M's 1, Orcs 0
Why can't we have some fastball meat

.

I asked Cindy, what would she write about the game or season?  She says, Robinson Cano going down reminds her of Ken Griffey Jr's injury in 1995 and the "Refuse to Lose" attitude from all the replacements.  :- )  I dunno about that echo, one way or another, but in 1995 it did seem like a different Scrub every night.

On Wednesday, John Andreoli had his family in from Massachussetts (?) to watch him collect his first ML hit and also to make a really critical diving catch in RF, one that not many RF's would have made.  Good on him and it reminded me of Alex Diaz in '95.

.

PLAYOFFS

With two straight W's against the hated Orcs, we've put 4.5 games of distance between us (!) and nearly dropped them off the charts:

WC Record GB
NYY 31-15 +3.5
Sea 29-19 on pace for 98
LAA 27-22 -2.5 to Sea
Orcs 25-24 -4.5 to Sea

Next up would be Toronto at fully -3 below .500, Minnesota the same ... then a dropoff all the way to Detroit at -8 and Texas at -11.  Life's tough in the big city, boys.

.

LINEUP

Haniger is day to day, as are all of us.  So by the time the M's get back to Safeco Field on Friday, maybe we'll be over this "automatic two outs" rubbish.  Dr. D has gotten used to making pitchers sweat and he's deeply resenting this "Free Parking" slot the gameboard is giving them.  Not only is our right fielder out, but our right fielder IS OUR SUPERSTAR PLAYER FOR QUADRATUM'S SAKE.  Mitch is batting .296/.381/.568 and we were all trying to decide whether he is the reincarnation of Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew or Mike Trout (whose actual career SLG is exactly .568).  For future reference, Ken Griffey's SLG was .537 for his career; let's make sure Mitch's SLG doesn't fall below that line.  Here, why not type

Player AVG OBP SLG
Mitch .296 .381

.568

Junior .284 .370 .538

There, I think we've established our point beyond any reproach, don't you

.

GUILLERMO HEREDIA

On a flat night in which players seemed to be playing A-7 "Omaha Lowball" poker, lowest score wins, Heredia had 2 of the M's 6 hits to raise his AVG to .299, his OBP to who knows what (about .450) and Dr. D's expectations to his batting leadoff.

Jean Segura is best in the 2 hole.  You've got a certified .450 OBP man on the roster.......  Why not go Heredia 1, Segura 2?  That's what *I* wanna know.

.....

A little more seriously, speculation is open again as to what Heredia's future might be.  (Defensively there has been some UZR complaint, but (1) Dewan has him even-steven on the year, (2) JeDi assures us that the M's internal metrics are sensational, and (3) the dude can play CF for me any time.

Where Heredia's 15:12 EYE, and magnificent OOZ%, might take him is an open question.

.

MARCO GONZALEZ

1.  They told us that the changeup was the big deal.  They kept telling us this right up until and through the start of the season -- in fact, kept telling us this right up through the beginning of tonight's ballgame.

His curve ball is very obviously his best pitch.   It's a huge 2-plane yakker that he is throwing 78, 79, 80 MPH with great arm action, as a combo change-speed / swerve pitch the way Barry Zito used to, and Wednesday he was 20-for-24 throwing strikes with it.  How many clean base hits against it?  Um, none.  The 20 strikes were almost uniformly crackling in to break knee-high.

....

2.  The pitching is beginning to REMIND me (cause me to remember, put me in mind of) David Wells, Jimmy Key, Barry Zito, other 90-MPH control artists with 1+ BB rates and huge weaponized yakkers.  ... and you could tell a lot from the hitters' reactions:  they were consistently fouling 90 MPH fastballs back over the 1B dugout, telling you that they were trying to figure a way to barrel up his curve and change.

Just like Barry Zito in the old days.  I think I'm going to cry.  :: sniff ::

....

