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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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August 8, 2008 10:00 AM

Kids running wild

Posted by Geoff Baker

So, we've had an interesting situation the past week of a couple of first place teams coming into Safeco Field and getting upended by the younger Mariners. Seattle has now taken 3-of-4 from the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays with the Jeremy Reeds, Bryan LaHairs, Wladimir Balentiens and Jeff Clements of this world filling out the lineup cards. Yes, Jose Vidro was still here when the "streak" began, but that was done a day later and Balentien was up -- just in time to notch the hit that likely turned defeat into victory for the Mariners last night. Yes, the Ibanez homer was big. But without that Balentien double, the M's likely don't tie the game and it's a different scenario heading into the ninth.

By now, as you'd imagine, the Rays and Twins must be feeling a little frustrated. After all, they no doubt saw the M's on the schedule and figured this would be prime time to fatten up on their lead in the standings.

The Twins might not have known any better, but the Rays certainly should. August can be a dangerous time to play against teams so far out of it they need a telescope to see the next closest competitor. By the second half, non-contending teams usually stack their roster with "kids" to get a look at the future. Or, they leave all the angst of a first-half disaster behind, using the All-Star break to psychologically begin a "new' season, one in which their fans make a break from the first three months as well and tend to also take a fresher outlook while not riding the club as hard.

Frankly, when you bury yourself so far back so quickly, it does remove a certain pressure to perform. Throw in the Dog Days of August, when contending teams are trying to pace themselves, or store some energy for that final September sprint, and you can have the recipe for on-field upsets.

Covering the AL East every year since the Rays' inception in 1998, until my arrival in Seattle late in the 2006 season, my former colleagues and I seemed to notice how some terrible Tampa Bay teams always seemed to have these crazy, illogical second-half runs that came out of nowhere. I mean, these were teams that perennially lost between 90 and 100 games. It was highly unusual to think the Rays capable of sustaining anything for two, three and even five-week stretches. But they usually did. Many of those teams had "kids" to open the season. So, that wasn't as big a factor as it may be for these Mariners. Still, the whole "pressure is off" and opponents trying to "fatten up" theory did hold.

Anyhow, it was always just a perception we had about the Rays. We called it the "Tampa Bay bounce" theory. I decided to do some research this morning and see just how close to reality that theory was.


It turns out that, just about every year, the Rays did go on some kind of second-half run that defied logic or reason. And here's the thing: it usually involved some playoff-bound team (the Yankees often) coming in and getting its tail whupped. But almost never beyond early September. And that's the thing. By September, teams headed to the playoffs are usually sharpening their claws, ready to take on any opponent in a fight to the death for a much-needed win. Not so much in August. As I mentioned, the playoff sprint has yet to begin. Teams now are merely trying to stay close enough to be part of a pennant race. It's hot out. Fatigue is setting in. That second-wind has yet to strike. For some pretenders, it never will.

But the Rays, given their history of surprising teams in August, should know better. They should know how dangerous this time of year is for wannabe contenders just like them. Let's take a look at what some really bad Rays teams have done before. This isn't meant to be a scientific study or anything. Just fun.

2007 -- The Devil Rays, as they were still called, would lose 95 games. But they were true terrors between Aug. 24 and Sept. 10, winning 13 of 17 and sparking all kinds of commentary about how the future looked great. For the first time in a decade, that prediction was actually accurate.

2006 -- Nothing happened this year. The Devil Rays stank. They stank in the first half and in the second. But still, with all those first round picks and more to come, the future looked great.

2005 -- Nothing like a 97-loss team to set a second-half trap for win-hungry wolves. Tampa Bay won 14 of 19 between July 14 and Aug. 3 -- in other words, right after the All-Star Break. And then, so as just to prove the future looked great, they won 12 of 16 from Aug. 12 to Aug. 28. In other words, they notched 26 of their 65 wins that season (40 percent) over roughly a six-week span in the second-half. Gotta love it. No wonder we had our theories.

2004 -- Tampa Bay didn't even bother waiting for the second-half of this season to turn on the jets. After playing themselves out of contention the first month or two, they went absolutely nuts from May 30 to July 3, going an astounding 24-8. That's .750 ball for five weeks. By a team that had been on-pace to lose 100. As a result, the Rays "only" lost 91 that year and -- for the only time in their history -- avoided a last-place finish. The future looked great.

2003 -- This 99-loss juggernaut was poised and ready to pick off some suckers in the second-half. Tampa Bay captured 14 of 21 games from July 29 to Aug. 19 of that season and served notice that the future...well, it was going to be great. Seriously.

2002 -- Not so much here. Bad team. Great future. But lousy present.

2001 -- The Rays lost 100 games. But they still tripped some teams up in August, winning 8 of 12 between Aug. 10 and 22. They shed a bunch of veteran contracts and played the kids. Talk about a great future ahead.

2000 -- Tampa Bay began a misguided attempt to import a bunch of home run sluggers to join Jose Canseco. They lost 93 games that year, but still captured 13 of 19 from July 22 to Aug. 10. Bring in a couple more veteran bats, and what a great future! Especially once that Josh Hamilton kid worked his way through the minors.

1999 -- Signed Jose Canseco to build off a rookie franchise season. Didn't work so well and the D-Rays would drop 93 games. But from Aug. 4 to 22, they won 12 of 17. A few more bats and hey, the future could be great.

So, there you have it. Almosty every year of their miserable existence, outside of 1998, 2002 and 2006, the Rays have managed to surprise people despite their terrible standing. What does this prove? That every dog has its day, perhaps. Or that every Ray has its way at one time or another.

The hidden subtext is that, no matter how good the kids may look in the second-half, it's best to keep in mind that these games matter little. Ultimately, while there are always a few surprises, the top prospects are still the ones who the future is built off, while the surprises are usually just that -- surprises who fade with time. But you never know. And after a first half as bad as this year's was for the M's, fans no doubt deserve a few surprises, fleeting as it may be in the end. So, go ahead and enjoy the run. Just don't forget to keep the long-term picture in sight. This is a bad team that needs many fixes. No matter what happens this month, plenty of fixes need to come.


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Posted by Bill

10:09 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Who is Dave Cameron? What are his credentials to be the god or devil of baseball knowledge? What is so special about what he says that causes people to defend him or villify him so intensely?


I'm pleading ignorance because I don't read USS Mariner. I get enough headaches reading this blog too much.

Posted by R2D2

10:11 AM, Aug 08, 2008

quick question Geoff, it may be a good one or a stupid one, but

why the h is Batista still with this team????

