Nelson Cruz had his best year at age 33, hitting .271 with career highs in home runs with 40 and in RBI’s with 108, the only year he hit over 100. But how will he do with Seattle? How many home runs is he likely to get?
In 2014 he played for Baltimore. The Oriole park at Camden yards averaged 2.16 home runs per game, third highest in the American League, behind the Rogers Centre in Toronto (#1) and Yankee Stadium (#2). From 2009-2013 with Texas Cruz hit 33, 22, 29, 24, and 27. The League average in 2014 for home runs at any park was 1.78 and the ballpark in Arlington averaged 1.64, so it was below the league average.
Can one expect Cruz to repeat 40 homers playing in Safeco? Safeco gave up 1.73, very close to the league average and better than Arlington. Texas had a bad year and the loss of Cruz certainly factors in their number. Last season there were six American league parks that averaged fewer homers than Seattle’s Safeco Field. So it is time to get off the fallacy that Safeco is not helping hitters. It is neutral and fair if anything.
Baseball is a game of numbers and numbers are fun, but they do not predict the future, they only tell you what happened in the past. Using numbers to project how many home runs Cruz will hit is a fool’s errand. I offer numbers to show his history and how many home runs are hit in parks during the previous season. Their are many factors that come into play in how Cruz will do and that centers on, not only his health, but those in the batting order around him.
It is likely Cruz will bat fourth behind Robinson Cano. I believe Seager batting 5th, someone who can hit 25 or more home runs would be a good bet for the fifth slot. Cano-Cruz-Seager is a powerful 3-4-5 middle of the order. But the key is who bats 1 and 2. Austin Jackson has batted leadoff and most likely will again. Will Dustin Ackley bat second? Or will it be one of the Ruggiano and Smith platoon? That will be of interest to see how that works out.
So how many will Cruz hit? I will say 30. It’s not based the numbers, just my own gut feelings. After all numbers are for the past.
For the Seattle Mariners it is in the numbers to win a wild card spot in the playoffs. They have 32 games left. The good news is that eighteen are on the road, fourteen at home. That sounds odd because any other team would prefer playing games at home where they have an advantage.
But the Mariners are a weird team. At home, after losing to Texas 2-0 Monday night, they are 34-33 at home, a .507 winning percentage. But on the road they are 37-26. Those numbers are the opposite of what most teams will do. Play .500 at home they say, and play winning ball at home. Maxims and adages are fine, but it does not always hold true, at least for the Mariners.
Now consider that the loss to Texas came on a night after a day game in Boston, so their body clocks were off Monday night and batting against a pitcher they have never seen, nor heard of, a pitcher with a 1-5 record and a plus 7 ERA. Of course he gives up three hits in eight innings. Blame it not on the Bosa Nova, but on studies showing reflexes are not as sharp when going from east to west. Thank God there is a reason to blame the loss from a pitcher nobody knows. I forget his name. I don’t want to know. Phil Humber was bad enough .
So let us say we forget that game and take their percentage of winning prior to the game and multiply that over 14 remaining homes games. It is 7.12 wins. Now take their road winning percentile and multiply by 18 road games and we get 10.56. My calculator says 7.12 + 10.56 is 17.68. We round up to 18, so Seattle at their current pace will win 89 games.
But throw that number out for the following reason. Since Seattle made the trade for Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia the Mariners are 15-7, a winning percentage of .681. That math, which I like better, and is more accurate to present time, gives the Mariners 21 more wins and 92 for the season.
The Mariners have recently changed their rotation so that King Felix with his new normal rest will pitch the wild card play-in game. Of course being the best pitcher in the American League he will win and the Mariners will go to the World Series and win that as well and Seattle will be home to the Seahawks and Mariners, champions of the world.
It’s in the numbers. At least mine.
Lloyd McClendon could be altering the Mariners outfield. Abraham Almonte has already been sent to Tacoma and James Jones has been recalled. But what does this mean for the six outfielders on the roster, when most teams carry five?
Following Seattle’s dreadful eight game losing streak, they have now won eight of ten and coming from behind for some of those wins. At 15-15 the Mariners are 3 games out of first and should they sweep the next three games against the first place A’s it will send the AL West spinning. The Mariners are only two behind second place Texas and a half game behind the third place Angels.
Now is a good time to keep momentum going. Michael Saunders is 10 for his last 23 with three straight two hit games batting leadoff. Will he stay in center or be moved to right for Jones to play center? Does Hart stay at DH?
