San Shin
This is Jeff Shaw's blog about the Seattle Mariners and writing and politics and whatever else comes to mind.

"In Marines' Way," Sierra Magazine, July/August 2004.
"The Price is Wrong," In These Times, March 31, 2004.
"Out of Burma," Multinational Monitor, Jan-Feb 2004.
"Discover Lost Lake," Bellingham Herald, April 15, 2004.
"Peruse Canyon Lake Creek Forest," Bellingham Herald, April 1, 2004.
Older articles on politics, the outdoors, etc. Poems.

The USS Mariner
Mariner Musings
Seattle P-I
Leone For Third
Mariners Wheelhouse
Mariner Optimist
The Safest Blog
Mariner Rumblings and Grumblings
One Hundred Sixteen
Sports and Bremertonians
SoDo Oh No
Cracking the Safe
Nice Guys Finish Third
Trident Fever
At Least the Red Sox Have 1918
Mariner Minors
Sons of Buhner
Grand Salami
Dead Reckoning (an M's news blog)
Olympia Mariner
Dave's Mariners Blog
Just Another Mariners Blog
Mariner Talk

Sportsfilter (community sports 'blog)
Baseball Blogs
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference

POLITICAL BLOGS Talking Points Memo
Poltical Animal
Daily Kos

Poynter (home)
50 writing tools
Reporter's Desktop

Copper Canyon Press
Academy of American Poets
Lannan Audio Archive
Atlantic Audio Anthology
Laurable poetry audio links
Slate poetry audio files
Missouri Review blog

In These Times
The Christian Science Monitor
Mother Jones
The Progressive
Z Magazine
The Japan Policy Research Institute
The Nation
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Washington Post OnPolitics
Latest AP news
LA Times
New York Times
Congressional Record

Sean Meade

Contact me: jeffmshaw at hotmail period com

"Two U.S. Banks SWIFT To Skirt Burma Sanctions," The NewStandard, March 9, 2004.
"Certifiably Insane? Wood-labeling program less green than it appears," Grist Magazine, Feb. 23, 2004.
"Review of Chalmers Johnson's Sorrows of Empire," Seattle Weekly, Feb. 4, 2004.
"A Base Draws Ire, So U.S. Looks to Sea," Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 22, 2004.
"Quietly, Bush Administration Moves to Implement Patriot II," The NewStandard, Dec. 30, 2003.
"From Worst to First: Under Pressure, Boise Cascade Agrees to Stop Logging Old Growth Forests," Multinational Monitor, Nov. 2003.
"Bioprospecting: Corporations Profit from Indigenous Genes," In These Times, Nov. 26, 2003.
?Opportunity knocks: under cover of war, the Bush administration pushes for fast track,? IN THESE TIMES, Vol. 25, No. 26, Oct. 26, 2001.
?BC Considers Putting Treaty Process to a Vote,? NATIVE AMERICAS, Vol. 18, No. 2, Summer 2001.
?Granny B: British Columbia Green Party candidate Betty Krawczyk,? IN THESE TIMES, July 9, 2001.
??Free? no more: activist Jeffrey Luers,? IN THESE TIMES, August 6, 2001.
?What goes around: an interview with Chalmers Johnson,? IN THESE TIMES, October 29, 2001.

"Bring the Family to Connelly Creek Nature Area," Bellingham Herald, Feb. 19, 2004.
Trail Report: Shadow of the Sentinels, Bellingham Herald, Feb. 5, 2004.
"A Walk to Racehorse Falls," Bellingham Herald, Jan. 23, 2004.
"Railroad Trail Passes By Scudder Pond," Bellingham Herald, Dec. 25, 2003.
Fall Hikers View Migrating [Mountain Goat] Herds," Bellingham Herald, Nov. 5, 2003.
"Catch the Colors at Chain Lakes," Bellingham Herald, Oct. 30, 2003.
"Break a Sweat on Pine, Cedar Lakes Trail," Bellingham Herald, Oct. 11, 2003.
"Panoramic view; Trail's summit reveals Mounts Baker, Shuksan," Bellingham Herald, Sept 25, 2003.
"High divide; Trail features great views," Bellingham Herald, Sept 22, 2003.

"A word with writer Russell Banks," Bellingham Herald, Oct. 11, 2003.
"The Weakerthans Grow Strong," Z Magazine, Dec. 2003.

"Prayer at the Tomb of My Wife's Grandfather," Arbutus, Summer 2003.
"Memory," Arbutus, Summer 2003.

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Friday, March 12, 2004
I sincerely thought I was done posting for the weekend. Really. But I just can't let this one go.

Blaine Newnham's column in today's Times is so full of beans I could use it to make the world's largest burrito. Almost every line in it has some fatal flaw, so we're gonna go line-by-line until I find something accurate or I get bored, whichever comes first.

A disclaimer: I like Rich Aurilia as a player, and even though I think we would've been better served to keep Guillen around, I think he'll do well.

But not for any reason included in this article. Let's press on ...

Newnham: Standing round the batting cage, a Mariners executive ruminated about the value of having the right personalities in the clubhouse and on the field. "We knew Stan Javier was an important player, but we had no idea how important he was until he was gone," said Roger Jongewaard, for years the club's director of player personnel. In 2000, Javier took Ken Griffey Jr.'s locker in spring training, but none of the bravado or bluster associated with it. A team that hadn't made the playoffs did. The next season it won 116 games.

Can that really be a coincidence? No chance. Besides, that Griffey guy was never any good anyway.

(One section into it, and you're already asking yourself if he's serious about this, aren't you?)

Newnham: There's a new guiding light in camp -- perhaps even a torch -- a guy who keeps appointments and promises, and looks you squarely in the eye when you talk.

