Game 141, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · September 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Daniel Mengden, 7:05pm

Is it better to finish a bit above .500, on the edge of contention, where a late-august swoon rips your heart out, or is it better to fall out of it early, try a bunch of new players and see if you can discern the first stirrings of a new, competitive core? You can say that there’s merit in the Astros’ recent rebuild or even the Phillies’ nearly instantaneous move from “too old” to “stocked with fascinating young players, but still not ready to compete,” but the case of the Athletics is somewhat different. With the A’s, you’re never sure it’s going to end, and while they were more than competitive just a couple of years ago, the trade of Josh Donaldson highlighted that developing elite young talent is kind of a double-edged sword. Hooray for watching that player come up to the majors and succeed! Boo, because he’s going to need to be traded as soon as that success is sustained. I don’t think the M’s or their front office wants the M’s to be a .500-ish team for several years, but that almost seems like the goal in Oakland. The M’s are going to be an old, old team next year, and that’s not ideal in terms of trying to contend in 2018-19, but the M’s signed Kyle Seager to an extension, and locked up Felix, Cano and Cruz. I know I pick on the A’s too much, especially as a sabermetrically-inclined guy, but it really has to be hard to be a fan in years like this one.

2015 was a pivotal year, as they dealt Donaldson away, and then moved decisively once they fell off the pace in the AL, acquiring Daniel Mengden from the Astros in a mid-year trade for Scott Kazmir last year. Mengden’s not overpowering, though his fastball will touch 95, but he has four pitches (five if you include a sinker) that he’ll throw pretty regularly. That diverse repertoire pairs with a…throwback delivery that may add a bit of deception. He was untouchable in the minors this year, but it’s been a very different story since joining the A’s. It’s not platoon splits, it’s just that *everything’s* gotten worse. His walk rate’s soared, nearly doubling from where he was in AAA. He’s giving up more HRs, and that may be a long-term issue, given that he throws over-the-top and is running a ground ball rate below 40%. His BABIP’s too high, and his strand rate’s absurdly low. This mixture of bad peripherals AND bad luck account for his diabolical ERA of 6.66 headed into tonight’s game.

Mengden’s still young and anyone who can come close to commanding four pitches this early has a real shot. But he’s another example of how tricky the A’s rebuild is. Sean Manaea was their top pitching prospect coming into the year, and while he’s recovered from a ghastly start, he’s only shown flashes of being more than a #3. Mengden’s adjusting to the big leagues slowly, and Andrew Triggs hurt his back. Sonny Gray’s been one of the biggest disappointments in the league, which increases the chances that he’ll stay in Oakland, but decreases the chances that A’s fans will be stoked about that in 2018. Zach Neal and Kendall Graveman have pitched pretty well, but can’t strike anyone out, Jharel Cotton CAN, but he’s only pitched one big league game thus far, etc. Having this many young starters is great, though of course it means something’s gone wrong. But the A’s haven’t seen the kind of instant star they had with Gray. Maybe with time to develop they’ll put together a great, cheap core. Or maybe they’ve got a whole lot of perfectly serviceable players but don’t yet have the pieces they need to challenge Texas and Houston, no matter how much development time you give them.

1: Aoki, LF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Martin, CF
8: Zunino, C
9: Marte, SS
SP: Iwakuma

Another solid night in the minors, as Bakersfield won to give Sam Lynn another home game before the whole team’s contracted out of the Cal League. Jen Mac Ramos had a great article on the ballpark and club as they face the inevitable end of their team today at the Hardball Times. The Blaze dominated from start to finish last night, beating San Jose 7-1 to equalize the series at 1 apiece. It’s a best of 3. Zack Littell struck out 11 in 7 1/3 dominant innings. Tyler Pike starts the deciding game tonight in Bakersfield opposite Jake McCasland who was called up for this start – he hasn’t played for San Jose yet, spending his 2016 repeating the Sallie League in Augusta.

Tacoma lost by that same 7-1 score, so their series with El Paso’s also tied 1-1. Wade LeBlanc’s on the hill for the Rainiers today against Bryan Rodriguez who gave up 108 hits in 86+ innings while striking out 51 AAA hitters this year. Go Rainiers.

Montgomery simply can’t hit Jackson pitching. A day after Andrew Moore twirled a 9IP, 1H, 0R game at them, Brett Ash and the Generals bullpen limited the biscuits to 1 run in Jackson’s 2-1 win. Brent Honeywell was as advertised, giving up 2 runs on HRs by Tylers Marlette and O’Neill, but that was it: his final line was 7 IP, 4H, 2R, 1BB, 7Ks. Jackson goes for the sweep tonight in Montgomery behind Paul Blackburn, the pitcher the M’s got in the Vogelbach/Montgomery trade.

