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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 18, 2008 11:20 PM

M's win streak snapped

Posted by Geoff Baker

anaheim1 023.jpg

Torii Hunter is mobbed by teammates after his game-saving catch on a Richie Sexson blast to the wall in the ninth.

Seattle made of game of it in the late-innings, survived some bullpen hijinks, but could not come all the way back in suffering a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Arthur Rhodes did a fine job of cleaning up after those two hit-batsmen by Sean Green in the seventh, then -- with Mark Lowe's help -- got the M's through the eighth. But the Angels have Francisco Rodriguez back and healthy this series and he took care of things in the ninth after the one-out single by Adrian Beltre.

In the end, this game came down to R.A. Dickey not being able to get Hunter out, or seal the deal when an escape route presented itself. I liked his chances with two on and two out in that sixth and .104-hitting Maicer Izturis at the plate. But Izturis got the hard grounder to the right side, Sexson couldn't make a diving stop and the game was effectively done.

Dickey was particularly upset with himself for not shaking off Kenji Johjima's demand for a fastball with the bases loaded, one out and a 1-2 count on Hunter with the game scoreless in the first.

"In that situation, getting the swings and misses like I was and throwing a pretty good knuckleball from the get-go, I should have just stuck with it,'' Dickey said. "But hindsight's always 20-20, I learned from it. It's kind of the learning curve of this thing. You try not to make the same mistakes twice.''

Yes, Sexson made things interesting with his second homer of the game. But too many other Seattle hitters went AWOL. It would have been quite something had the last Sexson blast gone out and given Seattle the lead.

"I thought it had a chance,'' said Dickey, watching from the dugout. "It wasn't a no-doubter, but I thought it had a chance.


So did Sexson.

"I thought I got enough of it,'' Sexson said. "I think it would have been gone. That's why his glove's got gold on it. He made a great play.''

Mariners manager John McLaren was in a pretty good mood afterwards, considering a loss that dropped his team back down to .500 at 9-9. Seattle now trails the Angels by two in the AL West.

"We showed a little character,'' he said. "We came back. We were down and we came back. We didn't get it done, but like I said, the guys battled and I saw some positives there.''

McLaren's positives included Arthur Rhodes holding things together after coming on with two on and one out in the seventh.

They also included Dickey regaining his composure after the mistake-pitch first inning and retiring 11 of the next 12. Not to mention Sexson bringing his big bat to the park and almost making a game-swinging difference.

"If you look at his Aprils, year-in, and year-out, they're really not much to write home about,'' McLaren said. "We knew coming into the season that, if he didn't come out of the box, everybody would say this is the same thing as last year. But we knew different. Just because of the way he was working, the way he carried himself in spring training. He's getting after it pretty good.''

That's about all I'll say on this game. Just one additional note on something else, McLaren told John Hickey of the Seattle PI and myself to hold off on leaving his office right away. He wanted to update us on the Erik Bedard situation from what he'd said pre-game. What McLaren confirmed was that Bedard had an MRI and that there was inflammation found.

McLaren wouldn't say what was causing the inflammation. Said he doesn't know. I asked him again if it was caused by a labrum problem and he said he didn't know.

So, in essence, we're no closer to figuring out whether that specualtive article in The Hardball Times has any meat to it. I'm reluctant to give credence to anything so speculative, especially from a publication that does not follow the Mariners daily or show up to the clubhouse, or games, on a regular basis. But that's also part of the reason I asked. In this case, it doesn't really matter whether this originated from The Harball Times or the New York Times. From an internet blogger or a journalistic institution. Doesn't matter whether there's any scientific basis to this story, or whether it's just some YouTube watcher's best guess. The story's out there. If the Mariners feel THT is out to lunch, all they have to do is say there is no labrum issue. By not simply denying it flat-out, they are keeping this thing going longer than it has to. It's a simple yes-or-no answer that's required. That's what I figured I'd try to get today. It's not rocket science. If there is no basis to any of this -- and there's a good chance there isn't -- just say so and we can all move on.

Sounds so simple, doesn't it?


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Posted by markus

9:37 PM, Apr 18, 2008

I'm glad that Richie is starting to smoke the ball. Why is it that the M's are only allowed to have one hot hitter at a time? It'll be a nice little stretch when a couple of guys get hot at the same time.

Posted by PelicanBro

9:38 PM, Apr 18, 2008

He took care of things?

He got lucky.. he pitched horribly.. he gave up a rope to Beltre... Vidro ripped a ball, but right at the right fielder.. and Sexson took him 400 ft to dead center, and if not for a great catch by Hunter, KRod was looking at a BS..

Did u even watch the game Geoff? The tone of your write up, sounds like a healthy KRod had an easy inning outside of a Beltre single..

Posted by PRchef

9:42 PM, Apr 18, 2008

Yes,Geoff the hitters went AWOL but against one of the better pitchers so far this season.

