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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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April 3, 2008 5:24 AM

Versatility comes through early

Posted by Geoff Baker

I'll bet I'm the only member of the Seattle media to have witnessed Miguel Batista's previous save as a Toronto closer back in September 2005. Not all of Batista's saves back then went as smoothly as his 1-2-3 ninth inning last night. There's a reason he's now a starting pitcher again. But hey, as a backup closer? You won't find much better than Batista. We talked about this versatility back in spring training, when Batista was named the No. 5 starter. Remember, we mentioned how his new role at the back of the rotation would enable Batista to step in to the bullpen from time to time? Last night was one of those.

No, Batista is not the closer. He'll be a starter on Saturday in Baltimore since Wednesday was his throw day. But with Mark Lowe having worked back-to-back nights, getting Batista in there was a no-brainer. I've said it before, if the M's find themselves down an eighth inning setup man come August, as was the case last year, Batista is a very plausible solution.

So, that's one day down in what could be an absence of several weeks for J.J. Putz. Those rib injuries, for anyone who has ever done even minor damage to a rib, the ribcage, or its lining, you know it is excruciating at times. Never mind trying to throw fastballs in the mid-90s. Putz needs to take his time getting back. This will be a huge early season test for the M's. Hey, no one said this would be easy.

So far, though, you've got to love the starting pitching. Carlos Silva told us the Arizona air was what was impacting his grip on the ball and the break on his pitches in spring training. Also told us back when he signed with the M's that he'd been toying with a splitter he could throw to lefthanded hitters. Began using it midway through last season for the Twins. Wasn't at last night's game to ask Silva about it, but he sure seemed to handle the lefty-laden Rangers lineup OK. Seven innings, three hits, one earned run.

Last season, Silva had 12 outings of seven innings or more, the same as Felix Hernandez. This season, he's got one and Hernandez has one. So, that's two earned runs allowed by Seattle starters over the first three outings, spanning 19 innings. Tough to do much better. This is exactly the scenario the club envisioned when it built the rotation over the winter. Keep getting seven innings a night, it takes plenty of heat off a bullpen that now will need as little heat as possible.

Good to see Jose Vidro and Jose Lopez go deep. The M's will need some long balls this year and getting them from two unlikely sources so early is a good omen.

So, the M's take two of three, which is what they had to do against the Texas Rangers. Now comes an interesting test, on the road in a pair of bandboxes in Baltimore and Tampa Bay. The weather won't be as cold as it was here in Seattle. The parks won't be as forgiving and fly balls won't die on the warning track the way they do at Safeco. It should be a very interesting seven days ahead, starting tomorrow. I'll be there for all of them. We'll see whether the starters can keep up this pace (or something close to it) or if the hits start coming now that the hitters won't be squeezing the bats with numb, frozen hands. Makes a difference -- for both teams, too. I expect to see Seattle do some more slugging than we saw the first two games of the Rangers series. By the way, Torii Hunter doesn't have a hit for the Angels yet. You can't judge much in the first series of the season.

Now come the "so-so'' Seattle starters. It wasn't too long ago when Jarrod Washburn (think back to last April and May) and Batista were the guys counted on to give their bullpens a break. Remember Washburn throwing a complete game in Oakland last April? My, how things have changed. Now, as No. 4 and 5 guys, any big starts they give are gravy. This rotation will have to be as good as advertised going forwards. Especially with only an 11-man pitching staff. That decision is about to be tested in a big way. The pen was already shorthanded last night and it really hasn't been forced to pick up a bunch of innings yet, as was the case last year.

I'm sure the M's will cross their fingers and hope no one gets knocked out early these next few nights. The good news, though, is that Cha Seung-Baek has yet to see any action. But the team does need Washburn to turn in one of his better outings tomorrow.

A decent start for Seattle at home. Let's see what happens on the road, take stock, and figure out where things stand just in time for the Angels to come to town in eight days.

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Posted by Paul

6:51 AM, Apr 03, 2008

It's a shame that the M's lost that middle game, but it's in the past now. The most important aspect, particularly early in the season, of Washburn and Batista being #4 and 5 in the rotation is that they are both better than pretty much anyone else's 4 and 5 pitchers. So they have a chance to match up and out-pitch their counterparts in these early games vs. Baltimore. They're also good enough to hang with most other teams' 1,2,3 pitchers on any given night, so that's where the real value lies if they can hit their career averages this year.

That being said, I'd prefer Dickey be brought up for long relief right now and replace Batista in the rotation with Baek. That way, Batista can be our closer for the next month or so. It also lets us see if Dickey is ready for the role and buys some more time until Morrow gets right. Bringing up Cocroran? That makes no sense to me at all, especially in an 11-man bullpen where you can't hide him perpetually.

Posted by BandwagonJumper

7:13 AM, Apr 03, 2008

I would guess Cocroran was brought up because he still has options and that gives some flexiiblity if we need to bring someone else up (probably Morrow in a week or two). The FO is probably still trying to make a deal to send Baek somewhere and once that happens then Dicky will come up.

I'd say for the time being if Batista throws a good outting on Saturday, then he should be used as the closer on his bull pen sessions or if his start happens to get skipped. Otherwise use Lowe as the closer.

Posted by Chuck

7:38 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Don't try to fix what ain't broke. I think McLaren now has the right idea. Batista stays a starter and close by committee.

Posted by Mr. X

7:41 AM, Apr 03, 2008

With all of the "crazy talk" about Lopez in the offseason and during the spring, this team would be 0-3 without him right now. Jose Lopez - 3 hits, 5 RBI, Sexson/Wilkerson - 2 hits, 0 RBI in RBI producing spots in the order. I called it a few days ago. Jose Lopez is a different hitter with runners on, and he always has been. Not perfect, but very reliable. If we had someone else to take the leadoff spot to bump Ichiro down to 2nd in the lineup (where he really belongs), I'd be very comfortable with Lopez hitting 5th. He's not a great hitter, but he delivers.

Oh by the way, our top 3 starters - 19 innings pitched, 2 earned runs.

Posted by seattlelawgirl

7:44 AM, Apr 03, 2008

I have a hard time agreeing that a starter who won as many as Batista last year should be pulled for the closer role this early. Closing by committee makes me nervous, too - it pretty much means we don't have a plan, so we're gonna wing it. But let's see how that works for the next week or so before we start beating the drum for big changes.

On another topic, I was already hearing boos for Richie Sexson last night. The first three-game series wasn't even over yet, and he's certainly not the only player to be hitless so far (see Geoff's comment about Torii Hunter). It really rankles that the fans are so quick to condemn, even though I get where that comes from. But booing the man this early in the season sure isn't going to improve his game!

Posted by UncleWalter

7:48 AM, Apr 03, 2008

I hope that they don't trade Dickey, as he seems as good as other knuckleballers -- which means he could be a good starter for the Mariners for ten more years or so. The Raniers start their season tonight, but Dickey is not starting.

Posted by Mr. X

7:53 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Sexson isn't hitless, but he might as well be.

Posted by Anna11

8:13 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Does "closer by committee" ever work? It seems that teams who try it end up losing in the 9th inning.

People in my section were shouting "just keep the bat on your shoulder Richie -- don't swing!" I think he's up there as one of Bavasi's worst signings. I'm not sure if people are booing him, or booing him to get to Bavasi.

Posted by Adam

8:39 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Actually, Lopez is a pretty poor choice to hit 5 in our lineup.

His career OPS w/RISP: .781.

Meanwhile:

Sexson: .903
Ibanez: .873
Beltre: .794
Wilkerson: .832
Johjima: .792


It's not uncommon that hitters do better w/RISP. To call that a hitter will perform better in such situation isn't really that big of a deal. Just because Lopez does so doesn't mean he's suited to hit in the 5 spot. Especially when better options are already on the team.

Further, he's NOT a clutch hitter. For his career, his OPS with two outs and RISP is .685. His OPS in late and close games, or in game where the score is tied or within a couple of runs, is morbidly low, in the .660 range.

So no, Lopez is not a good option for the 5 spot.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/bsplit.cgi?n1=lopezjo01

Posted by scottM

8:46 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Jose Lopez is an interesting personality. I think he's one who functions best when he's thrust into situations with higher expectations. His break out year was two years ago when he knew he had to prove something at 2B, along with Yuni at SS, or he would be out the door. He was named an All Star.

