Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White
Saturday, April 19, 2003
Alright, I royally screwed up my html (well, maybe not that seriously) but Blogger won't let me change it. That last sentence in that most recent post should read...
A hearty thank you goes out the Cub Reporter, who has included Mariner's Musings in his A Blog for Every Team project, where one can find the aforementioned U.S.S. Mariner, among other goodies.
|| Peter @ 4/19/2003
MARINERS 8, ANGELS 2
I'll 6 out of 7 from the A's and Angels any day. And here's a dose of Jamie Moyer trivia: Last night was his 100th career win as a Mariner (2nd on the all-time Mariner list behind the Big Unit Randy Johnson, who has 130). Last night's performance also brought his string of consecutive scoreless innings against the Mickey Mouse Angels to 23. That's pretty impressive any day, but especially when you consider that 2 of the hottest bats in the AL are in the Anaheim lineup (Anderson 1.073 OPS and Fullmer 1.135). In his 7 innings, Moyer scattered 10 baserunners (7 hits, 2 walks, 1 hit by pitch) but didn't let any of them touch home plate. In the bottom of the 3rd with a 2-0 lead, Moyer loaded the bases with 2 outs and then proceeded to strike out Tim Salmon swinging in a 10-pitch at bat. His 104 pitches got him through the 7th, which is a positive sign and what we need to see more of from the starters.
In a startling development, Arthur Rhodes gave up his first runs of the season, and not just one, but two. The fellas over at my new favorite blog, U.S.S. Mariner, picked August 4th as the day Rhodes finally surrenders a run. I was willing to pick later. Oh well. Things just didn't break Arthur's way. He came in to relieve Moyer to start the 8th against Erstad (L), Salmon (R) and Anderson (L). Makes good sense if its 3 up and 3 down. Erstad hit a hard grounder between Boonie and Olerud. Boone chased it into shallow right field and fired to first just missing Erstad. I realize its probably physically impossible, but watching the replay you've got to think that if Boone plants his feet before running halfway to Ichiro, the M's have out #1. Anyway, Erstad's on first. Salmon then singles to put Angels at first and second with nobody out. If anybody can come back from 6 runs in the 8th, I figure its the Angels, and the least thing I want to see is that freakin' rally monkey. But hey, this is Arthur on the mound. He then induces the leftie Anderson to ground to Olerud, who fires to Guillen for one, who... can't get a grip on the ball to throw it to Arthur who's waiting for the relay at first. Give credit to Salmon for his distracting slide breaking up the double play. So with first and second, 1 out and two righties coming up, Bob predictably goes to Nellie, who strikes out Glaus looking. Wooten then singles sharply and one of Rhodes's baserunners is in, with the other taking third. Fullmer then grounds a chopper between short and third, which Guillen waits for and then doesn't get a handle on. I don't see why McLemore didn't grab it from of him. Anyway, it was ruled a hit and Rhodes allowed his first 2 earned runs of the year.
On the Extra Base Hit front: 6 doubles and a home run. That's 7 extra base hits out of 9 total for the evening. Not bad at all. Olerud finally brought his slugging percentage up over his on-base percentage with his two-bagger (.394/.400). Boone's home run was his 4th of the week.
So that makes the M's 4-0 in one run games, 3-0 in extra innings and 2-0 in blown saves by Kazu. Though this time it wasn't entirely his fault. Though he did enter with a 2-run lead and promptly give up a homer to Eric Chavez (his 3rd in 3 games in Safeco, suspiciously, he seems to hit better here than any of the Mariners) and then loaded the bases with 1 out, it was McLemore's bases-loaded 2-out error that brought in the tying run. Lucky for Mac, he saved the game in the 10th on a bloop single.
I've got to wonder how many runs the M's will lose this year batting Edgar in front of Olerud. Twice yesterday, with Edgar at first, Olerud roped a double with Edgar pulling up at third. This happened in both the 1st and 5th innings and both innings the Mariners failed to score. With the M's offensive as handcuffed as it is, especially at the present time, they can't afford to not turn the extra base hits into runs. About the only two guys in the lineup who won't be scoring on a double in the gap are Edgar and Olerud, who also happen to be the most patient hitters in the lineup and find themselves on first with a free pass quite often. I don't have any easy solution to this problem, and I expect to this won't be the last time we Olerud rip a double and Edgar jogging into third. What about putting Boonie either between them or behind them?
