All-Star Break Noodlings
M's have us all glued to the TV


JOHN McGRATH WROTE an interesting piece in the News Tribune the other day, calling into question McClendon's job.  I think he started it by comparing the Mariners' players during the 10-3 Angels drubbing to --- > high school seniors on the last day of school (zero interest in the work, and total obsession with getting away from a place they hate).  Brilliant.

There was another piece in the TNT, quoting Mariners stars to the effect that they'll be fine.  Was it Felix, Cano, and Cruz?  A bunch of quotes like "We just have to get our pitching and hitting together.  We just need more consistency."  Great, except every single solitary quote, you were thinking "you could staple this quote to Al Cowens and Richie Zisk in 1982."

There was another piece, quoting McClendon to the effect that "If I have to change my approach, no more Mr. Nice guy, that's what I'll do."  Except do you ever remember Earl Weaver saying this?  "If I have to change my managing style, so be it."  Did Billy Martin, or Bobby Cox, or Tommy Lasorda, or Tony La Russa, ever say "I'll get this figured out"?  No, because they had it figured out before the season started.  Ten seasons ago. 

Did LOU PINIELLA ever say, midseason, "Okay.  Time for me to change my approach."   ... in fact, can you name a really good manager who didn't take his first job with basically the same approach he retired with?  James points out that this is why some of them get left behind ... a Sparky Anderson led the league in relief changes as a rookie, but had the fewest in baseball after twenty years :- )

Am not trying to be mean to McClendon.  Am just saying that at this point, with the M's -7 under .500, personally I'd make the change.  Just like he makes a change when a pitcher's ERA is 6.60, and he sends the man to Tacoma.


Bill James, in a recent Hey Bill, pointed out (as he has done before) that usually "intensity" sets an outer boundary on how long a manager will be in a certain place:


Bill, I've been curious as to the success of Billy Martin as a manager. Is there any analytical reason why he was able to turn around teams so quickly? I always found interesting looking back that Earl Weaver's "3-run HR" strategy" was a bit ahead of its time, but I haven't seen anyone explain what Martin did with Minnesota (79 wins to 97), New York (79 to 91), Texas (47-91 when he took over, next year 84-66), and especially Oakland (54 to 83, playoffs the next year). Thanks.
Asked by: thegue
Answered: 7/10/2015
Well, first, he used corked bats--discreetly, just two or three key power hitters per team, but he used them and gained a meaningful advantage from them.
Second, he basically ignored the longterm consequences of asking his key pitchers to pitch huge numbers of innings and complete games--although, in fairness to Martin, he also did a better job than his predecessors of seeing the potential of pitchers on his staff. Before he took over the Twins, for example, the Twins had been using Jim Perry is a swing man/fifth starter role for six long years, although Perry had been consistently effective, posting ERAs in that period of 2.27, 2.54 and 2.63, never higher than 3.84. Martin put him back in the rotation where he belonged.
And third, by his intensity and, frankly, intimidation of his players, Martin increased the focus and intensity of his players. I remember a game in 1981, possibly 1982, in which the A's scored about four runs in an inning to give Matt Keough a 4-run lead. Keough took the mound and threw two balls to the first hitter. Martin popped out of the dugout--AFTER TWO PITCHES--screaming at Keough, pointing vigorously to the catcher. Keough immediately started nodding like a bobble-head doll in a hurricane, signaling "I know, I know; big lead, throw strikes, I remember, big lead, throw strikes, I've got it", but Martin strode angrily to the mound and obviously reamed him out. Keough threw the next pitch over the heart of the plate, and got out of the inning unscored on. Martin was like that; he didn't tolerate laxity or inattention.
In the long run, over the course of two or three years, his high-pressure tactics made him impossible to live with, but in the short run they helped to make him effective. - Bill


Now bear in mind that Martin would instantly improve a team by +15, +20 games.  So what is focus worth?


Dr. D wouldn't have thought McClendon lacked intensity, except that he himself characterized it that way.  Be that as it may, you've got two basic types of mid-season managerial changes:

  • Intense guy leaves, laid-back guy comes in
  • Laid-back guy leaves, intense guy comes in

Of those two, I've always liked (1), unless you were talking about Billy Martin.  (By the way, in Dick Williams' biography, he revealed that the Seattle Mariners were only inches away from going "Billyball" before they hired Williams.)

Trent Jewett is a bench coach, meaning he is a nice-guy "buffer" between manager and players, ... So.  Also, he's a career minor league catcher, ... So.  But Edgar Is Good.


People have asked about whether the M's crack medical team shouldn't be able to come up with something to help Robinson Cano's digestion .... here's a subject on which Dr. D has been there, done that.  When Cano said that sometimes it's like a mouthful of water makes you want to retch, well .... that's a Bingo.  Try (for example) ten days in the hospital in which a sip of water through a straw causes gagging, and yet the nurses are on you constantly to eat and drink ... we mention only because it's relevant to Cano.  What happens is that the bottom of your stomach just clenches up, like a stopped drain.  Forget it.  Oh, haven't you ordered lunch yet?

Intravenous drips?  They only trickle in so fast, and Cano isn't going to spend 15 hours on an IV drip anyway ... the miracle is that they've got his reflexes such that he can play any kind of pro baseball, much less major league baseball.

From a baseball standpoint, I found the whole GI-tract revelation to be ENCOURAGING.  Dr. Grumpy can correct me if I'm wrong, but a GI infection due to a parasite isn't liable to last forever.  And now we're assured* that "premature aging" isn't the cause of the dropoff.  What's weird is that his average BIP velocity is higher this year than last, but what isn't weird is that he is hitting .327/.364/.519 in July.


