Category: ESPN

Ego Moves

Ego Moves

On the last day team’s could acquire players that could be active on playoff rosters, there was plenty of movement.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are four games over .500 and sit 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot. They bolstered their lineup by adding Justin Upton and Brandon Philips. Upton was an all-star this season, slashing .279/.362/542. Philips has been great for a very bad Atlanta Braves team. He’s hitting .291, with an on base of .329 while slugging .423. Both players are veterans, and make the Angels significantly better.

According to their record, the Houston Astros are the best team in the American League. They had a glaring hole in the starting pitching rotation. They addressed that by adding six-time all-star Justin Verlander from the Tigers. His best years are behind him, but with a 3.82 earned run average over 172 innings this season, he makes the Astros significantly better.

Jerry DiPoto loves making trades. It isn’t confirmed, but it probably started in elementary school. He’d make deals at lunch, hoping to improve his lunch both for now and the future. What was he up to today?

He gave up Leony’s Martin, an outfielder he had already given up on twice this season. In return the M’s will get cash, or a player to be named later.

You can’t blame him for being dormant. The M’s are two games under .500, making the gap between the team and the playoff’s 4.5 games wide. With less than 30 games left in the season, its most likely too large to cross.

It’s frustrating. The playoff drought will continue. DiPoto had chances throughout the season to add pitching to a team that has needed it since spring training. He added players like Marco Gonzales, Erasmo Rameriez and Andrew Albers.

Who?

A bunch of four A guys. Players who are solid in triple A, but aren’t ready, or may never be ready for the Major Leagues.

They are strange moves in hindsight.

Even at the time they were strange.

The Mariners had a chance to land proven starters in Sonny Gray and Verlander. Did they have the prospects, and in Verlanders case, the cash to acquire those players. Pundits said no, but you can always offer more.

The type of moves DiPoto makes are becoming more questionable with the more moves he makes. They feel like ego moves. If the players he brings in pan out, they make DiPoto look like a genius.

Gonzales was a first round draft pick by the Saint Louis Cardinals. He’s also coming off Tommy John surgery. If he becomes a successful Major Leaguer, Dipoto stole one. If he doesn’t, he was damaged goods when he got here. It’s such a nothing move.

Not to mention, the Mariners gave up one of their best prospects to do it. Their farm system is nothing special, but Tyler O’neill could have been a piece in a trade for Verlander or Gray.

DiPoto was the general manager of the Angels a few seasons ago. He got into an argument with Mike Scioscia that became fatal. After management sided with the tenured Scioscia, he left. Literally packed up his office and walked out.

Ego moves?

Ego moves.

As contenders add proven veterans that make their team significantly better, the Mariners watch from below. Below .500. Below playoff spots. DiPoto continues to add players who, if they pan out, make him look like a genius. He’s starting to look stupid. For Mariners fans, these ego moves need start paying off, or the movement should take place with DiPoto himself.

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No Ace, No Problem

No Ace, No Problem

The Seattle Mariners starting pitching rotation isn’t great, and they just lost their ace.

James Paxton has been outstanding for the Mariners this season. Entering Thursday’s start, he was 12-3 with a 2.70 earned run average. He’d pitched 113.1 innings, striking out 132 batters while walking 32. He’d only given up five home runs in 19 starts. He sits high 90’s from the left side and has far and away been the best pitcher in the organization.

Paxton left Thursday’s game with an injury in the top of the seventh inning after throwing 107 pitches. It’s one hell of a blow, considering the team had just taken sole possession of the second wild card spot. The rest of the rotation is made of up guys who would be a team’s fifth starter at best. What are they going to do?

For as old as baseball is, people haven’t learned much about it. Sure, saber-metrics have caught fire over the last decade, but are organization’s truly committed to them?

Nope.

The only reason starting pitchers are used the way they are is because starters used to finish games. In 1910, 62 percent of all starters finished the game. In 2014, there were 114 complete games thrown in the bigs. Just two percent of games are being finished by starters.

