Seattle Mariners: Biggest Spring Training Busts of 2013
With skipper Eric Wedge watching closely this spring, the Opening Day roster is panning out to be loaded with veteran position players and young pitchers, with only a few surprises.
Without the acquisitions of veterans this offseason, spring training would have yielded more surprises and young players making the club. But the Mariners are poised to make vast improvements this season and challenge their American League West foes for the division title.
Given the hype and expectations surrounding them, here are the biggest Mariners busts of spring training '13.
All stats via MLB.com and baseball-reference.com.
The Big Three
With the departure of starter Jason Vargas and the uncertainty regarding the back end of the starting rotation, the big three (Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker) were expected to make some noise this spring, with at least one of them making the Opening Day roster.
For Hultzen, his spring was characterized more by not getting enough work. When he did pitch, he pitched very well. Four innings, two hits, two walks and six strikeouts in three outings, which unfortunately ended up being too small of a sample size. But I think Hultzen will benefit from more time in the minors to groom and refine his stuff.
Walker and Paxton struggled, and find themselves in the minors to start the season as well. The failure of the three pitchers to make the big leagues could result in one or more of them being traded midseason, but the best case scenario is for at least one of them to make an appearance in Seattle at some point during this season to prove they're worth keeping around.
Italian slugger Alex Liddi made a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest, appearing in 53 games over the past two seasons for the M's and was expected to challenge for a roster spot this spring.
He got plenty of hacks in between spring training and representing his native country in the World Baseball Classic, but Liddi didn't perform for the Mariners, hitting .100 with five strikeouts.
Liddi has proven power, but his poor strikeout to walk ratio and low batting average are keeping him from earning consistent playing time at the major league level. This spring may have been his final opportunity to permanently vault himself to the next level.
Coming into spring training, Hector Noesi was a candidate to round out the starting rotation. Shortly after the preseason began, it became very apparent he was no longer in the running.
In 4.2 innings, Noesi allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits, allowing hitters to feast off him hitting .429.
Needless to say, Noesi will need to re-group and re-find his stuff in the minors before he's considered to start a game in the major leagues.