Rumor has it, Dept.


CLAIM:  NORAD annually tracks the progress of (1) Santa, of (2) UFOs, and of (3) Seattle Mariner Right Fielders because a crop circle once contained important information tying these items to the well-being of humanity.




EXAMPLE:  [Seen in the Shout Box, December 2014]

Supposedly the tradition of NORAD tracking Kevin Mather's RF journey on radar comes from an accident in 2014, when Seattle Sports Insider Inc. published a "Warnings and Indications, MELKY OTC" phone number that was one digit off from a key phone number at North American Aerospace Defense Command.  

Although cute, this story smacks of urban legend to me. Was it really so easy, even in 2014, for a completely unknown blog to reproduce such information without assistance from Bud Selig?  And would NORAD involve itself, absent a direct call from Selig?

It's true that the Mariners have acquired the short half of a platoon-hitting RF.  But Justin Ruggiano is eerily reminiscent of Casper Wells, and a scientific approach would seem to demand the acquisition of a legitimate RF solution.  To count on BOTH Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, in one season, is the epitome of "woo."  NORAD would have little interest in this situation.


ORIGINS:  Ever since Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero, Mariner fans have had the idea that young developmental players, and certainly weak spots in the lineup, are inconsistent with planning a playoff run.

However, the following table clearly shows that none of the 2014 AL playoff contenders had airtight lineups:

the Worst of the Best
Team Pos Player PA or IP OPS+ or ERA+ Remark  
Det SS Romine 273 55    
  SS Suarez 277 82    
Bal 2B Schoop 481 67    
  SP Jimenez 125 ip 80    
LAA SP Skaggs 113 ip 85    
  SP Wilson 175 ip 81    
KCR 2B Infante 575 76    
  3B Moustakas 500 74    
  DH Rauuuul   67    
Orcs 2B Sogard 329 64    
  2B Punto 224 69    
  DH Callaspo 451 67    
  OF Gentry 258 67    
  OF Fuld 195 72    
Sea DH       Don't Ask  
  SS Miller   88    
  SS Taylor   102    


QUOTED:  D-O-V Labs, Inc.

It's true that Mather admits the hole in RF, that the Mariners have tried to acquire Kemp and Upton to fill it, and that going with Brad Miller would "leave money on the table."  An even-handed approach would certainly point towards securing another hitter for that slot.

It says here the Mariners will do this.  No need for dogs and cats to live together in an apocalypse of Biblical proportions.  We've got a lady running around frantically in the mall with 4 credit cards in her little fist, and we're yellin' at her to get shoppin'.


However, the idea that a [pitching-heavy] team cannot afford a single weak hitter in its lineup is itself the urban legend. 

If Chris Taylor were then to OPS+ 60 at shortstop while Miller played right field, Taylor wouldn't by himself torpedo the good ship Mariner any more than Schoop, Romine, or Sogard were able to sink theirs.

But I don't expect that he will.  


QUOTED:  Fangraphs. Inc. (STEAMER)

Taylor, Chris 418 .261 .323 .354 2.1 96
Miller, Bradley 550 .252 .314 .395 2.2 103

By the way, Miller's projected BABIP is .291.  To which we can confidently reply, "huh?"  We'll take the over, thanks.  ... But the point is, just two weeks ago we were hearing that Ian blinkin' Desmond was a fool's errand because we got 4 WAR at short already ...

If the above are the only two kids you're counting on, well, guess I'll have to take my chances.

Brad Miller needs to play, period.  If Chris Taylor hits an empty .230 at shortstop in the first half, and we have to go with D.J. Peterson or Logan Morrison in the second half, I'm more worried about keeping our 4 young SP's healthy.   This team is about its pitching, kiddies.  Precious few historical 118 ERA+ teams had nine good hitters ...


Yeah, I'd add Seth Smith, too.  And I hate leaving $15M in 2015 salary on the table.  Hate it.  Maybe it makes them more likely to add a real Star next offseason?


QUOTED:  Seattle Sports Insider

Chris Taylor, Level 101 Scan (Aug. 11, 2014)  "What Is a KBIZLT Swing?"

Chris Taylor vs Brad Miller (Oct. 13, 2104) "Chris Taylor's zone coverage and ability to direct the ball"


ALSO SEE:  My second site,, for "The Crunch on Regression to the Mean."


LAST UPDATED:  December 2014


Anonymous's picture

It feels so Mariner to not make the obvious addition when our opportunity is NOW. They did it last year after signing Cano and they are doing it now after signing Cruz.


