JeDi's 6th Starting Pitcher
pictured below: the joy of anticipation, personified


At the end of 2017, we Mariners fans are fully expecting a scene in which Guillermo Heredia performs a miracle in left field for the last out of Game Five.  Edgar and his lovely wife will kiss in a pose like the sailor on the Life cover.  And Rob Whalen, drenched in sparkling apple cider, will accept ESPN's award for Player of the Postseason.

It had better be so, because comparing our rotation to twelve months ago:


2016 2017
Paxton Paxton
Felix Felix
Iwakuma Iwakuma
WADE MILEY (SP-3 Boston)


In the three blank slots we've got AAA pitchers and one soft-tosser with a 4.7 BB rate.  But to be fair, we LIKE these triple-A pitchers.  THESE ones.  These ain't the silver spoon type on those nerdy Top 100 lists.  These ones know how to grind.

In the course of five decades, Dr. D has cobbled many different ways in which he can arrest his descent when he feels his sanity slipping.  One is to trust in authority.  In this case the authority reads "RUN PREVENTION MODEL."  Very avant-garde.  Do not confuse Run Prevention Model with the outdated and kludgy Defense Never Slumps favored by Whitey Herzog.  THIS idea has computer sims behind it.  You can't go wrong with computer sims.

Okay, anything is better than more Thorazine.  And if you've been reading since 1995 and still not figured it out, do watch out for tongue in cheek.  After you do that, let's consider for a moment the best AL defensive outfields in the last few seasons, and how they might have stacked up to ... oh, let's say ... good starting pitching.


2016 KANSAS CITY ROYALS.  John Dewan has them for +15, +20, and +10 runs saved (above ML average!) from left to right.  Whoo doggie.  Unfortunately for them, they eeeerped it all back up in the infield, but it's still an argument that a great outfield could save you +45 runs.

Actually the Red Sox were supposed to have saved +42 runs in the outfield, but +32 runs of it was in right field and, no.


2015 KANSAS CITY ROYALS.  Oh, I know what you're thinking.  You got here from SportSpyder and you've quickly surmised that this is a 'fake news site.'  We only wish we were.  

No, KC got +10, +25 (?) and -3 across the OF.

There's a pattern here:  the Rays were second in this season, only because of a grotesque number at one spot, +42 in center field alone.  As Dr. Kelly and Jemanji would have predicted, this "42" number did not appear in the 2014 or 2016 columns.  Nor did "12" numbers appear.

We're talking about OF's that racked up +10 per position, okay...


2014 KANSAS CITY ROYALS.  +24, +23, -3.  All right, at this point you can write your own punch line.

The 2014 Red Sox also had big numbers at two positions (CF, RF) and a hole at the other one.


At SSI, you don't have to guess what Dr. D is insinuating.  He does believe it is possible to save 45, 50 runs if you have three center fielders in a big pasture.  Maybe one team every other year actually does so.

Let's call it 45 runs.  What's that in pesos?  About -0.33 to your ERA ... okay, actually runs per se ..., after you figure the followup runs in a live inning.  0.33 in ERA is the difference between Kendall Graveman and Josh Tomlin.  Not worth forsaking Andrew McCutchen over.

But hey.  Three center fielders?  That's -0.33 to EVERY body's ERA.  As back-of-rotation #6SP's go, a -0.33 master turbo button ain't the worst thing in the world.

Still not drafting Gallardo though,



tjm's picture

I don't get it. I have a hard time imagining that Dipoto expects Gallardo to be in the rotation in April.* He was just trading to clear a spot for Dyson, which then makes one wonder why they picked up Smith's option at all. I suppose they thought they could actually get something for him. As it turned out, this looks like an x-million dollar mistake, x being equal to whatever the difference is between Smith's salary and Gallardo's minus the cash Baltimore sent along. Say that is $2 million. Apparently not the end of the world for the big-market Mariners! 

But even if your goal was to get Dyson all along that means you were planning on an outfield where you've got two guys you know can't hit plus two guys who never have. Boy, that's a gamble. All those referenced outfields of KC and St. Louis actually had some guys who could hit. The '85 Cardinals were the closest analog, I think, with McGee, Coleman and Van Slyke. Those guys took away a couple of gappers every night, it seemed. This was before Van Slyke became a hitter so the style's similar, except that McGee hit .350. Throw in Ozzie Smith at SS, three starters who went for 250 innings and you have the run prevention model to die for.

Unfortunately, we don't have Ozzie or the pitchers.

On the other hand, we've got Seager-Segura-Cano-Valencia, one of the best offensive infields in history, with a probably 20-homer guy behind the plate.

* Sure does make you wonder whose bed Nate Karns was sleeping in.


And there goes one of the only frontline starters in the system - and a bullpen arm.  Burrows ripped up the NWL after being drafted this year, but swapping a future pen arm for a current one isn't a huge deal. I like Mallex Smith as a speed-and-OBP player, but I'm not thrilled after getting a half-dozen of those this offseason.  Gohara IMO = Carlos Zambrano. If you're going to trade young Carlos Zambrano, I guess you can take Chone Figgins for him if you want.  That's what we're trying to do, right?

