1 Lloyd McClendon reacts to the word "platoon" like he just stepped in somethin' brown and unpleasant. But that's what he's going to do in LF and RF. What gives with the affectation?
In Earl On Strategy, he walked us through his pregame lineup meditations. Earl would consider LH vs RHP, but he would also think about:
- Patient hitter vs. wild young SP
- Fielding, esp. behind a flyball starter
- Whether a given RH hitter was 2-for-23 against a left hand starter
- A bunch of stuff like that. High ball hitters vs groundball pitchers, speed in a big park, etc
When McClendon veers off the word "platoon" he is intercepting Rickie Weeks' idea "there's a lefty out there today. Why am I on the bench? Is he disrespectin' me?" That'll do for us too.
In right field, it's true that Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano have real issues with same-side pitching. The handedness overwhelms the other stuff. But with Ackley, Weeks and LoMo it's more complex.
2 Austin Jackson is "the key to the offense."
Let's hope not.
And let's hope that this is just March 2 exhortation on the org's part.
BaseballHQ (and Dr. D) call into question Jackson's ability to hit the ball hard since the Tigers deal; he still squares the pitch up, but without a lot of sting on it. If AJax slugs .260 again, I'd give him three weeks before Seth Smith was up top and Kyle Seager hitting 2 again.
At Jackson's best, talking 3-year scan now not just the 2012 career line, he was only ever a "perfectly average/solid slash line." Why would that guy be a key? He wouldn't be. He's just somebody who hits well for a center fielder. Is your catcher going to be the key to your offense?
Back in the 1980's, the Cali Angels used a big slow .400 OBP hitter to lead off, that being Brian Downing. "The Incredible Hulk" (yes, really) would steal anywhere from 0 to 2 bases and score anywhere from 85 to 110 runs.
The Mariners are currently in possession of a Downing type and that guy ABSOLUTELY can get on base; the cost of solving the leadoff problem is nothing more a few strokes of The Pencil. We'll be watchin', Lloyd.
3 Brad Miller has sacrificed his "Logo" image in favor of scraggly hair. This is a little bit like Kate Upton deciding to leave a weak mustache on her upper lip.
Dr. D wears a beard. The basic reason is that his dial is hideous. Brad Miller is like "Best-looking human in history: Baseball Category." So of course he's going to rub dirt all over his face like Monica Bellucci in The Passion.
The long hair can help with the idea of "loose and chill," as any Orc could tell you. If that adds to Miller's "I got this" self-confidence, it's okay with Dr. D. :gah: Barehanded and bum-haired. Imagine Johnny Damon playing for the 1972 Reds.
4 Local article on Patrick Kivlehan says that he was NOT an instant star, when he crawled out of the baseball coffin to win the Big East Triple Crown (!) at his first attempt.
It says that a lot of scouts "watched him once and never returned." That he looked weird in the box. That he struggled early. That it ain't as easy as "sure, if I can play football, what's baseball to me?"
All of this is, of course, horse hockey. Kivlehan's power obviously creates game quickness, and if you failed to factor in his layoff while he picked up college ball that quickly, you probably are just encumbered with an attitude like "What, you think anybody can do this?!"
We know MLB experts who had Ichiro firmly pegged as a backup outfielder in the big leagues. We're in litmus test city here; a scout who held his nose at Kivlehan's return to baseball had issues.
The point is, the Mariners were the ones to see the David statue under the marble here. As they were with Nick Franklin, Taijuan Walker, Kyle Seager, Chris Young, Roenis Elias, and a bunch of other young impact players. Zduriencik didn't get his rep for nuttin', honey.
Scouting established MLB players? That's another subject. But you and I as fans are reaping the benefits of this org's extra-class vision on young talent.
5 They're beginning to acknowledge the 7-man bullpen.
McClendon sez, per Drayer,
"When you manage, when you get late in games you want to know what they have on the other side on the bench because that dictates what you do," he said. "I'm sure when they looked at our bench they saw a lot of young kids without a lot of experience. That doesn't strike a lot of fear. Now we are in a position where we have some guys with track records who are proven major leaguers who can do some damage, so the guy in the other dugout has to think about the moves they have to make."
The tradeoff is he can't go with an extra arm in the bullpen.
"I do like eight guys in the pen but you manage differently every year according to the team that you have," McClendon pointed out. "I will have to manage differently this year because this is not the same personnel. There are some things that will be different."
This is the game-within-a-game, Scioscia smirking and going "I can do what I want and you got squat over there you can do about it." But you bring in the righty now and Seth Smith is on the bench; thass' a proh blaim, as Edgar would say.
Again McClendon shows flexibility not just of thought but of attitude. The talent pyramid is seriously jelling here; the M's are legitimately developing an Oakland A's 9-to-make-5 back pressure.
Now to deal Kyle Seager for a mediocre third baseman and a couple minors pitchers.
Images: Michael Kuroda (ancient artifacts), Keith Allison (Austin Jackson)