Around the Horn, May 15

=== Baseball (In Seattle) Prospectus Dept. ===

It's never as bleak as it looks during a losing streak.  If the M's went 1-9 all year, they'd beat out the Cleveland Spyders for most losses...  hey, it was just a slump, kiddies.  This team has talent.  Starting with Felix and Bedard.

Baseball Prospectus' W3/L3 stat has the M's talent level as that of a 15-20 team.  That's despite Beltre, Lopez, Betancourt and their catcher having OPS+ of 58, 75, 61 and 32 respectively.

The infield has literally been A+ minor-league effective at the plate, and yet the equivalent runs for and against have been around .420 baseball.  This is a team with some talent.


=== LF ===

Wlad's shot down the line probably concussed whatever operator was behind the metal at the time.   In case you haven't noticed, Balentien and Branyan are the M's two best hitters NOW.  (Just in terms of OPS+ at the moment, naturally.)

Never mind after Balentien gets fair development time.  He hasn't even started hitting his HR's yet, and he's 15 points clear of any non-Branyan M in OPS+.

At this rate, he'd strike out fewer than 100 times in a full season, he's lining the ball to all fields, and he hasn't even had the benefit of a rhythm yet.  Balentien's definitely my starting LF on this club.


One of the things I love best about Wok and Capt Jack is that they don't get married to their positions.  They are agile, flexible-minded and they're all about whatever works.  I just love 'em.


=== Q&A ===

Tradedollarnut axs,

A pitcher throws a ball 100mph and the right handed batter lines it exactly down the right field line. How many mph less would have resulted in the ball being lined down the left field line?

Well, 90 mph is 132 feet per second, so 100 mph is what, 145 feet per second or so.  It's covering the 55 feet of distance in about 0.35, 0.40 seconds.

To pull a ball, you'd get the bat out in front, what, about a foot-and-a-half more than if you line it to RF.  If the ball has slowed to about 130 ft/s by the time it gets to home plate, the difference between 1.3 feet of bat travel would be about about 1/100 of a second, give or take.

In terms of MPH, that's about 2-3 mph. At 90 mph, each 1.5 mph equals a foot of pitch distance.  That's what they mean when they say a pitcher "has lost a couple of feet" -- he's lost 3 mph and for the same swing-clock, the ball doesn't go as deep into the strike zone.


Of course the pitchers "take a little off" when the hitters are "cheating" by timing their swings to 95 mph, so "minus 3 mph" can at times be more likely to generate a swing and miss than a screamer down the LF line.

Anyway, the difference between the RF line and the LF line is 2-3 mph on the pitch.  Assuming the same bat launch.


0.01 or 0.02 seconds being the difference between a foul over the 1B dugout or a shot into the power alley.  You can see how a guy like Willie Bloomquist might be a tremendous athlete and yet not have the stats to show for it...


=== 3B ===

Lonnie points out that Matt Tuiasosopo could very easily be looking at TJ (or somesuch).   Does this change the Beltre scenario, you ax?

It certainly leaves the Mariners' picture less rosy after Beltre leaves.  But you are left with these options:

1.  Let Beltre leave for nothing

2.  Cash in your (presumably) roto-esque haul on him

3.  Sign him to be decimated by Safeco for the next four years

You have to deal Beltre in any case.  That's what it says here.   I thought you guys liked Ronny Cedeno

Hey, kids, Jose Lopez came up as a SHORTSTOP.  He's played a fair amount of third in the minors.  He'd probably be a plus 3B right now.


Dr D


JFromSeattle's picture

Grizz was recently talking about the old evaluations that G-money and I did on Wlad where it was observed that Wlad was taking some time to adjust at certain levels and got better as time went on.  We saw that in his first year in Tacoma relative to his second year, natch, but I think we're also encountering that right now in Seattle.  It's amazing to me how far his strikeout rate has plummeted, but I'm also starting to think of what we should be doing with him for next year.  Given that we're going to have Saunders and probably Ackley, Halman as a more distant possibility, up in the next year or two, I'm wondering if our man Wlad isn't the answer to our DH woes.  I haven't generally heard him lauded for his work ethic before, I had always operated under the assumption that lack of PT would be catastrophic for him, but he's been showing us lately that he can come in prepared, regardless of whether or not he's been playing recently.
As to Lopez at third, yeah, he played there a bit his last few seasons in the minors and it was Churchill's prefered position for him for some time.  I think that he'd be able to do well there, not so sure about the hitting as he seems to go back and forth on that, but there are worse placeholders until one of Tui/Martinez/de Jesus, maybe even Liddi is available to do it more regularly.  The only issue I'd have with that is that would leave us with Yuni and Cedeno on the IF, and I'm just not sure if that's ideal.  There's certainly not much coming up the pipeline soon.  Although I'll argue in favor of Juan Diaz whenever the opportunity arises, I would like it if the M's we able to pick up a top middle infielder in either the draft or the international signing period.  I think we have enough outfielders to go around for now.


Right now you'd tentatively pencil him in as the DH, Jay?  Presume that would have Clement at C?
You and Gordon have been the gurus on Wlad Balentien.  What would you project for him at this point, as far as two-three years down the road?


Agree that Lopez-Betancourt-Cedeno would lock in the offensive woes around the horn for 2009.  The question is whether Beltre's ever going to rally much, anyway, in Safeco in '09 ...
Don't know whether you're arguing for Green in the draft, or inadvertently so, but it's a fair point... always easier to collect talent at glove spots and then move them (B.J. Upton style) if necessary...
As you know, that's a temptation they try to resist, drafting an inferior talent because of position need.  The positional needs morph on you very quickly.
Still, the fact is that you always want to draft towards the left side of the D-spectrum... 's a good pernt...

JFromSeattle's picture

I think it's one of the rare times that it's happened, but you, Dave, and I are all pushing Ackley right now.  I don't know if Churchill is on or off that wagon at the moment though.
I'm actually hoping for Jiovanni Mier at #27, and also trying to get attention for Juan Diaz.  He's still the same mold of hitter as Yuni and Lopez, but he's a great defender and switch hits.

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