Sunday, January 30, 2005

Start Felix in the Majors 

Blaine Newhan pushes the agenda of starting Felix Hernandez in the majors this year. Not only is this piece a worthwhile read, but the ad that runs on the website is also a fine attention grabber. Seattle truly appears to be the land of plenty! But I digress.

Newhan suggests that the M's are being timid by not starting King Felix in the majors. He boils it down to either he is ready for the bigs, or he isn't. If he isn't, don't have him trying to impress coaches in Spring Training where he might overthrow.

The best quote in the article comes from GM Bill Bavasi. "I think most of us want to be protective of Felix, but we've also asked ourselves, 'What if he comes in and lights up spring training ... what are we going to do?' "

Hopefully, the answer is that the M's will keep an open mind. If Felix proves himself deserving of a rotation spot coming out of Spring, I think they should give it to him. Keep him on a strict pitch count if you must to protect his young arm. We certainly would not want to see him throwing 200+ innings or any Madritsch-like pitch counts.

A part of me is hoping that he is not dominating in the Spring so that he does not force the Mariners' hand yet. I'd like to see how our current five start out, and let Felix get some more work in AAA Tacoma. Then, once we see who needs to be out of the rotation due to injury or ineffectiveness. And if the rotation bounces back and is solid 1 through 5, perhaps we ease Felix in through the bullpen.

But the other part of me wants to see Felix not give up a hit or walk all Spring, and earn the fifth starters spot. That would certainly create a buzz right out of the gate.

Its unlikely that King Felix will dominate completely out of Spring, so I think he will start the year in Tacoma. M's brass will then have an ace up its sleeve no matter how the season goes. If the M's are in contention, they bring Felix up to bolster the rotation or bullpen for a title chase. And if the M's falter, bringing Felix up generates buzz for the team and puts fans in the seat. As long as Hernandez stays healthy, the M's will be in great shape. And that's why I'm sure the M's will take good care of this young arm.

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