Coming from the Yankees, Lou used to grouse that the Mariners never "brought north the club they wanted to go to war with." This year we're rolling. With one notable roster exception, the M's are ready to throw hands. No, the bullpen isn't a weakness in the broad sense; they've got a super-closer and some arms behind that. It may not be the 1997 Orioles but it's not a weakness as such. Now, if we're talking weaknesses:
HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED
In his last TV start just now, threw like an MLB(TM) Innings Eater. Granted, his strikeout total was 0. Dr. D has grave doubts about the total being noticeably different at the end of the year. But in this one, he did take full advantage of the Rockies' disinterest in the game, filled the strike zone with 4 Innings Eater(TM) pitches, and THREW A SHUTOUT TAKE THAT DR. D YOU HACK.
You could actually visualize him using a 14-second pace and making rushed hitters bang one-hop shots at Kyle Seager for five innings.
So Dr. D racked his brain for other RHP's with 89 fastballs, 4 pitches, and high walk rates who did good. ... OK, so none exist. Well, Ismael Valdez existed. That's the last guy like Gallardo we remember who survived a season with that kind of approach ... Valdez was a star in the mid-90's, lost his fastball and stuff, and went like 10-12, 4.50 a couple years. Hmmm... Mark Portugal? Carl Pavano ... no, Pavano didn't walk guys.
Anyway, with Gallardo's majestic 3-inning triumph the other day, we'll re-tally the votes as to "he just might surprise you:"
-3 = Taro, Dr. D, Seattle Sports ... versus
+6 = Billy Zoom, Moe Dawg, Sherminator, Jerry Dipoto and please remind me the other two. (Krakin' and ... )
Voting open until HWMNBN's first start.
CROWDSOURCING ON MANIGER
SABRMatt had him Best Betted in the winter; Dr. D wanted 20 AB's from the CF camera and then accepted the Vice-Presidency of the Maniger Fan Club. However, Wishhiker pulled a Jason Statham, swinging both legs through the semi-truck window to kangaroo both of us into the background scenery.
With the Haniger rig careening madly around the high mountain passes, Wish grabbed the steering wheel and cranked it left to a projected ceiling of .310/.430/.570 and "why not .350 like Ichiro?"
I loooov eeeet ... if you just joined us, bear in mind that Wishhiker has been a completely erudite Denizen for many many years.
edit to add, Wish was being a little tongue in cheek - see below. Imagine Dr D misreading a net rat's level of gravity .....
But Wish has still capped the First Ups hands climb the bat game. He is Maniger's biggest fan. Enjoy the 25/25 season mate.
Dr. D reminds that ANY rookie, short of ARod or Junior, has a good 50% chance of failure. But Dr. D also likes the Kyle Seager career path:
Rookie = solid .260 hitter in Safeco, okay EYE, clear power potential, 100-110 type contribution
2-3 YR = 115, 120 OPS+ with all-around plate skills in Safeco
Mature = 130 hitter
Haniger does hit like Seager, studious, tough, and within himself. Has a better scatterchart, though, and obviously more raw power.
But it will not surprise me in the least if Mitch Haniger has a Fred Lynn / Jim Rice type of "rookie" season, nor if he develops into some kind of major star. His numbers last year were SICK and he has a Peyton Manning-type love of video. It won't even surprise grizzled beat writer Bob Dutton, who says "Josh Donaldson lite" is reasonable.
Again, my thing is that Maniger doesn't even have to hit to give you 3 Heyward-type WAR. That's why he's such a dream bet.
Jean Segura will lead off and Maniger will start in the 2 hole, it looks like. Dr. D is GIDDY. He's counting his 2-run first innings long before they hatch. Remember, with most teams the 1st inning is the best one. You get to pick who hits that inning. Scott Servais is not averse to the idea.
Dyson hits 9th to start, as he should, though he's looked good to me vs LHP's. We said this will be Dipoto's fastest team ever ... sure, Cano could move to 1B and stuff like that, but he'll never have Jarrod Dyson again. Well, you know what we're sayin'.
You and I will believe it when we see it.
But! If you actually listen to anybody connected to the M's, they are unanimously swooning away with delight. Think. Would you rather have this blog telling you Felix is going to win 14, or have Dipoto and Stottlemyre saying that?
Was on TV the other day talking about his new curve. Used to snap it with a loose wrist; now he locks his wrist and throws it karate-chop style with a feather type release. It does move differently (breaks less, travels faster) and he seems to throw it for strikes, low in the zone.
Remember that ANY second pitch and it's all over for 'em. Jerry Dipoto was on TV agreeing with everybody else on TV that 17-20 wins and a Cy Young are James Paxton's reasonable upside in 2017. Just has to find the right hair-nail vitamin supplement, apparently.
Hannibal chimed in with,
Hey, fellas. Long-time, on again off again lurker. 740. That's the Fangraphs projection for Mariners run-scoring. Y'all have certainly made the case for taking the over and I'll agree. Among other things that should temper our expectations (i.e. expecting the best offensive output in forever): Martin is not a great hitter who has a new stance he's still uncomfortable with...Cano/Cruz are older, we can't expect them to continue to defy age regression that has effected every post-Bonds hitter...Dyson is likely to be OBP deficient (note: I, for one, am glad he's starting off at 9 instead of 1). That's just a few pessimistic takes for ya. *wink* Other than that, let's roll!
He's right, of course. None of us will be surprised if they clang the opening bell, the M's lose Game One and keep right on losin'. The wheels could come off for the M's, or for most teams ... or, as Hannibal reminds, could simply fail to hit expectations. Example? The Seahawks the last couple of years. It's not like the Hawks have lost twelve games a year, but given the expectations, a lot of things went wrong.
Either Boomstick will fail to hit 43 homers, or Cano will fail to hit 39, or Seager will fail to hit 30, that we confidently predict. But here enters Silentpadna to apply exactly the same logic to any team in either league, ever.
Back on the other side of the argument, where Hannibal no doubt would be okay ... The M's scored 768 runs last year, essentially the #2 offense in the league ... and they've added Segura Haniger Dyson Zuum-Ruiz in place of Marte, Aoki, Ianetta (.210 with .329 SLG) and co. So personally will bet the OVER on Fangraphs' projection as will Hannibal.
The Mariners have made a statement that they think he can throw strikes now. He is capable of wayyyy overmatching lefties especially, like Andrew Miller overmatching them, in spots. One more dynamic plotline.
Dutton's 5 Questions are in a readable, scannable format.
Ryan Divish wrote a far-ranging, ambitious little novella on Edwin Diaz. The only question on Sugar is his health. Which is exactly the case with Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.
These fun facts are a good read, including reminders about Felix' 6-1 record on Opening Days and Dipoto's ability to change over 18 players from last year's 25-man Opening Day roster.
Dr's Prognosis? Let's get 2 of 4 in Houston, 2 of 3 in LAA, and then enjoy Zeus' lightning storm on Opening Day. If Mitch Haniger looks comfortable the first week, there's little else that's going to faze me much. We're lookin' pretty layered.