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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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July 3, 2008 9:23 AM

Disappointment contest

Posted by Geoff Baker

So, the other day, I was reading one of those panel discussions from a national online sports site in which the panelists got to vote for their biggest surprises/disappointments of the baseball season so far. One of the biggest surprises for me was how many people chose the Mariners. Next on the list seemed to be the Detroit Tigers, who are in town tonight riding a 7-3 streak in their past 10 games. This will be the biggest test of the Jim Riggleman regime to-date. It's one thing to look good against the NL's dregs and the Toronto Blue Jays. But these are the same Tigers, remember, who are 5-1 versus Seattle this season. You've got four games against them here. Split the four and I'll start to be convinced the M's really have turned things around. Too late, but around.

Anyhow, which of these clubs has been the biggest disappointment?

Both mortgaged away some sizeable talent in the hopes of contending.

Seattle gave up Adam Jones and others for Erik Bedard. Detroit surrendered Andrew Miller and a bunch of others to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. The latter is back in the minors, while Cabrera -- expected to return tonight after being out two days with a sore hip flexor -- is muddling along with 11 home runs and an on-base-plus slugging percentage of .806. Not quite the 34 homers and .966 OPS he had last year. Cabrera's average career OPS -- even when dragged down by this year's numbers -- is .917.

In park factored OPS+, he'd averaged 150 or higher the past three seasons. It's now only 115. Yes, he's been a disappointment.

As a team, the Tigers have turned it around to sit 42-42 after a terrible start. They are still 7 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central. They sit 6 1/2 back of Boston in the wild-card race. In other words, their chances of catching up, from an historical perspective, are not very good.

Then again, the Mariners are 17 1/2 out in the division and 15 1/2 back in the wild card race.

If Seattle continues to play at the 8-4 pace it has under Jim Riggleman so far, the M's will reach .500 again by about the second week in September.

Let's look at some other totals.

The Tigers were supposed to be a Murderers' Row lineup. They do sit fourth in the AL with a .771 OPS. But that's still more than 30 points behind Texas and Boston. And remember, the Red Sox are scuffling without David Ortiz in the lineup.

Seattle? Dead last at .690. Right behind the Angels. Yes, the Angels. (Want to really cry? The so-called Pythagorean Expectation says the M's should only be seven games behind the Angels, despite everything). What could have been...

On the pitching front, though, the Tigers are actually worse than the Mariners. Detroit sits 13th of 14 AL clubs with a team ERA of 4.51. Seattle is 12th at 4.45.

That's serious stuff. Detroit was supposed to have the pitching to win a World Series. Seattle was only picked to contend for a division title.

Detroit starters are at a 4.59 ERA comapred to Seattle's 4.84. That would be 10th best compared to 13th.

But in the bullpen, the M's are eighth best at 3.76 compared to Detroit being 12th at 4.34.

The Tigers' best starter is rookie Armando Galaragga, who is at 7-2 with a 3.40 ERA at age 26. His ERA+ is at 121.

Seattle's best is 22-year-old Felix Hernandez, at 6-5 with a 2.83 ERA and an ERA+ of 138.

The M's spent $117 million on their payroll. The Tigers checked in at $137 million.

Which team has been the bigger bust?

For me, expectations-wise, it might be the Tigers. Unless they at least make the post-season. We'll get into the Cleveland Indians and the monumental bust they've been at another date. But when you think about it, the Indians were suppsoed to be the Tigers' biggest division obstacle. And Cleveland has completely tanked. Yet, the Tigers, barring one of those inspirational comebacks, probably won't win their division. They were picked by many -- maybe even a majority of pundits -- to win it all. They are spending $20 million more than the M's.

One thing in Detroit's favor? They might be able to rebuild this thing pretty easily. Seattle? Not sure about that one. Leaning towards no.

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Posted by NewFan

10:03 AM, Jul 03, 2008

The Tigers for the last 25 games are 19 - 6. They probably won't maintain that - but at that rate they will pass 100 wins. If they fall short and only get 90 wins it is still no contest - Seattle most dissapointing.