Posted by Patrick from Kent

10:12 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Hey,

Anyone know if the M's are close to terms with their 1st Rd. Selection Josh Feilds??

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:13 AM, Aug 08, 2008

(carryover from previous thread - apologies for my megalomania)

Donovan - Raul is 5 times the leader Junior ever was, and will last longer. ... With Ichiro and Raul showing the young guys how to play right...

Sorry, but again, as with other times you / others bring this up - no, he's not. Raul is not a leader. Geoff has specifically done an interview with him that talked about Raul's hitting approach, got some good insights out of him... then Geoff asks Raul if he's considered explicitly explaining that, in that way, to younger players, and Raul is genuinely surprised, saying that no, he'd never thought of doing so.

Ichiro and Raul are role models, for other players who are a) intelligent enough to spot it and b) dedicated and talented enough to observe and incorporate the parts that work for their routine and talents. Ichiro and Raul are not leaders in by actively inspiring or educating, not leaders by calling out slackers, not leaders through anything except a very passive "lead by example". And this has been borne out by years of multiple interviews, articles and behind-the-scenes clubhouse sorts of things that Geoff Baker or Shannon Drayer have given us. Unless there's substantial behind-the-scenes work being done, so much so that literally no press have ever discussed it, Raul is not a leader. He's a role model.

Sorry if I'm going all Adam-and-Resin on you. :) It may seem like nitpicking, but the difference (and difference to a team) is substantial. I just think that of all the debatable points for bringing Raul back to the Ms, and what he has to offer the Ms, any notion of clubhouse leadership or inspiration has to be dismissed.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:19 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Geoff - Ultimately, while there are always a few surprises, the top prospects are still the ones who the future is built off, while the surprises are usually just that -- surprises who fade with time.

Building logically off of that - will the true Ms fire sale this winter not just come from shedding remaining contracts, but also from capitalizing on perception and perhaps selling high on some marginal players (i.e. decent second half outings from Jimenez, Reed, Corcoran, LaHair) to really rebuild the farm system ground-up? Or will the Ms buy into the hype themselves and think that players doing well in the last couple months are better than they are?

Past history seems to point to the latter - the Ms always seem to be sell low buy high sorts of folks - but with the right GM, who can succeed in spite of Chuck and Howie, who knows?

Posted by scrapiron

10:25 AM, Aug 08, 2008

How about it proves that youthful enthusiasm, hustle and determination is better than veteran leadership?

I'm not suggesting that, say, Wladimir Balentien is better than Manny Ramirez, but I am saying that a brooding veteran like Richie Sexson has a bigger detrimental affect on a team than his individual batting average.

When a Jose Vidro is struggling, nothing else he does picks up a team. When Wladimir Balentien struggles, his energy and enthusiasm still encourages his teammates.

Posted by Traxx

10:35 AM, Aug 08, 2008

the Rays were suffering from jet lag and Felixitis. Now that they have had a good nights rest they will most likely take the next three.

Posted by Ziasudra

10:35 AM, Aug 08, 2008

I was a Dodger fan, back in their glory years, when they were perennial division winners. At that era, the Padres were perennial cellar dwellers, and every September, SD would sweep LA in a series, often in LA.
Happens all over the place. . . .

Posted by Sweetwater

10:39 AM, Aug 08, 2008

the kids know that they have to EARN a roster spot therfore they bust their asses not knowing when or if they might have another chance like this.

someveterans take their roster spots for granted as their performance dictates

Posted by Kid Kaos

10:41 AM, Aug 08, 2008

I have a question:

was last nights walkoff jack that Ibanez rocked
"clutch" ?

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

10:41 AM, Aug 08, 2008

"Just don't forget to keep the long-term picture in sight. This is a bad team that needs many fixes. "

It's still a better team tnan they started out with this year. Throw in RRS and Morrow in the rotation and you might have something serviceable (though Morrow would have been in a much better position to suceed if he had been in AA and AAA much of the year working as a starter).

Make no mistake, this may not be a good team right now, but it has improved in terms of composition in the last month or so.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

10:43 AM, Aug 08, 2008

"I'm pleading ignorance because I don't read USS Mariner. I get enough headaches reading this blog too much."

Why don't you start by reading some of the things they write over there and then you might be better positioned to understand why folks view USSM as a valuable analytical resource for baseball.

Posted by Bill

10:49 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Maybe I will but I was hoping that someone could just tell me what qualifications this Dave Cameron person has. Are his qualifications posted anywhere on the site?

Posted by DC

10:53 AM, Aug 08, 2008

was last nights walkoff jack that Ibanez rocked "clutch" ?

Kid Kaos,
If you asked someone who thinks a numeric value can be assigned to "clutch" and that that value is AVG/OPS when batting with runners in scoring position, then no, that at-bat was in fact not clutch.

And therein lies the problem with trying to evaluate clutch hitting with numbers.

Posted by Mike

10:53 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Interesting Geoff. Perhaps it is also randomness and a big part of why baseball is so fun and why the playoffs are such a crapshoot.

If you assembled a roster of replacement level players they will still win 40-50 games in a season. Add a good player or two and you might get to 60-70. Some of those wins (and lot of losses) will all be grouped together. Just as a .500 team doen't win one, lose one, win one, lose one.

Over a short period of time you are likely to see a bad team beat a good team. In fact only the very best teams post much better than a .600 record, compared to say, football where in any year, a few teams will top .800.

And this is why I love baseball and for Bill, why USSM is worth a read.

Small differences add up over time and while they might not be visible in any one game, they do indeed add up. Albert Pujols "created" 132 runs last year. Raul Ibanez, 96. Over the course of any week that's a difference of only a little over a run, so while watching them both play over any random week you might really notice any difference but we all know we'd rather have Albert Pujols.

By attempting to quantify things we've always taken for granted and understand the reason why things happen, smart teams are giving themselves a little bit better chance of making good decisions. Incorporating more detailed information than they used to leads to a better process. This is what the SABR-community and USSM (and LL) are all about.

Advanced statistics, much like scouts, or GMs or players will never bat 1.000 on anything. But by putting all this information together you get the chance to add that run a week, or turn your GM from a figurative .270 hitter to a .300 hitter.

Many dismiss people like Dave Cameron because he gets things wrong from time to time. But he's right more often than not and he's entertaining.

Most of all he and other like him have made baseball even more interesting to me. The fact that he rather curtly dismisses ill-thought or illogical arguments bothers some. But hey, it's his site.

So Bill, go check USSM out. It might be your cup of tea, it might not. I think much like this site, it adds a lot of value.

