Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I hate Carlos Silva and I hope he gets ass cancer

Not that you didn't already know that.

Larry LaRue has the "big" story on Silva, as the man seemingly gained close to 30 pounds over the course of the season.

Let that sink in for a moment. A baseball player, spending upwards of six months playing almost daily in a grueling schedule, somehow managed to gain 30 pounds.

How bad was El Gordo this year? Let me count the ways:

--5.92 tRA, good for 16th-worst in the league.

--blamed his shitty pitching on injuries and bad defense (the latter part is actually somewhat true, what with Yuni air-mailing throws into the stands, but still.)

--threatened to throw teammates into the wall, which is exactly the quality you want in a clubhouse leader, because real leaders scream and cuss and threaten teammates with physical violence.

--gained nearly 30 pounds.

And the best part of all this? He's still owed $36 million over the next three years. Bill Bavasi, this is your legacy.

Bring me Solo and the Wookie! They will all pay for this outrage!

More moving and shaking

Geoff Baker has some bits and pieces worth looking into, as Zduriencik and Wakamatsu continue to shape the coaching staff. Mel Stottlemyre is out as pitching coach (yay!), and Dom Chiti is, reportedly, in. Like most of the other new hires, I know nothing of the guy. Norm Charlton is also out as bullpen coach (yay!).

It's been a pretty slow news cycle in the past few weeks, and I haven't been as regular in my posting as I'd like to be. Nonetheless, things should start picking up once the winter meetings and Rule 5 Draft begin in a couple weeks. I'll also be unveiling my own "Top 10 Sports Stories of 2008" series soon. Look for it around mid-December.

In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy my random video of the day:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


P.J. Carlesimo, coach of the Artist Formerly Known As The Seattle SuperSonics, has been given the pink slip after an atrocious 1-12 start (via ESPN.)

I haven't been following any basketball ever since The Debacle That Shall Remain Nameless Here, but found this amusing nonetheless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Larry Stone on Life, the Universe, and Everything

Larry Stone is one of my favorite local writers, and his recent article on ESPN has some good stuff. It mostly confirms the new change in direction that Zduriencik is making, and conveys well the feeling of hope that many fans, myself included, share.

Seattle Mariners put their new hope in leadership

New name

It goes without saying that I never was satisfied with my original name for this blog, being something that I came up with on a whim at three in the morning after too much coffee and cigarettes. But thanks to the input of the fabulous miscreants of the Oscar Gamble League, this blog is hereby christened "Rime of the Anguished Mariner", a not-so-subtle reference to the famous poem. Hat tips to Onur and Tyler for the suggestions.

I welcome our new anguished overlords.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wakamatsu named new manager

After whittling the list of managerial candidates down to seven, most of them unknowns with no major-leauge managing experience, the Mariners today announced Don Wakamatsu as their new field general, thus continuing the recent tradition of bringing in guys with unspellable names.

Wakamatsu formerly served as bench coach of the A's and is generally known as a quiet, mild-mannered man, the type of personality that players tend to gravitate towards more nowadays. There's not a whole lot more out there on the guy, other than various snippets about how he likes to thoroughly prepare himself before every series--touring the stadium on road trips, scouting the opposing pitchers, etc. Sounds like basic stuff, but it's a nice change of pace from the McLaren-type "well, we're just going to play good baseball and see what happens" drivel.

Overall, another solid move by Zduriencik, who in recent weeks has quickly allayed fears that the front office changes will be just another "meet the old boss, same as the old boss" situation. He clearly has a plan and a vision, and slowly-but-surely that plan is starting to come into focus. I greatly look forward to seeing what changes he will eventually make on the field, because the off-field moves have been greatly encouraging so far.

Welcome to Seattle, Wakamatsu. If Jarrod Washburn asks you for a personal catcher, don't be afraid to tell him to piss off.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A sad day for the sports blogosphere

"Fire Joe Morgan", one of my personal favorite blogs, has closed up shop.

FJM gained fame (and notoriety) over the years with its critiques, criticisms and downright bitch-slappings of poorly written sports articles. Bill Plaschke, Jon Heyman, Steve Phillips, Colin Cowherd, Tim McCarver and, of course, the titular Joe Morgan were among the site's favorite whipping boys. But what really separated this blog from other run-of-the-mill "fire ____" sites was the hilarious and razor-sharp wit of Ken Tremendous, who in real life is known as Micharl Schur, one of the comic geniuses behind the American version of "The Office." I humbly present this as one of his greatest articles.

FJM will be sorely missed, but we'll always have the memories. And the food metaphors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Daily Hits--November 12

Tim Lincecum won the NL Cy Young Award despite playing on a crappy Giants team. To think the Mariners had a chance to draft him. So it goes. Brandon Morrow is still awesome.

As for the Manager of the Year awards, those went to Joe Maddon and Lou Piniella. So the Rays continue to pile up the hardware--Maddon joins ROY Evan Longoria and Executive of Year Andrew Friedman as the latest to pick up an award.

What else......the Yankees signed Damaso Marte to a 3Y/12M extension. The Manny rumor-mongering continues, as reports have the Dodgers guaranteeing him $45M over two years, with a 3rd-year option.

It's a pretty slow news day, so let me leave you off with this.

Look for my "Review of 2008" series to resume sometime tonight.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Daily Hits--November 10

There was other stuff happening today besides the Holliday trade, you know.

