Game 11, Rangers at Mariners

marc w · April 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Felix Hernandez vs. Justin Grimm, 7:10pm

The Astros series offered something of a no-win bargain: if the M’s won the series, or even swept it, eh, who cares? They were playing the Astros. If they lost it, oh my god, you just lost to the ASTROS? Today’s match-up isn’t no-win. Anytime you get to see Felix Hernandez, you’ve won. But if Felix pitches the M’s past Justin Grimm, eh, of course you won *that* game. And if he doesn’t, more and more fans will start to watch from home, or maybe give a Sounders game a go. I don’t envy the M’s here. The Supreme Court promotion tonight is great, and it shows that sometimes, rarely, the right ballplayer actually can put a dent in attendance numbers all by himself.

The context for the game is troubling, as it always is when these two teams face off. The Rangers are, in my opinion, one of the best-run franchises in sports. The M’s are…struggling, as they have been for several years now. Jack Zduriencik and crew clearly faced tremendous obstacles when they began their work in Seattle, and I don’t mean to minimize them in any way, but Bill Bavasi left in 2008, and it’s not impolite to point out that the obstacles the franchise faces now are largely self-imposed.

Everyone – every team in baseball -makes dumb trades. Jaso for Lueke comes to mind. So I’m not going to argue that Jon Daniels is a miracle-worker who out-thinks his rivals. He’s good, but that’s not enough. Where they seem to shine is in player development. They extract value from more players, and more *types* of players, than anyone. Justin Grimm is a decent example. The year he was drafted (in the 5th round in 2010, a few picks after Stephen Pryor), he pitched for the University of Georgia. He went 7-12 over three years with the Bulldogs, and gave up 138 runs in a bit over 180 total innings. He had a live arm, so-so control and zero command. In the Rangers system, he’s been excellent at every stop, coming out of nowhere to land in the top 10 of the Rangers top prospect list at Fangraphs (and the Rangers had a great system). I’m not sure what the Rangers have done with Grimm, and if asked, they probably wouldn’t say. But the Rangers took a talented kid who was quite obviously doing something, or several things, wrong and they fixed it well enough to get to the majors.

They’re not infallible. They’re still working on 2010 1st rounder Kellin Deglan, and Julio Borbon just got DFA’d as he never learned to hit. And every system has its successes – the M’s tweaks to Brad Miller’s swing mechanics appear to have paid off so far, and their work with Taijuan Walker has been excellent. But it seems like every time these series pop up, the Rangers are sloughing off some adversity by pulling up some nobody that they developed. Meanwhile, every time these series pop up, Mariner fans are worrying about their struggling blue-chip franchise-core players. Colby Lewis went from a joke of an acquisition to an extremely important starter to injured, but the Rangers had depth in someone like Alexi Ogando that they could move between the pen and the rotation. Borbon sucked, but they acquired Leonys Martin and developed defensive whiz Craig Gentry.

OK, enough meta-gloom (metancholy?). Justin Grimm is a fastball/curveball righthander with low-mid 90s velocity. He’ll mix in a change-up to lefties, but he’ll use the curve to both lefties/righties, especially once he’s ahead in the count. He had average-ish ground ball rates in the minors, but I’d expect they’d be lower in the big leagues, especially as he hardly ever throws his sinker. The M’s still aren’t a great on-base team, so as usual, they’re going to need a long ball or two this year (man, that’s still weird to type). Grimm hasn’t shown much in the way of exceptional splits, so the M’s aren’t loading up with as many lefties as they could. So of that is by choice (see below), and some of that has to do with Michael Saunders’ shoulder.

In 2010-2011, the idea of Dustin Ackley facing a guy like this would’ve made us excited. Now, while I’m definitely leaning a little closer when Ackley’s up, it’s for slightly different reasons. Tonight, he’s got the day off, against a righty. Gotta be flexible. Gotta get everyone out there.

1: Gutierrez, 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
SP: King Felix

Saunders shoulder injury was severe enough that he’ll head to the DL for 15 days. Saunders himself said it wasn’t too bad, and described it as ‘day to day’ but the M’s wanted to bring in some help: they have apparently called up Endy Chavez who was off to a red-hot start in Tacoma (though several guys down there can say the same). They’ll need a 40-man move to do that, but I haven’t heard what it is.

The Tacoma Rainiers home opener is tomorrow night. You should probably go. All the dingers of the big club, with none of the ennui! Tonight though, they finish off their series in Sacramento, with Jeremy Bonderman on the hill, trying to keep himself in the discussion for pitching depth.