Posted by scottM

11:00 AM, Aug 08, 2008

I agree with Scrapiron (10:25)


GEOFF, your column misses one very significant factor that I've mentioned here before. Players like Reed, Balentien, LaHair, Clement, RRS, Morrow, RAD are playing to ESTABLISH themselves as Major League players. Irrespective of how determined the other teams are that come in to play the M's, the young players know that their jobs are on the line. They are playing for keeps.

And, the point I made in the last thread, is that Riggleman has established––very overtly––different rules for the game than the M's had under McLaren or Grover. While Riggleman doesn't berate players publicly, a guy like Yuni knows he will sit if he doesn't play hard. A guy like Bloomquist knows he has just as much chance to play in CF as Reed does. A guy like Cairo know his assets will be used. A guy like Burke knows he will be called on almost as readily as Johjima. It's now a meritocracy here.

The F.O. was painfully slow to dump Sexson and Vidro or place Batista in the pen, and not doing so sent the message of entitlement that was horrible for moral. What we are seeing now is legitimate––a fresh intensity on this team.

To write this off as a symptom of slacking/slumping play by the opponents misses the obvious. There is a fresh wind blowing through this team, and the players are responding. The lining to this phenomenon is silver, GEOFF, not lead, as you seem to suggest.

But kudos for stirring up the debate, because the changing winds deserve to be acknowledged for what they are.

So far, the more I see of Riggleman, the more I like. Give him a couple more legitimate sticks, and, if healthy, I think this team will surprise the league in 2009.

Posted by isaac_spaceman

11:01 AM, Aug 08, 2008

You can call it a "Tampa Bay Bounce," but I believe the scientific term is "regression to the mean."

Posted by DC

11:06 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Why is "regression to the mean" scientific? Because it sounds fancier?

How about "positivistic participatory performance diffusion", a term I just made up. Is that "scientific"?

Posted by scottM

11:16 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Or "getting hot". Or is that too much like the idea that Raul had a "clutch" walk-off home run last night.

Because it cannot yet be statistically proven, it's not possible that the home run was the least bit out of the ordinary considering Ibanez's statistical propensities.

Why have humans play the game, if human emotive performance criteria are irrelevant? Let's design ball playing robots instead. Sorry Yuni, we're replacing you with Wall-E.

Posted by Nat

11:19 AM, Aug 08, 2008

scottM- while I'm still on the fence about Riggleman as a permanent GM, I agree wholeheartedly with your 'Different Rules Theory' that has come into play recently.

Kudos to Riggleman b/c he recognizes that players who feel they have a chance to contribute will provide energy and enthusiasm in spades. Thank God the Mariners Age of Entitlement is in remission!

And Mike- I gotta hand it to you for taking the time to explain to Bill WHY it makes sense to read the archives at USSM. It felt like it would require too much time and energy to explain, but you took the time- good on you.

I've taken a little hiatus from the blog recently to recharge, but I have to say that the rest of the season definitely feels like it's gonna be more fun than the previous four months!

Posted by Mike

11:25 AM, Aug 08, 2008

"Why have humans play the game, if human emotive performance criteria are irrelevant? Let's design ball playing robots instead. Sorry Yuni, we're replacing you with Wall-E."

No one has ever said the human part of the game is irrelevant. Why does trying to understand something to a greater degree mean people want robots to play the game? You know, it is the fact that unlikely things happen (see Dent, Bucky) that makes sports fun. But that doesn't mean I want the GM of my team to go hire Bucky Dent because of a couple of magic moments. I want my GM to make smart choices based on talent.


Posted by Andymon

11:25 AM, Aug 08, 2008

It is true that we've won those games, but it took Raul driving in a ridiculous 14 runs in 4 games to make it happen. I think the Kids are Alright too, and their play kept us in games. And it is telling that starting a bunch of triple A callups is doing better (and against good teams) then the lousy vets we had.

Posted by Bill

11:28 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Mike, thanks for your answer. I guess I don't get why people are so defensive (or offensive) about what is said on USS Mariner and the person saying it. I don't think everything can be explained by numbers (in baseball or otherwise) because the numbers can be interpreted by different people to be different things. For example, from a baseball standpoint, what is the difference in trajectory between a fly ball and a line drive? When stats place emphasis on a pitcher (or hitter's) line drive percentage there have to be some balls that are hit in the gray area between what is considered a line drive and what is considered a fly ball. There are other examples in baseball that cannot be explained by numerical analysis alone. I'm not saying anyone is wrong, I'm just saying...and I still don't get why people are so offended by other points of view.


Is Dave Cameron a former player? Manager? Any professional baseball experience? Just wondering. Thanks again.

Posted by DC

11:31 AM, Aug 08, 2008

scottM,
Wall-E unemotional?!? Did you see the movie? He's like the Hallmark Channel version of a robot.

But he can scoop up sh*t good, which is handy for a SS.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

11:46 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Bill- Good to see someone else not afraid of posting an opinion that is suppressed by Adam/BrianL.

Tugboat-It is fairly obvious the dynamic duo are USSM freelance moderators/spies, attempting to bully free speech here . No other reasonable person would behave in such a manner.

It is reasonable that when certain people here repeatedly used an internet source (USSM) for their information and ideas, that others should be skeptical and verify that source.

That is what I do. I personally question the accuracy and credibility of the source just like any student who writes an essay should over a sources they cite in their paper and question its credibility. Just like any journalist that links a site in their writings. It is not being irrational or hateful, it's called critical thinking.

Posted by Ms Fan in Exile

11:54 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Was at baseballreference.com earlier, and found some interesting stats this year. I looked at 4 batting and 5 pitching stats that go towards proving that the Mariners are playing quite a bit better under Riggleman than under McLaren. (Although, the 20-23 Record versus the 25-47 Record proves it as well)

Batting:
Riggleman:.280 Avg, .334 OBP, .397 SLG, .731 OPS
McLaren: .252 Avg, .308 OBP, .374 SLG, .682 OPS

Pitching:
Riggleman: 3.93 ERA, .264 BAA, .335 OBP, .401 SLG, .736 OPS
McLaren: 4.69 ERA, .274 BAA, .348 OBP, .422 SLG, .770 OPS

As you can see, every one of these is better under Riggleman than McLaren. The team is actually playing better under wiggleworm. Not sure he should stay, but he is getting more out of the team.

Posted by nikki

12:01 PM, Aug 08, 2008

i think it's clear that the team just rallies around riggleman and the evidence is their stellar play since he took over. They would be playoff bound if he was the manager for a full season!!!

