Jerry DiPoto -vs- Mark Trumbo
Exam Cheats, Dept.



This dude is NOT my kinda player.  True, Dr. D campaigns against the weirdly overreactive idea that HR and RBI don't matter at all.  But!  Trumbo's particular sub-category of RBI player consists of:

  • Fairly good HR and RBI "newspaper leaderboard" numbers, with
  • Low AVG
  • Low BB's
  • Crummy defense

That, gentlemen, is the Wall*E flub amidst the RBI Pixar collection of Nelson Cruz enjoyability.  I'm biased against Steve Balboni, not towards him.  Mark Trumbo averages 42 walks per year and hits only .250.  This while playing in a corner, and playing the corner badly.  Dr. D isn't exactly the most sensitive soul on the internet when it comes to defense, but you sit in the Hit It Here Cafe and watch two outfield dives-and-misses per ballgame, and you'll be offended also.

Isn't this where we came in, back in 1977?  Newspaper-stat leaderboards vs sabermetric bases gained and bases lost?



In the 8th inning Sunday, Salas threw him a knuckle curve on the centerline of the plate.  Trumbo kept everything very tight and compact, his left hip glued to the outside corner, and hit a 1-iron right back up the middle, hard and far, over the fence.  (Okay, onto the fence and then over it.)

Against Garrett Richards a few games earlier, Dr. D was particularly taken with a 1-2 count that Trumbo fought off.  On or about the time of the 1-2 count, Richards threw that vicious slider to a perfect spot, low and away.  Now, you tell me:  back on July 4th, when Trumbo was .139/.171/.190 with a 3:24 EYE for the M's, what do you think would happened on that nasty 2-strike pitch?

This time, though, Trumbo was low and tight, starting his "ki" from the low-away point of reference and radiating from there.  He cued the slider foul off the end of his bat, staying alive.  Later on, he walked in this at-bat.  It wasn't spectacular, and if you'd been chatting with a friend you wouldn't have noticed it.  But it was all the difference between .139/.171/.190 Before Edgar and his .302/.358/.502 and 23:68 EYE in the 68 games After Edgar.  

Dr. D does not think he's telling any tales out of school when he observes that .358 is twice .171, and that it's part of The Inner Game of Baseball to attempt being safe rather than out.


Robby Cano came to the M's and taught them "the fence drill," with a little wall just off the outside corner, keeping your hands in.  This is the opposite way to organize a swing.  How can both be right?

Take a life lesson from boxing.  You can direct your focus to the opponent's right hand, and react to the left.  You can "pat" the left jab away without having much of a counter to it, and then you can prepare a huge countermove when you see the loaded right hand you're looking for.  Or, you can lean back off the right cross without countering, and you can exploit the left jab with a lean right and big right hook.  But you know what doesn't work?  Having no idea what kind of punch you're going to react to.  That's going to get you beaten until you can't stand up to widdle.

I dunno if there's a single area of life to which this doesn't apply.  When you put your poker opponent "on a hand," you can react to variations off that hand.  But you got no idea what is coming next?  Life speeds up till it's a blur.

Mark Trumbo is a mirror-inversion of Robby.  When he is setting up off the low-away slider, Mark Trumbo is REALLY good at reacting to middle-in.  He hits tough pitches on a LOW line (?!) to RF/CF ... yet, he can still react to mistake pitches by flicking the ball over the LF wall.



So, GM Detecto remains torn betwixt two.  On principle doesn't like the Mark Trumbo kind of player.  But Trumbo + Edgar have not only given excellent results and consistent results, but Trumbo has shown the core plate coverage that makes all the difference.  GM Detecto doesn't know what to do.  Best case:  Trumbo really is a 130 OPS+ first baseman in Safeco, and we can spend the dough on Craig Kimbrel ...

GM Jerry DiPoto, will not be torn betwixt two.  He had Mark Trumbo in his organization.  His CIA files on Trumbo are robust.  DiPoto is the guy to make this call.  Dr. D is all for --- > instant gratification.  There are many places for NEXT SEASON where DiPoto can play anti-Zduriencik, can see the blind spots, and make well-informed judgments.



