If you’ve followed the Mariners today, you’ve probably heard that Ian Snell has been designated for assignment. It’s about time. Ian Snell has been terrible the past couple years and was even worse this year. Now, he’s gone and Brian Sweeney is up (more on him in a little while).
Ian Snell came over here last Summer in the Jack Wilson-Jeff Clement trade. It seemed like a good idea at the time; Snell was a young starter who possibly needed a change of scenery and Jack Wilson was the shortstop who was going to captain the world’s best defense. It hasn’t really worked out, to say the least. Jack has been hurt more often than not since coming here and Snell has been terrible. That leads to the obvious, and somewhat annoying, question, “Did the Mariners lose this trade?” These questions usually rub me the wrong way. This is because we are fans on the outside and the people who sometimes proclaim the trade as lost don’t know as much about the organization as they should. Lets take a look at this example:
- One team received a double-A starter who has a 5.92 ERA in 11 starts this year. He is running out an 8.4 K/9 innings rate, which is really good but not much else seems to be going for him.
- The other team received a shortstop who has been starting at the major league level. This guy is hitting .281 and, although he has one of the worst UZR’s in the league, has a pretty solid fielding percentage.
Which team wins that trade? Well, obviously the team with the shortstop right? No. That shortstop is Yuniesky Betancourt. This is just one of many examples that show a trade can not be judged by an outsider without organizational knowledge. The double-A pitcher I refered to above is actually a decent prospect. His name is Dan Cortes and if he ever gains some control he could be in the majors. Yuni sucks. People don’t know these things when looking at stats, they only know them after reading scouting reports and watching them. I think the Mariners made themselves a better organization by this trade even if Yuni is putting up solid numbers. Can the same be said with the Royals? I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the Royals to make a fair judgement. My first reaction would to be say no because of my experience with Yuni but that’s not fair to their front office.
So, back to the trade with Pittsburg last summer. No, the Mariners did not win this trade. Jack could come back and be a decent contributor this year and next but it’s probably not enough for me to say that this trade made the Mariners a better organization. But did it make them worse? Clement is hitting no better than Kotchman, .189, and has been moved out of the starting lineup. Ronny Cedeno could put up the greatest numbers in the world and I wouldn’t regret trading him away. Like Carlos Silva and Yuni, Ronny Cedeno wasn’t going to work in Seattle. So, no I don’t think the Mariners lost this trade. Clement could suddenly get better, he definitely has the brightest future of all of these players, but it sure doesn’t look like this will happen.
Maybe no one won that trade. It’s easy to see where both front offices were coming from in making the move. So don’t think that this was a terrible move. Jack Z wasn’t Bill Bavasi bad in this move. He was just average, which is worse than usual with our GM. It’s nice to say that.
A few more notes concerning this after the jump. Continue reading
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
As Matthew looks ahead to next year in his series, I’m going to look back at the first quarter of the season. We’re a few games past the quarter point but this seems to be an appropriate time to look back on who has done what. We’ll start with the starting rotation because that’s the least depressing thing. Grades after the jump!
Well, that was frustrating. That game, and a sweep, would have been really nice to have but the crazy thing about baseball is that even the worst teams (and the Orioles are as bad it gets) still usually win about 60 games. As much as sabermetrics do work for baseball, the favorable matchup doesn’t always win. With that being said, I’m not sure the Mariners had the favorable match up today. Lets looks at a few matchups in this game:
- Ryan Rowland-Smith vs. Brad Bergesen. Let me start off by saying that Hyphen is a good guy. I like him and have yet to hear anyone write/say that they really disliked him. But, he just isn’t very good right now. I want him to succeed as much as anyone but he doesn’t look like a quality starter right now. Brad Bergesen on the other hand has turned his season around a little bit. He’s no Cliff or Felix, heck, he’s not even Doug or Vargas, but if given a choice between Hyphen and Bergesen I would chose Bergesen. This may not be the case in a couple months or years but it is right now.
