This Debate Is Preposterous

And Dr. D is getting wayyyyy too ticked off about it :- )

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HOT SEAT:  The Times hanging on every Erasmo Ramirez pitch as though he were an NPB import trying to show who he was.

DR D, in AUDIO MODE:  The human mind is a funny thing.  We have a wonderful capacity to re-set.  We have the ability to completely forget the problems of yesterday, and simply move on starting with a blank piece of paper.

This can be helpful, say, when you've caught your wife having an affair and she apologizes by bringing home a red negligee.  It's not as helpful when you have a young kid who is a demonstrated 1+ BB pitcher with three strikeout pitches, and you forget that he's good.

The Times, weirdly, is brushing off Ramirez' 2012 as a short sample.  My unrehearsed reaction to that?  "Yeah, Carter Capps only threw 99 MPH a few times too.  But it doesn't mean he has to throw 99 for another two years before we get it."

Ramirez demonstrated his plus-plus command and his 1+ BB rates.  You've got a pitcher who walks 1+ guys, the only question you've got left is whether he can put guys away with two strikes.  Blake Beavan was the counterexample.  Erasmo Ramirez is the very opposite end of that spectrum.

If your wonderful human capacity to forget has blanked your mind on Erasmo Ramirez, here are two quick SSI reads:

With Carter Capps, it's not about 40 saves before you understand the situation.  It's about knowing what a sidearm, easy 99 MPH means.

With Erasmo, it's not about 30 more Erasmo starts, to create a "large sample."  It's about understanding where that 1+ BB is coming from, and understanding the knockout weapons that he has to go with them.

This debate is absurd.  It's contrary to reason.  It's nonsensical.  It has no intelligible meaning.  The debate is a parody of itself.  You had a young starter come up and show you that he's terrific, and now you kick him to the curb over a 100 ERA+ meatball who might or might not be past his surgery.

The process here is wrong.  It's not often we say that.

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Comments

ghost's picture

ghost

The Mariners are in fact the stupidest organization in major league baseball...even now.

2

E-Ram said in an interview after the game he was throwing his slider to bust lefties inside and it wasn't breaking, just flattening out and staying over the middle of the plate. Said he was glad they stayed in the park. He pitched out of jams, which while you don't want to be in one in the first place it's good he can show he knows how to limit damage and get out of the inning.

3

Either the decision maker lacks wisdom and intelligence, or the reasons being communicated for the decision are not the real reasons.

I have no interest in trying to talk you out of your stance since I agree with you stance as stated, but Garland has not yet made the team instead of Erasmo, and I do not believe the criteria for the judgement have been communicated publicly. The discussion about M's decision making is no more forthright than Obama's state of the union or a John Boehner public statement about taxes. All these statements are political, at best designed to persuade, usually to distract -- these are no the spending cuts you are looking for -- and certainly not to open thoughtful debate.

So why would Jack consider bringing in Garland in the first place?

1) He doesn't give pitchers time in the bigs until they demonstrate consistency with the approach that they will implement in the bigs -- I believe this is why Beavan and Ramirez have gotten time in the bigs and Walker, Paxton, and Hultzen have not yet. While this doesn't explain Garland over Ramirez, it does significantly shorten the list of options that Jack appears ready to rely on in 2013.

2) This means Jack's list of candidates for the rotation that he trusts today is short. And he can't trust Iwakuma, Ramirez, Maurer, and Beavan to put up 200+ innings this year. So he would like options that he can trust more than Paxton, Hultzen, and Walker. That is why Maurer is still around, but he can't be trusted for big innings either. His delayed ascent as a gold plated prospect is a result of injury not talent (last year was the first fully healthy year he has had as a Mariner, I believe).

3) The young ones have options, Garland doesn't. Jack needs 7 or 8 options he can trust to throw strikes and get outs as MLB starters, because outside of Felix and Saunders, no one has a track record for tossing 200+ innings. What if Garland is his 6th or 7th best option, but option #5 (say Ramirez for arguments sake) can come up in June when someone has shoulder soreness but Garland cannot. If he goes with Ramirez in April and it is Ramirez that gets a sore shoulder, he can't stash Garland in Tacoma to be called up in June. This means he needs to be able to bank on Hultzen, Maurer, or Paxton being ready when a pitcher goes down -- what if they are not?

