More Hitters - vs - More Relievers
Let's make a run for more offense, not more defense

Speaking of Jesus Montero ... 

Dr. Detecto hopes you find it amusing that on Monday he might analyze Mike Montgomery to the point of his readers' nausea ... and then on Tuesday he will say something like "Who's this Johnny Cueto guy?"  It's all part of the SSI fun.  Some things interest us and other things, we pay zero attention to.  Off the top of his head, Dr. D couldn't name three guys in the Ranger lineup.  But he does demand the right to veto the M's roster moves.

What was I going to say ... on Friday, I had no clue what the Mariners' roster was.  Don't know, don't care.  OK, flip on the DVR.  The M's played a normal-looking defensive 9-man alignment.  But then Franklin Gutierrez came in as a pinch hitter for Seth Smith ... followed by Mark Trumbo as a PH for Dustin Ackley.   ... WHAAAAaaaaa?  You got a backup SS and C ... does that mean the Mariners have a 4-man bench now?  (!?)

Then Jesus Montero also pinch-hit!  Who's ON the roster any more?  Wouldn't that add up to FIVE bench players?  When you can't add 9+5 and subtract that from 25, it is time to just bluff your way through with Konspiracy Korners.  But sure enough, as of 2:36 am Sunday night, the M's official roster showed a mere 11 pitchers.  Amusingly, it also didn't show Jesus Montero as active, so it had 24 players on the 25-man roster.  You know they aren't going to flush Montero at 2:36 am when he just proved he was your go-to lefty counter.

Franklin Gutierrez got excellent swings at lefties, too.  Mark Trumbo is a career .504 slugger against lefties.  8 out of 10 dentists recommend Chris Taylor/Brad Miller platoons for their patients who chew gum.  Montero.   The M's obviously have some right hand batters who are a whale of a lot better against David Price than left hand hitters are.

(Belatedly, we noticed that J.A. Happ was off the roster for a few days, just because of the way the dynamic AAA shuttle works these days.  Okey doke, fine and dandy.)


Bill James just wrote a column tracking the increase of RP's historically.  We are up to 2.9 relievers per team per game.  That is 7.8 pitchers per game, you understand.  8 pitchers in an AVERAGE game.  Many games have like 13 pitchers.  But you can expect to see 8, just tomorrow.  If you enjoy that, you're obviously not ... me.

Managers like 7-8 relief pitchers for exactly one (1) reason --- > they'd rather control the matchups on defense than control the at-bats on offense.  Let that sink in for a moment.




The more of a control freak a manager is, the more he emphasizes defense.  That's any sport.  Better defense -- when it comes at cost to your offense -- provides the ILLUSION of control.  It provides a FEELING of security to hold the other team down.  It's like the NFL used to run the ball until Bill Walsh came along, and then it realized that being BETTER gives control.  Whether it's because of offense or defense, running or passing, playing Cover Two or blitzing a lot.  As Elliott Hulse gently pointed out, "Feelings don't mean squat."


Okay, that's the industry trend, and McClendon is leading it.  Eighty-nine reliever switches is the coin of the realm.  We want 8 relievers and 1 bench guy, plus the utility infielder and the backup catcher (who does not play if he's in Seattle).  We prefer RP's to PH's as a philosophical choice.

But (1) what if your offense is batting .235 as a team, and ruining your season?  

And (2) what if the substitute hitters available to you are much better than the sub pitchers available to you?  Does that factor in?  Wouldn't it make sense to go with platoon hitters on the roster if you have good ones, and it's your offense that needs the help?

Wouldn't you want to choose RP's vs PH's dynamically, based not on an abstract preference for defense, but based on the here and now?  It's like saying you prefer the 4-3 defense in the NFL, but you have 5 Bobby Wagners and no decent DL's.  You don't play a 3-4 then?  It's just, "I like 4-3."

In chess, it's axiomatic that you cannot afford to nurse "favorite strategic principles" while ignoring today's tactical position on the board.  You might love to play against isolated pawns, but if Nf5-Qh6-Qg7 mate is looming, that's what you play.  You adapt to the demands of the position.

7-8 relief pitchers, based on personal philosophy and not based on the resources available to you?  That reaction cannot be right.  


Ah.  The M's did option Montero back to AAA, an appropriate response to a man who went 6-for-13 (.461 OBP, 3:1 EYE) for an offense scoring 3.5 runs a game.  This dude is in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Dr D

(PS the good news is, Montero's surge won't go unnoticed in the short-to-medium term.)

