Moshin' off Mo' Dawg
colder the 'stove is, the better we like it


Moe Dawg (one cubicle to the right; got a parentheses in there real quick, didn't I?) gave us just the kind of "bulletin" our Hot Stove viewers crave.  He reminds about Bergman:


1. Christian Bergman:  He's back.  54 big league innings last season; 4 wins, 5 losses; 5.00 ERA; 1.41 Whip.  You will remember that he did have three stellar outings:  7.1 innings of 2 hit, shutout ball vs. the Orcs, 7 innings of 4 hit, shutout ball vs. the BoSox, 4 innings of 1 hit, shutout relief vs. the Angels.  In his other 40 innings he gave up 30 earned runs and 54 hits.  Feast vs. famine.  Bet the under on the feast line in '18.


Bergman came from the Rox with ML-dubious stuff, ML-crispy command, and 23 ML starts which is 23 more than you got, bub.  Here is our MIN-MAX article during his little hot streak, which may or may not make for an interesting 10 minutes' January loitering.  By my count, Bergman is tied for 9th-18th on the M's depth chart.  Considering he's a Major League pitcher of 4 years' experience, is is fair to say that Jerry Dipoto has a gigantic flotilla of dubious #5 starters.

Seriously, if Dipoto's thing is a long string of +0.2 WAR players, you've got to admire the progress.  Charitably you might say he's putting together an Always Compete theme.  Is Dr. D feeling charitable?  Not in the slightest.  Give him a real starting pitcher and we'll talk.


Our man Diderot asked the Think Tank for a default 4 benchies, assuming Heredia.  It responded:


MOE let's assume Gonzales, assuming we gave Tank and he's got no options.  DR D is bullish on Gonzales and precisely as that change dips from 84 MPH towards 78-81, you may find his rotation slot heliuming from #7 up towards #2.  The 'Frame sez this kid has big time upside.  Very common to talk age arc.  Think injury arc.



...and we have him as a Rule V guy...which means we can't just send him down to hold onto him. Either we need to trade them something to keep him or he needs to make the team...which is hard if we're carrying thirteen pitchers, because we need Heredia (or other OF4), Marjama, and an infielder. COULD keep Ford and, when you need to rest/sub out an injured middle infielder, use Heredia in the OF and move Gordon back to 2B/SS. So there's that option.

DR D sez very true.  Also, very odd that your platoon is always at 1B.  Significant points against Dipoto that it be so.


DIDEROT sez:  Andrew Romine looks unlikely on paper, but has "intangibles."  Read that: he's a 25'er who has the manager's back to the 17's, 14's and 11's.

Yes, kiddies.  If you have Vida Blue, Catfish, Holtzmann, Reggie, Bando, Fingers, and Rudi you can pick a manager out of the stands, go fishing, and hire Mick as your cut man in the locker room.  But if you have less, you'd better take a few precautions against the Chone-Wakamatsu torpedoes.  They'll blow a hole in your navigational course towards the playoffs.


GMONEY sez:  Filia out 50 games for steriods.  Some other esteemed Denizen sez, and what a waste, no power.  Dr. D's long-held suspicion, however, is that PED's help eyesight more than they they do launch velocity.  Wasn't Boog Powell recently deemed a roider?  And then shortly thereafter deemed worthless?



Dave Cameron, formerly of USSM and recently of Fangraphs, was hired by a perennial loser with a promising future, the San Diego Padres.  Here's an article.  His nominal role is worth looking at.  "Senior Analyst, Research and Development Dept."  The Padres have a tremendous minor league system with 7 players in the minors' top-100 and Cameron believes that such players should almost never be traded, so it's a little like putting Dana Loesch in charge of your gun collection.  An "analyst," in the F-500 companies I worked for, types up position papers and hands them to people like the assistant GM.

Of course from such a position one gets to know the senior execs, so if Mr. Cameron comports himself with deference he could find himself doing a Jonah Hill quickly.  As the Padres go, it's hard to imagine what they do over the next few years other than let their star prospects jell.  Thoughts?



Dr D




Drugs of abuse (weed), not 'roids. Second offense, though. Come on, Shimmy!


From a purely baseball perspective, that is an entirely different conversation.

In fact if he dumps the weed he improves the intensity of his physical focus and ergo his projection.  (Nobody smokes a blunt and then hits the weight room).  No two ways about that.

Some talented athletes do train hard and then have a gram while watching 11 pm SportsCenter.  Check them three years later.  ... Point is, if the PED check gets Filia off marijuana, grade his stock UP, up, up.

tjm's picture

Obviously, Doc, you weren't in Saigon in 1970 where the weed was a dollar a gallon and we hooped for five and six-hour stretches in 90 degree heat and monsoon humidity.


