Last week I laid out my All-Surprise Team. Since I much prefer going negative, I thought this week I’d rear my ugly head upon the All-Disappointment Team. Once again, it’s with the help of Nate Silver’s PECOTA projection system. First a bit of housekeeping: A couple of readers pointed out that Baltimore’s Melvin Mora deserved a spot on the All-Surprise Team. I’m inclined to agree. I left him off mostly because I was on a crack bender for much of the week, but I’m fine now and fully possessed of my faculties. The All-Disappointment Team, forthwith…
Every time a shuttle bus back from a game pulls into a stop, the line to pay and get off snags. “How much is it?” people ask, fumbling for more change, and then three fans later, same deal. The Mariners have played 73 games at home so far this season, the shuttles have run for years, and even this late in the season, after years of popular baseball, there are people who don’t know it’s $2.50. It’s another sign of the huge casual fan base teams enjoy. I see more than 40 games a year at Safeco Field, as part of a season-ticket plan I split plus games I head to on my own. I’m atypical though. The Mariners have about 20,000 season-ticket holders, and they push season-ticket packages aggressively starting just after their annual mid-season failure to improve for the stretch (“Fans, reward your tight-fisted pound-foolish ownership group by sending in a deposit on a 2004 season-ticket plan now, before you get your blood all angried up when the Mariners miss the playoffs”). They sold a couple thousand more when Safeco Field opened, but it’s been down since then. Now from there, there’s a ton of ticket-sharing (buy the tickets, split them two or more ways), and the Mariners sell 20-game packages that are cleverly balanced between the good and bad teams. I’m throwing this out there, but I figure that there’s a core of 40,000 fans who see 20 or more games a year–at least 800,000 clicks of the turnstiles over the course of a year. Meanwhile, unless the city gets fed up and stops going to see the team, the Mariners’ attendance this year will top 3.2 million stubs. So that would be nearly two-and-a-half million tickets purchased by fans far more casual than me.
One of my favorite parts of the recent Cleveland Pizza Feed was a conversation I had with one of our readers about the impossibility of this position: “There are nearly 5,000 players in organized minor league baseball. How on Earth can you possibly know something about all of them?” This was intended as a compliment, but the question is accurate, and is a truth that all minor league junkies face; we are bailing with a teaspoon. I see a lot of baseball games, talk with a lot of people who see more games than I do, and try to get a feel for every important player that you might want to know about, but it does not matter. Someone will always slip through the cracks, and I will inevitably jot down the lineup on my scorecard and ask myself, “Who is he?” Occasionally, one of these anonymous names stands out, and I go home intrigued by this new name to follow. Last year, I made that remark when I scribbled the name Andy Marte on my scorecard during a game between Greensboro and Macon. I had made the drive to see Carlos Duran, who was drawing comparisons to Andruw Jones (which are, at this point, laughable), and because Macay McBride was pitching for Macon that night. I knew a little about Marte before the game started; he was listed at age 18, had spent 2001 hitting like a pitcher in the Appalachian League, and had a pretty solid start to the 2002 campaign. After watching him flash the most impressive package of tools and performance I had seen all year, I made sure to find out more about “this Marte kid” when I got home.
Joe Mays will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday and will likely miss all of the 2004 campaign. Score one for PECOTA and take special note of his collapse rate. Given that 2005 is the next time Mays is likely to be physically capable of pitching in the big leagues, NOLAN (Nate’s Omniscient Laptop And Number-cruncher) says that Mays only has a one-in-three shot of coming back. That’s info worth knowing, despite the success rate of TJ surgery.
Trot Nixon will pay a visit to the Red Sox’ physicians in hopes of salvaging his season. Yes, the strained calf could be that serious, according to one source in Boston. Nixon injured himself running to first, and depending on the findings, will miss a minimum of one week, and potentially could be done well into the playoffs. Andy Abad, a guy who shredded the IL at age 31, stands to gain some playing time along with Gabe Kapler.
The Astros retook first place on Wednesday, but their hopes took a hit as Octavio Dotel’s ass isn’t getting any better. OK, gluteal muscle, if you must–but (no pun intended), it’s the backside of the back end of the bullpen that’s worrying right now. With Brad Lidge emerging from a slump and Dotel hoping that sitting on the bench won’t hurt, Ricky Stone is picking up the workload. Dotel is reportedly going to miss the important weekend Cardinals’ series, forcing Jimy Williams to rework his pitching roles and try to explain why Nathan Bland isn’t with the team.
The rotation hasn’t been the only problem in Anaheim this season. Mark Prior is a legitimate Cy Young candidate, despite being one of the youngest pitchers in the league. And the Mike Maroth finally lost his 20th game last week, hopefully eliminating Brian Kingman’s name from baseball trivia for the rest of eternity. All this and much more news from Anaheim, Chicago, and Detroit in your Thursday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.