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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 15, 2008 3:44 PM

Game thread, Mariners vs. Royals, 4-15

Posted by Larry Stone

Miguel Batista vs. John Bale. Big news today: Erik Bedard on the disabled list (see previous blog entries). Today is Jackie Robinson Day, so you'll see several players wearing No. 42. For the Mariners, those choosing to wear the number are manager John McLaren, Yuniesky Betancourt, Arthur Rhodes, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Batista and Mike Morse. For the Royals, manager Trey Hillman, Joey Gathright, Jose Guillen and Luis Silverio.

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Posted by Frankie

3:52 PM, Apr 15, 2008

(Continued from the last thread)


I agree with you about the offense and possibly calling up Clement. I would love to see his bat in the lineup.
However, I think it is hard to miss Jones in RF when we never had Jones in RF...

Anyway, I think the amount of fans at the game dont even break 4,000....

Posted by Adam

3:58 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Someone from the "Offensive Showing" thread asked what I thought about alternative stats to ERA.

If you want to stay really basic, I think K/BB is a good one. But my 2nd favorite website (behind is If you click on the "stats" link at the top of the page, and then "THT Pitching" under the scroll-down menus for AL and NL, and then filter for both leagues, you can find the best pitchers by a bunch of alternative stats.

The two that I think do better than ERA at measuring a pitcher's true performance are:

FIP - Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded.

xFIP - Expected Fielding Independent Pitching. This is an experimental stat that adjusts FIP and "normalizes" the home run component. Research has shown that home runs allowed are pretty much a function of flyballs allowed and home park, so xFIP is based on the average number of home runs allowed per outfield fly. Theoretically, this should be a better predicter of a pitcher's future ERA.

Basically, these stats try to eliminate factors not within a pitcher's control (defense, ballpark, bullpen, luck) from the equation. They aren't perfect, but I like the approach much better than the antiquated and rudimentary ERA.

I also like to look at groundball rates, K rates, and BB rates. You'll usually find that the best pitchers are good at at least two of those three (please note that pitchers have a high level of control over these three outcomes). Groundballs are better than flyballs. Why? Even though more grounders actually get through for hits, their cumulative effect is less than that of flyballs, which of course can turn into doubles, triples, and home runs more often than grounders.

Felix is a great example of this. If you look at ERA, Felix has been a good, but not great, pitcher over the past two years. But look at his FIP, xFIP, GB%, his K/G, and BB/G:

ERA: 4.52
FIP: 3.99
xFIP: 3.56
GB%: 57.7
K/G: 8.3
BB/G: 2.8

ERA: 3.92
FIP: 3.83
xFIP: 3.41
GB%: 60.8
K/G: 7.9
BB/G: 2.5

Felix gets a ton of grounders, he misses a lot of bats. And, his control is pretty darn good. As such, his FIP and xFIP numbers are low. But his ERA is higher. Why? I'd argue defense has something to do with it, but his HR/Flyball rates are above average. Studies have shown that there's no real "skill" in preventing or allowing HRs per flyball. So there is a bit of luck invovled if your numbers in this area stray too far from the league average.

This is what has happened to Felix. I'm not going to argue that it's all just bad luck, because I do think he loses focus in key spots and can tend to give up the longball as a result. But otherwise, Felix has been pretty outstanding as a kid his age. He's got the best "stuff" in the game, and I think FIP and the other numbers bear this out.

Indeed, in 2007, no pitcher had a better GB%, K/G, BB/G combination than Felix (AJ Burnette was close). I feel very strongly that, with a better defense and a bit more development, Felix is the best pitcher in the game. We could even see him overcome his defense and assume that position this year.

Of course, his ERA from the last two years could suggest otherwise. That's one reason why it isn't a good predictor or evaluator of performance.

Posted by Nat

4:01 PM, Apr 15, 2008

All you naysayers are going to feel really stupid at the end of season when Bedard has become the ace we all expected from the start.

I don't think he's seriously injured from what has been said. You can't possibly believe the troll's comments from the previous thread! Jeez, doesn't anyone know what patience means?

Guys, it's not about Bavasi's skill at evaluating talent, it's what ALL the other baseball scouts, sportswriters, etc. have said. And when his hip is healed he's going to be ab asset for this team.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

4:02 PM, Apr 15, 2008

since we're now down 1 run, which we can all agree is an "insurmountable" lead, what is mac doing still playing the starters??? lets get bloomquist, cairo, and the rest of the bench in there, not to mention sitting batista for EOF. this is a 162 game season, remember?

