Game 24, Angels at Mariners

marc w · April 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Brandon Maurer vs. Garrett Richards, 7:10pm

I’m sure everything’s going to be different now that the M’s had a closed-door meeting. Manager Eric Wedge ranted, changed color, refused to mince words, etc. The M’s return home with a much greater understanding of what it is their skipper expects from them; “playing awful baseball” isn’t in the enumerated list of expectations. So now players, manager, the front office and fans are all on the same page, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a completely different team going forward. (I mean, they closed *all* of the doors for their meeting. This was not a casual chat, with random people filing in and out of the room. This was a focused, controlled, information-rich confab).

Tonight’s starter, Garrett Richards, has never made much sense. Blessed with a fastball in the 95-96mph range and a visually impressive slider, Richards has disappointed at virtually every level of baseball. At the University of Oklahoma, he got strikeouts but yielded way too many walks and homers. In the minors, his command improved, but it came at a cost: his strikeout rate’s been decent but uninspiring for a guy who throws as hard as Richards does. In the majors, he’s been worse – very few K’s, mixed with too many walks and a well-deserved lack of a defined role. He appeared destined for another year as the long-man in the bullpen, but Jered Weaver’s elbow injury gave Richards another shot at the rotation, and in a couple of starts he’s been excellent.

He throws a four-seam fastball to righties and a sinker to lefties, and uses his slider as his out-pitch to both of them. While his arm angle and arsenal suggest huge platoon splits, they haven’t really shown up yet. While he doesn’t strike out a ton of lefties, he’s K’d a shockingly low number of right-handers. While it’s way too early to know if something’s really changed, he’s been sharper against both so far. Really, he’s not too dissimilar from Brandon Maurer. Maurer doesn’t throw as hard, but he too combines above-average velocity with a sharp slider, but hasn’t yet been able to put many hitters away with it. While Richards looked like he *should* have platoon splits, Maurer’s actually shown them, despite a more over-the-top delivery. Again, SSS caveats abound when we’re talking about two pitchers without much MLB experience, in April. But Maurer’s struck out only *one* of the 43 lefties he’s faced (that’d be switch-hitting Rangers utility infielder Leury Garcia), while giving up four walks, three homers and eight total extra-base hits. Lucky for Maurer, the heart of the Angels order bats right-handed, but he needs to take Matthew’s advice and not throw Josh Hamilton a strike. Literally zero sliders should be in the zone against Hamilton.

The other big story in M’s land is the fortuitous alignment of minor league rotations that offers a stunning syzygy of pitching prospects. M’s top-10 prospect Victor Sanchez makes his 2013 debut with the Clinton Lumberkings at the ripe old age of 18 (he’s the second youngest player in the league) against Indians top-10 hurler Mitch Brown. A little bit later, M’s #2 prospect Taijuan Walker takes the hill for Jackson against Dodgers #2 prospect Zach Lee. Finally, Danny Hultzen and the Rainiers are in Las Vegas to take on the 51s and #2 Mets prospect Zack Wheeler.* The game was supposed to feature the top two catching prospects in the minors in Mike Zunino and Las Vegas’ Travis D’Arnaud, but the latter’s on the shelf due to injury. If you wanted to tune out the M’s for a day and gorge yourself on hope, well, today seems like a good day for that.

Mariner line-up:
1: Chavez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Ackley, 2B
6: Shoppach, C
7: Peguero, RF
8: Bay, LF
9: Andino, SS
SP: Brandon Maurer

The M’s outfield tonight is Jason Bay, Endy Chavez and Carlos Peguero. Would you like the audio link for the Rainiers game again? Sure thing.

I think the defining moment of the Astros series was Chris Carter’s home run against Saunders in the final game. It was just a solo shot, the game was clearly still in doubt, and Chris Carter’s always had light-tower power. According to hit-tracker, it didn’t even make it 400 feet (wait, seriously?), but the *sound* of that shot was unreal. Sure, it helps to have the roof closed in a deserted ballpark, but it was a neat little summary of other clubs ability to extract value from marginal players and the M’s inability to do the same. I’ve been following Chris Carter since 2009 when he arrived in AAA Sacramento in time for the PCL playoffs and basically single-handedly eliminated the Rainiers. It was a performance that still gives Mike Curto flashbacks and cold sweats. But I have never seen a player look as lost at the plate as Carter did in his cup of coffee in 2010. Not Peguero, not Brendan-Ryan-in-2013, not Wlad Balentien. He was back in 2011 and was somehow even worse, striking out in over 40% of his PAs, and just looking like the definition of a AAAA slugger (and even there, Carter’s still not put up a AAA season as productive as Peguero’s 2011 OR 2012). The A’s were a combination of patient and lacking in better options with him, but while he still struck out an alarming rate, he combined with Brandon Moss to generate Albert Pujols-level production from the 1B slot last year. This isn’t a miracle or anything. His speed, defensive problems and position meant that even with an 860 OPS in 67 games, he was worth just one win above replacement. Thus far with Houston, it’s more of the same – he’s struck out 35 times already in just 87 plate appearances – but five home runs and decent number of walks add up to, well, not a whole lot, but the Astros have a cheap 1B with some promise. I’ve been incredibly pessimistic about Carter now for years, and I think a big part of that is because, being an M’s fan, I’ve *never seen* a flawed hitter improve and become productive.** That violent crack reminded me that it actually *is* possible, and that many teams acquire flawed hitters with the idea that their staff can ameliorate some of the deficiencies and their manager can put the player in a position to succeed. That’d be nice.

I am pretty jealous of Matthew right now.

I’m also jealous of Ranger fans, not just because of all of that ‘winning’ and ‘pennants’ and stuff, but because they get to watch Yu Darvish. This gif shows five of Yu Darvish’s many, many pitches. It is amazing. (Hat tip to Lone Star Ball, everyone in my twitter feed, and LSB user ‘DShep’ for creating it).

