Check this out.
The Mariners are over 10 games out of 1st place in the AL West, and well below .500. Why would they trade two fringey prospects (Ezequiel Carrera, Juan Diaz) to get back Russell Branyan in a lost season? There are two simple reasons, one being much bigger to the Mariners than the other.
Even if the team and many fans (such as many reading here, myself included) have given up on the season, many local/regional fans still might have an interest in attending Mariner games, so long as the team can make a significant effort to win, i.e. not make the cost and time invested to see a game a complete waste of their time. A team that scores 3 runs a game and is clearly/obviously punting the season isn’t going to draw most casual fans.
But believe it or not, the ticket sales side of the equation is the small part. Ticket sales, while valuable, make up a minority of the team's revenue. The biggest reason why Jack would want to buff up 2010’s team in a lost season is that the team's in-season performance from here on out does matter to the team’s relationship with FSNW and ESPN Radio, given the networks are paying the Mariners a lucrative sum for their media contracts.
A better team that competes despite the record equals more game-to-game interest which means more ratings. More interest in the team in 2010 means more viewers in 2010 which means higher average ratings during 2010 as well as over the life of the current contract, which means more ad dollars down the line.
If ratings for Mariners broadcasts tank, a) FSNW loses money in the long run as advertisers can cite lowered average ratings as justifiable leverage to lower the price on ad spots with the network and b) the Mariners may lose out on money from a new radio or TV contract down the line, as the network side will cite low ratings from this period as justification for low-balling the M’s when it comes time to negotiate a renewal. Sure, the Mariners have a 10 year, $300 million deal with FSN through 2020, but let's say the team wanted to buy out and jump to a more lucrative deal, or let's say FSN wanted to nix the deal. Don't forget the radio deal with KIRO ($5.5 million per year) only lasts through 2011. There is still plenty of leverage, as well as money, that can be gained and lost by what team they elect to field for the rest of 2010.
Even if the team's playoff chances in a vacuum make upgrading the 2010 roster seem like a waste of time, doing so could have an impact that reaches way beyond the field, and way beyond 2010.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Check this out.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
For various personal reasons, I have decided to shelve Net Runs until further notice. My eventual goal with the system is to program a method where I can calculate it quickly and automatically. I gather Net Runs will return once that is possible. But for now....
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Player of the Game: Michael Saunders (2.480 NRuns: 2.210 hitting, 0.270 fielding)
Mariners over 1.000 NRuns: 5 (Hernandez, Figgins, Saunders, Gutierrez, Ichiro)
Goat: Scott Rolen (-1.768 NRuns: -1.183 hitting, -0.368 fielding, -0.217 running)
Felix Hernandez's pitching: 1.335 NRuns... 2.98 EXERA
Mariners defense: 2.210 NRuns
Friday, June 18, 2010
Player of the Game: Josh Wilson (1.389 NRuns: 1.556 hitting, -0.274 fielding)
Cliff Lee: -0.196 NRuns, 4.39 EXERA
Mariners outfield defense: 4.395 NRuns
Reds pitching: 2.569 NRuns
Reds defense: 0.471 NRuns
Reds lineup: -4.652 NRuns
Goat: Jonny Gomes (-1.728 NRuns: -1.310 hitting, -0.418 fielding)
Sorry for the delay in Net Runs posts: The preceding games will get caught up later tonight, along with posts for a couple of other special items.
Following up on the Seattle Mariners minor league system's pitching, here is the Mariners minor league EMERA for all eligible pitchers* based on season pitching totals current as of yesterday. Pitchers are broken down by tiers: Ignoring all other developmental concerns, you could hypothetically slot the 1st tier in AAA, the 2nd tier in AA, the 3rd tier in High A and the 4th tier in Low A. On a more relevant scale, you want AAA pitchers in the 1st tier, not the 2nd tier or below... and you expect single A pitchers in the 3rd or 4th tier, so they're doing well if slotted higher.
And of course, EMERA is designed to estimate a pitcher's potential MLB ERA, so if his EMERA looks like a decent MLB ERA, that pitcher theoretically could pitch in the bigs right now.
(Ryan Feierabend is currently pitching in AAA and has enough innings to qualify, but I included his High A totals in parentheses as a point of comparative reference, as he has enough innings at that level to qualify as well.)
