M's vs. Angels Series -- Diagnostic Checkup.
We never did really compile and review the list of Diagnostics before the season started. Heck, there are probably a few more that we could've (and should've) added. It may be more prudent to do a checkup once a week or bi-weekly or monthly (whichever seems most logical), which I'm sure we'll do eventually, but I did want to take a look at the opening series with Anaheim, and run it through the Diagnostics.
To read a quick review of the 2006 Diagnostics, you can get them on the right. I've added 'em into the MarinersMorsels template.
1) Will George Sherrill have more than 50 IP?
I'd say it's pretty unanimous that this Diagnostic is off to a good start. Yeah, he suffered the loss on Opening Day when Putz (as usual) allowed George's runner to score. In three games, George has thrown 1 2/3 innings. He's on pace for 80+ innings. That's good. My wife, who tolerates (if not secretly really enjoys) baseball, and has somewhat inherited my enthusiasm towards George, picked up on the fact that Hargrove left him in there even after putting two runners on base. She seemed to think that getting the save would give George a HUGE boost of confidence, especially with Hargrove showing his confidence in George. Ya think?
While some in the M's Internet question George's ability to be any more than a LOOGY (at best), certain esteemed folks agree with our diagnostic. You may or may not appreciate Dave Cameron's tact and tone over at USSM, but you cannot call him an idiot. He's not perfect by any means, but he's certainly one of the premier M's bloggers in regards to prospect analysis. He's got this one spot-on. That Hargrove has started the year giving some seriously important innings to George has drastically improved my outlook on Hargrove. While George hasn't exactly been dominant, yet, he's earning Hargrove's trust simply by getting the job done. When you consider that the two guys he walked really could've been strikeout victims, and that the one hit against him nearly decapitated him, he's truly handled himself very well. Knowing that he's a notorious slow starter, I can't wait until he gets comfortable. We're talking double-digit K/9 stuff, folks! 'Specially against lefties.
2) Where does Jose Lopez start the season?
Well, we all know the answer to that. Un. Be. Liev. A. Ble. Jose is on a tear! They made the right decision here. Gotta keep him hitting second. Maybe we should change the diagnostic to "How often does Willie Bloomquist spell Jose Lopez at Second Base?" I don't want to jinx it, but that Willie hasn't seen the light of day at the plate is just fine by me. 'Nuff said.
3) Will Kenji Johjima and Rafael Chaves have any measurable impact on the pitching staff?
I'm seeing a few things with Chaves, but I think it's clear to everyone that Kenji Johjima is definitely having a measurable impact on the pitching staff. Good catchers don't need to go to the mound a lot, but good catchers indeed do go to the mound. Seriously, I was most worried about Kenji's ability to call a game, learn a staff, and learn opposing team's hitters (moreso than the perceived language barrier). Specifically looking at how he's guided the M's relief pitchers through Vlad Guerrero, you can see the impact. Again: 'Nuff said.
4) How far will the "Hinge" players who disappointed last season bounce back?
- Ichiro: .333 BA, 4 runs in 3 games, 4 hits in 3 games. I'd like to see him steal a bit more, although he has been a little more aggressive on the bases. He's doing just fine.
- Beltre: .154 BA, no XBH. Still needs work with the bat. Definitely not looking good so far.
- Reed: Meh. So-so. About the same, too. It's a near-miracle that he's even playing, with that whole wrist scare and everything, so I'm a bit willing to cut him some slack. He's looking like he'll generate a little more power, though, when he does connect.
- Joel Pineiro: Looked very solid yesterday. Of course, he was solid last year, too, amazingly, against the Angels. I definitely like the ground balls he was getting. Certainly on track to bounce back a bit.
- Gil Meche: N/A. Pitches tomorrow. I'm nervous. 'Nuff Said
So far, no. That's good. I'm still more worried about our pitching than our offense. Washburn looked fabulous tonight. Definitely did not look like Ryan Franklin out there, like I thought he might. We'll see tomorrow with Meche's outing, but so far so good.
All-in-all, I'd say the Diagnostics show that the M's have started 2006 very well. That surprises me a bit, I guess. I'm very, very, very excited about this offense. Snelling can't bump Everett to the bench soon enough, though. And Beltre better stop guessing at the pitches very, very soon. My suggestion to Hargrove right now would be this: Swap Beltre and Johjima in the batting order. Let KJ bat 5th and AB bat 7th. I know you're not going to replace Everett with Petagine, so I won't even ask. But you gotta flip KJ and AB.