Monday, February 20, 2006

Diagnostics

The talk in M's blogland recently concerns the relative worth of Mike Hargrove. Is he so blinkered by his love of vague, ineffable 'grit' and the slightly more understandable 'veteran-ness.' The Larry LaRue article that occasioned this discussion mentions that Hargrove (or LaRue) thinks that Willie Bloomquest has the inside track at the 2b job over the player that basically 100% of M's blogs prefer: Jose Lopez. This discussion takes place against a backdrop of a larger debate: how much better are the 2006 M's compared to last year's model.
So what I'd like to do is propose a series of checks or tests that I think bring the differences in approach (we'll call them 'Good' and 'Bad') into high relief. Here's the first in what I hope is a series.
1: George Sherrill gets more than 50 IP.
You knew this was coming, didn't you? Seriously, it's no longer enough that Sherrill break camp with the team. I know, I know, he'll have more good competition for the loogy role and others (Gonzales, Jake Woods, Thornton, etc.), but after all he's done in the PCL, and after making it clear that he can both handle pressure AND get K's in the major leagues, I'm simply not satisfied with having Sherrill on the team. So the first milepost has to be that Sherrill is used in a more appropriate role. Think of the great bullpen lefties recently - guys like Mike Stanton of the last Yankees dynasty, or M's killer Paul Assenmacher for the Indians (he pisses me off even now, over a decade later. I want Sherrill to sow that sort of visceral animosity among Angels/Indians/A's fans), or Arthur Rhodes for the M's. These guys routinely piled up 60 IP, often 70 or more. I like Jake Woods. Have him take the Sherrill role of LOOGY/PCL dominator.

5 Comments:

At 2/21/2006 6:00 PM, Anonymous Grant said...

Hey would you'll consider changing your blog's name to: Mariners Morsels -- aka "Free George Sherrill" -- aka "Petagine for DH". I mean I know it's a little long winded, but I know you guys are with me on this one.

 
At 2/21/2006 10:43 PM, Blogger marc w said...

Dude, as soon as George Sherrill is liberated, I'll be right there with you.
*cue 80s action movie announcer voice*
but for now, we've got some unfinished business.



Seriously, I'd love to see Petagine break camp with the team and put up a .280/.360/.530 line this year. It's not crazy-talk to suggest that he could do that, either. The question is whether this team, or any team for that matter, has fully internalized the concept of 'sunk costs.' My money's on 'no.'

 
At 2/23/2006 6:15 AM, Blogger Mike L said...

I like this idea. If Sherril gets 50 IP, that would be a very good sign. I'm interested to see what your measures concerning the starting pitching are.

 
At 2/24/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger Snave said...

I'd vote for giving Sherrill 60-70 IP, and Soriano too if he's healthy enough. I think those two guys setting things up for a healthy Eddie could make for some very good late-inning work! Assenmacher still gets me pissed off too, by the way. Would it were that he had been on our team when he was having his good years...

Bloomquist having an edge over anyone for a starting position? I suppose the team could bat him ninth and play him for his glove and for his "intangibles", but sheesh... c'mon, Grover! The future of the ballclub isn't with guys like Bloomquist or Fernando Vina, it's with younger guys like Lopez.

Another yardstick of Hargrove's relative worth I'd consider using would definitely have something to do with how Bloomquist is used (the degree to which he is used over players who are better hitters). The number of AB's Bloomquist gets this season could be used as a determining factor, probably according to how well he hits. If he bats around .240 with a SLG of .333 and an OBP of about .275 (which is what I would expect) AND gets 300 ABs or more (which I would find abhorrent), I'd say that probably wouldn't indicate a case of sheer managing genius in my opinion... unless those he's getting used instead of hit even worse.

I'm not totally down on Bloomquist. He is a good baserunner, he has good defensive skills, and he does have hustle. Occasionally he gets a clutch hit. Maybe he's a good clubhouse guy, maybe he can help keep other players motivated to do well. While I think he does have some worth to the team and may even deserve a place on the MLB roster, I just don't believe he is someone the team should rely on as an everyday player when they can probably find someone else who has a more well-rounded game (that is, decent fielding + decent hitting) to play every day. Bloomquist simply impresses me more as a journeyman-quality player.

 
At 2/28/2006 1:51 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

First and foremost, though, Marc, the "Free George Sherrill" campaign has to lobby support for George making the team in the first place. Ironically, I'm probably the only person in the M's blogosphere who believes that George's spot on the team isn't completely guaranteed, but really, that's the case. While certainly we must aim for a higher cause, if the fundamental tenet isn't met, and George starts the year in Tacoma (other than for unmentionable reasons*), that to me is a bigger sign that there's something wrong with this organization than the role he plays in once he's up here.

Of course, 50 IP as a Diagnostic is a good one, since it pretty much assumes George plays the entire season in Seattle, and at some point is used in a role other than a LOOGY. But, I, for one, will take comfort in the moment George starts the season in Seattle. Of course, it's only the first step, but it's a hugely important one.

I definitely agree -- but I do want to scale this Diagnostic a bit. The M's get additional hugely negative points if George doesn't start the season in Seattle. Look at it this way, in two scenarios:

1) George starts the year in Tacoma, but is called up in May or June, after one of the relievers goes down with a serious injury. He gets his 50 IPs in by inheriting that reliever's setup duties (and bypasses the LOOGY role) and taking over the Arthur Rhodes/Mike Stanton/Paul Assenmacher role.

2) George starts the year in Seattle, gets only 45 innings because he spends most of the year as a LOOGY, but does spend August through the end of the season as a setup guy (after one of our setup guys goes down with an injury, or is traded).

Both of those scenarios are actually failures to me, and I could argue that the first scenario is actually worse (in spite of the 50 IP milepost actually being reached).

*i.e. injury rehab (knocks on wood, strokes a rabbit's foot, avoids black cats and ladders, etc...)

 

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