Last year, the sense of expectation for him was much less, after all he was an All Star, he'd proven himself. To make way for Vidro, he was dropped down in the hitting lineup where there's not as much pressure. Then, of course, the death of his brother didn't help his focus, either.

This year, putting him in the #2 slot seems to be helping him. Ichiro by getting on base, or by being intentionally walked so often, keeps Lopez in the limelight. This, and the high level of scrutiny over last year's lackluster performance have the heat turned on high. If Lopez returns to his 2006 form, we do have to give McLaren credit for how he jump-started him this year by expecting much more.

Different personalities react differently to pressure. Lopez is prospering right now. Unlike Sexson, (thus far this year), Lopez seems to perform best when he knows the expectations are high. Carlos Silva came through last night feeling the pressure, and so did Bedard and Felix. Determination and focus seem to be the key over self-consciousness and doubt. These guys may make bucket loads of money, but it's their humanness that's just as fascinating as the game itself.

Posted by Fg

8:48 AM, Apr 03, 2008

If they keep pitching like this they are going to need a name-and please, please, not the Big Three; Dale Ellis, X-man, and Tom Chambers are the only Seattle Big Three. I thought the Regulators would work i.e. Young Guns.

That was fun. Hope the rest of the year is just as much fun.

Batista is my favorite M-I hope he gets fifteen plus wins and fifteen plus saves and a Kenny G autographed Saxaphone. Good Person, Good Teammate, Talented at his craft and working on his Person-Mama must be proud.

Be well
FG

Posted by Full Count

8:52 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Richie Richie Richie, come out and play. Wow, that poor guy is done, he just cannot hit big league pitching. Comeback player of the year, right...

Posted by scottM

8:54 AM, Apr 03, 2008

My post slipped by yours, Adam. I went to the link you had, but it didn't differentiate between Lopez in 2006 VS 2007. It would be interesting to compare his RISP (i.e., clutch performance) between those two years.

Bottom line is he's off to a great start. I agree, he doesn't make much sense in the #5 hole with his lack of power. The #2 slot has him jumpstarted well, though. Let's hope he stays consistent.

Posted by Adam

9:02 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Scott - you can look at his splits for each year he's been in the bigs. Just look for the link for each year at the top of the page.

In 2006, his OPS w/RISP was .849.
In 2007, it was .633.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

9:04 AM, Apr 03, 2008

"Sunk cost - A cost incurred in the past that will not be affected by any present or future decision. Sunk costs should be ignored in determining whether a new investment is worthwhile."

I heard someone say recently that if Sexson were making a paltry 1million a year, he would have been cut months ago. Its pretty clear that mgmt has kept him around far longer than it should have due to the mistaken belief that, because they're on the hook for so much money, the best option is to "wait and see." This is erroneous thinking however. Sexson's contract is guaranteed no matter what- that money is already spent. If he's not going to hit in clutch situations, then he's imposing additional costs on team, namely in the form of blown games. Do not throw good money after bad. If he is still not performing in 6 weeks, he should get traded. Period.

Posted by Desert Dawg

9:12 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Just wondering if Corcoran was on the 40 man roster. If not, who was let go to make room.

Posted by Donovan

9:16 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Ok, everybody who predicted any of the following, raise your hand:

- Vidro would get the first dinger of the year
- Wilkerson would get the first SB of the year
- Batista would get the 2nd save of the year
- The M's would draw nearly twice as many walks (14) as they would yield runs (8) in the first series of the year

Since you are all honest people, there are no cyberhands up. Going to be lots of surprises to come too. The bar is pretty high for Jerrod in Baltimore, and that's a tough park for a fly ball pitcher. I hope Larry is right about his form coming out of ST.

If you saw any highlights from the Angels' game, you know that we aren't the only ones in the Division with a scrappy team. They took 2 of 3 on the road from a pretty good Twins team. I think it will be an epic race this year.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:33 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Well this is where sabermetrics taints reality. The fact is, Jose Lopez has 2 full seasons in the big leagues, so using career stats is completely skewed. Lopez was a completely different hitter his first few seasons. His career OPS is not indicative of what he will do this year if moved to the 5 hole. If we were looking at a veteran player with 7+ full years in the league Adam would have a point. Especially since Jose looked like he is laying off the outside pitches and is consistently working deep counts, he would make sense at #5. To say we have other players on the team that could do a better job in the 5 hole is a stretch of the truth. Wilkerson, Vidro, Sexson, and even Ibanez are not good 5 hole fits.

Adam stop reading your favorite blog insider that stated Jose Lopez is clueless at the plate and shouldn't even be in the majors much less the minors.

Posted by Lance

9:44 AM, Apr 03, 2008

So, Adam. Does Carlos Silva still "suck"? If so, I'll take his sucking every time.

Miguel should stay as closer until J.J. returns, being given the assurance that when he's back he'll get his #5 starting spot back regardless of how well his fill-in does.

Then, bring up Dickey to start in his spot.

Let's not start breaking in the kids for closing. It's not the time to start fooling around. Green is no closer as indicted by his walking the first guy he faced in the 9th. With a three run lead! And, Lowe is just returning from a very serious injury. Let's not start pushing him too far or he'll undo all the progress he's already made. Morrow would be ideal if he wasn't so messed up right now.

A lineup tip for Mac: put either Vidro or Betancourt into the #3 hole and drop each guy down one notch.

The biggest benefit would be having Sexson and Wilkerson is spots where they can do less damage. Right now our Murderers Row is looking more like Skid Row. And, that's not Adrian's fault.

Posted by Adam

9:58 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Resin, Lance - I'm sure you guys understand the concept of a small sample size, right? Heaven forbid we make any assumptions based on three games.

Resin - I am having trouble understanding how you try to differentiate Lopez now from his "first few seasons," since, as you point out, he's only had two full seasons. In 2004 and 2005, he had about 200 ABs each year. Perhaps your ambiguity is intended, but I'd appreciate you explain how Lopez is a different hitter than he was in his first few seasons since, as you point out, he is starting only his third full season.

Lopez's career stats are by no means misleading. It's taking into account his four most recent seasons to evaluate his performance. It's no different than any analysis we'd make re: Sexson or Ibanez. We'd look at the most recent seasons.

If you really want to nitpick, and just use his most recent year, you get to explain how Lopez's .633 OPS w/RISP isn't relevant. Or we can open it up and look at his past 1500 ABs or so. Personally, I think that paints a more accurate pitcher. Once we start trying to use THREE GAMES to evaluate a guy and just throw out his actual performance over an extended period of time, you might have a point.

And further, if you want to argue that Lopez is a better option than Wilkerson, Ibanez, Sexson, etc., give us a reason. Just don't say so. If you have a good explanation of why Lopez will be a good fit for the 5 hole based on THREE GAMES, please share.

Finally, I quoted to you what the ML SCOUT said to Churchill on prospectinsider.com. It wasn't Churchill's statement, it was the scout's. You never refuted that. Get over yourself.

Lance - Yes, I'll take that from Silva everytime, even though it was a departure from what he usually throws. I still don't think he's very good, and one game isn't going to change my opinion (I honestly can't remember if I said he sucked). But it was a good win, no doubt.

Posted by Lance

10:00 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Lopez is fine just where he's at, people!

First off his skills scream number #2 hitter. He's the best bunter on the team and has excellent bat control, great for pulling AND hitting to the opposite field.

He's not going to ever be a high slugging pct. guy so let's not try to make him something he's not. If he learns to be more selective at the plate, as he is, gives Ichiro a chance to steal a base and helps set the table for your sluggers that's what you want from him.

Still. he can give you an occasional blast. That's especially nice when the other team's starter hasn't yet gotten into his groove. Nothing like a 1-0 or 2-0 lead after two batters. But, I'd be surprised if he hits more than 15 home runs in any season. That's not what he is. And, he shouldn't have to try to be that.

But, putting him #5 is the Peter Principle in action. Two years ago Jose was our #2 hitter and he made the All-Star team. Later he was moved to #3, changed his entire approach, tried to hit for more power and flopped.

Leave the kid where he's at. He's not Adrian Beltre so get over that kind of thinking. He's as much suited for hitting #5 as Beltre is hitting #2. Both are bad ideas.

Posted by Lance

10:08 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Adam, actually you didn't say he "sucked". You said he "sucks". It was just a few days before we signed him and I suggested he'd be a good fit for the Mariners.

