M's 2, Tigers 4
Lost in the noise has been a pleasing development ...




F-500 Concern Power Word(s) SSI Grok Most-Comparable M's Grok
Coca-Cola Refresh Does 11 teaspoons of sugar in 8 oz. of water quench YOUR thirst? UZR roster construction
Ford Proud Know anybody who brags about their Focus?  0-for-2 Hargrove
McDonald's Quick, Smile Truth in advertising this time Dae-Ho Lee
Disney Happy Pretty much IS the happiest place in the world The Edgar
Twitter Friends, Family Here Dr. D thought it was about rage and/or clickthroughs Concession prices
Ikea Design They do stay ahead of the curve Jerry DiPoto
Verizon Open Felix
Boeing Dominant In a school-principal kind of way GM Committee
Southwest Air Safe Wade Miley
Yahoo Essential Haven't been on it in like two years 162-game schedule


The most successful companies in the world are able to "imprint" us.  That may have something to do with the fact that they have a clue about what they actually want to do.  Pete Carroll's mission is "Win Forever" and "Always Compete."  The other day he relished the prospect of coaching Russell Wilson in Wilson's 20th season.  From anybody other than Carroll, it might induce an eye-roll.  Carroll, however, has imprinted us.

You've been following the M's for 10, or 20, or 30 years.  Any idea what their associated power word is?  It ain't playoffs ... :- )

Which brings us to good ol' SSI.  How about --- > M's info-tainment.  Notice that this self-imposed burden is about ten yards off of bickering with the denizens about whether the M's have a good team this year.  :- ) Hence the preceding thumb-flick of a quarter into the open sax case of the guy playing a dirge outside the park.

Take a hike, Jobu.  If you won' help, we do it ourselves.


For Moe, Rick and the two other guys ;- ) looking forward to the next two games of the Tiger series... baseball's a funny game.  Lot of luck involved.  Hey, why listen to me when you've got it straight from Zeus' mouth:


He allowed two straight one-out hits before an intentional walk to Justin Upton with first base open to load the bases. He spotted a 99-mph fastball on the outside corner on a 1-2 count to Mike Aviles, only to have him slap it down right in front of the plate to score the go-ahead run from third. Paxton said he was frustrated that pitch didn't pay off.

"That's baseball right there," he said. "That stuff's going to happen, and hopefully we get some of those breaks going our way pretty soon."


Speaking of, let's file James Paxton firmly into a "lose the battle win the war" file folder.  Since his return from AAA, he's got stats up the yin-yang.  But far more to the point, he's thrown the ball like a superstar.  A reliable one.  (Not that the umps have noticed yet.  Yer absolutely right Matty.)

Putting it another way ... would you accept another 5-and-12 losing streak in return for a second James Paxton?  Wish the offer was on the table.


My favorite at-bat of the Tiger game, Miguel Cabrera in the 1st:

  • 95 fastball at the letters, froze him, 0-1
  • 88 deadfish into a teacup low and away, garbage swing 0-2 (well, as much as Miggy can ever take a garbage swing)
  • 96 fastball inside, froze him, see you later

Since Mike Blowers pointed out there's nothing a major league hitter can do with 97 MPH on the inside third even if he guesses it, that pitch never ceases to send Dr. D into rapture.  Paxton seems no less impressed with the phenomenon.  

And, for SURE he can throw the foshball for strikes now, so the two-pitch whipsaw (unexpected as its form turned out to be) is fully engaged.  And a third thing, Paxton has upside remaining (he threw zero curve balls again Tuesday).  

And a fourth thing, he seems to have a fastball.  It looks like 95 MPH is about as low as James Paxton is willing to go:



Give me a specific name, some pitcher who has velocity trend lines like the above.  ... oh, I'll give you one.  The young Justin Verlander used to do that, throw 95 in the first and 99 in the eighth.  Anybody remember that?

Look, we ain't kidding here.  This version of Paxton has a very realistic chance to become the best pitcher in the league.  Hey, for that matter he's already been the best pitcher in the league.  His 3.02 xFIP would be #1 in the AL if it qualified.  (Aaron Sanchez 3.19.) ... we went through the Randy Johnson experience.  There will never be another Randy Johnson, but except for that little factoid, this has been the same deal-io.

Long before the Mariners got good, Cindy and I would circle Unit starts on the calendar and hoof it down to the Kingdome.  Dr. D is way too old to care much about another routine 4-3 ballgame.  Sports is about special moments.  I can savor a James Paxton start, and deeply, whatever the M's record.  Not that I personally am at all moved to despair by a 5-and-12 losing streak in baseball.