While the Astros load up with Cole.

Really trying to find some interest here.  I guess I'm interested in watching some of our players, but not so much in setting up the locals for actually be in the game.  Not a pessimistic POV, maybe we need to wait a touch longer.  Or....maybe the sum of our unique parts are greater than I expect.

We do have a nice, long, no break lineup.  Maybe health has masked how much our staff may keep us in the hunt.


done with their amazing plethora of talent.  It's a little frustrating to see other teams do it the right way, but at the same time it shows that it CAN be done (properly/successfully) and that ownership really is a decisive factor in determining the quality of the on-field product.

The M's aren't one of the Super Teams in MLB these days.  Haven't been that since Jr., A-Rod, Edgar and Randy shared a field (even the 2001 squad wasn't that impressive on paper).

Kibitzing about their woes is going to be one of my favorite pastimes this year.  I'm hopeful they'll compete, and like Doc I'll keep looking for how they might go about doing that.  I just can't *expect* it any more.  Maybe that note of resignation is needed for the proverbial dam to break?

tjm's picture

That trade killed me. Houston started the winter with a better rotation and IMPROVED it. Ordinarily I'd say we didn't have the system to make the trade, but they didn't give up that much. Meaning, it had to be about money. This is where the long contracts hurt you. I completely agree that we've gotten great value out of Cano and Felix because they overperformed early, but if you're not going to accept that bounty as justifying the contracts over the long term, then what's the point.  I mean, you can't now use the cost of those contracts as a constraint if you've already gotten back more than youy paid.

Does that make any sense at all?


85, 89, 86, 88, 92, 93:  Those are the wins required to make the Wild Card game, going back to '12, when the Wild Card game began.

It averages out to 89.16 wins.  Last year's 85 was abnormally low.  So let's say we need 89 wins to make th WC, because we aren't beating thw Astros.  The M's last won 89 games in 2003, although we did win 88 in '07.

And let's say that the Astros go 12-7 against us (I think we played 19 times last season).  A fair estimation.  Even make it 11-8, I don't care.

With 19 games taken off the schedule, and 8 wins to show for them, then the M's would have to go 81-62 vs. the rest of MLB to get to 89 wins.  That's a 56.6% clip. 

Are we a 57% team, excluding the Astros? 

We need the pitching to gel with Paxton staying healthy, Felix looking like a real MLB #2 or 3, Leake to gobble innings and go 12-9, or someting like that, Gonzo/Miranda/Moore/Ramirez to find a productive 4-6 production and Cruz to not age regress.

It's doable.  

Remind me of that if we start 10 and 15. 


It is doable


Sadly I believe the only way it happens is if EVERYTHING goes right. 


If (when) one of our starters hits the DL, will the depth we have really be enough to deal with that? Does that make a rejuvenated Kuma the needed depth it takes the M's to win the WC spot? That is only if Pax is healthy, Felix is healthy and rejuvenated like Kuma and we get the same stuff from Leak and Ramirez we got in the second half last season?


Is that still enough? I sure hope it is.



I'm thinking Gonzales, Moore and Miranda are the main options for 5 and 6.  All 3 of these guys are 1 plateau leap (or simply 1 useful pitch) away from being solid #4s at least.

Right now, I figure, much of what Dipoto can do is to gauge fit and possibilities for trades to acquire a piece when needed during the season.  What pieces are most likely in the mind of the GM who just experienced the 2017 Marinjures?  I think he's getting a good grasp of who he can get and for what.  There's not nothing remaining to trade.  A Pineda for our Montero wouldn't seem irrational either. 

balkyboy's picture

Gotta say I am still thinking that Dipoto could be our Billy Beane.   I just like this guy.  Done some amazing stuff already,  and I'm looking forward to more.  Acknowledging that he has had only a mid-market budget to work with, a couple of burdensome long term contracts on top of that, and inherited only limited minor league talent to trade or develop, the transformation of the starting position players on the roster has been dramatic. In the upcoming year we may see good hitting and good defence from ALL the starting position players.  Would you have said that was possible two years ago?  But there is this little problem that is understandably getting people twisted up.  He needs people to throw the ball over the plate, but all the money has been spent.  The bullpen seems fine, which is great in this period of expensive relievers, but why didn't Dipoto allocate any of that position player budget or trade talent, towards starting pitching???  