Posted by Ollie

12:06 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Just a pet peeve, but I find this sports world cliche annoying, "…with the Jeremy Reeds, Bryan LaHairs, Wladimir Balentiens and Jeff Clements of this world."

Are there clones of these individuals? Just a note to the Geoff Bakers (whose writing I appreciate), of the world.

Posted by Jbw

12:08 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Hey Geoff,

How do you even get up in the morning? It must be a drag going through life looking at the glass half full. I do know that most people don't like looking at negativity in your blog every day.

Look, we know the season is over. We don't know whether some of the young guys will pan out or not. Many people are just baseball fans and enjoy watching the game along with the progression of the young players.

Maybe you should just quit the blog for the year. You know you have nothing else to say about the team. You have said it all.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

12:13 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Re:Riggleman

Whatever we think about the guy, the new GM will have his pick. Personally, I looked at Riggleman's strengths and weaknesses. His strength is he has the leadership qualities to manage in this league. He is confident with himself and he definitely is a "take charge" type of guy.

His weaknesses are too glaring and negate his strengths. Riggleman was the mastermind behind McLaren's awful game strategy. Riggleman still implements old school lefty-righty match-ups on occasion.

The man let Jeremy Reed hit late in a tie-game last night against a left-handed pitcher. Reed is hitting .176/.176/.176 this year in small sample analysis this year against lefties. He is historically awful versus lefties, yet in a tie game allowed to hit and strikeout in one of the worst at bats I have seen this season with runners on and extend a tie game late.

Riggle must have had a hunch to deviate from his usual traditional match-ups. We don't need a hunch guesser as our skipper. I'm not suggesting a saberhead either, just use raw statistics available to anybody. Improve the odds by using simple lefty-righty split stats.

I watched Riggleman call for Bryan LaHair (who rates probably the lowest scouting rating possible in speed) a hit-n-run with Miguel Cairo at the plate. A good manager needs to be able to evaluate talent on the field. Cairo is not a candidate for a hit-n-run, or LaHair for that matter.

Posted by Mike

12:15 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Bill---I too am puzzled by some of the viriol. I tend to side with the SABR-folks, at least in how I see the world so do take my analysis with a grain of salt.

One big dividing line is results-based-analysis. SABR-folks eschew this and non-SABR-folks seem to embrace it. Many see a ground ball single that just finds a hole to win a game as a great piece of hitting, after all, we got the result we wanted. The SABR-crowd says "not so fast." They see that pitchers who get ground balls be more successful overall than flyball pitchers and ground balls getting through for hits less than 20% of the time and realize that even though they won and are happy about it they were lucky, that the opposing pitcher actually did his job.

Suddenly this groundball hitter is showered in accolades for his approach and the pitcher is vilified for failing. This makes the SABR-folks snarky and this snarkiness is perceived as arrogance by the non-SABR crowd.

From there it tends to escalate. Non-SABrs tend to think that SABRs don't are about the human element. SABRs think Non-SABRs put too much emphasis on it rather than actual talent.

I've had some fun discussions on this blog with some who do not quite embrace some of the newer stats(Hey Merrill) and for the most part they are pretty fun. Some however are downright paranoid and don't seem to understand that like-minded people can share a viewpoint without agreeing on everything. I don't understand the need to continually trash Cameron.

I don't believe Dave Cameron played baseball at a high level (but I actually don't know). Neither did Bill James or Theo Epstein. Bill Bavasi was in baseball his whole life. Look how that turned out.

As for your gray area question, certainly, not all line drives and flyballs are created equal. But my understanding is that soon there will be technology similar to the PITCHfx for batted balls. That would seem to take batting peripheral stats and fielding metrics to the next level. And I'm sure our souls will remain intact and baseball will stilll be played by humans.

Posted by Donovan

12:25 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Chris - Check out my response in the previous thread. I'll take the silent, lead by example leader over the clubhouse disciplinarian every time. But then I wouldn't keep undisciplined young players on my roster, no matter how talented they were on paper.

Just what we need - more debate on clutchness. Clutchness is in the eye of the beholder. This is like arguing about Ginger vs. Mary Ann. If you believe one hit is worth more than another, then it is - to you. One thing is for sure, if you are always an excellent hitter, then you are "clutch" by definition. If you hit better in situations where your team needs a hit really bad, what that really says is that you fail to play to your potential most of the time. Thus, most players remembered for their "clutch" hits are second tier players like Leyritz and Aaron Boone. Great players who chronically underperform when the pressure is on (see Rod, A-) are another issue entirely. The heat is really on the $30 million dolllar man in the Bronx these days:

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:37 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Resin - Unless someone is actively deleting your posts here - impossible, given the near-complete lack of moderation apart from a poorly presented CAPTCHA - it's a little hard to claim your views are 'suppressed'.

And an argument you're created yourself, based on number-crunching and your own opinions formed with your own eyes, is not guaranteed to be any better or worse than an argument that is either agreeing with someone else's, or that parallel's someone else's. There's very little mindless parroting that goes on here; most people who are agreeing with others, are stepping through an argument and spelling out how they agree with its logic.

Most of the time, if you strip out the ego, dissembling, misquoting, misinterpreting and high school debate team posturing from the arguments you have with Adam, BrianL, Faceplant, etc. ... what's usually left is two valid, if different, points of view.

Not getting caught up in that would help with a very important stat (the signal-to-noise ratio).

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:38 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Ms fan in exile - But the composition of those two teams were very different. The Riggleman numbers are very skewed by not having quite as many sucky players. (Highly technical terms, I know.) So it's not just Riggleman's coaching / style / whatever; it's the personnel decisions.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:45 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Donovan - the young M's of today benefit from seeing the work ethics and approaches of pros like Ichiro and Raul.

I'll believe it when I see the young Ms of today have success, and be directly attributing that success to Ichi/Raul/vets, and demonstrate how they took what works for those guys and applied it to themselves.

I see your point about not needing / liking the traditional frat-hazing model of leadership in baseball. :) My point was that I think there's a perception that Raul or Ichiro can or should be that kind of vocal leader (I myself have wondered about Ichiro's fire and vocal contributions in the WBC or the ASG, but seeming silence day-to-day with the Ms). And I don't think that an argument for keeping them around to be leaders / role models works, unless you're also actively finding and keeping the kind of kids who seek out and learn from those role models. Otherwise you get the Griffey / Edgar dynamic you pointed to in your other post. A role model isn't a role model unless someone's learning from them.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

1:06 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"Is Dave Cameron a former player? Manager? Any professional baseball experience? Just wondering. Thanks again."

