Monday Morning Macchiato, 3.20.17
roster battles galore

but before we get to the roster battles


IceX linked us to this Fangraphs article, warning that Drew Smyly could be up for a breakout year.  Great link IceX thank you viddy much.  Any Denizen who didn't click thru Ice's link gotta go get it right Now.  From Sullivan no less.  He is sticking to just the fa'ax, ma'am, and he calmly underlines the fact that when established pitchers gain any significant velocity, they have big seasons.

Because Sullivan was confining himself to "pure sabermetrics" (MPH-vs-ERA) he didn't even touch on the key to the VENZ game, though Sullivan would have been well aware of it.  Dr. D's big thing was that Smyly threw pitches in on the hands of righties.  And that Smyly threw the fastball with purpose at knees and shoulders, changing the eye level (which he doesn't even really need to do, given his curve).  And the attack-rhythm thing.

In any case, here's the takeaway for SSI Denizens:  --- >the fact that Smyly has (so far in 2017) had extra panache on the ball across his starts, and that it is ON HIS CUTTER TOO, well, that --- > MUCHLY increases the chance of 2017 rainbows and ponies.  Rick (who promptly roto-swapped for Smyly following the VENZ game) should almost as thrilled at this news as he was at the original VENZ performance.


Here's an amusing link in which some guy flatly announces that the M's rotation will scuttle their playoff hopes :- )  "come the regular season, the rotation's flaws will show ... and likely be too much to overcome."  LOL.  It could happen, but that's hardly a nuanced read on the M's 1-9 starters this week.



Sounds as if the M's are leaning hard towards one of them for the Opening Day roster.  Which?  My son got the new Switch video game platform, which has a Quick Draw on it.  In the first few tries, he and dad "tied" (shot each other daid) based on timing to 1/1000 of a second.  Hilarious.

That's where I am on Ben Gamel -- who's 80% of the way to a Best Bet -- and Guillermo Heredia.  If I had to draft one of them in roto for 2017 (or appoint one to the M's roster) I would perish from starvation like the donkey between two haystacks.  First time we ever remember being .50000 - .50000 on two players like that.

On cue the other day, Matty and I were musing about Gamel's defense when some Giant hit a rocket against the wall and (1) Gamel took a bit of a funky route back, per Matt's emphasis, but then (2) made a terrific play adjusting while crashing into the wall.

But here's where Jerry Dipoto reassures Dr. D greatly.  As of this moment, he considers all 5 of the M's OF's (including Haniger) to be legitimate CENTER fielders.  In which case we'll smylingly re-assert that you can plan on Gamel playing considerably better glove than some hypothetical drone left fielder.  :: fistbump ::

This would apply to Heredia too, naturally.  Which, given Heredia's EYE, makes him also something of an interesting "right hand Brett Gardner" player pair.  They're not a perfect match, but you've got to acknowledge the D-specialization and the possibility of batting second in the lineup.



OK, if you super pressed us about it ... as a player it seems Heredia could use a few more AB's adjusting to the U.S. than Gamel would need.  But rebalancing the .50000 vs .50000 scales is that the M's could use a righty.  Matt Moore against an OF of lefties?  You don't want automatic outs from your bat slots.  Doesn't help that much to sub Gamel in, against the Chris Sales of the world.  As a completely separate issue, you don't really want Gamel's 100-AB trial to come mostly LH-on-LH.

:: shrug ::

That RH/LH factor may be reduced because Boomstick wants 40 games in RF.  Or maybe it's reduced by Taylor Motter inching into the pole position for backup SS.  He takes Jose Bautista swings against lefties and they just started a plan to get Motter spring games in the OF and 1B.

... if they brought Motter with them to Seattle, then because of Motter's scary K rate in the minors, I'd give him a 60-70% chance of failure... as a fulltime shortstop.  As a right hand role player, asked to hit LHP decently?  Not so much.