Rookie Stefen Romero is 6 for his last 17. Will he platoon with Dustin Ackley in left?
If McClendon so chooses, he could have an entire platoon outfield. Left handed bats Ackley, Jones, and Saunders against right handed pitchers and right handed bats Romero, Hart, and Gillespie against lefties, but the problem here is no center fielder.
But if Jones can hit and Romero continues to impress, McClendon will have some juggling to do? Jones and Romero will get more playing time if Ackley, batting .154 in the last ten games, continues to falter. As Pete Carroll says, it is about competition.
And consider that left handed bat Logan Morrison is still on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring and has yet to begin running. He has not played in a game since April 14th and one wonders if the Mariners are keeping him on the DL because they have no need for him at the present time.
Many teams play games with the DL, a way of hiding players until they are forced to make a decision.
It may be only May, but they are playing Oakland and if they can win at least two of the next three they are making headway. The games you win or lose now are just as important as August and September. And who plays in the outfield in the coming weeks may be the big story.
Mariners bobble away two games in three days.
Mariners lost a tough game Wednesday night in Texas. M’s led 2-1 in bottom of the 9th, two outs, when Kouzmanoff gets infield hit, then on 3-2 pitch Moreland walks, bringing up pinch hitter Donnie Murphy. He hits game ending grounder to Miller at short who bobbles ball, flips it underhanded to Cano, but way high , runner safe on error. Then WP and single and Rangers bobble out a win. Miller should not be blamed as Rodney did not help the cause at all.
The dreaded bobble struck Friday night in Miami again in bottom of 9th, 4-4. Medina pitching for Mariners and Reed Johnson pinch hits leading off 9th and singles to right. Yelich bunts down first base line. Smoak fields ball, a slight bobble, and he is unable to throw ball to first. Ozuna bunts, Medina makes great barehanded catch and throws to third to force Johnson. But wait. Replay though shows Seager catching ball, umpire calling runner out and, the ball appearing at the top of Seager’s glove, though he catches the ball. For over a century that has been a catch, but for some inane reason in 2014, what has been good since the beginning of baseball time is now not a catch. Two bobbles where their should be two outs. Stanton then hits walk off grand slam and Seattle bobbles away another game.
Bud Selig and major league baseball need to pull their heads out of the sand (you can assume I mean another word here) and reexamine what is a catch. No team likes what is happening and it will get worse before it gets better. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Quit tinkering with a game that does not need a Tinker, other than Joe of course.
In truth the Mariners are their own worst enemy. They should change their nickname to the Jonahs because bad things happen to them too frequently to be coincidence. They are under by some kind of hex. The players change, the batting averages and on base percentages remain the same, low and low.
Every team goes through bad stretches, the good ones pull out of it sooner than later. The M’s have lost six of seven and you can not blame the loss of all-star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and phenom pitcher Taijuan Walker for their losses. It is hitting and bobbling that is hurting them. That and Erasmo Ramirez with three straight bad starts.
But tomorrow is another day. I am not sure I can take another transfer bobble. I may just watch until the 7th inning stretch, then hide under the bed for the next hour and read about the game on the Internet.
My website: http://terrynelson.net/
Every team has agonizing losses, games that should have been won, yet slipped away by a ball hitting a pebble, one slight bobble, or one light little blooper. The Mariners loss to Texas in Arlington Tuesday night was one such loss.
Felix Hernandez was brilliant; seven innings, four hits and a walk, one run and nine strikeouts. He led 2-1 with Fernando Rodney on the mound in the 9th for the save. He gets the first two batters out. Kevin Kouzmanoff, two for two lifetime against Rodney is up and he hits one to the left of second base that Brad Miller could have gotten to had the Mariners not been playing Kouzmanoff to pull. Miller moved far to his left but could only get the tip of his glove on the ball. An infield hit. Rodney then falls behind Keith Moreland 3-0, before getting two strikes. One more strike and Felix has the win, Rodney the save. But Rodney does not come close, the ball way outside, ball four. Runners at first and second, but an out wins the game. Donnie murphy pinch hits for Josh Wilson and hits hopper to short. Miller bobbles the ball, but tosses underhand to Cano. The ball is high, Cano Jumps to catch the ball and comes down on the base too late. Fielders choice, error on Miller for high toss, pulling Cano off bag. Bases loaded. Rodney then throws a 97 mile an hour fastball inside. It is so fast, so hard, so inside, it goes all the way to the backstop, tying run scores. Leonys Martin then bloops one to left, game over, Texas wins 3-2.
