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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 12, 2008 8:39 PM

Mariners at Los Angeles Angels: 08/12 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Guarantee you Jarrod Washburn is ticked. Just gave up four runs -- one earned -- in the fifth inning, courtesy of two home runs and one huge error by Yuniesky Betancourt. The usual Betancourt Laze-O-Rama came when he waved his backhand at a grounder to his right. That enabled Jeff Mathis to reach after Juan Rivera had already hit a solo homer. Then, instead of an ensuing 4-3 groundout by Chone Figgins, the play wound up a single through the right side because Jose Lopez had to break for second to cover the runner. A bunt moved both men over. Mark Teixeira then grounded out to bring an unearned run home. Then, the big byproduct of the error -- the fact that Vladimir Guerrero got to hit again with men on. Guerrero smoked a 1-0 pitch into the stands.

Look, I'm not going to say Washburn pitched great. But this is how big innings get going. It's happened too often this year. Breakdowns going on behind the pitchers. Seattle trails 4-3 because of it.

To switch gears a bit, I know many of you are worried about the "deadline" the Mariners have for signing first-round pick Josh Fields. Stop worrying. It turns out, there is no "deadline" at all. At least, not for a long while. Fields was a college senior, so he isn't bound by the Aug. 15 deadline other picks have looming over them. That's because they may opt to go back to school and the deadline is there because of that.

Not for Fields. He isn't going back to school. The Mariners have until a week before next June's draft to get a deal done. Sure, they'd like for that to happen before next season, no doubt. But it doesn't have to happen this week. So, sleep easier.

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Jose Lopez is back in tonight's lineup after his benching. Mariners manager Jim Riggleman told me Lopez more or less picked the wrong day to mess up in the field a second game in a row. Riggleman had just chewed the team out on Saturday when Lopez and the gang laid an egg on Sunday.

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8:34 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn just used his splitter to escape a heap of trouble in the third, fanning Vladimir Guerrero with two on. Washburn uses the split a handful of times when he really needs a bailout. This was one of them. The two runners reached on a pair of six-hop singles. Washburn got the inning's first two outs on an infield pop-up and a groundout.

That's two pop-outs to infielders, two to outfielders, one hard hit lineout, one hard hit flyout and an average flyball out. Oh yeah, and a strikeout. With two seeing-eye singles and one line drive base-hit up the middle in the second inning. If you're Washburn, this is the game you want to be pitching. Minus having Guerrero up there with two on.

Still 3-0 for the M's.

7:47 p.m.: Seattle just broke through for three runs in the third inning off Jon Garland to take a 3-0 lead. Consecutive one-out singles by Yuniesky Betancourt, Ichiro and Jeremy Reed loaded the bases. Raul Ibanez grounded into a run-scoring, 3-6 fielder's choice. Then Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez followed with RBI singles.

Jarrod Washburn has allowed one hit through two innings. Of his four flyball outs, one was dangerous, one was about average, two were the equivalent of pop-ups, to go with an infield popup and a hard-hit lineout to short. On the whole, the hitters have mis-hit the ball.

7:20 p.m.: Just getting underway here. Jarrod Washburn takes the mound for the Mariners. We'll see if he can continue his recent run of success against an Angels lineup that looks much deeper with Mark Teixeira in it.

Washburn got out of a scoreless first inning with three fly balls, only the final of which -- by Vladimir Guerrero -- looked dangerous. That one took Ichiro to the warning track before he hauled it in.

Back to today's conversation, I know some of you don't like me using the mid-May numbers because of sample size problems. I was aware of that when I posted them. But I guess that's a problem, too, with some projections. You can project numbers over an entire season, but what good is that if you're not sure how those numbers are going to be posted. If a guy pulls a Richie Sexson, circa 2006, and clubs the majority of their home runs in August and September when their season is done, is it legit to pencil him into the following year's lineup as a serious 35-homer threat? So, if we're going to look at Mariners numbers for this season, at what point do we cut them off? At what point do we say "this is just stat padding that tells us nothing''?

What good are ZiPS, or PECOTA projections, if a season can all-but-end by mid-May because of non-performance, but many players can still "meet their numbers'' four months later? Good for fantasy leagues, I suppose. Or will the numbers tell us something? Maybe, that the Mariners need to bring in some guys who can produce in April and May so Ichiro's coming "slump'' next April can be mitigated? Sort of like Jose Guillen was brought in last year just in case Sexson and Adrian Beltre had their usual first-half power swoons? Just a thought.

