The other day I was talking with Matthew about baseball, which is something we do sometimes, albeit less often than you might think. We were discussing some early-season observations and possibilities, and at one point Matthew remarked that what he really wishes we had was more data.
We're definitely in that awkward part of the season right now. Every team in baseball is only three series in, and still has more than 94% of the season left to play. It's too early to arrive at any sweeping conclusions, or really any conclusions at all. But we're also getting to the point at which some things become a little more clear. We aren't talking about one- or two-game samples anymore. We're starting to see trends, or at least we think we're starting to see trends, and people are champing at the bit to say that this player looks like a surprise, or this team looks like a disappointment.
Without enough data, though, it all feels so uncertain. It's so early that we all want to stick with our preseason expectations. But enough games have been played that we also want to try to consider the new information we have. In most cases, we'll stand by what we projected, but, well, consider how you feel about the following teams. Here are a few teams off to notable starts, and my assumptions:
: they'll be fine
: they'll be fine
: they'll fall off
: they'll fall off
: they'll fall off
: they'll continue to suck
: they'll be fine
In each of these cases, despite the first three series, I'm still standing by my preseason expectations, because I don't think we have enough information to change them. But then you have the. The Mariners are 2-7, and might be 1-8 were it not for some lousy Oakland defense. And I'm decidedly more down on them now than I was a week and a half ago. I haven't yet changed my opinions of the other teams in baseball, because it's so early in the year, but I have bumped my Mariners expectations down a peg or two.
And I think it's because, having watched all their games, I feel like I have more information on them than I do on everybody else. I don't just have their box score results. I have their processes. I have observations on how they've looked, and I have memories of instances of good luck and bad luck. The Mariners have played as many games as everybody else, but I feel like I've learned more about them to this point, and so their start has had an influence on my opinion of them.
I don't know if that ought to be the case. I mean, sure, on the one hand, I have learned more about the Mariners from watching their first nine games than I have about the Orioles from not watching their first nine games. Viewers are supplied with extra information that non-viewers miss. But maybe I'm just so desperate to have information I can analyze that I'm reaching to interpret an insignificant sample size. The Mariners are 2-7, sure. But the Red Sox are 1-7! The Rays are 1-8 and have scored 20 runs! The Royals and Indians are a combined 13-5! If I'm not willing to change my mind about those teams after a week and a half, I probably shouldn't let the Mariners' slow start get me so down.
But, I don't know. The Mariners are 2-7 and have lost seven games in a row. They haven't looked good while doing it. Ryan Langerhans holds the team lead in home runs while the usual 3-4-5-6 hitters are tied for last with zero. No matter how early it is, it's hard not to feel like this team is doomed to another season-long nightmare.
This is always an awkward part of the year. That's fine. I'm ready for that, and I've managed in the past. I just don't want it to be a terrible part of the year too. I want some signs of life. I want a God damn lead.
I didn't take any notes today because I had to play catch-up and wasn't in the mood, so here are just a few quick bullets:
Erik Bedard was hit hard once again, with the Indians slamming seven line drives and two home runs. Bedard is no stranger to solid contact, and he'll give up his dingers, but games like this are far from the norm, and serve as a reminder that he's working his way back from a long layoff, and is accordingly layered with rust. Bedard's stuff isn't so good that he can afford to miss his locations, and the Indians jumped all over him.
The good news is that he did strike out six guys. And he should also only get better as the season goes on, health permitting. His repertoire seems to be intact, and one figures that he'll eventually find a groove. But those of us who daydreamed about Bedard pitching like an ace from the get-go were guilty of visiting Crazytown and buying a bunch of I <3 Crazytown souvenir t-shirts. We shouldn't have even entertained the possibility because in the end it just makes us frustrated with a guy who worked his ass off to get back on the mound.
Jamey Wright worked a scoreless inning of relief and threw a few really good breaking balls. Jamey Wright also reportedly made a few mechanical tweaks after coming to Seattle last season, so now let's play Jamey Wright Fun Facts!
Wright, 2007 through mid-2010: 58% strikes
Wright, with M's since mid-2010: 61% strikes
More, if you combine 2011 Spring Training and the regular season, Wright has now thrown 16.1 innings on the year, with 13 strikeouts and one walk. This is a guy with a career K/BB of 1.1. Now, Jamey Wright is 36 years old. He's well established as being exactly what he is, and nothing else. I'm not bringing this up to suggest that Jamey Wright has suddenly had a career breakthrough. But he's thrown the ball well since joining the M's, and that's neat for reasons the fans won't find interesting, but that Wright and his family sure will.
- With two outs in the top of the fifth, Gameday's PITCHfx information feed stopped working for about half an hour. Mariners fans weren't the only entities to completely zone out when this got out of hand.
- The snarky thing to say about Ryan Langerhans' home run is that he hit an 87mph fastball from a righty in the middle of the strike zone and still barely got the ball out of the yard, but he got the ball out of the yard, and that's the second time he's done it on the year. Ryan Langerhans has two home runs, and the rest of the Mariners also have two home runs. I remember making fun of Jose Lopez's embarrassing home runs in 2009, and look where that got me. In 2010 I didn't have any home runs to make fun of because I didn't have any home runs. You know who gets to act all snobby about home runs? Fans of good teams. I'm just going to go ahead and take what I can get. Unimpressive dingers are still dingers. I'm the annoying dog under the dinner table. I know I can't have a fillet. Just drop me some scraps.
- This was also a good day for Michael Saunders. After driving in the team's only run on Saturday with a blooper, he flashed a more impressive array of skills on Sunday. He started off by robbing Michael Brantley of an extra-base hit to lead off the game when he sprinted to his right and made a diving catch of a low liner. In the fifth, he worked a six-pitch walk. And in the seventh, two batters after Langerhans went deep, Saunders got a low-inside cutter from Chad Durbin and ruined it, blasting the ball way deep to right field. It was a no-doubter off the bat - the Mariners' first such dinger of the season - and we'll see what this does for Saunders' confidence going forward. We're always talking about Saunders' confidence at the plate and monitoring in which direction it's headed, and that can get kind of old, but at least this time the arrow should be pointing up, which it seldom has been in the past. I'm already so close to writing Saunders off entirely that if he can actually establish himself as something, that'd just be peaches.
Felix Day tomorrow as thecome to town. Your calendar will tell you it's Monday, but your calendar is wrong. It is Felix Day. Had Felix been born thousands of years ago we could've avoided this little complication, and ifs and buts and all that. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, this sentence would read very differently.