Thus endeth the most boring winter in 40 years' worth of Mariner offseasons. Can I get a witness here?
So opening Real Week has buried us all in an avalanance of Felix articles:
1) A Times article fixated on the King's spring mantra "I'm Different." Different ... than in his '17 and '18 injury years? Different ... as in, I accept that I'm a quality innings eater and not a superstar? Different... "than everybody else," in his own words. Dr. D's guess is that this is his version of Hillary's big red plastic re-set button. The article sez,
he process to do that started at the end of last season and stretched into the offseason, when Hernandez finally was free of shoulder discomfort. It was an unexpected injury.
“It was fine in (the World Baseball Classic) and when I pitched in winter ball, and then early in April something happened,” he said.
Could that “something” have stemmed from the truncated (cut-short) progression early in the year and pitching at a high level for the WBC before building up arm strength?
2) A Yahoo piece that rather impolitely leads off the camp with the Paxton/Opening Day issue. Servais says sympathetically, "we all have things to prove." The King says, here and elsewhere, I got absolutely nuttin' to prove. But he's got a lot of poker tells - if this, if that, if the other. If I can exceed Jerry's 25 starts. If a lot of things.
3) MLB saying that Felix will do things different this year. Read: he won't do them the way he feels like doing them. Take that as a plus too: when you can get an old, dinged-up warhorse back to drinking raw eggs and running at 4:30 in the morning, there's no telling what you might see.
Which leaves us where? With two Felixes (Felices?):
(1) A lack of progress in March, the mushy fastball and the quality secondary artillery that equates to "innings eater."
(2) A rejuvenated (decent) fastball and bunch of 7 IP, 2 ER starts.
Felix threw 87 innings last year, leaving plenty of room for Yovani Gallardo's 22 starts' worth of 5.72 ERA - in front of a top-10, even top-5 defense. Miranda chipped in 29 starts' worth of 5.12 ERA, Gaviglio a nice robust 11 starts clocking a 4.62 in front of a spacious outfield with fleet defenders, never mind the odd 19.80 start from Chris Heston and slop like that.
But let's not get distracted from the Yovani Gallardo thing, shall we not? Dr. D intends to enjoy this one last shot to the fullest. It is one of the dumbest things this franchise has ever done, and we are talking about dumb things done since 1977, and the were dumb talking beginning (March) middle (summer) and end (all the way to that 3.2-inning wave goodbye on the way out of town.) Leave us not forget we paid $11M ($9M) for those 28 games' (22 starts') worth a' 6 runs a game.
Hey, seriously. It's a big wave of a pom-pom here. Gallardo is not here in 2018. That is, conservatively, 20 to 30 wins all by itself. Never mind Miranda's 29 starts are replaced by starts made by whoever is throwing thee ball well, and the 40 pitcher thing, and all the other bad stuff that has not happened yet.
Felix collapsing to 87 innings has also not happened yet.
It's a funny thing; read the February 2018 comments on Fangraphs and all the brainiacs steeple their fingers as they talk about 76 wins, maybe 76.2, could be 76.4 if you're inclined to be a lobotomized homer. But! When was the hard drive wiped clean of 2017's 86 wins and last-week playoff brawl. The main difference was just a whole bunch of decent-middlin' innings in the middle of the almanac. Crazy, crazy, crazy the way smart people get hypnotized by one year's stats.
Think in terms of the 86-win team, at least for a few weeks here as we watch bullpens, and think about 60 stolen bases in front of a fearsome lineup.