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Monday, April 25, 2005

Tom Brady's New Backup 

How loaded was USC last year? Their backup QB was taken in the 7th round of Sunday's NFL draft. Yup, The New England Patriots selected Matt Cassel with the 230th pick in the draft (hey, with their track record, it's hard to argue). This reminded me of the Minnesota Vikings selecting Brad Johnson in the 9th round of the 1992 draft, even though he was an injury-riddled backup at Florida State.

Cassel's 2004 line:

14 passes, 10 completions, 97 yards, 1 INT

Do the Patriots want to show that it wasn't a fluke? Brady, after all, was a 6th rounder in 2000, and didn't exactly light up scoreboards at Michigan. What could a 7th rounder who didn't start a single game in college do? I just hope that Brady's looking over his shoulder during minicamp.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Wah! 

Have you ever seen something so funny and pathetic at the same time that a simple giggle, snicker, or guffaw just doesn't do it justice? Where the only natural response is to just let it all go and unleash a hearty belly laugh? This often happens in a bar or nightclub when a female who doesn't bring anything to the table tries to seduce every man in the bar. You see something this humiliatingly hilarious, and embarrassment be damned, out comes the "Wahhhhhhh!"

I saw another Wah today. Why this picture (look for the story named "March Sadness" was not brought to my attention sooner is a failure of both myself and of everyone to which I am close.

There's also a great photo of Ty Willingham rocking a yellow 2Pac bandana if you scroll down the page a bit.

I hate you so much, Huskies.

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Jim Caple is Optimistic 

Yeah, he's a homer (and a Husky), but Caple likes the M's chances in a wide-open A.L. West this year.

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Indians Series Preview 

After a split of their two-game, intradivision series (an idea which I hate, incidentally) against the A's, the M's host the Rick Vaughn-less Cleveland Indians this weekend.

FRIDAY:
Gil Meche (1-0, 6.14) vs. Carsten Charles "C.C." Sabathia (0-0, 1.59)

Sabathia has quieted any doubts about the health of his left hamstring, injured last September, by posting a strong start so far this season. It's probably an anomaly, though, since Carsten Charles has only started one game this season (a no-decision against the Twins). Tonight's as good a night as any for Sabathia to come back down to Earth.

Gil Meche has had two rocky starts and one good one so far this year. If he can get ahead of the Indian batters tonight, he will cruise, but if he falls behind often, he will struggle mightily. I hate to say it, but I'm thinking along the "struggle mightily" lines tonight.

Unfounded call of the game: Adrian Beltre pulls his head out of his netherregions and starts racking up some extra-base hits this series. Finally.

SATURDAY:
Aaron Sele (1-1, 6.19) vs. Cliff Lee (1-0, 4.76)

This game will take 4 hours and 32 minutes, minimum. With a crappy lefty on the hill for the Tribe, look for a big game out of the Beltre/Sexson/Boone trio.

Sele will Coug it.

SUNDAY:
Jamie Moyer (3-0, 3.00) vs. Scott Elarton (0-0, 7.90)

Moyer is looking more like the At Least We'll Win This Game pitcher of 1996-2003 than the abomination that was Moyer '04. This one looks like the M's most certain victory of the series.

With the tough games the Mariners are slated to play against the A.L. West, it is imperative that they beat up on weaker American League teams like Cleveland. This series will be an excellent indication of where the Mariners stack up this year. Losing two of three would signal tough times ahead.

It's a beautiful evening in the Pacific Northwest tonight, so fire up the grill, bring out the radio, and enjoy some sunshine and some Dave Niehaus.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bret Boone Makes My Predictions Look Good 

It was somewhat theraputic hearing Dave Niehaus' "SWUNG ON AND BELTED! DEEP TO LEFT FIELD! GET OUT THE RYE BREAD AND THE MUSTARD GRANDMA, IT'S GRAND SALAMI TIME!!!" call of Bret Boone's first inning grand slam last night. Especially since I publicly stated that one of our righties would touch Zito at some point.

If you're in eastern Washington, get away from your computer and enjoy this gorgeous weather.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Oakland Series Preview 

Brought to you by M.C. Hammer (a super-dope homeboy from the Oak-Town)

Oakland, Seattle, and the Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim each go into Wednesday's play tied for first place at a lackluster 7-7. The Mariners come back to Seattle today for a two-gamer against Billy Beane's Athletics.

With Beane and company coming to Safeco Field, it seems like an opportune moment to offer a quick thought the book that made Beane famous, Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. A common interpretation of Moneyball is that Beane and his Athletics organization simply do not employ the use of scouts, favoring statistical analysis nearly 100%. I think the main lesson that Lewis is trying to convey, actually, is that Beane, with an incredibly limited budget, has been forced to find quality players in ways and places that other teams are not looking. If Beane identified a freakishly athletic prospect, that showed some potential but had limited organized baseball experience, and lived in the backwoods of Alaska, for example, that no other teams knew about, Beane would go after him. Beane is simply after the undervalued, however they became to be undervalued.

To the hydrofoil! Oakland series preview:

WEDNESDAY:

Pineiro (0-1, 7.94) vs. Zito (0-3, 7.27)

When he's healthy, Pineiro is the one pitcher on the Mariners' staff that makes me say, "There's a chance for a no-hitter tonight." Unfortunately, he's probably not 100% tonight, so we'll have to wait at least one more start for that no-no. I do expect him to bounce back from his rough start last week though; let's say he goes six innings and allows three runs.

