience that a player either has five tools or doesn't have five tools. Let's just settle at four-and-a-half tools. Four-and-a-half is pretty good, right?

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Friday, March 12, 2004

Blaine's New A@#hole 

Jeff Shaw today tore Blaine Newnham a new one in a line-by-line dissection of Newnham's Seattle Times column. From Jeff's first sentence of his second paragraph:
Blaine Newnham's column in today's Times is so full of beans I could use it to make the world's largest burrito.
to this Mortal Kombat-style finishing move:
It's bad enough that Newnham implies, again, that he'd rather have an old Stan Javier than Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime.
Jeff goes on to fire a few shots into a fallen Newnham, just to make sure he stays down. Truly a classic read. I love when one of the really talented M's Bloggers goes the extra mile and puts together a post like this one.

Note -- Newnham really did say that he preferred old as dirt Javier to King Of The Free World Junior. Seriously.

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One More Blog 

Check out Hope Springs Eternal... when you get a minute or twenty. So far, he's doing a good job toeing the line between stat geek and old-school observationalist. Some interesting comparisons between Goat Boy and Alan Baird await.

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Too Slow Like A Fox! 

The Cub Reporter today suggests that Dusty Baker's Paleolithic-Era comments about the value of walks were simply a clever distaction technique. And I quote:
Baker: "Here, let me dangle this shiny object in front of you so you don’t pay attention to what’s going on over there."

Most of the CBA (Cubs Blog Army): "Ooh! Shiny!"

Chuck: "Hey, why is Prior still limping?"

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I Can't Wait To See How This Thing Plays Out 

Thanks to Bambino's Curse linking the story, I came across this gem from Boston's Curt Schilling (courtesy of a Washington Post article by Dave Sheinin:
Boston's Curt Schilling, who is expected to oppose Lopez in the second game of the season (April 6 in Baltimore), did not start Thursday because the Red Sox, at Schilling's request, have juggled their spring rotation to avoid starting him against AL East teams. Schilling, acquired this winter from Arizona, has said he wants to retain the element of surprise when he faces division rivals for the first time in the regular season.

If you're not looking forward to seeing how Schilling pitches for the Sox this year, you're just not a baseball fan.

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Wha?????!!!!!!!!!! 

When Bo-Mel dropped Edgar to the five hole,
Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

Edgar's going to bat fifth? Did we trade for Sammy Sosa while I was asleep? Did we just sign Ted Williams' ghost to bat cleanup? I guess Gump decided to buck tradition and switch from a typical get-on-base and hit-for-extra-bases cleanup hitter to:

(drumroll)

Rauuuuuuuuuul Ibanez.

F*'ing Raul F*'ing Ibanez F*.

That sound you hear is the hiss of my deflating hope. Sorry, Mariner Optimist.

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

And I Thought Being A Mariners Fan Sucked 

If you're ever feeling down about that unique combination of historic let-down and July non-contention that is the Mariner Fan Experience, take a minute to look at The Detroit Tigers Weblog. I couldn't imagine what he must go through. In a recent post, he breaks down the 2003 Tigers, position by position, and forecasts 2004 performances. All told, it's a good five pages analyzing Detroit's nearly record-breaking season that leaves no stone unturned. I wish my lab reports were that thorough.

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Tim Kurkjian On Griffey 

In a piece on ESPN.com, with considerably more journalistic responsibilty than recently demonstrated by Bob "B-Fine" Finnegan, Kurkjian discusses moves the Reds might make with regards to Junior. He's careful to mention that none of these deals are imminent, but he has Griffey potentially going to the Dodgers, Mariners, or White Sox. It's noteworthy that Kurkjian devotes two entire paragraphs to what Griffey can do for the M's, and less than a line of text combined on Los Angeles and Chicago. I personally think this deal is going to happen, possibly very soon. We've got young arms that we're just going to wreck anyway that Cincinnati desperately needs, and they have KEN GRIFFEY JUNIOR. He won't hit 50 homers again, and he probably won't win another Gold Glove, but he represents a huge upgrade over Raul Ibanez.

