I like the new rule about keeping the hitters in the batting box-at least one foot after every pitch. I hope the rule will be enforced as I loathe and detest batters who step out after every pitch and walk around like they are looking for a park bench to sit on while feeding pigeons.
I think it was David Ortiz who said he did not like the rule, as hitters need to step out and think about the next pitch, the count, what the pitcher is likely to throw, and all that jazz.
Sorry to bring up the old days, but I have no choice. When I was growing up-and you can see footage on YouTube-batters never got out of the box, not even one foot. Never I say. They stayed in the box and were able to think about the next pitch at the same time. I know you are thinking ‘but how can this be?’ You think I am kidding, that it is impossible for a hitter to stay in the batters box and think at the same time. But I assure you this is true.
Somehow Willie Mays hit 660 home runs without getting out of the box between pitches. You can look it up.
I don’t know the reason hitters of yore were able to think about the next pitch in a short time. Maybe they prepared better, maybe they knew the pitchers better, maybe they went under the adage of ‘see ball, hit ball’.
Some of today’s hitters overthink, or they can’t think, or are trying to figure out how to think, but I have figured out one thing and it is this. From opening day forward my favorite players will be those who stay in the batters box and players I will jeer, boo, and heckle will be those complainers who can’t stay in the box because it affects their thinking.
I’m believe their brain waves are spinning in foul territory.
The Mariners have seven games left to win a wild card spot and are 1.5 behind Kansas City and 2 behind Oakland. Still time, but the numbers indicate Seattle in a September slump with no signs of a reversal.
In the month of September Oakland is 7-12, but have an ERA of 3.08. Kansas City is 10-9 with a 3.27. The Mariners who had strong pitching all season, the best in baseball, are 10-10 with an ERA of 3.81. The M’s high ERA is attributed to the following pitchers, Hisashi Iwakuma 9.35; Yoervis Medina 9.00; Chris Young 8.59; and Fernando Rodney 5.63. Between them they have a 1-8 record. The way the rotation is set up Iwakuma, Paxton, and King Felix are slated to pitch at home against the Angels in the last series of the season.
If the Mariners are to make any headway they must win three of four in Toronto. Paxton, Felix, Walker, and Young will start.
But there is more than Pitching that is troublesome for the Mariners as their hitting is also in a slump. Kansas City is hitting .252; Seattle .221; and Oakland .220. The culprits this month for Seattle are Dustin Ackley .116; Chris Denorfia .148; Kendrys Morales .169; Chris Taylor .185; and. . . I could go on, but lets us say that Logan Morrison is batting .320 Robinson Cano .293; Endy Chavez .292 then it drops to .268 for Brad Miller and .264 for Kyle Seager.
Oakland, though 7-12 in the month, leads Seattle by two games with seven to play. Seattle plays better on the road, but are 3-4 after playing at Los Angeles and Houston. Kansas City is playing the best of the three wild card contenders and they travel to Cleveland to play four, one a suspended game, and the Indians are only 3.5 behind the Royals for a wild card so they have incentive to win. Oakland hosts Los Angeles and Mariner fans will be rooting for the Angels, which might be a first.
That is why Seattle needs to win 3 of 4 against Toronto. It is a good time to make a strong showing with Oakland in a slump, battling Los Angeles; and with Kansas City playing a Cleveland, a team eager to get in the race.
It is constantly brought up that the Mariners hitting has been woeful, yet they are six games above .500. Yes their .301 on base percentage, 28th in baseball is awful, but their batting average has climbed to 23rd at .243.
But there are three parts to a baseball team; hitting, pitching, and fielding, and two much attention is focused on hitting, as if that was the only key to winnings. I say “Bah, humbug.”
The Mariners are 4th in baseball with a 3.25 earned run average and 2nd in runs allowed per game at 3.45. Since the Martiners score more than four runs per game they have a + run differential and the reason for the 3.45 per game, besides good pitching with the top bullpen in baseball, is that they are 3rd in fielding percentage at .987 and their 39 errors in 80 games is second fewest, the Reds with 32 are the best.
This is why I get irritated with so called talking head baseball experts on TV and radio who say the Mariners will fall out of the wild card race because of lack of hitting. Why is so little focus given to pitching and defense when over the course of 162 games that will win you games.
Many thought Denver would beat Seattle in the Super Bowl because they had the best offense in history. They forgot what an excellent defense can do, especially when you are faster and tougher. And I always harken back to the 1963 World Series because the Yankees with their power hitting team would destroy the Dodgers whose offense consisted of base stealing Maury Wills. But the Dodgers swept the Yankees because good pitching-Koufax and Drysdale stops good hitting.
If the Mariners pitching and defense holds up they will make the playoffs. Since their eight game losing streak they are 36-24 and when they find their fifth starter, whether Taijuan Walker or through a trade, maybe both, Seattle will only get better.
As an aside I have three e-books on sale this weekend for.99; one is about the 1911 New York Giants based on a true story. You can read about the three books here. http://thequilltheewordthelooniness.wordpress.com/
In my previous blog I wrote that Mike Carp had to be coming back as his rehab in Tacoma was coming to the end of his twenty day limit. I wrote about the option the Mariners had about who would go down.
Sometimes things work themselves out and in this case it did when Miquel Olivo went on the disabled list with a groin injury. That means that Montero will catch and Carp will most likely DH. That works for the short-term, and if both thrive, the term will be extended.
It is bad for Olivo, because he was starting to hit the ball. He said he was having trouble early in the season seeing the ball. How does a player have trouble seeing the ball anyway? But it is something many hitters complain about from time to time.
It is a good sign for Montero because he is 9 for 20 with three home runs when he is catching. So the sampling shows he hits better when catching. His number when he is DH are not so good.
