Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

AL West Preview - Seattle Mariners Pitching

Well folks, it's time. Time to preview the hardest team in the league to preview. You think I'm joking? This goes way beyond PECOTA predictions and sabremetrics. It comes down to a crapshoot. Are these players the 2003 Mariners or the 2004 Mariners? You'll see what I mean as we go down the list.

Colin: Seriously. I love statistics, heck, I am going into the social sciences as a career, but sometimes statistics can only tell you so much. The ability of so many players to tank in the exact same year is mindboggling. It reminds me a little of the San Antonio Spurs when David Robinson was injured. They ended with the worst record in the league and ended up with Tim Duncan. Next year? They were back to awesome. Now, I understand that we don't have Tim Duncan, but we do have Adrian Beltre. Is that enough? Read on.

Starting Rotation: Joel Piniero - In 2003 Joel looked like the next big thing, in fact, he looked good enough to make Freddy Garcia expendable. A bulldog on the mound, Piniero rarely lacks confidence. His fastball is not overpowering, but he places it well. A good barometer on how well his day will go is whether or not he's able to throw his curveball for a strike. I love Joel's curveball. So in 2004 this pitcher decided to allow far too many home runs before landing on the DL. The M's need a solid season from Piniero... no doubt about it.

Colin: I'm worried. When I heard of his shoulder pain this spring, I immediately started planning for the ol' Tommy John surgery, just like EVERY OTHER SINGLE MARINER PITCHER IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS!! Honestly, what is going on with our pitchers? There must be something that the Mariner organization does that just screws with a pitcher's arm. I simply do not believe that we will see a full season from Joel. When he is around, however, he will be solid. He has to be.

Jamie Moyer - In 2003 Jamie Moyer became one of the oldest 20 game winners in MLB history. In 2004 he decided to join in the fun, giving up a league leading amount of homers, as his control slipped. When Moyer's control is off, he either misses the corners or throws it down the middle. Which Moyer will show up?

Colin: Which Moyer will show up? Maybe the 42 year old Moyer. When our dad was 42 he was quite definitely not trying to be a semi-ace on a major league roster. However, the optimist in me has to believe in this guy. It does not take power to throw the junk that Moyer throws. If he has found his control, he should receive his fair share of wins this season.

Bobby Madritsch - The most impressive call-up not named Bucky Jacobsen last year. Definitely came out of left field, after fairly unimpressive stint in the minors. Has the type of demeanor that spells for consistent success, kind of the anti-Freddy Garcia. Here's where the one stat I have read in the past few months stuck. Madritsch does not give up the long ball. If he keeps that up, Safeco Field and that great defense will help him have a solid season.

Colin: I will enjoy watching this pitcher all season on MLB Extra Innings. He is just fun to watch, an absolute bulldog on the mound who is not going to take any crap from anyone. How can you not root for this guy? I believe, due to my other belief in the injury to Piniero, that Madritsch will be the M's top overall pitcher this season. He does not have overpowering stuff, but he will make up for it with grit and determination.

Gil Meche - In 2003 Gil Meche was the comeback player of the year, demonstrating some of that talent that had us all salivating before all the injuries. In 2004 he decided to have serious control problems and look like Freddy Garcia on the mound, easily rattled. Now he says he's simplified his repertoire... don't know if I can think of an example of that being the difference for sure success. Gil will be dominant if he regains his confidence and throws strikes. Fairly simple.

Colin: Let me flip a coin to tell you how Gil will pitch this season. Heads. I have no idea what that means. I have no idea what to predict here. How many times can a pitcher "figure it out"? How many times can a pitcher be a "comeback player"? Gil: Trust your defense, throw the ball over the plate and hope for the best.

Aaron Sele - The replacement for Ryan Franklin. I'd rather not think about having to watch Sele throw again. Perhaps he'll surprise me. Personally, I see Sele as a placeholder before Felix Hernandez comes up to dominate.

Colin: Just what we needed as a team. Get older in our rotation. Are you kidding me? The only reason I can see for this is that Bavasi wanted to phase out Franklin already to insert Felix later on, and jumped at the opportunity to do it now, since it is a no-brainer to kick Sele out of here once Felix is ready to shine. Still, when that curveball is diving, Sele can be special, and he always seems to get wins in the regular season, even if his ERA is over 5. Now, the postseason? Tis to laugh.

Bullpen: Long Relief - Ryan Franklin, Ron Villone Moving Franklin into the pen was one of Bavasi/Hargrove's better decisions. I still remember when he started out in that role, coming in a few times against Texas and shutting them down, such as in A-Rod's first game back in Seattle. That was a game. Villone, unfortunately, was our best pitcher last year, and was fairly dependable in long relief. I would characterize this as a strength of our team. We should stem the bleeding successfully, allowing our offense to come back in games.

Colin: Franklin will be extremely upset at the demotion, and will start the season with something to prove. We have seen that Franklin seems to be at his best when he has a huge chip on his shoulder. Well? Can Villone repeat '04? Doubtful. I am not as sure as Gavin about the strength of this part of the bullpen. It will be nice, but I don't know how many games they will help us win.

Short Relief - Jeff Nelson, Matt Thornton, JJ Putz, Shiggy Hasegawa, Julio Mateo, with Scott Atchison and George Sherrill perhaps thrown in later... Again, 2003 or 2004? Julio Mateo, solid in 2003, shaky in 2004. If he is back, he is as quality a reliever as we could ask for. Hasegawa, 2003 or 2004? If 2003, he of the under 2.00 ERA will help make us the best bullpen in the league. If 2004, he will be terrible. JJ Putz showed great promise last year. Look for him to perhaps be the cornerstone, outside of all these question marks. Jeff Nelson wasn't that great in 2003 and was awful in 2004. I'm not that excited about him. Matt Thornton is only here because he's out of options. He was awful in Spring Training, and can't throw strikes. He has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher, but I'm not counting on him to put it together.

Colin: Could be blah, could be great. I would say that Mateo is the key, with Hasegawa a close second. If they return to form, our bullpen could be a strength. Nelson is a walker who is about three years past due on retirement. Putz could easily be our most consistent, while Thornton has the possibility of walking more people than Bobby Ayala. Listen, they could be solid, but I am just not sold on any of them. At least the starters had a good spring, you can't say that about the relief core.

Closer - Eddie Guardado In 2003, Everyday Eddie was one of the best closers in the game for the Twins. In 2004, he struggled early, got himself under control, then got hurt. If he's healthy, this position will be a strength for us. He has a tendency to make it interesting, but we're pretty darn used to that.

Colin: Everyday Eddie now sounds like a joke. I think he'll bounce back and be one of our best players this season, and I still like him more than Sasaki.

All in all, pitching staff full of question marks. 2003 or 2004? The season hangs in the balance.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:06 PM  0 comments

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