It would be nice if Paxton were 5-0, 0.97 since being called up, or if he'd thrown a perfect game already.  But look on the bright side.  If Paxton were 5-0, 0.97 right now then everybody would know who he was.  As it is, only you the intrepid SSI reader know who he is.  Everybody else just thinks he's got a lot of potential.





Been a great three weeks,

Dr. D




Paxton is the difference. He has arrived, Kuma is dealing again, and Felix is coming back in mid July (fingers crossed). Walker will need some rest. But right now, Paxton has kinda emerged as our #1 - and he looks like a true  #1 - we're riding him deep into the battle - otherwise he sits in the eighth inning last night, doesn't he? 

This is an amazing development, KPax #1, a dream a lot of us kinda gave up on. It wasn't that long ago someone here mentioned we should have traded him in the off season for Max Kepler in the off season - a nice get to be sure, but...we're talking Thor here.

Cruz could probably use some rest - you got Dae Lo and Guti on the bench, Scott, use them - you lose very little OPS in the process. Could Robby use a break now and again as well? These older guys want a pennant chase, and they will have it - but they need rest. Iannetta too. We could have lost these games just as easily without them as we did with them.

Oh yes, this is far from over. 


Also resonated, your word "dream."  Is that considered a power word, or the opposite thereof?

It would be a good philosophical article, what place do Paxton / Unit / Griffey 1-1 pick / etc dreams have in the priorities of a good GM.  Argyros was pretty mad about us taking Ken Griffey Jr. ...


I count pretty much the same number of missed calls for both. The ump was just bad. Computerize the zone already. Technology has screamed past your quaint little game, and nobody ever wanted umps to dictate winners and losers, especially if there is no loss in the flow of the game, speed, etc.


Wasn't long ago that Joe Torre was arguing vehemently that baseball is different, that there's no place for any replays in the game, etc. ... so much so that I wondered if he were trying to defend the league's ability to influence games.

Now, I've lost track of what the replay rules are.  Are managers limited to X number of calls to the video?  Doesn't seem like it.  And how sweet it is to know that Ketel Marte will actually be safe or out at second base.

The day I know that a strike is a strike, baseball will leap a big plateau in my enjoyment.  Haven't heard the first suggestion from an official source yet, have you?


from MLB execs, although last year's test of an automated strike zone in a minor league game had excellent reviews, even from the umpires involved. But it can't go on like this, because nobody trusts the ump over the little tracer box, and people don't go to games to watch umpires. Every game on TV has a little box shadowing the ump, to see whether he's doing his job right, and the networks just leave it there for every single pitch. No way is anyone going to even argue that the human eye is superior to that little box. Sometimes you think it isn't adjusted right, but the immediate response is to fix it, not go back to human eyes calling the strikes and balls.

Like the astronauts from The Right Stuff, when the system is superior to human decsion making, the ump or astronaut is there mostly in case the system malfunctions. The human is not superior to the system.  The human contest here is not reliant on human subjectivity determining boundaries. Like the ballfield, the strike zone is a piece of real estate to be fought over in human contest, and not by persuading a judge who may be enamoured by a combatant's technique and thus offers a 9.5 for the pitcher, and a 7.4 for the hitter. This isn't a debate. The umpire is there because until now, there was no better system. Now there is, so the ump is an anachronism. You can't fix an umpire like you can fix a computer system. The computer will ALWAYS get the benefit of any doubt, unless it's clearly broken, and when that happens, you can tell the ump to step in.

The Other Billy Zoom's picture

Not only did I banish Paxton to Tacoma, I tried to trade him to Toronto with Martin for Pillar.

Boy, did that tie my knowledge pill to a pillar on Pillar.

No, JayPax is no longer my whipping boy, he's become more like whipping cream with preservatives that keeps him fresh all game.

If I only got one trip to the ole pallbark to see one M's pitcher these days, it would be Paxton.

The determination in his face, as well as his arm, did not scatter or splatter.

Pass me a slice of that humble pie.




For every K-Pax, there is a failed project or ten ...

And Paxton's personality is certainly not classic Randy Johnson.  Hard to imagine him on the top step during a beanball war, "I PITCH TOMORROW!"

