Odds and Ends
1: Felix. That's more like it. In 7 2/3IP, he struck out 8, gave up only one run, and generally looked like his old self. Most important was his velocity - he was at 97 in the 8th inning, according to the Safeco gun. Maybe the standard excuse (his shin splints in spring training) was right...
[PositivePaul's Edit (after midnight):]
Woo HOO! With this win and Anaheim's loss, the M's are no longer in last place!!!! Add that with the win by Felix, and that's cause enough for celebration! A quick glance at Retrosheet kinda makes me think that this is later in the season than the last time we were NOT in the cellar last year. Anyone have any better data that shows the latest we were out of the cellar in 2005? Er, wait. Lemme answer that. I see Retrosheet actually does have the daily standings. We overtook, briefly, Oakland last year on 5/15, and again on 5/23 (but went back into the cellar a month later on 6/25 -- for good, IIRC)
[Now back to marc's good stuff that you should read:]
2: The honeymoon may be over for Kevin Appier - the aged wonder gave up 5 runs in 4IP today, bringing his impressive scoreless innings streak to an end at 16.
3: On the opposite end of the spectrum, Travis Blackley put up his best start since 2004, with 7 IP 2H 1R 1BB 7K against Springfield. Seeing Blackley back in form would really brighten up the M's system's pitching depth, and give Tacoma a great option (better than Jimenez) when someone gets called up.
4: Shin-Soo Choo had a nice night, going 2-4, raising his average back to .310. I had to notice that after he was treated to a 'POTD' at detectovision, he plummeted from about .364/.447/.621 in late April to .304/374/.473 at the start of today's play. Hmm. Dr. D then did a POTD on Rainiers' pitcher Francisco Cruceta, who, at the time, had an ERA of 1.56 and 23Ks in 17IP. He now has an ERA of an even 6, and though he's still got his strikeouts up, he's walking a lot of guys, culminating in Monday night's 1IP, 9ER, 5BB 1K 'performance.' So who else has enjoyed the thrill of a POTD recently? Bobby Livingston, for one, who shortly after this piece was written made his MLB debut, and gave up 4ER in 1 2/3 IP.
The M's blogosphere has its SI cover jinx equivalent. Oh, and Doc? Could you focus a little of your analytical attention on M's/Rainiers opponents for a while? How about this Jared Gothreaux character? Need more time? Hey, is John Lackey for real?
(exception that proves the rule? Stephen Kahn. But even Kahn's slipped a *little bit* from where he was - he's now given up a couple of runs. Still, Kahn appears immune from the jinx, at least in A ball)
5: GS52 got a 'hold' tonight without getting an out. Is that, you know, legal?
I think he'll be fine, but it's my duty to point out that he has now given up as many walks this year in 17IP as he did all of last year (only 29IP).
6: JAC's Prospect Insider blog continues to impress - lots of discussion there in the past few days on the M's, the draft, and even broadcasters (great blogs think alike). Lots of interesting discussion in the comments on basically every post.
7: Those wacky replacement umps. If they aren't getting nailed by bats, they're subjected to interesting studies by the guys at The Hardball Times which may indicate some home-team bias (the replacements are local -drawn from amateur and indie leagues). Then, a game in the AA Southern League was forfeited after the Birmingham Barons manager pulled his team off the field after three bench clearing brawls (the manager, Chris Cron, even got punched by Dodgers prospect Matt Kemp in the melee). As you may know, the union representing minor league umps had agreed to a deal with baseball, but that deal was soundly rejected by membership. Churchill and I argued a bit about the significance of that move, and about the leverage held by the striking umps here - I basically said that fans being pissed at umpires missing calls is as insignificant as it gets, especially if they continue to buy tickets. But Churchill argued that *teams* were starting to tire of the amateur umps as well, and that this gave the strikers a bit more leverage than it might seem. Well, at this point, I've got to agree 100% with JAC. After accusations of bias and a game that was forfeited due to the failure of the umpiring crew to settle down two teams, I'm pretty sure the MiLB umps will get a better offer. It's something of a striking contrast, if you'll pardon the pun, with how MLB dealt with the major league ump strike led by Eric Gregg a while back - MLB hired MiLB umps, fired everyone involved with the strike and moved on. Of course,they had the luxury of getting professional (albeit not MLB) umps to replace the strikers, and that seems to be the key here.
8: According to USSMariner, Chris Snelling will debut with Tacoma *tomorrow*. Crap, I was going to go to that game with some work folks, but actual work got in the way. I'll try and listen on the radio... Tacoma, like all M's affiliates, have seen an insane amount of player shuffling recently due to all the injuries.
9: Dave Asher pitched in his second game for the Rainiers today - the 2005 draftee gave up no runs in 2 1/3, but more interesting was the debut of former Astros 1st rounder Mike Nannini. Mike wasn't so lucky, and got touched up a bit, but it's just an example of how everyone's desperate for players: another 2005 draftee, Julian Henson, made his professional debut yesterday. Some of these guys will play in Everett once they get going, but some... I don't know that the M's know what will become of guys like Asher and Nannini in a month or two. But in the meantime, "Nannini."
10 - let's make it an even 10. Wlad Balentien went 2-4 with a double, a walk and a k to get his average up near .260 again. He was at .244 a bit ago - nice to see him make a mini-comeback. It probably won't matter with Balentien (either he'll put it together and be Dave Kingman, or he'll be Rob Stratten), but I'm really curious to hear about his OF defense. Is he a liability out there? A good, solid player? JAC? Anyone?