Posted by Ben

4:04 PM, Apr 15, 2008

DId Ichiro/Mac read this blog earlier today? Ichiro steals a base, Lopez hits a sac fly and - BAM - we have manufactured a run.

Way to go.

Posted by Chopper58

4:04 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Good to see Willie start and look at that.

Third base stolen by Ichiro. Has only taken a couple of weeks but I think the message might be getting through

Posted by downinthegroove

4:08 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Oh the sharp wit.

Question with Bedard is whether or not he hits 200 innings again and wins games when we need to....

An ace pitches a lot, kinda like a guy you can count on.

Oh the faithful were clamoring for this part of the schedule and we are now under .500....

And correction. There are only 148 games left counting tonight.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

4:09 PM, Apr 15, 2008


regarding felix, whom we all agree is amazing, whats your take on the long term situation. do you think bavasi has the skill to lock him up? what do you think would be the longest reasonable K he should be offered, and for how much. i know jeter is nearing the end of his TEN year contract with the yankees. what should we do???

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

4:16 PM, Apr 15, 2008


by "K", i meant contract. stupid law school

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:18 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Adam- Neat. How are those pieces of FIP determined? Why HR*13, why K*2, how do they arrive at the league-specific factor? Couldn't sort that out, in a cursory search.

Posted by Nat

4:18 PM, Apr 15, 2008

downinthegroove- I think it was you who said Clement said he wouldn't DH, but actually he said he would be happy to DH but didin't want to play First.

Also, if you want to quibble over semantics about whether Bedard is an ace or #1, that's fine. I do believe Bedard will be the guy we thought we were gettting, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:23 PM, Apr 15, 2008

And yeah, the attendance is so low today, my wife and son (sigh, stupid work, couldn't play hooky to join them) started halfway back lined up with first base, and moved to 3 rows back of the home dugout. Of all the days not to be recording the game...

And RBI for Willie Boom-Boom! Huzzah! Meet our new everyday rightfielder. ;) ;) ;)

Posted by Ben

4:24 PM, Apr 15, 2008


Look at someone who wants a little more playing time.

Posted by Ben

4:26 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Sexson and his walks too. That guy is out of control.

Posted by downinthegroove

4:32 PM, Apr 15, 2008

I could be mistaken but from my understanding Clement said he wants to catch. Not move positions nor be in a position to not play in the field.

I could be wrong.

Quibble. I love it! Haven't heard that in a while! He may pitch like an ace but he is not performing like one.

AJ Burnett is filthy but not healthy enough to be the ace of the Jays.

Sometimes you gotta call the baby ugly.

Posted by Merrill

4:33 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Cool, Adam, that was me, thanks for responding.

I don't like defense-independent stats, though. The formula itself for FIP should be self-explanatory. But, anyway: I think it's silly over-intellectualization to separate defense from pitching, much the same as separating mind from body, emotion from reason, etc. Pitching depends on defense. Defense depends on pitching. Pitching is defense.

They are one with the universe, man.

OK, kidding there a little at the end, but I hope you get my drift. And in no way do I mean my comments as a personal attack. I appreciate you answering my post, and I think those last three numbers are really interesting.

I'll read your Felix analysis more closely later, though.

Thanks again!

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

4:46 PM, Apr 15, 2008

wow, what a weird hit from beltre. time to blow this home open...

Posted by Ben

4:46 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Nice game for Ichiro thus far.

Perhaps it was true that we just encountered a good pitcher on a hot streak the past two days. We seem to have picked up right where we were on Saturday.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:48 PM, Apr 15, 2008

I miss Jose Guillen's fire, and mostly his bat. But I sure don't miss his glove. Thanks, JG. :)

And no, really, seriously: meet our new everyday rightfielder, Willie Bloomquist.

Posted by Ben

4:49 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Also Sexson looks like he is going to double his walk totals of either of hte past two years if he keeps up this pace. He'll have 115 or so if he gets 500 at bats at this pace.

Posted by Seattle Sports Blog

4:53 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Oh, Richie Rich, just when you think you're off the snide for your "smart" plate appearances, just when he has a chance to open the game wide open...he strikes out! I mean, even a pop up or ground out is better.....the 6-8 freak has seen his last days in Seattle. Let's see, $15M per year, probably on pace for 220 strikeouts....and 23 HR's......that's roughly $67K we pay this guy for striking out. Wow, wish I could be in his shoes

Posted by Adam

4:58 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Tallahassee - I'm no GM, so I won't speculate what Felix could get. I know Bavasi has already started talks w/Felix's agent on an extension.

