Movin' On

Larry Stone with an astute article at the Times, interpreting (surely with accuracy) Wakamatsu's remarks as being the death knell.  If he's gone this time, D-O-V figures he's "Gone" gone.  As a starter.

Within reason, of course.  Unless the script goes horribly wrong.  What we mean is:  we reckon that the Mariners have seen what they needed to see.


Being as D-O-V has nothing against calling E-6 on itself when needed, we trust you won't mind our noting an RBI when we scrounge one, either :- )  At the time the Mariners TRADED for Olson, we warned that the AAAA findings had been logged, banked and notarized.

On June 11, 20098 Garrett Olson beat the Orioles 6-3 in a nice performance, throwing 62 of 92 pitches for strikes.  It lowered his ERA on the season to 4.26.

We published this SSI article that night, declaring that Olson's demise was near.   Maybe the read will amuse you, six weeks on.

It wasn't a shocker to many of you that Garrett Olson was an underdog.  Tomorrow's News Today was, on the day of the Heilman trade, to look elsewhere for rotation innings.

The Grim Reaper presented his bill today:  an 8-1 deficit in a Porcello game the M's should have won easily.


As John Benson says, every human being who is pitching at AA and above is "absolutely excellent."  Olson's among them.

He'll keep battling and some year, we expect him to go 13-10, 4.40 for somebody.  In this industry he might cash it in for a $25m/3 contract :- )


The subtle difference between an ML pitcher and a Quad-A pitcher is usually found in a "calling card" weapon:  a Jorge Campillo change-speed game, or Radke-like plus-plus command, or a Morrow fastball, or something.  You work off the jab. 

If RRS has the shellshocking yellow hammer back, he's got the talent to be more than AAA.  Brandon Morrow, needless to say, has the talent to be more than .... AL.  Does Jason Vargas?  I doubt it, but he'll get more chances.


=== By Far, Eh ===

Dave Sims, on the TV broadcast, lamented that the Mariners had lost "by far their best player" to the CF wall.  I like Gutierrez too, but the politics surrounding Gutierrez are driving me batty.

Ichiro is hitting 363/396/480, with 20 SB's, and could beat Gutierrez in an OF race to a loose ball while running backwards.

Right now Franklin Gutierrez is giving us what Mike Cameron did in 2001-02.  That's cool, but do we have to make it out to be the second coming of ARod?  :- )


The debate about the value of Russell Branyan vs Franklin Gutierrez has become more interesting with Gutierrez' red-hot July.   IF you accept calculations that Gutierrez is saving +30 runs defensively, over what some other good CF would save in Safeco, then Gutierrez at the moment would be worth even more than Branyan.

IF you accept my own judgment as to what any other quality ML CF (say, Aaron Rowand or Torii Hunter) would accomplish in Safeco, and figure Gutierrez to finish around 110 offensively, then Branyan has been more important to the M's.


In any case, F-Gut is quickly establishing himself as a minor star in the American League and the Mariners got awfully lucky he wasn't hurt.

Running into walls will not be allowed in the major leagues of 2050, any more than batting without a helmet is allowed now.


Dr D


Gomez's picture

The key is to run into the wall properly: As you reach the wall, turn so your back hits the wall square. It allows you to run full speed towards the wall and still gives you a chance to make a catch.
Running face/arm/hand first into a wall is akin to lifting a box without bending your knees and using your leg/core muscles.

Shields @ Pro B...'s picture

The key is to run into a PADDED wall.  Granderson probably thought about requesting a trade after that.


Yeah.  Any idea why a wall *wouldn't* be padded?
I guess the one that Gutierrez hit, was a scoreboard, so...

