M's 4-1
starter rope pulled on the CF chainsaw?

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PROPS TO Guillermo Heredia and his new approach to pull the ball.  All the M's crew were on talking points memo - radio, postgame, all the folks.  Heredia is now to get the bat head out in front and pull the ball, and he is to take fewer pitches.

Sherm had earlier provided the brilliant observation that Heredia's tilted-gyro swing doesn't match his inside-out intentions, nor his intentions to lift the ball to right-center.  Servais noted this on SSI :- ) and came up with the simple fix.  In this case by "simple" we don't mean "unintelligent;" we mean "shortest path to an objective with the fewest moving parts."

I do like the fix' chances to work for Heredia; if your bat head is going to be high quickly anyway, get it in front of the plate where it will meet the pitch plane better.  As Sherm notes, it's still not KBIZLT but at least two ideas synch up for him now.

Servais' fix resulted in (1) a double and (2) a screaming double.  Perhaps not a chainsaw but if he can trim a few edges it'll be just fine by us.  Thank you, Scott Servais and Sherminator.

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PROPS TO a series win over the pesky rodent Angels.  Remember the last fifteen years?  Remember being -10 games back, and visiting the leaders, and dimly hoping for a sweep?

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SLOPS TO Marc-O's first two innings.  Servais also said "I've been around this game a long time.  He just didn't have it.  But I've seen some 6-7 year veterans just panic in that situation."  Marc-O finished with a 6 IP, 1 ER, 7K result -- despite throwing most "fastballs" at 86 MPH following his complete game last time out.

Marco is now 9-5, 3.64 with 94 strikeouts in 106.1 innings.  That's a lot of K's for what kinda pitcher he is, doncha think

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PROPS TO Dee Gordon's defensive play.  That is all, to follow a hackneyed turn of phrase.

BTW, Servais also pointedly spoke in the postgame to insist that Heredia is a plus defender, if you had any remaining doubts about his preferred pre-game reading material.  After reviewing every 2018 Heredia play on StatCast, following Matty, I'd agree with average-solid to BTA.

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PROPS TO Chris Hermann who stepped in and had a big game at the plate.... but

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SLOPS TO Marc-O's pitch mix.  It was 54-29-19 if you combo fastballs & cutters, and the 29 is curves.  Marc-O I thought was nibbling and picking early BECAUSE he was throwing too many fastballs; for instance, all of his 5 pitches to Mike Trout were fastballs.  In that situation of course Marc-O is going to nibble.  He misses bats front-to-back of the zone, not side-to-side.  

Still, the pitch mix is debatable.  Valle thought the blizzard of cutters "are what is working for him tonight" and later in the game he did go back to the curve, innings 5-6.

Which, according to Hermann, were exactly the innings in which "we started to click" having no background together.  So, Dr. D will revert to 1st paragraph.

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PROPS TO HERMANN for hitting left-handed.  Edit to add to original post:

Great Q from Hannibal in the comments, anybody see why the M's like a guy with dreary minors stats?  Yes, Servais was quoted postgame, the M's like:

1) Left-handed

2) Power

3) Doesn't swing at balls; takes a walk

4) Left-handed

"Any time you get those three things from your backup C, he's going to be around the league for a while."

Dr. D adds his three cents:  anytime you can pick platoon spots to rest your regular, that's big.  Real big.  And I'm not super sure how lukewarm his stats actually are, after you adjust for defense first age-arc and emphasize the HR and BB.  Open to discussion.  I took a 3-second glance at baseballcube.com and his age-arc looked fine to me for a C.

This article's getting disjointed.  I think I'll bail pretty quickly here ....

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PROPS TO twin closers.  Look, would Scott Servais enjoy it if he started next game as bench coach?  Would Steph Curry enjoy it if he were asked to do the 6th man for 2019?

Alex Colome' can't be happy about not closing.  But he comes in and throws the 95-97 and throws the weirdly hard 93 MPH slider, and the Mariners are the beneficiaries.

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SLOPS TO Mitch Haniger's knee.  But it sounds day-to-day, in the sense of really day-to-day.  We were in the club section tonight and the offense provided little hope for "traffic" it seemed like, with three stars* out again.

