No question about it — Cameron’s GWGS is by far the #1 highlight of the season. Made that much better by the fact that all three members of the U.S.S. Mariner were in attendance, I might add.
Loaiza has been ridiculous this year, pulling a Derek Lowe 2002 type of performace so far — very few hits allowed, very few walks allowed. The low walk rate fits in with what he’s done in his career, as he’s always had pretty good control even when he was getting hit hard. And boy, has he ever gotten hit hard. Last year he allowed 192 hits in 151.1 innings, 239 in 190 the year before that, and 228 in 199.1 in 2000. I haven’t seen him pitch this season and I haven’t done any number crunching, but it sure seems like he’s either getting really lucky on balls hit in play this year, has gotten very good defense behind him or a bit of both. At the same time, he’s also striking out a hitter per inning this year, something he’s never even come close to before (his career high is 137 strikeouts and it took him 200 innings to do it) so maybe he really is doing something different this season.
Anyway, the point I was going to make is that I worry his style of pitching won’t sit well with the M’s. They’re a patient team, for the most part, and if Loaiza is throwing strikes they’re going to find themselves behind in the count quite a bit. I hate to sound like a cliched hitting instructor or color commentator, but perhaps this is one time you just have to go up there hacking, being aggressive and trying to hit a fastball early in the count rather than waiting around. Looking up his numbers right now I see he has posted a 6.59 ERA against the M’s in five starts over the past three years — 44 H in 28.2 IP, but just 5 BB — numbers which might lead you to believe they used that very plan of attack. Hmm, should be interesting what sort of approach they take at the plate.
Sure would be nice to take two out of three in Chicago, in any event.
Mariners at White Sox, with Support-Neutral Wins over an Average Starter:
Fri, RHP Franklin (-0.2) v RHP Loiza (1.5)
Sat, RHP Garcia (-0.1) v LHP Stewart (0.2) [will Colbrunn get the start against this lefty?]
Sun, RHP Meche (0.6) v RHP Colon (0.4)
(so that’s the M’s 4-1-5 guys by announced rotation at start-of-year)
Loiza’s been red-hot so far this year, Stewart hasn’t (offering a 1:1 bb/k ratio), and Colon’s been a little off his past form. The Mariners have hit better so far, though, and their bullpen is much better. I think the Meche v Colon game is going to be the coolest of the three, but frankly, I drank the Kool-Aid the Meche boosters were handing out a long time ago, and I’m still feeling the effects.
I’d like to also say that I think Mike Cameron’s game-winning grand slam is so far the greatest moment of the 2003 season.
Just a few quick notes on the Future Forty, which you can now find under our orginal features section.
The list was drawn up using my opinions based on in person observations (and I have seen the majority of these players myself), analysis of their statistical track record, organizational feelings toward the player, and opinions from others I respect who have watched these guys play. This isn’t a list of the guys with the most potential, but it also isn’t a list of the guys with the best statistics. I’ve tried to paint as clear a picture as possible of the 40 players in the organization who, as of today, have the most likely shot at success in the major leagues.
I’ll attempt to update the list at the beginning of each month with new rankings and comments. The player names are linked to Baseball America’s player finder page, so you’ll always be able to use those to get up to date stats on the player for the season (and including fall/winter ball from last year, if they participated).
As the season goes along, you’ll see more movement in the lower half of the rankings than the upper portion. There really is little difference between the 23rd and 35th best prospect in the system. At that point, they are all pretty much longshots. I was pretty conservative with recent draftees and other players who will likely be in Peoria or Everett this year. Guys like Terry Forbes, Kendall Bergdall, and Felix Hernandez all possess more potential than others on the Future Forty, but I’ll let them earn their way on once they hit the diamond.
Minor League Highlights for Thursday, May 1
Tacoma 2, Fresno 1 (11 innings). The two teams played to the exact same score for the second game in a row, but the outcome was reversed this time as the Rainiers came out on top. RHP Brian Falkenborg started (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) but was long gone by the time the game was decided, allowing RHP Scott Atchison to pick up the win in relief (3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 BB). The game’s hero was RF Jacques Landry, who went 3-5 at the plate and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th with a single just moments after failing to bunt pinch-runner Kenny Kelly from second to third. In the top of the 10th, Landry threw out a runner at the plate to keep the game tied. CF Chad Meyers reached base three times with a single, a double, a hit-by-pitch and also scored Tacoma’s first run of the game.
