Tag Archives: Hector Noesi

Charlie Furbush – Shut-down Reliever or 3rd Starter?

I started this post before Dave Cameron at USS Mariner published his post about Furbush.  We think along the same line, although I believe Furbush may have a little higher upside.  Anyway, go read that and sorry we doubled up on topics today! 

Lately, Mariners starting pitchers not named Felix and Kevin have been bad.  Jason Vargas was awful yesterday and has already given up 20 home runs this year.  Hector Noesi shows flashes of potential has his moments but then gets lit up on 0-2 counts – although his location isn’t terrible and sometimes he’s just a victim of good hitting, regardless of what Geoff Baker would have you believe – and Erasmo has struggled thus far (although I believe he’s a lot better than what he’s shown).  The Mariners rotation is in trouble.

There is help on the way!  Danny Hultzen is finally in Tacoma and Taijuan Walker is still one of the top 2 prospects in the Mariners system.  James Paxton and a few others aren’t too far behind those guys.  Those guys (excluding Hultzen) are still probably a year or so away though so the M’s need to take steps to fix the pitching now.  That’s where Charlie Furbush comes in.

When Charles Roderick Furbush was traded to Seattle for Douglas Wildes Fister he was labeled a starter but after surrendering too many home runs and not impressing the front office, he was moved to the bullpen to be a middle reliever.  He started out by throwing several innings out of the bullpen, but has been used more as a LOOGY and has been quite successful at that.

Through his limited innings, his strikeouts have been higher (although he’s always had a pretty high K rate), his BB’s have been lower and his HR/9 have gone way down.  While starting, Charlie struggled against right-handed batters.  As Cameron points out in his post, last year Furbush gave up 2.08 HR/9 to right-handed hitters.  This year, in facing 48 right-handed hitters he’s only given up 2 home runs.  Sure, it’s a small sample size but it’s not like he’s been getting lucky and just avoiding home-runs either.  Right-handers have a slash line of .130/.167/.283 against him.  That’s an OPS of .450.  Oh, and against lefties he has a .341 OPS against.  Pretty good.

In a small sample size, his OPS against has been better on the road then in home games as well.  So, his progress can’t be attributed to Safeco (although, no doubt the park would help if he became a starter).

With Furbush’s pitches he could be a lock-down reliever for the next 10 years.  I have no doubts about that but with the way he’s pitching right now he could be a good middle-of-the-rotation starter, which is way more valuable to the team.

There’s more on why Furbush would succeed after the jump, including pictures! Continue reading

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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.

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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

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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

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2012 AL West Team & Winter Wrap-Up

Unlike NCAA sports, pro sports don’t come out with pre-season 1st and 2nd teams, but if the AL West had its pre-season team, this is how I think it would shake out. My selection process looks at last year’s performance as well as potential this upcoming year, and often I use the sabermetric WAR to break ties. Some of the picks are obvious (Pujols), and others are less obvious (DH), so of course I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

A quick analysis shows that Texas is the class of the division, with more 1st team selections than the rest of the west combined. Anaheim has good 2nd tier depth, solid pitching, and balance. Texas and Anaheim each have 8 1st or 2nd team selections of the possible 10 positional categories, and of the 14 pitching spots, a whopping 11 are Rangers (6) and Angels (5). The M’s are a distant 3rd, but a ways ahead of the re-building A’s, who are loaded with average players but no star power whatsoever.

I wanted to take this chart one step further, and visually quantify the separation between teams based on these picks. To do so, I’ve simply awarded 2 points for a 1st team selection, and 1 point for a 2nd team selection. Here’s how it shakes out on a bar graph.

Lastly, here are team by team offseason wrap ups, after the jump… Continue reading

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The Value Question

The Pineda-Montero trade is fascinating on so many levels.  Baseball just doesn’t see many trades of elite young players for each other.  If a Pineda or Montero gets traded, it’s for a more established star or, less often, for a package of younger prospects.  The failed Cliff Lee-Montero deal aspect just adds another layer.

When I first heard about the trade, my thought was that it was so obvious that I couldn’t believe it happened.  I remember even asking Dan and Andrew back in the summer whether they would make this trade straight-up.  To me, it seems like both teams are trading from a position of strength to fill a weakness.

Most trade analyses you’ll read have a different focus.  You can literally read for hours about whether Montero or Pineda is more valuable, whether Jose Campos or Hector Noesi is more valuable, about who did better in this deal.  All of those issues are interesting and highly debateable, which makes them fun and worth writing.  I think they occasionally miss the point, however.

