19 October 2011
I should probably start out with a few things that I should probably touch on that slipped my mind last week. One is that we have some transactions to speak of, which in this case involves the re-signing of Brent Johnson, Alex Periard, and Alfredo Venegas. Periard should be the only name not immediately familiar to people because he's sort of new and sort of not new. He's a former Milwaukee farmhand from the days of Jack heading up their draft and he's the second Quebecois we have had in system in recent memory. He spent part of this past year rehabbing with us, but like the other two, didn't play, and seems to have had injuries sapping his innings for the two years prior. I don't have especially high expectations for him because he hasn't done much since being drafted as one of the better Canadian prospects of 2004. As depth, he's somewhat interesting. The other two fellows we know better, Johnson being a super utility guy (or all OF, corner IF at least) who hasn't played since 2009 and Venegas being an Ecuadorian right-hander who I believe had elbow surgery a couple of years back. I had thought that Johnson had done what Dorman had done and transitioned into coaching, but this coupled with his listing as a pitcher makes me less certain. Venegas remained depth before and will likely resume that course next season. I could see him in the Mavericks' bullpen to start the season and then maybe get moved up from there.
One other thing, which we may as well call a trend, is that Danny Hultzen has been a popular guy so far, getting a Baseball America feature and an interview through MLB.com. None of what you'll find there is a revelation, but it's an opportunity to hear him talk about himself in his own terms and that accounts for something.
Sticking with the AFL for a moment, there was a solid article in the Seattle Times yesterday featuring Nick Franklin. It opens with some slightly more detailed re-hashing of Franklin's injury list over the past season, but after that, we see more of Franklin the individual, who seems level-headed about the whole matter, choosing to focus primarily on what's in front of him and the opportunity he has in Arizona this fall rather than dwelling on the lost time. Nor is he overly concerned about those who might be his rivals for the shortstop position. It's not a comparison that's easy to make as the two bring different things to the table, but Franklin is showing a mindset, at least in his words, that reminds me a lot of Ackley as he was coming up. I think that bodes well for us.
A few general points came up in the Mariners mailbag on the official site. One is that the question came up of who in the minor leagues could make the roster next year, the question sort of implying someone that we haven't seen yet, and Paxton, Ramirez, and Hultzen came up. I'm a believer in all three to varying degrees, though I'd put a hold on Ramirez a bit, because I'm not entirely certain if he needs to be added yet (I think it's next season) and because he's been rushed to such a degree that I don't want his skills getting out of whack. Another question that came up regarded Matt Mangini, who was released earlier in the year. Johns indicates that it's uncertain if Mangini wants to continue on with baseball at the moment, which explains his release a bit. What is typical in the minor leagues is that we'll see attrition for lack of skill more than lack of will, as plenty of players end up washing out and are given few if any opportunities to re-establish themselves (this being different from the old visa issue, which was more complicated obviously). Others fall out of the game because of an inability to keep the body going at a level that would allow them to play the game, those being the Chris Snelling types. I don't know Mangini's rationale is, but I'm suspecting that after all the issues he's had over the past couple of years, it could be the latter. Of course, it's not so simple as that, and there's the additional calculus of openings on the depth chart, standard of living, and supporting a family in some cases. It's rough going and we shouldn't act as though it's anything less, even as some are inclined to marvel at the fact that some out there would get large signing bonuses to play a game, to be entertainers. It's the same as anything else though, and the gap between the major league earners and the minor league earners is sharp indeed.
But I suppose the depressing existential matters can be pushed aside for a moment. If you want something more positive, you can check out another MLB.com article which combines perspectives on Taijuan Walker with our first Top Ten of the offseason. Walker talks about his change-up and learning how to be a pitcher over a thrower, which are certainly the right things to be talking about. The list impresses me much less, running Walker, Paxton, Franklin, Francisco Martinez, Pimentel, Ruffin, Chavez, Cortes, Liddi, and Robles. I've said some nice things about Mayo's coverage at MiLB.com over the years, but this just strikes me as lazy, and not just for the omission of Hultzen for who knows what reason. Chavez struck out in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances in double-A this year and slugged .360. Cortes pitched just under fifty innings and in that limited span had more walks and more strikeouts than he usually does, which doesn't exactly allude to progress for me. Pimentel remains interesting, though raw, and while I applaud him for walking ten more times this season than in last season, it took fourteen more games to do it and the strikeouts per plate appearance only improved a little. Robles, as we all know was injured much of the season and had awful command when he came back. Other lists will emerge later that will make a lot more sense than this one.
I can envision a few 2011 draftees as candidates for such lists, and with that in mind, subscribers can check out the Seattle Mariners 2011 Draft Report Card at Baseball America. Being a paywall piece, there's only so much I can reveal in good conscience, but the most interesting note for me was their praise of Marlette's power. The chat, which didn't require a subscription, got into one of the Hultzen vs. Walker debates, with the moderator giving an edge to Hultzen, while cautioning that mechanical tweaks may keep him from breaking camp with the M's.
That's it for the time being, but I should have a stats blob up on Sunday.
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