Since this is my first year not going to Spring Training in at least 14 years, I will try to point out things I have noticed that most people there probably have. My assertions are backed up by facts and sources I have in Peoria. Yeah, I have sources in Peoria that nobody else does. Also, Spring Training stats should be taken with a grain of salt, like a massive grain of salt because the level of competition varies greatly based on what inning it is.
Hisashi Iwakuma is an even bigger question mark than before
How do you get to be a bigger question mark than a Japanese import that was one of the best in Japan who then ran into shoulder problems? Well you pitch like crap. Iwakuma came to Seattle to bring some stability to a rotation that could (will) look drastically different in September. He has done the worst job of any of the four competing for the three rotation spots. But he also makes the most money and the team wants to see some returns from their investment, like with Chone Figgins. Carl Willis and Wedge have claimed that he has improved from start to start but the results are eerily, similarly bad. So, hopefully he figures it out because I really want to see the massive coverage ESPN rolls out when the Whirling Darvish comes to town and faces Iwakuma. (Good drinking game, whenever an analyst mispronounces a name, drink.)
Vinnie Catricala is a really good hitter
The Seattle Times had a piece about how Catricala was a low profile recruit coming out of high school and then started dropping bombs in college (baseball reference to hitting home runs, not literally placing explosives); he has continued that trend this spring. He is hitting .286 with an OPS of .869, and he plays 3B. What? A hitting third baseman? I thought that was impossible. Indeed, it seems the massive drought of bats in the hot corner may be coming to an end with Catricala, Alex Liddi and Francisco Martinez coming through the system. This could create a logjam situation. Which is better than a drought, I guess. But look for Catricala to show up in September, and hopefully he is still dropping bombs.
Jesus Montero’s bat is as good as advertised
So yeah, Montero was supposed to be one of the best hitting prospects in the game according to many people. And he has not proved them wrong. He leads that team in RBI’s and has 2 home runs. He is hitting over . 300 and has an OPS of .936. Yay! A hitting catcher for the future! That’s awesome right? And apparently Michael Pineda is struggling for the Yankees. His fastball has dropped down to 91-92, which is pretty significant. I feel bad for the guy and hope he turns it around, but feel zero pity for the Yankees. Is this how all those teams who swindled Bavasi for all those years felt? No wonder they loved doing that to him.
Hong-Chih Kuo is not very good and no longer has a job
The Mariners broke one of Bud Selig’s secret MLB rules that nobody knows about and have cut Hong-Chih Kuo. This means that the M’s will not have a mentally unstable person on their roster, unless Tom Wilhelmsen goes through amnesia and thinks he is a bartender in the bullpen of SafeCo who is supposed to make drinks for the other relievers. That would be awesome though, not like Milton Bradley’s crazy. But Kuo pitched poorly and got cut, huge surprise.
Michael Saunders will make the Mariners to start the year
Boom goes the dynamite! It is pretty much a guaranteed fact now. Barring injury (there is no wood where I am, shit. Michael Saunders if you get injured I’ll take full responsibility). But anyway, he is still hitting the ball very well and according to my sources, is looking gazelle-like in center field. He is hitting .400 and his OPS is above 1.000. He will be the starting center fielder in Japan. He is also Canadian so the distance from home plate to the outfield walls being measured in meters shouldn’t perplex him as much. Mike Carp and Casper Wells are a different story though.
Lucas Luetge has a chance to make the team
Who is Lucas Luetge? That’s a fair question; he was a pick up in the Rule 5 draft from the Brewers. If he does not make the MLB roster with us, he goes back to Milwaukee or some minor league affiliate. He is also a tall lefty who has been pitching very well in Spring Training. He has seven K’s and one walk in 5 innings of work. With the exodus of Kuo, he could be competing for a spot with lefties Charlie Furbush and Cesar Jimenez for a spot in the bullpen. Probably not going to happen, but he still could make the trek across the pond since the roster only needs to be at 30 for that series.
So do Alex Liddi and Carlos Peguero
I am less optimistic about these two for exactly the same reason because they are remarkably similar players. Both can hit the ball really hard and far. Both also strike out more often than Chone FIggins got a hit last year. Liddi was one of the best hitters for Tacoma last year with 104 RBI’s but he also struck out over 25% of the time. Realize that we have been down this road with Peguero before and it doesn’t end well. If he can cut down on the K’s, I will lovingly accept him in Seattle but I hate it when teams make the same mistake twice. Peguero is the same guy from last year. Ugh….
Brendan Ryan is just as fragile as last season
So, not only did Brendan Ryan have something wrong with his back and shoulder before the spring, which he then fixed, now he has some tightness in his quad that made him miss a few games. This is kind of frustrating; he is an awesome fielder and seems like a good guy. But come on! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! Please stay healthy! I don’t care how; do some weird voodoo thing like burning a lock of Carlos Peguero’s hair mixed with pine resin. However, my sources say Muenori Kawasaki, the guy backing up Ryan, is pretty awesome, both offensively and defensively, so hopefully there isn’t a huge drop off between the two.
So the Mariners head off to Japan to play the A’s. Am I the only one who finds this matchup stupid? I understand the Ichiro appeal, but the A’s? Very few Americans care about the A’s let alone the Japanese. Couldn’t we have shown off some good teams, like the Rangers? Also, since I’m a much more dedicated fan than Patrick, and will be on spring break, I will be watching the games in Japan live. Hopefully I’ll be mentally alert enough to live tweet them or something. Go M’s.