So it Begins: M’s vs. Padres

marc w · March 4, 2015 at 11:50 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Tai Walker vs. Jason Lane, 12:00pm, Root TV

As Jeff mentioned here, and then in more depth at Fangraphs today, the M’s are projected to be one of the AL’s elite teams in 2015. While they’re not prohibitive favorites, the projection systems generally have them as the best team in the AL West on paper. This makes some sense – as we’ve talked about before, the story of the offseason was Oakland’s makeover which may set them up well in future years, but clearly comes at a cost of 2015 wins. The Rangers went from perennial contender to an awkward semi-rebuild, and their playoff chances have dropped more than any other team’s over the past year. The Angels were a balanced team in 2014, but injuries, aging, and, uh, Josh Hamilton have taken their toll. Meanwhile, the M’s have made several low-key moves aimed at covering some of their glaring weaknesses from last year. Because of the *way* they did so – largely by learning to love the platoon – there’s really not a whole lot to compete for as the Cactus League season begins. The M’s – and M’s fans – aren’t looking for surprises or breakouts. We’re rooting against news.

How lucky, then, that we kick things off with a game that doesn’t even count towards the actual Cactus League standings. It’s semi-ludicrous that ANYTHING can “count” in that context, but we’ll get to that tomorrow. Today, the M’s send out a split squad line-up and Taijuan Walker to take on the intra-building rivals, the San Diego Padres. The Pads are clearly taking this pretty seriously, as they’re starting former big league OF Jason Lane. Lane’s a familiar face to those of us who follow the PCL, as he’s been in the league for many years, essentially always as a position player, but who inevitably got called on to pitch in blowouts. Since focusing more on pitching, his FB’s up to around 88, and he’s got a surprisingly decent change-up.

Walker’s the one guy who one can argue is playing for a job this spring. I think the M’s want him in the rotation, even if that means sending one of last year’s big suprises, Roenis Elias, to Tacoma as depth. The story of Walker’s spring has been a change in his repertoire. While many scouts (and Fangraphs) ID’d his cutter as his #1 breaking ball, it’s always been hit and miss. I think I’ve always seen more of the latter than the former, and his overall stats show that he struggled to command the pitch. Thus, it’s not a huge shock that he’s scrapping it in favor of a true slider – taking a few MPH off, but getting more break and depth. To be clear: this isn’t about needing to improve against same-handed batters. He’s been great against them thus far. That said, a slider’s a good weapon against righties, and he’s still got his big curve and a developing split-change to use against lefties.

The line-up:
1: Jones, CF
2: Taylor, SS
3: Peterson, DH
4: Montero, 1B
5: Romero, LF
6: Rivero, 3B
7: Morban, RF
8: Hicks, C
9: Marte, 2B
SP: Walker



13 Responses to “So it Begins: M’s vs. Padres”

  1. marc w on March 4th, 2015 12:42 pm

    Jesus Montero just made a good, athletic play at 1B. I…I don’t know anything anymore.

  2. BoomBoom on March 4th, 2015 12:49 pm

    I did a double take when I saw that play by Montero. A couple of hits in his first AB’s of the year, too.

    A solid outing by Tai Walker. Throwing that effortless gas again. Ahhh….Spring!

  3. MrZDevotee on March 4th, 2015 1:22 pm

    What if it turns out that it’s actually Jesus’ long lost twin brother Babe Montero who showed up, instead of Jesus? He of more discipline and focus… And a “contact first” approach to hitting…

    That would be okay with me.

    Congrats to whichever Montero it was out there. 2 for 2 with a “+” defensive play in Game 1 of the preseason.

  4. Nate on March 4th, 2015 2:57 pm

    J. Choi Broken leg. Bummer for the first day of spring games!

  5. Nate on March 4th, 2015 3:09 pm

    M’s win! Kivlehan knocks in Marlette in the bottom of the 10th. Go M’s!

  6. Jay Yencich on March 4th, 2015 5:30 pm

    I watched, stupefied, as Montero did the splits to help field a groundball and seemed to look like he could run on two hits up the middle.

    Choi though. Man if that isn’t a heartbreaker. It’s hard to see him ever getting a shot now.

  7. Longgeorge1 on March 4th, 2015 9:35 pm

    Fibula break is not that bad an injury. For most part it is a non-load bearing bone. At least it is not a knee or ankle.

  8. Woodcutta on March 5th, 2015 12:36 am

    So, can the M’s be in trouble from the Edgar Olmos mess?

  9. Shoeless Jose on March 5th, 2015 11:17 am

    What kind of “trouble” could a career minor league relief pitcher possibly cause? Miami left him out by the curb; Seattle drove by and took him. Then Seattle noticed he was busted, and left him out in front of their house. Texas drove by and took him, but when they got him home they too noticed he was broken. So they immediately drove back in the middle of the night and dumped on the Mariners’ lawn. And now the Mariners will leave him there until somebody else thinks they can fix him or (far more likely) he vanishes like fertilizer into the grass.

    There’s no “mess” here and the only thing in trouble is Olmos’ dream of the majors. This is just the same trivial-to-baseball tragedy that plays out enormously in the lives of many players (especially pitchers) every year.

  10. Shoeless Jose on March 5th, 2015 11:20 am

    Morrison better watch out. If Montero keeps up these first impressions, LoMo’s position security may be going up in Smoak.

  11. Woodcutta on March 5th, 2015 11:47 am

    I’ll rephrase the question.

    If the M’s knew he was injured/needed surgery and they kept that from the Rangers after they asked about it, could they be in trouble?

    I’ve never heard of a team retracting a waiver claim. It just seems odd.

  12. MKT on March 5th, 2015 2:19 pm

    “Miami left him out by the curb; Seattle drove by and took him. Then Seattle noticed he was busted, and left him out in front of their house.”

    I’m reminded of one of Dave’s classic columns, “Large Item Pickup Day”.

  13. Shoeless Jose on March 6th, 2015 10:33 am

    Large Item Pickup Day was my inspiration for that comment — I’m glad someone else got the reference.

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