. . . on track for 900 strikeouts Plus, bounce back year for Cano. Best bargain free agent sign in history - Cruz.
... couple of posts up within the hour. ;- ) April Fool's Belated, Dept.
In the meantime (1) please note the requests for invites to slack chat in the Felix thread, and (2) if a few users threw potatoes into the hobo pot -- one sentence regarding your own fave takeaway from the Cleveland series, I'd be thrilled to find the potatoes by the time I'm done. :- )
Make the Mariners great again ...
Q. Pretty good series, eh?
A. That is the first time I recall, since the Piniella Mariners,* that a Mariner squad played like that against a great team. They stood toe-to-toe against Apollo in the center of the ring and swapped punches without a single step-back in three days.
The intimidation factor, even against Kluber, was zero. Their defense was precise, their AB's showed the right blend of patience against ambition, the pitching was intelligent, just amazing from first pitch to last.
In particular, Dr. D enjoyed ticking off every pitch on Bauer's pitch count. Here you have a devilish tricky SP with a full bag of pitches and tricks, throwing the kitchen sink at the M's, and they ran him out of town after 5 IP and a bunch of traffic on the bases.
Q. That seems a bit hyperbolic.
A. Here are the slash lines for the series:
CLEVELAND - 18 hits, 24 K, 9 BB, 3 HR
SEATTLE - 19 hits, 24 K, 6 BB, 4 HR
And that is with (1) Kluber on fire, (2) Paxton having an off game, and (3) injuries to Boom and Zuum.
So, half our squad out and the Indians playing great. The M's just played greater. Like we sez, best series since Lou, in terms of battle worthiness. I think I'm going to cry.
Q. What is Mitch Haniger's top end?
A. Well, far be it from Dr. D to remind you about his ever-so-early Best Bet here, is 'cause every Denizen is smart enough to love Mitch Haniger. I think Matt just said something like "upgrade from Babe Ruth to Sydd Finch" or somesuch.
Haniger's top end ... add this series to 2016 and his lifetime (in the AL) is .289/.362/.512. And that has been running with a parachute, since the oblique last year had him out of rhythm half the time. He had two month-long runs of .350/.400/.600 where he looked every inch like he deserved it, though with .400 BABIP's I 'spose he didn't. He played like that, really, any time he wasn't injured or recovering from such.
Amputate those .350/.400/.600 lines back for BABIP and he's still .300+ with nice walks and 35 homers. So he is bracketed by .289/.362/.512 and .310/.380/.550. Joey Votto less a couple of walks, playing a great right field.
Q. Amigos were arguing the best M's trade. Gordon or Haniger/Segura?
A. Both were creative genius if you ask me. That's not to say there haven't been five lousy trades you could stack against them. But those two were really inventive and M's fans are reaping the benefits.
Q. Speaking of Gordon, is he going to hit for more power?
A. Malcontent noticed his improved hip turn late in 2017. For sure we caught him doing that in the Cleveland series, very often getting the hip WAY out in front.
I don't know whether Andrew (Mal) is right about this or not, but he's been crushing it on SSI this year so would be slow to doubt him. My own suspicion had been that if Gordon got ambitious, he would need to -- this being a prime computation only -- need to dial it back to baseline again after long-term failure. But Andrew pointed out Gordon's .340 AVG with a .455 SLG in Sept. 2017 -- .340 with 3 doubles, 4 triples, and a homer. That equates to a good 40-45 gappers per season.
Defensively he has been the top end of what Dr. D had hoped he'd be -- a blazing-fast guy, taking super weird routes, and getting the job done. Very early here, he is 0.0 defensively per UZR and is -1 plays per Dewan, so he has 159 games to make up the play lost in the first three games. From here I'll bet he is +10 or +15 plays up on the average CF this year.
Q. Ichiro off to a slow start at 2-for-9?
A. Perhaps, but I thought he looked pretty good in the box, reacting well to hot fastballs. Throw 96 to Ichiro and he still sees the pitch, no cheating, and flicks the bat out in plenty of time. Visually LOOKED to me like 95% of Prime Ichiro, though of course he isn't. It hurts him a ton that he is 4 steps slower down the line, and gets no infield hits.
I do have to admit that he fished several times -- garbage swings at back foot sliders mostly. Hard to say which way I'd bet, if the Q were a good contribution in 2018. Maybe 60-40 against.
