Thursday, March 02, 2006

Pitching in 2006

So in the last post on this blog I covered the potential offensive lineup, as well as the main positional battle (second-base). Now, the real problem with the 2006 Mariners team begins, and that of course, is the pitching. Throughout the years, the minor-league system for the Mariners has been filled with prospects in the pitching arena; Ryan Anderson, Jeff Heaverlo, Cha Sueng Baek, Clint Nageotte and many more. Oh, you say you have never heard of these pitchers? Exactly. The minor league pitching in Seattle has been destroyed by poor managing of the young arms, and injuries that ravaged the team.

The few bright spots coming from the farm system are Felix Hernandez, Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro. Both Meche and Pineiro have been the picture of unfulfilled promise since their inception into the major leagues. They also comprise the second half of the 2006 Mariners rotation.

Due to the lack of impact prospects, besides Felix Hernandez, the front office was forced in this past offseason to overpay for the likes of former Angels lefthander, Jarrod Washburn.

The Mariners pitching staff is where the wins will come from this year. The bullpen, one of the few strengths in last season's nightmare, will once again be extremely strong with the return from injury of Rafael Soriano, and the return of Eddie Guardado, one of the best closers in all of baseball, J.J. Putz will be back with his high-90's fastball.

The starting rotation looks like this
Jamie Moyer
Jarrod Washburn
Felix Hernandez
Gil Meche
Joel Pineiro

Darkhorse candidates for the rotation include: Clint Nageotte, Rafael Soriano, Jesse Foppert.

Analysis of the rotation: The top three of the rotation are just about locks to win 12-15 games in an average season, 15-19 in a really good season, and of course, you can never count out King Felix to go beyond those numbers. So the real question marks come in the back end, on the arms of Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro.

Meche has been way too dependant on his four-seam fastball, a fast pitch, but a very flat and hittable pitch. To remedy this situation, new pitching coach, Rafael Chaves has taught Meche a two-seam fastball. The two-seamer is a pitch that gives up limited speed (one or two MPH) but that gives the ball a lot of late sink. The thought with this is that Meche will be able to induce more ground balls and keep his pitch count down.

Pineiro is a little more of a problem for the Mariners coaching staff. While he has had spectacular seasons in the past (2001, 2002, 2003) something has changed with him. In 2004, Pineiro's ERA went up nearly a full run from his 2003 stats, and he won 10 fewer games (16-to-6). Last season was very similar, Pineiro once again saw his ERA rise another run, finishing with a career high 5.62 ERA. Some have blamed Pineiro's demise on injuries, but pitchers who are injured do not throw nearly 200 innings in 3 of the last 4 years.

Pineiro had a major problem missing bats last season, that is where his real problems mount. Last season saw Pineiro's strikeout-per-nine-inning ration fall by two full strikeouts from 7.10 to 5.10, opponents hit .300 against Pineiro and he gave up his highest opponents slugging percentage, at .458. So for Pineiro to return to form of his highlight seasons of 2001-2003, he really needs to get some more movement on his pitches, depend on his great curveball a little more, and most of all, get a little bit lucky and get momentum on his side.

In the next installment of 2006 Mariners, the final piece of the team (the bullpen) will be looked at.

A new season means new commercials as well... Here is one of my favorites from the past

Late addition: In the first Cactus League game today, a charity game with the San Diego Padres with whome they share their spring training complex in Peoria, the Mariners and Padres tied 2-2 in 10 innings. Felix Hernandez started the game and struck out all three batters he faced in the first inning, using only 13 pitches... Long live King Felix!


Blogger Azdez said...

Poor managing of the young arms, and injuries that ravaged the team.

Just as I thought. Although I think must farm systems have really deteriorated over the past ten years? And why because of poor management. The value is there if the patient's to develop it persists.

I loved the video.

The L&G

8:50 AM  

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