Zito's struggles from last season (11-11, 4.48) seem to have seeped into the first month of 2005. The Mariners will run out a string of powerful righties -- Beltre, Sexson, and Boone -- in the middle of the lineup against a lefty that's somewhat longball-prone (Zito gave up 28 home runs last season). Hopefully the Mariners can force an early exit from Zito.

8-5, Mariners.

THURSDAY:

Franklin (1-1, 2.18) vs. Harden (0-1, 0.68)

Franklin continues to exceed my expectations, and hopefully he can continue that trend if the Mariners are going to have a chance on Thursday. The problem is that the Athletics' lineup has home run power up and down, and Franklin is a home run pitcher. Eric Chavez has a great chance at more than one longball for the A's. As Dave Niehaus just told me, Chavez has hit the second-most homers (13) of any player on a visiting team at Safeco Field (if you can't think of who has hit the most, for shame). A lot of runs could be scores for the men in green.

Rich Harden has been nearly unhittable so far in 2005, holding hitters to a .200 batting average. I expect similar numbers from the Mariners hitters. This one will get ugly, and I see Oakland coming out on top in a squeaker, 11-2. If you want to kill any optimism you might have had about this and subsequent Mariner seasons, watch Rich Harden pitch and remember that he's only 23 years old. He could be the next Pedro Martinez-Mike Mussina Official Thorn In The Mariners' Sides.

A'S LINKS:

Athletics Nation. This is the only place you need to go to read about the A's.

7:15 PM:
For some strange reason, Blogger ate the last half of today's preview. I had to re-write it tonight, and hopefully this edit doesn't suffer the same fate.

(3) comments

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Angels Series Is a Split; First Road Trip Is a Winning One 

With today's 5-3 triumph over the Angels, the Mariners finished their eight-game road trip at 5-3 and improved to 7-7 overall.

Eddie Guardado's save was significantly less dicey than usual. Even though Garrett Anderson came to the plate as the tying run, it was with two outs, and Guardado got Anderson to ground out to Ibanez at first to end the game. The key to the inning was that Guardado retired the first two hitters, Darin Erstad and Orlando Cabrera, so that when Super Vladimir Guerrero came to bat the tying run was still on deck. In spite of this afternoon's relatively quiet ninth inning for the Angels, with Guardado toeing the slab I always fear the worst and hope for the best.

The broadcast Quote of the Game came from Dave Niehaus in the Mariners half of the eighth inning, when the M's loaded the bases with one out and Beltre and Sexson due up.

"The table is set with the best silverware and the best crystal!"

Beltre and Sexson took their seats at the table, but each struck out swinging. Then they flipped over their dinner plates angrily, muttered "F#*% this, I'm leaving!", and stormed off without even trying driving in any of the tasty runs that Miguel Olivo, Ichiro, and Jeremy Reed spent all inning preparing.

The lump sum of the Mariners offense came in the first two innings, aided by homers from Sexson and Ibanez. The ability of the Mariner offense to disappear for several innings does not cease to amaze me. Unlikely as it is, if Miguel Olivo could bring ANYTHING to the table offensively it would help the cause in a huge way. As it stands now, Olivo and Wilson Valdez at the bottom of the order have hit like National League pitchers, which in the American League is not going to get the job done. Valdez reached on a perfectly executed bunt down the first base line in Monday's game, and I'd like to see him try that at least once every three games or so. It could mean the difference between Valdez being an abysmal hitter and simply being a below-average one.

While the results of this road trip are nothing to get too excited about (three of the wins were against the Royals, might I remind you), it's worth remembering that in '04 the M's didn't post a winning road trip until September. Yep, September. They're not exactly taking the American League by storm like they did in the first halves of the 2000 through 2003 seasons, but at least the 2005 Mariners are competitive.

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You Got Sele'd! 

Aaron Sele has officially come back down to Earth, allowing six earned runs in four innings in Monday's 6-1 loss against the Angels. Five of those runs came on home runs by Vladimir Guerrero and Darin Erstad (who is just KILLING my Bad Fantasy Team the way he's been hitting). Both Angels hitters connected on curveballs right in their respective wheelhouses.


Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero identifies a section of third-level fans, any of whom also could have hit Aaron Sele's hanging curveball out of the park. (Seattle Times photo)

The Mariners rotation is a mess right now. With Bobby Madritsch on the shelf and with Sele and Ryan Franklin holding rotation member status, we can really only expect one good start per cycle. Two if we're lucky. Luckily the ageless Jamie Moyer is taking the mound in about six hours. I probably wouldn't even listen to the game if Franklin was up next.

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Monday, April 18, 2005

Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Series Preview 

Despite losing two of three games to the White Sox this weekend, the Mariners are tied for first place (albeit with just a 6-6 mark). And on top of that, the team sports the best run differential in the American League West division, outscoring their opponents by eleven runs overall. Easily, the Mariners could be sitting on a 7-5 or even 8-4 record, and a lot of newspaper column inches would be devoted to stories about Mike Hargrove being the greatest manager since the invention of the telegraph and Willie Bloomquist deserving Most Valuable Player votes for playing so many positions in the field. However, we're only twelve games into this crazy adventure called 2005, and as The Wolf (portrayed masterfully by Harvey Keitel) cautioned Vincent Vega and Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction, we must remember not to go (uh, congratulating oursleves) just yet.

