That was funny!
Keeping the intrepid SSI denizen on top of things as the plots thicken ...
Joel Peralta's stock is up the first week, as Dutton's quality report notes. He's throwin' good, while Scribner and Cook are dealing with injuries. A month ago we wrote a mini-POTD on Peralta, which bears no adjustment at this time.
Is SSI rooting for Peralta? It roots for Stars & Scrubs, which means that it is rooting for Danny Hultzen and Nate Karns in the same bullpen, behind the Big Three (choke, cough), Tony Zych and somebody. But man oh man, if Jerry DiPoto wanted to create "layers" to his bullpen, then early on he can call gin rummy. I cannot keep track of the second-tier relievers who all got a shot to appear out of the left-center wall in the Rangers series.
The M's want to "bunch" their speed guys, Martin-Aoki-Marte 9-1-2. We don't expect that to mean they will "bunch" these runners on base together, such that they can double-steal from 1B to 3B. We do expect it to mean that ANY time Robinson Cano comes up, WHOEVER is on first base will be distracting the pitcher. Kewl. And definitely turning the corner and heading for 3B on Cano's singles.
But Shannon Drayer quotes Servais as being very, very interested in SB's this year and he ain't kiddin' around:
Stealing early and often in camp fills another purpose. It serves notice or plants the seed that the Mariners are going to run.
"Oh, it's being planted," Servais acknowledged. "It's in the dirt, it's being watered, putting a little sun on it. It will continue to grow."
Servais has stressed to the players that he wants the other team uncomfortable when there are Mariners on the bases.
"That is the feeling that we want the team to know," he said. "There is more than just make a good pitch, you get them out, the guys you are facing. When guys get on base, there is a focus on the guys on base and not just the hitter."
On the one hand, James puts this as first principles - don't run into outs. On the other hand, from the 3rd deck, it's wayyyyy more fun to watch a baseball game when two things are happening at once (the pitcher-batter matchup and the pitcher-thief matchup). On the third hand, if it is the "intangibles" effect that is the real point here, then I'm wit' dem. Intangibles became a dirty word in Seattle when USSM was in its heyday, but it's not a dirty word to me. Many things in life and sport cannot be measured by an algebraic formula, such as life, love, hope and taking the game to the other team.
Scott Servais casually referred to the M's defensive stats as "plus two" so far. SSI encourages this. Would that our manager spoke in such terms throughout the season.
Fangraphs projects the Mariners to have an average (major-league) defense in 2016. Sounds about right to Dr. D. I'd think more in terms of average-mediocre than in terms of average-solid.
Me personally, I like to prevent runs with a 97 MPH fastball more than I like to prevent them with Endy Chavez. Ever go in to face Clayton Kershaw and think, "Man, I hope Joc Pedersen doesn't rob us of a double today?" Thought not. Gimme an okay defense and James Paxton and let's play some Detectoball.
That was funny!
Joc Strap likely plays passable defense behind Paxton when he's smoking.
I like the idea of the M's becoming an 'uncomfortable' team to play. When was the last time opposing teams hated playing the M's, even if they were the superior team on paper? The last...decade maybe?...we've seen teams very relaxed when playing Seattle. Too relaxed. Maybe not when Felix was on the mound and maybe not when a game got to the 2014 bullpen but in general, this hasn't been a team that the league hates to play against. I like the "you might beat me but you are darn well going to know you were in a fight" attitude. If Servais and DiPoto can instill some of that, they will have me. Now don't just run into stupid outs...
The wise Dr eloquently wrote:"Many things in life and sport cannot be measured by an algebraic formula, such as life, love, hope and taking the game to the other team."
I say, "Yes!!!" Balance is a beautiful thing!