Tag Archives: Blake Beavan

Garland’s Gone and Other Stuff

Baseball season is just over a week away, and if that doesn’t make you happy, you’re probably not a baseball fan.  The Mariners have had an uneventful spring training.  The roster, barring any last minute injuries or shake-ups, will be as projected.  The two open spots, back of the rotation and last position player, aren’t decided, but the rotation is a man closer to finalization.

Jon Garland came to camp as a non-roster invitee after missing last season with arm issues.  He was a slightly above-average starter before his injuries, so it was widely assumed that if he looked anything like he used to, he would take one of the two open spots.  He’s been decent but not terribly impressive all camp, but he was still expected to make the team.  Complicating matters was a clause in Garland’s contract allowing him to leave the Mariners yesterday if he wanted.  Basically, if the Mariners weren’t going to promise him a rotation spot, he was going to leave.  Much to the media’s surprise, that’s exactly what happened.  It’s a good reminder that, as excellent as much of the media following the Mariners is, no one knows what the Mariners will do except Jack Zduriencik, and he’s not telling anyone before he has to.

The move’s implications for this season are moderate.  Garland didn’t project to be great or terrible.  League-average or slightly better was probably the realistic best-case scenario.  His replacements are less predictable but similarly capable and likely to be in the same performance vicinity.  There appear to be four pitchers in the running for those two spots:

  •  Jeremy Bonderman is a veteran in a position similar to Garland’s.  I’d be shocked if he made the rotation.  I’m guessing the Mariners hope he will take an assignment to the minor leagues, where he can continue to build up arm strength after injury and a lot of time off.  He’d then be good depth for injuries or poor performance this summer.  He may decide to retire rather than go to Tacoma, though.
  • Blake Beavan is quite familiar to Mariner fans.  He might be slightly less recognizable this season with a revamped delivery aiming to mimic Doug Fister’s.  Seattle Sports Insider has a great breakdown of the windup and potential implications (start here).  I don’t particularly like watching Beavan pitch, but he’s a fairly reliable guy for the back of the rotation, and he’s still only 24.  Age is not a guarantee of improvement, but when combined with the revamped delivery, I’m open to seeing what he can do for a few months at least.
  • Erasmo Ramirez should be a lock for a spot, in my opinion.  He has the best stuff of the three mentioned thus far, excellent command, and good major league performance at the end of last season.  I don’t know if the Mariners have penciled him in yet, but I’d be curious to know their reasons if they haven’t.
  • Brandon Maurer is this year’s camp phenom.  After battling injuries early in his career, he stayed healthy at Double-A last year and showed enough ability and talent to jump into the conversation with his more ballyhooed rotation-mates (Hultzen, Walker, Paxton).  To some degree, I would say he’s a guy who does many things well without anything especially standing out.  He throws low- to mid-90s, has three other solid or better pitches, and shows good command.  Think Felix, on a much, much smaller scale.  He could probably succeed now, but given his lack of experience at even Triple-A and that past injury history, I probably would start him in Tacoma.  I’m kind of hoping the Mariners feel differently, however, because it’d be fun to see what he can do.

So, barring a big surprise, the opening day rotation will be Felix, Iwakuma, Joe Saunders, and two of the above.  That’s a decent rotation with a chance to be better.  Or it could be worse, if all of the kids fall flat on their faces.  That’s why the Garland decision is somewhat fascinating.  It’s entirely possible that Garland would have/will outperform at least one of the rotation slots.  Maybe, maybe not, but I’d bet on it.

So why is it good the Mariners let him go?  Because it looks like they’re ready to let the young talent they’ve been stockpiling make its presence known.  There is no guarantee Maurer, Ramirez and all of the guys still in the minors will be able to lead the Mariners to prominence.  If they can’t though, it’s going to mean a complete change of plans and likely management.  The future is roped to the Mariners’ youngsters, those both in the majors and minors.  It’s time to give them a shot.

