M's Go to War
Astros face their doom today



Coming from the Yankees, Lou used to grouse that the Mariners never "brought north the club they wanted to go to war with."  This year we're rolling.  With one notable roster exception, the M's are ready to throw hands.  No, the bullpen isn't a weakness in the broad sense; they've got a super-closer and some arms behind that.  It may not be the 1997 Orioles but it's not a weakness as such.  Now, if we're talking weaknesses:



In his last TV start just now, threw like an MLB(TM) Innings Eater.  Granted, his strikeout total was 0.  Dr. D has grave doubts about the total being noticeably different at the end of the year.   But in this one, he did take full advantage of the Rockies' disinterest in the game, filled the strike zone with 4 Innings Eater(TM) pitches, and THREW A SHUTOUT TAKE THAT DR. D YOU HACK.

You could actually visualize him using a 14-second pace and making rushed hitters bang one-hop shots at Kyle Seager for five innings.  

So Dr. D racked his brain for other RHP's with 89 fastballs, 4 pitches, and high walk rates who did good.   ... OK, so none exist.  Well, Ismael Valdez existed.  That's the last guy like Gallardo we remember who survived a season with that kind of approach ... Valdez was a star in the mid-90's, lost his fastball and stuff, and went like 10-12, 4.50 a couple years.  Hmmm... Mark Portugal?  Carl Pavano ... no, Pavano didn't walk guys.

Anyway, with Gallardo's majestic 3-inning triumph the other day, we'll re-tally the votes as to "he just might surprise you:"

-3 = Taro, Dr. D, Seattle Sports ...  versus

+6 = Billy Zoom, Moe Dawg, Sherminator, Jerry Dipoto and please remind me the other two.  (Krakin' and ... )

Voting open until HWMNBN's first start.



SABRMatt had him Best Betted in the winter; Dr. D wanted 20 AB's from the CF camera and then accepted the Vice-Presidency of the Maniger Fan Club.  However, Wishhiker pulled a Jason Statham, swinging both legs through the semi-truck window to kangaroo both of us into the background scenery.  

With the Haniger rig careening madly around the high mountain passes, Wish grabbed the steering wheel and cranked it left to a projected ceiling of .310/.430/.570 and "why not .350 like Ichiro?"  

I loooov eeeet ... if you just joined us, bear in mind that Wishhiker has been a completely erudite Denizen for many many years.

edit to add, Wish was being a little tongue in cheek - see below.  Imagine Dr D misreading a net rat's level of gravity .....

But Wish has still capped the First Ups hands climb the bat game.  He is Maniger's biggest fan.  Enjoy the 25/25 season mate.


Dr. D reminds that ANY rookie, short of ARod or Junior, has a good 50% chance of failure.  But Dr. D also likes the Kyle Seager career path:

Rookie = solid .260 hitter in Safeco, okay EYE, clear power potential, 100-110 type contribution

2-3 YR = 115, 120 OPS+ with all-around plate skills in Safeco

Mature = 130 hitter

Haniger does hit like Seager, studious, tough, and within himself.  Has a better scatterchart, though, and obviously more raw power.  


But it will not surprise me in the least if Mitch Haniger has a Fred Lynn / Jim Rice type of "rookie" season, nor if he develops into some kind of major star.  His numbers last year were SICK and he has a Peyton Manning-type love of video.  It won't even surprise grizzled beat writer Bob Dutton, who says "Josh Donaldson lite" is reasonable.

Again, my thing is that Maniger doesn't even have to hit to give you 3 Heyward-type WAR.  That's why he's such a dream bet.


Jean Segura will lead off and Maniger will start in the 2 hole, it looks like.  Dr. D is GIDDY.  He's counting his 2-run first innings long before they hatch.  Remember, with most teams the 1st inning is the best one.  You get to pick who hits that inning.  Scott Servais is not averse to the idea.

