Game 93, Mariners at Royals
Kevin Millwood vs. Bruce Chen, 5:10pm
Ooookay. Reading blogger complaints about having nothing to write about is one of the few things that rate lower by most people’s internal interest scales than reading about mid-season regular season baseball games between the M’s and Royals, but indulge me here. The M’s and Royals are both officially out of the playoff race, and yet neither are as all-out terrible as Colorado or Houston – thus, they’re merely on the periphery of the race for the #1 pick. Both teams are in the midst of rebuilding projects, and both have graduated some lauded prospects to the big club, and both have still more prospects in the minors that give fans a modicum of hope. They’re bad at present, but hope to be contending in 2014-15.
This game’s starters are both 35+ journeymen who signed short free agent deals for relatively small amounts of money (not small to you or me, of course). Chen signed a 2 year, $9m deal and Millwood’s 1 year deal cost only $1m. It’s not like the rebuilding process stops just because these two are the starting pitchers. Dustin Ackley still gets to hit, and Jesus Montero still gets to catc, ok, no, he doesn’t, but he still gets to hit too. But if this feels a “filler” game, that’s because it is.
Now, if I’m a Kansas City fan, I might object and say that after two days of the under-30 new kids, I’m ready for some basic competence, even if that competence comes from a 35 year old Panamanian junkballer. That’s fine; we’ve had similar games when watching Kevin Millwood seemed preferable (emotionally at least) to watching another Noesi implosion. Chen and Millwood may help the younger members of the rotation by giving them pointers, or just being available to answer questions, and while I appreciate that, that’s not the role they’re going to be performing tonight. Bench coach Robby Thompson and hitting coach Chris Chambliss fulfill similar roles, in theory, for the hitters, but they’re not actually going to play.
The M’s have a chance to sweep the Royals, and the M’s are sending out a perfectly good pitcher against a hittable opponent in a good offensive environment (100+ degrees!). I shouldn’t get so hung up on this, especially since it’s not as if the team could force Erasmo back out there or decide that now, today, after his injury scare last night, is the time to move Charlie Furbush back to the rotation. There aren’t many options, and it’s *good* to have vets to fill in. But tonight in Tacoma, Danny Hultzen faces off against this year’s best out-of-nowhere prospect, Dan Straily of Sacramento/Oakland. I’d be lying if I said I’m glad ROOT’s televising the game in KC.
(Seriously: go to Tacoma tonight.)
The big story in baseball today was the first ever “Competitive Balance Lottery” in which the teams with the lowest revenue are eligible for/receive an extra draft pick. These are special draft picks, in that they can be traded (unlike the other draft picks which affect competitive balance but which are totally NOT “Competitive Balance Lottery” picks). Today’s opponent got the very first pick, the first six of which will be at the end of the first round, where the compensation picks used to go (the last six come following the second round). Pittsburgh got pick #2, followed by the Arizona Diamondbacks at #3. The Diamondbacks, who won the NL West going away, and who play in a large media market (bigger than St. Louis, Miami, Twin Cities, and our own Seattle/Tacoma). Seattle’s made a bit too much money to be considered for Competitive Balance, so struggling teams like the Reds, Tigers and Brewers will get the picks instead. St. Louis was eligible, but didn’t receive a pick. Like many wags out there, I think the idea is somewhat laudable but the execution’s somewhat insane. As with revenue sharing, they’ve never really figured out how to avoid rewarding teams for sitting back and collecting luxury tax revenue instead of actually attempting to compete. I like the fact that this attempts to addresses balance on the field, and not just by giving owners more money, but this doesn’t seem like a way to change the behavior of a miserly owner (that the Tigers are included here is a separate issue). Anyway, all of this is patently more interesting than tonight’s game. However, tonight’s game is better than whatever else is on TV, so let’s go M’s.
Charlie Furbush went on the 15-day DL with a strained [edit: triceps, not forearm] so Steve Delabar was recalled about a day after his latest demotion. Option years are…eventful.
4: Montero (C)
7: Olivo (DH)
SP: Kevin Millwood