On to Gil Meche, he threw 98 pitches in 6 innings, 59 for strikes (a 60% clip), definitely not overwhelming, but a step forward for Meche. He also struck 5 and walked zero, thanks to the typically patient Oakland lineup swinging at a lot of first pitches. He now leads the staff in strikeouts (17) and is 2nd behind Kaz in SO/9 (9.18).
Even with Chavez's home run, thanks to the excuse of pitching Cincinnati is putting on the mound these days (they coughed up 4 home runs in Wrigley Field yesterday, and you can expect Sosa and Choi to beat you, but Kerry Wood and Mark Grudzielanek?) the Mariners are now tied for 27th (which is still one away from tied for worst) with Toronto and St. Louis in the homers allowed department.
I've become obsessed with pitch counts, efficiency and strike rates this year so I have to mention Curt Schilling's effort yesterday: 9-inning complete game, 102 pitches, 78 strikes (76%). Phenomenal. Now that's what the M's need to see every once in awhile - 100-pitch complete game with 70-75+ strikes. That's what I covet.
Driller Girl attended the Tulsa Drillers home opener on Sunday eve, which they dropped 3-0 to Frisco. And she requests mention of her new favorite players, Jorge Piedra and Kevin Sullivan. We'll do Piedra today, since he's listed in Baseball Prospectus and I'm running short on time. He was first draft by the Dodgers in '97, picked by the Cubs and then traded to the Rockies. He led the league in triples last year and was among the league leaders in in batting average, doubles and extra base hits (he missed leading that category by 1). At 24, he's a bit old for AA and as he leads the Drillers starters with a .386/.471/.705 batting line for a 1.176 OPS and 2 home runs, I don't expect him to stay in Tulsa very long. Colorado Springs should be in his near future. He looks like a hitter the Rockies could certainly use, though their major league roster is currently logjammed with outfielders. If he can keep up these numbers, a September call-up isn't out of the question.
|| Peter @ 4/18/2003
Thursday, April 17, 2003
ATHLETICS 4, MARINERS 1
All of the A's runs come on the most worrisome trend of the year thus far for the Mariners: The long ball. Two-run home runs by Eric Chavez and Rubes Durazo bookend the evening, breaking Oakland's 6-game losing skid. We all know that chicks dig the long ball, and it looks like so do the A's, Angels and Rangers. Those 2 dingers put the M's staff in sole possession of 29th place in homers allowed, one above St. Louis. In related news, the Mariners' mere 5 singles pushes their team SLG to .374, compared to their opponents .404. Come on guys: "Extra base hits! Extra base hits!"
MLB.com's plays of the game were the 2 home runs. But judging from all the game summaries I've read, the key play that I really would like to see was Hudson's pickoff of Olerud in the fourth inning. That's right Olerud got picked off, Edgar's stiffest competition in the Mariner Three-Toed Sloth Race. With one out and runner's at first and third Hudson pulled that annoying fake-to-third-throw-to-first manuever that never works. Except it did work. Although, the popular opinion among Seattle-ites is it was a balk, which would have tied the score, putting the go ahead run in scoring position with one out. Wish I could see that play, along with Guillen's phantom hit-by-pitch that Bob protested and McLemore's caught-stealing that ended the seventh. It seems no close plays went the Mariners' way.
Now, the mainstream media is reporting this was Freddy's best start of the season. That's certainly a relative statement, but don't be fooled; that wasn't the old Freddy on the mound. He only allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, but he also walked 4 and struck out 3, as one might expect when throwing 116 pitches in 7 innings and only 65 for strikes (56%). Keep in mind that around 61 is league average, 66 is a reasonable expectation, especially for your #1 starter and 70+ is Pedro/Big Unit range. One of those walks scored on Chavez's home run. One thing the Mariners need to start taking a serious look at is whether this continuing trend with Freddy is a slump (as has been assumed since last July) or if this is his baseline. More on this perhaps tomorrow.
