Cuts, Bullpen, and Other Spring Training Notes

On Sunday, The Mariners played the San Francisco Giants, losing 7-5. The Giants walked twice while striking out 5 times, while the Mariners also walked just twice while striking out 9 times!

Felix Hernandez started for the Mariners and went 4 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and no walks (with 3 strikeouts). While the line is not impressive, he was pretty much King Felix, as he got 9 ground-balls in those 4 innings. Tom Wilhelmsen threw the 5th, and gave up 4 fly-balls versus just 1 ground-ball, but did get a pickoff. Oliver Perez pitched the 6th, and looked awful, giving up a double and then a homer in a blink of an eye. He then got 2 infield pop flies and a fly-ball out. Steve Delabar then took over and got 2 walks, a grounder, a strikeout swinging, and a fly-ball (also giving up a stolen base). Shawn Kelley pitched the 8th, and gave up a home run to Hector Sanchez (63 power), 2 ground-balls, and a strikeout swinging.

On the hitting side, Dustin Ackley went 0-3 with a strikeout, while Luis Rodriquez also went 0 for 3. Michael Saunders continued his smoke and mirrors spring training, getting a ground-ball single, a bunt single, and a ground-out. Vinnie Catricala doubled off a fly-ball, struck out swinging, hit a line drive single, and struck out looking. Carlos Peguero struck out two more times, while Trayvon Robinson had a monster game with a homer and 3 hits in all.

Other Mariner Notes: Sent to Minor League Camp: Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton pitchers Yoervis Medina, Forrest Snow, Mauricio Robles, Scott Patterson; infielders Nick Franklin, Carlos Triunfel and Francisco Martinez; outfielders Johermyn Chavez, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Darren Ford; catcher Ralph Henriquez and designated hitter Luis Jimenez.

Not really any surprises in that list, while the trio of prospects look very close to ready, having them go to minor league camp and start the year in the minors make the most sense. Forrest Snow also needs a lot more seasoning (his ERA, even in college, has never represented his stuff and talent), and while Robles has been excellent as a reliever so far this spring training, it appears the club wants to use him as a starter, as that is what he has been most of his minor league career. However, his minor league ERA is 4.05 (5.03 in AAA) which again doesn’t translate to his stuff (especially what I have seen this spring). It may make some sense to give him a go as a reliever (he does have a 82 K-rating but just 20 control). I saw other sites were a little surprised Darren Ford was cut from the big league roster, but as I said a month or so ago, he is an all speed/tools guy who can’t hit. I was a little surprised that Brad Miller wasn’t among the cuts, as he looked very far away when I watched his at-bats. The other shortstop prospect, Nick Franklin, was included in the cuts, as he looked even further away, with some kind of mental block that was causing Franklin to make a plethora of errors. A couple of other guys I figured would be cut was Guillermo Quiroz and Jarret Grube. Its important to note that Erasmo Ramirez wasn’t cut, he has a serious shot at a starting job evidently.

Geoff Baker had a nice article on the possible combinations for the Mariners late inning bullpen for 2012. He mentions that Shawn Camp is terrible against lefties, making it hard to believe he will be successful if given an 8th inning role. Hong-Chih Kuo has been awful s far, George Sherrill is more of a lefty specialist with elbow problems, and we aren’t entirely sure what the Mariners have in Tom Wilhelmsen. So I decided, using Baseball Cube’s awesome compare tool, to compare all the guys competing for the late inning non-closer job for the Mariners (click on image to enlarge):

The big things you want to look at for late relievers is K-Ratings, and the Vs. Power rating. In my opinion, the Mariners shouldn’t have a “8th inning man”, but instead use pitchers based on match-ups (similar to how the Cardinals did last year). Eric Wedge has also hinted that Erasmo Ramirez may be kept on the team as a bullpen guy to start the season, which is incredibly moronic. Ramirez is a control, ground-ball pitcher, not the guy you want in the bullpen, as he doesn’t miss bats. Also, it is usually a general rule that you would rather prospects be getting starts in AAA than sitting on the bench or in the bullpen. That Wedge and company doesn’t get that is striking and doesn’t give you a lot of hope for how the Mariners are going to manage their prospects.

Colin Bear of Northwestern State struck out 8 batters and gave up just 1 hit on Saturday, earning the second base game score for a pitcher in a non-elite conference for the day (Matt Armstead of High Point was the only one better). Armstead is a Junior who spent two years at Louisburg for junior college. As a freshman in 2010, he was incredible with a 2.07 ERA, and had a .98 ERA in high school and also played in the outfield.

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