Game 1, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · April 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Cole Hamels, 1:05

Happy Felix Day!

The M’s kick off their 2016 season as a strange kind of dark horse contender. They’ve completely overhauled the roster and the front office, and despite a painful 2015, and despite the myriad failings false starts dogging them, they’re neck and neck with some of the best teams in the American League. A lot of that has to do with today’s starter, a wise and magnanimous King. The M’s are going for the tenth straight opening day win in large part because Felix has started most of them.

I’m still too scarred to be truly optimistic – thanks, Jack Z – but I’m grateful for another opening day, and another opportunity to revel in the singular awesomeness of Felix and the unique-in-sports endurance race that is baseball’s regular season. I’m looking forward to new developments in the minors as well, and reading way too much into every early-season hot start as Andy McKay and the development staff try to work their magic and undo the damage of 2014-15 on the M’s prospects.

With that, here are some other projections/pronouncements on the upcoming season:
1: Texas is good, and they’re kind of going unnoticed.
Sure, the rotation’s kind of a mess, but that’ll get better when Yu Darvish returns, and they have a bit more depth in AAA than they did last year thanks to AJ Griffin. Their bullpen’s underrated, too. It’s probably just me, but I see the potential for an absolutely elite group, and I’m trying to take comfort in the fact that the projection systems don’t see it that way.

2: Scoring will be up in 2016. By a lot.
Jeff Sullivan talked about the increase in HRs in the THT Annual, and Dave mentioned it today as well, but I think we’ve seen the peak of the pitcher era in baseball, and we’re going to see the pendulum swing back towards the batters. Dave mentions the glut of young hitting prospects hitting the league, but I think the league is going to exert some pressure on umps to halt or reverse the strikezone’s seemingly relentless move down, and make pitchers throw at or above the knee again. I think the players and especially training methods have had an impact on players ability to drive pitches. That is, slugging on contact will rise in part because teams keep acquiring George Springer-types, but also in part because they’ve gotten better about how to develop and nurture them. Finally, I think temps may be slightly higher in this El Nino year, and that’ll help the bats. Good luck, M’s bullpen.

3: The M’s 40-man roster will look very different in August
On opening day several years ago, the M’s were projected to be a bottom-feeder (they were), but they had an aging roster. That was the classic case of a team that was due for a roster shake-up. This year’s M’s are quite different – they’re a bit younger, and they’re at a different spot on the win curve. But despite all of the churn, the *way* Dipoto’s built this roster is remarkably suited to plug-and-play. If the M’s race out of the gate and look to be a playoff team, they can shop for help at the deadline and deal their prospects – the ones Dipoto didn’t draft/develop. This is what Zduriencik did upon taking over the team, after all. If they struggle, they could move Seth Smith, Norichika Aoki, whichever relievers are pitching well and perhaps Wade Miley near the deadline, when prices are highest. The team’s got several talented guys in the lower minors who ooze potential but have terrible performance records: Austin Wilson, Gareth Morgan, Alex Jackson. DJ Peterson and Tyler O’Neill are two more similar hitters who have more of a track record, as well. No matter how the big club performs, a fast start by some of those guys and the right deal on the table, and Dipoto may decide to cut bait on guys who may not be stylistic fits for the new org.

Opening Day Lineup:
1: Aoki, LF
2: Marte, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Gutierrez, DH
7: Lind, 1B
8: Iannetta, C
9: Martin, CF


17 Responses to “Game 1, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. Section329 on April 4th, 2016 2:17 pm

    Felix looking good! But can totally relate to “too scarred” to be totally optimistic.

  2. Westside guy on April 4th, 2016 2:24 pm

    Wow, that was one slow run to first base…

  3. seattleslew on April 4th, 2016 2:40 pm

    Can’t watch or listen to game. What’s going on with Felix? It’ll be tough to watch if he’s not the same.

  4. MrZDevotee on April 4th, 2016 2:41 pm

    This inning: 2 errors, 3 walks, and a bloop single because the infield was shifted for Fielder (for TX’s first hit of the game)… Rangers up 3, 2… With really ZERO legit hits…

  5. Coug1990 on April 4th, 2016 2:47 pm

    What a horrible 5th inning for Felix. Could not locate his fastball and walked three. Defense did not pick him up, as Marte misplayed a double play ball.

  6. seattleslew on April 4th, 2016 2:54 pm

    Wow, ok. Thanks guys!

  7. Dennisss on April 4th, 2016 3:07 pm

    Felix just struck out 4 of the last 5 hitters swinging (the other grounded out.) He hasn’t really lost it.

  8. californiamariner on April 4th, 2016 3:07 pm

    Felix was all over the place that inning, but really defense!? 1 hit and he’s allowed 3 runs?

  9. Dennisss on April 4th, 2016 3:10 pm

    I would be curious to hear why Lind batted in the 7th instead of Lee.

  10. Dennisss on April 4th, 2016 3:11 pm

    Lee hitting for Martin – maybe that explains it.

  11. Dennisss on April 4th, 2016 3:54 pm

    A bit of bad luck to have three walks, two errors, and the only hit of the game all in one inning.

  12. californiamariner on April 4th, 2016 6:05 pm

    Give up one hit and lose. Mariners baseball is back ladies and gentleman!

  13. marc w on April 4th, 2016 10:29 pm

    What a weird game that was. Hey, it can’t get any worse for Marte, and at least Montgomery looked revelatory. The pitch fx readings were, frankly, bizarre, so we may have to wait a while to see how his fastball and curve are moving.

    I’d be very happy if Cano keeps up his torrid March/April. I’d be happy if Adam Lind sees vanishingly few PA’s against lefties going forward.

  14. groundzero55 on April 5th, 2016 3:20 am

    I wasn’t a fan of leaving Lee on the bench for exactly the kind of game we kept him around for – playing against a lefty starter. Apparently Servais felt Lee needed to stay on the bench to not be overwhelmed by Opening Day. Turned out it was Lind being overwhelmed to the tune of 0-4. Hopefully we don’t see any more bizarre moves or non-moves like that.

  15. MrZDevotee on April 5th, 2016 6:52 am

    Agree… I guess it was “show respect to the starters” day… ‘Cause it was also interesting to see Cruz play RF, and Guty be the DH… That was sacrificing defense just to make a key player happy, too.

  16. Westside guy on April 5th, 2016 8:18 am

    If Guti was at DH, that may have more to do with him than with Cruz. But I am hoping we don’t see too much of last season’s right fielder.

  17. seattleslew on April 5th, 2016 1:42 pm

    Maybe Servais thought it was April 1st? Strange how a few questionable decisions in one very questionable game could prevent the M’s from reaching the playoffs. Spring training is over, dude!

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