The Angels series:

Monday, 7:05 PM
Aaron Sele (0-1, 3.75) vs. Paul Byrd (0-2, 6.92)

Vladimir Guerrero might hit a 500-foot home run against Sele today. It's probably worth watching the game just for that possibility. Luckily for the Seattle nine, though, Paul Byrd is on the hill for the Angels. I'm calling a higher-scoring affair than recent games have been, with the M's prevailing 8-6.

Tuesday, 1:05 PM (you guessed it, radio only)
Jamie Moyer (2-0, 2.50) vs. Kevin Gregg (1-0, 5.40)

Gregg, like Ryan Franklin for Seattle, is a mop-up reliever being thrust into the starting rotatio. Unlike Franklin, Gregg has little previous starting experience, but in his four career starts he's 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA. For his starting ERA to match his career 4.08 ERA, Gregg would need to allow eight runs in five innings Tuesday. Sounds about right to me. Moyer should continue his strong start and the Mariners prevail 10-4.

The story of the 2005 season, at least in regards to the Seattle Mariners, has been the hot start posted by Ichiro. Through twelve games, he's on pace for (I hope you're sitting down) 283 hits. Yeah, it's only twelve games in, but looking at the Major League batting average leaders, there is one name in the top ten that doesn't seem out of place. He might not maintain his .447 average, but .400 isn't completely unattainable.

ANGELS LINKS:

6-4-2. Named after an incredibly unlikely shortstop-second base-catcher double play, this site pulls double duty, covering the Angels as well as the Dodgers.

Chronicles of the Lads. I don't think I've ever heard Vlad described as a "lad" before, nor do I expect to.

Purgatory Online. I wonder what kind of traffic comes his way via the search engines.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

NBA draft Age Limit (My Two Cents) 

We keep hearing a lot about NBA commissioner David Stern's plan to put an age limit on the NBA draft, restricting it to only players who are at least 20 years old. I must say that this is not a good idea, and not because Jermaine O'Neal thinks the motivation behind it is race. I do believe that the league is concerned with quality of play (and rightfully so), but barring the best high school players won't change this. Last time I checked, the objective of the NBA was to get the best players in the world in one league. Do they really want to stop the next LeBron James from transcending the game at the highest level? Furthermore, what about overseas players? Many of them, such as Peja Stojakovic, began playing professionally in their native country at age 16. Are they put under the same restrictions as high schoolers here?

It has been said that an age requirement would be a boon for the college game. But would it really? You think recruiting scandals are bad now; wait until the absolute best players are up for grabs since they would have no choice but to attend college. The term "student-athlete" is already a laughable oxymoron; you can expect more stories such as Lamar Odom, whose last semester GPA at Rhode Island was a healthy 0.00. Also, the NCAA tournament would suffer greatly; the most captivating aspects of the tourney are all of the upsets during the first 4 days and rooting for the "mid-major" Cinderella stories in the later rounds. Outside of the occasional Larry Bird, the best players almost always choose the same schools from major conferences, thereby reducing the chances of major upsets. Granted, this is the opinion of a longtime Gonzaga fan, but the concern should be real for the NCAA.

And would this age limit really help the individual player? I don't doubt that a lot of high schoolers could have used some college seasoning to refine their games ( i.e. Kwame Brown), but what about kids who attended for a year or two and proved to be too good for the college game? This policy would not just prevent high-schoolers from entering the draft; college freshmen (and some sophs) would also be barred. Why make a Carmelo Anthony stay when he's certainly ready for the next level? And let's face it: with that much guaranteed money available, declaring early is a sound decision financially. These kids can always go back to college if they wish, and they could avoid living like a typical quasi-homeless college student in the process.

What basketball needs to do is take a good hard look at baseball's policy on the draft. High schoolers are eligible, but if they don't sign with an MLB team and choose the college route, they are bound to the college game for at least 3 years (except JC players, who can be drafted after 2 years, a la Mike Piazza). Yes, baseball is helped by the presence of minor leagues, but let's face it: this is one policy that baseball figured out a long time ago that works well for everyone. When was the last time you heard someone complaining about baseball players being too young for the majors or that college baseball players don't stay in school? The NBA should adopt a similar policy and do more to promote its half-assed "developmental" league. Just a thought.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

2005 Seattle Mariners Pitchers Runs Over Expected Runs (ROER) 

Baseball Prospectus, among other sources, publishes Run Expectancy charts (subscription required). These nifty little tables outline with a three-by-eight grid the average number of runs that score after a given baserunners/outs situation. For 2004, the chart looked like this:

Runners, outs, Run Expectancy:

---, 0, 0.54
---, 1, 0.29
---, 2, 0.11
1--, 0, 0.93
1--, 0, 0.55
1--, 0, 0.25
-2-, 0, 1.16
-2-, 1, 0.71
-2-, 2, 0.34
--3, 0, 1.47
--3, 1, 0.96
--3, 2, 0.46
12-, 0, 1.45
12-, 1, 0.97
12-, 2, 0.36
1-3, 0, 1.85
1-3, 1, 1.22
1-3, 2, 0.52
-23, 0, 2.13
-23, 1, 1.47
-23, 2, 0.62
123, 0, 2.25
123, 1, 1.59
123, 2, 0.81

Under the "Runners" column, a dash represents an empty base and a number represents an occupied base. So "1-3" indicates baserunners occupying first base and third base, with second base open.

