Sunday, May 30, 2004
Runs: 202, 13th
Average: .262, 12th
Slugging: .381, 13th
On-Base Pct.: .325, 12th
OPS: .705, 13th
Hits: 451, 11th
Walks: 145, 10th
Home Runs: 26, 14th
RBI: 188, 13th
None of this comes as a surprise, of course. Trying to at least grasp at the straws of optimism in the absence of the Optimist, I decided to scrounge the many statistics made available by ESPN to find categories in which the M's place in the top five, and found exactly two:
Sacrifices: 14, 3rd
Intentional Walks: 14, 1st
Where the Mariners really excel is in bunting runners over to set the table for their few-and-far-between "ept" hitters (making up a word here; think "not inept" but without going so far as to say "apt") and then having those ept hitters predictably intentionally walked.
In "You Gotta Have Wa" by Robert Whiting, a great read about American baseball players in the Japanese Leagues, Whiting gives an anecdote about a particularly frustrating strategy employed by one American slugger's Japanese manager. Every time his team's leadoff man reached base, the manager would put the bunt on for the two hitter, moving the leadoff man to second. The American slugger was the team's third hitter and only power threat and was consistently walked, bringing up the contact-hitting fourth hitter.
Melvin's bunting-before-my-best-hitters strategy hurts the offense in two ways: it burns outs needlessly and sacrifices the best hitters' ABs. Swing away, Bob. Swing away.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
April 17 through 20, 4 games
May 2 and 4, 2 games
May 6 and 7, 2 games
May 23 to present, 3 games so far
AND THAT'S ALL.
Just for comparison, let's look at the only .500 ballclub in the majors, the New York Mets:
April 11 and 12, 2 games
May 2 through 6, 4 games
May 12 through 14, 3 games
May 16 and 18, 2 games
May 21 through 25, 4 games
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Monday, May 24, 2004
It was late summer '01. The Mariners and Mike Cameron were having the seasons of their lives. My buddy Ed and I arrived three hours early to the game to watch the M's warm up, take batting practice, and most importantly eat our Subway.
As was his custom, Cammy was carrying his bat everywhere he went on the field. He'd run his warmup sprints with bat in tow. He'd take practice cuts in the middle of the outfield. Wherever he was, he was swinging a bat.
The crowd was still sparse, with just about a dozen or so fans occupying each section of seats. As can be expected, every time a Mariner picked a baseball off the Safeco Field grass, nearby fans groveled for a souvenir. A group of particularly loud fans in the center field bleachers (the best bargain in the park) were asking for a ball to be thrown their way, since there was no way anyone was going to hit one that far away from the plate. These guys were louder and louder with each ball, and finally got Cammy to bite.
Since he already had a bat handy, Cammy decided that the most convenient way to deliver the precious souvenir was to hit a lazy fly ball in the fans' direction. He wasn't too far away, standing about 50 feet or so beyond second base on the center field side. He flipped the ball in the air and took a firm-but-not-too-hard uppercut swing.
The problem was, he topped it.
Instead of the lazy fly ball he wanted, Cammy sent a screaming line drive into section 104, where the only fan was an unsuspecting old lady reading her program oblivious to what was happening on the field.
Quoth Ed and I, "Oh, $H!T!"
The ball was headed right for the old lady!
All we heard was the SMACK! of baseball striking plastic seat.
The ball ricocheted off the seat immediately to the lady's left and back on to the outfield below. The unwitting old lady looked up from her program, looked to her left, and saw about fifty people staring at her with dropped jaws and expressions of complete shock. Not realizing just how close she came to disaster, our old lady looked back down at her program and didn't look up again until just before gametime.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Today at 3 PM, the cable guy will install basic cable in my apartment. I can watch the M's again, and South Park, Chapelle, and all those other goodies as well. Glorious!
Thursday, May 20, 2004
But the best thing about the game was that afterwards, we were sitting outside at the Dark Horse Tap, when a giant black Mercedes SUV stops right next to us. And who's SUV is it? Moises Alou's! There's old urinal-hands himself, leaning out the window, waving excitedly at the drunken revelers, and generally making a childish spectacle of himself! It was awesome!
Even though I never did figure out how to throw a second pitch (never thought I had to with a fastball that occasionally snuck past 75 on the gun), if I were facing Moises Alou with nobody on in the bottom of the tenth, I would never EVER give him a fastball in the strike zone. In fact, I'd probably just avoid throwing him fastballs altogether, in any situation. Here's a telling split:
Moises Alou's Career Stats,
1) When he gets a fastball in the zone with a hitter's count: .783 BA, 224 HR, 877 RBI.
2) All other situations: .087 BA, 25 HR, 135 RBI.
