Game 63, Astros at Mariners – Draft for Hope, Play for Pride

marc w · June 3, 2019 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Cory Gearrin/Wade LeBlanc vs. Corbin Martin, 7:10pm

The M’s skid continues, with another 10-run loss yesterday, highlighted by Marco Gonzales’ 7-run 2nd inning. Marco’s free-fall continues unabated, and after the game, both he and manager Scott Servais talked about how the current trend can’t continue. To his credit, Gonzales assigned blame to himself and the starters, who clearly aren’t getting it done, and refused to say that his defense is hanging them out to dry. I love Marco’s attitude, I love his competitiveness, and I think he can help this team, but something in his approach has to change. He said it was mostly attitude, and having confidence in each pitch, but I worry that there’s something bigger at play.

People have pointed to his declining velocity, but that can’t explain his recent struggles. As I’ve detailed here, his velo was even lower when he started the year 5-0. More problematic is the fact that his May velocity (higher than April) was lower than his *lowest* velocity in 2018 (September). He’s now lost 3 MPH from his velocity in his 2017 call-up, and 2 MPH from May of last year. It’s a worry, even as his April shows he *could* be effective at this velocity.

The M’s trade of Jay Bruce for high-A 3B/1B Jake Scheiner figures to be the first of many “…and cash” trades the M’s make. I expected the M’s to add cash to the deal in order to pick up a prospect, but seeing the M’s send $18 M of the $20 M or so Bruce is owed and getting back a prospect who wasn’t in Philadelphia’s top 30 is…sub-optimal. A limited, platoon-slugging 1B/RF with a low average was never going to be a premium pick-up, but it makes you worried about the M’s adding to their impressive total of players whom the M’s are paying to play elsewhere, or not at all. From Carlos Santana to Denard Span to Anthony Swarzak, the M’s are paying tens of millions for future salary flexibility.

Before the year, I noted that the M’s had to both transform their player development, turning org guys into prospects and prospects into MLB contributors, AND hope that the player development work by Houston and others stumbled. The Astros are 40-20, but shockingly, the second part of that double seems to have come to pass, at least for a few months. No, Justus Sheffield is not ready, and looks further from the majors than when he was acquired, the shocking thing is how many Astros pitching prospects have scuffled. Forrest Whitley’s ERA starts with a 12, and he looks absolutely lost. Josh James has been fine, I suppose, in relief in Houston, but I thought he was a top-of-the-rotation arm, and has looked a lot more average, despite the velo and strikeouts. JB Bukauskas has walked way too many, as has Cionel Perez. Rogelio Armenteros and Brandon Bielak have been…fine, but nothing special. The best of the bunch by performance only is tonight’s starter, Corbin Martin, a former 2nd round pick out of Texas A&M. A righty who sits in the mid-90s, he walked a bunch in AAA, but stranded enough to post decent numbers. In the majors, those walks have combined with dingers to kill his effectiveness. He’s still young, and he comes in as Houston’s #3 prospect for 2019. He has a solid change and a curveball as well, and he could develop into a really good #3 starter (maybe even a #2), but he isn’t there at this point.

That’s not just schadenfreude, that’s helpful: it’s good to know that even the Astros can have an off month or two in PD, but when it’s combined with the M’s near-the-majors talent also scuffling (Swanson and Sheffield mostly, but also Kyle Lewis and Evan White), it’s less fun. It’s also more contained, as the Astros have maybe the best overall hitter in the minors in 2019, 1B/DH Yordan Alvarez, who’s crushing AAA. Jarred Kelenic is a much, much better prospect, and HIS development is something to crow about, but the Astros have solid hitting prospects in AAA who struggle to break into one of the league’s better offenses. This whole surpassing the Astros project is going to be a generational one, I fear.

1: Smith, CF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Encarnacion, 1B
4: Vogelbach, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Narvaez, C
7: Santana, LF
8: Long, 2B
9: Moore, SS
SP: LeBlanc, after Gearrin opens

Deivy Florido, Ricardo Sanchez get the starts on a limited day in the M’s minors. The DSL M’s have started up, and they sit at 2-0 after a win today; SS Noelvi Marte’s the name to watch down there.
The M’s expect to bring up old friend Andrew Moore to take Yusei Kikuchi’s spot in the rotation, as the M’s will give the Japanese lefty some extra rest.

Yesterday’s slate was highlighted by Jarred Kelenic’s second Hi-A HR, and by Evan White’s first HR for Arkansas since May 12th…which was his last extra-base hit of any kind.


7 Responses to “Game 63, Astros at Mariners – Draft for Hope, Play for Pride”

  1. bookbook on June 3rd, 2019 6:58 pm

    Some folks are claiming the math adds up to $6 million in savings for Bruce, which makes the meh prospect much more palatable than if it’s only 2-3.

  2. Bwilliam on June 3rd, 2019 7:15 pm

    Fire Jerry Dipoto now

  3. Bwilliam on June 3rd, 2019 7:16 pm

    My son stumped me earlier. He asked besides Paxton who was last college arm the Mariners developed?

  4. WTF_Ms on June 3rd, 2019 9:59 pm

    When do we trade Smith? CAN we trade him? Would anyone pay anything for him? He’s bad.

  5. cougs129 on June 4th, 2019 7:48 am

    there is really no reason to trade mallex smith. It is not like he is a costly player. I wouldn’t mind him getting more time on the bench so we can see what Braden Bishop has to offer. Of course, dealing Encarnacion will open up DH for Domingo and LF for Mallex and CF for Bishop. But i don’t see the value in trading Mallex just to deal him. Unless some team is willing to give us something back of some sort of value. This guy was a 3 WAR player last year. It isn’t great, but since he’s been recalled he has a .246 average with .306 OBP, and has seemingly played better defense (nowhere near good enough for CF though). I wouldn’t feel the need to trade him unless it’s mid year next year and guys like kyle lewis, Fraley and/or Dom-Thompson Williams are ready and he is blocking playing time because we still have Haniger and Bishop has proven to be an everyday CF, and we need to open up LF for one of the above. Even then, Mallex likely has value as a 4th OF

  6. cougs129 on June 4th, 2019 7:51 am

    I can only hope that these massive struggles prompt the players and organization to adjust their focus and priorities some. It is easy to keep with the status quo if you’re having success, even if signs point to downward trend. Marco had been getting away with a decline in velocity for so long, that he didn’t feel the need to try and find a way to get back to 92MPH, i saw an article somewhere stating as much. The organization also seemed to think they could throw out a bunch of soft tossers and get by enough to be competitive. I think this season has likely revealed that can’t be the case in 2021 when they intend to be competitive again, and i think yesterday’s draft may have signaled they understand that. It was a day they added 3 college arms that can rush it up to 95 MPH. Combine that with the additions of Sheffield, Dunn & Swanson this offseason, i am hopeful they’re putting more of a premium of guys that have velocity in the rotation

  7. Stevemotivateir on June 9th, 2019 6:09 am

    Santana isn’t likely going to DH with Vogelbach around.

    Smith probably isn’t going anywhere soon, but he probably isn’t a long-term piece, either.

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