Clinton beat Peoria 4-3 to win the best-of-3 series in the first round of the MWL playoffs. Luiz Gohara was unhittable through 5, and though he gave up 3 runs in the 7th, the bullpen made it hold up. Luis Liberato led the offense with 3 hits, and was a defensive star, too: The game ended on a play at the plate, as Liberato threw out Matt Davis at home after Magneuris Sierra singled. Phew. They’re off today, but face Cedar Rapids tomorrow with Pablo Lopez on the hill.

Everett beat Spokane in Game 1 of their series, as the Sox to an early 5-1 lead and held on for an 8-5 win. Everett plays game 2 of the series tonight in a pretty special location: Safeco Field. Just like the Rainiers’ 2010 playoff run had to be moved to Safeco Field as Cheney Stadium was being renovated, Everett will get a playoff start in Seattle tonight as their home field hasn’t quite drained from the rains that scuppered the Wednesday start. Tickets are $12, and they’re only opening 100 level seats.


8 Responses to “Game 141, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. Notfromboise on September 9th, 2016 6:53 pm

    Probably the bitterest pill to swallow of the “Is it better to faux contend or get to developing earlier in the year?” debate is…


    Who is there to really develop? In bulk, anyways. Believe me if he had 3 pitches and a pair of cleats, the Mariners have given him a look or two this season.

    If he could run around in the outfield and did positive things, he’s gotten a look.

    If he could play shortstop, he’s gotten a look.

    Anytime in the last decade, if he’s a first basemen with a pulse, he’s gotten a look.

    Basically : The Mariners farm system isn’t yet to the point where we even really have *any* incentive to even jokingly discuss a rebuild. And yeah, give Dipoto credit for doing his best to stock up on cheap assets on the fly while also drowning us in 32 year olds to be competive… Doing both at one is arduous.

    My big pet peeve is this: Miley and Karns both have had legit, postive, and *full* MLB seasons under their belt. Paxton and Walker have not (Walker started 29 games last year, and probably a good dozen of those we wish he didn’t start).

    The fact that we jettisoned both Karns and Miley, on reasonable deals, for umm.. two practice bats and a towel… That is not good. They bet on Walker and Paxton to be effective and healthy, and they hedged that bet with two pitchers who were not on the major league club when the decisions were even made (Miranda and Le Blanc). They also sent out Montgomery who to that point of the season might have been the only competent arm in the bullpen besides Diaz.

    I’m ok with failing, the M’s are building much of the roster from scratch without either raw ingredients or complimentary pieces… But you can argue we *did* “Go Oakland” by dumping Miley/Karns/Montgomery. Because they were then going to live and die with Walker and Paxton. And the Mariners sold 3 of their best available arms…. Errr.. cancel that, they didnt sell anything: they essentially gave them away. Go look up what was gotten in return.. Don’t do it on a full stomach, trust me.

    If you want to be mad, be mad that we were a couple games out of the wild card and did not buy a damn thing at the all star break. Be mad that we sold prior to the deadline and didnt even notice it. Be mad that we actually are Oakland. I know that in writing this I got mad. Mad enough for the cardinal sin of using ‘we’.

    Cuz we deserve better.

  2. eponymous coward on September 10th, 2016 12:11 am

    Are you high? Karns is still a Mariner. Check out the 60 day DL. And Miranda is not nothing.

  3. eponymous coward on September 10th, 2016 12:19 am

    And Miley isn’t pitching amazing as an O. So you are ranting because the M’s traded a reliever?

  4. Grayfox3d on September 10th, 2016 3:42 pm

    HAPPY FELIX DAY!!!! he looked pretty good tonight… This game is giving me false hope at a wild card spot and I hate it!!!

  5. Westside guy on September 10th, 2016 6:52 pm

    For some reason I thought the Felix game was starting at 6:10 tonight… Oh well, at least they won big!

  6. Grayfox3d on September 11th, 2016 5:42 pm

    5 in a row! im full of false hope!

  7. LongDistance on September 12th, 2016 2:09 am

    These are the guys I’d hoped to watch, when I went to see them play the Yankees in August. They must have been on vacation.

  8. leon0112 on September 12th, 2016 6:23 am

    A sweep of the A’s was a requirement for the M’s faint hopes to remain alive. Now at least 3 of 4 from the Angels will be required. Pretty tough. Sure feels like the M’s are drawing an inside straight.

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