The KKKarnivore shows 6 different fangs
we'd Best Bet him if it weren't trite to do so


Q.  What's a "solid" pitch, a "plus" vs a "plus-plus" pitch?  What is the difference between a quality pitch and a "weapon"?

A.  On a 20-80 scale, a "50" grade is major league average in the good sense.  Then there are the groups distinctly better (worse) than average; they're plus (or minus).  There's another group that is clearly better than the plus group, and they're plus-plus, like this:

18 homers per season = 50 PWR = Average = Kendrys Morales, Alex Gordon

27 homers = 60 PWR = Plus = Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp, Kyle Seager

36 homers = 70 PWR = Plus-Plus = Jose Abreu, Josh Donaldson

44 homers = 80 PWR = Plus-Plus-Plus = Jose Bautista, Nelson Cruz

Dr. D's favorite whipping boy, King Leonydas, has minus-minus PWR although if the moon is in full phase and somebody throws a 91 fastball low middle in, he can hit a ball 425 feet. Physical strength isn't really the point when you're talking component skills.  ... what is the definition of "skill," again?

I should stop to say that Leonydas is in the top 1 out of 2.86 (E-7) human beings for baseball skill.  He just isn't very good compared to major leaguers.

;- )  He could be okay.  We're pretty tongue in cheek about Martin.

not really


Q.  How come I've never heard of anybody with an 80 weapon except for maybe Aroldis Chapman's fastball?

A.  Usually you hear a skill with an actual 70 fastball referred to as a grade of "plus," and Craig Kimbrel's fastball in the majors as plus-plus.  When you give one grade less, the idea is that you've seen so much, nothing impresses you.  :- )  But it shouldn't be such a big deal to recognize that a player is two groups to the right of average.

Continuing with batting average:

.270 AVG = 50 HIT = Average = Alex Gordon, Kyle Seager (see?  We told you MLB average is a compliment, not an insult)

.285 AVG = 60 HIT = Plus = Eric Hosmer, Ian Kinsler

.300 AVG = 70 HIT = Plus-Plus = Robinson Cano, JD Martinez

.320+ AVG = 80 HIT = Plus-Plus-Plus = Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera


Q.  What's a good pitch vs. a pitch that is weapon?

A.  All of Wade Miley's pitches are fine, but none of them are weapons.  They all work because of a broader context.

During Nate Karns' performance on Friday, he showed 5-and-a-half weapons.  That isn't counting his jam pitch, his intelligence, or any broader context.  We're just talking about an 0-0 count and a random batter.  The "70" weapons being:

1.  His lockup curve ball for a called strike.  (Thrown right down the middle with extra Cholula on the break.)

2.  His low-away 93 fastball, so explosive that batters swing through it when looking for it.  What a burn pitch this baby is.  Love love LOVE his low-away heat.

3.  His up-the-ladder fastball that guys can't catch up to.

4.  His painted curve ball, away to RH batters, it's still good if it doesn't break hard, that they can't pull the trigger on.

5.  His roll-off-the-table curve (doesn't have to be perfect) thrown thigh high that dives into the dirt for a garbage swing.

(5.5 or 6) When Karns happens to get fade and touch on his changeup to a LH, the batter can just forget about the whole thing.  Doesn't happen often.

Yes, it's fair to count a fastball as two or three different weapons.  Scouts do this.  The fastball up is one weapon that Iwakuma uses in certain situations; the hair-fine fastball low away is another weapon used in different situations.  But it takes extreme command before you'll allow this characterization.  If a guy just misses high and the batter swings under it, that's not a deployable weapon.


Q.  Why does Karns ever give up any runs?

A.  Again, as last outing, the 6 IP and 3 ER could have been (and will be) a 7 IP, 0-1 ER outing if balls go at fielders.  But still :- ) we didn't say every pitch is executed lethally.  He mixes "weapon pitches" in with lesser pitches.  He's still a rookie until April 4th.

But there's another thing:  once again the KKKKarnivore threw as if all called "Ball!" resulted in a quick prod-jab of 5,000 volts to the armpit.  Saturday vs. Colorado, he had 38 strikes against 9 balls; last outing it was 50 strikes against 13 balls.  These two outings followed the news that he was the only #5 starter in camp.

It's a good problem to have.  Any pitcher can take a little less of the plate if he cares to.  You might remember Michael Pineda, in March 2011, started with a couple of those 50:13 outings and gave up five runs a couple times.  This particular problem isn't one that is slow to fix.

