Saturday, April 08, 2006

Doctor, Jones!

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.

Go Rainiers!


At 4/08/2006 11:30 AM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

And I also see that Rob Johnson had another hit, and an RBI. Churchill will be happy. He also must've kept Livingston under control.
Actually, looking at Doc's line, it really is not bad at all. I'll take 5 hits and 0 walks all day long, even with only 2 Ks, and especially with 0 xbh. It's one thing to string together 3-4 hits to score a run or two. It's totally another to walk 2-3 batters in an inning, and follow those walks with 3-4 hits.

With the Mariners' (and, heck, even the Rainiers') defense (although with Morse and Dobbs at the corners, I'm sure it wasn't at its best).

Glad to see Adam Jones have a better night with the bat. TJ Bohn keeps destroying AAA pitching. With those two guys, the M's are going to have a serious dilemma in a year or two.

Now, why'd they give Ibanez an extension again?

At 4/08/2006 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I asked over at USSM and couldn't get an answer...why the heck is Dave Myers coaching at 1B? Is it just some sort of courtesy 'you live in Gig Harbor and single A ball doesn't start till June' kinda deal? Please say yes.

Also, on opening night while I was watching and listening to the Rainiers game, Curto said that Brundage had named Rob Johnson the #1 catcher in Tacoma. And also commented about the overflow of catchers in Tacoma (Rivera, Miller, Johnson, & Gregorio who wasn't even ON the roster). Made me wonder if they're trying to trade off some of that excess, and if so, which?

At 4/09/2006 8:53 PM, Blogger marc w. said...

The depth at catcher is a great problem to have...
At the start of the year, it would be tough to say who would get you more in return: Johnson or Rivera. Both had reputations as defensive wizards who couldn't really hit. Johnson turned that around last year, and Rivera's successful cup of coffee may have opened some eyes.
I would have thought that the M's were interested in moving Johnson - when they DFA's Carvajal, I thought they might be trying to package RJ with him... that duo should've brought a decent return.
At this point, I think they're just going to try and see who steps up. It's tough, because you can't get everyone ABs, what with Morse and todd Sears splitting time at 1b. Johnson looked great behind the plate again today, so I'd guess he'd be the early frontrunner. Miller just doesn't have value in trade. Rivera has a bit, but after the Carvajal trade, I'm worried about the M's ability to judge fair market value on some of their prospects.

At 4/09/2006 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you were at the USSM meetup, but with regard to Carvajal, Bavasi said that they needed to clear space on the roster and chose the guy that they wouldn't slit their wrists over if they lost. He said Carvajal had attitude problems in the minors and made it sound like the organization had sort of had enough of him - so I'm thinking they weren't looking to get so much back in 'trade' necessarily, since I think they were doing some addition by subtraction...

Those were nice hits Rivera had today, but I'm really liking the accuracy of Johnson's throws myself....

At 4/10/2006 4:38 PM, Blogger marc w. said...

I understand the argument that dealing Carvajal was addition by subtraction, and that his attitude and spring meant that they didn't really care what they got back.
But at the same time, value is value. You can sugarcoat the deal by saying you didn't really want him anyway, or how getting value in return wasn't the point...but the fact is still that the team let someone who *should* bring a decent prospect back get away for nothing. I'm not heartbroken that he's gone, but I keep thinking that great teams are always trying to get as close to fair market value as possible in trade - even if the guy's a clubhouse cancer or whatever. As someone over at USSM and LL pointed out, Carvajal's projected VORP according to PECOTA are higher than many hyped prospects. Even assuming a steep 'headcase tax' they should've done better.
If they deal Johnson, they'll need to do a *lot* better, and they won't have the name recognition/MLB experience to help them the way they did with Marcos. Scary thought, really.


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