My question had been about Leonydas sitting if there were 3 OF's better than him.  In the above Bob Dutton article both Dipoto and Servais emphasize that Martin's got to hit to keep Dyson out of a CF jobshare (and therefore Heredia/Gamel in left or Boomstick in RF).

Music.  to.  my.  ears.



A third interesting roster update:  the M's might or might not keep a second lefty.  Huh!  Would also be sweet music from Dr. D's balcony.  He sees the huge flotillas of RP speedboats as mostly an affectation, though that is probably just his age and bias showing.

Some bullpens have needed NO left handers.  Why you would HAVE to have TWO ... :: cringe ::

But the point is, there are several dynamic #25-30 roster players you would hate to see shoved to the side.



The biggest reason that Dr. D will be now pushing himself for nightly posts is to get up nice and early, let's say what the world calls "lunchtime," and read YOUR fresh thoughts (news, realizations, whatever) that day.  If you're wondering whether to throw a line in:  Please Do.  You'd be toking the dealer.  :- )





The guy lost me when he said that Paxton hasn't thrown more than 122 innings for three seasons running.  Well, seems to me that his 121 MLB '16 innings + the 51 he threw in AAA add up to 172, which is more than 122, if I remember my Calculus.

Nice research guy.

I like Gamel, whether he's swinging the bat or chasing flyballs.  Here's something to consider about him, Doc.  Did you know the evidence suggests he's a BETTER hitter vs. lefties than Heredia is......and Dyson/Martin.  He's a mini-Ichiro in that respect.

Looking at all his PA's over the past two seasons, Gamel is a .295-.360-.428 hitter vs. RHP, in 806 PA's.  But in his 335 PA's vs. LHP, he whacks .308-.351-.471.  His K rate is 19% vL and vR.

Heredia?  He hit .268-.344-.344 vL last year.  He did hit .302-.408-.392 vR.

If we're looking for someone to spell Martin/Dyson vs. lefties, Gamel may well be the better choice.

Dyson (career .590 OPS) and Martin (.608) scare the snot out of me vs. LHP>

Motter was at .709 vL last year, but the year prior he hit .370-.431-.615 in 154 PA's vL.  I kid you not.

And then there is Tank.

Since we won't/can't trade Dyson or Martin, can I root for a broken finger?  Is that in good form?


There are some lefty hitters who just seem natural at inside-outing lefty curballs into LF.  They can still turn on the heater, ala Ichiro, but they are perfectly willing to wait and flick.  As such, Gamel would be well worth keeping up.


With Cruz in RF, fouling up Dipoto's dream of a Dikembe Mutombo "get that weak slop out of here" defensive OF ... shifting Maniger to LF out of position would be bad enough.

Would imagine he'd much prefer to go Heredia LF there, rather than Motter, so LF Heredia CF Maniger RF Boomstick with maybe Motter 1B, Valencia DH (or Valencia 1B Zunino DH) might be the ideal?


Kind of a shame O'Neill got sent out (with a "hurry up and get your last minors AB's" air).  Did want to see Bat's lineup with O'Neill-Dyson-Maniger.


But for some reason I lost track of the point on Gamel.  Probably because in Arizona, he has been attacking lefties with 'elan ... not the swing I associate with Ichiro-ism.  Hadn't especially noticed the inside-out swing but will be looking for it now. 

The facts are the facts - results trump a visual impression.  Another important 'put.  Hey, it's 2 pm ... is it lunchtime yet


I wasn't intending to say that Gamel was exclusively inside-out, but that the numbers suggest he gets a good long look at LH offerings.


That. is. classic.

:: Moe-Deion picks the ball off, styles down the sideline with one hand behind head ::  Now I'm getting visuals of feature columnists all over the land, trying to bring their games into the Think Tank secondary ...

9 soon as I find an original angle to share, I'll do so. =) You guys writing and commenting here make my Mariner's fandom a so much richer experience, I wouldn't want to cheapen your experience in return without reason!