Two other M’s affiliates faced one of the most dreaded occurrences in the minors: rain-outs on home opening days. Jackson’s home opener’s off, and Clinton’s was scratched due to a water-logged field. Teams can count on great attendance only a few times a year, and so they do a collective rain dance around opening day, and generally try to get the game in unless the rain’s torrential. If you went to the first game in the redesigned Cheney Stadium, you know the phenomenon. The wind and rain that night were awful, and it had chased 60-70% of the fans by the 6th inning or so, but they were not going to suspend the park’s grand opening. I always wonder how many rain-out teams have on their big mid-summer games – the 4th of July in some parks, the 3rd of July in Tacoma. From what Mike Curto says, calling off one of those games can have huge financial ramifications.


98 Responses to “Game 11, Rangers at Mariners”

  1. spuuky on April 11th, 2013 9:49 pm

    Can’t pinch hit for Ibanez there, giving them basically a free pass out of the inning, because of the fantastic outfield depth on the roster. Sigh.

  2. Hammy57 on April 11th, 2013 9:49 pm

    I think the only reason Morse didn’t charge the mound is because he knows his hand is broken.

  3. juneau_fan on April 11th, 2013 9:51 pm

    Oh, I called that in and close pitch.

  4. msfanmike on April 11th, 2013 9:51 pm

    How did Morse get hurt? I missed it.

  5. WalterNeff on April 11th, 2013 9:52 pm

    No such thing as clutch. Goofy notion.

  6. Hammy57 on April 11th, 2013 9:52 pm

    He got hit on the hand with a pitch but they called it a swing, then the next pitch he got hit in the shoulder.

  7. juneau_fan on April 11th, 2013 9:53 pm

    Yeah, Texas was obviously trying to hit Morse and he had the nerve to stick his bat in the way first, so the pitcher plunked him for real the next time.

    Very classy.

  8. WalterNeff on April 11th, 2013 9:57 pm

    That was the most minimum hit you can have

  9. juneau_fan on April 11th, 2013 9:57 pm

    The worse part is, they’re so frustratingly close.

    “Tying run to the plate.” How many innings have they said that?

  10. Westside guy on April 11th, 2013 9:58 pm

    I think Montero benefited from that fan interference.

  11. Westside guy on April 11th, 2013 9:59 pm

    Morse did swing at that one pitch. He swings like Olivo sometimes.

  12. spuuky on April 11th, 2013 9:59 pm

    Cool, they’re going to try not to score from 2nd and 3rd with no outs instead of 1st and 2nd. I like how they keep raising the bar on killing rallies, it really adds to the suspense. How will they get out of the bases-loaded no-out situation in the 9th?

  13. WalterNeff on April 11th, 2013 9:59 pm

    They should require an IQ test to sit in those seats

  14. juneau_fan on April 11th, 2013 10:00 pm

    I still booed at the fan from my couch. Jeez, people, go to the sports shop and buy a damn ball for a buck. There’s no reason to reach into the field of play.

  15. WalterNeff on April 11th, 2013 10:00 pm

    He just got off a plane

  16. Hammy57 on April 11th, 2013 10:01 pm

    Some good news: It brings joy to my heart that the Angels are going to be 2-7.

  17. Westside guy on April 11th, 2013 10:03 pm

    I do love a suicide squeeze, even when they don’t pull it off. Bad bunt though.

  18. juneau_fan on April 11th, 2013 10:03 pm

    There’s not enough profanity in my vocabulary.

  19. WalterNeff on April 11th, 2013 10:03 pm

    Executed nicely by both teams

  20. KiWiNiNjA on April 11th, 2013 10:03 pm


  21. spuuky on April 11th, 2013 10:04 pm

    Should have left Montero in for the suicide squeeze. They’d never have expected it. And then they’d have thrown him out anyway because he can’t run 90 feet.

  22. Section329 on April 11th, 2013 10:08 pm

    Well said, Hammy.

  23. Coolalvin206 on April 11th, 2013 10:09 pm

    M’s will already be out 4.5 games out not even 2 weeks into the season , pathetic . Another lost season. Go Seahawks

  24. WTF_Ms on April 11th, 2013 10:11 pm

    The last 3 games: refer to my user name.

    This team the last several years: refer to my user name.

  25. TheKidWouldGo on April 11th, 2013 10:12 pm

    The Mariners are aware they receive absolutely no credit for runners reaching, right?

  26. seattlesonsofbaseball on April 11th, 2013 10:13 pm

    Someone needs to get in touch with the genius who makes the schedules for the MLB games. The Mariners are leading the league in most games played at 14 games before their first day off… which is the only day off in the entire month of April. Throw the fact that the M’s have opened the season for 4 years in a row in Oakland shows that this organization seems to have no problem taking it up the rear by any and everyone involved with MLB. Good the be a Mariners fan.