Glad to see Rhodes back on the mound

Posted by scottM

9:44 PM, Apr 18, 2008

Nice to see Richie on it tonight. That bodes well.

I'll be glad when Bedard shows up so the rotation goes back to plan A. R.A. Dickie pitches like a dog walking on ice. Each pitch is a slippery adventure. I'd much rather see him as an inning eater out of the pen.

Posted by Good try boys

9:49 PM, Apr 18, 2008

The Ms are continuing to make strides w/ Saunders....a good game by Ritchie...I'm glad we have JJ (when he gets healthy)..."K Rod" value as a closer is best summed by looking at his ERA. I didn't expect them to make a game of this one and they did.

Posted by pj

9:51 PM, Apr 18, 2008

I actually took a lot out of this game. You take a spot start from a pitcher with avg. stuff at best and he actually pitches a great game (aside from Torii Hunter's bat). Then you have Sexson show everyone that he can still hit and hit for power. His patience tonight was excellent and he swung at good pitches.

I dont think I could ask too much more from Sexson so far this year. Highest walk total on the team and 4 hr's!! That is some decent production. He could hit better in the clutch like he did tonight though. Maybe this will be the start to him hitting a bit more for avg. and in the clutch.

Finally, you saw what our potential bullpen will be for the rest of the year, assuming nobody hits the dl for too long. Sean Green didn't have his best stuff tonite, but great to see Arthur Rhodes come in and get the job done... Don't know if anyone was slowing Hunter down tonight though, Hell of a play by Beltre to keep it close goin into the 8th. Rhodes/Lowe/Morrow and RRS followed by Putz sounds to me like a winner.

Let's at the very least try and get 1 down here and go home .500 in hopes to see a healthy JJ/Bedard and start to get things rolling!


Posted by Pete in Vancouver

9:58 PM, Apr 18, 2008

Well, first post of the season for me. Felt like old times watching Rhodes pitch late in the game. Oddly, the first time in a long time, I felt even though, 4 runs down, the Mariners were still in the game and they were.

What makes me nervous though, is; are we going to come a foot away from a home run into the playoffs? I couldn't help but think, that this game may be indicative of the season. Hope I'm wrong. At least it's after the 15th of April and we're still in it.

Posted by sjazzdude

10:31 PM, Apr 18, 2008

Dickey did a good job. I think he'll be a good addition to our rotation. He kept us in the game. We had a chance, but we came up short. The bottom line is that nobody (with the exception of Sexson) wasn't able to hit Saunders. Which brings up this question: Why did they keep Ibanez in the lineup when can't hit lefties??

Because Sexson hit 2 homers into the stands tonight, I hope he doesn't keep smackin' for the fences. When he gets into that mindset, he overswings and either grounds out or strikes out.

Posted by PRchef

10:51 PM, Apr 18, 2008

sjazzdude

It may have something to do with Raul being the hottest hitter on the team the past week.

Posted by Bill

11:17 PM, Apr 18, 2008

If there ever is a good loss, this is one of them. Tori Hunter looked stupid on Dickey's first two pitches before he hit that one down the line. That was a great catch at the end of the game, though. Good game for Richie. Maybe it's time to move him ahead of Vidro?

Posted by ethan

11:18 PM, Apr 18, 2008

what i like about the Angels (and believe me..i hate them) is that every night 2-3 DIFFERENT guys step up and win the game for the team. tonight it was Hunter, Saunders and Izturis. tomorrow it might be Vlady, Anderson and Kotchman.
tonight we had Sexson. that was it. the rest of the team took a holiday.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

11:26 PM, Apr 18, 2008

I agree on the "good loss" comments. But is something up with Ichiro? He barely make one catch, barely missed another. It's like he was just out of position all night.

Posted by John

11:37 PM, Apr 18, 2008

So begins the sweep. We have NO shot with Washburn and Batista. Those two have been getting killed and it's not going to stop against Anaheim. We're going to leave L.A. down 4, count 'em, 4 games to the Angels.
I'm not being negative, I just feel like I'm being realistic.
I do think Dickey is a good replacement for Bedard, who looks like he could be out for at least a month, maybe longer. I think when we get Putz back, things will round into form even without Bedard, but we've still managed to dig a hole that's going to keep us nipping at the Angels all season. And if Lackey comes back strong, we'll be in trouble.

Posted by Merrill

12:21 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Beltre took a holiday?

Posted by CheeZ

1:01 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Wash has lost two against a Saunders pitching tough and a Greinke out of his mind. Dickey took one for the team tonight.

Saunders is the best thing to happen to the Angels' rotation this season, and lucky for us, there's only one of him.

I'd like to extend my thanks to Dickey for stepping in; and to Richie for stepping up.

Even in the loss, I was proud to be a Mariner fan tonight.

