So like you read everywhere else the Mariners made the first move of the spring. Yada, yada, yada. It’s not very interesting. Liddi, Robles, Peguero, Chavez, Petit and Paxton. We can all pretty much agree we aren’t surprised by any of the moves, at least in the sense that none of them were going to make the major league squad.
A couple of things that I take away:
A) No Paxton vs. Big Leaguers
Jeff Sullivan kind of already touched on this. Not only will there be no pitch/fx, but really what I was much more intrigued with was to see where he was against big league hitters. I don’t expect him to fair very well. But just seeing how hit stuff plays will tell us a lot of where we can expect him to start off.
Personally I expect him to see him in High Desert. But, that’s just me. I’ll have more on Paxton sometime next week.
B) It’s good to see both Liddi and Chavez assigned to the “next step” in the organization. Most of the time it’s assumed that the next tier is just where they’ll end up. But after talking with Chris Harris it surprises me at how uncertain that these things really are.
I’m happy about Liddi making the team. I kind of wondered if he might be pushed to AA just because of the clogging at third base in AAA between Matt Mangini and Matt Tuiasosopo. But, I guess it’s less surprising after the coaching staff told Tui that they wanted him to only focus on LF/1b.
The most overlooked and under appreciated statistic posted by Johermyn Chavez this past year was his BB. Regardless of if you believe in some or none of the stats posted by Chavez in High Desert, he took steps forward. It’s undeniable that Tommy Cruz really helped him out a lot this past year and it should be interesting to see how he fares against AA pitchers. One thing that has caught my eye is how he has struggled against breaking pitches this spring. Obviously the power is real, but whether or not he makes contact is the issue. His contact rates have improved and while they are still not great there is hope. It’s even more promising that he is growing more patient and seeing more pitches.
C) Prepare yourself: Mauricio Robles is most likely is a bullpen arm. I think that’s the first time I’ve typed that sentence out or even said it out loud. It’s part of the reason that I’m a little surprised that he didn’t stick around longer for the Mariners to take a look at possibly using him in the bullpen. But, I guess we have enough NRI’s that should potential be able to fill the bullpen to at least start the year.
Robles becoming a bullpen arm isn’t an absolute certain and going to Tacoma gives him at least an opportunity to show that he build some consistency. But I also expect for him to improve upon his first going around with the Rainiers. At the time of his promotion he had already thrown more innings/pitches than he had in any other year. He may have just been running a little low in the tank and while he had been inconsistent in West Tennessee it was to a greater extent after he was promoted. His K/BB dropped tremendously (2.30 to 1.70).
I expect to see some marked improvement in Robles consistency. That said as one of the few remaining believers that Robles is a starter I’m seriously beginning to crumble. Right now all I can say is that I’m really not sure what the future holds for him and if he ends 2011 in the Mariners bullpen I won’t be surprised.
D) Carlos Peguero being assigned to Tacoma isn’t a complete shock but I had actually been thinking that it’s more likely that he would be assigned back to Jackson. He really struggled in July/August and even with some bad luck in July he still struck out a lot.
But, looking at a few things and talking with some people I understand that he was struggling with an assortment of nagging injuries and he improved his pitches per at bat as well as his total walks per plate appearance.
Like Chavez he has a great amount of power but again he struggles with breaking pitches. Jason Churchill referenced scouts that said he looked lost in certain at bats over last summer and that’s disappointing but may not completely tell the whole story.
There are still reasons to like him Peguero and while he isn’t the best prospect in the world he still has a pretty favorable ceiling that includes the possibility of being an every day outfielder with tremendous amount of power regardless of how incredibly unlikely that is.
I may change my tune after month or two in Tacoma once we have more data but right now I remain hopeful that Peguero could still turn out to be something.
But remember that’s just how I view things. The glass is half full.
E) Yusmeiro Petit is a AAAA pitcher. But just so you realize that over last year he managed a K/9 8.3 BB/9 2.4. He has some good command and can miss bats with a few of his pitches. He seems to have some issues with home runs and fly balls. As a right-handed pitcher Safeco doesn’t suppress fly balls as much as lefty but it’s still possible that with a move Petit could be a useful middle reliever.
The Mariners must have thought that as he has over 31 2/3s IP as a reliever and ironically it’s when he struggled the most during the 2010 season.
I don’t believe the 27 IP as a starter and the 2.51 FIP as his true talent level. But I don’t believe that it’s 5.63 FIP as shown in his 31 2/3s innings. It lies somewhere in between. If you consider the fact that he’s posted a career 48% FB percentage and a career xFIP around 4.80 (I use that opposed to his FIP since being a flyball right hander and pitching three years in Arizona his HR/FB ratios are going to be skewed) I think in the bullpen you could see the suppressed to around 4.20.
I think a Scott Linebrink reference could be in order. Sergio Romo, Juan Gutierrez as well as the Cubs James Russell aren’t bad comparisons either. Flyball righties that have some swing-and-miss stuff have value, maybe not much but there is some.
Before jumping all over me understand that putting him in the pen takes away a poor change-up and allows him to put more emphasis his big curveball that has shown him success (compareable to the Brewers and Carlos Villanueva). It’s just a thought. I’m not saying this guy turns around and becomes a lights out reliever. I’m just saying he could be worth just as much as some of the NRI’s we have in camp.It should be interesting to see if he at least gets a shot this year.
Note: It’s also important to remember that Petit came into camp late so while he may of had an opportunity he may just be behind in work and with an option available so the Mariners would rather see him in Tacoma then lose an NRI.