By Tim Chalberg .. - Monday, March 10, 2014
Plot thickening in the outfield
James Jones has emerged as the story of spring training thus far. He's hitting pretty well and Lloyd McClendon loves him. It shows up in his quotes and the amount of playing time he's giving Jones.
For the record, I don't think James Jones should make the Mariners. He's got holes in his swing and he's yet to really play in AAA. The junk-ball veterans that often litter AAA pitching staffs will find Jones's holes. I think he's got some thing to learn in Tacoma that would serve him well.
With that said, Jones can play center field, and the Mariners are quite thin at the position. Xavier Avery can probably play some center field. So can Abe Almonte. However, both of those players aren't hitting like Jones in spring training, and neither have the tools that Jones possesses either.
I would still go with Almonte as the fourth outfielder, but Jones has a case at this point. He's outperforming everyone who was thought to have a chance at the fourth outfielder spot, and McClendon has clearly taken note. The outfield depth chart is getting rewritten with each game, and it's clear that Jones will shoot up it when all is said and done. The only question is how far.
The rotation race
Only seven pitchers have started a game in spring training for the Mariners; five will crack the opening day rotation. So the real question is who are the two odd men out at the moment?
I say one is Brandon Maurer. He has been roughed up a bit, has a start and a relief appearance, and probably started the spring as an outsider looking in.
The second man out is tougher to figure out. The next worst performer (in very limited innings) is Randy Wolf, but he has a ton of experience and potentially won't take a minor league assignment if that means anything to the M's. He is likely battling with James Paxton and Blake Beavan. Paxton has the most upside of the three, and at this point he will likely break camp with the M's if they decide he doesn't have something major worth developing in the minors some more before he takes on a role in the majors.
So, the real question is if Lloyd McClendon would prefer Wolf or Beavan. Personally, I'd probably favor Wolf just a tad, mostly because he is a veteran and left-handed. But I wouldn't complain about Beavan cracking the opening day rotation. Beavan is organizational depth if you ask me, but the Mariners are going to open the season with two starting pitchers on the shelf. I'm totally fine with Blake Beavan as the sixth or seventh starter on the team depth chart.
Maybe the more interesting sub-story here is that I think Erasmo Ramirez and Scott Baker already have cinched up roster spots, given their early performances and the injuries in the rotation.
So, if you are looking for guys to watch for in the box scores, basically every starting pitcher is interesting, plus James Jones and his direct competition (likely Abe Almonte and Xavier Avery).
By Tim Chalberg .. - Saturday, March 01, 2014
I am one of 32 bloggers who participated in a fantasy baseball preview for FanDuel. The nifty info graphic below is from the first article. If you are about to draft (like my main league), perhaps you will enjoy the piece.
Courtesy of: FanDuel (click image to enlarge)
By Tim Chalberg .. - Friday, February 28, 2014
It's nice to have some games to talk about, even if they are meaningless ones. I also figured I should get one more post cranked out before March hits (though this is pretty late Friday night, so you will probably read it tomorrow, as in March 1). Whatever. Some notes on today's game, and perhaps this will morph into a weekly segment of sorts to keep track of spring training developments.
DOING THEMSELVES FAVORS
DOING THEMSELVES FAVORS
- Ji-Man Choi - It's hard to believe but the Mariners are crowded at first base (just, unfortunately with a pile of replacement level talent). Choi lacks power, but went 2-for-2 on Friday. He won't make the team out of camp, but a hot spring matters, especially with a new coaching staff. Brad Miller's strong spring last year played a role in his call-up midseason. Choi, particularly with Jesus Montero's weight concerns, has a chance to log more innings at first base than his complete lack of buzz suggests. Pay attention to him.
- Nate Tenbrink - Tenbrink is probably a bit old to be a prospect now, but injuries the past few seasons slowed his track to the majors. I like his versatility and I want him to show well in spring. He could be a surprising early call-up given how versatile he is. 2-for-3 days with a dinger help him stand out.
- Jesus Sucre - Sucre is known as a defensive catcher, so any hitting is gravy. He got some hits today and a torrid spring might give him a chance to challenge John Buck. Who knows. It's early, so I'm grasping for storylines.
- Carson Smith - I'm a believer in Smith, to the point that I think he is a dark horse to make the opening day roster. He quietly struck out 3 batters in relief today and also outshone fellow AA reliever Dominic Leone, who followed right after him. The injuries in the rotation might force several arms to move around the staff and open up a spot for a spring training surprise.
- Ramon Ramirez - The veteran reliever threw a wild pitch and had a throwing error that let the lone Padres run score. Probably not a disastrous outing, but not good.
- Ty Kelly - Two strikeouts, no walks, for a guy that will live and die with his plate discipline. Not the best first game.
- Really, it's hard to find many bad performances in a 12-1 victory.
This spring is probably more important than last year's, if for no other reason than a new manager comes with a fresh perspective. Guys that perform well in spring are likely to get more opportunities with McClendon because he doesn't have much of a history with any of these players. It will be interesting to see who turns Friday's good game into a good week or two or whole month in the desert.