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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 16, 2008 10:30 AM

Numbers and logic

Posted by Geoff Baker

oakk0709 006.jpg

Wow, wasn't it fun watching last night's All Star Game? Or, as we here in Seattle like to call it, just another Mariners adventure? I mean, when's the last time we in the Emerald City were able to see so many runners left on base in the same game? Probably last Sunday, or Saturday, I'd suspect.

At least Larry Stone got to star gaze a bit. Ah, the joys of covering the All-Star Game. Know them well. Up at 6 a.m. every day to cover sponsor-driven press conferences, then to bed by 3 a.m. after being forced to sit through the entire Home Run Derby, then a 15-inning game, in which you have to hustle off to interview your team's player, who went 0-for-2 or something. Actually, at least Ichiro gave Larry plenty to write about, going 1-for-3 and throwing out Albert Pujols trying for a double on a ball off the wall. Good on Ichiro, though if he'd connected with those guys on base, the game might have ended two hours earlier. Anyhow, if you see Larry after the break, or write in on his guest blog appearances, give him a hand. These all-star things are not as easy to cover as they might seem.

For those wondering how the M's are faring on the pitching market, this start next week could have plenty to do with whether a Seattle pitcher gets moved to Philadelphia. From that same blog (a lot shorter than ours, wouldn't you say?) comes word that the Phillies are taking a look at Joe Blanton. Not surprising. So is everyone in baseball in need of pitching. No big concern there.

OK, on to today's topic.

I read a comment from 7hourlinedrive written at 2:11 a.m. this morning, which states: "You people, you "fans" who claim to be Mariners fans but waste no time trashing its players, its coaches, its management, want so badly to hit Riggleman with the idiot stick, that you just can't fathom the fact he could be RIGHT... so you'll spend all your energy disproving it or explaining it away, with the whole "correlation doesn't prove causation" argument. You've been proven wrong, at least for the moment, and that so badly discombobulates you. You people still don't deserve the M's when they get better. You've abandoned them.''

Doesn't mince words, huh?

Anyhow, it struck a chord with me because I've noticed, for the better part of a year, a growing gap between what is written here, by me, and a lot of you when it comes to numbers and analysis. It's bothered me, because we all used to get along so well (holding back a smile here). But seriously, there is also an obvious gap between the day-to-day decisions taken by this team and what some of you consider to be logical and acceptable statistical analysis. And it's not only with decisions made by this team. But in just over a year, I've now seen three Mariners managers, Mike Hargrove, John McLaren and now Jim Riggleman trashed on this blog for being what some of you have called "stupid" and "idiotic" and "clueless".

Now, obviously, those three men are neither. They do know the game of baseball. Better than just about any of you, and certainly more than I do, for that matter. No, that does not mean they are always right. They have been wrong before and it's been pointed out. But after thinking about it for a bit, I think a big part of the gap is that their timeframe for making logical decisions is different from the one being used by many of you, and other folks on sites like U.S.S. Mariner and Lookout Landing.

In the case of major league baseball teams, both the Mariners and other clubs, the timeframe for making their "logical" moves is often short term. With a lot of you, it's the longer term. And that's where it gets tricky.


The whole debate yesterday over Jose Vidro showed me two things. Number one, that the Jose Vidro fan club meeting can be held in Jim Riggleman's office, behind a locked door with only the player and manager in the room. And number two, that Riggleman is obviously looking at things in the very short term while most of you, and me to a large extent, are seeing the bigger picture and wonder -- as one of you so artfully put it -- WTF?

It reminded me of last year's two-month square-off on this blog, not to mention some feuding in the greater blogosphere, over the issue of whether Adam Jones should have been playing every day down the stretch instead of Jose Vidro or Raul Ibanez. Many of you crucified McLaren and the M's for that one. At the time, I agreed with many of you that, if it was the start of the season with a long-term outlook in mind, Jones should play and eventually show what he can do.

But the team clearly was taking a short-term approach. It had about a six-to-eight-week window to qualify for the playoffs. There were concerns that Jones, in his first full-time role, would take too long to adapt to big-league pitching. Yes, his defense would have made the team better. But the concern was that his bat would be a hole in the lineup and that taking any playing time away from everyday regulars might make those players worse. Not to mention the impact it might have on the clubhouse if Jones tanked.

At the time, I read all types of arguments about how, over time, excellent Class AAA statistics tranferred over well to the big leagues. Over time, yes. But the M's were not viewing this situation from a long-term perspective.

They were worried about exactly what Jeff Clement talked about this past weekend. How every new player goes through an adjustment period in the majors. Some don't. Some get lucky and hit right away. Some are truly great players and hit right away. But a lot of them don't. Clement is now roughly six weeks worth of games into his career and has an on-base-plus slugging percentage of .608.

Wladimir Balentien had an OPS of .611 in roughly the same number of games with the M's before being shipped back to Class AAA. Jones himself had an OPS of .643 two full months into his career with the Baltimore Orioles. He's picked it up over the long-term, as many of us thought he would, and is now at a "lofty'' .732. So, a work in progress.

But yet, when the M's had a six-to-eight-week playoff run staring at them a year ago, many of you could not understand why they would hesitate at throwing a raw rookie into the fire. You pointed out how other rookies had done in other cities (having been broken in much earlier on, mind you). There was no acceptance of the fact there might have been some other logic at-play.

Many of you wrote that it was wrong for the M's to believe that Raul Ibanez, having been there, done that, already, would turn around a slumping bat and put up his usual norms in terms of offensive numbers. Well, he did. With lesser defense to be sure, but over such a short-term span, rather than a full season, the defensive impact was not going to be as huge in any event. Same with Vidro, who had already started hitting several weeks earlier. He didn't have to get used to major league pitching. He'd already seen it, done it before. The gut feeling within the organization was that he wasn't done, still had something left and could produce more in terms of offense than a raw rookie.

In the end, Vidro had a strong second half, which is all that mattered in a short-term timeframe. His final OPS of .775 was better than any of the short-term samples put up this year by Clement, Balentien or Jones.

Does that mean the same thing would have happened if Jones had been inserted in a pennant race last August? Of course not. He might have put up a .950 OPS for all I or you know. Stuff happens. Al Reyes could have been the bullpen spark needed to carry this team to the playoffs. Maybe his numbers would not have tanked as they did when he stayed in Tampa Bay? I doubt it now, looking back at things a year later, but you never know.

But the logic the team used at the time, working on a short-term objective, is tough to dispute. That young players need an adjustment period. That veteran players who don't need such an adjustment might serve the team better in the short-term. Even if you believed that Jones should have replaced Richie Sexson at first base (by putting Jones in left and Ibanez at first), Sexson's pre-all-star OPS was .712 last season and his August OPS was .707.

Compare it to what we've seen from the Clement-Balentien-Jones trio until now and there's little clear-cut argument for using one above the other. Especially when the team figured that Sexson would eventually put up his numbers as he did in the final two months of 2006. Well, the team was wrong on that guess because Sexson fell off the map.

But there was still logic behind the decision-making. Call it "flawed logic" if you will, but others would counter that, had Jones put up a Clement-like .608 OPS the final two months of 2007, hurting the offense and causing a clubhouse mutiny that led to John McLaren's firing, the logic of putting all that pressure on a rookie and sticking by him no matter what was just as stupid. Even dumber when you considered the track records of the guys he would have replaced. In Sexson's case, you'd have legions of folks screaming that he was "guaranteed'' to put up his usual 30-homer, 100-RBI season and would have in 2007 had the M's not benched him in early August so a .610 OPS rookie could play left field.

Yes, the M's were working off a hunch. It was educated guesswork that the veterans would have a greater chance of producing in the short term than the young guys did. And the educated guesses paid off -- at least on offense.

Why am I bringing this all back up now?

To tie it into present-day and some of the decision-making we talked about in regards to Vidro as a clean-up man and why it's lasted this long.

Once again, I suspect the big difference opinion between Riggleman and most of you centers around short-term versus long-term thinking.

When Riggleman was handed his new job, his boss, Lee Pelekoudas, stated that the team was going to give players a little more time to show what they could do. That Riggleman had to see what he had playing for him before the more difficult decisions were made. Remember, we're still only at the All-Star-Break. It seems like Sept. 23 to a lot of us, I know, trust me, I know. But it's relatively early. There was more than half a season to go when Riggleman took over and in his first few games as a steady regular under the new manager, starting June 28 in San Diego, Vidro went 5-for-17. So, Riggleman continued to play him. Should Vidro have been released back in May? Possibly. But that's not Riggleman's call. When he did play Vidro, early on, the team was winning. No "correlation versus causation"? Perhaps none. But managers don't think that way. Very few that I know of. A manager's job is to win day-in, day-out. If a guy is getting hits in a lineup and that lineup tends to win -- at least as much as it loses -- then the manager will ride that until it stops working.

