Dr. D had missed Sunday's memo. It notified us that Ben Gamel is the Opening Day left fielder. Compared to Andrew McCutchen, getting this news is not unlike finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks: you expected them to spend 1c or 2c and find out they actually spent, quite literally 1/20th of one cent.
1) Ben Gamel is a AAA Player of the Year
2) Danny Valencia is here precisely so that Jerry Dipoto has the option of trading for an impact corner outfielder
3) The Mariners have, in fact, discussed a trade for Andrew McCutchen
Here's the Nov. 20th MLB Trade Rumors article that established all of the above. Feeding the circa-1972 cards into the Mainframe from last to first? What happened with McCutchen was, Dipoto called in good faith, and the Pirates responded "If you start with James Paxton and we can find top quality to add to that, we might be able to talk." Whereupon "the talks went nowhere" and Dipoto cast his snake eyes about the AL landscape for other prey, always while waiting on the Pirates to come to their senses.
Or, that's what it says here.
Danny Valencia, it turns out, is a high-maintenance metaphor for --- > a 100m runner's starting blocks, as Dipoto tears down the track in search of a better left fielder than Ben Gamel.
But, all that said, there IS the possibility of Gamel going out there and playing well. His career paths from here:
- UP: Brett Gardner, Ken Griffey Sr., Charlie Blackmon
- MID: Decent starter, 2-3 WAR, for $500K/year -- in 2018 after a year's lost cause like Marte -- nice cheap asset who slipped through the Yankee cracks because of a glut in the corners
- LO: .260/.310/.360 and a complete waste of time, per the Seattle blog-o-sphere's #1 minors authority
Here is the Sept. 1st SSI article on Gamel. The best stuff is in the comments threads.
Gamel is very strong LH-on-LH, is VERY fun to watch going around the bases, will definitely get his team "soft skills" WAR going 1B-to-3B and playing corner OF. However, Gordon rolls his eyes at a corner OF with no HR or BB, and who got his AAA awards mostly because he's got a shipload of minors AB's in the rear-view mirror.
You could compare Gamels' statlines to a lot of guys. There are guys who did more in the minors and turned out to be Stefen Romero. There are guys who did less and turned out to be Brett Gardner:
.260/.340/.330 in AAA at age 23 with an 0.70! ISO = Brett Gardner
.300/.360/.470 in AAA at age 23 = Ben Gamel
But you're not going to be able to solve the Ben Gamel question with stats. Gamel's performance record could easily turn out to be those of a fringe player, or his stats could turn out in hindsight to be those of a minor star. It is simply a GM's judgment as to whether Gamel has a "special" ability to see major league pitches and to square the ball up, and therefore jell as a 100-110 OPS+ player who stealths you up 4 WAR per season. Dipoto thinks he might well do that, but also thinks he'd rather not bet that direction.
Keep in mind that Ben Gamel would "delta" against Nori Aoki in 2016.
What would Dr. D do? Ben Gamel is a whale of a lot more of an explosive athlete than I expected him to be -- rounding 2B on a triple he looks like Byron Buxton. His swing is sudden and torquey and has a dynamite little weight sink to it as he launches. He's got a mean attitude, at least in terms of his body language. He's got results. As a Brett Gardner hopeful I like him better than the next guy, just like as a Jay Buhner hopeful I like Tyler O'Neill better than the next guy.
Gamel has got that "It" to him, on a first impression! now, that leaves us wanting to see what's next. But in this org he's unlikely to get a Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley type of grace period to prove it.