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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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May 6, 2008 6:12 PM

Griffey, Washburn updates

Posted by Geoff Baker

wlad0506 020.jpg

Now why can't Adrian Beltre, pictured in the cage above, get a cut like that on a ball when there are runners in scoring position? Thanks to eastcoast in the comments thread for bringing that up. More on it later, but first...

I know a lot of you are in an uproar over the possibility of Ken Griffey Jr. coming here after he swats his 600th home run. Much of this is based off today's USA Today story by Bob Nightengale. In it, there's a quote from Mariners president Chuck Armstrong saying: "I think everybody in Seattle would like to see him retire in a Mariners uniform. He was born a Mariner. And I'd like to see him finish up as a Mariner.

"I can't say much because he is property of the Cincinnati Reds, but he always will have a special place in my heart, and everyone here in Seattle.''

Well that, predictably, set folks off all over the place. Armstrong is attending an owners' meeting and couldn't come down to comment today. But he relayed info via the team's media relations director, Tim Hevly, who said Armstrong made the comments to Nightengale while doing a Saturday interview on the recent death of Buzzie Bavasi, the father of Mariners GM Bill Bavasi. When the conversation switched to Griffey, Armstrong apparently made his comments along general lines, meaning yeah, he'd like to see Griffey return for a day, wear the uniform and retire, or something like that. But he insists he told Nightengale, as you can read in the story, that he could not talk about bringing him here this year or anytime since baseball does have serious tampering rules. I'm sure the Mariners got a phone call from the commish's office in New York today. They won't confirm or deny that.

What do I think? It makes sense as a theory that the Reds would try to benefit from PR for Griffey by waiting three more homers until he reaches 600. It makes sense to unload him if they can get a genuine prospect for him. I'm not sure, though, that it makes sense for the M's to give up a decent prospect to go get him now. This team has enough DH types already. If you want to wait until next year, he'll likely be a free agent if his club option is declined. Then you figure out if he's got enough left and pay him to come back if he fits.

Here's what Griffey's agent said ealier today, about it being speculation and little else.

Just got done talking to Jarrod Washburn and his calf is feeling better today. It isn't feeling super-fantastic, as anyone who's ever woken up with a cramp in their calf can tell you. Those things hurt when you damage them and the hurt can linger. Washburn tore that calf a couple of seasons ago, right after my arrival in Seattle, but the pitcher says the injury isn't as serious this time.

Washburn wants to make his next start. He told me he might not throw on the side between outings this time, just to rest it more. The last time he tore it, he could put his entire finger in the hole in the muscle. His calfs aren't that big, by the way, for what it's worth, so that's a significant tear. But this time, the hole isn't too big. The team feels it may be scar tissue from the previous injury that ripped away, which is normal. He's going to be examined tonight for an opinion about that.

Back to Beltre for a moment. As eastcoast mentioned, Beltre's average with runners in scoring position is a mere .133, despite his big numbers overall. I had this conversation with Brad Adam of FSN while sitting in the Yankee Stadium pressbox on Sunday. Adam said something like "How the heck does your cleanup hitter have only six RBI?'' and I mumbled something about no guys getting on ahead of him. Then I said "Let's check that theory out'' looked at the numbers and saw I was wrong. He just stinks with runners in scoring position this year.

I was all excited for a moment, thought I'd have a great blog post to work on for when I got back to Seattle. In fact, last night, I planned to run all the numbers. As Faceplant already mentioned in the comments section, the runners in scoring position stat often tends to reflect what hitters are doing overall. There is a theory out there (a debate actually) about whether "clutch hitting'' truly exists. Those who say it doesn't insist that good hitters will hit well with runners in scoring position. Hitters doing poorly overall won't. Those who hit extremely well with RISP are just having fluke seasons -- so the theory goes.

I do think certain hitters can rise to the occasion, but I also think, for the majority of hitters, it is just that other aspect. If they're hitting well overall, they'll hit well with RISP.