On the flip side, Hudson just dominated: Only 5 singles, no walks, 7 strikeouts, only 90 pitches through 8 innings, 67 for strikes (74%). Don't believe the hype. This was no pitcher's duel.
|| Peter @ 4/17/2003
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
MARINERS 5, ATHLETICS 3
Edgar, our hobbling hero! Check out his line 3 for 4, 2 ribbies and 0 runs score (imagine that). Article #1 in today's P-I gives a great analysis of Edgar's obvious importance in this lineup. Edgar leads the team in OPS (1.115) and EQA (.414); the runner-up is Boonie, .881 OPS and .321 EQA. That's a 20% difference between our best hitter and our second best hitter so far.
Ted Lilly mowed through the lineup for 10 Ks in 5+ innings, while Ryan Franklin only threw 54% of his pitches for strikes. Ouch! Franklin coughed up 2 more long balls (to Chavez and Ellis) which now ties Seattle with Toronto with 21 homers allowed, second only to St. Louis' 23 for worst in the majors. Meanwhile the Yanks for only still allowed 2. So that's one hole in the Mariners game thus far.
But on to brighter things: On the extra-base-hit note, 4 of the Mariners' 11 hits were doubles (Olerud hit 2, Edgar and Boone). As Texas beat Anaheim, that gives the M's sole possession of first place. Just looking at today's standings, last place Texas is 2 games back of the Mariners. The AL West Round Robin part 1 of the 2003 schedule continues through the week, so we'll be monitoring this development.
And lastly, where the heck has the freakin' Mojo gone? That issue is addressed in Article #2 in today's P-I. First of all, is "Viva la Mojo" really the best the PR team could come up with for a 2003 slogan? Did they actually pay somebody for that idea? The buzz around this town for the Mariners that reached a feverpitch in 2001 and resonated through the first couple of months of last season is definitely here no longer. It's something I felt back in March during spring training and couldn't quite articulate. I just didn't hear people talking about baseball and the Mariners like last year. And as David Locke astutely observes in this article, the M's are a mere 44-42 since July 12. A freakin' .500 team. Not the team that wins every night and whose only vision is the World Series. Where have you gone Mojo?
|| Peter @ 4/16/2003
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
MARINERS 4, ATHLETICS 3 (only 9 innings this time)
"Extra base hits! Extra base hits!" Jeffrey must have been listening yesterday as he lifted a Mark Mulder fastball just inside the leftfield foul pole for a game-winning 2-run home run. Two notes about this particular hit: First, this was Jeff Cirillo, he whose batting skills were sucked dry the day he put on a Mariners uniform, he who took it out on Lou Piniella through the off season, he whose Mariners career thus far has been all talk, no results. Even after his 4 for 4 Saturday performance and yesterday's heroics, he still has an OPS of .489, so he's still got a long way to go. But here's to hoping this is the beginning of the end of Cirillo's quagmire.
Secondly, this was against Oakland. Not Cleveland, Detroit or Baltimore, where it would merely save us the shame of losing to one of those competition-challenged teams. No, this was division rival Oakland to put the M's in a virtual tie for first. Mind you, this is just the third week of April, but still. I imagine this brings a big dose of confidence Cirillo's way. Just remember, Jeffery: "Extra base hits! Extra base hits!"
Other notes on the game: Piniero was solid, but certainly not overpowering: only 2 strikouts in 7 innings. Looking at the box score, the M's only coaxed one walk from Mulder (to Bloomquist) and only struck out twice (Winn both times), which means they were putting a lot of balls in play for the A's defense, and judging from their defense yesterday, that looks like a pretty good plan. The A's handed them 2 runs in the first, and while nobody got charged with an error, Mulder fired an easy out to first into right field allowing Ichiro on and Chris Singleton and Terrence Long ("What we got here is a failure to communicate") let Boonie's easily catchable drive drop between them for a run-scoring double.
That makes 5 losses in a row for the Athletics. Just when they were starting to look invincible. And 3 wins in a row for the M's. Just when it was looking like this was the second-half-of-2002-we-only-win-half-our-games Mariners again.
Last, but certainly most exciting (Yes, more exciting than a Cirillo game-winning blast), imagine my shock as I perused my daily baseball reads when I come across the following at Only Baseball Matters and nearly jumped out of my chair:
"Also added to the rolls is Peter White's Mariner's Musings, a well-written, well-designed site dedicated to our baseball brethren from the home of Starbucks."
My first endorsement! You can now find Mariner's Musings at the top of OBM's "More Baseball" links. John, thank you for the kind words and graciously posting me amongst the great list of sites I frequent, and know that once I get the time to grapple with this html stuff a bit more, they'll be a link to OBM on the left.