Dyson hits 9th to start, as he should, though he's looked good to me vs LHP's.  We said this will be Dipoto's fastest team ever ... sure, Cano could move to 1B and stuff like that, but he'll never have Jarrod Dyson again.  Well, you know what we're sayin'.


FELIX v2.0

You and I will believe it when we see it.  

But!  If you actually listen to anybody connected to the M's, they are unanimously swooning away with delight.  Think.  Would you rather have this blog telling you Felix is going to win 14, or have Dipoto and Stottlemyre saying that?



Was on TV the other day talking about his new curve.  Used to snap it with a loose wrist; now he locks his wrist and throws it karate-chop style with a feather type release.  It does move differently (breaks less, travels faster) and he seems to throw it for strikes, low in the zone.

Remember that ANY second pitch and it's all over for 'em.  Jerry Dipoto was on TV agreeing with everybody else on TV that 17-20 wins and a Cy Young are James Paxton's reasonable upside in 2017.  Just has to find the right hair-nail vitamin supplement, apparently.


740 RUNS

Hannibal chimed in with,


Hey, fellas. Long-time, on again off again lurker. 740. That's the Fangraphs projection for Mariners run-scoring. Y'all have certainly made the case for taking the over and I'll agree. Among other things that should temper our expectations (i.e. expecting the best offensive output in forever): Martin is not a great hitter who has a new stance he's still uncomfortable with...Cano/Cruz are older, we can't expect them to continue to defy age regression that has effected every post-Bonds hitter...Dyson is likely to be OBP deficient (note: I, for one, am glad he's starting off at 9 instead of 1). That's just a few pessimistic takes for ya. *wink* Other than that, let's roll!


He's right, of course.  None of us will be surprised if they clang the opening bell, the M's lose Game One and keep right on losin'.  The wheels could come off for the M's, or for most teams ... or, as Hannibal reminds, could simply fail to hit expectations.  Example?  The Seahawks the last couple of years.  It's not like the Hawks have lost twelve games a year, but given the expectations, a lot of things went wrong.

Either Boomstick will fail to hit 43 homers, or Cano will fail to hit 39, or Seager will fail to hit 30, that we confidently predict.  But here enters Silentpadna to apply exactly the same logic to any team in either league, ever.

Back on the other side of the argument, where Hannibal no doubt would be okay ... The M's scored 768 runs last year, essentially the #2 offense in the league ... and they've added Segura Haniger Dyson Zuum-Ruiz in place of Marte, Aoki, Ianetta (.210 with .329 SLG) and co.  So personally will bet the OVER on Fangraphs' projection as will Hannibal.



The Mariners have made a statement that they think he can throw strikes now.  He is capable of wayyyy overmatching lefties especially, like Andrew Miller overmatching them, in spots.  One more dynamic plotline.



Dutton's 5 Questions are in a readable, scannable format.

Ryan Divish wrote a far-ranging, ambitious little novella on Edwin Diaz.  The only question on Sugar is his health.  Which is exactly the case with Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.

These fun facts are a good read, including reminders about Felix' 6-1 record on Opening Days and Dipoto's ability to change over 18 players from last year's 25-man Opening Day roster.

Dr's Prognosis?  Let's get 2 of 4 in Houston, 2 of 3 in LAA, and then enjoy Zeus' lightning storm on Opening Day.  If Mitch Haniger looks comfortable the first week, there's little else that's going to faze me much.  We're lookin' pretty layered.

Play Ball,




There's definitely a good chance this is the fastest roster Dipoto ever puts forth  (once O'Malley returns).  Unless he decides he wants the 2 fastest players in MLB in the fold because there would then seem to be a good chance he gets them.  Or #'s 2 and 4 or some such anyway.  Taking the caveat one step further: once Seager is at 1b and Cano at DH.  The point is unless he's really gunning for running and winning along the way it's hard to fit much more.  174 bases stolen is the team record,  2001 and 1987.  Edgar was on both squads, went 4-1 in '01.