As for tomorrow? The Mariners have done well against him, and Wash has done well against the Angels.

I like our chances.

Go Mariners!

Posted by Merrill

1:05 AM, Apr 19, 2008

I disagree, John. Wash has done a more than passable job so far, and Batista is due for a good start. Further, Santana has been unreliable in the past, although he seems to have gotten over that--we'll see--and Mosely seems to be stinking it up worse than Batista.

I think we've still got a good shot to take 2, but if the Angels win today (tomorrow), you could be right. (By the by, the A's are, um, the A's, not the Angels.)

I liked what I saw today, a little bit of "refuse to lose" rather than the "choose to lose" we seem to have seen lately.

Hopefully they can keep that attitude and fight to the last out every time, always pushing. If they can do that, they've got a good shot even without Bay-dar.

I think Dickey will get his ERA back down (yes, I understand it's a flawed stat, but it still has relevance, especially over large sample sizes) and be very much more than serviceable. I also think more highly of Baek than most people, and although perhaps he might not be durable, I think the reason he's only shown flashes of excellence in the majors is because he hasn't been given the opportunity to get in a groove due to injury etc.

As for platooning and Wilkerson--I really don't like platooning as a general rule. Every major-league hitter I've seen comment on it agrees. Raul doesn't platoon against lefties because it will hurt his performance against righties by getting him out of his groove. Hitting, indeed, all of baseball and performance in general in many fields, is about establishing a routine, a groove, if you will, and getting "locked in." Interruptions to the routine (sitting out more than one off-day a week) interrupt the groove and require time to re-establish it. Constant interruption means never establishing a groove.

Wilkerson is being rested against lefties now simply because there are more righties and he's being given a proper chance to hit his way out of his slump, not because of traditional thinking. He is the starter, after all, so he gets the plurality/majority of the starts. He was given a good chance to find a groove, and perhaps got to the point where frustration had built to the point where it was better to give him the occasional day off than keep him in there to find a groove.

I also want to comment on the idea I've seen floating around lately that somehow stats-based analysis is "new."

This is ludicrous. Baseball has always been a numbers game. Now we have some new and interesting, and more precise and effective, stats. That doesn't mean stats-based analysis is "new."

One more question/comment/diatribe (then blah can rest easy): I am very interested, Adam, in your reasoning about "clutchness." You claim it is a figment of fans' imagination, but I reiterate that performance is one thing, performance under pressure another thing entirely.

I say this in all humility, that I'd like you to explicate your reasoning rather than just make a blanket dismissal of the idea. Again, in all humility, I do have some experience of performance both in music and sports. Others have mentioned firefighters, soldiers, police officers (talk about your pressure!). Performance under pressure is a learned skill, in most cases, and it requires opportunities--repeated opportunities even after failing--to develop it.

This, in my view, is why Lou kept going to the well with Ayala. First, Ayala had had success before. Second, there were no real replacements who had experienced success. And third, mettle forged in the fire of failure is the strongest mettle there is. Had Ayala been able to cope with the pressure, develop mental strength and resilience, and overcome his failures, he would have been a very very strong asset for the M's going forward.

Just because no one has figured out how to reliably measure something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

For example, emotions. Animals and human predators "smell" fear. Emotions release chemicals in our bodies and through our pores etc. into the air that super-sensitive animals can actually feel. (A mosquito can sense temperature changes up to 2 km away. That's just one example of the amazing sensitivity animals have.)

Just because we haven't figured out how to reliably and reproducibly measure emotions doesn't mean they don't have a physical component.

Finally, Lance, sorry I wasn't clear about the posting procedure and didn't understand your confusion until I woke up. It's different from the old "type, save, reload, submit" procedure of the hairtrigger Captcha days:

First, type your post.

Second, highlight and save it. If you've spent a significant amount of time reading and/or writing, reload the page.

Third, submit.

Fourth, when you get the blank page (the new bug), with no indication of the submission being successful or unsuccessful, hit "back" on your browser. (Stat Prof said this didn't work for his IE, but I only use IE and it's worked fine for me.)

Finally, you will get the previous page, with your post in the comment box and the old Captcha code. Reload this page.

Now you will have the new page, with your post and all other new posts appended, providing you haven't misread the Captcha code or mistyped it.

Posted by Merrill

1:09 AM, Apr 19, 2008

That one's especially for you, blah!

Read it carefully and thoroughly. I expect cogent comments and intelligent, well-though-out responses from you on a point-by-point basis.

And soon!

Seriously, at the end, guys (and Lance), there's a more clear explication of how to overcome the current posting bug that has proven helpful to more than one person. Don't let the monster post keep you from reading that.

Also, there are some comments on platooning, stats, and clutchness, for those interested in those subjects.

