Thursday Morning Tazoberry, 3.15.17.
catcher's POV



They did an extended convo with Mr. Whalen during the ballgame on Wednesday, during which they established several things worth eyes slideways:

(1) The Mariners catchers claimed that Whalen's curve ball had easily the best, most deceptive break that they had seen in the M's camp.  Maybe they were talking about his power slider, which was the pitch SSI had been admiring without the benefit of F/X.  The results for both pitches:

SLIDER = 16 pitches, 12 in the zone, 7 attempts to swing, 4 whuffs, 1 ball hit into play, which was an out.  (-1.05 score.)

CURVE = 10 pitches, 8 in the zone, 5 swings, of which, 3 balls hit into play all for outs.  (-1.83 score.)

By the way, his change was used merely 6 times:  4 strikes, all 4 swings, 1 connected for a single.

The sinker had a -0.34 score and the hard-cutting 90 MPH fastball, for some reason, has a +1.74 score.

Dr. D has been very high on Rob Whalen all year, first "promoting" him to clear #9 starter and, after his last start, moving him miles upon miles, all the way to actually the #5 guy.  The more so since he threw 32 offspeed against 41 fastballs.  Result:  5.0 ip, 3h, 1r, 1er, 2bb, 9k.  Which is OK by me from our #5 starter.


On Slack Chat they had fretted about Whalen's durability; during his interview he spoke of his curveball as if it was the easiest thing to throw in the world.  Listening to Slack I had worried quite a bit; listening to Whalen I was confused, since HE had me convinced that 200 innings was a walk in the park for him.  What gives?

Looking at Whalen on TheBaseballCube it's hard to say - his rook and A+ starts were 12-17 but that's pretty typical for a guy age 20.  In 2016 he took 26 starts for the Braves at age 22, and the 5 starts in Atlanta he went 24 ip with a 25:12:2 slash line.  Then last year he had the mental problems.  So, I'd like to hear more from our minors expert Gordon there.

One thing is for sure, this dude has a tight-spin, late-breaking slide and a curve to go with it.  Perhaps if they only need a #5 starter in spots, he's our man.



Y'know, there was always something that confused me about Randy Johnson.  Nobody questions his greatness, but there was always one thing that confused me just a little bit. He would throw pitch after pitch for a strike, fasballl or slider, but…… always exactly the same vertical level, knee high.  20 years went by, and nobody ever adjusted, except that one little 3B, anybody remember his name?  Oh, Randy Velarde.

Cue Wednesday's game and here we get a echo of the same paradox. Paxton rocked back tinto pinwheel and threw fastball or yakker -- and it would sizzle in and explode into the catcher's mitt knee high.

I noticed exactly zero changeups and zero foshballs, though after the game he said he threw his fosh.  Musta been breaking awfully hard (which is good, Egbert).  I noticed no high fastballs.  I did notice a bunch of helpless Giants, a 7:1 CTL ratio in 4.2 innings, most of the swings and called K's of the automatic variety.  It was a chainsaw slaughter out there.

What do you suppose was up with that?  You think we're about to see a blizzard of auto-strikes?

One thing, though.  Pax was at 75 pitches after 4.2 innings.  Randy, they'd let go 120 pitches.



.... with his life on the line, and then some, used a fungo swing to line it into center field for a hit.  He was 3-for-4 on the day and maybe Dr. D gave him a standing-8 count a tadbit early.



Ichiro and Segura left early – again as precautionary, attempts to make sure that nothing got out of hand.  If you're counting, that's 19 precautionary leg pulls in the training room as of Thursday.



We figured another week before he started feeling it.  But here he is with two "Hits", one of them ricocheting off the batter's eye.



Has nine walks in 33 AB's, basically twice anyone else's on the roster, a pro-rate easily enough to lead the league ... which thing Jerry Dipoto had claimed was something rather important to him.  'Bach also careened around and second base rather easily on a single to make it to third base, the second time he has done so. He is a lot faster than he looks, which is to say he approaches average speed.



I'm going to go ahead and give it an A.  I don't care much about the 3-day leg strains, am very happy with the 1-4 SP's, love having Ichiro in a 4-to-make-3, and am daring Dipoto to shed Dan Vogelbach.  True enough, there are players whose stats are less than impressive:  Boomstick's, all the OF's other than CF, pick your spots.  And the M's are 7-12, based largely on losing yesterday based on Art Warren blowing Whalen's lead by coughing up 4 runs.

But I'm liking a lot of things so far.


Dr D




If there is any baseball player on the planet more intent on fitness and more aware of his body's tweaks and owies than Ichiro, then I will be surprised.  I sort of get the sense that if he took himself out it indicates he was worried to some degree.  And any Boomstick hammy tweak is worrisome to some degree.

Agreed:  If ST counts for anything, I can't see how the M's don't keep Vogs.  And if that happens then Healy is not ready or we've made a trade for Ford. 


