Saturday, June 19, 2004

Mariners Vs. Pirates, 19 June 2004

Charlie and Ryan here. We just returned from PNC Park, where a Pacific Coast League game broke out tonight.

Plenty of words have already been typed in these pages about what an awful, pointless team the Pirates are, so we won't repeat ourselves here. Instead, let's concentrate on the Mariners. Here's are tonight's Seattle Mariners with their 2004 Values Over Replacement Player (VORPs), courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.

Winn CF 2.1
Cabrera 2B 6.5
Ichiro RF 20.5
Spiezio 3B 2.2
Olderdude 1B 10.5
Aurilia SS -1.4
Bocachica LF 1.6
Borders C -1.2

TOTAL 40.8

Note: Bocachica's VORP is listed for centerfield; if his VORP were calculated for left field, which isn't a premium defensive position, he would likely be below replacement level.

Now let's compare these numbers to the most recent lineups of two other teams (Team B used a DH whose contributions aren't included in the total below).

TEAM A
TOTAL: 115.6

TEAM B
TOTAL: 16.5

Team A is the Oakland A's. The total for Team B is the (league-adjusted) VORP for the lineup of the Sacramento River Cats. What does it say about the Mariners when they're trotting out a lineup that's far more similar to their divisional rivals' AAA ballclub than their divisional rivals themselves? There was simply some horrible decision making that led to this moment, and we can only assume that the reason Derek Zumsteg hasn't voiced his anger about this yet is that he saw the lineup and busted a coronary.

Let's leave aside the fact that Seattle actually won tonight. That fact says more about the Pirates and the variability of small sample sizes than it does about the Mariners. Nearly 25,000 people paid lots of money to watch this game, and they basically got to watch two minor league teams and Ichiro.

Let's take a closer look at the FIVE Mariners starters who were near or below replacement level.

Randy Winn: A useful player when he was acquired for Lou Piniella and a prospect, but he's past his prime now. His offensive numbers this year have been dreadful, and he isn't making up for it with the glove. We would say he takes horrible routes to the ball, but he does, to his credit, look like a brilliant fielder compared to Tike Redman.

Scott Spiezio: His three-year contract looks even more ludicrous now than it did the day it was signed this offseason. A mediocre player in his heyday.

Rich Aurilia: Whoops.

Hiram Bocachica: Lest you think we're being unfair for including Bocachica's VORP in our totals instead of that of the injured Raul Ibanez (10.2), keep in mind that the A's total includes Esteban German (-4.3) instead of Eric Chavez (16.7). And when your team starts a bunch of olderdudes, you have to be prepared for injuries, and you should be ready with replacements who bring more to the table than speed and a cool name.

Pat Borders: This superfluous quadregenarian was offered arbitration by the Mariners this offseason. Why "superfluous," you ask? Because Dan Wilson (3.4) and Ben Davis (-5.8) have performed at almost exactly the same godawful level as Borders.

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