Our outfield options have sure come a long way, and that backfill in around our Infield of Might is quite the welcome development. Finally, after baseball-generations of disappointment (measured in wasted prime years of key figurehead players), it seems we've got a GM who is willing to fill in holes with a.) quality players b.) within his means. Rather than slipping too far either to the left or the right. Should make for some fun baseball, and I'm ready for that down here in sunny Chihuahua!

Tank will force his way in, moe. This IS JeDi we're dealing with, here... he'll trade ANYone. I can't wait to see what he gets back for whomever he deems most expendable. Who out in baseballlandia is most like Smyly right now, in terms of ready for a breakout? Or hack, who's your carbon copy of Iwakuma the Younger? He probably already sees it coming. The only question is whther he's laid the groudnwork for the trade yet...


Your first 2 sentences are how I feel daily reading this site. Or about the time I go logging in, life comes back to pull me away.  That said, we'll try, Doc. No doubt articles/ideas have gone by the wayside without a whisper, that are wonderfully original and entertaining; and that saddens ME. So I can only imagine how it would feel to watch your brainchild float by un-cuddled. 

For me, its ALL Heredia and O'Malley. Heredia knows the k-zone as well as our other major leaguers, can play solid D in LF/CF, and is right handed. I'm liking Gamel, but for the 4th OF'r, I'm looking at Heredia's .400 OBP and seeing that play well on off days.  Just seeing players that KNOW the strikezone seems foreign to me, so its a start. (Just an abused fanbase...)

O'Malley is the un-sexiest, most boring pick for 25th man, but he's a switch hitter, can play ALL positions decently (no month long LF deployments) and he single handily saved Griffey weekend last year, so he's good under pressure ;).  Nah, I just think for the 24th and 25th guys, Dipoto has really upped the quality there. There is no wrong answer (or right) considering our options, and that is surprising thinking back a few years. I wonder if 'ol Jermey Reed as a starting CF'r rings any bells...ugh. 


According to Greg Johns.  Agree on that OBP.  He doesn't swing at balls, and he will get some infield hits.


Yep, the #24-25 slots are maybe where you can see JeDi's craftsmanship the most easily.  The man looks like he has the potential to become Pat Gillick.


Thanks for explaining your comments situation Montucky.  Completely get it.  Saying hi once a week would also be awesome.

- Jeff


But want Motter as well. 

Heredia, O'Malley and Motter.  1 more good baserunner on the bench vs an OK RH arm in the pen.  I'll bet Motter could pitch in a pinch. 


I think as the spring goes on, the Mariners are more and more enamored with Motter, and maybe less with Danny Valencia.  There was an article I saw last week that mentioned the Mariners tracking quality at bats (hits, advancing runners, more than 6 pitches, other things I don't remember off-hand).  Danny Valencia and Leonys Martin were listed among the bottom 5 performers.  Now, in an article about James Paxton's MiLB game yesterday, Scott Servais is quoted as saying Motter is going to see  a lot of time at 1st base and left field, which seems redundant if Valencia is on the roster, of course it could be about maintaining that 8-man pen.

-In Surprise it was not a good day for the hitters as the Mariners fell 3-2 to the Rangers. Taylor Motter – who was the only Mariner with multiple hits – split time between left field and first base.

“You will see him more at first base and in left field as we get going,” said Scott Servais following the game. “We are very comfortable wherever we put him, he’s shown well at short, second and third so we are putting him at some other spots.”


He was chugging along as an interesting fringy power UTL guy in the mold of Ty Wigginton, the Rays liked him enough that he started 2016 on the big league roster briefly...floundered...and then floundered even harder at AAA the rest of the year.

What happened?? Can't just be bad luck...many of his component stats collapsed as well.


After Motter's stint at 1B yesterday, I checked on his history at that position.  I think he's started a total of 3 games at 1B, at any level.  13 appearances at the position.  If it is Valencia's job he may get, I find weird.  Valencia has been such a reliable lefty killer that rolling the dice on Motter, as such, is an interesting bet.  Motter AND O'Malley would make us wildly flexible, however.  But I'll bet we keep Valencia.