Normally, it's not a good idea to sign pitchers to contracts longer than 4 or 5 years, but given Felix's age and talent, I'd be real comfortable if he got a deal like David Wright or Tulowitzki - something in the 6 or 7-year range worth $35 to $40 million. I think he's worth every penny of that, and more. I mean, we are talking about the best pitching talent in the game. At those prices, he'd be an enormous bargain. But I think we can all agree it would be nice if he spends his career as a Mariner.

And as a former lawyer - I love to see "K" used properly!

Chris - I won't pretend to understand the methodology, just what the stats are intended for. But here's the site of the guy who developed it: You can search it for info on FIP.

Merrill - I've never known you to make personal attacks, so that's never my first impression. Track record, and all. But why don't you like fielding-independent stats?

Posted by Paul

5:00 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Just as the discussion comes up about what to do if Dickey comes up and has a great start or two, Bautista continues to show up pretty strong early and then look poor the second and third time through a lineup. Dickey or no Dickey, I wonder if Bautista might be ready for the bullpen anyway....

Posted by Merrill

5:02 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Chris, I read an article by the guy who came up with that formula, back when Mike and I were discussing the issue of defensive stats. I searched but couldn't find any explanations of the new defensive stats and instead found that dude McOnCracken's FIP stats and a couple of articles by and about him. You can Wiki that mofo, that's where I found him.

Pretty interesting dude, if not an entirely clear writer. A little dense. Took me a couple of times to digest it. As you can no doubt tell from the formula itself.

Another McQuibble I had with it was the fact that he didn't bother to explain his reasoning. I guess that's probably because he felt it would have to be too technical, in that he's using higher-order statistical analysis.

But personally, I want to follow the thought process, even though I am a layman; I don't like trusting the "experts" unless they can properly explain themselves. Even experts make mistakes, and they usually involve mistaken assumptions from the get-go, or failing to include important variables in their equations.

And it is very possible to put technical material in layman's terms.

In this case, in my opinion, it's a mistaken assumption from the get-go.

Posted by Ben

5:08 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Batista has already given up 7 hits. He has not been very good thus far in the season. He needs to settle down and pitch.

Posted by Ben

5:10 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Also - 2 walks.

Posted by Babu

5:12 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Thanks, Adam, for those interesting stats.

In terms of Bedard's injury history, what I've been able to find is this:

DL in May 2003 (arm)
DL in 2005 (knee)
DL in September 2007 (oblique muscle)

No time on DL in 2004 or 2006. So the Baltimore troll had the facts wrong -- no surprise there. (I live in Baltimore, too, but am a Seattle fan and not a troll!)

Bedard had Tommy John surgery in 2002 but from the way he has pitched since then, that doesn't seem to be an issue

Posted by Chris from Bothell

5:21 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Yuni Monster! Y is for Yuni, that's good enough for me....

Now, overall so far, today's batting and baserunning are more like it. At least from what I'm hearing on radio in between fidgety little tasks at work.

Posted by Merrill

5:33 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Adam, by K/G, do you mean per nine innings?

Anyway, apparently I didn't explain myself very well. Talk about unclear writing!

I think it's an overintellectualizing illusion to separate defense from pitching. I think they are one and the same. Pitching is the first line of defense.

Clear reasoning is fostered by clear and positive emotion, and indeed dependent upon it. Without some sort of emotional clarity a person cannot even focus or concentrate--and indeed we see the opposite demonstrated here every day.

In this way are pitching and defense inseparable, in my view.

The tool of analysis, of cutting everything up into parts so we can more easily understand those parts, is great and useful, but often, I think, we have made, in Western thought and history, some fundamental errors of assumption, as well as a general failure to consider things holistically--i.e., to put the parts back together again.

(Humpty Dumpty was never so complex as a pollutant-saturated ecosystem!)

The common idea that emotion and intellect are separate is a fallacy. We can talk about one or the other, but the actual ability to do and experience reason is dependent on our emotional state--and our ability to regulate it.

Same with pitching and defense. Pitching is the more fundamental of the two, due to sheer number of opportunities to affect the outcome of the game--as opposed to any one defensive position--but their relative dependence is more mutual, when considering all defensive positions in total, than the similar situation of reason and emotion.