The Mariners obviously rolled out a better defensive unit than the Orioles but lets look at thelineups hitting wise tonight. We’ll play our series preview game with tonights lineup (winners in bold):
- Catcher: O’s-Wieters. M’s- Moore. This really is a no contest. Moore looks awful right now, he might need to go back to Tacoma.
- 1st base: O’s- Atkins. M’s- Kotchman. Yes Kotchman is a better player but looking at this hitting wise, Atkins is a little better in my opinion. It’s close, but neither guy is really hitting right now.
- 2nd base: O’s- Wiggington. M’s- Figgins. Yes, I’d rather have Figgy on my team than Wiggington but Ty is hitting the ball. Chone really isn’t hitting the ball at all.
- SS: O’s- Izturis. M’s- Jo. Wilson. This is a sad contest but Wilson wins.
- 3rd base: O’s- Tejada. M’s- Tui. Tui is another guy who looks lost, right along with Adam Moore.
- LF: O’s- Patterson. M’s- Saunders. I don’t need to explain.
- CF: O’s- Jones. M’s- Langerhans. This one is closer than it should be. Langerhans is one of them most productive hitters on the team right now, which is sad, but I still think Jones strikes more fear in pitchers hearts.
- RF: O’s- Markakis. M’s- Ichiro. Ichiro seems to be on his usual May hot-streak. This is good.
- DH: O’s- Luke Scott. M’s- Lopez. Jose can’t hit right now. Scott’s average is lower but he’s shown a lot more power than Jose. Lopey was so close to a home run tonight but more on that later.
So, looking at the matchups hitting wise the O’s held a 6-3 advantage tonight. I know defense is an important part of the game and the Mariners run out a good defense usually but this just shows how inept this offense can be. The Mariners are better than the Orioles but tonight the matchup never really seemed to be in our favor. 4/9 of our starters were in Tacoma last week. Four of the other starters are hitting .214 or below. That leaves Ichiro and he can’t do everything himself. The lineup should be back to normal tomorrow, which still isn’t anything to be excited about but at least we’ll have a better matchup.
Goat/Hero and a few notes after the jump. Continue reading
I said I’d take the recap on this one, and then ended up not being able to watch most of it, so this recap will be short. As much as any game is in a 162 game season, this is the type of game that the Mariners need to win if they want to challenge for the playoffs. Facing an incredibly struggling team with an inexperienced and mediocre pitcher, a good team has to take advantage. Will they always? No, and if they hadn’t it wouldn’t have been the end of the season or anything. But with the chance to go above .500, a loss would have been more frustrating than a win is satisfying.
Not to say that this win isn’t satisfying. The offense, while not scoring a lot tonight, did enough and has a lot of guys locked in pretty well. I remember being told by a coach when I pitched that the most important inning you’ll throw is right after your offense has scored some runs. It’s the pitcher’s job to maintain the momentum to some degree. Tonight in the first, the Orioles couldn’t hold a one run lead, and the Mariners could. Vargas, from what I could tell, did everything you could want from him. The Orioles are a terrible team right now, but they have enough guys who could hurt you if you don’t execute your pitches. I’m anxious to see what Snell will do in his next start. He’s not showing more than Fister or Vargas right now, better stuff or not. Fister and Vargas will get hit more than they have when they face better teams, but they’ll minimize some damage through lack of walks. Right now, I’m not confident Snell can limit walks or hits. I’d love for him more than anyone to prove me wrong, though.
The offense is doing about what we hoped it would, with Ichiro and Figgins on base and a few guys hot behind them. I’m still not convinced that Kotchman will keep this up or ever hit lefties, but he looks excellent right now. Bradley swings harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s a little more contact away from a monster year. Hopefully he’s alright after leaving the game tonight. I haven’t heard yet what the injury was. Franklin is looking like a legitimate MVP candidate. Once Figgy starts getting a few more hits to go with his walks, they could really have something. The little hot streak from Wilson is nice too.
