September 2013

Special Lane Kiffin fallout edition!
Posted by Spectator on 09/30/13
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  1. Lane Kiffin is Undefeated! Three head coaching jobs ... three acrimonious departures! Losing conference games by 10-7 and then 62-41 at least provided some variety. The USC brass didn't pull him off the field in the third quarter, but they did pull him off the team bus after the game in order to hand him the pink slip.   2. Sarkisian Intrigue Early USC speculation focused on former NFL coach Jack Del Rio, but with UW Coach Steve Sarkisian right behind.  Would the Trojans pursue Sarkisian?  Would he jilt the Huskies to go there? From my vantage point, I would guess he'd stay put.  He hasn... Read More
Piling on might be justified, but also might be missing the point
Posted by Spectator on 09/30/13
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  Yes, it's true that Eric Wedge ripped a big chunk of the lid off of the Pandora's Box within which lies the realm of the Mariners brass. And, combined with the timing of Geoff Baker leaving the Mariners beat, and the end of another frustrating season, among other things, all manner of passion was unleashed. Not a bad thing. But hold the phone just a minute. Though there's nothing wrong with a little "Front Office = Bad; Those fighting Front Office = Good" it seems like maybe a little perspective is lost. There are many issues, of course, with respect to the state of the organization, but it... Read More
John Lennon "Gimme Some Truth," Dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/29/13
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. Jon Speelman is a fairly notable English chess grandmaster and a fairly notable Ph.D. mathemetician.  He won the English championship two or three times, played in the Olympiad for England, on 3rd or 4th board, I think.    At his peak, around 1987-1992, he was ranked about 15th in the world.  He was a very fine player, but of course no threat to win the world champion's wreath.  Jon Speelman has been to chess what U.S. soccer has been to the World Cup.  Just good enough to (sometimes) draw a nodding respect from the Big Boys. Around 1988, Speelman qualified for the championship knockout... Read More
The dam breaks
Posted by jemanji on 09/29/13
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. SSI readers have pointed out, with mild alarm, that the dam is breaking on the Mariners at every point simultaneously: Geoff Baker has tactfully, but ominously, warned us of the problems for 2-3 years Geoff Baker has stopped being tactful, the last 1 month Larry Stone has said "ah, fuggedaboudit" and jumped in with Baker Jerry Brewer now has a hit piece out on Zduriencik etc Why is this happening? Dr. D's analysis, in this specific case, isn't biased.  I stopped being emotionally affected by Lincoln and Armstrong about 2005 or so.  Geoff Baker learned within his first 30 days on the job... Read More
Sour Grapes Award
Posted by jemanji on 09/28/13
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Daddy-O sez, ................. It's not just Geoff Baker who's maligning the M's these days. Larry Stone has become equally as strident over the past couple of months. His description of how the M's managerial post must look to prospective candidates, while not doubt one-sided and lacking nuance, does indeed capture the essence of the situation IMO. http://seattletimes.com/html/larrystone/2021915380_stone28xml.html#sthas... - See more at: http://seattlesportsinsider.com/article/eric-wedge-true-professional#com... ................. Very true, Daddy-O.  The beat writers are being alienated as... Read More
Food for thought ...
Posted by Spectator on 09/28/13
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  After finding our obscure leaderboard on baseball-reference.com (prior post), we discovered that: Ackley is among the very highest in baseball in strike-three-called (42%). He is also among the very highest in "selectiveness" -- he only swings at 39% of pitches.  That puts him in the same general category as Mike Trout (37%), Joe Mauer (37%), Marco Scutaro (38%). He is also very high in avoiding swing-and-miss (85% contact when swining). So ... Query: can a guy succeed by being so hyper-selective that he ends up looking at strike-three really often? Well, we don't have to look too far,... Read More
Not sure why they make it so hard, but ...
Posted by Spectator on 09/28/13
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  Our pal Wishhiker noticed that no less than 42% of Dustin Ackley's strikeouts were "looking" at called strike three.  He wondered how that stacked up to other hitters in the majors. Not surprisingly, he had a hard time finding those kind of stats, because, for some reason, baseball-reference.com makes them rather hard to find.  But here's how. A the top of this post you see a screenshot from the b-ref homepage.  In the grey bar, you'll see the sixth tab over is called "leaders."  If you hover over that, you'll get a drop-down box that looks like this:   Since we're looking for a hitting... Read More
Destined, like Bob Melvin, to laugh his head off at his next stop?
Posted by jemanji on 09/27/13
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. It Was Time In 2013, Eric Wedge's bosses have had him on a wait-and-see type of probation.  The same thing was true of Jack Zduriencik. Zduriencik's one-year extension is nominal, a contract worth little more than that of a ML-minimum rookie, a contract that the club can and will write off at any time.  Zduriencik is still on probation, and under those circumstances he chose to go another year.  Zduriencik has the luxury of not caring whether players like him. Wedge was also offered a 1-year deal going into 2013.  He judged that such a situation would cut him off at the knees with his... Read More
Player-pairs, Dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/27/13
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. Justin, an old homie from the 1995-1997 STATS AOL board days, says that he ran into a Mariner scout who was checking out Curtis Granderson. Justin's always had a near-supernatural feel for guessing what MLB orgs are going to do.  On this one he not only liked the vibe he got from the scout, but also pointed out that Granderson is a "good actor," well-spoken and intelligent ... not only somebody you don't have to worry about appearing on the police blotter, but also a player whose postgame interviews the Mariners would be proud of.  Dr. D agrees that Granderson is precisely the kind of free... Read More
No-Brainer, Dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/27/13
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. Keep the Pitchers Does Dr. D like the look of this plan?  Sure.  We all want to keep the prospects.  If you can upgrade the offense by enough this way -- free agency, or lesser trades, or evolution of the kids -- that's the preferred macro strategy with me. What's good about the Granderson Plan, and all of its variations, such as the Choo plan, the Pence plan, and so forth?  Everything that we lined up in the previous article.  Granderson and Choo are better players than Nick Swisher is, and Pence may be as good. There's a simple and obvious reason to go for Choo or Granderson instead of... Read More
We worked hard. But we overlooked something.
