Cactus League Game 1: It Begins

marc w · February 25, 2017 at 9:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m still not in regular season shape, so some articles on Segura and others will have to wait, but…seriously, there’s a Mariner game on today.

How do I do this again? Oh yeah, that’s right:
M’s “at” Padres
Ariel Miranda vs. Paul Clemens, 12:10pm

It’s not just the M’s, but there’s something comfortable about kicking off the spring with a guy desperately pitching for a job. Erasmo Ramirez did this a few years ago, and ended up winning one…in Tampa. Last year, it was Nate Karns, who went first in a duel with James Paxton for the 5th rotation spot. In a series of events that highlight that spring training means little and that baseball is unpredictable, Karns won that battle, sending the pitcher that many N’s fans consider the team’s ace to AAA to start the year (and gain several MPH on his fastball).

This year, there’s no big competition. Barring injury, the rotation’s set, and all Miranda can do is demonstrate stuff that might play well out of the bullpen or lay claim to the first starter called up from Tacoma. THAT battle is actually going to be pretty intense, with Miranda, Chris Heston and ex-Athletic Dillon Overton all decent 6th-7th starters with a dash of upside.

That’s not completely irrelevant – depth matters – but it’s perhaps not appointment television. And hey, the game is not on TV at all, so…problem solved. (It’s on 710am for those in the Seattle area.) At least for today, the pitching match up will take a back seat to seeing this new-look M’s line up in action. Can Dan Vogelbach play a credible 1B? Is Jean Segura a (permanently) changed hitter? How about this Haniger fellow? Today we get our first, fleeting, often misleading, glimpse at the 2017 Mariners. May the pain of our fandom be different this year; perhaps even constructive.

As usual, the M’s open with stadium-mates, the San Diego Padres. Between a huge sell-off, front office penalties and a reputation for a non-traditional take on rules and ethics, the Padres are in trouble in 2017. Yes, they have a nice farm system, but that’s been true for a while. Unfortunate trades and some player development hiccups left them in bad shape last year, and realistically, they’re not much better in 2017.

As a case in point, ex-Astros journeyman/replacement level hurler Paul Clemens takes the mound today. The righty throws a tailing fastball and a high-spin curve, but hasn’t been able to carve out a real MLB role thus far. His big problem has been the long ball, and since nearly all of them have come off fastballs, it’s better to say that his big problem is his heater. Despite some mildly interesting movement, righties seem to see it really well and habitually bully the pitch. His curve is fine, maybe even good, but he doesn’t (yet) pitch off of it like Rich Hill.

Maybe in an effort to make it more sinker-y, he dropped his arm slot last year. That makes sense, given his particular symptoms, but it didn’t really work: righties still hit him, and if he gave up fewer HRs, well, Petco probably played a role.

This year, the bereft-of-pitching Padres are considering a piggy-back rotation with a number of pitchers working a few innings before giving way to a reliever working a few more. The similarly-barren Rockies tried it – unsuccessfully – in 2012, but it makes some sense for a team that realistically can’t match up to its opponents’ starting pitching. If you can’t beat ’em at their game, change the game sufficiently that you…well, I don’t know exactly. It’s not like their bullpen’s great either. And their problem last year wasn’t so much pitchers tiring and getting hit the 2nd/3rd time through the line up- they got hammered in the first inning. In any event, it’ll be interesting to see if they do implement this strategy, and what it’ll mean for guys like Clemens.

The initial line up:
1: Dyson, LF
2: Segura, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Haniger, RF
7: Vogelbach, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Martin, CF
SP: Miranda

Go M’s! Stretch properly! Nobody get hurt!


2 Responses to “Cactus League Game 1: It Begins”

  1. ck on February 25th, 2017 11:15 am

    Thank you, Marc! Baseball ! I like this line-up, and the four new guy starters are definitely better than Aoki, Lind, Marte; plus Haniger as a better defender than whoever was in Right Field last Season, but his ( Haniger’s) bat remains to be seen. Two more new guys on the bench, Valencia and Ruiz are better than last Season’s Dae Ho Lee and Clevenger, and the final decision of carry a 4th Outfielder plus Utility, or Two Utilities will be intriguing. Good Luck 2017 Mariners !

  2. kimalanus on February 25th, 2017 5:12 pm

    Thank you for the reminder to stretch, I therefor was reminded to stretch my ownself and had my best ride yet on my new bicycle while listening to the game on MLB Gameday. So, baseball! and biking!

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