Posted by Sad Karr

10:18 AM, Jul 03, 2008

I think right now everything in Seattle is disappointing. M's are bad (but improving?), Sonics are dead and gone...I can only hope the Seahawks have a good year and lift this city out the sports doldrums...

Anybody remember, "Naw, not in our house!"

Eddie Johnson - where are you now?

Posted by Pirata Morado

10:28 AM, Jul 03, 2008

It's hard to argue, which is worse? which team has been more of a dissapointment? It's like saying: "what's worse, to die from a bullet of from falling off a cliff?" It doesn't matter, both ways you're dead!

Posted by Ry

10:31 AM, Jul 03, 2008

This isn't even debatable. I'm an M's fan who lives near Detroit and Seattle has been by far the biggest disappointment of the year. The Tigers still have a good shot at the playoffs. Normally, I'd say you have to wait until the end of the season and see how everything shakes out before you debate this topic but it's July 3 and Seattle's season is already over. I couldn't care less about team OPS and ERA. It's about Ws. Case closed.

Posted by WillieMaysHays

10:47 AM, Jul 03, 2008

I think the biggest disappointment is the terrible play of Cleveland. Last place in the division they won last year with the same players (mostly) and picked to win the division this year. Now they are 11+ games back, they have no offense and no bullpen. They are about to lose their greatest pitcher since Bob Fellar and they have more holes in their line-up than swiss cheese. I think they beat out the Mariners b/c no one expected Cleveland's power outage (at least not as bad as it has been) and the Mariners were definitely going to have some issues with their line-up. I could go on, but I look forward to comparing how bad they are to the Mariners in the future.

Posted by scottM

10:53 AM, Jul 03, 2008

Which is worse?

The Expos leaving Montreal


The Sonics leaving Seattle


Posted by Pirata Morado

11:05 AM, Jul 03, 2008

What? The Sonics left Seattle? No!!!!!

What? The Expos left Montreal? I bet Geoff is going to cry a little because of that!

Posted by Jeff C

11:13 AM, Jul 03, 2008

Detroit has been more disappointing to me. Looked to be the most talented team in baseball before the season.

I never thought this M's team was any good and the 88 win team was a total fluke. I'm not really surprised at all by this season.

For me, the Jones-Bedard trade was worse than the Cabrera-Miller trade. Detroit was very close, and to me the M's were very far away and needed more players to rebuild. And I still think this team should rebuild. Every team gets hot at some point in the season no matter how bad they are. Would not surprise me if this team goes back to where it was before Riggelman.

Anyone who stubbornly continues to bat Vidro cleanup is no genius.

Posted by Oly Mike

11:23 AM, Jul 03, 2008

At least the Mariners and Seahwks got a "Plug" from Mayor Nickelsand will be staying around no matter how awful they are. Here is what I wrote to to the Seattle Times and PI concerning the Sonics and Mayor Nickels:

Sonics Ain’t Worth A Plug from Nickels

Well the Sonics couldn’t get support (a plug) from Mayor Nickels. You could just see Mayor "Plug" on TV salivating at the thought of getting his greasy palms on that $45 million dollars The Sonics never had a chance of remaining in Seattle with that much cash involved. I wonder how much other cash passed under the table into Plug’s over size pockets. It was just like the proposed Seattle Monorail once Plug put his weight against that project it was gone, even though the citizens of Seattle publicly voted for it twice. Now what do they have? Well it is the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT)! A most appropriate name with Plug involved. The South Lake Union Streetcar or SLUS as it is now called to protect the names of the guilty is more intrusive (at-grade), less service and approaching the same initial cost as the Monorail. Lookout! Alaskan Way Viaduct we might get slutted or “Plugged” to the highest bidder and get something that we don't want and watch Plug Nickels speechify again on why he sold us out and how he is planning the best thing for Seattle!

Maybe Mayor Plug should tell Mariner Management what they need to do and something would happen.

Posted by Jeff C

11:28 AM, Jul 03, 2008

I hope Clay never gets a ring, and I hope Durant bails on him for a bigger market. Now all of a sudden OKC is the NBA's smallest market.