3.  Fact is he's got 4 pitches, though, not 2.  I just love the kid.  Not to make Baseball's Hall of Fame, but ... to have several good years pitching well for the Mariners?  Well, of course.  Why would he not?

He's whittled his ERA down to 4-3, 4.05 with a 49:11 CTL.  Gimme a few more of 'em to fill out the back end of the rotation.  Oh wait!  You sez we did, right.  Wade LeBlanc :- )

....

It was a flat night, though, a day after a dreary rain-soaked game, no Khris Davis.  Nobody looked like they wanted to be there, except Gonazales.  So we don't expect him to run a 0.00 ERA the rest of the season.

7 IP, 0 ER, though, that ain't nothin'.  If you wanted me to trade Marco Gonzales to you, next six years, you'd need to give me a whale of a lot.  That's what I think he'll do over that time.

BABVA,

Dr D

Blog: 

Comments

1

That was the other player who wasn't flat along with Heredia, Andreoli, and Gonzo.

That ball Andreoli got to was one Haniger wasn't gonna get...of course Haniger would've gotten a hit one of the other two times Heredia was on second and didn't score.

2

Cross check your clipboard with 100% agreement :- )

How much fun IS it to watch Sugar?  He comes in, throws that 98, their eyes get wide, here come the sliders and the garbage swings....

....

Yep, Andreoli's catch was a big plus, and typical of the '95 M's.... maybe we got some karma going here!  Even if not, it still has an effect on the subconscious....

3

As so often when games are on the West Coast, starting at 9pm here, I managed to get through the fourth inning before turning out the lights and falling asleep. Mariners up 1-0, five innings left. As I shut the game stream down, I was rock solid sure that single run wouldn't hold up, that it would take some more hitting. I wuz wrong. Wow. Five in a row. Things are lookin' good. When you're an M's fan, that's when you expect things to fall apart. Is this team an exception to that history? 

By the way, our AL West rivals have nicknames:

The Orcs

The Pesky Rodent Angels

But we have no nickname for the Texas Rangers. Is it because you just can't put down a team led by the great, irrepressible, congenial Adrian Beltre?

5

They're headed back in that direction with the loss of Darvish, right ... how much of their lineup can you name?  ... and they're 20-31 -12.5 back so it's a pretty brutal insult at this point ... 

The Mighty Stros have earned the respect to slip by any derogatory nicks, I think :- )

7
Friedgreensooner's picture

Dr. D, you nailed it again. You have been beating Gonzo's drum since Spring Training and you have proven to be prescient, as usual. I am starting to feel just a teeny tiny bit like I did in 2001 when I  would come to bed after the game and tell my wife in amazement, "Sugar, they won again!" Love your comparison to Zito! Wouldn't that be something? A number 2 hidden at the backend of the rotation. 

8

Thanks for these and other encouragements, which just make me work all the harder to put up quality blogs for your reading 'Sooner.

Visually, didn't he remind you of 'Zito?  The 2-plane hook and the well-located stinging little fastball, whipsawed about 50-50 and very few walks?  ... you and Keith are in the first 3 on the Gonzalez train, I think? 

9

I think I'm on the Gonzales train, just sitting quietly watching him carve his initials into things.

Imagine if, like LL was supposing, the Ms could swing a deal for Chris Archer. Paxton-Archer-Gonzales for the next three years? With King Felix getting some room to find himself and Leake to grab a bit better than half his decisions?

Given how Walton and Brigman are doing in high A, and Ian Miller in AAA, and a number of BP arms up and down the line, then Whalen and Moore; might there be enough? THAT would bring '95 echoes - Andy Benes, anyone?

10

Sorry for forgetting about it.  You had him all the way.   ... that in mind, what's your opinion about the curve showing up unexpectedly?  The Key comp, or the Wells, or even the Zito?

It's not at all farfetched to think that Wednesday's VERY PERFORMANCE started the gears grinding on JeDi's stalk of an Archer-class pitcher.  Boy, if they did, baseball would be back.