I don't care if Vladimir Guerrero me in the eye or looks at my wife's legs as long as he's hitting 40 bombs a year.

But evidently if Ramon Santiago lends Rich Aurilia his screwdriver, Aurilia will return it. Or something.

Newnham: "I'm hoping they brought us over here to add a little more character, a little more fire to this team," said shortstop Rich Aurilia, speaking of himself, third baseman Scott Spiezio, outfielder Raul Ibanez and closer Eddie Guardado. "Two years ago," said Aurilia, "Scott and I were playing against each other in the World Series. That's the kind of experience we bring."

"Two years ago," said Aurilia, "I had a fluky career year while playing with Barry Bonds and Scott was a slightly above average player on a well-rounded team. That's the kind of experience we bring."

Newnham: Aurilia was signed as a free agent this winter to bridge the shortstop gap until either Jose Lopez or Adam Jones arrives on the scene and to, in the meantime, be that leader the team seemed to lack last year. If Javier gave the Mariners the statesmanship Griffey didn't, then Aurilia is here to supply the steam that Carlos Guillen couldn't.

I don't know where to start here. It's bad enough that Newnham implies, again, that he'd rather have an old Stan Javier than Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime. It's even worse that he takes subtle shots at, say, Boone, Edgar, Ichiro, Olerud, and every other Mariner by saying the team "lacked leadership." No, it lacked offense. And I'm not sure if Aurilia has Popeye-the-Sailor-Man like powers, but this team doesn't need "steam" any more that it needs a quadrophonic Blaupunkt -- it needs players that can hit.

Newnham: Last season Aurilia played for the San Francisco Giants 14 days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. "They went 0-7 on a road trip without me," he said, "and I felt they needed me. So I played."

Playing when you aren't healthy: that's old school. That's gritty. Right, Gil?

Newnham: He doesn't have the range or the fluid style of Guillen. At 32, he is perhaps past his prime, certainly unlikely to repeat his season of 2001 when he hit .324 and 37 home runs. But other than Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada, what shortstop has put up better power numbers? From 1999 to 2001, he led National League shortstops in home runs and runs batted in.

So, he's old and past his prime; he's not as good in the field; but he's a power-hitting machine, right? Well, wrong. Just to answer Newnham's question, Nomar Garciaparra and Jose Valentin both have better three-year averages than Aurilia in slugging percentage, and that includes Rich's outlier year. Bill Meuller is exactly .0009 points behind him. But those guys are American League guys, so they don't count, right?

Newnham: "Richie is a pro," said Bret Boone, dressing nearby. "He knows how to play the game."

Couldn't you remove "Richie" from this quote and apply it to every player in professional baseball? "Luis Ugueto is a pro. He knows how to play the game."

Newnham: Aurilia is pure baseball, with no additives. The game has been such a big part of his life that his Little League number (22) was retired by Our Lady of Grace League of Brooklyn a few years ago. "Everybody now wants to play basketball or even golf," he said in a Brooklyn accent that has survived living in the West since 1995. "I started playing baseball so young I don't even remember how old I was. "I love the game and have a great respect for its history."
Aurilia understands his situation in Seattle.
"They didn't bring us in as saviors," he said. "We were just brought in to be a part of the puzzle. I think we are all sliding into place nicely."

It is amazing how much sports journalism resembles professional wrestling. In a wrestling promo, there are certain things you're expected to say in order to tell the crowd whether you're a babyface (good guy) or a heel (bad guy). Nobody in baseball wants to play the heel, so they say all the required babyface things: "I respect the game; I've played it since I was small; I don't want to be a star, I just want to play my role on the team."

There's a reason Bull Durham's "start working on your cliches" scene still resonates.

I'll skip through Aurilia's "I wanted to go back to the Giants" stuff and cut to the last line:

Newnham: Bunting, running, situational hitting, the kind of heady stuff that got Aurilia's number retired in a Brooklyn Little League. The stuff that could make him nearly as popular in Seattle as he was in San Francisco.

You might expect me to insert the sabermetric rant against bunting and the idea that situational hitting exists. It certainly applies. But I'm not gonna. I'm going to ask you to imagine a scene, a scene especially apt for those of you who've actually coached Little League baseball.

You're the coach of a Little League team in Brooklyn. At your first game, you're surrounded by insane Little League parents. Your team is a good, solid squad, but you have one player -- let's call him "Little Richie" -- that stands out. Great player. Scrappy. Can hit. You daresay, he might even make the majors one day -- he's that good. So you bat him cleanup.

It's the first inning. Your first two hitters get on base. The Brooklyn crowd is fired up -- but the third guy pops out. So you have runners on first and second with Little Richie coming up.

One question: if you give Little Richie the bunt sign, are you making it out of the parking lot alive? If you do, is there any way you coach the rest of the season?

I think we all know the answer to that.
posted by Jeff link 1:57 PM [edit]

Props: Hey, Tyler from Olympia Mariner got a reference in Ralph Wiley's trash-talking column. Cool. [I deal in HTML so Tyler doesn't have to]

Also should say I really liked OM's reference to Wilfred Owen, maybe the best war poet ever and one of my personal favorites. I think that post is a clear indicator it's time to bust out a link to my own baseball poetry post from a couple of months ago.

And a quick thought about batting Ibanez fourth: Others have weighed in on Melvin's nefarious plot to bat Raul cleanup, but I just wanted to add one thing. The stated rationale for this is to give us the lefty-righty-lefty order and thereby minimize vulnerability to bullpen switches in the late innings, right? Well, here's a flaw in that thinking, from my perspective.