As it turned out we got some traffic, especially after their starter left, to the tune of 9 hits, 5 walks, and 4 XBH.

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PROPS TO SSI DENIZENS who took Dr. D's jostling in good nature and provided him even more reason to hit the site in the morning.  Thanks to all who have taken an extra minute to kick a comment in.  And ain't it nice to have the Think Tank up and runnin'?

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Enjoy,

Jeff

Blog: 

Comments

1

I'm still trying to get a strong take on the Herrmann pick-up. I was surprised because Frietas seemed serviceable as a backup catcher. Herrmann's offensive profile was underwhelming and had no visible reputation behind the plate that I could find. Anyhow, he's fine. Just wondering if anyone has come across a Dipoto quote or beat writer's take on the acquisition. 

2

Might just be that he's lefty? Lets him spell Zunino on days with particularly tough righties on the mound. That would be my first guess.

4

Besides the platoon advantage, Herrmann has the years of ML XP that Freitas and Marjama are just beginning.  Beyond that, any catcher should be viewed as relatively fragile (as Mikey's DL trip seems to have found himself on the DL this morning), so having the veteran XP might count more on these situations specifically.

5
tjm's picture

. . . but is it just me or does he look awkward behind the plate. Never saw a guy stab at so many pitches. Almost the opposite of a relaxed pitch framer.

6

Probably another Sherm/TJM level in game observation.

Wouldn't that just be kinda typical though :: wry smile :: for your big lefty HR platoon backup to be a weird def. catcher.  LOL.

7

Props to Scott Servais, Edgar, or whoever came up with that fix for Heredia. It's gotta be weird for the Control The Zone braintrust to tell a hitter running league-leading OOZ numbers to cut it out, and I credit them heavily for looking outside of their box to find a solution. Let's hope it works now. Maybe the increased SLG will scare pitchers into keeping the walks coming? Probably not, since Guillermo was already basically maxing out the available walks, but we'll see. If he manages to hit some (100 OPS) with the change then he's a minor star in center. If he just climbs up to a 90 OPS then we can call him fixed and move on to the next problem. Which is... huh. This is a good team, isn't it?

On that note, an update on my offseason assertion that we might run 9 league average (2 win) or better starters out there. Projections so far, since they're easy at the halfway point:

  • SS = 6.0
  • 3B = 4.8 (woah, attaboy Kyle)
  • 2B = 3.0 (from Robbie's 169PAs, lol)
  • 1B = 0.0 ooof
  • C = 1.4 (but way more if a healthy second half is imminent)
  • RF = 4.8
  • CF = 0.2 the problem that needed solving
  • LF = 1.8, if you combine Gamel and Span

Our stars may not be the biggest, but that lineup is pretty deep. With healthy Zuumball, Robbie job-sharing 2nd and 1st, and Heredia fixed? Scary to consider. Your only hole then is Ryon "34HR, 82RBI" Healy. I'll take it.

8

I am not a Heredia fan (as a principal OF), 'nuff said.  But I am totally in with Sherm here:  Props to Edgar for telling Heredia to just go out and try to pull-rip line drives and to quit worrying about getting ahead in the count.  He looked quite nice last night.  Props for the TV guys for talking about Edgar's intent with him on the pitch before his first double.  Good stuff.  LEt's see more of it.  

Props to flexibilty.  Herrmann started 18 games in the OF last season.  Even if he never actually goes there, it does allow you the potential to do some things.  

And (as pointed out) props to Marco going all Moyer on them last night.  Or was it Buehrle?  Either way, he sort of just lobbed up a bunch of junk, struggling to find something.  I suppose we should give some credit to Herrmann for calling that game, too.   

 

9

the guys for noting that it was EDGAR's fix in a manner gentle to Dr. D's feelings.  

;- )

That puts a different light on the brilliance of the fix.  No lucky "stab" at a fix if it was Edgar who nailed it.  Similar to a game-winning double from either man ....

...........

Nothing against Servais who has to be moving in on Manager of the Year, no?  Which wouldn't be a bad thing to have on your resume, especially INSIDE baseball.

