Cactus League Game 16, Mariners at Angels

marc w · March 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Scott Baker vs. CJ Wilson, 1:05

Looks like this one will be available on MLB.TV; no idea why last night’s prime-time game wasn’t, but there you go. Scott Baker’s been solid so far, and may be tightening his grip on the 5th rotation spot. Baker’s technically on a minor league contract, so the M’s will have a 40-man move to make if/when they decide to bring him north.

Two takeaways from yesterday’s doubleheader for me: 1) Brandon Maurer still needs work. That’s not a slam at the guy – he’s still 23 – and I like that he was able to hit 95 repeatedly. But looking at the pitch fx data, his release point’s all over the map. He’s got one of the least consistent release point’s I’ve seen, with his horizontal release changing by half a foot or more within an at bat. I’ve been stunned at the LACK of correlation between this sort of inconsistency and command problems, but the fact that many pitchers are able to make this work doesn’t mean it’s not an issue for Maurer. His consistency over the course of the season last year is difficult to analyze in part because he returned from his demotion with a slightly re-worked delivery. And while walks weren’t a huge problem for him in the big leagues (they certainly were in the minors), he often had command lapses within the strike zone.
2) James Paxton’s a much-improved starter, and he’s going to be critical to the M’s chances of hanging around in the AL West. Of particular note, his ground-ball rate is still off the charts high, and it’s high despite a delivery and pitch movement that seem tailor-made for fly ball contact. The fact that his GB rates were pretty good though completely normal in the minors leads me to think that he made an adjustment last season prior to his call-up, whether a physical tweak or a change in his approach. Whatever it was, it’s working.

Today’s line-up:
1: Jones, CF
2: Taylor, 3B
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Montero, DH
6: Franklin, SS
7: Ackley, LF
8: Romero, RF
9: Quintero, C
SP: Baker

No mystery on the M’s 1B job – whether Logan Morrison might get the nod, or if they’d work a complicated job share between Smoak, Morrison and Corey Hart – it’s Justin Smoak. Smoak was handed the starting job last year and put up an improved but not-good-enough season. We’ll see if taking the pressure off allows Smoak to consolidate the gains he made last year; if he doesn’t, you’d have to think the M’s will move him out.


18 Responses to “Cactus League Game 16, Mariners at Angels”

  1. SergeantSuj on March 11th, 2014 12:47 pm

    Out of curiosity, and I’m not implying that this will or should happen, but what would it take for Jesus Montero to make the team? Assuming that if he were to bat 1.000 with a slugging of 4.000 he would make it, there’s got to be some point between that and batting .000 where he would flip from making the team to not. That point might be much higher than other players, but it’s somewhere. Perhaps he needs to hit .650 and avoid vomiting while running to first base?

  2. Westside guy on March 11th, 2014 2:18 pm

    I think a good use for guys like Hart and Morrison would be to sneak out during today’s game and kidnap the Angels’ center fielder.

  3. msfanmike on March 11th, 2014 2:47 pm

    … or most any other CF for that matter.

    Almonte appears capable of doing some positive things (tools are there) – but it is a long stretch to believe he is going to be “the answer” as a starting CF and hitting leadoff. This team has enough 4th/5th quality outfielders to fill, well … this team.

    The current roster construction has too many (as Lloyd might say) horse-shit elements mixed in it. At least currently. The offseason is still incomplete and any trade offer for Franklin that does not “wow” the crowd, would be a big disappointment. WFB for two years, or Franklin for 6? Not a tough decision to make.

  4. MrZDevotee on March 11th, 2014 3:46 pm

    I find it really difficult to believe that going into the offseason, with our most pressing needs being 1) a legit OF and 2) some starting pitching, we are now facing the regular season with our most pressing needs being, 1) a legit OF, and 2) starting pitching.

    Sadly. Sigh-ingly. I’m not trying to be snarky, it just kinda comes out naturally now. And I definitely don’t like that, but it’s true. All in all, the snarkiness kinda writes itself these days.

  5. Westside guy on March 11th, 2014 6:32 pm

    There’s still a couple weeks to go, obviously. But this “sign Cano and then put bargain bin pickups around him” strategy is what some of us feared would happen.

    If I’m being charitable, I might wonder if perhaps no one else of value was willing to come to Seattle?

  6. bookbook on March 11th, 2014 7:20 pm

    Legit OF? Hey, this is the team that picked up Hart and Morrison in the same offseason!

    That’s two, though they are playing out of position. (Who knew Almonte would emerge from nowhere and steal centerfield?)