Was surprised to hear Mather say that it was DiPoto's call whether McClendon returns.  Wow, exactly like Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia.  So it wasn't James Paxton that got DiPoto here after all?



World Baseball Classic-san is precisely the Beane/DiPoto type of pitcher.  You can gingerly slide the chances of his return from 60% to, what, 70%?

It's an interesting facet of Iwakuma's hot streak that he is throwing exactly the same pitches he came into the States with:

  • 88 fastball
  • armside split, -5 MPH
  • gloveside slider, -5 MPH
  • 90 fastball thrown about 2.5 inches above the strike zone
  • "Pitchability"

Adjustments, schmabustments.  As Shaquille O'Neal could tell you, some things in sports you can't "adjust" to.  Or maybe Jamie Moyer could tell you.

Iwakuma has a 2.18 ERA in five September starts with a ... wait for it ... 3:29 control ratio in 33 innings.  This shtick just never gets old.  And since it's happening in September, you can gingerly slide his chances of returning from 70% to 80% ...



Buzz on the internet is that Mike Scioscia is dogmatic about keeping the ball low (as is Lloyd McClendon).  Buzz on the internet is that DiPoto didn't agree with this dogma.  That makes (1) DiPoto, (2) Bill James, and (3) Dr. Detecto among the three human beings that believe in a good high fastball, rather than "pitching to contact." 

DiPoto, it says here, is nimble enough to notice issues like James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and to discuss them with McClendon in the "interview."


Bring it on,




OK, if you don't go to arb with Trumbo, who's the guy playing 1B?  It isn't going to be Morrison, for sure.

Montero, perhaps. And then you go to guys like Deej, Kivlehan, Choi, Romero.

Or you make a swap, or sign a big $ FA. 

Trumbo is safe and simple. 


When you clarify your thinking and your options like that, life slows down.  I read it on the internet.  Good stuff Keith :- )

If you're optimistic enough to read Trumbo as "safe," or at least Trumbo + Fallbacks as "reasonably safe," it certainly frees us up to attack other areas.  Such as closer.

And I'd kinda forgotten about D.J. ... the main bats the M's like will be at 1B (maybe RF).  Perhaps for that reason you want to actively avoid spending money at 1B.


Montero is still cheap next year (and I think he could be sent to Tacoma if we needed to) as he doesn't arb until '17...and he will be cheap then.

Deej will get a long stint in Tacoma, as his short one this year wasn't very productive.  Kivlehan got 26 starts at 1B in Tacoma last year (23 at 3B, 45 in LF, 9 in CF and 11 in RF) so he's familiar with the position.  Choi will still be around and he's a tough out guy who will hit aboud .280 and walk.  Heck, he may be as good as Morrison is.  And Romero can play 1B.  We have guys.

Arbing Trumbo for a year ($10M, or so) is a reasonable thing to do.  

You know my love for flexibility, so I like the idea of Kivlehan (always did) being up early, btw.   


Moe... your memory is usually better than mine, but I thought both Montero and Choi were in their last years of options. Sure would be nice to hide both in Tacoma if needed.

The way all the youngsters played in Tacoma and Jackson this year, combined with the lack of success especially from the young power hitters the past few years, and the amount of talent that is about to be exposed to the rule 5 draft this year and next... I highly doubt that any of the young sluggers will be given much of a chance to crack the 40 man roster next year. In fact, I bet signings are made to almost make sure these young hitters get fully vetted and force their ways out of Tacoma before they are added to the 40 man. Thus, I doubt we will see Deej, Kivlehan, Pizzano, Paolini, Smith, Marlette, O'Neill, and etc...

As far as Trumbo... if Dipoto can make the same trade that he made for Trumbo again, DO IT... but otherwise he is probably worth the risk. 



I thought Montero might be out but I could find nothing indicating he was, so I re-assumed that he wasn't.  Choi I didn't think about at all.

I would agree on most of your listed young guys not having a real shot at the bigs, but I think Kivlehan does.  Likely not out of ST, however.

Kivlehan/O'Malley/Miller make a really versatile group, with a RHB, LHB and a Switcher.  Our 40-man is crowded, but it won't remain so over the winter.