Posted by jemanji on 09/27/13
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. Swisher Baseline We started all this by saying, If you liked 7/$105MM for Nick Swisher, you'll love any deal this winter for Curtis Granderson. SSI didn't like even 4/$56MM for Swisher, and it liked 7/$105MM even less.  So if Dr. D thought the very first premise was totally false, what is it going to think about this whole conclusion? . WAR Paradigm In this article, Fangraphs came very close to an epiphany about WAR heroes who aren't great hitters.  (They don't sustain their WAR heroism.) Per WAR, Curtis Granderson looks great:  He plays CF, which is a 1.0 to 2.0 WAR "position bonus" ... +... Read More
In which Dr. D finally commits himself
Posted by jemanji on 09/27/13
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. Who Is Curtis Granderson?  How do you sift through these piles of variables and pick out the right ones?   I mean, everybody loves him, right?  Not Ron Shandler.  Before 2013 -- that is, when Granderson was a hot property -- Shandler issued a red flag on Granderson. ......... "Another 40 homers, but he's at a crossroads now.  Consistent contact% erosion has put him in hacker territory.   2011 BABIP looks like an outlier, and even a .250 AVG won't come easy.   Power is elite, but friendly park padded his HR totals.   Stolen bases are more a product of green light than skill.  Don't overpay... Read More
Here's a little scorecard for the record
Posted by Spectator on 09/27/13
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  Doc says I should be less understated. So I go out and predict that James Paxton will be too inconsistent in the majors and Danny Hultzen will be a better option. Maybe understated is good! But I'm going to start rolling out a bunch of my analytical stuff here on SSI for the first time (it was on MarinersTalk.com last offsesaon), so I at least ought to justify myself a little bit. So here's a little scorecard for you.   ***   1.  We directed your attention to one Danny Farquhar as a bullpen darkhorse candidate in January.  He did OK.  His xFIP was lower than Felix.    2.  We told you that,... Read More
Hey Bill
Posted by jemanji on 09/25/13
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. Originally published August 28th. On Geoff Baker's blog, he is rebuffing the Blog-O-Sphere's accusation that Zduriencik "abandoned defense in a panic move." I haven't been keeping up on it, but if the blogs are *still* demanding that their 2009 approach be vindicated, this SSI article would be my own comment.  I'm taking Geoffy's side of this one, and not through loyalty.  Below, Bill James gives his 30,000-foot view as to whether Zduriencik's field-full-of-DH's was a panic move:  "When things aren't working, it is natural and good to consider ADMITTING that things aren't working.  That's... Read More
Mechanics 100% A-OK. Only issue left is Brain Targeting and Aim
Posted by jemanji on 09/24/13
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. We're runnin' a little bit low tonight.  We'll just give you the last page of the file, if that's OK with you.  This isn't comprehensive; it's just a sample, to give you a feel for what we've looked at on tape. Here is the Kansas City highlight video.  We went through the full game on DVR, as we did the other games. Here is the Brooks game log, Paxton vs. KC ... 95.5 MPH fastball, 9-for-13 curves for strikes, an 88 MPH changeup was weak ... he rolled out a slider, thrown like a cutter, but broke so hard you could call it a slider.  8 thrown, 8 for strikes. . At the Top Here is K-Pax in his... Read More
Stupid is as stupid does, Dept. :- )
Posted by jemanji on 09/24/13
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. It ain't that complicated. Paxton has David Price-, Clayton Kershaw-level talent Though his stats look dubious, he is CLOSER TO JELLING THAN YOU THINK Zunino, Willis, and the MLB environment will certainly (100%) help him manage his meltdowns in ways AAA did not Even if he doesn't jell, 4 BB per game is still fine for guys like him That's my grok.  I could be wrong.
Shooting fish in a barrel, Dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/24/13
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. As a chessplayer, I think in terms of sorting through important features of a chess position to find the most important features, the ones that decide the game. It's not a black-and-white process.  There is more than one reasonable way to view any given position.  Who was going to cover the spread in last Sunday's Jaguar's game?  It was reasonable to see the "Post-49er Letdown" factor as the most important.  It was also reasonable to see the crowd as the most important.  Or was it the Seahawk defense vs. a struggling Jaguars offense, the "No First Down All Game" factor?   That's the kind of... Read More
Spectator's arguments weigh heavily
Posted by jemanji on 09/24/13
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. Part I of Spectator's anti-Paxton rant here.*  Part I links yer to Part II. *HEH!   Excellent articles Jim.  And this is, no exaggeration, a much better site when in "Think Tank" mode, having people take opposing sides of a question.  You took the wrong side of this in a very skilled way. :- )  ... no, seriously, it's blinkin' seldom we reply to a post in a "Roundtable" tit-for-tat way.  Only when the argument on the other side is very persuasive. . Q.  For every 1 Randy Johnson, there are dozens of Scott Kazmirs. A.  I'll see you and raise.  For every 1 Randy Johnson, there are 17,000... Read More
It's Heis-mania!
