If you're looking for proof of Carlos Silva's leadership and the extent to which his teammates place him on a pedestal, look no further than the Mariners' performances against the Minnesota Twins.
- August 4th: trailing 6-0 in the sixth, the M's come all the way back to win 11-6
- August 5th: behind 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth, a double by Jose Lopez paves the way for an 8-7 win
- August 6th: after allowing four quick runs, the M's turn it into a one-run game before ultimately falling short
- August 15th: the M's answer two early Minnesota runs by plating two of their own to tie things up
- August 16th: a six-run sixth turns a 5-0 deficit into a 6-5 lead
- August 17th: despite having fallen behind 8-0, the M's storm almost all the way back and force Joe Nathan into the game to record an uneasy save
Six games, six valiant comebacks as Carlos Silva's teammates nobly attempted to spare him the certain embarrassment of losing to his former employer. If the mark of a true leader is that his people would sooner fight with him than live peacefully without, then I don't think it's overreaching to say that Carlos Silva is like the FDR of a new generation. A shame his capacity to motivate and inspire too often falls on talentless ears.
Biggest Contribution: Raul Ibanez, +13.5%
Biggest Suckfest: Ryan Feierabend, -34.0%
Most Important AB: Beltre strikeout, -13.0%
Most Important Pitch: Kubel double, -12.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -40.1%
Total Contribution by Lineup: -11.6%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +1.7%
(What is this chart?)
The first pitch of this game crossed home plate at 11:10. At 11:27 the score was 5-0 Minnesota and RA Dickey was up in the pen getting warm. To say that Ryan Feierabend could've made a better '08 debut is to say nothing at all, as I'm not sure his first inning really could've gone any worse. His second pitch was drilled for a single. His fourth pitch was drilled for a double. His ninth pitch was taken for a walk. His twelfth pitch was drilled for a single. His seventeenth pitch was drilled for a double. His nineteenth pitch was drilled for a double. And his twenty-ninth pitch was drilled at Jose Lopez for a groundout. Somewhere in the middle were a strikeout of Delmon Young and a weak grounder by Brendan Harris, but despite these occasional positives, this was an inning straight out of '07's Jeff Weaver April. Not exactly the greatest way to state your case as a candidate for next year's rotation.
For Feierabend, it wasn't a matter of missing his spots. While I wasn't paying close attention to Johjima's glove, Ryan threw 70% strikes, which suggests (but, importantly, does not confirm) pretty good command. No, instead of location, it was a matter of bad stuff. Feierabend's never been known for his power arsenal, but he's always been a guy who looked like he had just enough to be able to build himself a career. However, today he came in barely scraping 87mph on his fastball - a mile or three below where he's been gunned in Tacoma - and when you're sitting in that kind of range, your margin of error is incredibly slim, too slim for a guy like Feierabend who isn't able to put the ball in a perfect spot every time. With that in mind, it'd be hard to say Ryan didn't deserve his results. He got what you'd expect a guy to get when he's throwing those pitches against that lineup.
Of Feierabend's 54 pitches today, 32 were fastballs, coming in with an average velocity of 86.5mph. Ten of them were put in play and none of them were missed. For the sake of comparison, that's worse than a pile of crap like last year's Horacio Ramirez. That six of Minnesota's ten hits came off the bats of lefties should tell you all you need to know about the stuff Feierabend was chucking today, as he simply didn't look like a Major League pitcher, and was predictably treated as such. His offspeed stuff just isn't good enough to compensate for that bad of a primary pitch.
If you're the Mariners, you realize that Feierabend hasn't yet officially turned 23, and that there's still room for further development. You give him time and a couple more chances to get people out the way he gets them out in Tacoma, because he's too young to jettison without getting a more thorough idea of what he is and isn't capable of doing. If you're Feierabend, however, you realize that those chances will likely be few and far between, and that you need to do a better job of seizing them when granted the opportunity. While on the one hand it's a good sign that Feierabend still isn't 23, it's also a bad sign that someone this young is already being ignored as a part of the future. Feierabend needs to work hard to get himself back on the map, because the organization is passing him up in a hurry. Sure would be nice for him to re-discover those miles he lost. Were I in his shoes, I'd be searching for them under every rock. Because without them, he just looks like a man who's bad at his job.
- In the fifth inning today, RA Dickey threw four wild pitches and tagged Kenji Johjima with an additional passed ball for good measure (the four WPs tied a Major League record). I'm beginning to think knuckleball catchers are an even rarer breed than knuckleball pitchers. Considering the way he responded to Matt LeCroy a couple years ago, I'd love to know what Frank Robinson would've thought of this inning.
- A smarter team than us would give the Twins a call this November to see if they were willing to trade Boof Bonser for cheap.
- Nick Punto and Adam Everett each drew a pair of walks this afternoon. Nick Punto and Adam Everett have career ISOs of .081 and .110, respectively. You know your pitchers don't have any control of the strike zone whatsoever when they're issuing free passes to some of the weakest hitters in baseball. When it comes to be Miguel Batista's turn to throw pre-game and offday batting practice you can probably hear the groans in Vancouver.
- Over his last 21 games, Raul Ibanez has batted .398 with 18 extra-base hits. Over the same span of time, his line drive rate is a meager 16%. I mention this not to say that Raul has been lucky, but rather to illustrate just how badly we need HITf/x in order to move forward with proper batting analysis. Yuniesky Betancourt has a slightly higher LD% than Raul these past three weeks, but there's not a soul on the planet who'd tell you that he's been hitting the ball harder. Okay, so I guess Raul's home runs wipe out the difference, but still, the fact that you could even make such a comparison if you were so inclined is rather silly, because Raul has been maiming the ball. The day we finally get our hands on hit trajectory and velocity information is the day we can move away from the dreaded BA/OBP/SLG slash line and controversial GB/FB/LD ball-in-play profile, and that's a day for which I cannot wait. LD% was a significant advancement on its own, but in the era of PITCHf/x, we need to be able to do better than that.
- Jeff Clement has drawn one walk and struck out 17 times since July 5th.
- Wladimir Balentien has drawn one walk and struck out 15 times since being recalled earlier this month.
- Despite this, the two have combined to slug .459 over those same spans of time. It has been painfully easy to see why each of them are both highly regarded and considered unfinished.
- Denard Span is lucky the Metrodome fence is made of balloons instead of ivy and brick.