...........

Hermann's an outfielder?!

Puts him about three BB and two XBH from grabbing a job on a Big Four team, you'd think .... 

10

++ Props to Scott Servais, Edgar, or whoever came up with that fix for Heredia. It's gotta be weird for the Control The Zone braintrust to tell a hitter running league-leading OOZ numbers to cut it out, and I credit them heavily for looking outside of their box to find a solution. Let's hope it works now. ++

11

++ Your only hole then is Ryon "34HR, 82RBI" Healy. I'll take it. ++

Doesn't it seem like that's what we've been on the receiving end of for a decade?  The Astros come in and the "rest stop" in their lineup has 31 homers?

.......

Incidentally, if a player has 34 homers and 82 RBI and a stat tells you he's worthless, it's probably a stat with a couple of holes in it somewhere.

12

A solid enough glove and has looked even better much of the time.  It's not that as much that drags him down though.  34 HR and 82 RBI seem fishy next to 22 BB.  Or is it the BB total that seems fishy?  A .279 OBP at 1b is truly horrid.  You'd better be slugging .500 and plenty to go with it and he is not.  It's very difficult to combine the two because usually the walks would follow.   It's also hard to get to 34hr when you get benched for not getting on base enough otherwise. 

13

Freitas is a solid enough option, but Hermann offers you a pretty solid shot at a Gregg Zaun/Tom Lampkin type career. His numbers in the minors speak to a ton of potential aa does the scout's eye.

14

Cool comps as well.  Don't be afraid to remind us you're bullish on the lad ... :- )  

That's what I thought Matt, that the record speaks to "potential."   Lot of encouraging spots in it. 

15

He's been a catcher his whole career. Marjama and Freitaa have both spent significant time developing other defensive tools...Herrmann has been doing nothing but catching, and it shows. Herrmann calls a much, much better game with better feel than Freitas.

16
tjm's picture

Matt - you see my question above? I think he looks unsettled behind the plate. Not so much last night, but the start before. Maybe just a highly selective sample.

17

It seems unlikely to me you were imagining it.  

.....

From a less-solid vantage spot in the stands, the lack of synchronicity with Marc-O seemed outrageous.  Nibble the corner and miss, okay, fastball knees and miss, okay, backdoor cutter and miss.  That's the only way to ruin a Marc-O outing.  With him it's curveball take a lot of the plate, paintball, changeup take a lot of the plate, cutter take 1/3 of the inside of the plate, etc.

Of course that's not to condemn him eternally.

18

...I also saw how incredibly quickly the battery got in sync, considering how little knowledge Herrmann has about this team.

I never expect a catcher to have it all figured out with pitchers he's never caught before. :) What I want to see is a confident correction and the ability to lead a guy through a tough start despite having to adjust on the fly. I saw that.

19
tjm's picture

You're just a better, more benevolent man, Matt. Admit it - beneath that number-crunching facade you're just a soft old liberal always suspecting the best of people.

21

Love it when a guy "doesn't have it" and gives you what Marco does.  If Marco really is Moyer with a 90 FB, he's going to leave many many teams respecting him a whole lot more than ESPN ever will.

The only thing I like as much as a guy who can do what Sugar does is a guy who can do what Moyer did.

22
tjm's picture

I'm forced to watch the Angel broadcasts because of MLB.TV blackout rules. Last night, they were moaning all game about Marco's slow pace. Is he actually slow.? I hadn't noticed it.

24

This was just a pitcher who didn't have fastball command with a catcher who took a few innings to figure out how to fix it.

He threw VEERRRRRY slowly...he was thinking things threw...I approve. I, like Doc, think that was a one-game aberration, and I thought I saw some pitch pace numbers earlier in the year that showed he was a quick worker? Can't find it now...but...I swear I remember that...

25

... starting at Marc-O's age, sails past the HOF water station at what age?  :- ) 

........

Silliness aside, if he really did rediscover Bat571's changeup from St. Looie, I could literally see him perform at HOF level for the near future.  He'd be a destroyer with that pitch.

