... and SI on Jerry DiPoto: B-
third-order winning percentage, indeed


Here is Cliff Corcoran's article.  Should we do an Exec Sum or should we "unpack" the luggage of SI's trip through Edgar Martinez Avenue?  Either way you phrase it, here is what SI sez:


(1) The M's did more, as measured by quantity, than any other team.

(1a) It didn't cost them anything, as measured by quality, defined in East Coast banking terms.

(1b) They were "small roster improvements," small as compared to the Yankees' early bid for Bryce Harper, you understand.


(2) The turnover applied to every sector of the 25-man demographic.


(3) The M's two 'blockbuster' moves were 'missteps.'  Carson Smith is awesome, whereas Wade Miley is dime-a-dozen ... Miller for Karns, well, the M's already had everything they could want or need in the rotation.


(4) Aoki was a good move because --- > benching Nelson Cruz gives you 1-2 WAR.  (Noticing a bit of a sourness in the interpretation swhatsoever?)


(5) At C and 1B and a few other spots, "the M's had nowhere to go but up."  So the M's should score lots more runs.


(6) It's mystifying how DiPoto, a reliever himself, "bungled the bullpen" so badly.


(7) All things considered, the M's have a "more balanced" roster than Zduriencik fielded "but they are not dramatically better" and they didn't do much (or anything) to help themselves out three years down the road.



It's easy to imagine you or me, given 60 minutes, looking over the winter moves of the Pittsburgh Pirates and coming up with something very similar to the above.

... Nah, Dr. D isn't trying to be snippy.  Bill James wrote in one of his earliest Abstracts, cut me a break because "if you live in Cleveland, you're going to know more about the Indians than I do."  Even adjusting for that, though, doesn't the above look like a cursory flyover?


Jerry DiPoto's thought processes are indeed too subtle to be appreciated at a casual glance.  I don't think you could say that out-of-towners understand DiPoto but reject his ideas; I think it's more accurate to say that his intentions are opaque to them.  

Just as a f'r instance, the M's have been "soft" for ten years, soft not only in Dr. D's eyes but also obviously so in the eyes of their AL West rivals, including DiPoto.  Who has tried to push past the Lou Piniella Tipping Point by importing batters who can execute pro AB's on a game-in, game-out basis.  Whether it's right or whether it's wrong, that's an example of "The Cardinal Way" we're talking about.  So is the idea of a fungible bullpen, and the idea of a reliable LHP and a speedy CF in this home park, and so forth.  

Coming from the chess background, Dr. D always likes the feeling that the kibitzers don't understand the moves.  Usually that feeling comes before something good happens.





Coming in here and looking at this team, a couple weaknesses would stand out. I'm not sure if SI considered these, and I'm also not sure DiPoto made big strides in addressing them either. It's a mixed bag anyway.

Lousy at home: 36-45 record. And DiPoto did put an emphasis on building the team to match the home environment. It's a big reason why he picked up Martin in CF, and maybe why he overpayed a bit - we needed a top notch defensive OF more than the average team perhaps?

vLHP: 22-32. I'm not clear where he helped the team here. Martin and Lind are better vs. right handers. But I don't recall DiPoto talking a lot about this being an area that needs addressing. Perhaps he felt tougher at bats and fewer black holes were more important.

Yeah, if I were a distant baseball fan, I'd probably be underwhelmed as well. I'd think and hope DiPoto sees breakout seasons from Martin and Montero. Something the average baseball guy doesn't see.

Overall, I agree with your assessment, Doc. DiPoto is turning the Good Ship Mariner in another direction, and it's probably going to take some time to see it. I'd like it to be sooner, but it was worth a season and a half or so of waiting for Pete Carroll's creation.

Hey, off topic but, but since you kinda mentioned it: That last line about chess. I'd been wondering when you'd bring up chess, because although I am not a chess player, I recently saw the movie Pawn Sacrifice and was mesmerized by Tobey McGuire's portrayal of Bobby Fischer. I spend the next day reading the entire Wiki page on Fischer, which definitely needed some serious editing, but I didn't want to miss an important fact in this guy's career. So...anytime you want to regale us with Bobby Fischer quotes, insights, etc. I am all ears.

I was especially intrigued by this idea that chess players get so wrapped up into the game that they become physically ill and even feel an actual sensation of being trapped and killed when being destroyed by an opponent. Such a thing never occured to me.



b-ref.com shows .241/.309/.407 last year vs RHP, and .264/.313/.420 vs LHP's.  Kinda surprising.  Part of that was Gutierrez' freakish year at the plate.

Still think that the M's should go with a lefty-masher for the 4th bench spot, though.  3 of the 4 big bats are lefty, including both of the two huge contracts.


Right.  There were no issues with the offense against lefties.  The "problem" with the team was that they simply had a weaker record.  Since there is a whale of a lot more to a record than just the offensive performance agains the SP -- most especially in SSS -- it's not going to be the best of metrics to pinpoint a weakness/ strength.  It would make for "good" color commentation for the booth guys, though.


I would outline Dipoto's plan to make the club better this way:

1) Trade away surplus to get pieces that complete my roster where I can

2) Move value from slugging to OBP because I have enough slugging and need more OBP

3) Move value, generally, from the bullpen to the rest of the roster, and then grab several handfuls of spaghetti and get the value back in the pen that you "lost" in trade.

Those strategies are just fine.


The problem with grading an MLB off-season is that the fans and even the sport writers have very little idea what kind of financial restraints the GM is under. That's why every MLB off-season, the Times comments section is full of "sign three or four of the top ten free agents" and then a whole season of "I told you so" outrage when they don't do it. In the NFL, by contrast, we know exactly what the restraints are and can better understand the moves (or lack thereof). It's a really weird paradigm. 

jokestar's picture

I find it kind of ironic that the M's, which are owned by a corporation, has no salary cap, yet the Seahawks, who are owned by the richest owner in football, has a salary cap. Go figure. I wish, either, Gates or Balmer, was interested in baseball.

GLS's picture

...but I agree on Carson Smith and Brad Miller. That's not to say that Miley and Karns don't have any value, but I think we're gonna miss Smith and Miller. 

M's Watcher's picture

I like what JeDi has done, though much seems to be for this year and the near term.  A few thoughts:

  • Miley was a pick up directly related to losing out on Kuma to the Dodgers.  He no lefty ace, but a reliable 200 innings.  We have experienced far worse.  And then he pounced on Kuma on the rebound, and at a bargain price.  Yes, we may miss Carson Smith, but maybe we sold high and our pen is fine.  Or not, but Smith won't make or break our pen for 2016, just like he didn't last year.
  • Karns was a steal and only cost an excess MI in Miller.  Whether Karns or Pax make the rotation or the pen, we have options at starting pitching depth and in the pen.  Or we just run the Tacoma shuttle to keep the SPs fresh.
  • We should be much improved vs LHP:  Aoki has a nice career reverse split vs LHP, Guti is back and healthy(?), Iannetta is a huge improvement over Zunino, and Montero/Lee have good splits vs LHP. 
  • We added some solid vets to the pen without breaking the bank, and a lot of spaghetti.  Some will stick, and hopefully not be rancid.

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