The first thing I noticed about the Griffey article was the photo. Junior is smiling. A simple expression that used to be so characteristic of Ken Griffey Jr. that we took it for granted is now so noticible that it caused me to do a double-take.

EDIT (10:21 PM) - This headline on ESPN.com just caught my eye: Good omen for Junior? Griffey hits 440-foot HR.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Dirty Laundry 

Bob Melvin is publicly criticizing Ben Davis about his pitch calling in the fourth Spring Training game of the year. Cut the guy a little slack, will ya?

Not that I was particularly enamoured with Melvin before, but these comments, coming in light of his thinly-veiled slaps in the face of Mike Cameron, really make me lose a lot of respect for him.

In other news, Bo-Fin (or maybe a better nickname is "B-Fine;" it kinda has the same vibe as "G-Fresh" from Orgasmo; I'm open to suggestion) is back on his Griffey-to-Seattle soapbox. The Mariners blogging community has nearly unanimously denounced this potential move as a bad one. One major consideration that is being ignored, however, is the Baseball Gods Factor.

The Baseball Gods work in mysterious ways that go far beyond mere human understanding, but from my experience, the Gods would love to see Junior back in Seattle. Just like the Angels were rewarded for ditching the "Star Wars PJ's" uniforms (if you ever had Star Wars PJ's as a kid, find a picture from back then and you'll see what I mean) in 2002, and the Red Sox continue to be punished for trading Baseball Jesus, the Gods can powerfully alter the course of baseball history.

The Gods are Edgar fans, one can expect, so they'll already be leaning toward the M's in Edgar's last season, and they sure as hell couldn't pass on a return-of-the-prodigal-son story with Junior coming over.

OFFICIAL SOX-1918 RECOMMENDATION:
Let's do this. Bring Junior back to the M's.

Edit -- 8:24 AM: On August 1, I used an Eagles song as the title for my post. Today it's a Don Henley title. I promise this disturbing trend will not continue.

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Monday, March 08, 2004

Shef's On The Shelf 

Gary Sheffield has a boo-boo.

If you listen real carefully, you can hear the planets aligning for the Cubs...

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"National Pastime Day": My Take 

There have been a lot of emails floating around the baseball blog world lately about making Opening day a national holiday in the United States, with Americans free to stay at home (or at least take the afternoon off) and enjoy a ballgame. A good idea, I say. And once "National Pastime Day" is in place, the precedent is set for "It's A Mortal Sin To Make Anyone Work Today Day," to be observed every January 1 so each and every Red Blooded American can stay home to watch the Rose Bowl.

Here's my idea: instead of picking a specific event to hold as a holiday, we let the individual choose which day he or she wants, and the employer can't say squat about it.

I used to work at a certain Home Improvement Warehouse in Bellevue (that so happens to heavily sponsor the Mariners, more on them in an upcoming post), and there were several employees in my department that got every Sunday off so that they can go to church, which they were fully entitled to. I personally don't attend church services of any kind (nothing against it, just not for me I guess), so I worked every Sunday for the duration of my stint with the company. One day in July I put in a request to have four Saturdays off to travel to Pullman to see Cougar football games (I hadn't enrolled yet), and was immediately rejected. "_____, ______, and _____ can take 52 Sundays off, and I can't have FOUR Saturdays?" I asked, but it fell on deaf ears. Under my system, I could have had my time off (they could have easily covered my absence with one of the Church People).

EPILOGUE:
Until my plan in implemented (vote Caldwell in 2016, The Voice Of The People), when you're at some place that it clearly sucks to work at (like rhymes with Ballmart or something), don't ever mention to an employee that you think it stinks they have to work that day. You're why he does.

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Thursday, March 04, 2004

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! 

Preface: I give Stanford credit. That shot that Lottich made at the buzzer was nothing short of incredible. They play with poise at all times, and when they had to make a big play, they did.