Me, I roll the dice that by June, I have a pitcher that looks ready to try the big leagues on for size. In fact, I think this is what Jack will decide as well, but we'll see.

5

Garland does have some things to recommend him (if you look at his splits, he allows a .750ish OPS in most categories, which indicates that he rarely gives batters an opening to demolish him), but we also can't just assume Erasmo will out pitch him out of the gate. Consider Felix Hernandez's 2nd season after obliterating the AL in his first, or check out what Juan Nicasio did for the Rockies last season before getting hurt after a 2011 in which he outperformed Erasmo.

It is not unreasonable for Wedge to want more than 2 out of his 5 starring pitchers to have more than 200 ML innings pitched. It is not unreasonable to believe that Jon Garland or even Blake Beavan can be more valuable to the club early in the season because they have demonstrated the ability to adjust to the adjustments that Major League players make while Erasmo Ramirez needs to be told to not always throw strikes. Ramirez may well out pitch both, but what if last year's out performance of his minor league numbers was due to a lack of scouting on him? If he's a guy who will have an ERA around 4 while give up 9+ hits per 9, then he's not such a big improvement on Garland after all, and Garland might give the Mariners a 1% better chance to win this year, who knows.

6

... that being human BIAS.  :- ) As when fear overrides logic.  My worry is that Zduriencik and Wedge are suddenly losing their nerve.

It's one thing to want to make the safe play.  It's another thing when you fold a winning hand because you're panicking at the thought of an inside straight draw.  Erasmo is the percentage play.

..............

But, absolutely.  Very possible that something is being lost in the translation ... I suspect that you and I would agree that SOMETHING is being misconstrued there.

.............

I certainly hope so.  Erasmo shouldn't be competing for a job on any level.  This is one of those situations in which 12 IP in Arizona should not overturn the things we saw from Erasmo in 2012; I'm sure you agree with the level of weight that should (not) be put on Erasmo's spring.  You might as well start Jesus Montero or Tom Wilhelmsen from scratch this March...

If Erasmo is in spring training for ANY reason other than to show that he still has the clockwork mechanics, and normal velocity, then the M's bias toward "proven" MLB(TM) production is overriding their sense of reason.

..............

Very interesting post, as always, Dr. K.

7

Dr K, your point about Z being nervous about #2, maybe even #3, and therefore wanting extra stability at #4-5, that's a point with legs.

Whether Jon Garland provides more risk avoidance than Erasmo Ramirez is another question.  I can certainly empathize with the idea that, standing 3' away from either of them on the grass, that Garland would FEEL less risky.  From a coolly detached standpoint, I'll argue that the real gamble is the other way.

Gimme the roto team with Erasmo 2013, over the one with Garland, any day.  But down on the grass I'm sure it doesn't feel like that.

8

You've pointed this factor out several times, and it's one of the best light bulbs you've installed here.  Keep reminding us.

.........

G-Money has pointed out that other org's don't have this bias -- Oakland with Gio, LA with Kershaw, etc.  But obviously the M's do like for their pitchers to be near-finished products.

Maurer does seem to be that -- a near-finished product, from an execution standpoint -- and Erasmo is OBVIOUSLY that.  We'll see where it gets them.

9

I like that insight too. Not sure I agree with it, assuming it is a correct assessment of the M's decision making, but it is defensible.

10

but I don't run the team. As I said to Mo, if I run the team Garland isn't even in camp, but maybe that is foolish of me.

11

...but why didn't they trade a single blue chip prospect this Winter if that were true? You telling me they couldn't have done better than Garland with a trade of Paxton and Franklin, two players that aren't going to be on the big league roster?

12

The organization could be losing it's nerve, or frankly never had any. That makes more sense to me. The perplexing and confusing decision making is a sign of organizational disfunction.

13

Are the inconsistencies apparent or real? Will there a resolution of the situation compatible with design currents of the franchise, or is all this indicative of panic or confusion? A couple of months should make things clearer.

14

...but, there is still another explanation, and most everyone isn't going to like it. Jack Zduriencik, for all of his baseball acumen has an aspect to him that we all just kind of gloss over, and that is that he is also a business man. Sometimes Jack has to approach a situation from the business, and it will make ZERO sense to those of us who look at the organization as purely a baseball team. Believe me, even if Jack is doing something from a business approach, he is doing it with the best interest of the team in his heart.

