Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Useful MLB Pitcher After All?

Pitcher A threw 7 shutout innings tonight, allowing only 1 hit and striking out 6. He got 10 GB outs to 4 flies (and 1 line drive). In his last game, he also went 7, giving up 2R on 6H against 7Ks. The time before that? 7 1/3IP, 1R, 4ks. Sounds intriguing, doesn't he? Yeah, it's not exactly Jimenez's sparkling 1R in 38IP, but it's nothing to scoff at.

As you probably know, 'Pitcher A' is none other than Cha Seung Baek, who's quietly having a great season in Tacoma. M's fans have been wary of him, because his stuff isn't all that great, because he gives up HRs, and because his shot in the MLB rotation in the disastrous 2004 campaign didn't go all that well (except for one game vs. Texas). That and his disastrous 2005 (8-8, 6.41 ERA, 147 hits in 113 2/3 IP) made him look eerily like a Korean Craig Anderson: someone who got by in the lower minors on control and guile, but who's simply too hittable for quality opposition.
Baek's doing what he can to dispel that idea - but is anyone watching anymore? Many in the M's blogosphere (incl. me, and basically everyone else) have written him off as an org pitcher - not a prospect at all. I was at his 7inning one-hitter early in the year, and probably made all sorts of excuses for it: it was early, the hitters aren't ready yet. It was against Colorado Springs, who suck. It was an afternoon start and the shadows were weird, etc. etc.
So the question is this: How many times does he have to repeat performances like this before we consider that he might have figured something out or that he actually WAS hurt in '05? He's never going to be a big K guy, so is he the Jeff Harris of 2006 (and that has value), or is he something different - someone with the potential to be more? I don't know, but as a guy who's been loving watching Cesar mess with PCL hitters' timing, it's kinda tough to argue that Baek's success is all BABIP-driven. Obviously, Jimenez is much younger, which makes what he's doing all the more impressive. But the question remains: given that Baek isn't going to put up Cruceta's K rates, what does he have to do to get noticed? Maybe the lack of attention and pressure is all he really needed...
Adam Jones' maturation continues apace, as he hit his 14th home run to cap off a sublime AB in the Rainiers' 4 run 2nd. He fell behind early on a couple of foul balls, got it to 1-2, and then was utterly fooled by a John Hudgins fastball. Clearly sitting on something offspeed, Jones basically put a tennis swing on the ball, fouling it up the 1b line. It doesn't sound like much, but these are the kind of ABs that ended in Ks in April/May. Every time. Now, he can fight off pitchers' pitches and wait for better offerings. He took a few more balls, fouled off another pitch, and then absolutely crushed a ball to the left field power alley. Classic. He also had a bloop double and a stolen base, so he was clearly the offensive star of the night.
Chris Snelling went 1-3 with a walk, Rob Johnson went 1-4 with an RBI, Jeff Clement had two singles, and newcomer Erick Monzon made his AAA debut a good one, with an RBI single in his first AB and good defense at second.

He'll be up for a while, as Rainiers' second basemen Michael Garciaparra (who was already out of the line-up due to injury) broke his nose today in batting practice. He'd just returned from the hospital at about 6-6:20pm.

The other 'highlight' of the game came from the stands. I decided to go late, and thus couldn't get my customary seats. I was still behind the plate, but I picked up my ticket and my heart just sank: I was going to be seated right next to Cranky Yankee. She was in rare form tonight, and managed to get four people thrown out (for abusive language). As irrascible as ever, she was even insulting some of the security guards who didn't throw out the offending individuals fast enough. Apparently, everyone knows that nickname, as spectators, security staff and even the Fun Squad referred to her as Cranky Yankee. I'll remember to be more specific about where I sit next time. (To be fair, the people next to her were drunk and generally trashy, but when CY's blood is up, her targeting skills aren't all that great. She had basically divided the entire section into 'OK' and 'Scum' by the fourth inning. First time security called by CY: end of 2nd inning, which is a record, I'd think).


