The Mariners enter tonight game against Texas at 20-27 after losing their final six games of a nine-game road trip (2-7). “Safeco” Joe Saunders (3-4, 5.64 ERA) takes his 9-0 mark in 13 starts in Seattle into Friday against Justin Grimm (3-3, 4.02 ERA). Grimm has lost three of his past four starts. With massive turmoil in Mariners land today, here are some storylines to track.
Andino designated for assignment
After a horrendous two-month stint as the Mariners’ utility infielder, Robert Andino was DFA’d today to make room for Jesus Sucre on the 40-man roster. Andino was placed on waivers but was not originally going to be DFA’d immediately. That was until the news broke on Twitter (thank Dave Cameron), and the Mariners rushed to make it officially.
Andino played in 29 games for Seattle this season, posting a .184 batting average and a homer-less four RBI. He racked up an on-base percentage of .253 and slugged just .237 with four total extra base hits, all doubles. He provided average defense, committing two errors while playing primarily shortstop, but also third and second base. Mariners fans won’t remember him fondly, but this is still one of my favorite baseball related pictures. See ya later, Bob.
Truinfel to Seattle
When Jesus Montero was sent to Tacoma yesterday, not many people expected that to signal the middle infield change so many of us bloggers have called for to happen as a result. But, lo and behold, Andino is gone, and Carlos Truinfel has replaced him on the 40-man roster as the Mariners’ utility infielder. As Geoff Baker reported earlier, Truinfel was on his way to Reno with the Rainiers when the Mariners made him turn around and come join the big club. Although not in the lineup and not expected to play tonight, Truinfel, who hit .300 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 44 games in Tacoma this year, could improve the horrid Seattle shortstop position.
Sucre making major league debut
The Mariners are throwing Jesus Sucre right into the fire tonight, as he will start at catcher and hit eighth. Sucre hit .302 in 14 games in Tacoma this year. Here’s the rest of the lineup ahead of the Mariner’s return home at 7:10 PT tonight.
- Saunders CF
- Ackley 2B
- Seager 3B
- Morales DH
- Morse RF
- Ibanez LF
- Smoak 1B
- Sucre C
- Ryan SS
Dave Cameron reported early this morning that Robert Andino has been outrighted to waivers, meaning he is done as a Seattle Mariner. Carlos Triunfel will be called up to replace him and Brad Miller is being called up to AAA to replace Triunfel. Apparently the Mariners were not ready to make the move as Triunfel was in Reno with the Rainiers. But since Cameron leaked the story they were forced to bring back Triunfel and Jesus Sucre will be joining him in Seattle.
It seems fitting that Andino’s Mariner career ends in a confusing story broken by a blogger and not a beat reporter. During Spring Training I was a fan of Andino. If he could hit league average and backup all three infield spots, our stupid five man DH/1B/corner outfield arrangement was going to work out. Unfortunately for Andino, he was nowhere close to hitting league average. But he was a better hitter than Brendan Ryan. So congratulations to you Robert Andino, if nothing else, you showed Seattle fans that you are a slightly better hitter than Brendan Ryan.
I already discussed why this move is necessary, and why Brendan Ryan is better than Andino and why Triunfel gets the call over Nick Franklin. But to sum those points up, Triunfel has some MLB playing time and Franklin would lose a year of team control if brought up now. And Ryan’s defense makes him a much better option than Andino, even if neither can hit.
The real winner in this, besides Carlos Triunfel, is the Tacoma Rainiers. They now have the future middle infield of the Mariners playing together in Miller and Franklin. Add Paxton, Hultzen when he returns from injury and possibly Taijuan Walker later this summer and that Tacoma team is stacked with prospects. So if nothing else, at least the Tacoma Rainiers should be fun to watch this year.
Anyway, Robert Andino is gone. The Mariners should be a better team and a slightly less boring one. I doubt Triunfel pulls a Mike Trout and starts destroying the ball, but he should be a serviceable back up who can hopefully cover Seager at third when he needs a day off. He should be better than Andino, and if he is not, Nick Franklin and now Brad Miller are close to being ready.
Yesterday, the Mariners made a major statement by optioning Jesus Montero to AAA. Montero has struggled mightily behind the plate this season, and the team seems to have finally given up on him as a backstop. Catcher Jesus Sucre replaced Montero on the 25-man roster.