* - Minimum of 10 IP
|Player - 1st Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
|Player - 2nd Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
|Player - 3rd Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
|Player - 4th Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Player of the Game: Michael Saunders (2.323 NRuns: -0.075 hitting, 2.398 fielding)
Goat? Eliezer Aflonzo (-1.631 NRuns: -1.174 hitting, -0.248 fielding, -0.209 running)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Player of the Game: Brendan Ryan (2.919 NRuns: 1.111 hitting, 1.646 fielding, 0.162 running)
Goat: Ryan Rowland-Smith (-2.909 NRuns: -0.548 hitting, -2.361 pitching, 8.99 EXERA)
Co-Players of the Game:
Colby Rasmus (3.638 NRuns: 1.536 hitting, 2.102 fielding)
Ryan Ludwick (3.266 NRuns: 2.677 hitting, 0.589 fielding)
Cardinals luckbox: 1.600 NRuns
Mariners luckbox: 1.005 NRuns
Mariners Player of the Game: Ichiro (3.440 NRuns: 1.680 hitting, 1.760 fielding)
Luke French (-3.667 NRuns: -0.093 hitting, -3.574 pitching, 11.52 EXERA)
Jose Lopez (-3.420 NRuns: -0.940 hitting, -1.845 fielding, -0.635 running)
Mariners bullpen (-3.004 NRuns, 11.14 EXERA)
I will only add that never have I seen three such good performances in a game with two such bad performances. This even ignores Sean White's awful 8th inning (-1.404 NRuns, 15.78 EXERA), not to mention the garbage effort by the rest of the bullpen (though Ian Snell's striking out of the side was a fine way to go out: He was DFA'd today).
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Quick and dirty... but nice job by Felix today:
Player of the Game: Milton Bradley (2.051 NRuns: 2.041 hitting, 0.010 fielding)
Mariners defense: -0.006 NRuns
Felix Hernandez: 1.556 pitching NRuns, 1.67 EXERA
Goat? Mike Carp (-1.421 NRuns: -1.409 hitting, -0.012 fielding)
How Net Runs works.
More on Strasburg's debut in this piece.
Player of the Game: ... Adam Dunn?! (2.660 NRuns: 2.522 hitting, 0.138 fielding)
What about our hero, Stephen Strasburg? (0.017 NRuns: -0.412 hitting, 0.429 pitching... 3.78 EXERA)
Nationals defense: 2.828 NRuns
Nationals hitting: 1.974 NRuns
Goat: Garrett Jones (-1.788 NRuns: -0.939 hitting, -0.009 fielding, -0.840 running)
I don't process Net Runs with any personal bias. At most, I make judgment calls on which fielder was responsible for some plays, and whether a wild pitch was truly a wild pitch or a pitch the catcher should have blocked and didn't. But otherwise, I just put in the play by play data, my spreadsheet auto-scores it accordingly and what you get is the end result.
For any misgivings I have offered about the possibilities of Stephen Strasburg's greatness, I fully expected him to be the Player of the Game for this contest and for his pitching stats to bear out a dominant performance against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.
Instead, Net Runs indicates that he had simply a good game, an effort where you should expect him to allow 3 runs over 7 innings. He allowed two runs on a home run by Delwyn Young in the 4th, but I figured that would be a blip on a radar of strikeouts and groundballs that would roll up positive Net Runs like a Katamari ball.
Instead, it turns out that inning also featured three of the five line drives Strasburg allowed, each of which cost him 0.521 NRuns. Strasburg's 14 strikeouts averaged 0.180 NRuns per K, a total of 2.520 NRuns in pitching production. And the line drives cost him about 2.605 NRuns, offseting all of that and more. You can say that Strasburg had a bad lineup so far off balance that it shouldn't matter, and contextually speaking you're probably right. But on five occasions, Pirates hitters were able to square a Strasburg pitch up and drive it, and appropriately four of those line drives produced base hits, one of which was Delwyn Young's two run homer.
Strasburg still finished in the black thanks to four groundballs at 0.102 NRuns a pop, and a pop up (which it turns out ended the two run inning) for 0.102 NRuns. But a combination of the Pirates' own futility and a bit of fortune during the two run inning (a double play turned against Garrett Jones actually saved a run: Young's homer came in the next plate appearance) did just as much to cement Strasburg's dominance as Strasburg did himself.
Player of the Game: Oscar Salazar (2.385 hitting NRuns on pinch home run)
Padres with 1.000+ NRuns: 4 (Torrealba, Gonzalez, Gwynn, Salazar)
Padres defense: 2.740 NRuns
Mariners defense: -0.192 NRuns
Mariners with 1.000+ NRuns: 0
Goat: Jose Lopez (-1.982 NRuns: -0.976 hitting, 0.000 fielding, -1.006 running)
Three interesting topics from this game:
- Twice the Mariners loaded the bases with less than two outs, and both times they came up empty.
