Game 137, Mariners at Royals

marc w · September 2, 2013 at 11:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Danny Duffy, 11:10am

I hope you’re all enjoying a good Labor Day. I enjoy that I can hang out and relax, but it’s always a bittersweet day. Today’s the last day of the Minor League Season – all of the promise, the breakouts, the solid progress, the out-of-nowheres…it all comes to an end today. Get out to Tacoma or Everett or wherever your closest team is and check out a game.

Speaking of bittersweet, Danny Duffy’s return from Tommy John surgery a few weeks ago has helped take some of the sting out of the Royals up and down season, and helps recover some of the value from their 2011 top prospect list, the oft-mocked best system in the history of baseball and/or systems. That system featured Mike Moustakas (who’s followed the Dustin Ackley career path so far), John Lamb (struggles in upper minors, retired for a bit, stuff hasn’t quite come back), Mike Montgomery (struggles in upper minors, total loss of command, part of some trade you may have heard about) and Duffy (made the majors, shredded elbow).

Duffy has a plus fastball, averaging 94+, a curve and a solid change-up. Thanks to his well above-average vertical movement, he’s a fairly extreme fly-ball pitcher, but he hasn’t had major problems with HRs thanks in part to an above-average pop-up rate. He struggled with walks in his brief MLB career, but he’s been much better this year (over the course of three starts, remember); if he maintains a good walk rate, he should be OK despite some natural regression in his HR rate. He’s an excellent talent, and the Royals have to like the look of their rotation in future years if they can keep Duffy healthy. At the same time, Duffy’s return does focus attention on the big offseason trade of Wil Myers for James Shields and Wade Davis. The trade was always going to be the biggest storyline of the year, but Duffy’s return to the rotation pushed Davis back to the bullpen. The Royals made a big deal out of the fact that they saw Davis as a starter, and that seeing the trade purely as Myers for Shields was short-sighted. Davis posted an RA over 6, and while his FIP was excellent, the Royals apparently got tired of waiting for his RA to fall back towards his fielding-independent stats. The Royals’ rotation moved up from the 20th most valuable in 2012 to 10th in 2013, and from 26th to 13th by ERA. The trade inarguably improved a weak spot. In some sense, both clubs got exactly what they needed out of it, but the larger context is troubling for the Royals. If Davis isn’t a starter, then they add a very good set-up man to Shields. The Rays meanwhile got a cost-controlled OF who’s already a better-than-league-average hitter as well as additional pieces like Jake Odorizzi.

It probably says something about the Royals and about analysts like me that we can’t even talk about Duffy without rehashing the trade, but I’ve been thinking more about the “just fix your weak spot” method of roster construction recently. Seriously, good luck with Baltimore, Mr. Morse.

Today’s line-up:
1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Saunders, RF
7: Zunino, C
8: Ackley, LF
9: Almonte, CF
SP: King Felix

Welcome back, Mike Zunino. The C was activated from the DL this morning. I’m glad to see him back, but I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense to push a guy who suffered a hand injury back into the line-up so soon. He must be feeling pretty good, and I’m probably just paranoid, but Zunino’s obviously critical to the M’s future in 2014 and beyond.
King Felix has scuffled recently, and if he wants to avoid a repeat of 2012’s awful close to what had looked like a Cy Young season, today’s game’s a good place to get back on track.

Danny Hultzen pitched two perfect innings yesterday for Tacoma, showing great command and the ability to mix his pitches in his first start since returning from a shoulder injury. Following him was James Paxton, who was also impressive in two innings, mixing an over-the-top fastball that sat at 94 and touched 96 with a good looking cutter at around 89. He made a mistake which Michael Taylor deposited in the bullpen (one of 9 HRs in the game), but showed why the M’s have been patient with him. When he’s on, his pure stuff far exceeds Hultzen’s. Meanwhile, Hultzen can hit spots and disguise his fastball with his off-center stride. Neither guy’s perfect, but they both showed why they’re top prospects yesterday. As we discussed earlier, Hultzen’s scheduled to head to Peoria for the Arizona Fall League in November. Today we learned that Paxton’s on the move too: he’s coming up to Seattle. Paxton’s strong finish to the season earned him the call-up, though I suppose his mixed results in the season as a whole haven’t definitively settled his future role: starter or reliever. Not sure on the 40-man move at this point.

Hultzen’s return yesterday was somewhat overshadowed by the performance of the newest member of the M’s system, OF Xavier Avery. Avery led off the game with a long HR and ended up 5-5. It was a great game for someone who’s shown so little in-game power, as the HR was not a cheap one. He added a bloop double as well, and showed pretty good speed on the basepaths (though his day was marred a bit by a weird, half-hearted attempt to tag up and score on a fly ball to right; he ended up in a rundown).

Sounds like Tai Walker will get one home start before the end of the year; possibly on Monday (as reported by Ryan Divish).

Andrew Carraway starts the Rainiers final game at 1:35. The Aquasox finale’s at 7:05 in Everett. Victor Sanchez is the big prospect name on the hill today, as he’ll close out Clinton’s season.


34 Responses to “Game 137, Mariners at Royals”

  1. CAMariner on September 2nd, 2013 11:16 am

    So Hultzen has the ability to be the next Moyer, is what I’m getting from what you said. Well, as long as he can be a solid 3 pitcher for the Mariners, I’ll be happy. I cannot wait for the rotation to be solidified in the next few years. This year’s rotation has been rather forgetful, minus Felix and Iwakuma.