Nevertheless, I think they're inseparable, fundamentally.

Posted by downinthegroove

5:41 PM, Apr 15, 2008


Is that you Bavasi? Merrill, I mean Bill?

A good pitcher is going to have solid stats period.

You cannot lump a performance of a pitcher over a season into how his defense did.

If this were true then the contracts they signed would indicate as much.

Good pitching makes a defense that much better but is not entirely dependent upon it. Eight gold glovers are not going to make up for bad pitching. It may narrow the gap but that is it.

Good pitching will make adequate defense look good....and so on...

That was a mouthful and I am dizzy from reading.


Posted by Merrill

5:42 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Hmm, sorry, some more pretty bad writing from me there. Been up all night reading (it's a major holiday over here), and I usually have to take a few cracks at "deep stuff" to get what I want to say readable.

I'll stop trying now and stop annoying anyone who tries to read it.

Enjoy the game! (how 'bout that offense! And no, it's still a streaky beast until proven otherwise... Go Miguel!)

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

5:44 PM, Apr 15, 2008


appreciate your opinion on Felix. i've got to think though, that with silva getting 12 million/year, felix is going to demand at least 10/year. a 7 year deal would be just right...

Posted by Merrill

5:44 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Joh Mama!

Posted by Nat

5:47 PM, Apr 15, 2008

I've been in and out of the room watching the game, but the M's seem to be on top of things. I always forget how long Batista takes though and how v-e-r-y long the games go on when he's pitching. The 4th seemed to go on and on, but it's nice to see a 1-2-3 inning for Miggy. And of course always good to see the M's and runs in the same sentence! Johjima, yeah, let's get these bats going!

Adam, I appreciate as well what you have to say. Your tutorial on stats and Felix is great - thanks!

Posted by Merrill

5:54 PM, Apr 15, 2008

You're right, downie; I just think that we use our separation tool entirely too much and forget that things are interrelated.

As I said, I think pitching is the first line of defense. A crappy pitch is very likely to end up being a hit--or a homer--no matter how skilled the fielders are.

To truly have FIP, you would need to incorporate defensive range averages into your equation. Etc. Since McCracken didn't explain himself in the sources I have read so far, the jury's still out for me as to whether that's a useful stat.

These points you made say what I was trying to say in a much more clear manner:

Good pitching makes a defense that much better but is not entirely dependent upon it. Eight gold glovers are not going to make up for bad pitching. It may narrow the gap but that is it.

Good pitching will make adequate defense look good....and so on...

You are dizzy from reading it because it's crappy writing.

Posted by Faceplant

5:55 PM, Apr 15, 2008

The problem is that pitchers don't have control over the fielders or vice versa. The idea is to separate the factors that only the pitcher can control. A good pitcher in front of a bad defense can end up looking worse than he really is. A bad pitcher in front of a good defense can look better than he really is (paging Paul Abbott).

While you may take issue with the methodology I can' t think of a logical reason that the idea behind it is flawed? I certainly do not believe pitching and defense are fundamentally inseperable. They are both a part of run prevention, but they are quite clearly two seperate parts of run prevention IMO.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

5:59 PM, Apr 15, 2008

THERE's the offense!

Here's hoping the boys put some video of today's highlights in an endless loop as the in-flight movie on the trip to Oakland and Anaheim.

Posted by Nat

6:03 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Yeah, or mandatory pregame viewing.

Posted by Faceplant

6:15 PM, Apr 15, 2008

"Good pitching makes a defense that much better but is not entirely dependent upon it."

That is just wrong. Good pitching can make the defense LOOK better. But it's still the same defense. Just like good defense can make the pitcher LOOK better. Of course I also think most fans vastly underrate the importance of defense.

That said, I think even statheads believe that as far as run prevention pitching and defense are interwined. They are both a part of preventing runs.

Posted by markus

6:20 PM, Apr 15, 2008

No joke: The Royals' announcer just said "I've never seen somebody swing and miss as much as Sexson." Huh, I thought is was just me that thought that.

Posted by Merrill

6:30 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Your points are good, Faceplant, but they also illustrate my point: you say:

A good pitcher in front of a bad defense can end up looking worse than he really is.

I say: A good pitcher makes a bad defense look better than it really is.

You say:

A bad pitcher in front of a good defense can look better than he really is (paging Paul Abbott).

