Game 124, Mariners at Blue Jays

marc w · August 17, 2019 at 11:36 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Reggie McClain/Erik Swanson vs. Trent Thornton, 12:00pm

A rebuild is a process, and not a quick one. This was never going to be a contention year, and thus the best use of it isn’t necessarily to trot out the line-up that gives you the best chance of winning any one particular game. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

All of that is true, and losing is a piece of the overall process. But something about today’s game is just galling. Both Domingo Santana and Mallex Smith are out after repeated mental errors in the field and on the bases, and general slumping. In their place, the M’s outfield consists of Keon Broxton, Tim Lopes, and Dylan Moore. A minor league free agent, a waiver claim and a freely-available MLB pick-up. Starting the game is Reggie McClain, a senior-sign 13th rounder a while ago, and someone not on the prospect radar. The one big prospect here was Swanson, who has an ERA over 7 and a FIP just behind that at 6.77.

Similar with what we saw in Tampa, the Blue Jays counter with…uh, Vlad Guerrero Jr., the biggest prospect in the game coming into the season, Bo Bichette, who, if anything, has overshadowed Vladito after his own promotion, and Cavan Biggio. They are loaded with very young position player prospects who are already in the league. Now, they have a problem, and it’s the same as the M’s: they can’t pitch. Trent Thornton, Jacob Waguespack, and Sean Reid-Foley are an interesting trio of young arms, but they haven’t exactly taken the AL by storm the way Bichette did. But with flame-throwing Nate Pearson in the high minors and their return from dumping trading Marcus Stroman, they’ve got depth to help overcome that weakness. The M’s have a wave of talent coming, but Jarred Kelenic is a mere four months younger than Vladito, and a year younger than Bichette. The M’s need to close the gap in talent quickly, and eyeballing 2021 with these two line-ups in mind is a bit concerning.

It’s not all bleak: McClain is here because he’s much, much better now than he was when he was drafted. That’s cool. Swanson has time to figure things out and be good in a year where being good means more. But despite all of the good stories on the farm, I think we need to come to terms with the magnitude of the problem here. The M’s problem in recent years was that other teams were not just better, but also younger. That’s still largely true. The M’s point to a future in which the M’s will be just as young as their rivals, but it’s still hard to see how they’re supposed to be better. Interesting, sure, contending, yes, perhaps. But even as M’s fans follow their uberprospects as they rise through the minors, their rivals have similar talents, and many of them are already contributing in the majors. That’s…that’s a problem.

1: Lopes, LF
2: Crawford, SS
3: Narvaez, C
4: Seager, 3B
5: Nola, 1B
6: Vogelbach, DH
7: Gordon, 2B
8: Broxton, CF
9: Moore, RF
SP: McClain/Swanson

Manager Scott Servais seems to be losing patience with the struggling Yusei Kikuchi, according to this well-done piece by Ryan Divish in the Times. So much of the M’s rise to contention hinges on their ability to improve prospects, to turn non-prospects into contributors ala McClain, but also to turn solid MLB talents into All-Stars. The Kikuchi saga throws that into question. Apparently, they made a minor tweak to his mechanics and it worked well for one game, but then Kikuchi subconsciously (or not?) switched back in his start against Detroit, and he got battered around. The M’s – or Servais – weren’t pleased with it.

Enough about this. Let’s get to the good stuff. Julio Rodriguez hit a grand slam in his first Cal League game, as Modesto beat Lancaster 13-1. Justus Sheffield gave up 3 HRs in Arkansas loss in Springfield. Tacoma beat Fresno 8-1 behind a solid start from Anthony Misiewicz, and a Robert Perez 3R HR walked it off for Everett against the Tri-City Dust Devils.


4 Responses to “Game 124, Mariners at Blue Jays”

  1. heyoka on August 19th, 2019 9:40 am

    Ki Ku Chi

  2. Sowulo on August 20th, 2019 1:20 am

    After surrendering 4 hits and 3 walks in 3 innings (69 pitches!) in an AAA game at Tacoma, Felix believes he’s proved he can still contribute to the M’s. Sorry King, but it’s time to step down gracefully. You’ve given us fans so much to appreciate, but it is past the time to retire.

  3. currcoug on August 20th, 2019 4:26 pm

    It is even more painful, when one considers Dipoto’s first three draft picks in 2016:

    First Round: Kyle Lewis, instead of Forrest Whitley.

    Second Round: Joe Rizzo, instead of Bo Bichette and Peter Alonso.

    Third Round: Bryson Brigman, instead of Jesus Luzardo and Dustin May.

  4. Stevemotivateir on August 21st, 2019 3:53 pm

    Hindsight is great, isn’t it?

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