It's hard to believe the M's managed to carry two DH-only players the whole year. That maybe says more about what we got out of a solid Branyan at 1B, the smoke-and-mirrors out of LF, and paper thin utility coverage. I'm still not sure how or why we did it in 2009, but can't imagine it again for 2010. Any thoughts on that?
I/O: Geoff Baker takes Sweeney's return a lot more seriously than we have.
Charming, the recognition that the coaches-on-the-field are getting as we wind down.
Sweeney is, quote, "praying" that he might return ... and our man Geoff calls the return a no-brainer. Huh!
CRUNCH: For reasons we've detailed here in the past, you can't rule out the possibility that Sweeney is still a very good hitter. For all we know, Sweeney might very well still be a .300/.380/.500 hitter in part-time play.
I would assume that the decision on Griffeys and Sweeneys would be to bring back either 0 of them or 1 of them. But my assumptions have nothing to do with what the Mariners are thinking.
It will be interesting to listen for cues as to what's being said in the control room.
Dr. D takes "clubhouse chemistry" more seriously than other locals tend to. I think that it can be, and this season was in fact, the primary cause of a +20 game turnaround.
Billy Martin, for example, turned each of his teams around by +20 games, instantly.
Don Wakamatsu just pulled a Billy Martin.
For a guy who believed that the 2008 catastrophe, 102 losses, was driven by a cancerous work environment, you can imagine that my view of Griffey, Sweeney, and Wakamatsu-as-leader is different than others'.
I'd bring back 1 of them, and in certain circumstances might bring back both.
I/O: Baker quotes Fister as being very glad to have Adam Moore catch him, rather than Kenji Johjima. (Doogie didn't put it that way.)
CRUNCH: The roto champ -- Taro finished #2 by only an eyelash in both of the 2008 Prime Time blog-o-sphere roto smackdowns -- and I have been jousting over Fister throwing HR balls that Johjima-san called.
I've wondered whether a change of catchers might affect this HR rate, and Champ rolls his eyes. :- )
Oct. 1, the M's did finally give Fister a different catcher, and as it happens, no mistakes occurred.
Prove anything? No. A powerful visual? Hmmmm...
I/O: Baker points out that the M's could catch Texas for 2nd with a sweep. LOL. Man, that puts it in perspective.
CRUNCH: On Thursday, against flamethrowing lefty Brett Anderson, the M's did fan 7 times and walk once on the night.
In August, they were running horrific 0.30 EYE's that were by far the worst in the major leagues; in September it hasn't been as catastrophic.
Their team EYE is at 0.39 the last 30 days, despite Hall and Saunders putting up hilarious BB/K ratios. It's been a teamwide improvement, with Ichiro and Beltre improving their eyes, Gutierrez and Johjima also doing better, and Carp pitching in.
I guess the August hackfest was just the dog days. The M's did, in fact, bear down in September and finish professionally. They won series from the Angels, Rangers, and Yankees, destroyed the hot A's 5 of 6, and pushed themselves up to 83-86 wins.
It says a whale of a lot about Don Wakamatsu that even in September, the boys didn't try to get away with a THANG. Thath high-quality H20.
It was also hard to imagine this type of silly grin from Ichiro in 08 (or maybe ever?): http://i.usatoday.net/sports/_photos/2009/09/21/marinersx-large.jpg
That being said, both Sweeney and Jr. have made baseball cases to come back, not just chemistry-related ones. It is legit to say that both could contribute in the right roles.
Hall and Hannahan have the versatility to make up for a lot of the roster clog you'd get from two platoon DH-only guys, so to some extent the decision depends on how much you believe that one or both of them will provide non-disastrous offense when in there.
You could get away with keeping both Griffey and Sweeney with NEITHER of them slated as a primary DH in 2010 if you really wanted to. Griffey can play the role of 5th outfielder in an absolute pinch and Sweeney can be your back-up first baseman when Branyan needs an off day against a tough lefty.
Josh Wilson (or preferably someone better)
Ken Griffey Jr.