Many of you have applauded the job done by Riggleman so far. He's 12-11 as a manager. If he was 3-20, how many of you would be congratulating him for having the team play better fundamental ball while losing just about every game? Very few of you.

Riggleman was thrust into the role of a drowning man having to grasp on to any life preserver he could find to turn this sinking season around. With Vidro hitting for him right away and appearing -- yes appearing -- to be an OK fit behind Raul Ibanez in the order, he figured he'd stick with it. I don't have a problem with that because his alternatives were few. We've already shown you that Adrian Beltre is a better No. 5 hitter over the long haul than a clean-up man. That Clement has a .608 OPS overall and strikes out a lot, meaning that thrusting him into a clean-up role might be the worst possible thing for his confidence.

Jeremy Reed as a clean-up man? Maybe, but again, if you're trying to develop these guys, how is putting that much pressure on them truly helping? Kenji Johjima? He hits worse than Vidro.

Look, we all know that Vidro can't keep hitting cleanup if his numbers keep dropping. Riggleman mentioned before the break that Vidro -- playing the field much more than he should be IMO -- needed time off to heal some hurts. If he comes back rested and hits some more, it buys him more time. If he comes back with more 0-fers, it's on to the next plan.

Many of you are screaming that it's time to "play the kids" and I agree that it's time to try some new things going forward. Balentien should probably be called back up, once he does a better job in Tacoma and earns the promotion. But Riggleman's job, in real life, is twofold. To get the team playing better ball while giving the younger players like Clement, and even Reed, though he's more experienced, a chance to break into the majors. It's a delicate balancing act, and so far, he's pulling it off with better-than-.500 baseball.

And once he's run the Vidro well dry, he'll have to grasp on to another life preserver in the clean-up spot. Maybe that plan ends in two days, or in two weeks. We'll see.

That's the logic, the way I see it, currently being applied.

Many of you will argue that it's flawed. That there are chapters and books out there explaining why, over the long-term, it makes little sense to believe Vidro is helping Ibanez.

But truthfully, I think many of you are fooling yourselves if you believe you have a greater grasp on logic than the people out there earning a living at this game. You can scream all you want that you are right and that every manager who runs this team, from Bob Melvin through to Riggleman, has been wrong. But you also have to remember this fact: that you are placing your bets with house money. That you are summoning up all of your courage and risk-taking skills with absolutely nothing at stake.

It's easy to talk about "playing the kids" and "correlation versus causation" when you can still head off to your jobs, or classes, the next day. You all have that long-term period to wait and see whether your theories pan out in every situation. If they don't, you simply shrug, forget about it and move on to the next test-case, the next theory, to see whether it actually does work out as a result. And when it does, some of you -- not all, but some -- will scream from the rooftops about how you were right. The stuff that didn't work out, even if you felt "right'' in applying your logic? Quickly forgotten.

In day-to-day major league ball, the stuff that goes wrong is rarely forgotten. Jobs can be won and lost with every test case. And that's why, often, the waiting period on these theories and "plans'' is short-term. Sometimes weeks, sometimes days. Often, it really can seem like a team is flying by the seat of its pants. And maybe, that type of thinking is all that's available at the time. Had McLaren gone with Jones over Ibanez or Vidro last year, seen a .600 OPS produced and lost the clubhouse, he'd have been unemployed a lot quicker than he was. No obvious jokes here, please.

For Riggleman, he is playing not only for this year, but next. He wants a job someplace, if not in Seattle, someplace else. He won't get that if he manages this team to a .300 winning percentage the rest of the year. So, like I said, his job is twofold -- generating both short-term returns in wins and better play and long-term returns in getting young players some experience. And if Vidro helps him get some of those short-term results, even if it's for only a few weeks, with no Barry Bonds wannabes waiting to take over, that is what you're going to see.

A lot of you won't agree. Most of you won't.

But at least, for now, you will understand why the "logic'' some of you try to apply -- while correct in the long-term sense -- will often seem a thousand miles apart from the logic actually employed on a daily basis by the M's and other teams around the game. It doesn't make you wrong. And it doesn't make you right. It just makes you far apart.


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Posted by Paul

10:52 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Points well taken, Geoff.

I think the thing to focus on now (besides the looming trade deadline) is that the second half of this lost season could be a blessing in disguise. We're not going anywhere anytime soon, so why not experiment and treat each game like an extended spring training? Other teams are still out there competing and could give our young guys a good look at what Major League Baseball really is. And it could give us a good look at whether some of them are good enough to hack it.

Bottom line: Who cares if Vidro's hitting cleanup? Or Miguel Cairo or Willie Bloomquist or whoever else? The season's over.

Now, if only Safeco Field would be gracious enough to adjust beer prices to the quality of the product on the field....

Posted by jake4three

10:59 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Thank you. It's easy to say what should be done. How many of you at work would rather do something risky that might get you fired within a couple of months for the hopes that something turns out alright. Plus, the payout for people like Riggleman won't be that huge. He gets another managerial job, but not in the high-paying range like he might deserve by doing a good job with the Mariners.

Unfortunately, there is a fine line between playing people who are underperforming for bringing up youngsters. Look at the current crop of M's. In the field, there are only a couple of guys who came up through the minors. There are a more pitchers, but think about all the huge pitching prospects that we had. Where are all of them? Just because someone has potential, it doesn't mean that things are going to work out. Ask Chris Snelling if his career went the way he wanted it to.

Posted by Ms Fan in Exile

10:59 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,
Great post! My only wish is that the FO would view the long-term, this once, since we do not have a shot at the playoffs. But, I can definitely see why they are making the decisions they are making. Keep up the good work!

Posted by DKulich

11:03 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,
I see where you're trying to come from, but let's take a look at the contending teams in the last couple of years. Milwaukee has promoted a ton of players into major roles and won with them. Tampa Bay has done the same this year. The Dodgers are making their push fueled by a group of talented young players. The Boston Red Sox had no problem with allowing Jacoby Ellsbury steal at bats from the "proven" CoCo Crisp last year, and helped them win a title. The haven't gone and spent big bucks on pitchers, they've developed their own, instead of thrusting them into a relief role they probably shouldn't have. Just because Jose Vidro did hit in the past doesn't mean he's going to take his .571 OPS (overshadowed by the slugging percentages of 7 players) and hit. What good does it do at all to keep him there? Yes he might hit for one game, and Beltre might not, but over the long haul its easy to see which would be more valuable to the lineup, no matter where they hit. Your post has allowed me to see this logic, and while it makes sense and I see where they're coming from, it's backwards, old-fashioned, flawed, and hasn't seemed to work.

I'm not one to point a finger, and call a person an idiot. I'm not one to sit here and say I'm smarter than Riggleman, because I'm not. He's a baseball man, who has his beliefs, and believes in them. I'm saying the Mariners better realize that this philosophy hasn't worked for them in years, and its time to go in a new direction. Jose Vidro got a bad rap from the start due to the trade of my favorite player Chris Snelling, but he hasn't done anything to earn my confidence in the 1+ years that he's been here. I'm willing to give anyone a shot, but they have to produce. If Clement continues to OPS under .700 for his career then shame on him, and we'll be talking in the next few years about how big a bust he was. Balentein has a power bat, but the front office was confident he'd fill Adam Jones' role. If these choices worked out, the Mariners would look like a well run franchise, but year in and year out they fail, and we fall deeper and deeper into a hole.

There's a solid core here, a definite nucleus to build around. But whoever is going to build that team needs to move away from the choices in the past and become more like the other teams that are now at the top of the game. To be called not a fan for looking at analysis, learning as much as I can about this team, and providing criticism is an insult. People make mistakes, take the wrong routes to solve problems, I understand and accept that. I wish John McLaren all the luck in the world in the future, and the same to Jim Riggleman. But the choices they've made for the Mariners as a franchise have not been the best. I hope Riggleman does well in his tour as manager, but I think it's definitely a time for the Mariners to move in a completely new direction, and forget about the past.

Posted by Ms Fan in Exile

11:04 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,
Noticed that the Dodgers just lost Saito. Any chance we can get into the mix? I wonder if the FO has thought about using JJ as a trade chip, considering everything I have read about Fields is that is almost MLB ready.