What happens when we've got a two-out rally going trailing by one, and Boone doubles into the gap to bring the tying run into scoring position. Clearly, they don't walk Raul Ibanez to get to Edgar. No, they bring in a Lefty One Out Guy (LOOGY) to cut down Ibanez.

To which Melvin retorts Ha ha, you fools, you've fallen for my trap! You can't keep this lefty in to face Edgar! So now, all I need to do is bring in my lefty-mashing pinch-hitter, and ... [looks down the bench].

I think you see the problem. This "advantage" is only an advantage if we have a player on the bench who can hit. Which we don't.

In other news: The P-I reports that if it hadn't been Garth Brooks doing the hitting, his knock off of Mike Myers would have been an error. That makes sense, given that this was the first time I've ever seen "infield hit" and "Garth Brooks" in the same sentence. I wonder if he could outrun Edgar?
posted by Jeff link 12:02 PM [edit]

Department of sunk costs: When the Cirillo trade went through, I said we would have been better off releasing him. He's a sunk cost: no reason throwing good roster spots after bad. Recent events (like Jarvis' start yesterday) have only confirmed my feeling that Kevin Jarvis has no place on this team, or indeed in the major leagues. He just hasn't been able to get anybody out. Remember, he was raked even worse in his last appearance.

The line on Jarvis so far this spring after yesterday's outing: 4.2 innings, 13 hits, three walks, 11 runs (all earned). He's giving up more than three baserunners and more than two earned runs in every inning. That's just ridiculous.

Jarvis is already hamstringing the payroll. That's going to be true regardless if he's on the opening day roster or not. I'd much rather release him and give a young pitcher a shot -- that way, Jarvis isn't hurting our chances to win in two ways instead of one.

Also in this article:

The Royals' final run of the game came on an infield hit by singer Garth Brooks off lefty Mike Myers in the ninth inning.

Nothing hurts your chances of a roster spot like giving up an RBI single to a country singer.

It's always iffy if it's Griffey: Reader Steven Hare points out this excerpt from Tim Kurkjian's latest article:

Some members of the Mariners organization are interested in re-acquiring Griffey, who remains popular in Seattle. There have been internal discussions about the possibility, especially since the Mariners really need another big bat in the middle of the order to go with Bret Boone.

Though this lends a bit more credibility to the rumors, since I respect Kurkjian's work, I think this is more of an echo chamber effect stemming from Finnigan's article than anything. I still don't expect anything to come of this.
posted by Jeff link 11:37 AM [edit]

Because you care, a fantasy sports update: I decided to run the PECOTA system's fantasy sports software up the flagpole and see who saluted. Who knew? A bunch of Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins did. Even two Yankees.

As I mentioned, I don't have much know-how about this thing called the "National League," so I relied heavily on PECOTA's forecasts. As luck would have it, for the first time in my fantasy sporting career, I got the first overall pick in an 18-team league.

Weirdly, we only drafted seven pitchers -- two starters, two relievers, and three of whatever flavor you wanted. You also get one starter of every position including DH, along with five bench players.

Here are my draft picks for your perusal:

1. Alex Rodriguez, SS [Duh]
2. Ichiro!, OF [Gotta get a Mariner, gotta get steals]
3. Jeff Kent, 2B [I need my truck washed: plus, Soriano and Boone were gone]
4. Josh Beckett, SP [Only pitcher left with #1 starter potential]
5. Octavio Dotel, RP [Best closer left]
6. Adam Dunn, 1B/OF [PECOTA loves him, projecting 41 homers]
7. Eric Hinske, 3B [Hank Blalock was snatched from before my eyes]
8. Brad Wilkerson, 1B/OF [Gotta love those games in Puerto Rico]
9. Arthur Rhodes, RP [Closers at a premium in an 18-team league]
10. Jose Contreras, SP [The Yankees will score runs, and PECOTA likes him]
11. Austin Kearns, OF [Young bopper that PECOTA says could break out]
12. Carl Pavano, SP [Yo ho ho, for another Marlin starter we go]
13. Alex Sanchez, OF [A one-category wonder for steals]
14. Craig Wilson, C [Trent and Jeff will be happy: he'll get at bats on my team]
15. Eric Milton, SP [A risk/reward pick -- Philly should be good, and he's looked healthy]
16. Nick Johnson, 1B [Patience + Power + Montreal. Now, don't hurt yourself!]
17. Aquilino Lopez, RP [Be honest: don't you wish your name was "Aquilino"?]
18. Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2B [It's only a broken finger!]
19. Justin Speier, RP [If Kerry Ligtenberg becomes the Jays' closer, I'm gonna be bitter, since I have the other two candidates]
20. + 21. Victor Martinez and Miguel Olivo, C. [My computer crashed, so Yahoo gave me the top two guys on my queue. I wanted one or the other, and got both. Oh well.]

At first blush, I like this team. It seems pretty balanced, though I'd feel better with higher-quality pitchers. Of course, what the heck do I know about the NL?

This is great for both me and the Baseball Prospectus. If my team rocks, they have a great testimonial ready-made for PECOTA. If my team stinks, well ... I can duck responsibility since I didn't prepare the list.

MBSBL? What MBSBL?: Just kidding, but I've had a run of really, really bad fortune -- I'm one and nine in my last ten games, despite being second in the league in run differential, dropping way down in the standings.

Hey, it's a long season ... right? Right?

posted by Jeff link 8:02 AM [edit]

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Why rumors are lame, volume two: There are three stages to baseless rumors: the intigation, the escalation, and the recantation. Like it? I learned that one from Johnny Cochran. Let's track the latest iteration (sorry, last -ation, I promise) of the Griffey rumors

The instigation: Bob Finnigan comes correct. Bloggers far and wide recognize that this is just another rite of spring.

