The all star break is always a good time to stop and evaluate a season. It’s easy to just see at the 36-51 record and call it a bad season, but let’s look at the specific goods and bads from the season thus far. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many goods, so I will start with them.
Felix (most of the time)
Other than June, when he posted a 4.45 ERA, Felix has been phenomenal. Our only all star has an ERA of 2.67. Sure, his fastball hasn’t lit up radar guns like he used to, but Felix is still a great pitcher with electric stuff. I wouldn’t worry about our king.
Wells and Saunders
Going into the season, most people didn’t want to give Michael Saunders a chance, but a Franklin Gutierrez injury opened up a spot for Saunders, and he has done well. His 20.9 line drive rate has far exceeded previous seasons, and his .320 BABIP has been stellar as well. Saunders has also tacked on eight homeruns and thirteen stolen bases.
Wells started off slow, but since heating up in July, he has hit .340 with three homeruns in 20 games. He has also been one of the few guys who have hit better at home than on the road. Both Saunders and Wells have performed beyond expectations, and will hopefully continue to do so in the second half of the year.
Justin Smoak’s month of May
Smoak’s year has been very discouraging, but the month of May was bright. In that month, he hit .255 with six homeruns and eighteen rbis. A year at this pace would amount to 36 long balls and 108 runs batted in. May was the only month that I felt we were seeing what Smoak is actually capable of. I know the other two months of the season for Smoak was abysmal, but at least we have seen a glimpse of Smoak’s capability.
Jaso came over from Tampa in return for a AAA reliever in Josh Lueke, but he has turned out to be much better than a seventh reliever. He has provided a solid bat off the bench and also a good option behind the dish. He is hitting .267 in 135 at bats, has drove in 21 runs, and has nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Considering what the M’s gave up for Jaso, he has been a quite pleasant surprise.
The struggles of Brandon League forced Tom Wilhelmson into the closer role where he has excelled. In 39 appearences, the former bartender has earned a 2.44 ERA, seven saves, and seven holds. His curveball has also provided some comical reactions from batters.
Furbush and Leutge
Furbush didn’t start on the major league roster, but when the lefty got his chance, he turned into a reliable option in the bullpen. In 36.2 innings of work, the southpaw has posted a 2.21 ERA, .148 opponent average and, more impressively, a .818 WHIP. Unlike most Mariner pitchers who excel at home and struggle on the road, batters are hitting just .114 off of Furbush in visiting ballparks.
Luetge’s role in the bullpen this year has been very specific, and he has become an excellent lefty specialist. Left-handed batters are hitting just .140 off of Luetge this season. 52 lefty batters have stepped into the box against Luetge, and only six batters have gotten hits off of him, none of which were extra-base hits, while sixteen have struck out.
The Big 3
The trio of young prospects have had a great first half of the year, and Hultzen and Walker were both invited to the MLB Futures game where they each made appearances. In AA, the three have posted a 16-10 record and ERAs of 1.19, 4.50, and 3.46. They each have also struck out an average of more than one batter per inning. Hultzen has been the only arm to be promoted to AAA Tacoma, but the other two aren’t far behind.
Time to take a look at the countless bads of this season.
It didn’t matter if Ichiro was batting third or first, he hardly hit at all. His .288 OBP was miserable and he didn’t show any of the power that Wedge had hoped to see in the middle of the order. There is nothing more to say than that Ichiro’s 2012 campaign has been a major disappointment.
As discussed earlier, Justin Smoak had a phenomenal month of May in which he showed the ability that Jack Z thought he was getting in the Cliff Lee deal. However, the other two months of the year have been discouraging. In March, April, and May, Smoak has batted a mere .171 with 5 long balls and 14 rbis. That’s production deserving of a demotion to AAA. If the Smoakamotive doesn’t figure out his swing in the second half of the season, he will quickly find himself out of a spot in the future of the organization.
Beavan and Noesi
2012 is the first full season for each of these two young pitchers. They each earned spots in the starting rotation out of spring training, but they have each had horrible first halves and have been sent back to AAA. Beavan’s ERA was 5.92 until he was demoted to Tacoma. He also had an average of 1.73 homeruns per game which is a shocking number considering how many games he pitched in Safeco Field.
Noesi’s record this year is 2-11. He has lost eleven games in seventeen starts. While this can be blamed on Seattle’s inadequate offense, Noesi has still had a miserable season. His ERA is fifth to worst in baseball, his FIP is worst, xFIP third to worst, and HR/9 the worst as well. Just consider that; a pitcher who has the luxury of throwing in Safeco Field has given up homeruns more consistently than any other pitcher in baseball. THAT’S EMBARRASSING. That’s Hector Noesi.