However, the Mariners still needed to make a corresponding 40-man roster move, since Sucre isn’t on the 40-man and needs to be as a member of the big league club. As a result, Dave Cameron of USS Mariner, Fangraph and ESPN Insider has reported on Twitter that Robert Andino will be DFA’d to make room for Sucre. Cameron believes that 40-man roster member Carlos Truinfel will replace Andino in Seattle.
However, Geoff Baker is refuting Cameron’s claim, saying he believes the Mariners will still DFA a minor leaguer and Andino will remain with the team, as he said yesterday when the Montero news broke. Cameron asserts that he has had “multiple sources confirm“ that Andino is in fact on waivers.
Most recently, Shannon Drayer dropped a big development on Twitter, tweeting that Brad Miller is heading to Tacoma from Jackson, likely indicating a middle infield move in between the AAA and MLB clubs. This is big, because Drayer is an insider. Baker, a fellow insider, had refuted the Andino news to this point and contradicted an outsider in Cameron.
Despite all of these rumors, one thing remains clear for the Mariners: they need to end their losing streak. They return to the friendly confines of Safeco Field tonight and have the man born to pitch there on the hill with Joe Saunders making the start. They face a red hot Rangers team with a pitcher in Justin Grimm on the hill who has lost three of four starts. They appear to be rid of roster problems like catching Montero and bad-hitting Andino. It’s time to get off the schneid and save the season by snapping the streak.
The seventh installment of “Obscure Seahawks Bi-Weekly” profiles rookie tight end Luke Willson. He may not be obscure enough for you because he was a 5th round draft pick this year, but leading up to the draft few had heard of him so I’m going to call it close enough. Also, he is a good Canadian kid, a fellow Ontarian (one who is from the Canadian province of Ontario) and a guy who has connection to two Toronto sports franchises so I’m going to show him some love. Good? Good.
Height: 6’ 5”
Weight: 252 lbs
Method of Acquisition: Drafted by the Seahawks in the 5th round 158th overall
Years Pro: R
40 yard dash time: 4.51 seconds
Vertical: 38 inches
Bench Press Reps:23
NCAA career stats: 45 GP, 78 Rec, 986 Yards, 12 TD
Fun Fact: Luke Willson was drafted in the 5th round of the CFL (32nd overall) and also signed as an undrafted free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays in the summer of 2011 as a first baseman.
Willson is a unbelievable raw athlete when it comes to size/speed numbers with surprising strength (his 23 bench press reps would have but him between Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert at the NFL Combine) and an excellent vertical leap. Interest in Willson is almost entirely speculative because it’s not very clear what he can produce at the NFL level. His college stats are very pedestrian but he has all the tools and only recently committed exclusively to football. Willson profiles as a receiving tight end due to his speed. He is slightly undersized and has not shown much as a blocker so far. Looks a little bit like an even more athletic, even more raw Cameron Morrah.
Chances of Making the Team
Pretty good, actually. Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy are locked into the first two tight end spots and more likely than not there is only one more available. However, Willson has some fans in the Seattle front office given that he was drafted so much higher than expected. Among his competition (Cooper Heflet, Sean McGrath, Victor Marshall and Daniel Fells) Fells is the only one with a similar level of athletic prowess. Fells is also a whole lot bigger, but his football acumen is questionable as a lifelong basketball player. It seems that Willson is the most likely to make it as the 3rd tight end but the sheer number of other bodies at the position makes it very possible that Willson misses out. If he fails to distinguish himself it’s likely that someone in the previously mentioned group of four will. That being said, with McCoy and Miller both competent blockers Willson could be used in a primarily receiving role for Seattle, which would give him the best chance to succeed. It’s hard to make arbitrary estimates for my new favorite Seahawk because he is the type of guy who could flash star potential or fall off the face of the Earth. I’ll say 45% Willson makes the team and 30% he ends up stashed on the practice squad.
When 1B/DH Kendrys Morales was brought in this offseason, he was generally thought of as a power first bat, and for good reason. His OBP the year before was just .320, despite having a .273 average. .260 is a roughly average average, and .320 is about an average OBP. So his average was 13 points above “average”, but his OBP remained, due to a low walk rate.
Thus, it is easy to see why he is considered the way he is. Roughly 60% of his career .820 OPS has come from his slugging percentage, leaving about 40% to come from average. On average over the last three years (for the league), 56% of OPS has come from slugging, so Morales was a notch higher.
