Friday, August 11, 2006

Misc. Morsels

1: Julio Mateo's latest implosion, and Grover's bizarre comments 'defending' the decision to bring him in are getting a lot of well-earned derision from USS Mariner and Lookout Landing. Does the fact that Mark Lowe was unavailable and that Soriano'd been used the previous night constitute mitigating circumstances? Meh... bringing in Mateo was the sort of brainless, rote decision that gives rise to hundreds of arrogant statheads. It wasn't - it can't - be that Hargrove actually believes that malarkey about Mateo being a ground ball pitcher. Grover brought him in, because he went to the most veteran guy out there, end of story. Managers have cottoned on to the fact that they can't defend moves using seniority anymore (esp. when the best members of the bullpen make the league minimum), so he just gave a stream-of-consciousness answer that seemed to have done the trick: the beat writers didn't bust out laughing, I guess. It's not all that important, in the grand scheme of things - the M's have about a 1/100 shot at the playoffs, and the offense was held in check - but I'm secretly hoping that there's a good side here: Hargrove realizes that he's got to make sh*t up now; he can't sell conventional wisdom to anyone.

2: Choo's off to a rip-roarin' start, isn't he? Many, many M's fans get mad when things like this are pointed out, but it's time we try and learn something from our free-agent foibles. Choo is not a perfect player, and was blocked in Seattle. All that is true, but you can't help but think he was poorly handled here. Part of it was the ill-advised 'Choo-as-CF' experiment, though I've got to acknowledge that the M's were dealt a really bad hand this year - Reed's struggles, then injury, and the nearly simultaneous injury to TJ Bohn left it down to Choo and Jones. The problem is that Choo was never a CF, and almost never played there in Tacoma.
That doesn't mean that Choo would've been a 1.000 OPS guy had the M's moved him to a corner. It doesn't mean Choo doesn't have huge holes in his game. It just means that a smart GM was able to put him in the best possible position to succeed. The question is, why does it seem so hard for M's 'spects to be put in similar positions? Part of it is the sheer futility of this franchise in 2004/05, part of it is a general unwillingness to platoon youngsters in order to let them maximize their ABs. That's great, and I think for most guys, Bavasi's philosophy is a great one. But as DOV is fond of pointing out, the track record here is less than stellar (Olivo, Choo, Livingston), and a great organization would be hard at work figuring out why.

3. They may have another shot, as 1B Bryan LaHair is in AAA, and having a half-decent, but very flawed, season. He's batting about .300, despite striking out a goodly amount, and despite general futility against southpaws (same problem Choo had). He's also hitting for less power than little SS Oswaldo Navarro, which is troubling for a 1B. But he's young - Ben Broussard was years away at age 23 - and he can do some things well.
Or take Navarro - he's another young SS prospect, who's holding his own in AAA at the tender age of 21. He lacks Asdrubal Cabrera's patience and hands, but he's still a solid player. More importantly, after half a year hitting like the second coming of Rey Ordonez in San Antonio, he's showing improved power in AAA. The difference between a .370 SLG and a .430 SLG middle infielder is huge, and though it's come at the expense of some plate discipline, it just shows that he's got more tools in his toolbox than folks may have thought. Like LaHair, he's holding his own despite getting absolutley owned by lefties. In Tacoma, he's at .293/.333/.453 vs. righties, which is fairly exciting for a 21 yo. But he's only 3 for 19 (no XBH) vs. lefties. If he continues this pace next year, he'll have some legit trade value (and yes, with Betancourt installed at short, that's pretty much what you're looking for in M's SS prospects). So it's imperative that the M's don't play him for 5 games in CF, very publicly give up on him, and THEN try and deal him. Buy low, sell high.

