Tacoma Rainiers World Tour 2012


In response to Dr. D's outrage :- ) at the demotion of our best pitchers, G-Money lays out a fascinating analysis.  He says that he's calculating a 4-pronged variation, but actually gives six

  1. Jay-Z doesn't care about winning in 2012.
  2. Jay-Z doesn't believe that any of them are among our 5 best SP's right now.
  3. The org believes that they're so emotionally immature that they could become Tillman or Hochevar.
  4. That the weird schedule de-emphasizes every early-season starter other than Felix and Vargas.
  5. It wouldn't be fair to Millwood, Beavan, etc., not to reward their spring excellence (MLB-TM entitlement).
  6. To spread out arb payments, seeing as Ackley, Seager, Montero and Carp all start their clocks this year.
  7. To work on supplementary pitches, such as Taijuan's slider and Paxton's changeup.
  8. To pump on trade value on the Blake Beavans of the game.

Hold it, is that six?

G-Money systematically debunks them all, especially #2 and #3, and it was with pleasure that we read G's cross-check that "Those are some of the most mentally-strong pitchers to come through our system in a long time."

Also, Dr. D had not really thought it through, the fact that Felix will start 3 of the season's first 7 games.  The M's won't need a full rotation until the latter part of April, and by then you're talking about TWO starts for Paxton, as against his 2018 free agency season.


=== Get the T-Shirt, only $35 at the back of the auditorium ===

If Taijuan Walker (now the #1 among them), James Paxton, Danny Hultzen and Erasmo Ramirez started the year in Tacoma, you would have a completely unprecedented situation in Seattle.  Never mind Seattle since 1976:  Jim Bowden is already calling this group the best post 1970's to come up other than the 1990's Atlanta Braves.

I would not go that far.  (Sandy.)  There is indeed some chance of a Generation-K type outcome, and even you 30-something amigos remember when Halladay, Carpenter, and Escobar came up with the Blue Jays.  Even if they all stayed healthy and hit their UP outcomes, they still might not exceed Zito, Hudson, and Mulder.  I'm sure there are several we're forgetting.

But!  Taijuan, Paxton, Hultzen (and Erasmo, I guess) certainly do create a very strange situation in Tacoma.  I would place this rotation somewhere between #6 and #8 in the AMERICAN League.  Here are the AL rotations that would be clearly better than ... Tacoma's:

  1. Detroit - Verlander, Fister, Scherzer ... and Porcello is solid
  2. Angels - the two Cy guys, with CJ Wilson now, and quality at 4-5
  3. NYY - CC, Pineda, Kuroda, Nova I guess, and they'll fill in
  4. Rangers 

You could argue the White Sox, who have five proven AL starters ... the Rays, although their rotation had only a 3.92 xFIP last year ... the Mariners are Felix and question marks ... the Red Sox had a 4.31 xFIP in 2011.  Still, you want to take any of those four rotations over Taijuan and Co., then fine.  It doesn't take a lot of imagination to say "the White Sox guys have proven it, and Taijuan hasn't proven anything yet."  

But the A's are depleted, the Orioles have nothing but problems, as do the Royals... 

In my mind, the 2012 Rainiers would be starting the year with a rotation that is solidly AL-quality, a middle-of-the-pack AL rotation, from top to bottom.  In Tacoma.  


Everybody's assumption has been that Taijuan should go to AA.  Why?  Because most pitchers do, I guess.  There, that was easy...

Was it Carl Willis who pointed to Mat Latos skipping high-A, and then also skipping AAA?  After only 35 minor league starts, Latos splashed the NL with a rookie ERA of 2.92, with 189 strikeouts and 50 walks.  The pitcher holds the ball.

The M's have been running Paxton, Hultzen, and Taijuan around the complex in the same golf cart together.  You wonder if they're going to send them to Tacoma together.

Kind of a shame that they won't be down there for the season.  Maybe we'd get to see what happened if you put a Milwaukee Brewers rotation into the minor leagues.



Instead of to Tacoma:
I want him thinking like an ace, not the junior (age) member of the trio.
Hultzen and Paxton can sharpen each other ("as iron sharpens iron" as Tebow might say) by dueling over the Ace role in Tacoma in an Anything-You-Can-Do-I-Can-Do-Better sort of way.
Hard to do that with three guys.  Ask Chris Bosh how a three-headed monster looks.  Somebody makes the third head look shorter somehow.  And Erasmo will likely be in AAA too, but is okay with being the junior member.  He's a scrapper who has an over-looked game, so underdog fits him.  He can Pineiro his way as the third man in a trio of great arms. (commence knocking on wood that Paxton and Hultzen don't have the injury issues that Anderson and Meche did ahead of Pineiro).
In AA, Walker's the undisputed ace of the team and perhaps the league.  There's a ton of talent in AA, so it's not like he's facing chumps.  And he gets the chance to fight his way up.  I'd rather Walker be the leader of the AA staff and get practice at that than buffer him behind Paxton and Hultzen.
But if all four guys wind up in Tacoma, then yes, I can see several major league rotations that they should be better than, especially with Carraway as a #5.  And with potentially Snow, Robles, Pryor, LaFromboise and Moran in the pen... yowtch.
Beware of Tacoma in April.  Darren Brown has to be cackling with glee.  "Wait a minute, you're giving me THAT staff plus Wilson, Trayvon, Catricala, Liddi, Nick Franklin, Chiang...  Is it my birthday already?"


It's Hultzen and Paxton who are the ones looking a head shorter...
They're saying 99 MPH now.  Hultzen and Paxton are doing extremely well ... while Taijuan Walker is toying with them.
Felix is beaming "that used to be me" and it's starting to sound wishful, not wistful, on Felix' part.   Heh!


But while he might have been the better pitcher on the LumberKings, Paxton was the ace for the first half.  James set the tone and was teaching Walker what he needed to know about every-day preparation, game face, etc.  Paxton and Hultzen have both done their college time, pitched in big-time situations and tournaments against #1 teams and first-round picks, in jam-packed stadiums.  As Hultzen said when they asked him about pitching in front of 12,000 people and that kind of environment:  "Not my first time."
Walker is 2 years away from being a high school SS and throwing off the mound a little for fun.
I'd like a little more seasoning on that monster, that's all, and for me that starts with him dominating as The Man from the start, with that big, big bullseye on his chest.  Not "surprising" people but as the lead dog and the one everyone wants to take down.
It's much harder to pitch with expectations.  Do that for a bit, then come on up and thrill us in the bigs. :)
I'm okay with promoting Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels, and following that up with Justin Verlander.  That order doesn't bother me at all.
I'd take it even if we got a version of Brandon Morrow and John Danks up first instead. The mid-range shots at the pitchers we've got are still appealing.  Just stay healthy, boys.  Yer makin' me giddy.

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