If you can't get enough shtick after a Mariners victory, and who can?!, check out last night's Shout Box and Dr. D's Twitter account. Better stuff there than here, since Wishhiker, KingCorran and Rick were editing me for accuracy. Oh, and commenting the game themselves, but who cares about that.
The M's are now +59 runs -58, which is not bad for the worst 2 weeks of your season. That's better than the Rangers usually do when they win the division. But you would know that if you were on Twitter with us.
MIRANDA RIGHTS (to the #5 SP role) DEPT.
We tweeted during the 1st that Miranda was looking like he had a lockdown going. He radiated ownership of the game from the first hitter, through Stanton and Bat571's boy Ozuna, and navigated the 6th inning well. Diderot, also in the mezzanine, seconded our emotion on Miranda's vibe.
Bill James has emphasized that --- > when it comes to fringe starters, you are better off "seeing if you can build on" the 30-start guy than just swapping every time somebody makes 4 starts without impressing. That's true even if the ERA's are 4.95 for the 40-start guy and the 4-start guy. Dr. D believes this is 100% accurate as a generalization, and it is also the right way to live life. Not to make a value judgment or anything. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.
Have the Mariners proven (to their own satisfaction) that Ariel Miranda cannot pitch? Of course not. So on that basis he is at the head of the Overton/Povse/etc line.
He also has one of the better LHP fastballs in the league. He has a splitter that can K people and his K rate is in fact up. He's got a very live arm. His mechanics are miles ahead of where they were when we got him. His makeup is fiery if not actually volatile. He's working on a third pitch he is trying to decide whether to throw his third pitch to break in or out.
If you are a Miranda believer, stick with it mate.
All that said, there were 3 people last night who raised caution flags: Scott Servais, Ryan-Rowland Smith and Dr. Detecto. The nature of the problem is that all his pitches break gloveside and they don't really separate the "look" the batters get. Also that he leaves lots of pitches out-and-over.
So, as Servais said, the 3rd time through the Marlins' lineup they were starting to adjust to the way Miranda's fastball surprised them, and starting to zero in on Miranda. (Third time through, two sizzled hits and a deep fly ball that was a lucky 1/8th inch low on the swing.) And if that's true of the Marlins seeing him for the first time, what about your 3rd, 4th trip around the AL?
Which is why RRS cautioned, Miranda's success as a SP -- for his career -- will depend on his results the 3rd trip through lineups.
That's the nature of the problem. In my opinion as well as the M's.
Now, that said, Miranda is developing. He can indeed learn how to expand the zone, learn when to challenge and when not to. He can continue to refine his command. He can (according to RRS) make the "slider" actually break gloveside against lefties. Right now when Miranda throws a "changeup" it swerves gloveside 10"; when it swerves gloveside only 5-6" for some reason everybody calls that a "slider."
He's got all kinds of room to grow. No doubts there. It says here he needs to.
But there again, Shannon Drayer reminded Hyphen "but as a number 5 starter?" and instantly Rowland-Smith recaptured perspective. "Oh yeah, oh yeah. He's throwing well." Sure. One man's "non-moving slider" is another man's "tunnel changeup." Miranda can already lock you down on the right day.
Mo' Dawg has perpetual Adopt-a-Player rights on this one. He's been out in front, that's for sure, though SSI Denizens will predict 1.12 ERA's and MVP/ROY's if that's what it takes to jockey for pole position. ... joking. You know we love it. People actually root for the Mariners here. Doesn't mean they don't see the same things a cynic does.
On the radio after the game, Servais said "he's earned the right to stay in the lineup more consistently" and that when Segura's back they'll find ways to move him around in the lineup. It's cool that this is already Servais' intention but that was going to happen regardless, if Motter remains one of the M's best 8-10 players. You can r-e-l-a-x about Motter hitting the bench when he is swinging like he is right now, which is:
(1) Early in his hand load, quick to the zone, so he's got plenty of time
(2) Peering at the pitches studiously as they come in
(3) Putting massively aggressive swings on the ball when he gets his pitch
(4) Hitting upper-deck shots in official American League(TM) facilities
It's not like they can pitch around Cano, Cruz and Seager to get to Motter. He's going to continue to sneak up on people.
And Dr. D is beginning to wonder, just a little bit, if Motter might actually slug .450 this year because of an odd interview. Motter called it "the best day of his life" to get traded to the Mariners and something clicked in Dr. D's head about the weird interviews back in March. There are a few guys who suddenly become happy, who stay happy, and who stay hungry. Segura himself was in this category, right? What, is it JeDi mind tricks that leads the M's toward these guys?
From tourney chess you learn just how important it is to believe that it's possible. It affects your calculations and decisionmaking. Perhaps Motter now believes that it's all possible.
CRUZ AND CANO
Hyphen's remark: those crushed pitches Monday were fouls back last week. The Denizens' takeaway: the difference between 39 homers and a slump is hair-fine, so with players of very high caliber a week isn't enough. Try six weeks. Then we might start worrying, or not ...
... with some exceptions. :- ) [actually let's separate this out?]
We would call it the "Talking Points Memo" but some North Korean would fire a random bullet at the border, resulting in who knows what, at the mere reminder of something political right now. If you really insisted we could put up a "Strategic Patience vs Un-Strategic Impatience" since few diplomats read SSI. Anyway:
(1) Is Dr. D being too hard on Miranda?
(2) Just how good might the offense be, if it's getting 6 runs a game now and it gets Segura back Friday?
(3) Are Haniger's and Motter's chances to be Fred Lynn and Jim Rice 1975, better than Dr. D's estimated 15%? If that's too broad in scope, (3b) Is Taylor Motter ever going to hit a single? Is his AVERAGE LAUNCH VELOCITY EVER GOING TO DROP BELOW 99.47 MPH?
(4) You like Rick's comp of Koufax-Drysdale?
(5) Do the M's, as Mike Salk thinks, "have a decision to make" on Mike Zunino? :- /
HAPPY BILLINGHAM DAY
Incredibly, 538.com has us as slight faves. It is not correct, as it wasn't on Hamels day, but we won that one. So.
... Hold it! Hold it right there! The 1975-76 Reds WON a lot of Billingham Days! That's 'cause they scored like the M's are doing. And caught a lot of balls behind him. It could happen, right?
See you on SSI,