Powell and Heredia rank one-two in the Mariners’ productive team plate appearance (PTPA) metric in games through Wednesday.

Powell was ranked at 73.3 percent at 11 for 15, while Heredia was at 68.2 percent (15 for 22). D.J. Peterson was third at 60.0 percent (6 for 10), followed by Steven Baron at 57.1 percent (4 for 7). Kyle Seager and Shawn O’Malley were both at 54.5 percent (12 for 22).

The Mariners define a PTPA as getting a hit, a walk, getting hit by a pitch, advancing a runner with an out or an error, recording a sacrifice fly or sacrifice bunt, or having an eight-pitch plate appearance.

The bottom three: Danny Valencia at 30.4 percent (7 for 23), Tyler Smith at 30.0 percent (6 for 20) and Leonys Martin at 27.8 percent (5 for 18).

I'm just looking at it from the respect that:
a) With a 4-man bench, the team might be looking to save space, and Motter can cover every position Valencia plays better than Valencia can with the only exception being 1st.  Using Motter to back up 3rd Base and Left Field instead of Valencia is probably a +5 Run defensive gain, combine that with the certainty that Motter will likely produce at least a neutral base running value while Valencia projects to be one of the worst base runners in the team and Motter's offensive bar has been lowered quite a bit.  
b)  Valencia hasn't been great at this whole PTPA thing, March 9th was a while ago, but it's hard to imagine he's improved much, he's gone 13-48 with 2 BBs and 10 Ks in 50 plate appearances without a HBP or sacrifice.  I don't know how many 6-pitch ABs he's had or whether he's constantly moving runners over, but somehow I have my doubts...  
c)  Returning to defense, Servais has continually talked about a desire to have MOBILE First Basemen, and while there has been a generic confidence placed on Valencia, the guy that has gotten praise for working toward the goal is Vogelbach, so here is another place that Motter looks immediately more palatable to the Mariners if they want to see First Base played more like Third.  
d) It's not necessarily his fault (SSS), but Valencia's final 289 PA of last season resulted in a .248/.315/.366 line in spite of a .322 BABiP, so it would be nice if Valencia wasn't putting up the worst spring line of his career (.186/.286/.302).  While recent arrivals, Motter, Haniger, Gamel, Heredia, Segura, Vogelbach, and Smyly have all found themselves inside a praise line from Scott Servais or Jerry Dipoto several times this spring, Valencia has barely found mention, and when he has, it's been fairly neutral statements, like the article about shifting First Basemen that technically mentions him, or another where Servais mentions that he will shift Haniger to Left rather than Valencia (when he plays OF) because Valencia is more comfortable in Right Field.  It seems like another defensive limitation for a team looking to have as few as possible.
As far as Motter meeting Valencia's offensive potential; yeah, that would be a risk, but in his cup of coffee last season he hit Lefties great in limited time after hitting them well at Spring Training for the Rays.  His 2016 MiLB line featured a .240 BABiP after running a .340 BABiP in 2015.  I think he at least has the potential to come close to Valencia's production vs. LHP, so it would really depend on the team's faith in Vogelbach more than anything.

Wasn't sure about those 8 metrics the M's use, exactly.  For example, you get your pitch on the first pitch and smoke one to the LF ... that's a failure on the chart?

But it's just a way to say "OBP, or make the pitcher work, or help a runner.  Give us a pro AB."  A great mindset if not pure saber.


I think the idea is that; if you smoke one - great!  But be equally aware of those early swings that lead to 27-hoppers to second base, pop flys, and warning track outs with no one on.  I wonder how many times, just last season, the Mariners thumped a starting pitcher for one inning, pushed him to 30+ pitches in the inning, only to have him come in the next and throw 5 pitches to make 3 outs, or how many times one beautiful 12 pitch at bat was squandered by the next batter swinging into an out on the next pitch.  It's really easy to figure out how much you've eaten into a pitcher's life bar these days; the number of pitches could have a percent after itJerry Dipoto knows, precisely, how many times.