I like to think it is because, given time, he thinks he can assemble a pitching staff with bailing wire, duct tape, and wile.  And that would be magic.  We might look back on the upcoming season and relish how little he gave up to get pitchers like Gonzalez, Leake, and Ramirez.  And while it is clear that Dipoto does not feel compelled to pick up any pricey starting pitchers based on need this off-season, maybe we should expect him to be ready to acquire on the basis of value during the season, as with the '17.  

And yes, he rolled the dice on whether Iwakuma and Hernandez could maintain production, and the staff in general would stay relatively healthy.  He lost that gamble, big time.  But I would say (given his limited resources), it was a gamble worth taking.  And he was fully aware of the risks.  Remember, this is the guy who implemented risk analysis into the Mariner's draft day decisions, this is the guy who, not this offseason but last off-season, talked about sports medicine as being the next cutting edge tool to gain competitive advantage, and, finally, this is the guy who has hired Dr. Lorena Martin, who has specialized in sports perfornmance analytics, to overee the entire organization's medical, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and mental-skills departments.  

Another one of his 'failures' also may be seen in a more positive light.  He went for pitchers with fly ball heavy profile thinking they would be a relative value considering the homerun dampening effects of Safeco field.  But perhaps he just wasn't given the memo from the MLB that baseball was going to be juiced (was it?).    However, his approach of seeking advantage wherever he can find it, pays off in the long run.

 I want to watch this guy another couple years.  Maybe he has more magic to show me.  And thanks Jeff and others for making my week better with this blog.












I think good hitting and defense (with possibly dubious baserunning/SB) plus a potentially top-tier bullpen could be fairly exciting to watch but as we all know this team will live and die on the strength of the starting rotation performing at something like its 90th percentile level which as we know is unlikely.  We may well look back and relish performances by starter 3-5 of the rotation but I think we're much more likely to be dependent on Paxton putting up 5+ WAR and Felix at 2-3 WAR for this rotation to be playoff meaningful.  As Sandy from Raleigh used to say (a former regular poster around these parts who sadly seems have disappeared along with posters like Spectator), when you acquire a decent arm, you're not replacing your current TOR starter, you're replacing the number 5 as everyone gets bumped down the rotation so you're potentially replacing 0.5 WAR with a likely 2-3 WAR.  Not sure if the cost (trade assets/draft choices) or price (annual commited salary) warrants this but it would make a massive difference to the prospects of this particular 2018 M's season.

Anyway, not knocking any of your post and also looking forward with similar enthusiasm, to seeing what Jerry D does next.  I also, like you, hope he gets more than one more year on the basis that he's hopefully found a formula that can work and make a team competitive every year (may need 2-3 more years to build the farm though).

Here's hoping we have a Ron Wolff (GB Packers GM) 'long-term' template in the offing and not a late career Al Davis 'short-term failed reloads' template (despite the former being a previous acolyte of the latter).


Billy Beane tries to acquire guys like Chris Taylor, Tyler O'neill, Luiz Gohara and Thyago Vieria. 

Dipoto flat out gives them away, getting 0 in return. Billy Beane? More like Billy Madison. Literally the only thing we have hope left from all of those guys is an injury pitcher who may never be MLB quality again.

I thought Dipoto was my Snak-Pak. Unfortunately, he most certainly is not.

Going into this offseason we needed an improvement in SP, a LF and a 1B. Pretty easy to accomplish.

We got no REAL SP (Doc said it), we have the same bad LF they tried ending the year with (failed) and two 1B that were castoffs of  other teams. But, somehow, they make our team better? Huh uh. Not bloody likely.

In my opinion Dave Cameron is the absolute worst. He has never been able to see past the stat sheets. The only reason he has any success is that he stands by what he says, even when it's clearly wrong (such as Nick Swisher being worth $100 million). He used to have a favorite player on the Padres he always said we should try and acquire. The guy was absolutely terrible, i forget his name. Cameron's the type of guy that loves the Ryan Langerhans types. 


Thanks for this.

While I disagree with most of your points (with the exception of the lack of SP improvement and Cameron's stat-sheet tunnel vision), it's a pretty hot take.

I'm a Dipoto fan for a few reasons:

     I know what he's trying to do. His transparency is refreshing.

     All his moves, the hits and the misses, at least keep us talking, which is what fandom is all about.

     His strategy makes sense to me: priority 1: maximize talent at the top level as best you can. priority 2: focus on player development systems in the lower level. priority 3 (hopefully): infuse high-end talent into your system.

I would like to see him stick around a long while, beyond the expiration of the current big contracts, so we can actually see if some of their player development/sports health strategies materialize. 


priority 3...Now that the floor has been raised on the top 30+ players he will develop more of the incoming players.  We shouldn't assume that he just keeps burning through them or that he develops them until he has done such.  My hope is that he sits back with a more complete roster to develop the next wave rather than what would be excessive churning at this point. 