Yes, it's a small sample size, and I understand the concept of small sample sizes. But, gotta have a little fun with you. And, rest assured, it won't be the last time I'm going to ask you that question.

Posted by ABCajones (formerly "FireBavasi"

10:10 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Lance,
You're right that it is not Beltre's fault. It seems, as a minimal move you at least move Beltre up to the 4 slot and put Morse/Wilkerson in the 5 slot (since I am still hoping Mac was just blowing smoke when he said Morse would be playing and not sitting which is all he has done so far). Then I I would probably go Joh six, Vidro 7, and Sexson eight. But Mac would probably think that is too much of a blow to Big Sexie's ego (which seems pretty darn fragile). So at least go with Betlre at 4, Morse Wilkerson at 5 and Sex at 6. That also keeps a R/L balance. It just sucks to see Sexson continue to come up in what should be productive circumstances and show nothing. I would have much rather seen Beltre up with the bases loaded and one out than Richie.

Posted by ABCajones (formerly "FireBavasi"

10:13 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Actually in my last post, I meant to say I hope that Mac was "not" just blowing smoke!

Posted by Lance

10:20 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Any lineup that has Sexson and Wilkerson hitting back-to-back is lunacy. You need at least one guy in between them to give you a shot at scoring SOME runs. If McGwire/Canseco were the Bash Brothers Sexson/Wilkerson are the Whiff Brothers.

And, there is absolutely no way the M's are going to pay a guy $14 mil. to hit #8. Ain't gonna happen.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:35 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Lance - Just like there's no way they'd pay a guy $11 million to be a #3 starter? :)

ABCajones - You beat me to it, if things fall over on this road trip I'd like to see the lineup you describe. Lets you throw in a pinch runner for Sexy in the late innings on the off chance he hits or walks, to have someone speedy in front of the off-to-a-great-start Yuni.

Donovan - Yeah, that was a weird one. Even Turbo himself sounded stunned by his homerun, in the post-game interview. :)

Posted by Paul

10:35 AM, Apr 03, 2008

I don't want to make a big deal of it Lance, but I remembered this from Geoff and found it easily when I read that you think Lopez is the best bunter on the team, "Next, in an interesting series of clips, you'll see Lopez working on his bunting. He does not have an easy time of it. "That was practice!'' he says after missing a couple. "Now, we talk.''

In one series, Lopez goes 0-for-5 attempting to lay some bunts down to the left side of the plate. Phillips goes over to talk to him afterwards."

That's from Geoff's Feb 24th blog entry.

I don't know about Lopez as a bunter. He's laid down a few nice onces over the past few years, and I agree that his bat control is among the best on the team. But there are 3 or 4 bunters that I think of before Lopez...Ichiro being the obvious, followed by Yuni and Burke in my mind. Bloomquist has been decent, and the ever-popular Cairo has to be good at something, right?

Overall though, I loved Lopez in '06 when he hit 2nd. I'm glad he's earned it back.

Posted by Donovan

10:45 AM, Apr 03, 2008

I have a question for you guys about some of the comments that keep getting recycled about Sexson. Not loaded, just an honest question. Do you really think Bavasi is telling Mac how to set his batting order? That would surprise me. This whole business about the M's not paying $14 million for an 8-slot hitter is just growsing. The FO isn't filling out the lineup card, and Mac isn't paying Richie anything. Look, the FO has no emotional attachment to Richie at all. They tried like hell to trade him over the winter, but there were no takers - nothing. He is untradable. The $14 million is gone, and it ain't coming back in any form, and they know that. The only question about Richie is what do you do with him, since you are stuck with him. The question is whether he can up his production this year to something more like his career numbers and less like last year. I think Mac (bless his heart) honestly believes Richie can. I think Richie believes he can. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but I don't see where money factors in at all. They didn't make him the cleanup hitter because of his salary. They paid him the salary because they thought he was a cleanup hitter. I think they are honestly hoping he still can be. It wouldn't be the first time a guy resurrected his abilities in his walk year.

The point is that there are no money questions involved with Richie, only performance questions. Mac just wants some hitting power, and Richie allegedly has some. As for Bavasi, I think if Richie fails to improve this year, he'll cut him loose without hesitation. He's never been shy about doing that. The only question is when that tipping point is reached. Obviously, it isn't on Day 3 of the season. That would truly be stupid. If the end comes for Richie, I expect it to be very sudden, but that decision is at least several weeks off. To start him on opening day, then bench him the first two weeks of April would be highly irrational. Once they made him the starter, they were committed to April. That was arguably poor judgment, but to change course now would make no sense at all.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

10:50 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Adam-Let me clarify since you don't seem to understand my point. I agreed with the suggestion that Lopez would be a good #5 hole hitter based on his new approach to the pate this year, yes based on three games and things I saw this spring like working the count and driving the ball to right/center field instead of slapping it.

Prior to what we have seen out of Lopez, he chases balls away and tries pulling obvious balls on the inside plate, or would watch the third strike down the middle of the plate on a full count. The first two years Jose was swinging at nearly the first or second pitch and grounding out consistently. So no, using his career OPS is invalid if Lopez on the cusp of being the great hitter the franchise believes he can be.

If Lopez isn't just a mirage right now, and he continues to work the count and lay off the outside pitch, we have an impact hitter in Jose Lopez that in no way the same Lopez from 2004-2007. So it's complete nonsense to use career OPS based primarily on a hitter's developmental years and predict Jose will repeat those numbers this year in the #5 hole or with RISP.

Posted by Adam

10:58 AM, Apr 03, 2008

So it's complete nonsense to use career OPS based primarily on a hitter's developmental years and predict Jose will repeat those numbers this year in the #5 hole or with RISP.


Oh. But it's not complete nonsense to assume that what you think you've seen from THREE GAMES plus spring training will translate into Lopez being a good #5 hitter?

Gotcha...

Posted by Adam

11:02 AM, Apr 03, 2008

And just so we are clear:

Lopez has hit ONE ball hard so far, and it was on a fat 3-2 86 mph fastball up in the zone. He can hit that pitch; he's done it before.

And he has yet to hit the ball the other way with any semblance of authority.

Let's not get overly excited here, folks.

Posted by PRchef

11:23 AM, Apr 03, 2008

I seem to remember Lopez being good at the #2 spot and the opposite anywhere else. Can anyone confirm that?

FYI, last year, he not only lost his brother back home, shortly after, he lost a friend in the Seattle area who was a father figure to him. It was very rough.

He looks much more focused this year. I think it will be a breakthrough year for him, but I agree, he should stay in the #2 spot.

Posted by Lance

11:25 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Paul, are you really basing JLo's bunting ability on a February 24th practice video? I can't believe that. I stand by what I said. He's the best bunter on the team. I don't include Ichiro because he does it so infrequently. I don't think his heart is really in it. Anymore than his heart is into working a pitcher into a tough count. Which he'd probably be great at if he wanted to be. He just doesn't want to be.

Watch Lopez during the year in bunting situations. He won't be perfect, but he's pretty darn good.

Donovan, on relating Sexson hitting 8th to his salary, I was pretty much being flippant.

However, based on history and reputation there's no way Wilkerson will ever hit ahead of Sexson, and no way they're hitting 8 and 9.

I don't think Bavasi is pulling any lineup strings. I'm confident Mac has full reign on all managerial decisions. Can't believe Mac would tolerate anything less.

But, I'm sure he's hoping Sexson will get it together. No sign he will, however. Richie's doing the same dumb stuff he did last season. Let's just hope Mac doesn't stay with him as long as Hargrove did last year. But he probably will.

Posted by Donovan

11:38 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Lance - Yeah, I'm with you. People keep commenting about Richie's salary like it has some relevance to the situation though. Apart from the fact that it is obscene, the only relevant thing about his salary is that it makes him untradeable. Therefore, he's here for the duration. If we had a proven power guy to step in, then you could sit him, but why keep him on the roster at all then? His makeup is entirely wrong for a bench hitter. That's the thing about Richie - either he is on the team to drive in runs or he shouldn't be on the team. Nothing about him fits an 8 or 9 hole hitter, let alone a PH. What they have to do is try to get him driving runs in (which he HAS done in the past), and that means playing him. If that fails, you have to move him aside. I don't see the point of moving him down in the order.

Of course, the true Jamesians in the crowd should chime in at this point that batting order is irrelevant.