Free agent or Dunn
That's 14 position players, requiring that your bullpen be 6 deep only, but that team still have enough versatility to survive if your bullpen includes two long relievers who can start...or even three.
Garrett Olson (LOOGY / Long man)
No reason you can't continuously the juggle the bullpen slots 5-6 in and out to keep them fresh.
I don't take Fister's "We mesh together" comment as any kind of dig to Johjima, just that Moore has caught him for a while in the minors and they are comfortable with each other.
I don't buy blaming Johjima for Fister's ineffectivenesss so far in his debut year. I hope Joh returns to Japan this year that people don't get to use this excuse every time a pitcher doesn't do well.
Just complimenting Moore, as you say.
As you know, the catcher splits are vast the last several years. Yet again in 2009, Johjima's ERA is 4.90 season-long, compared to Rob Johnson's 3.24, and that's the way it's been each year.
Differences in pitchers account for some of this, but c'mon, that's an ERA that is 50% higher.
I do not doubt in the least that in an absolute sense, it's the American pitchers' fault, not Johjima's.
What I'd love to see, more than Johjima head back to Japan, is for him to fly the other way to Boston. And SLG .500, run the best CERA on the ballclub, and become a star at age 34.
And even more impressive than the substance, was the formatting.
I agree with you also: the presence of a Fister or two in the bullpen removes the pressure to have 12 guys out there. Fister and French, for example, could easily function as well as your worst three short guys.
We keep French in the discussion not just because Taro backs him :- ) but because French was Capt Jack's big deadline move. He's going to have a high place in line. For awhile.
I like French's upside more than Olson's in the bullpen anyway...especially if he remembers how to throw a slider at some point.
RJ catches the #1-3 and Joh the #4-6. Of course RJ's CERA is going to be better.
You are aware that this factor does not account for ALL of the difference between 3.2 and 4.9.
Nor does it account for other seasons.
Only about 99% of it. I think the CERA is beyond misleading and I think its means ziltch in regard to Fister.
Guys better with Johjima (minumum 10 IPs):
Guys better with RJ:
If anything it seems the novices seem to do better with Johjima, and the vets seem to do better under RJ (Felix+Bedard+ pretty much explains the wide CERA spread). I don't know if these splits mean anything at all. Washburn for example was better under Johjima last year (ironically). Next year these splits could completely reverse. That is the nature of CERA.
Still, its possible that the established vets have convinced themselves that Joh's way of doing things don't work and have created a terrrible working environment. Perhaps when that attitude is not present, pitchers actually do better with Joh. Maybe, maybe not. Again, these splits could completely reverse next year.
In regards to Fister, I don't even think its a remotely viable argument. Fister gives up homeruns because hes hittable and hes around the plate a lot.
Still, if I grin and confidently tell you, "Watch me flip this coin. It's going to be heads." And then it is? I've got your attention if you've got any sense. "Okay, do it again."
Despite the pocket-protector, hornrimmed statistical regressions we could use.
I wondered BEFORE the game whether Fister might see his tateritis solved if he had a catcher making the calls he wanted to see. And it then was. Fister didn't give up a 350-foot fly all night.
Proof, no. But ten games is all we've got to go on. And so the one game is > 0.
You have a pre-conceived notion that you want to believe. Of course you'd view a single start as proof. Who knows. Maybe Moore puts Fister in a positive mindset due to familiarity or whatever (which doesn't mean RJ would either btw). We don't know yet until we see them work together more often.
Would Fister have done better with RJ behind the plate against NY or Texas last month? Maybe, but I seriously doubt it. Thats just going to happen from time to time when you have a guy with so-so stuff who is around the plate against a bunch of mashers. Most of the rookies have done better with Johjima behind the plate anyways, so I don't see what you're basing your argument on.
I just despise it when Johjima is blamed for a pitcher's mistake (the above shows why people are wrong for doing that). Certain pitchers (mostly young-ins) have done better with Johjima, some (mostly vets) have done better with RJ.