Out of pure dumb luck I've come across a piece of intel that I would love to write about and share with everyone, but I can't. I don't mean to be smarmy, I just can't share it right now.

15

Rob's picture

Rob

Except to be smarmy? ;) Incidently, is this the same bit of 'news' you referenced in the shoutbox a couple days back, or is this new, more juicy news?

16

kgaffney,

We have lots of pitchers that "look ready to try the big leagues on for size." That's Doc's point. By your reasoning, The Cubs should have kept Greg Maddux down in he gave up a WHIP of 1.6, H/9 of 10.5, 4.3 BB's with 5.8 K's in his age 21 first go-around.

The next year he was at 1.2, 8.3, 2.9 & 5.1.

Then he became Greg Maddux. He came up about the same age as ERAM, btw. In 156 AAA innings, he gave up 8.3 hits/9 with 2.4 BB's and 5.0 K's. Man, ERam was way better than that as a major leaguer last year.

OK, I know...he's no Mad Dog.

But he's better than Garland...and has proved it.

If Morse and Morales are one year guys, we can hardly stand 10-13 Garland starts....when there are a BUNCH of better guys in AAA.

The fact that this thing has legs probably means that there is some sort of decent chance it happens. There is no way to defend it.

Garland was last better than ERam is right now in '05.

So there you go.

moe

17

With what I know, I would start Erasmo and wouldn't have invited Garland to camp, but what I know is extremely limited compared to Jack and Eric. Does that make them right? Of course not, my only point was dismissing the decisions of others as crazy is a great recipe for stagnating and never learning anything new. I realize that Doc wasn't dismissing Jack and Eric, that is not his stye, but the level of frustration was unusual for Doc. So I just wondered to myself, are there reasons, rather than biases, that could explain the decision making? Basically, the whole story doesn't make sense to me, so I presumed I was missing something and hypothesized what it might be, that is all.

18

I grok'ked that first time 'round, but thanks for the PSA.

Your intent to get out to the control truck, check the monitors and cameras and replay angles that we hadn't yet looked at, that's the very spirit of SSI.  

And by the way, I feel a little less shrill, having seen the play from the reverse angle.  OOmmmmmmmmmm... .

19

This is really what we've learned from SSI. If things don't make any sense, it's somewhat likely that it's because we don't have all the information that the guys making the decisions have. Last year, we lamented Iwakuma's relegation to the bench early in the season but we didn't know (as Baker did know) that it was taking the guy three days to recover from throwing a couple of ST innings. There was literaly no way he could have started coming out of ST. If we had know what the club's coaches and trainers knew at the time, we would not have been so incredulous. And it appears that the club made the right call.

I don't know what is driving the "safe vets on one year contracts" thing in 2013 but something is. Risk aversion, talent readiness evaluation..something.

20

You bring in vets like Garland and Bonderman on minor league contracts, because in February you cannot be sure that everyone you "expect" in your rotation will be healthy. You also do not know in February just how your prospects will perform in the new year.

Noesi was the organization pick last year and performed well enough to get a spot out of ST. This year, he is apparently attempting to fix some of last year's problems and at the moment is a complete train wreck.

There was no guarantee that Hultzen or Paxton or Maurer (or Erasmo or Beavan) was going to impress in ST. So, you bring in extra bodies, "in case" you need them.

But, when you have a full rotation performing up to expectation ... your "stop loss" guys should not leap over them simply because they have multiple years of being mediocre.

My sense of things is Wedge (not Z) is likely the guy who wants Garland ... because my view of Wedge from early on is that he prefers any body that makes WEDGE's job easier. With Garland, Wedge just pencils in the name and any failure is on Garland - he's a vet, after all. But, if a Beavan or Erasmo or Noesi runs into trouble, it become's Wedge's job to figure out a solution to the problem.

I have no direct knowledge and admit this is pure speculation ... but my sense is that Wedge would rather have 4 vets and one prospect, simply because it means less work for Wedge than 3 vets and 2.

21

FWIW, Divish guesses today on the radio that Ramirez and Beavan make the club; Garland gets released to try it with another team and Bonderman takes a AAA Tacoma assignment. That would be fine with me.

22

ghost's picture

ghost

Here's to hoping that Baker is just too close to the field on this one and is hearing Wedge heap praise on Garland to do him a favor when he tries with other clubs.

