Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White
"In a ploy to add potency to the Mariners' bats at Safeco while continuing to reap the benefits of local ticket sales, the Mariners' front office is again monkeying with the center-field hitting background, which has been modified as often as David Beckham's hairdo.
This latest change is being made at the behest of players who find the glare off the spruce-green background disconcerting on summer evenings when the sun at these far-north latitudes is high enough to cause an off-white shimmer that provides little contrast to the off-white blur of an oncoming baseball."
"Do you think it is true that players who walk a lot are more likely to be good managers than free swingers? I think it is probably generally true, but I can't prove it. John McGraw, who had the third-highest on-base percentage of all time, was also one of the greatest managers of all time. Earl Weaver was a minor league player who walked 100 times a year. Miller Huggins walked 100 times a year, even though nobody was counting at the time. Whitey Herzong would have walked 100 times a year (after his rookie year, when he was pressing) if he had played enough.
One would assume, intuitively, that (a) anyone who is smart enough to manage should be smart enough not to swing at bad pitches, and (b) any player who doesn't chase bad pitches is going to walk in 12% of his plate appearances or more.
There are some obvious exceptions. Felipe Alou, who I think is a terrific manager, never met a pitch he didn't like" (560).
Manager (Team) PA BB % career OBP (league average)
Frank Robinson (Expos) 11743 1420 12% .389 (.327)
Alan Trammell (Tigers) 9375 850 9% .352 (.330)
Larry Bowa (Phillies) 9103 474 5% .300 (.331)
Joe Torre (Yankees) 8801 779 9% .365 (.327)
Bob Boone (Reds) 8148 663 8% .315 (.330)
Dusty Baker (Cubs) 8021 762 10% .347 (.331)
Felipe Alou (Giants) 7908 423 5% .328 (.325)
Tony Pena (Royals) 7073 455 6% .309 (.331)
Mike Hargrove (Orioles) 6693 965 14% .396 (.327)
Lou Piniella (Devil Rays) 6362 368 6% .333 (.327)
Mike Scioscia (Angels) 5056 567 11% .344 (.328)
Bob Brenly (D-backs) 2995 318 11% .330 (.330)
Art Howe (Mets) 2951 275 9% .329 (.332)
Bob Melvin (Mariners) 2095 98 5% .268 (.330)
Clint Hurdle (Rockies) 1596 176 11% .341 (.329)
Lloyd McClendon (Pirates) 1375 143 10% .325 (.328)
Bruce Bochy (Padres) 881 67 8% .298 (.331)
Ron Gardenhire (Twins) 777 46 6% .277 (.349)
Bobby Cox (Braves) 719 75 10% .310 (.315)
Ned Yost (Brewers) 640 21 3% .237 (.327)
Ken Macha (A's) 425 39 9% .329 (.330)
Jim Tracy (Dodgers) 213 25 12% .336 (.329)
Tony LaRussa (Cardinals) 203 23 11% .292 (.329)
Jerry Manuel (White Sox) 142 10 7% .214 (.325)
Eric Wedge (Indians) 100 14 14% .340 (.341)
Jimy Williams (Astros) 14 1 7% .286 (.323)
Peter, I was scanning your weblog and came across the comment about Pat Gillick's impending retirement (within your "Moneyball" analysis). I'd like to think Howard Lincoln would be open to at least interviewing Paul DePodesta, based on his share of success (on a shoestring) in Oakland. It would actually be an interesting tactical move, since the A's are the Mariners' main rival, and who would know more about the A's covert machinations than DePodesta (I'm sure there were some things kept from Michael Lewis). But that would be secondary to DePodesta's abilities as a prospective GM. He did turn down an opportunity to interview for the Toronto job, saying that he didn't feel ready to succeed; but that was a couple of years ago, so maybe he'd be willing to helm his own team soon. I don't know if Gillick currently has an understudy that he's grooming to take his place - if he does, then obviously DePodesta might not have a good chance. I also don't know if there will be a GM roulette this off-season (the Mets may be looking) -- if a bunch of bad teams have just hired GMs in the last year or two, and are giving them grace periods, then there might not be much action. I am assuming that Gillick will indeed retire, from your remark
Another aspect of the A's success has been the health and development of their pitching. DePodesta claims that since he's been with Oakland (since '99), there hasn't been a single serious arm injury in their entire system. While Seattle has a nice assortment of good pitchers in the minor leagues, I've noticed that a large number have gone down with serious arm injuries (torn labrums especially). I would hope the Mariners are curious about Peterson's methods (biomechanical and otherwise), so as to prevent even more set-backs and lost attempts to improve the team.
I would love to see some research done on scheduling and how it has affected the game so much these last few years since they changed it. I think its much more important than say, walks. Here's the A's since inter league began this year: 3 Florida, 3 Atlanta, 3 Philly, 3 Montreal, 6 Giants, 4 in that death trap Texas, 4 Seattle, and 3 Texas at home. I doubt if anybody has ever played a tougher stretch in the history of baseball. I think Texas would win the central but playing the M's, Angel's and A's 19 times each now has removed them forever, given the heat they have to endure on top of
"Meche, who has had two shoulder surgeries, is experiencing increasing soreness in his arm the last few starts. He downplayed the soreness and is doing exercises to minimize the problem" (Sherwin)
"Since last year's All-Star break, Cirillo has two home runs and 36 RBIs in the equivalent of a full season. Remember, Mike Cameron once hit four home runs in a single game. Boone once knocked in 28 RBIs in a month."