4: The Rainiers escaped Omaha with their sweep, despite giving up 11 runs a few days back. It was nice to see the Rs do what they should do, and beat up on the RedHawks, the PCL equivalent of parent club, Kansas City. KC especially is often blamed for their futility thanks to an owner content to milk his revenue sharing-engendered profits, and a (former) GM in Allard Baird who seriously thought that what his rebuilding team needed was a shot of Doug Mientkiewicz. A team with a much worse record than the M's in mulching prospects and whose record in the amateur draft is among the worst in baseball (despite having a slew of early picks). It's a team that, thanks to its revenue, really, really needs to look for freely available talent, and yet pisses it away like it's PBR. Last year, the Royals kept Matt Diaz down on the farm to hit .371/.408/.649 in Oklahoma. Clearly, the Royals were so loaded they just couldn't find a spot for him. (OK, they brought him up late, and he hit .281 - not good enough to keep him). They traded him to the Atlanta Braves this past off season for a newly converted lo-A pitcher. That's *acumen* ladies and gentlemen. He's posted an OPS of over .800 for the Bravos in limited duty (injuries).
This year, the Royals have wasted talented Aussie 1B Justin Huber - first by 'blocking' him with Doug M and his legion of consonants, and recently by acquiring Ryan Shealy from Colorado. The Royals, having absolutely fleeced the Mets in acquiring Huber, are determined not to allow the guy up. He hasn't exactly lit up the scoreboard in limited duty in KC, and his numbers are down slightly this year (esp. in SLG), but this is a guy with essentially nothing left to prove in the minors, and a team who doesn't want him.
The M's *need* to at least inquire with KC. I'd worry that the Royals new GM wouldn't be as clueless as Baird, but this is the guy that just traded for Shealy. The team doesn't need both, and the M's would be acquiring a guy who torches lefties to the tune of a 1.097 OPS even in this, a down year. If you asked me right now who I'd take, Huber or Eduardo Perez, straight up, I take Huber and I don't think twice about it. We may have missed out on Matt Diaz; let's not miss out on Huber. Yes, yes, Perez has a club option for 2007, but at 37 I think it's time to face the facts that he's not going to do what he did in less than 100 ABs in Cleveland this year ever again. He's a good guy to have around, and I think he's meant more to this clubhouse than Carl Everett ever did, but the m's need a contingency plan.

Quickly -
Tony Butler, the 2006 draftee currently using his 91mph FB and big curve to great effect in Everett, has been the standout, so far, of the M's draft. Morrow will probably pass him next year, but for now, it's nice to see a young lefty who can throw 90+ for a change. It also helps ease the pain of seeing Tim Lincecum lay waste to high-A hitters.... what is it now, 22Ks in 10IP?
The Eric O'Flaherty era has begun in Tacoma. He threw 2 scoreless in his AAA debut in Oklahoma. Deanna/J/anyone wanna see a game in Tacoma and get some photos? What *is* this blog without Paul's awesome Rainiers photos?
Congrats to Adam Jones on his first MLB HR. It's still worrisome that he's not pulling *anything*, but as long as he's driving the ball, it's still progress. I think he's still too defensive at the plate, but then, I would be too if I'd just turned 21 and I was having to face Barry Zito/Roy Halladay/etc.
The M's have handled Mark Lowe perfectly. With all that's gone wrong this year, and with Hargrove's manifest incompetence, it's worth noting that Lowe's been given the high-leverage innings he deserves, and he's been kept out when there's been any hint of discomfort in his elbow. Here's hoping the 'be a man! No pain, no gain!' attitude the M's exhibited with Meche is a thing of the past. I would have liked to have seen him instead of Mateo last night, but then I think about Francisco Liriano....


At 8/13/2006 1:04 AM, Blogger Deanna said...

Marc, I'd love to go see a game in Tacoma and/or take pictures of O'Flaherty, but relief pitchers are pretty hard to predict, right? I think at best I could make it to one more game in Tacoma this year and even that might be pushing it.

At 8/15/2006 11:26 AM, Blogger marc w. said...

Yeah, it'd be tough all right.
It's not required or anything, and now that Paul's back, we may have pitcures soon. But by all means, come on down to as many Tacoma games as your schedule allows. I know it's tough, what with you taking over at LL for a while and all (congrats), but let me know when you're coming down and I'll try and get some good seats.

At 8/15/2006 12:27 PM, Blogger Deanna said...

Nah, the LL thing is just for a few days while Jeff's on his roadtrip.

Bleh, I was just thinking that Aug 27th would be a great day for me to get down to Tacoma, only they're NOT THERE. Ugh, it sucks that they've got mostly home games the rest of the month and yet almost every day sucks for me. Plus I'd really like it to be an afternoon game so there'd be good light for pictures... hmm, wonder if I can somehow get out of work on the 22nd and go to the afternoon game :)

Do they get mad at people for bringing huge cameras there?

At 8/15/2006 4:35 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

Do they get mad at people for bringing huge cameras there?

Heh. You saw my camera. Obviously it's not a problem...


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