Posted by kingk

1:11 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Hey John,,, No Shot? That's why we play the games we barely lost to thier best pitcher with a replacement starter...Washburn has been pitching well...and have you gotten some medical report on Bedard being out until late May? Where do you get this from? Even if we're 4 out after the w/e that's nothing It's only April...i can't let these idiotic negative comments of yours go by...What is the link to Bedard being out at least a month SHOW US

Posted by Merrill

1:38 AM, Apr 19, 2008

kingk, if you disagree, just say so, and then say why. There's no reason for what I consider a personal attack (idiotic).

Let's please try to get rid of this ineffective mode of communication. (And I don't mean, get rid of you. Just that communication style. It's not really communication, after all. Just inflammation.)

Posted by Bob

3:20 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Kenji must have had a brain fart. Haven't seen a batter look as bad all year as Hunter did missing those two knucklers - why change it? It's not like you can lock on to a knuckler after seeing a couple.

My first thought, as it seems were other's also, was that this was a "good" loss. One mis-called pitch led to three runs, and a few inches more would have put the Ms up in the ninth.

Baseball is a game of inches and this one had feet worth of inches. Mac is right on for looking at the positives.

Two good teams going at it. What could be better?

Posted by TimsHead

4:35 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Dickey showed heart tonight and, given what he has come back from, I have confidence this will somehow make him better. The list of pitchers who can't retire Torii Hunter is long and includes several All-Stars, Cy Young winners and future Hall of Famers. I'm not putting Dickey in that category, but he battled his way through what looked like nerves for a decent spot start.

Speaking of comebacks, happy to see Rhodes step it up. The guy's a professional, through and through.

I've been jaundiced toward Sexson, but I'll give the big guy his due. No one's hitting homers off Saunders, let along two, so that contribution is huge ... to say nothing of almost jacking one off K-Rod (who, imho, looks very vulnerable right now). Just a shame the other Mariner bats were silent.

Wash has looked good at times this year (a 3.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP out of a #4 starter is nothing to sneeze at) and I'm staying optimistic that the 2007 Miguel Batista was not a mirage. Especially with K-Rod not looking like lights out and the Mariners battling tonight, my white flag remains tucked in the attic under my Griffey Jr. T-shirt.

Posted by drlo

4:35 AM, Apr 19, 2008

John, you may not like Washburn or Batista, but beyond that, what you are in essence saying is that the Mariners behind Batista have no chance against the Angels behind Dustin Mosely. Dustin Mosely! Mosely may somehow step it up on Sunday -- as someone wrote earlier, that's why they play the games -- but no matter how poorly Batista may be pitching lately, nobody can argue that he should be expected to be outpitched by Dustin Mosely.

Posted by byebyeSexson

9:02 AM, Apr 19, 2008

What does, "labrum issue" mean? It is talked about as if it is cancer. Thanks.

Nice hitting Richie! Keep it up.

Posted by scottM

9:07 AM, Apr 19, 2008

April 19th and its snowing like crazy in the Puget Sound. Crazy like last night's game. Already, the M's/Angels series in '08 is shaping up to be a great one.

The M's are 2-2 against the Angels. If I were an Angels, I'd be worried. While their offense will need to carry them, K-Rod looks average at best. Saunders looked good, or was that the M's offense was bad, except for Sexson and Beltre? Our two losses came because of Eric O'Flaherty's puke job and not enough juke in Dickie's knuckleball.

Tonight we go with Washburn against the team that knows him too well. The M's offense will need to show up better.

I hear the weather's great in SoCal!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:08 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Kenji must have had a brain fart. Haven't seen a batter look as bad all year as Hunter did missing those two knucklers - why change it?

In the modern era of Major League baseball. Teams often signal in from the bench, pitches they want the guy on the mound to throw. The signal is picked up by the third base coach, who then relays the sign to the catcher. They do this based on Inside Edge scouting reports.

I also might add that a pitcher can shake off a catcher at anytime. And if the pitcher throws a meatball down the middle of the plate, or completely misses his location, you blame the thrower not the receiver.

Posted by scottM

9:10 AM, Apr 19, 2008

from byebyeSexson: "Nice hitting Richie! Keep it up."

Does anyone else see the irony in that post??!!!!??

Posted by stango

9:31 AM, Apr 19, 2008

byebye Sexson:

I'm no doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but:

"the shoulder joint has a cuff of cartilage called a labrum that forms a cup for the end of the arm bone (humerus) to move within."

Doesn't sound humorous to me.

"labrum issue" could be, for a pitcher, REALLY bad. Shoulder problems are always scarier than elbow issues, since there's no Tommy John surgery for shoulders. There are shoulder surgeries, but they're not as predictably reliable as TJ surgery (yet?).