Posted by ajdaddy

11:39 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Hey Geoff, stop bringing up that Toronto crap, ok? It's not relevant! :-) Funny how things work out, isn't it? The thing I admire about Batista is that he is a pitcher, period. Very professional, very fit, can take any role because he isn't a starter, or a long man, or a closer, just a pitcher. And that's a good thing to be. Almost a bit of a throwback, in some ways.

Posted by eastcoast

11:40 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Three things -
#1 - The Batista thing caught me by surprise last night. But after having thought about it, I wonder if Batista being part of the bullpen was in the plans all along and part of the reason Mac went with an 11 man pitching staff. It would be interesting to hear his Macs comments on that.

#2 - I'm really enjoying the "everyone steals" attitude on the basepaths. Some of the decisions/timing is questionable, but overall I like it. It's also really nice to see how fired up Silva and Felix were. This team could use a little emotion from its leaders.

#3 - For all the anti-boo Sexson crowd.. cut the crap! This is not the third game of the yr, it's #165. An n=165 is not a small sample size. I want to see Richie succeed just as much as any other M's fan - but it's not going to happen. It's an absolute joke that he is still batting middle of the lineup day-in and day-out. $14 mill or not, if this team is serious about contending, they will have to cut ties with him at some point and make a serious upgrade.

Posted by Paul

11:41 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Holy cow, Lance. I used the blog entry to back up an impression that I had, not the other way around. I just remembered reading that last month and it stuck in my head. It's already been my impression that Lopez is an average bunter. I certainly don't think he's one of the worst on the team, I just think it's a stretch to say he's the best. There's nothing he's done in 4 years that suggests to me that he's great at it. If he's laid down some good bunts, it's because he's been asked to do it a lot as an average hitter, not because he's great at it.

Posted by ABCajones

11:54 AM, Apr 03, 2008

Here is my rationale for putting Richie farther down the line-up (and I don't think I mentioned anything about salary, though I agree that its relevance is we can't trade him.):
1. They are committed to giving him a chance to turn it around. He can't do that without at-bats.
2. They need to send a message that it is about performance now and not what you did 2 or 3 years ago.
3. He currently is not helping in the 4 hole (though admittedly a small size this year; though I like eastcoast's point that this is really n 165).
4. Get a productive hitter there now. AB is showing solid at-bats consistently; even his outs have been good at-bats, which can't be said of Sexson.

Posted by gus stills

12:04 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Is anyone else on here impressed with the approach Richie is taking at the plate? Like Lopez, he's working the count a lot better than I remember last year. I was down on him last year like everyone else, but last year was last year. He looks healthy--I think he's going to have a solid year. Of course, being the hometown guy getting slaughtered by the fans probably isn't helping him...And if it comes to us trading him at some point, I would think that would mean his value would have increased, meaning he would be doing better....so what's the point? Give him a few more games...

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

12:13 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Oh. But it's not complete nonsense to assume that what you think you've seen from THREE GAMES plus spring training will translate into Lopez being a good #5 hitter?

Gotcha...

That's why in my post I stated that if this isn't a MIRAGE, he will succeed. But you chose to ignore that so you can take a shot at some one that completely debunked your logic in using Lopez's current career OPS as an indicator of how Lopez would perform in 2008. Even PECOTA or other projection systems you saberheads like to simulate and play with wouldn't forecast a young players success based on his early career OPS. Nice try.

The only thing you "Got" is a tremendous ego, Adam.

Posted by redemption song

12:19 PM, Apr 03, 2008

man if we had a Hank Blalock or Travis Hafner in our lineup, we'd be unstoppable!! Move Blalock to 1st. This Sexson character is just not cutting it.

Anyone curious why attendance at Safeco tanked after Opening Day? I mean, come on people, come out and support the M's (and hang up your phone!!)

Posted by joe

12:21 PM, Apr 03, 2008

I can only see one problem with keeping Batista as the closer until Putz returns.
.
How the hell are the hometown fans gonna get pumped up for the 9th, when Batista comes on the field to Kenny G "bumpin" on the PA?
.
; )

Posted by wabubba

12:24 PM, Apr 03, 2008

I sure am glad that McLaren publicly committed himself to playing Morse right away before his bat had a chance to cool down. Have to admit that he fooled me (and possibly himself?).

With Wilkerson and Sexson (especially Sexson) struggling...Mike Morse has 0 ABs and 0 plate appearances.

The dude is our future 1B (at least for the remainder of this year), whenever McLaren/Bavasi can find a pair between them.

Posted by Adam

12:27 PM, Apr 03, 2008

That's why in my post I stated that if this isn't a MIRAGE, he will succeed. But you chose to ignore that so you can take a shot at some one that completely debunked your logic in using Lopez's current career OPS as an indicator of how Lopez would perform in 2008. Even PECOTA or other projection systems you saberheads like to simulate and play with wouldn't forecast a young players success based on his early career OPS. Nice try.

You are completely missing the point. Of course if Lopez keeps slugging .636 he'd be a great candidate for the 5 spot. My point is simple: such an argument is superfluous, because we can't conclude a single thing about Lopez based on three games. It's like saying that Carlos Silva is our best pitcher based on what he did last night. There's no point in even making the statement. So sure, if Lopez produces like he has in three games, he'd be a good 5 hitter. What I'm saying is that there is no point in even thinking it.

That's not logic, and it doesn't debunk anything I said. What you are arguing is that IF Lopez continues to hit like he has in three games, he'd be good for the 5 spot. Not sure how that debunks the fact that, over his career, Lopez's OPS w/RISP is worse than at least five other hitters in this lineup.

If we use your logic, I could argue that we make Silva our #1 starter because, IF he pitches like he did last night, and IF Bedard and Felix pitch like they did, Silva is our best pitcher. It's completely ridiculous. You didn't debunk anything. Ifs don't count.

And as for forecasting future success on a player's early years: LOL. Go ask the Mets why they gave extensions to Reyes and Wright before they hit arbitration. Or the Indians and Sizemore. Or the Rockies and Tulowitzki. Teams do this on a regular basis when evaluating their players and other teams' players. If you think teams ignore players' production in their early years, you are really missing it.

If teams don't look at a player's numbers early in his career, why does a super-prospect like Ruben Rivera not make it? I mean, it's ridiculous to judge him on his early stats, right? So he should have a job, right?

Posted by Joof

12:49 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Man, if only there was some guy out there we could sign to a contract who would be better then Ibanez in left field, could take a walk, and had hit one hell of a lot of home runs in his career. Like, over 700 of them. Man, that'd be nice if there was some guy just sitting at home waiting for someone to call to offer him a job...

Posted by Lance

12:53 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Gus, I can't really disagree with you more. Sexson's approach hasn't been good at all. Tuesday night in the 8th, with the bases loaded, he swung and missed at TWO pitches low and quite outside, including what should have been ball four, bringing in a go-ahead run. The Whiff Brothers killed that rally and, subsequently, the game. J.J. should had more margin for error than he did.

Last night was just more of the same.

What's the point taking pitches when in the end one just gives away the ABs anyway. Until he stops trying to pull pitches low and eight inches off the strikezone it's just going to be more of the same. And, don't think other teams don't know.

Word on Sexson. Don't throw him a strike. You don't need to. He'll get himself out.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

1:03 PM, Apr 03, 2008

In response to the argument that it’s not Sexson’s salary that has led the team to bat him 4th, but the earnest belief that he’s the right man for the job, I both agree and disagree.

I think its clear that money is at least partly relevant to the team’s decision to bat Sexson 4th. It comes down to pride: if Richie gets benched or demoted, then that is admitting what everyone knows, that they made a terrible decision to pay the guy so much. Furthermore, Mac invariably feels pressure from the FO to give one of the team’s marquee offensive players as many chances as possible—in fact more chances than almost anyone else would have. For example, if they brought up a Minor Leaguer who was supposed to be the next Griffey, who posted unbelievable numbers in AAA, but who absolutely sucked in the majors, they wouldn’t give him the same leash they’ve given Richie. The guy would probably have a couple of months, and I’m guessing he’d be hitting 8th or 9th, not 4th. Its clear to me that the prior investment the FO has made in Sexson—in terms of money, promotions, years with the club—is being used to justify giving the guy chance after chance, even as he fails to perform.

That being said, I do agree that Mac believes that Richie is capable of having a break out year, and actually earn his spot batting 4th. In this sense, its not just money that’s driving the decision. But I do believe that anyone else in this situation would have been pulled sometime last year.

