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 :- )
DAVID PHELPS = POOR MAN's TROY PERCIVAL
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.
DEE GORDON's DEFENSE
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.
THIS N' THAT
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.