Be Careful What You Wish For
whoa, sorry...posted this yesterday, but blogger seems to have eaten it. Now you can read a very similar report at LL.
A while ago, I said I was hoping for a real position battle this spring. That sentiment's been echoed in comments here and elsewhere. Well M's fans, we've got one: #5 starter. It's not exactly news to mention that Gil Meche doesn't have an iron grip on the rotation spot, but after Jesse Foppert's strong spring debut, it got fans hoping we'd see a dogfight between Foppert, Nageotte and Meche.
Then Meche went down with his oblique injury (although he's apparently throwing again), Nageotte wasn't great, last year's heartwarming story Jeff Harris was giving up HRs to Giants non-prospects, and darkhorse candidate Yorman Bazardo got lit up like Thomas Kinkade on a bender in Vegas. Today, Jesse Foppert lost control of the strike zone with four walks in two innings, and capped it off with a wild pitch. Yes, he didn't give up a hit, and yes, Scott Atchison was worse. But Hargrove still has to pick someone here, and I really don't envy this decision. I suppose that if Meche is back, it's basically his. But let's say Meche isn't ready to start the season or his oblique problems crop again (as oblique problems are wont to do). Then what? I'm aware that no team has a lot of great options for the last rotation spot, but this is a real worry. There's no King Felix this year - someone who can dominate the minors for a while until we need him. I think Foppert's looking like the most likely candidate at this point; anyone can have a bad game, right? But it's about time to see a couple of really good performances from someone - anyone - who has a realistic shot to push for the fifth starter.
On offense today, Raul Ibanez hit a home run, Johjima, Lopez and Betancourt all had hits, and...that's about it. With all the talk about the slump Johjima's in, Carl Everett's horrendous spring has gone unnoticed (he's now at .133 with no XBH). So does Carl typically take a while to heat up? Well, no: he's averaged a 1000+ OPS in the spring over the past three years. Yes, it's a small sample size, but who knows - maybe the poor starts by Everett and Lawton make the M's realize they'll need more bench help than they thought and keep Roberto Petagine around.
Positive signs? Well, the teams with the best spring training records include the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks, two teams who are projected to lose a lot of games this year (with good reason; Florida's roster looks like a really good Arizona Fall League team or a jumble of random pages from John Sickel's prospect books from the past three years). Among the worst are the Oakland A's and the White Sox.