11

He's had the pitches. He's relearning how to use them. But just like James Paxton, throwing to Zunino seems to increase his confidence and reinforce his moxie.  Each start shows an increased effectiveness of the mix, and his snap and spin seem to increase as he sees success.

I still think Paxton is the type of dominant pitcher that can go, say, 18-6 in 32 starts, while Marco's margin is finer, and maybe 14-10 would be reasonable. Jimmy Key, then? But his intelligence running with Zunino's, and continued gains from experience might make that conservative. But the basic fact that you can now see is, he will never beat himself if he's got any stuff at all.

My supposition about Marco is, like Jamie Moyer, he's a highly intelligent, highly disciplined individual with good, but not great stuff (well, maybe Jamie's stuff wasn't even that good). The Cardinals have a number of young pitchers with better stuff who weren't quite so methodical about recovering from injury, so they decided to get what they could for him, a guy they'd spent a #1 pick on.

When they pitched him in the playoffs, throwing to Yadi, only a year out of Gonzaga, he never backed down. Pitching to Zunino, and getting his physical stuff back, and getting confidence that his moxie is not misplaced, and he's a good 'un.

13

You, of course, understand the implication of losing the bubble! But he just looks like he's lost the edge. My strong suspicion is that getting him in a clubhouse like the 2018 Mariners might reignite his passion.

Never underestimate the power of having fun!

14
Balkyboy the Unverified's picture

First, gotta give acknowledgement to whomever (can anybody remember who that was?) announced the Gonzales train arrival so many stations away that I don't even think Tank can hit it that far.  And I was very pleased that Gonzales was able to throw 102 pitches without having a post-80/85 pitch fade.  Also, I'll say, again, I think the appraisal of Jerry Dipoto's organization should throw stronger weighting on his aquisitions during the 2nd half of his tenure than his first.  His train has gained speed.

Moving on.  It's OFFICIAL:  the fun factor volume has been turned up all the way up on this team!  We already loved this team rain or shine 'cause we were havin' our baseball cards come to life:  "Announcing the lineup,  Joe Dimaggio in rightfield, Ricky Henderson in CF (no autocorrect, at 2nd base)....and pitching, the big lefthander, Randy Johnston.   And folks, because we love you, we promise to finish your night with a little Sugar on top."  But now, but now, REALLY??  The lockdown bullpen and the consequent come-from-behind victories.    AND the 'tude dude!   Just listen:  'our teammates are dropping down on the ground left and right, but no pitch thrown at us is going to break us because we are of one heart, just hear our clubhouse'.  This is the spirit we've wanted to see for so long from this team.  As the old song goes, thanks for the memories guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

And fun to see a young pitcher come along and develop for once.  I guess it's 4 on the front row ;- ) ;- ) unless I'm missin' somebody.

You are way ahead of me on the 102 pitches.  I thought that after 6 IP, it was time to pull him on a high note and that's what I'd have done.  But no, you and Servais send him out for 100+ and he doesn't slow down even a skosh.

If this holds up -- his being a strong 2, rather than his being a quite decent 3 -- then a healthy '18 M's team could do some real damage.

16

Applause for you Doc.

You saw this. And Dipoto.

I'm doing my good luck dance so that he doesn't frag his arm again.  

17

But as you know very well Keith, I agree with you that the price was steep.  Even if he turns out to be a Jimmy Key, then coughing up a young Jay Buhner for him is too much to give.

Of course, if he works toward the Barry Zito / David Wells end of the scale, the conversation might be a little different ... :- )

.....

Dipoto emptied the cupboard BUT .... if the Mariners have a double-cabinet full of club controls players, if the product is already on the field for us, then how much does it matter?  Would like to hear your take on that Keith, others.

