M's Hire Squiggy as Assistant Scout in Southern California
I am not making this up. Scroll to the bottom if you don't believe me.
Apparently, he helped young Bill James in writing his first Baseball Abstract
. He was also a scout for the Angels back around '97.
The front office finally hired someone with some ammount of statistical background... and it's Squiggy.
According to Rick Rizzs and the mariners.mlb.com site, RHP Rett Johnson was also sent down to the minor league camp with the other players. Kind of surprising, but not really. He should get more work down there than he would in the big league camp.
A report from the associated press
is indicating that the overall spring training roster has been cut to 52.
Catcher Ryan Christianson (who saw no cactus league time, like Wiki Gonzalez who was sent down yesterday) was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
Craig Anderson, Shin Soo Choo, Adam Jones, Jose A. Nunez, and A.J. Zapp were reassigned to the minor league camp.
Anyone shocked that Leone wasn't cut? Isn't he 0-for-9 now?
Christianson was out for the majority of last year, seeing only limitted time in Peoria before going down with what I believe was a neck injury. The past two years have been rough on the former first-round pick, and it's hard to tell what we should expect from him from here on out. He is the first player from the 40-man roster to be cut.
Anderson was in camp primarily to learn from Moyer. While some added his name to the list of lefty bullpen candidates, he really did not stand a chance.
Choo and Jones both had some success in cactus league play, but they need more development time before being able to contribute on a major league level. Both were there to allow the coaches to get a better look at them, so to speak. This move is primarily to get them more playing time now that the minor league camp is getting into full swing. It's entirely possible that we'll see both in the late innings of some cactus league games in the future.
Nunez was a bit of a surprise cut, to me at least. He pitched in a 'B' game, and pitched a simulated game, but he saw no official time in the cactus league. Either the coaches really did not like what they saw, or they don't believe they'll be able to get the proper use out of him as pitchers start to go longer into games. Regardless, I believe that Nunez has a clause in his contract that states he can sign with another team if he is not on the roster by the All-Star Break, or around that time.
Zapp's performance at the plate was similar to Leone's, only with more whiffs and less contact. While he has been mentioned as a possible roster candidate in the future, he did little to make his case this season. He'll likely begin the season in Tacoma as the first baseman, where he will work on reducing his strikeouts (and believe me, they need it).
On a positive note, Rett Johnson is back in camp
. No word yet on what made him leave, but it's not any of our business anyway.
The Everett Herald, continuing their prospect series, ran a story on Greg Dobbs
and his return to play. Dobbs is hitting .375 so far and slugging .500. I like what Dobbs does with his game, he fields well and he gets his hits in. If we need a bat during the season, he's probably going to be one of the first they call up from the minors, partially because Leone hasn't been making much of an impression.
The News Tribune has an article on making the cut which really doesn't tell us anything we don't know
. When I was first reading through the papers, I thought, as Melvin said himself, anything can happen, but the more I read, the more it seems to be clear that Willie Bloomquist could get a bench spot for no reason other than he's Willie Freakin' Bloomquist. In addition, this article believes that Kevin Jarvis will get a spot just because he makes a lot of money. Some decisions, you should think would be no brainers, if he sucks, cut him, but there seems to be some difficulty with such complicated concepts as "logic" and "common sense". Where the hell did the Sasaki money go? Maybe if I break out my voodoo kit and tarot cards, I can get a job working for the M's. Probably on the medical staff. Of course, while I like what I see from a few of the players competing for a bench spot, the guys over at USS Mariner are considerably more critical than I am
. At least we aren't going to wait to see what Wiki can do. But what of Bucky Jacobsen, who went 2-3 yesterday in the B game with a double and three RBI?
The latest installment of Ask BA has a question which involves Felix Hernandez
I really enjoy all of your content, especially the annual Top 100 Prospects list. I appreciate the difficulty involved in drawing distinctions among the best of the best, but what was the reason for leaving Joel Zumaya off the list? Does a pitcher's fragile nature/injury risk factor into the equation? Or in the case of Zumaya, does the uncertainty about his future role (starter vs. reliever) matter? I know Felix Hernandez put up some exciting numbers at age 17 and has great stuff, but I believe Zumaya excelled to an even greater extent over a more meaningful number of batters faced at a higher level—at age 18.
David J. Charles
We do recognize that the attrition rate with pitchers is higher than with hitters, and we take that into consideration when we're weighing the merits of one versus the other. All told, the Top 100 list was split right down the middle with 50 pitchers and 50 hitters.
Zumaya was a tough call. Of the five people who hashed out the list, one of us put him on their personal Top 100, while two others had him in the 101-110 range. There are a lot of positives about him, but also some negatives that ultimately kept him off the consensus Top 100.
Zumaya has a consistent mid-90s fastball and a hard curveball. Though he was 18 and pitching against more experienced hitters in the low Class A Midwest League last year, he averaged 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings, which would have led the minors had he pitched enough to qualify. On the other hand, he has a maximum-effort delivery that led to back problems and six weeks on the sidelines last year. His command and his curveball are inconsistent, and he needs to improve his changeup and throw it more often.
Add all that up, and it's possible that he could be a reliever with one truly reliable pitch rather than a starter. Yes, that might be nitpicking. But when we're putting together our list, it's things like that which we use to separate players. Hernandez, for instance, has a more consistent breaking ball, better command and a sounder delivery, so it's easier to project him becoming a frontline starter. If Zumaya makes some strides and has another big year in 2004, he'll be a shoo-in for the Top 100 next spring.
