Tag Archives: David Aardsma

2012 AL West Team & Winter Wrap-Up

Unlike NCAA sports, pro sports don’t come out with pre-season 1st and 2nd teams, but if the AL West had its pre-season team, this is how I think it would shake out. My selection process looks at last year’s performance as well as potential this upcoming year, and often I use the sabermetric WAR to break ties. Some of the picks are obvious (Pujols), and others are less obvious (DH), so of course I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

A quick analysis shows that Texas is the class of the division, with more 1st team selections than the rest of the west combined. Anaheim has good 2nd tier depth, solid pitching, and balance. Texas and Anaheim each have 8 1st or 2nd team selections of the possible 10 positional categories, and of the 14 pitching spots, a whopping 11 are Rangers (6) and Angels (5). The M’s are a distant 3rd, but a ways ahead of the re-building A’s, who are loaded with average players but no star power whatsoever.

I wanted to take this chart one step further, and visually quantify the separation between teams based on these picks. To do so, I’ve simply awarded 2 points for a 1st team selection, and 1 point for a 2nd team selection. Here’s how it shakes out on a bar graph.

Lastly, here are team by team offseason wrap ups, after the jump… Continue reading

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Mariners Offseason: Looking Ahead

The baseball offseason is underway, with the Mariners already making a few roster moves in the last couple of days.  Gone are David Aardsma, Luis Rodriguez, and Jeff Gray, at least temporarily.  While Gray was claimed off waivers, Aardsma and Rodriguez were released, so there’s a chance that either or both could be back.  With Aardsma rehabbing until at least midsummer, neither would be a huge loss.

Last offseason was surprising in its predictability.  I remember writing early on that there seemed to be a number of obvious moves.  The team had a lot of holes, and it seemed the best move was to upgrade each spot as much as possible.  I never expected Jack Zduriencik to do exactly that.  Usually the offseason brings surprises.  No one expected Cliff Lee to become a Mariner two years ago.  No one expected Vernon Wells to become an Angel last year.  Those are two extreme examples at opposite ends of the spectrum, but offseason moves are generally more unexpected than not.  Teams have so much more knowledge than fans do, about both themselves and players.  We don’t even know what the Mariner payroll will be for next year.  We can make guesses, but for all we know they might raise it to $125 million to sign Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes.  Not likely, but we just don’t know. Continue reading

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Ranking Your 2011 Mariners

The big news today is basketball related, with Isaiah Thomas announcing, rather unexpectedly, that he will indeed forgo his senior season at UW. He’s off to the NBA, which sucks for Husky fans. Time will tell whether this is a wise decision by IT, but I’m happy for him. Next year’s expectations will be lower now, and it could very well be our last year watching Terrence Ross, but the team should still be good, and contend for the conference yet again.

With that news, I’m officially closing basketball talk on the blog, until at least the draft in June. Why? Because today is opening day! As Andrew noted, things have been dry on here lately, but nothing like some M’s baseball to stir conversation. In case you have not heard, the 25 man roster is official. Looking over the team last night, I started ranking guys in my mind, and that’s what this post is all about. In addition to ranking the 25 man roster, in terms of most valuable to the team in 2011, I’m also throwing 3 more guys into the conversation: Ackley, Gutierrez, and Aardsma. The latter two are on the DL, and Ackley will probably be up sometime in June, so they belong on this list too.

    Ranking the Roster (Most Valuable to Least Valuable)