In off-the-field news, there’s a story in today’s Tacoma News Tribune about the Rainiers possibly moving to Texas. Reid Ryan, son of Nolan Ryan and president of the Round Rock Express of the AA Texas League, would like to lure a AAA team to Round Rock by 2005. He recently got approval from the city for $1.6M in stadium improvements which bring Dell Diamond Stadium up to AAA standards, and the Rainiers have been for sale for nearly three years. Seeing as the Rainiers are the only AAA team currently for sale, this would seem to be a good fit.
San Antonio 8, Wichita 4. Welcome back Chris Snelling! Everyone’s favorite Aussie LF returned to action last night and did not disappoint, going 2-4 with a single, a double, one run scored and one driven in. He also reached on a hit-by-pitch and was throw out trying to steal — perhaps a sign that he’s not afraid of being aggressive on the bases? 2B Luis Ugueto has three hits, and CF Michael Curry and 3B Justin Leone each had two apiece as the Missions won their 12th game in a row. The only bad news to report is LHP Travis Blackley, who lasted just 1 2/3 IP and put up a very strange line (0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 3 K). RHP Josue Matos picked up the win with a hitless relief appearance (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K).
Inland Empire 8, San Jose 1. The 66ers pounded out 13 hits and held San Jose to just five, mostly behind the strong pitching of LHP Troy Cate (8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K). RHP Emiliano Fruto, who has struggled as a starter this season, worked the final inning (1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and may have lost his spot in the rotation to LHP Glenn Bott, who is scheduled to start tonight. Offensively, the 66ers were led by three hits by 2B Ismael Castro and two each from CF Greg Jacobs, 3B Hunter Brown, C Luis Oliveros and SS Eriberto “Eddie” Menchaca. Jacobs, Oliveros and Menchaca each drove in two runs.
Wisconsin 4, Dayton 2. The Timber Rattlers won their 8th straight game Thursday, this one a soggy affair which featured an hour and twenty-one minute rain delay with two outs in the top of the 4th. RHP TA Fulmer started (3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) but gave way to RHP David Viane, who wound up getting the win (4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K), after the delay. LHP Oscar Delgado worked the final two innings (2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) for his first save of the year. Wisconsin got two hits each from 1B Jon Nelson and DH Christopher Phillips, and SS Michael Garciaparra went 0-4 to drop his average to .171 on the season. Talk in the organization is that Nomar’s brother has two weeks to get his act together and start hitting, or else he’ll be shipped off to extended spring training for the time being and then sent to Everett when the Northwest League starts up in June.
Not that I disagree with you, Derek, but we should at least consider the competition.
Ichiro: .636 OPS
Winn: .658 OPS
Boone: .902 OPS
Martinez: 1.002 OPS
Olerud: .867 OPS
Cameron: .716 OPS
McLemore: .668 OPS
Cirillo: .524 OPS
Wilson: .767 OPS
Fearsome it isn’t.
Soriano: 1.121 OPS
Johnson: .998 OPS
Giambi: .692 OPS
Williams: 1.043 OPS
Matsui: .677 OPS
Posada: 1.003 OPS
Ventura: .822 OPS
Mondesi: 1.093 OPS
Wilson: .511 OPS
The top 4 hitters in last nights game belonged to the Yankees. New York’s offense is a juggernaut, and for Pineiro to hold them to two solo home runs in Yankee Stadium is impressive, strikeouts or not.
Petty complaint of the day: this frequent use of the word “masterful” to describe starts. If a pitcher goes 8 innings, strikes out one guy, gives up, say, a hit an inning and a couple of walks, that’s not masterful if it results in 0-2 runs. It’s lucky. You’re seeing a lot of balls hit badly and the defense making up for it. Take last night’s start, for instance. Mike Mussina (who is throwing pitches that are frankly better than anything I think I’ve seen from the M’s starters all year) went 8, allowed 6 hits, walked none, and struck out 9. So he faced 30 batters, and struck out almost a third of them. Of the remaining 21 who put wood-to-ball, 6 of those put the ball in play and got through for hits.
Meanwhile, Pineiro went 7 innings, allowed 7 hits, walked 2, struck out 2, and gave up two home runs. In his 7 innings, he faced 30 batters too, and 26 of those put wood-to-ball, 2 into the stands. Of the 24 guys who put the ball in play, 7 got hits. So Pineiro and Mussina saw about the same hit rate on balls-in-play. The difference was that Mussina didn’t give up the home runs, he didn’t walk anyone, and a third of the guys that approached the plate got to turn around and sit down without having taken a swing.
Not every start has to be the best start ever, or a terrible start. I understand that particularly in broadcasting there’s a desire to go to superlatives like that, but if you call every rock a diamond, what do you call it when Meche throws a perfect game in late August?