But he has changed as a player this year. His overall production is roughly the same as last year (.351 wOBA, 118 wRC+ career .346 and 122 this year), but how that production is coming to be is different. All of the sudden, he has been getting on base at a much higher clip, while losing a little bit of pop.
His OBP is at .356, which is one point above his career high (in what was by far his best season). And his .434 SLG% is a career low, with the previous low being the .467 he posted last year. And he is now getting just 55% of his OPS from his power, going from 3% above “average” to 1% below “average.” So clearly there has been a change in the kind of hitter he is, at least to this point.
Upon noticing this, I saw the opportunity for a post on the topic. So I searched and searched for some kind of deep explanation as to why this is happening. Turns out, there isn’t really a conclusive reason as to why he has become an on-base first guy this season.
I mean, there is the obvious explanation as to why his OBP has gone up. That being the fact that he has been way more patient at the plate, resulting in more walks.
|2006||Angels||30.9 %||68.4 %||49.9 %||71.2 %||89.3 %||83.8 %||50.8 %||63.3 %||7.9 %|
|2007||Angels||38.3 %||71.5 %||49.4 %||62.3 %||90.7 %||76.1 %||33.6 %||46.8 %||10.9 %|
|2008||Angels||32.6 %||68.7 %||48.3 %||71.4 %||94.1 %||85.5 %||43.4 %||43.9 %||6.6 %|
|2009||Angels||32.1 %||64.0 %||46.1 %||63.8 %||88.5 %||78.8 %||43.8 %||56.6 %||9.2 %|
|2010||Angels||30.8 %||62.9 %||45.3 %||61.1 %||90.9 %||79.8 %||45.2 %||51.2 %||8.9 %|
|2012||Angels||35.9 %||70.4 %||50.1 %||61.8 %||85.5 %||75.5 %||41.2 %||59.6 %||12.1 %|
|2013||Mariners||26.2 %||67.8 %||44.2 %||62.1 %||87.7 %||79.1 %||43.3 %||52.2 %||8.8 %|
|Total||- – -||32.9 %||66.9 %||47.6 %||63.5 %||88.2 %||78.6 %||43.3 %||56.1 %||9.8 %|
Take a look above at his plate discipline numbers, courtesy of FanGraphs. As you can see, all of his swing rates are down quite a bit. The most extreme of the three being his O-Swing%, which is down almost 10% from the year before, and 7% from his career. Obviously, that means he has not been swinging at as many bad pitches, which has led to more free passes.
So that explains his increase in walks and ability to get on base. But why is his power also down? The two aren’t inversely related in most cases, meaning as one goes up the other does not go down.
This part is not as easily explained. There really aren’t any glaring changes in terms of the amount nor the kind of contact he is making. As seen above, his contact rate is better than his career mark. And there also aren’t any significant fluctuations in his batted ball numbers. His LD% is 2.2% higher than his average, his FB% is down 1.8% (but is up from 2012), and his GB rate is right at his career average. None of those really suggest that his power should be zapped. If his line drive rate were way down, or ground ball rate way up, then maybe.
The best explanation I can find is that his HR/FB is all the way down at 11.6%, which is 5% lower than his career mark, and 9.4% lower than it was last year. But the problem with that is, it may not be a perfect explanation. It does tell us something, but its answer isn’t really specific.
Fangraphs says of FB%:
Was the player still hitting the same about of fly balls but with a lower HR/FB rate? This could imply that the player lost a touch off their power, which could be a result of an injury or the tell-tale sign of an aging slugger. Or did the player still have the same HR/FB rate, but he was hitting fewer fly balls? If a player goes from hitting fly balls to ground balls, that could be attributed to contact issues.
Kendrys falls into the first category, with a fairly similar amount of fly balls, but a crazy low HR/FB rate. And unfortunately, that likely speaks to a more permanent loss of power. We already knew he lost power, but now the numbers might suggest it is because of “an injury or the tell-tale sign of an aging slugger.” That certainly isn’t what we want to here, as I am sure most of us were hoping to find something that would suggest some regression to the mean, and an re-increase in power.
And it still might. HR/FB doesn’t stabilize until about 300 plate appearances, and he is only a little more than half way there. His slugging percentage has been on the rise recently, and that trend may continue until he reaches a more normal mark. Or, he may be sacrificing some aggressiveness and pop for more patience and contact. We don’t really know for sure.