Starters are usually more talented than relievers. Would you rather watch Clayton Kershaw pitch an inning, or Blake Parker?

Are you kidding me?

However, starters have higher earned run averages than relievers. From 2003-2014, starters have had a 4.28 ERA, while relievers have a 3.92 ERA. That would change if they were used differently.

There are several starters that have found a second life in the majors as relievers. *Wade Davis had a 4.57 ERA as a starter, he’s got a 1.43 ERA as a reliever. Andrew Miller had a 5.70 ERA as a starter, now it’s a 3.02. As a starter, Zach Britton gave up 4.86 runs per game. As a reliever, he has a 1.72 ERA. You get the point.

Every pitcher is successful the first time through the order. It’s the second and third time through the order that pitchers struggle with. What if the first time through the order, was the only time a pitcher had to face that order?

Injuries would go down, and effectiveness would go up.

Does that make too much sense?

Team’s have batting orders. why not a pitching order?

Felix Hernandez and Paxton for three innings each. Then Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly for a game. Then Ariel Miranda and Yovani Gallardo on the third day. Repeat. The strategy allows team’s use their starters more effectively, and continue to use their bullpens how they do.

Four of those six pitchers have spent time on the disabled list this season. If they were blowing gas for three innings at a time, they might not have even seen the DL.

It’s just a thought.

The Mariners sit in contention for a playoff spot with with a just a bunch of guys for starting pitchers. Realistically, a pitching order makes the most sense for this roster at this time.

Will they do it?

No chance. They’ll get crucified by people in baseball, as well as the media.

Why?

Because starters used to finish games?

That’s dumb. Numbers are numbers and you can never say that they are wrong. There is a way to use pitchers more effectively in baseball. Subscribe to it.

Yep, the Seattle Mariners just lost their ace.

Should it matter?

Not at all.

Will it?

Tremendously.

Baseball is old and numbers matter. The Seattle Mariners have to make sense of them, or they’ll miss the playoffs for the 16th straight year.

That won’t be great.

 

 

 

*Information supplied from “Ahead of the Curve” by Brian Kenny. The book challenges conventional baseball wisdom and makes sense while doing it. If you’re a baseball fan, give it a read. It’ll make you think about the game in ways you wouldn’t have before.

 

Dormant Deadline

Dormant Deadline

It’s what others did at the 2017 trade deadline that may help the Seattle Mariners make the playoffs.

Mariner’s general manager Jerry DiPoto is as active as any in baseball. He trades early and often. In July, he made three fairly minor trades acquiring David Phelps, Marco Gonzales and Erasmo Ramirez. All three moves were made with the team’s future in mind.

The Mariners needed help on the mound and were shopping for starting pitchers. They were linked to Oakland Athletic pitcher Sonny Gray. Gray was acquired by the Yankees for three prospects. Another starter on the market was Yu Darvish. He’s a Dodger now, as the Texas Rangers picked up a trio of prospects for him.

Why are those trades important?

In the final two months of the season, the M’s have 15 games against the Rangers and Athletics. You can assume the Mariners would have faced Darvish or Gray four times within those 15 games.

Every game matters, but those down feel extra important. At 2.5 games not having to face Darvish or Gray may be more important than acquiring one of them.

They Traded Him For Who?

They Traded Him For Who?

It started yesterday, but it got weird today.

The Seattle Mariners traded Tyler O’Neil, their third best prospect, to the St. Louis Cardinals for left handed pitcher Marco Gonzales. Gonzales was slated to be the next big thing in 2014 before he had surgery in 2015 to repair a torn left pectoral muscle. It got worse when he missed 2016 due to Tommy John surgery.

So Jerry DiPoto really just traded the third best prospect in the organization for a broken down pitcher?

What?