Posted by S

11:12 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff, hereís the deal, if the Mariners are going to put a team on the field that is a lot like the ones that played in the Kingdom in the early years then they should roll back prices accordingly. Why should we over-pay for an inferior product? You donít go into Wal-Mart and expect to pay Nordstromís prices. So what I am saying is that if they wonít put a playoff caliber team on the field, then roll back the prices!!!!!

Posted by ayala_terrace

11:24 AM, Jul 16, 2008

"I think many of you are fooling yourselves if you believe you have a greater grasp on logic than the people out there earning a living at this game."

I'm not a professional baseball player or manager. I think I'd be very terrible at both. But anecdotally, I believe many here do have a better grasp on statistical analysis than the comments coming from the M's indicate. The correlation/causation issue isn't some esoteric stat-head thing, it's one of the core errors you're taught in the first week of your first stats class to seek out and eliminate. It's making sure you touch every base.

But, very good point Geoff on short-term vs. long-term mindset. We'll get to work on the rational actor model on that one.

Posted by fc

11:24 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,
Dude, relax and just write the blog.

You have to understand something; blogs like this are great places to blow off some steam. It feels good to type so and soís an idiot or WTF. You are providing an outlet, donít take thing so personally.

Everyone is frustrated by this wretched team. Itís not so much about Vidro hitting fourth, itís that we really donít have anyone to hit fourth (or second, third, and fifth for that matter).

IMO fans are pissed that Vidro and Cairo are still on this team. What a fricking nightmare of a mess this team has become.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

11:28 AM, Jul 16, 2008

On lunch break, so can't reply with the length and thought that a blog post like today's deserves.

But really quickly - I think some of the reaction, name-calling, armchair-quarterbacking, etc. comes from frustration at the Ms being fence-straddlers about what their public goals are for the organization. They have not, in the last 3 or 4 seasons at least, laid out a confident "we're going for it, we're going to contend, using a deep roster and a deep farm system" or "we're several years away, here's the rebuilding plan and how we're going about it". At the start of each season it's been "here's the one or two guys we needed, now as long as everyone else has career years we're set". A have-it-both-ways, incremental fiddling, ignoring the stats and age and abilities of the people they actually have.

I get what you're saying about the variables Riggleman has to juggle, and what the consequences are day-to-day if he's playing the wrong guys. Attitude in clubhouse, production from players, evaluation of who stays vs. trade bait vs. time to grow and so on. And that he's only working with what he was given to work with.

But it doesn't seem connected to a longer-term strategy, a vision for the organization. So we harp on the long-term logic angle, because we see how it contributes to the culture of losing and to what seems like no end in sight.

Contending and failing, I can deal with. Rebuilding, I can deal with. Perpetually trying to have it both ways, year after year, with a parade of veterans and castoffs shuffling through the org over the last 4 1/2 seasons? That's basebal purgatory, my friend.

Posted by hans

11:30 AM, Jul 16, 2008

This post is longer than a 1970's toaster oven.

Posted by Adam

11:33 AM, Jul 16, 2008

I'm the one who called the Mariners "Idiots," and I stand by that.

Hopefully, I've established a reputation of putting substance in my posts and attempting to back up my points. So you'll cut me a little slack if I just cut to the chase:

The men who run the Seattle Mariners are idiots. Not compared to you and I, mind you. But compared to their peers, they are woefully behind. I really don't think there is any reason to debate this point.


Vidro batting cleanup, or even getting regular ABs, or even having a roster spot, is just example #1329 of this point. The fact that 1) management still has Vidro on the team, and 2) anyone, including Riggleman, thinks Vidro can make short-term gains, is absolutely asinine. It just is. Period. End of story. This is a team with the second-worst record in baseball, and has no business worrying about the short-term. And even if it did, why in the world would Jose Vidro be an answer?


No, I don't know more about baseball than Riggleman or Pelekoudas. But I do believe that there likely isn't another team in the game that would give Vidro the type of ABs that the Mariners give Vidro. There isn't another team with a complete lack of a tangible plan for the future. And there isn't a team in the game that has failed on such a scale as the Mariners.

So when I call the Mariners "Idiots," I think it's not a stretch at all.


Further, i don't care if Beltre is a better 5 hitter than 4 hitter. Is he better than Vidro? Yes? Then he's a better candidate for cleanup. It's not that hard.

And Geoff, if, as you suggest, the short-term is looming too great in the minds of the Mariner execs, then heaven help us, because this management group will never put together a consistent winner.

Might as well start rooting for the Knicks...

PS - To "7hourlinedrive": Get off your high horse. Self-righteous "fans" like yourself who blanch at the idea of criticizing one's own team are ridiculous. Ever think that the reason we criticize is because we actually have an emotional investment in the team's success? Or are you too busy admiring Willie Bloomquist's hustle?

And you really, really don't get small sample size and how it applies to proof.

Oh, and by the way - since when does a net drop in OPS (which occurs with Ibanez hitting 3 and Vidro 4) help the team?

Posted by Scanman

11:34 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Well-said Chris. I can also picture Armstrong with pointed ears and tail laughing in the background yelling, RAISE THE PRICES, RAISE THE PRICES!!!

Posted by Steve 723

11:40 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Well written, Geoff. I hadn't thought about the short-term picture much. Like a few others have said, I do hope the M's are looking at the big picture. Do what you want with this season, but please don't make the fans suffer for years to come.

Posted by NewFan

11:41 AM, Jul 16, 2008

So we are in a Catch 22 situation.

The FO will not guarentee a job for Riggleman, as they want a new manager for next year. Riggleman's best chance of getting a managers job next year is to maintain a .500 average so at least he can say he improved the team from a .300 performer to a .500. While he is maintaining the .500 he has no reason to look at some of the youngsters as they represent a risk - even though it is probably in the Mariners best interests to see who will perform for the next season.

The only good thing that we could have taken from the season is that we could have introduced the younger players - with no pressure (as the season is gone) and asked them to show us what they have for an extended period. But we can't even do that.

Posted by Ben

11:43 AM, Jul 16, 2008

But why doesn't the team commit to someone like Reed? He should play every day and not be in a timeshare with bloomquist.

I think Reed has earned a spot as an every-day starter. Vidro has been awful in the short term and long term (but i do get your point, Geoff - they do want to win games and will stick with whatever works, if only mildly).

Why can't Beltre hit as a number 3 hitter and then have Ibanez slotted in as the #4? They could even try Lopez at # 5 again, he did well in the limited time he was there.

When a team is anemic as this one is, it seems like the batting order is very flexible (in a bad way). Vidro doesn't offer much pop or speed or even a high average. I do think it is time that the team can really look at the big picture and think long term.

Speaking of that (sort of), what is the plan with Tug Hulett? Since he's a middle infielder and we have two young guys doing that already, where are they looking to play him?

Posted by Mike

11:46 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Just a couple of things Geoff as I take time to digest everything you said.

I also don't think Riggleman is an idiot and his hands are ceratinly tied by having a dreadful roster. But he and the Ms seem to believe that a player's experience is more important than his talent.

The fact that Vidro posted a .775 OPS last year still did not make him a good DH. That number is fine for a middle infielder or catcher but he posted the worst OPS of the full-time DHs last year. He also cost the team millions and two prospects. Those numbers were replaceable and for less money.

I understand the idea of going with the "proven" vet but I see more successful teams NOT doing this and in fact betting on younger talent than washed-up talent. I think the gap you mention exists and the SABR oriented sites harp on this because they think this "old school" philosophy keeps us from improving.

But really on Vidro, he's done. He's the 170th of 172 hitters. The crime isn't that he's hitting cleanup (that just makes good joke fodder). It's that he's in the lineup at all.

Posted by Kelly

11:51 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Shorter version of Geoff's post: The Mariner managers and front office are not "idiots" so stop calling them that.

My short response: "Stipulated. They are not idiots. They are incompetent. They lack the skills required to do their jobs at an extremely high level, though they do have the skills to do their jobs at level that is below average.

Unfortunately, they are competing against, and negotiating with, people who do have a high level of qualitative and quantitative skills, which is why we've gotten the short end of every trade and free agent deal we've done in the past 7 years.

Absolutely loved watching the ex-Mariners in last night's game. I'm glad for them. They've escaped the culture of incompetence that Lincoln, Armstrong, and the rest of the Mariner owners and executives have created at the corner of 1st and Edgar.

The Mariners aren't idiots. Safeco is a marvelous facility that is very well run. But the baseball people just aren't very good at their jobs.

Posted by LKB

11:55 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,
Thank you!