At this point, thankfully, it doesn’t really matter all that much if he stays this way. He has been roughly the same player in terms of productivity, and that is what matters. If anything, this increase in patience and discipline is a blessing. Those traits tend to stick around, and walk rate is much quicker to stabilize — and he is about 20 PA way from that point — rendering a sudden revert to his old numbers unlikely. Conversely, as I said before, there is still a chance that his power returns a little, which would create a perfect situation. Kendrys prior power combined with this current on-base ability would make for a very valuable player. And we like value around here.
After pretty much the worst possible result in a four-game set in Cleveland, the 20-25 Mariners return west to play two games in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels (17-27) have struggled mightily in 2013, and lost three of four at Safeco Field a few weeks ago. Before the game, here are some news and notes to digest.
Harang back on the mound
Aaron Harang will toe the rubber tonight for the first time since May 7, after he missed his last start with back stiffness. Harang had strung together consecutive quality starts for the first time in 2013 in his two previous starts. Hector Noesi made the start for him in New York last Thursday and helped the Mariners to a victory. It was the Mariners most recent win. Harang, 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA, is still seeking his first road win of 2013.
Smoak quietly surging
With so many other offensive weapons garnering attention for the Mariners this year, Justin Smoak has flown under the radar. His .252 batting average with three homers and eight RBI don’t jump off the page, but he’s been hot lately. He has a five-game hittting streak, has reached base in 14 consecutive contests and hit two home runs this weekend, both in late game situations. His on-base percentage is solid as well (.366) and he has a 2-t0-3 walks to strikeouts ratio, way up from his sub-1-to-2 ratio from 2012. The Mariners have to stick with Smoak as their future at first.
Here are some interesting numbers from the Mariners’ game notes press release today:
- Tom Wilhelmsen has not allowed a hit to a right-handed batter in 2013. Righties are 0-for-31 against the Bartender.
- Raul Ibanez has six home runs in the last eight games he’s played. Because, you know, he’s Raul.
- The Mariners rotation is tied for the American League lead in quality starts with 26, despite having just one this weekend (Brandon Maurer).
- Brendan Ryan has raised his batting average 66 points to .178 with a 9-for-25 clip on the current road trip. He hit his first home run on Saturday.
- The Mariners rank last in the league with a .213 batting average with runners in scoring position in 2013. They hit .190 with RISP on the road.
Brandon Maurer takes on Jerome Williams at 7:05 PT.
Baseball, more than any other sport, is all about numbers. This was the case even before the sabermetric craze that divides analysts today and inspires numerous a JJ Keller column on this website. In this new segment, I take a look at the numbers that shaped a series, beginning with the disastrous sweep in Cleveland this past weekend.
75 – Percent of the games that ended in Cleveland walkoffs. Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes all delivered game-ending hits against Mariner relievers in the series. This brutal stretch of three paintful defeats in four actually isn’t unprecedented for Seattle, who suffered a similar feat at the hands of the Orioles and Indians back in May of 2011. Avoid Cleveland in May is good advice for Seattlelites. Actually, just avoid Cleveland in general.
5 – Earned runs allowed by both Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in their Sunday-Monday starts. Felix took his third loss of 2013 while the Mariners continued to hit for Iwakuma, and he earned a no decision. The Mariners cannot win wiht their one-two punch leaking runs like both did this weekend.
3 – Home runs Mariners hit off of Chris Perez in his two appearances in the series. When Perez came in with a two run lead and quickly retired the first two Mariners he faced, the game was assumed over. But back-to-back jacks from Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak gave the Mariners new life (which they would soon extinguish). In Monday’s ninth inning, Perez served up a lead-off, pinch-hit homer to Endy Chavez of all people.
11 – Hits allowed in 5.1 innings by Joe Saunders Saturday in what Root Sports analysts were calling “a good start” from the veteran lefty. No! That was a terrible start! Are you crazy? The wind knocked down a home run and gifted him a double play and he still gave up a home run to the next batter he faced! No more road Joe please.
430 – Pitches thrown by Mariners starters, in appearances that ranged between five and six innings in length. Only Brandon Maurer produced a quality start of the four. All four threw over 100 pitches.
2 (but really 3) – Errors committed by pitchers in Monday morning’s horrendous 10-8 loss. Iwakuma made an early error and Charlie Furbush screwed up a late sacrifice bunt play but the error was charge to Smoak. But none was more glaring or costly than Tom Wilhelmsen’s clank job as he stepped on first for the game’s final out. That error marked Wilhelmsen’s first blown save of 2013 in 12 chances.
