Mariners baseball opened yesterday on the road, in Oakland, for what seems like the thousandth time. That in itself was somewhat uneventful. But that did not, in my opinion, make this Opening Day any less exciting. Felix took the bump, and any Felix Day is a good day. Not to mention it was our first real look at the new additions, as well as the young guys who have all reportedly made various changes to their approach in their quest for success.
It seemed like other people shared my excitement, as the Open House at Safeco looked to be a great success. I personally did not go, since 10:00 is past my bedtime (no, seriously), but people I know did, and seemed to have a good time. The turnout seemed to be fairly high, which leads me to believe the fan base is excited for this new look team. We will see how long that last, but it is a good start none the less.
All that being said, what can we take away from the debut of the new-look M’s? Well, seeing as it is only one game, not much. No conclusions can be drawn after such a short amount of time, even though many of us would like the complain about the number of K’s that Brett Anderson, or as someone on Twitter called him, “The Human Manifestation of Garfield”, racked up. Or the lack of offense overall. Or any other negatives that happened.
But there were still a few select points I wanted to discuss. These may be good or bad. But keep in mind that these are still only my very first impressions and are subject to change as soon as later tonight in game two.
- I would still take Jesus Montero in a “Slowest Man Alive” competition. A’s 2nd baseman Eric Sogard made a great play up the middle, snagging a hard grounder, then flipping it up to the shortstop, who then threw it over to first with some time to spare. KJR radio host “Softy” tweeted that he went back and timed Montero from home to first on that play. The time? 4.8 seconds. To go 30 yards. That’s a 6.4 second 40-yard dash. There are NFL lineman who can run 5 seconds or under. So much for “El Galapago” working on his speed this offseason. Jesus. And yes, pun very much intended.
- Felix is still freakin’ awesome, and doesn’t need to throw 95 be as such. In fact, according to Pitch F/X, he topped at 93 last night, but was still just as dominant as ever. He utilized the change-up a ton against the lefty heavy lineup, and mixed in a solid curve and slider as well. He just had everything going last night, as he does every Opening Day. I think his velocity will creep back up a little as the year goes on and he warms up, but keep in mind he only averaged about 92.5 on his heater(s) last year, so that is probably where we will see him from now on. And that is perfectly fine with me if he keeps getting results like this.
- Brendan Ryan could hit .150 and still be valuable. He made a few mind-blowing plays last night, and I expect more of the same all year. He just knows where to be at all times. He goes hard to where he needs to be, and makes a quick transfer followed by a cannon of a throw to first each and every opportunity he gets. However, I also expect an offensive improvement as well. His stance has returned to where it used to be, and he had a nice opposite field single yesterday. Again, one game is not a good indicator. I just have a feeling he is in for a respectable or better year at the plate.
- Wedge is going to mess with the lineups quite a bit. Yesterday’s lineup was already a little different than most people expected, as Michael Saunders was up in the two hole, with Kyle Seager a little lower at 6. Most people, including myself, MLB.com and Mike Blowers among others, believed Seager would see most of his time in the 2 hole, with Saunders and Guti flopping between leadoff and 7th. And that still may happen, especially against righties, whom Seager thrives against. But I think a lot of people were expecting something a little different. We can infer that, based on his past, Wedge will mess around with the order quite a bit (maybe too much) and try to figure out what works best.
- BASEBALL IS BACK!