Servais is subbing him out for Heredia late .... I guess that means Ichi is gone when the 5SP gets here. Unless they go to 7 RP's and 5 OF's. Ichiro may be in a position similar to Vogelbach's, having to hit a ton in the first three weeks.
Q. Speaking of Vogelbach, does his slow start prove he is a AAAA player?
A. Of course not. EVERY person, short of Mike Trout, has trouble with the non-permeable AAA/MLB membrane. And here, 'Bach is pressed by the fact that he knows his boss is super skeptical.
'Bach's AB's showed the same Boggs-level EYE at the plate (except for one or two "pressers".) His O-Swing%, that is his fish rate, is running behind only Mitch Haniger's. And remember it is 300-400 PA's before we can put stock in any of it.
But he has what, 15-20 PA's to shoulder-push Servais and he's now down 5 of those.
Q. Sprained ankle is better than an oblique for Boomstick?
A. He had two thundering blasts into the cheap seats, and those weren't his hardest-hit balls. He had another one with RISP that tore Lindor's glove off. This guy is good to go for 2018 and that's good news, wouldncha say? That our 40-homer cleanup guy is still not going to age out this year?
Q. Freitas or Marjama?
A. We were talking during the game, why does Freitas look so light-years better with the pitch sequences? And somebody brought poor Dr. D up to speed, that Marjama is a SS conversion. :: Ah. Slaps forehead ::
So for me, Freitas is the first string C. It is night-and-day watching the two catch. Perhaps Freitas would have been able to calm Paxton down in the 1st? And then we'd have SWEPT them.
When Zuumball went down and Dr. D realized our two AAA catchers had 4 major league games between them, he truly feared a long string of catastrophes. Freitas is apparently going to put the kibosh to that nightmare. And Dr. D is confident that Servais, as an ex-catcher, will be able to make the right call ;- ) here.
Q. Ryon Healy 0 times on base? Is he a loser?
A. He's way out of sync right now. His swing % is 38%, meaning he's got the bat glued to his shoulder, and when he does swing it's been several times at a slider 3 feet off the plate. Yuck.
But he's still Ryon Healy. How long it will take him for the light bulb to come back on, who knows.
Q. So the M's have their Piniella back on. WHY does Dr. D think this is?
A. No earthly idea. Maybe "chemistry" is no more than getting the right players, Haniger and Boomstick and Gordon and Leake and Cano and Segura to be specific. Maybe baseball really is just a set of 1-on-1 matchups .. and the more players you get, who offer you Lou Piniella focus when the heat's on, the more you look like a winner.
Yep, that idea was big. Are those the Big Three of Dipoto's ideas thus far?
Nelson Cruz has been worth $38.4M, $33.5 and $30.5M in his first three years, and that is with Fangraphs' DH paradigm probably underestimating his value. Compared to his $14M salary, he's paid well under half his value.
As you know Boomstick has led the AL in homers during his time as a Mariner - i.e., the AL's BEST home run hitter. With an average season of 42 HR and 106 RBI since 2015, in RBI he is #2 to Encarnacion.
...to do the same thing Cruz has been doing (albeit slightly less pop). And many players in Cruz's job template (power hitting DH) have been getting horribly limited contracts in the last few years. GMa seem to think Fangraphs is right about a DH getting worth considerably less than a position player for the same stats.
That's not to say I agree with them (the GMs) but to reflect the reality that, if you look at any good player who has hit free agency, they're all making hilariously less money than the fangraphs dollar values. Something is fishy about that stat. IMHO, the average $/WAR value is misleading. In reality, GMs pay more for stoploss than they pay for excellence. Seriously, Trout is worth like eleventy zillion dollars...I don't think that's how the game works.
All the top-end players get half of their FG value. As you know the #1 players each year are worth $60M ...
In terms of bases gained and lost, if you compare top-end players to normal players. GM's don't pay $50M per year to anybody because they don't want to wreck the salary structure. If you're using the "normal player bases" metric, the top end players are indeed worth their $/WAR; if you use the jimmied-gamed "industry salary structure" that is what is fishy.
Of course there has always been the org that, in the past, went ahead and smashed the industry salary structure for a Manny or ARod, and caught huge flak from the commish for doing so.
For whatever reason, the talking head sabermetricians CONTINUE to pummel orgs for every CC Sabathia type contract; I don't know why they continue to overlook that in the first halves of their contracts, most of these FA's are earning twice their salaries.