My impression is that the M's "saber"-blogosphere (the aforementioned Lookout Landing and USS Mariner) have got to the point where they'd rather have pat themself on the back and criticise anyone that doesn't want to contribute to their fraternity circle-[redacted].

Being right matters. It doesnt matter what the projections say if they dont bear fruit. Pennants aren't won with projections.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

12:02 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Kelly: Armstrong & Lincoln aren't baseball people - they are businessmen with the goal of making $ more than winning games. A big difference there! I see the M's are now promoting a Beach Boys concert in mid-Sept. at Safeco Field - anything to make a buck as the product on the field is sorely lacking this season. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that Yamauchi really does sell his majority ownership as rumored - Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Armstrong can then go grocery shopping in peace without having to hear how incompetent their husbands are as they will both be "retired" by new ownership.

Posted by NB

12:02 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,

This is a great post. Filled with interesting ideas and thoughts that I almost universally disagree with. This is a great look inside the brain trust of the Mariners and the kind of stuff that keeps me coming back.

Thank you.

Also, what Adam said. Idiots.

Posted by fire_chuck_armstrong_now

12:15 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Outside of 2001 when it might have sent them to the World Series, the Ms have been playing and trading for short term gains. The result is an historically bad franchise in terms of wins and losses. It's time they made a fundamental change in thinking.

Posted by KennewickMan

12:16 PM, Jul 16, 2008

If Vidro isn't going to be here next season, why is he here now (aka Sexson)?

Hmm. Vidro vs. Frank Thomas...?

Posted by Gerald

12:19 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Good grief Geoff, thinking in the short-term is WHY this organization is stupid. They ALWAYS think in the short-term and that's why they are where they are. That's why Morrow is still in the bullpen when he should have been in the minors last year learning to be a starter in 2008. That's why we have Silva and made the stupid Bedard trade.

Are the A's stupid? They are "contending," yet Billy Beane knows he's better off in the future trading away guys like Harden and Blanton. Maybe the A's aren't the best example, since they're poor.

Are the Red Sox stupid? Remember when the Yankees traded for Abreu and Epstein announced they weren't going to make a reactionary move just to compete with the Abreu acquisition? Would it have been worth it for them to trade Ellsbury and Buchholz just to beat the Yankees that year, even it it cost them the World Series in 2007? Should Epstein have panicked about Beckett not living up to expectations that first year and traded him for 50 cents on the dollar?

Even better, everyone credits the Yankees winning all those World Series titles at the turn of the century to the suspension of Steinbrenner. Why? Because his absence kept the Yankees from making the types of short-term moves that have hampered their efforts as of late.

It's not so much that Riggleman, et al, are stupid because they think in the short-term. It's that they shouldn't be allowed to make these decisions in the first place. Vidro has no business wearing a Major League uniform. Bavasi should have never listened to McLaren's begging for Cairo. If Riggleman is more concerned about his future job prospects than the future of his current employer, then he should be fired too. THEY employ HIM.

Holding back on moves that would improve the future of this organization to justify ticket prices for this season is so completely asinine that they deserve the kind of attendance drop the Indians suffered when they became lousy and luster of Jacobs Field wore off.

Boy, I think I got a little too crazy and incoherent with my rambling. Oh well, it's a pretty accurate snapshot of my feelings on the matter -- outrage.

Posted by EarlofWA

12:23 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Why are so many people angry with Cairo and want to see him let go? His intended role was that of a utility player and that is not a role you give to a youngster/prospect who needs to play everyday.

IMO, Cairo is the object of scorn because he is playing more than he should have due to Sexson and Vidro not performing at the levels they were expected to. If Sexson or Vidro had hit better, Cairo would not be starting games at the rate he has and would mostly be a late-inning replacement.

So, why is there so much hate for Miguel?

Posted by Everett fan

12:32 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff - I disagree with you completely - you sound like a shill for the FO.
Long term plan: play the youngsters. . .
Short term plan: replace Vidro with Diaz, Balentien, the bat boy, (fill in the blank) i.e., play the youongsters.
There is no rationale in giving Vidro another, what 18 months? in addition to what he's already had? Explain to me the logic.
Please.

Posted by Ry

12:32 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I don't care if Riggleman does know more about the game of baseball than I do. A greater knowledge doesn't necessarily make someone a good decision maker.

As for the cleanup issue, I'll say it again -- Jose Lopez. But no...instead, let's just keep running him out there near the top of the order and then stranding him when the guys in the heart of the order, like Vidro, come to the plate. Hit Reed second and Lopez fourth.

Posted by Zack

12:35 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Short term or long term, Vidro is about the worst guy you can run out there at DH and in the cleanup spot, so I don't really see your point Geoff. If the M's are playing for the short term (which would be stupid because we aren't going anywhere in the short term) then they suck at that too.

Posted by mpenseur

12:38 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff, your grasp of opposing pointsw of view is admirable. Are you being vetted for VP?

Posted by James from Walla Walla

12:50 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,

I suggest they release Vidro & Cairo NOW!! Bring up Lahair & Wilson. Have Lahair hit behind Ibanez when right handed pitcher is starting. This would be part of a platoon at 1st base. Have Beltre hit after Ibanez against left handers.

My other thought is to have Lopez learn and play
some in Left field. This would let us to play Hulett at 2d against right handed pitching. We need to get him some at bats and playing time.

Line Up against Right handers:

Ichiro RF
Lopez LFDH
Reed CF
Ibanez DH/LF
Lehair 1B
Beltre 3B
Clement C
Betancourt SS
Hulett 2B

Against Left harders:

Ichiro RF
Bloomquist CF
Lopez 2B
Ibanez LF
Beltre 3B
Johjima DH
Clement C
Wilson 1B
Betancourt SS


*We have got to allow our young power hitters
a chance to play and mature. NOW, is the bet time to do that! Giving Vidro more at bats instead is just
IDIOTIC!!

Posted by drake

1:01 PM, Jul 16, 2008

ESPN Page 2 gives Vidro's season some historical perspective, with 'When DHs just don't hit'
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=baker/080713

I doubt the Mariners will allow him to continue on his current path to having the worst DH season ever, but who knows with the 'logic' given.

Posted by BF Loser

1:04 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff, good of you to call us armchair quarterbacks out.

That being said, as I recall, last year when the team was winning (and Vidro could get a hit on occassion) the lineup looked like:

1- Ichiro
2- Lopez
3- Vidro
4- Raul
5- Beltre
6-9 everyone else.

Why not go back to that? Then Beltre protects Rauls and isn't hitting 4th (where he apparently struggles). The garunteed out in the three spot donesn't seems like it would have less an affact than the at four spot.

Secondly, I don't think Riggleman is an idiot. He's playing with a deck stacked against him. Who else would he DH right now? Joh/Bloomquist/Cairo? Not likely. When i think of DH I think power hitter, extra base hits, RBIs, etc (actually I think Edgar and then shed a few tears for what the M's DH has become). Riggleman doesn't have anyone to fill that role on the bench. Additionally, i went to 12 games this year w/Johnnie Maac at the helm and watched 11 losses (most of them blowouts very early). I've been to 2 since Riggleman took over and I've seen two wins. I'm a big fan of the guy, all things considered.

It isn't fair for all of us to sit back and evaluate the team leadership as idiots, unless of course you want to talk about Bavasi who got us in this mess to start with.

Posted by Chuck

1:09 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Its not often I agree completely with Adam, but this is the rare exception. Further, Geoff, don't you think Sparky Anderson, Joe Torres, or Casey Stengel were ever called idiots by their fans? Think they ALWAYS knew better then the fans? In actuality, the truth be known, Riggleman and Johnny Mack probably thought we fans were idiots. Richie came right out and told us he didn't care about the fans--at least he was truthful. The problem with the front office is that they don't have the proper respect for the Mariners fans. If they did, they would start thinking of long range plans for a winning baseball program instead of just trying to put butts in seats. You're not listening to people on the blog when you ignore what they said about Vidro btting 4th, strengthening the hitting of Ibanez--they said you may be right but you have Ibanez on base with a better avrage, but you still have Vidro striking out or hitting into a double play.

Posted by khardy

1:11 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,

I tried to walk your path of logic. I really really did. In the distance I saw The Shining Pinnacle of Baseball Knowledge and knew that if I were to reach this pantheon of baseball know-how I would have to journey on the thoughts you laid before me.

