Cactus League Game 16, Mariners at Dodgers
Jon Garland vs. Ted Lilly, 12:05
Spring training stats don’t mean much of anything. We keep saying that in part because it’s easy to get swept up in the M’s dinger parade and read more into it than it warrants. But that doesn’t mean everything – every result, every pitch, every swing – is random and meaningless. It makes sense when you stop and think about it, but after so many months without baseball, it’s sometimes hard to stop and think – it’s fun to watch Morse/Morales and even a healthy Franklin Gutierrez hitting moon shots. Last year, Michael Saunders started doing things he wasn’t capable of doing before. Last spring, Chance Ruffin came to camp throwing slower and with worse command. These indicators turned out to be pretty important to those players’ 2012 regular seasons.
So: is it meaningful that Hector Noesi suddenly can’t get anyone out? I think it probably is, and it’s worth wondering how it came to be that a reliever/spot starter for the Yankees in 2011 has turned into someone who couldn’t get outs in AAA last year and can’t get outs in Arizona now. His raw stuff doesn’t look all that different – the velocity’s the same, the movement’s largely unchanged, but the results aren’t. Given that, you might expect some regression to the mean and for his results to start moving back towards where he was in 2011 or where his minor league stats indicated he should be. But all of the evidence we have, from 2012 and now early 2013, is that Hector Noesi is historically easy to hit, and that he’s not improving. It’s remarkable. I’d assume his confidence is about as low as M’s fans when they see his name in the line-up, so he should probably be the focus of the M’s ‘performance specialists’ and the player development coaches. He’s pitched himself off of the M’s roster, and needs to make some adjustments if he wants to return.
Today, Jon Garland continues his case for the last rotation spot. Blake Beavan’s been surprisingly stiff competition, and Brandon Maurer’s showing good stuff and a solid arsenal of breaking balls, so Garland’s start today will get a lot of attention. He’ll pitch three innings, so seeing how his velocity holds up at pitch 40-50 is going to be huge. Of course, this is a road game, so WE can’t follow his velocity, but Wedge/Willis/Zduriencik presumably will. Garland’s stuff earlier in Spring wasn’t all the way back, but he’s pitched fairly well. Still, the M’s need a good pitcher, not just a good story. Today’s start can begin to make the argument that he’s both.
1: Gutierrez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Sucre, C
9: Ryan, SS
That’s one Montero away from an opening day line-up.