Anyway, upon reviewing the numbers again...maybe we don't even have to go back to mid-May. The team's actual numbers right now, as of today, don't stack up all that well to the pessimistic pre-season projections many systems had for them.

Lopez -- 104 points above
Ibanez -- 34 points above

Ichiro -- 15 points below
Betancourt -- 72 points below
Sexson -- 56 points below
Johjima -- 163 points below
Beltre -- 28 points below
Wilkerson -- 102 points below
Vidro -- 122 points below

So, you've got one guy in the lineup -- the second baseman -- outdoing his very modest projection by a big number. And another guy, Raul Ibanez, outdoing a stronger projection moderately well.

Then, you've got five out of nine guys more than 56 points of OPS below their projections. Four of the nine guys are at least 72 points of OPS below projected numbers and three of them 100 or more points below. I wouldn't exactly call that some guys doing well, some underachieving. More like one guy doing really well, one moderately overachieving, with five guys doing fairly poor, (four of them really underachieving and three of them doing horribly). Doesn't quite balance out.

For now, I'd say this lineup, any way you slice it, has underachieved.

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Posted by scottM

7:27 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Whether the sample size can paint the portrait statistically or not, GEOFF is absolutely correct in limiting the snapshot to the period from March 31 to May 20th. This is the best Baker post yet on illustrating just how collective the failure was for the M's, offensively.

Clearly, Vidro, Wilkerson, and Johjima were abysmal; Sexson never woke up the way we needed him to. Remember how McLaren made light of Ichiro's 0 for 23 in Spring Training. Well, Ichiro Suzuki did NOT come into the 2008 season ready to compete at HIS level of performance. He was our lead-off catalyst who was not catalyzing this team in April. And everyone who clamored loudly for Clement and Balentien to be promoted, in May and June 2008, their offensive performances were horrid, too.

If GEOFF takes the time to paint a similar portrait for the Mariner relievers in early 2008, there were many, many lost opportunities there as well.

Likewise, in how many early season games did the Starting rotation leave this team in a position to win? Not as many as they should have.

Finally, how many plays defensively, did the M's fail to make? Even beyond the ugly string of documentable errors that this team led the league with early on, there were just as many should have/could have made plays that weren't made.

This collapse was a four sided matrix that imploded. JJ Putz and Bedard were hurt, most of the other players either sucked, dogged it, didn't bring the "A" game, or face an eroding skill level. Describe it anyway you want, but it warn't good.

Whatever it was, I've never seen a sports team that promised to be in the hunt, that so dramatically underdelivered.

Posted by BrianL

7:29 PM, Aug 12, 2008

I don't think you completely understand what the projection systems are for, Geoff.

And you can modify them to run a 35-40 game simulation. If you're interested in what the results would have been, I'd get a hold of Zumsteg and ask him to run them.

Posted by BrianL

7:33 PM, Aug 12, 2008

And why are we still running with the assumption that underachieving and bad talent are mutually exclusive?

Posted by Balentienforcer

7:40 PM, Aug 12, 2008

"...any way you slice it...", ".....laid an egg ..."

Can I have some Grand Salami too?

Posted by John

7:57 PM, Aug 12, 2008

No one will probably listen to what I think since I'm not basing this on numbers, but the list that includes Johjima, Betancourt, Silva, Batista, Washburn, Beltre, Ichiro and Sexson did NOT underachieve. I think they did play or are playing right where we can expect them to play in the future.

Johjima is aging and the league knows how to pitch him and he hasn't adjusted. Unless there's an injury he's going to be a backup the rest of his career in Seattle, so we're never going to know anyway.

Betancourt is undisciplined. He doesn't appear to want to improve, or else he doesn't think he needs to improve - both of which are bad. A different manager might get through to him that OBP is critical, but I doubt it.

Silva played for a much better defense last year in Minnesota, but his pitching this year has been so bad, it really wouldn't matter. I honestly can't see him improving that much. He throws a 92 mph fastball right down the middle that gets pounded. He's toast and another bad Bavasi signing.

Batista is done. He might be alright in a long relief role next year, but as a starter he's trash. His 16 wins in 2007 epitomize the mirage that was that season along with the guys on that team. He was not that good, and he never will be close to that good again.

