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Monday, March 15, 2010

Making The Missus Happy: Cubs 8, Angels 7

I didn't think much of Joel Piniero when he was a Mariner, though maybe I should have; his age 22-24 seasons were very good for someone that age, especially considering the number of guys who don't even make it to the Show until they're 26. The M's cut bait on him in his walk year following a trio of down performances marked by elbow and minor shoulder trouble, then a conversion to relief; he's done nothing since then to convince me he's anything but a back-end-of-the-rotation guy. For all that Cardinals supercoach Dave Duncan has been able to convert junkpile pickups into usable rotation pieces, the tell for Piniero has been the collapse in his K/9 rates to sub-Washburnian levels.

He's made up for that by getting a lot more ground balls — last year's 3.89 G/F ratio was a high-water mark for his career. What's strange about this is how he's suddenly started relying heavily on his fastball, throwing it 70% of the time, despite getting hammered when he throws it.

As everyone else has been quick to point out, there's no use extrapolating from a single spring training game, but Pineiro did not look at all sharp yesterday. If there was any value in it, it was seeing some of the names I didn't know until I picked up my Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2010, mainly Alexi Amarista, who appears to be another in the Angels' middle infield machine. Already pegged for second base because of concerns about his range and arm, he'll have to develop some baserunning smarts, as he was caught stealing in 66% of his attempts last year. That he got a look in major league camp is indicative of what the Angels think he's capable of.

As has been typical of these games, the non-Pineiro portion of the roster ended up losing it, with Rich Thompson and his on-again, off-again skills surrendering the loss. It took until the ninth, a B- squad from the Cubs, and Anthony Ortega before the Angels were again able to keep the Cubs off the board. I realize it's only spring, but it would be nice to see some of the kids haul themselves up and throw well.

Update: Bobby Abreu was a scratch (side tightness) in yesterday's game, as was Erick Aybar (sore arm).

MLB box

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