And that's entirely different thank Beane.  Probably more like Gillick but it's too soon to tell what he will ultimately do here.

Giving away players?  First, where did you claim Taylor would be anything?  Before he became anything.  I never saw anyone saying he'd be close to what he is.  He may not have quite gotten the value for what he was but nobody could have gotten the value of what he is.  Everyone in the game who comments on him had nothing but surprise that he's become more than a role player.

Gonzales is a guy scouts like and is out of options.  We'll get to see something there this year and I've got an inkling it will be more than you expect.

People are still knocking the moves that brought in Smyly as if they weren't excited about the acquisition.  Yes, things go wrong sometimes.  Gohara brought in what should have been part of the teams postseason starters.  But again Dipoto should have known what nobody knew? 

Vieiera?  You think pool money is nothing?  Should he not have gone after Ohtani at all?  Again, something will be acquired with the return from Vieiera, even if that something does turn in to nothing eventually.  It is not nothing now.

I'm not saying he's been perfect, only that his detractors are vastly exaggerating his" bad decision making".


1) I did claim Taylor should keep the shortstop role for when Marte went down with an injury. Instead, they recalled Marte and sent Taylor back down. Never gave him a chance and I did say so, I was just on the Seattle Times Forum.

2) Gonzales could be something or he could be bad Wade Miley. Either way, with our glut of #5SP's I wouldn't have seen the need to ship O'Nell out of here for the guy.

3) I was never excited about Smyly until I saw him in the WBC. But he wasn't even a top 3 pitcher on the Rays I would have gone after. There wasn't much to be excited about, he hadn' been a good pitcher. 

4) Yes, I think the 500k pool money is meaningess post-Ohtani. They won't sign anybody I like better than a 100+mph fireballer on the brink of MLB. I'd take Thyago over 500k that they probably won't even spend.

5) I don' think detractors are overexaggerating at all. He has made a hugely disproportionate number of bad moves compared to moves that have clearly worked out.

Trumbo, Taylor, Aoki, Miley, Lind, Valencia, Vogelbach, Mallex Smith, Gohara, O'Neill, Vieiria, Martin, Gamel (he's not a serviceable corner outfielder, hes a failed center fielder). The one move he made that hasn't set us back has been Haniger/Segura. But is anyone thinking we're going to win that one in the end? Especially now that Segura is costing us $70 million bucks instead of cheap arb years? Nah, his failures aren't being given too much attention, there just haven't been any other good moves to talk about.


You said in previous "getting 0 in return" and I showed that 0 is not actually the truth.  No exaggeration?  "The one move he made that hasn't set is back..." Segura counts twice.  Extending him was another good move.  Heredia, Ramirez, Leake, Vincent,  Cishek, Rzepczynski, Gamel (not a failed CF but a quality 4th OF).  I do think De Paula and Orozco could hurt in several years but right now they're low level arms and Gamel is producing.  You don't have to like Randy Winn for him to be a valuable player.  I am merely assuming it's his slugging that doesn't satisfy you though.  Is it something else?  Are you certain it won't develop? 


But my perception of some players is different than yours and it appears Dipoto's is different on some than most of ours.


He has very few things left to trade, cheap and available talent in trade is expensive in prospects, and the brass has set some sort of upward bound on how much they can

Balkyboy's picture

Dipoto is his own man with his own vision.  But like Beane, he seeks advantage and value in the marketplace of talent.  Besides tailoring his valuations of talent to his unique environment (e.g. stadium, budget, development staff abilites), our 'Billy Beane' would see advantage that others haven't come to recognize yet.  If you don't have a proven track record of being able to do this, to others you would appear a fool rather than a prophet, and most of the time they would be right.  

By the way, I'd like to remind everybody, if you are ever tired or frustrated after a long day, and we have all been there, please don't vent by kicking your dog, that is what the baseball blogosphere and GMs are for.






Not kicking any animals (we have 2 cats) or even being unpleasant to humans after a long day although I guess mild grouchiness may be permitted or even encouraged (as is our wont).


Not far removed from a friend of mine who used to describe his role in his own household (of wife and two children) as a 'benevolent dicatator' and knowing him and his family, I don't believe there is any malice in his actions.

This could go on for some time!


To help support my original "catch percentage" piece at ($), I posted some advanced outfield defense stats on my Medium page. Check it out and please subscribe to FM for my future work!

Runs saved per Catch Percentage works in a similar way. An “average” outfield defense would save zero runs; the Seattle Mariners show to have saved 61 runs. With 10 runs being the generally accepted translation to a win, the Mariners outfield defense would be said to be worth six wins over an average team.