Before we ax a kid to go out there and fight the lions, though, we've got to arm him with a metal sword ... K-Pax out there with a wooden sword looked unsure of himself and that was simply the realistic attitude, wasn't it?  ;- )

Great post Billy.  See you in section 339 for the next K-Pax game, bro'.


Paxton is just good.  Has been for a long time.  He's likely better now.  Funy how we (Servais/Dipoto) only "discover" that when Felix gets dinged up.  Paxton may well be a 5.00 ERA guy when he throws against AA guys, I don't know.  But when he faces MLB types and when you let him throw every five days, he's a pretty special type of guy.   HE's running a 4-1 K/BB rate and hasn't given up a homer in 20 innings.

Doc, how many gazillion times have you reminded the blogosphere that heat-chucking lefties often take a bit of time to get it right?  Well, Paxton is at 194 career innings right now.  He may take a bit more time to get it right......but he's a dang fine pitcher as is.

Paxton has a career FIP of 3.60.  Johnson didn't get a full year at that rate until he was 28 and had 700 career innings under his belt.  Then he went all Koufax on the world.

Paxton won't be 28 until November.  OK...maybe he won't be a Unit, but I'm just saying.

Just give him the ball.



Well remember a Bill James comment on Randy Johnson before he became the Unit.  "He does win SOME games now, despite the walks."

Paxton is 13-11, 3.19 lifetime, but you'd have thought he was 6-18, 5.19 the way folks wrote about him.  Even during his growing pains he contributed.


Really do like the age 27, 28 parameter Moe, and especially the reminder about Paxton having < 200 innings (along with the interrupted career at various points).  Age 28 was Unit's transition year - started to get good then, 10.3 K and 6.2 walks but a nice ERA.  Age 29, he jelled to 308 K's and 99 walks.

Koufax was getting good at ages 25-26, but it was age 27 he took over the league.  Gio Gonzalez had ERA's of 7.68 and 5.75 that Billy Beane didn't worry about.  Nor did Beane worry about Mark Mulder's 5.44 ERA as a rookie.

Age 31, about 300 K's and down to 65 walks.  Once the light comes on, a pitcher like that still has years of sharpening and polishing his shiny new weapons.  Paxton's had his for what ... a month.


The issue with Paxton has never been his talent. That's been evident every time he's been able to stay on the mound of any length of time.

The issue with Paxton is his reliability. Can you rely on him to anchor a rotation? Is he a pitcher that you can build around? Can you rely on him to be on the mound in October, helping to propel you into the post-season? I know that y'all don't want to hear it but to date, that answer has been a resounding no. And that's where the comparisons to Randy Johnson fall down. At 27, the Big Unit was on his way to his second consecutive season of 200+ innings. He could be relied on to take the ball every five days for the duration of the season. At 27, Paxton is trying to log 100 major league innings for the first time in his career. 

I like James just fine but he's no Randy Johnson. 


Unit going over 100 WAR for his career and being one of the five or six greatest starters ever.  As asterisked in the article.

The echo here is of super-dominant talent that was never far away from jelling.  But like James said w/r/t the Unit, expecting that jell to set at any given moment, such as March 2016, is impossible.

Paxton's dream is to be a Noah Syndergaard-class freakishly unusual SP for five years, not to be Randy Johnson for twenty.  Agreed.


The last two years, could you rely on Paxton to "anchor a rotation"?  No.  That's a pretty high bar for the ex-Paxton, or for anybody.  His lifetime ERA is 3.19, lower than Iwakuma's.  Could you count on him to provide excellent contribution in view of the fact that he was in his first 200 innings?  Sure.

Appreciate your holding down the other side of the argument.  However, this is precisely the situation in Seattle.  For Paxton, we subconsciously accept nothing less than #1 starter.  It implies our own recognition of just how overwhelming his talent is, far beyond Taijuan's, for example.


Paxton found his balance and body control in Tacoma.  That's obvious.  Pitcher plateaus are part of the fabric of the game and this APPEARS to be a classic plateau leap.

He might come unraveled, sure.  He won't make the top 10 in James' pitcher rankings until he's shown this for 40 starts.  Which is rather trite, wouldn't you say?  That after he makes two All-Star games, then he's an All-Star?

If Paxton maintains these mechanics, and throws these pitches, he's a major star.  Starting yesterday.  That it's possible he might not, everybody agrees.  Right now I'd put the chances of that around 20%.


At some point, this NEW management will need to pick their new team leaders for the next 10 years.

Seager should be one. Paxton NEEDS to be one... so even though the agent is Boras, it is time to start the conversation.

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