Evan Longoria, Geovanny Soto take ROY honors: Both excellent choices, if I may say so. Alexi Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury finished 2nd and 3rd in the AL voting. Joey Votto and Jair Jurrjens were runners-up in the NL.

The Hoffman era ends unceremoniously in San Diego (via Buster Olney): The Padres pulled their contract offer to Trevor Hoffman, thus making him a free agent. Hoffman was apparently unwilling to take a $3M pay cut despite being 76 years old. The Padres, after an awful season, are hellbent on slashing their payroll (their primary motivation for pimping out Jake Peavy). Hoffman will catch on to another team (the Indians, Mets and Cardinals, among others, are reportedly shopping for a closer this winter), but it's going to feel weird not seeing him in a San Diego uniform.

Marlins trade Scott Olsen, Josh Willingham to Washington for bag of marbles (via ESPN): Color me meh. Scott Olsen sucks, but Josh Willingham is a decent hitter who can play a little defense. For that, the Marlins got....Emilio Bonifacio, a slap-hitter with zero power and little plate disclipine. They also got two minor-league pitchers I know nothing about. Keep chopping wood, Florida.

Holliday In The Sun

The Oakland A's strike in the first major move of this offseason, getting Matt Holliday from Colorado in exchange for a duo of prospects and Huston Street. At first glance, this might be an odd move for Beane to make, considering he spent most of last season dumping his veterans. But upon further inspection, it's practically a win-win for him--he can flip Holliday for more prospects at the deadline, or he can pocket the draft picks at seasons' end, since Holliday is almost guaranteed to be a Type A free agent.

Matt Holliday is a stud, Coors Field be damned. His 4.88 WPA (Win Probability Added, which is park-adjusted) ranked 8th in the league in '08. His .417 wOBA (weighted On Base Average, which is also park-adjusted) and 123 wOBA+ ranked 6th and 8th, respectively. The A's suddenly have a legitimate bat in the lineup.

As for the Rockies' haul, Carlos Gonzalez is a power-outfielder prospect with decent upside, Greg Smith is a young flyball pitcher with decent upside (provided he's surrounded by a good defense) and Street is Street. Rumor has it that Colorado is also looking to flip Street for a couple more prospects. If they manage to pull that off, the trade will look much better on their side than it currently does.

Billy Beane, if nothing else, can always be counted on to make the offseason interesting.

2008 Review: Felix Hernandez

The pitching rotation, while presumably a weakness back in the spring, now is actually shaping up to be the team's biggest strength going into '09 year, thanks to the emergence of guys like Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brandon Morrow. Example #332,659 why throwing $48 million at one pitcher and gutting the farm system for another is a stupid, stupid idea.

Anyway, let's get on to the reviews, separated into three categories: the good, the bad/ugly, and what to expect going forward. All stats are provided courtesy of Fangraphs and StatCorner.

Felix Hernandez

The Good: His traditional stats suggest that Felix has taken another step forward: 3.45 ERA, 175 strikeouts, and a slightly lower home run rate. Also, he hit a grand slam off Johan Santana, further cementing his awesomeness. However....

The Bad: ....his peripheral stats suggest that his progress has at best stagnated, and at worst has regressed. Felix's walk rate was way up (3.59 BB/9, compared with 2.51 from '07), his FIP was slightly up (3.80 from 3.75), and his tRA was up as well (4.45 from 4.02). What is most concerning is his severe drop in groundballs, as this chart demonstrates:

That's an 8% drop in groundballs (from 60% to 52%) and a sharp rise in flyballs (23% to 29%). That is a problem.

What could be the culprit? After watching him for most of the year, and looking at the data, the answer should be obvious: Felix throws too many damn fastballs. Fangraphs has him throwing the fastball 65.9% of the time, compared to 57%. The fastball also happens to be his worst pitch, as it is the one with the least movement on it. In other words, Felix has too much confidence in his fastball. The batters know this, and they're sitting on it, which can partially explain those annoying early-inning jams he always seems to get himself into.

Going forward: With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth I have admittedly succumbed to, it's easy to forget that Felix is still only 22, and has already had a better start to his career than many HOF pitchers had (Randy Johnson, anyone?). With that in mind, he still has much to learn about the game and some maturing left to do.

The ceiling on King Felix is literally endless, and we've seen brief, fleeting glimpses of what he's really capable off. When Felix is mixing his pitches and hitting his spots, there is not a single batter in the world that can touch him. It's just a matter of him trusting his stuff more. Don't be afraid to throw pitches that bend, Felix.

I was planning on using this one post to cover the whole rotation, but Felix's entry alone was large enough that I'm letting it stand alone. I'll cover the rest of the rotation tomorrow.

Back from the dead.....again

This time, I'm sticking around.

This abortion of a season is finally behind us, and with a new GM comes new hope. Jack Zduriencik is highly regarded as one of the better scouting minds in the league, and he was largely responsible for the enviable pipeline of young talent in Milwaukee. One of his first moves as GM, in fact, involved canning former scouting director Bob Fontaine (who was one of the few bright spots in the Bavasi regime) and bringing over two guys from Milwaukee, Tom McNamara and Tony Blengino (who happens to be a card-carrying SABR member).

So in spite of the dismal six months we just endured, I'm excited about the upcoming offseason, and looking forward to seeing what direction Zduriencik takes the team. I'll be here all winter documenting the latest Hot Stove action. First, I will be starting a player-by-player review of 2008, starting with the rotation.

Look forward to it!