A large, range-free egg was laid by the Mariners in their first home stand, losing three straight to Oakland. Goose eggs were seen on the scoreboard for three nights as Seattle scored four runs in three games, going 15 for 97 (.155) with 25 strikeouts. And this after taking two of three from the mighty Texas Rangers in Arlington, hitting .282 and scoring 21 runs in three games.
What irony. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto wanted to build a team that fit Safeco Field. In their first home stand the Mariners looked lost at sea without a compass. Manager Scott Servais wanted an aggressive club, one that would steal bases. They are 0-3 in steals. They have made five errors, two each by Kyle Seager and Ketel Marte, not all of which came in Seattle.
So is it too early to say “same old Mariners?” Yes, but the way they played this weekend at The Safe was reminiscent of how they have played at home last year, so forgive those fans who will answer in the affirmative.
And the bullpen, amazing in Texas, was not disastrous against Oakland, but Steve Cishek gave up the winning homer in the 9th Friday in a 3-2 loss and Sunday Nick Vincent gave up the winning homer in the 10th in a 2-1 loss.
In both 2012 and 2013 the M’s split their first six games. In 2014 they swept the Angels of Disneyland to start the season, then went to Oakland and lost two of three to Oakland. And yes the A’s have been a pain in the Mariners aft, but last season the Mariners took two of three from the Angels at home, then went to Oakland to win two of three and were 3-3.
So you see, these are not the same old Mariners, for they did not begin the season at 2-4 in the previous four seasons. This is worse. I have not looked at 2011. Looking to far into the Mariner past causes seasickness.
Texas now comes into town losing two star players in catcher Robinson Chirinos with a fractured right forearm and Shin Soo-Choo to a calf injury. The Mariners must rise up, take advantage of a hurt team and get back on course. It is too early to say “same old Mariners.” But if it makes you feel better go ahead.
Kyle Seager had a Defensive Index Reading of 17.9, third best in the American League, trailing left fielder Alex Gordon at 19.9, and the leader, another third baseman, Josh Donaldson of the dreaded Oakland A’s who came in with a 21.2 rating.
So what is this rating and why does it matter for Gold Gloves. First it is based on a SABR formula. The definition according to their website is “The SABR Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts. The three metrics representing batted ball data include Defensive Runs Saved from Baseball Info Solutions, Ultimate Zone Rating developed by noted sabermetrician Mitchel Lichtman, and Runs Effectively Defended based on STATS Zone Rating and built by SABR Defensive Committee member Chris Dial. The two metrics included in the SDI originating from play-by-play data are Defensive Regression Analysis, created by committee member Michael Humphreys, and Total Zone Rating.”
I hope that clears things up.
The rating, in its second year of use, accounts for 25% of the votes for a Gold Glove winner, the balance coming from managers and coaches. It is important because the award has often been a joke when managers and coaches were the only voters. Consider that in 1999 when Rafael Palmiero won his third consecutive Gold Glove he played at first base for only 28 games, spending the rest of the time as DH. So this rating system offers a check and balance to a severely flawed system where offense influenced voters more than defense, or at least votes based on past reputation. Defense, for some reason, had not gotten the respect it deserved.
Donaldson, with the better rating, still finished behind Seager for the Gold Glove, who perhaps got more votes from managers and coaches, along with his .981 fielding percentage which led the league. Kyle made 8 errors in 422 chances and his fielding percentage was the 10th for third baseman best since 1948. He is the second Gold Glove third baseman the Mariners have had. Or have you forgotten Adrian Beltre already.
For Kyle 17.9 and .981 are gold numbers.
A look at the remaining schedule of the Seattle Mariners, Oakland A’s, and Kansas City Royals could indicate how things will play out. The won-lost records, home and away, given below are before Wednesday nights game.
Oakland is hosting the Phillies the 19th-21st while Seattle is at Houston and Kansas City is hosting the Tigers. It looks good for Oakland as they are 45-28 at home and the Phillies are 33-40 on the road. It also looks good for Seattle as they have the best road record in baseball at 43-29 and Houston at home is 36-40. Detroit and Kansas City are battling for both a division title and a wild card. It will be a tough series for both. Kansas City at home is 40-36, but the Tigers are 43-34 on the road.
Oakland will then play the Angels in a four game series at home and while the Angels have the division title I don’t think they will let up on the A’s. The Angels have a winning record on the road. Kansas City will be at Cleveland to finish a suspended game preceding the first game of the series in what essentially is a four game series. Meanwhile Seattle will be in Toronto for a four game set. Seattle fans should send brooms to the Angels and Indians hoping for a couple of sweeps. These four game series should be the key games that decide who wins the wild card slot.
The season wraps up with Oakland playing three at Texas and Seattle hosting the Angels. The A’s have a definite advantage here as the Mariners do not play well at home and the Angels could be going to the World Series if they get past the Orioles. It would be best for the M’s if they have things wrapped up before this series, but that is unlikely. Kansas City finishes at Chicago and the White Sox are having a bad season.
Seattle has lost six of eight and with Oakland playing the majority of their games at home and Kansas City playing an easier schedule, if the Mariners do not rev up their engine and kick into a higher gear they will be docking the Good Ship Mariner before the post season.
The Oakland A’s, AL West division winners the last two seasons, have been using Moneyball analytics for some time, Seattle hasn’t. They have been a slow to embrace the new age of baseball, but they have been developing a statistical analytics department they want to implement.
Lloyd McClendon, Seattle’s new manger, is old school, but willing to use numbers. He told Shannon Drayer on ESPN Seattle, “I think you would be a fool to not look at the numbers as part of your process to make decisions. But you also have to know your personnel, know what you are capable of doing, and also have to trust your gut a little, too. I think it is a combo of all those things.”
