05 December 2012
Feierabend, 24, burns up his last option year looking forward to rehab in Tacoma. The good news is that he’s ahead of schedule by all accounts at the this point, coming back from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow which kept him on the DL for all of last season. The bad news is that while he was gone, the Mariners ended up with at least four other guys competing with him on the depth chart. Bender has long been a command-based pitcher who gets by without striking out a whole lot of guys, his stuff being little more than average. Whether or not the elbow affects his command and velocity will be something to watch in the early goings. He doesn’t necessarily need dominant stuff to fight off the likes of Vargas and others, but it wouldn’t hurt for it to stay at roughly the same level as it was before.
Hill, 25, had a spring training invite that was best to consider as a courtesy. While one might have hoped for him to get a job out of spring training (NOT AS LEFTY SPECIALIST, he’s better against right-handers), there was no reason to potentially start his option clock a year earlier than they had to, while likely burning up an option year for someone else anyway. It would have been nice if he had seen more than one poor inning, but that’s the nature of things in spring training, and realistically, it’s for the best that he continue working on starting and getting stretched out in the minor leagues rather than be used in a less valuable role in the majors.
Seddon, 26, also met his ST end after two innings in which he got clobbered. This too is not entirely surprising. Seddon is a left-hander with okay stuff who pitched for Tacoma all of last season, posting for him what would be an average season, but slightly above-average for what he had previously done in triple-A. The bad news is that his strikeout rate, at 5.5 per nine innings, was the worst that he’d ever posted over a full season. Most likely, the ST invite was part of a contract that he signed, but I wouldn’t expect to see him over the course of a season unless something catastrophic happened.
Robles, recently 21, showed up to spring training because he is a badass, albeit a slightly small one. We know him from his excitingly erratic pitching in High Desert last year after being acquired in the Washburn trade, but what made this invite particularly exciting was that, for one, he wasn’t even pitching five years ago, and for another he was drawing rave reviews from the pitching staff and everyone involved not for his velocity or his curve but for his change-up, which is something that we had heard comparatively little about to this point. If Robles can gain some consistent mechanics and displays the endurance to keep doing 120+ innings a year if not more, this season could be quite exciting for him.
Fields, 24, despite being a noted bulldog in both a proper and metaphorical sense, has had some trouble adapting to minor league life. Part of it has been injuries, the abdominal thing early in last season, but another part has been simply him trying to do too much. The stuff is there, but once he gets on the mound it gets a bit wobbly and he sometimes has trouble finding the zone. I’m fairly confident that he’ll be able to sort some of this business out in time, once he gets over the notion that in fact he is on stage all the time. He’s the best relief prospect the organization has and improvement on his part leads to either depth for the staff or maneuverability on the part of the front office to switch around the pieces to build a better team.
Shell, also recently 27, spent seventy innings in Venezuela this past offseason and had his entire motion reworked once he got to spring training in the hopes of making him more effective. He got a bit more time to prove himself on the mound this Cactus League season, but realistically he was probably always heading to Tacoma anyway. He’s an interesting arm to have stashed there, provided that the changes he’s been given have some measurable effect, because he’s long been one of those guys whom they thought he had more to show.
Oliveros, 26, is a Mariner for Life. He also in many ways typifies the inglourious nature of the game, which, being the fifth catcher on the depth chart at any given time, will only at best result in notoriety as a trivia question during spring training. It wasn’t always this way, but such is his plight, and that’s only exacerbated by the fact that he’s only topped 60 games played in one of the past four seasons. A change of scenery might do him some good, but with fellows like Bard ever floating about and almost freely available, it’s hard for me to say it looks good for him, even though it still surprises me, every time I look up his age to realize that he’s still not that old.
Baron, 19, if anything, is too young. He got the invite worked into his contract, something that not even Nick Franklin managed, though we’ve seen both by now. As expected, Roger Hansen and various others with catching experience raved continually about how polished he looks as a defender behind the plate and how much potential he really has. 54% caught stealing! Just throwing that out there. He was also wide-eyed and very much eager to please with the yes sir and no sir throughout camp. He’ll be back in a few years, perhaps as more of a leader, and hopefully as more of a hitter.
Everidge, 27 in about a month, hit a grand slam in one game and got cut soon thereafter. It was unlikely that he was really going to compete all that much with Garko in the first place, but with Sweeney hitting like a man possessed at the moment (by the holy light perhaps), that chance was all the more diminished. Thus, we have the expected two-headed monster platoon at DH for Tacoma this season, assuming Carp is at first. This brings us to…
Nelson, 27, who did not do well in limited time for Tacoma last season. In fact it was in some respects his worst “full” (using the term loosely here) season in triple-A. His walks were a bit off the mark, and his power and average were certainly lower than his averages, leading to a .247/.322/.451 slash line. Not horrible, slightly better than career averages, accounting for the slow career start, but not ideal and not endearing himself to the organization, which brought him back for the heck of it anyway. Like Everidge, there’s a possibility that he could see some time with the M’s this season if a number of hamstrings all go kablooey simultaneously in some kind of freak accident, but with Carp on the 40-man roster anyway, I wouldn’t count on it.
Halman, 22, got seven at-bats with the club in which he hit a triple and struck out three times. I don’t care. I’m more interested in how he does coming around for another tour of double-A (probably) and whether or not he can build on the work that the M’s did with him in the offseason, what with Roger Hansen going to visit him and trying to help him develop some kind of approach where he’s not beating himself into the grounder harder with each swing that he takes. Halman is an exceptional talent, and still really young. He may even be eligible for an extra option year from what I can figure. He has time to get himself sorted out and make good on his talent even though there have been some rough stretches so far. Don't forget that if any of these players need any individual health insurance, they should visit their health care provider!
Tune in next time for more fun and wackiness as additional news comes our way. And no, I have neither information on dePaula nor Chen. Terribly sorry.