Houston 10 ...
Billingham Day doesn't work out this time, mates



We promised that we weren't going to be provocative here, so just the fa'ax, ma'am.

GOOD:  In the first two starts, Gallardo has definitely thrown the ball a good +2 MPH harder than he has for several seasons.  That's not the same as throwing it +2 MPH harder for 150 innings, but in a vacuum it is yuuuuge.  (Whoops, almost got provocative...).  Maybe that's what Dipoto had in mind, on some level.

Also, the Mainframe was thrilled that Gallardo came out throwing his 79 MPH curve (as opposed to his inviting little cutter/slider).  It had depth and some bite, and he was able to make it break down to the knees or lower.  We notice here that he threw 22 of them, way high for him, and not a single one allowed a baserunner.  This has Mel Stottlemyre's fingerprints all over it.

92-94 MPH, even wild as he is, combined with an ML average overhand curve, might give fighting chances.  If you are grading #4-#5 starters on a scale of 1-10 ... we rated his performance, objectively, 3 to 4 in both starts.


BAD:  What Gallardo did in the 4th inning merits three or four L's for his bank account.  All by itself.  We haven't read the M's postgame reaction -- we try to avoid reading anything before our postgames, so they'll be fresh.  But you would think that the PSYCHOLOGICAL aspect of the 4th-5th innings would have some people reassessing.

Staked to a huge 5-0 lead after only three innings, Gallardo came out in the 4th inning and was afraid to throw a strike.  Was this because he's not aware of the Big Lead rule against walks, do you think, or was this because he knows he can't challenge major league hitters?

Up 5-0, he worked Josh Reddick to 1-2 and then pulled out three silk napkins to walk him.  Nibble fastball, nibble "slider," then a curve on 3-2 with a 5-run lead?!.  This was leading off the 4th.  Then Jose Altuve, take your base and Mel Jr. came sprinting out of the dugout.  What is going on here?  Carlos Correa lines a single, a couple of outs, and then Gallardo with a 5-1 lead WALKS another run in, balls 3-4 so far off the plate that 100% of major leaguers would have taken them.

A single makes it 5-2 but the baserunner kill gets Gallardo back to the dugout.


It was the psychological turning point of the game.  He escaped 5-2 due to the fielding out, but .... the rest of the game was a Houston Astros celebration of their ownership of the M's early season here.

That, friends, is the objective description without any intent to add emphasis.  If we were adding emphasis we would be talking about body language, when the relievers were scrambled, how a 5-0 lead felt like it was only 2 runs, how we felt on this and that pitch, how Gallardo looked like he wanted someplace to hide, etc.  

The objective description is simply that --- > Yovani Gallardo was given a game situation where a Grand Slam wouldn't have beaten him, and yet he knew that he needed to nibble and pick.



Krueger aptly remarked "In the Astros' bullpen when the phone rings they know who is going to get up.  In the Mariners' bullpen they have no clue."

Dan Altavilla is very talented but it turns out he may not be ready for game situations on a night-in, night-out basis.  Pazos also may need a month or two's work; that we don't know.  And those are the two guys were were hoping could back Diaz.  Scrabble threw some predictable average-solid LOOGY pitches so right now he's the #2 to Diaz by default.

The spring training bullpen had two ways it could go, and it went the wrong way.  The M's would be 5-5 or 4-6 had that not been the case.  They say Tony Zych is getting close; maybe he and Scrabble can take roles in the 8th.



Never did get what was going on with Casey Fien, not that he won't be back to hold a game here and there.  And don't know what's going on with Evan Marshall now.

Do know what's going on with Dillon Overton, though, and they should use him for the extra inning here or there, so they can --- > field a bench.  And use it.


Ah well,

Dr D




for Stottlemyre to be shown the door.  I don't understand how he got the job in the first place.

Is there a single pitcher who is demonstratably better since MSJ got here?  Felix and Kuma were fully formed.  You can't count Paxton, because it took Painter to do that down in Tacoma after the spring training disaster last year.

Can't count Diaz--that was development in the minors.