Posted by Spectator on 09/24/13
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  Instead of where they rank now, this is a projection of where it looks like things might end up.   1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon I think there will be a fair amount of sentiment to deny a second Heisman to Manziel.  Or, maybe more accurately, folks will be happy to find an excuse not to vote for him. The quarterback of an undefeated team with the nation's top offense would be enough of an excuse.  Averaging 17.5 yards per carry rushing, plus 70% completion percentage, won't hurt. So if Mariota can lead the Ducks through the Pac-12 unscathed and keep up the dazzling stats, then he has a very... Read More
Where things are, prospect-wise ... now!
Posted by Spectator on 09/23/13
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  blissedj, in a Shout that was not at all surly or damanding despite the illustration, asks for an update on where things stand among Mariner prospects.  Of course, I assume he's not under artillery fire. I will say that I intended, both years, to do a mid-season re-rack, but the daily recaps make it hard to do justice to that type of project.  So the downside of that is Mike Zunino in the majors for two months, but still listed as the #1 prospect.  Annoying, yes, but I hope there are more important things to worry about in the world than that. Anyway, bliss, we will be rolling out all kinds... Read More
But, as Yoda says, " ... there is another ..."
Posted by Spectator on 09/21/13
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    I put down my "marker" in the Shout Box while James Paxton was just throwing his first few pitches Thursday afternoon, so that I would be "on the record" no matter how he pitched. It turned out he was not dominant, though not horrible: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 95 pitches. And that's pretty much in line with my premise as was working on this article: I don't think that Paxton has solved the issues that resulted in a mediocre AAA season, despite his impressive results in his first two MLB games. As it happens, I had also said the same thing in a comment, in which I stated that I would... Read More
And create a new category: The "Stuff" Tease ... including Morrow, Lincecum, Bedard, Bauer ... and Paxton?
Posted by Spectator on 09/21/13
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  Continuing the discussion of James Paxton and pitchers with high pitch counts ...   Now let's take a step back.  What's the difference between a 15-pitch/inning pitcher and an18-pitch/inning pitcher? When you do the math, it's the difference between a 200-inning frontline guy and a 150-inning back-of-the-rotation guy. You'll notice that the very best pitchers keep close to or under 16 pitches per inning, by limiting their pitches under 4 per batter and limiting their batters to not much over 4 per inning. Clearly, BF/IP is just a way of restating WHIP (walks + hits / IP ).  Except for a few... Read More
Let's not Photoshop anyone out of the group picture, please
Posted by Spectator on 09/21/13
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  In my mind, the 22 most important pitches of the minor-league season came on September 1 in Tacoma. They were thrown by Danny Hultzen and 16 of them were strikes. At the end of two innings, Hultzen had retired six of six batters, three of them by strikeout. Why did it matter? Because it was Hultzen's first time on the mound after his mechanics were re-worked.  Hultzen had dealt with two injuries in the course of the season, and the team decided to make some adjustments so as to reduce the chance of it happening again. The issue was whether Hultzen would come back with the same effectiveness... Read More
Buzz, dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/20/13
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. Most scouts and coaches that we talk to, back-channel, are surprisingly friendly and accepting of SSI's shtick.  This despite the fact that Dr. D is not as habitually tactful as baseball people have to be, in order to work together in such close quarters for such long hours. They're friendly and accepting in part because they tend to be naturally gracious people, in part because they are hip to SSI's tongue-in-cheek angle, and in part because they're not put off by receiving information in addition to giving it. Contrast this with the way we 'net rats treat each other ... :- ) Most baseball... Read More
Dr. D overestimating the M's resources again
Posted by jemanji on 09/19/13
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  Q.  Miguel Cabrera 2007.  Was he traded to Detroit for four Taijuan - Paxton - Zunino - Miller level assets? A.  I would definitely agree that Miguel Cabrera 2007 would be a great comp for Stanton currently.  I would clearly want Cabrera, coming off two .430 and .401 OBP seasons, and playing the infield.   But that's a trade package that should be included in the discussion, if we're trying to get our bearings on what Stanton might cost.  Really, you would need about 20 such packages, all since 2000 or so. . Q.  Is anybody going to search for the LOWER bounds of what a Stanton might cost? A... Read More
More drama than your daily soaps ...
