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A Bunch Of Stuff

I don't know exactly when it happened, but at some point between my childhood and now, I lost the ability to be happy about any improvement the Mariners make, regardless of the shape it takes. This helps me to be more objectively analytical sometimes, but it also robs me of the simple joy that comes whenever you see your favorite team add a new player. I miss that joy. Growing up, I'd look in the little two-inch-by-one-inch "Transactions" column in the sports page every morning to see if the Mariners had brought in a new player, and if they had, I'd spend the rest of the day thinking about how much he might make the team better. Now when the Mariners sign a big name all I can think is "this guy couldn't strike out the queen."

That's good for writing but bad for my emotional health. It's not like I look forward to being negative all the time. And besides, even if you pay $4 for a Coke instead of $0.25 for a sweet, delicious, always-smooth Select cola, in the end at least you still get the Coke, right?

If only Silva weren't so god damn boring.


Carlos Silva claims to have added a splitter. He says he started using it against lefties in the second half last year, and the numbers suggest improvement.

There's a good way and a bad way to look at this:

Good: Silva may not be as bad against lefties as he was in Minnesota, which makes him both a better fit for the park and a better pitcher overall.

Bad: We paid $48m/4yr to someone who's experimenting with his repertoire.

We'll see. Silva was better down the stretch last year, but he's always been a second-half pitcher, so it could also be a bunch of nothing. Still, it's a shot of hope after ten pints of why-me's, so if this is what we need in order to go forward with bright eyes, then dammit, here's to the splitter.


Geoff Baker responded to the Silva/Towers thing in the way that you'd expect of a guy who had front row seats to Josh Towers' 2006 season: he wasn't buying it. It's hard to blame him, because the last time Baker covered the Blue Jays, Towers looked really, really bad. Like, really bad. It's hard to shake that impression.

But guess what? Carlos Silva was bad that year, too. Except Silva lasted basically the whole year in the rotation, while Towers got bumped to AAA (where he was fine).

I'm not interested in innings and quality starts. I'm interested in the things over which a pitcher has direct control; things like strikes and balls and grounders and missed bats and all that good stuff. Josh Towers didn't rack up the innings in '06/'07 because he gave up a lot of runs. That much is obvious. My argument is that he gave up a lot of runs for reasons that weren't his fault.

Let's repeat Wednesday's analysis, except this time let's cut 2005 out of the equation and just go with numbers from the last two years. (Feel free to scroll down if you don't want to read all of this.)


Silva: 9.6% (relief stats removed)
Towers: 14.1% (relief stats removed)


Silva: 3.6% (relief stats removed)
Towers: 4.7% (relief stats removed)


Silva: 3.6% (relief stats removed)
Towers: 4.7% (relief stats removed)


Silva: 65% (relief stats not removed) (I don't have that data)
Towers: 67% (relief stats not removed)

1st pitch strike%

Silva: 65%
Towers: 66%

Swinging strike%

Silva: 9%
Towers: 11%

Line Drive%

Silva: 21%
Towers: 21%


Silva: 46%
Towers: 42%


Silva: 33%
Towers: 37%

HR/FB% (park-adjusted by THT)

Silva: 13%
Towers: 15%


Silva: 5.04
Towers: 5.48


Silva: 4.87
Towers: 4.68

Platoon split

Silva: +.116 OPS vs. lefties
Towers: +.094 OPS vs. lefties

It's the exact same story, only with one difference - over his last 169 innings in the big leagues, Towers has a high home run rate (and so does Silva, only to a lesser extent). This high home run rate has led to a miserable ERA and to the impression that Towers is finished as a useful Major League starter.

I don't need to sit here and lecture you about this. Anyone who reads this website has learned to be skeptical of disproportionately high HR/FB rates. So Towers is at 15% over his last 169 ML innings. Johan Santana was at 16% in 219 innings last year. Felix was at 17%. AJ Burnett, 19%. Derek Lowe, 17%. In 2006, Josh Beckett was at 17%. None other than Carlos Silva was at 18%. Felix, 18%. Ian Snell, 17%. Tim Hudson, 16%. Andy Pettitte, 15%. Dan Haren, 14%.

Home run rates over samples that small don't tell you much of anything about a pitcher's true ability. It could be the Towers is done and has turned into a marshmallow, but it could also be a total fluke. Considering he topped his career average swinging strike rate last year, which seems more likely?

Baker also presents the argument that Towers is just giving up worse balls in play than Silva; that is, the ball is being hit harder against Towers, therefore leading to more balls dropping in.

The equivalent line drive rates between both Towers and Silva seems to go against that suggestion, but better yet, I bring you PMR data. Based on things like batted ball location and velocity, Carlos Silva's "expected" rate of BIP being turned into outs last year was 68.5% (this is under the column 'Predicted DER'). For Josh Towers, it was 67.5%. Silva is better, yes, but only by ~6 hits over a full season. That's not much. The "Towers just gives up screamer after screamer" point doesn't appear to hold much water.

Look, I'm not saying that, everything being equal, I'd take Josh Towers over Carlos Silva. Silva, I think, is the slightly better pitcher, in large part because he's better with men on base. My point is that, if you can present this strong an argument that Pitcher A and Pitcher B are pretty similar, then it doesn't make sense to offer one a huge contract while the other sits at home, freely available. There are questions about Josh Towers going forward, but there are also questions about Carlos Silva, and if this comparison doesn't make you at least a little bit angry, then you, like the Mariners, are still being blinded by ERA and reputation.


Good news everyone!

Bavasi said Morrow, who has been starting in Venezuela after working out of the Mariners bullpen in 2007, is thought of so highly that the Mariners have a difficult time envisioning a future without him.

"If we add a starter, then he pitches in the bullpen," Bavasi said. "If we don't, then either Brandon or Horacio Ramirez would be the fifth starter. And if it's Ramirez, Morrow would be at the end of the bullpen."

It has been reported that Morrow might begin the 2008 season at Triple-A Tacoma to get more experience as a starter. But the club's first-round pick in the 2006 draft out of the University of California will be in the majors if he stays with the Mariners.

"He's highly, highly unlikely to start in Triple-A," Bavasi said. "We don't feel like that's going to help us."

Some people have a plan for the future. Some people are Bill Bavasi.