Thath high-quality H2O.


Your point a)  agreed and it wouldn't surprise if a shortstop could play better 1B than 'Bach or Valencia right now.

b) Valencia may be giving them "uncoachable" AB's and he's got the rep for (at times) being a clubhouse problem too.

c) yep, would assume that almost any SS (say, O'Malley) could outplay a "lamp-post" 1B slugger at the bag, with only a week's practice.  ... :- ) But remember the Moneyball scene where Pitt tells somebody it's easy to play 1B and the scout says "it's incredibly hard."

d) No, GM's like that point, late-season plus the next ST.

+2 Mal.


"The biggest reason that Dr. D will be now pushing himself for nightly posts is to get up nice and early, let's say what the world calls "lunchtime," and read YOUR fresh thoughts (news, realizations, whatever) that day."

I couldn't stop laughing about the "lunchtime" comment, so awesome.

I would feel much better with an OF of Heredia/Dyson/Haniger against lefties. Martin is a fine platoon player, but he hasn't shown to be any more than that.

If they're going to experiment with Dyson as anything but a platoon player, I prefer the idea of letting him do it in CF where we already know Martin struggles against lefties.


Showered quickly, raced through the coffee prep, and flung myself down to see SSI.  14 comments!  Life is good


Hey LrKrBoi29, 14 comments at SSI is worth 42 a yours.  Like Robin's merry men being worth any three of the Sheriff's.


But he'd have to be traded or cut.  Motter being 5-0 on the go would likely affect the choice.  I've liked him so far.

Dyson, Haniger, Martin, Motter, O'Malley, Heredia and Segura are a combined 21-1 in SB attempts. 

Heredia has a .349 OBP in MLB and appears to be capable of slugging more based on his added muscle and SLG% this spring.  If you're complaining about a .664 OPS from your 4th OF anyhow, you've been spoiled by someone.   For me there's no question who could use more time in AAA.  Heredia looks ready now.  Gamel spilled his cup of coffee all over someone to his left.  Heredia has continued to look better to me in nearly every respect.  If you're looking for another guy to put a ball in the seats occasionally, Gamel makes sense.  I don't dislike Gamel and wish they both could make the club.  But based on all the numbers and the eye test I'm still waiting to understand why people have trouble deciding between them.  Heredia has shown success' that I've yet to see from Gamel.  I get the 'idea' that Guillermo is new and could use more reps at a lower level.  In reality he has only had professional AB everywhere he has ever been. 

For instance, Heredia has 5 BB/4 K this spring. Zunino 8/8, Dyson 5/5 Seager 5/6 and O'Malley 3/4 are the next best.  Only Cano 7/1 (19 PA) Zach Shank 4/1 (22 PA) and Boog 2/0 (28 PA) have started with a better rate (19+ PA).


His .400+ OBP vs. righties, last year, is something to be admired. 

If we use Cruz in the OF then we still have to find somebody to DH at that time.  It is possible that we could use those games to "rest" Cano and Seager and just DH them.


If he were in the doghouse, so to speak, you probably would have to make a roster change because of the personality issues.  ... let's see, what's he making ... $5.5M.  Assume you could trade him ... probably for Ricky Nolasco or Darren Dreifort?  :- /   Judging by Seth Smith these days.

NOT BURYING DANNY VALENCIA OF COURSE but it's an interesting baseball chat thread.


Hard to say at this point what's really going on down there, Valencia-wise. Only time will tell, but I'd like to suggest a less dismal explanation for what we're seeing on the field.