As I got into your post it was not long before I got woozy and nothing made sense. It seemed like I was wandering in an endless circle of ambiguity where all sides of an arguement made perfect sense and then no sense at all.
I saw the faces of Hargrove, McClaren and Riggleman taunting me, saying "the true path Geoff lays before you cannot be walked with your inferior intellect. You may saunter no farther. We are the keepers of true baseball knowledge. Stats mean nothing to us, only tools, only skills, only powers unquantifiable to mere fan-mortals."

I am vanquished. I will no longer try to understand why Vidro, he of .571 OPS, hits clean-up.

I lay before you a broken man.

Posted by Jack

1:43 PM, Jul 16, 2008

So we're commending guys for protecting their jobs, sticking to the status quo, and ignoring the kind of analysis and decision making that is getting real-life results right this second (RAYS RAYS RAYS) now? It's not that management is stupid, they just have an obligation to manage for the short-term? And this makes everything okay?

It's getting to the point where I feel bad for Geoff. He is writing thousands upon thousands of words, and each one makes him look more and more like a fool.

Posted by fred

1:49 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff: Nothing surprising in the fact that an interim manager would want a respectable win/loss record during his tenure in order to be considered for the 2009 job. However, the job of management and of interim GM Pelakoudas is to position the team as stongly as possible for 2009 and beyond.
That means dumping the Vidros of the world, trading Ibanez, Rhodes, Washburn, Bedard and Batista (if possible) for young talent, and helping the Mariners' future. Fans are not dopes. They will accept 2008 losses if they think the team is making sensible moves for 2009 and beyond. In fact, fan interest will be kindled if previously dumb management moves appear to be giving way to sensible ones. Of course, if Pelakoudas is incapable of making sensible moves, then all should be set aside for the off-season. The considerations Riggleman/Pelakoudas are weighing do not amount to genius thinking. We all get it.

Posted by Mike

1:59 PM, Jul 16, 2008

"Being right matters. It doesnt matter what the projections say if they dont bear fruit. Pennants aren't won with projections."

Of course they aren't. But projecting can help you get there if you do it right. Here's the thing. Every team projects what they think they will be. The Ms did this year. They projected that they could lose their third best hitter and set-up man and add Bedard and compete for the division. More sophisticated projection systems disagreed. Smarter teams incorporate the more sophisticated projection systems into their own self-analysis.

Every single scouting and analytical tool is prone to be wrong sometimes. Scouts get things wrong. Defensive metrics can be contradictory. ZiPS and PECOTA merely assess likelihood but cannot predict injuries or adding muscle or a new pitch. But if you combine these things you make yourself smarter. And if you are smarter you are more likely to be successful in every single move you make.

Think of the Mariners FO organization as a pull power hitter. They have all the tools but a stubborn tendency to pull everything, thereby making it easier to pitch to. I submit that if the Ms were to embrace (really embrace like Oakland, Boston, Tampa) newer statistical analysis and let this help inform their thinking it would be akin to developing better plate patience and learning to hit the ball the other way.

Sure, the new improved FO will still strike out with runners on and the old FO would still manage to hit a few out but you overall are a much better hitter. I'd like to see the Ms FO be the equivalent of Albert Pujols rather than Kevin Millar.

Posted by Donovan

2:07 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Excellent topic and lots of interesting (and occasionally amusing) thoughts here. One of Geoff's main points in his attempt to explain the current FO viewpoint is one I think bears repeating. We are only just over halfway through the season. There is lots and lots and lots of time left to experiment with lineups. For the next two weeks, the over-riding objective, hell, the only objective of the organization should be to explore and (if possible) milk the trade market. Whether anything significant happens or not, the focus will start to shift on Aug. 1. There really isn't any reason for the team to be in a hurry to call guys up. I think some posters here are advocating a long term view, but ironically being very impatient in how they do it. That's just frustration over a season that seems like it has already lasted 8 months. Fans can afford to base their opinions on emotion, but the FO cannot. I'm ok with deliberate for now. By mid August, I'll expect to see some changes.

Riggleman's job is to try to win games anyway he can. I feel for the guy, given what he has to work with. If I were him, I'd ride any combo that was working at all. I'd alternate ballgirls based on the phases of the moon if it coincided with improved performance. I might be more artful about how I explained it to the media though. In the end, Riggleman isn't the interim manager I'm really watching. LP is. The first big test of Pelekoudas for me will be whether he has the stones to shed the conservative ways of the Mariners' past and really use the last two months of the season to try out young players and combinations on the field. I'm willing to give him another few weeks before I judge though. If he can make a few trades before that to clear the decks, great, but I don't honestly expect that much coming back.

As for ownership, I share the dim view that many have expressed about their priorities, but I also think it is naive to expect them to just write off the gate for the rest of the season. They will need money to rebuild and lots of it. They do have to stress winning now in public, even if their primary task is rebuilding. I don't think these guys are idiots, but I think most sports fans are. Actually, that's too unkind. Most sports fans are casual fans. They go to games mostly for the atmosphere - to drink overpriced beer and eat stuff nobody should eat while doing the wave and talking on their cell phone. I find that pretty annoying when I go to Safeco, but I am forced to accept that I am in the minority. I don't really care what management says or what promotions they run. I will be watching to see how they use Aug and Sep for evaluations though.

Posted by David Gee

2:14 PM, Jul 16, 2008

That's one heck of a redirect, Geoff. Guess what, though: there's still no sane justification for Vidro hitting fourth. None. Let's make it as simple as possible: if I'm attending a Mariner game and I see Vidro hitting fourth, I'm not in a good mood from the get-go. And with each weak ground out it gets worse. And when the game is over and the Mariners have lost again, I've just wasted three hours of my life and I'm ready to go get s---faced. Maybe that should be the Mariner slogan for 2008.

Posted by matt

2:14 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Your post begs the question, as a few commenters have noted. While we can appreciate the consequences of being faced with short or long term decisionmaking, as your post discusses, this season presents a pretty easy case that long term decisionmaking is all we should be concerned with.
I'm waiting for an explanation, long term, for why Vidro is getting the playing time now. The best I can come up with is that through his play, the team is hoping to pump up his trade value to something. As we are seeing, there is no trade value there.

Posted by Nick in pdx

2:27 PM, Jul 16, 2008

The comment that Geoff quotes to start this piece is just so far from being on-point in this discussion.

My objection to Geoff's "Vidro protection" post was not that it proved Riggleman right or proved anybody else wrong - my objection is that it didn't prove anything at all, because the whole "protection" thing a) is just another piece of old-salty-baseball-guy wisdom, and b) you can't prove anything by an 11-game sample, and c) it was an attempt to prove a causal relationship without showing causation. It doesn't prove or disprove the conventional wisdom of lineup protection, nor whether that conventional wisdom is truly applicable in this specific case.

And there, we lead straight into the single most cogent and thoughtful thing I've seen Geoff write in his tenure covering the M's: it doesn't make anybody right or wrong. It's simply the case that a segment of the fan base is light years away from Riggleman in their thinking about baseball. Riggleman can bat Vidro 4th in a major league lineup and (probably with 100% honesty) defend it as being protection for Ibanez; while others like myself wonder why Vidro is in any lineup to begin with.

And for the record, personally I don't think Riggleman or any of the other Mariner managers are or have been idiots or dunces, they just do things the way old baseball men do things.

Posted by seadog

3:08 PM, Jul 16, 2008

What would a day become without Geoff calling someone posting on his blog stupid, foolish, doesn't know what they are talking about, etc.

I suppose it's good thing to have blog, then you don't go home and kick the dog when the Mariners lose another game for whatever reason you might divine.

Posted by drake

3:21 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Ichiro gave more than just Larry something to write about:
http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/the-great-ichiro/

my favorite quote from his post-game comments:
"I expected Pujols to try to get to second base," Ichiro said to Japanese reporters afterward, "because he is not Bengie Molina."
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080715&content_id=3138299&vkey=allstar2008&fext=.jsp

Posted by statboys dad

3:41 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I agree with you on the coaches critisism they get through this blog..the unfortunate thing is their bad moves show up more under bright lights then some of their accomplishments.

Rigglemen reminds me a little more of Pinella and i think he does a pretty good job!! Looking at the last 12 years or so of managers here i think lou did the best job, but he may have done the most damage to the orginization? I read a while back that only one drafted mariner made the big leauges with the M's in his ten years here...A-Rod. I could be wrong but if that is the case what happened to all the young pitchers that weren't ready? the hopeful position players as well?

Now we have the pitching, on the M's and three a year to two away from having a "Great Staff". What Riggleman or whomever needs to do now is evaluate the position players and see what we need for the future. If it is to see if Wlad is still a year out or if Clement needs more time in AAA ball this is whaty we need to see. So if it is to hang on to Vidro to help fill a roll at clean up or Joh to protect the future catching star? of Clement. This is where we are at now.