1- Felix Hernandez—He is the King of Seattle, and the best pitcher on planet Earth. Yes, Felix is the Mariners’ most valuable player. Go away trade rumors!
2- Ichiro—The team’s best hitter and most valuable everyday player. Also, the coolest Mariner ever.
3- Justin Smoak—I want to fall in love with Justin Smoak, and so does this city, but he has a lot to prove. IMHO, this guy is the lynchpin to the M’s offense in 2011.
4- Franklin Gutierrez—I fear for Guti’s long-term health with every day that passes without an explanation, but assuming this mystery stomach ailment gets treated, Guti is the team’s best defender, and a top 5 hitter, a valuable asset indeed.
5- Milton Bradley—Depending on which Milton shows up, batting 3rd, Bradley could easily lead the team in production this year. But can he stay healthy AND out of trouble? I wouldn’t bet on it.
6- Erik Bedard—Hard to argue that a guy who did not pitch last year could hold much value, but IF healthy, Bedard provides huge value to this team. And IF his spring performance is an indicator of what’s to come, his worth is as high as a #2 starter.
7- Chone Figgins—This guy had better bounce back, and I expect he will now that he’s back at 3rd and settled into Seattle. The M’s should be annoying to play, and Figgy leads that annoyance.
8- Jason Vargas—I still don’t think of Jason Vargas as a #2 starter, but he earned this spot after last season. Can he provide an encore?
9- Jack Cust—Batting clean-up for your Seattle Mariners…Jack Cust. Really? You better believe it! He will strike out a ton, but I gotta think he is an upgrade at DH, and he is an awesome interview.
10- Miguel Olivo—The team’s main acquisition this winter, Miguel can’t be worse than our catchers last season, but he must improve on his first go around in Seattle if he is to win over the fans. Continue reading

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Mariner Roster Notes

Sorry for the lack of content here lately.  I can’t speak for the other good guys, but it’s been a really busy time for me.  Luckily, the best day of the year is just around the corner.  Baseball opening day is April 1st, with the Mariners in Oakland to start the year.  The home opener is a week later on the 8th against Cleveland. 

The roster is almost set, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on a few things:

  • The biggest surprise development of camp hasn’t been a good one.  The news came early that Franklin Gutierrez has been dealing with stomach issues that likely contributed to his poor second half in 2010.  Doctors thought they had a diagnosis and treatment plan, but three weeks or so later, Guti’s not feeling any better.  It now seems likely that he’ll start the year on the disabled list.  To be honest, I’m already writing him off for the season.  He might play, but I’m not expecting a breakthrough or anything.  I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like a good situation at all.  On the field, there are two ways to look at this.  First, Franklin from 2009 is a huge loss.  Getting him back to or past that level would have been a huge improvement to the team.  That wasn’t a given no matter how healthy he is, though, so replacing 2010 Guti shouldn’t be that hard.  He’s still excellent defensively, but I think Michael Saunders and Ryan Langerhans can provide a reasonable facsimile in that aspect.  Looking at the other outfielders not named Ichiro… Continue reading

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Mariners Weekend Recap — 5/29-5/30

Some games feel bigger than the one W or L that they represent on the schedule. When the M’s win in dramatic fashion on a Saturday night in front of 40,000 at Safeco, it seems odd that that win means just as much as a 10 am weekday win against Kansas City, in front of 11,000 fans. Likewise, a loss like yesterday kind of feels like 10 losses, rather than just one. The fashion in which the Mariners blew a 7-2 lead in the 5th inning yesterday, although not surprising based on how this year has gone, left me feeling frustration that should be reserved for only the most painful, playoff losses; not a regular season game in May.

I should be talking about a Mariners team that is miraculously just 5 games out of first place today. The M’s should have won yesterday, and should have won Saturday. The streak of horrible weekend games should have come to a halt, but alas, the M’s lost on Saturday and Sunday, providing further proof that while good teams find ways to win games, Seattle finds ways to lose them. Thus, they are not a good team. I have so many thoughts, opinions and observations from this weekend series because I saw every inning, and both games had so many layers. Rather than recap both games in typical style, I think I will just bullet point the good and bad that stood out.

The Depressing Stuff:

  • Ian Snell pitched well through 3 innings, but then I jinxed him by noticing this, and his control went haywire. I’m sure Snell will be gone at the end of the season, if not before then, and with Jack Wilson on the shelf and probably never returning to his old form, it’s probably accurate to say we lost that trade with the Pirates. I would have done it myself, and the trade won’t set the organization back much, but Jeff Clement at least has some potential, whereas Snell and Wilson don’t appear to.
  • Felix pitched well enough to win on Saturday, 8+ innings of 1 run ball, but the M’s offense was MIA and Brandon League showed again an inability to keep the ball in the park when it matters most.
  • On Sunday, Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira pitched the 5th and 6th innings, and despite yielding just 2 hits, neither pitcher had much control. Of the 40 pitches they threw, 25 were balls. 4 walks were issued, plus a catcher’s interference, and suddenly the Angels had scratched out 3 runs off 2 singles, and the score was 7-5 heading into the 7th. This felt like the turning point in the game.
  • Yesterday, David Aardsma entered the 9th with a 1 run lead. The odds of winning may have been 75%, but in reality, it felt like a 50/50 game at this point. Aardsma had Matsui struck out on a full count, but the ump called it a ball, which was a horrible call. Once Matsui walked, I felt things slipping away. Rivera proceeded to crush a ball that somehow stayed in the yard, but it felt like a foreshadow of things to come. A fluke infield hit followed, and the wheels were coming off. Kendrick then blasted a fastball (of course) the other way and the game was over. But back to why things never feel safe when David Aardsma enters the game…

    The fact is, Aardsma usually has decent control, but everyone knows he will throw a 93-96 mph fastball about 90% of the time. If that pitch is not located perfectly, it’s a meatball. There really isn’t any deception to Aardsma’s pitching. The hitters just have to sit dead red, make a nice swing, and hope the ball lands in a good spot. Effective closers need not have 3 great pitches, but if he chooses to throw 1 pitch 90% of the time, it had better be a great pitch. Aardsma’s fast ball is not a great pitch, especially if it is not properly located. Aardsma will continue to get hit well for this reason, and sometimes the ball stays in the park or he gets lucky with a ball hit right at someone, but a lot of time the outcome is what we witnessed yesterday. It’s just really frustrating, but really, who didn’t expect him to regress this year? His true colors are showing. Aardsma depends on location and luck, and often one or the other fails him. He seems like a really cool guy though, for what it’s worth.

  • Our 3rd base coach is awful. I talk to Andrew about this often, and yesterday’s send of Wilson was his worst of the year. Base coaches are like referees in that if no one is talking about him, he is probably doing a good job. We have talked about Mike Brumley way too much this year, thus, he is doing a bad job.
  • Saturday and Sunday has not been kind to the Mariners this year. Seattle is 3-13 in weekend games, including 6 straight Saturday losses, and currently the team has won just once in its past 13 weekend games. In their 13 losses, 6 have been walk-offs, and 9 have been the crushing loss type, whereby the M’s were either tied or leading in the 8th inning.
  • 9 times the M’s have given up a walk-off hit. Conversely, Seattle has just 1 walk-off hit this season.
  • The Mariners are 0-6 in extra inning games this year.
  • Only 3 teams in baseball have a worst record than the M’s.

    Do I enjoy digging up these stats? Actually, no. I don’t drink alcohol, but this team brings me closer each weekend!

    Positive notes, plus hero and goat after the jump Continue reading

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    The Worst Case Scenario? Pretty Close…

    Following the ridiculous 6-5 loss to Baltimore on Thursday, I was listening to Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN, and Dave Cameron from USSM was on the show. Cameron said the pre-season likelihood that the M’s would have finished the first 34 games at 13-21, would have been about 7-10%. This number is not a scientific fact, but anyone who knows a thing about baseball can look at the roster Seattle assembled, paired with the weak division they play in, and conclude that a 13-21 start would have been tough to imagine. Is this the worst case scenario? Well, of course it’s not the absolute worst case. That would be a winless team with multiple injured starters, a manager soon to be fired, and a clubhouse that is fist fighting. But this is pretty close to the worst possible scenario I could have thought up back in March. Here are 5 reasons why the M’s are where they are. (And sorry, this gets a little lengthy)

    1) Bad luck (aka sucking in crunch time)
    Last year, the M’s made hay in 1-run games. Despite giving up more runs than they scored, the M’s won 85 games, which by most standards, was an anomaly. The odd that Seattle could have racked up 85 W’s last year was slim when the year began. It was a pleasure seeing my team hang on in close games and show grit time and time again. This year, the Gods have not been so kind in similar games. In fact, in 9 of Seattle’s 21 losses, the M’s either led or were tied going into the eighth inning. That is a staggering result. If the Mariners could have won even just 4 of those 9 games, we would be talking about a 17-17 team heading into the Tampa series. The worst part is that in most cases, one minor miscue has been the difference between a win and a loss. The Byrnes whiffed bunt. The Johnson passed balls. The poor execution of bases loaded in extra innings. Those are the type of missed opportunities that has defined this team through 35 games. If you care to look at just how those 9 gut wrenching games played out, take a look at the quick summaries Shannon Drayer put together-http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/mariners_blog_articles/20100513/Too-Many-Tough-Losses

