One Hundred Sixteen
Featuring Mariners-related rants, raves, and analysis.
Friday, January 30, 2004
It's a two-fer today, and both are issues that sabremetricians will appreciate.
The first is DIPS, or defense-independent pitching stats. I had first researched this when trying to build a case for why we shouldn't expect much from Hasegawa, then blogger ate my post and I boycotted the blog for a couple days to show them who's boss. But I digress. Go read Peter's fine Franklin-related treatment here, but if you want more detail on whether pitchers can control the result of balls in play (and I know you will), then come back here, and read this, Diamond Mind's dissection of the original Voros McCracken DIPS analysis, applied to a hundred years of data. The key findings are below, in case you're tired after all that back-and-forth:
The notion that pitchers don't have as much control over in-play outcomes as they do over defense-independent outcomes is both obvious (in retrospect) and very important.
Pitchers have more influence over in-play hit rates than McCracken suggested. In fact, some pitchers (like Charlie Hough and Jamie Moyer) owe much of their careers to the ability to excel in this respect.
Next up is park factors, as analyzed by a group called Ultimate Fantasy Source who I applaud for taking this on but then mock for not documenting what they did so a reader can evaluate it; instead they just show you their answer.
Coors field is the most favorable hitter's park, with 3.4 runs/game more than average, and 0.839 more home runs.
Safeco is the 2nd-most favorable pitcher's park (Dodger Stadium is first), with 1.07 runs/game fewer than average, and 0.264 fewer home runs. M's Season-ticket holders can expect to see 21 fewer dingers than the average fan.
Nothing shocking so far, and in fact the only thing I found surprising was that Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City was dead-neutral (ranked 15 out of 30). Critics of the Raul Ibanez deal will need to look elsewhere to support their cause.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
In the hyper-competitive world of M's blogging, it's tough to stand out, much less think of something to write that hasn't already been covered better, more thoughtfully, and with greater depth. Most days, then, I've been perfectly content to read, rather than write, about what's going on. Another blog (it would take me too long to cycle through the whole list and remember which one) has categorized the 116 as a "Non-Daily Blog." No argument here...posts will continue to be limited by the amount of my free time as well as the limitations of my Muse. Also, if a subject has been thoroughly covered (I almost wrote "beaten to death") by others, don't expect to see it here. It's hard to believe that even 8 months ago, back in the olden days before the media became democratic, I had to relay upon the mainstream media for Mariner coverage.
But aha! Here comes a topic! Mariner Fan Fest, 2004, which I attended last Sunday. Here's the summary:
--I would never consider attending this if I didn't have kids, but I do, and they are huge Mariner fans.
--Parking was only $3 at home plate, despite the boat show going on at the same time. A small victory.
--It was great to be back at Safeco. It's a great stadium, and I offer my condolences for the many M's fans who don't get to see it every day like I do. Only two months and change 'til opening day.
--It was very cold, 42 degrees at noon, before the wind started.
--They had little red or white tags on the seats that were available for season tickets. There weren't nearly as many available as I would have thought.
--For any of the events that you would ever really want to do, the lines were horrendous. This was completely predictable (especially if you had attended the All-Star fan event back in '01) but disappointing nevertheless. The only thing I really wanted to do was run down a fly ball in left field. The line went from the field all the way up to the main concourse. There were three or four "lanes" for catching flies, but it looked suspended animation it moved so slowly.
--Due to the (reasonable) limit of 500 signatures, if you wanted an autograph, you had to arrive at least 1.5 hours in advance, and much more for Boone or Edgar.
--It wasn't that hard to sell my son on the idea that Norm Charlton was a good autograph substitute for Boone. After all, I told him, Norm had played in a bunch of World Series. Using similar logic to the M's front office, my 8-year-old concluded "Wow, he must be really good!" Alas, even the sheriff was closed out by the time we got there.
--Perhaps anticipating frustration among the young fans, there was a Gamecube demo kiosk by the playground in centerfield. This was the best part of the day for the kids.