Gonzales was a the 19th overall pick in 2013. He attended Gonzaga, and lives in Seattle during the offseason. He’s spent this year in Triple A Memphis. The lefty has made 11 starts, going 6-4 with a 2.90 ERA. He’s struck out 57 batters while allowing 17 walks. Gonzales is controllable through the 2023 season.

It doesn’t get much more DiPoto than this trade. He’s getting what he wants out of a pitcher, a strike thrower that doesn’t walk guys. He’s also controllable for a long, long time.

Mariners fans had hoped that O’Neil was going to be the key piece in a major trade that landed a significant asset to this team. Realistically this team is floating around .500 and is playing for a shot at a wild card. A three month rental, especially with a player who pitches every five games doesn’t make a ton of sense. It’s something Dipoto has made obvious that he believes in.

The trade boils down to two teams needing something. The Mariners have become incredibly deep in the outfield. Jarrod Dyson, Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia have combined to prevent the most runs of any outfield in baseball. Gamel, Haniger and Heredia are guys who are controllable through the early 2020’s. There’s not a lot of room for any additional outfielders.

On the mound, the M’s need help. They’ve stitched together a starting rotation that has kept them in the hunt. Marco Gonzales isn’t the big name fans were hoping for, but he’s certainly a big gamble.

O’Neil was the Mariners third best prospect, but it doesn’t mean the Mariners organization is that great. The Mariners added depth to an area they desperately needed it, and took it away from a position where they didn’t. At the time of the trade, O’Neil for Gonzales is simply, weird.

Mariners Deadline Lid-Lifter

Mariners Deadline Lid-Lifter

Finally, let’s talk trades.

The Seattle Mariners finalized a deal to bring David Phelps from the Miami Marlins for four prospects. Those prospects are centerfielder Brayan Hernandez, as well as pitching prospects Brandon Miller, Pablo Lopez, Lucas Schiraldi. Phelps isn’t arbitration eligible until 2018. If all goes well, he’ll be a Mariner through then.

Phelps has spent his career as a starter before being converted to a reliever. In 545 innings pitched, he’s accumulated a 3.90 earned run average, striking out 509 batters while walking just 211. He’ll be a useful asset out of the bullpen.

It’s an interesting move. When used correctly, the Mariners bullpen, is one of the best in baseball. Since the all-star break, the M’s have gone 5-1, with closer Edwin Diaz saving all five wins. It goes back further. Since May 25th, the bullpen’s 2.75 ERA is the best in baseball.

That’ll work.

The starting pitching causes more concern. Everyone knows that injuries have bothered the rotation all season. Yovani Gallardo has been moved to the bullpen. Sam Gaviglio was solid early, but lately hasn’t been great. He’s 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA over his last four outings.

As of today, the team doesn’t have a starter for Monday’s series opener against the Red Sox. Maybe the idea was to add to a strength of the team and make the game shorter for a starting rotation that hasn’t been much better than serviceable.

Regardless, General Manager Jerry DiPoto has lifted the lid on trade deadline moves in the Northwest. The Mariners are one and a half games behind the New York Yankees in the wildcard standings. The two teams start a four game series tonight.

For now, we’ll wait and see how this trade works for the Mariners.

 

Brew Crew Bandwagon

Brew Crew Bandwagon

I think I need something new in my life.

I’ve watched my favorite team, the Seattle Mariners, lose eight consecutive baseball games at home. They’re slipping out of contention of a wild card berth. We all know that’s as good as it’s going to get for them. I love baseball too much to give up on it in the heart of the season. Something new, could be a new team.

Can’t be the same devision.

Probably shouldn’t be in the same league.

I got it.

The Milwaukee Brewers!

They normally aren’t worth watching, but this year is different. The Brew Crew are leading the National League east, and are nine games over .500. Their underdog history helps the Brewers become easy to like.

The majority of the Brewers roster are players you’ve never heard of. Oliver Drake, Carlos Torres, and Jimmy Nelson are as generic of names as MLB The Show gets. Their stars are the same stars they had in 2014. Ryan Braun, kind of a steroid douche, and Matt Garza, definite facial hair douche.