One neat trick that this chart allows you to do is figure out how many runs a particular play is worth. For example, a leadoff triple changes the run expectancy of an inning from 0.54 to 1.47, so a leadoff triple can be considered to be worth 0.93 runs, on average. A home run with runners on second and third with one out changes the run expectancy from 1.47 to (3 runs already scored) + (expectancy of bases empty and one out, 0.29) = 3.29, making the home run worth 1.82 runs. (You'd expect a three-run home run to be worth exactly three runs, but that ignores the probability of the two runners on base being driven in by subsequent batters). This concept is certainly not new, as I have seen it from time to time in various analyses of teams' performance in different situations.

I've used the chart in a similar fashion, but from the pitchers' standpoint. For each pitcher that the Mariners have used, I've figured out the Run Expectancy when he entered an inning, and the Run Expectancy (factoring runs actually scored as well) when he left the inning. So if a pitcher started an inning with the bases empty and none out and allowed one run before being replaced with two outs and a runner on first, the pitcher's Runs Over Expected Runs (ROER) would be:

Expected Runs entering the inning: 0.54
Actual runs scored: 1
Expected additional runs when the pitcher left the game: 0.11

ROER = 0.54 - 1 - 0.11 = -0.57

So this hypothetical pitcher (We'll call him Obby Bayala) cost the Mariners 0.57 runs over what could be expected.

I think that ROER is a good indication of a pitcher's overall value to a team, factoring in the difficulty of the situations that pitchers are thrown into and the difficulty of situations left to others. So a short reliever whose job is to put out the fires started by others gets credit for not allowing inherited runners to score (something ERA ignores completely, simply giving the runs to the pitcher that put the runners on base), and a starting pitcher that consistently leaves runners on base to the relievers is penalized regardless of whether the bullpen bails him out. Starting pitchers, who begin every inning with the bases empty and none out, are rewarded for pitching much more innings than the relievers.

For the 2005 Seattle Mariners, the pitching staff has shaped up like this:

Pitcher, ROER:

Ryan Franklin, +5.94
Aaron Sele, +5.25
Shigetoshi Hasegawa, +2.93
Jamie Moyer, +2.93
Julio Mateo, +2.26
Jeff Nelson, +1.44

Ron Villone, -0.94
Bobby Madritsch, -1.27
J.J. Putz, -1.46
Eddie Guardado, -1.85
Gil Meche, -3.36
Matt Thornton, -4.28

Not surprisingly, Ryan Franklin rates as the Mariners' most valuable pitcher so far and Matt Thornton ranks as the most costly.

The case which best illustrates why I like ROER over ERA is that of Eddie Guardado. Guardado sports a nice little 2.50 ERA, despite a not-so-good -1.85 ROER. Guardado allowed four runs in the ninth inning of last week's 7-6 loss against the Rangers. Three of those runs were recorded as unearned after Bret Boone missed an easy grounder. If Everyday Eddie had pitched out of the jam created by Boone's error, his resulting good ROER would match up nicely with his excellent ERA. ROER does a good job at identifying the cases that ERA misses: pitching out of trouble caused by bad fielding, preventing inherited runners from scoring, and not leaving baserunners to subsequent pitchers.

Throughout the season I'll be updating the Mariners pitchers' ROER, and posting them permanently on the sidebar.

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Kansas City Recap 

I've already apologized to Ryan Franklin for having any doubts about his ability to perform as a starting pitcher. It should be noted, though, that so far in 2005, Franklin's surrendered batting average on balls that are put into play (basically, every at-bat that wasn't a strikeout or a home run; simply put, the ones the fielders have a say in) is a cool .178. The Major League average is around .300. If, say, Franklin's balls in play had dropped in at a .280 average (still about .020 less than league average), he would have allowed 13 hits rather than just eight in his 12 2/3 innings of work. The effect of these additional baserunners is debatable, but anyone would agree that they would push Franklin's ERA much higher than the 2.13 that he currently enjoys. Franklin said it himself:
I made pretty decent pitches. I didn't leave too much over the middle of the plate. It was just one of those days. A lot of those balls could have fell in. A lot of those ground balls could have found the hole. But I had luck on my side today. (Thursday's Seattle P-I)
We'll see if Franklin continues to keep the ball in the park after that brutal Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles of Anaheim-Oakland-Cleveland-Texas-Oakland-Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles of Anaheim-Boston-New York-Boston-New York stretch takes the Mariners from the end of April to mid-May.

Aaron Sele, despite his Washington State University heritage, in fact failed to Coug it against the Royals, putting up 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball Wednesday. Sele, like Franklin, is having early success despite putting a lot of balls in play. I expect his ERA to rise to the 4.50 region by season's end.

Sele's numbers, incidentally, could be a lot better than the 3.75 ERA he currently boasts. In his first start against the Texas Rangers, Sele left the game after 5 2/3 innings, having given up only two runs. Ron Villone and Julio Mateo failed to do their jobs in the sixth inning, allowing both of Sele's baserunners to score. Sele could quite easily have an ERA of just 2.25. This subject is inspiration for an upcoming post.

