There had been some talk leading up to draft day that the Mariners would be targeting a high school infielder with this pick, with the specific names linked to the team New Jersey’s Anthony Volpe, defensively-plus Nasim Nunez, and fast-riser Keoni Cavaco. While both Keith Law at ESPN and FanGraphs reported the link between Seattle and a prepster, either the Mariners didn’t like the numbers they heard from those camps, or they player they truly did want to target (Cavaco) was gone at pick 20, as they went with college hurler Kirby. Or maybe it was all a smokescreen! This front office is very tight-lipped, and there might have been some benefit in trying to throw other teams off Kirby’s scent in a year that was fairly thin for college pitching. Whatever the case, Mariners fans seem happy with the pick, with 91% reporting they are satisfied with the choice of Kirby.
To compare, only 12 teams had fanbases that reported higher levels of satisfaction: both the Orioles (first overall pick Adley Rutschman) and the Dodgers (Kody Hoese?) fans gave their teams perfect scores, followed by Giants fans, delighted in the selection of power hitter and hometown boy Hunter Bishop, at 98%, and Cleveland fans, 97% of whom were excited by the selection of fireballing prepster Daniel Espino.
In the AL West, 95% of Astros fans were delighted by the selection of UCLA catcher Corey Lee, despite the fact that Lee was ranked outside the top 100. That’s how bad they need catching, folks. 87% of Athletics fans were excited about Logan Davidson; I’m assuming those fans haven’t read the scouting reports on how he performed with a wood bat on the Cape. After that, the numbers drop off sharply, with only 79% of Rangers fans approving of the choice of Texas Tech 3B Josh Jung, despite the fact that they had the highest draft pick in the division. Angels fans recorded the most dissatisfaction with their choice, with only 68% approving of NC State SS Will Wilson. (Taking Wilson over Corbin Carroll or any of the college arms still on the board at this point was definitely a choice, I’ll just say that.)
In less-positive news, confidence in the team and manager both continue to fall. Both are at an even 71%, season-lows on both fronts.
This week’s national question asked about extending foul pole netting, a contentious topic between people who are willing to sacrifice some visibility or access for greater safety, and those who, to hear them tell it, remain riveted to the game every second of every pitch and whose experience playing college intramurals completely equipped them to snare a line drive smoked off the bat of a mammoth human that’s traveling slightly less fast than a Formula One racer. Unsurprisingly for anyone who followed the debate on Twitter after a young fan was struck with a foul ball at an Astros game, the results were close, with “expand the netting and protect people” barely edging out “I paid good money for these seats.”
I do remember seeing an acquaintance on Twitter after the netting was extended at the park here grousing about the fact that his season tickets, purchased as a “business expense,” now were “obstructed,” distracting from the view, and while I sympathize with wanting to schmooze one’s clients in the most picturesque setting possible, I find it way less distracting to not require medical attention to be dispatched to my section.