Game 42, Rangers at Mariners

marc w · May 16, 2018 at 12:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elías (!) Christian Bergman vs. Bartolo Colon (!), 12:40pm

The M’s won last night, let’s not bury the lede here. I said going in that they’d have an excuse if the game looked sloppy, and so I couldn’t be that surprised when the game repeatedly wallowed in garbage – errors, awful bullpenning, etc. Still, it’s one thing to understand that what you’re getting into may not be Baseball At Its Best ™, and another thing to watch it play out. No team should have to play three games in three days in three cities, so one more round of “Screw you, Minnesota”s are in order, but the problem is that today’s game may be more of the same. The baseball schedule is relentless, and it makes players using PEDs understandable; the schedule itself seems like it might qualify several banned substances for “therapeutic exemptions.” But in stretches like this, where make-ups, getaway days and extra innings conspire, it seems downright harmful. We lament that players feel like they need to play through pain, and then we make them do this, play a day game after an extra-inning night game that was their third straight travel day. No one will have gotten meaningful rest, their circadian rhythms are messed up, they’re tired, their clubhouse leader just got suspended, etc., etc. Give them a break, baseball.

As bad as the game was, winning takes some of the sting off of it. Nice comeback you have there, Rangers, be a shame if something were to HAPPEN to it. The M’s offense did what it was supposed to, and the Rangers pitching staff did what its done so much this year. Juan Nicasio still looks lost, and that’s a big problem, but at least the M’s are figuring out how to bounce back from one of his uh, less than idea appearances. Thus, in spite of the dread coming into the game, and in spite of that dread building as the Rangers came back in the 8th, I was left feeling something that M’s fans know fairly well: not relief exactly, but relief that the worst possible outcome didn’t occur.

Today’s game elicits another kind of hard-to-describe sadness of a type that longtime M’s fans can catalogue and that needs some great foreign loan word to describe. Roenis Elías will be brought up from Tacoma to make his first start in an M’s uniform since 2015. Elías was an afterthought of a prospect who turned in two solid years at the back of the M’s rotation in 2014 and 2015 and was then traded along with Carson Smith for the immortal Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro. Many M’s fans absolutely loved Elías and his big curve, and you can see why – he had two distinct arm slots, he mixed pitches, and seemed to get by better than hyped can’t-miss prospects. Personally, I was just this side of obsessed with Carson Smith and his incredible sinker/slider combination – he was a bullpen anchor; someone to shorten games for years and years. Club control and dominance…And then he was gone.

This is NOT one of those tales of woe like the Chris Taylor for Zach Lee deals, where the afterthought M’s prospect becomes a star, and the M’s return turns to dust immediately. We all know THAT feeling, but this is distinct. EVERYTHING went to hell in this trade. It blew up for Boston as Carson Smith’s missed essentially all of the last two years due to injury, and just now that he’s healthy again, throwing 14 IP this year (which is more than he threw in 2016-17 combined), he injured his shoulder throwing his glove in the dugout in frustration. If anything, Elías was somehow worse, throwing all of 8 innings total for the Sox, giving up 11 runs on 6 walks and 4 Ks. He wasn’t a lot better in the minors, and Boston had given up on him as a starter even in AAA. He’s back on a trade so minor, you hesitate to even call it a trade. The Sox just wanted him gone, and the M’s had a need.

I’m glad he’s back, and I hope the Sox tire of Smith, too, and that the M’s are able to reacquire him for a bag of baseballs at some point. But more than that, I’m just sort of sad. The M’s didn’t lose the trade…they just lost. Would having Smith and Elías instead of Miley and Aro helped the M’s these past two seasons? I mean, sure, no one knows, it’s hypothetical, maybe Smith was already hurting, etc., but don’t pretty much all signs point to yes? Ok, fair point: in this counterfactual, we would not have acquired Ariel Miranda, but wasn’t that a pretty obvious case of trying to get the player most like Roenis Elias in all of baseball?

That trade seemed odd from day one, and while Smith never starred in Boston the way I thought he would, but the M’s won 86 games and finished a few games out of the wild card despite Miley pitching poorly for half a year. The M’s had serious HR problems, especially in the bullpen (which put up a low ERA, to be fair to them), and you’d think Smith’s un-elevate-able sinker would’ve helped there. It certainly seems like they could’ve helped, and the guys the M’s brought back in exchange sure as hell didn’t. No, this trade wasn’t a disaster in the traditional sense – it just hurt. The Portuguese word “saudade” is probably the closest to this feeling, though the way the Japanese word “natsukashi” probably comes close, too. Both have that sense of nostalgia or reminiscence that gets to the “can’t we just rewind and NOT do the thing?” of that trade.

All of the preceding was so timely and relevant, and then the M’s changed their mind and purchased the contract of 2017 spot starter Christian Bergman instead. We’ll feel whatever loan word we’ll feel when Elías comes up, but for now, we’ll get to feel that ol’ kind of indifference we felt when Bergman pitched last year. To be fair, Bergman through a handful of really solid games in Seattle – he just mixed them in with some true disasters. Here’s hoping we get the former. If you don’t remember, Bergman’s a righty and throws a fastball in the high 80s with some sink to it. His second pitch is a cutter at 86 or so, and his best breaking ball is a curve in the high 70s. He’s got a change and sinker as well.