No, but neither is Geoff Baker, but you are reading his blog. If you read USSM, you'll see that the site takes a reasoned approach to baseball analysis, employs many different tools - few developed by them, but some are - and is almost always right about players and approach.

- Vidro a bad idea - check!
-Sexson overpaid and likely to decline -check!
-One pitcher not enough to put this team over the top to contention - check!
-AAAA guys able to give similar performances to high priced veterans in back rotation spots - check!
-bullpens easy to put together on the cheap - check (M's have this one down pretty much)!
-Silva not that great - Check!
- Cheap young talent who perform well in AAA and who have objective indicators of talent making it in the big leagues (or at least being as reliable as crusty veterans who have been through wars) - Check!

The lists go on. They were telling you the Rays would be good before it became popular to say that. They were telling you that Carl Everett was a big waste of money. They were telling you that the Guillen pick up and the Beltre move were good ones.

Do they get everything right all the time? No. Do you? Does Geoff? Does anybody? But they admit when they are wrong, and also admit that they aren't selling certainty, but advocating for a process that seeks after greater understanding of baseball. If you care to be a fan who doesn't want to know more about the game and constantly try to find better ways of evaluating talent and roster construction, you won't like USSM. USSM doesn't claim to be able to quantify all human achievement, but, in the end, all skills have indicators. A fan like those who run and visit USSM seek better indicators, while acknowledging that momentary acheivement can admit of unquantifiable elevations of spirit. We like the statistical analysis but, at our cores, we love the game. What thing do you love that you don't care to know as much about as possible?

Posted by tugboatcritic

1:08 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Mike, and Adam from last night-

I "trash" on Cameron a lot. I'll admit it, he has it coming. His utter disdain for any analysis based on historical theory turns me off. So does his smug attitude. So does his claim of never being wrong. I like to point out where he is wrong so that when his minions quest to enlighten the rest of the world of his teachings, there is at least a little fact-checking. His obvious ignorance about pitching conflicts with his trying to influence $100mil. properties. That's irresponsible.

Adam I called him a coward last night because he is one. I enjoy reading this blog and take offense when folks bash the author both here and elsewhere. Making sure to say we like Geoff and then spitting out 1000 words on what a know-nothing he strikes me as a bit disingenuous. But the kicker is when Dave runs over to LL and buries a paragraph in the comments where he basically ridicules Geoff and asks why he isn't fired for being so stupid. That is cowardly, and its why I enjoy pointing out chinks in his armor.

Posted by isaac_spaceman

1:09 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"Why is "regression to the mean" scientific?"

Because it is a scientific term? Used for over 120 years? Is this ringing a bell for anybody?

Posted by Mike

1:11 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"What thing do you love that you don't care to know as much about as possible?"

Sausage.

But very well said.

Posted by muncy

1:13 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"What thing do you love that you don't care to know as much about as possible?"

Mayonnaise! Tastes great but please don't tell me what's in it.

Posted by Mr. Sabermetrics

1:15 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Chris,

If Riggleman isn't the reason for the improvements, then credit must go to Lee P. If they play well, he will most likely keep the job. The two geniuses at the top that built this mess (Lincstrong) will stick with the guy they know.

Riggs shows me some hope. I don't find myself cursing at the TV during games as much as I did with the trio of Melvin, Grover and Mac.

Keep this in mind for those ripping Riggs' in game decisions...Lou made many of the same "hunch" moves that Riggs employed by keeping Reed in there against a lefty or having Cairo & LaHair in a hit & Run. Sorry, all managers do it. I like the guy because he seems sure of himself, like Lou. Melvin and Mac were pussyfooting and politely befriending their players. Grover's problem is the game passed him by to some extent. He made some good moves last year but if it wasn't for Mateo hitting his wife, how long would Grover have stuck with him out of the BP in tough situations?

Riggs is willing to BENCH Yuni to teach him something. He's willing to publicly cajole guys who aren't hitting like they should. He's been seen talking to his players in the clubhouse about their play. He also seems to make okay BP decisions regardless if he overuses the BS r/l matchup nonsense.

Say they hire an outsider for the GM role, if the M's play better under RIggs, I can imagine the GM keeping him since he knows these kids and what they can do.

Did I say that Riggs is willing to give his kids chances to succeed? Seemed to me that Melvin, Grover and especially Mac hated using kids unless forced to. If Mac was managing would he have the gumption to give Jared Wells a look? Riggs went for it and it payed off. Proof that the saber community is right when we say you can find quality relievers in the minors if used properly.

I would not cry if they kept Riggleman for one more year.

Posted by Mike

1:23 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"So does his claim of never being wrong. I like to point out where he is wrong so that when his minions quest to enlighten the rest of the world of his teachings, there is at least a little fact-checking. His obvious ignorance about pitching conflicts with his trying to influence $100mil. properties. That's irresponsible. "

No, what is irresponsible is lying about someone. I've seen Cameron admit to error many times.

As to "his minions", really, get over yourself. He presents information from the SABR-community. 99% of that community thinks that, say, Raul Ibanez is a bad defender. Do you think the entire community is controlled by Dave or might it be that those that share a point of view are likely to agree?

It is possible to distinguish between liking Geoff the beat reporter and disagreeing with Geoff, the analyst.

As to his "obvious ignorance about pitching", your point might be taken if you showed some evidence. My takeaway from Cameron or just about anyone else in the SABR community is that Wins and ERA are very dependant upon the team surrounding the pitcher and therefore not the best means for evaluating pitching talent. That doesn't sound ignorant to me.

Posted by Uncle Freddie

1:23 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Since we are having such a heated discussion about websites, i thought i might throw out a much more important topic...Why is Jarrod Washburn still here? Why have I not heard rumors of him being claimed on waivers. There are a few teams out there that need him right now, and the M's are not one of them.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

1:24 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"But the kicker is when Dave runs over to LL and buries a paragraph in the comments where he basically ridicules Geoff and asks why he isn't fired for being so stupid."

Please enlighten us with the direct link to this comment by Dave Cameron that, for your sake, I hope states what you claim verbatim. I have only ever read comments from Dave thanking the heavens that we have Geoff as a beat writer over what came before. He takes issue with a fair number of Geoff's points, but I've never seen him say Geoff is stupid and should be fired. He does say that Geoff is a much better reporter than analyst.

