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August 10, 2010 at 11:03 PM

Dead Cat Bounce or regression to the mean? Mariners revival makes little difference to Felix Hernandez’s season

The Dead Cat Bounce theory appears to be alive and cooking with the Mariners so far in the Daren Brown era. Seattle has actually won two straight under Brown, three in a row and four of five for the first time since…well, since the Don Wakamatsu era. Or was it the Jim Riggleman era? The John McLaren era? Maybe the Mike Hargrove era? Who can count that high? Thing is, they are playing winning baseball — scoring just enough runs to support some outstanding pitching.
So, is it real, or just a Dead Cat Bounce?
You know the theory. Even if you throw a deader-than-Eric Byrnes’-career feline off a building, it will still bounce and go up just a bit. Of course, it comes crashing back to earth soon after. We saw it with the Riggleman-managed Mariners after he took over from McLaren last week…er, back in 2008.
Over the past week, we have:
Chone Figgins — .481 avg.
Jose Lopez — .304 avg.
Franklin Gutierrez — .269 average
That’s some noted improvement near the top and middle of the order. Meow! Meow?
Or is it sustainable? The Mariners certainly hope so in at least two of the cases. Figgins and Gutierrez look to be a big part of this team going forward in the post-Wakamatsu era.
Of course, it’s a little too late to help Felix Hernandez win, oh, you know, a Cy Young Award. The Mariners took a month just to get Hernandez another victory after he took out the Yankees with a complete game right before the All-Star Break. Hernandez had a 2.88 ERA back then. He’s now lowered that to 2.71.
But instead of being 7-5 a month ago, he’s just 8-9 today. The fewest victories by a Cy Young winning starter is 15. Nope, no one is counting Hernandez in just yet and it has nothing to do with him. More to do with an offense that has scored just nine runs the past four games despite winning three of them.

So, we’ll see whether this is just a Dead Cat Bounce, or something this team can sustain beyond an upcoming draft pick “showdown” with the Indians and Orioles. After that come the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and a whole lot of potential pain.
Hernandez deserves better than he’s gotten this year from his team. Next to Wakamatsu, I’d consider Hernandez and you the fans as the biggest victims of this offense.
So, we’ll see whether several players are finally “regressing (really, it should be “progressing”) to their means and can deliver an offense capable of more than two runs per night. Or, whether this kitty cat just bounced up and will soon fall victim to gravity.
Know what Hernandez said he thought after Casey Kotchman snapped a scoreless tie by driving in that run in the sixth?
“I was like ‘Wow! We got a run’,” Hernandez said.
Yes, he said quickly that he was joking. Ha, ha! Great that he can laugh about it.
Mariners manager Daren Brown said he decided right after Hernandez finished the eighth inning that he was done. Hernandez was still at 110 pitches and probably could have finished.
But when your team is headed for 100+ losses, the number of complete games by a pitcher pales in comparison with the need to monitor his innings and save him for a season that actually means something.
“It’s hard for me, because I don’t like to come out of the game,” Hernandez said. “I was like, finish the game. But it’s good for me, and good for my arm.”
At least he’s got the right attitude. Too bad he hasn’t had the right offense. The M’s had gone 23 consecutive innings without scoring for him before Kotchman delivered. No wonder Hernandez seemed so surprised, joking or not.
When things go the way 2010 has, all you can do is shake your head and laugh. Even at dead cats bouncing off the pavement.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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