I could do that.  It's not like you can't acquire a guy to fill the hole down the line.  
It makes more sense if Taylor is a true + glove/arm/range guy.  If he's that guy, then you can easily tolerate his potential low-ball bat performance.  A reminder about the guy, in 500 MLB/AAA PA's, he slapped 30 doubles, 7 triples and 5 homers.  He "ain't" totally Wee Willie Keeler with the bat. 
If his K rate drops a bit he will hit more than well enough to survive, be tough in fact, if he is that plus glove guy.
And if Taylor is that guy, then Miller ends up in the OF anyway.  You may as well give him max reps there next year.  Actually, you wouldn't have to play him much at SS if we kept Carlos Romero coming out of ST as our utility IF.
And we have Deej/Kivlehan (maybe Choi and S. Romero) chomping at the bit.  One of those guys will hit.  Well, a couple of them likely.  I remain quite confident that Romero hits eventually. I could plan on plugging Kivlehan iin come june 1st right now.  No worries there.  
Actually the hole I'm most worried about is the potential of an Ackley collapse again.  Then what?
And Morrison's 111 OPS was made up of a .695 OPS vR and a .846 OPS vL, fueled by a .389 (unsustainable) BABIP in 90 AB's.  But his vR BABIP was just .250 so there is room to rise, there. Interestingly, his career vR # is only .269 vs. .321 career vL.
We're way better than we were last year right now.  If Taylor is an Ozzie-lite type of SS, then let's just go with him there right now.  If he isn't, and the difference between he and Miller is one of degrees, then it is worthy of discussion who to play at SS and whether to get a cheap/short RF.
There are LHB guys we can get who won't break the bank and would help.
Get the right price with no LT commitment and I'm in there, too.  
Depends on the deal and our belief in Taylor's glove.


He's been putrid in long stretches, but always comes out with at least 1 WAR offensively. He did 1.0 last year as a left fielder, his worst due to moving off second base. I think we can reasonably count on that going forward. That is the bottom, and you have his plus defense so it makes him better than "replacement" level. We probably have to worry more about LoMo than Ackley, and it seems everyone is pretty sanguine regarding him. Even when Ackley returned to earth last September, he wasn't grounding everything to second base, IIRC. He just stopped being Superman. That was huge to me. Of course, if he does revert to that form, like you say Moe, there is help on the way. And Ruggiano is there to limit the damage in the meantime. And like you, Moe, I ain't counting Romero out neither. The guy has some killer milb stats and tore up Tacoma after his demotion.


Imagine if Billy Beane were "going for it" and while doing so, sitting on the top of the WAR heap like we currently are, began swapping out MLB certified regulars and some useful low minors stuff to acquire Choi, Romero, Kivlihan, Brazis, from other organizations. We'd be quaking I our boots: "We're getting outfoxed again by the master. What's he up to? A genius. Z keeps these guys, and we kinda sit and worry. But like Beane himself says, you play to June to see what you have. We really need to see what we have.