Another guy who has an outside chance is Blash.  Over the last two seasons with 828 PA almost evenly split between AA and AAA, he's hit 50 HR's, hit in the .255 neighborhood and had a BB/K of 104-215.  OK, he K's a lot.  And he is a longshot, as I said, but if he were to start in Tacoma again and show another level of improvement, he would likely get some consideration.  He's a bit "Trumbo-like" in that Trumbo had a 85-226 Bb/K in his two AA/AAA full seasons, with 51 homers in 1176 PA's.

DiPoto is coming from a free-spending organization, he will find things different in Seattle in that we aren't likely going to go all in on a big FA signing.  But we have the Rodney money to spend, and the Smith $ if we trade him.  You also have the Jackson $ to spend. Trumbo will cost us an extra $4-5M in arb and then you have 'Kuma who is giong to get more than $7M per.  But we do have some $ to spend around, but not front-line FA $...Unless Kuma doesn't come back. 


I know again I am in the minority here, but I really do not think the big issue this off season will be with the budget. OHHH, I know there is a budget, and that is probably will not be defined to the public... but I do not see that being a major obstacle for Dipoto.

When Jack did not know what to do at a position, his style was to go gather up as much spaghetti that he could and he threw it at the wall. Many of us have our issues with Jack and his perfromance, but one thing Jack was extremely good at was acquiring spaghetti. Most of the pieces have a couple good tools of the 5-tool all-stars, but NONE are ever likely to become an all-star at the MLB level. This spaghetti is just a bunch of fringe to average players, which in the Star & Scrubs model are needed.  If Jack only had one or two walls, this probably works... but when you have walls of spaghetti at 1B, RF, CF, LF, C, SS, relief pitching and starting pitching - the house just looks like a mess. Worse yet was the fact that nobody knew what to do with all this spaghetti (not Jack or any of the coaches or scouts), so it just fell to the floor where it was left to root.

Thus Dipoto needs to figure out a way to dissect these different walls of spaghetti to find parts that fit, parts that can be traded, and parts that can be saved by coaching... and toss the rest away. This is an enormous task, and one that I am sure Dipoto can not do by himself... and one that I believe needs an outside dissenting eye that can actually point out the ones that need to be kept and developed into the depth Dipoto is looking for in the roster, and then let the other GM's make offers on the rest of it  


Excellent observations, TR. Jack was great at acquiring spaghetti. So much of it didn't "stick" that, as you said, it lay there and rotted, or was traded for the droppings that could be obtained in return for rotten spaghetti.


So how do we grade Mather at this point. He's been on the job as VP/COO now for a little over a year and a half now. He's extended Jack, increased payroll, fired Jack and now hired Dipoto. I guess this off season and the 2016 season will be the ultimate judge. 


Interesting press conference. Dipoto was evidently a SABR member during his playing days, which is cool. He mentioned depth and crafting a club that's a better fit for Safeco - i.e. more athletic. That will be interesting as it applies to Trumbo, Morrison, Montero, et al. 


It should be interesting if Dipoto plans on making this current M's team more athletic.

It should mean that BOTH Miller and O'Malley would be kept, but somehow I am sure that at least one is gone... and Dipoto already cut O'Malley once.

What I do not like is that Dipoto has no emotional connection to the young pitchers yet, and those guys should be very valuable assets. I really do not want to lose Elias, Paxton, or possibly even Montgomery yet. Another full off season of tutelage and understanding of their own body's movements with regards to the pitching accuracy will do all these guys well.

Plus, while I would love to see a platoon of Guti and Seth Smith, I doubt Dipoto wants to take that risk going forward especially if he wants to get more athletic... and I bet that if Dipoto wants to get more athletic then he would probably like to have the Austin Jackson asset still in town - versus the newest questionable relief pitcher that was added to the stack.


From Drayer's piece: "I think so," Dipoto answered when asked whether the need for pitching was more pressing, "which is an odd narrative for the Mariners. I think the general narrative nationwide has always been they can pitch, they can't hit. I don't think that's true. The middle of the lineup is as stable as it gets. You have had nice seasons from solid players. Brad Miller has had a very nice season; I think there is more upside in there. Seth Smith had done a very nice job in kind of creating lineup length. We do need to create length at the bottom of the lineup, which is critical, and there are some young players that may help there, but the pitching is critical."

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