Today was all about Jamie Moyer. He went seven innings, allowing two runs, scattering nine hits, walking one and striking out four. Moyer, Like Sele and Franklin, has been the beneficiary of good fortune (although not nearly to the extent to which the other two have). Moyer has allowed 21 hits and walked five in 18 innings, giving him a baserunners-to-innings ratio of an I'd-Like-To-See-Better 1.44. He has actually been a bit unlucky with his balls in play numbers, though, surrendering a .339 batting average. His strikeout totals, while not earth-shattering, are a respectable 6.5 per nine innings. While I don't envision Moyer's 2.50 ERA holding up for the rest of the season, I think it's reasonable to expect something in the neighborhood of 3.5, which would be just fine by me.

The sweep of the Royals leaves the Mariners with a 5-4 overall record and an early tie with the Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for first place.

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Is Beltre Okay? 

All I know (courtesy of a CBS SportsLine game-center) is that Beltre came out of the game in the 4th inning with "an apparent back injury." Did anyone see what happened!!??

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Wow, Prior Looked Really Good!!! 

So I did get to the double-header yesterday, and it was awesome--except that I think I caught pneumonia sitting in that upper-deck wind-tunnel. But I'll live, and the important thing is that Mark Prior looked phenomenal! Like the real Mark Prior! Like a guy who, with any kind of run-support, might win 20 games this year!

This changes the whole equation. With the Proodbradux fully intact, I think the Cubs are a 95-win team. They could still use some bullpen help (I'm rooting for Houston Street to be so unhittable that Beane decides to unload Dotel before the deadline), and the offense is going to be very hit-and-miss, even when Nomar is raking, but nobody can match their rotation--nobody!!!!

Dempster was very good in his last start too. If he can just post 200 innings and a 4.50 ERA, this staff will be by far the best in baseball. Just you wait and see!

Oh, Cubs, I love you so much...

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Prior/Wood Twin Bill? I'm There! 

Thanks to Mother Nature and our good old-fashioned roofless ballyard, today is going to bear witness to that most magical of events: a Prior/Wood double header. That's right! And with Jake Peavy pitching for the Pope-lovers, that's three legitimate Cy Young candidates taking the same mound in eight beautiful hours!

This is the kind of day that makes me feel absurdly lucky to be living four blocks from Wrigley Field, the coolest man-made structure in the United States. If I can get in, fabulous! If I can't, I'll be home in time for the first pitch! Ha ha! Take that, people who don't live in Northside Chicago!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Scottish Italian! Soccer! Hooligans! Weekly! 

In a Champions League quarterfinal match today, fans of Inter Milan hurled bottles and road flares at the AC Milan goalkeeper, causing a stoppage of play after the 73rd minute. The Milan police chief offered this comment, pulled from the linked article:
"There were two or three hundred hooligans who were involved in throwing the flares," said Milan police chief Paolo Scarpi, "They have been caught on video camera -- they were the usual hotheads from the Inter sector."
The "usual hotheads?" It sounds like the police chief already knew these guys. So did they just let them in with road flares anyway?
Scarpi said a large number of flares had been confiscated at the entrance to the stadium before the game -- but clearly dozens more had been smuggled through.
Here at Washington State University, we are no strangers to incidents of hooliganism, but road flares?

If you tried that in the United States, you'd probably be jailed indefinitely under the Patriot Act.

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Nothing to write about today, so I offer you a link:

United States of Baseball.

It's a collection of articles by Peter Handrinos about topics that are in more of a general baseball interest rather than focusing on one or two teams. Give it a look.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

I'm Sorry, Ryan Franklin 

I've just spent five minutes closely examining the pitch-by-pitch recap of today's game, looking for any shred of evidence to diminish what Franklin did today, and I couldn't find a thing. I'll just put up his line and shut up for as long as he pitches like this:

8 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 2 runs, 83 pitches, 64 strikes.

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Another 'Roid Suspension 

Brought to you by Gold's Gym.

The Rockies' Jorge Piedra is this week's lucky victim. What a week. Wednesday: called up to the big club. Thursday: sent back down to the minors. Monday: suspended for ten days.

Another 'roid story:
I remember when I was with the Phillies, we were on the road, at our hotel, when a pitcher asked me to inject him with steroids. I don’t know, I guess he couldn’t stick a needle in himself. I told him no, that I didn’t think that I could stick a needle in someone either, but also, I said no because I didn’t believe it was right.
Former Philly Rico Bronga, in today's Philadelphia Daily News.

As much as I hate to say it, there's a decent chance that the suspect pitcher's name begins with a 'C' and ends with an 'urt Schilling.'

This is getting old.

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This Week: Kansas City 

Today, 1:05 PM: Ryan Franklin (0-0, 2.25) vs. Runelvys Hernandez (1-0, 1.29)
Tuesday: Off. Whah???
Wednesday, 11:10 AM: Aaron Sele (0-0, 6.35) vs. Zach Greinke (0-0, 0.00)
Thursday, 11:10 AM: Jamie Moyer (1-0, 2.45) vs. Denny Bautista (1-0, 1.13)

Thanks to the scheduling geniuses at work for Major League Baseball this season, instead of a typical Monday off day to travel halfway across the continent, the Mariners instead are off on Tuesday. For the players on the team that are fans of the delicious Kansas City barbecues, this is fantastic news, as Tuesday certainly provides ample opportunity to glutton it up. Granted, it's the best barbecue in the world (apologies to Texas and North Carolina, but that's just the way it is), but that's quite a tradeoff for starting a roadtrip with a 1:05 PM start time. Scheduling also has resulted in a three game series of radio-only broadcasts, which is unfortunate because I really wanted to see it with my own eyes when Calvin Pickering hits the first 600-foot home run in baseball history.