The Mariners have this incredible fear of the deep end, like one wrong deal will capsize the whole operation, drown half the crew and leave the rest to be eaten by sharks and interned in a POW camp if they survive 40 days at sea.
Just Go. Get. A. Hitter.  If he's the wrong hitter and he's worthless, okay - you still have all the rest of your chips to deploy THEN.  If he's the right hitter (as Cruz would have been last year, or Morse would have been, or Josh Willingham even) then we're fine, and we're rolling toward the playoffs.
I don't mind having good young bats to back up my other options, but the idea that Miller and Taylor are our only potential hole is not realistic.
- LoMo is injury-prone and inconsistent.  LoMo in a slump resembled LoMo on a streak like a Big Mac resembles a filet mignon. We gettin' the Big Mac again in '15?  If so, somebody else better bring the steak and the sizzle.
- Ackley hits like a Major League Pro... but only after the All Star Break, it seems.  Can we ride out another two-to-three months of winter wasteland until the Southern Boy warms up enough to hit?
- Zunino contributes by hitting home runs.  Nothing else he does at the plate is up to major league standards.  If he suffers a power outage for a couple of months he's gonna look like a tomato can run over by a freight train.
As we're fond of saying, the games count in April too.  Make sure we've got enough bats to ride out a cold streak or some ineptitude from kids still finding their sea legs.  Not having a suitable replacement on hand for Almonte or Romero cost us the playoffs as surely as not signing Cruz did.
If Romero or Miller or Taylor comes out in Spring Training demolishing the ball, all well and good.  I don't want to NEED him to in order to win those April and May games.  Because if the new bat struggles, we can work in kids around him.  If the kids struggle, we're stuck.  More redundancy is better (even though that hasn't worked out for us with things like the DH position lately, because all of our redundancy was inept).
I'm fine with figuring out what's going on with the team from June forward, but I want as many non-rookie (or 2nd year) options as I can get to piece-meal the best roster we can until that point.  If Kivlehan OPSes 1.000 in AAA and forces an appearance because Miller is tanking, fine!  We can fit him in.
But the Ms always talk themselves into being okay with their options on-hand because going out and adding another bat is risssssky, precious, too rissssky.  And then we sit home in October, watching the Royals go to the World Series.
Felix can't pitch forever.  Kuma might be on his last ligament strand.  Paxton or Walker could pull a Campos/Pineda/Hultzen and become quickly useless.  You can't just sit around waiting for everything to line up perfectly.  "There's no fate except what we make for ourselves."  I said 3 years ago we were aiming at 2016.  Well, we move that up a year by adding the right piece or two.  Cruz is one piece, so who is the other?  If we feel like we can do it at the deadline, maybe we do that - but what about the Mariners screams "we'd love to go all in at the deadline if we're not ahead in the race at the time?"
They're all about small moves.  Last year we added Jackson, which blew up in our faces, and Kendrys, which did the same.  And Denorfia, which died with a whimper.  For the price of Hart + Kendrys + Jackson + Denorfia - just in WAGES - we could have added a real hitter and skipped the whole debacle.
But we were too scared to get it right in the offseason after doing what we'd never done and plunking down a quarter-billion on Cano.  We ran out of courage, and it might have cost us a pennant, maybe a ring.  We'd have met the Royals in round one and who says they do to us what they did to Oakland?  Last year might have been our year, but we didn't wanna mess up 2016+.  Let's stop going halfway to competing.  Dive in - the water might be cold, but nobody ever won a title in the pool by standing on the tiled edge and dipping a toe in.
This year we've gone from trying to add Melky or Upton or Kemp as the bat to push us over the top, to wondering if Ruggiano + Miller can be a league-average LF if we squint hard enough. Because the price was too high, or the risk was too much.  There's something to be said for saving your tinder and trying to build a dynasty - but banners mean something too, and while we have the greatest pitcher in the AL at the height of his powers, I'd like to see us help him win us a ring.
If it's not too much trouble.

benihana's picture

Hart + Kendrys + Jackson + Denorfia were GOOD moves at the time! LL was all over Hart as a potential bounce back guy. We got Kendrys (who had proven he could hit in Safeco a single season before) for a flyer to patch a gaping hole. Jackson for Franklin on paper was a tremendous move. Denorfia looked like a great right handed platoon option.
They fizzled. Yes. But they were good moves, and not one of them would have been considered at the time of the trade as non "real" hitters.
Heck, more people would have argued that Morse and Cruz were WORSE than the aforementioned four.
I say keep going after the Melky, Upton & Kemps, and stop it with the platoon bats. Either make a big splash now or do it during the season.
- Ben.

Taro's picture

You have a point about LoMo. Hes projected for 1.6 WAR by steamer in 2015, but has only been worth 1.9 WAR over his entire career. Kind of a wild card for 2015. We seem to have a ton of those.


The last 10 years has really made me appreciate the damage that a few black holes can have on a team. Can we afford one, and still compete? Sure.
However, I'd prefer to thrash the AL instead of just compete! Give me some of that black hole-lacking exponential offense please!
If we somehow have too much talent then we can move something to make room for a kid. Aoki (or similar) won't kill our flexibility... but will supply real insurance at many positions for minimal cost.
I'm thinking that there's also (possibly) a benefit to having the younger pitchers we're worried about pitching with a lead, with fewer stressful innings.

misterjonez's picture

the team would have been able to go out and get a legit slugger for the MOTO instead of running the magic carousel which kept regurgitating shattered hopes and broken dreams.
At some point (I think the M's are at this point) you need to push into the pot and declare the move. The M's seriously needed Kemp/Upton, and now they don't have them. Melky would have probably done the job as well, but now it really is down to a Desmond rental, or a really unexpected move like a Tulo blockbuster (they're after at least two high-level pitching prospects, and strangely enough, I'd pretty gladly meet their demands. Tulo could transform this team, even if he *only* OPS'd in the low .800's as a Mariner.


I posted a shout about Mathers' statement that the M's were more interested in consistently contending than going for it in any given year. I quote: "That sounds a LOT like Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong. Back when we actually were contenders in the Lou Piniella era, serious Mariners fans grew extremely frustrated because management was content to contend but would never add the final pieces to actually go for it all. Ten years of utter non-contention makes us salivate just to be contenders, but it won't take too many years of routine contention before we again clamor for an "in it to win it" approach."

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.