1st inning: With no outs and the sacks jacked, Jose Lopez hit a groundball to 3B that 3B Chase Headley astutely threw home for the force out to save a run (and cut the RE by 0.677 runs). But despite the play being a bit slow and despite catcher Yorvit Torrealba struggling with the handle upon turning to throw to 1B, he still got Jose Lopez at 1st for the 5-2-3 double play, costing the Mariners a whole other run in run expectancy (1.006 to be exact). With one ill-timed groundball and a subsequent lack of hustle up the line, Jose Lopez gave up 1.683 NRuns. Josh Wilson's flyball to right was subsequently caught to end the inning (-0.671 NRuns).
8th inning: With one out and the bases loaded, Michael Saunders pinch hit for Rob Johnson... and struck out (-0.831 NRuns). Casey Kotchman pinch hit for Cliff Lee (after seven decent innings), and grounded to short to end the threat (-0.671 NRuns). The decision to pinch hit for Rob wasn't terribly curious, as he's not having a good season at the plate, but he did have a double earlier in the game and has shown a propensity to work some walks, while Saunders (though he's much improved from last season) has looked overmatched at the plate on occasion this season, especially in pressure situations. I can understand not wanting to bring groundball machine Kotchman to the plate with one out... but why not let Robo Rob hit with one out in that situation?
Unless Wak is tacitly admitting the season is lost and he's experimenting at this point (and a willingness to lean on Sean White and Brandon League in high leverage situations as usual along with a reversion to his usual lineup indicates this isn't the case), that first pinch substitution was probably not the best decision given all the factors. The Kotchman PH for Lee was fine: Kotch is probably the best guy to send up at that point.
But twice the Mariners had a great opportunity to pick up, on average, a couple runs, and each time they found a way to come up empty. It's little wonder they have one of MLB's worst records.
- Jerry Hairston's caught stealing play was actually a blown bunt and run by Wade LeBlanc, who didn't get the bunt down. But for consistentcy's sake, I always score a CS in Net Runs against the runner regardless of the circumstances.
Here it still makes sense: Even a blown hit and run should be far closer than this play was, as Hairston was out by several yards. It's like Hairston changed his mind about going (probably not given Tony Gwynn Jr at 1st base was going, indicating a called double steal bunt and run), changed his mind again in a fraction of a second, and by the time he took off he got such a terrible jump he might as well have gone on contact as usual.
Whatever the case, Hairston timed the run so poorly that there was no saving that play.
- The National League's lack of a designated hitter creates some interesting game situations, as the pitcher is usually a terrible hitter and compels opposing managers to plan their in-game pitching strategy around the pitcher's spot in the lineup approaching.
That said, the intentional walk is usually not a good call statistically speaking, and Bud Black's decision to intentionally walk Rob Johnson with two outs and a man on 2nd in the 6th looked like a good decision with the pitcher Cliff Lee on deck. But a longer view of the situation shows that it probably was not.
Despite his double earlier in the game, Rob Johnson is not an effective hitter, and usually can be put out. Yes, with a man on 2nd going on contact, even a grounder into the outfield runs a significant risk of plating a run. The Pads had a 3-1 lead in their cavernous pitcher's park and the run expectancy in this situation at Petco Park is a mere 0.266 runs. Roughly a quarter of the time, the batting team gets a run or more in during this situation, and that's assuming they send a league average hitter (AL average: 261/332/410) to the plate. Rob Johnson (198/304/316) is decidedly below average as a hitter and not by any means a serious threat.
Even granted Rob's propensity for walks, if he does walk, that just puts him harmlessly at 1st base, leaving Mike Carp at 2B and raising the run expectancy to 0.374 runs... with the pitcher Cliff Lee coming up. Bud Black opted to take that situation in passing Rob Johnson intentionally, but facing Rob would have given his pitcher Wade LeBlanc a strong situation PLUS set up a strong situation for the 7th inning
In the 78-80% chance you get Rob Johnson out, the pitcher Cliff Lee (who likely finishes the bottom 6th against the Pads) is then due to lead off the 7th inning. Either the Mariners pull their dominant ace about 1-2 innings too early, easing up on your hitters as the M's go to their vulnerable bullpen... or in wanting another inning from Lee, the Mariners are forced to let him hit, most likely producing the 1st out and cutting their run expectancy in the 7th by nearly half: 0.380 runs with no outs and empty bases to 0.198 runs with one out and empty bases, undercutting their top 7th.
Black's decision helped get the Pads easily out of the 6th... but facing Johnson could have also gotten the Pads easily out of the 6th, while ALSO setting up an easy 7th inning, either for the defense as they likely pick up a quick out on the pitcher... or for the hitters if the M's lifted Lee for a pinch hitter, giving the Pads an easier pitch to face from the bottom 7th onward.
All this aside, the M's eventually imploded in the 8th with lots of help from bad defense and Oscar Salazar, rendering much of this moot. But Black's decision and the strategic implications provides an excellent look into how NL baseball differs from AL baseball, where the DH simplifies most managerial decision-making.