Hector Noesi Impressive – Rest of Team Less So

marc w · March 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Back in January, Dave wrote about Hector Noesi and his surprising velocity. Dave’s article cited his scouting report of an 89-93 MPH fastball (a pretty big range, really) with the ability to touch 96 (making the range even bigger), and also mentioned that Noesi was able to sustain good velocity in his longer outings with the Yankees. Then came reports from the Dominican Winter League that Noesi was touching 98 MPH, despite working as a starting pitcher. Needless to say, I was looking forward to Hector Noesi’s first start this pre-season. In Peoria. With Pitch FX.

Let’s be clear – this was a two-inning start in early March. It’s tempting to over-analyze the 30-odd pitches because they’re all we’ve got so far and because it’s March and all the M’s have done is play pretend games against Oakland’s minor leaguers. This isn’t intended to settle the question about Noesi’s stuff – it’s just a snapshot. The fact that his outing was so short may inflate his velo, though to be fair, the fact that it’s his first spring training start might depress it. I have no idea. However, what Pitch FX showed was a guy averaging 9495 on two different fastballs. In the first inning, he hit 96.6 MPH against Seth Smith.

He didn’t allow any hits, but he had poor command, which led to two walks. Many of his “misses” weren’t exactly borderline; he threw four consecutive balls- none of which were close – to Michael Taylor/Anthony Recker before straightening things out. Still, Noesi’s been a command guy in the minors, with walk rates under 5% until 2011. If he’s now got an above average fastball (and perhaps an above average sinker/two-seamer), then he really changes the nature of the trade. If they got an MLB-ready arm that tops out as a middle-reliever, then the loss of Jose Campos might sting a bit. But if Noesi can maintain this (or maintain this velocity without the command issues), he’s an intriguing starting pitching prospect who could begin the year with the big club. If he’s consistently 93-95 in the rotation, he’s not a swing-man/#5 starter, he’s got a shot to be the #3 starter by July.

Unfortunately, the rest of the game didn’t follow suit. Hong-Chih Kuo – trying to make the team as the second lefty in the bullpen behind George Sherrill – had a forgettable inning, throwing about 30 pitches with velocity below his career average and giving up three hits including a HR. The line-up. which many noted looks similar to what the M’s might roll out on opening day, managed just two hits in the first six innings (one of them, a HR, came off the one guy everyone agree will NOT be in the opening day line-up – Carlos Peguero). Michael Saunders didn’t do much, and Franklin Gutierrez is still going to miss a month or more.

Despite the poor hitting, Noesi’s performance offered something for optimists to grab on to. Despite the presence of Jesus Montero (who’s fine, despite being held out today – he should be in the line-up against San Diego tomorrow), the M’s don’t project as a league-average offense. They’re going to need to maintain their sterling runs-allowed if they want to avoid another run at 100 losses, and they’re going to need to do so without Michael Pineda. Noesi offers one of the best opportunities on the roster to blow the PECOTA/CAIRO/Gut-feeling projection out of the water.

Other stories today:
* In 2011, the M’s saw one of their best players, CF Franklin Gutierrez, felled by a mysterious illness that led to a horrific 2011 batting line. Well, the Mets may be in the same boat. Adam Rubin of ESPN is reporting that 1B Ike Davis of the Mets may have Valley Fever, the strange fungal infection that stopped Conor Jackson’s career in its tracks and, for the old-timers out there, basically ended Barry Bonnell’s career as soon as he joined the M’s. Jackson said it’s like “mono on steroids” and the Mets are trying to reduce Davis’ workload and make sure he’s well-rested. But this is a player who relied on power to excel, and the examples of Bonnell and Jackson aren’t exactly encouraging. Davis is a great talent, and having just seen Gutierrez attempt to play through IBS in 2011, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Here’s hoping Davis is able to make a full recovery. And, since I’m already discussing crappy luck, that Gutierrez’s musculature stops tearing so easily.

* Yoenis Cespedes’ deal with the Oakland Athletics became official after the Cuban CF passed a physical today. The A’s don’t have to think hard about a 40-man roster move, as the injury to starting 3B Scott Sizemore makes it easy – Sizemore will go to the 60-man and will likely miss the entirety of the 2012 season and Cespedes will take his spot on the roster.


14 Responses to “Hector Noesi Impressive – Rest of Team Less So”

  1. Phoenician Todd on March 4th, 2012 2:16 am

    I just wanted to let people know that Valley Fever is something that nearly every resident of the valley gets in one form or another. Though it can be deadly, the vast majority of people never know they get it;instead thinking that they may have a cold/flu or never realize they had it at all.

    The media from other parts of the country tend to overly dramatize an issue that rarely gives any resident pause.

  2. The Ancient Mariner on March 4th, 2012 4:59 am

    That’s because for most residents, it’s a minor thing. For those who are particularly susceptible for whatever reason, it isn’t minor at all. If Davis has a moderately severe form (or worse) of Valley Fever, which seems to be the concern, nobody is “overly dramatizing” anything.