One of the reasons he was hired, according to Mariner GM, Jack Zduriencik, is the willingness to use analytic numbers. But reading McClendon’s quote it does sound he will use them in concert with other factors.
Analytics are good to an extent, but following them exclusively truly makes a push button manager, managing by the numbers. What I loath and detest is when a manger pulls a starting pitcher when he is throwing a 2-hitter in the 7th or 8th and he is right hander and a left handed bat is up. It doesn’t matter he has been pitching with precision, it doesn’t matter he has gotten the batter out twice, the left handed pitcher comes in; as if all of a sudden his pitcher can not get a batter out. This is over managing. My God, he has thrown 90 pitches, his arm is going to fall off.
So Lloyd is right, numbers are helpful, but sometimes the situation says the heck with the numbers.
One thing McClendon plans on doing is impressive. He is going to fly to every players home, meeting them in person to discuss the upcoming season. This is a good idea as every player will have met him, gotten to know him a little, and learn what to expect before camp begins. It should make for an easier transition.
What a difference a year makes. In July of 2013 the Mariner roster shows only five non-pitchers who were with the team in July of 2012. Those five are Brendan Ryan, Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, and Justin Smoak.
The 2012 players who have sailed on are not missed. Trayvon Robinson, though not currently on Orioles active roster, has played 22 games with the Orioles this season, hitting .326. He went to the Orioles for Robert Andino, who is also gone from the Mariners. Nor is Casper Wells doing well. In 32 games with Chicago White Sox he is hitting .182 after going 0-5 with Oakland.
With Brad Miller hitting and fielding like the Mariner shortstop for years to come, Kawasaki, hitting .213 for Toronto does not bring any remorse from his departure. And the Mariners do not miss Miguel Olivo, who hit .203 in 74 at bats with Miami. He is not on current 25-man roster.
There are a couple players doing well.
Mike Carp is with Boston, batting .317 with 8 home runs in 139 at bats. John Jaso is hitting .271 average in 207 at bats with the evil Oakland A’s. Ichiro, though still a good player, is clearly is on the down side of his career, and does not fit with the Mariners current plans.
Carlos Peguero is in Tacoma, as is Jesus Montero, now doing a rehab stint. With Zunino the catcher of the future and with Smoak actually getting hits, Montero who is due for a suspension from MLB at some point for PED’s, could become the invisible Mariner.
And in case you forgot, there was Chone Figgins, currently at home watching TV.
The current roster does look way better than those now departed. But what will the roster of July 2014 look like. It could be that we will be saying the same things about another 10 departed players. That would be scary.
Orioles, in case you are not a bird aficionado, have a diet consisting of berries, fruit, nectar, arthropods, and of course feast with unceasing gourmand pleasure on Seattle Mariners. The Orioles, they of the Baltimore nest, won 8 of 9 games against Seattle in 2012.
Just like the Oakland A’s, the Orioles have beaten, flogged, and stomped on the Mariners throughout Seattle’s mediocre history. I do not want to look up Seattle’s franchise record versus these seemingly cute and harmless birds-yet more predatory than eagles-because the results would depress me to the point of therapy.
If the Orioles played in the same division with Oakland and Seattle, the Mariners would never leave the basement, remaining in the cellar, never seeing the light of day, becoming pale and pasty, withering away, forgotten by baseball fans across the world. In other words, not much different than now.
We need to create a petition in the great northwest that would plead with Bud Selig to take Baltimore and Oakland off the Mariners schedule. It would be in the best interests of baseball. After all, no one wants to see seals slaughtered, see puppies abused, see starving children in dirt poor countries, or see Seattle play Baltimore. It is too painful, to sorrowful, too depressing.
It might be in the best interests of baseball for the baseball gods to schedule Seattle with AAA teams, or top college teams, like Slippery Rock. Someone the Mariners can actually compete with, have a chance to win a game.
At the least baseball can follow the way pro football schedules games. The Seahawks might play San Diego every three or four years because the Chargers are in the AFC. Seattle could play Oakland every four years, the same with Baltimore-just not in the same season.
The Orioles have gone south for the winter, having left Seattle for the year. With any luck they will not find their way back.
What the Mariners need to do, indeed what any team should strive to do, is beat the teams in your division. This season the Mariners have not done that.
As previously mentioned in a blog, the Mariners are 7-9 against the hated, the dreaded, the eternally evil, Oakland A’s. In 2013 the Mariners will once again open the season against their unnatural rivals. The baseball Gods are cruel.
Against the Angels, who are in Anaheim, not Los Angeles, no matter how they market, the M’s are 5-8 this season with six games yet to be played, three at Safeco and three at Disneyland. It would appear we have another rival against whom we will have a losing record.
When I was a kid there was a Saturday morning TV show called Tales of the Texas Rangers. I loved the opening shot where a Ranger was walking down the center of town, and two Rangers, one from the left, one from the right, would fall in behind him, then two more the same way; it kept going like a wedge of Rangers on parade. It was cool and in each episode the Rangers got their man.
Just like those TV Rangers the baseball version got their man, or men, as the Mariner gang was nabbed by the Rangers to the tune of another 7-9 losing record. They have three games left with the Rangers.
The Mariners could not beat the teams they needed to beat, but the good news is that next year the Houston Astros, whom the Mariners open their home season against, should bump the M’s out of the cellar. At this writing the M’s have won 70 games and the Astros have won 49. These Astros are like the Space Program, going nowhere.
So the Mariner navigation chart for their 2013 voyage in the American League West is clear. Pound the Astros, find a way to beat Oakland, Texas, and Micky Mouse, and oh yes, get a shortstop who can hit, a first baseman who can hit, send Chone Figgins to Japan, send Franklin Gutierrez to a healer, and get new ownership.