of a Figgins-Ichiro 1-2. Figgy draws walks, dances off the bases and Ichiro slaps the ball on hit and runs. Hustling into third, here comes the throw, wait! Ichiro's going for second! I'm with you, Doc. It's a recipe for success. And even if we're wrong, it's the one thing that hasn't been tried. C'mon, guys, baseball is supposed to be fun. Humor us. We want to see Figgy and Ichiro drive people nuts.
Seemed like the game coulda gone either way ...but the M's had 21 bases on hits and the Tigers only 9. They were lucky that the game was tight. Which is to be expected, since it was Erik Bedard vs Brad Penny. The M's are favorites in a lotta games started by their Big Three.
=== Justin Smoak ===
No sooner do we finish debating the concept of the re-set ... than Justin Smoak steps out into the box, waits back on an outside curve ball, and puts a thunderous and game-winning swing on it. Way out to the off field in a big park.
He honestly did seem much crisper at the plate today. ... granted, he did make outs the last three trips. But I'll take 1-for-4 with a jack on Saturday, too, if you're offering.
Smoak is just a baby. He is going to run .400 OBP's (park-adjusted) with 35 homers. One of the game's legit young franchise players, and he's going to give 6 years' production before free agency. He's not going to spend Y1 and Y2 as a mediocre apprentice.
=== Chone Figgins ===
Sunk his weight, put torque on the ball, and smoked two hot-shot base hits. One to RF for a double, one to left-center for a clean single. Almost beat out a third hit.
The facts of the case are these:
- For one night, Wedge let Chone Figgins hit leadoff.
- For one night, he was the LAA "Figgy," both visually and in the box score.
- The difference between those two people is the difference between +4 wins and -3 wins from that roster spot.
Conclude what you want from the premises, but the premises are true.
Attitude is everything in sports. You have to enjoy what you're doing to be good at it. Figgins' stats are getting worse and worse, because he's sinking ever-deeper into depression.
=== Ichiro ===
Have always wanted to see him hit #2, where Rod Carew and where Wade Boggs hit.
Put a rejuvenated .370 OBP Figgins at leadoff, creating huge holes on the right side... put Ackley or Halman or Brendan Ryan at #9 ... can you imagine the blizzard of RBI for Ichiro?
Can easily visualize a Figgins-Ichiro inversion reaping a grossly disproportional karmic benefit. Have seen little things like this work since the 1975 Reds put Pete Rose at 3b, middle of the year, and instantly rip off a 41-10 streak.
As Blowers laughed during the broadcast, Figgins' two hits were the reason that Wedge pre-specified that Ichiro would bat #1 on Saturday. Wedge saw this question coming up!
I don't know, though. Maybe you could cut Ichiro a deal. You bat #2, and you can play every single game the rest of the year, and won't it be nice to make the playoffs?
Thought he was going to pinch-hit for Gimenez with two on in the ninth. But Wedge probably wanted to get Miguel Olivo an actual day of rest for his legs, don'cha think?
=== Adam Kennedy ===
Had a 118 OPS+ coming into the game. There are a few Mariners who didn't.
Added a single and a hustle double. A perfect throw would have gotten him. He said, "SHOW ME." The Tigers didn't.
I've seen a whale of a lot of Mariners teams that wouldn't challenge you. Adam Kennedy is the 2011 MVP of the position players.
=== Carlos Peguero ===
You've heard about Earl's Ten Laws? Okay, SSI's Eighth Law: If Carlos Peguero can bat .230, he will hit 30 or more home runs. Not 25. Thirty.
He hit a HR off the end of the bat Friday ... would have been REAL easy to pull it foul. But that mobile CG allowed him to move back a bit and get centered on it just enough. Peguero has the ability to keep the inside pitch fair.
On his triple: one time I'd like to be the right fielder on a tee shot like that. A ball like that, from an MLB'er like Peguero, must appear to be 500 mph going by you, don't you think?
When they say, "the game is fast up there!", they're talking about relative to AAA baseball. Think about it.
It was really funny. The RF took a direct angle over, badly underestimating the pace of the ball. He spread-eagled, as if to sno-cone it, almost fell .... and the ball carried about 5 yards outside his reach. Heh, heh, HEH!
Peguero had a very respectable 100-yard dash into third, powering forcefully into the finish at 3B. A tight-end gallop, as opposed to a DL stagger. Blowers said that he was crushing the air out of the bases on the ramble.
