For the last three years, I’ve been talking up Rafael Soriano’s “stuff” as some of the best in the organization. Currently, I can’t stop raving about how good Clint Nageotte’s “stuff” is. The talk of spring training was the return of Gil Meche’s front-line-starter “stuff”. Watching the game tonight, I’m reminded of something I often forget; stuff isn’t half as important as command at the major league level, and command will be why those pitchers succeed (if they do).
Joel Pineiro has better velocity than Mike Mussina. His curveball has a better break. His 2-seam fastball has more sink. And Mike Mussina is a far superior pitcher because he has impeccable command. Mike Mussina is a pitcher. Joel Pineiro is still a thrower. He’s getting by on Safeco Field, great defense, and a nasty outpitch. For him to be anywhere near the Mike Mussina class of pitcher, he’s going to have to strengthen his command.
Nick Johnson is back, by the way. It isn’t easy to break into the all-star game as an American League first baseman, but Johnson is going to force his way onto the team. This is the kid that posted a .525 OBP in AA as a 20-year-old. By the end of the year, he just may be the best hitter on that team.
Mark McLemore hit .214/.353/.295 in the second half last year. He’s hitting .215/.308/.337 to start this year. He’s 38-years-old. Can we stop believing that this guy is anything more than a 25th man on the roster? And why are people so shocked that this bench isn’t very good?
Despite the issues, we’re still in first place, and thats a happy thought to go to bed with.
This just in: Missions won their 18th game. Tonight’s M’s game is going to be awesome, I’m giving it my must-watch recommendation. Also, I want to say “wie gehts” to our reader(s) in Switzerland, where us Zumstegs came from, long ago. And to Shane Lidman, who’s in Germany right now doing graduate studies on the lost art of diplomacy.
Our only single team member here, Dave, would like to add that he would be happy to date any female M’s fans in Switzerland, or North Carolina for that matter. Jason and I (who are both married) are so impressed with David Cameron, we’ve given him our full endorsement. You can set David up with dates by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minor League Highlights for Super Tuesday, May 6
Colorado Springs 11, Tacoma 1. RHPs Jeff Heaverlo (2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) and J.J. Putz (4 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) were each shelled yesterday, allowing five runs in the first inning, one in the second, three in the third and two more in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Rainiers managed just one run on their eight hits, of which 1B Andy Barkett had a pair. He also drove in SS Mickey Lopez for the team’s only run. With the game well out of reach, utilityman Craig Kuzmic was allowed to pitch the 9th inning (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) and didn’t fare badly.
San Antonio 6, Tulsa 1. I’ve run out of adjectives to describe the Missions, who have now won 17 games in a row. David Cameron tells me that one more win will the franchise record, set way back in 1908 when the club was called the San Antonio Bronchos (yes, that is the correct spelling). LHP Travis Blackley, who struggled mightily with his control in his last start, walked just one hitter in seven innings to pick up the win (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) and RHP Craig House (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) finished things off. LF Jaime Bubela led the offense with three hits in four trips, two runs batted in and a steal, and DH John Lindsey was 2-4 with a homer and also stole a base. The Missions will take their incredible streak to the field today in Tulsa, with RHP Rett Johnson getting the start.
High Desert 8, Inland Empire 5 (11 innings). RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki, with the 66ers on a rehab assignment, got the start but worked only one inning (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) as he was on a strict pitch count. LHP Russ Morgan, fresh off the disabled list, followed with a scoreless inning but gave way to the day’s regularly scheduled starter, RHP Cha Seung Baek. Perhaps uncomfortable pitching out of the pen, Baek did not fare well (3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). 3B Hunter Brown led the offense with two hits, a run scored and one driven in, though the 66ers managed just seven hits in the game despite playing two extra frames. RHP Brian Strelitz (2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) took the loss in relief, surrendering the winning runs in the top of the 11th.
Lansing 12, Wisconsin 7. The Timber Rattlers continue to score a ton of runs, but poor pitching performances have done them in. RHP Tanner Watson (4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 2 K) struggled, leaving the game while Lansing was in the middle of a 9-run 5th inning. Watson had been spotted a 6-1 lead entering the 5th. RHP Renee Cortez, who had been stellar this season up until yesterday, couldn’t stop the bleeding (1 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and saw his ERA jump by nearly three runs. Wisconsin managed to score their seven runs on just eight hits, including two doubles from RF T.J. Bohn and a homer from DH Carlos Arroyo. Bohn scored twice on the day and drove in a pair of runs, while Arroyo knocked in three and scored once.