In closing we were all dressed up to go to the prom this year but our date (1st place or contenders) did not show up.

Now it is time to not make massive wholesale changes but to see what we do need and where the $$$ individually needs to go to, position wise.

2009 will be a good year and we need to support the team still untill then.

Thanks Geoff

Posted by KP

3:58 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I would never call the manager an idiot, or claim i know more about baseball then them, as i know that I dont. But as a paying fan, I can question the decisions and actions of the franchise, much as i can question the government as a tax paying voter. I understand that last year they were in a race for the playoffs, and they had to do what they thought would bring wins immediatly. But this year there is no such race. What is Vidro protecting? Raul isn't a David Ortiz or Barry Bonds, he's a 6-7 hitter on most teams. So i dont buy that we need to keep him around for that singular (and unproven) purpose.

Also, is vidro part of the team next year? If not, he should be dropped immediatly, so that we can see if his replacement is worth keeping around. What use does he have to the team if we are playing for nothing and he is just holding up a spot that he wont have next season? My anger isn't towards the manager batting him fourth, its towards the fact that the team has no direction, and just seems to be wandering around the majors aimlessly...

Posted by Os fan

4:30 PM, Jul 16, 2008

This guy Geof is a real fool. Im sorry you all have to deal with a sucky team front office and rain every day. lol Geez this guy is harendus. lol He wouldnt know an apple from a baseball. I thought my paper was bad. lol Good luck.

Posted by Deepthroat

4:43 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff, don't take this blog too seriously. EVERYBODY in this blog is a fan, short for, well you know what it is short for. Most people here couldn't coach a little league team so their opinions must be taken with the understanding that there are NO experts writing on this blog and most blogs except for maybe you.

Here's a good rule of thumb; if the blog entry is more than two sentences long you are reading the words of an idiot with only time on their hands. If the blog starts with the name of another blogger or quotes from another blogger you are reading the words of an idiot. if the blog entry refers to another blog, yep idiot. You'll notice this entry qualifies on several fronts so you can stop reading immediately..... too late I'm done.

Posted by J in Montana

4:46 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I fully expected Adam to chime in and tell us all again how intelligent and well-researched his points are.
And he did.
Nothing like a little bald, self-congratulatory back slapping to make you want to barf.
But guess what? He's absolutely correct to make the point that compared to almost all of their peers, the men who are and have been running this team are idiots.
You don't miss the playoffs seven straight seasons and there not be something wrong.
You don't spend $100 million and lose 100 games and there not be something wrong.
This isn't just bad luck or bad timing. This is horrible, horrible long-term management. This is bad drafting, bad trading, bad choices in free agents.
Bad baseball judgment period.
This team is at least three years from competing again, and worst of all, will probably have a very difficult time keeping centerpieces like Felix around while they rebuild.
That's why I think it's going to take even longer - maybe five or six year with some really good management.
I say strap in and grit your teeth because it's going to be a long, painful ride.
This doesn't mean any of us are geniuses, but only a moron could look at this mess and somehow think it was some huge accident. It took some idiots, hard at work, to create this.

Posted by Truth

4:54 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Deep, I will have you know that I have indeed coached little league. I also Played baseball for the Frederick Keys. Geoff is a dush. I dont know you deep but odds are you are to. The Keys are a minor league afilate of the Orioles. They should make a movie about Geoff being a dush and how Andy mcphail raped the Ms. lol

Posted by JP

4:56 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I beleive that Chuck Armstrong was the one who said "we don't like to run things like the Yankees." Last time i checked they have quite a few Championship banners hanging from the flag poles. So is it really all that bad to have the mindset of we hate losing and will do everything we can to win. Even if that includes throwing people under the bus publicly.

If the FO had a pair and has shown a proven track record of sound baseball decisions then maybe we would be more willing to buy the whole mantra of we are not in need of "rebuilding" Sorry Pelokudas but i am not drinking that Kool-Aid. It is what is. We are in need of rebuilding. And if statements like that are made as a directive from the FO then shame on them. Making those comments will placate the latte drinking, blanket wearing, cell phone talking, not paying attention box seat fans but for the people who actually watch this team from their couch every night even when they are worst team in baseball that is just insulting. Trying to protect your investment is one thing (trying to maintain high attendance) but seriously sitting there with a straight face and insisting that this is not a rebuilding scenario is just plane irresponsible.

Most of us in here at this point don't care about wins and losses for this year. We understand what this teams destiny is for this "year" However, we need to start looking now at what we have in the cupboard and "rebuild" for next year.

Side note: Geoff could you please try and explain to us why the hell the M's traded for Craig Wilson? And please don't tell me their goal is to bring him up to replace Sexson......He is on fire though 7-14 in Tacoma! And don't say depth in AAA either. maybe he would have a higher OPS than Vidro and protect Ibanez better.... Just kidding i think that topic has officially been beat to death.

Posted by TokyoFan

5:02 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Great post, Geoff. But disturbing too, because it seems that even in this lost season, the personal goals of the manager may not be in the long-term interests of the team. In other words, Riggleman wants to play .500 ball to get a job next year, hence he plays Vidro and the vets because he thinks they can pick up wins. But the long-term interests of the team may be to try out the youngsters, tank the rest of the way and get as high a draft pick as possible in the spring. Hard to believe even during this disaster of a season the Mariners still can't get their organizational thinking aligned for the future.

Posted by downonstrikes

5:04 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Methinks you doth protest too much, Geoff.

You and the Mariners can rationalize, quote statistical data, backstep, toe tap, hide behind illusions, and go with what we have, but that does not change anything. We still have a losing team with a depleted talent base in the major and minors, and have a group of players who are inconsistent and lackadaisical.

Short term, long term, medium term, it doesn't change a thing. We are in this mess because lots of managers (from field to front office) have made bad moves and decisions.

Maybe Riggleman knows more about baseball than me, hell, he's paid to know more, but he is not using players with an iota of common sense.

We on this blog may lack the professional expertise of the employees who take our money, but we all have watched and learned and listened and written with our heartfelt opinions in mind.

Being verbose won't justify this team's poor performance. Long posts will not prove managment right. Only winning can do that.

Posted by scrapiron

5:08 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Bill Bavasi had this great "experiment" where he went against the grain and instead of getting a DH with a high SLG%, he was going to get a contact hitter with no speed to simply get on base for his high priced RBI guys Sexson and Beltre to drive him in.

The experiment failed when Sexson and Beltre stopped hitting with RISP. Vidro did his part. This season, he's struggling to even get on base, and Sexson isn't even on the roster anymore.

The frustration comes from everyone realizing the experiment is over and ready to cut their losses. We all realize that the RBIs need to come from the DH position, and yet we still keep trotting out our failed experiment at cleanup, because, I guess, that's where DH's are supposed to hit.

But Vidro isn't a DH. Never was. Failed experiment. Move on.

Posted by Lenny Randle's Breath

5:11 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Yes, we as fans don't know as much as the folks that earn a living working in the game. Now that is out of the way.

Vidro should not be playing because he isn't doing his job that he knows about.


Posted by David

5:14 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Look, its easier to hate them and trash them, then to love them and get hurt and disappointed later. Its really a defense mechanism. Psychology 101.

Posted by scrapiron

5:19 PM, Jul 16, 2008

The frustration with the Mariners isn't relegated to just us local fans. Here's a national perspective of Wladimir Balentien from Rotowire:

Balentien went 1-for-4 with a home run on Monday for Triple-A Tacoma.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: He is hitting .256 over his last 10 games but has four home runs over his last seven. He has finally cut down on his strikeout rate, but it has eaten into his average a little. Why a team such as the Mariners, with one of the worst records in baseball, has a 24-year-old learning how to hit at Triple-A is baffling. Why not have him start on the long road toward learning how to hit major league pitching while the stakes are low? Whose playing time are they worrying about?

Posted by scrapiron

5:22 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Also from Rotowire, their take on Jose Vidro. (You gotta love their brutal honesty)

To put into perspective how inexplicable it is for the powerless Vidro to bat fourth, baseball's other 29 No. 4 hitters Sunday average 27.5 extra-base hits (and that includes San Diego's recently promoted Chase Headley who has three XBH in 24 at-bats). Want to know what's wrong with the M's this season? Look at the middle of the lineup. Vidro has 157 at-bats hitting third, fouth or fifth despite having the third-lowest OPS in baseball (.585). Only Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez (.573) and Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett (.566) have a lower of OPS (neither of whom has batted fourth this season).