7 – Batters retired consecutively by Danny Farquhar in his first appearance with the Mariners. He struck out five of them, but his great performance will be lost in the shuffle of an overall terrible series.
1 – Home run on the season for Brendan Ryan, who turned the corner in Cleveland. He went 5-for-13 with his first two extra base hits of 2013. Will he go on a tear and fight his way over the Mendoza line now? Who knows?
The Mariners play at 7:05 PT in Anaheim tonight and will try and snap the four-game skid this horrific series put them on.
The narrative being pushed by the media this past weekend, both local and national, is that the Seattle Seahawks have a serious and growing performance-enhancing drug (PED) problem. They site the 7 PED suspensions that have happened during Pete Carroll’s tenure.
Unfortunately, the real facts don’t back up this storyline. Four of the cited suspensions have nothing to do with any so-called PED problem the Seahawks might have:
- Offensive lineman Allen Barbre tested positive in 2011, the year before he joined the Seahawks. The Seahawks signed him before the suspension was announced. The team cut him rather than putting him on the roster.
- Fullback Via Taua tested positive just after being signed to the practice squad. He had been a free agent just trying to land with a team before that.
- Offensive lineman John Moffitt tested positive for a substance that is legal in the NFL if the player has a prescription. Moffitt has a prescription, and has had it for years. The only reason he was suspended was because he and the team doctor didn’t properly file all the necessary paperwork on time.
- Cornerback Richard Sherman appealed his suspension and won, something that is supposed to be virtually impossible given today’s tests and testing protocols. Sherman was able to prove that his test sample had been tampered with.
That leaves just 3 legitimate positive tests during Carroll’s tenture as head of coach of the Seahawks: safety Winston Guy, cornerback Brandon Browner, and the recent suspension of defensive end Bruce Irvin. Those 3 suspensions would put the Seahawks right in the middle of the pack with the rest of the NFL teams.
If the Seahawks do have a problem, it is not properly educating rookies on the NFL’s PED policies. 2 of the 3 legitimate suspension have come from rookies, as was John Moffitt’s paperwork problem. Even that fact goes against the accusations of a PED culture in Seattle, since once players are acclimated into the team they are unlikely to test positive.
But why let facts get in the way of good storyline.
On April 24, the Mariners lost 10-3 in Houston to fall to 8-15 on the young season. This was the low point for the 2013 season, and the team knew they had to respond to have any chance of contending. They responded in earnest, winning five of six series to get to 20-21 on May 16. They had a chance to surpass the .500 mark and make a run at Texas with a good series in Cleveland.
Unfortunately, that dream scenario for the Mariners simply did not play out. They lost a nail biter in extra innings Friday, as an exhausted bullpen yielded a walk off homer to Jason Kipnis. They lost in similar fashion Saturday, on a walk off infield hit after they had stormed back with homers in innings eight and nine. When an up-and-coming team like the Mariners loses two games in devastating fashion, they need their best players to come through and dig them out of the hole.
Felix Hernandez was in perfect position to do just that Sunday morning, as he took the mound against Justin Masterson. Instead, Felix put together his worst start of 2013 and Masterson dominated, sinking the Mariners even deeper in a 6-0 loss.
Hernandez lasted just five innings and surrendered six runs (five earned) on eight hits. He walked two and struck out eight. The big blow came off the bat of Michael Brantley, who ripped a three-run homer to centerfield in the second inning to put Cleveland up 5-0.
The Mariners didn’t do anything to help themselves offensively either, as Masterson dominated for seven incredible innings. He allowed just three hits, walking two and striking out 11. At times, the Mariners had absolutely no idea against Masterson. The loss dropped the M’s to 20-24, and Cleveland can finish the sweep tomorrow.
All that equates to gut check time for Seattle. They need to win tomorrow with Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound to salvage something from this series and prepare for two games against the Angels in LA. They cannot get discouraged by watching Felix get shelled today. That happens to Felix from time to time as it does to all pitchers. Felix especially struggles at Progressive Field, where he is 3-5 lifetime with a 4.50 ERA in nine starts. He had a similarly horrendous start right around this time last season (on May 16, 2012, Felix gave up eight runs on ten hits in just 3.2 innings at Progressive Field). This bad start and loss doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
But it could if the Mariners let it get them down. If they refuse to plod forward like good teams do and dwell on these three consecutive losses, they may never scrape .500 again in 2013. Iwakuma can win tomorrow, and the ship will be right back on track for the best Mariners team in a few long years.