At 7/08/2006 10:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ya know, you coulda come sat down by me. we had a couple spare seats tonight (well, actually only 1 once amber came down too). unlike last night when paul and joey stopped by, and we were full up in all the seats and the actual season ticket holders all showed up...(friday nights are hard, what with fireworks and all).

dave over at ussm is speculating (?) that snelling is going up, since petagine got dfa'd. i think (on a different post) he also said he wouldn't be surprised to see jones up soon. to which i say, why on earth would you start that clock ticking now?

thanks for the news on garciaparra. i haven't replaced my radio and earphones since the theft, so i often show up to the ballpark and go 'huh' when i see the starting lineup...tonight, with monzon, was one of those times.

At 7/08/2006 11:20 PM, Blogger marc w. said...

Yeah, I thought about that ORF. I saw you down in your customary seats, but i couldn't see an open one. And in any case, there was an open seat next to a guy who just retired from my office across the aisle and down a few rows. I decided to stay and see if things got really interesting. CY kept pledging to go to prison that night, and i half expected that prediction to come true.

Garciaparra: The security guards came up and told the guy next to me that they'd just seen MG, clutching x-rays, nose broken all to hell, returning to the stadium from the hospital. I feel for him; he's had some bad luck since joining the Rainiers. Don't know if they mentioned it on the radio broadcast or not; seemed to be a chance meeting of talkative security personnel and a very bloody ballplayer.

At 7/09/2006 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minor correction: Snelling went
0-3 with a BB today not 1-3. I sure hope Snelling does get his chance with the M's now that Petagine is DFA'd though. :)

At 7/09/2006 12:19 AM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

Wow. Just. Wow.

Who'd've thunk it that Baek would re-learn how to pitch. It's surprised even me! I seriously doubt he'll be in Seattle as long as Hargrove's around.

I'm sad, but happy, about Petagine. I'm happy he's been freed, and I'm sad that we never got a chance to see what he brought to the table. Maybe Hargrove had some issue with the fact that RP's wife was older than his (okay, I'm not sure if that really is true, but Olga Petagine is in her 50s).

Hargrove has to go. NOW!

Heh. I've got a picture of Cranky Yankee. She'd probably find out if I plastered it all over the web and get me permanently banished from Cheney. Reminds me of this gal in our TESL classes.

At 7/09/2006 5:26 PM, Blogger marc w. said...

You're correct - i meant to say 0-3 with a walk, not 1-3. You've got to think he's coming up to replace Oliveros. He's looked ok in the field the past few days, too - as much as I want him healthy (and that means DH), it's nice that he can give the M's some flexibility out there too.

At 7/09/2006 9:32 PM, Blogger Citizen K said...

Sounds like fun. The only baseball I get to watch is when the teeballers use the old, vacant schoolyard across the street for their afternoon instructional sessions.

I find myself intrigued by the thought of Snelling potentially being called up to assume part-time DH duties. He's been, as as has Meche, a perennial talent tease. They've shown the ability, but for some reason or other haven't been able to totally mate potential with performance. Perhaps this is the year for both... My man Gil has been on fire lately; I recall reading an article a month+ back that said Chavez noticed a head misposition on Gil's part or something--since then Meche has been incredible. This trade talk is unwelcome--deal Pineiro or Mateo, but leave that Louisiana native on the roster for Pietro's sake!

Baek, Nageotte, et al. haven't yet been given a fair chance in the bigs. They've both shown flashes in the Minors, and deserve an extended audition in Seattle. I'm not sure of the health status of the latter, but I'd love to see both--especially Baek--pull it together in the M's rotation. When Moyer hangs it up the heirloom "crafty" moniker needs to have a worthy descendent to whom it can be passed down. Baek could be that lucky inheritant.

How about Rick Rizzs after the game, all smiley and orgasmic about the win today. Hey, Rico--did you realize this current homestand has decatapulted the club two places downward in the division and cemented in most fans' vies the fact that the team, as currently costituted, is a long way from pulling off a division title this year? Dude, chill out on the greenies and down a reality pill instead! The M's were riding high, but have proven that without the big bats swinging it well, the team's winning percentage pretty much equals that of than SCUD missiles vs. Patriots, circa 1991.

Rah Perez, though. The man came through with some of the biggest plays in the game. Here's to more lefty starters and more Gil Meche, circa first-half, 2006.


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