I have a hard time seeing how Motter could be an option to replace Valencia right out of the gates. The way I see it, Danny has looked undeniably abysmal so far this spring. Like, worst ABs on the team, and that's with Leonys "Slugger" Martin working on a new swing that he doesn't understand. Which says to me, at least, that Valencia has been in some kind of mechanically driven slump since day one, and it's corrupting everything we've seen. Hard to ask a guy to have a productive team AB while he's desperately trying to figure out which microcosm of his swing is causing him to fire late at everything. If that's the case, I can't imagine the coaches are too terribly down on him for it: maybe worried enough to start considering Motter shaped backup plans, but not grumbling that he's uncoachable either. I would bet that they're giving him some time to work through it, and keeping him out of the spotlight to keep the pressure off.

As for Motter being able to match Valencia versus lefties... over the last three years, Valencia is at .312/.379/.487, 866OPS vL. That's the reason we got him, and I can't imagine Motter could come within a mile of it. If Valencia gets himself straightened out, he might be our best vL bat right after Cruz. You don't throw that away this early in the year, I wouldn't think...

With that said, he does look kinda like this year's Adam Lind, doesn't he? That sure didn't go well. Maybe we would be better off swapping him out early, before the slump lasts for the first half of the season. Does Valencia have options, in case of that eventuality? Or would he have to get traded/cut?


They sure did, didn't they? Same with Walker, and Karns, and a number of other guys. JeDi has firmly established that if you won't work with his staff, you'll be halfway across the country before you've undone your batting gloves. So if Valencia really is an obstinate headcase, we should find out in short order. For what its worth, I thought he sounded nice when they interviewed him some days back. Can't remember what he said, but one of his dry jokes had me belly laughing for a good minute. Still and all, there's a difference between being likeable and being coachable.

I really appreciate the positive affirmations, by the way. As Corran says, it's a little daunting to wonder if you'll be cheapening the conversation here instead of adding to it. Nice to know someone is picking up what I'm putting down :-)


Thanks Doc. I figured it was just some standard rookie hazing, Klat style. Gotta make the kids earn it, right?

As for feeling daunted... I've been lurking around here since, if memory serves, midway through the 2010 season. The All-Defense team that was supposed to be cutting edge ended up being a dumpster fire, and I started wandering the net until I could find someone who seemed to know why. After that I spent many a year lurking like Gollum in the shadows. Took me a long time to emerge, and even then it was only because Texas stole our ring...


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Last year, my favorite players were K-Pax and our cuban CF, based mostly on the positions (CF, LHP) I played "back in the day". THis year- no question about K-Pax- he looks like a "twenny-game winner" this season, based on his first handful of starts. But, Leonydas... last year, we needed him to run down everything between BoomStick and "Dad". In 2017, the gloves in RF and LR may be every bit as good as his... and the bats look a whole lot better, based on a season of ABs (last year) and ~50 spring training plate appearances. 

We're arguing about whether to keep Gamel or Heredia. How far into the season must we see similar, consistent performances for us to decide that the other four are really the best (Most MLB-worthy) outfielders we have, and we should shop Leonydas to the highest bidder? We're not keeping five OFs plus Boomstick; if we don't want to be forced into a difficult decision (Gamel or Heredia), then we may have to bite the bullet and trade away the single remaining vestige of JD's first or second "big trade" with Texas, 18 months ago. 

If you don't buy trading Martin in March- how far into the season do you let him hit .230/.300/.350 before you bring up whichever outfielder you deemde your expendable "5th" one? I'm inclined to say, as Peter Townshend intoned many years ago, "The Kids are Alright!"


Can't see the trade happening.  Could have occured this winter as CF types were desired by several teams, but now we've had the mariachi band lovefest AND he gets an M's tatoo on the arm.  He's here for the duration.  I'm wondering if we would ever bench him vs. LHP.


Also, we can easily spare CF depth if Boog comes on gangbusters. His issues are the reason we needed SOOOOOOOOO many options. But if the options all start panning out... a healthy, thriving Boog in Tacoma makes Martin expendable if he's being outplayed.


MLBT-R is reporting that the Royals have named karns as their #5 starter.


I wonder if they would take a great glove, great speed, lefty-bat, spark plug for him?

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