**************************************

That other roster spot still looks life a fight between outfielders Jason Bay and Casper Wells.  Opinions are somewhat split on this one, including between the Good Guys.  The case for each:

  • Bay is not far removed from being an all-star, and is still a better hitter than Wells.  He’s unlikely to reach his 2009 numbers again, but it wouldn’t surprise to see him become a good spot starter or better.  He’s a solid defensive outfielder.
  • Wells is a better defender who can legitimately play center field.  He’s third on the depth chart at that position, but given that one of those ahead of him is Franklin Gutierrez, it’s a real consideration.  He has power and is young enough to project some improvement.  He’s also under team control for as long as the Mariners could conceivably want him.

Some people think that Wells could be a solid starter if given a shot.  Personally, I don’t see it.  I think he’s too limited as a hitter.  The center field issue is legitimate, but to me it’s not a huge deal.  If it comes to it, the Mariners can track down a center fielder for a while.  They have minor league options who could fill in for a couple of weeks in a pinch.  It’s not ideal, but to me, it’s not worth getting worked up about it if they choose Bay over Wells.  Wells offers security, Bay offers upside.  The Mariners appear to be favoring Bay, but as the Garland decision shows, we won’t know until one of them gets cut.

That’s about it for news right now.  Most of the people still in camp either have a spot or are just depth.  The only questionable position left is the bullpen, but it looks like Kameron Loe will win the last spot with Josh Kinney out for a while.  The most surprising player left in camp might be Brad Miller, the sweet-hitting shortstop who ended the year in double-A.  I don’t think there’s any way he makes the team, but that he’s lasted this long shows how highly the team thinks of him.  If he can improve his defense, he could take Brendan Ryan’s spot as soon as a year from now.

The season starts a week from Monday in Oakland, of course.  The Mariners are doing a cool open house at Safeco that night, where fans can come, see the changes to the stadium, and watch the game on the monstrous new scoreboard screen.  I think doors open at 6:00, and I believe parking is free if you get there in time.

-Matthew

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

Review and Look Ahead

Last time we met, Dan was talking about how the Mariners pulled off a minor miracle in Texas.  Since then, nothing too exciting has happened.  The club did what we expected (maybe even hoped for them to do).  With that being said, I think we all have different feelings about the team right now.  I’m encouraged because the team won the games they were supposed to and that’s with the bats not being close to where they’ll finish the season (although, how many times have we said that in the last few years).  Dan is slightly happy with the team but can’t get over Miguel Olivo’s inept play.  They’re the team Matthew thought they’d be but he’s still annoyed about seeing his 3rd abysmal home opener in a row.  Joe?  He’s trying to hunt down Chuck Armstrong and make him write a letter that says if Seattle doesn’t have an NBA team within a year that he has to sell the Mariners immediately.*  So, with all of those different opinions in mind I’ll try to write a quick review of the Oakland series and a preview of the next one.

* I don’t actually know if that’s how any of them are feeling.  It is a fairly educated guess except for the part about Joe.  That’s what Joe wants to be doing, not what he is doing.

The Mariners took 2 of 3 from Oakland this weekend and won’t play them again until late June.  Some people think that’s a good thing.  It’s a good thing for entertainment reasons.  For winning purposes, this is a terrible thing.

On Friday night the M’s lost to Oakland 4-0.  I’ve heard the pre-game ceremonies were classy, as usual.  The video of the boy stealing 2nd base and finding his dad home from Afghanistan is touching and extremely well done by the organization.  Otherwise, it couldn’t have gone worse for the home team.  This is three years in a row that Seattle has played a terrible game in their home opener.  The stadium also had their debit/credit card system break down and could only accept cash for a large portion of the game.  These things happen but it was an unfortunate night for it to happen.  Otherwise, Felix looked pretty good.  His groundball rates still aren’t where they usually are but they progressed as the game went on so lets hope that trend continues.  I still think he’s perfectly fine.  The offense disappeared so there’s nothing to recap there.