26

That 2016 .845 outlier with ‘Zona told me to put in a roto bid for him (I have McCann as my one catcher), and that screamer left handed homer told me I better increase my bid because somebody is now missing Zunino.

28

I’ve seen some incredible plays by Mariners, but for sheer physicality, that one goes right to the top. He needed every inch he could spare to get to that ball, and he got them. And what a killer to Halo hopes.

I am so used to watching us leap and dive out there in the middle infield and JUUUUST miss these things that I was thinking “oh well”, then, “OH WOW!”

Dee Gordon loves baseball. What a joy enjoying the season with him.

29
tjm's picture

One of the best defensive plays I've seen by an infielder since the Brooks Robinson/Graig Nettles days. 

30

... and this may be a ridiculous thought... but... is Robinson Cano worth more to us as a first baseman, where Healy (to my layman's eye) seems sufficient, or can he possibly be traded for something shiny? I realize that no other team would consider taking on his contract in full, but, might we apply some fraction of that money, returned in a trade, to upgrade ourselves somewhere else? I really don't want to see Gordon moved from 2nd -- his performance has been amazing.

32

We can work the players around for the rest of this year...Cruz departs and the Mariners run Cano out there as the DH...and...if he complains, the entire league hurls flaming bags of you know what at him. He lost his right to complain when he abandoned his team in their most important season of the last 20.

So...yeah...I do that and Cano learns to love it or he gets traded NEXT year and all of his team-leader-with-class cred goes bye-bye. Good luck with convincing the voters re: the HOF then, pokey. You're already on thin ice there.

33

but swapping Cano for Cruz at DH feels like a significant downgrade. I'm hoping we resign Cruz for the next 2 years + an option.

34

Great stuff Doc...

I just wanted to touch on the other big Mariner news from yesterday... losing Miranda and Elias to Japan.

Losing one of them hurts... relatively young lefties with potential to really figure things out soon... BUT to lose BOTH????? That's more than just an OUCH!!! Now there is no left handed depth period in the minors or the bullpen. That is a huge whole, that even Erasmo does not truly fill.  

I guess I understand "doing a player right" as Dipoto put it if doing so does not hurt the team... but WOW!!!! Something really smells about these coordinated moves, but I'm sure we will never get the Paul Harvey "the rest of the story" here. 

35
tjm's picture

Didn't know he was gone. Is he?

36

I didn't hear about Roenis and a quick search shows nothing... except links for Miranda's departure which make Elias seem like part of the reason we're willing to let Miranda go. I think this is a fortunate misread, nothing more - we still seem to have Roenis!

37

Miranda's HR rate was a sucking chest wound and getting NO better, and even Boston was able to make no progress with Elias.  Two "quirky lefties" they didn't want taking developmental time away from others.

I'm down with the move, me-self.

.......

Didn’t see the Elias news either.

40

My take is that Herrmann looks like a catcher unfamiliar with what guys pitches look like coming in, but is bound and determined not to let any get by. And all the Ms pitchers have some pitch movement different from the norm.

His pitch calling, esp. with Marco, looks like a guy using conventional MLB(tm) thinking on pitch sequencing to start with, but whether talking to Marco or to Stottlemyre in the dugout, figures out a better sequence. Marco probably isn't willing to do much shaking off, but they got it fixed on the fly. But trying to get on the same page is also an explanation for Marco's pace.

Herrmann's rep has been very good as a C - but AAAA as a hitter. Edgar has a guy who will take a walk and recognizes pitches - getting barrel to ball should be easier to fix on this guy.

Zunino going down is a BIG loss, but Herrmann sounds like he knows what he needs to do, and is a dirtdog going about it. Not sure Freitas or Marjama would have the experience, even though both also seem to have the attitude required.

Zunino + Herrmann seems like a great pairing. R + L. Zunino the more energetic and boisterous, Herrmann more laconic. Herrmann knows he's a backup and is seemingly fine with it. Both dirtdogs, both very serious about their craft. We knew Mike was very intelligent; based on the interview I saw last night Herrmann is both intelligent and modest. Props to Dipoto.

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