That's why it may be talked about like cancer, since it could mean, if true, the end of the season for Bedard, maybe more

Posted by fgee

9:32 AM, Apr 19, 2008

I know often that the Bo Sox fans get credit for this but I would like to say imho that the Mariner's fans in all their flaws are the best at enjoying a well played game, play, etc. They can enjoy the chase and, I know, that this leads to some problems with being okay with 'pretty good' however, it also leads to greater enjoyment of what 'entertainment' is supposed to be-entertaining. Also, you can enjoy great plays by other players i..e Torii Hunter's catch, all the while, from the perspective of the fan cursing his ability.

So, Kudos to you, Mariners fan; overly educated (I think we have the highest post secondary/graduate degree ratio in the country which I think would mean the world, perhaps), angst ridden, nervous, shockingly pale (despite any natural melanin), but with the seeds and the fruition of that education i.e. ability to see beyond our barriers of affection and then cling to those barriers as they serve our purposes of being a Fan.

be well
FG

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:53 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Resin - Very good point.

Although, a couple days ago, when Washburn threw Joh under the bus for calling a pitch he didn't want, it sounded like the decision was Joh's and not the bench's. (Can't find the source at the moment - one of the local blogs quoted a post-game interview...) So while the calls come from the bench and/or pre-game plan, it doesn't seem to be that way 100% of the time.

Given RAD's inexperience at the ML level, and his likely jitters, I'd guess that the calls were mostly coming from Joh, so RAD could concentrate on pitching. But I don't know for certain.

Wherever the decision came from, sounds like RAD in post-game comments is taking it all the right way. So I'm looking forward to his next start. Here's hoping he's not one of those "one big inning" sort of pitchers who's fine otherwise.

Posted by Donovan

10:09 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Stango - There is nothing wrong with Bedard's shoulder. It is his hib labrum that is being discussed, not the shoulder labrum. Google "labral tear" if you want the gory details of how bad it can get, but it is a cartilage problem in the hip, and it can cause a lot of motion problems and pain. The shoulder labrum tear can be a career ender for pitchers. A hib labral problem is not good, but not as bad as a shoulder problem. To be fair to the team, it is not always simple to diagnose labral problems from a single MRI. Sometimes they need to do one with a contrast solution to see what is going on. This is definitely something they are not going to go public on until they know for sure.

Posted by PRchef

10:19 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Dr. Stango

Now I am confused

I thought Bedard's thing was on the hip, not the shoulder?

Resin

I heard a while back that Kenji is responsible for most of the pitch calling on this staff.

Maybe Geoff can provide some insight?

Posted by Adam

10:21 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Merrill,

I thought that I had discussed "clutchness" earlier, but maybe you missed it.

First, drlo made the point that pitchers generally perform worse when men are on base. I think that's right. Conversely, hitters generally perform better with men on base.

I looked at the splits for men on base for all MLB teams in 2007. 28 of the 30 teams' OPS was better with men on than with the bases empty. Tampa's OPS was only a point lower w/men on, and Florida's was only three points lower. So I think we can conclude that hitters are generally better with men on base. The fact that this appears to be uniform across the game diminishes the argument that "clutchness" is a special skill.

Second, I looked at the 2007 leaders for OPS with men on base. Here are the top 10:

A-Rod
Ortiz
Howard
M. Cabrera
M. Ordonez
Vlad
Fielder
D. Wright
Chipper Jones
Berkman

It shoudn't be surprising that these guys were the best hitters with men on; they are the best hitters in the game, period.

Here's the rest of the list:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting?sort=OPS&split=38&league=mlb&season=2007&seasonType=2&type=reg&ageMin=17&ageMax=51&minpa=300&hand=a&pos=all

Most of those names are pretty familiar, and I'd argue, again, that they are not clutch, but just plain good.

Third, is a hitter clutch because he hits better with men on than normal?

Below I've listed several Mariners and the differences between their career OPS with men on base and their career OPS with the bases empty. In parenthesees is their overall career OPS w/men on.

Wilkerson - 26 points (.816)
Sexson - 101 (.911)
Beltre - minus 12 (.780)
Ibanez - 60 (.851)
Ichiro - 27 (.831)
Lopez - 202 (.786)


So Lopez has the biggest difference (meaning he improves in so-called "clutch" situations more than any other Mariner), but his OPS is only higher than Beltre's w/men on base. So is Lopez really "clutch?" Is he the guy we want in any point in a game with men on? Surely no.

Further, David Ortiz's career OPS w/men on is actually seven points LOWER than his career OPS with the bases empty. Does that mean he's less "clutch?" Would anyone rather have Jose Lopez or Julio Lugo (career OPS w/men on is 10 points higher) at the plate in a tight spot than Ortiz?
Of course not.

Clutchness is something perpetuated by the media and fans. They see the really good hitters come up big in big spots and call them "clutch". Personally, I think they are just really good hitters, regardless of situation.

And it's no coincidence that a team's best hitters, rather than its "clutch" hitters, are in the middle of lineups. It's because the best hitters generally hit best in "clutch" situations.