18

I'm not in love with youth, just for the sake of it.  If the fridge is stocked then the empty cabinets are not such a big deal.  As it turns out, I think, our cabinets (minus quality MIF's) are not that empty.  For (small) example, I think we have, in Andreoli and Miller, two Dipoto-type winners.  They aren't All-Pro, but they are good enough to help.  Vogs will hit, and we have a couple of guys down the line who look like decent CIF's.  We have some decent arms piled up; maybe not a young Gibson or Seaver, but guys who can help.

We're in a good place right now.  Our weakest spot?  Really it's our Opening Day starter.  He's our (supposedly) #2. He was 5.53/1.48/25 BB's in 55 innings before today.  He's struggling.  He had a gutsy performance after the 1st inning today, but the cat was out of the bag.

Gonzo is a bit weird, right now.  It's feast or famine, with few starts in between.  His first start was a tweener (6 innings, 3 runs),  then he had 3 terrible starts, 2 good ones, 2 bad ones, and now one good one and one great one.  Got to like him right now, after those last two starts especially..  Funny that it comes right at the time that O'Neill is going all NASA on some balls.

In the end, prodigious power trumps erratic 4's.  As a solid 2.5, Gonzo may retrump.  Can he get there?  Zito was nails for 3.5 seasons, then a 3, then a 4.  Wells really never had a HUGE season, but he rolled out there everyday, didn't walk anybody and kept the ball in the park.  When David Wells threw, you knew you would be in the game.  That's a powerful guy to have on a staff.  Lolly-popping lefties, like Wells, Key, Zito and Moyer get better AFTER they turn 30. (well, Zito didn't, see above). If Marco is a mid-3 FIP guy now and then gets better in 5 years.....that's something to have.  If his arms doesn't blow.  Again.

In the meantime, Tank has lost 125 baseballs. Or 150. 

I am rooting for Tank from afar, and for Marco from a-near.  Keep it up kids. 

St. Louis needs one. We need the other to be David Wells.

19

In his latest article, Jeff Sullivan says the Astros are 'much better' than the M's.  

Well, no question their starting staff is other-worldly.  How many teams would NOT have McHugh and Peacock in their rotations?

But my question is this: in terms of lineup and bullpen...how do you feel we stack up against them?

20

...is a good step better than theirs. The career years are not repeating...They're a solid hitting club...when healthy, we're a GREAT hitting club.

Their bullpen is more reliable than ours feels, but the results say the opposite. Not sure what to make of that.

21

And here I go, right back to my 1973-76 days when the Big Red Machine tried to range their lumber against the Dodgers' 11-man-deep rotation.  (Count it up:  at certain times the Dodgers literally had 11 starting pitchers with ERA+ over 100).

Objectively speaking you've got to pencil the Astros +10 games better than us at the least; that's where they were at the start of the season and Pythag has us shackled way behind them at 38-12 vs 25-23.  The question then becomes:  how many things would the M's need to break right? (or the Astros need to break wrong) in order to close the gap.

.....

As Matty sez, we've got pleny of legit firepower to make this a reasonable conversation.

How about 2 things going wrong for them in the rotation (!), and 3-5 things going right for us over the next month?  

1.  Marc-O actually turning out to be something along the lines of Zito, or Wells, or his ilk, or at least Key  

2.  Wade LeBlanc turning out to be a serviceable #3 the way many Denizens are thinking he might

3.  Haniger slugging .500, Boomstick healing up and hitting a 30+ HR boomstick year

4.  Healy having a 30+ homer year and Mike Zunino coming back within (say) a month to start smacking HR's at a 2H 2017 rate

Give me all those assumptions and we'll talk Big Red Machine vs Little Blue Bicycle.  But is any of that feasible?

22
tjm's picture

Great comp except for the personalities - Zito was an odd duck - and the shape of the curve. Zito's was an old fashioned drop curve with ridiculous break.  Also had a great change and sat mid-80s with his fastball. Added up to something like $150 million and a couple big rings. Yeah, I'd settle for that, too.

