Thursday, September 21, 2006

Night and Day, the Evolution of Baek.

This time last year, Corco and I were pretty much in agreement that Cha Seung Baek should be the first guy to be removed from the 40-man roster. Our wish came true in December, only a bit later than we'd hoped, and after several guys -- to make room for Carl freakin' Everett. Okay, so someone else is buying Corco beer -- Just drink one sip in memory of that occasion for me, Corco, okay?



While some things never change, Cha Seung Baek has. The way he's masterfully handled Texas' lineup twice this season, even in the bandbox now known as Ameriquest, he's shown me that he can indeed pitch in the majors. Sample size, schmample size. He may indeed be getting lucky -- and his last outing was certainly less-than-stellar. But I've now completely changed my mind on him.

I'm totally fine giving him a spot in the rotation next year. Provided, of course, the M's front office (whoever that may be) goes out and gets, either via trade, via Japan, or via Free Agency, a top-of-the-rotation starter. Certainly Freddy, oops, I mean, Felix has the potential to become one. He's still only going to turn 21 next season, and I don't think he's ready to carry this team on his shoulders. He'll be a good one, and good for several years. But the M's need a horse to carry the rotation. I doubt Moyer will be back, but he never was the TOR horse he was made out to be anyway. The M's have desperately needed a TOR starter since RJ left.

Even with this, the M's still have several holes to fill in the rotation. Baek will be cheap, and he'll be acceptable. He won't be the TOR horse that we need, but I have absolutely no problem with him in the rotation. Sure guys like Feierabend and Lowe could turn into even better starters. I'm not sure that the organization sees Lowe returning to the rotaion. If so, both of those guys are young enough that they won't be hurt by starting the year in Tacoma. They've had a taste of the bigs now, and they both should be hungry to return. Or, they could be stashed in the 'pen, just like the M's have done with other budding starters.

Mr. Baek -- congratulations on all the hard work you've done to bring yourself back to a MLB-caliber pitcher. Instead of rooting for my prognostocating abilities (and cheering on Lorraine extra hard, knowing that you were warming up in the 'pen, ready to lose the game), I'm going to serve my penance by cheering you on and wishing you into the rotation.

4 Comments:

At 9/21/2006 8:26 AM, Blogger marc w said...

Can you remember a more stunning transformation - a 'prospect' who went from 'intriguing' to 'please, please explore other career opportunities' to 'major league rotation candidate' so quickly?

I think the question here is: did we ever get an adequate explanation for what was physically wrong with Cha Seung last year? I mean, FB pitchers will have swings due to HR/FB or BABIP or what have you, but I don't believe those swings can properly account for this. Something was physically wrong with the guy, and he's over it now. What the heck was it?

 
At 9/21/2006 2:33 PM, Blogger marc w said...

Weird ... why is my comment only showing up here, when I'm adding another comment, and not when you click the comments box from the post?

Oh blogger, how we love thee...

 
At 9/21/2006 3:38 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

Heh. Blogger. The program we love to hate. It might be a refreshing issue. You do have to refresh the browser a lot with Blogger. I live to F5... has been sort of a mantra with me.

I cannot think of anyone who has so badly lost my affection and so rapidly regained it. Indeed there has to be some injury explanation here, except that he really seems to have transformed as a pitcher. Wasn't he more along the lines of a power pitcher before his surgery, and now he's transitioning into a 'pitch to your defense' pitcher?

I'm really not sure -- he's really baffled me here. But, as long as the Baek that we've seen in 2006 shows up next year (and for a few years beyond), I have no problem cheering him on as a pitcher for the M's.

 
At 9/23/2006 1:19 AM, Blogger Snave said...

Baek has indeed been a good story for the Mariners this season. I think Jake Woods has done rather well for himself too. Both might find their way into the rotation next year. Hernandez, Washburn, Baek, Woods, and ???? I also love the way their bullpen youngsters just keep on producing. Huber has done a fine job, and Fruto has improved. Putz, Sherrill and Soriano are, of course, great! It seems to me that with the addition of another decent starting pitcher, maybe two, from outside the organization the team will be in great pitching shape for next year.

As of tonight, the team is 75-79... my prediction for the year was 80-82, but they way they are going they might even finish at .500! After the 11-game loss streak I was starting to lose hope, but now I'm beginning to feel lots better about next season. The only possible dark side I see to the recent successes is that Hargrove and Bavasi's jobs are probably saved. Oh well... The creep back toward respectability is well underway!

 

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