    2) Slow start offense
    In addition to the close losses, the Mariners are not hitting. Figgins, Kotchman, Griffey, Lopez, Bradley, Moore, Johnson and Jack Wilson are all off to slow starts. Typically you assume a few regulars will start slow, but it’s hard to win when all but 2 starters are hitting around .200 or lower. The offense is without a doubt the biggest reason the M’s are sitting where they are.

    3) The Bullpen
    The Mariners have a solid bullpen. I’d bet as many as 4 of our relievers could be closers on some major league teams. But despite good overall stats, some untimely blow ups have resulted in numerous losses. Lowe, League and Aardsma have combined to give up 6 home runs. That’s not the astounding number though, as 6 home runs between 3 relievers in mid-May is not unreasonable. What is astounding is that all 6 of those home runs were either game tiers or game winners, and all came in the 8th or 9th innings. Ouch. Often times home runs are not all the pitchers fault, because even perfectly executed pitches can be hit 400 feet by major league hitters. A lot of the bullpen’s failures are just plain bad luck. That’s just baseball. The bullpen is not a major concern for this team.

    4) Off the field issues
    The Bradley fiasco and the Griffey nap have been the two biggest off the field incidents thus far. The Milton thing was almost to be expected, considering his past, while the Griffey thing has snowballed from a minor issue to headlines on ESPN. That whole thing is just weird. You could include injuries in this category I suppose, to Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and Jack Wilson.

    5) Inconsistency
    The problem with this team is similar to the problem with my golf game. If I’m driving and putting well, my irons and chipping are failing me. If my short game is on, my drives are erratic. For the Mariners, the offense, starting pitching, and defense was great on Thursday. The bullpen was not, and so despite playing well in 3 out of 4 facets of the game, that one poor area bit us hard. It seems like that’s how it has gone all year. We just can’t play well in all aspects, and even when we play well in 2 or 3 areas, the 1 that we suck at ends up costing us the game.

    Reason for hope after the jump! Continue reading

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    A Tale of Two Miserable Weekends…and some ridiculous stats!

    I didn’t think things could get more painful than watching the Mariners give up 3 late game homeruns on route to being swept last weekend in Chicago. All 3 games were 1 run losses, and I remember thinking the M’s should have legitimately taken 2 of 3 in that series. Despite the frustration, those losses were a product of a few hiccups, albeit in consecutive games, by our usually solid bullpen. There wasn’t too much analysis required, and while it sucked to have them happen in a row, that’s baseball. We moved on.

    This past weekend, however, had many more layers of dreadfulness. To condense this mess, I’ve bulleted 5 events that were pretty unbelievable (not in a good way), and another 5 RIDICULOUS facts that may require reading with a puke bucket by your side…

    1. Sweeney’s double play: When a walk, sac fly, base hit, or really anything past the infield would have won the game, Mike swung at the 1st pitch from Darren O’Day, a slider low and away, and ended the bases loaded threat in the bottom of the 10th on Friday. Although I must say, none of this surprised me.
    2. Byrnes whiffed bunt: This oddity captured the short Eric Byrnes era well. With the bases juiced just one inning after Sweeney failed in the same situation, Wak called on Byrnes to just make contact on a bunt attempt. I liked the call because asking Byrnes to not strike out or pop it up to an infielder is a tall task. Still, he failed…and then struck out for good measure.
    3. Bradley’s blown pop up: Many say Milton just gave up on this play, while some argue the sun got in his eyes. Regardless, this ball needed to be caught, because it allowed 2 runs to score with 2 outs after Felix had fought back from bases loaded and none out.
    4. Aardsma’s blown save: For the 2nd consecutive game following 8 dazzling innings by “Can’t buy a break Fister,” Aardsma surrendered a lead-off walk, then after a stolen base and a base hit, the game was tied, the save was blown, and Fister was given another no decision. I’m scared every time Aardsma enters the game and starts firing fastballs. This past week reminded me why I have this fear, despite his league leading 8 saves.
    5. 2 passed balls in 1 inning by Rob Johnson: Perhaps the previous events are explainable, but this one is not. Andrew touched on “Hips” and his lack of catching in his recap from yesterday’s game, so I won’t ramble. This tweet from Dave Cameron pretty well sums it up-