The escalation: Another reporter -- in this case, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News/Cox News Service -- goes a step further with the rumor.

McCoy cites as evidence "a report in a Seattle newspaper that Griffey 'could be traded to Seattle,' and that 'talks are heavy.'"

Huh? We've all seen the Finnigan piece, and it doesn't say anywhere that 'talks are heavy.' Google News doesn't show anyone other than McCoy using the phrase 'talks are heavy' in association with Griffey. Where did this phrase come from? Where did it get those quotes around it?

This reporter, who I don't know anything about, does get some credit for acknowledging that Griffey rumors are sort of standard operating procedure these days. But he gets major negative credit for what seems to be a gratuitous and unfounded stoking of the embers. McCoy seems to have pulled the bit about talks happening out of thin air and thrown quotes around it: classic escalation.

The recantation: This is yet to come. Remember, Bob Finnigan wrote the "talks are dead" story in December to quash the rumors he started in August.

If history is any guide, look for a "no truth to these reports" story in the next month or two.

Steve is right, as usual: ... about the correct response to the Mariners' bench. I just hope Santiago brings his screwdriver to the yard. Adjust your cliche settings: "He comes to fix things every day." Mariners Wheelhouse and Fire Bavasi also have Will Carroll interviews up, which are well worth the time.
posted by Jeff link 12:04 PM [edit]

That smells like regular! She needs premium, dude! PREMIUM!: As the immortal Snake put it, we'd all be better off with a little premium. [.wav file] And since I'm the only M's blogger that hasn't shilled for the Baseball Prospectus yet, I thought I'd mention how much I dig the Player Forecast Manager, which uses the PECOTA projection system to help you prepare for your fantasy draft.

Available to Premium subscribers only, but you can scope out a screenshot on that page. It's got some interface issues that I wish were different, but generally it's a cool tool.

My first fantasy draft of the year is tonight. Since the SpoFi league is an MLB league and my knowledge of the NL is limited, this thing could be a lifesaver. I'm anxious to test-drive it.

While I'm plugging BP Premium, check out Will Carroll's team health report on the M's. I don't think I'm giving away too much proprietary info when I say that Will understandably red-lights Gil Meche as the big injury risk. If you're into free content and need your Will Carroll fix, I also highly recommend his weblog at, which also houses the top-notch Mariner Musings.

If Bob Melvin agrees with you, should you be worried?: Melvin declared yesterday that, as far as he was concerned Willie Bloomquist has made the team, and will serve as "the first man off the bench." Okay, that scares me on a couple of levels.

Bob, man: I know you read the blog and all, but I only said he should be the utility man ahead of Ramon Santiago. And is "Willie Bloomquist, backup DH" any less nightmarish a prospect than "Quinton McCracken, backup DH"?

One thing Bo-Mel and I don't agree on, though, is that Eric Owens should have a shot to make the team. But that link contains my favorite justification for giving him a shot:

Melvin indicated that Owens has a chance to make the team.

"That's why we signed him," said Melvin. "It is nice to have a right-handed hitter in the outfield."

Because there's nothing harder to find than an outfielder that hits right-handed.

Incidentally, that link also says that basically only one bench slot is up for grabs, with Bloomquist, McCracken and Dave Hansen already on the roster. Fighting for the fourth slot are the Heroic Trio of Hiram Bocachica, Owens and Ramon Santiago. Good lord. If it comes down to that, I've gotta go with Santiago, just based on age and potential -- he's 24, while Bocachica's 28 and Owens is 33. Another Bo-Mel gem:

"Our bench may not look as strong as last year," Melvin said, "but it will be more functional."

We may not be as good, but we'll be more ... functional? Does he mean "as opposed to dysfunctional?" Will the backup position players huddle up in the dugout to talk about feelings?

I'm scared. Hold me.

posted by Jeff link 8:37 AM [edit]

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Very late edit:

The wait is over: Since everyone wants to hear about my fantasy baseball team(s), after saying I wouldn't do this, I decided to do a brief and tongue-in-cheek recap of the Sportsfilter fantasy baseball league. Rather than roll through all 378 (!) players selected, I did a timesaving "the good, the bad, and the ugly" recap of each team. It's quick, it's dirty, it's done.

The teams are listed in the order the snake draft took place, 1-18: Complete draft results are here. Chatter thread here.

San Shin
The good:
Alex Rodriguez is the best player in baseball.
The bad: A looong, looong time between pick #1 and and picks 36 and 37. Will Craig Wilson get at bats? Will the Reds' young OF produce?
The ugly: If Josh Beckett has a sophomore slump, this pitching staff is Devil-Ray-esque, not to be confused with devil-may-care.

springfield isotopes
The good:
A Simpsons reference is never bad. Pujols a clear #2 pick. Juan Pierre will provide steals to go with cheap power acquired later (Burrell, Juan Gone). Morgan Ensberg was a great value pick at a thin position: solid draft all around.
The bad: We all need saves, but Isringhausen in round six, before Percival, Mantei and Rhodes?
The ugly: Burrell hits 'em far ... when he hits 'em at all. Can he bump that average up to a palatable .260?

Sunset Park Superbas
The good:
Formidable pitching staff, especially if Big Unit bounces back -- Mussina and Johnson best 1-2 combo in the league. The team name looks like "Superbras," which is sweet.
The bad: The drop-off after the top two picks is large, and the auto-draft picked Gary "Ow, my thumb" Sheffield in round one.
The ugly: I know the Red Sox had a record-setting offense last year, but Ortiz, Varitek and Mueller in the starting lineup? If the BoSox slump, it's a run drought.