So, we know that almost all teams hit better in "clutch" situations. We know that the best hittes in "clutch" situations are the best hitters, period.

And we probably agree that we want the best hitters at the plate in "clutch" situations, rather than the ones who may raise their games in "clutch" situations, but nonetheless are still not as productive as the best hitters. Just because Jose Lopez improves his game more than any Mariner hitter in the "clutch" doesn't mean I want him at the plate in those situations over Ibanez or Ichiro, for example.


I acknowledge that some might disagree with using OPS w/men on to measure "clutchness", but I tried to keep it simple, using a stat that measures production, and applying it to situations with men on.

Posted by Donovan

10:33 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Both the hip and shoulder are ball and socket joints. The labrum is the layer of cartilage between the bone ball and bone socket. In the case of the hip, the ball is on the end of the femur and the socket is part of the pelvis. Cartilage lines the space between, making the rotational motion smooth, kind of like the packing in a bearing. The labral tissue can get swollen, tear, or even degenerate completely, which is kind of like a dry bearing - lots of rubbing, friction, and even sticking in the motion.

Right now, people are just asking the reasonable question "What is the problem?" The question of why the problem has occurred is a whole other can of worms. If it is labral inflammation, it could be an injury, could be arthritis, or even an infection. Cartilage problems are often congenital.

Be careful when looking up labral injury info. Usually when it comes to pitchers, it is the shoulder labrum that tears - since pitchers are literally trying to throw their arm off their body with every pitch. Hip labral problems are more rare with pitchers. Hips are in compression during pitching, not extension. The joints are mechanically similar, but under completely different stresses. I can't ever remember hearing about a pitching-induced hip labral problem, but probably there have been some. I know they happen in track athletes, and even golfers.

Posted by ricofoy

10:40 AM, Apr 19, 2008

I can see that even though the M's lost, it's a wonderful day in the neighborhood. LOL
Silva is 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA and Santana is 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA. I, as well as most fans, would look at those numbers and say Silva is having the better year. The sabr guys would look at Santana's peripheral stats, k/bb, whip, baa etc and say Santana is having the better year. The fact that he's given up 5 HR's compared to 3 for Silva will be conveniently discounted as bad luck. Why is it luck when someone hits a HR? I always thought it was skill..what the hell was I thinking all these years?

Posted by scrapiron

10:46 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Adam - you could also quote sabremetric guru Bill James, who says there is "no such thing as a clutch hitter."

Although he admits David Ortiz is pretty good at it....

:-)

Posted by Donovan

10:51 AM, Apr 19, 2008

My impression has been that the typical boost in OBP (or OPS) seen in many or even most hitters with RISP is due to the fact that pitchers can't afford to walk anybody in those situations, so the hitter can sit on his pitch. One would expect to see the biggest boost in guys who have good plate discipline (most good hitters) and are good mistake hitters (ditto). It isn't surprising to me that Sexson hits 100 OPS points better with men on, because he is a pure mistake hitter, and he actually has a good eye at the plate (2007 aside).

I agree with Adam - the notion of "clutch" hitting, that some hitters magically summon up some superhuman ability when their team needs them is pure bunk. It's just an obvious result of normal hitting dynamics that decent hitters' numbers go up when they know they are going to get pitches to hit. There may well be "choke hitters", who crumble under pressure, but that is something completely different.

Posted by scrapiron

10:59 AM, Apr 19, 2008

2008 DH OPS:
Frank Thomas .639
Jose Vidro .640

Frank Thomas was recently benched for not performing up to expectations, although Thomas says its because the Blue Jays don't want to pay him a $10 million option for 376 plate appearances. Jose Vidro is performing just as poorly, and also has an option tied to plate appearances.

Meanwhile, the Mariners have a catcher/designated hitter in Jeff Clement with a 1.269 OPS in Tacoma. He also hit his fifth home run of the season last night.

Posted by Beau

11:03 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Adam,

Your thoughts are great and well articulated. I think you have an excellent point about "clutchness" and that if you are a great hitter then you are going to get great hits in crucial situations, therefore making you clutch (or negating the idea of clutch as you would say). I think your point is valid when your logic is going that way.

I think I would argue this however. I think anyone who is in the major leagues is a good hitter. Just to even get there you have to be great. Yes, there are great major league hitters and poor major league hitters, but in general, they are all great. My point is this. For anyone of the major leaguers to be on a team they have had to be clutch at some point (either in college, or the minors, or spring training) to even make the team. Therefore, I would argue that any hitter on a major league team is "clutch" because they have done it all their life at some level. The worst major league hitter has been the most "clutch" guy somewhere else.

