Cactus League Game 13, Rangers at Mariners

marc w · March 9, 2014 at 12:13 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Colby Lewis, *1:05*pm

Note the time change, as everyone but Arizona sprang forward this morning.

Sorry for the service interruption yesterday, but I decided to hang out with family in lieu of previewing the M’s day/night split-squad doubleheader. Correlation isn’t causation or anything, but perhaps the M’s felt liberated by not being subjected to so much scrutiny by a remote blogger. They annihilated the Giants 18-3, and then dispatched the Dodgers in the nightcap, 8-5. The offensive stars were just about too numerous to count, but Jesus Montero hit two (opposite field) HRs in the second game, while Brad Miller and Michael Saunders took Ryan Vogelsong deep in the early game.

Today’s game is a tune-up for Felix, who got great results in his first spring outing, but was disappointed in his own stuff – particularly his change-up. We’ll see if it looks any different today. Colby Lewis continues his comeback attempt for Texas. The righty underwent hip surgery mid-way through the 2012 and missed all of 2013 rehabbing. He pitched one game in the Cactus League, and the results weren’t pretty. Lewis explained that his stride length has changed/improved since the surgery, but that’s changed where his release point needs to be, and he’s yet to align the two. Lewis made an improbable and effective return from the Japanese leagues in 2010, armed with newfound command and a much-improved slider/cutter. Before he went down in 2012, he’d started to mix in more curveballs. We’ll see if he’s changed his repertoire or if he just fires in fastballs to try and find his mechanics (his FB velo, which wasn’t high to begin with, was dropping to 87 or so by the time he hit the DL).

The bigger story on the day concerns the M’s continued search for another right-handed bat. Bob Dutton (who replaced Ryan Divish at the TNT, and who’s been great thus far) linked to this story from Chicago that the M’s have approached the White Sox about RH left fielder Dayan Viciedo. The Cuban broke into the top league in his native country at age 15, and had a brilliant age-16 (!) season, hitting for average and power with Villa Clara. He (and his family) defected in 2008, and the White Sox won the bidding war for him later that year. He’s played in 338 big league games in his career, but he’s been roughly replacement level in that time frame, held back by poor OF defense and a very low walk rate. That said, he turns 25 tomorrow, so there’s potential for him to develop a bit. The White Sox play in a HR-friendly park, but Viciedo hasn’t noticed – he’s hit one more HR on the road, and he’s hit much better on the road than he has at home. The real story, as you peruse his splits page, concerns the platoon advantage. He’s been a good hitter versus lefties, where his power and contact skills easily make up for his lack of patience. Against righties, he’s been…bad. As a platoon bat, he makes a bit of sense, particularly if a lefty hitter went to Chicago in the deal. But while the M’s would be a solid line-up against lefties with Hart/Viciedo in the line-up, I don’t know that pitchers would appreciate having both of them in the OF at one time.

1: Ackley, LF
2: Bloomquist, 2b
3: Seager, 3B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Hart, RF
6: Morrison, DH
7: Zunino, C
8: Saunders, CF
9: Miller, SS
SP: King Felix


7 Responses to “Cactus League Game 13, Rangers at Mariners”

  1. Westside guy on March 9th, 2014 1:22 pm

    Hmm… poor outfield defense, no patience at the plate…

    Sounds like a Jack Z guy all right!

  2. marc w on March 9th, 2014 2:32 pm

    I’ll admit I was very high on Viciedo when he came out of Cuba. I’d be up for it as a buy-low strategy, but it really doesn’t seem like the M’s would be able to actually buy low. I have no idea what it’d take to get it done, but the potential to pay for what he did at 16 and not what he did in MLB at age 24 seems high.

    Not a great game from Felix, but defense and his relievers didn’t do him any favors. Rough game for Zunino in terms of pitch blocking, but Felix is obviously tough to catch. Kind of curious what the pitch to Choice was on the WP/3rd strike that was Felix’s last toss on the day. Didn’t quite look like a change-up, didn’t “slide.” Hope the beat writers ask about it.

  3. Westside guy on March 9th, 2014 3:09 pm

    I haven’t been able to pay much attention to this game. Having said that, I would be curious to know how much our perceptions regarding individual player performances are affected by the broadcasters, or our own biases, when it comes to spring training.

    The reason I ask that – we know (or I think we know) that the teams aren’t putting wins ahead of development during spring, but the broadcasters are calling them like regular games. So if, for example, Felix is having trouble feeling his change up, in spring he might be throwing it in situations where he wouldn’t (in games that actually count). That sort of thing could give the appearance of struggling, even if the “struggling” was caused by his spring game plan.

    I don’t know if I explained that very well. It’s also possible I’m completely off base. 🙂

  4. Westside guy on March 9th, 2014 3:20 pm

    Ugh. So the rumors are that there might be a Saunders for Viciedo swap. I hope Jack Z isn’t that stupid.

  5. stevemotivateir on March 9th, 2014 4:27 pm

    Viciedo for Saunders might be enough for me to toss in the towel already. Saunders in a corner is the lone near-guarantee we have regarding outfield defense. I don’t want to even think about an outfield with Ackley or Almonte in center, flanked by Hart and Viciedo.

  6. casey on March 9th, 2014 5:38 pm

    two weeks ago you guys were slashing your wrists over Cruz being a Mariner by days end; now you are tossing in the towel based on a Churchill rumour. Yikes the Mariner conversation has all but disappeared on this blog – it used to be the best!

  7. stevemotivateir on March 9th, 2014 6:15 pm

    ^Adding Cruz is one thing; adding Viciedo while subtracting the best outfielder we currently have, is another.

    And I was clear that IF the move happened, it MIGHT be enough for me to throw in the towel.

    Am I worrying unnecessarily over a rumor? Maybe. But one of the key conversations has been over the outfield and we haven’t seen any new legitimate faces. There’s reason for disappointment as-is.

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