Posted by Spectator on 09/19/13
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  1. Alabama 49, Texas A & Manziel 42 Does Nick Saban own college football like it's a family-reunion game of touch being played in his backyard? Pretty much. Let's see: passion, money, athletes, much-googled girlfriends?  The Tide's got it all. One thing they didn't have was a victory over Johnny Football.  Now they've got that too. Next checkpoint on the road to the three-peat? Nov. 9 vs. LSU.   2. Duck Dynasty New Coach Mark Helfrich and offensive coordinator Scott Frost proved that the Ducks can do their thing against an SEC school (Oregon 59, Tennessee 14), but it wasn't one of the... Read More
A computer that translates data to ENGLISH for ITSELF
Posted by jemanji on 09/17/13
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. Q.  In English, Doc.  What is the Level 101 Scan on James Paxton? A.  "There is a Good Paxton and a Bad Paxton.  We'll probably get the Good Paxton about two years from now." . Q.  What does the Level 101 Scan have to say about when we could get Good Paxton, or what that would require, or what we should watch for? A. ... "There is a Good Paxton and a Bad Paxton.  We'll probably get the Good Paxton about two years from now." . Q.  Is there a Level 201 Scan available anywhere on the innerwebs? A.  Speaking.  :: taps microphone ::  Ahem. . Q.  Is this SSI Level 201 Scan destined to predict... Read More
Paxton makes the "Two Great Starts" cut
Posted by jemanji on 09/17/13
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. Q.  Just the fa'ax, ma'am.  What happened against the Cardinals? A.  Paxton came out daring them to hit letter-high fastballs.  They couldn't get a sniff. In fact, in the first inning with 2 out, nobody on, and Matt Holliday digging in, Paxton worked the count to 1 ball, 2 strikes ... and fired a 97 MPH fastball right down the middle.  Holliday just barely foul-tipped it back, and Blowers laughed.  "James is showing some attitude here.  Triple-deck stadium, NL East leaders, and he's coming right at them." Paxton destroyed Holliday with a called yakker on the next pitch, blew down Beltran... Read More
Kerry Wood, Dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/17/13
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. Q.  What could it possibly mean that "a player has nothing left to learn in AAA"? A.  Well, it's certainly possible this doesn't apply to Paxton.  And may not apply to Brandon Maurer. But it absolutely has applied to some people in the past.  Jeff Clement had one fatal flaw:  breaking pitches on the inner 1/3.  Major league pitchers based their attacks around this hole and tormented him mercilessly.  Why didn't AAA pitchers do so?  They're not capable. You can send Clement down to AAA for ten years, and he can slug .700 for ten years, and it won't help him deal with the MLB(TM) book on him... Read More
4.5 walks a game, 15 wins and 3 losses
Posted by jemanji on 09/17/13
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. Paxton's changeup was his second-best pitch against the Cardinals, actually a very intriguing weapon.  He throws it "dead fish," like Jamie Moyer, and it has a natural shape to hit the low-away corner. Dr. D has scoffed at the idea of Paxton throwing a changeup.  Also, in Paxton's first two games, his curve has been quite disappointing.  Not for potential, but in terms of actual game impact. But Paxton's change is already a weapon that ML hitters have to account for.  That's important!  And it means that James Paxton becomes a natural comp to Matt Moore of the Rays, whose changeup is also a... Read More
Cliche or Mantra?
Posted by jemanji on 09/17/13
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. Q.  What do scouts mean, when they say "He's got to learn to trust his stuff"? A.  Non-players like you and I need to be very, very careful to NOT just LAZILY assume that these are meaningless cliches.  Usually, in the chaos of battle, The Big Insight That Jumps You A Plateau is something very simple. Kyle Seager explained why he's so good with runners in scoring position.  He tries to do less.  He just tries to zing a line drive to the off field.  Contrast Justin Smoak. Point is:  the Key Adjustment is something simple.  In golf, swing keys are defined in two or three words.  How much can... Read More
And it cost them, huge
Posted by jemanji on 09/16/13
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. Here is the BJOL table for defensive runs gained and lost in 2013, by team.  Check out those outfield totals! At BJOL, John Dewan gave us a nice bright baseball light bulb, and the warm glow of this one --- > goes a long way toward clearing up why the Mariners' numbers might have been so out of proportion. . Play 'Em Back or Play 'Em Deep? Baseball Information Solutions (BIS) now tracks the direction that an outfielder takes to a fly ball, like this: ed ugly to have a few balls drop in front, but hey.  Pete Carroll doesn't mind a few 6-yard slants in front of him. There might be a... Read More
Morons like Dr. D can be annoying to rally against
Posted by jemanji on 09/13/13
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. Gordon takes the other side on the Maurer, RP question in this interesting article.  We'll try to mosh off his insights, which depends on our ability to understand his insights correctly.  :- ) . GORDON SEZ (we think):  Applying Hochevar's storyline to Brandon Maurer is dubious.  Hochevar downloaded a ton of information over the course of his 5+ years in the bigs, and in the bullpen he was finally able to laser-focus this information into something coherent.  Maurer does not have this download to laser-focus in the first place. DR. D GROKS:  I hadn't thought of that. This logic would hold... Read More
Zduriencik charged with cowardice?
Posted by jemanji on 09/13/13
9 Comments

. Q.  Wow.  Lot of excitement today over the fate of a manager who is 207 and 263 with the M's! A.  This article warns us that if Eric Wedge is dismissed, it will represent an act of extreme cowardice on Jack Zduriencik's part -- and one that will hurt the franchise.  It also scoffs at the (presumed) trigger for this decision -- getting pole-axed by the Houston Astros. This article is no small hit piece.  If you're going to put an op-ed like that up, you should be ready to own it, no?  If you're going to call into question a man's integrity, without knowing much about him, let's at least get... Read More
The Carmine Fusco melodrama
Posted by jemanji on 09/13/13
1 Comments

. Q.  Do the Mariners have a track record of scapegoating? A.  All big organizations "assign responsibility" for train wrecks.  I'd say the Mariners are classier about it, more restrained about it, than most of the org's I ever worked for. Like we say, multinational corporations look a lot different from the outside than the inside.  It's a bit, um, naive to notice a little set of firings by these execs and have an "Aha!," moment, announce that we are seeing something sinister. That said, this USSM article raises interesting exhibits.  If anybody cares, I'll give my cornball boots-on-the-... Read More
Hire right, first time, every time?