Posted by Simon

1:04 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Redemption song - Attendance for this opening series averaged almost exactly the same as last year, and followed the same pattern: full for Opening Day and then half empty for the next 2 games. I don't know if we will ever get back to the attendances seen in 01 and 02, but I'm pretty sure if the team keeps winning, people will come.

Got my tickets for the series against the Angels!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

1:13 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Adam, if you don't comprehend that many young prospects often take time to develop into good MLB hitters during their first few seasons, then you are misinformed. Often players that succeed early are locked up for long contracts. It's economics, and has nothing to with a players career OPS at that point. I could also point out several players that have started out looking like All-Stars and have become below league average players.

This brings up tons of variables in real life baseball that the typical saberhead like Adam doesn't understand. For stratomatic fans, it's all black and white and no gray areas. For every young Tulowitski there's several examples of other good players that started out the gate slowly then developed into studs.


It's common sense for reasonable people to believe that if Lopez turns it around this year early on you shouldn't use his 2004-2007 numbers as a precursor of what he'll do with RISP. You aren't going to change my mind Adam on this one.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

1:22 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Lance,

Beltre should be hitting 3rd, Ibanez 4th and Sexson (god forbid we keep trotting him out there!) maybe 7th?

I could see Betancourt hitting 5th. Kenji could most likely handle that spot as well. Yuni shouldn't hit 3rd and neither should Turbo.

Posted by Brazilian Fan

1:33 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Man.. I hate this day-offs.. I already miss my Mariners..

Posted by scrapiron

1:43 PM, Apr 03, 2008

I've posted the numbers before, I'm not going to do it again. SEXSON HAS NEVER HIT WELL IN APRIL! So even if this is indeed his "comeback player of the year" season, he still won't hit well this month. If he needs his at bats in April to get going in May and June, fine, but how would it hurt to drop him down in the lineup until he earns the cleanup role. This is going to hurt the team if they keep bringing him up at cleanup.

Posted by Brazilian Fan

1:45 PM, Apr 03, 2008

It's not easy to be a mariner fan here in Brazil. The games starts 11 PM and usually ends 2 AM. Thank God they have this trips to the east cost. Now I can sleep properly : )

Damn.. The Angels won again..

Posted by fastrs4

1:50 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Anyone remember that 1st Sexson AB in the first game against Padilla. Padilla struck him out on 3 straight 95mph fastballs. Sexson wasn't even close to catching up with any of them. That tells all for me. You have to wonder if subconsciously he is realizing he's done, even if he keeps talking like he's OK.

Posted by Nat

2:00 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Scrapiron- who's arguing with you that Richie shouldn't be hitting cleanup?

Posted by Nick in pdx

2:29 PM, Apr 03, 2008

"But hey, as a backup closer? You won't find much better than Batista."

Do you have any reason for making this statement other than Batista used to be someone's 9th inning relief pitcher?

Posted by Adam

2:57 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Resin - The only reason those teams signed their young stars was economics?? Huh??

Tulowitzki got a six-year, $30 million extension.

Wright got $55 million over six years.

Sizemore got $23.45 million over six years.

Why would they commit that money to those players unless they felt they would produce? Don't you think they looked at those players' numbers and decided it was worth the investment? Or did they just sign the contracts without even considering the players' stats?

There's a reason why stars like Sizemore, Wright, and Tulo get these deals, while Lopez (four years for $6 million) does not: their production is such that teams want to keep them. Of course early career numbers are relevant.

Sure, there are late bloomers. (THREE GAMES should not make anyone a believer that any player is ready to break out) Sure there are players who start their careers hot and then flounder. But the exception doesn't disprove the rule. Just because other players have started their careers slowly doesn't mean Lopez, or anyone else, is a candidate for a breakout.

It's common sense for reasonable people to believe that if Lopez turns it around this year early on you shouldn't use his 2004-2007 numbers as a precursor of what he'll do with RISP. You aren't going to change my mind Adam on this one.

I disagree. The last two seasons, Lopez has started out reasonably well, only to regress. His career OPS is about 140 points lower in the second half. In 2006, he had a .770 OPS in the first half, and a .658 OPS in the second half. In 2007, it was .736 and .519.

So no, it would not be "common sense" for a "reasonable" person to believe that any "early" surge by Lopez means his 2004-2007 numbers are completely and absolutely useless. Quite the opposite. Any early-season surge by Lopez should rightly met with skepticism.

Unless you can provide any evidence that the Lopez of 2008 is a completely different hitter than he has been up to this point in his career, you really have no claim. And your argument had better be pretty creative, because you've got one spring and THREE regular season games with which to make your claim.

Posted by scrapiron

3:08 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Nat - John McLaren is.

Posted by wabubba

3:17 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Nick in pdx,

Batista was a little more than "somebody's 9th inning relief pitcher". He had 30+ saves as a closer in a season. Besides Putz he is are only proven commodity as a closer. Use him in that role to prevent confusion among the other relievers as to what their role is for the next 2-3 weeks.

Posted by Mike

3:19 PM, Apr 03, 2008

"This brings up tons of variables in real life baseball that the typical saberhead like Adam doesn't understand. For stratomatic fans, it's all black and white and no gray areas."

Two things---Resin, EVERYONE uses statistics to determine who will be a player or not and who to draft and who to give a contract, whether the statistics be high school, college, minor league or major league. To argue otherwise is ludicrous.

But to your more insulting point above, let's give that a rest. Most people smart enough to understand that there might be a better way to assess performance are also smart enough to know that human factors are important too. This whole "stat-heads think players are robots" stuff is a fallacy.

Posted by GeoW

3:38 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Here's something more to worry about. The weather forecast for Baltimore does not look good. It calls for thunder storms on Friday and Saturday, cloudy with chance of rain for Sunday and Monday, and high temperatures only in the 50's. It's the M's only trip to Baltimore this year. Doesn't take much to remember the season-long impact of the games the M's lost to weather in Cleveland last year. And, if Bedard's start is pushed back to Monday, it could effect how the pitching lines up against the Angels the next weekend.

Posted by Nat

3:43 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Scrapiron, uh, yeah, that would be true and that = banging your head against the wall. I'll be very pleasantly surprised, however, to be wrong, i.e., to see him move Richie down in the order.

Posted by Nat

4:04 PM, Apr 03, 2008

GeoW, I just looked at the Baltimore Sun's forecast and it says RAIN Fri, RAIN SHOWERS Sat, and Sun CLEAR. Not arguing with you per se but different forecasts call it differently. To me, rain showers means you might play a game between rain delays. ??? The game the O's were scheduled to play today was canceled due to rain though.

Posted by Nat

4:17 PM, Apr 03, 2008

BTW, there's an excellent article on Bedard in The Baltimore Sun. He actually has a few words for the reporter!

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-bedard0403,0,7989630.story

Since when did Roy Corcoran become a Mariner spokesperson though? LOL

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

4:23 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Two things---Resin, EVERYONE uses statistics to determine who will be a player or not and who to draft and who to give a contract, whether the statistics be high school, college, minor league or major league. To argue otherwise is ludicrous.

I never argued that. Go re-read my posts Mike.

But to your more insulting point above, let's give that a rest.

As much as you feel entitled and obligated to respond every time I remotely criticize extreme metric opinions here. I have right to my opinion that is heavily based on scouting.

Adam-We'll just have to see how Lopez does, there's nothing here to argue about since we both disagree. If Lopez is still working full counts and laying off the outside pitch and still raking in August, I'll ask you if Lopez should be moved down to the #8 hole since his career OPS from 2004-2007 with RISP indicates he's a poor hitter. lol.

Posted by Alex

4:48 PM, Apr 03, 2008

I don't see why their is no interest from Seattle in Juan Pierre. He could hit second and his line drive hitting would be solid for Safeco. They could do away with the logjam of outfielders and bring Dickey into the bullpen. Just a thought!

Posted by Adam

5:15 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Adam-We'll just have to see how Lopez does, there's nothing here to argue about since we both disagree. If Lopez is still working full counts and laying off the outside pitch and still raking in August, I'll ask you if Lopez should be moved down to the #8 hole since his career OPS from 2004-2007 with RISP indicates he's a poor hitter. lol.

