When Jim Riggleman went to bed the night of October 2nd, 1999, he probably didn't think it would be another eight and a half years before he'd win another game. But that's what the 2008 Seattle Mariners are all about. Making dreams come true. These guys recognized Riggleman's predicament and did what they could to put him in a favorable situation. Some people might call this team bad, but me? I call it selfless.
Biggest Contribution: Jeremy Reed, +21.5%
Biggest Suckfest: Ichiro, Jeff Clement, -13.0%
Most Important AB: Reed double, +21.5%
Most Important Pitch: Francoeur DP, +13.2%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +25.2%
Total Contribution by Position Players: +24.7%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +0.1%
(What is this chart?)
- There's an important lesson we can all learn from Erik Bedard, because this guy's making me look like an idiot. Obviously I was never in favor of the trade, but the whole time I kept telling myself "well on the plus side at least Bedard is outstandingly awesome." On a few occasions I went so far as to call him one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. I was pretty convinced that, in the event of a trade, we'd be giving too much at the wrong time but we'd still be landing a dynamite arm.
It hasn't worked out that way, as Bedard's on pace to throw 156 innings of decent but unspectacular baseball. There's no single cause for why the Mariners have tanked, but a big factor is that the team's only really had half of its obnoxiously advertised one-two punch. Flashes of the talent that Bedard displayed throughout 2007 have been few and far between, and the organization has been helpless to get him on track.
The lesson? It's actually a two-parter:
(1) Don't arrive at sweeping conclusions based on a single season's performance. Particularly when you're dealing with a pitcher. As difficult as it may be to wrap your head around this, one season is still a pretty small sample size, all things considered, and lacking more information it's impossible to know how well a guy is going to sustain certain gains. Based on his 2007 strikeout rate, Bedard was a pretty good bet to be terrific again in 2008, but a good bet is still a gamble, and you have to consider the potential downside. As of this moment, Erik Bedard's 2007 bears a strong resemblance to Adrian Beltre's 2004.
(2) Pay attention to durability. We all knew that Bedard was pretty fragile when we landed him, but I don't think any of us truly understood the extent, and while it's easy to say "well he'd probably be better if not for the injuries," for certain people injuries are a reality with which they have no choice but to live. Injuries happen, and they're not to be ignored or adjusted for - they're to be taken into consideration, because health is the sixth skill, and a lot of people don't have it. People like Bedard. He's not Chris Snelling, but he's not Cal Ripken either, and today was just the latest example of how an injury can spoil even the best-laid plans.
If I could do it all over again, I'd be more bearish. I'd still love Erik Bedard the pitcher (and Erik Bedard the interview, because God damn that's still funny), but I'd have issued more caveats regarding health and performance sustainability, because those were legitimate concerns that got somewhat swept under the rug in all the hoopla over how good he was. That's my mistake, and all I can hope for now is that he's able to get himself healthy and closer to 2007 level in time to either bring us a good return in a trade, or help us compete in 2009. This has not been a good half-season.
- Staying on Bedard, but dealing with something totally different, all this criticism he's been getting for being a "100-pitch pitcher" - it's bullshit. It's bullshit. Not the statement; Bedard does indeed generally top out around 100-110. But the insinuations are bullshit. People - fans, coaches, and team officials alike - have used that line to accuse Bedard of being soft, of being too selfish and not caring enough about the team. They wanted a workhorse and feel like they've been stuck with a burro, and they're upset about it. They feel like Bedard should be giving something more.
Here's the thing: no one knows a pitcher better than the pitcher. No one. You can monitor his velocity or look at how much he's sweating or see if he's slowing down his pace, but only the pitcher truly knows if he has anything left in the tank. And if he doesn't, then it benefits nobody to leave him out on the hill to "gut it out." Assuming that Bedard really is only capable of throwing ~100 pitches - which seems like a safe assumption, since that's how he's been his entire career - then why on earth would you want him to try and go longer? Especially being as fragile as he is.
You know who hasn't gotten any complaints about being soft? Jarrod Washburn. Jarrod Washburn is a gamer who leaves it all on the mound, and then some. He's the kind of pitcher a manager loves to have, a real bulldog. A bulldog with a career OPS against of 1.013 after 100 pitches.
This is why good-old-boys baseball is stupid. Because those people are mad at Bedard for being smart and happy with Washburn for being retarded. This kind of relates to the whole fallacy about playing through injuries. If you're hurt and the pain is negatively affecting your performance, you shouldn't be playing. It's the same way with fatigue. If a pitcher is tired - and I see no reason to doubt that Bedard wears down around 100 pitches - then, as much as your standard Reconstruction Era manager might like to see him man up, the prudent thing to do is for the pitcher to be honest about his condition. That's good for the team, far better than any psychological boost the guys might get from watching a tired starter suck it up and jeopardize his health while throwing worse pitches than he was at the beginning. That's why you have bullpens.
If you want to criticize Bedard for not showing enough emotion or for not working hard enough in practice, then whatever, go right ahead. But what really matters is what a player does between the lines during a game, and Bedard is catching flak for doing what's right. I'm sorry, but I just find that beyond ridiculous.
- I was really looking forward to catching a glimpse of Jorge Campillo so I could see what he's doing differently in Atlanta than he was in Seattle (if anything). After all, it seems like a guy would've had to make some sort of adjustment to achieve this level of performance, right?
Instead of seeing Good Campillo, though, I got stuck watching the same old guy I was never sorry to lose. He stayed around the strike zone for most of the game but rarely fooled anyone, notching just four swinging strikes, allowing five extra-base hits, and coming within inches of serving up a bomb to Adrian Beltre. This was a thoroughly mediocre outing, and since I rarely have occasion (or the desire) to watch the Braves, I can't help but think that Campillo's early performance has been a pretty big fluke. Aside from one dynamite changeup he threw to Ichiro in the fifth, I just didn't see anything that stood out as being particularly awesome. While I don't doubt that he can survive in a National League rotation, I came away less than impressed. But I guess it could've just been a bad day.
- However, should Campillo really be a legitimate #2 or #3 starter, it would be pretty ironic that the organization that kept trying to find and develop the next Jamie Moyer let one slip away for nothing.
- With men on the corners and nobody out in the top of the fifth of a 1-0 ballgame, Roy Corcoran walked to the plate for just the fourth time in his Major League career and struck out trying to bunt. He then faced all of two batters in the bottom half before getting yanked. Curse you, Riggleman. You only managed in the National League for like seven years.
- The Atlanta broadcast lacks of lot of things, but more than anything else, it lacks flow. It lacks continuity. It's not so much a broadcast of a game as it is a series of factual statements recited on air with only a hint of order and organization. If I were listening on radio I'd think it was trivia. The only thing they really had going for them is that they didn't know off the tops of their heads where Willie Ballgame was born, which in my book is good for a thousand points.
- Over a meaningless 55 at bats, Jeremy Reed's OPS stands at .813. I wonder if this is going to be our official second bright spot of the season. I don't think he's this good of a hitter, but every day he looks decent is another day during which I can dream of a brighter tomorrow. Jeremy Reed turning into an actual player would be bigger for this team than you'd think.