This month promised to have lots of commitments outside of blogging, and it did not disappoint. Part of me hoped that the Mariners would make me feel better about this by silently waltzing through spring training in a bland, unassuming manner.
Early on the M's hitters were dinger-happy, and they are yet to stop. No Mariners team has hit more dingers in spring training than this one, for what it is worth.
Today the Mariners announced the juiciest news yet: Brandon Maurer made the starting rotation.
I haven't heard any of Maurer's starts on radio, or seen him pitch on TV (much less in person). I, like every blogger and most reporters, have no knowledge of all the work Maurer does behind the scenes too. I have no real good angle to provide insight on this decision - but I do have a blog about the Mariners, so there shall be an opinion.
All I'll say is this: Maurer has never struck me as a pitcher poised to jump straight from AA to the majors, like he will be doing. I know he was named Southern League pitcher of the year, but he got a major assist from both the Diamondbacks and Mariners when they promoted Trevor Bauer and Danny Hultzen out of the league, respectively. In general, I've adopted a mindset in the past few years that most prospects won't succeed, because that is what history suggests. So, any prospect must somehow be exceptional to contribute in the majors. I don't see any problems with Maurer, but I haven't seen anything in his numbers that suggest to me he is an exception, particularly right now.
With that said, the Mariners have a much better track record sniffing out pitchers that are ready than I do. I didn't think Michael Pineda should break camp with the Mariners, and he had a very successful rookie season. I wasn't keen on Brandon Morrow zooming to the majors, but he had a nice rookie season out of the bullpen, and might have established himself in the majors even faster if the M's hadn't shuttled him between the bullpen and rotation so much before trading him to the Blue Jays.
Side with whomever you trust more: the organization that has hit on young pitchers coming out of spring training, or the blogger who hasn't watched or listened to much of the action at all, and missed on the guys that were ready in the past. Or, conversely, side with organization now trying to hit on a third noteworthy exception in a row, or the blogger playing the odds that they won't.
I'm not against Brandon Maurer, but I don't see him as an impact pitcher this year. It's exciting to think he's a top prospect on the precipice of stardom, but prospects like that are more few and far between than recent Mariners history suggests. Maybe this Maurer news wasn't big after all, and I could have convinced myself the Mariners were having a mostly uneventful spring training.