Not sure if you are being flippant, but of course five months of production would convince me that Lopez had begun to improve as a hitter. You'll just have to excuse me if spring training and three regular season games fail to do the trick.

Posted by Babu

5:43 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Um, Geoff, don't count on the weather being that much better in Baltimore. Tonight's Orioles game has been postponed by rain, and the temperature this morning was in the low 30s.

I'll be waving at you in the press box ... do try some of the Maryland microbrews.

Posted by Faceplant

5:51 PM, Apr 03, 2008

"I called it a few days ago. Jose Lopez is a different hitter with runners on, and he always has been. Not perfect, but very reliable. If we had someone else to take the leadoff spot to bump Ichiro down to 2nd in the lineup (where he really belongs), I'd be very comfortable with Lopez hitting 5th. He's not a great hitter, but he delivers."

If he does he certainly didn't show it last year. .708 OPS with runners on, and a dismal .633 OPS with runners in scoring position. show me a team that sticks a .633 OPS in the 5 hole and I'll show you a team that's going nowhere.

And I'm not knocking Lopez. The first three games he's shown amazing progress at working the count, and being patient. Not only that but he when he does get a pitch in the zone he's attacking it instead of taking defensive swings at hittable balls. Lopez looks like a completely different hitter so far this year. Let's hope he keeps it up.

Resin,

"Especially since Jose looked like he is laying off the outside pitches and is consistently working deep counts, he would make sense at #5."

And if Willie Bloomquist could actually hit, he would be a good 5 hole fit. Look, I'm a Lopez fan. I've been telling people to go easy on him. But it's going to take more than three games for me to believe he's actually turned a corner. Not when we've already been here before with him.

Lance,

"So, Adam. Does Carlos Silva still "suck"? If so, I'll take his sucking every time."

Isn't it amazing how one good game makes people willingly forget about an entire career of mediocrity. I don't think many people think Silva sucks. They just don't think he's as good as the Mariners apparently do.

"Morrow would be ideal if he wasn't so messed up right now."

So Green would be a terrible closer because he walks to many people, but Morrow would be ideal despite the fact that he had the fourth highest walk rate in baseball among relievers who pitched over 30 innings.

"First off his skills scream number #2 hitter. He's the best bunter on the team and has excellent bat control, great for pulling AND hitting to the opposite field."

What Lopez have you been watching? Lopez is not skilled at bunting. And with the current lineup construction it's idiocy to have him bunt over a runner. We are going to see this a lot this year. Lopez bunts the runner to second, Ibanez intentionally walked, Sexson strikes out swinging.

Resin,

"That's why in my post I stated that if this isn't a MIRAGE, he will succeed. But you chose to ignore that so you can take a shot at some one that completely debunked your logic in using Lopez's current career OPS as an indicator of how Lopez would perform in 2008."

Right, his logic is flawed because he's using Lopez' actual previous results. Your logic is solid because you are... consulting a magic lamp? Would Lopez be a good five hole hitter if he kept hitting well all year? Yeah. So would Vidro if he hit HR's every other day. Adam's at least attempting to base his opinion on actual results, instead of just taking stabs in the dark.

"He's not going to ever be a high slugging pct. guy so let's not try to make him something he's not."

Have you followed Lopez career at all? His power as a middle infielder is what made him a top prospect. The reason he isn't very good at this level so far is precisely because that power that he displayed all through the minors has not showed up in the majors.

Posted by Faceplant

5:52 PM, Apr 03, 2008

"As much as you feel entitled and obligated to respond every time I remotely criticize extreme metric opinions here."


That's pretty much all you do.

Posted by Faceplant

5:55 PM, Apr 03, 2008

"This brings up tons of variables in real life baseball that the typical saberhead like Adam doesn't understand. For stratomatic fans, it's all black and white and no gray areas."

Of course that isn't true at all. You'd know that if you actually read what most of the prominent sabermetricians have to say before you insulted them.

Did a stathead run over your dog or something? I've never seen someone so devoted to the cause of denigrating the evil statheads every chance they get.

Posted by Mr. X

6:08 PM, Apr 03, 2008

The same person who is using "career ops" numbers for a 24 year old is the same person who used situational lefty innings pitched to try to argue against a "tired bullpen" theory. It's the same person who tried to argue that Ichiro was moved to centerfield by the team because Reed was injured, even though everyone in Seattle (or those who aren't who follow the team) knows that isn't the case.

Jose Lopez is the only player on the team who has more base hits of every kind with runners on than he does with the bases empty. He excels with men on base. It's very "Adam-like" to cherrypick the OPS stat, when you know that Lopez hasn't been a high OBP guy in his early career. And Risp, as if there are always runners in scoring position when the 5th spot comes up. Bizarre.

We can all agree that Lopez has had his struggles so far in his "career", and that he really isn't a power hitter (so far), which makes the following numbers even more impressive.

With men on base, Lopez has a higher slugging percentage (.455) than Adrian Beltre (.448), Betancourt (.402) and Kenji Johjima (.449), and is tied with Brad Wilkerson. Sexson's is higher, but we have "2008 Sexson" on our team. Not the same guy. Ibanez also has higher numbers, but I'll be honest with everyone since Adam hasn't been. Raul Ibanez will not bat 5th regularly on this team for several reasons. So he really isn't a candidate for the spot.

With men on and 2 outs, Lopez also has a higher slugging percentage (.415) than Beltre (.414), Johjima (.397), Betancourt (.384) and Wilkerson (.377). Again, Sexson and Ibanez aren't candidates.

With a runner on 2nd, Lopez has a higher slugging % than Beltre, Betancourt, and Johjima. With runners on 1st and 2nd, it's higher than Wilkerson, Betancourt, and Johjima.

Oh, and I know that batting average is not to be spoken of, but Lopez has a higher average with runners on than Sexson, Beltre, Wilkerson, Johjima, and is tied with Ibanez at .298. So he doesn't draw walks with men on, and just join them on base and wait for someone else to drive them in. That can be forgiven. Jose Lopez needs to be in a spot in the order where he can produce runs.

Again those are the "career" numbers of a 24 year old who has struggled more than he has excelled. Putting him in a spot to succeed plus the added confidence would be good for everyone involved.

Posted by oregongal

6:10 PM, Apr 03, 2008

There's a new (last month or so) website run to blend, gasp, scouting and numbers. And so far the universe hasn't exploded.
http://saberscouting.com/

This is how they introduce themselves:

"As indicated by the title, we would like this to be a place where sabermetrics and traditional scouting are friends and work together like the Justice League, with less spandex. Or in less comedic terms, “a progressive approach to the age-old art.” Right now, we’re two guys: Frankie and Kiley. Frankie has scouted for an MLB club for a few years and Kiley has worked in the scouting (and other) departments for an MLB club for a few years while doing his own reports all along. We were both Moneyball nerds before we were scouts and when our playing careers ended after high school, we turned to explaining the game. We aim to use scouting, statistics, video, opinion, and the opinions of others we know in the game to bring a balanced view of talent evaluation. "

They're still kind of getting started, but it's worth a look, whatever your focus is.

Posted by Full Count

6:18 PM, Apr 03, 2008

G. Baker, I also think it was a decent start but, I was not overly impressed due to the hype I bought into. I know its a long season and things have a tendency to work out, yet I still can't help being completely unsure of who will be racking up the RBI and HR's consistently, who will the hitter that the opposing team fears when the come to bat? There is a very critical decision to be made and it will be sooner than later, I hope, who will replace Sexson. I don't believe that player exists is in the Mariner system.

Posted by Mr. X

6:19 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Oh by the way, Lopez has the 3rd highest slugging % with RISP on the team, behind Ibanez and Sexson. (Only looked at starters)

Posted by Ronnie

7:16 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Why not Sammy Soso for RF? He was a clutch last year and I love that hop skip and a jump when he hits a home run. We need that enthusiasm with Guillen gone.

Posted by Zach C

7:38 PM, Apr 03, 2008

give 'em all the money he wants!

"There are signs that Ryan Howard wants an unprecedented contract - he won't be using Miguel Cabrera as his model. A trade before he reaches free agency (after the 2010 season) seems likely"

howz that for an upgrade at 1B...

Posted by Adam

7:55 PM, Apr 03, 2008

X - Talk about dishonesty and cherrypicking.

Please, explain why you decided to choose slugging %, rather than OPS, to make your point. I'm sure there's a reason. In the meantime, you'll excuse me if I use OPS to measure a player's production. It's not a novel idea - OPS is a pretty conventional stat.