Ackley set high expectations for himself hitting .273 in his rookie season, but his sophomore campaign has been drastically worse. His average has dropped 40 points, his OBP 37 points, and his slugging percentage has dropped 92 points. Even Ackley’s line drive rate has also fallen a bit. Unlike Smoak, Ackley has plenty of time to become a good hitter, but this year has certainly been a major setback in the course of his career.
The injury bug has been everywhere in the Mariner’s locker room. It started in the spring training with Franklin Gutierez and continued in the opening series when Mike Carp went down. Even the young players like Stephen Pryor and Erasmo Ramirez have been struck by injuries. Kevin Millwood was pulled from a game in which he was throwing a no-hitter due to a muscle strain.
Mike Carp (when healthy)
Carp has only been able to play in 32 games because of injuries, but when he has played, he has been horrible. His average is just .157, he has struck out in over a quarter of his at bats, and his LD% is 15.5%. The only good thing about Carp’s season at the plate has been his 14.3% walk rate which has escalated his OBP to just two points below Ichiro’s.
In 2011, League was an all-star closer. In 2012, he has been a save blowing machine. He has blown six saves and has five losses in 39 appearances. Not only has League lost several games for the Mariners, but he has erased a once great trade value.
Here are just a few of the highs and lows of the first half of the season. I may have forced a few of the goods and ignored many of the bads, but sometimes you have to do that as a Mariner fan. Let’s hope we have more good things to talk about when the season ends.
Tags: Blake Beavan, Brandon League, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Danny Hultzen, dustin ackley, featured, Felix Hernandez, Franklin Gutierez, Hector Noesi, Ichiro, james paxton, John Jaso, justin smoak, kevin millwood, Lucas Luetge, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, Popular, taijuan walker, Tom Wilhelmson
I was partaking in a baseball quiz on ESPN radio Friday afternoon when out popped the question, “which reliever has the lowest WHIP this season?” Fantasy gurus know exactly what WHIP is, but to clarify, it’s the average number of walks and hits a pitcher gives up per inning. The answer was, of course, Charlie Furbush. Of course?! The guys on the show didn’t even know who Furbush was.
Furbush has—somewhat quietly—put together an unexpectedly fantastic season out of the bullpen. WHIP is probably not the best way to evaluate a pitcher, but his 2.10 xFIP and 1.50 SIERA should appease the sabermetrically inclined. This performance begs the question, subsequently asked by Mr. Dave Cameron over at USS Mariner, Should Furbush start?
Cameron concedes the advantage that relievers gain facing batters only once each outing, and he addresses the fact that Furbush has enjoyed the benefit of facing a much higher percentage of lefties than a southpaw starter would expect. Despite these advantages, Furbush still looks really damn good, even against righties, and our suffering rotation couldn’t get any worse if Furbush took another stab at it. The reward is high, especially with Furbush being cost-controlled for some time, while the loss is…well…more losses? Not possible.
I was in a keeper league for a while that had roster positions for minor league players, and I spent a fair amount of time perusing minor league stats. In 2010, I noticed Furbush, whose 109 strikeouts in 77 innings jumped off the page for the Tigers’ A+ affiliate. As he moved up through AA and AAA, however, one major problem stood out: Furbush gave up a lot of homeruns. Major league hitters proved just as challenging for Furball, where his long-ball rates as a starter were far above the league clip. But that doesn’t mean we should stick a fork in him as a starter. His strikeout and walk rates were quite acceptable (4.2 xFIP).
One major advantage Furbush enjoys in Safeco lines up perfectly with his weakness—not just the long ball, but specifically the long ball to right-handed batters. Furry has allowed 15 HR to righties versus just one HR to lefties as a starter. Even when adjusting for the fact that he faced more righties, his HR rate to lefties is still awesome. Safeco, conveniently, squelches HR power to right-handed batters.
Summary: Furbush gives up lots of homeruns to righties. Safeco destroys right-handed power bats. I think he deserves round two in the rotation.
Naysayers might point out that (as a starter) he gave up four ding dongs to just 113 batters at Safeco last season, three to right-handed bats, and that Safeco is doing nothing to help him. But 113 batters faced is a small sample for homerun analysis. This season at home, he has given up just one homerun to 48 batters. Another small sample. I can work magic with small samples all day.
If Furbush has really improved this season above and beyond the advantages of coming in fresh as a reliever, then that could be a big plus for Seattle’s deteriorated rotation—even into next season, as Cameron pointed out. The only way to find out is to start him and give him an extended run in the rotation.
