State of the Roster, as of 3.18
and a surprising 4-man bench for April?

The controversial shtick seems to draw the 25-50 comments.  The postgame impressions seem to draw the nods and the scarce potatoes in the pot.  (Fun to write though!)  So we'll have to see if we can splice the two, I dunno.  Maybe we can work Oakland's anti-ICE shenanigans into the baseball shtick :- ) 



He got splashed Wednesday, and F/X doesn't really back the Percival idea, but watching Phelps gave you the distinct impression.  He can nail a located 95-96 fastball and come back with a big overhand yakker, which he throws with an exaggerated confidence.

When got hurt last year, Dipoto began talking about a major collapse of the bullpen cause-and-effect.  They see him (with Nicasio) as being the twin closer/setup men behind Diaz.  Dr. D is not YET sold on Phelps as super-setup man, but whattayou think?

So Wednesday, he was rusty and got splattered, but it's easy to see why Dipoto hangs his hat on the lad.  Between Jul. 22 and Aug. 30, which was his entire Mariner stint, he fanned 11 men in 7.0 IP with 1 BB and 0 homers, a 2.57 ERA. The slugging average he gave up was .222.  Dipoto spoke of the post-Aug 30 bullpen as "just not the same," as Vincent wore out and no Nicasio stepped into the scene.

He's a member of the core six, and his approach reminds me of Percival's.

Incidentally, Phelps was with the Yankees in their 2012 run and picked up some playoff time, both against Balmer and Detroit.  He got hit a fair amount, but it's a good line on the resume.



An Athletic swiped third and the throw sailed into CF.  Gordon flashed in, scooped up the grounder, and unleashed an Ichiro/Terrence Long bullet on the fly to 3B.  Ball was 4 feet high, and Beckham easily swipe-tagged the runner out.  There is no running on Dee Gordon on those balls coming in like that.

His comfort level is CF is just beyond belief.  Importantly, his teammates and the announcers (not he) rave about the way he is crushing CF.  The stated goal:  a gold glove in CF, 2018.  Is this feasible?

For sure the CS errors are going to be held up at second base.



Both Dipoto and Servais say, 3-4-5 games a week is Ichiro's thang.  Maybe more!  Heredia is coming off an injury; Gamel is 4-6 weeks at least, before he starts getting reps at Tacoma.  Hangier starts live games this weekend; who knows how much injury time those guys will log in April.

What Ichiro has to do on-field, is play at least as well as Heredia and Gamel.  We really hate to say, but Heredia's OPS+ was 78 last year.  Yes, he was injured and yes, he's got a great EYE at the plate.  But IFF Heredia is struggling even a bit, and IFF Ichiro is hitting .290, Ichiro could be helping the team, no doubts about it.

Dipoto pegged Ichiro for the clear 9 spot, where he can bat 9-1 with Gordon.  A triple leadoff hydra in front of the MOTO, we hope.

He'll definitely get most of his time in LF, so as not to disrupt Haniger.   Dr. D is down with that.  However Dipoto also emphasized that all 4 OF's can play any position, which you'll see in April.


It is interesting that the players themselves seem thrilled to have Ichiro, and his 5-minute-block schedule with him, and are looking at it as a plus that they get to chat baseball with him.  A second Edgar Martinez.  Well, at least that's what they sound like for public consumption.

Originally (the 2000's) the M's resented his samurai-type work ethic (which showed them up) but this time they seem bemused and ready to listen.  Odd.



Marc-O failed to throw his "clamshell" fastball and slider in the first inning Wednesday (where the catcher merely closes the top of his mitt over the ball.)  His control, wasn't.

His command continued to leave him behind 2-0, 3-1 but to Dr. D's amazement, he mixed in a David Wells bloop curve -- a big two-plane parachute job -- to get himself back into counts.  He showed excellent poise in working 4.0 IP,  0 ER despite grade C arsenal.  Now that is the stuff of a 15-game winner, scuffling to an 0-ER outing under circumstances like that.


Oddly, the M's are going 4 SP, 8 RP and 4 benchies until April 17.  That will give them (presumably) Mike Ford and Daniel Vogelbach until April 17 - at that time the schedule will demand 4 consecutive starts from their #5, now Erasmo Ramirez unless he's still out and it's Miranda, Moore and Povse (for 5 IP, twice through, and then Wolf Pack pitching the last 4 ip).  

