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The Mariners' new pitching coach sat down with Doug Miller to field a few questions. A lot of it is your typical ST stuff (he's excited to be coaching in the Majors, Joel's going to bounce back, Washburn's a competitor, etc.), but there are a few things that stick out.

On Joel:

We have to get him to be the guy he was a couple of years ago.

Joel's xFIP for 2002/2003: 4.21. For 2005: 4.66. Over 200 innings, that's a difference of about ten runs, or one win. It'd definitely be an improvement, but it wouldn't be nearly as significant as Chaves thinks. He sounds like the latest guy to buy into the misconception that Joel used to be an awesome young #1. He wasn't. He was just an above-average pitcher who got a ton of help from his defense, his park, and good luck. Of course, it probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that organizational authorities put too much weight on ERA after seeing what they did with Ryan Franklin and Jarrod Washburn (among others, Carl Pavano FA negotiations included).

Continued:

There's no doubt that he's going to have a good year this year.

PECOTA: 4.44 ERA
ZiPS: 4.43 ERA

That looks like a little doubt to me, although I guess it depends on your definition of "good." It would've been a lot easier to just say "we expect Joel to improve."

On Gil:

We just have to find consistency...it's all about finding consistency...We just need Gil to be Gil.

Number three doesn't really agree with numbers one and two, does it? If the 2006 Mariners get Gil being Gil, then they're going to need to find a better starting pitcher.

Chaves does say some interesting things about how Gil was always going out there with a different project to work on every time he pitched. Whether this is a subtle shot at Price or not, I can't say, but it's a good point - in the constant pursuit of a way to get Gil to fulfill his potential, he was always tinkering with things to see how they worked without sticking with them for very long. Most pitchers take a while to get comfortable with changes in their mechanics, and I don't think Gil ever got that opportunity. The last time I think he had a consistent idea on the mound was the second half of 2004, when he came out and did a reasonably good job, all things considered.

Lots of good stuff about how Felix is mature for his age, along with what comes off sounding like a desperate insistence that, despite how things may look, the five members of the starting rotation have yet to be determined. Which, officially, is true, I guess, but barring injury, I don't see how anyone else really has a shot.

I think the last paragraph is the best, though:

We need to improve how we pitch on the road compared to how we pitch at home. Everyone says Safeco Field is a pitcher-friendly ballpark, but I'm a big fan of making quality pitches at home and on the road, so it won't make a difference. They key is getting ground balls. I always say there isn't a ground ball that ever got over the fence. So if we make guys hit the ball on the ground, with the defensive infield we have, we should get a lot of outs.

I don't know anyone who isn't a fan of making quality pitches at home and on the road, but this is just a simple case of park factors coming into play and affecting the numbers. I know that pitching coaches in particular will be reluctant to accept the fact that pitchers have little control over what happens once they let go of the ball, but it's the undeniable truth, so, yeah. Regarding the second part, Chaves is spot-on with his comments on ground balls, but three-fifths of the current rotation is pretty flyball-prone, so he could be in for a rough go of it. For what it's worth, he's had some success teaching the two-seam fastball in Tacoma (see Clint Nageotte), so we'll see how that translates into the Majors. He's got a pretty veteran staff, though, so I don't know if we can really expect much to change.