I wasn't able to watch the M's game, and GS52's third appearance, last night... what's this nonsense about Felix getting the loss? Joe Blanton, 8 scoreless? I'm with Lookout Landing - the less said the better.
I'd like to talk about the Rainiers game. I was pretty excited to see big-time prospects Asdrubal Cabrera and Adam Jones, though I was certainly more confident in the Rainiers' pitching. Starting was Bobby "Doc" Livingston, whom I'd seen last year. Opposing him was Juan Acevedo, the guy who put up one of least likely 164 OPS+ seasons ever for the Cardinals back in 1998.
The game started out according to plan: Livingston's curve was breaking like young girls hearts, his fastball kept people honest because of when and where he threw it, but it was his changeup that really mystified the SkySox. Knees were buckled like belts made of rich, corinthian leather. Their swings looked moderately ridiculous; since the stride had come and gone long before, it was up to the hitters to supply all the necessary power with their wrists. These were the swings you might employ if you had to bat while seated on the rear bench of an old car.
My point is that Livingston looked much better than his line. The pitch-to-infield-contact thing is great, and will serve him well, but we all know he's not a consistent strikeout guy. It might mean you give up a lot of ground ball base hits, but it's just so difficult to get solid contact on the guy. So: don't look at Doc's H/9. The thing to look for should be his SLG-against. Last night, no Colorado player had an extra base hit. Combine that with his excellent control (no walks), and you've got yourself a quality pitching prospect no matter what the H/9 or K/9 totals tell you.
Adam Jones first game in AAA did not go so well, with a couple of K's, no hits and a HBP for good measure. J at MarinerMinors said he looked overmatched. Things change. Jones looked fantastic at the plate - a line drive one hopper that was snared by Omar Quintanilla in his first trip, and then a huge two-run double his next trip to the dish. The big AB, for me, was his third. He fell behind in the count 1-2, after being mystified by a Jon Asahina breaking ball. Jones drove the next pitch to center... not just a 'straight ahead' at-least-I-didn't-whiff single, but off the CF wall 425 feet out. That was about as hard as I've seen a line drive hit. And he did it all with a short, compact, pretty swing. I was wondering if he'd shortened it up because he had two strikes; if so, someone needs to tell him to do that all the time. It generates enough power - that thing would've been long gone in Safeco.
This will be a really fun year in Tacoma. The starting five we knew was going to be good - there were legitimate questions about the hitting that look like they're on the way towards getting answered. The defense should be fine (Mike Morse at 1b? Who cares with Asdrubal's freakishly accurate arm). The bullpen is George Sherrill-less (yay!), so that's a question mark. But so far, so good: the pen allowed 3 singles and no walks in four innings last night. More importantly, the M's look solid enough that this team won't be raided in late July. Players like Cabrera, Jones, Livingston will have a full year to develop their games, and guys like Greg Dobbs, Todd Sears and Morse have been rendered somewhat superfluous by Roberto Petagine and Matt Lawton.