Broken Paradigms

 === The Pennant Race ===

On KIRO radio today, an amigo axed, "What if you don't sell, and you go down to the wire, and don't win the division?  Then you've lost everything!"

Um, no.   I had a pennant race.  I had that day on August 17th when Felix fired a shutout to pull us within three.  I had weeks, or months, of baseball entertainment.


The right paradigm is not, "If you don't win the division, it was a wasted season."  The right paradigm is, "If you weren't in the fight, it was a wasted season."

Again, think of an Olympic 1500 meter race.  You're four strides back with 500 meters to go.  Do you quit, or do you give the other guy a chance to falter?

Or -- when Milorad Cavic lost to Michael Phelps by 0.01 seconds in the butterfly, did that mean the race was pointless and he should never have been there?  

Milorad Cavic didn't waste his time.  He fought like a lion and was a part of one of the Olympic Games' greatest moments.  (The silver medal is beside the point.  Joe Frazier didn't waste his time in Ali-Frazier III, either.)

We are stuck on the paradigm that, at the moment we lose, we will be proven chumps for having been there.  If you'll think about that for two seconds, you'll realize how messed up that whole paradigm is.

Seahawks '05.  Did it turn out that they were wrong to push all in?   M's 1995.  Should they not have traded for Benes and Coleman?   The 1995 M's lost, dude.


=== When IS It Time to Quit? ===

The Toronto Blue Jays are 12.5 back.  They can't make the playoffs.  THEY should sell.  The Blue Jays are NOT IN a pennant race.   Their fans are as clear about this as their GM is.

The Seattle Mariners are 6.5 back and they ARE in a pennant race (though underdogs in it).  They CAN win.  So they should chase the leader. 

"I don't like my chances, so I should admit reality."  Does that apply the next time the Seahawks are -9 point dogs on Friday?  In principle:  if you probably won't win, then the smart thing is to forfeit?


... Granted, the M's will need the Angels to falter.  And there's a great chance of that.   It is no reach, kiddies, to say you might see the Angels lose 15 of their next 25.  Hot-but-flawed ballclubs stumble down the stretch all the time.

That's the underdog's job.  To put pressure on their opponent.  To wait for them to mess up.   To make the favorite's day as unpleasant as possible.  That's sports!


=== Who EXACTLY Do You Expect to Trade For? ===

You deal Bedard, Washburn, and Branyan for prospects, those prospects aren't guarantees.  What if THEY don't pan out?  Nobody ever asks, what if you take Strategy B and it doesn't work out , either.

It would be one thing, if you were talking about getting back Clayton Kershaw or Matt Kemp or somebody in this fire sale.  But no, you ain't getting your 2011 #4 hitter in any trades this week.   You're not getting anybody better than Tuiasosopo or Saunders anyway.

By deciding to press the Angels, you're not passing on anything you're afraid to lose.


=== No Mas, Baby ===

You think of the pain Lance Armstrong is going through, right now, 5 minutes back, hoping the leader will give him an opening ....    and .... sigh.   

I don't have to win at the end, for me to have been glad I played sports, guys.  :- )  I enjoy minute 37, whether or not minute 48 goes my way.

I'm down 25 in the fourth quarter, sure, I get the benchies in there.  It's over.  But I'm down 12 in the third, and I quit then, what does that make me?

This "we probably won't win, so the intelligent thing to do is resign" stuff -- it misunderstands what sports are.


Dr D


Uncle Ted's picture

If I'm the M's I'd pursue every option that would help us in the future without making us worse right now.  This might include selling Bedard or Washburn or both for a player who improves our offense by a substantial margine and who would be under team control for a while.  While I'm not convinced that Hardy would be worth it, I do think that would be the right kind of thing to pursue.


e.g. if somebody offered an intriguing, ML-ready bat for Washburn, bet you that 80%, 90% of MC/DOV users would be interested.
Let's say that you were offered J.J. Hardy for Jarrod Washburn, most of us would go for that in some way, shape or form.
Considering that we've had Bedard for two seasons, and that he's a pending FA, many of us would be willing to listen to "flip" offers for him also.
Personally would much rather see the righty-lefty Koufax-Drysdale combo of Felix/Bedard over the next five seasons, but considering that Bedard's extension is not a given, sure.  If you can provide for the future and also not punt this season, great.
And Zduriencik has said similar, get better both now and for the future.


