It’s a minor league, 1-year deal for a pitcher who hasn’t participated in a full season since 2010 due to injury. It’s the Mariners taking another chance on a veteran stop-gap until the young studs in the high minors are ready to move up to the Big Leagues. It’s more competition for Spring Training.
He’s … okay. Well, he was okay. Now? Who the hell knows. He hasn’t pitched in a year and a half. Either he regains his form and earns a spot as this team’s 5th starter for 2013, or he gave it one last shot and he can retire without fear of What Might’ve Been.
Truth be told, the Mariners have quite the interesting pile of pitchers to choose from. A mix of aging vets giving it one final go, young fringe Major Leaguers trying to establish themselves, and even younger Minor Leaguers who project to be stars one day. As things stand right now, three guys have locked up spots in this rotation:
- King Felix
- Hisashi Iwakuma
- Joe Saunders
Here are the rest of the guys, fighting for the final two spots, in order of the likelihood they actually break camp with the big ballclub:
- Erasmo Ramirez
- Blake Beavan
- Jon Garland
- Hector Noesi
- Danny Hultzen
- Jeremy Bonderman
- Brandon Mauer
- James Paxton
- Taijuan Walker
As you can see, the Garland signing isn’t insignificant. At the moment, he’s On The Bubble, the last man out. I think Ramirez showed enough talent at the end of last year to be a front-runner for one of the last two spots. Beavan has been steady-if-unspectacular in his last two seasons with this team, but he doesn’t strike anyone out and he doesn’t induce ground balls. All Garland has to do is prove he hasn’t lost too many MPH on his fastball and that he can still get Major League hitters out. If he succeeds with that, I think it takes a nearly flawless Spring Training for Beavan to hold him off.
Noesi will only earn a spot if he proves he’s learned from last season’s mistakes, and if the guys in front of him are total duds. His odds are among the longest. The guys below him aren’t really fighting for anything; they’re just coming to showcase their talents. Either for other teams to pick him up (Bonderman), or for the coaches on this team, to give them something to think about later in the season if this team needs to bring up a starter (Hultzen, Mauer, Paxton, Walker). Among the young ones, Hultzen is the only one you could conceivably make a case for sticking with the big ballclub. But, he would have to have a Michael Pineda-esque type of spring that absolutely forces Eric Wedge and Jackie Z to make the tough decision to forego keeping him in Triple-A for more seasoning. I’m giving that, like, a 1% chance of happening.
Gun to my head (seriously, why are you putting all these guns to my head all the time?), having seen absolutely nothing from these guys, my guess is the 4th and 5th rotation spots go to Ramirez and Garland. I just think these coaches are looking for any and every reason to not start Beavan. If Garland is even halfway competent, I think he wins a spot on this team and the Mariners have to make some tough roster decisions on who to DFA.