Game 4: Mariners at Athletics…maybe

marc w · April 4, 2013 at 11:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Brandon Maurer vs. AJ Griffin, 12:35pm

Day game on getaway day in the Bay Area, but the rain’s conspiring to either delay or scratch this contest. With the unbalanced schedule, it’s not that hard to fit in a make-up date later on against a divisional rival, so I don’t think they’ll be as desperate to get this one in as they would if Oakland was hosting, say, Minnesota.

If it does happen, the focus will rightly be on RHP Brandon Maurer, who’s set to make his major league debut today. He took control of the rotation spot with a brilliant spring, and showed advanced command of three or four pitches, and that gave him the edge not only over fellow prospects Danny Hultzen and Tai Walker, but mlb vets like Garland and Bonderman. I’ve been trying to figure out who he reminds me of, and I’ve landed on this comparison: Texas starter Matt Harrison. Both are 6’4″-6’5″ and not exactly built like Chris Sale. Both feature four-seamers, two-seamers, a very hard slider/cutter (around 86mph) and a change-up, and both get a ton of arm-side movement on their fastballs. Sure, Harrison’s a lefty and Maurer’s a righty, but I don’t think it’s against the law to point out the similarities between the two. Harrison moved slowly in the Braves and then Rangers systems, but was the #90 prospect in baseball at one point – about where Maurer was this off-season.

AJ Griffin is still the same bafflingly successful righty throwing 89mph fastballs up in the zone and watching the flyballs settle harmlessly in his OF’s gloves. He’s not just a Beavanite though – Griffin gets an above-average number of strikeouts, due in part to a good curveball. Still, his entire game seems to be based on the whole BABIP-suppressing, not-too-many-HR tightrope-walking blueprint that Jarrod Washburn and “crafty lefties” have been using for years. Doesn’t he know he’s right-handed? His strand rate figures to rise a bit this year, but he could regress and still be a league average hurler – not bad for an unheralded 13th round pick. The M’s saw him a few times in 2012, and then they faced him another couple of times this spring, so if the element of surprise was a component in his success last year, hopefully that’s not going to be a factor now.

Brendan Gawlowski has a great preview/article on Maurer’s debut over at LL here that’s worth a read.

The line-up:
1: Saunders, RF
2: Gutierrez, CF
3: Ibanez, DH
4: Morse, LF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Seager, 3B
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Shoppach, C
9: Andino, SS
SP: Brandon Maurer

Comments

43 Responses to “Game 4: Mariners at Athletics…maybe”

  1. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 11:20 am

    It will be interesting how the Saunders/Gutierrez leadoff experiment turns out. If Saunders can get back to where he takes more walks (which he used to do, back when he sucked at hitting), or if Guti gets back to his “healthy Guti” .330+ OBP, it could be a good thing. But we don’t really have any high OBP guys to fill that role…

    Regardless, so far I’m finding these lineups much less painful to watch at bat than last years lineups were. I will likely continue to complain about Raul, but I would rather see him bat than, say, Chone Figgins or Carlos Peguero.

  2. ChrisFB on April 4th, 2013 11:37 am

    Not sure I like taking Ryan’s defense out given how much of a big contributor he’s been in the other 3 games thus far… but I suppose he needs rest too to avoid neck issues. and something something matchups something.

  3. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 11:38 am

    Westy-
    Agreed. On all accounts. There’s something refreshing about getting to 7 and 8 in the lineup the past few days and seeing the names Montero and Ackley. THAT says more about a different lineup than anything else. The young guys just get to play and put the bat on the ball.

    And that’s a HUGE change from last year when arguably they were the two guys with the most weight on their shoulders to carry the team’s offense.

    I’m also excited to see Maurer pitch. Feeling some butterflies of “does his stuff translate to the big boys”?

    Glad it’s looking like the weather is gonna hold up, or I was gonna be disappointed (beyond being okay with not seeing Raul bat 3rd– REALLY? We’re slating him as the best hitter in our lineup?).

  4. absolutsyd on April 4th, 2013 11:53 am

    Is there some real reason that Ackley, Ryan and Saunders can’t manage to play four straight games, or does Wedge actually think this is a good way to develop hitting? I mean, call me crazy, but why doesn’t he just try leaving the damn lineup alone for a few weeks and see what happens? Yes, sometimes guys will need days off, but this is just stupid. I, for one, just want to see Montero, Smoak, Ackley, Ryan, Seeger, Saunders, Guti, Morse and someone DHing for awhile.