Posted by jemanji on 09/13/13
42 Comments

. Q.  Is it disturbing that a General Manager would later fire people that he hand-picked?  Does rapid (?) turnover equal hiring incompetence? A.  The best 3rd-level Director I ever worked for, changed half his 1st-level managers every quarter. Maybe not half.  But trust me, you never knew who was going to be your 2nd- or 1st-level manager three months from then. . Q.  How does that not imply "hiring incompetence"? A.  How does Pete Carroll releasing Michael Robinson not imply incompetence? Have you ever observed President Obama making changes in his administration?  You ride a manager while... Read More
Any playoff games anywhere in their future?
Posted by jemanji on 09/13/13
2 Comments

  . Q.  Again:  what's the effect on Zduriencik? A.  Geoff Baker laid all this out very well, a month ago, what the year extension means.  It means very little.  They'll write it off, if and when they feel like it, but they don't want the organization feeling unstable. The ownership committee is evidently going to evaluate Zduriencik this winter.   . Q.  Maybe Chris Larson and Howard Lincoln haven't noticed that Zduriencik would be on his third manager? A.  They're smart guys.  They absolutely will not be fooled into thinking, "Hey, maybe this was Wedge's fault."  Nope.  If there was one... Read More
Incoming freshman vs. struggling grad student
Posted by Gordon Gross on 09/13/13
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Luke Hochevar turns 30 years old this week. Brandon Maurer started the season at 22.  I'm not sure that Maurer's problems are completely comparable to Hochevar's, as they are in completely different stages of their pro careers.  Maurer just matriculated through the door and had a rough freshman year in his new digs.  Hochevar got 5 years in the Royals' rotation (a whole college experience plus some grad school) before he was kicked out to find success in the pen.   Is it getting bullpenned that helps the starters go to relieving?  Or is it the ability to finally consolidate what their... Read More
BJOL on SP to RP conversions
Posted by jemanji on 09/12/13
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. Fascinating take this morning by The Founding Father.  Subscriptions are $3 per month at this link. Before we even start, here, recall to mind if you will that Luke Hochevar IS Brandon Maurer: 92-95 fastball Four pitches... ... his favorite is the 86 MPH slider 6'5", 220 Drop-and-drive motion ... finishes too high ... dubious command Watch this video and you'll think you're watching Maurer, in terms of the pitching motion. This doesn't mean that Maurer is doomed to be Hochevar, or isn't.  There are 100 guys like this who did bad and 100 guys who did good.  But this year, Hochevar has been a... Read More
When do we swap out Blake Beavan for James Paxton?
Posted by jemanji on 09/11/13
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. Reprinted from May 24, 2013. . At BJOL two weeks ago, James published a fun-and-fascinating discovery about baseball.  It was the kind of discovery that could easily be one of a franchise's Ten Core Values -- you know, sign on the wall, We Believe In ... college pitchers, position scarcity ... yada yada ... This One.   And yet, it was just buried in the letters column.  Another day, another bedrock insight about baseball.  And it goes exactly to the issue that Gordon brought up in his last series. . Just the Fa'ax, Ma'am We'll publish the letter below our sigline ... right now we'll give... Read More
Human bias and quick processing
Posted by jemanji on 09/11/13
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. Also reprinted from May 24th. . As human beings, it is part of our nature to overreact to early returns. This is part of what allows us to function in a complex world, without going into computer-crash mode.  A man in an expensive suit steps up to a revolving door at the same time we do, and we show him deference; a man looking like a transient does the same thing, and we step in front.  It's not scientific, but it's human, and there are benefits to this type of processing. What player-development types need to do is to (1) grok the below light bulb, (2) avoid using it as an ABSOLUTE, and (... Read More
Fastball, Curve, Slider ... take yer pick
Posted by jemanji on 09/11/13
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. Nobody will confuse the Astros' hitters with anything poisonous, but still.  Brandon Maurer came out and blew away the Astros' 1-2 hitters with a fearsome array of plasma fire: . . Boom, Boom, Boom went the crackle of electric fire; Maurer had to chew a rubber mouthpiece to keep from biting his tongue off on the feedback.  Not to mix our metaphors any further, the first three pitches were Mid-90's fastball on the black, 0-1 89 MPH slider breaking off the plate, 1-1 77 overhand curve away, 1-2 And the curve was a t'ing o' beautee.  Excellent arm action, sharp late break, froze Villar... Read More
Seldom has so little been done with so much, and so often
Posted by jemanji on 09/11/13
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. Q.  After blowing away the first three guys, Maurer then gave up SEVEN hits the next TWO innings?  HOW?!? A.  Like Danny Farquhar does.  He follows two Cy Young pitches with one absolutely brainless pitch.   Dr. D knows you don't believe him, so he'll specify the feeblemindedness on the first two hits.  After that you can return to taking his word for it...  here is the first hit that Maurer gave up, a double that Matt Dominguez crushed off the CF wall.  This ball left a vapor trail about 30 inches in length, reaching the wall long before Michael Saunders could get anywhere near the warning... Read More
Pitching for his life, it didn't go so good. But......
