I went to the M’s second home game last year on April 15th, Mariners vs. A’s. The team looked a lot different than it does this season. Franklin Gutierrez tore a pectoral muscle in spring training. The outfield that night was Casper Wells in left, Chone Figgins in center, and Ichiro Suzuki in right. Only Wells remains on the team, and the likelihood of him breaking camp with this team is iffy. Jesus Montero was the starting catcher and Miguel Olivo DH’ed. The infield was Liddi, Ryan, Ackley, and Smoak from left to right.
The Mariners won 4-0 on Montero’s first home run in Seattle. It was a blast that cleared the center field wall. He also had a double. Figgins also had a hit, but played a timid looking center field, seemingly afraid to move in front of the much larger Wells. The starting pitcher that night was Hector Noesi. He looked great, shutting out the A’s over eight innings, striking out six and walking one. The A’s looked bad. At the time the M’s were ahead of the A’s by a half game, and Oakland seemed lost. Noesi looked like another budding young pitcher in the M”s system. But in baseball things are not all they seem.
Fast forward to July. Noesi, his record now 2-11, optioned to Tacoma on July 5th is starting for the Rainiers. I accompany David to his awesome seats at Cheney Stadium. It’s a weekend day game and Hector Noesi is starting. We leave at the end of five with the Rainiers down 9-3 or something ridiculous. Noesi has been lifted for someone nearly as terrible.
What happened to this guy?
Noesi was part of Michael Pineda trade that also brought over Jesus Montero. If there’s any irony in this at all, it’s that Noesi has two more wins than Pineda who is still recovering from labrum surgery. It became clear last year that Noesi was basically a two pitch guy, and if he was going to make it back to the bigs as as starter he’d need an off speed pitch.
Fast forward to spring training. The Mariners have recently signed Joe Saunders to join their starting rotation with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland have scrambled into the picture from the spare parts boxes trying to resurrect their careers from serious arm injuries, and the Gang of Three (plus one or two depending on you count ’em) are showing their stuff. Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez and Hector Noesi are all mentioned in the same breath as competing with the others for the two remaining spots in the rotation. It’s gonna be hard but you give it your best shot.
Noesi got the first start of the season, the charity game with the Padres. He’s had three additional starts, including one against the Athletics today. Here are his lines IP/H/R/BB/K/HR
Feb. 22nd 1.0/2/0/2/0
March 3rd 2.0/2/5/2/2/0
March 8th 2.0/5/7/2/3/3
At the present time Noesi has a 14..73 ERA and a WHIP of 4.54. This is not a way to impress your friends, teammates, and coaches during spring training. Clearly Noesi’s off-speed pitch either isn’t being used, isn’t fully developed or doesn’t exist at the present time.
I’m not trying to be overly negative. I don’t think Noesi should be tossed from the team plane at 30,000 ft.. But I am just mystified. How could a young pitcher with so much riding on developing a third pitch be so unprepared for the competition he was certain to face? I know in the spring pitchers are working on things. Established pitchers with a successful track records can work on a new pitch and look undistinguished, but Noesi’s track record isn’t the same as Felix Hernandez or even Jon Garland. I wish Hector Noesi well, but geez things sure seem to have come off the rails.