Knowing there are others out there reading this means I'll be a bit more carefull with my proofreading. So I promise never anything as sloppy as yesterday's notes every again.
|| Peter @ 4/15/2003
Monday, April 14, 2003
MARINERS 4, RANGERS 3 (13 innings)
Of the seven runs scored in the game, 5 were on solo home runs (A-Rod, Todd Greene, John Mabry and 2 for Booney). It was my first M's game of the season I got to watch beginning to end, so I got to make some observations I can't usually make from dissecting the box score.
First of all, is it just me or does Teixiera looking mighty green out there? I have no doubt he'll turn out to live up to all the hype, but so far his bat is just .094/.171/.219, and he certainly is showing his age on the field on 2 plays in particular. Ichiro hit a grounder to him, and Teixiera double-pumped his through to first allowing Ichiro to almost beat it out. I guarantee you no other third baseman in the AL double pumps his throw to first with Ichiro racing down the line. Then under the pressure of extra innings, Guillen leads off the 11th with the same hit to Teixiera whose throw pulls Palmeiro off the bag and leading to the M's bases loaded, 1-out threat in the inning. I get this nagging feeling that the Rangers are rushing their young phenom, and that at least a half a year in Oklahoma City isn't the best thing for him.
Then Showalter gave the ball to R.A. Dickey, just called up from Oklahome City that day, and I knew the game was over. Amazingly, Dickey proceeded to strike out Cameron swinging (maybe that's not quite so amazing, I mean, who can't strike out Cameron swinging with the bases loaded?) and McLemore looking to end the threat and bring on the 12th.
We also now know why John Mabry is not the answer to left field. Oh man, was that a hideous play he made just surrendering second base to Juan Gonzalez. No urgency whatsoever on that play. Please Bob, please, leave Mabry on the bench to pinch hit. The Rangers had the opportunity to open up the game at that point with runners at 2nd and 3rd up by one run.
Moyer pitched himself out of several of the above noted jams, but needed 109 pitches to get through the 5th inning. A complete game can be pitched in that many pitches. The Rangers fouled off a ton of them (I'd like to know how many, but I've got better things to do today than count them myself), but still Moyer on threw 61% for strikes, not an overwhelming number.
On the other hand, John Thomson dominated the M's through six innings, his only mistakes being the solo shots to Boone and Mabry in the 7th. He struck out 6 and walked zero, which must make Showalter happy today despite the marathon loss.
I was planning today to take a look at the Mariners' on-base percentage vs. their slugging percentage as the reason for their mediocre start. Then Saturday they finally broke out for 8 extra base hits and yesterday hit 3 more home runs, so the numbers won't be quite as bad as they were before the weekend but let's try it anyway. First of all, the Mariners have scored 56 runs, ranked 16th in the majors, dead in the middle. The on-base percentage is .338, tied for 15th with Boston and Toronto, again right in the middle. The slugging percentage is an underwhleming .377, ranked 23rd. So let's who who the culprits might be in the starting lineup...
Ichiro - .373/.353
Randy Winn - .426/.409
Edgar - .500/.680
Olerud - .396/.302
Boonie - .357/.500
Cammie - .278/.319
Guillen - .361/.515
Cirillo - .220/.162
Wilson - .300/.316
It looks like 6 starters have above average OBPs. Wilson only has 19 ABs, but has never had an above average OBP. And then there's last years offenders up to their old tricks again, Cameron and Cirillo. Only 3 have above average SLG, Edgar, who's started the year on fire and whose bat was sorely missed last week, Boonie, who's hit 3 homers in the last 2 games and Guillen. Four of the starters have OBPs greaters than their SLG (Ichiro, Winn, Olerud and Cirillo), which means they're not hitting anything but singles. So this week's mantra will be: "Extra base hits! Extra base hits!"
|| Peter @ 4/14/2003
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Now, I'm not a big fan of Steve Kelley's columns, but today's on Junior Griffey is an exception.
|| Peter @ 4/13/2003
MARINERS 13, RANGERS 4
Now that's what I'm talking about. But really, what do say about a day where Pedro gets plastered for 10 runs in 4 innings and Jeff Cirillo goes 4 for 4. I'm speechless. Well, if the M's weren't going to pounce on Park, they absolutely needed to jump all over Ryan Drese (6.55 ERA last year), and they did in the first inning, chasing him for 5 earned runs in only a third of an inning. It took him 38 pitches to get just one out. The bats woke up for 8 extra base hits, the bottom of the order (McLemore, Guillen, Cirillo and Davis) combined to go 11 for 18, 6 runs scored and 7 ribbies. Not too shabby. Gil Meche wins his first game since 2000, but he'd thrown over 100 pitches and didn't pitch out of the 6th inning for his second straight start. He needs to be more efficient if he's going to hold down his spot in the rotation. He does lead all the starters with 10.13 SO/9, though.