Posted by jemanji on 09/11/13
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. Q.  What will Ron Shandler's Forecaster say next year? A.  That Maurer's BPV (Base Performance Value) were poor, based on gopheritis ... that the BPV improved decently in the 2nd half, which was mostly in relief ... that DOM (strikeouts) showed "seeds of something interesting" but that it could be a long way off. Ron's system is based on trends across years.  There isn't much to go on with Maurer; he deserved to get hit, and did get hit. . Q.  What did Mike Blowers and Jay Buhner say, on TV? A.  After the first two hitters, Mike was speaking charitably about Maurer being in the pen, that... Read More
Hot young coaches cool off quickly ...
Posted by Spectator on 09/11/13
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  1. Lane Kiffin Why did I always have the sneaking suspicion that Kiffin was another Mike Shula or David Shula or [sorry to bring up the name, Washington and UCLA fans] Rick Neuheisel. As in: the "hot coach" who's more sizzle than steak. Isn't USC supposed to roll out NFL bodies up and down the field?  Isn't Marqise Lee one of the top talents in the land? 54 yards passing? Longest pass play: 8 yards? Give credit to the Washington State defense, but ... wow ... [Cougars won, 10-7, by the way, in LA.]   2. Hurricane Warning? Are those orange-clad Miamians back in your face? Or are the Will... Read More
Does it take eight years?
Posted by Spectator on 09/10/13
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  The Kansas City Royals are finally good after many years of being bad. Same with the Pittsburgh Pirates. How'd they do it? Spoiler Alert:  With a few exceptions, they built their teams in the 2004-2009 drafts. And they are finally good ... now.  In 2013. And there are lots of win totals that start with "6" or "7" in between (and a few that start with "5" -- ugh).     Royals Pirates 2004 58-104 72-89 2005 56-106 67-95 2006 62-100 67-95 2007 69-93 68-94 2008 75-87 67-95 2009 65-97 62-99 2010 67-95 57-105 2011 71-91 72-90 2012 72-90 79-83   Let's start with KC, and look at their top 10... Read More
So that would set Seattle up for ... 2016?
Posted by Spectator on 09/10/13
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  We got several things in common here:   Both teams used a strong player who was of no immediate use to re-stock. Pittsburgh got three players from Atlanta for Nate McLouth.  Two of them are still role players for the Pirates (Locke and Morton) and the third (Gorkys Hernandez) was flipped to Miami for valuable Gaby Sanchez. KC got four players from Milwaukee for Zach Grienke (and Yuniesky Betencourt).  Two of them are now key Royals (Cain and Escobar), and a third (Jake Odorizzi) was part of the deal that netted James Shields and Wade Davis. Seattle did the same with J.J. Putz, and, although... Read More
Yes, maybe it does take eight years
Posted by Spectator on 09/10/13
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  Continuing our look at the Kansas City and Pittsburgh building processes. Here's the top 10 Pirate hitters by wOBA (minimum 200 PAs). Draft picks identified by round, and then overall (so "1-3" means 1st round, 3rd overall pick).     Hitter wOBA How acquired 1 Andrew McCutchen .395 2005 draft 1-11 2 Starling Marte .344 IFA 2007 3 Gaby Sanchez .335 via Nate McLouth (2000 25-749) 4 Neil Walker .329 2004 draft 1-11 5 Pedro Alvarez .328 2008 draft 1-2 6 Jose Tabata .327 roundabout via Ricardo Rincon (IFA) 7 Russell Martin .327  MLB free agent (2 yr/$17M) 8 Jordy Mercer .312 2008 draft 3-79 9... Read More
Fastball velo would be #1 in MLB
Posted by jemanji on 09/07/13
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. Q.  How haaaaaard does this guy THROW? A.  To open the game, he leaned back, whipped the arm through, and -- 94 MPH.  The rock and fire was as easy as soppin' country gravy with a buttermilk biscuit.   One pitch in ... Dr. D is thinkin' ... that delivery, that inertia on the ball, we been hearing 92-95 MPH and we been hearing wrong. Paxton's first two pitches were 94 MPH. Then he threw two fastballs at 95 MPH. The three fastballs after that were 96 MPH. The next two fastballs after that were 97 MPH, and the inning was over.  Dr. D never noticed a Ray load up on a pitch again.  (Longoria's... Read More
Curve was spotty, change was a tragedy
Posted by jemanji on 09/07/13
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Q.  And the Rays are (with the Red Sox) the best anti-LHP lineup in baseball.  What could bad about 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K?   A.  Even with it being the Rays -- Longoria, Myers, etc -- Paxton should be getting more than 3 K's and more than 8 swings and misses. The reason is, he is pitching with pretty much just his fastball.  That's got to be why in AAA he had "only" 130 K in 150 innings, or whatever it was.  Just like with the young Randy Johnson -- people basically just focus on his fastball.  That fastball is sooooo good that he's still an average pitcher, walking people and giving up... Read More
Could easily be one of those 3,000 inning types
Posted by jemanji on 09/07/13
