- I'm beginning to think that Raul Ibanez might as well lay claim to being the most consistent player in baseball. Since becoming a fairly regular player with Kansas City in 2001, he's hit .290/.351/.482, with a BA range of .280-304, an OBP range of .345-.355, and an SLG range of .436-.537. The relative standard deviation of his EqA over those ~eight years is a meager 3%. I'm not going to go ahead and calculate eight-year relStDev's for every player in baseball to figure out if I'm right, because that would be a massive waste of time, but 3% is remarkably small, and a hair better than Ichiro, who many consider to be a dependable, consistent hitting machine. Every year people like me warn against Ibanez's impending collapse, yet the man has built a career out of making us look totally stupid. My only intellectual consolation is that eventually I'm going to be right. I just have to keep trying. Say, have I told you what I think about Ibanez's 2009?
For a man about whom you wouldn't think twice if you just saw him on the street, Raul's used his comically awkward swing to turn himself into a heck of a hitter. With luck he's sufficiently aware of this to turn down arbitration this winter in pursuit of a multiyear contract from someone competitive, but when he's gone, his bat really will be missed. His will forever be the first name that comes to mind when discussing the sort of player that can get by despite Safeco's dimensions. Not bad for a guy drafted two rounds after Tim Harikkala.
- Jose Lopez didn't just hit Joe Nathan - he hit arguably Nathan's best pitch. Granted, that 3-2 slider caught an awful lot of the plate, but that pitch has generated swinging strikes twice as often as any other in Nathan's repertoire, and Lopez hit it hard. A solid at bat for someone who seems to be getting more and more of a clue with every passing day. Mind you, I have absolutely no idea how Raul came all the way around from first to score on that hit, but I can only imagine it's because Delmon Young did something silly.
- It's a good thing the team sent Morrow down yesterday afternoon, because had they waited until after the game to hold the same discussion, they might've arrived at a different answer. JJ Putz still isn't right. That three-pitch strikeout of Punto was vintage JJ, but the rest of his outing was difficult to watch, as he alternated between missing the zone and catching far too much of the plate. I have no idea how Mauer swung through the pitch that he did - that was the same pitch that Kubel drilled into left - and if Mike Redmond were a better hitter, he might've been able to do something more with the fastball on the inner half that he lined into right to end the game.
JJ's biggest mistake of the game was, rather obviously, the 2-0 fastball he threw to Mike Lamb. Having fallen behind on two consecutive outside fastballs, JJ tried to paint the corner, but you'd be hard-pressed to find too many other pitches that so egregiously missed their intended location:
Clement set up down and away, but JJ's fastball wound up middle-in, missing its spot by an estimated 17 inches. And, as you can imagine, 17 inches can make a world of difference. If that pitch ends up where it was supposed to end up, Lamb can't do anything with it, and it's either a 2-1 count or the end of the inning. But because JJ missed by so much, it wound up being nothing more than a 95mph meatball to an opposite-handed gap hitter, and not too many Major Leaguers are going to miss that pitch. Sitting dead red, Lamb predictably killed it, and the damage was done.
The only real way to conquer this sort of struggle is to pitch your way through it, but let me tell you - if JJ doesn't get it right, and the next seven weeks are more of the same, then this is going to be a nervewracking offseason.
- Sean Green was given his third consecutive day off by Riggleman, presumably out of precaution. His 54 appearances are one behind the AL lead, and he's warmed up in countless other games in which he didn't appear. Green may have a rubber arm, but rubber has a snapping point, and it's better not to push the envelope over the final two months of a lost season. At this point, I'm all for being careful.
- Speaking of Riggleman, the Mariners in one sentence:
"I couldn't believe the phone wasn't ringing for someone to take Jose Vidro,'' [Riggleman] said.
- Over 856 at bats as a Seattle Mariner, Jose Vidro hit .285/.344/.374 with a line drive rate of 19.4% and a .308 BABIP. This is why it's important to look at the whole picture, instead of breaking things down by season. It's easy to say that Vidro had a good 2007 and a bad 2008, but individual seasons attach artificial endpoints to groups of data, endpoints that, for the most part, don't serve any purpose. The fact of the matter is that Vidro was neither as good as he looked a year ago nor as bad as he looked over the past four months, and overall as a Mariner, he was exactly what everyone thought he'd be from the beginning - a guy with a decent batting average and passable eye with absolutely zero power, a guy who was badly miscast as an everyday DH for a team with dreams of contention. Thankfully this dreadful chapter has finally come to a close, but it will not soon be forgotten. What a horrible mistake.