It's got some nice bits in there.


Saved 61 runs, still sucked.

Can' win by hoping the other guy underscores you, no matter what you've got to outscore them. We weren't more than an average offense and they didn't improve.

Dyson is Gordon, Healy is Valencia. Scrubs filling in the other vacancies.

Shuffling of the deck chairs without any improvement.


I wouldn't describe the 2017 Mariners as hoping the other guy would underscore you. They were hoping to outhit the other guy, given how bad their pitching was.

The 61 run figure accounts for the Mariners' drastically higher than normal FB% (deliberate strategy by Dipoto), but that's saving 61 runs from one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, allowing us to squeak by as a slightly below average defensive team. Can't win by hoping to outhit the other guy if your pitching is a MASH unit.


You need to get yourself some more rest. It's just called being realistic, there is very little reason for optimism, currently. Dipoto made mirror image moves of last season, and we were an average offense. What, is the pitching going to carry us this year? Erasmo? Felix? The answer sure feels obvious.

Pointing out we have a worse chance at the playoffs this year seems like it's just stating the obvious.


If you want a pessimistic/realistic projection/discussion of the M's 2018 chances, check out LookoutLanding or FanGraphs' writings on the subject.

Baseball, like all professional sports, is performance art.  It's more like film or an ongoing book series than anything else; nobody's enjoyment of a movie, play, or book is enhanced by adopting the attitude that the product is going to be terribad even before you've sat down to give it a try.

At SSI we try to find the glimmers of hope, then discuss them in-depth.  "How might the Mariners compete against the Astros in 2018?" is a pretty fundamental question 'round these parts, and any answer which basically rejects the possibility that they might is unworthy of this community.  That isn't to say that such a reply isn't welcome--of course it is!  everyone's journey to truth and beauty begins in a different place--but if one is bound and determined to be down on the 2018 M's then this place will always strike such a person sideways.

We're not unrealistic.  We're optimistic.  We're hopeful.  We've been watching bad baseball for so long that we've essentially invented our own little game over here.  It's an acquired taste, to be sure, but in the end it's a pretty darned good one.

Pessimism/realism is fine and perfectly welcome here, so long as the goal of all interactions is to enhance the experience of your fellow community members.  Antagonizing each other isn't something we do here for a variety of reasons.  We don't ban, and we don't gang up on dissenting voices.  We just try to maintain civility while creatively approaching how we might enjoy the local baseball team's latest efforts.

Hope you'll stick around :-)  You'll never find a more inclusive and interesting community than the one right here.


Well, if you guys have spent the last 40 years with that optimistic outlook and expect a different outcome after the offseason Dipoto has put together, more power to you.

I've never met a bigger Mariners fan than myself. Probably because I'm from another state. I became a lifelong fan as a young boy because they're still the closest MLB team to my home.

You understand what I mean when I say I wouldn't be able to not be a fan if I wanted to. Unfortunately the pain they have caused has pushed me over the edge to anger when Dipoto declared them done after really not doing anything more than he tried (and failed with) the previous two years. And what makes his "heavy lifting is done" statement even worse is if the owners were truthful that there was room to increase payroll, then there's still room, Dipoto is choosing to be done.

If they're actually done, let's just say I'll have a whole lot more evenings free this season. I feel like a fortune teller, I can see it clearly, even if they picked up a player at the deadline, it's just not enough. Too little, too late. Right now I'd peg them to finish 4-5 games out of the Wild Card if a lot of things went our way. They're not making that gap up adding a player at the deadline. So I admire your optimism, I truly do. But after 40 years of this and a GM that in my opinion, just gave up, huh-uh, I'm not ok with it.

I know, But, we got Dee Gordon, Pedro Ignacio and Ryon Healy!

Is that any more exciting than Jarrod Dyson and Danny Valencia and Mark Zipchinski? Especially considering going into last season the duo of Dyson/Martin was better on paper than Gordon/Gamel. Of course Martin tanked, but that's the point. There isn't better than a 50-50 chance Gamel does any better. And if it turns out that Gordon's fast reflexes just mean his first step happens to be in the wrong direction on a long fly ball because he's new out there...

I can't be the only infielder that has moved from infield to outfield. It's not easy changing what you're used to. There's a greater than zero chance that Gordon's fast twitch doesn't always work in their favor because he hasn't been watching the ball come off a bat from the outfield for the last 30 years. I know I'm not the only one here that's ever seen a guy with quick reflexes take the first step in the wrong direction on accident and the ball ends up clearing their head by 5 feet... I know Gordon is a professional athlete. But he's a professional second baseman. Even when a Mariner has been able to make a position change, have we ever had one that also kept their bat from falling off the face of the earth at the same time? I'm drawing a blank...