  3. PackBob on March 4th, 2012 6:52 am

    It’s pretty encouraging. 94-95 with command, as he’s demonstrated in the past, should be effective. Everything seems to be pointing to a quality starter. If Vargas’ adjustment from late 2011 remains effective, as it seemed to be in his first start, that would be three solid starters with Iwakuma still an unknown and the 5th spot up for grabs.

    If Noesi turns into a quality starter, there should be less pressure to move Hultzen/Paxton/Walker faster than maybe what is best for their development. And good pitching combined with good defense should take the heat off the offense a little, good for all the young bats.

  4. Mariners35 on March 4th, 2012 9:11 am

    I wasn’t listening to the game, but I assume the Peguero hate is justified again because he’s doing the same bad-process-occasionally-good-results as last year that made people tear their hair out? I.e. his homeruns so far this spring have been on mistakes or something, and he’s still swinging at everything otherwise?

  5. dwishinsky on March 4th, 2012 9:16 am

    Valley Fever is in large part crippled Conor Jackson’s career. I’m an A’s fans but I was at the game yesterday in Peoria and really thought that Noesi was impressive. He stood out among the pitchers that pitched yesterday for either side along with our Jarrod Parker.

  6. MrZDevotee on March 4th, 2012 9:54 am

    Only the right people, with the right skillset, are allowed to cause runs for the worst offense in baseball ever. When you have the worst offense ever- EVER in baseball- it doesn’t matter if all you occasionally do is hit a ball that no one can catch that immediately puts a run on the board. And, that unfortunately, is Peguero’s only talent– causing runs, on the worst offense EVER. He doesn’t offer anything the team can use.

    (ducks and covers)

    **I actually AM kidding, his defense costs us nearly as many runs as his bat provides, so there’s nothing really there at this point other than a sort of John Henry effect– although on hot days his swing provides a little air circulation for the crowd**

  7. Mariners35 on March 4th, 2012 10:18 am

    MrZ – I know all about Peggy’s “talent” and his limitations. 🙂 I was actually looking to see if anyone who was watching the game, could tell if Peguero had fixed his approach.

    If he’s still Vlad Guerrero strikezone but AA pitch recognition, not interesting. If he’s still hitting monster home runs but actually picking and choosing his spots a bit better, better swing mechanics, letting the occasional ball happen, etc. then perhaps he’s interesting.

  8. stevemotivateir on March 4th, 2012 10:43 am

    ^The game wasn’t televised. But I can tell you that it didn’t sound like he was laying off bad pitches while listening to the first game. To be fair though, it’s early, and it’s hard to get a clear idea without seeing the at-bats. Just once this spring, I’d love to see him take a four-pitch walk.

  9. djw on March 4th, 2012 11:14 am

    MrZ, I have no idea what point you think you’re making, even in jest. The 2011 Mariners were a historically awful offense, and Peguero’s offensive performance was well below average by the team’s standards. So he was “causing runs” at a rate below the average Mariners hitter.

    In other words, one could hold the belief that run prevention is 100% about pitchers and defense is completely irrelevant and still want Peguero nowhere near the roster.

  10. MrZDevotee on March 4th, 2012 11:40 am

    Thank you for correcting the point you didn’t know I was making. *rolls eyes*

    The point I was making is that people don’t like Peguero here. Really REALLY don’t like Peguero. To the point they DETEST him, and want him “nowhere near the roster”.

    See. (You said it yourself)

    People here detest him to the point it’s comical (to one side, and maddening to the other).

    Meanwhile, there are people who like him enough to actually stick him in the lineup, give him a professional baseball contract, and play him, to see if he can figure it out (they’re called the Seattle Mariners). Probably because we’re a historically bad offense in need of bats.

    Letting him face major league pitchers this season will probably set us back decades, I know. And probably push our chance of winning back from 2014 to 2016.

    **We are a team seriously aching for success when guys playing in the first 2 games of spring training start controversies**

  11. djw on March 4th, 2012 12:16 pm

    I don’t “hate” or detest him or anything of the sort. I think you confuse “hatred” for not mincing words about a simple, obvious truth–that his current skill set gives him a set of abilities that are well short of of a replacement level player, and the history of players with his skill set would indicate that the likelihood of him developing in such a way that he’d be likely to meet or surpass replacement level is very low. This isn’t remotely personal.

    I think you’re confusing colorfully expressed frustration for the terrible decision to stick him in the middle of the lineup every day for hatred. But you also seem to be claiming (as, I recall, you were last year) that he has offensive value. Otherwise, I’m not sure what you meant by claiming he’s “creating runs” which is true only in the literal sense that he produces more than zero runs, but not true in the sense that his offensive performance in 2011 was below replacement level and any projection system of note would expect him to stay south of that mark.

  12. KevinPmoorE on March 4th, 2012 1:51 pm

    If Valley Fever is “Mono on steroids,” then Ike Davis would have no workload whatsoever. The first poster seems to be right here, and the second not even close. If this guy is able to get out of bed, then it is not mono on steroids, yet it sounds like Davis is on the field in some capacity.

  13. Dave on March 4th, 2012 2:16 pm

    Congrats, MrZ, you win the award for most strawmen set up in one comment.

  14. MrZDevotee on March 4th, 2012 8:08 pm

    Thanks, Dave.

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