Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hargrovian = Orwellian? Or, inside the mind of serial hope-killer    

You must all be tired of reading about this by now, but I can't help myself. Ol' Grover outdid himself again last night, with a veritable shopping list of idiotic managing. Let's start from the beginning:

Error 1st:

Starting Joel Piñeiro to begin with. He has no right to be on this roster anymore. Here is the man himself on the subject...Joel Piñeiro after his last start:

"I'm not going to lie. If you look at the numbers, you say that this guy stinks. Yeah, I had a couple of good ballgames, but that's not good enough. I'm very disappointed in myself and the way that I've been pitching. I've been trying to find answers everywhere, and there's nowhere else I can go.

"I have no excuses. I don't want to say there's something wrong with my arm, because there's nothing wrong. I've been getting hit and walking people, and that's not the way I was in the past. I have to find something that takes me back to the past...Typical Piñeiro start, I guess - go out there, get hit, walk a lot of people."

I'm sad that Joel Piñeiro is not a major league caliber pitcher anymore. He seems like a nice guy, and he once had a bright future. But if it wasn't entirely clear by the end of last year, it's been abundantly so since May that he can't really pitch anymore. Sad, but true. Time to move on. But, since this is of course a collective responsibility (hardly just Hargrove's), and because our options in the minors are a little intimidating, we'll move on.

Error 2nd:

Ok, so the game is going along smoothly. It was exciting to see Adam Jones first home run of the season, and to see Ben Broussard maybe break out of his slump with a solo shot of his own. And Piñeiro managed 5 scoreless innings, in Texas, an impressive feat by any measure. But he obviously wasn't pitching well, only striking out one, and narrowly escaping a rough inning with the help of an awesome 8-6 double play showcasing Jones' absolute cannon of an arm.

So the 6th roles around, and Joel starts his way through the lineup for the third time, well known by any manager to be dangerous for pitchers, especially one without particularly good stuff. 1st batter, hit. Second batter, walk. And then Michael Young is up. I would have pulled Piñeiro right there, but he managed to get Young to fly out. Carlos Lee subsequently singles, but no one scores, leaving the bases loaded with one out for Mark Teixeira.

Anyone, I mean anyone, watching the game at this point can see the impending disaster. What are the odds Teixeira is going to go 0-3 against Joel Piñeiro in his home park? They're not good. Moreover, you might have heard, Seattle has one of the best bullpens in baseball. So, any guesses about who the only manager in baseball that would allow Piñeiro to pitch to Teixeira there is? That's right, this guy. Teixeira hit a bases clearing double, giving Texas a 3-2 lead, and Piñeiro managed, improbably, to get out of the inning without giving up another run.

Error 3rd:

I'm going to include the whole bottom of the 7th here, it was such a disaster. First of all, the fact that Piñeiro was allowed to start the 7th is crazy. It really makes absolutely no sense. He manages to get Matt Stairs out before giving up a single and a non-scoring double. Matthews, Jr. is intentionally walked to bring up Michael Young, who fortunately Piñeiro is not allowed to face. Unfortunately, the guy allowed to face him was Julio Mateo.

Now, it's not just that Mateo is a bad pitcher, which he is. Desperately needing a double play to stay in the game, we brought in effectively the most extreme flyballer in the majors this year. Grover's quote after the game on the subject? “I felt like if Mateo came in and threw the way he can that we’d have a chance of getting a ground ball. It just didn’t work.” Yeah, from the guy who gets less groundballs than any other pitcher in American League, with the exception of the injured Keith Foulke. How does this guy still have a job?

Well, another bases clearing double, and even Young manages to score after an error. But that's not all folks. Mateo actually manages to load the bases again before Sean Green came in, got an out, walked in a run by hitting Matt Stairs, and finished the inning. Mariners down 8-2, almost entirely because of ridiculously, unbelievably terrible in-game management of the pitching staff.

I could quibble about other things. A lot of people are mad he pinch hit for Adam Jones, after Jones already homered in the game, particularly since we were down by so much. It's annoying, but the fact that he sits so much is a problem much bigger than this one game, bigger than in-game strategy, so I'm not going to get into it. But certainly questionable. No doubt he though that the team "needed to get Willie (Bloomquist) some at-bats," as he is so fond of saying (though it was the nearly-as-terrible Gregg Dobbs who pinch hit--Bloomquist just took over in center). I don't think I need to remind anyone that Willie Bloomquist is the single worst hitter in baseball.

I'll close with a quote from the Baseball Prospectus article I linked to above:

Despite the strength of the team's relievers, the Mariners are just 12-17 in one-run games. The four teams that have better bullpens by WXRL--the Mets, A's, Twins and Tigers--have collectively gone 82-45 in one-run games, a .646 percentage.

After reading this, or watching the debacle of last night's game, would anyone wonder why this is? You guessed it, it's this guy.

Last night's game is a good example of why it's so hard to get a good picture of how many games we might have won with better managing. There's no way to say we probably would have won if we'd gone to the bullpen earlier or smarter. Texas has a good (if overrated) offense, and the Mariners only managed 2 runs. But the last time I posted on this, I was pretty confident we could have landed at least 3 games. Now, it's hard to say for sure. But for me, there's no question that with competent management the Mariners would be at least tied for second in the division right now. And I think the A's are arguably a weaker team than the Angels, and maybe not much better than the Rangers or Mariners.

This team's playoff hopes were sunk, in order, by Mike Hargrove, Carl Everett, Eddie Guardado, Julio Mateo, and Joel Piñeiro. Piñeiro is only last because it's harder to find a decent starting pitcher than a reliever or a DH, and I'm not really mad at anyone about the Guardado situation, except how long it was allowed to go one. But really, it sounds arrogant, but I think if I was handed decision making power over this team in May (let alone someone more competant than me), there is a very high chance the Mariners might be leading the AL West right now. I feel crazy levelling that charge, but I really think it might be true. Pathetic.

Anyway, for more upbeat reading, I suggest this piece on Liriano over at the NY Times, even if it looks like he may be out for the season.


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