Side note: after bringing up Oliver Perez last week, the M’s now have three lefty bullpen arms. Kinda overkill, no? This could be a sign that they’re thinking about sliding Bushy back into the rotation. Or maybe not. What do I know.
Riley visit site to read more]
On June 2nd, 1990, my dad took me to a baseball game. I was five years old and we were going to see the Mariners take on the visiting Detroit Tigers in the Kingdome. Even at that age I went to so many ballgames that this particular day was no different than many others. But somewhere, amongst my collection of baseball-related things, I still possess a ticket stub from that contest. It’s unusually glossy, with a vibrant yellow trim, and weaves the Mariners’ alternate logo — a blue baseball stamped with “M’s” lettering — into its otherwise-white canvas. It indicates my preferred seating location — somewhere in the nether reaches of the Dome’s 300-level, on the first base side, directly across from the big screen, or DiamondVision to the initiated.
I don’t remember much about that particular evening. When you’ve only recently hit the halfway point of your single-digit years, memories tend to be fuzzy and shrouded in puffy, silver clouds. I’d like to say I recall every moment of that game, but that would be a lie. About the only distinct memory I do have is rising to my feet with a crowd, clapping and cheering as the ninth inning faded into oblivion. Next to me, my dad explained what was occurring. Baseball may not have done everything right in defining their terminology over the years, but the term “no-hitter” is pretty easy for anyone to understand, even a kid.
Much of what I know about that night and its place in history came in the following years. Tacked up on my wall, alongside my bed, hung a poster commemorating the events of that date. I studied that poster for more than a decade. Every time I rearranged my room, that poster found itself moving to a new location. I wanted to look at it always. It gave me something to focus on when I couldn’t sleep, something to think about when I needed to ease my mind, and most of all, it was just plain awesome.
The inset of that poster contained a box score from the historic game. Burned into my consciousness are all sorts of anomalies from that stat sheet that I won’t ever forget.
Ken Griffey, Jr., still just 20 years of age, had not yet endeared himself to the heart of the team’s order; he batted fifth that evening. Following Junior at sixth and seventh in the lineup? Third baseman Edgar Martinez and right fielder Jay Buhner.
Mike Brumley, who happens to be the team’s current first base coach, played shortstop and batted ninth. In the history of Mariners infielders, Brumley, a journeyman backup, was but a blip on the radar of relevance. Had it not been for this particular evening that he found himself penciled into the starting nine, few fans might retain any memory of Mike Brumley, the Mariner.
Scott Bradley, a left-handed-hitting backup catcher, was on the receiving end of every pitch thrown that night. He was spelling injured starter Dave Valle — a frequent visitor to the disabled list in his career.
Cecil Fielder, who would go on to hit a league-leading 51 home runs in the 1990 season, occupied the three-hole in the Tigers’ order. He didn’t manage a dinger, let alone a hit, on this night, however.
And at the bottom of that box, in the home pitching frame, read a line that will forever have meaning to Seattle sports fans. Having relinquished zero runs and zero hits, walked six, and struck out eight, Randy Johnson pitched all nine innings to record the franchise’s first no-hitter. Above those statistics, an image of Johnson surrounded by teammates and embraced by his catcher, Bradley, lay splashed in black-and-white across the vast majority of this work of art. Human emotion remained frozen in time. A man roared skyward, another grinned, a few more ran towards the embracing battery, and thousands of individuals cheered in the background. It was, in a word, significant.
Twenty-two years and six days elapsed between Seattle’s first no-hitter and its most recent. In this rendition of hitlessness, six hurlers combined to stymie the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kevin Millwood started the game, then pulled his groin after six innings. He made way for southpaw Charlie Furbush, who would eventually yield to rookie right-hander Stephen Pryor. Pryor would issue two baserunners via walks to start the eighth, forcing manager Eric Wedge to turn to situational lefty Lucas Luetge to record an out, then the beleaguered (no pun intended) Brandon League to nail down the penultimate frame. In the ninth, newly-christened closer Tom Wilhelmsen set down the final three hitters in order, thus polishing off one of the rarer feats in sports: a combined no-hitter.
Much has been written about this moment already, so for me to recap it once more would be foolish. But the reality of the situation is that this game, for those who witnessed it, will never be forgotten. You can ask me where I was on June 2nd, 1990, and I’ll be able to tell you from now until the day I die. Likewise, for those in attendance at Safeco Field on June 8th, 2012, there will always be a certain importance attached to the date.
In the grand scheme of a season that may or may not end up being remarkable, Friday evening will stand out. And on the landscape of Seattle sports events, though it might not result in a championship or even have a direct bearing on the team’s performance from here on out, this no-hitter will resonate as a gigantic pick-me-up amidst a down era in the city’s athletic annals.