  5. Paul B on April 4th, 2013 12:15 pm

    I assume Wedge has a reason that Andino and Ibanez are both in the lineup today.

    I’m not sure I want to know his reason, I’ll just assume it makes sense and go to my happy place.

  6. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 12:18 pm

    Paul-
    Any advice/directions/landmarks to help find the “happy place”? My M’s map is an old one, and it doesn’t have one on it.

  7. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 12:19 pm

    I would guess Wedge just wants to make sure everybody gets into to a game at least once, early on, so their mothers are all happy.

    And they REALLY need to stop with the 1995 radio replays. Give us something to cheer about NOW.

  8. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 12:24 pm

    Westy-
    Good point… Playing some radio broadcasts from 1983 would paint the modern era in a better light for us. You’d think the M’s office would want to do that.

    “Remember when we REALLY sucked!”
    - the 2013 “Win Back the Fans” marketing slogan

    And now that Alvin Davis is on the payroll, he could do radio spots where he talks about only DREAMING of playing with guys as good as the current lineup.

    Alvin: “I mean, we were BAD… Really bad. Yet we had more fans back then. I guess they were better fans…? Modern fans are probably too busy. Or too poor. Or forgot about garlic fries. Go M’s!”

  9. Paul B on April 4th, 2013 12:24 pm

    Ibanez and Andino have both already been in a game this year. So that isn’t the reason.

  10. Paul B on April 4th, 2013 12:26 pm

    Yesterday they had a fun trivia question on the TV broadcast, it was the Mariner record for most wins to start the season.

    The answer was 6 (6-0) and the year was 1985 I think. And that team was so good they promptly regressed and lost 12 of the next 13!

    Ah, the good old days.

  11. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 12:30 pm

    Paul-
    Hey, just getting to regress was a positive back then… It meant, even if you missed it, something decent had happened, and now it was correcting itself!

    (laugh)… Until my daughter was born a couple years back I had never missed an opening day. I miss the good ol’ opening days when you could walk up to the ticket booth on opening day, buy a ticket to the 300 level, wait till the 3rd inning when the ushers stop caring, and walk down to seats behind the dugout and have your pick of 10 or 12 empty ones.

    You could talk to the players while they were on deck, or in the hole. Alvin was actually the nicest guy on earth. Rupert Jones too.

  12. californiamariner on April 4th, 2013 12:31 pm

    Wedge really needs to chill out with the lineups. I’m hoping he’s just giving everyone a chance to play at the start of the season and then it’ll settle down. Lets get this first series!

  13. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 12:37 pm

    You know what would make the Mariners radio pregame even better? They should squeeze in even more commercials!

  14. Paul B on April 4th, 2013 12:39 pm

    MrZ, we used to have weekend season tickets, for the first row right above the Mariner bullpen bench in the Kingdome. So we got to talk to the relievers and catcher before the games. And see how they went about their prep.

    Other years, we had season tickets behind the plate in like row 7, and we were right in front of the Mariner wives. We got to hear some gossip that year.

  15. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 12:39 pm

    Westy-
    You’re turning into the guy on the block who’s always yelling at the kids “Get the hell off my lawn!”

    “Goll darn commercials!”

    “You call THAT a lineup?!”

    (laughs)
    I’m not far behind you– definitely getting touchy about my lawn.

  16. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 12:42 pm

    My lawn’s a mess – the kids can get on it all they want. :-D

  17. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 12:43 pm

    Other years, we had season tickets behind the plate in like row 7, and we were right in front of the Mariner wives. We got to hear some gossip that year.

    “I don’t understand why my husband’s doctor says I need to take antibiotics for his ear infection!”

    (apologies to Jim Bouton)

  18. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 12:48 pm

    Oops.

  19. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 12:49 pm

    Welcome to the big leagues, Brandon Maurer.

  20. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 12:51 pm

    Huh, MLB audio is lagging the app text updates.

  21. nvn8vbryce on April 4th, 2013 12:56 pm

    Westy, it’s done that all season. I knew Saunders coughed up the lead a full minute before I heard it.

  22. Paul B on April 4th, 2013 1:00 pm

    So the A’s got Reddick from Boston for a relief ace?

    I’d forgotten that.

    Seems like a good deal for the A’s.

  23. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 1:05 pm

    6-4-3 like the book draws it up… Go M’s! Let’s get some hits now…

  24. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 1:06 pm

    Paul-
    Yeah, but to get the beard they had to send the Red Sox some really sweet weed! Lots of it. Driving it out there made the move way riskier.