At this point in time for Felix, both his curveball and his fastball are considered plus pitches; his fastball topping out around 100 mph, assuming he is the reported age. While I can't confirm this with any certainty, I've heard he may also have a slider. Most pitchers around his age are lucky to have one reliable pitch. Felix looks like he is going to be one of the top pitchers in the minors next year, if not the top, and as he continues to develop his arsenal and command, he'll only become more dominant.
*In other pitcher related news, Cha Baek was dominating in the game today, then again, all the pitchers seemed to be. The last 20 in a row retired.
*I've also heard reports from Peoria that Blackley has added a cutter to his repetoire which is already looking like a solid pitch.
*Rumors have been circulating that power hitting 3B Matt Hagen may be moved behind the plate to give him a better chance to progress in the system. Hagen has one of the best throwing arms in the system, so it seems like an interesting idea to move him there as opposed to 1B. It's hard to tell how long it will take for him to learn how to effectively call a game. Hagen hit 21 home runs last year in Wisconsin, but only hit .220, striking out 129 times.
Levesque wrote a piece in the PI on Hiram Bocachica
. I've said before and I'll say again, if the M's can somehow tap Bocachica's potential and have him finally make the transition to the majors, he'll be a great asset. Right now, he's a AAAA player, but if he can help our bench out... (speaking of the bench, give it up for Ramon Santiago)
The notebook in the PI also covers the possibility of having three lefties in the bullpen
. Villone's throwing better than expected, so I would entertain the idea of throwing him in with Guardado and adding a rookie lefty, who might be Thornton at this point. And just so we're clear on this regarding the notes at the very end; putting Nageotte in as a setup man is a bad idea. This is coming from years of hearing the newest pitching prospect getting his feet wet being touted as a future closer. Leave him in Tacoma to work on the change.
The News Tribune is reporting that Snelling is now an artist
, appropriate career move, considering he's already got the part down about no one understanding him. There are also some brief notes on Nageotte, Thornton, Looper, Santiago, and Bocachica, all via Melvin.
You've probably found the Mariners site's article on Felix Hernandez as a "Primetime Prospect"
. Of course, with most groups telling us to keep an eye on him, I don't think he can be referred to as a secret anymore.
MLB.com followed this up with a general overview of the Mariners system
. Despite the fact that I didn't expect much of it, it is surprisingly complete. The top five are more focused on who might make an impact soon, so Leone is included. They also have a piece on Jacobs, a blurb on Zapp, a recap of the 2003 draft, and a brief preview of what the M's might do in the 2004 draft. I'll give it my endorsment.
Thornton's been impressing again, despite Davis' poor pitch selection. Is it just me, or does it look like the bench and the bullpen are starting to exceed the expectations we had for them? Well, except McCracken....
TNT has a new piece on George Sherrill
, mostly on his diet though there are other aspects to it. I didn't know that his fastball/control were as good as they are portrayed to be. I also think that his newfound determination will be a great asset, so long as he doesn't get rattled by his first outing and put excess pressure on himself (I'll say the same for Leone on the pressure bit).
Minor league pitchers and catchers reported to spring training yesterday, so it's possible that we'll see some of those guys come into games fairly soon, though probably more pitchers than catchers for obvious reasons. We've already seen Rainiers RHP Scott Atchison pitch a game yesterday, which make me wonder who else has stopped in early. Officially, position players have to report on Thursday, but it wouldn't at all surprise me if some of them got down there early so they could make an impression and possibly get some time in a game.
The Everett Herald has been doing a pretty impressive job of covering the M's prospects.
Yesterday, they had a piece on Travis Blackley
, who also has a deadly pickoff move, apparently. Not bad for a guy who has only been pitching for four or five years.
Today, they have one on NRI Bucky Jacobsen
Both are human interest stories, as a number of the articles from the Herald have been, but they provide a bit more detail than what you're going to be able to find elsewhere.
Reports also seem to be indicating that any freaking out done over Rett Johnson leaving camp may be premature. Nageotte thinks that Rett will be back, but beyond that it's hard to get any clear information on this whole thing.
The major story of the M's prospect world is Rett Johnson leaving camp
, for unspecified reasons, and for an unspecified length of time. I don't have the details just yet, but once I know what's going on, I'm going to sit on it. Under normal circumstances, I might think, "maybe everyone else should know too," but in this instance, the issue might end up being no one's business. I'll throw together commentary on the other local news sites as they report on it, but nothing more than that.
A Korean newspaper has a brief blurb on the Korean players around the majors and minors
. Baek and Choo are mentioned briefly, and they mistook Baek for being a LHP, apparently.
The Mariners MLB site has a piece on how Jose Lopez
came "out of nowhere" to be a soild prospect. There's a story for each club; for some reason Paul Abbot is on Tampa's one.
Speaking of old 2001 players, Norm Charlton is finally retiring
. Another left-handed reliever fading away into the distance. Though one will take his place someday, and unfortunately, the jokes about collecting a social security check while playing for a major league team never seem to get old to the sports writers. I'm hoping Charlton continues as a roving instructor in our organization; I'd like to think his input helped the pitchers and catchers at each stop.