Taro's picture

I don't see how Gutierrez is the best player "by far" but it is a really close race between him and Ichiro.
Gutierrez has scored 3.5 WAR and Ichiro 3.4 WAR according the fangraphs. Considering the extra value Ichiro brings in non-SB baserunning and moving runners over the edge probably goes to him, but it is razor-close.
Fangraphs of course assumes that Gutierrez is a +20/150games CF, which I don't have any issues with. What do you get when you have the best glove at CF with a well above-average bat? Gut has developed into a legitimate star player.
The debate is clearly between Ichiro and Gutierrez as far as position players are concerned although Felix has been the best player on the team this year.
Branyan is a distant 3rd among position players, but the gap between him and the next player is large.

Taro's picture

Z and Wak have made a lot more brilliant moves than mistakes this year, but I think keeping Olson in the rotation after the all-star break was one of their mistakes.
The decision to start Olson over RRS today probably costed them a game in the standings. Thankfully it looks like thats all its going to cost them.


The Tigers in their infinite wisdom thought the wall absolutely HAD to have scoreboards all over it...and ads...everything it needed to look snazzy rather than actually being safe for the players.  Awesome.
Fortunatley...Guti is not seriously hurt and the Mariners are talking about starting him THURSDAY...though Friday or Saturday might be more likely.
And respectfully, Doc, you're badly miscasting the statistical argument about Gutierrez' defense with your "if you buy into the idea that Gutierrez is saving 30 runs above what some other good CFer would save" malarkey.  No sabermetrician has yet argued that Gutierrez is saving 30 runs over another good defensive center fielder.  We're arguing that he'll save you 20 runs over an AVERAGE center fielder (continue comparing him to Aaron Rowand and Torii Hunter and you'll continue to look myopic and just plain silly...we're comparing him to an AVERAGE center fielder...not a solidly above average one as both of those guys are).  You are still married to a position that is being completely obliterated by the real world evidence.
Incidentally, Gutierrez leads the Mariners in offensive WPA.  I don't use WPA for projection purposes, but second to King Felix, Gutierrez is the Mariners' MVP thus far.  He's done the msot to turn losses into wins WITH THE BAT ONLY.  Seriously...look it up.  That doesn't mean I'd pick him to continue to out-win Branyan if Branyan ever gets out of this slump...but what sims said was accurate.  Gutierrez has been the Mariners' MVP in 2009.  Ichiro is having a good year, but hitting rather poorly with men on base this season (though for his career, he's a .360+ hitter in those situations so that shouldn't continue) and GUtierrez is far and away the better fielder now (sorry Doc...he just is...the sooner you figure that out, the less like a goofball you'll look).


... as a plus hitter, playing premium defense, at a premium position, is making quite a contribution right now.  No doubts there.
Ichiro is creating 7.8 RC/27, plus legs, compared to Gutierrez' 5.6 RC/27 in fewer AB's.
The positional adjustments at fangraphs are theoretical, as is the number of runs they figure Gutierrez to be cutting off w/r/t Ichiro.
It isn't often that I'll take a 5.5 RC center fielder over an 8.0-8.5 RC right fielder who is also the best corner OF defender in baseball.  But the debate is feasible.
Taking a 5.5 center fielder over an 8.0-8.5 corner OF who wins the gold glove is a philosophical choice, but it won't be my choice.


Not to pile on, but Olson has started 10 games, and in addition to today's 9-7 loss, there was also a 9-7 loss to the hapless Padres and a 9-8 loss to the Angels. 
1.  There was today's game, in which the M's faced a very weak SP, bashed him, and lost.
2.  The San Diego Padres have won only 2 nine-inning games all year, in which they allowed >5 runs:  Olson's game, and a game in April against Philly. 
3.  In the Angels game, the Mariners led 6-0.
So if you wanted to be harsh, you could say that in 30% of the starts, certain victories have been converted to losses.
Win those three, and the M's are 52-41, the Angels 53-39.
That's the #5SP slot for you, of course, and Olson has also won some games.  