For the Texas series, I predicted all three games incorrectly, but I'm not going to let a minor setback like that get me down. Stay the course:

Today: Ryan Franklin is pitching. I think we all know where this will lead. Pete made an interesting point in Friday's comments, which I'll reprint here:

"What do you do in this situation? Root for Franklin to do well, thus lengthening his time as a starter, or root for him to bust quickly and spectacularly?"

To be honest, I don't know how I feel about today's game. I like Ryan Franklin. By all accounts, he's a great human being, and everyone on the team seems to like him. He's just not that great of a pitcher. I suppose the best thing that could happen would be that Franklin makes about ten starts with an ERA of about 3.75 or so, thus giving him some trade value. He goes to a contender, we get a decent prospect or a good reliever in return, and Franklin receives a warm reception every time he returns to Safeco Field.

Unfortunately, I just don't see all that unfolding.

Wednesday: Their Pitcher of the Future, Zach Greinke against Aaron Sele. As far as Pitchers of the Future go, you could do a lot worse than Greinke, but King Felix he is not. Sele will once again Coug it, but much like in his last start, the M's will prevail in the end.

Thursday: I'm sensing big things out of Denny Bautista this year, in my Insane Hunch of the Week. I have no data to back this up. PECOTA isn't being too kind, predicting a 50th-percentile ERA of 4.80. He's got all the tools though... to lose to Moyer 6-2.

So, look for the M's to take two of three from arguably the worst franchise in the game.


ROYALS LINKS:

Rob and Rany. This is Rob Neyer's Royals blog. Neyer, as far as humans go, is pretty smart. Start here.

Royals Court. Good site, updated often, but there's some design quirk where the right part of the text is covered by the links. They could have written the defining baseball article of the decade, and I wouldn't know because it was covered by a "Search Our Archives" box. Too bad.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Why Even Bring The Glove? 

If you are seated in the first row of right field, and if you packed your baseball glove around all afternoon so that if someone hit a home run your way you'd be in position to catch the ball, you'd better not choke.

Some idiot just cost Richie Sexson two bases and two RBI by not holding on to Big Sexy's would-be home run in the fourth inning today. Idiot.

Do any readers watching the game know who this guy is? We should heckle him at work on Monday or something. He needs to know he screwed up.

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It Figures 

Bobby Madritsch's shoulder is slightly torn. Madritsch's arm will be in a sling for three weeks, then another MRI will be taken to assess the recovery progress. Annoyed grunt.

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Mariners Quote of the Season (so far) 

Bret Boone, analyzing his costly ninth inning error, which allowed the winning (and unearned) runs to score for Texas yesterday:

"My son could have made that play."

Yep.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

It's April Panic Time! 

It's week one of the baseball season again, and that means it's time to freak out about the Cubs! Oh my God! Oh my freaking God we're screwed!

Once again, Prior and Wood (whose names are now forever linked to the gut-feeling that the Cubs really should be good, but never will be) are nursing various mysterious ailments. Prior got slammed by some triple-A bums yesterday, but at least he left the mound in one piece, and Wood pitches today (I had to perform some ritual sacrifices to get them both back this early--if either goes down again, I'm afraid PETA will really start to get on my case). Maddux is looking the way he usually does this time of year, like an old Subaru that makes terrifying sounds every time you try to accelerate up a steep hill. He's always gotten over the hump before, but jeez... Zambrano still needs anger management. Dempster is...well, thank the good Lord he's not the closer! Not that we have a closer...

Wood just walked the leadoff guy--good to have you back, Kerry.

Okay, let's say Wood and Prior are spot-starters again this year. Can the Cubs hang with the Cards? I think the answer is yes. Call me crazy, but I don't see the Cards winning 100 games again. In fact, I don't see them winning 95. Their pitching will be as much a problem as the Cubs hitting will be. I think both teams will win about 90, both will trail in the Wild Card race, and it'll all come down to those two September series! Oh, it's going to be exhilerating!

And the Cubs will lose.

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Have We Found Bobby's Replacement? 

Conventional media wisdom has Ryan Franklin shimmying his way into the rotation for a start or two to replace the injured Bobby Madritsch. Franklin is a Proven Starter, whatever that's worth, and would be an easy choice for Mike Hargrove and Bryan Price. Because of a scheduling quirk that has the Mariners playing a day game Monday with an off day Tuesday, Franklin is probably the only real option for the Mariners.

In Tacoma's opener last night, Raniers starting pitcher Jorge Campillo pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on just three hits with one walk and four strikeouts. There was speculation that Campillo might have broken camp as a part of the Mariners' rotation, and his first start does nothing to dissuade me that he doesn't belong on the big club. Unfortunately, the Mariners need a replacement for Madritsch for Monday's game against Kansas City. Campillo pitched Thursday, which means a Monday start for the Mariners would come on just three days' rest and is probably as a result not going to happen.