On Saturday nights game, it was the Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi show.  Also, I guess it was the Michael Pineda show because without him the Mariners wouldn’t have those guys.  Maybe anytime Jesus or Hector do anything good the Mariners should flash Pineda’s picture on the big screen with the word “THANKS” written across it.  Or they could do that with the Yankee logo instead.  That’d be cool.  It could be done for all trades even.  I’d laugh, along with 3 other people in the stadium.  Anyway, Noesi pitched 8 shutout innings with 6 K’s.  When he came over, it seemed like he’d be a fastball/slider guy but it’s easy to see his 2nd best pitch is his change-up.  His fastball velocity is good and I think he’s going to be just fine after that rough, first outing in Texas.  Jesus hit his first home run as a Mariner and added a double just for kicks.  His home run was a shot to straight-away center showing off his power.  The guy can hit and he’s only going to show off more power as the year goes on.  He also looked good defensively behind the plate.

On Sunday, it was the Cliff Lee trade that paid off.  Justin Smoak homered.  Blake Beavan pitched pretty well.  John Jaso sat on the bench (he’s a product of this Lee trade if you pay close attention.  Josh Lueke for John Jaso!).  Those were the storylines but Brendan Ryan homered and Ichiro doubled home the winning run.  It’s good to see those guys do things.

So all in all, it was a successful weekend.  These are the series that the Mariners have to win and they did.  Sure, a sweep would be nice but we can’t really complain about a series win.

Some actual thoughts instead of a recap and a preview after the jump.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under M's Game Recaps, M's Series Previews, Mariners

It’s Game Time!

Almost.  It’s almost game time.  On the weirdest opening morning ever, Andrew and I are hanging out, watching the underrated classic Orange County, with The Sandlot on deck.  I hope the Mariners never have another 3 AM opening game, but it’s kind of like the Alamo Bowl was: not particularly pleasant, but pretty fun and well worth the memory.

So, what to expect from these Mariners?  The playoffs aren’t impossible, but they’re pretty unlikely.  It would take almost everyone developing like you would dream, Ichiro and other veterans having huge comeback years, and probably a lot of luck on top of it.  Stranger things have happened, but I’m not betting on it.  Call 81 wins the more reasonable goal.  Even that might be wishful thinking, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

This will really be a season about watching for signs of hope for the future.  Ideally this year would provide a couple of guys who can be counted on as future franchise cornerstones, a veteran or two taking a step forward, and the emergence of new prospects to replace those who are now or will shortly be in the big leagues.

More specifically, here’s a few things I’d love to see:

  • Justin Smoak hitting the ball (and staying healthy).  The future Mariners offense looks much better now than it did a year ago, but it still has questions.  Ackley and Montero are reasonably sure things given their inexperience, but few others fit that description.  If Smoak can consistently flash his talent, he becomes a third middle of the order guy and makes the offense much easier to build.
  • Ichiro bouncing back.  I love Ichiro.  I hope he goes back to his pre-2011 level and gets a contract extension and reaches 3,000 hits in Seattle.  Don’t know if it’ll happen, but I’m hoping.
  • One of the outfielders emerging from the pile.  The most likely bet here is that Mike Carp solidifies himself as a viable outfielder who can hit, but I’m personally hoping Michael Saunders can do something.  Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Franklin Gutierrez: any of you can take this opportunity to do something.
  • I’d really love for Chone Figgins to not be on the team in August.  That would mean they’ve either bit the bullet and released him, or he’s played well enough to be traded.  I’m good with either.  Sorry, Chone, but I’m just tired of watching you.
  • It’ll be great when/if the trifecta of Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker make their debuts, but I’ll be watching before that to see if Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan or Erasmo Ramirez can make an impression.  Pitchers flame out and get hurt, so banking on three prospects is always risky.  The Mariners need to develop some depth.
  • It’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those bullpens of death like the 2001 team or the Padres always seem to have.  I don’t expect this year’s team to change that, but I would love to see a few young relievers emerge to move them in that direction.

So that’s mostly it.  A few of those things happen, the M’s score a few more runs, and we get some good memories, and I’ll be fairly satisfied with this year.  Not saying I wouldn’t love a surprise run for that 2nd wild card spot, but if I’m trying to be realistic, there are worse things than a young team with lots to prove.  Like a team of Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva and Jose Vidro.  That is not a fun team.  This can be so much better than that.

Go Mariners! Believe Big!