Again, for your sake, I hope you can back that up with a direct link. If not, the only one being irresponsible around here is you.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

1:27 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Doug, you have, in one poorly-worded and ill-constructed paragraph, told us all we need to know about why we should care very little about your opinion of Dave Cameron, or anything else for that matter.

Posted by Mike

1:34 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Uncle Freddie---I think the answer is that the teams in the playoff don't think Washburn will help enough to employ him for $10M next year when they have players who could do the same thing for very little money.

Posted by Novice

1:50 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Willie B. needs more playing time, it is that simple. The guy is just rotting away on the bench. Why not throw Ichiro into the DH role, let Willie start in RF where he can roam and lead by example. Ichiro can get more rest and save his body the wear and tear, while Willie being in his prime can handle getting banged up.

Posted by meagain

1:52 PM, Aug 08, 2008

I can understand being passionate about your favorite sports team, or the teams that oppose them, or even about the officials that call the games. But if someone's writing something you don't like or agree with, don't read 'em.

Nothing I like better than a good baseball argument and a beer. But the name-calling is a waste of time. I guess there will always be people like the nut that almost killed a guy down in Auburn with a six iron, but it doesn't take much thought to tell you how stupid that kind of conduct is.

Less vitriol, more substance, please.

Posted by meagain

1:54 PM, Aug 08, 2008

And Novice, here's the 2008 Tongue in Cheek Award. You may retire now.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

1:56 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Mr. Sabermetrics - I see what you mean and I mostly agree. Lee P. will get credit for doing the bare minimum expected with a team that needs to see its youngsters and weed others out, if trends continue for the rest of the season. And depending on how he handles Washburn, etc. And I think Riggleman's in-game management (just gut feel from what I've seen, I don't have specific examples) is as good or better than Mac or Grover's was.

It's just that a blanket "team's stats jumped up when Riggs was manager, therefore Riggs is better manager" isn't accurate. There's a lot more factors than just what Riggleman is doing on the field.

Posted by tugboatcritic

1:58 PM, Aug 08, 2008

M's fan in CO- I didn't put quotes around it so it need not be verbatim. July 9 2008 Washburn's Command-Lookout Landing. Scroll down, and he may have edited it some, it sounded worse when I first read it. Still, it basically insinuates that Geoff should not be employed due to his stupid opinions.

Mike- Dave has stated that "we almost never are wrong", he has put it up in posts, and in the comment section. Other sites have had great fun with this behavior. He does say it, repeatedly.

Why do I say he doesn't know pitching? The Felix debate from 07 where he starts off with an ignorant knee-jerk results-based opinion. Used some extremely shoddy stat analysis to back it up(ie the inacurrate pitch fx system). Used unfair comps (guys like Moyer) to support his claim that Felix throws too many fb's early.

More? He clearly demonstrated that he has no idea of what the term: "establish the fb" means and has by this error created a town full of folks who run around making ignorant comments attributing this concept to stupid, old-school playground machismo, that has no place in modern analysis. Ask a pitching coach, (you know, someone who might know) what the definition is, if he explained it no one in their right mind would ever argue its importance. I've got more if you want to hear it Mike.

Posted by Jonathan

2:12 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"The man let Jeremy Reed hit late in a tie-game last night against a left-handed pitcher. Reed is hitting .176/.176/.176 this year in small sample analysis this year against lefties. He is historically awful versus lefties, yet in a tie game allowed to hit and strikeout in one of the worst at bats I have seen this season with runners on and extend a tie game late. "

Don't forget earlier this week Riggleman had Bloomquist pinch hit for Reed in the 9th inning against a lefty and he took heat for it.

I agree with you though, Reed has no business hitting lefties and the manager should play the percentages every time.,

Posted by scottM

2:15 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Resin makes many logical points relative to the human element of scouting. From my own eyes, when I watched Balentien and Clement both struggle at the plate, I came away with a conclusion. Namely, Clement had a much more poised swing, and Balentien tended to flail. This is not an observation that is easily deduced by statistics, because the statistics show that both young players sucked at the plate during their first extended call-ups at the Major League level. The scout not the stat-man, however, would be able to quickly tell that Clement, at the plate, is much closer to big league ready.

On the other hand, there is no question that the sophisticated level of sabermetrics available today is a quantum level superior to the old W-L, BA, RBI, ERA, B/K's, walks/so ratio statistics of yesteryear. Last night, the only at bat I predicted was Raul's walk-off homer. Why? Because he has been in a zone this week when in pressure plate appearances. He has been delivering. Statistical analysis is too crude to predict walk-off home runs.

Sabermetrics and evaluative techniques are too new to properly assess the impact of a player like Raul, whether for his "clutchness" or the impact of his very average left-field range. Saberheads, I think, greatly over-exaggerate the damage of his glove. Last year Adam Jones would run down balls better than Raul, but would drop those he reached more frequently. Sabermetrics is still fairly primitive when assessing range, proper jump on the ball, catching what is catchable.

What fuels the debate here stems in large part from the absolutism that gets paraded about. I, for one, believe that the reason "clutchness" is not viewed as a statistical phenomenon, has nothing to do with sabermetric statistics being B.S., but that the analysis, while more advanced than old school number crunching, is still too primitive to assess this phenomenon. We're still a quantum level away from understanding the impact of "hot streaks" and "clutchness."

Hell of a hit last night from MLB's hottest hitter, Raul Ibanez!

Posted by FaceplantSUCKS

2:16 PM, Aug 08, 2008

uh the goal is to win games , hence W-L not pile up shitistics (what i can statistics)

Posted by Adam

2:18 PM, Aug 08, 2008

But the guy who wanted to acquire Dontrelle Willis, Matt Morris, Eric Gagne, Al Reyes, and Carlos Silva – that guy knows pitching. Since I don’t understand a basic element of how pitchers get people out, that explains why I was so massively wrong in suggesting that Tim Hudson, Scott Baker, Jose Contreras, Tim Redding, J.P. Howell, and Edwin Jackson would have been good pitchers to acquire.

Oh, wait, I wasn’t wrong about that.

For a guy who loves results, his track record of evaluating pitching is disastrous, and ours is pretty fricking good.


Yes, Cameron is arrogant to a fault. But I'm having real trouble finding any language that "basically insinuates that Geoff should not be employed due to his stupid opinions."

Posted by Sounders

2:26 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Bag On

Bag Off!!!

Posted by Adam

2:31 PM, Aug 08, 2008

So, go ahead and enjoy the run. Just don't forget to keep the long-term picture in sight. This is a bad team that needs many fixes. No matter what happens this month, plenty of fixes need to come.