Further, I find it hilarious that you would base your argument re: Lopez hitting fifth around the idea that he is a "different hitter with runners on, and he always has been", but you scoff when I use the RISP stat. Cherrypicking, indeed.

As I said earlier today, just because a guy does better in a certain situation, doesn't mean he's right for that situation, especially when superior options are available. And the fact that I brought up Ibanez, Wilkerson, Sexson, Johjima, and Beltre was simply to name the five hitters more suited to hit 5 than Lopez. Not dishonest at all, but thanks for calling me a liar. I'd appreciate you show me the courtesy of explaining why I'm a liar for using those five hitters. Go ahead.

But I digress. I love that you use slugging % w/a man on 2nd, or a man on 1st and 2nd as Gospel. However, to quote you:

"It's very "Adam-like" to cherrypick the OPS stat, when you know that Lopez hasn't been a high OBP guy in his early career. And Risp, as if there are always runners in scoring position when the 5th spot comes up. Bizarre."

Isn't a man on 2nd base a RISP?? Or am I missing something here? It's kind of hard to follow your "logic." And as if there are always men on 2nd with two out when the 5th spot comes up. Bizarre.

So you decided to cherrypick slugging over OPS to make your point. Pot, meet kettle. Personally, I think OPS is superior to slugging to evaluate a hitter's production, unless you want to argue that Alfonso Soriano was more productive than David Wright last year. I'm guessing that most GMs and managers would take the higher OPS guy over the higher slugging % guy.

And one more thing: It might help if you cite to the stats that you use. They are not consistent with those at baseballreference.com. Perhaps you misread them, but quite a few are off. Actually, it would help if you cite to your source all the time. You know, we don't want to start throwing "liar" and "dishonest" accusations on a whim. It's pretty pathetic to do so, don't you agree?


Oh, and you need to tell John Hickey that he's clueless about Ichiro moving to center:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/286964_ichiro29.html

Posted by Buschleaguer

8:45 PM, Apr 03, 2008

I just want to know if Adam sells life insurance for a job.

Just imagine "Well, if you go back and look at the last 1000 accidental deaths in the country over the last 2.5 years, you can see that there is an increased likelihood that you'll be hit by an out-of-control bus tomorrow. Statistics for the last four years clearly show that your family has a 24.9468% chance to end up homeless and living out of a cardboard box with your young son selling pencils and your daughter doing unmentionable things just to keep the family fed......"

In all seriousness Adam, Jose Lopez has been considered a fairly studly prospect ever since he was tearing up the minors years ahead of where the average player did. It is very likely, considering the average developmental arc, that he would have a breakout season somewhere in his 24-25 year old season. To say that because he wasn't a bonafide stud in the major leagues at the ripe old age of 22 based on his OPS is really not giving the guy a chance.

I agree that three games is waaaaaaaay too early to make any solid predictions, but he has looked good at the plate and there is a reasonable chance that we may see his breakout season this year.

Wouldn't that be nice? And if you can't be reasonably sure that it WON'T happen, why the insistence on bringing everyone else down with you? Are you just that much of a pessimist by nature?

Posted by Adam

10:07 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Buschleaguer - The stats don't lie. Lopez hasn't been a good hitter yet. He hasn't hit for power, and he doesn't have good plate discipline.

And just because other players develop at this point doesn't mean Lopez will. There simply is ZERO correlation between other players' historical performances and what Lopez will do in 2008.

Do we hope for a breakout season from Lopez? Sure. But for once, I wish people would just accept the fact that there is basically nothing in the past four years to suggest that he'll have a breakout year this year. It could happen, sure.

But please stop ignoring his performance to date. I'm just trying to inject some realism into the debate.

Posted by scottM

10:13 PM, Apr 03, 2008

RE: three games and predictions

The patience and clutch production of Lopez at the plate in the Texas series leaves me very optimistic that the young man may be coming into his own as a mature hitter.

The absolutely pathetic at bat by Richie Sexson swinging at a bad ball four left me very pessimistic that he will turn his season around in '08.

Yes, I know this is nowhere near enough at bats on which to base rational predictions, but it's like last season when McLaren called for Rick White in the eighth against Cleveland. The instinctive and loud grown from Mariner fans everywhere was based on what they had seen from White after only two prior appearances with the team. It was common sense for McLaren to go with the well-rested Putz, not with White, the freshly acquired vet with more swagger than substance. I'll bet White wished he'd been pitching against Sexson, instead of the Cleveland batter who worked him for a game winning RBI walk.

Based on three games and the player comportment that we saw against Texas, it's common sense to think that Jose Lopez is well on track for '08 and that Richie is on the verge of tanking.

This is not to boo Richie, because nothing would please me more than to have him prove his naysayers wrong.

Posted by Bothell Bob

10:52 PM, Apr 03, 2008

"I wish people would just accept the fact that there is basically nothing in the past four years to suggest that he'll have a breakout year this year."

Um, isn't there usually "nothing" in a player's past that suggests they'll have a breakout year? Isn't that what makes it a breakout year when they have it?

Posted by oregongal

11:02 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Bothell Bob, could be, but not necessarily. I'm guessing Yuni's going to have a breakout year, especially in terms of hitting. He had a pretty solid second half, but I think he's got a lot more in him than most people expect.

Felix could have a breakthrough year by being lots, lots better than the last couple of years. Even though he showed some flashes of brilliance last year, he wasn't anywhere near consistent. Lots of people expect it, but it would still be a breakthrough to the next level.

Posted by Adam

11:18 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Ok, let's look at it like this:

In his first three games of 2008, Lopez is hitting .273/.333/.636. He has walked once.

From April 26 to April 28, 2007, Lopez went .500/.500/1.083. He did not walk, but had six hits in the three games.

From June 3 to June 5, 2007, he went .462 /.533 /.615, walking once.

From June 25 to June 27, 2007, he went .385/.429/.538, walking once.

July 5 to July 8 (three games): .462/.462/.692.

August 11 to August 14 (three games): .455/.455/.636


It is not uncommon for a player to put together a three-game stretch that looks promising. But to make any sort of judgments about that player based on those three games is poor analysis. It just is. Lopez hasn't proved anything yet.

Here's hoping he reaches his potential this year. But I'm still going on his career numbers to date rather than look at his past three games.

Posted by drlo

1:50 AM, Apr 04, 2008

What exactly do folks look at when projecting a breakout year? Most commonly, they look at the post-All Star break stats of the previous season (often throwing out September stats against fall call-ups). No, these stats are not a prefect indicator, but they form the basis for most such judgements. Age, experience, physical condition, and career trends also are important. So, what do we have with Lopez? A dismal second half trend which is a serious negative in forecasting 2008, and age and experience factors which may well be positive. Looks like a tossup at best, or something close. Whatever you call it, nothing on which to base an argument that, regardless of Lopez's play in the first three games or his ST stats, justifies any reasonable prediction of a breakout year. Any such assertion is based only on hope. He may well have a breakout year, but there is nothing but hope to support the contention at this point. Shouldn't it be left at that?

Posted by Paul

5:22 AM, Apr 04, 2008

Hey Brazilian Fan...where do you live? I'm moving to Sao Paulo in July....I think sports is the only thing I anticipate missing once I move.

Posted by Mr. X

7:42 AM, Apr 04, 2008

"And one more thing: It might help if you cite to the stats that you use. They are not consistent with those at baseballreference.com. Perhaps you misread them, but quite a few are off."

He says, without providing any proof to back up his claim.. lol. I use CNNSI.com, because I've found that it's more reliable than Baseballreference.com. It would be interesting if you provided proof that the numbers are different. One reason may be that CNNSI updates it's stats after every game. Novel concept.

As far as the Ichiro thing goes, I debunked your claim a few threads ago, and even provided a story from the day that he moved to center. Here's the cliff notes version.

Jeremy Reed was put on the DL on July 3rd.

Choo took over from July 3-7. Bloomquist had some games after that. Even Snelling had a game there. Adam Jones played games in center from July 14th till August 19th. On August 20th, we were 14 games back, and in last place. That was the point when Ichiro decided that he wanted to play centerfield. He came to McLaren and gave him the news. Adam Jones was sent back to AAA on August 22nd, with his fate sealed. Ichiro played 38 games in center, on a last place team with nothing to play for, instead of "letting the kid play" and gain experience as the M's centerfielder of the future.