-Matthew

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

Tim Tebow and Baseball Sabermetrics

Husky basketball season ended a few days early to make sure we focus on the Mariners and Japan.  With Chone Figgins less than 4 hours away from stepping up and seeing the first pitch, I’m here still talking about Tim Tebow.  I’m sick of him (to no fault of his own, blame ESPN and any other sports outlet) but I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time and it seemed fitting to write it before the season began.

As you know if you follow along here, I think highly of the Mariners’ blogosphere.  Lookout Landing is my favorite website on the internet.  USSM is as smart and statistical proof-driven baseball blog as there is.  Prospect Insider and Proball NW have good information, especially about minor league ball.  Seattle Sports Insider is the blog I agree with the most, and always a fun read.  I haven’t even covered Larry Stone, Geoff Baker, and a good amount of other good Mariner blogs.  They all have good information, especially since the evolution of baseball sabermetrics have made them relevant in everyday baseball conversation.

The sabermetrics have made the game more fun, it’s easier to understand and more complex all in one.  Usually the stats they show back up what they’re trying to prove and that’s what baseball needs after years of misleading stats like a pitchers win-loss record.  But, as we enter the new season, remember that these metrics don’t tell it all.  Here are 3 wide-ranging examples of why they aren’t the end-all in explaining a team.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Mariners

A Couple Of Thoughts On The M’s

As I write this, the Seattle Mariners are on a plane headed to Japan.  A week from now, they’ll have two regular season games under their belt and will be headed back to the states for another week of wonderful spring training baseball (sarcasm).  I’ll try to catch us up on some Mariner news.  If you have anymore questions about the M’s put them in the comments and we’ll address them.

  • As I said, the Mariners are on their way to Japan at the moment which means that they had to cut their roster to 30 for the trip.  Kevin Millwood (who we’ll discuss later) is not on the trip but will be in the starting rotation to start the year.  Him and Japan don’t get along.  This all gets a bit confusing as far as the rosters go for this trip, so stay with me.  I think I understand them.  30 players are on the trip and they’re all allowed to play in the exhibition games against the Japanese teams.  I’d have to take a look at the Japanese teams rosters but it’s hard not to imagine that the Mariners carrying Casper Wells AND Carlos Peguero for these games won’t give them an insurmountable advantage over the Tigers and Giants of Japan.  Unless they are actually Japanese tigers and giants.  Anyway, back on track.  After the exhibition games the Mariners then have to cut down to 28 players for their games against the Oakland A’s of Japan.  That has to be the day Guillermo Quiroz is dreading.  Of those 28 players, only 25 of them will be able to play in the actual games against Oakland.  Kevin Millwood, and any other players they left at home who they expect to open the season with the big-league team (there probably aren’t any), must count against the 28 players but not against the 25.  So, the Mariners may have a different 25 players available in the season opener than their first game stateside.  It’s a bit confusing, really and probably not worth your time to understand.
  • Anyway, here’s the 30 guys going to Japan by position:  Starting Pitchers – Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez (although he may be used in the bullpen for the M’s) Relief Pitchers – Hisashi Iwakuma, George Sherrill, Tom Wilhelmsen, Shawn Kelley, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, Chance Ruffin, Steve Delabar, Charlie Furbush Catchers – Jesus Montero!, Miguel Olivo, John Jaso, Guillermo QuirozInfielders – Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley!, Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, Kyle Seager, Munenori Kawasaki, Alex Liddi  Outfielders – Mike Carp, Michael Saunders, Ichiro Suzuki, Casper Wells, Carlos Peguero.
  • So, you have those 30 plus Kevin Millwood to choose from for your final 25.  We know the starting rotation (Felix, Vargas, Noesi, Beavan, and Millwood), so I would imagine Erasmo Ramirez starts in Tacoma.  I think Furbush will also start in Tacoma.  Then, the M’s will chose between Luetge, Delabar and Ruffin for the last 2 bullpen spots.  I think Ruffin starts in Tacoma.  That puts the team at 12 pitchers and 28 players.  Quiroz and Alex Liddi will almost surely start in Tacoma.  So, I’d say the last roster spot comes down to Peguero and Wells.  I really hope that the front office picks Wells and I think they probably will.  There’s your 25 man roster.
  • I mentioned the starting rotation above and don’t really have any objections with those 5.  Blake Beavan is a little boring and Iwakuma is somewhat intriguing but I was never high on Doug Fister either and he proved me wrong plenty of times.  Beavan is in the same mold and could do the same.  Marc at USSM had a good article on the argument today.  Really we don’t know if any of these guys, aside from Felix, will be here the whole year.  Vargas has always been a subject of trade talk and the others could just be passed by better, younger pitchers.  For now though, I think these five will do.
  • Last time Matthew posted on the M’s, Michael Saunders was a big topic of conversation.  Since he has hardly done anything in the games (blame Matthew).  He finished the spring with a lower batting average than he had last spring.  I’m not saying he didn’t improve because I think he did, I’m just not a belie
    Bad Guy of the Day

