The End Of The Start Of Hector Noesi’s Big-League Career
People say you’re not supposed to kick a man when he’s down. But really, you’re just not supposed to kick a man, because who kicks, but if you’re already in a position where you’re kicking, you probably don’t care if your opponent is standing up or lying flat. Hector Noesi probably doesn’t deserve to be literally, physically kicked, but he can go ahead and deal with some frustrated words, and for all I know a solid kicking would be good for him. The Mariners tried everything short of that.
As you’ve read here and elsewhere, Noesi has been designated for assignment, his last pitch as a Mariner having been hit for a walk-off home run. Of course, Noesi could clear waivers and end up in Tacoma, and then that’s only a few exits away from Seattle again, but I’m here to talk about Noesi in the past tense and my hope is that I never have to change tenses. Dominic Leone is coming up to take Noesi’s place in the bullpen, and you can read about Leone here. He’s exciting, and he’s new, and he’s good, and he’s not Hector Noesi, so he’s got a lot in his favor. Leone might well never leave. If Noesi hasn’t left yet, I’ll help him.
You know what gets me? Michael Pineda hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game as a Yankee yet. Jose Campos still hasn’t pitched above Single-A. Pineda’s in the rotation so he’s about to start paying dividends, but to this point, the Yankees have gotten nothing at all from that trade. The Mariners have gotten -1.5 WAR. Or, if you prefer actual runs to FIP, -2.5 WAR. Jesus Montero is the disaster we’ve still got. Hector Noesi is the disaster we’re starting to recover from. The Yankees seem to have won that trade even before getting a single minute of major-league playing time. The Mariners traded for a young strike-thrower and one of the very top prospects in baseball. Nothing wrong with the idea. Nothing wrong with the ideas of the players they got. Plenty wrong with the realities of the players they got.
Noesi interested me, because he could throw strikes. And it’s because of him I’ve come to appreciate the difference between regular strikes and quality strikes. It was a strike he threw last night to Coco Crisp, don’t you know. Missed up, by two feet, but that pitch didn’t go in the books as a ball. Noesi’s been able to find the zone, but he’s been unable to find areas within it, and on top of that, he was the original guy who struggled with 0-and-2 pitches before Erasmo Ramirez struggled with 0-and-2 pitches. A couple years ago, before we knew what Noesi really was, he allowed five 0-and-2 home runs and three 0-and-2 doubles in 48 plate appearances. Ramirez, at least, hits spots and has a good secondary pitch. Noesi’s pitched cluelessly, and he hasn’t had the stuff to get away with it. Reporters picked up on it before I did. I tried to be forgiving for a while. In the long run, Hector Noesi made no friends.
It’s interesting how many people can’t stand him, since he was a bigger factor in 2012 than in any other season. He barely did anything a year ago, and he lasted two appearances in 2014. Noesi spending most of 2013 in the minors did nothing to soften people’s impressions, and I think today’s being considered a joyous occasion, because the Mariners swapped out a long reliever. Even the Mariners got sick of the act, since they put Noesi on the roster and then changed their minds after a handful of days. The general message here is, the team isn’t screwing around, it intends to win this year. The specific message is, go away, Hector Noesi, you are not needed any longer.
You only get so many chances, as a pitcher. Noesi’s 27, so he’s not young anymore. He can throw in the low- to mid-90s, so it’s not like he won’t have a job in a month somewhere, but his stuff isn’t special enough for him to keep getting good opportunities, and his approach isn’t good enough to make up for the stuff. At some point, with a frustrating pitcher, you have to cut ties and move on to the next crop. The Mariners ran out of reasons to be patient with Noesi, and while some other team could and will take him on, Noesi’s career isn’t starting anymore. He’s not some kid who just needs time. Now he’s been dumped by an organization, not in a trade for a player, but in a trade for a roster spot that doesn’t have Hector Noesi in it. Noesi isn’t yet a journeyman, but he’s headed down that path and you have to wonder if he realizes it.
Noesi was born in 1987 in the Dominican Republic, in a municipality named Esperanza. Esperanza is Spanish for hope, or promise, and that’s something Noesi’s always had, and something people have had for him. It’s 2014 now and Hector Noesi is a long way from home. At the moment, in a professional sense, he doesn’t have a home at all.