--Wandering around the pressbox was cool. There were cutout figures of Bavasi and Melvin sitting behind a desk, you know, the deal where you can sit by them and someone can take your picture. I was struck with the realization that after this offseason, I'm not sure I'd be happy to Bavasi in person. If he were there, it would be rude to ask an obnoxious question like "What the hell were you thinking trying to trade for Vizquel?" but awfully hard not to. I had a brief mental vision of being dragged away by security while screaming something about overvaluing clubhouse presence, to murmurs of "I think he's one of those psychotic Moneyball people." I'm glad he wasn't there, it would have been uncomfortable.
--Leaving the pressbox, I walked past a room that said "Baseball Information Workroom" over the door. I peered in through a window, hoping to see server racks, CPUs, monitors, perhaps a huge wall-size display. No--there was a copier, a few desks, and reams and reams of green-bar printouts stuffed into binders. Perfectly sufficient for an organization that places low value on Baseball Information.
--During a Q&A session, Melvin was asked about the catcher platoon. He said, "Wilson's a hard guy to take out of the lineup, but Davis has so much potential." Now, I know Dan is a long-time Mariner, and I really respect guys like him and Moyer that live here year-round and get involved in the community, but puuuhleeeeez.
--For the guy who talked me into waiting in line to get my son's swing "analyzed by computer" but who really meant "have a video still captured and printed without any analysis whatsoever"--that was mean. It was really cold.
All in all, I can't say I recommend it, especially on a frigid day.
Monday, January 19, 2004
This must have gotten lost with all the hubbub over Sasaki, so hold on to your hats, this looks like two good things in one day....the M's have apparently locked up Jo-el Pinero for three years at $14.5 Million. Joel has delivered several dominating performances which I have had the privilege of witnessing. Over the last three seasons (2003/2002/2001), here are his numbers:
avg: .241, .256, .191 (3-year avg of .219 at Safeco!)
oba: .308, .308, .256
ops: .667, .719, .519
I like this move quite a bit. Joel is 25 and getting smarter every year. He had filed for arbitration earlier.
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! Sometimes after all the planning, all the analysis, all the back-and-forth over trade value, salaries, and improvement potential, what a team really needs is just some good luck. Thanks, Kaz. Mr. Bavasi: you've been handed a gift. Please don't squander it.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Hello cruel world. Yeah, I've been off the bloggin' path for a couple of weeks. The M's blogosphere has been a dreary and depressing place, reflecting the sensibilities of the Mariners' most intense fans, and their continuing disappointment at a crappy victory-sapping off-season. I needed the time off since I was tired of just posting "this deal sucks." There are now a whole bunch of blogs that are doing just that, and the world doesn't need another one. This is not to denigrate the opinions of my fellow bloggers, most of whom have greater insight than I about these things. It just started to get old for me. If it's hard to enjoy being a M's fan right now--and oh yeah, it is--it's even harder being an M's blogger. Not to mention the recurring nightmares over the Colbrunn/McCracken deal. There are just so many things that seem more interesting and productive than the Mariners. Like snow. Is there anything better than a snow day?
But back to business. The Cirillo deal sucks, but it was a sucky situation, what could we expect? Writing off $15 mill would have sucked too. Now we at least have the option of trading these guys, and hoping somebody somewhere will be willing to pick up some salary. Yes, Jarvis blows, but it is at least theoretically possible that some team might be willing to pay him $1 million bucks a year, and if that happens that's pure profit to the franchise. And Hansen doesn't totally suck. Of course the risk is that management decides to stick with these guys. If that happens, this will be worse than just flushing the $15 mill.
I was sure that in the M's somewhat mystifying effort to dump Guillen at all costs, they were ensuring that he would have a career year in 2004. Now that he's on his way to Day-twa, I no longer have to worry about that. Employment ads in the Wall Street Journal that are trying not to give too much away sometimes list the geography as "Midwest (not Detroit)", lest they scare good people away. Was Guillen's agent asleep at the wheel? You just negotiated a contract--did you even ASK for a one-team no trade clause?
Cirillo and Guillen. Spezio and Aurilia. Who would you rather have on the left side of the infield? Yeah, it could have been done better and cheaper, but at least it's an improvement.
I feel a little better; blogging can be cathartic. But I'm going back to watching the snowman melt for a while.