Keep an eye on Franklin tonight and tomorrow night. If he pitches either game, he probably won't start Monday. If he manages to stay out of both games, he's probably throwing the opener against Kansas City. Either way, Ryan Franklin pitches, so it's ultimately a lose-lose situation. And if it's not Franklin on Monday, than it's Ron Villone, and nobody needs to see that.

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Well, it's Going to Boost Attendence 

Hands-down the most ironic story of the year: John Rocker has signed on with the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League.

BTW there is no truth to the rumors that batteries will be handed out to the first 5000 fans on opening day.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Ron Fairly Is "Not Entirely" Full of Crap 

...in one regard, that is. A look at James Click's latest article at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) shows that one of the old-timey pieces of baseball wisdom that are Red's specialty might be true.

Click wants to know if a speedy runner on first base actually influences the batter-pitcher outcome. Looking at last season's numbers with a runner on first and with second base unoccupied and available to steal, and divided into baserunner classes ("major threat" (to steal), "minor threat," and "slow as evolution") it turns out that hitters outperformed their seasonal averages by a greater margin with the faster runners on first base than with the slower ones aboard. The difference is not enormous (about .030 OPS), but it is persistent, showing up in each season that Click examined. Says Click:
So the next time you're listening to a ballgame and the announcer claims a hit is the result of a pitcher focusing too much on a basestealer instead of the batter, it's not entirely untrue.

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Weekend Series: Texas Rangers @ Safeco 

Brought to you by Fat Ass Burrito. It always seems like a good idea at the time.


Friday, Aaron Sele vs. Chan Ho Park
Saturday, Jamie Moyer vs. Pedro Astacio
Sunday, Gil Meche vs. Ryan Drese


It looks like the M's can get two out of three at home against the Rangers. I expect Aaron Sele to Coug it on Friday for the lone Texas win, giving up as many home runs to Hank Blaylock as he has opportunities to do so (the upside being an early lead for the Pullman Banditos Yanquis). If Chan Ho Park returns the favor to the Mariner batsmen, which is certainly not unlikely, it's still anyone's game. Jamie and Gil should hold their own against Astacio and Drese, and Mariner fans will rejoice at the Owl and Thistle.

The last season that the Mariners had a record better than 3-3 after six games? You guessed it, 2001.


Rangers Links:

Texas Rangers Blog. Check out the April 6 post about Bo.

Rangers Angst. I'd be all angstful too if my mood was in any way influenced by the day-to-day performance of the Texas Rangers.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mariners Line of the Day: 

Sponsered by Burger King's Tender Crisp Bacon Chedder Ranch. Come and git it!

Matt Thornton, our 2nd (or 3rd) lefty out of the pen:

1/3 IP, 15NP, 4H, 3ER, 81.00 ERA.

Is there a statistical equivalent of Suck-Ass for Pitchers? We could call it SAP, for short.

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Open Invitation to Join the Steaming Pile Fantasy League 

Have you ever wondered how bad a fantasy baseball team you could assemble? Now's you're chance. I've created a league on Yahoo fantasy baseball that will give points for hitters with a sub-.800 OPS and for pitcher with ERA's above four. The scoring is derived from the HACKING MASS system, which rewards not only futility but playing time.

If you're interesting in testing your wits, follow the Yahoo link and sign up in the "Steaming Pile League" using the password "tikeredman". Hope to see you there!

It turns out that you need the league ID # to join, so here 'tis: 315664. That's 315664.

As of midnight Thursday, we've already got seven intrepid participants. Here's their team names and who I think they are:

B Street Valverdes: Me
Geoducks: Means
Intangibles Only!: Pete
Cult of Niehaus: Joe
The New Jerseyans: ???, maybe Daryl
uberhacktasticism +: no freaking idea, so I'll take a stab: David?
Kyrie Eleison: Jeremy, S & B's

I never thought seven people would be up to the challenge, so I'm going to have to rank more City Players.


...and The Optimist is on board. That makes eight. For all the players, that means you need to rank at least 152 crappy players to ensure that you don't end up with Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez on your squad. I've set the league up to begin counting statistics with the games on Wednesday, April 13. The autodraft will take place at my command, which will be no earlier than noon (Pacific, for all the people in red states) Tuesday, and no later than whenever I wake up (my only Tueday/Thursday class begins at 1:25. It's good work if you can get it.)

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Monday, April 04, 2005

All-Time Single-Season 56-Game Hitting Streak Odds 

After his ridiculous 2004 season which was followed by a red-hot 2005 Spring Training, Ichiro has stirred up a lot of recent speculation that he might break Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hit streak record this season. But can we put a number on the actual probability of that happening?

Trent at Lookout Landing has used Ichiro's career batting average and at bats per game to determine that Ichiro's career would have to span over 110 full seasons before a hit streak of 56 consecutive games would be more likely than not to have occurred.

Using a similar approach, I've calculated the probabilities of tying or breaking Dimaggio's record in a single season for every player that has appeared in 56 or more games in a season since 1941. (My methods are explained in the comments for this post; the short version is that number of games played, batting average, and at bats per game are the key factors). Here are the ten seasons in which it was most likely for a 56-game hitting streak or better to have occurred:

1) Ichiro, 2004, 4.05% probability
2) Rod Carew, 1977, 1.84%
3) Ichiro, 2001, 1.12%
4) Darin Erstad, 2000, 1.03%
5) Wade Boggs, 1985, 0.79%
6) Stan Musial, 1948, 0.77%
7) George Brett, 1980, 0.67%
8) Tony Gwynn, 1994, 0.66%
9) Tony Gwynn, 1997, 0.61%
10) Ralph Garr, 1974, 0.58%

.
.
.
.

