Where do we go from here?

July 1, 2010 at 5:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At this point, the Mariners are 13.5 games behind the Texas Rangers. During their 6-game winning streak, they managed to lose half a game in the standings. If that isn’t a sign that this team isn’t going to the playoffs, I don’t quite know what is.

Eventually, Cliff Lee will be traded. It’s going to be sad, because we’re going to lose one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. I’m not going to speculate the haul that we’re going to get for him. People say he’s going to the Twins. Others say he’s going to the Yankees. Some say he might go back to the Phillies (lol). I only hope that they’re prospects that are almost Major League ready, and will be an impact within a year or two.

So what do we have left for this season? Once the shock of Cliff Lee being gone, we can only go up. Felix is looking to be back to his normal, dominating self. Russell Branyan is back hitting dingers harder than he hits his wife. Michael Saunders is slowly coming around to being some pretty good talent. Erik Bedard is almost back. Michael Pineda is in Tacoma and has already done really well in his first two starts. Jose Lopez will soon not be wearing a Mariner uniform. Dustin Ackley has a really good OBP in AA. There’s a lot to look forward to.

It’s always possible for the Mariners to compete next year. The Rangers will probably be just as strong next year, but there’s no telling what will happen. Right now, our biggest weakness remains catcher and shortstop. Rob Johnson will always be terrible, there’s no way in hell Josh Wilson continues this success next year, and Jack Wilson  is made of Styrofoam. We’ve solved first base for next year, with Branyan having a mutual option. Left field could be Saunders’ domain next year if he continues to improve at this rate. Milton Bradley is still signed on for an additional year, and despite missing some pitches, he still has his bat speed and his power.

I honestly haven’t gotten a clue what the hell the Mariners are going to do for their offseason. I hope the Cliff Lee trade yields a proficient catcher, an up and coming starting pitcher, or maybe a power bat. Either way, Pineda should be ready for next season, which gives us a Felix-Pineda-Fister-Vargas-Mystery 5th pitcher rotation, which makes up for the fact that we’re losing Cliff Lee :(

I just hope we start winning a few more games and this unlucky team just becomes watchable again.

Griffey’s insomnia woes

May 11, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s no secret now. Griffey fell asleep in the clubhouse during the game. Two players outed him anonymously.

I honestly don’t care that Griffey fell asleep in the clubhouse. I’m sure it isn’t the first time it’s happened in MLB history. Probably happens a lot. I don’t care that they couldn’t pinch hit him anyways, because it probably would have resulted in him grounding out to the right side of the infield or him swinging at a curve ball in the dirt for strike three. The overreaction here is to say “cut him, he sucks!” But I have to look back at when he got re-signed for this season:

Everyone said Junior would be in a limited role. He had clubhouse influence, Ichiro loves him, the players love him, the fans (still) love him, he built the franchise in the 90s. We all knew his value as a hitter was washed up. Hell, we brought in Milton Bradley, and re-signed Ryan Langerhans. Everyone thought Milton would be the main DH, Langerhans would play left, and then Milton would play left occasionally and Griffey would start at DH.We knew who would be playing what as we went into Spring Training. Everyone felt content.

Then Spring Training happened.

Now we have Mike Sweeney instead of Ryan Garko. Garko, while not a great fielder, can at least don the glove and go out there and try. Sweeney? Nah. Instead of a 6-bullpen team, we immediately flipped, DFA’d Langerhans, and brought up Jesus Colome. who’s pitched only 12 innings, walking 8 and striking out 11. Milton Bradley was playing left field full-time.

What the hell?

My point is this: there was a plan set before the spring. Everyone was comfortable with it. Sure, we knew we’d have issues scoring runs, but good pitching and defense would help us get close victories as we’re so close to doing. There’s some things we couldn’t anticipate. No one expected Cliff Lee to strain is abdomen (but he’s healthy now, yay!). No one expected Jack Hannahan to strain his groin. I expected some ejections and other issues with Milton Bradley, but I didn’t expect him to have a mental breakdown. The Eric Byrnes experiment failed. Despite all this, we still could stick to the plan. But we didn’t. Griffey got more playing time than he deserved. Langerhans missed almost all of April after getting DFA’d. We’ve slowly started to fix these.

I admit: I still like Griffey. I love him as a player. I love his relationship with Ichiro. Hell, his tickling antics are my blog’s namesake. Rather than cut him, why not the Mariners go back to the original plan and stick him into that limited role he’s supposed to be in? Why not drop Colome, and bring up another utility player? Jack Hannahan is still available. He’s got an awesome glove. Get his ass up here. Saunders is showing some power. Maybe he’ll become the player we hoped for?

Thankfully, the AL West as a whole blows, so despite being 12-19, we’re somehow only 5.5 games back and still within contention. Start with small changes. When Bradley gets back, initiate the change, and we can go from there.

