Friday, September 03, 2004

Apathy?

Jack wrote:

"Starting at first base today and batting ninth is William Paul Bloomquist who possesses an OPS of 589 which is incidently lower than the OBP of Barry Bonds. . . . Can Edgar not play first or is Bloomquist's defense at first so much better than Edgar's that we accept the tradeoff? Are we saving Edgar for the playoffs? We have over 10 spots open on the roster. Would it be wrong to call up Zapp for one of those spots?"

In response, a couple of points:

(1) Although the magic number is down to one, the Rainiers are still not mathematically eliminated from capturing a tie for first place in the PCL's Northern Division. I don't think you'll see the Mariners expand the roster until after the Rainiers are eliminated, and possibly not until after their season is finished (next Monday) even if they are eliminated.

(2) You know I agree with you about bringing up A.J. Zapp -- who BTW, with a three-run homer last night became the first Tacoma player since 1968 to drive in 100 runs in a season last night and set a new PCL record for strikeouts (176) -- but he's not on the 40-man roster. Even with the expanded rosters in September, I believe the call-ups have to be on the 40-man roster. This wouldn't be all that hard to achieve (somebody who has been shut down like Chris Snelling, Justin Leone, or any of about a half dozen pitchers, could be moved to the 60-day DL and replaced with Zapp), and it appears that Zapp needs to see this kind of interest in order to stay with the organization next year.

As I said yesterday, I am all for doing this. However, the Mariners appear to be spooked by all the strikeouts, ala Mike Cameron, despite an otherwise productive season. Once again, the refusal to look and production and instead focus on one particular kind of out despite ability to get on base and create runs.

The last-linked article mentions that the Mariners think Zapp could be a good hitter for average if he cut back on the strikeouts (his average on balls in play is .459). That's a debatable point -- the adjustments he makes for greater contact might also result in more weak grounders and such -- but it seems reasonable to assume he would improve some by making better contact. Benny Looper mentions a hole in Zapp's swing (up and in) that would likely be exploited in MLB. But, like Clint Nageotte seeing the need to develop his change-up, what better way to convince Zapp of this than to let that happen in a September cup-of-coffee, which also would allow the Mariners to evaluate whether a stop-gap, placeholder platoon of Zapp and Bucky Jacobsen might work next year?

(2) Melvin has said that whether Edgar plays first is Edgar's call, but despite indications from Edgar that he wouldn't mind, Melvin says he couldn't live with himself if Edgar got injured playing first. Why? What's left to play for? As Jack mentioned, if you are trying to win, you don't play Willie Bloomquist over Edgar. Bloomquist is incapable of playing enough defense at first to overcome the difference in offense between these two. But . . . well, Melvin is enamored with Wee Willie. I don't think this is going to change.

2 Comments:

At September 4, 2004 at 1:15 AM, Blogger Stephen said...

Of course Melvin is enamored of Wee Willie. Wee Willie reminds Melvin reminds Melvin of himself.

Melvin was the same type of player as Willie - not very good, but making an impression with grits and determination. It's human nature to focus on and exagerrate our own value, so players without much talent overemphasize the importance of the "the little things that win games" and the "intangibles". That's the only way they can justify being on the roster.

Many of those go on to become managers and scouts, and they carry those beliefs along with them.

So it doesn't make any difference to Melvin what the team record is. Melvin doesn't make the connection between team record and having a roster overweighted with less talented but scrappy players. He believes those guys win games, just as he believed that he won games when he was a player.

Thus the infatuation with Willie, Villone, Cabrera, Bocachica, etc.

 
At September 4, 2004 at 7:42 AM, Blogger Pete Livengood said...

I think what you say has more than a few grains of truth to it, Stephen. Certainly, I can think of no other reason for continuing to give Bloomquist as much time as he has been getting, or to heap praise on him for not tripping over his feet while pinch-running (or for getting hit in the head with the ball).

With some of the other guys, I am less sure. Bochachica, for instance, was somebody Melvin HAD to play because he refused to put Ichiro in center and it had become obvious even to him that Winn wasn't an effective centerfielder. And yet they still DFA'd the guy (and no, I'm not arguing they shouldn't have).

Wee Willie is NOT an example of this (he was made superfluous the day the M's acquired Cabrera, if not sooner), but some of these guys resemble Melvin the player yet are STILL the best talent option Melvin the manager has on a particular night. That is an incredible indictment of this front office's talent evaluation/assembling skills, but there you go.

 

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