I say: A bad pitcher can make a good defense look worse than it really is.

Tomayto, tomahto?

I understand the idea is to separate what a pitcher can control from what he can't.

But how about this: Let's separate the factors a hitter can control, from the factors he can't.

Hitters can't control park dimensions. There's one variable to correct for. Hitters also can't control the percentage of quality pitches they see. There's another. Hitters also can't control the range and skill of opposing defenders. There's another variable to control for.

Do you see where I'm coming from? That probably seems pretty ridiculous (or maybe not!), but it's a question of where do you draw the line.

My line's in a different spot from yours. Nothing wrong with that from either perspective, I think.

Meaning, we all decide where we want to draw any particular line. And that's just fine (within certain parameters, of course).

Posted by Merrill

6:34 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Still no hits from Sexson, but walks, and Joh's looking good today.

Good hitting--or bad pitching?

Or could it possibly be both?

Posted by mike

6:41 PM, Apr 15, 2008

7th inning 2 on no out what does a smart manager do? have betancourt bunt of course. but not that dumb azz mclaren.

Posted by markus

6:43 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Wait, the Royals are down by 4 half way through the game. Why are they changing pitchers? I thought you just conceded the game and left the same reliever out there to get shelled! How dare they not give up! Mac wouldn't get caught dead trying strategy in a game where he is getting blown out by four runs!

Posted by Zach

6:49 PM, Apr 15, 2008


They aren't about to demote their pitchers to AA, so why would they want to run up their pitch count when they might be needed tomorrow?

Posted by markus

6:51 PM, Apr 15, 2008

I understand they were sending him down anyways, but that doesn't explain letting him get shelled in a game that wasn't out of hand.

Posted by mike

6:54 PM, Apr 15, 2008

I want Mclarens head on a platter, that dumb azz will cost us many games this year. How can a person that stupid manage a MLB team. Oh I forgot who our GM is.

Posted by wally

7:09 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Why does McLaren replace Sexson on defense but never Ibanez? Is taking Raul out on D forbidden?

Posted by scrapiron

7:37 PM, Apr 15, 2008

OK, so if Dickey is slotted into Bedard's rotation spot, and Baek has been a starter his entire career and struggled as a reliever, then why is Baek on the roster?

If Baek isn't your 6th best starter now you're betting off seeing if you can slide him through waivers and calling up someone like Jimenez to work in the bullpen.

Posted by Get Griffey

7:38 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Merrill,(4:33 & 5:33) I now dub thee Zen Master of the M's Blog!!
Wayyy deep man. ^_^

Posted by scrapiron

7:40 PM, Apr 15, 2008

Wally - Take Ibanez out for who? All you have now is Bloomquist, Norton and Cairo. Bloomquist is probably the only one that would be considered a defensive upgrade over Ibanez, and that would be slight.

If Jimerson, Reed or Balentien were on the roster you'd have a legitimate defensive replacement. Right now there is no one on the roster that is really that much better than Ibanez.

Posted by wally

7:51 PM, Apr 15, 2008


That is partly my point. This team starts two below average defensive OF, but they refuse to carry another outfielder on the roster. Mac had plenty of opportunities to play Jimerson, but he doesn't seem to understand that it is okay to make defensive substitutions for guys who are around for their bats. But out of nowhere he subs out Sexson. I just don't get the mindset there.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

8:02 PM, Apr 15, 2008

scrap - Baek has been a starter during his career, but this year specifically he's only stretched out for long relief. I think they think he's not able to recover in time from yesterday's start to go again right away. And RA is the freshest arm they have right now.

Posted by sjazzdude

8:27 PM, Apr 15, 2008

I was happy to see Bloomquist in the lineup. He did well tonight. He scored a couple of runs and got a couple of key hits. I've always thought he should get more playing time, and he came through.

This past week in the blog, many of you thought I was on something 'cause I thought Bloomquist should be in the lineup. Can you please remind me again why he shouldn't be in the lineup?

Posted by JB

8:55 PM, Apr 15, 2008

In the bottom of the fifth today, Kenji hit a double, knocking in two runs. Before the ball was put in play, Mac came to the top of the steps and asked for the ball. I thought maybe this was a milestone hit for Kenji, but saw or heard nothing about it. Anyone know what that was about?

Posted by glenn

9:57 PM, Apr 15, 2008


1,500 hits for Johjima in his career. (Japan and Mariners)

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