  2. juneau_fan on September 2nd, 2013 11:31 am

    Everyone firing up their BBQ?

  3. juneau_fan on September 2nd, 2013 11:40 am

    Uh…What? Bunt from the hot-hitting Ackley?

    So glad to have you back, Wedge.



  4. juneau_fan on September 2nd, 2013 12:01 pm

    Two men on, no outs…And…now two outs…

  5. Sports on a Shtick on September 2nd, 2013 12:04 pm

    It will be a seamless transition from an emotional standpoint going from a Mariners fan to a Raiders fan.

  6. Jake on September 2nd, 2013 12:04 pm

    Two on, nobody out for two innings in a row, the Mariners don’t score. Could have guessed this, Felix is pitching after all.

  7. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 12:23 pm

    I didn’t realize the game was early.

    Maybe I’m onto something though. As with many games I’ve watched, it sounds like the first four innings were only filled with frustration. This way the M’s only frustrate me for five innings rather than nine.

  8. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 12:25 pm

    BTW how has Almonte looked in center so far?

  9. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 12:25 pm

    YES! Crazy Legs!

  10. marc w on September 2nd, 2013 12:31 pm

    Don’t think he’s had to do much today, Westside Guy.

  11. juneau_fan on September 2nd, 2013 12:36 pm

    I go to do some housework and a crowd shows up. And they score. Hmmmm…correlation?

  12. marc w on September 2nd, 2013 12:36 pm

    Royals still taking it easy with Duffy; can’t fault them for that.

    The Royals aren’t exactly murderer’s row, but this is still the best Felix has looked in a while.

  13. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 12:38 pm

    Thank you Marc. In any case – I could get used to defensively competent outfields…

  14. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 12:39 pm

    Marc, you cursed Felix! 😉

  15. marc w on September 2nd, 2013 12:40 pm

    Aaand I say that and Felix gets dinked and dunked to death. Stupid seeing eye grounders.

  16. globalalpha on September 2nd, 2013 12:44 pm

    Dave Sims is really off his game. First he proclaims Miller out at 3rd on the pickoff and then shuts down the double play before the throw to first even occurs. Why does he always try and predict the action before it happens? Or just ignore the calls from the refs?

  17. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 12:45 pm

    Come on Smoak, you’re supposed to be Mr. September! Get it going again!

  18. msfanmike on September 2nd, 2013 12:47 pm

    Sims has been a bit “ahead” of the action quite a bit today, hasn’t he.

    Not sure what the deal is. Maybe he is announcing to the level of the team he is covering?

  19. Breadbaker on September 2nd, 2013 12:48 pm

    Maybe his mind is on football season

  20. Breadbaker on September 2nd, 2013 12:50 pm

    We were on the train from Vancouver yesterday and this reminded me of Felix’s beard.

  21. msfanmike on September 2nd, 2013 12:52 pm

    …and yeah, Smoak looks horrible as a RHB. No improvement at all over the entire season as a right handed hitter. He is working his way toward being a platoon player. Problem is, they hardly have any right handed sticks. Maybe Romero can get a look over there when he is called up. It would make sense to me – and because it does, naturally he saw zero innings at 1B in the minors. He is a much better IF than OF, anyway.

  22. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 12:56 pm

    Kind of wish I hadn’t realized there was a game on until about five o’clock right now.

    What the heck WAS that, Breadbaker?

  23. juneau_fan on September 2nd, 2013 12:59 pm

    I return to the game, and they give up the lead…

  24. Breadbaker on September 2nd, 2013 1:04 pm

    It is a sculpture just south of the border crossing at Blaine. I believe the general reaction of persons of all political stripes is, WTF?

  25. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 1:23 pm

    Last night I was watching an older episode of Red Dwarf where Lister was trying to sabotage Kochanski’s date by messing up her supposed paramour’s apartment. One of the things he did was to leave clumps of hair from his nether regions laying around the guy’s room.

    So that’s what that sculpture reminded me of, Breadbaker. Eww.

  26. msfanmike on September 2nd, 2013 1:24 pm

    And the hole in the middle of that sculpture seems oddly symbolic to the holes in the mariner bats. From the I-phone sized photo, it looks like the sculpture is made of brilo pad.

  27. G-Man on September 2nd, 2013 1:29 pm

    Almonte isn’t impressing me with his throwing. I thought that guy was dead meat heading to third.

  28. mrakbaseball on September 2nd, 2013 1:48 pm

    Good to see Morales do all that damage away from Safeco.

  29. Westside guy on September 2nd, 2013 1:58 pm

    Houston made for a nice break, but – back to reality.

    I can’t really complain much about today’s lineup though. It’ll be interesting to see what Almonte brings to the table over the next month, and if Franklin comes back around.

  30. mrakbaseball on September 2nd, 2013 2:08 pm

    I smell another 6 game losing streak.

  31. WestyHerr on September 2nd, 2013 5:18 pm

    One of the great masterful achievements of this corporation is convincing its fan base Smoak and the kids have Buster Posey numbers somewhere buried inside of them.

  32. bookbook on September 2nd, 2013 5:39 pm

    I prOmise myself to stop following the M’s if Wedge manages any game in 2014.

  33. eponymous coward on September 2nd, 2013 6:37 pm
  34. jephdood on September 2nd, 2013 8:26 pm

    Eric Wedge is not the primary problem with this team. But, if you feel you must boycott because of him, go for it.

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