I’m Going to Have To Ask You To Wrap Things Up, Cactus League: Mariners at Cubs
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Carlos Villanueva, 12:05pm
Note the 12pm start time!
The rotation’s set, the team’s looking forward to the game in Salt Lake and gearing up for opening day on Monday, but there’s still this game to play. There’s one final roster decision to come: who’ll be the 25th man/5th OF? Will it be Jason Bay, local boy made good, then bad, then maybe, hopefully, decent again? Or Casper Wells, the jack of all trades except consistent contact, who offers plus defense and power but whom the team is clearly down on. This is an interesting decision, but it’s not a critical one. We’re not talking about a starter, and while Franklin Gutierrez is as injury-prone as anyone in baseball, Michael Saunders is available to play CF, and now that Endy Chavez is only 30 miles away, Wells’ ability to play CF isn’t critically necessary. That said, casting him aside would mean crumpling up and discarding something of value, and the M’s still aren’t in a position to do things like that.
The M’s look like they’re going to take their time on this one, as Greg Johns reports that they won’t decide today and may not until Sunday, but it definitely looks like Bay’s their choice. This isn’t a shock, but with Wells staying in Peoria to play minor league games while Bay travels with the M’s to Mesa and then Salt Lake, well, if it walks like a decision and talks like a decision….
Carlos Villanueva appeared in Dave’s off-season plan post, but the M’s front office went a different direction by snagging Joe Saunders for less money than Villanueva ended up getting. Chicago looked past persistent home run problems and durability concerns and signed the righty to a two-year, $10m contract. Villanueva’s change-up is a legitimate swing-and-miss weapon, and he posted excellent strike-out rates last year, but was burned by the long-ball – he gave up 23 in 125 innings last year with Toronto. Because of his change-up, he doesn’t really have platoon splits. They’re normal to a little smaller than normal over his career, so he represents a very different type of pitcher than Joe Saunders, and how you view the importance of splits may inform how you value Villanueva and Saunedrs. I’m still stunned Saunders was available for less money/years than Villanueva, but so many of the AL West’s best hitters are righties at the moment.
Anyway, here’s today’s line-up:
1: Saunders, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Montero, C
8: Andino, 2B
9: Ryan, SS