We needed this. I needed it. You needed it. If you’re a sports fan in this town of ours, what the Mariners did on one special night in June was a shot in the arm for all of us.
So to the Mariners and their six remarkable pitchers, because we don’t say it enough, and because it just feels good to say it sometimes, thank you. Thank you, M’s. You did great.
Filed under: Mariners
There comes a time in every season when you look at some of your players and ask, “How long do we give them before we take them out of the order/rotation?” Well the time to start asking these questions has already come, so let’s take a look at … [visit site to read more]
George Sherrill has been bad.
A bad pitcher that is. His stat line throughout spring was nothing to cheer about as he gave up 5 earned runs, 4 walks, and 6 hits in 5.1 innings. His struggles have only continued in the regular season giving up 4 … [visit site to read more]
Just yesterday I was pondering how much longer the Mariners would wait to trim a few loose strings. Today those strings have been neatly trimmed…kind of.
Here is your Seattle Mariners 2012 Opening Day Roster.
Tags: alex liddi, Blake Beavan, Brandon League, brendan ryan, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chone Figgins, dustin ackley, Erasmo Ramirez, featured, Felix Hernandez, George Sherrill, Hector Noesi, hisashi iwakuma, Ichiro Suzuki, Jason Vargas, Jesus Montero, John Jaso, justin smoak, kevin millwood, kyle seager, Lucas Luetge, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, miguel olivo, Mike Carp, Munenori Kawasaki, Popular, shawn Kelley, Steve Delabar, Tom Wilhelmsen
Well, we’ve come to that point where Spring Training lures us into a lull. Yes the Seattle Mariners are in Japan battling it out against their Japanese brethren, but that’s not exciting for me. I’m just jealous; I want to be in Japan… Hey remember … [visit site to read more]
The signing never made much sense to me anyways.
The Mariners cut Shawn Camp today in an attempt to give a couple of bullpen spots to better pitchers. Lucas Luetge is starting to look more and more like a real possibility. Other candidates … [visit site to read more]
Well as Bryant just reported, Hong-Chih Kuo has been released by the Mariners. His struggles this spring are too bad, I and too wish the best for the guy.
Now … [visit site to read more]
Tags: carlos triunfel, Cesar Jimenez, Charlie Furbush, Danny Hultzen, Erasmo Ramirez, George Sherrill, hong chih kuo, james paxton, kevin millwood, Mariners General, mauricio robles, Munenori Kawasaki, nick franklin, Popular, spring training, Vinnie Catricala
I love all the stories of Spring Training. We make bigger deals of a lot of things that simply require patience. Then other times we just look at situations with the wrong perspective. This is the way I feel about visit site to read more]
I appreciate snark. To various degrees and put more aptly, when it’s done in a way that doesn’t generate a rise out of me. I’m not very good and disguising any type of snark in written form or in real life speak. Normally, if I have something to say and it’s not going to be nice it ends up being either one of two things. A) It comes across a bit whiny or B) it’s blurted out rather bludgeoned. Similar to using the jack in Thief. It just… just… well it didn’t kill anyone but obviously it would come across as a bit crass and if I didn’t get plumbed, I certainly didn’t make friends.
Well, see I enjoy putting together little posts over certain subjects that I had believed and others had said I was “wrong” for thinking. I don’t mind being wrong but discovering proof that your previous line of thought was correct, gives you too much ammo to sit on. So, at times, I’ve been known to throw something together and come across rather pompous.
Hey it’s my blog and if you think that no one else does that well… that would be a stupid opinion. I’m human and I like proving I’m not entirely stupid. My writing of course does that for me.
Yet, this time it kind of backfired a bit. It started after both Keith and Marqman responded in the comments about Hector Noesi. I basically called him a better more serviceable starter than Blake Beavan, because Beavan basically sucks in my mind. While others keep bringing up Doug Fister and talking about how Beavan might morph into what Fister has become. I’m hesitant to agree and that’s where things go wrong on my end.
Tags: Blake Beavan, Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin, Charlie Furbush, Chris Hawkins, Chris Young, David Pauley, Doug Fister, Felix Herandez, Francisco Martinez, Jeff Marquez, Jesse Hernandez, John Stilson, Matt Dean, Off-Season
I’ve been thinking. Thinking a lot. This may surprise some of you, as I’m sure based upon reading my blog on somewhat of a semi regular basis most of you probably think of me as a twit, while others just a talking head that recites what others … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Andrew Carraway, Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer, Charlie Furbush, Erasmo Ramirez, erik bedard, hisashi iwakuma, jarrod washburn, Jason Vargas, Jimmy Gillheeney, Off-Season, russell branyan, Signings, taijuan walker
Below you are about to be absorbed into my own little world. One that I’ve taken the better half of … oh well… let’s just pretend it’s been two weeks and not the last two months, because that’s just sad.