Crackhouse Gang
The good:
I love Alfonso Soriano in round one -- eligible at second base, five-category player with valuable steals, should thrive in Texas. The team name gets the Dead Milkmen song "Now Everybody's Me" (Lyric: "Me and Julio, down by the crackhouse") stuck in my head, which is much appreciated.
The bad: Smoltz is great -- when healthy -- but a closer with a wounded wing in round two?
The ugly: Chock full of upside picks, but if you look up and down the roster (Griffey, Glaus, Pettitte, Drew, Gordon) it kind of looks like the major league disabled list.

Broken Arrows
The good:
Top five picks -- Helton, Vazquez, Rolen, Giles, Cabrera -- are all rock-solid.
The bad: The team name scares me after what happened at nearby Naval Submarine Base Bangor. We don't count defensive stats, or Mike Cameron would be a great value.
The ugly: If Mark Buerhle's ERA keeps going up every year, Milton Bradley may run over him with his car.

7th Inning Stretches
The good:
Mike Piazza is great to have as a catcher who can rake. Rafael Palmeiro can distribute Viagra in the clubhouse, and then teammates experiencing four hour erections can see the doctor that will already be in the ballpark treating Carlos Guillen.
The bad: Is it really good luck to name your team "the stretches" before the draft? Isn't that like calling the squad "the reaches," or the "he would have been available laters"? Gagne is a giant among closers, but is he a first-round pick?
The ugly: Two people were really upset that 7th inning beat them to Steve Trachsel. I was not one of them.

Raleigh Z Boys
The good:
Snagged the dramatically underrated Bobby Abreu. Has Barry Bonds.
The bad: There's a steroid investigation on.
The ugly: Hideo Nomo had a fantastic year in 2003. But Hideo Nomo is reportedly throwing 82 miles per hour in spring training.

Rockport Rassafrass
The good:
Team name rhymes with "gonna nail your ass." Each one of this team's first six picks is an excellent value: Renteria is an undervalued player who steals, Marcus Giles is a steal in round six, and Posada gives Rockport a position scarcity advantage.
The bad: If Joe Nathan loses his closer job, where will the saves come from?
The ugly: Iron Mark Prior might miss a start ... or two ... or three ... and it's scary that no one's saying for sure.

the show
The good:
Phenomenal pitching: Lights-out relief corps headlined by Foulke and Rivera make this squad the saves favorite, rotation features Pedro, Kevin "Personality of a Rattlesnake" Brown, Sir Sidney Ponson and value-pick Matt Morris. Also managed to snare young hitters (Huff, Gibbons, Crede) with breakout possibilities.
The bad: I snuck into the show's locker room and put Brown's locker next to Carl Everett's.
The ugly: Joe Mays (since dropped), meet Tommy John.

Kirk Gibson's HR
The good:
Team name references one of my favorite all-time baseball moments, one I watched live on TV. Vladimir Guerrero is a very nice value at #10 overall.
The bad: Javier Lopez is changing leagues ... late in his career ... as a catcher ... after he signed a fat contract.
The ugly: If Kerry Wood and Gil Meche both go down at the same time with season-ending arm injuries, can they get a group rate with Dr. James Andrews?

Pivo Pounders
The good:
A Czech beer reference rocks the house at 25 cents a pint. What, no "Urquell Experience" or "Budvar Bombers"? On a baseball note, Carlos Beltran's a great five-tool pickup at #11 overall. In a contract year, too. Derrek Lee may be primed to explode in Wrigley, and he steals bases.
The bad: Preston Wilson, with injury questions, in round two?
The ugly: If you say it fast with the right inflection, "Esteban" rhymes with "Good years: one," and "Loiaza" rhymes with ... well, nothing.

Los Colecos
The good:
Carlos Delgado is clearly the best 1B available after Pujols and Helton, and the dropoff to Jason "Four Pounds Ago" Giambi is large given his injury risk. Good pick. Fine young hitters in Vernon Wells and Carlos Lee.
The bad: Jamie Moyer is one heck of an old pitcher that can't throw harder than 85. Replace the words between "is" and "an" with ellipses.
The ugly:
It scares me that I don't know if the team name refers to a video game system or the Cabbage Patch Kids. Do lots of pretty good pitchers (Ortiz, Williams, Zambrano) add up to one really good pitcher? Only if we can freeze them like John Henry Williams and swap out their body parts in 10 years. Of course, then you could give Moyer Ortiz' arm, and he'd be the best pitcher ever.

Hot Shit
The good:
Nomar is poised for an obsessively good year. Also, Mark Teixeira is poised to make the Great Leap Forward. Plus, you don't need to trash-talk with a name like this.
The bad: Sammy Sosa in round two? Well, at least there's not a cork investigation going on. Better hope the A's are good with Mulder and Zito anchoring the rotation.
The ugly: Pudge Rodriguez is a top-tier catcher, but Detroit might sap his power and run-production numbers.

Crap City Crap Sox
The good:
Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman will help them score well in saves, and Roy Halladay is an ace. I love this team name, if only because it makes me picture what "Crap Sox" look like.
The bad: Ugueth Urbina, the third closer, is probably going to Japan and taking Crap City's sixth-round pick with him.
The ugly: Using five of their top six picks on arms mean the offense spins on the Marlin axis of Luis Castillo and walking wounded Mike Lowell.

Milwaukee Brewers
The good:
Hometown loyalty ...
The bad: ... to the Brewers.
The ugly: Hometown loyalty to the Brewers.

Elbow Tendinitis
The good:
Sweet starting rotation led by Jason Schmidt. Beat me to Odalis Perez. Wait, that's bad! For me, anyway.
The bad: Livan Hernandez' arm may be turning to dust as you read this.
The ugly: Team name should be "knee tendinitis" with Giambi.