23

In that a Garland over ERam decision isn't "crazy" in hte real sense. It's somewhere in the neighborhood, however. :)

Your idea as ERam as the fallback position, which doesn't exist with Garland, is interesting. But were that Z & W's play, here, I wouldn't understand that either. Why wouldn't you fallback position on an ERam collapse just be Maurer or Hultzen? By then you would have probably saved a year with them.

I think it was Robert E. Lee that once said an army was a beautiful thing and a commander had to be careful about being reluctant to use that beautiful thing for what it was designed for. That's a liberal paraphrase, I'm sure.

We have built this beautiful thing of young talent and now we seem reluctant to roll it out into battle where some of it might be destroyed. Perhaps ERam implodes this year....it won't be due to the fact that he didn't get 15 more AAA starts. On that, I am sure.

Ditto Hultzen, Maurer, Romero, etc.

Almost all young guys have some early struggles. Willie Mays went o'fer 24, or some such thing. I mentioned Maddux above. Harper had stretches of them last year. Man, it is part of the learning process. But that process exists whether a player is 22 or 25.

So roll them out early.

I appreciate your attempt to find a rational in the Garland over ERam issue. And perhaps the issue is all ours and not really something Wedge is contemplating. But if that is so, why wouldn't he just say, "Man, I'm really excited to see ERam in game 4! The kid looks great!"

I am quite sure we have the best stable of young starter-type arms in the game. Young arms aren't collectables, however. Their use isn't in polishing them and sitting them on the shelf for all to admire. Their true use is in trotting them out in Safeco and lfinding out what they've got. Tacoma is a nice place. But basically, it don't mean diddly in the development of a pitcher.

Sorry if I came across to aggressive in the last post. I do realize you had said you wouldn't walk down the Garland path were you the GM.

moe

25

bsr's picture

bsr

Organizational DNA from the top (JAPAN) down is risk averse in the worst way. Like a tight-passive poker player who bleeds to death from the blinds. It's like Doc says, when they (ownership) are trying to win...we'll know it. (You think it's Schneider and Carroll making the call on the last week of Hawks signings? Mr. Allen is the one cutting the checks.)

Here's what I don't get. If you throw E-Ram and Maurer out there, and one or both implode, and you've lost Jon Friggin Garland forever by cutting him in ST...is there not some other warmed over Vet you could trade one of your bajillion prospects for on short notice? Or give Hoss Millwood a call down on the ranch? Is this just not realistic?

Is JZ truly on the hot seat and needs .500 or bust? That's what I've always assumed about this year. Maybe that's the simplest explanation. Sigh. Can't wait to follow our epic quest for 82 wins.

Let's hope the kids break out and force their hands :)

26

After Garland's last interview ("There are 29 other teams") vs. Erasmo's very cool quotes today (seriosly , check Baker's interview with him, it warms your heart), you have no choice but to root for Erasmo.

28

bsr's picture

bsr

Good read. Erasmo just sounds like a sharp guy (as folks around here have been saying).

Now Baker is talking about Garland needing a month to get up to game speed...accepting a couple bombs in April.

When you get down to it, seems like the team just doesn't agree with the good Doctor here on Erasmo's prognosis in 2013. The most charitable scenario is they want his 180 IP running into Sept/Oct. But then why the almost religious mantra about Garland's amazing 200 IP ability...sure doesn't sound like a stopgap.

29

Bonderman and Garland both have dismal sound bites coming out of their mouths. 'If this doesn't work out, there are 29 other teams' - Garlands quote as you say. Bonderman's was something like, 'Well I've proven to myself I can still get big leaguers out. If they send me down to the minors, that's the business. I could just go home for the season instead, no big woop'

These are guys that made their millions and are making an effort to come back, but the burning desire to compete, the love for the game, it is not there. What's this Wedge is spouting about competition? Sounding more and more like lip service.

30

...that is moldy and smelly with age. It is also wrong. Very wrong. Folks need to hop off of that "woe is me, my team is the worst team in the history of baseball" bandwagon because that is a ride that goes nowhere. Seriously, "not trying to win" is a sentiment that just like Chone Figgins, needs to go away.

31

bsr's picture

bsr

It's shorthand oversimplification obviously. We all understand it as such. Maybe we are just snake bitten and it's going to turn around soon. Given total lack of successful RESULTS with the Ms...we fans are forced to become expert PROCESS watchers to have anything hopeful to root for. So when we see signs of a seemingly flawed process...it is extra distressing.