Which FA's will want to move to OKC? Ick.

He will have to way overpay to get them there...

Posted by Chris

12:23 PM, Jul 03, 2008

The NBA is a pretencious look at Me/Me first league.One of the reason Seattle bailed on the NBA along time ago.Horrable mangement aside,people just didn`t care that much.The player`s could care less about the regular season and have said as much.This league has become a watered down joke with 16 teams going to the playoff`s.Proud that Seattle wouldn`t pay for a poorly run Sport`s franchise in these Economic bad times.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:47 PM, Jul 03, 2008

Yeah Cabrerra's 0.806 is pretty bad. Of course the highest active Mariner OPS is 0.778 (Ibanez). Just for fun Bloomquist and Cairo's OPS Is 0.622 and 0.583 respectively.

Adam Jones has 0.700 OPS.

One of those "other guys" that Geoff forgot to mention is George Sherrill.. He's 2nd in the AL in saves and also has a 3.62 ERA.

Another one of the "other guys" is Chris Tillman he is 7-2 with a 3.08 ERA in AA ball. He will going to AAA ball soon I am sure.

Bedard will be gone after next year.

Yeah I think Detroit did ok in comparison to Seattle. But Geoff - thanks for providing the Mariners FO spin on this

Posted by casetines

12:50 PM, Jul 03, 2008

I would think that the Indians were picked by more people to win the division than the Tigers. I know they added Renteria, Cabrera, and Willis. But Willis was clearly showing signs of being "finished" and Renteria is simply a nice player, but nothing special.

The Indians had the reigning Cy Young. They had Fausto Carmona who finished near the top of the Cy Young voting. The 2nd best DH in the league. The best catcher in the league. Upstarts like Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore who was a sleeper MVP candidate. Those were the players that were SUPPOSED to do good. Instead, in a year when Cliff Lee is dominating and Casey Blake is hitting .380 over the last month, the Indians have as much hope as the Mariners do.

I still don't think any team can compete with the disappointment of the Indians. They lost nobody and are getting career years out of important players but still can't win. The Mariners lost Adam Jones, George Sherrill, and Jose Guillen and only added Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard as guys that were supposed to contribute. I think if anything the Mariners got worse after those deals than better. The only way they were going to make the playoffs were if Bedard was still an ace, Sexson and Beltre bounced back, and Felix was ace jr. The only one of those things that happened was Ace Jr. And its just not enough.

I think even in the case of the biggest disappointment, you can't crown the M's the winner.

Posted by IBleedAngelRed

1:46 PM, Jul 03, 2008

What happened in Seattle this year? I was hoping for another hard-fought rivalry between the Angels and the M's. Seriously, what happened and who is to blame?

Posted by Capo

1:53 PM, Jul 03, 2008

A lot can be made of the fact that both Bonderman and Verlander are hurt, Bonderman is done for the season, and Verlander is down 5-6mph.

Giving up Miller and Maybin, was too much.....and the Tigers were stupid for taking on Willis....who is clearly not the same pitcher he was earlier in his career....Like Bedard, there was a lot of talk about Willis being overvalued by some, given his poor mechanics and bad contract.

All things considered, I'll say the Tigers, but give them a slight pass because of injuries, and the fact that they are still in it.......I say this because no one in their right mind expected the Mariners to really contend, given this horrible team.

Posted by chris from Bothell

2:43 PM, Jul 03, 2008

Too early to call. Just like everyone oohing and ahhing over the potential of Chipper to hit .400 this year were too danged early. I don't like seeing who's the biggest disappointment at the half; it contributes to the culture of fans and players giving up and/or coasting way too early.

Start with the big disappointments in late August, when the true pennant / WC races shape up.

Posted by George

4:19 PM, Jul 03, 2008

You have to do more than lean toward no. The Mariners are built with too many players from losing backgrounds on losing teams like the Brewers, the Dodgers, the Orioles and the Royals. . Until they stock up with players like Pudge Rodriguez or Mike Lowell or at least a Mark Texeira they will continue to be just mediocre at best.

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