23

Never saw a curve that seemed to fall out of a helicopter, even Wells' ... which is what had me thinking about Marco's.  The drop on that curve was pretty blinkin' exciting if you ax me.

And a 20-for-24 strikes total with it, 0 hits, nuthin' to sneeze at.  We'll see if he can make that kind of result work against teams that are more focused -- but then again he has the changeup to work if they get too focused on the yakker.

Barry his ownself had to wrestle with some 4+ walk rates early, some 3+ walk rates always - because of the 1+ BB rates (which started in Wells' 10th year) might make that the better comp.  Check David Wells' career arc and it's a good reminder that it's tough to ask a ROOKIE pitcher to explode out of the blocks with his year-6 performance...

24
tjm's picture

As you know, it's hard to get umps to call strikes on balls that land on top of home plate. That's where I think Marco's curve has a step up on Wells/Zito types. His ball moves more horizonally through the zone giving something for the ump to see. Zito and Wells had more vertical, less horisontal movement. 

Somewhat off the point: Does anyone among our erudite crew know what is being plotted on tracer/gameday type two-dimensional displays? The strike zone is a cube, not a plane and I've never understood how umps account for that. A legit strike can nick two inches off the front corner and almost hit a guy. Because it almost hits a guy, it's called a ball when it's as much a strike as a gutted fastball.

25

This is all incredible.  The Mariners haven't had a start to a season like this since 2001, 2002 and lastly 2003.  In 2001 the Mariners were 33-12 on May 24.  In 2002 the Mariners were 30-16 and in 2003 the Mariners were 31-16.  These are the last seasons the Mariners were really good.  

Consider this gloat:  The season series with the Orcs is 7 wins, 2 losses.  Orcs are fearsome from the perspective of your average wimpy villager but are susceptible to mass butchering by legendary warriors with legendary weapons.  Turning Orcs into dog food is a useful  first step to a dominant season.

Also, the Orcs should be punished for Dee Gordon's broken toe.  Billy Beane is behind this some how.  

26

Yep.  Consistently showing moxie against the .500 teams is a great way to start a big season.

Funny thing to remember, this ballclub has had a LOT of injuries early.  It's fought through those -- AND a tough schedule -- to go 29-19.

27

I mean...apart from playing a lot on the road and in some brutally cold weather, I don't see anything tough about the schedule thus far.

We've played precisely 7 games against elite teams thus far and about 30 against losers.

28

We'd all rather have pitching help, but here's what Dutton hears regarding Dipoto's search for a Cano replacement:

"

With those qualifiers, here’s what I heard:

   The most intriguing name is the longest shot in the group and a player whose mention still pains Mariners fans: Adam Jones, a five-time All-Star whom the Mariners selected in the 2003 MLB Draft before trading him away to Baltimore.

   A couple of sources told me they believe Jones might be available because he’s in the final year of his contract (making $17.3 million) and the Orioles are in a rebuilding mode. 

   Jones, 32, would be a rental and isn’t the player he once was, but the cost might still be a better high-level prospect than the Mariners currently have available.

   One point in the Mariners’ favor is they now have nearly $12 million in available payroll because Cano forfeits his salary during his suspension.   

   Other outfield possibilities that surfaced from sources include Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati), Denard Span(Tampa Bay) and Jon Jay (Kansas City).

   As for second basemen, two drew a mention from multiple sources: Scooter Gennett (Cincinnati) (as Mo' Dawg sez - Dr. D) and Whit Merrifield (Kansas City). If available, Merrifield is an interesting possibility because he can play other positions.

   My best guess? I fully expect Dipoto to come up with someone who wasn’t mentioned by anyone I surveyed." - Dutton

....

A Mark McLemore type would seem to be the ONLY piece of the puzzle this squad could possibly want, when fully healthy.

