Buster Olney raises that question this morning, noting that Mariners’ rookie Michael Pineda has thrown 70 innings so far this year and that, before this year, his high was 139.1. The question he asks is whether the Mariners might cap his innings at some transitional step up — like, say, 170 innings — so as not to overwork the lad.
I don’t know the answer to that. And I don’t know that anyone has a monopoly on wisdom on the subject. As Olney notes, Tim Lincecum was allowed to run wild as a young man and it hasn’t harmed him any. Other teams are more careful with young arms and have mixed results.
I can’t help but look at Felix Hernandez’s career numbers, however, and think that the Mariners aren’t going to go out of their way to limit him. When Hernandez was 18, they had him jump from 60 to around 149 minor league innings. The next year he did 80+ innings at both the major league and minor league levels. Starting at age 20 he went 191, 190, 200, 238, 249.
Yes, there was a decent progression with King Felix before he went into full-on workhorse mode, but he was throwing a huge number of innings years before he was Pineda’s age (22). And the Mariners team on which Pineda pitches is only 1.5 games out of first place right now.
My sense — really, just my guess — is that his “big leap” in innings year has already happened, and that unless he starts to lose effectiveness, the M’s are going to let him push 200 innings like they let Hernandez do in his first full season in the majors, when he was two years younger than Pineda is now.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.