The goal of a baseball team is not to add the most valuable pieces, or to win the value war in a trade or signing.  The goal is to build the best team.  Typically, the two go hand in hand.  The more value a team can get in a deal, the better.  If given the choice between Adam Dunn for $14 million a year or an outfield of Michael Stanton, Andrew McCutcheon and Jacoby Ellsbury for roughly a third of that amount, the choice is obvious.  You want the most bang for your buck.  You don’t want to spend huge money on guys who will underperform and you ideally want to underpay guys who are good and getting better.  That’s why building up an elite farm system is so important.

What is obvious in the macro view becomes highly nuanced in practice.  It’s not enough to just say that starting pitcher is a more valuable position than designated hitter, or that Pineda has more value than Montero because he’s had a year of major league experience.  Both of those statements are true and yet, they don’t matter too much for the Mariners.  The Mariners strength is their rotation.  They will miss Pineda, especially if he turns into a Cy Young candidate.  The difference between Pineda and Danny Hultzen, James Paxton or Taijuan Walker is potentially tiny, however.  That is compounded by the Safeco Field effect and the way it can turn mediocre pitchers into average ones.  In Safeco, pitching is nowhere near as valuable as hitting, and adding hitting is much more valuable for the current Mariners because they have so little of it.

Speaking of hitting, it’s not crazy to think that Montero could be the most productive guy in the Mariners line-up in 2012.  It’s not certain, of course, which is why there’s some risk here.  Still, where the gap between Pineda and Hultzen is small to non-existent, the gap from Montero to the Mariners best hitting prospect, be it Nick Franklin or Vinnie Catricala or whomever, is huge.  It’s debateable whether Montero or Pineda is more valuable in a vacuum, but I think it’s clear that Montero is much more valuable to the Mariners.

This offense is suddenly sort of interesting.  It will still likely struggle in 2012 as all of the young guys (hopefully) come of age, but with Ackley and Montero and Smoak and possibly Carp, they now have a heart of the order that could turn into something scary.  Now Franklin and Catricala and Wells and everyone else only have to be supporting players rather than stars.  The other fun aspect of this trade is what it allows them to do in the future, as Dave Cameron and others have pointed out.  It’s possible but highly unlikely they still sign Prince Fielder, but assuming they don’t, that potentially leaves them with a lot of money to spend in the near future.  Maybe they add a pitcher for a year or two, or maybe they wait until next year to find an offensive guy at a position of need like third base or outfield.  This deal potentially improves the Mariners immediately and sets them up to more easily improve in the future as well.

As with any trade, this one will not be determined good or bad until we see what Montero and Noesi, to a lesser degree, make themselves into.  It’s tough to see Pineda go.  I’ll never forget those early fastballs that looked like they were thrown at about 150 miles per hour.  This deal potentially gives the Mariners tremendous value, however, whether Montero is more valuable than Pineda or not.

-Matthew

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Pineda-Montero Trade Reaction

Earlier today I sat down and was starting to write a post on how we shouldn’t listen to any baseball reporters this off-season.  Part of it had to do with me being frustrated at the hysteria of Prince Fielder being in Texas.  The other part of me was frustrated with the Mariners for the lack of  moves this off-season.  Did I disagree with what they did?  No, but I was just bored.  Sports are entertainment, and it’s never fun when they leave you bored.  The last part of me was just hungry and didn’t even care about baseball reporters because I wanted to eat some chicken.  When I started that post, the Mariners made a trade.  Hey!  A trade!  After 4 months of peeking through the fence at Prince Fielder, the Mariners jumped over the fence, jumped on one of their horses, rode it into town, swapped it for another rancher’s horse, rode that horse back to the fenced-in area they owned, and had a glass of lemonade all in the span of about 10 minutes.  Sorry, about that.  I hope you followed.  My first point of this post, is that you shouldn’t take much of what these baseball writers say as gospel.  They get the reports right every now and then but tonight showed just how fast the unexpected can happen.

As for the trade, well surely you’ve read other people’s reaction by now.  There’s been enough time for you to form your own opinion.  But, if for some reason you’re indecisive on how you feel, and you’re up at 3 AM, a Good Guy is here to help!  I want to cover a few things before I get to my quick reaction.