      “Rob Johnson had as many passed balls in 1 inning yesterday as every non-Mariner AL team has all season.”

    What is especially disappointing about all this is that if ANY one of these scenarios hadn’t happened, the M’s would likely have won the game. But it all happened, and as the wheels came off, it was like watching a bad horror film that started off decent, turned frustratingly unrealistic, and ended up humorous. The snowball of unfortunate events that overcame this team could not be stopped, and this team was coming up with new ways to blow games.

    And now, grab your bucket… Continue reading

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    Game Recap — 4/17/2010

    It wasn’t as glamorous as Friday’s 11-3 win, but in many ways last night’s 4-2 win was equally impressive. After all, the M’s were facing Verlander, and our starter, RRS, was facing a tough task against an all right-handed hitting Tigers line-up. Seemed like a recipe for a loss. But Hyphen was up to the task, and except for a hanging curveball to Ordonez and a double to Rayburn in the 7th, that was all the damage.

    As for the offense, well they banged 7 hits off Verlander. Seattle made him work especially hard in the 1st and I thought we might work him out of the game early, but Verlander hit his stride and got throught 7 strong innings. Guti went 2-4 again, with 2 RBI. Ichiro came up a homer away from the cycle, and if he was given a decent pitch to hit in his last AB, we might be celebrating his cycle today. We’ll settle for 3-3 and a walk I suppose.

    Onto some notes and our hero/goat…

  • Bad call made by the 3rd base umpire in the 1st inning. It appeared Figgins had flyed out in foul territory to Carlos Guillen, which would have been enough to sacrifice Ichiro in, but instead, the ump said Guillen dropped it. On second glance, it was clear that Carlos made the catch, then dropped it on the transfer. Figgins struck out and that play would have been magnified if not for Guti coming up with an RBI base hit the next at bat.
  • Andrew pointed this out, and it is very true. The Tigers left field platoon of Johnny Damon and Carlos Guillen might be the worst defensive platoon ever.
  • The play of the game was the double play that ended the top of the 8th. After walking Inge on a full count slider, (which should have been called strike 3 I might add) runners were on 1st and 2nd, with 1 out. The next batter hit a slow chopper to Lopez who charged, made a nice play to relay to 2nd, and Figgins made the throw falling down to 1st. Kotchman scooped it for the second out, and the threat was over. It was a terrific play and probably the turning point in the game.
  • Hypen was sporting a new 2 seam change-up, which cuts at the end rather than drop like his typical 4 seam change-up. Keep an eye on this going forward, because it could be a nice addition to RRS’ arsenal.
  • Lee Tinsley positioned Bradley very close to foul territory in the 9th inning, when Ramon Santiago was up. Tinsley must have known what he was doing, because Santiago ripped a line drive down the left field line, and 99% of the time that ball is a double. But Bradley caught it with ease thanks to Tinsley’s positioning and advanced scouting.
  • Aardsma looked great tonight. I don’t understand why his fastball, which tops out at 95, is so tough to hit, especially when the batter knows it’s coming. But he places it very well, and it must have some movement that makes it difficult. Still, he worries me, though by now I should probably have more faith in him.
      Hero: Ichiro. It would be easy to give it to Guti for another solid night, but Ichiro flirted with the cycle and that is pretty special. RRS had a good outing as well, despite the no decision.

      Goat: Ken Griffey Jr. I love you Jr, but 0-4 with 2 K’s won’t cut it. Griffey only saw 14 pitches in those AB’s also.

    Today we go for the sweep! Snell is on the mound and if he wants to stay in this rotation, he had better pitch well, unlike his last start.

    -Dan

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