Washburn is a .500 pitcher. When his off-speed pitch is working, he's OK. Otherwise, he's another overpaid but not underachieving pitcher. He is what he is. 5-11 going into tonight is very accurate. He might have three more wins on a better team, but that's about it. Nothing we couldn't get from RRS.

Beltre and Ichiro are good, solid veterans. Beltre is the same every year. He's a .260 hitter with moderate power and very good defense. You could do worse at third, so there's no reason to get rid of him yet. Same with Ichiro. He's getting older, and his penchant for swinging at 3-1 pitches in the dirt is irritating, but he's still a Hall of Famer.

Sexson and Vidro are done. Pirates could use them next year, but they're done as far as being a force.

All in all, some of the guys on this team could and probably will play better, but not much. For the most part, these are just some very average to bad ballplayers.

Posted by bikeman

8:07 PM, Aug 12, 2008


Did Ibanez win AL player of the week?

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

8:09 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Tugboatannie: Thank you! The statistical geeks should just stay on the USS Mariner blogsite.

Re. tonight's game, Washburn is looking okay through 3. Teams that may have to face the Angels in October might have some interest in Wash now that he has cleared waivers - besides the Yankees, maybe even the Red Sox as their sp tonight blew a 10-run lead. Uncle Lee needs to work more with Clement as he doesn't seem to be as patient at the plate as when he was first recalled - he killed a big inning in the 3rd by swinging at the first pitch when Garland was struggling and grounding out weakly. The rest of this season needs to be about teaching the young guys including breaking bad habits that a player like Yuni has developed.

Posted by 11Records

8:31 PM, Aug 12, 2008

The M's have already given away 4 outs defensively. 2 balls that Washburn should have been able to play. One that Clement should have caught, and that ball that Yuni just lazily let go by him into LF.

Also - Wlad looks seriously awkward in CF. Not sure why they insist on playing him out there while DH'ing a far superior CF.

This lead will likely be gone in seconds.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

8:36 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Who wants to bet that Washburn pulls a Silva after the game

Posted by scottM

8:41 PM, Aug 12, 2008

bikeman, Ibanez did not win player of the week. Marlon Byrd of the Texas Rangers did.

Posted by 11Records

8:43 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Washburn may yell at his teammates, but it appears he's old friends with the official scorer at the Big A. That error ruling on Yuni (which I agree with, but which would usually be called a hit) made those 3 runs unearned.

Posted by Blair

8:58 PM, Aug 12, 2008

I really wish we had signed Guerrero a few years ago so we wouldn't have to watch him hit home runs every time he plays the Mariners. His 05-07 numbers against the M's: .389 Avg, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 1.164 OPS. It always seemed like Rafael Palmeiro killed the Mariners too. Anyone remember any others that destroyed the Mariners on a consistent basis? A digression from the "just how bad are they?" discussion..

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:00 PM, Aug 12, 2008

For those that need Lasik, that last play is what scouts call "plus range."

Blah, blah, blah, Yuni's range sucks, he's slowed down since 2005=horse pucky.

Thanks and have a good niight.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:07 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Betancourt is undisciplined. He doesn't appear to want to improve, or else he doesn't think he needs to improve - both of which are bad

More nonsense. Yuni is hitting .321/.355/.429 his last eight games. You better believe he is improving from his horrible month of July. He is swing early and ignoring the coaching staff of taking the first two pitches even if they are strikes.

Posted by Adam

9:08 PM, Aug 12, 2008

I'm just curious as to when Zips projections became relevant on this blog. Most here scoffed at them before the year began, and Geoff noted them but certainly didn't give them much credence. And now we are using them to measure the team's achievement?


As I said earlier today, just running through the roster, there are just a couple of players (Johjima, Batista, maybe Silva) whose performances were a real shock. Otherwise, this team was pretty much as should have been advertised - not very good.

Resin - keep on hanging your hat on a single AB, or a single play in the field. Sample size be damned!!!

Posted by bikeman

9:09 PM, Aug 12, 2008

ScottM, what is a week, sun thru sat? Ibanez had 15 RBis, Byrd had 5. RBIs are not h the best of measures but give me a break.

Posted by Adam

9:10 PM, Aug 12, 2008

And Resin - be sure to ignore Betancourt's weak attempt at Mathis' grounder...

