The Pacific Coast League is in a period of transition, and one of the results is an unbalanced schedule in 2017.
For over a decade the league has played 144 games, but that is changing. Major League Baseball wanted the PCL to shrink down to 140 games, and the PCL owners agreed to do it in stages. We’re playing 142 this year, and 140 next year.
When we get to 140 next year it will be easy to have a balanced schedule in the 16-team, 4-division league: 16 games against your three division opponents (48), 15 games against your four other conference teams (60), and the standard four games against the eight cross-conference teams (32). That’s an easy, competitively balanced 140.
But apparently making a 142-game schedule was a real challenge.
The four teams in the Pacific-North Division (Tacoma, Reno, Sacramento and Fresno) do not play each other an equal number of times.
The Rainiers and Sacramento play 48 games against divisional foes. Fresno plays 49 games against teams in the division – and Reno plays only 47.
Tacoma plays 17 games against Sacramento, 16 games against Fresno, and 15 games against Reno. Hey, that works to our advantage – we never beat Reno!
Sacramento has 17 against Tacoma, 16 vs. Fresno, and 15 with Reno.
Fresno has the extra division game: 17 against Reno, and 16 each against Tacoma and Sacramento.
Reno is short a divisional game: 15 with Tacoma and Sacramento, and 17 against Fresno.
Tacoma and Sacramento play 62 games against the Pacific-South Division (Salt Lake, Las Vegas, El Paso, and Albuquerque). Fresno plays 61 games against the Pac-South, and Reno plays 63.
We’ll have just this one season of imbalance. Hopefully it doesn’t have an effect on the division races.
The M’s have added a pair of established major league players on minor league contracts who will break camp with Tacoma.
Reliever Mark Lowe was signed after being released by Detroit. Lowe is in his third tour of duty in the M’s organization – he pitched for Tacoma in 2007 and 2015. He’ll be in the Tacoma bullpen to start the year.
Also joining the club is infielder Gordon Beckham. Beckham finished 5th in the AL Rookie of the Year award voting in 2009, playing for the White Sox. Last year he hit .217 in 240 at-bats for the Atlanta Braves. He’s only played in 18 career Triple-A games.
Beckham was just released by the Giants last week. He mostly plays second base, but also some third. I’m not sure what the Mariners plan is for him just yet.
We’ll have a Rainiers roster for you soon. We expect an announcement by Monday at the latest, but possibly over the weekend. Of course we’ll plaster the roster everywhere as soon as we get it.
- The Seattle Times MLB Preview section is now available. It includes a five-part series focusing on Edwin Diaz and 100-mph fastballs – here’s part one, which will lead you through the whole series.
- Meet the Mariners starting lineup with this interactive digital presentation.
- Three reasons the Mariners will win, and three reasons they won’t.
- Larry Stone has a column on the sudden rotation problem caused by Drew Smyly‘s arm issue, which was announced as a strained flexor bundle. He’s out 6-to-8 weeks.
- John McGrath isn’t letting Smyly’s injury ruin his sunny disposition.
- Bob Dutton has six things he learned during spring training.
- The Rainiers have a new player: Seattle signed veteran reliever Mark Lowe to a minor league deal. Lowe was just released a few days ago by Detroit. Will be interesting to see what he has left in the tank.
- Blake Parker – Rainiers closer last year – has struck out 11 straight batters in a bid to make the Angels opening day roster.
- In the PCL, Las Vegas is going to have the Mets two top prospects: shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith. Rosario is considered one of the best in all of the minor leagues.