I said .350 very tongue in cheek but only thought of it because I can't see a reason to put a particular ceiling on him long - term.  One point against is everyone keeps thinking that Maniger's new found comp will clear .300.  Although Seager continues to improve and succeed overall the .300 season has still eluded him.  Here's hoping they both clear that mark this year.  #17 in '17

Hearing the Rockies announcers perspective that Gallardo seems to have an innate ability to speed it up and slow it down at the right times gives something to cling to at least.

I wouldn't be surprised if the bullpen had some struggles early.  I would be surprised if they weren't considered a strength by the end of the year, after health has returned.  So many new faces everywhere, at least we should get to know many of the young arms more as faces change around occasionally.

The team record is 11 runs on opening day in 1982, the home team Twins only managed 7.  Here's hoping for a new team record to start the season. 

Electrokrakenjr's picture

I'll stand by the vote too. He worries me more now that Mirandas already there though. But he can still hit 94 and he can fool the best of them. Plus your not asking him to anchor the rotation, or even to live up to his $13mil price tag. All your asking him to do is throw 6 innings of 4 run ball in LA every 5th day. With this crew of position players that should win you quite a bit more than you lose.


I was +1 for Gallardo in that we were getting a bunch of innings for Seth Smith.  A no-brainer type of decision for me.

But we have some youthful arms now on their way to Arkansas (sigh) who I like a lot more, right now.  Gallardo won't last too long in the rotation, unless somebody else self-destructs first.  If Gallardo is a 200 ining, 90 OPS+ guy.....well then he's pretty...er....real good for us. 

But Moore or Povse is going to kick him to the curb pretty quickly.


We'll hold you as an abstention in the Congress?  With a public statement discouraging House Bill "could surprise" 7.32?

Oh yeah.  If Gallardo has anything like a 90 ERA+ he'll be no problem as a #5.  And who knows, this park and defense could arrange that for him.



We were stuck with a Seth Smith we couldn't use.  Over his career, in trade, Seth Smith has been worth a bullpen arm. We gat a bit more.  We had already sent Walker away and Karns either had been trade 2 minutes ago or was getting traded in 2 minutes.  Smyly was still a dream.  We had Felix, Iwakuma and Miranda.  NOne were great bets to throw 190 innings.  Two were fair bets to throw 120 innings.  Gallardo's cruddy '16 was ignited in a forest fire of BB's, but mostly he was way above his (not very precise) norms only agains LHP.  He walked lefties to the tune of a .100 clip.  It was .65 vs. RHP.  And he had run a bunch of years, prior to '16, where he was a 200 inning 4.00 FIP guy.  He only cost us $4M, because we weren't getting anything better for Smith, anyway.

It wasn't a bad treade then.  I don't see it as one now. Nobody was offering us a better arm for what we were dangling as bait.  We had some rotational holes and he was some sort of a freebee plug.  Now, I'm not saying that we're going to see the '11, '12  or '15 Gallardo, a fine pitcher. If Smyly comes back in 6-8 weeks and none of the Felix-Kuma-Paxton-Miranda quartet blows an elbow, Gallardo will likely be out of a job. With the Moore/Povse/Unsworth developments, maybe before Smyly is back.  But it's possible that Smyly is out longer than we pray for AND that one of the other 4 rotational guys spurts arm parts all over Safeco.  Gallardo might be nice to have at that point, especially if it happens really early.

I've said several times that I expect Moore or Povse to shove him aside soon enough, barring injury to somebody else.  But he filled a hole when we got him and now with Smyly out, he fills another hole.  For the time being, anyway.

He's better than Seth Smith, you have to give him that.

I'm not in love with his ability to get people out on a + basis, but that isn't what we were buying.

So I'm a "meh!"  I understand the get.  I think he's out of a job decently early in the season.