Maybe I'm in the minority, but I stated this during the discussions re: Adam Jones/Bedard: I would have much rather have watched a team of Jones, Wlad, Clement, Felix, Morrow (as SP), and others struggle in 2008.

I'm sick of the "win now" philosophy that has failed so greatly over the past five seasons. I want to watch a young group of players develop before our eyes. I love watching the new kids come up and struggle and develop. Aside from the fact that I think it's the best way to build a winner, I also think it's damn interesting.

I'll admit, i was rooting against this team in May and June, because I couldn't stand watching Silva, Washburn, Vidro, Sexson, McLaren, etc. I'm finally rooting for the team again mainly because I'm rooting for guys like Clement, Wlad, and LaHair. I'm hoping RRS comes up and does well. I can't wait to Morrow starting again, even if I think it shouldn't happen until 2009.

So the rest of the year should be fun. Let's see if they sneak up on some teams.

Posted by kujo

2:36 PM, Aug 08, 2008

If so called sabermetrics is the scientific answer to winning baseball and Beane is the perfect example then why haven't the A's won a championship with him? Oh right, because the playoffs are a crap shoot, luck, and he is one unlucky fellow. St.Louis on the other hand is really lucky because they win without an emphasis on saber. Does that really sound scientific to you?

Give me a break. It seems to be some well kept secret that the A's have one of the best scouting departments in business. Several clubs not known for sabr focus win consistently (Twins, Cards, Braves for example) without big budgets. So odd that the so called stats folks who wanted people to be open minded about new stats are so closed minded about what works in evaluation. Guarantee you the people who actually work in the profession are not so closed minded. It's the people writing on blogs that are. And that's fine, that's their schtick. That's what gets them attention.

The passionate argument about defensive stats is the most ironic, especially since this is an area that has yet to develop a definitive method. Come on, do you really think you need numbers to show you something your eyes can't see about Raul's defense? The only thing the numbers do is allow someone who has not a clue of what to look for, to have some evidence for their opinion.

The complete dismissal of the short term human emotional influence on a game is the most ridiculous argument of the closed minded stats geeks. That's how championships are won. You can try to put together a team of all-stars (Yankees) and may win more games as a result. But if you do not have the emotional fortitude you will not win the big ones. That's how championships are won.

Posted by Ben

2:39 PM, Aug 08, 2008

So how long until Cincinati is run further into the ground? Bavasi? Why?

Posted by Mike

2:39 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"I've got more if you want to hear it Mike."

I hope so because it wasn't very persuasive. Hitters were teeing off on Felix's fastball. It was not just results based analysis because he wasn't giving up seeing eye hits but rather line drives.

I'm not Dave but I bet he'd agree you can establish the fastball early even while mixing in some other pitches to keep hitters from teeing off. Based on what you've said and what he's said I think the ball is still in your court about proving Cameron doesn't know anything about pitching.

As for PITCHfx, evidence that it is shoddy please?

Posted by Mike

2:50 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"Come on, do you really think you need numbers to show you something your eyes can't see about Raul's defense?

Kujo--Yes. Our eyes and scouts may tell us that Raul hurts us on defense. Shouldn't we make an effort at knowing how much so we can decide how much his bat counteracts that? As a fan I want to know that. I sure hope the Ms next GM is thinking along those lines.

Sabermetrics are not a panacea. They do not guarantee anything just like great scouting doesn't guarantee anything. They are simply one more tool in your toolbox that if used correctly can increase the odds for success in everything aspect of evaluating players.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

2:55 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Bavasi's role as the new Special Assistant to the GM with Cincy is to utilize his past experience as a groundskeeper to ensure that the proper blend of seed is used to keep the field grass in good shape. Any organization with any ounce of sanity would not have him involved in talent and player evaluation roles given that he has been a dismal failure with two well-financed organizations.

Posted by Donovan

2:57 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Chris - you're apparently the only one on here today who doesn't want to argue about Dave Cameron, but this topic of team attitude and leadership is worth discussing (in my opinion) because it is at the heart of the question of what went wrong with this season.

Obviously, a season this bad is a perfect storm of converging factors - starting with poor roster construction, fed by key players suffering injuries and crappy months or even seasons, tack on lack of responsiveness of management, and down the drain we start to swirl. What factor does the collective psyche and attitude of the team play though? Without tossing around nebulous, mean-what-you-want-them-to-mean terms like chemistry, clutchness, and even leadership, what exactly was missing from this team other than consistent hitting, fielding, and pitching. Hmmm, maybe I should just stop right there...

I'll toss out three things beyond skill and injury that I think drove us further into the ground this year. Yes, this is pure, unscientific opinion and with the advantage of hindsight. My opinion of this team has certainly evolved over the last 5 months, as should every thinking fans'.

1) Veterans who didn't come close to filling their role. By this I mainly mean one veteran - Sexson. I have no personal animosity toward Big Richie, but I don't think you can overstate how much the emptiness of his non-appearance killed this team. He was the only pure power hitter on the roster, and he had no redeeming skills to fall back on when his power evaporated. He was also the highest paid player until this year, when he was second to Ichiro. The other total no show was Kenji, though I don't know if you can call a third year guy a vet. Vidro did all any reasonable person should have expected him to. He was miscast as a DH. Ichiro had one terrible month in April, then performed as expected. Beltre has played decently and has played hurt. Raul has been super consistent and classy, no matter what the team was doing.

2) Lack of youthful energy. Ideally, teams are a mix of youth and experience. Instead of bringing in some of our prospects from Day 1, and making their personality part of the team personality, we went with veteran spare parts - Bloomquists, Cairos, Nortons, and Wilkersons. With the exception of Wilk, all those guys performed generally to the limits of their abilities, but what they don't have is untapped/unexplored potential. You need that pool of potential energy in the mix to fill in the gaps that appear once the season starts - the embryonic stem cell effect if you like. People like to say that young players "push" veterans, as if it was all about fearing for your job. I think young players inspire veterans as much as the other way. They complement each other psychologically.

3) Lack of critical mass of winners. The 2008 Mariners payroll mostly went to journeyman players who have moved around a lot and good players who have dissipated their careers on bad teams. Let's look at the 8 highest salaried players on opening day, in order of pay:
Ichiro - 8 seasons, 1 playoff appearance.
Sexson - 10 full seasons with 5 teams, 1 playoff appearance (2 if the Yanks make it).
Beltre - 10 full seasons with 2 teams, 1 playoff appearance.
Washburn - 11 full seasons with 2 teams, 2 playoffs.
Batista - 13 full seasons with 7 teams, 2 playoffs.
Silva - 7 full seasons with 3 teams, 2 playoffs.
Bedard - 5 full seasons with 2 teams, 0 playoffs.
Ibanez - 10 full seasons with 2 teams, 0 playoffs.