It seems as if the opinion from people around Seattle is all over the place.  There are people completely against it, people who love it, and people who think it’s strictly average.  Dave ‘Softy’ Mahler had about a 10 tweet rant about how the ownership has to change now.  Mike Salk loved the trade.  (‘Softy’ wasn’t necessarily upset about the trade, but for some reason it sent him over the edge, just for the record.)  I want to caution you on who you listen to about this.  I believe that the Good Guys would have a more intelligent conversation about the Mariners than many of the Seattle sports radio guys.  That’s not to say they aren’t knowledgeable in other ways, but many of them aren’t experts on the Mariners and I think they’d admit as much.  Salk (from Brock and Salk) seems to try to understand more than any other.  Some of them just don’t care and don’t try to understand.  ‘Softy’ had no good reason for his rant and Jason Puckett is way off when he says that this feels desperate because the M’s should have just traded Lee for him.

That brings to my next point.  That very point of saying, why didn’t the Mariners just trade Lee for Montero.  For those of you that don’t know, that was very close to happening a few years ago before the Mariners’ decided on Justin Smoak instead.  It’s very ironic that they both ended up here now.  Anyway, it’s ridiculous to say they should have traded Lee for Montero so they could have kept Pineda.  When that traded happened, most baseball analysts thought the Mariners made the right move in getting Smoak.  Perceptions change over a year and a half and that is what has happened here.  Don’t think, “the Mariners made the wrong decision in getting Smoak, since they went out and got Montero now.”  They are 2 separate events and, though our mind’s link them together, they are independent of each other.  The Mariners got the best young hitter they thought they could get for the package they were offering and that had nothing to do with Cliff Lee and Justin Smoak.

Now, on to my thoughts on the actual trade.  I’m somewhere between liking and loving the trade.  Lookout Landing does a good job of summing up the pieces involved (much better than I could do, so read that).  I do think Sullivan may undersell Hector Noesi, who’s the pitcher coming over from New York, a little bit but there’s no way of knowing that.

Noesi seems like a good place to start since I just mentioned him a sentence ago and he’s the least known player in the trade as far as Mariner fans go.  He hasn’t pitched much in the majors, 56 innings last year and was nothing spectacular in doing so.  It sounds like the Mariners will lock him in as a starter to begin the season.  He seems like he’ll be a decent big league pitcher at least, and a few scouts seem to think he’s a very good pickup for the M’s.  Time will tell if those scouts are correct.  That’s a theme for this whole trade.

I’m sorry to see Jose Campos go.  Over the past couple of years I’ve started to follow the Mariners’ farm system fairly closely.  I read a review of each team’s game every night and try to familiarize myself with the top players from every part of the system.  By doing this I start to like players I’ve never watched more than the one’s I watch everyday on TV.  Jose Campos was one of those players.  He’d be rated about the number 5 prospect in the Mariners system and has tons of upside.  He’s only 19 and who  knows what will happen because, young pitcher but if he stays healthy, look out for his name in 3 or 4 years.

Now for the big names!  Jesus Montero is said to be a world-class hitter.  The comparison I’ve heard the most over the last 3 years is Edgar Martinez.  Heyo!  Edgar!  Put him in the Hall of Fame, by the way!  That’s a good comparison.  He’s either a catcher or a DH.  Catcher would be awesome, but his defense is lacking and most doubt that he’ll be able to stay at the position.  As far as his hitting goes, he’s said to have good power to all fields (important for Safeco) and good contact ability.  Yes, he hasn’t had much time in the majors and that’s a little frightening.  Jack Z knows more than me though and I trust his scouting ability above all of his other skills.

Michael Pineda was fun.  It’s sad to see someone fun go and there’s nothing I like more in baseball than a big, young, flame-throwing pitcher.  Man, he was big!  I hope he only gets better, even if he is pitching for the Yankees.   He deserves it.  I’m not sure he’ll ever turn into an elite ace and I’ll leave it at that because most of you who read this know who he is and what he projects as.  Some of you will disagree with me.

I like this because the Mariners got a hitter!  My philosophy if I was a GM is to draft talent (don’t draft for needs) and accumulate it by international signings.  Then trade from internal positions of strength for positions of weakness.  This is exactly what happened here.  Yes, it sucks that Pineda is gone but I think we’ve got a good one in return.

Now what happens?  I have no idea.  I really think the Mariners are still going to go after Prince but I’m in the very small minority.  They have the same amount of money they had when you woke up last week.  No one knows how much that is but it seems to be a fair amount.  If they don’t sign Prince, I still expect some other big move.  I think it will be another bat, but a pitcher makes plenty of sense.  I’d go for Roy Oswalt!  After today, we just have to realize that we have no idea what will happen.  Speculating and projecting is fun, but the truth is that not much turns out how we have it planned in our brain.  In sports, all we can hope for is that our team improves and I think that the M’s are a stronger organization now than they were 24 hours ago.  Not everyone does, but I do.  And hey, there’s still that report that Prince is renting a car in Seattle this weekend.

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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