When we first got him.  Then I saw him pitch in an M's uni and had bad flashbacks.  "Cut the anchor and run!"  Then I figured I'd bite my lip for awhile especially after my favorite new lefty got hurt and I just wanted to swear for a couple days straight.  My vote is a no but I hope it doesn't go as bad as I fear.  Still fighting off Silva flashbacks. 

Nathan H's picture

If that 'Seattle Sports' vote wasn't just me messing up the commenting mechanic, tally me.
I want to believe but my expectations are wormfood.

So hyped for this offense. If they're not top-3 by season's end I'll have to re-evaluate my evaluation methods.


Write an article about the guy, fail to get remembered for vote tally...But seriously, he's throwing a better fastball than Felix at this point, and he's made the 6K/9, 3BB/9 schtick work from 2012-15 at least.  Here are the batting lines against Felix Hernandez and Yovani Gallardo on the road from 2013-2015:

Gallardo:  .250/.309/.366 (280.2 IP)

Felix:  .232/.290/.354 (299.1 IP)

Felix is better, but that gap is a lot closer than, "Cy Young Contender vs. Cy Yuck Contender".  Gallardo seems to have all the same tools he had '13-'15.


Often, when you age out, the first thing that goes is command.  Your tired arm just doesn't have the muscle will to keep you feel your fingertips the way you need to in order to throw it where you intend to or get the break on it.

Gallardo's command was awful in 2016 and somehow worse in ST of 2017.


Like I said in the article; last season, Gallardo pitched with a wonky arm for at least part of the season, and Matt Wieters is a very bad pitch framer.


It's pretty immediately noticeable that In 2015 (After June 1 so the pitch totals would be similar), Gallardo received dozens of calls at or below the bottom of the strike zone, whereas 2016, the bottom of the PitchFX zone seems to suddenly become a hard demarcation and you can almost count the strikes below it using one set of fingers.  Matt Wieters could not get strikez low in the zone, and Gallardo was forced to come up with something else (which explains his low GB% compared to previous seasons).  Here is an article from January talking about how bad at pitch framing low in the zone Matt Wieters is.

So far in spring training, Gallardo has been clear about caring less than most about his results.  He's cared about velocity, movement, and location from what I can tell.  I know people ran screaming from the first 9 pitches the other day, but he started hitting his spots later, and hit them again on Saturday.  Looking at his pitch charts on Brooks, it's pretty evident that Gallardo stepped away from throwing below the zone last season:

2013-2015:  32.76% of pitches thrown below the zone

2016:  26.34%

2017 Spring: 31.73%

Gallardo has catchers this season that can get a call on curveball or diving slider low in the zone, an outfield he can rely on, and a homepark that is going to mute his flyballs.  He's going to do better than you think.


... but like I sez last time, for my part, I'm barely looking at the stats.   :- \  Though if I were I'd be taking anti-anxiety meds to do so.

All right!  An SSI debate getting edgy!  Bring it!

;- )


They tracked average miss distance (they would have interns making the starting position of the catcher's glove and the finishing position...if you hit the mitt exactly, you missed by zero inches...if he moves from the inside corner to the outside at the same height, you missed by eighteen inches, etc.

Gallardo in 2013 was one of six names I definitely remember in the top ten in miss distance.

King Felix, the young Bumgarner, David Price, Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann and Gallardo I remember...those guys missed by 7 to 9 inches.

From what I've seen of Gallardo this spring...I'd say he misses by twice that now.


That will be the thing for us Denizens to keep an eye on - the catcher's mitt when Gallardo pitches as opposed to a fair standard, say, Miranda's.

Naturally the M's will have this catcher's-mitt delta to the third decimal point and if a rumored tragedy is really occurring per the Mainframe's shtick, the DL will bail us out soon enough.


Honestly, Mal, my short-term memory is a tragedy that makes Gallardo's slider look healthy.  When I want to know what *I* have said about say Dillon Overton last week, I google it.

