Tagged: pitchers

Will the Mariners NEW bullpen be better in 2016

A great running line in the Newman/Redford classic, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was “Who are those guys?” It was said by Cassidy/Newman when no matter what Butch and Sundance did to ditch a posse, they could not shake them. Well Seattle GM, Jerry Dipoto has shaken up the Mariner bullpen and brought in a new posse. But will it be better? At the moment it looks to be their biggest weakness.

Frankly at the moment it scares me. I think Dipoto has secret Freemason analytics unknown to the rest of us. Something found in ancient knowledge of necromancy, alchemy, and witchcraft. Looking at his acquisitions I ask, “Who are those guys?” 

There are 20 pitchers on the 40 man roster, six of which are starters, those being Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, Nathan Karns, and two lefties, Taijuan Walker and Wade Miley. That leaves 15 relievers, including one recently acquired for another reliever, also acquired during the offseason. By spring training all the following pitchers could trade as Trader Jerry likes to deal like a riverboat gambler.

Their are only six pitchers returning who spent any time with the Mariners and four of those are lefties. Charlie Furbush, 29,  appeared in only 33 games due to an injury; Vidal Nuno, 28, another lefty was 1-5, 3.74 in 35 games  (3 with Arizona), 10 starts; Mike Montgomery, 26,  who began 2015 as a starter was 4-6, 4.60 and though he had two early shutouts, his 16 starts indicated a five inning pitcher at best; Dave Rollins, 26, the fourth lefty was 0-2, 7.56 and was dreadful. From the right side is Mayckol Guaipe, 25, 21 games, 5.40 ERA and Tony Zych, 25,  who only appeared in 13 games with a 2.45 ERA.

Based on the five returnees Furbush and Nuno are likely to be in the pen, with Montgomery being a starter in Tacoma. Guaipe will have to compete with seven new righties and all have question marks.

Staring at the end with Steve Cishek, 29, the likely closer with 39 saves in 43 opportunities in 2014, but between two teams last season was 4 of 9 with 3.58 ERA. So a question mark as to health and if he can regain his previous form. The setup man is likely Joaquin Benoit whose only question is age at 38 as his 2015 ERA was 2.34 in 65.1 innings with San Diego. He also has closing experience. They should make the team. That makes Cishek, Benoit, Furbush, and Nuno. Along with 5 starters, that makes nine pitchers.

Assuming a 12 man staff that leaves three spots open between seven pitchers-at the moment. The odd man out of the rotation, baring another Iwakuma/Paxton/Other injury, is Karns. If he stays in the bullpen as long reliever, that leaves two spots. Besides Zych there is Jonathan Arno, 25, 6.97 in six games with Boston in 2015; Ryan Cook, 28, 8.2 innings between two teams allowing 20 hits, 18.69 era in 9 games. An aberration as he had three good years with Oakland and can also close games. Another former Oakland A is Evan Scribner, 30, 5-2, 4.21 career marks; Justin DeFratus, 28, 6-1, 5.51 with the Phillies in 2015; Cody Martin, 26, 7.92 between Atlanta and Oakland; and Joe Wieland, soon to be 26, two bad starts with Dodgers in 2015, career record 1-5 5.85 in 11 games. Anybody’s guess, so I pick Cook and Zych, or Cook and Scribner, or draw two names out of a batting helmet.

Dipoto has remade the pen and they can make or break the 2016 team, just as the 2015 pen sunk the Good Ship Mariner. I am at the moment a bit seasick and must get below deck.

 

 

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A modest proposal to counter in-your-face bat flips

I hate it when batters stand an admire their home runs, then flip the bat in defiant contempt. It has nothing to do with those players who say “it is disrespecting the game.” I have no idea what that means, but if I were a pitcher I wouldn’t like to be shown up, which is what Jose Bautista did against Texas in game five of the ALDS.

But I would not hit Bautista the next time I faced him. Instead I offer another solution. Since batters continue to get away with it, the pitcher should be allowed the same opportunity. So the next time a pitcher strikes out Bautista, or any other batter who falls in love with his last homer, the pitcher can stare down the batter, then defiantly throw down his glove as the batter walks back to the dugout. It is the in-your-face equality rule.

The only problem I see is that hitters would not like it, they would complain and cry about disrespecting the game, they would cry and carp about showing up the hitter. And umpires would go along with it I am sure, as batters are allowed to admire their shots, but pitchers must be discreet and civilized because they are only on the mound to serve up towering homeruns.