This is not a sacrificial lamb designed to save a manager's neck.  It's a necessity based on incompetence.  

Time for Dipoto to show the same realism with his hires as he did with someone else's.  


Although in fairness I've got to admit that the Boss expects loyalty from his hires and has a bit of it to show himself, too.  Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. has forgotten more about pitching than I ever knew, though the M's have had their share of disappointments, such as Taijuan.

On a guy like Paxton, The Big Fix (getting his skull out over his toes rather than behind his heel, and the glove arc which locks that in) was an idea of the AAA coach, but a whale of a lot goes into the whole sculpture.  Not totally sure how a comprehensive eval of Mel Jr. would turn out.


I think it's pretty safe to assume every pitching coach who ever lived knows more about pitching than I do--low bar!

He's had one MLB gig.  Inherited a D-Backs staff midseason that went ERA+ of 101 that year...turned that into 89 the next, after which he was fired...and then saw it rise to 104 the next year once he was gone.

Maybe small sample size error.  Again, no personal condemnation--just saying there was not a track record of success.  So I don't know what the allure was.

I contrast that with what Ray Miller was for Weaver...or Dave Duncan was for LaRussa...or Roy Searage is right now for Hurdle.  

My favorite example is a guy almost no one knows.  Don Cooper in Chicago.  He's been a pitching coach in the organization since 1988...and with the White Sox all the way back to 2002.  On his fourth manager.  That franchise is not one that goes out and writes nine figure contracts in order to attract pitchers.  And aside from Chris Sale and the current Carlos Rodon, they are not known for drafting high level pitching prospects.  

Despite that he's averaged an ERA+ of 104 during his 15 years...and he did it by developing a long list of guys whose raw stuff impressed almost no one: Mark Buehrle, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Esteban Loaiza, Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, etc.  

So my point is that no matter what managers came and went, the White Sox organization put a premium on a world class pitching coach, no matter what culture any manager attempted to instill in the clubhouse.  It's a commitment to proven excellence.

Which is a standard I don't think MSJ has met.  Nor, for that matter, the M's organization. 


I've said all spring that he would be quickly kicked to the curb by our younger arms....ahem....Moore.

One more Moore gem in Arkansas and he's got to get a ticket to the west coast.  Wouldn't bother me if there was no layover in Tacoma.


Supposing for the sake of argument that Gallardo continues to run xFIPs and ERAs between 4.99 and 6.30.  You think he gets 8 starts, or what?

Already assuming that Moore, Povse and Co. are going to be offering the mouthwatering alternatives.


Depends on the M's record.  If Gallardo is a 5+ ERA guy AND were 9-16, or worse, at game 25, he's going to be a real shorttimer.

If we rally and are 13-12 at that point he may make it to 10 starts. Maybe.

But can't you imagine Moore throwing 6 innings of 3 hit, 1 run ball in his next start.....which automatically gives him a battlefield promotion to Tacoma.  If he duplicated that in one start there, you have to ride the hot arm.


The Curve in particular seemed to either hang up or bite the dirt, his curve ball has always been effective for him though, his slider looked more like a fastball than ever.  Nibbling or not, Gallardo was robbed blind by the ump in the Fourth, he had at least 5 in zone strikes taken from him in the inning (and one given back on an outside fastball after a particularly glaring miss of a curve to Altuve).  Of course the batter's felt no compulsion to swing.  It was particularly bad when Mitch Haniger struck out in the bottom of the inning looking at a pitch the ump had called a ball against Gallardo at least 3 times the previous half.  If those pitches are called strike, there's no walks and a line single and Gallardo continues to waltz through the game.

The Fifth was worse in my opinion, when he allowed his only hard line drive of the night to Nori Aoki and another line drive single.  But the runs scored on one of the 50 or so weak grounders the Astros hit.


The Brooks strike zone chart is rat cheer:

The ump took away -3 close low ones and -2 high ones, while giving him +2 wide ones.  The ump wanted an East-West strike zone which is not Dipoto's philosophy nor the zone that best accommodated Gallardo's overhand curve.  Which, again, I thought he threw well.