=== Matinee Star, CF ===
Is once again providing grist to Dr. D's mill. His OBP is .240, his SLG is .292, and he popped up a key bunt. He's killing the M's out there.
50-50 jobshare with Halman. That's what it says here. :- )
Hey, you know what, SSI has always been super huge on the 5 OFs to make 3 deal -- Earl would even sit guys like Frank Robinson to make it happen. It's happening, however. Probably through very little enthusiasm on the M's part, I'm gonna get to see exactly that.
Three interesting young OF's hit the beach simultaneously: Peguero, Halman, and Carp. I looooov eeeeet.
Unfortunately, Wedge can't know how to exploit batter-pitcher matchups with them yet, but if he can guess, it will be his biggest miracle yet. Today he guessed right: Peguero gave him a 3B and a HR.
Give it up for the M's, that they powerflushed Milton Bradley and Ryan Langerhans, and put the entire Stars & Scrubs roster on a six-pack of Red Bull.
=== Brendan Ryan ===
Leadoff hitter walked to open the game. Second hitter smashed a one-hop rocket to Ryan's glove side. Ryan got out of the way of certain death, and then managed to get his glove in the way. A double play ensued. WOW.
Mike Blowers, with his ballplayer's feel for a game situation, instantly reported that it could be the decisive play of the game. In the first inning. After the game, Leyland said the same.
Apparently, the Tigers and Mariners played out the other eight innings, with both sides feeling like destiny had the M's cap on that night. That's baseball.
=== AL West ===
Everybody noticed that the Mariners are four games up on the Angels, and six up on the A's?
Well, it's +3.5 on LAA, to be exact. The Rangers and M's are pullin' away, babe.
Not sure that anybody's told Ichiro that baseball is for fun :- )
on ESPN-U and espn3.com vs. UC-Irvine at 10 a.m. Pacific, noon central.
With the death of the sandlot. We all loved to to hit dingers, but the real fun was on the base paths, wasn't it?
you said once it was the 70 Reds that you cut your baseball teeth on, Doc. Rose and Morgan, it doesn't get any better than that. But for pure entertainment value, I prefer the team I cut my teeth on, the Brock-Flood Cardinals. Well, them and the Tommy Harper Pilots.
The Cards of the 80's carried on that grand tradition of driving the other teams nuts. But I stopped being a Cardinal fan pretty much they day they brought in McGwire. Call me wierd, but Cardinal long ball is dull. Give me a McGee or Brock, or Coleman over a Pujols anyway. Won't cost you pennants, either :-)
Would love to catch it.
From the Bakery:
SS Brendan Ryan
1B Justin Smoak
2B Adam Kennedy
C Miguel OlivoLF Carlos PegueroDH Mike Carp
3B Chone FigginsCF Greg Halman
RHP Michael Pineda
I looooov eeeeeet!
There was a lightning and then rain delay. Hultzen is good at the plate, so he's fun to watch even when he's not on the mound. Had his C- stuff today: couldn't control the FB or get his other two pitches consistently in the zone, and was facing a slap-hitting/bunting lineup. He still didn't give up a run, so it's not like his struggles hurt his team, and he's a brilliant competitor, but it wasn't the sort of start to give you chills and say "THAT guy will be on my team soon...woo!!" You could see a few pieces of nastiness (Lefties HATE him and his outside-edge FB against righties is mean when he can spot it) but it was basically just gutting out a start when none of your pitches are working. That has value too.
Outing shortened from rain delay. 5 1/3rd IPS, 3BBs, 3Ks. No Rs.
How was his fastball?
his fastball sat between 89-92, and his command was off all night. he looked uncomfortable out there. After the game he said he wasn't feeling great and he didn't have his best stuff but just wanted push through it to give the team a chance to win.
he did have a RBI single to give the team a 2-0 lead.
And both Pineda/Hultzen had strung a series of long outings. Probably both will have fresher arms next time round.
Definitely time to skip a start for Pineda IMHO, and Zduriencik earlier commented on Hultzen putting together a long season for a college SP.
So his fastball is down again.. I really wish I felt better about taking Hultzen over Bauer..
Hultzen is a completely different guy when at 90-95 compared to 89-92.. Which are we going to get next year?
Do Erik Bedard or Cole Hamels need to hit 95?
Does 95 have *anything* to do with their games? What if I said, "oh no, Hamels isn't 95 this month!" ... "Bedard was only 89-92 in May, when his ERA was 1+ !"