Ranger fans rejoice. I immediately turn to another channel. I don’t want to hear the postgame show. I won’t watch ESPN. I won’t watch local news.
The loss gave Seattle a 7-7 record and the win gave Texas an 8-7 mark and move ahead of Seattle, who have lost four of five and two of the losses by shutouts. Losing the game the way they did when they could have gained ground on Texas, but fall behind, makes me want to drown my sorrows in two quarts of French vanilla ice cream with chocolate fudge swirls.
Consider there were two outs nobody on, one out from a win. An infield hit, a full count walk, another grounder to Miller who makes fluke error on bad toss to Cano, a wild pitch, a bloop single. In baseball you take nothing for granted, the roof can fall in any time, and for the Mariners the game imploded. You love to win those games, but losing one like that kills your spirit.
On Wednesday Erasmo Ramirez, with two consecutive bad starts, takes the mound for the wrap up of the four game series. The Mariners desperately need a win to take the sting away from this loss, for only a win heals that pain. A loss and you lose three of four instead of a split. And the losing continues.
My website: http://terrynelson.net/
May the 8th is the date Seattle opens a weekend home stand with Kansas City. It is important because Seattle will have played their 34th game in Oakland the previous day. In those 34 games, 23 will be played on the road and only 11 at home.
Seattle must play well away from home in order to get off to a good start. The Mariners first home stand saw them split two with the Angels and lose two of three to the A’s. A 2-3 home stand won’t help the Mariners if they falter in road games. They must win or at the least play .500 in foreign ports of call.
They open a four game series in Texas tonight, then three in Miami. After coming home for Houston and Texas, the Mariners go to New York for the Yankees, then to Houston and Oakland before the May 8th game.
What makes the trip difficult is that James Paxton is on the DL, Erasmo Ramirez has had two straight bad starts, Roenis Elias is still an unknown factor, and Chris Young, who pitched six shutout innings against Oakland Sunday in his first start, is attempting a comeback after missing last season. That is a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘hopes.’
Another big question during this period is whether Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker can return to the rotation. And if they are ready, how well can they pitch. The Mariners brought up Blake Beavan, who pitched well in Tacoma, to start Tuesday in Texas. But he had a poor spring camp and poor 2013 season, yet another ‘hope.’
It is possible the bullpen will be tested with so many questions in the rotation, so there may be a shuttle of bullpen pitchers between Tacoma and Seattle to keep the bullpen fresh.
This is why May 8th is important. They must stay close to .500 by sailing rough waters, because if they don’t, as May ends and June begins, the empty seats at Safeco may be plentiful.
The first thing Ranger hitters do when Seattle comes to town is see if Felix Hernandez is pitching and if he is, then, unlike hitters on every other team, the Rangers lick their lips like the big bad wolf chasing the three little pigs.
Felix does not pitch well in Arlington. The most losses he has in a visiting ball park is five, except Arlington, where Felix, in 18 starts, has 9 losses and only 5 wins. That explains why Felix, who was on quite a roll of late, winning 7, losing 1, in 14 starts, struggled like a man in a straight jacket. Five, hits, five walks, five runs, in-yes five innings. This is not the King, this is Aaron Harang on a good day.
Felix has not won in Arlington since September of 2010 and his ERA in the house of horrors is 4.45. Just as a pitcher can dominate one team over time, he can also be dominated by a team. Arlington is his jinx park. He probably hates taking the mound there the way some people hate going to the dentist, a dentist that has no Novocain and uses pliers to extract teeth.
Felix is not the type to shy away from trouble, he is a competitor. He probably wants to get back there and go at the Rangers again. He will get a crack at them in Seattle when they come to town the 26th through the 28th, but Arlington, thank God, will wait until 2014.
Next season Felix needs to sleep in his Arlington hotel bed with a horseshoe under his pillow; carry four leaf clover in his back pocket when pitching; rub a rabbits foot in the dugout when the M’s are batting; or maybe just get Texas flu.
In the meantime, Felix, especially with a thunderous backing from his court at the Safe, must dominate the Rangers when they come to town next week. Give the Rangers some bad karma for the offseason.