What I wanted to do was compare how the M's were hitting overall to how they were hitting with RISP. But in reading through USS Mariner last night, just before beginning my research as the game was going on, I saw that one of their posters had beaten me to it. Apparently, the numbers are just bad all around and the RISP stats reflect the overall stats. No news there. It would be different if the averages and OPS with RISP were significantly lower -- reflecting a team that tightens up with men on-base. But nope.

Anyhow, I got to thinking though, how would this impact the team if the guys in the middle of the order were the ones with lower RISP totals? I mean, these are the guys who tend to get the most chances to drive runners home. If they are significantly lower than the rest, it would stand to reason that this is one reason the team is not scoring.

Let's take a look at the regular averages of the guys in the heart of the order:

Ibanez: .308
Beltre: .274
Vidro: .192
Sexson: .216

And now with RISP:

Ibanez: .273
Beltre: .133
Vidro: .393
Sexson: .107

Well, we now see why Vidro has so many RBI. Certainly a big dropoff elsewhere, especially by Beltre and Sexson.

Overall, you see a team where the batting average is .252 compared to .242 with RISP. Not much of a drop. But in the middle of the order, even with guys doing well, there has been a significant dropoff. And I do think it matters, since the four guys I've mentioned are the ones getting the most at-bats on their team with RISP. So, yes, something to think about. I do think these guys are pressing a little when it counts. So does the team, obviously, and the numbers bear that out.


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Posted by The Ultimate Optimist

6:26 PM, May 06, 2008

I thinking bringing back Griffey now, or after "600" is a great idea for the M's. I think he'd bring that one thing that we kept talking about during the Pythag discussions this offseason - intangibles.


Griffey would be a clubhouse leader, a vetern presence that the younger players would listen to and respect. Something this team sorely seems to need.


I also think that the buzz surrouding him coming home to Seattle would be so great. The town would be electric with Griffey fever. That kind of excitement would surely trickle back down to the players and could very well serve as a motivating factor in trning things around.


Griffey is a special player. His potential return to Seattle is a special circumstance. It doesn't exist anywhere else. It's something that the stat sheets simply can't compute.

Posted by SICK56

6:26 PM, May 06, 2008

WASHBURN UPDATE: HE's STILL FLUFFY!

Posted by doug

6:33 PM, May 06, 2008

ya, it would be nice if Beltre's clutch score wasnt so low and he actually hit his dingers when more than NOBODY was on base. Still enraged we signed him to that huge freakin contract and he stunk up the joint so bad.

Posted by Mr. X

6:33 PM, May 06, 2008

I mentioned Beltre's RISP numbers days ago, and was blasted for it. Glad to see the "Mr. X echo chamber" is up and running again. It isn't just RISP, but also with runners on. He's been content so far this year to just join the runners on base with 11 walks. We need him to drive those runners in, or put someone there who can.

Posted by No SICK56

6:35 PM, May 06, 2008

SICK56 - You are a FLUFFY mamas boy and nothing more than a little troll on this blog 0 "Yo Mama!"

Posted by Everett fan

6:37 PM, May 06, 2008

To Liz and Marcus (on last post) - What's your beef with Geoff? He's giving his opinion, just like all us posters. Is he the only one not allowed to interact with us?
I've not always agreed with him; I've never agreed 100% with anyone - so what?
Get real. . . .
Note to EverettMsfan - thanks for sticking that M in your handle. I've not posted for some time, but I'd still like to use my trademark.

Posted by The X Factor

6:38 PM, May 06, 2008

Mr. X - For someone admitting to be a black man, you sure attack anyone of color, it is as if you despite them. You must really hate yourself. By the way, clutch that great wheel with both hands and let it roll right over you.

Posted by ColbyinBoston

6:40 PM, May 06, 2008

Why do people think that RISP average is significant and a sign of a repeatable skill?

Does Vidro somehow forget how to hit when people aren't on base? If RISP average is a repeatable skill, why doesn't he apply this same skill to his non-RISP AB's?

