The Emperor's New Clothes, dept.
this is wayyyyy too good a team to burn 20% of its games in lighter fluid


GLS sez,

Just throwing this out there. Doc, I'd love to get your take on Felix these days, especially after yesterday's dud. I suspect the shoulder is robbing him of his velocity and even if gets a smidgeon of that back, his power pitching days are basically behind him. So what does he need to do to keep pitching effectively in the majors? 


Saw that on Slack, the opinions were across the board on him.  The Mainframe however saw 88 after 88 after 88 get volleyed over various fences and nets as though they were served up by tennis coaches.  And that was last year .... ba-dumpbump

The 88's were NOT being snuffed at this location, at that location or at the other.  They were snuffed from any location that the umpires call a "strike."

Dr's diagnosis:  get a high school graduation ring and sharpen one edge of it to a razor's slice.  Failing that, come down with a mysterious injury that saves $27M per season's worth of face for both Felix and his mortified set of bosses.  The problem is this:  there really is no way to successfully pitch in the majors with a slowball that is above the kneecaps and poorly located.  You might start by perusing this leaderboard and sorting by fastball velocity.  Spoiler alert:  there were 2 pitchers in 2017 that averaged < 90.0 MPH on their fastballs:  R.A. Dickey, who did not throw any fastballs, and Jason Vargas, who threw a very select few of them and normally to places outside the strike zone.

SLIGHTLY more seriously, if Felix were to throw a 33-33-33 mix of pitches and THAT only per Dr. D's wisdom -- sneak the fastballs in when ahead in the count, and the hitters therefore defensive -- he might keep (deserve) a #5 starter's job.  Felix' hope for survival lay in a 3:1 CTL ratio, but to this DAY he seems to remain unconvinced that he is not an Opening Day starter if not actually an All-Star Game starter.


The Mainframe despairs of any of this ever actually occurring.  Only last week, Shannon Drayer wrote a straight-faced piece lauding the way in which the coaching staff was providing Felix jussssst the avante-garde information he needs to dominate once more.  .... wellllll, maybe not quite despairs; a 3-IP hook is a sign that all hope may not be lost.  From my standpoint anyway, there is a best-case scenario which overlays the only-case scenario:  somebody else taking the 5SP slot.

One might object that Dr. D is far too fine a fellow to say such unkind things.  Dr. D might object that whatever BASEBALL's unwritten codes might be, LIFE's codes dictate that it is better to be self-aware than to elicit sadness from others.


Dr. D noticed also that amigos were surprised that Roenis Elias threw 94 MPH.  No, this is not unusual for him.  Neither is it unusual for him to throw a quite presentable curve and a work-in-progress changeup.  What IS unusual is for Elias to avoid mistakes with sufficient frequency to avoid gopheritis.  If, that is, he is pitching against hitters booked pre-game on him.

TJM called the Scrabble DFA within four, five days of its actual occurrence.  M's fans are reduced to hoping against hope that M's brass will find a way to sweet-talk Felix into surgery / role change / training table / pong game / something he won't file a grievance on with the union.

There have been a few situations in the majors more pathetic than this one.  No, we don't mean "pathetic" in the pejorative sense; we mean it in the literal sense, eliciting a feeling of sadness.  M's fans remember Jeff Fassero's last few months with the M's, Philly fans remember Steve Carlton's last year or two, and so forth.  Yon, there be dragons; here, there be the "deep, dark corridor" of which anti-contract Jerry Dipoto spake.

Just my TIC opinion and even that could be wrong,




You're echoing my uneducated assessment of the situation, Doc, and I don't know what the M's can realistically do to avoid a King-sized crater in the legacy of a man who carried us through many dark years.

If Felix could be Old Felix for an inning at a time, well and good - but how much longer would even THAT last? Better by far that he actually adapt to a new pitching style and find a way to succeed on wile rather than stuff for another 5 or so years, earn a league average SP outcome, and punch the longevity part of his ticket to the Hall of Fame. But despite rumors to the contrary - 'Felix is listening to pitching coaches for the first time in his career, actually seeking out their advice!' - I don't see any change coming quickly enough to stabilize the King's part in THIS season... a season we can by no means afford to sacrifice.

The rich irony is that if Felix were to have struggled like this in previous years, when we weren't charging toward a 90-plus win total and the playoffs, we could perhaps have supported the time necessary for him to make this work out in his brain. It's a big change, after all, coming from where he's been! But in just this particular year where we find ourselves... I'm not sure that there's a palatable solution out there.