54) Joe Dimaggio, 1941, 0.13%

I think that it speaks volumes to the difficulty in hitting safely in 56 consecutive games that in the season in which it occurred, it was only 0.13 percent likely to have taken place. It also speaks volumes to Tony Gwynn's 1994 season that despite losing several games to the 1994 players' strike, he still placed in the top ten.

It makes intuitive sense that the 2004 version of Ichiro should be at the top of the list. He established a new record for hits in a season, he played in 161 games, and was among the league leaders in at bats per game. Taking into account every players' probabilities, Dimaggio's record has had a 27.21% probability of being equalled or bettered since it was established in 1941. It seems that there's actually a reasonable chance that someone breaks the unbreakable record sometime in my lifetime. Why not in 2005?

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Opening Day! 

Today's the day! Here are some links for the Mariners' first opponent, the Twins:

Aaron Gleeman's Blog. One of the best baseball websites in the known universe, AG.com is chock full o' Twinkie goodness.

Batgirl. Twins baseball from the lady perspective.

Twins Geek. A geek who loves his Twins.

Will's Minnesota Twins Page. Lest the esoteric title confuse you, this is Will's Minnesota Twins page.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

The first SA and CSPAN leaders for 2005 have been posted to the left.

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Out-Of-Left Field Basketball Prediction Based Solely On Gut Feeling 

Louisville's Francisco Garcia will be the NBA's next version of Ron Artest.

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And the Winner is... 

The first proud recipient of baseball's new "get tough" penalties on steroid use is...

Alex Sanchez, Outfielder, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Quite a monumental upset. Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi had to be considered the heavy favorites in this race. But Sanchez comes out of nowhere (i.e. Tampa) and steals the honor away. Congrats on getting yourself in the history books. Think there will be a special place in the Hall of Fame commemorating the occasion?

Oh, and for his efforts, Sanchez is to be suspended 10 days, pending appeal, and be given a slap on the wrist.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

New WWTWTWS Email Address! 

The link on top of the right sidebar now reflects the change. I will no longer be checking my hotmail account (actually, I haven't for a month or two). If you want to get a hold of myself, Pete, or Joe, we'll all have access to the Gmail address.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

Mariner Management Mocked By Kansas City Royals Fan 

...in The Daily Lancer.

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Name That Box Score (Weekend Edition) 

Brought to you by Cougar Cottage.

If you know what's so special about this Mariners box score, then post a comment. Or don't. It's entirely up to you.


DET A 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 4 1
SEA A 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 x - 4 9 1

BATTING
Detroit Tigers AB R H RBI BB K PO A
Hunter cf 4 0 0 0 0 1 3 0
Reed 2b 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Higginson rf 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 0
Clark 1b 2 0 1 0 2 0 7 0
Fryman 3b 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 4
Hamelin dh 4 0 1 0 0 2 0 0
Pride lf 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
Nieves ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Johnson c 3 0 1 0 0 0 9 1
Cruz ss 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 1
Thompson p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brocail p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Myers p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Miceli p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 30 1 4 1 3 9 24 7

FIELDING -
DP: 1.
E: Johnson (2).

BATTING -
HR: Higginson (8,4th inning off Lowe 0 on, 0 out).
SH: Cruz (6,off Lowe).

BASERUNNING -
CS: Hunter (5,2nd base by Lowe/Wilson).

Seattle Mariners AB R H RBI BB K PO A
Amaral 2b 4 0 2 0 0 0 2 3
Rodriguez ss 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 3
Griffey cf 4 1 1 0 0 3 3 0
E. Martinez dh 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Buhner rf 3 0 0 0 1 2 4 0
Wilson c 3 1 2 2 1 0 9 2
xR. Davis 3b 3 0 1 0 0 2 0 1
Blowers 1b 3 1 1 1 0 1 7 0
Cruz lf 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0
Lowe p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sanders p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Charlton p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ayala p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 31 4 9 4 2 10 27 9
x - reached first on catcher's interference.

FIELDING -
E: R. Davis (12).

BATTING -
2B: Wilson (14,off Thompson).
HR: Wilson (4,7th inning off Thompson 0 on, 2 out); Blowers (2,
8th inning off Thompson 0 on, 0 out); Rodriguez (8,8th inning
off Brocail 0 on, 2 out).

BASERUNNING -
SB: Amaral (10,2nd base off Thompson/Johnson).
CS: Amaral (3,2nd base by Brocail/Johnson).

PITCHING

Detroit Tigers IP H HR R ER BB K
Thompson L(5-4) 7.1 6 2 2 2 0 9
Brocail 0.1 1 1 1 1 0 0
Myers 0 1 0 1 1 0 0
Miceli 0.1 1 0 0 0 2 1
Totals 8.0 9 3 4 4 2 10

Seattle Mariners IP H HR R ER BB K
Lowe 7 3 1 1 1 2 6
Sanders W(2-5) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Charlton 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
Ayala SV(1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Totals 9 4 1 1 1 3 9

Umpires: Jim McKean, John Hirschbeck, Brian O'Nora, Jim Joyce
Time of Game: 2:47 Attendance: 39841


Box score obtained from Retrosheet.

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