June 15, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Bob Sherwin has a story in today’s Times about the M’s homegrown pitching.

How’s this for a Mariners rotation? Joel Pineiro, Gil Meche, Ryan Franklin, Clint Nageotte and Travis Blackley?

Um, well, it’s okay, I guess… why?

They are all promising arms in the organization, some already with the Mariners, some in the minors.

No they’re not. Franklin’s 31. We’ve seen the best he’s going to get. There’s no promise of future improvement there.

Anyway, the article makes a big deal about how the Mariners’ focus on pitching has been so effective in producing this bumper crop of starters. That’s great, except that:

a) It’s not true

b) It neglects that the Mariners spending so many high picks on pitchers has meant that the system is almost entirely devoid of good position players

To a — as Sherwin says:

The club generally has used two-thirds of its 50 draft picks on pitchers. Some of those have reached the big time. Pineiro was a 12th-rounder in 1997. Nageotte was a fifth-rounder and Putz a sixth-rounder in 1999.

During those 10 years, the first 10 picks of the Mariners’ drafts were pitcher dominated. Of the 100 players taken, 64 were pitchers.

Without looking at it, I would bet that that split is even more pronounced if you break it down by round or even weight by relative position.

So of those 64 players taken in those Mariner first ten picks, how many turned into major league pitchers?

Or, even better, let’s use the examples Sherwin cites:

Cha Seung Baek, non drafted free agent.

Blackley, 23rd round

Franklin, 23rd round

Heaverlo, 1st round, 1999

Meche, 1st round, 1996

Nageotte – 5th round, 1999

Pineiro – 12th round, 1997

Soriano – undrafted free agent

and King Felix, undrafted free agent

What’s that tell you? That many of these guys who are the products of this pitching emphasis, including the most successful to date and the most promising, were down in the draft and foreign free agents. Pitchers are unpredictable creatures, prone to injury and wacky development patterns, and I don’t feel like we should applaud the team for hitting the craps table over and over and winning once in a while.