  7. piercjw on March 11th, 2014 8:30 pm

    I don’t see Almonte stealing CF … he can’t throw and isn’t hitting …

  8. stevemotivateir on March 11th, 2014 8:47 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if Romero has a legitimate shot at making it. He’s a right handed bat, plays multiple positions, and there appears to be an extra spot on the roster (for the time being).

    Imagine if we ended up with a starting outfield of Willie in left, Ackley in Center, and Morrison in right. It lacks the comedic value that Ibanez and Morse provided, but it would still probably make the hair on my back stand up.

  9. msfanmike on March 11th, 2014 9:03 pm

    Almonte is going to be given a lot of chances – and then some – because he has a chance to make Z look like a genius for last seasons trade. Or, he can end up making Z look very much like Z often looks

    I am watching today’s game on DVR. Quintero sure has an interesting interpretation of the contact rules for plays at the plate. He must have lost something in translation if the end result is an olay swipe tag while pulling his leg out of the way of the runner. The actual rule has changed very little. Did anyone else see that play?

  10. Westside guy on March 11th, 2014 9:08 pm

    I don’t get ROOT anymore, so I’m afraid I didn’t see the play. But yeah – if he had the ball, he shouldn’t have to get out of the way right? I thought the rule change was all about catchers not camping out in the baseline before they even have the ball (which, while the norm, seems to me to be against the rules).

  11. msfanmike on March 11th, 2014 9:26 pm

    They just can’t block the plate without the ball … Pretty much like any other base. Quintero could have caught that throw from Cano and dropped his leg down, though. He had already given the runner a chance for the back half of the plate – and he could have taken it away with better footwork/glove work and a clue.

    The runners can’t go out of their established baseline to intentionally take out the catcher … Pretty much like any other base on the field.

    Two minor tweaks were made to the rule (and for the better). The interpretation thereof may eventually take on a life if its own, though. At least Quintero’s has. MLB did not eliminate contact at the plate. There is going to be contact. Maybe Quintero gave it a spring training (no reason for contact) olay swipe tag. Other than that possibility, there was no real reason for whatever the hell it was that he did.

  12. msfanmike on March 11th, 2014 9:34 pm

    … And no ROOT sports? Did you move to an iceberg?

  13. Westside guy on March 12th, 2014 12:28 am

    Haha, no is just got tired of a $130/month Comcast bill. So we switched to this package with high speed internet plus only the basic channels – which is $70/month.

    Oh, and for some odd reason the new package includes HBO too.

    If the Mariners were a good team I might feel differently, but for $60 less a month I’m willing to listen to them on the radio. We weren’t watching any of the other channels anyway.

  14. msfanmike on March 12th, 2014 9:23 am

    You might have a tough-nut analytics and/or uncompromising senior management department over there on the “west-side”, Westy:

    $60/mo delta x 6 months / 160 games with the best view available to modern technology = $2.25 per game

    Annualized = $4.50 per game.

    I am sure you already knew this, though. Comcast certainly does. One fewer double-latte de-caff half-caff per day – and you are sitting pretty and well ahead of the game.

    If I come up with any additional ideas on how you should spend your money, I will let you know. We all have some pretty good ideas on how Jack should spend “his” money, so I felt comfortable making the informal and unsolicited suggestion.

  15. stevemotivateir on March 12th, 2014 10:38 am

    ^Too funny! Good to hear your take on what you saw with the catching. It’s difficult for me to watch games as well, though more because of the time difference.

  16. Westside guy on March 12th, 2014 10:44 am

    Of course, for $0/month I can still listen to the game on the radio. And that’s what I’m planning to do. 😀

    Then I’ll have an extra $720 to spend on more lattes. If I ever start drinking lattes regularly.

  17. msfanmike on March 12th, 2014 11:46 am

    Well, touche!

    We are certainly all in mid-season form … proving once again that snark and sarcasm needs no spring training.

    I know that I am certainaly primed and ready to experience a season of 78 (realistically) or 79 (optimistically) wins.

    O/U: 78.5

    Who’s taking the over?

    Steve, Brazil still your domocile?

  18. stevemotivateir on March 12th, 2014 8:58 pm

    I’ll take the over. I’ll raise ya one full win.

    Brazil is still my domocile. Nothing’s went the way I planned, but I’ve more or less settled in.

    Baseball is popular with some in the Japanese community, but what I’ve seen is a step above high school, yet a couple steps below single A. I’ve seen a few guys with some real raw talent, but nobody that jumps out. This is still very much a soccer country. Even UFC is bigger than baseball.

    I’m grateful I can at least get games online!

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