Friday, February 13, 2004

Yankees "Underdog Mentality" 

Perusing MLB.com, I ran accross "Winter full of Extreme Makeovers" and found the following quote from Yankees GM Brian Cashman that actually caused me to shoot soda (Diet Coke which can be particularly painful) out my nose:

"There is definitely a perception that the Yankees have fallen and are ripe for the taking. That provides us with the motivation to prove people wrong. Boston has received all of the glory this offseason and have been anointed the 'team to beat' in 2004. That's fine with us, because the favorites wear the heavy crown. We'll take the underdog mentality and play the season out."

Even the Yankees want to be perceived as underdogs, to take pressure off their players. But if Bill Bavasi says "the Angels are the favorites," he gets reamed a new one by M's fans who publish. Sigh.

Ron Shandler working for the Cardinals
Author of Baseball Prospectus and founder of Baseball HQ, Ron Shandler has been hired by the St. Louis Cardinals to help build an "advisory board" around. Quotes are from Mr. Shandler's announcement (currently only available to subscribers) on Baseball HQ. This board would be comprised of five or six people, each with a pocket of analytical expertise in a specific discipline. There would be one expert in run creation, another in pitching, another in minor league scouting, another in fielding/defense, and so on.

So, the Cardinals join the sabermetric revolution and the Mariners remain on the outside looking in. Maybe if I keep writing positively about the M's, I can sneak an invite to be on a Mariner advisory board. Sure would beat writing software for a living.

M's 2004: More Offense, Less Defense
The M's preview on MLB.com focuses on their increase in offense and decline in defense.

"All of our gold (Gold Gloves) was on the right side and we may have sacrificed a little defense in losing the premier center fielder in the game in Cammy [Mike Cameron]," manager Bob Melvin said. "But I don't think we are losing as much defense as some people think."

Time will tell how the loss of Mike Cameron's glove in center (and Jeff Cirillo's at 3B) will affect the Mariners. I'm inclined to agree with Melvin on this one, but lets face it, defense is the least understood and measured of baseball. Just remember, if the M's start giving up runs in droves in 2004, that it may be the ballpark as much as the defensive changes.

Parting Shot on Sasaki
Sons of Buhner (always a good read) does some creative analysis that provides a parting shot at Kazuhiro Sasaki.

In games when Sasaki blew a save over the last two years, the Mariners were 8-4. They were the only team on the list even over .500 in this situation. In the game following a game in which Sasaki blew a save, the M's were an incredible 11-1. And in games within three games following a Sasaki blown save, the Mariners were 25-11.
Thus, it would (very unscientifically) seem that Sasaki's tendency to blow saves is worth about three wins per year to the Mariners. Well worth the 8.5 million in my book.

The statistics are obviously surprising, but show the Mariners resilience and why "You gotta love these guys!"

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