    Bad Guy of the Day

    ver yet.  Here’s to hoping he proves us wrong.

  • Spring training stats are meaningless, so stop looking at them.
  • Today, Jon Heyman who reports for CBS Sports had an article on Ichiro.  The main idea was that Ichiro should not be back on the Mariners next year because he holds too much power over the organization.  To put it plainly, I think it was a ridiculous piece.  Yes, there needs to be a discussion about what the M’s should do with Ichiro and maybe they should let him go.  They definitely need to agree to a smaller contract after this year but that’s because of his age and performance last year.  Heyman mentioned his on-field performance but chose to focus on issues that came up in the 2008 season.  Heyman had a ‘source’ (Carlos Silva, anyone?) who said Ichiro caused problems in the clubhouse because of his egos.  All of these things were mostly taken care of in the 2009 season and have been non-issues since.  By the way, the person who called Ichiro out during the 2008 season was Carlos Silva, who said Ichiro was selfish.  Ichiro hit .310 that year and had 214 hits.  Carlos Silva was 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA that year.  Heyman finishes the article by saying Ichiro refused an interview before his spring training game and still treats himself like a superstar even though he isn’t playing like one.  He has never granted interviews before the game.  There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I’d say that means he’s focusing on the actual baseball being played, which is something Heyman needs to do.
  • All of that to say, be cynical with what you read in sports especially when it comes to the national media.  Heck, be cynical when it comes to what you read here, if you think I’m on Ichiro’s side too much I understand.  There’s enough good Mariner blogs that don’t form opinions of players without actual stats supporting them.  Jeff Sullivan and Matthew at Lookout Landing are the best at this, and the best at trying to understand things from all the points of view.  Try to do that as well, it’ll make you a better fan.
  • The last bullet holes I have are just informative things around the blog (I doubt anyone has made it this far in the reading anyway!).  If anyone’s interested in forming a fantasy baseball league, I would gladly be the commissioner.  I don’t know if any of the other Good Guy writers will join but if you want to leave a comment or email me at andrew.long09@northwestu.edu.  Also, we will be watching the season opening game next Wednesday live at 3 AM.  If any of you are interested in joining us, shoot me an email and we’ll try to have a good time watching some very early morning baseball.

Thanks for reading!

Andrew

1 Comment

Filed under M's Transaction News, Mariners

Welcome to Spring Training!

While Seattle is alternating between snow and sun, the Mariners are already a few weeks into spring training in Peoria, Arizona.  Talking to people and reading different thoughts about this year’s team, it seems there are two predominant reactions.  For those who are fans but don’t necessarily get deep into following the team, there’s a lack of knowledge and sometimes interest.  And who can really blame them?  If you don’t care that much about the offseason stuff, the onfield play has given no reason for hope.  These people also tend to blame almost everything on Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln, but that’s a different issue.

The second reaction is that even the people who know this team well aren’t sure what to expect.  Part of that is natural, as the Mariners have a lot of guys who could rebound significantly, as well as a plethora of young players who could improve dramatically.  None of that is certain, though, so outside of Felix, this is a tough team to predict.  I think another factor in the uncertainty is that this is a team unlike any Mariners fans have seen in some time.  It’s legitimately build on solid young talent.  There are some veterans, but they’re either young, like Felix, or will not likely be here long, like Ichiro and Miguel Olivo.  The core of this team is young.  The last time I remember that being the case is probably back in the early and mid 90’s.  They’ve had quality prospects since then, although many haven’t panned out, but those kids were joining veteran-dominated teams.

