Felix, Zunino, and Aoki Return Today

Down goes David Rollins, Jesus Sucre, and Dan Robertson.

We all knew Felix was coming back, we just didn’t know whose spot he was going to take.  As far as roster spots go, the odd man out is David Rollins, left-handed bullpen relief.  In taking a look at the upcoming pitching probables, one name is conspicuously missing:  Mike Montgomery.  Which means Wade LeBlanc holds onto his rotation spot a little bit longer, and Wade Miley somehow still has a job period.  Maybe they can pick J.A. Happ’s brain this weekend, to find out what alien species inhabited his body the minute he left Seattle last year, causing him to pitch lights out ever since.

Zunino takes over as backup catcher for Jesus Sucre, because duh.  Because Sucre at the plate is the equivalent of having a pitcher bat.  Because there is no future with Sucre in it, aside from being AAA fodder and an occasional injury-replacement backup.  With today’s move, we return to the original plan:  seeing what Zunino has as a Major League hitter, and whether he is, indeed, the future at the catcher position for the Seattle Mariners.

Aoki returns, having done quite a bit of damage down in Tacoma.  He replaces Dan Robertson, who isn’t really anything.  We all know what Aoki is at this point, and his time away has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he is, indeed, this organization’s top 4th outfielder.  You figure he’ll slot back into a regular playing role against right-handed pitchers, whenever we’re not trying to squeeze Lind and Lee into the same lineup.

The moves make the Mariners better, there’s no question about that.  But, will they make the Mariners good enough to return to the form they displayed in the first two months of the season?  I tend to have my doubts.

Felix is obviously a huge plus for the rotation, but I’d say a good 3/5 of that rotation is completely untrustworthy, with Iwakuma as a 50/50 wildcard of good days & bad days.  Montgomery unquestionably makes the bullpen better (for me, he’s probably the second-best reliever on the team behind Diaz), but is that to the detriment of the starting rotation?  Would Montgomery be better used starting?  With LeBlanc or Miley dumped into the bullpen?  I think so.

But, why quibble?  There are too many pitching issues to even deal right now.  With how baseball churns through hitting coaches like they’re nothing, I’ve gotta wonder why you don’t see a similar churn with pitching coaches.  Why does Mel Stottlemyre Jr. get a pass?  Because he’s got a famous and more-successful dad?  Because the average fan probably doesn’t know the difference between the two?

Stottlemyre has had over four months with these pitchers, if you count Spring Training.  Tell me, who has improved in that time?  Is ANYONE getting better under his tutelage?  I mean, shit, there are pitching coaches out there who can make J.A. Fucking Happ into a quality starter; there’s GOT to be hope for Miley!  Obviously, whatever that fix is, Stottlemyre isn’t equipped to diagnose it and cure it.  So, in that sense, he deserves to be on the hot seat in his first year with the team.