You're using the term "good" in a mathematical, relative sense.
I'm using it in a scouting sense.  The #7 and #8 center fielders in the American League are tremendous defensive players.   Right now, Curtis Granderson and Torii Hunter are rated as neutral CF's by UZR/150.
If you were to somehow pull up a chair in the OF and *watch* Torii Hunter tear after a fly ball and snag it nonchalantly, you'd suddenly understand exactly what I mean.  No human being on earth could do it FAR better than the guys currently playing CF in the AL.
But since you ask, the #2 and #3 UZR qualified CF's in the AL right now are Upton and Gomez, and Fangraphs has Gutierrez saving +14 and +17 runs more than them over 150 games.
MY complaint is that UZR claims +15, +20 runs for Gutierrez over some other guy who can really carry the mail, such as Torii Hunter, and I know that can't be true.
But even on YOUR terms, right now UZR *is* giving Gutierrez credit for +14 to +50 (!) runs over ALL the other qualifiers in the AL.


I don't want to get bogged down in a quibble.
While Gutierrez is running a 117 OPS+ and playing the gorgeous CF defense that he is -- he is a very, very fine ballplayer.   I'm curious to see if he'll maintain that 117 or whether it's a spike in his seasonal stats, but still.
Get a fine ballplayer like that, playing for arb money, and you have one of the most valuable commodities in baseball.

OOBF's picture

Especially with an offensively deficient team it SUCKS to waste offesive outbursts like that!  Why can't the M's give Olson the zero run support, and support Bedard and Wash better???
Maybe being behind by a bunch brings out the free HR swing or something, but seriously why do we score so many runs in blow out losses just to come up short?

Fett42's picture

I fee that it would be far better would be to look at how UZR is actually calculated and find what in its process would make it so flawed as you claim. I suggest doing the same with plus/minus. In its defense it has been found that Fangraphs WAR including UZR has something like a 0.91 correlation to actual runs and wins.


In five games back in Tacoma from DL/rehab, Mr. Tuiasosopo has three doubles, a homer and four walks. 
I would think he'll get a chance at some playing time before Beltre returns.

Taro's picture

This year I think its a toss-up who ends up being more valuable.
Ichiro is having one of his best years, but Gutierrez is just establishing himself and could get even better with the bat now thats hes tapping into his power potential.
Ichiro vs Gutierrez is splitting hairs. Just stop the debate and hand this dude a 7 year contract. I don't want to see him going anywhere.


He has to prove he can field his position before the Mariners will call him up. And he has to prove he can consistently produce at those rates.


10's of 1000's of words have been spent at DOV, SSI, and PBUS on it.
Believe me:  I wouldn't reject UZR because of my eyes alone, or even my eyes primarily.  That ain't how we roll.
The biggest reason that I advise *judicious use of* UZR, is because a single defender can go from the bottom of the pile to the top, and back again, in single seasons.
A single NBA player does not go from 59% free throws, to 92% leading the league, back down to 61%.  That is because FT% is a sound statistic.
I personally think that UZR is the best starting place for evaluating defenders (and NOT one's visual impression).
But I also think that most 'net rats have no clue as to the actual level of confidence that is merited by ANY defensive metric.
For instance, you didn't even propose the wildest guess as to how Scutaro goes -28 in one season and +20 in another.


...I've said this before and I'll say it again...the standard deviation of defensive wins (converted from the zero-value margin level using UZR) is proportional in the same way that the standard deviation of offensive wins would be.  In other words...yes, fielders frequently ditty-bop up and down in these metrics...but they ditty-bop up and down on offense too.  By a lot more than you seem willing to recognize.  ESPECIALLY when they are switching roles, coming off the bench and into the line-up, changing teams and parks etc.  And I believe the crew is correct that Scutaro's main defensive upgrade is coming from starting every day and getting more reps at the position...thus getting better at positioning himself and reading the pitchers and hitters etc.


