Mariners @ White Sox Preview – My Questions Three with Jeff Sullivan
My friend Steve Sommer blessed me with a really, really cool toy – a series simulator spreadsheet that is far more sophisticated than my back-of-the-napkin scribblings on figuring out win odds. This is 10,000 simulations, based on the player’s projections. I’m using Rest of Season ZiPS projections for the lineup, and CHONE for the pitchers. That’s because I’m a homer, and it seems like ZiPS is inordinately skeptical of the White Sox rotation. (Although after the last two nights, maybe ZiPS is right.)
Steve explains the gory details of his methods more here. (Preview: log5, Monte Carlo and more stat-speak!) I’m just happy to reap all the benefits of his brains and hard work, I have a feeling I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of using this. Here’s the results:
A big, smiling Ozzie means the odds are in our favor for a series win. The Sox have a 7% chance of being swept, and a 60% chance of a series win, either a sweep or taking two out of three. There’s a 32% chance of going 1-2. Thank goodness we miss King Felix.
With more help from some friends to make this preview sizzle, Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing was kind enough to answer my questions three regarding his beloved Mariners.
Is Jack Z. an evil-genius? What are your thoughts on his off-season moves, and how are they working out in the early going?
It’s obviously difficult to evaluate the Cliff Lee trade, what with the whole he-hasn’t-pitched-yet issue, but if it’s evidence of Z’s wizardry you’re looking for, look no further than Casey Kotchman’s .540 slugging percentage.
Honestly, as you know, it’s far too early to be the judge of anything. I liked the Lee, Figgins, and Bradley acquisitions. Wasn’t so big on the Kotchman or League moves, but it’s not like I was down on them. So far, Kotchman has been a godsend, Lee hasn’t pitched, and the others have been a mixed bag. None of the other three have been great, but Figgins already has 13 walks, Bradley’s delivered some clutch hits, and League has at times appeared dominant without even throwing his splitter. So. Worth noting that Figgins has adapted very well, at least visually, to a move back to second base.
How do I expect them to work out from now on? Figgins will hit, Bradley will hit, Lee will succeed, League will succeed, and Kotchman…I have absolutely no idea how he’ll hit, but he’ll field. The Zduriencik front office isn’t perfect by any means, but they’ve done a lot of good for this team, and it’s because of them that I trust the M’s will be able to stick in the race for at least another four months.
It seems like cruddy DH platoons are all the rage these days. What’s the deal with the Griffey/Sweeney clusterfart at DH. Is Wakamatsu trying to outdo Ozzie Guillen in lineup crazy?
The designated hitter slot is traditionally used on someone who can hit. We’re using it on two guys who can hug. There’s really no other way about it, here – the Mariners love having Griffey and Sweeney in the clubhouse, but they can’t play a position, they don’t want to coach, and they’re not injured yet, so we’re left platooning them at DH. Which would be fine if it were nine years ago, but it’s 2010 now, and both Griffey and Sweeney are terrible. I have to give the organization the benefit of the doubt on this one. I do. Griffey has really helped Ichiro fit in, he’s working on Bradley, and Sweeney is universally beloved. But we have a .465 OPS out of DH so far, and it’ll be real interesting to see what the team does if these guys don’t shape up. We know they value chemistry. Now we’ll get to find out how much.
The reasons I haven’t flipped out on the team for this as of yet is because I don’t think this arrangement is permanent. Bradley’s already got soreness in his calf, and it seems obvious that he should be moved to DH. Which is what I think will happen before too long. If we’re still trotting out a couple relics in June, and they’re still not doing anything, that’s when I’ll get really upset.
When is Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard expected to be back in the rotation? How are their fill-ins doing?
Lee’s got a rehab start coming up on Sunday, and is slotted to return to the Major League rotation on April 30th against Texas. He should be good for 100 pitches from the get-go. Bedard is behind him, but he’s been drawing rave reviews, and while this is Erik Bedard we’re talking about and we forever have to exercise caution, right now he’s ahead of schedule and looking to come back in late May or early June. In the meantime, how are their fill-ins doing, you ask? That depends on who you think are the fill-ins. Jason Vargas has 16 strikeouts and three walks through 16.1 innings. Doug Fister has four walks in 19 innings. Ian Snell has been much much worse, although he’s dealt with illness and a death in the family. Vargas has been the true surprise.