Cactus League Underway – Results May Be Meaningless

The Mariners exhibition season got into full-swing over the weekend, with Seattle beating the Padres twice in three games. Today, the Mariners play somebody else for the first time: the Los Angeles Angels.

With players starting to get hits and homers and strikeouts, I wanted to mention something that I feel is important when looking at spring training results and trying to determine if a player is playing his way onto the team.

Match-ups are crucial.

In these spring training games, you have players of all levels of experience getting a chance to play. This leads to some strange match-ups, like on Saturday, when Mike Jacobs – a potential Rainiers first baseman who has over five years of MLB experience and 100 big-league homers – launching a two-run homer off a Padres reliever who pitched at Low-A Fort Wayne last year. The difference between talent level and experience is just huge in instances like this, and these types of complete mismatches happen all of the time in spring training exhibitions.

So the next time that guy you are rooting for to make the Mariners crushes a homer, take a look and see who he hit it off. Did it come against a big league pitcher? A top prospect with some upper-minors experience? Or a kid from the low minors who was getting some work in at the end of his first-ever major league exhibition game? These things matter.

OK, on to the weekend links wrap-up. On Wednesday, we look at potential Rainiers middle infielders.


  • Baseball Prospectus released their Top 101 Prospects list. Mariners rankings: (9) – Taijuan Walker, (33) – Mike Zunino, (50) – Danny Hultzen, (72) – Nick Franklin, (92) – James Paxton.
  • Geoff Baker has a piece on Rainiers pitcher Anthony Vasquez. It sounds like the brain surgery and recovery has slowed down his shoulder rehabilitation process – understandably so.
  • Jason Bay hit a homer on Saturday – off a borderline big-leaguer, Tyson Ross – and he officially kicked off the battle to be the Mariners fourth outfielder.
  • Dave Cameron reminds us that spring training results are utterly meaningless, yet still they have caused the Mariners to make some poor personnel decisions in the past.
  • Larry Stone spoke with Rainiers infielder Vinnie Catricala. Vinnie talked about how last year changed his mental approach.
  • Stone has a look behind the scenes at the Mariners spring training camp. Former Rainiers clubhouse manager Jeff Bopp makes an appearance!
  • Ryan Divish wrote a brief feature on the fast-tracked Mariners relief prospect Carson Smith.
  • Again from Divish, a fun story on pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, who found himself to be a bit of a celebrity at home in Nicaragua over the winter.
  • Jerry Brewer was the latest to write about Jon Garland and his comeback attempt with Seattle.
  • Another column from Brewer, an interesting one in which he writes about lessons learned from giving up on Mike Morse, and then trading to acquire Michael Morse just a few years later.
  • Blake Beavan put in a lot of work over the off-season, changing his delivery to try and take advantage of his tall frame.
  • The World Baseball Classic has not lived up to expectations, John McGrath writes.
  • John Manuel of Baseball America writes that the only thing holding the WBC back is Major League Baseball teams.
  • Some great anecdotes in this John Shea story on Joe Garagiola and Willie Mays.
  • Former Rainiers and Mariners pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith was a late sign by the Boston Red Sox. We wish him the best with his new team.
  • Joe Posnanski wrote about former Rainiers shortstop Alex Rodriguez, investigating how he went from loved to hated.
  • Haven’t seen this before: an animated rendering of the new ballpark in El Paso (complete with what appears to be smoke from a tire fire rising above the home plate facade).

A friend and former Rainiers employee now operates the Tampa Bay Rays Florida State League affiliate in Port Charlotte. The Florida State League is a whole different animal, business-wise: they draw small crowds during the season, even though it is a quality Advanced-A level league. However, they host major league spring training and make all of their money during February and March.

So right now, Port Charlotte is hosting MLB spring training games – and today the Rays played Boston, and my friend sent along a picture of Mike Carp at first base for the Red Sox. You can blow it up by clicking on it – it’s not exactly Walter Iooss, but it is Mike Carp in a Red Sox uniform.

Mike Carp with the Red Sox

Mike Carp with the Red Sox

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