M's Split First Two in Balmer
Bet you I can name 5 guys to send thru the SP doors, starting with TW



Dr. D has never been any good at explaining the Z-axis in baseball.  OK, once more :: heavy sigh :: let's it this way.  

It's not like a man stands there with a stick, looks up, and says "Oh!  Here's a nice little 90 MPH fastball heading my way.  I'd better smack it with this stick in my hand."  No, the hitter is ready, and has been getting ready for some time now.  As the pitcher winds up, and lets go, the batter has a little reaction telling him to bring the barrel to the zone in 0.42 (or whatever) seconds.  That little clock in his head has gone off, oh, 100,000 times, give or take 50,000.

That's why they say that a 95-MPH fastball is "two feet long," like this:



That's where a lot of baseball lingo comes from, such as "his fastball is shortening up," or "his changeup makes his fastball play longer," and so forth.


A batter has to defend UP, DWN, and IN, OUT ... but he also has to defend SHORT and DEEP.  :: shrug :: maybe Rockies Jeff can help us out here.  For now just bear in mind that if a pitch is higher, then it is (in effect) deeper.  The bat rises from low to high.  The hitter must be extra quick to get "on top of" a high fastball.

With Taijuan, the whole key is to get the batters reacting to a pitch like this:


Because he can then throw a spikeball that creates a situation like this:


If he can Only. Do. Those. Two. SIMPLE. Things. then he doesn't need any command, doesn't need a curve, doesn't need nuttin'.  He just needs that "spatial" separation in the batters' reactions, so that he can get them "in between" (a little bit late on the fastball, a little bit late on the changeup).

If Dr. D is crazy, he's in good company.  Mike Marshall, that guy who used to throw 200 IP out of the bullpen for the Dodgers, said that the Z-axis is the key to pitching in the big leagues.  Older Dr. D gets, the more he agrees.  If the enemy batters aren't "in between" you're going to be lucky to win.


But!  If Taijuan is throwing only 92 MPH, like he did Tuesday ... and then he throws an 88 MPH "changeup" that he leaves high in the zone (gaaahhhhhkkkgh!!), then we have a situation more like the following:


And Dr. D is bery, bery, BERRY tired of watching situations like the above.  When such a pitcher even does manage to get out of an inning, it's only luck that got him out.  It's no fun to watch such a pitcher win.  It's the 1977 Mariners all over again.

When you watch a Taijuan game, you're watching it for signs of his being able to drive a high 96 MPH fastball in there, and then spot at least some changeups low in the zone.  The punch line?  Taijuan is nowhere near this, and he's not getting any closer.  Not at all.

What's wrong with Tom Wilhelmsen?  Or Tyler Olsen?  Or Danny Farquhar, under orders to throw 30% changeups?  Let Taijuan pitch in the bullpen, like Earl said he was s'posed ta.  Probably he'd throw that huge 97 MPH fastball that would give us an Andrew Miller out there.


It sez here that a Taijuan swapout is he last step needed to get into rhythm.  Pretty much.


Finally!, Chris Taylor got one of those doubles to fall into the right field corner.  It's about blinkin' time. He was so excited he ran for three bases on it.  World's best .132 hitter, I'm tellin' ya.


Justin Ruggiano continues to be Not Chris Denorfia.  He is .235/.328/.431, meaning that both our NL adds look sharp in the batter's box.  John Dewan has him at an unpossible -7 plays out there in CF, though.


Is there anybody here who views Rickie Weeks as something other than expendable?  Just axin'.  ... it seems he was always here to provide Veteran Grit, and to see whether he could recapture the All-Star bat.  But as it is, we're fighting to get AB's for Ruggiano, Franklin Gutierrez and now Castillo ... not to mention Austin Jackson.  You'd think you were down to the last coupla games.

Guti has a .432 OBP and is slugging .500-and-plenty.  That's against everybody, both right and left hand pitchers.  He always had a big split against LHP -- his career OPS is almost 200 points higher against lefties -- and it sure would be fun to see him play some against LHP's, no?

Larry Stone had a column out urging the M's to shed Dustin Ackley.  That's what Stars & Scrubs is for.  Fungibility.


Dr D





...I think it is clear that he's not ready, not even close to ready, and not getting any closer to ready. He's done for me. Doner than done. He goes out last week for my club in exchange for someone else. ANYONE else. Maybe you try him in the pen and tell him to throw really, really hard. I don't think the new mechanics we gave him did him any favors, though, so maybe you tell him to go back to throwing the way he was and leave him in AAA on limited innings the rest of the year.
Agreed re: Taylor - dude can handle a bat and hits it plenty hard enough...he'll be Aybaring it for us in no time. And agreed re: Guti needing to be up here instead of Weeks.


Letting Weeks go, I mean.
Ackley is a bigger problem in that you can't option him, won't get anything for him, and don't want to play him.  I"m keeping him and letting him watch the game at the end of the bench.  I'm not playing him, really, until he learns to shave and laugh.  The "kid" Dustin Ackley was a top shelf hitter (even as a rookie), the "grizzled man" Ackley is dour (from all appearances) and lousy.  I'm not kidding.  Play him when the kids returns.  Ackley is a player who can hit when the game is fun but can't hit when it isn't.  His problem is that the game isn't fun for him the day after an o'fer. He goes into vapor-lock tension.  So he doesn't hit that game either.
And so on.
I would get rid of Austin Jackson, however.  Weeks and Jackson, let 'em go.


Walker and Paxton have about the same fastball.  They both throw high nineties four seamers with about 11 inches of rise.  Paxton's breaks six inches to the right, and Walker's breaks four inches to the left. 
Walker's release point is about 6 feet three inches in the air.  Paxton's release point is about 7 feet one inch in the air.
Doc's explanation nails how two guys with the exact same stuff can have such wildly different results.  Paxton's graph shows him pounding the bottom of the strikezone with that fastball.  The backspin, plus consistently excellent location equals a million weak ground balls, and problems like losing player of the week honors to Brad Miller.  Walker's magnetism toward the middle of the plate equals horse(manure).
All of this seems fixable.  Walker needs to keep the ball down, or up as Doc says.  The Raineers seem like the perfect place to fix this problem. 


If you can't play him, fix him, option him or trade him, then its time to cut him.  The Angels had a situation like that recently with a player who had cost them a lot more than Dustin Ackley has cost the Mariners.  Gettting rid of bad players is part of being a good baseball team.  Look at the Angel's bullpen from the start of last year to the end of last year.  They played 25 different relief pitchers in one year.  In the process, the Angels bulllpen transmogrified from a group called the "Arson Squad" to a plus bullpen.


I'm with you on the mechanics. If he's going to be wild with the stripped down motion, then at least give him back the big windup and hope it brings consistent velocity (and curveball) with it. 'Cause 92 with no command and no secondary pitch is a recipe for disaster.

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