Unfortunately, those numbers aren't really available, but I'm pretty sure my estimates are reasonably accurate. At the very least, the totals add up.
Answers to Pete's Cub Trivia Blitz: Kent Mercker and Glendon Rusch, obviously.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004(0) comments
Sunday, May 16, 2004
ARBITERS OR ANTAGONISTS?
Players and Management Are Fed Up With Confrontational Umpires
In light of yesterday's Chris Guccioni episode, it goes to show that some things never change.
EDIT, 3:09 PM -- I should have phrased that last sentence better. Something like "only Brave I've liked since 1991 or so." Hank Aaron is one of my all-time favorites, and his autobiography "I Had A Hammer" is one of my favorite baseball books, to boot.
Melvin left Pineiro in for 120 pitches today, working all eight innings. In my opinion, there was no advantage to be gained leaving Joel in that long. First of all, the M's were behind in the late innings, so Joel wasn't in the position of protecting his own lead. If they were ahead, I could see (but maybe not agree with) the rationale of allowing Joel to win it himself, with the boost in Joel's confidence being worth the tradeoff of wearing him out for his next outing. Second, there's an off day tomorrow. While the bullpen had to work hard yesterday, everyone gets a day off tomorrow, so there's less need to conserve anyone's arm. Finally, Pineiro's been terrible so far this year. Why not take a fine seven inning performance to the bank and not risk a potential blowup in the eighth? Luckily, Joel came through in the eighth, but if he didn't, he'd be set even further back from returning to his nasty old self.
It was such a tough loss today. Right now they're not playing like a terrible ballclub. There getting hits, though mostly singles, and eventually they're going to string together a few and score some runs. Hopefully sooner than later.
Note: Shannon Drayer just said on the radio that the only relievers available today were Hasegawa and Myers. I'd go with Shiggy in the eighth, in that case.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
What I think needs to change is how umps are judged. If a hitter like Raul Ibanez can't see a pitch within about an inch or so, he's not going to have any idea what a strike is and be horrible. But if an umpire misses, say, the outside corner consistently, that's just what his strike zone is and he's considered a good umpire. When Jamie Moyer lives on the corners but doesn't get the call and has to come down the middle, that's the umpire's fault, not Moyer's.
After running spell check on this post, it was recommended that I replace "Guccioni" with "zucchini."
Friday, May 14, 2004
So, does anyone out there play cards? What I'd like to propose is a game of no-limit Texas Hold 'Em among the Blogosphere. We'll buy in for fifty bucks or so. Is anybody game?
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Top Child Punishments, By State
No moose for a week (MT)
Allowance not adjusted for inflation (DC)
An hour in closet with Roy Acuff's bones (TN)
Sent to public school (NY)
Written out of Daddy's pilot (CA)
Must stay in state until 18 (ID)
Toe shot off (KY)
Even when I just go across the border to Moscow, I have this overwhelming urgency to get back to Washington as soon as possible. I can't describe it; it just is.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
David at USS mariner asks the question:
Regardless of how much better you could expect some players to perform, does anyone see any kind of acquisition enabling this team to play like a 104 win team for the next four and a half months?Yeah, I do.
Let's get a real center fielder again. Carlos Beltran. How many extra bases have been taken this year already on Randy Winn's weak arm? How many balls in the gap have been just out of either Winn's or Ibanez's reach? The biggest change in the M's performance this season over last (besides veterans hitting below expectations) has been the huge jump in balls in play falling for hits. If the M's get themselves a great center fielder again, I think we'll see that number fall back down where it belongs. Let's look at the two pitchers struggling the most:
|Pitcher||IP||K||Outs In Play||H||HR||Hits In Play||AVG on Balls In Play|
.358 and .333 are really above last year's numbers. I don't know exactly how much is due to downgrading center field, but it's pretty clear that a lot is. Sure, Rich Aurilia is killing us too, but there really isn't a great shortstop available right now. Adding Beltran (for Winn or Ibanez and some minor league talent?) would improve the pitching and defense greatly, and if you consider the expected improvement in Boone's, Edgar's, Ichiro's, Aurilia's, etc. offensive performance, they could be as good enough to contend in the west.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Take a shot at the hitter.
This only can be done if you field the ball cleanly (as any fan worth his beer should) and are sitting near the aisle. Catch it clean, get to the aisle, and try to get him as he comes around second. It's about 250 feet or so, but if you have an arm, put some air under it and give it a shot. Or, you could...
Give it to a kid.
And not the rich punk kid, either. When you get to the game, look around your section and pick out your kid in advance so you can quickly make the transfer to the lucky kid when the time comes. If you get little Billy the ball right away, you should nip the "Throw It Back" chant in the bud.
