Category: Professional Sports

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.

 

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.

 

Rebuild for What?

Rebuild for What?

Time to start over.

The Seattle Mariners are 41-45 with three games left before the all-star break. Currently, they trail the Oakland Athletics, who are 38-47, 7-1 in the top of the sixth. My buddy’s are clambering for the team to rebuild.

The team is on a frustrating run. They haven’t won a home game since June 23rd. They are 17 games out of first place in the west, and four games out of the second wild card spot. With a little less than half of the season left to play, should they already be thinking about next season?

No.

There is no significant player that makes sense to begin the selling process with. The Mariners infield is top-tier. It’s led by Robinson Cano, who has seven years left on his 10-year, 240 million dollar contract. Number 22 will play his final game as a Seattle Mariner.

A similar story can be told for Kyle Seager. He’s got four years left on a seven-year, 100 million dollar contract. His numbers are consistent and he’s been a durable asset for the team throughout his career. He’s finished inside the top 20 of most valuable player voting twice. He isn’t a player you get rid of.

Jean Segura was added to the M’s least offseason. He came to the team as the National League hits leader, checking in with 203 knocks last season. The Mariners felt Sagura would continue to produce, so they added five years to his contract in June. He’s not leaving the Northwest.

In the outfield, there is nothing to get rid of either. Mitch Haniger is a player the organization is incredibly high on. Early in the season, it was easy to understand why. He led rookies in nearly every category before being sidelined with an oblique injury. Haniger won’t become a free agent until 2023. He’s your right fielder of now, and the future.

In the opposite corner, Ben Gamel has been outstanding for the club. Acquired from the New York Yankees, the lefty is leading the league in batting average. Like Haniger, Gamel doesn’t become a free agent until 2023. That’s fine by me. Eventually, Guillermo Heredia will join the group as a part of the full-time outfield.

Mike Zunino continues to be a project for Edgar Martinez and Scott Brosius. Zunino is praised for his defensive ability behind the plate, while his offense finally seems to be getting closer.

Offensively, every other player on the roster is a guy.

The true problems stem from the pitching staff. It starts with Felix Hernendez. The King isnt what he once was, and it’s painfully obvious. He’s another guy with a huge contract attatched to him, that no team will be willing to take on, especially with his ability deminishing.

Hisashi Iwakuma was shut down last week after suffering a setback with his shoulder injry. It’s often forgotten that Iwakuma failed a physical with the Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago. Drew Smyly looked phenominal in the world baseball classic. In June, the M’s realized he need Tommy John Surgery, and will miss anywhere between 12-15 months of aciton.

All three of those guys are worthless in any trade market.

The Mariners staff has been made up of young arms who are holding their own. The bullpen, when used properly, is solid.

We’re midway through the eighth, and the M’s still trail Athletics 7-1. They’ll likely fall to 41-46, with three games remaining before the allstar break. However, the Seattle Mariners don’t need to, and are incabable of rebuilding their roster.

For the Seattle Mariners, it is time to start over.

That starts tomorrow.

 

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.

 

Talk That S***

Talk That S***

Sports thrive on rivalries. In most cases, it’s team verses team. North Carolina verses Duke, Celtics verses Lakers and Red Sox verses Yankees. The Sox and Yanks have the most historic rivalry in baseball. When is the last time baseball had a rivalry that was focused on player verses player? McGwire verses Sosa? Logan Morrison could be igniting the newest Major League Baseball player feud.

We are at the all-star break, and with that comes the home run derby. The league’s best sluggers meet the night before the all-star game to see who can swat the most baseballs over the wall. According to Morrison, one of the league’s best sluggers got robbed.

It’s him.

Morrison has hit 24 dingers this season, good enough to tie him for second most this season. Allstar weekend is held in Miami this year, and the former Marlin, now Tampa Bay Ray believes he deserves to be there, especially when compared to someone who did get the nod.

Gary Sanchez is in the home run derby. He’s hit 13 home runs this season, tying him for the 72nd on the home run list this season. By the numbers, Morrison has a point.

“I remember when I had 14 home runs,” Morrison said. “That was a month and a half ago.”