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. Q.  Again ... how could he run a 4.45 ERA in the PCL? A.  How could Randy Johnson go 7-9, 4.40 at age 25?  With a 104/70 control ratio?  Or how could these young lefty flamethrowers have high ERA's? Mark Mulder - 9-10, 5.44 as a rookie, 88/69 strikeout to walk (control) ratio in 154 IP Jon Lester - 4.76 ERA as rook, 60:43 CTL ...  4.57 ERA, 50:31 CTL the next year Gio Gonzalez - 7.68 ERA and 5.75 ERA his first two years Clayton Kershaw - 4.26 ERA with a 100/52 CTL Sandy Koufax - horrible for 3-5 years etc etc etc  . Q.  But that's in the bigs.  Paxton had a 4.45 ERA in the minors. A.  Any... Read More
The sports theme of COHERENCY
Posted by jemanji on 09/07/13
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. Q.  "Coherency" being another self-indulgent SSI thematic birdwalk? A.  If Marshawn Lynch runs the ball effectively, it will be easier for Russell Wilson to complete passes, right? It would take all day to explain exactly why, but it's about the COORDINATION of two attack units, and that's one that we all understand instinctively.  You run to set up the pass. In chess, the Queen and Knight coordinate together very well; nobody's quite sure why.  In the diagram position, ...K-f8 meets with Q-f7 mate, or if K-h8, then Q-g8 check, ... Rook takes, N-f7 smothered mate. ......... In baseball,... Read More
Induction and Deduction, dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/07/13
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  Q.  Mojo axed about the Pitcher Family. A.  Bill James actually called a family here, the "Blow 'Em Away Lefties," led by Randy Johnson and Lefty Grove.  James was dividing up the 100 best pitchers of all time into templates. Steve Carlton was in this family ... you don't have to hit 100.2 MPH to be a lefty who leads the league in strikeouts.  Mark Langston was in this group, though not at the head of it, of course. What general lessons were there to be learned from this template?  I forget what Bill said, but ... Unit, Sandy Koufax, a bunch of these guys were physically awkward.  Fielding... Read More
How scarcity affects value
Posted by Gordon Gross on 09/06/13
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Dave Cameron put up a nice post on the Big Blog about how Morales is not a big bat.  He is a good hitter, not a great one, and not one of the best 60 hitters in the league by wRC+, and thus paying him the $14 million qualifying offer is silly; he simply won't earn that on the market so even offering it is guaranteeing we'll have to overpay him because he'll snap that cash right up. For fun, go through everybody on the wRC+ list who's better than him and cross off all the unavailable guys. Here's a snapshot of who's available: #10 - Choo:  Yay!  Think we can sign him to that 9 figure contract... Read More
Pulaski wins the pennant! ... and everyone else bows out quietly
Posted by Spectator on 09/06/13
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  And just like that ... minor league action is over for 2013. But not without one league championship.   Appalachian League Championship Series Pulaski 6, Greeneville 5 -- Box -- Pulaski Wins Series --   Edwin Diaz (Talk40 #36) didn't quite have it (though only one of his five runs allowed was earned) but the Mariners of Pulaski fought on to win the Appalachian League title anyway. Diaz left after facing two batters in the 3rd and with Pulaski down, 4-0.  It would soon be 5-0 as Gabe Saquilon (Watch List) allowed one of the inherited runners to score. But Pulaski came marching back, and... Read More
Trade Taijuan as you would trade a min-wage Felix
Posted by jemanji on 09/05/13
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. The dice don't know what number they rolled last.  If you've rolled 12 a lot of times lately, you don't bet against 12 on the next throw. And if/when we deal Nick Franklin, we're dealing in futures.  Roughly speaking, if you figure 30% chance - budding Pedroia-level infielder 50% chance - solid ML regular 20% chance - fizzle Jesus Montero had the same "futures" projection, and if 9,000 guys in a row were to hit their 20% chance, it wouldn't change what you had to do with the next lotto ticket. Great story about a poker rookie who walked up to a legendary superstar and moaned about how he'd... Read More
Everett eliminated ... but Pulaski on the verge ... Clinton falls in the 10th ... etc.
Posted by Spectator on 09/05/13
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  First, news:  Fans of the Mariners young pitching can go on a three-day festival of young arms in a few days.  Sort of a pitching-prospect-palooza, except that adding "-palooza" to anything is pretty cliche nowadays. Anyway ... here goes: Saturday: James Paxton (Talk40 #3) makes his MLB debut vs. Tampa Bay Sunday: Erasmo Ramirez, who's actually over a year younger than Pax, will make his 18th career start vs. Tampa Bay Monday: Taijuan Walker (Talk40 #2) makes his third start and Safeco Field debut vs. Houston Now ... playoffs!   Midwest Leauge Playoffs -- Beloit 9, Clinton 6 [10 innings... Read More
Tellin' it like it is, Dept.