Corollary: What The Punk Rich Kid Should Do If He Gets The Ball
I'd love to see the ballgirl give the home run ball to a kid in the first row, and see that kid throw the ball right back on to the field. Then the ballgirl chases it down and give it to another kid, who throws it back on to the field again. I'd love to see how many times they could make the ballgirl go get the ball before she just gives up.
This "throw it back" thing has gone too far in Seattle, and most other ballparks not named Wrigley. Let's come up with our own thing for once.
Friday, May 07, 2004
I still think the M's are likely to have a major resurgence. Unfortunately, it looks like things are coming together pretty well for the Angels, so this resurgence won't be likely to matter, what with there being two 105-win teams in the East. Oh well! I still see the M's winning 90 games. The pitching is solid, the bullpen is not as bad as it's playing, and the entire lineup (save Ibanez and Spezio) will improve substantially from here on out. It's far from over.
I thought about your Hall of Fame post frequently, Chris, while I was recovering from the series of minor heart attacks this young baseball season has caused me, and I've decided that you're dead wrong about Albert Belle.
Belle was like that quiet, harmless kid in your Junior High School who, for no discernable reason, everyone absolutely hated. Honestly, what's the worst thing he ever did? If it was knocking Fernando Vina 's block off (when Vina was in the base-line, for Christ's sake), then he's A-okay in my book.
If Puckett and Ralph Kiner get to be in the HOF despite abbreviated careers, then Albert Belle certainly does too. There's just no getting around it. If Belle were as charming as Kirby Puckett (who, it turns out, isn't so sweet when there are no cameras on him), we wouldn't even be discussing it.
If I were the best hitter in the world for five years, but everyone hated me for some reason I couldn't figure out, I'd start acting like an asshole too.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Finals are nearly over, so you can look forward to the frequent posting you, the reader, have come to expect very soon. Until then, happy Cinco de Mayo!
I watched tonight's game from the 11th inning on from Shaker's, and something caught my attention that bears mention. Did anyone else notice that after Randy Winn scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixteenth, Winn looked like he expected the dugout to erupt onto the field to greet him, and when he saw that no one was going to mob him and slap his helmet, he just kinda walked slowly off the field disappointed?
The 2004 Mariners look like they have given up. They just won on a questionable call on a close play at the plate, and no one was excited about it. It's gonna be a long year.
Monday, May 03, 2004
A few weeks ago, someone in the blogosphere (I was thinking it was Jeff, but I couldn't find it in his archives, so maybe it was someone else) in passing mentioned the Hall of Fame Monitor scores on Baseball Reference and Albert Belle's score of 134.5. A score of over 100 means "likely Hall-of-Famer," so statistically, this means Belle should be a lock. The author of the post expressed surprise at this. A long-running argument of Pete's and mine is Belle's HOF worthiness, so I wanted to comment, even if it is a little bit late.
From the years 1992-1999, Albert Belle was one of the best few hitters in baseball. The players of comparable offensive value over that time period fall into three categories:
|Ken Griffey Jr.|
No one (at least no one that matters) would argue against the HOF candidacy of any of the above men. Just look at those numbers (and Piazza's a catcher!). Griffey and Bonds are two of the best outfielders ever, McGwire one of the greatest sluggers, and Piazza is probably the best hitting catcher ever.
The Argument Could Certainly Be Made:
We've heard the case for Edgar, and Thomas's follows a similar line of logic. I'd vote for both, but that's just me.
And now the final category (at least in terms of the voters' perception), with only one entry:
Stupid Jerk-Heads That Had No Business Playing This Game In The First Place:
The only difference between Belle and the others is his rep. If he wasn't such a gaping asshole, we'd all be really sad that his career was cut short and be forecasting what his career numbers would have been with a couple more years of big league service. Speaking simply as a Mariners fan, I hid my eyes when Belle came up in his prime. Especially if Jeff Nelson was on the hill. Belle hit in the neighborhood of 8 thousand jacks against Nellie, travelling an average distance of 893.83 feet.
Albert Belle seemed to hate everybody equally -- teammates, umpires, opponents, fans, hot dog vendors, etc. Kind of like the drill sargeant in Full Metal Jacket. His anger seemed to fuel his fire, though. The only other player I can think of that played better with a chip on his shoulder was probably Jackie Robinson. Granted, Jackie's motivation was a wee bit more noble. The question that bears asking is: How much does attitude matter? For every voter, the answer is a little different. For me, if I had a vote, I'd leave Albert Belle on the outside looking in.
EDIT 10:46 AM -- Sorry about all that space between the tables. No idea why that happens, or how to fix it.
EDIT 12:14 PM, 5/5/04 -- Thanks for all the suggestions on repairing my tables. Much appreciated to all who responded so quickly.