(PPS we know, we know.  This specific Montero demotion is more due to our Trumbo wedding than it is due to RP prefs.  This week the Mariners DID use the AAA shuttle to make a run for the offense over the defense.  But in general.)

PPPS image:  Seattle Times



It's been a rough baseball season having to watch the M's from afar without the benefit of seeing games, well maybe a it's actually been a blessing.  I've been (un)lucky enough to actually see Felix pitch to 4 batters live this sesaon.  Three of those batters have hit home runs.  I know that's just unfortunate timing on my part because I know that he's been his normal self.  I did not see yesterday's game, but for a change I actually watched almost all of Saturday's game.

That was a nice win for us, but what struck me most about it was that had we not gotten lucky enough to get two good swings against Mount Pineda, it would have been another stark reminder of the cost paid for a potentially useful asset that our wonderful organization refuses to utilize.  And it's truly galling.  I get the proper business context that sunk cost has zero bearing on your next financial decision, but when I listen to the YES network folks talking about how Tanaka and Pineda are 1 and 1A in their rotation, I still wonder where our 140 OPS+ guy is.

How many years has the offensive malaise been in place?

Hate to sound negative because with the talent in place, this org should be right in the middle of the hunt in the AL.  There is plenty of money.  There is plenty of talent.  There is zero results.  This "comfort-level" managing only shows incoherence to me - like the unity of vision just isn't there. 

There has only been one consistency in place since the last playoff appearance.......

Mr. Allen, would you like to take a new hobby???  And where might we find the "Pete Caroll" of MLB?


Even if you don't care about the MASSIVE investment IN Montero ... didn't you assess him as a potential MVP?  Now your anger at his previous work ethic is going to override that?

Lot of frustration now being expressed on this board with Z and McC.  But that doesn't mean our specific comments are inaccurate.


The missing pitcher is Happ, who was sent to single A for a week to rest and do light work since we wouldn't need a 5th starter until today.  Mnotero will hopefully be back soon, soon as we trade Morrison.

M's Watcher's picture

This is the only way it would make any sense, to make him Zunino's back-up.  A guy hitting like he is can't find a roster spot?  Expect to see him on somebody's 25 man roster by the trade deadline.  Either the M's trade some dead wood or this guy from their doghouse.  It has been difficult to see a coherent plan.


Here they are, the 2015 season absolutely being garroted for lack of offense.  But when they lose, it won't be because they allowed runs.


In fairness, they think that Mike Zunino shaves like 0.50 or 1.00 ERA "per game" off the enemy's scoring.  No hitter equates to -1.00 ERA.  So it might not be simply a def/off philosophy issue.


I wouldn't be surprised if we find a trade for Morrison.  Detroit is a logical place.  Let's run the rest of the season out with Montero getting 50-55 starts.  Let's see what he's got vR.  

Our huge error this year was made by Z.  Nearly a month ago, as the M's returned from tough road trip, I advocated using the ooportunity to change managers.  It was the type of change that just might have jump-started us.

Z went with Mac.  He's ours for the rest of the season.  Too late now.


In retrospect, it seems like Z jumped the gun with the Trumbo deal. It had a very weird feel to it at the time - trading away the competent backup C that we so badly needed and had just acquired a week earlier - for ANOTHER high SLG low OBP guy who was going to readjust to the AL West. You knew there would be an adjustment period. Meanwhile, Zunino's help was thrown overboard. Should have kept Wellie, and called up Montero to see what we had.


Agreed. In retrospect that is EXACTLY what we should have done, and many of us in the peanut gallery were calling for. Sometimes the peanut gallery is right.


... excluding Dr. D from the consideration.

Green Bay sells stock in its team and is 'run' :- ) by the fans.  I'd smilingly take a shot at letting you guys run a ballclub as opposed to the M's Committee.

But who would chair?  Mojician has the logistical skills ...


what we wouldn't give to have Montero/Castillo vs. Trumbo/DNP Coach's Decision.

The HR/no-OBP charge is beginning to bother even me.


To me, it comes down to the skill of the respective player. If your last reliever is a relief ace while your last bat hits a buck-o-five, then you are better off with the reliever. That may have been the situation last year, when (seemingly) 8th and even 9th relievers were awesome - cough *Carson Smith* cough - but the next bat in the queue was not so good. That is certainly NOT the situation this year, however. Montero is certainly more valuable than Guaipe. 

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