Tell you what, I'm a lot more concerned about Gordon moving to the OF than say, a 2B moving to 1B or 3B...


Nobody 'round these parts was pleased with Dipoto's 'Mission Accomplished!' moment.  You're in like-minded company on that front, for sure.

And there have been multiple posts where we've hashed and re-hashed the issue of Dee Gordon transitioning to the OF.  A couple key points that you didn't mention in your reasonable list of concerns on that subject would be:

1) Dee Gordon was a SS, and not a terribly good one, when he was drafted and pushed up the minor league ladder.  He was bad enough there that the Dodgers moved him to 2B--where he soon became one of the best, if not THE best, 2B in the league.  This isn't to suggest that mechanically or practically, transitioning SS-->2B and 2B-->CF are analogous; it's to suggest that this guy has mental toughness to spare, and once he puts his mind to a new challenge he is unusually capable of not only meeting, but of greatly surpassing that challenge.

2) His truly elite speed will make up for a lot of potential missteps in the outfield.  And nobody here is asking or expecting him to save 20+ runs/year out there.  If he can be a ML-average CF, he's a major asset to the team.  If he can't?  It's not like we can't shift Robbie over to 1B and put Dee at a position where he's a legit Gold Glover.

As to the optimism vs. pessimism bit...methinks you might not have had your ear *quite* close enough to the ground here at SSI in recent months.  Honestly, it seems like everyone here has, at one point or another, declared in some fashion 'if it wasn't for SSI, my Mariners fandom would be pretty far in the rearview by now.'  We're all tortured here, bpj23 ;-)  Your angst is nothing unusual for this crowd, it just puts you solidly in the 'belongs here' column.

Dipoto has sat back and watched as his AL West rivals have greatly improved themselves, first with Ohtani going to the Angels and then with the Astros acquisition of Cole from the Pirates, while he has done little more than acquire a (high-upside!) project for CF and a little bit of bullpen help.  For me (and, I suspect, for most SSI'ers) Ryon Healy isn't much of a better bet than Valencia was.  He's younger, so if he hits his UPside, he's a long-term piece of the puzzle.  If he doesn't, he's yet another failed attempt to land a competent 1B--a project which has been ongoing since Richie Sexson's second season as an M.  But if Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy are your top acquisitions, you're going to need a lot of dice rolls to go your way.  Nobody here disputes that; it's self-evident.

What we do from there, however ;-), is try to figure out what such a set of dice rolls looks like.  Not because we're convinced it's going to happen, but because dreaming on the local club's potential is a huge part of sports fandom.  Watching them execute is one thing; dreaming about what they might do is quite another.  Once the reality of the season settles in, conversations about the M's will invariably become more nuts-and-bolts dissections of what happened rather than what might happen.  But for now, it's not like we're actively looking for the silver lining--we're just trying to describe what it might look like if it did, indeed, appear.  Does that distinction make sense?


With all of that except for the acquisition list.  It must at least be noted that Leake, Ramirez and the hope for Paxton and Felix remaining in the rotation represent major upgrades to 4/5 of what was run out there last year.  


Back when it happened I was banging my shoe on the desk about Leake being a preemptive move against a potentially insane FA market, with the bonus that the M's got him for a slice of the 2017 season to boot. So yeah, he needs to go on the ledger for acquisitions this year.  Definitely.

Ramirez & Co. just don't excite me.  I think Doc makes a great case as to why we *should* be excited about Ramirez and Gonzo and such, but my batteries are pretty drained at present ;-)

Leake, though, I can get excited about.  That was, and remains, a masterful acquisition EVEN IF it turns out he's nothing better than a ~2WAR starter in Safeco.


Here's the rub.

My confidence in Felix is a peg or two lower this year, so instead of thinking of him as a 2 last year, now he's a solid 4.

But if Felix was a 2, Leake is a 3.

So we have a 3/4 but no 2 this season. That doesn't sound like an upgrade. But maybe Felix will be a 2 again. Right?

And Erasmo isn't a sure thing to make it out of April in the rotation imo. I think its about equal chance that Erasmo fizzles out of the rotation as there is of him becoming a solid 4 or 5 pitcher. We all remember 3 inning Erasmo. Putting on this jersey has a way of ensuring basement level production rather than peak performance when they were with their last team.

Gonzales and Gallardo are equally exciting to me.


I doubt many denizens would take serious issue with any of them.  But the question before us is this: if the 2018 Seattle Mariners' rotation is going to be a plus, how might that happen?