The good: An outfield full of boppers: Manny Ramirez and the Joneses, Chipper and Andruw. Corey Koskie in round 15 is a nice value.

The bad: I love B. Kim, but taking a fifth starter in round six is a risk.
The ugly: Defense not counting hurts Andruw Jones, but is great for Manny and Chipper. Andruw will be pretty tired running down gappers with those guys as bookends. Frank Thomas is another masher that should have his glove taken away by U.N. peacekeepers.

Loretta's Scars
The good:
Hard to argue with any of the top four picks, which levy a 1-2 punch of Schilling and Santana, as well as Magglio Ordonez and position-scarcity stud Eric Chavez. Also, any fan of Pavement is all right with me. I'll be "Chelsey's Little Wrists" next year.
The bad: Having both Chavez and Blalock prevents the squad from maximizing their value at the thin 3B position. It's a good thing this isn't a head-to-head league so they don't have to face situational lefties, though.
The ugly: Will Chavez become complacent after his big contract? No, no he won't. But we can hope. Kazuo Matsui could be the steal (pun intended) of the draft, or a round-six bust. Having seen him play in Japan, I'm betting on the former -- the guy looks like a star.


True words department: Don't miss Eric Neel's ESPN column today, if only for the ink he throws at some of your Seattle Mariners. Specifically:

You're going to hear a lot this year about the long-suffering Red Sox and Cubs, about what a great story it would be for one of them to finally reach the Promised Land. True enough. But there is nobody on either of those rosters, nobody on any team in baseball, more deserving of World Series glory than Moyer and Martinez. Should they stay healthy, and should the M's make a run, these guys not only deserve our love, they deserve our reverence.


posted by Jeff link 12:22 PM [edit]

Head or Gut?: In one of the best bad movies of all time, The Last Boy Scout, Bruce Willis' character offers those who aggrieve him a stark choice: a shot to the head, or a shot to the gut. Two very macho, very bad options.

That's what I think of when I read Jon Wells' post at the Grand Salami Blog arguing that Ramon Santiago should take the utility infield slot over Willie Bloomquist. Well, except for the "macho" part. But definitely the "bad" part. Picking between these guys is like choosing where you're going to take a shot, and how hard a shot you'll take.

Jon feels Ramon should "definitely be on this team instead of Willie F Bloomquist" and that "[m]ost people want to look at what Santiago did with the Tigers and write him off as a good-glove, no-hit guy, but ... he could be a useful player if he's not asked to be a regular." I don't understand how one can have that strong an opinion about two players who are both brutal, but relatively close to each other in terms of wretchedness.

First, let me say that I have basically written Santiago off -- but as a no-glove, no-hit player. This handy comprehensive summation of most advanced defensive stats (which I found via Mariners Wheelhouse) shows that Santiago is, to be blunt, a miserable defensive shortstop. I know that defensive metrics are limited and flawed right now, but that's why this page is so cool. It lets you see many different measuring sticks all next to each other. And Santiago's Defensive Win Shares (-5!) and Universal Zone Rating (-22!) don't look good.

A quick theory, based on the three or so games I've seen Santiago play: he looks like he should be a good defensive shortstop. Like Casey Stengel's line about Jerry Lumpe, he looks great until you put him into the lineup. He has physical tools, sure. But a good middle infielder? The numbers don't bear that out.

How do they stack up offensively? I'm glad you asked.

Bloomquist is still living off of his one good year in the minors and his Rudy-like local boy status. Santiago doesn't even have one good year in the minors going for him. Still, the numbers are extremely close. Both spent four years in the minors and have two years in the big leagues. All told, their minor league lines are near-identical.

It's true that Santiago is two years younger, and thus could take a step forward. But Bloomquist has been a much better hitter in the big leagues. Their career lines, in OBP/SLG/OPS:

Bloomquist: .348/.358/.706
Santiago: .297/.311/.608

That's a hundred-point gap, which is significant. You could say that Santiago's been hurt by Tiger Stadium, and I'm sure he has -- but Safeco probably doesn't do Bloomquist any favors, either, and their Equivalent Average (which measures total offensive value per out, considering park effects) numbers seem to bear this out. Santiago checks in at an illness-inducing .212, while Willie is a comparatively robust .238.

I think it's safe to say that Bloomquist is a cut above Santiago offensively at this point. And while Santiago might improve, Wee Willie is theoretically in (gulp) his hitting prime, so the team might err on his side if they’re trying to win now (as we all hope). Since we're talking about a utility slot, I should probably mention that Bloomquist has played first, second, short, third and left field in the majors, while Santiago has only played middle infield.

To sum up, in Santiago's favor: he's younger, has more "tools" and "upside" (shudder). In Bloomquist's favor: he's been a better hitter in the majors, has played more positions, and he spikes ticket sales in Port Orchard. I'd list the things each has working against them, but then this would be a Gleeman-length post.

Needless to say, I'm perplexed that we'd throw away Carlos Guillen with the bench in this type of shape. But that's not the question.

I'm certainly not a Bloomquist believer, but if you tell me I've got to pick one now, I'll take Slick Willie. I'll take the shot to the gut.

But what you’ve really been waiting for are the games: No, not those meaningless spring training games. The Mariners Blogosphere Simulated Baseball League games! Hey, at least our games count at this point. And, ahem, take a gander at those standings.

The good: my run differential is looking sweet. The bad: My pitching is looking like Joel Pineiro's in the first inning the other day.

Sad to say, I've already opened my big yap to give the Optimist bulletin board material. The Paragons of Positivity will be up for our series like Bob Finnigan is up for an inter-league series with the Reds. I'm sure Corey will crack back on the league 'blog.