Hey, speaking of more traditional disastrous trades: rumors are swirling that the M’s could reacquire CF Adam Jones from the soon-to-be-in-full-tear-down-mode Orioles. Wait, you say: the M’s have no prospects to move! Pretty true, but that’s where the Orioles situation comes in: what they need is salary relief. The M’s just came into some money, so it *could* work. If other teams enter the bidding – and they’re likely to – then actual prospects might enter into the equation, which might make it tough for Seattle. But it’d be an odd outcome, though it would really get awkward in August when Robinson Cano returned. Would the M’s move Dee Gordon back to OF? Platoon? I think the odds of this are quite low, but it’s kind of funny (we need another loan word for the way “funny” gets used in Mariner contexts) to think about.

1: Gordon, CF
2: Segura, SS
3: Haniger, RF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Healy, 1B
6: Gamel, LF
7: Zunino, DH
8: Romine, 2B
9: Freitas, C
SP: Bergman, not Elías, apparently.

Nelson Cruz, who was hit by a pitch on his foot last night, gets the day off thanks to that bruise/contusion, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be DL’d. X-rays were negative.

Modesto beat San Jose last night, with reliever Seth Elledge getting his 5th save. Elledge seems like a guy who should move quickly this year, and he’s done everything you could want in High’s just that Matt Festa/Art Warren are already in AA. Nice problem to have, I suppose.

On the other end of the spectrum is OF Gareth Morgan, who last night K’d 4 times, meaning he’s now 0 for his last 13 with…13 strikeouts. He’s not put a ball in play since May 10th when he homered (so, uh, not really “in play”). This has always been an issue for Morgan, but something’s gone crazy this year and especially this past week. He’s walked twice in his last 4 games, but 13 Ks in 13 ABs is…yeesh. He’s got 86 Ks and 8 walks in 35 games this year (135 ABs).

Andrew Moore threw 7 solid innings in Arkansas’ 4-2 loss to NW Arkansas, but came away with a no-decision. Oddly, he struck out just 1 to 2 walks for the second straight game after starting off the year on a strikeout tear. The Travs lost in extras.

Chase De Jong (AA), Darren McCaughan (High A), and Ryne Inman (A) get starts in the system today; Tacoma’s off.


9 Responses to “Game 42, Rangers at Mariners”

  1. Westside guy on May 16th, 2018 1:00 pm

    “Hey, speaking of more traditional disastrous trades: rumors are swirling that the M’s could reacquire CF Adam Jones from the soon-to-be-in-full-tear-down-mode Orioles.”

    Maybe we could ask Erik Bedard to come out of retirement so we could trade him to the Birds – then he could retire as an Oriole.

  2. msfanmike on May 16th, 2018 1:19 pm

    Gareth Morgan: He’s a hoot. Him and his 60% strikeout rate in High-A ball. A Jack Z special for sure and for certain.

    IRT Adam Jones: That would be great news if the team were able to acquire him – and assuming Cano returns and Gordon goes back to CF, the simple answer would be to slide Jones over to LF (where a hole actually exists). Ben Gamel is not the long-term solution in LF and neither is the “dual threat” of Gamel and Heredia. They both appear to be somewhat capable backups. Having Adam Jones would be a “good problem” to have. As a matter of fact, it would have been a good problem to have for the past 10 years.

    I don’t presume that JD is going to be overly conservative in the last year of his own contract.

  3. Grayfox3d on May 16th, 2018 1:48 pm

    We are witnessing the second coming of Bartolo Colon… They look helpless out there, it’s kind of funny.

  4. Grayfox3d on May 16th, 2018 2:44 pm

    7 2/3 innings 4 hits, no runs. Could this be the impact of no Cruz and Cano? or Colon just dominates at 44 y/o.

  5. WTF_Ms on May 16th, 2018 3:08 pm

    So, the clown show moves into today! It’s entertaining none the less. Is there an opposite of “Web Gems”???

  6. WTF_Ms on May 16th, 2018 3:10 pm

    We’re being out managed by the worst team in the division. Horrible. And the bullpen is NOT helping. The 9th inning is a real problem this year.

  7. WTF_Ms on May 16th, 2018 3:19 pm

    I’m speechless now. We challenge THAT play, but not the one at home the other day….Servais’ time may be ticking by faster. He’s messed this up for the last week.

  8. naviomelo on May 16th, 2018 3:26 pm

    Acta was managing for that game against Detroit…

  9. WTF_Ms on May 16th, 2018 3:31 pm

    @naviomelo, yeah, I remember. Another reason to NOT let Acta manage, even as a replacement. At least this team, this year, there are different problems. Bullpen is spotty, manager is bad, and the whole Cano issue.

    And, this is the way the rest of the season will go. Mark my words. This is as close as we’ll get to the Division lead. Again.

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