... hold it.  The box score has the pitch count wrong.  ... same idea holds.  Karns seemed to very rarely "expand the strike zone," aiming fastballs just off the plate.  He just worked with his weapons inside the zone.  

Say again, a nice problem to have.


:: he stops short :: Didn't Karns give up homers last year; wasn't that the holdup on a real low ERA?  ... yep, 1.2 per nine.  And 1.6 in a short stint 2014.  That would explain that.  It isn't a hittable high fastball; it is the need to expand the zone a little more.


Q.  Leaving us where?

A.  Karns still has room for growth; he isn't Iwakuma-mature yet.  And nobody is guaranteed a sub-4.00 ERA.  Slop happens.  But!  Relative to Dr. D's expectations for him in February? -- move him up one notch.  And that's sayin a lot, Gentle Reader.

This hombre would certainly be an SSI Best Bet.  That is, if anybody had any doubts for SSI to position itself against.  Do you think anybody does?  Speak up and we'll take full credit for yet another Best Bet bleacher shot.

;- )

:: eddie murphy, i spy :: Please somebody demur about Nate Karns' blue-chip TOR prospects.  Pl pl Please.


We also like this Ketel Marte kid a little bit.  A week's worth of August 2015 games removed all doubt about his back-to-front zone coverage and his HIT tool -- but we did have doubts about his gap power, his patience and his speed.  All of which have lit up the jumbotron this spring.  If you can't get excited about Ketel Marte's March, why watch baseball?


Dr D




Greg Maddux had cruise-missile control but his real secret was that he had it off the plate, too.  He threw pitches just-right-over-there where MLB hitter-types just-couldn't-quite get it.  

OK, that isn't a brain-surgey type point, is it?  But once Maddux had you swinging at stuff 3 inches outside the zone....then it became 6 inches.  You want to know something amazing about Bulldog?  In his first full season with Chicago ('87) he gave up exactly 1.0 HR/9.  He then pitched 15 consecutive seasons before he gave up 1.0 HR/9 again. In '03 it was precisely 1.0 again. AM-EH-ZING!!!

He did that playing in Wrigley and in Atlanta, BTW.  Are you catching this Karnivore?  Control in the zone is a great weapon to have to get ahead of the count, but control out of the zone is the weapon to have WHEN you are ahead in the count.  

Greg Maddux had a 90 grade on that critical skill.  It made him Maddux.  

Doc, you know who else had that skill?  Jim Palmer!  He walked more guys than Maddux (3.0), but he didn't let you beat him deep.  0.7 HR/9 for his career.  Do you think Earl's offensive love for Doctor Long Ball impacted his defensive front line; Palmer, Cuellar, McNally and Dobson?

All of their career HR/9 #'s were 0.7 or 0.8.  I didn't know that.  That's the Earl Corollary, isn't it?

Are you catching this Karns?

BTW,  Palmer is sort of a template for Roach.  3 BBs and 5 K's per game.  Well, a HOF template, anyway.  I think we can show that Palmer's control was better than 3.0 BBs, really.  I think I may just have.  

On to Marte:  It's decently clear that the kid can hit.  And it is pretty clear that Dipoto/Servais don't ever intend to move him off of SS.  He played ZERO games elsewhere this ST.  Which makes the Sardinas love-fest a bit odd, unless Sardinas is our 2B of the future!!    Since we have signed Cano for 2 or 3 more decades and that Lind guy is going to FA $10-$12M per next year....maybe the Sardinas thing is related to some of that?


Oh, this was about Marte, wasn't it?   He will hit .300 soon.  10 HR's too. He can play. 

Carry on.



I still speak with him often after all these years, though he is not terribly active online anymore...he is absolutely LIVID about Dipoto's moves...just about all of them.  Thinks:

1) That Miller is an all-star and Karns is just an extra arm that needs a lot of seasoning to be of any value

2) That Martin is objectively worse than James Jones

3) That Lind is a good hitter with a bad back who'll spend half the year hurt and be washed out of the game in less than two years

4) That Miley is not a good pitcher and Elias was better than him already

5) That Benoit is Rodney part deux

6) That Cishek is garbage

7) That none of the other dime a dozen relievers are good bets

8) That Iannetta is done

He is literally happy about none of these moves.  LOL

There ya go Doc...mosh off that. :)



I might agree with Part 1 of #1.  Miller may be an All-Star some day.    If I could send Smith for Miller I would do it in a heartbeat (because I get Miller cheap for a bit).  Not buying Part 2, however.  How much more seasoning does a 28 year old who K's 9 a game and just ran a 3.7 ERA need?  