And my reply to it isn't any different.
An NBA player's average (say Ray Allen's) might be 12.2 one season and 21.4 the next, and back down to 13.2 the following year.   His FG % might be 42% one year, near the bottom of the league, and 48% the next.
But his FREE THROW PERCENTAGE will remain constant (as Allen's is 90% every year).
That's because you're talking about two completely different realms of the sport.
I can totally buy that batter X hits well one season, and not the next -- even if it WEREN'T for the effect that BABIP has on his statistics.
I happen to have played baseball and softball, and I KNOW that a fielder is not great one year, lousy the next, and great the following year ...
And no, Matt, injury does NOT account for that.  If the man had a pulled hamstring he wouldn't be your starting shortstop.   The manager isn't going to let the #10 position player take 300 AB's at short when he's gimp; don't be silly.  Scutaro isn't playing at all if he's not 101%.
Do YOU remember RotoWire reporting a constant string of injuries for Scutaro in Oakland?  Of course not. 
Marco Scutaro was -28 because UZR failed to capture the realities of the play on the field.
Also, I question the application of the data.  Overall correlations are one thing after you have 'smoothed' the entire dataset.
But Scutaro's defensive stats are the equivalent of batting .368 with 51 homers one season, and .209 with 4 homers the next.   He was effectively the very worst defender in baseball for the A's, and effectively the very best defender in baseball for the Jays.  What hitter goes from a 60 OPS+ to a 160 OPS+ several times in his career?
If positioning IS responsible for Scutaro going from -28 to +20, and Ibanez going from -23 to =0, then fine.  Positioning is responsible for 20-50 runs per player, and inherent talent is trumped by alignment anyway.
The next guy that somebody complains is a -20 fielder, fine.  Just position him correctly and get the Ibanez effect.
"The guy must have been injured, plus he was two steps to the left" is absolutely unconvincing.  I don't know why the -28 to +20 type situations don't alarm you guys more than they do.

OOBF's picture

While I do think that UZR is useful and it is a very good starting point for defensive discussions (leading to the incoorporation of other stats plus a judicious use of ones eyes of course), it certainly has its failings.  One of which is extreme bias in smaller samples.  It takes pretty much a full season, if not more, for UZR to start to get reasonable, so a handful of starts here or there, some at short some at 2b are going to be extremely volitile in UZR's eyes, thus I think that the -28 UZR for Scutaro needs to be thrown out pretty much altogether and seen as small sample size static, and the overal career UZR may be more useful, which makes Scutaro out to be a pretty average defender at short, which also lines up with my eyes as well.
We definitely put WAY to much stock into partial or even seasonal UZRs, career UZR for a MLB player that has been around a while is probably a uch more reasonable place to actually start putting stock into UZR analysis, anything less than that and UZR is just a nice guess and a good starting point to get your going in the right direction. (IMHO of course :) )


...and the "I've played baseball so I know better than you" schtick is getting very very VERY old.  Very old indeed.  At the MAJOR LRAGUE level (were you a major leaguer, Doc?  Can I look you up on B-Ref?  Hm, wise guy??), if you lose a STEP on defense, it can cost you 50% of your defensive value because EVERYTHING here is on the razor's edge...all of the players are good...if you lose a tiny shade, you're going to suck compared to the field.
And I never once suggested that Scutaro was injured and that acounts for the slump, so please don't put words in my mouth.

EA's picture

I believe it was Bill James himself who said he would expect defense to be more variable than offense.  There are all kinds of minor little tweaks that cut into range that would have little to no effect on offense.  If Branyan were limited to light jogging do you think he wouldn't still be at 1st base?  It's different with a prime defensive position of course, but I would still expect that a Guti that can only run 80% because he tweaked a groin muscle would still be in the field.


Doc seems to be under the impression that catching fly balls in the show is as easy as it was for him is his beer league.  You lose a step in the majors and you are still going to're just going to be enough worse than the rest of the fielders around you that you will look horrible in the stat sheet.