Obviously adding Yu Darvish would turn the rotation into a strength, as would adding Jake Arrieta.  Paxton & Darvish at #1 & #2 would slide Felix down to #3 and Leake to #4.  That, right there, is a contender-worthy rotation with the only real questions being related to health (which is a problem for EVERY starting rotation in MLB).  Talent-wise, for the next 2-3 years, that group would be contender caliber--especially with this offense behind them.

But if you don't add Darvish, or Arrieta, or anyone of that caliber, how might the 2018 M's starting rotation become contender grade?  It's ok to talk 70th or 80th percentile outcomes on a point or two (like Paxton becoming Unit 2.0, or Felix rebounding to give us 3 WAR for a couple of years, etc..).  With clubs like this one, that's the only real way to go about it.


"But if you don't add Darvish, or Arrieta, or anyone of that caliber, how might the 2018 M's starting rotation become contender grade?"

And that's what angers me. If Dipoto is done with his heavy lifting, it can't.

Well, unless we want to talk about if everything goes our way. And as you say, as Seattle fans, we are not that naive any longer to believe in Santa. Dipoto shot Santa on Christmas Eve. In front of the kids. You know, proverbially, with the "heavy lifting is over" 3 months before the season starts with 50 free agents left on the market- comment.


That was a strikingly bizarre statement to hear come from his lips, after the heated pursuit of Ohtani only to come up empty.  Possible it's all just public posturing, an attempt to generate negotiating leverage, but also possible he meant precisely what he said.

Makes Boras' comments about not many teams actually trying to contend ring especially true for this franchise.


The comment from Dipoto wouldn't sting so bad if the exact same thing hadn't happened the previous offseason. The year before I felt we were a couple players short, particularly LF. At no point was Dyson good enough in LF. Dipoto tried reinventing a CF into a LF last uear, a 2B into a CF this year.

The concerns about Dipoto go back to his Angels days. Why do you think Moreno had to go around Dipoto? Because he refused to sign any good players, he' always liked the overlooked bums. Spreading his dollars on 3 Joaquin Benoits, Nori Aoki's and Wade Mileys instead of 1 player thats actually good. Every. Year.

Look, I wouldn' be down if this wasn' like Groundhog Day (the movie).

Dipoto left the Angels farm a mess and the major league team even needed time to recover after the mess he left. Now, as bad of a state as the Mariners were in when Dipoto took over, it' gone downhill since. We'r still a team built to barely miss the playoffs and now we'r ranked as the worst farm in baseball. Alllllrightyyyy then.

But, hey, if everything goes right we have an outside chance of fighting for the second wild card. Huzzah!

Angels fans had the EXACT same complaints about what Dipoto was doing for their team that we are facing now. Traded away the farm. Brought in terrible players. Left the team a mess. Sounds eerily familiar.


To help support my original "catch percentage" piece at ($), I posted some advanced outfield defense stats on my Medium page. Check it out and please subscribe to FM for my future work!

Runs saved per Catch Percentage works in a similar way. An “average” outfield defense would save zero runs; the Seattle Mariners show to have saved 61 runs. With 10 runs being the generally accepted translation to a win, the Mariners outfield defense would be said to be worth six wins over an average team.

It's got some nice bits in there.


While working with the Yankees, I worked a project to study the impact of adjacent fielders on the statistical outcomes of the individual fielder. My NDA is well expired at this point but I will, nonetheless, refrain from posting too many specifics of how I did this. But, what I can say is that I found predictive value in who the player's adjacent fielder buddies were at all positions except catcher when attempting to predict the change in defensive statistical performance from one location/season/pairing to the next. Alas, I ran out of time before I got a 'real' job and moved to Oklahoma or I'd have followed up with an attempt to correct for adjacent players and see if it made defensive metrics less volatile (I suspect that it would have helped).

This data would seem to support my finding. You can see the impact of the individual players on the unit, but you can also see the impact of the unit on the individual (when you change one player to two different other players, and the resulting new units score differently than more than should be possible just by changing that one player, and you go look up the individual defensive stats for those new players and their unit mates, you find that subbing in a good fielder makes the whole unit 'more betterer' than just the difference between the defensive statistics of the new guy and the old and the reverse for subbing in a bad fielder...more often than the opposite conditions.

This all greatly strengthens my belief that, to correctly rate player defensive you skill, you need to rate their units first, and then attribute the unit success to the individual players based on the types of stats you get when you assume each fielder is in a zone bubble.


Reminds me of my favorite outfield disaster with Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran getting into a literal head-on collision.

In theory, two awesome CFs in one outfield.

