Cactus League Game Man, They Just Keep Coming, Don’t They? Padres at Mariners
James Paxton vs. Ian Kennedy, 7:05
A primetime game on live TV – it’s really starting to feel like baseball season. Tune to ROOT sports at 7pm if you can tear yourself away from March Madness.*
Ian Kennedy was part of one the biggest trades in recent baseball history, the three-team deal that sent Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson to the Tigers, Curtis Granderson to New York, and Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to Arizona. Kennedy posted a 21-win season in 2011 and gave the D-Backs about 10 WAR in the 3.5 seasons he spent in Arizona, but at this point, he, like E. Jackson, is kind of a footnote to a trade that kickstarted the Tigers’ recent run of success. It’s kind of fun to look back on that deal with the benefit of hindsight. People like Dave saw that Arizona was paying too much, but I think it’s interesting to see how many people underestimated both Scherzer and Austin Jackson. Easy for me to say – I WAS one of the people actively underrating the Tigers CF. As good as the deal was for the Tigers, it *still* worked out fairly well for Arizona. The D-Backs rode Kennedy’s brilliant 2011 to a worst-to-first division title, but they’ve been a .500 team since then, despite adding some quality arms in Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Pat Corbin and Brandon McCarthy. Kennedy struggled mightily in 2012 and when he couldn’t find his form in 2013, the D-Backs shipped him to San Diego for two relievers (one big league, one A-baller).
As many have noted, it’s a great play by San Diego. The park is perfect for Kennedy’s fly-balling ways, and his solid change-up allows him to avoid huge platoon splits (his career wOBA split is .320/.320). His velocity’s unchanged from where it was in his 2011 campaign, and the odd dishwashing-injury aside, he hasn’t been plagued by a recurrence of the serious arm trouble that plagued him early in his career.
Opposing him is James Paxton, who I’m writing a separate post on, so…yeah. Wait for that one, or, uh, don’t.
1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Morrison, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Saunders, RF
7: Ackley, DH
8: Romero, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: James Paxton
According to Bob Dutton, the M’s will send both Stephen Pryor and Taijuan Walker to a minor league game tomorrow to pitch their first competitive innings of the spring.
Paxton’s scheduled for six innings tonight as he gets stretched out for the season.
Aroldis Chapman is recovering in the hospital from surgery to help repair the damage that a Sal Perez liner caused. He’s apparently well enough to tweet a picture of his many, many stitches. Again, this is a picture of surgical stitching to Chapman’s head. Your call.
We talked about the not-likely, but-definitely-possible scenarios in which the M’s make the playoffs in the divisional race post a few days ago. Now Sam Miller at BP is gone several dozen steps further in this post about the Astros winning the AL West. The *Astros*. BP, like anyone doing playoff odds, essentially inputs each team’s projected strength and then simulates the season 1,000,000 times. In the context of one meeellion iterations, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Astros win in *some* of them. But it’s a Sam Miller piece, and a Sam Miller piece talking about incredibly unlikely events. Just click it, already.
One more BP link, since it looks like these are all outside the paywall today…. Ben Lindbergh talks about how next year’s free agent class is shaping up to be historically terrible thanks to good young players signing extensions. This year’s class was already markedly weaker than any since 2006, and yet it garnered unprecedented total dollar compensation thanks to an increase in the number of years teams committed. Lindbergh points to the caps on draft and international signings as one reason why teams are spending so much more on some pretty mediocre free agents, and wonders if the pendulum starts to swing the other way, with young players opting to risk going the free agent route instead of signing an extension. Incidentally, this is one factor that I’m sure went through the M’s mind as they debated giving Robinson Cano so much money. Especially in December, the team didn’t look like a contender in 2014 even with the Cano addition. But if you think the team’s window for contention is 2015-2017, you have to look at what you could possibly BUY then to fill out your line-up. The M’s grabbed Cano earlier than they may have wanted to, but they did so knowing that no one like Cano is going to be a free agent next year.
* I love MLB much more than I love college basketball, but March Madness is a near-perfect sporting event. It’s a national treasure, and I say that acknowledging that most every criticism people level against the NCAA is true. Major college sports are a bizarre enterprise, and even more than politics or sausage-making, the less you really dig into the details, the more you’re able to enjoy the spectacle. But March Madness has perhaps lucked into a perfect balance between rewarding great teams and giving slight advantages to underdogs that make the tournament so compelling. I’ve gone on too long, as this is nominally a post about spring training baseball.