Another question arises because Carp can also play left field and first base. He is needed at either spot. Justin Smoak is batting .200. He must pick it up or eventually lose his job to Carp. Figgins in left is batting .209. Same old story with Chone. If Carp gets his swing back, he will force changes to be made.
The good news regarding the Mariner hitting problems is that, despite being 22nd out of 30 in hitting at .238 and 28th out of 30 in on base percentage at .288 they are 13th in runs scored. Runs win games, not hits, and the Mariner’s are making the most of their limited opportunities.
So for the Mariner fans still onboard the good ship Mariner, they are looking to see Carp add a spark to the lineup. Hitting, it is said, is contagious. Maybe Carp’s bat has the bacteria that can instigate the virus through the Mariner bat rack.
Does Chris Chambliss get the blame for the following?
The Seattle Mariners are last in the Major Leagues with a .233 batting average. They are also last in on-base percentage at .294 and finishing the triple crown of lowness, are last in slugging with .347.
So do we blame Chris? Who do we point the finger at?
No, Chris is not to blame. And here is why: In 2010 the Mariners were also last with a .236 average; .298 on-base percentage; and .339 slugging. Chris was not here. The Mariners had two coaches, neither helped.
The numbers over two years are consistent, but they are consistently bad. That raises the question as to why teams have a hitting coach.
A 2010 Mariner hitting coach Alan Cockrell. It looks like he noticed something.
Besides offering encouragement and providing positive feedback, I assume hitting coaches in both leagues look at video tapes of players swings, analyzing strengths and weaknesses, looking for patterns that pitchers are using to get out hitters. In short doing everything they can to prepare the hitter for his approach on a daily basis.
Yet Adam Dunn in Chicago has had a terrible year. What is wrong in Atlanta with Jason Heyward. Why have their problems been unsolvable.
Ultimately it falls to the players. Sometimes hitters have difficulty breaking bad habits. Sometimes they have trouble processing information given them by coaches.
What you do is hit the ball with the bat.
Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are sometimes in conflict, particularly when mind and emotion are conflicted. It goes to confidence.
And some hitters are just not that good, unable, due to individual ability, to rise above a certain level.
The .233 average of the Mariners has improved. They had been in the high .220’s. The improvement is due in no small part to rookies. Dustin Ackley .290; Kyle Seager .265. And Mike Carp, not rookie eligible due to time spent on the Mariners roster in 2009 and 2010 is hitting .275.
Mom’s know best.
Since it comes down to players, perhaps these young guys, along with other new faces, indicate the Mariners will turn the corner next season, that things will get better.
But will Chris Chambliss be here to help or will he be another fall guy?
Congratulations to the Mariners for setting a new team record in futility, having lost their 15th consecutive game. They did so in style getting bombed inBoston 12-8.
It came on the worst start in Michael Pineda’s career, giving up seven runs and not being able to get out of the 5th-I mean the inning, not the bottle.
In 1889 Louisvillelost 26 straight. Cleveland lost 24 straight in 1899 and Baltimore lost 21 straight in 1988-and those were the Orioles first 21 games of the season. So the M’s still have some goals ahead of them.
I wrote in an earlier blog prior to their embarking on this road trip they might not win until August. Now, having been swept by Toronto, and Boston, with the Yankees looming in the Bronx, that scenario is close to reality.
The Mariners have for the most part gotten hits and runs of late, scoring 29 runs in 6 games, a 4.8 average, though they still blew golden opportunities. It is the pitching that sprung a big leak, one as large as the hull of the Titanic after colliding with an ice berg on its first road trip. Starters or relievers, both are guilty, giving up 46 runs, a 7.6 average.
Brendan Ryan after his grand slam. Some thing positive
It was pitching that dominated before the all-star game for the Mariners. Perhaps the arms grew weary or the pitchers minds lost their grip, lost their concentration; but surely lost something.
There is nothing to do but continue to go on the field and play.
Eventually they will win, by accident if not by desire; by odds if nothing else. But win they will. Good teams find ways to win, bad teams find ways to lose and the Mariners are finding every way imaginable to lose.
The dog days of July
They are playing to win, but like trying to run in a swimming pool, trying is useless. There is nothing they can do; they are treading water as they sink lower into the pool.
Did anyone watching the Boston-Tampa Bay game Sunday night, that was 0-0 for fifteen innings with each side getting three hits during that span, think it was a Mariner inter-squad game?
Anyway . . .
Beginning Tuesday they play nine straight games, three each against Toronto, Boston and New York before a Thursday off day and a three game set with Tampa Bay to finish the month.
Okay, they have a chance against the Rays at home, but the road trip to the East is brutal with those lineups, even against Mariner pitching, for as we know, it only takes two or three runs to beat Seattle.
During the nine game losing streak the Mariners have 52 hits in 290 at bats, an average of .179-and 12 of those 52 hits game in one game.
Against the Rangers they were outgunned, shooting blanks, getting 20 hits in 126 shots, a .159 average.
The good ship Mariner, like the Titanic, is taking on water and sinking fast. With batting averages plummeting with no end in sight, they stand little chance against those eastern clubs.
The country may be in a recession, but Mariner bats are in a depression. Ichiro who had gotten hot has slipped back to .262. Now that is depressing.
If the Mariners were characters in a novel, they would be the Joads in “The Grapes of Wrath.” Their bats repossessed by the banks, the players itinerant; like the Joads, hopeless, forlorn, with tragedy looming on a daily basis.
The Joads trying to sort things out.
No trade can spark an infusion. Nor do they have much to trade, nothing to bring quality. They must stay the course of building from within with young players. They have given away to many young players in the past who are now stars for other teams-and the Mariners received next to nothing in return.
It will be a long summer in depression era Safeco for the Joad family.