Stories From Camp That I’m Reading, pt. 4
As I started writing this, I was thinking “I can’t remember that much news in this past week that caught my eye.” Three hours later, it turns out to be the longest one I’ve written. This is why marc accuses me of graphomania.
This has ended up being Larry Stone heavy.
• As we all well know at this point, Felix faced some minor leaguers this past week instead of going up against hated division rivals in the Oakland Athletics because to do so would give away terrible secrets and cripple us in the season to come. Larry Stone has the best feature I’ve seen on it, which does cover the part about Steve Baron lacing two doubles and making the rest of us scratch our heads, as does every other article, but also talks about the previous history of notable franchise faces pitching against minor leaguers, the wackiness of trying to keep tabs on what’s going on in such a game, and some praise that Felix had for Kyle Seager.
• Also from Larry Stone, a feature on how the Rays draft every relevant prospect in the Pacific Northwest. It’s as though some alternate reality where the M’s were moved to Tampa is seeping through to ours and making a mess of things. It’s really only a matter of time before there are more people in the Seattle area following the Rays than there are Rays fans in Tropicana.
• Continuing the theme, we also have a Stone article talking about Adam Moore and the curse of the “Catcher of the Future,” which if nothing else indicates to me that we may be finally past the era of mentioning Ryan Christianson. Moore’s really been swinging the bat well, so I’m hopeful. As I’ve mentioned before (several times by now), there’s really nothing else internally beyond Moore and Baron. One has to pin one’s hopes somewhere.
• Ryan Divish talked for a while with Michael Saunders about the tweaks in his batting stance that he’s tried to employ, which is a relevant read given the triple yesterday. Saunders has been a guy that I’ve been very interested in since the new regime took over. If you’ll remember the start of the minor league conditioning program last year, you’ll recall that Saunders and Ackley had the Goofus and Gallant thing going on as far as batting stances and what they were looking for went. For this reason, I’ve wondered if the org did not regard Saunders as a part of the team’s future and whether or not this would be a Choo situation where it came back to make us cry. That Saunders seems to be getting some success from these tweaks appears positive, though I’d still expect Milton to break camp as the team’s left fielder while Saunders works his way through Tacoma again in the hopes that he’ll land a spot later.
• The Everett Herald has a piece on Aquasox manager Scott Steinmann, yet another former catcher who retired from the game at twenty-four in order to take up coaching. He’s been in the system ever since and has been a manager for longer than I’ve been following the minor leagues, which is a little surprising. It also explains a bit of why he’s been shuffled around a lot from one level to the next throughout his tenure.
• Yesterday marked the first full workout for the minor leaguers and that meant that the Rainiers and the Aquasox received their championship rings. Ryan Divish had pictures and motivational quotes from Zduriencik, Larry Stone adds that Jose Moreno was translating into Spanish, and Mike Curto has some close-up shots of the Rainiers ring.
• We need our weekly Pineda fix, so here are some things. Larry Stone talked to new bullpen coach Jaime Navarro about Pineda, seeing as how Navarro was Pineda’s pitching coach multiple times throughout the minor leagues, and gets some comments from Pineda about Felix. Kirby Arnold talked a bit more about Pineda’s work ethic and attempts to learn English. Shannon Drayer talked to him about how excited he was to face big league hitters. I remember when Felix first came up, for a while he was only doing interviews in Spanish, but here we have Pineda trying to answer questions in English already, even if he frequently ends up laughing at his own struggles to communicate, as we saw from the Fanfest footage. Pineda’s a pretty weird blend of work ethic, drive, and talent, which is why I wouldn’t put much of anything past him. I’m glad he’s ours. That said, the rushed mechanics and minor inconsistencies from the past outing may have provided the M’s some justification in leaving him to work through some things in the minor leagues a while. Just saying.
• After hitting grand slams in consecutive games and home runs three games in a row, Alex Liddi was optioned earlier in the week, but not before getting a few articles, including ones by Kirby Arnold, Ryan Divish, and Jon McGrath as part of a large minor league piece which reminds us that all tall infielders weighing more than two hundred pounds are the second coming of Alex Rodriguez. A couple of things that interested me that were repeated in each are that Liddi acknowledges shortcomings in his defense and is working on them and that he conceives of himself as a line drive hitter more than anything. This sort of indicates to me a buy-in of the organization’s philosophy on a larger scale. We’ve heard a lot of guys with pop not refer to themselves as home run hitters this spring training. We’ve heard many fellows who are perceived as poor defenders talk about what they’re doing to improve their game. Slowly, a Mariners way of doing things is starting to develop at the minor league level. And the McGrath piece isn’t really that bad, I’m just getting sick of hearing A-Rod mentioned so casually. I may also be getting sick of salami references.
• Prior to his being sent down to the minor league camp, we got a few bits on James Paxton. Divish says Zduriencik was pleased, Stone quotes Paxton as saying M’s camp is “awesome”, and Greg Johns talks about Paxton throwing 80% and emphasizes that it’s been roughly two weeks between bullpens for him. Given the kind of shape he seems to have kept himself in, it seems possible that Paxton could join Medina in High Desert to open April which means that you would be watching the Mavericks for their pitching and that’s kind of worrisome.