Therefore I think that both of you are right. There is such thing as being clutch. Being clutch (making big hits in big situations) does exist, but I think Adam is right too in saying that at this level, the major leagues, just put the best hitters in there and let them swing. More often than not they are going to make the big hit. Adam, I think the reason the data is skewed and you find guys like Jose Lopez looking more "clutch" than ortiz is because of this phenomenon: All major leaguers are clutch. They are all going to hit clutch hits at different times and stretches. However, Ortiz is better all around, so we want him in no matter what.

Being a college golfer, I know what it means to be a "great tournament player" or just a great golfer. Fred Couples has said that the difference from a great golfer and and a pro is this : "The pro shoots 68 in tournaments" not just on weekends with his buddies. That is being clutch. There are many good golfers, hitters, you name it. But clutch ones do it when it counts. Every major leaguer is clutch or he wouldn't have made it.

Let me know your thoughts...

Posted by Beau

11:06 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Adam,

Your thoughts are great and well articulated. I think you have an excellent point about "clutchness" and that if you are a great hitter then you are going to get great hits in crucial situations, therefore making you clutch (or negating the idea of clutch as you would say). I think your point is valid when your logic is going that way.

I think I would argue this however. I think anyone who is in the major leagues is a good hitter. Just to even get there you have to be great. Yes, there are great major league hitters and poor major league hitters, but in general, they are all great. My point is this. For anyone of the major leaguers to be on a team they have had to be clutch at some point (either in college, or the minors, or spring training) to even make the team. Therefore, I would argue that any hitter on a major league team is "clutch" because they have done it all their life at some level. The worst major league hitter has been the most "clutch" guy somewhere else.

Therefore I think that both of you are right. There is such thing as being clutch. Being clutch (making big hits in big situations) does exist, but I think Adam is right too in saying that at this level, the major leagues, just put the best hitters in there and let them swing. More often than not they are going to make the big hit. Adam, I think the reason the data is skewed and you find guys like Jose Lopez looking more "clutch" than ortiz is because of this phenomenon: All major leaguers are clutch. They are all going to hit clutch hits at different times and stretches. However, Ortiz is better all around, so we want him in no matter what.

Being a college golfer, I know what it means to be a "great tournament player" or just a great golfer. Fred Couples has said that the difference from a great golfer and and a pro is this : "The pro shoots 68 in tournaments" not just on weekends with his buddies. That is being clutch. There are many good golfers, hitters, you name it. But clutch ones do it when it counts. Every major leaguer is clutch or he wouldn't have made it.

Let me know your thoughts...

Posted by Adam

11:23 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Beau - thanks. But if everyone has shown to be "clutch", then is there really such a thing?? I guess that's a big part of my point...

Posted by AKMarinersFan

11:44 AM, Apr 19, 2008

I think last night was one of the Mariners best games. I have been a huge doubter of Sexson but I have to say he is looking good. Its not just about the home runs its the improvement that he has shown with pitch selection. The combinaton of being able to have decent pitch selection with power is huge. I am worried that its not repeatable as it seems strange that a hitter can change so much in one year.

I thought Dickey looked great. Hoping the M's don't give up on him. He has a great tool and seems like a really good guy.

The only negative is that the Angels are clearly the better team. I looks like it may be closer this year though.

Posted by Beau

11:46 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Adam,

I think you and me are more of the same point than not. I was just flushing the "clutch" point out further. I think that all players in the big leagues are clutch. That is my position. Therefore you could wash the idea of clutch since all are clutch, or you could say, some players inside the context of the majors are more clutch.

I think you would say lets wash the notion of clutch, and others are saying that in the context of the majors there are more clutch hitters. Both are not necessarily wrong.

Beau

Posted by Beau

11:48 AM, Apr 19, 2008

Donovan,

You say that there can be "choke" hitters that crumble, but "clutch" Hitters are entirely different.

I think I understand why you would say that is different, but it makes no logical sense. If you describe someone as a "choke" hitter I would ask why? you would say something like, "He was batting in a crucial moment (runners on base...ninth inning, down by one) and he struck out. Maybe you would even say he "chokes" because he has done that every time the last two months.

My point is this. If you can say someone can "choke" in a crucial situation, you have to be able to say the reverse is true also. We would have to make stable what "normal" hitting would mean, but "choke" would be less (striking out all the time) and "clutch" would be more (maybe instead of getting a single, this batter keeps hitting doubles, or homers. Or maybe instead of getting 2 hits out of 10 at bats .200 avg, he is hitting 6-10 .600 avg in this situation.). If there is no "clutch" then there is no "choke"

the funny thing is this: some times we understand one phenomenon by observing the other. We all agree there are "choke" hitters, so by observing "chokers", logic says the other has to be true also even if we can not see it as well, or we don't believe it.

Many people look at the world and see so much evil and destruction that they can not and will not believe that there is a God and that he is good. Let me just stir your curiosity by saying that by observing the phenomenon of evil and destruction, we can say and assume by logic that there is also something very good out there too.