I don't have time to get the link, but it's in the wonderful "news" section of the Mariners website. Just look at the stories from July and August of 2006, and you'll see what a selfish move it was.

Oh by the way, I explained why I did not use OPS, scroll back up. I gave a couple of reasons, in fact. The main one being that I want my #5 to drive runners in, not just join them on base.

Posted by Mr. X

7:44 AM, Apr 04, 2008

The August 20, 2006 article was especially interesting.

Posted by Mr. X

8:06 AM, Apr 04, 2008

I know you won't look it up, so here are the best parts:

"Hargrove said the idea of sticking his Gold Glove right fielder in center field wasn't made on a whim."

"We've had discussions on and off for a while," Hargrove said. "I left it for him, when he felt it was the right time he would come to me. He came to me last night [after Snelling pinch-hit] and said it was a good time to try."

As for how much Ichiro -- who wasn't available for comment before the game -- would play in center field, Hargrove said that would be up to Ichiro himself.

"A lot of it has to do with how Ichiro feels about playing center field," Hargrove said. "... It's important they stay in the right frame of mind. If he's uncomfortable in center field ... I want to play him where he'll be more productive."


http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060820&content_id=1620117&vkey=news_sea&fext=.jsp&c_id=sea

Posted by byebyeSexson

8:58 AM, Apr 04, 2008

"But booing the man this early in the season sure isn't going to improve his game!" If you wrote this, please tell us what is going to improve his game?

byebyeSexson

Posted by Adam

9:31 AM, Apr 04, 2008

Sorry - I missed the part where those articles said Ichiro moved to center solely for purposes of his contract. If you read those articles closely, you'll find that the team asked him to make the move, due to the hole in center left by the injury to Reed and the need to get Snelling into the lineup.

If you are going to accuse of Ichiro of making the move solely for monetary purposes, the least you could do is provide some proof. I know you enjoy throwing around accusations blindly, but show some integrity for once...

Oh, and I already cited to the baseballreference page for Jose Lopez. You know that. It's not too hard to scroll up and click on the link I provided - something you still haven't done.

It's also pretty confusing, because you don't provide any timeframe for your stats. Are they career numbers?? I doubt it, because I can't find SI.com's page that provides career splits. Are they 2007 stats? You don't say.

Further, SI.com doesn't even have splits for situations with men on 2nd, or runners on with two outs.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/teams/stats/2007/mariners/185_batting.html

Yet, you cite to those splits in your 6:08 pm post.


If you want to check my work, go to baseballreference.com, search for Jose Lopez, click on "splits" on his page, and go to work. I've already provided the link. You can do the same for each Mariner. You can even check their splits by year. And yes, they do update their site daily (not that 2007 or career numbers would be in anyway affected by that fact...).

But I'm having trouble finding anything on si.com that says Jose Lopez had a .415 slugging percentage with men on and two outs at any point in his career.

Since you didn't provide the link, I'll do it again, just so we can get to the bottom of this mess. With all your talk of dishonesty and cherrypicking, I'm sure you want to get to the bottom of this as much as I do.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/teams/stats/2007/mariners/185_batting.html

Posted by NB

9:40 AM, Apr 04, 2008

Ichiro hurts this team by being awesome and by being so selfish that he plays the most difficult outfield position and selfishly wanting to get as many hits as possible. True selflessness would result in more failures so as to not make his astounding talent overshadow that of his teammates. He should be more like Willie, who bats .250 with no power so that people like Vidro can feel good about themselves. That is a real gamer.

Adam hurts this blog by sticking to his well founded opinions , arguing logically and using industry standard sources for his information (CNNSI?)

Posted by Mike

11:18 AM, Apr 04, 2008

"As much as you feel entitled and obligated to respond every time I remotely criticize extreme metric opinions here. I have right to my opinion that is heavily based on scouting."

Resin--You certainly have a right to mistrust statistical analysis and rely entirely on scouting for informing your opinions. But I object when you decide to mock those who disagree with you in an insulting way and make characterizations that are real only in your head. For instance...

"This brings up tons of variables in real life baseball that the typical saberhead like Adam doesn't understand. For stratomatic fans, it's all black and white and no gray areas"

You can make your point without making sweeping , sneering and mostly erroneous generalizations about people who disagree with you.

Posted by Brazilian Fan

12:49 PM, Apr 04, 2008

I live in Salvador - Bahia. Welcome to my country!
It's uncommon find baseball fans up here.. We are a soccer-country. But (thanks to ESPN) the sport is expanding up here. I am true Mariner Fan since 1999 (even far far away) and already saw great and horrible teams, but I am very optimistic about this year. Maybe not to win it all, but to at least reach October. It become now a routine for me to read this blog during the games, and sometimes my breaks.

Posted by Nick in pdx

1:53 PM, Apr 04, 2008

"Oh by the way, I explained why I did not use OPS, scroll back up. I gave a couple of reasons, in fact. The main one being that I want my #5 to drive runners in, not just join them on base."

That's one of the funniest things I've ever read in terms of using baseball statistics to back up an argument. When evaluating a hitter's ability to drive in runs, you don't want to use a stat that's highly correlated to run scoring. ZOMG what a dumb idea that would be!

Posted by Adam

2:07 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Thanks, Nick. Too bad you had to take the time to find that, rather than X just show his own work...

Posted by Faceplant

2:26 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Oh by the way, Lopez has the 3rd highest slugging % with RISP on the team, behind Ibanez and Sexson. (Only looked at starters)"

According to statistics available on ESPN (STATS Inc) Lopez has the fifth highest slg among starters over the last three years. Behind Sexson, Ibanez, Wilkerson, and Johjima.


Of course that's all irrelevant anyway. "Clutch" hitting isn't a skill no matter how much you want to pretend it is. Miguel Cairo is slugging .556 with runners at second and third over the last three years. Over that same span Manny Ramirez is slugging .318 in the same situation.

I don't know who you would rather have up in that situation. I know who I would rather have up.

Posted by Adam

2:29 PM, Apr 04, 2008

The main one being that I want my #5 to drive runners in, not just join them on base.


Awesome! Glad you said that. Per baseballreference.com, I checked the splits for Lopez and five other Mariners from 2006 and 2007 to find the number of plate appearances (not ABs - this is more inclusive, since, for example, a bases-loaded BB drives in a run, or a SF drives in a run, but are not official ABs) with MEN ON BASE.

Get it? You first brought up men on base as the appropriate situation, so we are using it. You also want your #5 hitter to drive in runs (and not just get on base, but that's a ridiculous point for another time).

So I'm looking at the number of plate appearances with men on base for Lopez and five other Mariners, and comparing that to the number of RBIs for these hitters with men on base. And this is for 2006 and 2007 - the two most recent years of performance.

Are you with me?

Here are the results:

Ibanez - 637 plate appearances (PA) with men on base, 201 RBI with men on base = 1 RBI for every 3.17 PA with men on base.

Wilkerson - 349 PA, 93 RBI = 1 RBI every 3.75 PA w/men on base.

Sexson - 557 PA, 141 RBI = 1 RBI every 3.95 PA w/men on base.

Johjima - 488 PA, 121 RBI = 1 RBI every 4.03 PA w/men on base.

Beltre - 641 PA, 157 RBI = 1 RBI every 4.08 PA w/men on base.

Lopez - 569 PA, 133 RBI = 1 RBI every 4.28 PA w/men on base.


So, Lopez is the worst of the bunch.

Let's look at his RBI production w/men on base against Beltre's, his closest competition and the current 5 hitter. Say each man gets 300 PAs a year with men on base. Given the rates shown above, from 2006 and 2007, Beltre would drive in about 74 runs w/men on base. Lopez, on the other hand, would drive in 70.

Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless. And all things being equal, does anyone actually want Lopez hitting 5 instead of Beltre?

So, X, we used your parameters (men on base, driving in runs). I'm sure you will try to scoff at my use of baseballreference.com, or will try to take issue with my use of 2006 and 2007 stats (I did so since some people took issue with using "skewed" career numbers which contain his early years).

But, according you your criteria, Lopez is the worse of those six in driving in runners with men on base over the past two years. Never mind his ability to get on base (which is important, even if you, for some reason, think otherwise) - he doesn't drive them in as well as others.

It is wholly irrelevant that he's at his best with men on base. It really is.

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