Hultzen, Hamels, Santana, and Bedard do not pitch like C.C. Sabathia does.
Hultzen assuredly won't be mid-90's next year, any more than he was this year, so we can just relax about that.
Now, if you said, "Oh no! Hultzen (Bedard, Hamels) are wild in the zone!", then we have a discussion.
I have to agree with jemanji. The problem wasn't his fastball velocity, it was his command. He was all over the place. he had a lot of trouble throwing his fastball and changeup where he wanted to. High and away, and low and in the dirt was a common theme today.
The fact that he still made a few key pitches to get some double plays and kept them off the scoreboard says a lot about his ability to pitch even when not "on".
It seems unlikely that Hultzen steps in as polished as some of the best SPs in the game. The Ks have fluctuated in college depending on Hultzen's velocity this season (and been low most of the time in the 2nd half).
The last time a SP came in from college to develop elite command was Jered Weaver. Weaver turned into a #2-3 SP after a year+ development in the minors. No one else I can recall developed an elite command game that quickly. Prior, Lincecum, Verlander, etc dominanted with stuff early on.
Weaver's 13.1 K/9 didn't fluctuate because of velocity like Hultzen though. Hultzen is more volatile IMO. Hes the baddest SP in college when hes throwing hard, and kind of average when the velocity hasn't been there. Its hard to tell whether or not he'll get that velocity back as he matures or stays at 88-93. I think it completely changes his prospect status.
Weaver is the UP scenario. He dominated right off the bat in the minors and his AA stint could be blamed for fatigue. The next season he dominated AAA and was immediately effective in the MLB rotation with elite command+deception.
Cole Hamels was a completely different scenario. Minor leaguers simply could not handle his game. He was embarrassing hitters in 2006 (AAA 14+ K/9, 36 K/BB, 0 XBHs). If Hultzen is Hamels, we'll find out very quickly early next season.
Consistently 92-93, though he took some off for 89 at times. It's REALLY straight. Which is fine, he clobbers the black with it when it's on, and apparently this was one of his most "off" nights of the year and he still pitched a shutout.
He does like to work up the ladder with it at times too. He can work it around the zone but it's not gonna twist and dive on anyone, at least not the way I was watching him throw it. It means his changeup and breaker are really important for his success. His change especially has beautiful late movement. Harder throwing Buehrle bother anyone as a comp?
Gonna be fun to watch him work his game, which might be better against pros than college kids honestly. What was it they said about Moyer? That he would get hammered by HS kids who can hit 83 mph slop but pros are just too proud to wait that long? Changeups work better against guys who will swing for the fences than against those willing to slap groundballs and move runners with crappy metal bats anyway, as the coach of LSU indicated as well. And Hultzen murdered his competition with it this year anyway (2nd in college in Ks to only...Trevor Bauer). He is going to do a lot of corner-painting and changeups in the zone, and the whiffs over the top will be fun. Assuming his game translates, which I think it does. I still don't think he's an ace, but he might have a no-hitter or two in him.
And a Mark Buehrle with more Ks has to be something really good, right? *laughs* Actual Mark Buehrle is frustating and terminally effective. We'll see if Hultzen can get there, but his toolset is interesting - even on a day when nothing's working right.
Its really going to come down to how well his command and craftiness translate. 91mph on the black from a lefty is unhittable. Not a lot of room for error unless that 90-95mph velocity comes back.
We tend to forget that, really, any pitcher much under 30 can be expected to battle his mechanics. That's one reason that a guy like Bedard is such a different investment than a young hotshot.
We expect miracles from Pineda, too, as far as consistency. Kids who are way ahead of the curve, we think they've solved it, but from time to time they remind us that they're still in the learning phase...
Felix' consistency, at his age, is simply incredible. He goes on 24-for-26 QS runs and he's like a machine.
I've only seen Hultzen from behind-the-plate so that was interesting to watch.
It does confirm that his changeup is plus, but not a Lincecum/Santana/Hamels type offering. His fastball is straight, but ver deceptive. It looks faster than the 89-92 he was throwing in the video. It makes you understand why he gets such dominant results when hes sitting 90-95mph.
We're betting on his command+pitchability to translate directly to the MLB and/or on his velocity sitting at 92-93. If hes the real deal, he will be up VERY quickly and destroy the minors in short order like Jered Weaver did.