  27. californiamariner on April 11th, 2013 10:13 pm

    If you’re going to give up on this team after 10 games don’t waste your time coming on here. We knew going in this team wasn’t a likely playoff team. Does that mean we quit after 10 games? Sorry just tired of all the negative comments. The Angels are 2-7. Eff them.

  28. WTF_Ms on April 11th, 2013 10:16 pm

    If it was just one time out of every 4 or 5, I would agree, but its like this EVERY year. When attendance is 10k average for the year, maybe then ownership will spend on something other than cheap old “veteran grit”?

  29. juneau_fan on April 11th, 2013 10:22 pm

    I thought they brought the fences in…

  30. Longgeorge1 on April 11th, 2013 10:23 pm

    Yea just gas

  31. Hammy57 on April 11th, 2013 10:25 pm

    I wonder if Wedge and Jack Zduriencik’s seats are getting a little warm…

  32. WTF_Ms on April 11th, 2013 10:25 pm

    And with a whimper and our tail between our legs we slink away. Again. It’s going to be a long season. 60 wins max.

  33. Westside guy on April 11th, 2013 10:32 pm

    Watching the replays… I wonder if Guti is not 100%. He isn’t playing particularly awesome defense.

  34. Westside guy on April 11th, 2013 10:40 pm

    Okay, Wedge, I know you’re all about grit and other intangibles, but you gotta stop claiming leaving Raul in to face a lefty in a high leverage situation is a smart move.

  35. absolutsyd on April 11th, 2013 10:52 pm

    How long can they seriously let Wedge run this team? Good god, he makes the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. If Endy started in left tonight, there is a good chance we would have won the damn game. That, and if Andino was sitting on his ass on the bench where he belongs.

  36. taylor.mariner on April 11th, 2013 10:53 pm

    So how long is Morse out for? Do we know?

  37. Hammy57 on April 11th, 2013 10:55 pm

    Morse says he hopes to play Sunday. Wedge says a week, no DL stint planned.

  38. taylor.mariner on April 11th, 2013 10:57 pm

    Thanks hammy, that’s good news…. I guess.

  39. Bodhizefa on April 11th, 2013 11:08 pm

    A week where our outfield is likely going to be Raul, Bay, and Guti/Endy. Yikes.

  40. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2013 11:13 pm

    So, Morse broke his finger. Out at least 3-7 days, reports CBSSports. But he BROKE HIS FINGER. Seriously?

    Casper Wells is the Mariner’s Chicago Goat.

    Is Guty looking over his back right now, or what? Spooked out fer sure.

    (On a slightly funnier note, Greinke broke his collarbone in the Padres/Dodgers brawl today…)

  41. Westside guy on April 11th, 2013 11:18 pm

    As long as Gutierrez hasn’t been keeping secret that his first name is actually Michael, I think he’s in the clear.

    And how can a broken finger only knock a guy out for a few days? Something is odd.

  42. The_Waco_Kid on April 11th, 2013 11:28 pm

    I can relax and enjoy the season now that nothing’s on the line

  43. taylor.mariner on April 12th, 2013 12:08 am

    Westy, to reply to what you said, Drayer said that he and the staff are aware that he will be playing with pain for a few weeks after the seven days. His “veteran grit” so to speak and “what he does for the team” is so important that it is necessary he play regardless.

  44. Westside guy on April 12th, 2013 12:14 am

    Thank you Taylor.

    If it doesn’t impair him, that is fine. If, as is the case with a lot of players who choose to “play through pain”, it saps his ability to hit – then it’s a dumb decision. Hitting IS what he brings to the team.

    But we’ll see how it all plays out. I certainly don’t want to see Peggy or Liddi up again.

  45. bookbook on April 12th, 2013 5:54 am

    Jesus Montero, left fielder. Have glove, will travel.

  46. FelixFanChris420 on April 12th, 2013 10:09 am

    Worse move: Letting Ibanez hit last night or letting Ryan hit in the bottom of the 9th down by 2 with a runner on on wednesday?

  47. Jordan on April 12th, 2013 11:49 am

    Westy, earlier you implied the Mariners are going to average 10K fans. Do you really think it will be that high?

    Well played Breadbaker.
    So at this point is it safe to say the Mariners don’t have ANY high leverage situations since their new motto is “Two on, so what?” ?

    The argument could be made that Wedge doesn’t consider high leverage situations with this team.

  48. Westside guy on April 12th, 2013 12:38 pm

    I believe it was WTF_Ms that implied the Mariners would average 10K fans. I suspect he’s right; although you may be correct when you imply that’s an upper bound.

    If they start winning, they will draw more fans – simple as that. Attendance will probably go up when the weather improves, of course – maybe even to 12K or 13K? 😀

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