If you're talking short-term, at a corner position. 
Do YOU think that a manager would play the utility infielder a lot at SS, if the guy were gimp?
Do YOU think that Marco Scutaro was injured, at all, in Oakland and that he got healthy upon joining the Jays?
A lot of these arguments are logical in the abstract...


We're saying that starting full time has helped Scutaro make the most of his one here is arguing that Scutaro was hurt and thus lost a step on defense.  If he was losing a step on defense, it was because he didn't play enough to get into a rhythm or to get comforable with his positioning etc.


And I also understand that ML teams share the same info on batters' spray charts.  Moving from Oak to Tor isn't going to give Scoots 45-50 runs' worth of positioning, m' good man.  ;- )
If we're conceding that nothing changed physically for Scutaro, you're left with (a) Toronto is a Braniac convent of geniuses on SS positioning -- which wouldn't show up on control SS's...
or (b) UZR is missing something about the playing context.
You're steppin' into a trap there, conceding that Scutaro himself was not the issue.  I soft-pedaled the # of possible root causes because y'all are painting yourselfs into a corner, if you grant that +48 runs' difference was either positioning or the measurements.
'Cause it wasn't positioning.  Toronto didn't get their other SS's fifty runs when they arrived in Tor.  Betcha that without even looking.  :- )
Hey, it's not the end of the world.  Just 'cause defensive metrics don't completely capture the infathomable complexities of real life don't mean they're irrelevant.


Doc...I'm not arguing that Scutaro learned to play short because the Blue Jays taught it to him...I'm arguing that it's HARD to play defense well when you are a part time player.  The routine of playing every day lets hitters get into a rhythm at the plate...why cannot the same be true for fielders?  I've observed many times part time players shifting to full time status and making positive gains on both offense AND defense.


Which is in the original post (or my first reply, one of the two).
Scutaro's 33.  Stepping into 150 games a year -- as opposed to 100 -- might help.  But how much?  3 runs a year?  5?  Would it be more than a fraction within the context of other things?
It's not like the dude just started playing SS.
Anyway.  I'm UZR'ed out for this month.  :- )  Give ya the last word.

Fett42's picture

If you think about it, the largest change in UZR, in general, you'll see from year to year is probably 15-20. Is that really that crazy? Thats potentially something like 1 play every few games, and a player only has to have a bad read for a second or feel a little less than 100% and lose a step on the play to not to get to the ball, or just make an error even. For example, Ichiro has 4 errors this year--go figure.

I guess I'm too late's picture

One of the issues you (and everyone else) have is that you keep looking at the prorated runs above average instead of his actual numbers. You would NEVER do that with an offensive stat yet people keep doing it with UZR. Yes, if you take very small samples and prorate each little sample out to a full year, you are going to see what appear to be massive swings but that is a terrible way to analyze a player.

EA's picture

Sure, if the guy can't run at all he's not going to be out there.  Of course, us M's fans are acutely aware of how much playing time a hurt player can get.  How many months of 6+ ERA's have we had to endure before hearing, "ohh yeah, his shoulder's been bothering him the past couple of months."
Keep in mind that the manager and coaching staff are in the dugout.  That can't be a great vantage point for being able to discern that your SS is running at 80%.  Maybe the manager should be watching the game from the press box and relaying his decisions to his subordinates like an offensive coordinator.

IcebreakerX's picture



I'm still remembering Jeff's world famous "Griffey is a +40 right fielder, ergo UZR = broken" comments back in April after he'd played 3 games there. :)  What Scutaro did over the years leading up to the last three:
-17.4 UZR at short in the equivalent of a full season, +0.1 UZR at third in about half a season, +0.2 UZR at 2nd base in about 1.5 seasons.
He was a solid/average 2B/3B and a poor SS in limited playing time.  Since getting more regular innings at short, he's produced 14.8 UZR in the equivalent of a little more than one full season.  This coming primarily when he got the chance to play that position EXCLUSIVELY instead of constantly having to change his focus from position to position.  I don't think that's unreasonable.

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