I know it isn't a valid argument to assume "good" is a God, but some of you may be writing God off because of evil. That is also ill-logical

Posted by jk

12:02 PM, Apr 19, 2008

I have a question for everyone...I have heard on more then a few occations by many a talking head that Kenji Johjima nevers calls a good game behind the plate. I bring this up because both Bill Krueger and Jeff Nelson said Dickey should have thrown a knuckleball in the first inning to Tori Hunter and I read in the paper this morning that Johjima called for a fastball and Dickey was mad at himself for not waiving it off. Is this a pattern with Johjima, not calling the right pitch is certain circumstances? Or should the responsibility lie with the pitcher?

Posted by scrapiron

12:27 PM, Apr 19, 2008

jk - Calling a game is one of Kenji's weaknesses, but he is much improved this year with the help of Mel Stottlemyre, and getting more accustomed to the American League hitters.

The pitch to Hunter in question wasn't really a bad call. Dickey had thrown nothing but slow stuff to that point to Hunter in the count, and he really needed a strike and couldn't afford a walk. Kenji thought this was an ideal time to change speeds, with a pitch that he could control better and sneak the fastball past Hunter. Hunter guessed correctly that they would try this and was sitting on that pitch. That was just a good hitter guessing correctly.

The reason Dickey was upset was because he felt he had great control of his knuckleball that night and he was sure he could have thrown the pitch for a strike in that situation. Kenji had no way of knowing how Dickey "felt" that day and called the control pitch. It's up to Dickey to shake off the pitch based on his feel for his pitches that day.

Posted by thebruin

12:42 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Resin,

I've never heard of a 3rd base coach relaying pitching signs to a catcher.... how does that work? The manager could just walk over to the other end of the bench, and tell him. Seeing as how Perlozzo is in the dugout when our guy is pitching......... Its usually a pitching coach relaying signs directly to the catcher, if they are coming from the dugout.

Adam,

I've always had a question for you about "clutchness"... You say its not a repeatable skill right? How then, do you explain teams playing much better at home than on the road? Players should be able to repeat their skills on the road just the same as at home, shouldn't they? The Mets were the only team in the MLB that had a better record on the road than at home last year. It's just an example that emotion, and mental toughness can make a difference... a huge difference.

Posted by Mr. X

12:45 PM, Apr 19, 2008

There's really no dispute that some human beings (baseball players are human beings) function better in high pressure situations than others. And sometimes all it takes is one bad experience in a high pressure situation to turn a functional human being into a second-guessing, worthless spectator.

So yes, there is such a thing as players who function at a higher level when it's all on the line. You see it in every sport, every year. In fact, you see it in every walk of life. The reason why it may be hard to measure, is because those opportunities don't present themselves as often in baseball. HItting with RISP and two outs is NOT a clutch situation, unless it's the last play of the game. If it's in the 3rd inning, the pressure is not as high as it is with the game on the line. Or the season on the line. It isn't even close. As my friend ML Invader will tell you, if you're a salesman at a Rent-to-own scam store, that first washer/dryer sale of the month just isn't the same as selling that same item at the end of the month when you have to hit your quota.

It's really tough to explain it to someone who never lifts anything heavier than a computer monitor, once a year, to dust underneath it.

Torii Hunter never ceases to impress. No doubt in my mind that he's the best centerfielder in the AL, and I doubt that Bavasi even picked up the phone to see how his agent's family was doing.

Posted by Mr. X

12:53 PM, Apr 19, 2008

And to answer a question from another thread, pitch count isn't going to be an issue with Dickey. Salad (or pus) throwers aren't the same as someone like Felix who puts more strain on his arm on one pitch than Dickey does in 5 pitches. When you're pitching in the mid to low 70's (one was 68mph) most of the game, it's not the same.

Posted by The X Factor

12:56 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Perhaps you have answered the problem with McLaren, but when did he come under a high pressure situation?

By the way, have you yet clutched both hand onto that great wheel of life? When it presents itself, be sure to fall down in front of it.

Posted by PRchef

1:06 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Adam

I think you make a great argument on there being no such thing as clutch.

However on this statement:

"And it's no coincidence that a team's best hitters, rather than its "clutch" hitters, are in the middle of lineups. It's because the best hitters generally hit best in "clutch" situations.

So, we know that almost all teams hit better in "clutch" situations. We know that the best hittes in "clutch" situations are the best hitters, period."

I disagree.

How do you explain A-rod (regarded one of the best hitters of his generation) and his "choke hitting" in the playoffs? He seems to do great during the rest of the season but when it comes to the post season, it is a whole different story.

AK

Wow!, perhaps there is hope for this blog. I think your last post is the first post that I can remember of anything positive coming from you with regards to this team. (I'm sure it has happened before but I just can't remember when)

: )

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