The sixth installment of “Obscure Seahawks Bi-Weekly” looks at LEO prospect Benson Mayowa out of Idaho. Mayowa has only been a Seahawk since Monday but might just have a chance to stay awhile.
Height: 6’ 3”
Method of Acquisition: Signed as an undrafted free agent 5/13/13
Years Pro: R
40 yard dash time: 4.73 seconds
Vertical: 37 ½
NCAA career stats: 45 GP, 67 Tackles, 19 TFL, 11 Sacks, 11 FF, 7 PD
Fun Fact: Mayowa’s 20 yard shuffle time of 4.26 would have been tied for first at the Combine among defensive ends with Ziggy Ansah.
The term that keeps coming up in scouting reports of Mayowa is ‘short-area quickness’. Whenever I investigate these fringe roster players I look for the unique talent that made them appeal to the Seahawks and for Mayowa it has to be his quickness. As shown above he had an elite 20 yard shuffle time and the buzz from his tryout was that he was very quick off the ball. That first step is essential for pass rushers and it’s a good thing that Mayowa has it because there isn’t a ton else exciting about him. His NCAA career was fine, but far from distinguished, his long speed is pedestrian and he’s on the small side, even for a LEO. Mayowa may be a one-trick pony but LEO is a one-trick position and if he can use his quickness to be disruptive in the passing game then no one will complain.
Chances of Making the Team
Not bad, at least for now. With Bruce Irvin’s suspension and the injury to Chris Clemons, Clint Avril is the last pure LEO left on the roster. Michael Bennett can play the role but he is more of a hybrid player. On 3rd downs Bennett will probably see time at DT so the Seahawks will need someone to rush across from Avril. Even if they have Bennett line up on the other end there will need to be at least one LEO backup. Although someone else could be brought in, the only three real candidates for the role are Mayowa, fellow undrafted free agent Kenneth Boatright and 2013 draft pick Ty Powell. Boatright is the least athletic of the trio and looks unlikely to figure in Seattle’s plans. Powell has better long speed and a little more size than Mayowa but as a 7th round pick it’s not as if he will be guaranteed a spot on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks bring in John Abraham to help them get through this pass rushing crisis, but he may not be inclined to sign what would amount to a 4 game contract. The door seems to be wide open for Mayowa while Irvin is out but I think there will probably be another move because I doubt a serious contender like the Seahawks would leave such an important role to such unproven players. Arbitrary Estimates: 25% chance of making the team, 35% of making the practice squad.
Yesterday I took at look at the number of drives that each team’s defense was on the field for. Those results were interesting, but they didn’t tell us much about what those drives resulted in. We were able to infer some of that based on the total points given up by those teams, but honestly, I want something more concrete than that.
I decided to take a look at how each of those drives ended. It doesn’t matter if a defense isn’t on the field much compared to other teams, if that defense still gives up a lot of touchdowns. (I’m looking at you Cowboys.) Ultimately, I believe the true measure of the quality of a defense is somewhere to be found in this particular data set.
Unless I’ve made a horrible mistake here, drives can only end in 7 different ways: a touchdown, a field goal attempt, a punt, a turnover, a failed 4th down attempt, a safety, and at the end of a half. That’s a fairly limited number of possible outcomes, meaning I should be able to eventually tease out some very meaningful evaluation tools from this. We’ll see, there’s still a long way to go.
I was hoping to have some meaningful result to tell you about, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. Compiling all this data took more time than I originally had available. Just getting this compiled and posted was all I could handle. I left off the safeties, since there’s only a couple total from the entire season and I’m already pushing the limits on the width of this table.