LOL

To be fair, Sanchez missed a month to a biceps strain. The majority of people will see the home run totals and side with LoMo. Morrison is creating beef between two American League East teams.

If some heat between the squads is generated because of Morrison’s comments, it’s good for baseball. The average fan loves a story they can sink their teeth into and root for either side.

Morrison has been healthy and raking. The argument can be made the if Sanchez didn’t miss a month, he’d have as many homers as anybody in the league. Regardless, rivalries are good for sports. Hopefully Lomo has created something to keep an eye on throughout the second half of the Major League Baseball season.

Pitchers Not Pitches

To die hard fans, the beauty in baseball is that games take time. Average fans attending a Tuesday night game, may not have all night to watch a game. Commissioner Rob Manfred has used Minor League Baseball as a test lab to find out what would work in the Majors. Those changes in the Minor Leagues are having a minor effect on the intended goal.  

Six rule changes were implemented to the Arizona Fall league in 2014 to speed up the pace of play. The year prior, The average game with 77 plate appearances took 2:52 minutes. With new rules in place, the average game lasted 2:39 minutes. A whopping 13 minutes was shaved off. Worth it.

Fast forward to late 2016, when MLB voted one of those six rules to be adopted at the Major League level. The rule removed pitchers from physically throwing four balls in an intentional walks. In the 2016 season, there were 932 intentional walks. Amongst all games for all teams, that averages out to intentional walk every other game. Throwing four wide ones during an intentional walk takes one minute. That’s it.

In 1990, there were 1,384 intentional base on balls. That’s 452 less free passes on purpose than in 2016. There were 26 teams in 1990, four less than there are now. With fewer intentional walks happening every year, the timing of this rule change is odd. It’s change for change’s sake.

It’s not the pitching that’s holding up games, but the pitching changes. In 2016, the average team used 3.2 relief pitchers per game. That’s six pitching changes per game, counting both teams. With the 2:30 second limit to complete a pitching change, that’s nearly 15 minutes worth of empty time wasted. Add the 13 fewer minutes from 2014 AFL games, and a half an hour could be removed from baseball games. Now we’re talking.

Commissioner Manfred will never be able to limit the amount of pitchers team’s use in a game. The new intentional walk rule won’t do what it’s intended for. If baseball needs to move faster, the amount of pitchers needs to be limited, not pitches.

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.

Football is Here, but Don’t Forget About Baseball

Football is Here, but Don’t Forget About Baseball

Football is back. The Seattle Seahawks play their first preseason game of the year this afternoon. So many questions surround the team. How will the Seahawks perform without Marshawn Lynch? Is Jimmy Graham healthy? Will they remain a run-first offense, or will Russell Wilson be allowed to throw the ball often?  In a month from now, the games in the Seattle will count for real. But games in Seattle already count, and haven’t been more important than right now. Football is exciting, but please don’t forget about baseball.

On July 31, the M’s were 52-51, good enough for third in the American League West, eight and a half games away from first place in the division and five games out of a wild card spot. Momentum swung as the team had one of the best home stands all season. The Mariners went 8-2, while sweeping both the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Detroit Tigers. Manager Scott Servais credited Ken Griffey Jr. weekend, and the message he sent to the 2016 team.

“Keep fighting,” Junior said. “because we’re all rooting for you.”

Fight is what they did. On August second, the M’s trailed the Red Sox 4-0 with their Win Expectancy at a mere 3.2 percent in the eighth. Robinson Cano capped a five-run bottom of the eighth with a three-run home run, proving to be the game winner. The team won 5-4, and a tone was set from the Mariners superstar.

On August fifth, Felix Hernandez gave up a three run homer to Mike Trout in the top of the first inning (W.E. 21.6%). The M’s answered with six runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. With the game tied at three, Mike Zunino smashed a three-run dinger over the left field wall to give his team the lead. A couple days later, Seattle saw another comeback win, as the M’s won 6-4.

August sixth was Ken Griffey Jr. night, as the number 24 was officially retired in the Mariners organization. That game saw the exact same start as the previous night. Trout hit another three-run home run, putting the Mariners in an early 3-0 hole. Win Expectancy sat at 8.7 percent after four innings. The Mariners chipped away at the lead until the bottom of the seventh. Shawn O’Malley smacked a go-ahead three-run home run to put the team up 8-6. Another gritty, come from behind win.