Martin's bat might be worse than Jones.  Quite possible.  Dipoto didn't buy him for his bat.  He may have to seel him because of it, however.

Lind didn't spend 1/2 of last year with a hurt back.  No problems (that we know of) this spring.  He's a good bet to stay decently healthy.

With knowledge of the ultimate Iwakuma outcome, I'm pretty sure Dipoto wouldn't do the Miley-Elias/Smith thing again.  But hindsight is usually spot on, as you know.  Minus 'Kuma in the rotation, those 200 Miley innings, quality ones, look pretty solid. It took me a bit to get my arms around that trade.....but I can now understand it.  I like Elias, remember. 

Ianetta hits lefties.  Not to worry.  Dipoto went home and got him a comfort blanket to handle his staff.  He was an atrocious .575 vs. RHP last year, this is true.  But his career suggests he can run near the .700's anyway, as does his terrible .217 BABIP vR last year.  That's 60 pts of his norm.

Relievers?  All of that could well be true.  Well, Cishek has never been above 3.58 in his career.  He likely remains an effective RP.  It's the closer thing that might implode.  That goes with the territory, however.  When he's had that role in the past he's done just fine.  He's no Rodney, and that's a goooooood thing. 


Doc... I'm not ready YET to be calling Karns a SSI Best Bet THIS year. Karns definitely has weapons - similarly as Paxton & Taijuan have weapons. Heck, even Rollins has weapons. It matters though how often the pitches from any of these guys are truly weapons versus being just pitches or become mistakes.

The past two Karns outings are very encouraging... but neither was a dominating Felix start. In both starts, Karns has issues in an inning where he could not get on track quickly. He battled with control. He had trouble with getting the third out. Now none of these are fatal flaws. Many pitchers grow out of each of these with experience. Unfortunately, not all do... so I am not giving Karns the full thumbs up YET.

I do not agree that Karns has no value NOW though. Karns should still be one of the top ten best 5th starters this year. I'm not sure we could say that about Paxton this year... NOW unfortunately, based on what we had seen from Paxton the past 3 years, I FULLY expected to be able to say that about Paxton, but... life got in the way.

As far as Marte... I still have memories of Miller and Taylor hitting 300 for a few weeks, so I guess I'm still scarred there too. I'll feel a lot better if he is hitting 280 with an OBP of 333 come May... but until then??  

GLS's picture

I'm starting to like the Karns deal, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Brad Miller breaks out this year or next and hits something like .270 with 25 home runs. But, for the most part I haven't been a fan of DiPoto's moves. But, maybe he's a mad genius? I don't know. I honestly have no clue. I can tell you that this last offseason is the most disconnected and disinterested I've felt in a Mariner's offseason pretty much ever. I'm mildly curious how tomorrow's game turns out, but that's about it. 


I certainly can't say that I feel "disaffected and disinterested". I feel a bit jaded, because a lot of the guys I've pulled for since they were Aqua Sox, rushed to the MiBL box scores each morning to check on progress, will bnot be Mariners this year- or, probably EVER. They will be [hated] Rays, or [loathed] Red Sox, or other enemies- but, not home-team heroes. Instead, we have a bunch of guys I had never heard of- certainlym, never rooted for- patrolling center field and left field and 1B and the bullpen. I'm still pulling for the Mariners- but I like it better when they succeeed with the guys they drafted out of HS- or, college- than the guys who were Giants or Padres or Marlins last year, who were traded for players I thought I had come to "know and love". 

Don't get me wrong- the most exciting aspect of the baseball season for me is the Winter Meetings- I'm thrilled to imagine how the Mariners' resources, and lineup, will change as a result of sending much-loved short-season relievers to Milwaukee for a year's service from an aging first baseman. At my advanced age, I see the baseball world from the point of view of a GM, not (anymore) a cehter-fielder or a closer. But, I'll miss Brad Miller and Nelson Ward- just as I did Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Snelling- when the Mariners and Rainiers and Generals and Lumberjacks answer the call to "Play Ball!", here in the next couple of days. 

That said- "Play Ball!" And, "Go Mariners!"

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