I did manage to give you the percentage for each outcome, though I’m not sure while that seems like a big deal in my head.
|4||New York Giants||170||35||20.59%||30||17.65%||54||31.76%||35||20.59%||11||6.47%||5|
|6||Kansas City Chiefs||173||40||23.12%||38||21.97%||73||42.20%||13||7.51%||1||0.58%||8|
|7||San Francisco 49ers||173||26||15.03%||27||15.61%||78||45.09%||25||14.45%||11||6.36%||6|
|11||San Diego Chargers||176||38||21.59%||21||11.93%||79||44.89%||28||15.91%||6||3.41%||4|
|12||St. Louis Rams||176||34||19.32%||37||21.02%||72||40.91%||21||11.93%||10||5.68%||2|
|19||Green Bay Packers||184||36||19.57%||30||16.30%||74||40.22%||23||12.50%||14||7.61%||7|
|24||New Orleans Saints||187||49||26.20%||33||17.65%||62||33.16%||26||13.90%||9||4.81%||8|
|25||New York Jets||187||37||19.79%||31||16.58%||89||47.59%||23||12.30%||3||1.60%||4|
|26||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||187||43||22.99%||28||14.97%||76||40.64%||26||13.90%||8||4.28%||6|
|28||New England Patriots||191||37||19.37%||25||13.09%||67||35.08%||41||21.47%||14||7.33%||7|
Most people know that I am one of Raul Ibanez‘s biggest critics. Being of the sabermetric-mold, I do not place very much value in a 40 year old DH-in-the-outfield, who can only hit in Yankee Stadium. I don’t know why, but that just isn’t appealing to me. More traditional fans do not necessarily focus on that though, and will point to his veteran leadership. And that is just fine. Raul seems like a great guy, and might be able to mentor some of the kids. But there are problems with that too.
In reality, there is not much he can do. Sure, he can tell people to keep their head up or whatever, but it comes down to the players ability. Encouragement is great, but it doesn’t really matter if the recipient just can’t hit. Raul follow me around day and night, giving me words of wisdom and encouragement. Doesn’t replace the fact that I am an out of shape, slightly lazy 17 year old, who stopped playing select baseball at 14 because I just was not that great anymore. If I would have worked my butt off like my friends who kept playing, then maybe it would be different. But it still comes down to what I can do, not what someone is telling me I can do.
So those are the basic reasons why I disagreed with the Raul signing, especially for $2.75M. That and the fact that I knew he was still going to get a lot of playing time despite being a veteran presence. My reasoning for that belief? See Miguel Olivo over John Jaso last year.
But, over the last week or so, things have changed a bit. Raul is no longer hitting below the interstate (that’s .190 for those who do not get the reference), and in fact, is crushing the ball. After today’s tough loss in Cleveland, he has 6 homers in 7 games. And dating back to May 4th against Toronto he has slashed a ridiculous .375/.394/1.031. This streak has led many to start talking about how good Raul really is, in addition to his veteran presence.
While it is nice to see him hit like this, it is not going to continue. I am sorry, but it just won’t. He now has a .839 OPS on the season, which is 328 points higher than the .511 he had before the streak. There are a few different reasons why there is no way he sustains the .839:
- 6 of the his last 8 games, when the success started, have been on the road. Raul thrives in hitter-friendly parks. Yankee Stadium is a prime example. He had a .343 wOBA there last year, compared to .223 on the road. And that pattern continued this year, and 4 of his hits and 3 of his home runs came in New York. He won’t have the luxury of playing in that little league field they call a big league stadium anymore.
- .562 points of his .839 OPS have come from his slugging percentage. Hitting 6 home runs in a week will do that for you. Raul does not have that kind of power anymore, or ever really. That would be the highest SLG% of his career, and he obviously won’t sustain it. Plus, it is hard to have any long term success with a OBP under .300.
- Raul just is not that good, plain and simple. He used to be, but at his age, he is not the same. He will probably have another one of these stints where he crushes the ball. That is what hitters like him do. But I would not think they will last much longer than this one has.
There is also another big point that I think needs to be made, despite it’s “elementary” feel. Defense is still a part of the game. I know it sounds simple, but people ignore it. Everyone sees the dingers and forgets that Raul is the most gif-able player in the league. Before today’s game (because it isn’t updated as fast) Raul’s WAR was a -0.1. He was costing the team 1/10th of a win with his play. That will probably go up a tad, maybe to an even 0, or a positive decimal. So despite this show he has put on at the plate, his overall value is extremely low. He can’t field, he can’t run, and he can only kind of hit sometimes.
Hot streaks are fun. It is good to see a fan favorite like Raul kill the ball, especially against a team like the Yankees. But do not take this for more than it is. An anomaly. A rather exciting one, but an anomaly nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong either. I like Raul and respect the player he was for the Mariners. But the key word is was. He is not that same player, and if I had it my way, he probably wouldn’t be on the team.