It's going to be a big emotional blow one of these days here, unless Jerry and co truly are miracle workers.


I'm betting we all were/are impressed with Ichiro's graceful and unexpected transition. Just watching him now at the end of games, slapping hands with his former teammates while smiling is heartwarming. It would seem a good bet that the Mariner's brass has the same level of respect for Felix, and would work toward a similarly classy wrap-up to a glorious career. But, no matter how hard I squint, I can't see how. Unless Felix is willing to 'rehab' in the minors, there doesn't seem to be a situation that might allow him a genuine opportunity to reinvent himself. Otherwise, would the M's allow him to do that in the Majors? Is their loyalty to him strong enough to risk the team standings? For all of his valiance in the past -- I hope so. For the sake of this year's hope -- I hope not. Figuratively speaking, I'll tear my collar and sit in ashes. Sadness is indeed the best word to describe this situation.


Ichiro's decline was 'expected' this year. Everyone knew he was on borrowed time.

Felix's wasn't. He's been declining, but always a half step from a minor shift that would result in anything from a solid 2 to a servicable 4. No one* saw him falling off the cliff entirely this year. It's just not been that long since he was an every-year 1... you just take longer to drop off than this. It's so hard to be suddenly hit with this, at once so undeniably and us (fans, team, everyone except MAYBE Felix himself) helpless to do anything!

*Some people saw this coming, I'm sure. Sigh. And I doubt many take any pleasure in the accuracy of their future sight.

tjm's picture

I think he gets DL'd. And not for a phantom injury. I think he's actually hurt. His velo is off almost 3 mph from last spring. Diminishing speed with age is normal but not at that rate.

I continue to think he can be a perfectly adequate Number Five if he would ditch the two-seamer for the cutter. That sinker got killed when he was a stud. In 2012 when he threw the perfecto and shoulda won the Cy the league hit .350 and slugged over .500 against the sinker. and that's when he was throwing it 92-93. At 88-89 it's virtually indistiguishable from his change. Similar movement, too.


His fastball was NEVER what they claimed it was.  There was a time he threw 94 low-away and then it was decently effective.  But if you listened to opponents they had very little respect for his FB.  The change was his glory pitch.  On TV they would swoon, "Felix can't throw anything straight" and then Adrian Gonzalez would deadpan, "It was a normal Felix fastball.  Just straight and not tough to hit."

Interesting 'put on the real injury.  Will keep an eye.  You have seen a whale of a lot of pitching, and if it looks like an injury to you that commands respect.


Saturday’s game was fueled by two seeing eye grounders and a texas-leaguer. In an earlier game he lost a quality start because the K that should have finished the sixth was a swinging K that was also wild (wildly effective, IFF the catcher can stop it). That K began/continued a flurry of bad stuff. 

Felix starts slowly, holds steady, and then gets blasted in the 6-7th. So, like Doc suggested once before, let Roenis pitch the first inning, and maybe the second if his stuff is good, and bring in Felix For the next 5-6. Can a King be treated like this? I don’t know. But I do know that arguably the greatest pitcher who ever lived was an aging spot starter/reliever for the 1948 Indians World Series. Satchel was thankful to pitch in a World Series, although he deserved so much more. If there is a role for Felix in this team’s pursuit of a World Series, I gotta think Felix will in like fashion find a way to contribute to it.


But how many times have we seen 'bad luck' ruin the occasional good performances of a guy having trouble anyway?  Wednesday he gets torched; Monday he pitches decently and some balls go through.  The Mariner 1977 story.  :- )

Hope you're right Rick.  The start before he did go 8 IP, 1 ER right?


Start before this one he looked rejuvenated. How much on again, off again is acceptable? Certainly, if his star hadn't been quite so bright in the past we would view this differently. How much rope does CY past performance buy him to climb Mt. Everest, or descend the cliffs of despair? Inquiring minds want to know...

GLS's picture

Thanks for the post on Felix. Appreciate it. The M's are a frustrating organization. This seems to be where talent comes to spend their best years and never win a ring. No wonder the best ML free agents run for the big money clubs - for the money, obviously - but the chance to compete while you still can has to be an incentive as well. Years ago, I was an advocate of trading both Felix and Ichiro, not because I harbored some fantasy of getting elite, franchise-quality prospects in return (although that would have been nice), but because it was so darn painful watching their careers go to nothing. 

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