I don't have the benefit of watching the game on TV, with replay after replay to see if the refs called certain plays correctly or not. And Stanford hit a LOT of clutch shots down the stretch tonight. I just don't think that they would have even had the opportunity, had the game been properly officiated.

I don't know whether Marcus Moore called time out in time to avoid a five second violation. From my vantage point, it looked like he did, but it's possible he didn't.

Much like the fact that Grady Little's firing wasn't a result of simply sticking with Pedro too long, but was based on a series of crucially bad game decisions, Cougar fans' disgust over the Stanford game wasn't simply based on the five-second call at the end. In the last ten minutes of the game, call after call went the way of the Cardinal. Starting at around ten minutes left, when Thomas Kelati was cross-checked by a Stanford defender without a call, until the final seconds, every break went Stanford's way.

The Cougs out-played Stanford tonight, and were rewarded by becoming targeted by all three Pac-10 officials for the most minor of violations.

Before I come off as bitter (too late), I'd like to close by congratulating Jeff Varem, Marcus Moore, Chris Schlatter, Randy Green, and Thomas Kelati for collectively playing the game of their lives. I like the direction that Cougar Basketball is headed.

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I'm Off To See Stanford 

Tonight the Cougs take on Stanford at Friel Court in Pullman. This will be the first time I've seen #1 in the nation, so I'm excited. It may be a longshot, but I hope I get a court-storming opportunity. Stranger things have happened.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Uh Oh. Andy Van Slyke Disagrees With Me 

Well, Andy Van Slyke has come out and said that Barry took 'roids. I'm still on the fence. Here's how I see it. If you're paying a company tens of thousands of dollars to give you a cocktail of drugs that will give you steroid results without being steroids, and if that company just lies to you and gives you steroids, and you take them... Whose fault would that be? Because I'll bet the real story, if there is such a thing, is something like that.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

"Batting Third, The Pitcher..." 

Check out this LaRouche kid. Apparently, he's a first base prospect for the Braves who can pitch a little too, bringing a 93-mph fastball to the table. I will go on the record as a whole-hearted supporter of LaRouche's plans to play both positions at the big league level. Talk about fun to watch.

Now all we need is another switch-pitcher and a one-armed outfielder. And Kramer's little buddy can be a star pinch-hitter.

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Bonds and Sheffield on Steroids? No F***ing way!...I Think 

I don't know about you, but I've had it up to HERE (hand flailing over head) with all this steroid talk, particularly with regards to Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield. Who the hell decided to make these two guys, who were both awesome power hitters when they were skinny as rails, the center of the controversy? And why? Because they're not particularly friendly to people who stick pens in their faces? That's just
crap.

First of all, if I could, I would STILL put everything I own on a wager that neither Barry nor Gary has ever knowingly done anything illegal to get stronger. At least, nothing that was illegal at the time. I'm not kidding. And what makes me so sure, you ask? Well, I'll tell you: they're not total morons!

So far as I know, only two important players, Jose Canseco and Ken Camminitti, have admitted to illegal streroid use. Both total morons. I mean, if someone asked you to name the two stupidest jerks you ever saw play, those two names would at least enter your mind while you thought about it, right? They definitely don't strike me as guys who would make sure to ask, "This is legal, right?"

Bonds and Sheffield are totally different. They may not be public relations whizzes, but I simply can't find it in myself to imagine either of them taking any regimin of drugs without asking the question, "This is legal, right?" Can you? Think about it. These are two very confident, very paranoid guys. Why would they take such a drastic step?

What really bothers me is the whole "Did they or didn't they!?" attitude of the press, as if it's a simple black and white moral issue. These days, with biochemists working round the clock every day to stay one step ahead of the written law, it's not a simple moral issue. It's a very complicated chemical issue with some kind of foggy moral message blended in there somehow.

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Monday, March 01, 2004

The New Kid In Town 

A new blog! Edgar Is God promises updates on what the sycophantic Japanese media is saying about our Mariners. I don't think he likes


Howard "The Duck" Lincoln

very much either (has that nickname been used already? It should have been.).

Note: I hate the Eagles as much as the next guy, but a good title is a good title.

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