We have veterans who can be expected to show up under contract for '09 in Ichiro and Beltre. Raul should be signable. We have youth on the roster now who should stay there in Wlad and Clement, with Morrow and RRS likely to join them. It would be nice to add some recent playoff success to the mix. I've been arguing for Teixeira who has no playoffs on his resume, but my bet would be that he has a new World Championship ring by November. Failing to sign him, maybe we ought to make a run at Manny. I think doing it with 25 guys who haven't been there in the last 7 or 8 years is tough. Note that I am not arguing for an all-veteran team, but a talented mix across the experience v. youth spectrum with both ends of that spectrum well anchored by key players. That's something we have never had here.

Posted by kujo

3:07 PM, Aug 08, 2008

"Sabermetrics are not a panacea. They do not guarantee anything just like great scouting doesn't guarantee anything. They are simply one more tool in your toolbox that if used correctly can increase the odds for success in everything aspect of evaluating players."

Agreed 100%. I just get tired of the over simplification and misplaced sense of superiority.

My point about Raul is that it is clear that he is not great in the outfield. But to your point, how that is off set by offense is still a relative value that even stats folks have not come to an agreement on. Many factors go into it, such as who is playing CF and RF to name a couple. An absolute value of Raul in isolation is valuable but has a limited application. Anyways we seem to be mostly in agreement.

Posted by ancient mariner

3:25 PM, Aug 08, 2008

This is the "nothing to lose" part of the season. Let's see what the kids can do against major league competition. There is no sense in sending out Johjima, Washburn, Silva and Batista night after night. Put them on waivers and pray someone takes them. I would add Erika Bedard to the list, but he is hopeless.

Posted by Faceplant

3:32 PM, Aug 08, 2008

just DFA eric and be done with it

Posted by munchy

3:32 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Another team would def claim Bedard and we'd regret it for a long time.

Posted by Mike

3:32 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Keep in mind I was strongly opposed to getting Bedard but he is most certainly not hopeless. He is injured. Healthy, he is a really good pitcher who could contribute significantly next year.

Posted by tugboatcritic

3:34 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Adam- you needed to scroll down to his next post, there you will find the truth

Posted by scottM

3:43 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Yep Mike, throwing away Bedard would be asinine. He will likely be a core part of the '09 Turnaround.

Posted by Mike

3:44 PM, Aug 08, 2008

How about we do this? When we have discussions let's assume Dave Cameron doesn't exist. Yes, people like Adam, Brian and me will probably agree with him 80% of the time but we promise to think for ourselves and that we are not spies or trolls for him (as for me I've never even commented on his site). I wouldn't recognize him if we were the only two people in the room.

If we happen to say something that "he who shall not be named" might also say, why don't we refute it on its merits. No "you stats geeks can't think for yourselves" from you and no smug eye rolls from us. Fair?

Posted by tugboatcritic

3:49 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Mike- I've made some good points, and don't believe that I have a ton more to prove.

Casting aside establishing the fb and wanting high numbers of curves and sliders poses not only injury risk, but can stunt development in young pitchers. If the M's are hammering on a kid to pound his 97mph fb to both sides of the plate and insisting that he do this early in the game, then they are doing what can only be considered a safe and prudent thing.

Its one thing to want to evolve analytically. but quite another to disparage conventional wisdom just because. I suppose if the M's follow the wisdom of Bob Gibson, Don Dreysdale, Tom Seaver, etc. who all pitched off of the established fb. then they are just being overly macho and old-school? You (and Dave) may think yes, I think that we have much to learn from the old masters of the game. They had a path to success that young power pitchers can follow and nothing I have read associated with many of the older pitchers has been replaced by neo-analysis.

No one who throw 97 plus should have that as a number 3 pitch. Learn to command it, work off of it. Second and third time through we start pitching backwards, after the spirit of the other team is broken a bit, plus we are a bit more fresh from less breaking pitches and quicker early innings.

Posted by Mike

3:59 PM, Aug 08, 2008

tugboat---I think throwing 11 or 12 straight fastballs is MORE than establishing the fastball. It is saying "hey I'm throwing fastballs, no need to worry about looking foolish on a curve." I've got nothing against establishing a fastball but it is also silly to have the other team know that they are going to get 12 straight fastballs. If Felix had better control of his fastball, maybe.

High numbers of offspeed pitches were never called for. Mixing some in was.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:27 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Donovan - Yep, let's put aside the clutchiness (doesn't exist), chemistry, leadership debates and look at what you're outlining there. I'll go off your numbers

1. Vets underperforming - Where does blame go, and how do you learn from it? There's both scouting and SABR arguments to be able to say (admittedly in hindsight) that Sexson, Joh and Vidro's non-performance should have been expected. Ichiro was Ichiro besides April, Raul was Raul, Beltre was injured and should have gone to the DL. What do you look for so as to avoid repeating mistakes? Are Texiera, Adam Dunn or other names thrown about here also due?

2. No youthful energy - Yep. The bench was old, inconsistently used and inconsistently talented. In a well-balanced main roster, the bench should probably also have that mix of youth and experience; instead, the bench was entirely vets who could marginally be 25th men on any other roster, but a bench full of 25s was just in the way. You want a Balentien, a LaHair or (uninjured) a Morse on the bench, to be hungry when they're called on to pinch-hit or pinch-run.

3. Winners. Something you left out in that playoff experience list is rings. Washburn has a ring. Batista has a ring. Fat lot of good they did for showing teammates how to conduct themselves, or condition themselves. If anything, coincidentally, the 2 guys with rings also were the 2 guys who didn't have the sense to pull themselves out and rework when they were mechanically wrong (Wash) or playing hurt (Batista).

I'd be for Manny; his personality issues are manageable and likely has another good year or two in him. Texiera, if he gets a ring where he is, wouldn't he re-up there?

I think there's a fundamental organizational problem, that needs to be handled before you can really balance the team, and that's cycling out a LOT of AAAA and AAA players currently in the system. Balancing off veteran-ness as you describe is well and good, but not if it comes at the expense of yet again blocking AAA players that need to either come up and develop or come up and get evaluated and traded. I'm leery of adding too many more vets - even one or two more - until the AAA system is turned over a lot more.

Trying to steer the bench towards being all-youth, and trying to get Clement to either develop catching skills or move to 1B/DH, would help the logjam.

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