29

I like Gennett, but not for what y'all are thinking he'll cost. The outfielders are all TERRIBLE fits for this club. Adam Jones is worse than Haniger would be in CF, let alone Heredia and his bat is in decline. The others do nothing at all to deepen our team relative to what we already have. BLECH.

30

Jones hasn't played an OF game other than in CF since 2007, when he had 11 LF starts for the M's.  Weird, huh?  His Eye, never a strong point, seems to be in steep decline.  Two seasons ago he walked 39 times, a career "high."  His career OBP is only 40 pts higher than his career BA and he's alwasy been beaned a fair amount.  He doesn't walk at all, basically.  Last season he walked 27 times.  This season it has been a total of 5 times.  Since the beginning of '17, he has hit 35 HR's and BB'ed 32 times.  You don't see that very often.  He's declined to a -1.0 CF over the past three seasons.  He's also weird iin the fact that he's hit RHP WAY better than lefties for the past three seasons.  He still has $11M left on THIS season, so the O's would have to buy down some of his salary, but he could actually sort of fit in a 3 to make 2 situation with Gamel and Heredia.  

Jon Jay hits .290 like clockwork, but with lno pop.  Not interersted.  And his glove isn't THAT good.  He was a - dWAR defender the past two sesasons and a lot of that was in LF/RF.  I would rather see Andreoli or Miller, thank you.

Hamilton brings a great glove and a terrible bat.  He can steal a base, but I'm not interested at all.

Span is still a decent 100-ish bat, although this year it is driven by a huge number of walks that might be unsustainable.  He's mostly squishy with the glove in CF AND he would cost you a $4M buyout next season.  Again, we have farm guys for stuff like this.

I'm mostly with Matt, but could be OK with Adam Jones beng the Prodigal Son.  You might not have to give up too much, but the O's probably just hold onto him until later in the summer.  If you get him, you aren't adding anybody else.   

Gimme Scooter rather than any of those guys.

31

Went back and watched some youtube video of both Wells and Zito,  I tried to discern if there was a whole bunch of difference in their curve balls and really couldn't.  Oh, Wells may have thrown one that was a bit more bloopy and Zito's may have had a later break, but that may have ben the particular  videos and camera angles.  Maybe Wells threw his in the dirt fewer times, working it up in the zone a bit more, often near the top.  And maybe Wells backdoored it a bit more.  Maybe, on all of that.  They both shared a nasty cutter of some sort, up and in on the hands of RHB's and their changeups were a Monty Python "and now for something completely different" pitch, rather than the heart of their arsenal.  

I wonder if lefty-bloopers age particularly well because A. Their arms seem to last, due to less fastball stress and B. Their game is built around the "feel" of having a batter off balance.  And that is a learned thing, something developed over time.  I also wonder if (like Marco this season) lefty-bloopers have more than their share of performances where they get bashed?  If your stuff tops out at 86 and your FB isn't a "No Mas" offering, then when you're off where do you run and hide?

But maybe not, to that last point:  From '97-'99, the seasons where Wells straddled age 35 (chosen because it seems lefty-bloopers get better in their mid-30's), he started 96 games. In 8 of those starts (8.8%) he was unable to get out of the 4th, basically getting blown up.  In 10 of them (10.4%) he pitched between 5 and 6 innings, giving up between 5 and 7 runs.  He got the win in 4 of those games (including a 16-10 win over the M's on May 3rd, '99) and had no decisions in 2 or 3 others. 

Wells was either sharp or at least giving you a chance to win in 85% of his starts over those three seasons.  Marco is at about 60% this season.  

Such things come with experience, I suppose.

32
tjm's picture

. . . acting a bit wonky, but the last post showed up and I was able to click through to it. Took a while - maybe 20-25 seconds.

34

Moore out. Span and Colome (!!!) in.

Don't like Moore out. Span... meh. Colome I do like.

Big price. Can't say I love or hate this one, at first glance. Regret for Moore certainly, and a nice feeling about our 8th inning.

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