* For the sake of completeness: High Desert plays Bakersfield in a California League game featuring several baseball players.
** Ok, Jose Lopez counts, but only for one year. If Carter is just a 2012 mirage, then I take this overwrought paragraph back.


126 Responses to “Game 24, Angels at Mariners”

  1. msfanmike on April 25th, 2013 9:31 pm

    CapSea is right … Kyle Seager is boss.

  2. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 9:31 pm

    Ding Ding Ding Ding..

    TWO GUYS over .300 at once… We’re spoiled.

  3. texasmarinerfan on April 25th, 2013 9:32 pm

    Put Smoak in the 543 area code

  4. Westside guy on April 25th, 2013 9:33 pm

    Lost in all the scoring is the note Sims just brought up – Mariners have GIDP 5 times tonight.

  5. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 9:37 pm

    “Mariners have GIDP 5 times tonight”

    Wow, that should get us close to the league lead… Has to… er wait… We were ALREADY leading the league in GIDP…

    That’s cool- something we’re better at than anyone else in baseball… And to think we had lost hope.

  6. poordispatcher on April 25th, 2013 9:37 pm

    I remember 2 years ago when Ackley and Seager came up together, and Ackley was the hot prospect while Seager was “also there.” How quickly things change in baseball…

  7. gopilots70 on April 25th, 2013 9:38 pm

    Yes, the hitting into dp’s is not good, but I would much rather have Smoak rapping that first pitch hard for a dp instead of flailing at strike three. That stroke will work most of the time..

  8. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 9:38 pm

    AND, all of us debating whether Seager was even good enough to deserve a shot at playing 3B everyday back then…

  9. Westside guy on April 25th, 2013 9:39 pm

    Woo Hoo!

  10. gopilots70 on April 25th, 2013 9:40 pm

    Okay prediction time…. Who is the next Mariner to get about .300 ?

  11. californiamariner on April 25th, 2013 9:40 pm

    Nice to see any wins we can get. Maurer keeps looking better as he gets more starts. Any win against the Angels I love 😀

  12. poordispatcher on April 25th, 2013 9:40 pm

    Did the Angels just gave up in the 9th?

  13. Westside guy on April 25th, 2013 9:41 pm

    Saunders was hitting 280-something when he went on the DL…

  14. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 9:42 pm

    Nice win.

    (Although I KNEW we were up by 6 and only glanced away from Gameday for maybe 30 seconds… Scared the crap out of me when Gameday defaulted to “Due up: Shoppach, Peguero, Bay”

    I actually quipped “fuck me” and looked at the score to see if they’d tied it or took the lead… (good God!?!?!)

    Not funny, Gameday. (Or maybe Gameday has never seen the Mariners ahead going to the bottom of the 9th and forgot what to do?)

  15. gopilots70 on April 25th, 2013 9:43 pm

    Sorry, I meant ABOVE 300. And let’s not forget that Carlos P. is above it now too!!

  16. msfanmike on April 25th, 2013 9:46 pm

    I think Gameday probably git wind of your old guy gang hand signals and gave you one back – in its own way.

  17. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 9:46 pm

    “Hey Josh Hamilton… How you like what Brandon Maurer was offering you tonight? Is Seattle’s offer “still not serious”!?!?”

    (Man I loved during Hamilton’s first trip back to Arlington Ron Washington was intentionally walking guys to get to Hamilton… Intentionally walked the BASES LOADED once to get to Hamilton. And he stunk it up that series. It was beautiful.)

  18. msfanmike on April 25th, 2013 9:47 pm

    Westy – no mowing tomorrow. Respect the “streak”.

  19. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 9:49 pm

    How much do you think we’d have to pay the Safeco sound guy to give Josh Hamilton a special “walk up” tune– like the parrot from Cheech & Chong’s “Up In Smoke”…

    “Wanna get high?… Bock… Wanna get high?”

  20. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 9:51 pm

    “Dear Eric Wedge-
    We may have our differences, but I care about you as a person… Please go home and get the first real sleep you’ve probably had in a week, and come back and get ’em again tomorrow!

    God bless,

    (I’d still like to see us replace him, though)

  21. gopilots70 on April 25th, 2013 10:55 pm

    Marc, Thanks for the heads up “down on the farm”

    Sanchez numbers look good in Clinton…Walker finally goes 7 and dominates?…the Generals pound on Zach Lee…bummer… anybody know why Chattanooga Lookout home games are not televised by MiLB?

    Nick Franklin goes bonkers tonight and is now hitting .400. Carlos Triunfel gets his second dinger and stays above 320…Great news too…Romero starting in LF and the Rain Dogs beat up on another Zach this one of the Wheeler variety.

    a good night in prospectville… will watch the Rainiers replay later..

    But the big question…why didn’t Hultzen get the start tonight….on the way to Seattle? Maybe in another 6 weeks?

  22. Westside guy on April 25th, 2013 11:02 pm

    They said Hultzen “couldn’t get loose” before the game, so the scratched him as a precaution.

  23. gopilots70 on April 25th, 2013 11:10 pm



  24. spuuky on April 26th, 2013 9:18 am

    Damn, I wasn’t here to comment about all the GIDP when they managed FIVE of them. In a WIN?

    I think I’m going to adopt the “Go Hawks” approach of the Seahawks, but cutting off the first half of the name.

    Go Ners!

  25. DaKine on April 26th, 2013 1:16 pm

    GoNers! *chuckle*

  26. jordan on April 26th, 2013 2:03 pm

    Goners just about hits the nail on the head.

    But hey, Don’t hate on the closed door meetings. 1-0 post meeting. 100% success rate.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.