I can appreciate that things look different at field level vs on the net. Hoping your secret scoop will see daylight soon...you're killing us here =D

32

However, let me give a personal example of why it resonates with me fairly deeply.

In high school, I took up wrestling because I loved boxing with my brother, watching UFC as a kid and playing soccer. So physically, I was in great shape and used to athletics. I wasn't truly gifted physically until high school when I discovered that there were only a handful of seniors who were physically stronger than myself as a freshman. My high school had 1100 students my freshman year.

After a year of getting turned into burger by the team and coaches, I arrived in wrestling camp my sophomore year ready to compete, at least I thought. You know what I discovered? I wasn't mean enough. I was stronger than all but our returning AAA state champs, and I was better at takedowns and takedown defense than literally all but two of my teammates. I never got higher than 2nd string JV, and I wasn't behind anyone of note.

What I needed to be doing was IMPOSING MY WILL on my teammates ruthlessly and wihout consideration for their well-being or athletic careers. I didn't understand that it was a fight to total submission; I thought it was a friendly athletic exercise.

If I had gone on a tear, and broken arms, ribs and strained my teammates' will to compete with me, I would have been varsity easily. I'm not exaggerating, I was that good physically and technically, winning regional freestyle and takedown tournaments. I beleive that it was simply my lack ofanimalistic, testosterone-fuelled will to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and hear the lamentation of their women that did me in. I was too 'Yin'd' and not enough 'Yang'd'. I'm better now, but still not where I need to be, and that's after years of working to remedy the situation.

The M's are in PRECISELY the same situation, with major economic and geographic advantages over their opponents. The problem is,they don't go for the throat EVER. They think it's a friendly athletic exercise that might go their way eventually. Does anyone think that approach will work?

THAT is what I think people mean when they say the M's don't want to win. Of course they are high-powered executives, likely better at their jobs than any of us will ever be at ours. But relative to their true peers, like those across the street, they are woefully inadequate in Yang.

33

bsr's picture

bsr

+++ great story...thanks for sharing :) I think Z and Wedge have the requisite t-count to compete hard...the Ms weak link has always been ownership (and HowieChuck to an extent...but they are just the foot soldiers to the check writers). Look at our majority owner...an absentee maker of cutesy family fun technology...no shock that the team is run the way they are. The issue is fundamentally financial and business based. Anyway enough pessimism...let's hope Z has the magic touch to overcome his constraints...starting right about now!

34

Rob's picture

Rob

I still don't see the competition being Garland vs. Ramirez. I really think it's two separate battles: Garland vs. Bonderman, Beavan vs. Ramirez. I agree with the "veteran insurance" angle being put forth, but it's only for 1 spot, not two; hence, Gar vs. Bond. I think it is convoluting it to express it any other way.

I get that there are two spots and 4 guys, but I don't actually believe the roles are completely fungible in the minds of the brass. (For ex. there is NO way Gar and Bond both make the team. It's basically, "Can one of the old guys stick? Great. It's one young guy instead of two."

35

I do love that we are getting all worked up about the 5th/6th starter and 5th/6th outfielder roster battles.

Certainly Wells vs. Bay has a lot less overall impact than Figgins over Seager. And how many, many, many years were we just looking for a live body to fill that fifth starter roll?

I love it when the biggest debates of camp are our 24th and 25th roster spots. Love it.

- Ben.

36

True, 'dat. The club that breaks camp in 2013 is going to be a LOT better than the one that broke camp in 2012. Morse over Ichiro in RF. Seagar over Figgins at 3B. Montero over Olivo at C and Morales over Montero at DH. Garland over Noesi at SP. Those are all pretty big upgrades. Add in Capps over Kelly and Pryor over Delabar and this team is markedly improved.

37

ghost's picture

ghost

Smoak over himself, Saunders over himself, Ackley over himself, Andino over Kawasaki, Ibanez over Peguero, Perez over the struggling version of Iwakuma, and Gutierrez back to full health.

Those are a LOT of upgrades.

38

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bsrMy favorite part, so true: "You read comparative team coverage, Yankees and Mariners, and it is difficult not to conclude that what we have here is a cross-cultural failure to communicate. The Mariners have tumbled of late. Yet Seattle baseball writers have the temerity to counsel — I’m not joking — patience."1 hour 22 min ago
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