Baseball Mitosis Allows M’s to Face White Sox AND Diamondbacks

marc w · March 7, 2015 at 10:10 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Split Squad –
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Josh Collmenter 12:05pm, 710am radio
Jordan Pries vs. Hector Noesi 12:05pm

The M’s first split-squad game allows both Brad Miller and Chris Taylor to get some reps at SS, but other than that, there’s just not much the M’s need to learn this spring. For the prospects, there are generally more questions, as level, position and balancing line-ups come into play. But the clarity at the top of the M’s seems like it extends at least as far as AAA Tacoma, where DJ Peterson and Patrick Kivlehan can both see time thanks to Kivlehan’s willingness to get some work in in an OF corner.

RHP Jordan Pries, who takes on the Sox and our old friend Hector Noesi, spent 2014 last year and is essentially guaranteed another season there this year. The former 30th round pick was an early-April call-up to AAA and cemented his place in the rotation by giving up one run or less in six of his first seven starts for the Rainiers. Without big time velo or great pure stuff, the smallish righty used deception and guile to navigate the treacherous PCL. Through May he had a combined RA (including his two starts for Jackson), and was excellent through July. While he tired down the stretch, he did enough to be named the M’s minor league pitcher of the year and open a lot of eyes.

Hisashi Iwakuma’s healthy this spring, which could pay dividends later in the year. The righty told Bob Dutton that while the finger injury he suffered last February didn’t affect his play, missing spring training was the primary cause of his late-season struggles. He’ll face D-backs righty Josh Collmenter, the ex-15th round draft pick who breezed through the minors thanks to a funky straight-over-the-top delivery. Without much in the way of pure stuff, some thought he’d be figured out once big league hitters adjusted to him. Collmenter’s now logged over 500 innings, and while he’s never going to be a star, he’s been worth over 6 fWAR to the D-backs both from the rotation and out of the bullpen. Not bad for a right-hander with a fastball that clocks in at 86. After spending all of 2013 in the pen, and 2014 split between the two roles, it sounds like he’s slotted in to the rotation this year.

A prion is a protein molecule that’s somehow mis-folded, and which, when it replicates, creates long fibrils that form plaques that disrupt or destroy healthy tissue. They are transmissable, and can essentially turn normal, healthy proteins into misshapen disease agents. They’re the cause of some truly nasty, incurable disease of the brain, like Creutzfeld-Jakob’s disease (Mad Cow disease). Like a prion, Hector Noesi looks like a normal, helpful member of a pitching staff. He’s got solid velocity, some interesting movement on his sinker, and an array of decent offspeed pitches. Whatever the reason, a slight mis-alignment caused extensive damage to his host (the M’s), and despite the best efforts of a series of pitching coaches, Noesi remained a stubbornly effective win-destroyer throughout his M’s tenure. Noesi then became transmissable, first infecting the Rangers, who succumbed frighteningly quickly. He moved to the White Sox soon after, and while the south siders struggled with the effects of the encephalitis-like symptoms Noesi creates, they seemed to reach a bizarre kind of equilibrium. The White Sox incorporated the pathogen into its system and somehow directed it back against the M’s as a weapon, the way a Komodo Dragon uses powerful microbes in its mouth to kill prey. Noesi appeared in four games against Seattle, throwing 18 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. Against the Rangers, he made a single start, going 7 IP, and giving up just 1R on 4H. Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of prions is that they can’t be stopped – medical science seems to learn more about they progress and how they leap from animal to animal, but that hasn’t helped come up with a game plan of how to slow or reverse their terrible, brain-destroying progress. Similarly, it seems reductive to say that Noesi’s success against the M’s is another Don Cooper special. Anyone who’s watched him for long knows that Noesi is virulent, and that he produces strong neurological reactions. Perhaps it’s for the best that today’s contest isn’t on tv.

Game vs. AZ line-up:
1: Jackson, CF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Weeks, LF
6: Peterson, 1B
7: Zunino, C
8: Kivlehan, 3B
9: Taylor, SS
SP: Iwakuma

Game vs. CHW:
1: Marte, 2B
2: Ruggiano, RF
3: Gutierrez, CF
4: Seager, DH
5: Morrison, 1B
6: Rivero, 3B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Miller, SS
9: Baker, C
SP: Pries

I’m not saying you can pin the Rangers staggering string of injuries on that ill-fated waiver claim on Hector Noesi, especially because Jurickson Profar went down before Noesi got there. Still, with the news that Yu Darvish has an elbow injury that could, COULD, mean TJ surgery, it’s possible that the Noesi virus spread quickly in an immuno-compromised host. The Rangers are a divisional rival, and I don’t want them to return to the all-conquering colossus they appeared to be back in 2011-2013 with a great young line-up, an elite minor league system and a smart GM. But we’re at the point where I feel legitimately bad for them, and I’d hate to see Darvish out for the year. They were always going to struggle to win 80 this year, but without Darvish, they look lost. A top three of Darvish, Holland and Gallardo was better – at least on paper – than anyone in the division save perhaps Seattle, but the depth dropped off quickly after that. Take out Darvish and the team starts to look more like last year’s throw-25-guys-at-the-wall-and-see-who-sticks disaster. Get well soon, Yu.

Danny Hultzen’s progress continues, as he’ll throw live BP today. No word on when he might appear in a game. Felix will appear in a game on Tuesday, not Wednesday as previously reported.

The Royals made a pair of interesting ex-Mariner signings in recent days. First, they picked up 1B Casey Kotchman, who didn’t play at all in 2014. Today, they signed magical giant RHP Chris Young to a one-year deal. It’s actually kind of remarkable how long Young was on the market given his success last year and reasonable health (hat tip: Ryan Divish).


6 Responses to “Baseball Mitosis Allows M’s to Face White Sox AND Diamondbacks”

  1. henryv on March 7th, 2015 10:15 am

    Technically it’s meiosis II as you end up with half of the genetic material.

  2. MrZDevotee on March 7th, 2015 12:34 pm

    Man oh man… Choi’s broken fibula is bad news…

    But, Yu Darvish headed for Tommy John surgery (waiting to get a 2nd opinion) is a killer for Texas. Nolan Ryan must have sold the Rangers’ soul to the devil for those World Series trips and now it’s payback time.

  3. Woodcutta on March 7th, 2015 1:13 pm

    A Carlos Peguero sighting and he got a hit!!!!

  4. Edward Baker on March 7th, 2015 1:24 pm

    Aaah…the Noesi bug. Pathogens aside, I saw him pitch once last year for the Hose against the M´s and he looked great. Go know.

  5. LongDistance on March 7th, 2015 11:25 pm

    Marc: My wife, who’s a microbiologist (and French), wants me to thank you. She’s already managed (had) to learn how the game’s played. Which is much to her credit, coming as she does from a mono-sport country. But she said it’s the first time someone’s been able to be make clear to her how the murky, baseball gods, side of the game truly exists. You’ve finessed a Cartesian revolution.

  6. ck on March 8th, 2015 6:24 am

    Thank you for baseball microbiology. I hope this season we can also learn from physicists’ how a curve curves, a knuckler knuckles, and the ball always finds the new guy!

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