Now the focus is squarely on the Ackleys and Smoaks and Monteros, and it’s a little hard to know what to expect.  This year should start to indicate who will be part of the team longterm and who won’t cut it, but until then, there is plenty of room for knowledgeable fans to disagree on what to expect in 2012.  Young teams are unpredictable, and most of us haven’t watched one on a daily basis in a long time.

Just for fun and as a general catchup for those who haven’t been paying a lot of attention to spring training, here’s a little fake Q & A post.  If you have real questions, put them in the comments and we’ll give you any thoughts we have.  People’s real questions would be more fun to answer than these ones I’m making up!

Any big stories so far?

The biggest has probably been Franklin Gutierrez.  This was good at first, as he reported in great shape and seemingly fully recovered from his GI issues of last season.  All anyone could talk about was how great he looked, and then he went and hit a homer off Felix in an early intrasquad game.  Unfortunately, a couple of days later he tore a pectoral muscle, which sounds terrible, and he will be out at least 4 weeks before he does anything baseball related.  Don’t expect him back before May.  In fact, if you want to be safe, don’t expect him back at all.  He should come back at some point, but given his recent struggles, it seems smarter to just keep the hopes as low as possible and then get excited if he suddenly does return and play well. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Mariners, Uncategorized

Mariners 2011- What Still Has My Interest

I can’t imagine there are that many people still watching the Mariners on a regular basis.  I’ll turn them on once in a while, but I haven’t watched a full game in weeks.  Still, they’re an interesting team at the moment, just not a terribly watchable one.  I have a few posts in mind I’m hoping to get to before the season ends.  This offseason could be fascinating, so I’m going to try to work through the roster before we get to that point.

First up: what would I be watching for if I were still watching games regularly.  I’ll try to keep these short and simple, because they’re not terribly surprising and if we’re being honest, not that exciting either.

  1. Alex Liddi’s debut.  I’ve made my Liddi love quite clear on this blog, but it’s based almost entirely on his Italian-ness.  His baseball skills are intriguing but incomplete.  He has solid power and reportedly plays an improving third base, but like many Mariner power-hitting minor leaguers, he likes the strike outs.  Nonetheless, he’s joined the Mariners and should make his debut soon, which makes me happy.  He’s not likely to do much, this year or next, but sports are for fun, and Italian baseball players are nothing if not fun.  On a related note, how will Kyle Seager finish out the year?  Can he be the main man at third next year?
  2. The Mariners suddenly have a glut of talented outfielders.  Unfortunately, none of them is close to a sure thing.  Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson could be starters next year, or they could be trade bait.  Michael Saunders, the forgotten man, is back with the big club, filling in for Franklin Gutierrez and his strained oblique.  Has he finally found a swing that will translate to the majors?
  3. Tom Wilhelmsen.  When Wilhelmsen was sent down early in the season to work as a starter, the move made sense.  He wasn’t pitching well, and starting would give him more innings to work on his stuff, and if they got lucky, he might turn into a solid middle of the rotation guy.  He didn’t seem to get much better in the minors, but then he was recalled anyway, and he’s been okay.  If you haven’t noticed, the rotation is potentially a little shallow next year.  I have my doubts about Blake Beavan and Anthony Vazquez.  If one of them is my fifth starter, I can live with it, but I’d really like Wilhelmsen or Charlie Furbush to bring actual strikeout stuff to the rotation.  I doubt September will give an answer to whether they can, but we might catch some glimpes.
  4. Justin Smoak has had a season from hell.  After a thunderous first month, he fell apart at the plate.  Also, his dad died, his nose got broken and he possibly had a serious thumb injury.  Who knows how much all that influenced his decline, but it can’t have helped.  I’d love to see him get hot this month.  I like the guy, and he clearly has talent.  Here’s to a better September and a breakout season in 2012.  He’s still the key to the future, in my mind.

There are some other things going on, like Ichiro and the young relievers, but this is my list.  What are you watching (or not watching) for?

Next up: a breakdown of where each position stands going into the offseason.

-Matthew

2 Comments

Filed under Mariners