I know a lot of what I said will seem pretty obvious to most of you. But there are a lot of people who overreact to things like this, and do not understand how things like this work. In fact, I would say most traditional-thinking fans would fall into this category, so I still think this was a point that needed to be made. You probably won’t see USS Mariner or Lookout Landing making this sort of post, but they do not appeal to the casual fan as much as we do at Sodo Mojo.
For the fifth time in 2013, Joe Saunders failed to record a quality start on the road, as the Mariners lost 5-4 to the Indians in Cleveland Saturday. Saunders went 5.1 innings, allowing four earned runs on 11 base hits while walking and striking out two. All things considered, it was probably Saunders’ best road start of the season. Still, he laid out a blueprint of how not to make a quality start with a few key things he did or did not do.
Don’t mess around with two outs
Too often during Saturday’s start, Saunders failed to close the book on the Indians after recording two outs. As a matter of fact, Ryan Divish pointed out on Twitter that Saunders has zero 1-2-3 innings in road starts this season. This inability not only costs the Mariners precious runs but also runs Saunders’ pitch count way up. Today proved no exception.
In the first inning, Saunders quickly retired Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis with just eight pitches. When Asdrubal Cabrera stepped in, Saunders gave up a base hit on his fourth pitch of the at-bat. This small crack in the armor proved lethal for Saunders, who threw seven balls to the next two hitters, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds, walking Swisher and giving up an RBI single to Reynolds. All told, he threw 17 pitches with two outs in the first inning.
The second inning almost mirrored the first one, except that Saunders survived unscathed. He only needed seven pitches to retire Mike Aviles and Jan Gomes, but ran into trouble with Drew Stubbs and Bourn. Saunders walked Stubbs and Bourn singled. Kipnis ended the threat with a come-backer to the mound, but Saunders’ pitch count took another huge two-out hit. He threw 16 more pitches with two outs, running his count to 48 through two innings.
Saunders only threw two two-out pitches in the third, stranding a runner at second and throwing only 18 pitches. He threw ten pitches with two outs in the fourth, allowing a single to Bourn before retiring Kipnis. However, he ran into two-out trouble again in the fifth. Swisher basically hit a home run to left field, except that the wind knocked it down and Raul Ibanez made the catch. Cabrera, at first after a lead off single, was totally fooled and the Mariners doubled him off. Yet Saunders apparently learned nothing from Swisher, as he left another pitch out over the plate to Reynolds, who hit it in almost the same spot as Swisher, except this one carried out for a solo home run.
To notch a quality start on the road, Saunders cannot afford to mess around with two outs like he did today.
Don’t sacrifice an early edge in the count
Saunders threw a ton of first pitch strikes today, especially early on. Of the 29 batters he faced, Saunders threw them 20 first pitch strikes. That doesn’t even include at bats where Indians’ batters put the ball in play on the first pitch. Saunders took control of most of the hitters he faced right from the get go, which should foreseeably help him.
However, of those 20 first pitch strikes that didn’t end up in play, Saunders followed 13 of them up with second pitch balls. Saunders would frequently get ahead and immediately surrender his advantage with the next pitch. He needed to stay aggressive and make things happen to keep his pitch count down. Instead, he ended up with 120 pitches in a weak 5.1 inning start.
Don’t heavily rely on balls in play
In five road starts this year, Joe Saunders pitched 24 innings. He struck out seven batters in those appearances. Seven! In 24 innings! Sure, Saunders isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but that’s just horrendous. His inability to get batters out on his own hurts him significantly, as it did today. Saunders allowed 11 hits and recorded 14 outs on balls in play. That’s a horrendous BABIP against, but when you only strike out two batters of 29, that kind of stuff happens. Quality starts are built on commanding the strike zone and batters, and Saunders did neither with effectiveness in the loss.
The NFL announced today that Seattle Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin has ben suspended for the first 4 games of the 2013 season for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. It is unknown what substance he tested positive for at this time. Irvin has announced that he will not appeal the suspension.
This statement from Irvin was released though the team:
“I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption. I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return.”
The suspension to start the season will hurt Seattle more than if it had come later in the year. Fellow DE Chris Clemons is likely to begin the year on the Physically Unable To Perform list as he works back from a torn ACL injury. That means that the Seahawks will begin the season without their top 2 sack leaders from last season.
The Seahawks signed both Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett this past offseason to help with the pass rush, but they now appear to need additional help for the first 4 games. I wonder if John Abraham’s price has come down enough that John Schneider will consider adding him.