Mainframe Crunch: Zuumball Gone?
Second base: It ain't like there's money involved

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Q.  What is the basic paradigm here?

A.  The Mariners traded a fairly good regular catcher for a solidly good center fielder.

The catcher is erratic with high upside and the center fielder is dependable with a lower ceiling and higher floor.  

The deal gets rid of one of the last Zduriencik holdovers.  :- /  Can't have those previous-regime personalities dirtying up your roster.  When you win it's gotta be with players you found.

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Q.  Why would you deal a catcher for a center fielder?

A.  Three things:

(1) It's a "waiting for the next shoe to drop" move.  For absolute sure, Dipoto will follow this move with other deals, perhaps major deals.

(2) I think Dipoto dislikes Zuumball's erraticism and strikeouts.  Remember, the M's were one of baseball's 5 lowest-K teams in 2018.  I think the industry is juuuuuuuust about ready to turn around here and Dipoto can be given credit for being ahead of the curve.

(3) There is a discussion going on, at BJOL, as to whether slow corner OF's are becoming obsolete.  Some plays in the World Series are being held up as evidence.  Corollary:  speed in the OF is becoming a "sine qua non," an aspect of your team that you must have, according to this theory.

Ergo, it seems to the Mainframe that Dipoto is stockpiling speedy OF's, especially those who are effective with the bat.  Mallex Smith had 3.5 WAR last season, based on his .367 OBP, his 40/52 stolen bases, and his gap power.  He's a fast Denard Span.

So, you could say that there are two major faultlines in baseball on which Jerry Dipoto just hopped to the safe side of. 

Or not.

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Q. Assuming Smith is a young star, and Zuumball doesn't crush 40 homers a year ... what do the Mariners do from here?  Robinson Cano just responded to the trade today by growling that he is the ballclub's second baseman.  Dipoto's rebuttal was a rather milquetoast "we'd like to see Gordon in the infield where possible."

A.  Cano's attitude complicates the situation majorly.  If he were to take over 1B or DH and rake from there, you'd move Gordon's fancy mitt to 2B and be sitting on a beatiful defensive lineup.  However, as so often, ballplayers want to win on their own terms, even when there is no money involved whatsoever.  Such a shame.

If you could just let Cruz go, and redeploy his $16M elsewhere, fine.  Or if you could swap Healy, fine.  What you do if Cano is ossified at 2B .... well, you've got not only Gamel but Denard Span playing LF in front of Gordon.

......

One interesting and encouraging thing:  Dipoto has already indicated a willingness to pull rank on Cano.  It worked over the course of a month that followed being busted for drugs.  Will it work for five years during which Cano has the ability to fracture the clubhouse?

Or can Dipoto find a taker even for the $24M Cano?  Would it require his packaging James Paxton into the bargain?  ::shudder::

Major deals lie ahead.  B'lee DAT.

BABVA,

Dr D

Blog: 

Comments

2

IIRC, the context for the hiring of Martin came after a season where the M's suffered a ton of injuries. There was pressure to DO SOMETHING about it. The Martin hiring was Jerry (a) trying to decisively correct the underlying problem but failing miserably, or (b) much ado about nothing, a PR move. I doubt the latter. I suspect the former.

This does not look good for Jerry, even assuming that Martin's accusations are a case of someone with bias-colored glasses seeing bias where there is none. Honestly, DiPoto's regime is not wearing well. Lots of activity, a few major successes, but ultimately not sustainable.

It is unfortunate that we live in a world where for many accusation is enough to crucify someone. 

3
tjm's picture

Is there any reason whatsoever the M's don't take Greinke off the D-Backs. They want to dump him. The M's can afford it (sez I) and if they indeed trade Paxton they're gonna need to add. Greinke is still one of the best in the business.  Taking on his salary, which is apparently all they want, would allow you to rebuild and compete at the same time. $30 mil x 3 yrs is a big chunk, to be sure, but it's an add-on for only one year as Felix disappears in 2020. Plus, the new broadcast deal is going to flood the bank accounts in a year. $30 mil might be a bargain.

4

Was just thinking the same thing this morning, Terry. 

Then you might hang onto Paxton, at least until mid-season.   Although I would trade him, I think.  Get a young arm, MLB ready, maybe, two.

You've saved Cruz's salary, plus Zunino's.  Felix goes away next year.  He's very affordable.

BTW, the M's selected Braden Bishop's contract, placing him on the 40-man.  He's safe from a Rule 5 robbery, now.  I will bet dollars to donuts, right now, that he sees more than passing MLB time this season. 

Heck, right now either he or Andreoli is our 4th OF.  And I still think bringing Wlad Balentien back, on a team friendly contract, is a high reward/low risk move.  Worth noticing:  As a MLB'er, Wlad had 44 BB's and  149 K's.  In his 1st Japanese year ('11), he walked 61 times and K'ed 131 times.  In Year-2, it was 64 and 92.  He was showing improvement.

Year-3 was his 60-HR season, naturally he was walked a lot, 103 times (to 105 K's).  Discount that seasons, if you wish, but over his last 4 full seasons, he's averaged 75 BB's to 111 K's.  Something clicked for Wlad and he's developed a very nice Eye.

For a few million smackers, he's a decent risk.

And in case you didn't read it (I posted it in SSI-All, rather than SSI-Baseball), here is my rundown on the M's outfield farm prospects:

https://seattlesportsinsider.com/?q=blogs/put-me-in-coach

5
tjm's picture

All for that. Need to bring on some replacement power for Cruz. Also like the idea of holding Paxton til summer. Gives you leverage on the package you ask for.

6

And frankly, looking at his career arc, I can’t for the life of me figure out not only why he’s still in Japan, but why he wasn’t stopped from going there in the first place. Well, I’m sure it was a good career move at the time, but he wasn’t chum. The guy is a serious hitter, and displayed some serious skills at a quite young age:.871 OPS as a 22 year old in AAA in 540+ PAs. He followed that with a .938 OPS in AAA the following year. His K rates were acceptable and Cincinnati got a .779 OPS out of him as a 24 year old. He looks like one of those AAA talents (e.g., like Ben Gamel) that DiPoto likes to get.

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