Posted by Edgar FM

5:50 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I would be damn willing to take risk on my stances though. I can't say that if I ran into Riggleman on the road and he bet me I couldn't run this team better (smarter) than him I wouldn't jump at the opportunity.

That being said...my moves would include roster changes.

Posted by kaseyswagger

5:56 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I know I was calling for Adam Jones to play everyday down the stretch for one simple reason.Mclaren drove the M's in to the ground trotting out Rick White and Chris Reitsma in every clutch situatation you could think of until we found are selves out of playoff contention way out of playoff contention we went from like 5 games up in the wild card to like 8 games out and won like 5 games down the stretch.

So thats why Adam Jones should of played because we were not in playoff contention thats what happens when you lose 17 out of 19 or whatever it was.

Posted by Greybear

6:04 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I think a lot of the issue for many of us is that baseball players, as a group (and of course there are exceptions), believe in magic. Whether it be refusing to step on the foul line, or wearing the same unwashed uniforms for 10 games in a row ('54 Giants), they believe that certain rituals have an objective impact on performance. I, and I suspect many of the folks here, see Riggleman's insistence on batting Vidro behind Ibanez as yet another example of magical thinking. And yes, Mac and Riggs and Grover are probably all pretty smart guys, in many ways. But they all grew up in a world where that kind of thinking was perfectly normal. If you met a member of a primitive tribe somewhere who was convinced that leaving offerings to a stone statue kept the volcano from exploding, you would *know* that he was wrong. And it wouldn't matter if he was a really bright guy who could navigate between islands without instruments and make everything he needed to live starting with only a knife--on that subject he would just be wrong. So much of baseball management--and not just with the M's--seems to be rooted in that world-view. So, aging veterans with little ability get played because "It always worked before and I'm afraid to change it," while players with actual talent rot on the bench. We DON'T trust them to be rational, because they come from an irrational background.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

6:26 PM, Jul 16, 2008

The team website and the mouthpiece for the front office Jim Street, state the M's are going to make moves for the long-term. At this point nothing would shock me. I just hope a good GM is brought in and then he decides who his manager will be, not Chuck Armstrong.

Posted by James from Walla Walla

6:31 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I do not know what anyone else saw the last week or so the Sexson was playing?? But, I saw a hitter who had cut down on his swing, had opened his stance, and appeared to be seeing the ball better. He was walking more than I remember, keeping innings alive and getting hits on some tough pitches. His strikeouts were down But so were his power numbers. Yet, Sexson is gone!!

I have not seen anything that shows me VIDRO is coming around at all with his swing around!!
I would dare say he is getting worse as the season
is going on. I believe his average is going down,
.205 the last 10 games. Has a .261 OPS for a DH.
Most any of our could certainly match these numbers!! Why??? IS VIDRO STILL HERE??
I would dare say any other player on this team with
these numbers would be gone!

Posted by Batter Up!!!

6:36 PM, Jul 16, 2008

"For Riggleman, he is playing not only for this year, but next. He wants a job someplace, if not in Seattle, someplace else." Geoff Baker

I really do not care what Riggleman wants or if he has a job next year or not. Neither does anyone on the planet care about my well being or job status; except for my family & a few close friends. I want my M's to be winners!!!

Riggleman is not part of the M's future and neither is Vidro. A DH @ the Mendoza line needs to be dumped just like a 1st basemen who cannot hit his weight. Old school baseball men need to wake up and smell the coffee. This is a new era with new tools and they all must meld to produce a successful future.

Frankly Geoff, I'm not convinced you are correct in calling some of the fans and bloggers I've come to be familiar with here and in the blogoshpere as not very knowledgeable baseball people. Many of these folks are very informed, knowledgeable and passionate about the game and especially the M's.

The tools available today are light years ahead of just years ago & can make anyone a very astute baseball man. Do the lack the inside story? Yes. But apparently so do many of the inside baseball people.

Posted by -j.

6:57 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Read Adams and Geralds posts. They are, for the most part, right on.

Just the fact we are debating Vidro's place in the middle of the order shows you how upside down this team is. Worrying about the short term whilst in the current context is what horribly run teams do. The short term does.not.matter. this year. The season is over.. lost. This is when you look to what can help you in 2009. You jettison guys that have no business here and give their playing time to potential future contributors. You let guys like Balentien, Clement and Reed grind out the entire year playing every damn day. You see what those guys have to offer for future seasons and then you can make an educated decision on whether they should be in our plans. You don't get that data if you play them sparingly or let them sit in AAA because they are putting up a shade lower numbers than the veterans that have no future here.

This is damage assessment time folks. Jettison the dead weight and give the fans some hope because the fork is buried in 2008.

RF Ichiro - No brainer
CF Reed - Better On Base skills than Lopez
2B Lopez - Best clutch hitter on the team
DH Ibanez - One of the few power bats on the club
3B Beltre - No brainer
C Clement - Play every day
LF Balentien - Play every day
1B LaHair - Black hole, thy name is 1st base
SS Betancourt - No brainer

Set the cruise and let it ride. That lineup would give ups a healthy Lefty/Righty mix and give the kids a chance to give a showing. And as July 31st approaches, Ibanez and Washburn should be shopped hard. Bedard and Beltre should only be considered if there is a quality return.

You don't have to be a genius when you're backs up against the wall. You can be, it appears, fatally stubborn. A strategy the Mariners are still trying to cling to.

Heres to a clean slate, new owner, new president, new GM and new coach in 2009. Cheers.

Posted by George

7:08 PM, Jul 16, 2008

The numbers are simple:

Average runs per game - 3.94

Team ERA - 4.28

They lose a lot more than they win.

Posted by M's Fan

7:11 PM, Jul 16, 2008

-j. : Well said! We can only wish it will happen!

Posted by bongo

7:14 PM, Jul 16, 2008

RF Ichiro - No brainer
CF Reed - Better On Base skills than Lopez
2B Lopez - Best clutch hitter on the team
DH Ibanez - One of the few power bats on the club
3B Beltre - No brainer
C Clement - Play every day
LF Balentien - Play every day
1B LaHair - Black hole, thy name is 1st base
SS Betancourt - No brainer

I like it!!!!!


Posted by Boris

7:21 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff,

I really wish you would address the state of the All-Star Game. Let's say the game didn't end on that sacrifice - would Francona really keep trotting Kazmir out there for the sake of winning an ASG?

Granted, it was probably important for Francona to win that game since the Sox will be in the hunt again in October, but - keeping Kazmir in the game after throwing 104 pitches 2 days ago 1)probably not a good idea considering injury, 2) would piss off Tampa's management and 3) create a rivalry more bitter than Yanks-Sox.

That being said, what could be done against what might have become last night and DID become in '02?

Would teams have to move starters around before and after the AS break to avoid this? That seems crazy.

Thoughts?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

8:00 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Try it another way:

They're 37 & 58, with 67 to play. Assume they want to go .500 the remaining 10 weeks, to be certain they avoid that magic 100 loss number. So, they need 34 wins.

Is Vidro likely to help get to that? Is it likely he's going to increase steadilly in effectiveness the rest of the season, or at least be no worse? Probably not.

So if he's going to tank at some point and be replaced with a bench player or rookie, then his second half numbers would probably look an awful lot like a rookie coming in now (e.g. Balentien), getting their feet under them, and only contributing at the very end.

If it's likely to be a wash in that regard, why not serve both the short-term (win now) and long-term (evaluate new guys), rather than sticking with Vidro, which possibly maybe sort of serves the short term (going with the ... ahem.. "hot" bat) at the expense of the long term (time spent evaluating talent)?

If Riggleman's job is indeed 2-fold - win now, evaluate new guys - then it's just more logical to play a new guy. At worst, you'd get more Vidro-like outcome, but with a bonus of long-term evaluation in there on said new guy too.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

8:05 PM, Jul 16, 2008

...and after reading your post again, and reading today's replys, I really don't have anything to add except to agree with pretty well everyone today. (Except for the abusive posts, insults, trolls, etc., obviously.)

I think what this is all pointing towards, is a fundamental "agree to disagree", between some of the passionate online fans and the ownership. Thereby making said fans pray fervently for more front office changes in the offseason.

As Adam rightly noted, the fact that we're this worked up and angstful about it all, shows our interest and fandom as much as anyone who simply wanders into SafeCo on a Sunday afternoon with an Ichiro jersey on.

Posted by Mike

8:55 PM, Jul 16, 2008

j--Exactly!

