Done. Over. Gone. Buh-Bye...
Number 162 is now in the books. The 2006 season has come and gone. Another losing record, another failure to reach the playoffs. Not completely surprising, of course, but still disappointing nonetheless.
Since the Seahawks are doing their impression of the Seahawks of old (and the first 3 quarters of their opponent last week), I've decided to wrap up the season with my final Diagnostics post. So, here's a look at the Diagnostics we set to start the season, and a look back on how the M's measured up.
Edit: I started this post on Sunday, and didn't realize it'd take most of a week to complete it, so there...
1: George Sherrill gets more than 50 IP.
Nope. Didn't happen. He missed it by 10 -- although he did appear in 72 games. There were still two huge positives, though, for George in 2006. 1) He started and finished the season in Seattle, was mostly healthy, and didn't see any time at all in Tacoma; and 2) He was the only M's bullpen regular that didn't give up a HR. Both of those cannot be overlooked, and are huge accomplishments. Congrats, GS52, on both of these feats.
It was a good season for GS52, and while I'm pretty sure he's glad it's over, he's definitely become a major leaguer, folks! It may not be the ideal role, but you have to start somewhere. Certainly a lot of us hoped he'd see some of those high-leverage innings that ended up going to Mateo, and while he's certainly capable of handling a greater role, establishing his value to the major league club is a huge hurdle to cross. There's an old saying -- it's a whole lot easier to get to the majors than to stay in the majors. I believe that George is definitely going to stick. Heck, Howard Lincoln even mentioned him by name in his letter to season ticket holders.
One thing George needs to work on is developing his out pitches versus righties. While certainly there have been some questionable ball 4 calls from the umpires, having a better out pitch would help cut down on the walks. He's all about deception -- and while he's probably even fooled several umpires, his off-speed stuff vs. righties wasn't as effective against righties as it's been in the past. He had more walks than K's versus righties. Definitely something to work on.
2: Where does Jose Lopez start the season?
Well, like George, he started and finished the season in Seattle. With his second-half performance, though, maybe we should have asked "How does Jose Lopez finish the season?" His batting average wasn't too bad, even in the second half. A late addition to the All Star Game, Jose showed signs of his youth by having his power disappear. He hit, what, one home run in the second half? Yep. As many as WBBD hit. But, really, in spite of the lack of power in the second half, Jose Lopez is more part of the solution than the problem.
3: Will Kenji Johjima and Rafael Chaves have any measurable impact on the pitching staff?
In the end, I would say yes and no. I really didn't see much difference between Bryan Price and Rafael Chaves -- Chaves didn't seem to do anything that I either loved or hated. Not sure if it's Kenji or Raffey, but one of the two (or both, or even Hargrove), though, seemed to take Felix in a different direction. Felix's fastball isn't his strongest pitch, although during the game, it seemed to be the pitch that they wanted Felix to use the most as his out pitch. There's still some noise about Kenji's pitch-calling ability, but it might be because he's receiving the signs from the dugout.
As far as this diagnostic goes, I'd have to say that there wasn't much impact, either positive or negative. Too hard to tell.
4: How far will the "Hinge" players who disappointed last season bounce back?
- Ichiro: 224 hits; 45 SB; .322 BA. Didn't quite display the power I thought he might this year, but still had well over 200 hits. How can you not like the 95.7% success rate with the stolen bases. Yep, I'd say he bounced back.
- Adrian Beltre: Absolutely surged in the second half of the season. .891 OPS after the break, and 18 of his 25 HRs. Just one shy of 40 doubles? I'd definitely take that any day of the week. Is Adrian finally figuring out the AL? If so, watch out! His best non-2004 season, really, although 2000 was slightly better.
- Jeremy Reed: Lost his job thanks to an injury. Definitely didn't bounce back. Fortunately Ichiro is the CF moving forward -- unfortunate, of course, for Reed. I expect him to find success elsewhere. If at all. Bums me out a bit -- I like Jeremy.
- Joel Pineiro: Done. Phwewh. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Lost his rotation spot in August, and while Hargrove tried to salvage his M's career by riding him out of the bullpen, it didn't work. Yeah, that Mike Mussina comp early on wasn't exactly accurate, was it. He'll probably find work in the NL next season, but he's certainly done in Seattle.
- Gil Meche: He certainly bounced back and actually improved a bit this year. He was inconsistent and had a much worse second half. Definitely didn't show too much of the potential that has followed him around his development.
Nope. Although -- with Pineiro's struggles in the rotation, I might've been less frustrated with Franklin pitching in his stead. But when Baek was called up -- I got my Ryan Franklin fix. Actually, aside from one outing, Baek really pitched well in his bidding for a spot in the 2007 rotation. We also got to see Jake Woods and Ryan Feirabend in the rotation. We caught one inning of Cruceta's struggles, only to be yanked faster than you can say "". But aside from Bad Meche and, well, all of Joel Pineiro, the pitching wasn't so horrible to watch that it made me miss cRyan Franklin. He simultaneously killed both the Phillies' and the Reds' chances for a post-season berth.
So. There you have it. A look at the 2006 season that was. Obviously there were some positives when examined via the above diagnostics. There were plenty of negatives, too.
I, for one, am glad it's over. I'm not, however, very excited about 2007. At least as long as Hargrove's at the helm...