Posted by Sounders

9:11 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Beltre grounds out to third with RISP. Surprise surprise

Posted by Adam

9:13 PM, Aug 12, 2008

More nonsense. Yuni is hitting .321/.355/.429 his last eight games.

Come on, that's ridiculous. If Albert Pujols goes 0 for his next 20, does that mean he's regressing as a hitter?

Try to remember this: small samples tell you absolutely NOTHING.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:14 PM, Aug 12, 2008

And you can modify them to run a 35-40 game simulation. If you're interested in what the results would have been, I'd get a hold of Zumsteg and ask him to run them.

and then he can run a simulation of ZIPS and PECOTA a million times next spring. Derek can then ride his bicycle to Las Vegas and put the money he made from his book on a wager on who represents the A.L. in the world series next year.

Posted by Adam

9:18 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Derek can then ride his bicycle to Las Vegas and put the money he made from his book on a wager on who represents the A.L. in the world series next year.

Red herring, straw man, etc.

BTW, I remember those projections spitting out results that had the Mariners finishing behind the A's in the division. How'd that go?

Posted by Sounders

9:19 PM, Aug 12, 2008

hehe. Good one Resin

Posted by Brett in Bonney Lake

9:23 PM, Aug 12, 2008

How the heck do two home runs equal one earned run?

Lowe give up more runs, Yuni can't field a ball. I am shocked!

Posted by Sounders

9:26 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Howie:Chuck! Did you hear? Some crazy guy wants to rename the Mariners The Seattle GOOF!
Chuckie: What?
Howie: Yeah. Of all the nerve
Chuckie: It doesn't make sense. Goof is a verb, isn't it?
Howie: You're asking me?
Chuckie: Oh well. Who cares? Pass me some of that Worcestershire sauce

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:28 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Beltre grounds out to third with RISP. Surprise surprise

He's just unlucky, line drive percentage says so. Scouting be damned.

And Resin - be sure to ignore Betancourt's weak attempt at Mathis' grounder...

That play is ruled a hit 99 out of 99 times, Lord Adam.

Posted by Swung On And Belted

9:35 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Geoff is absolutely right about this one. He correctly points out a huge flaw in the system. If you're going to use these stats and projections systems as a guide in building your roster, then is is of vital importance to know who is a slow starter, who puts up their biggest numbers in August and September, etc. It could make all of the difference in the world.

Posted by 11Records

9:37 PM, Aug 12, 2008

The Angels LOVE to give Frankie Rodriguez these easy one out save opportunities. Mind you - you can't blame them.

Will he end the season with more saves than the M's get wins?

Posted by Brett in Bonney Lake

9:40 PM, Aug 12, 2008

This game is a great example as to why you shouldn't focus on win-loss record when determining how good a pitcher is. Washburn gives up one earned run and gets the loss.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

10:46 PM, Aug 12, 2008

Projections are not based on how a person is expected to do at a given point in a season. The utiltity is to tell you how they will probably do that entire season. The fact that the decent players had slow starts at the same time as untalented ones finally collapsed is a bit of bad luck, but the tide could have been held back to some degree if the roster was better constructed. A player does not underachieve relative to a pre-season projection by not hitting his stride early on. Most teams are not hopelessly out of it mid-may. The timing of the rest of the team's collapse is not in the control of one player. How does it make sense to say a player has a good season when he puts up certain numbers and the team is contending, but, putting up the same numbers is underachieving if the team is out of it early.

You can try to say "clutchiness" is a skill, and it may be, but this team's implosion goes much deeper than that. Ichiro is not going to have a bad year simply because his GM built a non-contender and he had a slow start. It just doesn't make sense. By the way, how can we complain about people "padding" their stats on the one hand, and then say that they should bring their "A" game and that they should be called out if they don't. I just don't see how you can hold both positions with a straight face.

By the way, which systems are you using above for the comparison. Are they all Zips? I'd put Ichiro and Beltre at close to projections, and the rest, well, with the exception of Johjima and Betancourt, we should never have had them on the roster and/or should have had a contingency plan. Given the fact that 4 of the regulars are about where you'd expect them to be or better, this team could have withstood a Betancourt decline and Johjima collapse. Some alternative personnel, and getting rid of the dead weight preseason or early on-Vidro, Sexson - there was a shot. Of course, throw in lack of defense and rotation issues, and maybe there was never a shot.

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