Here's a stat for you, Doc.  Bedard's Pitches/PA this year to date: 4.11
They're fouling off WAAAAYYYY too many pitches.  It's happening again today...not only do umpires find it impossible to call his curve a strike if it's not centered, but he can't get anyone to swing and miss...a lot of his Ks are looking and against hitters who aren't aggressive enough.  I'm getting worried that he's never going to give us a string of deep games if he has to throw 100 pitches to get through 4+ innings every gosh darned day.


1.  I don't know why the umps are so hostile towards his curve ball this year.
2.  Usually when a guy is over 9 K's a game, we don't refer to him as lacking a putaway pitch.  ;- )
3.  Bedard's putaway pitches include (a) any curve ball, (b) an up-the-ladder FB, (c) a jam fastball, (d) a called strike three away, and (e) any fastball wherein the hitter is looking curve...
4.  He has 6 strikeouts in 3 innings today.
I know what you mean, that it gets to two strikes and then he throws several pitches getting the last one.  The part of that, that is his fault, is that he's nibbling with the fastball.
He thinks that if he gets a good piece of the plate with his FB, that he's risking an HR, and who's to say he is wrong?
The syndrome stops when he gets his location back, and when the umps cut him a break.  Just my $0.02.


In three innings!
That's worse than Randy Johnson in his rookie year.
Still:  give me every single 10K starter in the majors that people are down on.  :- )  Every blinkin' one of 'em.


... which will lead to another firestorm of protests against him the next four days.
For my part, I have total confidence in Erik Bedard. 
It's not like he just started doing this baseball thing.  The recent pitch-count thing is weird, but Bedard has been a Grade A starting pitcher for years.


He was a grade A starting pitcher once.  For 1.5 seasons from the second half of 2006 to the end of 2007.  And again for half a season this year in Seattle.  Otherwise, the "too many pitches" problem has been endemic for him.  From 2004-early 2006 and in 2008, he would throw this many pitches.  Bedard has GREAT stuff but does not pitch with confidence in that stuff apparently, because he hasn't been getting garbage swings ALL YEAR...even when he was succeeding.  He's nibbling too much...he's not getting calls on his curve, he's not making adjustments, and he's not helping the Mariners win games.


Slap me silly.
Grade A starting pitchers have off YEARS, let alone off months. 
Steve Carlton, Bedard's antetype, lost 20 games with a 97 ERA+ the very year after he went 27-10, 1.97.  
I wonder what you would have said about Lefty in 1973.  "USED to be a grade A starter.  Last week."
And that's not to say that Bedard's even having an off month, in terms of ERA, FIP, etc.  He's had several high-pitch count games.   Time to bail.
Easy to lose sight of pitchers' volatility, I guess.


My point put it in terms of DNRA+:
2004: 90
2005: 119
2006: 120
2007: 169
2008: 108
2008: thus far 134
He's had ONE year where he was a true ace.  He's been consistent a solid pitcher, no doubt, but do you have more faith in Bedard than you would in, say, Javier Vazquez or Mark Buehrle?  Because you shouldn't.

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

You could throw Aardsma in there, too, I suppose.
The reality with Bedard hitting the DL is that the club has only one "obvious" trading piece - Washburn.  Since you cannot trade a guy on the DL, Beltre and Bedard aren't going to be part of any deadline deal.
In truth, there's lots of FA-s to be, if you include guys nobody really wants, (which is why Seattle could get them).  But, Branyan seems to be doing his utmost to prevent any trade by attempting to prove everyone previous correct - that he's not up to being a fulltime starter.  (I think he's actually hurt enough that he'd bounce back faster with a 3 or 4 day vacation).
But, honestly, the choice of buy or sell isn't much up in the air at this point.  The only selling chip is really Washburn, (barring the complete firesale, which includes the freebie pickups like Branyan and Aardsma). 
My hope (more than expectation) is that the injury issues with Bedard especially make him amenable to signing a 1-year, so he can stay put and TRY to put together a full-season to drive his market value back up.  Given his health AND the baseball economy, a 1-year doesn't sound like a bad plan for Bedard.  Branyan and Aardsma I think are likely re-signs.  Beltre is the real wild card.  He's finishing on a horribly down season -- but - if he gets hot in the last 6 weeks, then I'm thinking he'll test the waters.  But, I think, like Bedard, getting a 1-year to try and push his value back up before getting something longer also makes sense.
I think Z is capable of plugging TWO offensive holes per off-season.  I don't think any GM can expect to do more.  He got F-Gut and Branyan this time around.  The question for 2010 is going to be what happens with SS, LF and DH.  Still lots of holes to plug.  But, I still think 2011 is the first time Seattle can "expect" to be truly competitive.

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