August ninth was the middle game of the three-game series with the Tigers. The M’s trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the eighth (W.E. 4.7%). Kyle Seager hit a clutch, three-run home run to the tie game. The two teams put up zero’s until the 15th inning, when Victor Martinez hit a home run putting the tigers up 5-4 (W.E. 10%). Seager answered with an RBI single. Runners took advantage of a fielding error, moving to second and third with one out. Zunino supplied a sacrifice fly to win the marathon of a game. The M’s won again.

August 10 saw a classic pitchers duel between Justin Verlander and King Felix. The aces kept their opponents to just one run as the score was knotted at one entering the bottom of the eighth. Nelson Cruz hit a solo blast over the center field wall, giving his team the lead. Six straight for the M’s.

The Mariners lost the first game of a three game set with the Athletics. As of today, the team has moved into second place in the AL west. As the Mariners were streaking, the Rangers were too, winning five straight games. The M’s are seven and a half games out of the division lead. The Wild Card race is where Seattle should be focused. Five games out at the beginning of August, now the M’s are two games out of the second wild card spot.

The team took Juniors words to heart. A majority of the wins that came on this remarkable home stand were made in come from behind fashion. Junior also had words for the city of Seattle.

“To the fans, keep supporting these guys,” Griffey said. “They’re trying to support this city. When you have a friendly face in the stands, that means everything. When you’re going through a bad spell and some guy says, ‘Hey, keep your head up,’ that goes a long way. We’re out here playing, but we’re playing for this city.”

Football is exciting. The Seahawks have recently won a Super Bowl, and have been a good team since Pete Carroll’s arrival. Baseball has been here for a while in 2016, but it has never been more intense, or exciting as it is right now. One of the greatest athletes that has ever worn a uniform that belongs to Seattle, is asking fans not to forget about baseball. The M’s have a great shot at making the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years.  Seattle, please don’t forget about the Mariners.

W.E. – Win Expectancy

Paying for Points

Paying for Points

If you’re a quarterback in the National Football League, you get paid. Quarterbacks average 3,840,017 dollars, 1.2 million more than the next closest position. Teams are paying for points, even if they overpay their comodity. On Wednesday, the New York Jets proved that mediocre play can still lead to excellent pay.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was laughing all the way to the bank on Wednesday. The Journeyman is making 12 million dollars next season. Eight of that 12 million dollars can be credited to his beard. Fitzpatrick has been on six teams in 10 years. Fitz has played in 112 games, throwing for 154 touchdowns, but giving up 116 interceptions.

Fitzpatrick is coming off of his best season in his career. The Jets quarterback passed for 3,905 yards, with 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The team also had no leverage in the situation, not having a better option in the organization. All the ingredients were there for Fitzpatrick to have a nice payday.

Michael Bennett has championed the campaign against the pay disparity. Not with Fitzpatrick in particular, but quarterbacks in general. What Bennett says makes more sense with every quarterback contract signed.

“Quarterback is the only position in the NFL where you could be mediocre and get paid. At every other position, you can’t be mediocre,” Bennett said. “If I was Ryan Tannehill and the most games I ever won was seven, how could you get a $100 million for that? I guess that’s the value of the position.”

Why is that position so valued? The Houston Texans made the playoffs in 2015 with Brian Hoyer taking snaps. The Texans feature a defense that ranked third in the NFL last season in total yards allowed. The super bowl champion Denver Broncos top that list. The 2014 champion Seattle Seahawks led the league in total yards allowed the season they won the super bowl.

Several NFL quarterbacks make too much money for not doing too much. Matt Ryan makes $20,750,000 a year, and is 1-4 in the playoffs. Tony Romo makes $18,000,000 a year, and is 2-4 in post season play. At $16,000,000 a year, Andy Dalton is 0-4 after the regular season.

Defense can be linked hand in hand with successful teams. A team could focus their money on the opposite side of the ball and make average quarterbacks on opposing teams even worse. Every team is going to have flaws. It’s a shame that half of the NFL is over paying theirs.  Quarterbacks dont have to play well, but well enoguh to get paid well.