Archive for April, 2012

Miguel Olivo, Please Move On

Miguel Olivo stepped up to the plate in the fourth inning yesterday against the Detroit Tigers. Notorious for swinging at the first pitch, Olivo did not do anything to dispel the notoriety. He swung, I groaned…and lo and behold, he hit his first home run of the young season. I sat in my chair, flabbergasted.

We should throw a party! Confetti should be raining down in Seattle! The Mariners catcher finally did what he was signed to do: hit home runs from a position that traditionally has a dirth of power.

However this home run made me angry, not happy. Instead of confetti, I imagined dark, brooding thunderclouds; lightning flashed over the Puget Sound, and Pike Place market was closed up because of the inclement weather. This home run will give Eric Wedge an excuse to play Olivo more often. The Mariners need Olivo to play less often. Preferably, Olivo should not play at all if the Mariners want to have a successful season. Also, I want Pike Place market opened up, Miguel. NO MORE HOME RUNS FROM YOU! I NEED MY COFFEE AND MY FRESH SEAFOOD! Sorry, I got a little carried away. Let us continue.

What Should the M’s do with Olivo if He Does Not Play?

Miguel Olivo is making $3.5 million this year. Can you think of some better ways to spend $3.5 million? I am sure that we all can.

I may have a strange sports hate for Miguel Olivo, but I would like to justify this sentiment with cold, hard facts. I want the Mariners to put their best lineup on the field, and Olivo does not make that possible.

Believe it or not, there are still some Olivo supporters (although they are slowly dwindling). My job is to explain to these supporters why Olivo should not be in the lineup every day if the Mariners want any chance of improving.

There are two main reasons why Olivo should not play every day, and I will not even mention his receding hairline as one of the reasons:

1. John Jaso is a better player than Olivo

John Jaso cannot possibly better than Olivo, right? Wrong (WRONG!). Olivo’s career OBP of .277 is amazing, and not in a good way. Jaso has a career OBP of .340. Olivo strikes out at a clip of 26.3%, while Jaso strikes out at a career rate of 11.3%. Jaso also has a career walk rate that is an entire 8% better than Olivo (Olivo has a career walk rate of 4%. That is just barely above Jose Lopez status, and we all know how much we loved him in Seattle…). This also does not take into account the fact that Jaso is five years younger. You cannot even suggest that Olivo is a better defensive catcher, as I tweeted two days ago. Shouldn’t the Mariners play their best option at the Catching position?

2. Playing Olivo Goes Against the Team Rhetoric

What I mean by this is that Olivo does not fit into the future of the Mariners. This is the final year of his contract, and he will not be a member of the team five years down the road. Jesus Montero (also a catcher), Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Mike Carp, Michael Saunders and Alex Liddi all have a chance to be part of the Mariners future, something Jack Zduriencik has been promoting all season. Playing a guy like Olivo means benching one of the promising young players that I just mentioned. Take yesterday for example. Seager had to sit on the bench to allow Olivo to play. Seager is not only a better hitter (higher walk rate, lower strikeout rate, higher average, decent power), but he is a league average defender and also just 24 years old, meaning we still have at least three years before we see the true potential of Kyle Seager. The Mariners cannot afford to sit him for a guy who brought 0.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) to the team last year (ahem, Olivo). No, I did not stutter: 0.1 WAR. League average WAR is between 1 and 2 over a whole season; Olivo brought 0.1 to the table.

We all know that the Mariners will not make the playoffs this year. Jonah Keri from Grantland has repeatedly written about the depth of the American League. One of his main points has been the fact that one of the following teams cannot make the playoffs this year: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers, Angels. Sure, the Angels are struggling and the Red Sox may be on the verge of implosion, but we can all agree that those teams have a lot more talent than the M’s. Sad, but true.

But this means that the Mariners have to back up their rhetoric in order to make the season a success. The Mariners have to give the fans the most exciting team on the field because the playoffs are not in reach. Unless they want to draw record low crowds throughout the summer, the Mariners have to put Jaso or Montero behind the dish and play their younger players every single day. Olivo’s home run yesterday was nice, but I worry that the Mariners will use it as an excuse to justify his playing time. I do not want to see confetti come down in the name of Olivo; I want to see confetti come down in the future with the young players who are currently on the roster and the ones on the way up (Nick Franklin, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen, Francisco Martinez). I want the Mariners to finally do what is best for the team and for the city, and that is to remove Miguel Olivo from the lineup.