The Seahawks landed 8 players in the ESPN top 100.  But that wasn't as cool as the 49'ers landing zero :- )

Cindy noodled around online to see what Seahawks 2015 tickets are going for.  You don't want to know.  But Jimmy Graham, and Wilson's 4th year, and Marshawn, and the Seahawks seething over the Super Bowl, and who knows what else ... we could see a Perfect Storm this year, couldn't we?


It's weird, but Dustin Ackley has responded to his benching by hitting .343/.395/.629 the last 30 days.  Lookout Landing also has a piece up on the way he hits well in July and August, but still, it's striking that he has swung the bat well despite having his daily rhythm shot all to pieces.  Guess he needs to be the next Zobrist, for somebody who doesn't have a second baseman.

Seth Smith the last 30 days continues to play as if there isn't a dumpster fire going on around him, batting the same .290/.353/.468 that he has all year.  In Safeco Field, that is about what a $20M free agent would hit.  And they got him next year, for what, $7M.  That's 1, 1.5 WAR.

Taijuan Walker threw the ball very well last time out, though he gave up like five runs.  He has passed like four, five filters since 2011, and has just now reached the point to where I might prefer to trade you James Paxton instead of Taijuan.  And I don't think one dime less of Paxton than ever.  Walker could, within a year or so, become the best pitcher in the American League.

Get this team moving,

Dr D




Whether or not the M's season would be resurrected by a managerial change, I don't know.

But the M's are WAY too comfortable with underachieving. There's a lot of hand-wringing among the press and fans, but the players echo their manager's "back of the baseball card" assurances that this team somehow will just start playing up to it's capability. They've played so "inevitably" for so long that even if they do it is too late.

They will have to go from underachieving to overachieving to get to the postseason, this despite the mathematical assurances that they aren't that far out of the race. As any experienced baseball follower will tell you, it's not a matter of how far behind you are, it's also how many teams are between you and the prize. The problem becomes this-- for every loss by one team ahead of you that helps you, there is an equal and opposite win for another. You pile up enough teams ahead of you that at some point the necessary collective losses for you to pass them all simply aren't there.

But hey, you gotta try. I like Lloyd personally. And I'm not convinced that making a change is going to accomplish much in the long haul. But fire the guy. Try SOMETHING. This season is the kind that induces stomach-emptying.

Come to think of it, I wonder if Cano's stomach troubles started when at some point he realized that all the things people warned him about regarding the Seattle Mariners was true and he was stuck with them for ten years.


+1 DaddyO.  Silentpadna and I have been tilting at this windmill since July 31, 2001.  Seems it's been about the same length of time for you.

They didn't build that stadium with their own money.  And they're not giving us widgets as we file out.  They charged us $400M for pennant races, so it would be okay with me if they would try as hard as Arte Moreno or Paul Allen do, or sell the club to somebody who would.

It's a personal opinion, but I see the "competitive team and a nice night outside" Corporate Mission as a violation of the public trust.


The big problem with firing Lloyd is Zduriencik. Do you really let him hire ANOTHER manager? So if Lloyd has to go then Jack has to go too. And if you are going there, would any great candidate come to Seattle for an interim job? 

I'm inclined to like the aggressive type manager for this team. There is nobody in the M's clubhouse that will grab the team by their collective necks and shake. No butt-kickers. Lloyd can try, I guess, but if it's forced and not in line with his character I think he'll finally lose the team. I've seen soft-touch managers try to get tough in business situations and it's never really gone over well. Fodder for all kinds of eye rolling & hallway gossip.

Me? I'm a Wally Backman fan for this team. i doubt he would last more than 3-4 years before his act wore thin but that's basically the window in Seattle anyway. He's volatile and edgy, no question, but this team needs some of that in the worst way. 


Yes, the two are at this point joined at the hip. One goes, the other must. The only theoretical exceptoin would be an interim manager forced on Zduriencik, but what in the world does that accomplish as far as rejuvenating the team this season? That type of change is usually only made once you've punted on the season.

And the idea of a complete regime change (GM and manager) midseason doesn't seem very wise. If Jack were in a stronger position, a managerial change would be more likely. As it is, what you say clearly obviates against anything being done unless and until the M's fall completely out of any realistic dream of contention.


And could we hear more about Backman, next time you feel like it?


I've often wondered about the # of managers a GM gets.  It makes sense, but have never researched it.  I'm guessing you'd have a hard time finding a GM who lost 88 games a year for 7 years, went through a list of managers, and just kep' on GM'ing.  But maybe there are some.  Anybody know?

GLS's picture

I'm not in favor of trading him, but if you wanted to go that route, I think you could get just about anything you wanted. But overall I agree, I would trade Paxton first at this point.


Much better than the velocity as such, because of the angles, hop, stride, truncated motion, huge hands, etc.  The command he's gaining on it has shocked me.

The change is starting to show flashes of Pedro Martinez run and sink.  The deception on his arm action is 100%.  When he finishes it, the change is an authentic wipeout pitch.  We just haven't seen him whipsaw it against the high heat, with pitchability, yet.

The slider is a snake-tongue to the change, exact same speed, breaks the other way.  The curve has flashes of Josh Beckett.

The shoulder angle has moved out to the side a bit and the 'pinch' seems much relieved.

Could really see this guy become something Verlander-like and not too long from now.  Giving the scouts their kudos, they could see this possibility a long time ago.


Still, give me 100 Paxtons or 100 Taijuans as of 2013 and I'll take the Paxtons every time.  *This* Taijuan happened to not blow out his arm, turn into a head case, etc.  Get K-Pax going with him and we'll really have something.  All we'd need is an Opening Day starter to complete the rotation chess set ....


Crazy thing about Walker, as has been discussed here quite a bit, is how young he is - not just in years but in baseball years. He's still in the steep part of his learning curve. If he can stay healthy, there is no telling what his ceiling is. 

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