Reality was a really bad day.


Seems like something the numbers couldn't easily predict.  As we know, it can also happen with a bad defensive SS, just the same.

I'm intrigued by the idea of neighboring defensive correlation (or whatever name Matt gave it) because it logically has made sense for some years now.   I know how things can make sense and be entirely wrong, so it's nice to hear that's not the case with this.

Although I'm curious about Catcher correlation on throwouts depending on who's receiving at 2b, SS, 3b.  Is that a part of what doesn't seem to correlate with Catchers, Matt?


We were interested only in "did the fielder catch the ball cleanly" questions. If the batter got a ground ball single to shortstop, the shortstop got credit for having fielded the ball. Arms have to be tested using a different set of assumptions that I didn't have time to test, but catcher fielding plays rarely involve interaction with other fielders other than occasionally on foul pops or bunts so any neighbor correlations with range skill would be hard to spot.

With arm strength, rather than just looking at things in groups of "who made/didn't make the play, and who else was nearby?" you would look at "who fielded the ball and how often did that result in an out when thrown to this other guy...and then test the impact of the other guy on conversion rate.

My suspicion would be that hand skill is more than just errors and that bad defensive first basemen hurt a team more than the range stats claim. There's also the impact of middle infielders and third basemen on catcher caught stealing attempts and other throwing assists to someone other than the first baseman and the question of whether hand skill has a small or large impact on double play turns relative to merely overall fielding efficiency for the players involved.


In relative terms, how accurate do you believe the following Sabremetric measurements to be?:

  • Hitting
  • Pitching
  • Fielding
  • Base running

Let's break this out a bit.

On the hitting side, statistics like wOBA fairly accurately reflect the value of an offensive player's real-world results for, specifically, the hitting part of the offensive game. Won't tell you whether that result is based on real skill or luck or some combination, and won't factor in other components of offense like baserunning and situational awareness (you can rate the average value of a sac fly, but you can't rate the intelligence of the hitter for choosing the right spots to try for a fly ball vs. trying for simple hard contact using just the results data in a wOBA style metric).

Statistics like oWAR are approximations for how a player's performance SHOULD have impacted a team's chance of winning games, but misses the influence of his teammates and the team's general abilities at producing runs in ways not measured statistically. James' Win Shares method will try to get you those intangibles by using team runs scored as the baseline and then divvying up the credit based on player performance, but that is a kludge, since it assumes that everyone on the team has the same level of intangible-ness. :)

If you are asking which offensive statistics are most accurate at judging a player's real offensive SKILL, you need to look at scouting statistics that describe a hitter's style and his component skill stats. O-SW%, Z-SW%, O-CT%, Z-CT%, SwStk, statcast 'barrels' and velocity data, FB/GB/LD numbers, baserunning skill as measured by things like fangraphs' baserunning runs stat (that stat uses play by play data to compare baserunning advances and infield hit data to average, normalized by the fielders faced...that's about as good as you're gonna do for speed scoring), or, if you want something scoutier, then time to first base, first step delay, peak running speed, etc.

For pitching statistics, straight DIPS is about as accurate as Range Factor would be for fielders. It captures some sizeable portion of the pitcher's contribution, but fails to capture other non-negligible portions. More accurate are things like average miss distance (not currently available publicly, but the Yankees swore by it to rate command), SwStk, velocity, break, and spin rate, batted ball velocity and GB/FB/Barrels, or...if you don't have statcast data, at least a play by play derived system that attempts to account for the pitcher's impact on the team's batting average and XBH rate on balls in play relative to other pitchers for the same team (as my own DNRA did) will get you closer. xFIP I'm not a huge fan of, but it is a useful quick glance stat. Something like PFX-ERA that takes each batted ball result in terms of trajectory and speed and rates its' average run value, then computes ERA from that (not publicly available, but many teams have something like this) would help.

In terms of rating what really happened, ERA works fine or, if you want to take the defense out, DNRA. In terms of rating a pitcher's real skill, scouting metrics are preferable.

Fielding stats that we have in-house are in the bloodletting and leeches stages of knowledge. When you look at the defensive rankings, they are usually good enough to tell you whether your fielder is 'in the top quintile', 'in the bottom quintile' or 'somewhere in between', but I wouldn't take the 'down to the run' zone-based fielding statistics too seriously beyond that.

Fangraphs' baserunning statistic is pretty darned accurate, IMHO...there aren't many things that are missed with it with one exception. It is difficult for Ichiro to advance to third on a single if the guy in front of him at second base is Mike Zunino. I don't think the fangraphs data has correctly adjusted for leading baserunner information.


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