My Tournament Recap: Aaron Craft or Parmesan Bread Bites?

I love the NCAA tournament, but aside from the two upsets of Duke and Missouri, this tournament was mundane to say the least. There were no buzzer-beaters, no incredible cinderella stories and no transcendent, sustained performances from a single player. Even Jim Nantz could not come up with a good pun to end the National Championship, which is usually something America can count on.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the tournament immensely. The basic reason is because, well, I always love the tournament. But here are five specific reasons why the 2012 tournament was not a complete loss:

1. Findlay, Ohio had a breakout performance

Aaron Craft hails from the town of Findlay, Ohio, and if you want to see incredible on-ball defending, just watch Craft. There have been many good on-ball defenders in the college game (Travis Walton, Venoy Overton, Zaire Taylor, Darren Collison, Kyle Weaver and Errol Knight are just a few examples off the top of my head), but Craft is by far the best I have ever seen. In the game against Syracuse he had six steals and caused four others. If you had been following basketball all year, Craft’s performance in the tournament would not have been a surprise, but Ohio State’s tournament run introduced him to the world.

But here is the question, which Findlay, Ohio product would you rather have: Aaron Craft or the Dominos Parmesan  Bread Bites? The creator of the Bread Bites, who also hails from Findlay, has been immortalized forever after the oft-aired commercial made many appearances throughout the month. With an average score of 4/5 stars (and an 82% approval rating!), his Bread Bites have been a hit! Personally, I would choose Craft, but Findlay has never had two options this good in the entire history of the town. Actually, most towns have never had two options like this.

2. Jim Boeheim did not make the Final Four. I do not want to go too in-depth, but he has always been one of my least favorite coaches. Maybe it is because he is one of the most egregious cranks in the history of the game. Maybe it is because his teams (other than the Carmelo year) never live up to expectations. The fact that they were on the cusp of the Final Four without Fab Melo while weathering the Bernie Fine scandal and drug scandal is a testament to his coaching, I admit. I just still don’t like him, so thank you Ohio State for knocking the Orange out!

3. Good Basketball Prevailed

Kentucky won the tournament for three reasons.

One, Mr. Unibrow is one of the best college players we will ever see. His ability to affect the game on both ends was incredible to watch. He kept blocks in play. He rebounded the ball superbly on offense. He developed his hook shots as the season progressed.

Two, They were the most talented team by far. The only team that could have matched their talent was Carolina, but after losing their most important player to a broken wrist, the title was even more clearly Kentucky’s to lose. Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist will most likely be the top two picks in the NBA draft if they leave school as expected. Terrence Jones is a lottery pick. Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb have NBA talent. Darius Miller was the ultimate glue player. Kyle Wiltjer was the token “White Guy Who Can Shoot Threes and Shoot Threes Only” that every good team must have.

Three, Kentucky played team basketball. A large chunk of this has to be attributed to coaching. Calipari brought in four freshman this year, three who played significant minutes, and yet this team played cohesive basketball and won 38 games. The players bought into team defense (#9 in defensive efficiency on KenPom.com), which is always easier when Anthony Davis anchors the middle but still, and unselfish offense (#2 in offensive efficiency).

All of the teams who made it to the Final Four played great team basketball. Kansas could not have made it without a cohesive effort on offense. Ditto for Ohio State. SUPER DITTO for Louisville. Teams like UNLV, Duke and UConn were all out early because of selfish play and a lack of an offensive philosophy. Teams such as Indiana, Wisconsin and Syracuse made deep runs because of team play. I love seeing team basketball, and maybe part of the reason is because the team I support does not play team basketball at all.

4. Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson

These two played hard all year and gave us wonderful performances in the championship game. Seeing the two best players in the country step up on the biggest stage was excellent to see, especially after T-Rob tried to start some beef by saying he was the Player of the Year. Anthony Davis had something to say about that claim, posting a 16 board, 6 block, 5 assist and 3 steal performance. The stats don’t back up how dominate Davis truly was, but they do begin to tell the story.

5. One Shining Moment

It never disappoints, and it always makes me sad that I have to wait almost seven months for more college basketball. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear with me.