Alternatively the M's could run Ford into RF or Guillermo Heredia into a 3-for-5 in the OF.  Personally I'd love to see Vogelbach shove some doubts down some scout's esophogi.


Dr D




I loved his approach on that double to left...He did that on purpose...was trying to hit it to left. I assume that was him working on waiting for the pitch, but it was a beautiful off-field liner.

Marjama, Romine, two of Heredia/Ichiro/Ford/Vogelbach is the bench. Ichiro is only on that list on his off days.

I'm assuming Healy (who will be in games next week so says Servais) is healthy. If he isn't, you get three of those four with one of them playing first.


At LF with Gamel as 1b with Healy.  Except either Ichiro or Heredia is the starter because Gamel almost surely won't be back in time.  So you get 3 of them minimum,  all 4 if Gamel and Healy are still out.

I like Vogelbach and have enjoyed watching him this spring.  I'd actually like the all 4 option to start, bring Healy and Gamel back slowly through AAA to start.  That's what options are for.

I'm willing to put money on Heredia outproducing Ichiro.  That's where my confidence is at.


If Gamel and Healy are healthy, the bench if Ichiro/?/Marjama/Romine.

If Healy is healthy, but not Gamel, the bench is Romine/Marjama/?/back-up outfielder (if Heredia is starting, it's Ichiro on the pine and vice versa).

If neither are healthy, the bench then has to include the first base platoon so it becomes Romine/Marjama/one of Ford or Vogs/one of Ichiro or Heredia, with the other of those pairs starting that day.


Like my Vogs, always have.

I think the 4-man bench in the early going is exactly the right move.  A 3-man bench is really a 2-man bench, becuse your catcher is usually locked into a single role and you are sort of stuck not using him at all, except for the very odd start.    My bet is that Healy is ready, which is basically a really good thing as his 3B abilities make us much more flexible for the daily tweaks and boo boos that arise.

Will also bet that as the 8-man pen becomes more widely used, then BU catchers with positional flexibility (1B-COF-3B) will become more usefull and valuable.  Chris Gimenez comes to mind.  Joe Madden, of course, has grabbed onto him this season.  A good call.  Mike Marjama has some 1B time, including 53 games there in 'A+ ball in '15.  But if we keep Healy and Ford/Vogs, then 1B flexibility isn't that huge of a thing.  BTW, Frietas played 33 games at 1B in '16.  It looks like Dipoto has figured out the flexy BU catcher thing.

I would bet that Ford gets the opening day nod over Vogelbach (at least temporarily), just because he has no place other to go.  Do the rules allow a team to TRADE for the Rule 5 guy they already have and then send him off to the farm?  

Ichiro 5 days a week?  I love that, too.  He should get that level of use if we are to determine just how much Ichiro we are getting.  

So Ford, Heredia, Romine and Marjama.

I am still waiting to see Ford in RF, btw.  


If you want to unroster your rule V guy, you're allowed to essentially buy his contract from the return team...usually this involves cash considerations or a PTBNL. The caveat have to FIRST offer him back to the return team and THEN ask if they want to let you buy him back. They obviously have to agree to this.


The only scenario where we would see Vogs and Ford on the 25-man is if Healy is still ailing and on the 10-day DL, and rightly so.  It's a waste of your bonus benchie to have the "same player" take up two spots. Like Mo, my money is currently on Ford, with Vogs yet again relegated to AAA. Hopefully, injuries don't solve the issue for us, but the odds say...

My other assumption is that even when the 5th starter is needed, they'll roll with the 4-man bench and try to go with the 7-man bullpen as long as humanly possible. Don't forget, we just signed a long-man (Ichiro...I kid...sort of).


I thought that was the deal, Matt.  Wouldn't be surprised if we swing this.


The Yankees have no use for Ford, no room on their 40-man, and no reason not to convert Ford into either (say) 100k or a super-low-A prospect they find mildly interesting


Agreed Doc, in a world where Ford isn't a lost resource if you don't 25-Man him.  But if we don't stretch a trade, I think you give him a look-see, before you cut him loose. 


Is the only way I see to have a LH bat on the bench.  It's neat that Romine is a switch hitter but Bloomquist comparisons quickly dissuade me from calling him a bat.  None of the 1b have really bad splits and all 3 have had prolonged stretches of hitting same handed pitching well.  There isn't really an obvious platoon need and it could actually be detrimental to platoon any of them anyway.

Am I the only one that likes Healy the least?  I do like them all anyway. 

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