Speaking of bad pitching: Let's not let Kevin Jarvis' performance the other day pass without comment. He was every bit as bad as Pineiro was. But Pineiro's been good in the past, and Jarvis hasn't. Despite this, Jarvis is the favorite to be the third right-hander in the bullpen because he's due $4.5 million this year.

If he makes the opening day roster, it's a finance-inspired joke. For giving Jarvis this millstone contract, Kevin Towers should be fired, re-hired, then fired again just to be sure it takes.

From today's John Hickey article, there is apparently an outside chance the team will break camp with not one, not two, but three lefties in the bullpen. I'm not at all sold on Ron Villone, but if this means Matt Thornton gets a shot and Jarvis gets cut, I'm all for it.
posted by Jeff link 9:04 AM [edit]

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Shameless Self-Promotion: New article out this week: "Two U.S. Banks SWIFT To Skirt Burma Sanctions" in The NewStandard. The Bush administration passed tough trade sanctions against the Burmese dictatorship in August, and this story is about efforts to undermine the isolation strategy.

Shameless Other-Promotion: Jim Motavalli, editor of E! The Environmental Magazine, was in Bellingham last night through this afternoon promoting the new book he edited, Feeling the Heat. It's about the on-the-ground effects of global climate change, and includes work by talented writers like Orna Izakson, Sally Deneen, Ross Gelbspan and more. Many contributors, including Motavalli, Izakson, Deneen and photographer Gary Braasch will be reading at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Company Thursday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive: Or, Why Does Finnigan Begin Again with the Junior Rumors?: Peter at Mariner Musings has been vexed by inability to navigate the Seattle Times' registration-required archives. I'm here to serve, so I set out to answer the musical question: "How many times has Bob Finnigan pushed the Griffey trade rumor?"

Okay, it's not a musical question. You can hum along at home if you like.

I could point out that an archive search of "Bob Finnigan + Griffey" retrieves 1,679 matches. But that would be unscientific and unfair, so I won't.

What I will point out is that Finnigan pushed the story on March 8 (most recently), led a story ostensibly about Ibanez and Cameron with "while they'd love to bring Griffey back" on Nov. 13, and mongered the rumor over three days straight on Sep. 30, Oct. 1, and Oct. 2.

But wait! As Ron Popeil would say, there's more.

He also wrote about the rumors to (ironicallly enough) debunk them on Dec. 9. This is a proven way to generate column inches: start a rumor, then rock the "there's no truth to the rumor" story. That's how he filled three days with it -- after beating the drum for two days, he called Junior on the third day for a requisite denial.

Then there was the "letting Cammy go means we have no more links to Junior on the roster" story on Dec. 8, the foreshadowing of same on Sep. 28, and -- of course -- the classic, the granddaddy of all the trade rumor articles, the Aug. 3 piece that held together with spit, toilet paper and one "no comment."

I'm not going back farther than August, so let me just summarize with these numbers: Finnigan has written seven stories since August covering these rumors in one form or another. That's nearly one every month, and not one of 'em seemed to have either heat or light.

Clearly, Junior is an epic figure in the history of this franchise. You've gotta expect some shadow to linger. The last time he was a Mariner, though, people were sweating the Y2K bug. I, for one, would like to see some real information that indicates bringing him back is a possibility before we see our eighth "Griffey to the M's?" piece in eight months.
posted by Jeff link 12:25 PM [edit]

An unholy trinity: David Cameron’s shot at Ralph Wiley got me thinking about something. For the record, I disagree with Dave about Wiley -– I don’t agree with everything Ralph has to say, but whether you’re in concordance with him or not, he’s a fantastic writer that almost always provides an exhilarating read. Plus, he’s thought-provoking and valuable voice, in my opinion. With some folks on SpoFi also taking aim at Wiley, I thought I should say that.

But that’s not what this post is about.

See, David lists Wiley as one of the “worst ESPN columnists of all time.” Could this be true? To find out, I ran the columnists through the ever-so-scientific San-Shin-Stink-Up-The-Joint-O-Meter (accept no substitutes), and came up with the following bottom three.

3. Jeff Merron. Just brutal. I have no patience for the “Sex and Sports” stuff, designed to draw in the Maxim crowd, but he also stole his “The List” gimmick from the considerably better, funnier, and more interesting Tim Keown. When your best columns are in the format of a hackneyed, lazy-man’s trick (think up 10 things that fall under one category) –- and you stole that from someone writing a superior version on the same site -- well, that’s bottom three material.

2. Rob Ryder. A point of agreement between David Cameron and I. Truly awful. “Hollywood Jock”? What the hell? As a rule, I have little patience for lightweight material, and Ryder having a job at the same time ESPN is producing Page 3 doesn’t bode well for the Worldwide Leader.

1. Gregg Easterbrook. I know some people were (inexplicably) fond of his unfunny, anti-enlightening, and all around waste-of-bandwidth “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” column. A middle-aged man devoting thousands of worlds to salivating over cheerleaders? No thanks. Worse, sometimes he actually tried to write about football. The results were never pretty.

To ESPN’s credit, they canned TMQ (as it was known to its dozens of devoted readers) after Easterbrook made some charming anti-Semitic comments on his awful ‘blog, [See, it’s “Easterblogg,” because his name is spelled “Gregg.” Isn’t that clever?] They even purged him from archive, hence no link.

Unfortunately, he continues to disgrace The New Republic with his presence, and some other website picked up his “sports column.” No, I’m not linking to that. Easterbrook writes about issues ranging from the environment to the middle east to space exploration, and manages to garner widespread kudos despite an apparent allergy to fact-checking. He gets the nod over the other two because a) he’s a proven veteran with the ability to write badly on any subject, and b) neither Merron nor Ryder have, as far as I know, blasted an entire ethnic group. Congratulations, Gregg!