PEDRO'S POWER RANKINGS - WEEK 2 (last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. Kansas City (1) Quick, take a picture! Brent Mayne leads AL with .808 SLG. Meanwhile, Runelvys: 3-0, 0.45 ERA.
2. NY Yankees (2) 20-2: That's homers hit by Yanks vs. homers allowed by Yanks.
3. (tie) Montreal (3) Viva la 'Spos - Lead majors with 2.21 ERA, 3 shutouts in 11 games.
3. (tie) Oakland (3) Only Human, pt. 1 - Hudson 4.74 ERA. 9 BB, 6 SO, Mulder 6.55 ERA.
5. San Francisco (5) Jose Cruz leads team with 1.229 OPS and 5 homers, better than Barry.
6. (tie) Anaheim (10) Garret Anderson on pace for 118 doubles.
6. (tie) Philadelphia (8) Would you believe that the 1-2 punch in this lineup is Liberthal (1.140 OPS) and Polanco (1.004)?
8. Chicago Cubs (6) Believe the hype - Mark Prior 2 starts, 2 wins, 2 walks, 19 strikouts, 0.60 ERA.
9. Chicago Sox (16) So much for declining strikeout rate - Colon has 17 in 19 innings.
10. St. Louis (9) Edmonds on fire: 4 homers, 29 total bases, 13 RBIs in merely 26 AB, good for a 1.709 OPS, easily best in majors.
11. Pittsburgh (12) Kris Benson - 3 starts, 0.89 ERA.
12. Colorado (16) Three starters (Jennings, Oliver and Cook) all have 7.00+ ERAs.
13. Los Angeles (15) Fred McGriff - .146/.255/.317 with 2 homers.
14. Houston (14) Whatever happened to Richard Hidalgo? Only 2 extra base hits for a .333 SLG.
15. Florida (13) After 10 walks in the last 7 days, Pudge on pace for 149.
16. Boston (11) Lucky offense - Leads majors with 78 runs, but 7th in OPS (.814).
17. Seattle (24) With McLemore and Cameron in the 3-4 holes in the lineup this past week, life without Edgar looks to be a very scary thing next year.
18. Toronto (21) It's about time for Vernon Wells: 3 homers, 16 RBI, .937 OPS.
19. San Diego (18) Xavier Nady for Rookie of the Year: 11 runs, 2 homers, .327/.377/.551.
20. Minnesota (7) No patience - Trail majors with only 26 walks, one of 4 teams with sub .300 OBP.
21. Baltimore (20) Only one man responsible for this offense: Tony Batista - homers, 1.137.
22. Milwaukee (27) Whoa! Royce Clayton 2 homers, 1.060 OPS. But really, who would YOU pick to lead the offense?
23. (tie) Cincinnati (25) Austin Kearnes picking it up for Junior: Leads majors with 6 homers with 1.258 OPS.
23. (tie) Tampa Bay (26) Baldelli and Crawford combined for 37 hits, 1 walk, 29 strikeouts.
25. Cleveland (19) Brian Anderson 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA.
26. NY Mets (22) Ty Wiggington lone bright spot in this still shameful lineup: 2 homers, 24 total bases, 1.175 OPS (Vaughn .562, Piazza .264).
27. Atlanta (29) Only Human, pt. 2 - Greg Maddux 0-3, 8.27 ERA.
28. Texas (28) Majors worst 65 free passes leads to majors worst 6.94 ERA.
29. Arizona (28) Only Human, pt. 3 - Big Unit 0-2, 8.31 ERA, Schilling 0-2, 5.40 ERA (they are both still striking out over a batter an inning, though)
30. Detroit (30) Best AA team in majors - 18 runs, .447 OPS in 10 games.