Hero, goat, and a few quick notes (after the jump): Continue reading
The thing about a 162 game season is that you can’t get too high or too low. Things started out bleak at 2-6 and everyone was freaking out. Then, the 4 game winning streak occurred and everyone was getting excited. Both of these reactions were justifiable and somewhat expected but maybe a little bit over done. The Mariners were not going to win the rest of their games and, while a sweep of the Tigers would have been nice, series wins are what this team needs to shoot for. They have achieved that the last two series and things look promising since we’re playing Baltimore next. All of that to say that today’s loss is not a big deal. It’s pretty close to what we should have expected really.
Ian Snell was decent today. Not bad, not good, but decent. He allowed quite a few hitters to reach base but escaped trouble most of the time. He made some really good pitches and showed the upside that people rave about. Unfortunately, he showed his downside to: too many walks, too many hard hit balls, and an inability to get lefties out. We can’t really make any conclusions on Snell because he was sick today and just returned from a death in the family. Although he struggled at times, Snell was one batter away from not giving up any runs today. That batter was Miguel Cabrera and there’s no shame in giving up a home run to him, he can really hit and proved it on that ball he launched into the upper deck. The next two weeks are big for Snell if he wants to stay in the rotation but today gave us both sides of Snell and that means we can’t decide anything today.
As for the hitting…. Well, the Mariners proved that they still have trouble with young right-handers that are talented. They hit some balls hard but couldn’t get anyone in. Casey Kotchman hits righties pretty hard and definitely did that today. There were some opportunities to score, the 8th inning was somewhat painful, but the same can be said for the Tigers offense. In truth, the Mariners probably should have lost by more today.
Our infield is really coming together. Jose Lopez looks better and better at third. He’s not Adrian Beltre but I think that he will have an above average UZR once the years done. Chone Figgins is really quick at second. The two double plays he turned on short hops today were very impressive. Kotchman had another diving play today and is showing why a defensive first baseman is a good thing to have.
The best part about this loss is that we didn’t lose any ground in the AL West. The schedule becomes pretty easy over the next few weeks while our rivals go up against some of the best teams in baseball. This was a good series win against a fairly good team.
A few more thoughts after the jump. Continue reading
Just a quick preview here, since these teams just played last week.
Monday Ryan Rowland Smith vs. Justin Duchscherer
Tuesday Doug Fister vs. Brett Anderson
Wednesday Jason Vargas vs. Gio Gonzalez
For those who missed the first series, Duchscherer is making his second start after missing all(?) of last year due to injury and depression, I believe (maybe it was anxiety). He’s a bit of a junk-baller, fastball in the high 80s, mixes his pitches well. He was a solid pitcher in 2008, but I’d say the jury’s still out on this year. Looked okay in his first start. Anderson was pretty dominant last week against the M’s and stands to become one of the better pitchers in the league in short order. Still he’s in his second season, so we’ll hope to benefit from some early season inconsistency. If he’s on, he’s tough to beat.
Gio Gonzalez is the new guy, a young lefty who gave up a couple of runs in six innings in his first start this year. Spotty command, decent stuff, especially a curveball that gets him a lot of ground balls. He had mediocre results in about 100 innings last year, but he’s been a top prospect for while.
It’s looking like a gray, rainy week in Safeco. Hopefully a return home will be good for the Mariners. I’d honestly be surprised if they don’t win this series. The bats are in a terrible slump, and Oakland is pretty dependent on its pitching. Things should start to even out soon. It’s the bottom of the order throwing for the Mariners, but outside of Felix, I don’t think there’s much difference between the other four pitchers right now. Snell has left the team for family reasons, by the way. No other info currently available, but Wak said he doesn’t expect him to miss a start, so it shouldn’t have much effect.
Enjoy the games! Hope to see you at Safeco.