Posted by Swung On And Belted

6:49 PM, May 06, 2008

With regards to the last two threads, I agree completely with Geoff. He makes solid points that shouldn't be too hard to understand. If he has a condescending tone, I think it's because he probably assumes the position that if you regularly read the blog and post here, you are probably a little more informed and dedicated than the average fan. Believe me, I understand the frustration of the fans though. Losing tends to bring out the worst in everybody involved.

About 2010; I say forget about it. There is no guarantee in rebulding. Just look at our history. I'm one life-long fan who wants to win NOW! Don't you think we've waited long enough? We finally, for the first time, have the starting pitching that is capable of winning the WS. I hope they do anything and everything possible to get an offense that will keep us in games. There is no guarantee now either, but let's give it our best shot. The losing is frustrating, and especially hard to swallow this year because of all of the hype and expectations. And, right now this offense is giving us much to view as hope, so lets keep the pressure on the players to perform, and the FO to make the necessary moves.

Either direction the team goes from here, I'm still for getting Griffey back. Yes I know what he did to us before. But I've forgiven him. I think "The Kid" still has something left, and if we can climb back into contention, I'd love nothing more than to see him get one more shot at the title back in Seattle. And if we stay near the cellar, then he will give us a reason to reason to watch, if only for nostalgia.

Posted by Ziasudra

6:51 PM, May 06, 2008

I think the M's have an opportunity to swing a blockbuster deal for Griffey - offer them Olivia or Wilkerson - their pick! Since Griffey will nix any trade to any other club, the M's have he Reds over the same barrel from 9 years ago!
"Roll out the barrel! Let's have a barrel of fun!. . . "

Posted by mickey

6:56 PM, May 06, 2008

Griffey is owed 16 million next year if his option is picked up. If Seattle trades for him are we liable for the 16 million? If so than do we want to sacrifice a couple of other free agents next year for a 39 year old Griffey?

Wouldn't it be better to wait until he is released than sign him to a more reasonable contract?

Posted by Justin H.

6:57 PM, May 06, 2008

Geoff,

Another intersting point about Beltre and RISP is the fact he stunk it up the last two years as well. This seems like a scary fact. I understand what faceplant meant by saying it is just a coincidence. Nevertheless, it is a big difference and you have to wonder is he changing his approach? Seems like he must be.

2006 - avg: .268 with RISP: .256
2007 - avg: .276 with RISP: .247

Posted by Mr. X

7:01 PM, May 06, 2008

The racist looks at baseball players and breaks them down into (victim) groups by their race, because that's the first thing they see and judge people by. They see "people of color", not people. I would expect nothing less from the fans in the great Pacific Northwest. I'm used to it.

I judge players by their performance on the field, as baseball players. When it's all said and done, results and performance are the only things that count. Not "feelings" or intentions.

Posted by Tahoma

7:03 PM, May 06, 2008

Sucking up the sentiment, it of course makes better sense to wait on Griffey. Probably he has little chance to come home this year, as $16 million is too steep a price even for "the kid" who lit up the Kingdom, much less a declining veteran. These are words of reason but my heart says bring Junior back.

Posted by The X Factor

7:08 PM, May 06, 2008

Mr. X - Such talk is such nonsense, you will in your heart of hearts vote McCain because he is a while man and you just can't stand to see a man of color lead this nation. As I have observed your comments concerning Ichiro and any other man of color, including Beltre today, it is clear that you have a higher standard for non-whites. Take some time and reflect on your motivations, in meditation I think you will see that you really hate yourself. So next time when life presents itself, take holt with both hands and let it have its way with you.

Posted by Justin H.

7:17 PM, May 06, 2008

Geoff,

Furthermore, out of the top 8 3rd baseman in the AL last year, Beltre is the only one to have a lower average with RISP. And that was nearly 30 points lower. Most players whose stats I looked at were an average of 15-20 points better with RISP. I just looked at AL 3B to have someone to compare his stats with.