  25. Paul B on April 4th, 2013 1:32 pm

    Oh, I was listening on the radio today. Didn’t realize Reddick was the Grizzly Adams guy.

  26. californiamariner on April 4th, 2013 2:01 pm

    Ok I can live with Morse averaging 1 hr a game haha

  27. mrakbaseball on April 4th, 2013 2:01 pm

    Goldsmith really needs to work on his HR call, or get one.

  28. RaoulDuke37 on April 4th, 2013 2:01 pm

    war…
    morse…

    WAR…
    MORSE…

    WARMORSE!

  29. groundzero55 on April 4th, 2013 2:18 pm

    Is Reddick really this good? He seems to me like one of those guys who outperforms his stats. He batted what, .250 last year?

    Maurer seems to be hanging everything over the plate now.

  30. Coolalvin206 on April 4th, 2013 2:25 pm

    Well, being over .500 was nice while it lasted.

  31. jordan on April 4th, 2013 2:34 pm

    Lets be honest. Once Morse cools down, we are in a world of hurt.

  32. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 2:38 pm

    Jordan-
    The Glass is half full! Once Morse HEATS UP, we’re gonna really be doing well.

    Er…
    I mean, once Morales/Smoak/Ibanez/Bay heats up, we’ll be fine. Literally… Once. Maybe twice.

  33. californiamariner on April 4th, 2013 3:08 pm

    It would be nice to see the best lineup we have more than 1 out of 4 games

  34. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 3:15 pm

    So when do people start complaining that Morse only hits “empty” home runs since they’ve been mostly solo shots? hehehehehe

    (to the humor impaired – no, I don’t believe that in the slightest)

    I just remember hearing an argument along those lines about Ichiro once, how he only got meaningful hits when no one was on base. Which was silly, and actually counter-factual BTW.

  35. Ralph_Malph on April 4th, 2013 3:18 pm

    Lets be honest. Once Morse cools down, we are in a world of hurt.

    No team ever has all its hitters hot at the same time. One guy is hot, another guy is cold. That’s baseball.

  36. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 3:25 pm

    Westy-
    It’s because Morse is selfish. He doesn’t want other guys to get RBI’s. He’d be more helpful if he just slapped singles and got on base!

    (hee hee)

    (I always loved the “Ichiro is selfish” arguments– “yes, the best player on the team is really letting us down, isn’t he, by continuing to do what he does well…?”)

  37. absolutsyd on April 4th, 2013 3:48 pm

    Ichiro’s batting numbers are actually crazy close for any given situation. He hit nearly the exact same whether their were RISP or empty bases. In fact, the only real deviation is that he seemed to hit significantly better with the bases loaded. Career .406/.410/.586 versus .322/.365/.419 overall.

  38. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 3:49 pm

    We can argue about Morse’s overall value, but it’s pretty obvious that right now he is doing exactly what he was brought in to do. That is one strong dude.

  39. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2013 4:41 pm

    Westy-
    Yeah, he’s like a laid back, super friendly Paul Bunyan!

    He’ll probably build the new arena for Chris Hansen with his bare hands!

    Then help a little old lady across the street, by carrying her under one arm.

    Bad ass.

  40. Ralph_Malph on April 4th, 2013 5:03 pm

    It’s hard to picture Morse as a shortstop now. I must have seen him there — he made 50 starts for the M’s at SS in 2005. Maybe it was so traumatic that my mind has blanked it out.

    A-Rod was big for a SS, but Morse is a heck of a lot bigger. He can’t have gotten taller since 2005 — he was 23 years old then — but has he filled out? I just don’t remember him being that huge back then.

  41. Ralph_Malph on April 4th, 2013 5:16 pm

    Looking back at it now, 2005 was not a banner year for the M’s at SS. Yuniesky Betancourt started 52 games, Morse 50, Wilson Valdez (remember him?) 42, and Bloomquist 21. Yikes, no wonder they went 69-93. I’ve blocked out a lot about that year.

  42. Westside guy on April 4th, 2013 6:05 pm

    I don’t remember Morse as a shortstop – that almost seems laughable today. He’s a huge dude that doesn’t appear to move very quickly… but maybe he was faster back before he bulked up.

  43. alan smithee on April 4th, 2013 11:33 pm

    he was tall and slender with a terrific arm but no real idea of how to play short. I thought he had the elements of a decent thrid baseman.

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