To clarify, we are agreed as to how players SHOULD be paid. Jarrod Washburn should make like 2 mil, not 12. That would be the only way to pay superstars what they are actually worth. The MLBPA jimmied the salary structure, though, not the owners.
I tend to agree that the game is being silly not rewarding the superstars for what they actually contribute (I'm a capitalist, after all!), but we live in a reality where superstar bases aren't worth what stoploss bases are worth and it makes no sense to pay average-guy dollars for superstar bases in this environment. If you do, you'll be out of money and have one good player.
The bottom line...it does no good for either of us to complain about the system or argue based on the 'average free agent' ratio for superstars. We have to judge superstars against other superstars when deciding whether their contract worked out...because they're filling one of a team's "we need awesome numbers" Yahtzee slots...not "we need stoploss".
And, I'd point out, even if you judge Cruz by superstar dollars, he's still making his money.
Gordon is raw and makes mistakes running routes/getting that first step, but the ability and creativity are there on defense. And it's always fun when the guy with 8 career homers...homers. :)
I entered spring training projecting a line similar to 2016 J.D. Martinez...now it looks more similar to Paul Goldschmidt as his batting eye is obviously evolving. Against three of the top 15 strikeout pitchers in the game and a dominant strikeout-heavy bullpen, Haniger swung and missed ONCE...has zero Ks and 3 BB (one of them intentional), 2 homers and every at-bat is SUPER-focused and precise. MOVING TARGET, folks. Haniger is an all-star. Right now. Potentially a club-controlled superstar.
That was what, .307/.373/.535 based on 22 homers and 35 doubles?
Paul Goldschmidt, that's a .300/.400/.550 line.
One swing and miss? 3:0 EYE? Thanks for pointing it out Matty!
Either Haniger bomb is tops for me. (Partially owing to my $3 bid to win him at auction.)
In any case, neither compares to my worst moment--and I'm looking for some education here.
I was at the game Saturday and when Heredia stepped to the plate for Cruz with the tying run on second, you could hear at least a dozen people in our section murmer, "What the...?" I don't know if they said anything on TV, but we were all apoplectic.
And then--the moment I will NEVER understand--Servais has Heredia sacrificing. Why? How does that make sense? You have a man already in scoring position...six outs left in the game...and you voluntarily give one up?
I thought,"OK, maybe Servais knows Cano can't score on a single." So you move him to third. Where...even assuming Kyle is able to manage a fly ball against Andrew Miller...you now challenge Cano to go fulll speed into a possible collision at the plate? And am I mistaken in remembering that this same bunt call was made during the game yesterday?
I also think I remember sabes years ago decrying this strategy.
What am I missing?
That's the only reason he pitch hit there.
And Heredia bunted I'm guessing as a sign of how little confidence Servais has in his hitting.
If you let the inning play out, then in theory you have a 61% chance of at least one run scoring. If you change things to 1 out, man on 3B you have a 66% chance of at least one run scoring (and therefore tying the game). CLICK THIS LINK for RE Matrix
In practical terms -- that means factoring in the ACTUAL hitter and pitcher, rather than an AVERAGE hitter and pitcher -- Servais didn't like Heredia's chances against Miller, so in his mind it's more like a 40% chance of scoring.
With Seager up, one out, it's more like a 70% chance of scoring the one run and tying it up. (That is all assuming you do not mess up the bunt!)
Good Q. Not saying Servais is right, but that's the thought process. With Boomstick you'd have swung away, but with Heredia's ability to bunt it's probably my preference also, to sacrifice and then grovel the tying run on an out or a lucky single.
I still have in my mind's eye a curveball Felix threw to a right hand hitter that was so tempting but just out of reach of a futile swing. A beautiful pitch.
Bob Dutton quotes a scout saying Felix is Pedro Martinez with the Mets, which Dutton helpfully points out is 10-7, with a 3.96 ERA over 156 innings in 25 starts.
That's a VERY intriguing comp. Thanks Lampoon.
... looking at Pedro ... not sure at all where Dutton's stats come from. Here are the b-ref stats. Actually Pedro threw 496 IP for the NYM with an ERA+ of 109, which would be our dream scenario with Felix.
At first blush I love, love, love that comparison. Pedro had a phase II at 89 mph but he always seemed more comfortable in that skin than Felix has been.
I also seem to recall Mel S in an interview saying Felix has a great feel for his pitches and his pitches have a lot of movement, which makes Felix potentially the greatest junk-ball pitcher of all time (I think he actually used that term).