- An update on the Jose Lopez and Chone Figgins switchsies: Wak still hasn't made a final decision, but as it's seemed for the past week or so, this is looking permanent. Wak says that everybody's on board, and though none of us were privy to the discussions that originally led to this trial, it's safe to say that, up to this point, nobody's done anything worth calling it off. I've got nothing more to say about this topic than I've already said. The team clearly believes very strongly that this is the better arrangement, and while I find that to be more than a little curious, I defer to the guys in power and their far superior knowledge.
- Garrett Olson took a ball off his left middle finger in practice and could be out for a while, effectively killing whatever shot he still had at breaking camp in some capacity. With Olson out, meanwhile, my left middle finger intends to catch up on some rest.
- Wak added that Mike Sweeney's making a real strong bid for the roster, and that the team wouldn't necessarily have to see him play first base in order to keep him. Now, Ryan Garko has options. In theory, the M's could send Garko to Tacoma and begin the year with Sweeney occupying some kind of role in the bigs. But in order to do that, they'd have to believe that Sweeney offers at least as much or more than Garko would, and given that Garko can play the field and stay healthy, that puts Sweeney up against it. Remember, just last month the signed Garko to a Major League contract and made Sweeney an NRI. Just last month, the Mariners saw Garko as the better option. For them to change their mind in spring training would require something extraordinary, meaning Sweeney better sustain his .684.
Brandon Morrow was scratched from his outing today with shoulder soreness. He doesn't think it's serious, as it's something he's dealt with before, but as always, you have to keep a closer eye on the guys with a history.
Cliff Lee left camp and flew back to Seattle today for some reason. Some people just really hate Arizona.
Update! From Larry Stone: Lee has a "right lower abdominal strain" and has been treated by Dr. Khalfayan. This isn't good.
Bill James is weird. I don't want to say anything bad about the guy, being who he is and all, and I won't give him the FJM treatment, but one of the founding fathers of the sabermetric movement used wins and losses to compare starting pitchers on two very different teams. It's one thing to say that Felix Hernandez is a better asset than Zack Greinke. That's perfectly reasonable. But to allege that Felix had the slightly better 2009? No. It wasn't close, and had anybody else attempted this argument, he would've been torn to shreds.
...the Mariners were 25-9 when Felix started last year. The Royals were 17-16 when Greinke started. And it was only a difference of 24 runs scored. The Mariners scored 149 runs in Felix's starts and went 25-9. The Royals scored 117 for Greinke and went 17-16.
Nevermind that the numbers don't add up. The Royals lost five of Greinke's starts by one run and four of Greinke's starts by two runs. A difference in run support of that magnitude is significant, because more run support would've given Greinke a far better record.
There's a difference in the bullpens of course. But then, the Mariner bullpen was struggling for some of the year and the Royals have (Joakim) Soria, so that's not the whole thing either.
The Mariner bullpen had a 4.32 RA and a 4.35 FIP, while the Royal bullpen had a 5.57 RA and a 4.58 FIP. Mariner relievers gave up 25 runs in Felix's starts, while Royal relievers gave up 44 runs in Greinke's starts. "And the Royals have Soria." Wow. Really, Bill?
The stuff about the Mariners' 2009 Pythagorean record and 2010 hopes for contention is weak, too, because James is trying to apply very general ideas to one very specific situation. We can forgive him for this, because James doesn't follow the Mariners very closely. The Felix/Greinke argument, however...that's not an argument that any intelligent baseball fan should make, let alone a guy who's accomplished what James has accomplished in the field of baseball analysis. It's bad.
Bill James is a gifted writer and a talented analyst. His work, even when you disagree with it, is consistently thought-provoking. But when I want to get a question answered, he's not at the top of the list of people I'd go to, nor is he anywhere close.
By Jeff Sullivan Updated