Gallardo is not a guy who can afford a blown 3-2 call, that's for sure.


If I had started the year with any optimism on Gallardo, I'd have more of it now than I did then.  Got middle ground with you there my friend :- )

The Other Billy Zoom's picture

Last year we extolled that the M's could be down late in the game and come back and win ... over and over.

T hat had never been their style.

This year in S/T the emphasis on the position guys was posiive RISP stats and astounding defense.

Now you have Corey's brother not listening, or not understanding the message.

I am sure you could get guys with machetes cutting trails through the brush with better swings than Zunino and L. Marteen..

Where have all the flowers gone?

Stottlemeyer was hired because he was from Yakima, not New York, and I have no idea if it is him, Servais, Boger, Hampton, or just who all y'all  is running on a couple flat tires and no lug wrench which fits the lug nutz.

True, the players have to play the game, but, there is something endemically wrong with this "team" ... is it the individuals on the field  ... or?

I thank my lucky stars and 400 million year old jade ammonite fossil that I did not plunge money on an over number of 86 1/2 and nibbled at a bigger return by betting on 90 wins.

The stars and fossil probably (but not absolutely) far precede the graveyard curse.



That's such a howler that it makes me wonder whether you came up with it ... if so, standing O mate ...

Ya I don't get it.  Either your use of cornpone and "endemically" in the same post, or Nelson Cruz' beaming "maybe the Mariners!" best team shtick right before the ballclub flew north and took the dive.

The curse I thought I understood, this being a lawsuit-born team that has never had a baseball-loving owner, but also thought that Dipoto (later Mathis and Stanton) would address that.  Well, we're 10 games in, right?


Gallardo said after the game that he knew not to be so fine but couldn't stop over thinking.  What do you do with that?  He was conscious of the need to not nibble while he was squandering the lead by doing so?  It sounds more like an addiction in that light, not to lessen the seriousness of addictions.  If you know not to do it, don't do it. 

Other than that I see things like Martin scorching a line drive up the middle and hitting the pitchers ankle who then lost the ball (Oh, maybe...) only to step right on it (odds of that?) Or he'd likely have had no shot of catching Martin.  I don't even want to continue thinking about the game to recall all the bloops, bad calls and near misses.  They have been in Every Game.  Things just aren't going their way yet.  Not that nothing can be done to improve the chances, but that discussion is next door. 


Hadn't heard that quote.  So his best asset is his brain, and his brain wasn't up to the challenge of holding a 5-run lead for a couple of innings?  Eeyugh.

The Martin fluke, ya, he deserved a hit there.  Those things always look fantastically painful when you're 3-for-35 and then your 4th hit of the year is taken away.  That's the nature of baseball.

In EVERY game... hadn't noticed that but it makes sense.  Was also going to say they only had one easy win, Paxton's.  But yeah.


The foundation of the organization is culture, right?  We hear it over and over again.

And unlike many sabes, I believe in culture--just because you can't measure it doesn't mean it doesn't count.

But for the moment, we seem to be at a crossroads--amazing so early in the season.  We have a first-time manager (who I actually like) who is clearly deer-in-the-headlights.  I understand he's never been in this situation before.  What strategy is required?  What instruction to the pitching staff?  What changes in the lineup?  What words to reassure the troops?  None of these things seems likely to be fixed by culture.  No matter how many pool tables there are in the clubhouse, they don't help you get a 3-2 pitch over the plate. There need to be baseball answers. 

Lou would not be relying on culture.  Nor Weaver.  Nor Maddon.  Nor LaRussa.  Nor Torre.  Nor--dare I say it--McClendon?

I could not be more hopeful that my observations are wrong.  Maybe we're back to .500 by Memorial Day.  

It's just that right now I don't see the path forward...and I fear the veteran players are quietly mumbling, too.


Was Mel Stottlemyre Jr. even an MLB pitcher or are we counting on the fact that his Dad knew how to play and coach?

How did he get an MLB pitching coach job to begin with?

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