Guys I included:

Blalock
Figgins
Lowell
Cabrera
AROD
Youkilas
Gordon

Posted by Adam

7:18 PM, May 06, 2008

Another awesome logical fallacy from Mr. X. Wheee!


Regarding the RISP issue, I made a post a couple of weeks ago and made several points:

1. 28 of 30 teams had higher OPS w/RISP. Is it a skill if almost everyone does it?

2. The best hitters in the game (A-Rod, Pujols, Berkman, etc.) are annually at the top of the list of hitters w/RISP. The best hitters are the best hitters in any situation.

3. Just because some hitters do better in those situations than with the bases empty doesn't mean they are more "clutch" than other hitters who may not improve in "clutch" situations but are still better in those situations. David Ortiz actually has a better career OPS w/the bases empty, but I doubt anyone would want Julio Lugo, who does improve w/RISP, rather than Ortiz.


For his career, Beltre is basically the same hitter with RISP (.791 OPS) as he is w/bases empty (.793). He's fine.

Posted by Adam

7:19 PM, May 06, 2008

The X Factor -

Go away you troll.

Posted by The X Factor

7:20 PM, May 06, 2008

Good point Adam - very illuminating.

Posted by thatgirl

7:24 PM, May 06, 2008

I personally have not ever bought into nor completely understood the fascination with Griffey. Here's a guy for whom the stadium was built and he snubbed a huge deal because "Cincinnati" was home and he wanted to go there.....we'll now because it's expedient and Seattle gave him a hero's welcome last summer...he may want and M's fans want him back. Geesh - his intangibles aren't going to help this team anymore than his batting average.

Posted by doug

7:25 PM, May 06, 2008

i agree Mr. X, beltre seems content to clog the bases by walking and not DRIVING THEM HOME. Whatta joke he is

Posted by Tahoma

7:29 PM, May 06, 2008

Truth is Beltre is not a middle of the order hitter, at best he is a sixth or seventh place hitter. But with this M/s lineup, he is forced to bat much higher in the order than his competence.

Posted by greyguy3

7:31 PM, May 06, 2008

"I'm not sure, though, that it makes sense for the M's to give up a decent prospect to go get him now. This team has enough DH types already."

Afreakinmen to that. If they're willing to eat Vidro's salary and dump him, we might take Griffey as a fan draw after we are out of the race, but I wouldn't give up more than career minor leaguers and a willingness to take his salary.

Posted by Tahoma

7:39 PM, May 06, 2008

Agreed greyguy3

Posted by Troll

7:41 PM, May 06, 2008

Adam - You are the troll of statistics, one really dull guy.

Posted by ethan

7:44 PM, May 06, 2008

if I'm not mistaken...the Angels as a team are batting .311 RISP. they also have the worst three defensive teams in the AL in their division.

Posted by doug

7:48 PM, May 06, 2008

Well, on an optimal team beltre would be a 7th or 8th hitter or mb a defensive replacement for a true hitting 3b. He just isnt clutch and is just stinking up the plate and cloggin the bases. he was real shitty the last 3 years but pricks like dave cameron at uSHITmariner think he is dope just b/c they dont really know baseball

Posted by Troll

8:00 PM, May 06, 2008

Adam - I suppose you wear a grey suit with a red tie so as to take care of the two percent's ninety-eight of the nation's wealth. It is the definition of a leech, but I suppose the crumbs are good from your rich master's table.

Posted by Troll

8:02 PM, May 06, 2008

Adam - I suppose you wear a grey suit with a red tie so as to take care of the two percent's ninety-eight percent of the nation's wealth. It is the definition of a leech, but I suppose the crumbs are good from your rich master's table.

Posted by ERIC

2:56 AM, May 07, 2008

BARRY BONDS enough said

Posted by ERIC

2:57 AM, May 07, 2008

BARRY BONDS enough said

Posted by Griffey Fan

7:27 AM, May 08, 2008

Bring Griffey back. I will never forget his first game back.
Things will be electric.

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