Game 68, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · June 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Joe Saunders vs. Tommy Milone, 7:05pm

With Erasmo Ramirez’s brilliant start last night capping a brilliant run on his rehab stint, the bottom three members of the M’s rotation have each got to be looking over their shoulders a bit. A guy like Jeremy Bonderman has no room for error, but he’s been solid in his last two starts. Aaron Harang has two CG shutouts recently, so he may be a bit safer. Joe Saunders may be safest, but that also means he could conceivably fetch something in trade – just not anything like a real prospect. He’s cheap and a name-brand starter (playoff experience!), and also not as good as Erasmo Ramirez. We’ll see.

The A’s feature several players that have made me look completely, unforgivably foolish in recent years. Last year, I mocked the fact that the A’s were going into opening day with a fly-ball starting pitcher throwing 87mph. More than that, they were so short on depth at 3B they took a so-so minor league catcher, gave him a new mitt and a ‘Go get ’em’ and thought that counted as infield depth. The former was worth nearly 3 WAR last year as a perfectly serviceable starter who got more K’s than you might expect thanks to his plus change-up. The latter….well, the latter has a .378 wOBA and a .310/.377/.500 line while playing good defense at 3B. There’s a lesson in here for me, and it’s not just “stop making predictions and judgments about baseball players,” though the magnitude of my miss on Josh Donaldson makes me think about that from time to time. The lesson is: not every team is like the Seattle Mariners.

If you’re an M’s prospect with some flaws, those flaws will be exposed in the big leagues. That’s fine, that’s to be expected – MLB is really, really hard, and if the best players know an opponent’s weaknesses, they can exploit them. So, Carlos Peguero didn’t come up and become a selective hitter. Dustin Ackley didn’t start driving the ‘lefty strike’ to left field. Michael Saunders is still Michael Saunders. If the prospect had no real weaknesses (think Felix Hernandez, but A-Rod would work), then they’d succeed, but how many of those are there? I looked at the A’s line-up through the M’s prism. Huh, a lefty without much stuff but a good change? How many of those have the M’s had through the years, and how many of them have worked out (that’d be one). When the M’s have moved players around the diamond, or taken OK but not great MiLB hitters and tried to extract production from them, the results have been awful. But that’s not true everywhere. The Rangers get something from limited players, and the A’s are either able to utilize flawed players in an intelligent way (Brandon Moss, maybe John Jaso) or develop them into less-flawed players like Josh Donaldson. This is exactly what the M’s have needed to do to close the gap with the teams in the top half of this division, but instead the gap’s just as big. Josh Donaldson was a roughly average PCL catcher and now he’s better than Kyle Seager. Go M’s!

1: Bay
2: Franklin
3: Seager
4: Morales
5: Morse (1b)
6: Ibanez
7: Zunino
8: M. Saunders
9: Ryan
SP: Joe Saunders

The M’s made a roster move today, because it’d been a few hours since the last one. Today, they DFA’d veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach to bring in even veteranier Henry Blanco. Blanco is 41, and will turn 42 this year, so Raul Ibanez is no longer the oldest Mariner. I…I don’t know what to say about this. Shoppach had been cold, but he’s essentially produced a typical Shoppach season. Lots of Ks, some walks, veteran grit behind the plate. It seems very, very odd to decide that the guy you brought in to do those things wasn’t the guy you wanted long term, but hey, if Blanco can be a better mentor to Mike Zunino, who is now unquestionably the starter, uh, OK. But it definitely underscores how rushed Zunino was. The veteran backstop they’d acquired in the spring would’ve been an OK mentor to Jesus Montero, but not to Zunino. I have no idea. Moving on.

Tom Wilhelmsen’s officially off the closer spot, reports Ryan Divish. Wedge will mix and match with Carter Capps and Oliver Perez. Sigh.

The short-season Northwest League kicks off tonight at 6:30, as the Everett Aquasox head to Spokane to take on the Indians (a Rangers club). Rigoberto Garcia starts for Everett, who also has SS Martin Peguero, OF Alfredo Morales and Phillips Castillo, and Kyle Seager’s younger brother Justin on the roster. CF James Zamarripa may be something of a sleeper. Gonzaga alum Tyler Olsen may start another game in the series. Everett’s Pat Dillon’s got the call at KRKO 1380. If you’re in Eastern Washington, it’ll be on KGA Spokane 1510.

Taijuan Walker’s starting right now for AA Jackson and Brandon Maurer’s throwing for Tacoma in Sacramento. Good night of minor league baseball.


57 Responses to “Game 68, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. Westside guy on June 14th, 2013 10:05 pm

    Boy, I must say Zunino really looks like the real deal as a receiver. It’s great to see!

  2. Don Money on June 14th, 2013 10:30 pm

    Excellent game by Saunders, he just needs to remember to pitch around Chris Young next time. Mike Z has some legitimate strength, that was a shot off a change up, so he supplied all the power. The way he kept everything in front of him, especially those breaking balls in the dirt, was impressive. Timely move, Jack Z!

  3. Don Money on June 14th, 2013 11:03 pm

    Anybody else think Morse looked fairly smooth over at first, he certainly presents a big target!

  4. Westside guy on June 14th, 2013 11:46 pm

    I think his leg is still bothering him enough that it’s hard to tell how well or how poorly he fields at first. But remember, he played there quite a bit for the Nationals – so it’s not exactly a new position for him

    I would prefer he was at first or DH most of the time. Unfortunately we’ve got several other guys for which I think the same thing…

  5. MrZDevotee on June 15th, 2013 12:08 am

    Missed the game, but watching the video highlights that Zunino homerun was pretty. In the slo-mo replay his weight balance, and shift, is so even and smooth. His hands are quiet, with a short and concise swing. Just a great, balanced, steady stroke, that powered a changeup out to center field.

    Very nice to watch.

    Heckuva swing, kid.

  6. The_Waco_Kid on June 15th, 2013 1:28 am

    Happy with Zunino’s HR, Morse at 1B, Perez getting the save (trade value increasing?), Co Joe with a non-Safe win.

    Not happy with the Raul/Bay platoon covering 2 position in the OF (they should both be allowed to cover LF at the same time!)

  7. MrZDevotee on June 15th, 2013 8:50 am

    Like men’s softball!? Ibanez plays “Rover”/LC?

    I like it.


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