Welcome Tampa Bay

May 4, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Tampa Bay Rays are in town. Statistically, except for defense (though not behind by very much, if at all), the Rays are better in every aspect at this point. If we looked at stats alone, you could say that the Mariners are going to be screwed this series. You could probably be right.

However, one of the great things about baseball is that an awful team can beat and sometimes sweep a team. This was proven by Red Sox getting swept by the Orioles this season. The Red Sox are having a little early-season blues, and that sucks for them (not that I really care), but for all intents and purposes, have a pretty well built team.

This brings me to my next point: the Mariners have a chance to come out with one, maybe two, and possibly three wins out of this series. The possibility they win all three is highly unlikely. Chone Figgin’s BABIP is under his career average. Milton Bradley has slowly started get warm and after his cold start. Adam Moore has been getting hits. Jose Lopez usually sucks in the first few months of the season (or at Safeco in general). In the flip side, Gutierrez’s bat is regressing, Jack Wilson will probably never be a good hitter, and the DH position hasn’t produced a home run yet. This offense won’t score a lot of runs, but it’s the best we have until Jack mades a trade or something.

The Mariners are still in this. They can still win the division, even after getting swept by the Rangers. Don’t panic. April is a bad predicament for what will happen during the rest of the season. Unless you’re the Cleveland Indians, in which case, you’re screwed for quite some time.

Prospect update!

May 3, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I looked at some of the current statistics of some of the big-name prospects in our minor league system:

A+:
Johermyn Chavez (Brandon Morrow trade): .288/.380/.463

AA:
Carlos Triunfel: .256/.309/.349
Dustin Ackley: .139/.292/.215

Dan Cortes (Yuniesky Betancourt trade): 23.1 IP, 6.54 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 22/13 K/BB
Mauricio Robles (Jarrod Washburn trade): 23 IP, 3.91 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 25/11 K/BB

AAA:
Michael Saunders: .159/.224/.174
Greg Halman: .188/.328/.417

Luke French (Washburn trade): 32.0 IP, 1.41 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 19/9 K/BB
Steven Shell: 23.2 IP, 2.66 ERA, 1.1 WHIP, 17/7 K/BB

The good:

- Luke French and Mauricio Robles, both coming from us trading Jarrod Washburn, are having decent seasons to start. The outlook of that trade was that French would be available to help the team immediately (he did, but ended up getting regulated to bullpen duty and was optioned to the minors at the end of Spring Training this year), and Robles would be helping the team out in the future. This looks to be holding true. Robles seems to be progressing pretty well, and we should hope to see him in a Rainier uniform next season, or sooner.

The slightly troubling:

- Dustin Ackley and Carlos Triunfel are having some rocky patches. Ackley seems to be hitting a lot of ground balls, so hopefully that will normalize soon. Overall, the season has just started, and horrid numbers like these aren’t t anything to freak out about, but if it becomes a seasonal trend of suck, then that’s when things might start to get worrisome.

Also, I have no idea where Derrick Saito (the other part of the Yunibomber trade) is winding up in the organization for this season, but he put up promising numbers in A-Ball last year. He’s definitely on my list of prospects to follow.

Mike Sweeney, you are terrible

May 3, 2010 at 3:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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When Jackie Z created the 2010 roster, he made it with a few philosophies in mind. First was that this would be a team that would win games based on defense. Second, it would win on it’s pitching. And third, it could win on making the other teams work and get into the bullpens. With the signing of Chone Figgins, and the trade for Casey Kotchman, the first and third were satisfied; two players with great gloves, and the ability to take pitches, and get on base. The Cliff Lee acquisition satisfies number two.

Mike Sweeney? He satisfies none of these. He can’t play defense. He swings at the first pitch. I’d might give him a passing grade if it weren’t for the fact that him hitting was an absolute disaster at this point. Mike Sweeney is everything that Jack built this team to be, and ended up throwing it down a garbage chute. I understand that he makes the clubhouse fun. But how fun is a clubhouse after he hits into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play? If I was Jack Wilson, I’d be pretty angry I got subbed out for that.

Mike, listen. You’re a really nice guy. I know you don’t want to quit. No one does. You had a pretty awesome career. You had several all-star appearances, you beat the shit out of Jeff Weaver, and you owned Spring Training pitching and made the team waive Ryan Garko. But isn’t enough enough? Are you still having fun sitting on the bench? You don’t want to be a coach, I get that. But aren’t you a coach at this point? When you hit, you’re hurting the team more. If you were a coach, you wouldn’t be hurting the team at all.

I think it’s time for retirement. You can ride out in the sunset, knowing you had an amazing career. Do it before you embarrass yourself anymore. I’m sure your wife will be proud of you regardless of any decision you make.