The like-ability factor starts to take place when you dig deeper into the Brewers roster. Eric Thames made headlines early in the season for crushing baseballs. The slugger was returning from a stint in the Korean Baseball Organization. Thames made massive improvements overseas. Back in the bigs, he’s doubled his career high home run total with 23.

He got off to a hot start. He gains were accused of being aided by steroids. The league drug tested him five times in a span of eight weeks. He wasn’t worried about it though.

“If people keep thinking I’m on stuff, I’ll be here every day,” Thames said. “I have a lot of blood and urine.”

Thames made the most of the awkward situation by humor.

There is more humor throughout the Brewers roster. Travis Shaw is another generic name in need of a nickname. He has one, and it’s way better than you thought. Shaw goes by the Mayor of Ding Dong City.

What?

Yes! You bet. Absolutely he does.

Shaw has hit a career-high in homers this season, with 18 and counting.

Those two, and winning have sold me to the Brewers. There is a bonus within the Brewers Organization. It’s Eric Sogard. The second basemen that looks like squints from The Sandlot is on the 40-man roster. Everyones favorite nerd is a Brewer.

Until the Mariners get it figured out, I’m taking my interests towards the midwest. Eric Thames, Travis “The Mayor of Ding Dog City” Shaw, and Eric Sogard make the Brewers fun. Moving forward, I’ll embrace the beer and cheer them on every step of the way.

Sanchez vs. Morrison

Sanchez vs. Morrison

We knew it was coming. At some point, Gary Sanchez was going to have to make a comment about the criticism given by Logan Morrison. Morrison, who has hit 11 more home runs than Sanchez was upset that he isn’t in the home run derby and Sanchez is. What Sanchez had to say was disappointing.

“They gave me an invitation,” Sanchez said. “That’s something I have no control over. It’s not my fault he didn’t get selected.”

That’s it? Really?

Sanchez did his best to wash his hands of the situation, but he didn’t have to. Professional athletes all have egos. The next time Sanchez hits a homer against the Rays, he’ll say something as he rounds first base. Morrison will do the same when he touches home plate after a tater against the Yankees.

Talk about it off the field please.

The National Basketball Association is showcasing how to take advantage of players having problems with each other. Draymond Green and Lebron James have been in a petty shirt war since the Golden State Warriors championship parade. Kevin Durant wore a hat with a cupcake on it to a charity softball event, taking a jab at Oklahoma City Thunder fans who called him a cupcake for leaving the team. That’s entertaining.

Politically, Sanchez did the right thing, but that isn’t the arena he is in. Emotion is cool. People become invested when they feel a certain way. With a chance to draw fans in to pay attention to baseball, Sanchez disappointed.

 

Selfish Seahawks

Selfish Seahawks

The 2016 Seattle Seahawks are proving me does exist in team.

Here we sit with the final week of the National Football League’s regular season upon us. The Seattle Seahawks are the NFC West Champions. The Seattle Seahawks have clinched a spot in the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks have a chance to be the number two seed in the NFC. But that isn’t what people are talking about.

The past month has been littered with individuals creating divide. In week 13, the Hawks waylaid  the Panthers 40-7. The win came at a price, as safety Earl Thomas broke his leg when he collided with teammate Kam Chancellor. While the game was going on, Thomas was moved to tweet during the game.

“This game has been so good to me no regrets,” Thomas wrote. “A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers.”

In what should have been a boring week, Thomas turned the attention to himself. There is no reason the 27-year-old should retire. No surgery was needed to repair his leg. He’s made five pro bowls in seven years. Thomas has a couple good, productive years left in his body. All the tweet did was take attention away from the team and transfer it to Earl Thomas.

After a disappointing loss in Green Bay, the Seahawks returned home to face the Rams. The Rams headed to Seattle with an interim head coach on a short week. The Hawks were expected to roll and they did. Seattle beat Los Angeles 24-3 on Thursday Night Football. It should have been another boring week for northwest football fans.