Sorry bout dat :- )


WORST WAGER:  you can't get any worse of a bet than this dude; the sooner they pull the plug the better, regardless of any lucky QS in April:   -6 = Taro, Dr. D, Seattle Sports, KingCorran, Nathan H (unless he's also "Seattle Sports .. "), SABRMatt.

COULD JUST SURPRISE, DON'T BE SO HASSSSTY:  +5 = Malcontent the Minority Whip, with Billy Zoom, Sherminator, Jerry Dipoto and Electrokraken.


I remember Abbott having a bit crisper fastball and better change, though - Gallardo is still mushy.

But Abbott had all those arm injuries and was still a good MOR starter for the Mariners, even with a similarly high walk rate.  If you want Gallardo to be anything useful, hope he can Paul-Abbott himself a career in Safeco.


the Abby who first came up threw that ginormous parachute change but after he mushed out, he did have those W totals for the 116 Mariners, didn't he?  Huh.

Knew we could count on you G :- )   Now what's your take on Dylan Unsworth or do we have to post an Ask G stub...


And the thing is... These sorta pitchers float into teams that mysteriously get really good.

I was betting Smyly was that guy, but he's more of the obvious sort.

The Other Billy Zoom's picture

OK, Guy Art Tao.

Let's balance this out.

Warm friends and dry air in Texas.

Arm harm and weird ways in Ball'more.

Banished to Heavy Air Land.

I believe all the iffy yaks about whether or not he has anything left wll help his brain ... and his arm will benefit.

Remember, the head bone be connected to the foot bone, and this is the last time he will get a salary to foot the bill.

Scientific thinking and de duck tive reasoning is hooked to the positive terminal.

He will be here for a good long while this season ... or he'll never see those big greenbacks again.

He's been told by management he is "needed", not pressured to live up to F/A salary.



Gallardo will balance it himself one way or the other.  Will only take 20 innings of mediocre to below-average pitching to snap Dr. D's big mouth shut.

What was that Louis Gossett Jr. movie?  "No more of that long green I was gettin' so used to."  Maybe it was the Principal.


The interface for posting is a tad clunky when mixing media.

But the point I was making with this chart...both his slider and curve have significantly straightened horizontally. His fastball is arrow-freakin-straight and even moreso lately. His best pitch is probably his change-up at this point...but...I don't think his weapons are the same.


Here's the vertical break chart - note how when he was good, he had more separation between fastball, slider, and sinker and, right now, there is no separation at all between those pitches.

The slider flattening out and turning into a spinner is the nail in the coffin here.

Veritcal Movement


Good chart Matty.  Thanks for pulling it up.

Though you know and I know that total break is much less the point than late break.  Still, even in that data you can see why that Dr. D character is backing away from the scene of the accident.


Lest we become tiresome :- ) we will say again that Gallardo's actual pitching is soon to override the jury's debate in either direction.


When those pitches are grouped more tightly together. 

The rising slider is of some concern, but I'm not going to judge the vertical movement of anyone's curve ball in March in Arizona.  His pitches have been advancing over the spring:


Game Slider Curve
SEA@COL (3/4/17) 1.22 3.67
SEA@ARI (3/17/17) 2.03 3.07
SEA@SDN (3/27/17) 2.30 2.98
SEA@COL (4/1/17) 1.84 1.89


Game Slider Curve
SEA@COL (3/4/17) 5.25 -2.64
SEA@ARI (3/17/17) 6.15 -1.32
SEA@SDN (3/27/17) 4.06 -3.67
SEA@COL (4/1/17) 5.04 -3.76

So the Slider rose slightly less and broke slightly more, and the curve fell more over the course of 4 (recorded) games, which makes sense, since he's getting his pitches in tune.  Saturday was a small step backward, but maybe he just wasn't messing around on getaway day.  I'm putting my money where my mouth is, I'm going to watch him pitch in person on Friday in Anaheim, we'll see if he can scrape up another half inch of good movement on the pitches.  If he's bad, my brother will lose no time in letting me hear all about it.

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