Regards,

Concerned Mariner Fan

The Catching Situation

April 4, 2010 at 4:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As every Mariner insider has posted, the team has released their 25-man roster to start the season. They’re starting the season with Rob Johnson, and Adam Moore. Since Josh Bard and Guillermo Quiroz didn’t impress during Spring Training, and they’ll be starting in the minors.

So what do Rob Johnson and Adam Moore bring to this team? With the exception of Jose Lopez at third, this is the only starting position that the Mariners are going with that came from homegrown talent. Rather than going out and signing or trading for proven or undervalued talent, Jack Zduriencik decided to stay in-house with his catching options.

Rob Johnson has just above 300 Major League plate appearances in his career. So far,  he’s failed to impress in any sort of fashion. So far he’s batted a .205/.274/.315 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line in his time in the majors, with the majority of those coming from last season as he became the primary catcher after Kenji Johjima started to get injured and have issues with the pitching staff.  Statistically, Kenji was better than him in every single way (though after Kenji’s terrible 2008 campaign, not by much), yet Johnson got the call behind the plate. Why? The Mariner pitching staff loved the way he called a game. He worked well with the pitchers. Felix loves him. Stats be damned (unless you think Catcher ERA is relevant, which, no, it isn’t).  Regardless of what people think the value of a catcher calling a game is, the Mariners have put stock in it, and they’re sticking with the story.

Defense wise, Johnson isn’t anything to write home about either. He’s been often criticized for his lack of holding on to the ball, his inability to throw runners out, and his weakness blocking the plate. Bear in mind, this is the same organization that kept Jeff Clement in the minors because his catching game needed improvement defensively (makes you wonder how terrible Clement was at defending, it’s a moot point now since the Pirates have him pegged as a first basemen). However, this brings me to my next point about Johnson. Over the off-season, he was the recipient of four surgeries, two on his hips, one on his throwing wrist, and LASIK to his eyes. Johnson believes the hip surgery should help his swing, and the wrist surgery help him throw out runners at second. LASIK can go either way, but there’s been studies showing that there’s no statistically significant changes of getting LASIK and athletic performance.

This isn’t to say that Johnson won’t show improvement in the future. He’s only had just above 300 plate appearances. He claims he can hit .260 this upcoming season, and while I remain skeptical of this, it’s entirely possible. Due to the nature of him being a catcher, he can get away with being a mediocre hitter, and still put up a positive Wins Above Replacement.

Let’s talk about Adam Moore. He’s opened a lot of eyes with the way he hit the ball in AAA, posting a .294/.346/.429 line in 368 PAs despite starting the 2009 season in AA. He’s only had 24 plate appearances in the bigs, with 5 hits and no walks, but it’s a small sample size, and there’s still a lot of potential. It’s probably going to take a season or two for Adam Moore to reach his true potential as a hitter. I don’t expect him to be at the level of Matt Wieters, but if he can become a player in the future that hits for a .330 wOBA at a premium position, he’ll be one of the most valuable pieces that the team can build around going forward.

Defensively, he’s probably at the same point as Rob Johnson. He’s shown improvement in his defensive game in his time in Tacoma. His Spring Training was good enough that he outperformed Josh Bard, who everyone expected to get the job as the reserve catcher, to be named to the opening day roster. In short, he’s generating a lot of hype. There’s a lot of upside with Moore, but at the same time, it’s going to take him to get into full potential. It’s hard to tell if the pitchers will like calling to Adam Moore, but I think the problem with last season was that Kenji Johjima comes from a different baseball culture – In Japan, pitchers don’t shake off catchers, and Johjima found himself at odds adjusting for that. I don’t think the starters will have any issues pitching to Moore compared to if they were pitching to Johnson.

At this point, I like Adam Moore a lot more than Rob Johnson, if that wasn’t obvious. I think at this point, the team knows what to expect with Rob Johnson. ZiPS projects Johnson to have a .299 wOBA for the season, and a .294 for Adam Moore, so there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two.

Why not give Moore his chance and make him the starter? He’s clearly the catcher of the future, two years younger than Johnson, and has grown at a much faster rate. He’ll be a player to watch this season, and barring serious injury, will most likely be the starting catcher for the 2011 campaign.

The First Post

April 4, 2010 at 2:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I love the Mariners. I love reading blogs about the Mariners. Some people told me that I have decent writing, so I thought, “Hey, why not start writing about the Mariners?”

There’s a lot that I could cover. I’ve spent a lot of time learning sabermetrics, understanding why Franklin Gutierrez owns, and that Ichiro simply doesn’t regress. I’m not hardcore about stats (yet, this is becoming an addiction), so I’ll try to use laymen’s reasoning and a mixture of statistical analysis.

For those wondering, the name “Tickles Above Replacement” comes from the stat “Wins Above Replacement” and Griffey’s insatiable desire to tickle Ichiro at each point of the season.

So begins a fun journey of writing and hopefully staying true to the readers. I hope I don’t destroy my life in the process.

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