And of course Joe Torre would not like it and would outlaw pitcher celebrations of strikeouts. He likes doing things that make no sense, like suspending Chase Utley during the playoffs, though there had been many previous hard slides where a player could have been suspended. When Joe says, “I can’t worry about the past only the present,”  that tells me he could have done something, but chose not to until someone got hurt. Bad move Joe. The idea is prevention and that means taking charge before someone breaks his leg. Now you are being a sanctimonious politician.

But I like my idea as it brings equality to showboating. Please forward this blog to all major league pitchers and maybe we can see more defiant fun in 2016. We must get this trending.

 

 

 

 

Do you know these two pitchers

You are a diehard, statistical loving, all out baseball fanatic, if you, by the following stats know who these two pitchers are. Pitcher number one has 20 starts with a 4-6 record and 4.64 ERA. In 108.2 innings, he has given up 121 hits, has a .279 batting average against with 82 strikeouts and 32 walks. The second pitcher has nine starts, is 6-2 with a 2.28 ERA. In 51.1 innings he has given up 48 hits with a .242 batting average against with 58 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Pitcher number two is a strikeout pitcher with 10.17 per  nine compared to pitcher one with 6.79. Or so it would seem. You see both those stat lines statistics belong to the same pitcher, one J.A. Happ. His bad numbers came from his time with the Seattle Mariners this season before they traded him to the Pirates, where he has the good numbers.

What happened to Happ?

He is averaging only slightly more than five innings per start with the Pirates, indicating perhaps, they want to get him out of the game while the getting is good. Still his numbers are impressive, especially those strikeouts.

It could be that being in the American league this year and his previous seasons with Toronto that the National League teams are having a period of adjustment. It could be his Pirate pitching coach, noticed something that Happ corrected. It could be anything. It even could be a mirage. That given time Happ will return to Happ form.

I’m sure the Pirate brass is happy with Happ with his six wins in nine starts compared to the Mariners four wins in twenty starts.

Of course there could be another answer. Back in my youth there were two catchers in the National League named Hal Smith, and both at one time or another played for the Pirates. I think they did. But there were two Hal Smith’s. Maybe there are two J.A. Happ’s.

Seattle’s new pitcher goes against their philosophy

The Mariners recently signed 25-year old Cuban pitcher Misael Siverio to a minor league contract. The Mariners like big, tall, hard throwing monsters with strong arms. Siverio is 5’9.” In the team photo he sill be  seated in front with the bat boy. His uniform will have to be altered by somebody in the clubhouse; or perhaps an extra large from the boys department. Of course Danny Farquhar is 5’9″ and did pretty well last season. Maybe the Mariners are trending to shorter pitchers.

In baseball size does not matter. So who is this guy?

He is a lefty and southpaws are welcome on every team. He pitched 153 games in Cuba, 75 were starts and had 3.24 ERA. Last season he pitched in the Mexican League. Six starts, striking out 36, walking 10 and finished with 3-1 record.

There was a time, not so long ago, that it was difficult for Cuban players to defect. But now it seems every year there are two or three leaving Cuba. Siverio defected in Iowa when the Cuban national team was playing college all-stars in 2013.

I don’t know the Mariners plans for him, but I am guessing they may use him in relief. Most likely he will begin in the minor leagues, but at least Roenis Elias has a fellow countryman to talk pitching with during spring training.

Though he is not on the 40-man roster and at the moment is destined for the minors, the roster could change because of trades or free agency. Things will look different by February. The Mariners have been rumored in many trades and interest in free agents, but rumors are just that. For now the Mariners are quiet on the Elliot Bay front.

There is a big difference between pitching for Cuba and the major leagues. For now Siverio is a prospect to watch. 

How pitching will change in the future

In a previous blog I argued that if the National League adopted the DH they might as well eliminate the pitcher and use pitching machines. I doubt that will happen, but then I never thought I could watch a movie on my phone either.

But pitching will change. It as changed in my lifetime and will continue to change. At one time pitchers were expected to complete games, or at the least, go deep into the game. I am not talking about the old days when Charles Radbourne pitched in 75 of his teams 114 games, with 73 complete games, 59 wins, and 679 innings with 441 strikeouts. That was 1884. The year I graduated from high school, the year being none of your business, the complete games were down to a league leading 20 in one league, 18 in the other.

Saves? That statistic did not become official until 1969. Saves changed the game. First a closer usually went two or three innings like Rollie Fingers or Goose Gossage. It was not a big deal. Today a closer rarely pitches more than one inning. Now we have set up pitchers in the seventh and eighth innings.

Starters? A starter goes six, the magic number. Then we have to count pitches to make sure he can pitch the seventh. Many can not. Example: Eric Bedard. He came out of games after six when pitching with Seattle. I think the marine air tired him out.