He probably 'sensed' that there was some possibility of injuring the leg further.  And wanted a day-and-a-half (it says here) to stay safe.  Probably the whole year will be peppered with  such minor impediments.

The 'Bach subplot is becoming really fascinating, wouldn't you say?  The GM's always challenge them, "Force my hand."  Well, didn't 'Bach have a 7-PA streak on base a couple days ago?  It's blinkin' ridiculous at this point.


was closer to my perception of Paxton from when he first came up than he had been since.  The low only game is what he had as a bright eyed rookie.

The more I see these precautionary removals the more I think that it might not be more injuries as much as it's more disclosure and caution.  I think in spring it is a very good idea, it's hard to say how most of the nicks and discomfort should be addressed in season.  It does seems likely that last year caused some risk aversion for even the players on the team.  I'm not worrying about any of it, only Erasmo, Romine ("similar to what Heredia went through last year" said Servais on radio)  and Healy have anything that seems somewhat likely to drag on.  Motter adding going the other way to his repertoire and Whalen stepping up completes the coverage of my worry at those 3 guys positions. 


But if it's possible, I think we're talking about dialing back your ambition -- to refrain from trying to yank everything in the air to the pull field and hit the ball "where it's pitched."  At least in theory that's what they talk about.

I agree - to what extent this is possible, I dunno.  Maybe you're right - maybe there are few or no examples of this really occurring.

Certainly it is possible for a good power hitter to put himself into a better groove by being more selective and going up the middle for a while.  This was Teddy's magic recipe and it was what Lou constantly preached to Junior in the 90's.


But, the injuries are all large muscle injuries...the sorts of things amateurs get when they do sports...not the sorts of things professional athletes should be getting this often, this early. No other team in the game this spring or in the last ten years can possibly beat the Mariners for large muscle strains...the sorts you get when you don't know how to stretch and prepare.

That needs to be addressed.


The research on that subject is mixed, to say the least.  There just is no conclusive researcher agreement that suggests that general pre-routine stretching prevents injury.  The bulk of the research suggests there is no link, or the opposite is true.

Years ago, when I was still coaching HS basketball, I saw UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian speak at several clinics.  He believed that pre-practice stretching increased muscle injury occurance in his players and that a warm-up period of light movement was more effective in reducing injuries:  Lay-ins to begin practice, for example. This was when pre-practice stretching had just come into vogue.  He was ahead of the research.  Tark did believe in post-practice stretching, to some degree.

Interesting short reads abound on the net.  Here's a few to peruse.


"You ever see a lion stretch before it takes down a gazelle?"  :: blinks ::

It's interesting to hear a HS hoops coach take that stance.  Would your attitude be different towards yoga, Keith?


It would.  If you're talking about a regular and independent yoga routine as a means of increasing general flexibility and muscle tone.  But yoga as a pre-practice injury prevention effort likely wouldn't work.  Stretching muscles in a static manner doesn't imitate the firing of a muscle in a sprint or a leap.  


It tolls for thee, as the clock strikes 2 p.m.

I propose a 6-game match, alternating colors (since we are theoretical equals), you to begin with White or Black at your discretion, and you may pick the time control.  Presumably 10 0 which is decidedly not my preference, but between gentlemen the champion defers to his challenger.

Savor thine last moments, varlet.

- The Detector


After Dr. D staked himself to the 4-0 lead one might expect from a 40-year player against a 6-month player .... Mojo then delivered a strategic masterpiece that would have fairly crushed Dr. D pre- or post-injury.  The game was wonderful strategically, next to flawless tactically, and after his forceful strategic play forced the win of a pawn, Mojo wrapped up the pawn-up ending with the technique one would expect from an expert, not from a class-C or -D player.  A beautiful game on his part.

Game 6, Dr. D wearied as is his wont and blundered a piece for a 4-2 final.  We're in a position now where Mojo an I can play interesting games, as opposed to object lessons, and the congratulations go to him.  The progress he is achieving so quickly is remarkable, and he is a true tournament chess warrior worthy of respect from any player.  Superlative job Mojo my friend.

:: golfclap ::


Seems like there's a lot of whistling past the graveyard on this.  Didn't we hire some wonder woman who was supposed to put us on the cutting edge of all this?

I understand why the M's announcers aren't allowed to refer to this...but I sure hope JD is talking to her.  

Here's my overall concern: JD spends a whale of a lot of time assessing baseball players, and acquiring the ones he likes.  I give him no grief on this--anyone is going to have winners and losers.  He's getting his share of the winners.

But there's another side of the job, and that's hiring/managing the non-playing aspects of the team.  I'm looking for the winners here.  Obviously no one on the team so far knows how to coach baserunning.  The pitching coach has made no positive impact that I can see.  Is the farm system better with McKay?  If so, how?  Is Servais holding his own on lineup management/pitching changes?  I guess that's open to argument.  And now the new firness guru.  This is a daily disaster.

Come on, Jerry--get better at this.

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