Posted by LakersAgain

9:53 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff, I saw this on a blog today and found it to be shocking. This seems to be the complete opposite from the Ichiro we all think we know in Seattle. Why doesn't he do anything like this with the M's? Or we do just not know about it?
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AhhPSY36Q8mQvILMBNE6olSFCLcF?slug=jp-ichirospeech071508&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Posted by Nat

11:42 PM, Jul 16, 2008

What's left to say about Vidro? Hasn't it all been said not just in this thread but in many many threads before?

I do recall a quote from him about a month ago, in which he said, to paraphrase, ' I work hard, I do the best I can do, and everyday I go home proud of what I have accomplished.' Well, okay, then!

Maybe he doesn't want to get down and dirty by sharing his inner doubts with the media. I can understand that. Or maybe he truly feel like he's contributing his best efforts to this team, and thus, earning his millions.

All I can say is: Mr. Pelekoudas, please have mercy on us fans, spare us any more of his "contributions," and cut him today!

Posted by The Code Must Be Broken

1:42 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Geoff,

I have question that I would like you to answer that will get me raped by the statheads on here. Is there a code in the Seattle media that prohibits you from actually talking about how useless of a player Ichiro is for the M's ON THE FIELD? I don't see the "Gold Glove defense" anymore and he's made more base running errors than most teeballers. His average, hits, and runs scored are down. It seems to me he's just a tourist attraction. So back to my question, is there a code or are you content to wear out the Vidro clean-up and Bedard wasn't really a mistake stories? Thanks for your help!

Posted by Morse Code

3:43 AM, Jul 17, 2008

The Code Must Be Broken,

Not a stathead, just a rapist here. How about the code of ethics, as in it's unethical for a journalist to lie?

Posted by sundodger in sodak

4:46 AM, Jul 17, 2008

This may have been posted somewhere else...but let the campaign begin.

Keith Law for GM.

Posted by hiho

5:17 AM, Jul 17, 2008

It sures seems like you're trying to make nice with the M's. Did they threaten you?

Posted by greyguy

6:44 AM, Jul 17, 2008

I don't see how batting Vidro 4th makes sense with any sort of thinking whatever.

Short term- he's stinking up the place. Why not bat him lower until he shows he can do it?

Long term- His option is going to vest and we're going to be stuck with him next year if he keeps getting ABs. He sure looks like he's done, why keep him around? He has no value at all.

Heck, he wasn't even good last year, DH's need to be able to hit well better than average since that's all they do.

And I don't see how it makes sense to have Cairo on the team, either short term or long term. Short term, we're a team without offense. Wouldn't we do better with a pinch hitter than a second utility guy? Long term, an old utility infielder is not someone to build a team around, why care about keeping him.

It's also clear that the FO doesn't know how to evaluate players well. That doesn't make me smarter than them, I don't really know either, but their are actual statitical methods of evaluating players and those guys turn out to be right.

Pitchers like SIlva and Washburn who just keep the ball over the plate and let the opponents hit it are at best sort of average, at worst they suck. We gave them long term high priced contracts. That doesn't make sense, either long or short term.

I don't think the individuals of the M's FO are dumb, but they're old fashioned and their methods of doing business clearly are not working. The results speak for themselves.

Posted by scrapiron

8:44 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Vidro released, LaHair called up?
Ryan Davish of the TNT is reporting that Bryan LaHair is being called up today. Prospect Insider reported a few days ago that Jose Vidro was going to be released after the all star break. That all makes sense.

Posted by scrapiron

8:47 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Mariners first base options:
2008: Bryan LaHair
2009: Sign Ibanez as a free agent to play first base
2010 - : Dennis Raben

Posted by Mike

8:54 AM, Jul 17, 2008

I like it Scrapiron.

Man the other paper is all over the Ms today. John Hickey attempted analysis that I've never seen him try before. I can only imagine how much better it would have been if Geoff wrote it.

And Art Thiel is on fire....and exactly right.

Posted by Mike

9:29 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Hey,
Quit whining. You could have to cover a real team that has 4 or 5 players on the roster to interview. Plus, how much of a interview does anyone ever get from Ichiro. He won't even talk to an elementary school assembly. Next he'll just have his translator show up at the interview, and cut out the middle man.

Posted by Oolon

9:40 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Great post Geoff!

Posted by Mike

9:42 AM, Jul 17, 2008

If you hire an interim manager, which is stupid in the first place, the only measure he can be held accountable for is how many wins he can get. So if he wants to retain the job, he will logically go for the wins and not the development. We needed to bring in the manager of the future to evaluate the pieces he has for the next few years and make decisions based on what he sees. Riggleman is not an idiot, so he has to manage in a pretty short sighted manner. Of course I'm not going to post without calling someone an idiot, so Lincoln and Armstrong, your up.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:50 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Mike - the Mariners blogosphere has been saying for months what all the PI writers said this morning, the flammable Art Thiel included. And Art's column specifically gets into taking the long-term view, and noting how it hasn't worked and needs to change (or exist at all). Which is most people's rebuttal here to Geoff's explanation of short-term decision-making by field managers v. long-term strategy and how fans armchair-quarterback around it.

Anyway, I wasn't impressed. Except to say that it's nice to see the mainstream media come around to the same conclusions that this blog, LL, USSM and others have come to a long, long time ago. (To the point of extensively quoting one of said blogs as part of the counterargument to the "trade Ichiro" drumbeat.)

Posted by shortbus

9:56 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Geoff, you yourself made the only point that mattered in yersterday's blog post...that even assuming the statistical increase in Ibanez' OPS isn't a fluke of small sample size...it's meaningless if Vidro is that much worse. In fact Vidro is more than that much worse. He's giving up 260 points of OPS on a league-average DH (if you take Vidros worst-in-league performance out of the equation).

You're a net 160 points of OPS in the hole by using Vidro instead of an average DH in the league. By using the next-best-option the M's actually have it's likely a wash AND Vidro's option won't vest. And I won't hate the team as much and refer to its management as "idiots."

Everybody wins. Except Vidro. But he's used to losing by now..

Posted by Mike

9:57 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Chris from B---I was more impressed that THE one good generalist sports columnist in town was calling for change at the very top. Seems maybe the blogsphere has been heard. Heck, even JIm Moore spoke with Dave Cameron.

And while I agree we need to take a longer view with personnel decisions, I think our resources give us the ability to try to grow and be competitve.

And finally, the Mike at 9:29 and 9:42 are not me.

Posted by Donovan

10:32 AM, Jul 17, 2008

I continue to fail to understand the hyperanalysis of Riggleman's every lineup move, or the attempts to extrapolate them into next season. Presumably we all agree that next season the roster will differ substantially from the one he has to work with today, so what difference does it make where Vidro bats? Nobody is defending him as an effective cleanup hitter or DH, so what exactly are we arguing about? Riggleman isn't thinking about next season, nor should he. That isn't his job. In the context of an organization, field managers are tacticians, not strategists. They don't rebuild teams. They coach games. GMs rebuild teams. Forget about Riggleman. He's just making due as best he can with a very mediocre lineup that has no power at all. Pelekoudas is the guy to put the microscope on. What will he do to improve the talent pool for Riggleman (or whoever manages next year) to work with?

Also, again, be a little patient with the callups. There is a lot of miserable, God-forsaken season to come. Right now the last thing Pelekoudas should be thinking about is tonight's batting order. He should have a phone glued to each ear trying to figure out if there is a trade to be made that forwards our chances to improve next year.

Really, it would be better not to even watch any games for a couple of weeks. Monitor the trade situation and watch the Tour de France instead, or get outside and enjoy the brief but stellar Northwest summer. I'm going to do something I've never done and catch a Rainiers game this weekend.

Posted by JMHawkins

11:34 AM, Jul 17, 2008

If Albert Pujols went 9 for 50 over the next two weeks and Jason LaRue went 12 for 20 over the same period, and the Cardinals DFA'd Pujols in favor of LaRue, everyone would call them idiots, and would be right.

Several years worth of data makes it clear that Pujols is a far better hitter than LaRue, but over a two week period it's absolutely possible for LaRue to outhit him. That's why nobody gets too excited about an All Star hitting .190 or a journeyman hitting .450 in mid-April. Anyone who makes decisions based on a two-week sample when the rest of the data says the opposite is not being very smart.

So don't try to convince me Riggleman is right about Vidro protecting Ibanez. It's 49 at bats over the entire year when Vidro batted after Ibanez. 49 ABs is the equivalent of two weeks. It's dumb to make a decision based on that when it goes against every other bit of logic.

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