The future will change because pitcher’s arms are being babied. Young arms are valued in the millions. King Felix of Seattle and Steven Strasburg of Washington are only two of dozens of young arms that must be cared for. Some pitchers get shutdown with innings restrictions.

So in the future a starting pitcher will go three innings, then sit down, and another pitcher will go two innings. That comes out to five innings. Then one pitcher for each of the next four innings, changing lefty for righty depending on batter of course. That is a minimum of six pitchers per game. A pitcher who pitched one inning will be the starter the next day and pitch his three. Rosters will expand of course. Teams will carry 30 players, 17 of which will be pitchers.

Complete games will be extinct and so will pitching duels like King Felix and Jon Lester yesterday in Oakland. Or in the old days like Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal; Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins; Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton. I  don’t think the future is all it will be cracked up to be.

Charles Radbourne must be laughing in his grave.

A modest proposal for those who want DH in both leagues

I confess at the outset I grew up, or rather grew older, during the years preceding the DH which was invented by Satan. Naturally being old school I prefer National League play, though I am cursed to live in an American League city. Another trick of Beelzebub.

I understand the younger folk prefer the DH because they want more offense and most pitchers can’t hit. However, baseball at its best is a thinking mans game, one for the literate, the intelligentsia.  I read an article years ago in the New York Review of Books about famous writers who were baseball fans. The list was extensive, ranging from Mark Twain to John Updike. Of course they grew up during real baseball. But from Twain to Updike, baseball, with it’s myths and legends, so close to myth in fiction-another long article for another time-baseball has been like a siren luring writers of every generation to the diamond.

It won’t do me any good to bring up the argument that the National League has more strategy, more options, more to think about. If you want offense watch Arena football, the only sport to rival soccer as boring. One has no scoring, or rather it has nil scoring, the other has scoring on every play. Both are dull for the dull witted.

The best thing for you future geezers is to wait until the last of us baby boomers has passed from the scene, then change and ruin the game the way you want. Of course those of us who love real baseball will come and haunt you no end. And there are thousands of us.

However, if it can’t be done and the DH is adopted by the National League, then the best thing to do, is to eliminate the pitcher all together. If  all you want is offense, then set up a 21st century pitching machine that can throw all types of pitching. It can even toss a rosin bag and walk around the mound when the electronic umpire’s calls do not go the robotic pitcher’s way. If the DH is in both leagues what is the need of a pitcher anyway? He has become pointless.

You young folk are just weird.

Is there a conspiracy against 19th century baseball

When Clayton Kershaw pitched a no-hitter I kept hearing it was the 22nd no-hitter in franchise history. The information is wrong. It was the 25th.

The difference of three is found in the 1880’s. The Dodgers, known as the Brooklyn Athletics in 1884, had the franchise’s first no-hitter thrown by Sam Kimber on October4th. Play was stopped after ten innings in a scoreless game. But it was a no-hitter.

The other two no-hitters were thrown by Adonis Terry, one on July 24, 1886, in a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Browns. His other no-hitter was in May of 1888, a 1-0 win over the Louisville Colonels.

Franchises are sold through time and the sale of a franchise in the 1880’s is no different than one sold in the 20th century. Nicknames may change, but the franchise is the franchise, even if it moves from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. Ownership has been passed from hand to hand beginning in 1883 when George Taylor, Charles Byrne, Joseph Doyle, and Ferdinand Abel financed the first Brooklyn nine. Today the baton has been passed to Magic Johnson and a large investment consortium.

Yet for some reason there is a prevailing attitude to be dismissive of the past when it is in the 19th century. The rules may have been different, but it was still baseball. Of Cy Young’s 511 wins 257 came before 1900, but they are still counted among his 511 wins.

Years ago they changed the rules for no-hitters eliminating the no-hitters for pitchers who pitched 8 innings and lost because the pitcher was on the road team, thus no reason for playing the bottom of the 9th. But it was a complete game. They also eliminated those that were rain shortened. Even though it was a legal game, it was not a no-hitter.

Discrepancies are often found in researching or analyzing baseball statistics and when they are the 19th century gets short shift for some reason. I wonder if in the 23rd century-provided  the world is still existing-and baseball has changed its rules, will present statistics be getting the short shift. Could it be that every athlete is on some kind of performance enhancing drug and there are now two separate record books. One for pre 22nd century baseball when substances were banned, but players used them anyway and one for post 22nd century baseball when everything was legalized.

Never happen you say. I thought the same in the 1960’s regarding marijuana. But guess what?

In the end, as in the beginning, the Dodgers have 25 no-hitters. Put that in your hookah.