This is strictly of my own opinion, take it at face value, which is worth nothing. I understand no one cares how I would improve the Mariners and that in general most of my theories for roster construction are really just a mish mash of other brilliants minds at work.
Be prepared to be completely disappointed. I, like many others, love talking trades. I love discussing how to make this team better simply because, My Lord they are awful this past year, but really I can’t believe they are as bad as they really are. As I’ve previously discussed my sole goal for this team is to do the following:
- A) I want to give this team a trampoline. The goal is to give them the opportunity to bounce forward from this point. Start this coming year as a 77-80 win team and give them the opportunity to better themselves to becoming an 85-90 win team. Next year starts this year.
- B) You can’t move forward without talent. I’m not just talking about acquiring talent either, it’s about cultivating and helping it grow towards being healthy and productive. The Mariners are never going to compete, let me reiterate this for everyone, NEVER going to compete again unless they can eventually grow internal talent. Doug Fister was good, Dustin Ackley is of course way better, but there needs to be less gap time between the time periods and more players. Really, what this team needs to figure out is how to grow position players and while you need to give them time you need to have the talent to step in for if those young guys fail.
- C) With growing talent it means keeping it. My goal is to keep as much internal talent possible while moving forward. This is extremely difficult and it relies on… more risk. You can’t get premier talent without giving up premier talent but you can acquire certain individuals that are available around the league for less than they potentially could be worth. This takes a lot of time and is a huge risk. But the important thing is all your giving away is at bats. The talent you have to give up to get them was hardly negligible. Bottom line: I hate giving away young cost controlled arms for risk/reward situations. There is a time to hold ‘em and a time to … well deal them. I see few moves that could should be made by dealing away any of the young arms the Mariners have collected to this point.
- D) I know Seattle fans are looking at the potential 20 million dollars and they feel like finally they can spend it. Oh they have the money free right now and it’s already starting to burn a hole in their pocket. The unfortunate truth is we can’t just throw that at the “best” guy possible. They have to spend it wisely or be doomed to repeat more of the mid -2000’s. Likewise it means acquiring talent that is on the mend that other teams have deemed “too much time to invest or too pricey due to lack of production” some call it dumpster diving others call it investing. We need to come away from this season with more money in our pockets next year. As I continue to say getting to .500 is easy. Once we’re there it’s going to take money or prospects to make that last push. We’ll discuss that more as we get into the free-agent section.
Without further ado I give you my EPIC king of the off-season post.
Tags: Adam Moore, Blake Bevan, Brandon League, Casey Blake, Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin, Charlie Furbush, Chris Capuano, Chris Gimenez, David DeJesus, dustin ackley, Erik Kratz, Felix Hernandez, franklin gutierrez, grady sizemore, Ichiro, Jason Vargas, Josh Lueke, justin smoak, Kelly Shoppach, King for a day, kyle seager, Landon Powell, Matt Antonelli, Michael Pineda, Mike Carp, prince fielder, Ramon Hernandez, Raul Ibanez, Scott Rolen, Shawn Camp, shawn Kelley, Tom Wilhelmsen, Will Venable
It hasn’t happened often this month. In all of September, the Mariners had won only five games coming into today. Charlie Furbush started for the Mariners, so hopes were slim. In fact, I bet ratings were slim because it’s the Indians and Mariners. It might’ve been interesting if Cleveland hadn’t lost so much ground, but here they are, just as irrelevant as Seattle is.
Today wasn’t really a shocker, however. You can’t be surprised with outcomes like this. Of course baseball teams score into double digits into occasion. Of course the pitcher of record can take home a win while giving up six earned runs. It happens. Sometimes I wonder how often this happens when people who deserve it are on the mound. Say, Felix Hernandez. The last time the Mariners scored 12 runs, Anthony Vasquez was on the mound. He needed it. He really needed it. The most run support Felix has ever received this season was nine runs against the Yankees. It happens, but those extra three runs make the difference. That buffer, that extra distance. It happens, but I swear it doesn’t happen enough when the Mariners need it to.
Despite a lack of offense over the weekend, the Mariners bats finally got hot. Furbush may be a part of the Mariners future, he may not be. At least he got to enjoy run support for a day.
Not every Mariner pitcher gets to say that.