Scary thought of the day: Jeremy of Sports and Bremertonians opines that the Yanks will go after Maggs rather than Junior. I shudder to think.

The highest of lowbrow comedy: Speaking of Sports and B’s (a fine ‘blog), I know at least one of ‘em will appreciate this post as a fellow wrestling fan.

Wrestlecrap (devoted to the worst wrestling characters and angles ever) has long been one of my favorite sites. Site proprietor R.D. Reynolds (real name: Randy Baer) is a good writer with a great sense of humor, which is necessary when discussing theater of the absurd like wrestling. I was surprised to find in this week’s mailbag that R.D. is a lifelong Reds fan, and his take on Pete Rose's induction into the WWE wrestling Hall of Fame is a great read that I agree with almost 100 percent.

Unfortunately, bandwidth costs forced ol’ R.D. to remove much of the site – he used to have all of the “inductions” up at one time, but now he rotates the site content once a week. So go check that out before Friday, when he’ll have a new mailbag column up.

Sidenote: Yes, I like wrestling. If I ever go to grad school, my thesis will be on comparing modern pro wrestling to medieval drama, including the morality play. This makes sense for two reasons: First, I studied medieval literature in college; and second, I’m never going to grad school.

And finally, a belated but heartfelt blogsophere welcome: To Olympia Mariner, another multi-contributor 'blog. Tyler of OM (It's the Water) is an English teacher, which is all good by me as an English major. Worth checking out. I also updated the links on the sidebar to reflect some other omissions on my part.

posted by Jeff link 10:20 AM [edit]

Monday, March 08, 2004

A quick note on Junior: David Cameron at USS Mariner has a good post exploring Bob Finnigan's obsession with spreading the "Griffey-to-the-Mariners" trade rumor.

I totally agree with David's two theses -- that this is baseless speculation, and that it would be a terrible idea for the M's -- and I can't explain why any better than he did. But I do have two additional observations.

First, Finnigan really hasn't done any "reporting" here. This story is sourced almost not at all, and the rhetoric is Nixonian (or Clintonian, if you prefer) in its evasiveness. To wit:

While there are several "ifs" in the process, some of them big and some of them expensive, there is more than a passing chance the Mariners are giving serious consideration to bringing Ken Griffey Jr. back.

According to who? This isn't attributed to anyone, and is clearly the reporter speculating. Plus, what does "more than a passing chance" mean? In whose judgment? Okay, we know the answer to the last one.

Officials of the Seattle club are believed to have had a number of internal discussions on the matter, including here at training camp.

Fiction writer Charles Baxter has a great essay in his book Burning Down the House where he talks about the passive voice in American speech, blaming this alarming trend on Richard ("mistakes were made") Nixon.

The idea is that the passive voice evades reponsibility and attribution. Mistakes were made? Who made them? The Mariners are believed to have had discussions about Griffey? Believed by whom? On what basis is this belief predicated?

The passive voice lets writers get away with laziness in research as well as sloppiness and imprecision in thinking. If a writer at, say, Fox News writes a story a reader disagrees with ("Republican operatives say John Kerry is a space alien"), at least the reader can trace the source of the idea and judge the idea on its merits. Similarly, it makes a big difference whether the M's are believed by Bob Melvin to be pursuing Griffey or are believed by Bob Finnigan to be on the hunt.

[Besides, the passive voice is a pretty awkward contrivance. What sounds better, "The M's are believed by Bob Melvin to be pursuing Ken Griffey Jr.," or "Bob Melvin believes the M's are pursuing Ken Griffey Jr."? Easy answer.]

Okay, Finnigan's rhetoric aside, there's one other bit in this story that I thought was worth a mention. Isn't the fact that Howard Lincoln took not one, but two shots at Alex Rodriguez in this article bigger news than another smoke-and-mirrors trade rumor?

"I can't express my feelings about Kenny any better than I did then," Lincoln said. "I was asked what I thought of Junior and Alex Rodriguez. I said, " 'I consider Alex a great baseball player, and I consider Kenny a great player and a great human being.'

If you ask me what I think of your 'blogging as compared to David Cameron's, and I say "You're a great blogger, and David is a great blogger and a great human being," you have my permission to punch me in the face.

But since a sin of commission is worse than a sin of ommision, check out this gem:

"Let me put it this way: If I was stranded on a deserted island and I had to pick one or the other to be with me there, I would pick Kenny without any hesitation."

Translated: "In case there's any doubt, I'd rather spend the day with twenty Mariners bloggers other than the Optimist than I would spend one hour with Alex Rodriguez."

If I were a Mariner beat writer, I'd start asking Howard to compare A-Rod to Rich Aurilia right away. You know you'd get some first-rate material.

posted by Jeff link 1:43 PM [edit]

I'm back in town: I was out of the area judging a college debate tournament for the weekend. Still recovering, but will resume posting and replying to emails tomorrow.

Thumbs down: Gary Sheffield's injured thumb is worse than expected. From the article:

Cashman said the worst-case scenario would be that Sheffield needs surgery, meaning he would be out two to three months. There are no signs of a break, Cashman said, but he would not say whether there was ligament damage ... The best-case scenario, Cashman said, would be that the right fielder could return for spring training games.

I never root for injuries -- well, maybe to Roger Clemens -- but this is good news for Yankee-haters. It's bad news, though, because it means those "Griffey-to-Yankees" rumors might crop up again.

I don't think there's anything to them, but I didn't think the Yanks would get A-Rod, either.

posted by Jeff link 12:50 PM [edit]