Posted by jemanji on 09/04/13
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. GameFlow, in which SSI attempts to  Describe the action, virtual-field-level, as accurately as possible Place it into context (what may be in the pitcher's head vs what may be in the batters' heads) Triangulate the near-term future based on what doesn't happen during the game On the other hand, SSI may be attempting to pad its URL archive and PageRank for 2013. . Pregame Show Talking Point 1 - the Arsenal Taijuan had locked down Houston (?!) with a Danny Haren salvo of hard cut fastballs.  These cutters produced a blizzard of dinks, doinks and bloinks and caused his other 3 pitches to "play... Read More
Innings 1-2, a glimmer of Pedro Nasty
Posted by jemanji on 09/04/13
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. Inning 1 Taijuan wasn't interested in steering anything ... except, perhaps, a wood chipper over Alex Gordon's prone carcass.  The sequence: 94 MPH right down the heart, Poached Strike 1 to open the game (I got yer 'courtesy strike' right here, pal) 95 heater overthrown, 1-1 91 slider comes back and catches the black, Taijuan ahead 1-2 97 MPH JAM PITCH, KNEE HIGH INSIDE BLACK seeya wouldn wanna beya Giving a glimpse of the sort of scorched-earth Kevin Brown carnage that Taijuan will someday foist routinely on the hapless AL.  "Someday" meaning like May 2014, we're supposing. Taijuan didn... Read More
Inning 3 - Taijuan De-Volves into a class A pitcher
Posted by jemanji on 09/04/13
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. Inning 3 Taijuan came out in the third looking kind of fatigued, or something ... well, a bit listless.  Maybe somebody said something in the dugout that annoyed him. He threw three very forgettable fastballs to the Royals' #8 hitter, lefty 160-lb Jarrod Dyson.  The last one, 94 MPH, was a braindead 0-2 pitch right down the middle ... he got away with a skied fly ball, just because of the release point, the angle, and the "hidden velocity."  Taijuan Walker's fastball has not one but MANY "secret weapon" aspects to it. SABRMatt and Spec Tater had an interesting little conversation about... Read More
Innings 4-5
Posted by jemanji on 09/04/13
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. Inning 4 I read somewhere that the Royals have the best contact rate in the AL, or lowest K rate, or something, and ... obviously Butler, Gordon, and Hosmer are a rough ride for any righty. They adjusted, in-game, to the fact that Taijuan was throwing only two pitches, both of them hard.  (This is what Texas and LAA do to annoy Felix:  focus on his 93 fastball and 91 "changeup."  They start their bats "in time" to the expected pitch, tipping their caps on the curve and slider.  Even you could hit 95 MPH in the cage if you started your bat like a metronome.) Despite the fact that the Royals... Read More
Revenge of the directional schools ... and more
Posted by Spectator on 09/04/13
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  1. Football Championship Subdivision It used to be called Division I-AA, but now that we're in a world in which everyone is above average, they had to call it something else.  And, since they don't play in bowls, I guess "championship" was available.  But what it really means is you get marching bands and rah-rah college-y stuff without all those big-time headaches and for half the cost. In Week 1, it also meant ... cashing the guarantee check and stealing a victory: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46 North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21 Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20 Eastern... Read More
Also September callups
Posted by Spectator on 09/04/13
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  Before we get to the lone playoff game, the official September call-ups were announced: James Paxton (Talk40 #3) we already knew Hector Noesi Chance Ruffin (Watch List) Carlos Triunfel (26intheMix) And Tom Wilhelmsen was already up if you want to count him. How did I do on my predictions?  Well, I had Paxton and Triunfel.  I guessed Jesus Sucre (Watch List), but I guess they like the veterans they picked up in his absence. Then I figured on a spare pitcher or two and guessed Bobby LaFromboise (Talk40 #34), but obviously they're still enamoured of Noesi's potential, and giving Ruffin another... Read More
better question: architects or demolition crew?
Posted by Gordon Gross on 09/03/13
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This is gonna be me musing about the state of the Ms and our frustration with the wait to build a contender in general.  Be warned and hang on.   As we wander into our annual September irrelevance, the gnashing of teeth around the blog-o-sphere is increasing.  Baker sums it up well with his article today:   And sometimes, you’ll get it wrong. Sometimes, the Josh Hamilton signing might not work out.   But if you don’t try, you don’t win. Looking at the Mariners right now, I see some potentially good young players, but no top-tier elite star like a Posey. No break-out performer who can help... Read More
Regular season is over, with only the lower-division teams moving to postsesaon play ... K-Pax to Seattle ... etc.
Posted by Spectator on 09/03/13
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  So far, we know of only one September call-up, and that is James Paxton (Talk40 #3), whom, as we speculated, appears likely to get some starts after Taijuan Walker (Talk40 #2) gets his three outings in the books. But it seems likely there will be more. All the regular seasons are over.  I think I said yesterday that Everett and Pulaski were the only teams in the playoffs, but that is not correct.  Clinton is too.   AAA -- Sacramento 9, Tacoma 6   -- Box Ten different players got the call from Tacoma to Seattle during the course of the year, and only Logan Bawcom (Talk40 #31) and Nate... Read More
Hultz appears ... Romero slugs ... Avery enjoys Rainiers ... Eddie avoids the dark side ... etc.
Posted by Spectator on 09/02/13
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  Almost at the end of the regular season ... but Pulaski extended its season by sweeping its best-of-three playoff series.  And a surprise pitcher popped up for Tacoma.   AAA -- Tacoma 10, Sacramento 9  -- Box Well ... the schedule said the starter would be James Paxton (Talk40 #3), but instead it was ... Danny Hultzen (Talk40 #4): 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K Now that's good to see.  Hultzen will head to the Arizona Fall League. Then came Paxton: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Given that Taijuan Walker (Talk40 #2) will only get three MLB starts, I would expect that Paxton might get a couple... Read More