Richard Sherman served as the pot-stirrer on this occasion. With 4:03 left in the third quarter, the Seahawks attempted a pass from the one yard line. Russell Wilson targeted Jimmy Graham, but the play nearly resulted in a interception. Richard Sherman exploded on the sideline, becoming visibly upset head coach Pete Carroll.

“I’m upset about us throwing from the 1,” Sherman said.”I was letting [Carroll] know. We’ve already seen how that goes.”

Sherman pathetically poked at old wounds. The cornerback was referring to the interception thrown by Wilson at the one yard line in Super Bowl 48. Sherman chose to disregard the play made by Malcolm Butler, and shift it towards his own teammates and coaches.

The play call made total sense. Sherman shifted the attention on himself with unnecessary and unprofessional behavior during and after a blowout win.

Last weekend, the Seahawks hosted the Arizona Cardinals. The two teams tied in Arizona in October. The Cardinals came into Seattle and beat the home team 34-31. The loss moved the Seahawks from the number two seed and a first round bye in the NFC playoffs, to the four seed. It was a terrible loss at this point in the season. On top of all that, wide receiver Tyler Lockett broke his leg catching a touchdown pass.

In steps Earl Thomas to make the save tweeting this after the game.

“I’ll def be back next year..”

Oh. Suddenly, nobody was talking about the loss the Hawks had suffered earlier in the day.   It’s tiresome to watch athletes put themselves over the team. Pete Carroll allows his players to be themselves, and this is the backlash from it.

It could be a masterfully crafted attempt to build personal brands. It could be a pair of aging players trying to stay relevant. Regardless both players are taking attention away from on-field activity and placing it on themselves. There is no I in team, but the Seattle Seahawks are proving there is a me.

 

 

 

 

Taking a Walker to Arizona

Taking a Walker to Arizona

Taijaun’s taking a walk; he isn’t coming back.

On Wednesday, November 23, Mariners General Manager Jerry DiPoto sent Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to Arizona in exchange for Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis. I’m not sad to see Walker leave.

For years, Walker was dubbed the Prince of Seattle. The right hander was supposed to be the protege to King Felix Hernandez. He played like a dunce.

Walker was drafted 43rd overall in 2010 amature draft out of Yupaica High School. He made a start in 2013, five more in 2014 before becoming a part of the rotation in 2015. In his first full seasons in the majors, Walker hasn’t had an earned run average under four.

How long does a player have unlimited potential, until they don’t? Walker showed above average velocity while working his way to the majors. Last season, he lost it. The fastball went from 95 miles per hour, down to 93. Hitters took advantage of it, as Walker gave up 129 knocks in just 25 starts. Over his career, He’s allowed more hits than strikeouts. Is he really capable of being a team’s ace? Doesn’t look like it.

Mariners fans should be rejoicing in this move made by DiPoto. Walker hasn’t shown signs of becoming the guy the pundits thought he could be. He spent time on the disabled list in June last season. He spent time in Triple-A last season. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. was always tweaking his delivery. 

Walker is only 24 years old, and will be when takes the mound in a Diamondback uniform next year. There is time for him to figure it out, but will he in Arizona?  I doubt it.

According to ESPN’s park factors, Arizona is the second best baseball stadium for hitters in the Major Leagues. Chase Field in Arizona featured a plus rating for hitters in home runs, singles, doubles, triples and walks. Almost every outcome a hitter can have, is in their favor in the Grand Canyon State.

With the core of the Seattle Mariner’s being in the prime of their career, Taijuan Walker doesn’t belong on a team. He can not help a team right now, and that’s what the M’s need to do.

There will be times when Mariners fance grimace when they see that he struck out 12 over eight innings of shutout ball. The bad far outweighs the good. Until then, Taijuan’s taking a walk and he’s leaving for good.