More deals coming - we can't POSSIBLY keep this many outfielders.  Maybe the next guy to go is O'Neill for a #3 arm.  He's not a base-stealer after all, and he Ks a lot - why keep a guy like that around for our scientific genius OF?

DiPoto is starting to annoy me.  We need to get to the season.

Taro's picture

LOLOLOL Martin 3.0. Apparently Martin 2.0 (Dyson) wasn't enough.

Seriously though, I don't mind the deal on paper. Cashing out some upside for a player(s) with higher floors. But how does the platoon hitting LH Mallex fit in this OF??? Perhaps Martin is getting dealt, or Smith is Dyson/Martin long-term insurance.

EDIT: Aaaand hes gone.. For the most logical fit. :-)


Smith was requested by the Rays....the Mariners made it happen.  DiPoto is exhausting to follow...his trades often seem horrible until he's done...then they just seem risky as heck.


DiPoto says he spent more time trying to trade for Drew Smyly than any other player this off-season...he has some very specific reason that he likes Smyly that much.


Just like last year when he got that special fuzzy feeling about Wade flippin Miley.


On spot, tjm!!

In retrospect it looks like DiPoto realized that the Smith signing was a bad move.  If he was planning a glovey OF, then Smith never fit in AND there were FA guys (even if we don't get Haniger) who would fit what he was looking for much more easily (Rasmus, for example).

Van Slyke and Hendrick were the thumping presence in those St. Louis outfields, with speedsters/glovey types alongside.  Hanniger hs to thump to make us into that, as currently structured.

I have no real problem if we're just expecting Gallardo to make 30 starts and throw into the 5th-6th all the time, eating up 180 innings.  he's not great, but he competes.  As a 5, we could do worse.

But then the #4 question comes up.  I like Miranda a lot, but there are hints that we see him as a B guy.  So then there's Whalen, but there are hints that he's Tacoma-bound, to begin the year.

So that leaves Heston, and he wasn't very good at AAA last season. No wonder we're looking for another arm. 

There is a mad scientist action to DiPoto's moves lately:  Almost as if he doesn't give a rip about live arms, but is in lust with live legs and leather.  He certainly has us SSI'ers typing like mad men, doesn't he?


I typed this line (above), "Almost as if he doesn't give a rip about live arms, but is in lust with live legs and leather," one minute before I clicked out ant found the Gohara for Mallex Smith trade.

I stand by that line.  Gohara has huge promise.  I stand by the line that preceded it, too:  "There is a mad scientist action to DiPoto's moves lately."

I can not in any way see where this goes, unless we're trading Martin (or Dyson/Smith) for a RF thumping bat (or for a proven arm).  You can not play all of the glovey/leggy OF types we now have acquired.  BTW, Smith is actually WAY WAY more interesting to me than Dyson, because he's young.  At AAA he's shown some ability to hit .290 and walk a bit.  His stroke reminds me a bit of Gamel's and he's shown some AAA batting chops, too.

Martin, Dyson, Haniger, Smith, Gamel, Heredia, Booger..........If we were a beer league softball team and played a rover we would be something. 

But we're one or two over our limit of those guys, unless a swap is coming.

G and I agree, it has to be.  If not, somebody check DiPoto's breakfast brownies.

tjm's picture

I was guessing we were going to go after Qunitana with Gohara, O'Neil and one of the Tacoma starters the heart of the deal. So much for that idea. 


We're discussing a trade with TBR, shipping Smith to Florida before we ever got to know him.  G and I were kinda right.

If it is Odorizzi, the squeal of delight you hear will be mine!

It  likely means that we've added one of our young arms to Smith.

Gohara +  a young MLB-ready arm for Smyly doesn't really thrill me.


That could be bundled up and shipped on.  The Mariners are cashing Gohara for X and then trading X to whomever because they did not want to wait on Gohara but did want equivalent value (in their eyes).

Mallex Smith is more interesting to me than most of the scraps this offseason, but for the price we paid he should be.  Let's hope whatever he gets us back is worth as much as what we're giving up.  On the hopefully plus side, it means we're holding onto O'Neill, or at least that would be my assumption.  With DiPoto, no one is safe.

16'll bankrupt us prospect-wise.  If we had Taijuan still I would think Taijuan + Mallex + some other things would be an interesting starting point, but now?  Now I have to assume we're aiming a little lower.  We'll see, though. The hot stove season is pretty fiery.


Smith is WAY interesting to me.  For Odorizzi (with our window closing), I'm going to deal with the Gohara + and arm loss just fine.  If it is Odorizzi. Or Archer. 4 years of the one (counting a QO) or 5 of the other is just ducky.

Was typing about Archer while you were posting about him, G.  Twins sons of different mothers?


Mallex Smith began day in Atlanta, stopped off in Seattle and appears bound for Tampa. That would make for one heck of a flight connection.

Drew Smyly headed to in deal for Mallex Smith and 2 others, source says.


Wonder who the other TWO are.  Glad to have you backing me up on the trade speculation, moe. At least it means I'm on solid footing. ;)



Double Drats!!!  Smyly is the least interesting guy they have, of the guys I could be interested in.

Sheeesh.....just go buy a FA and keep Gohara.  Arrrgh.  So the two other parts are going to be huge here.  We're talking just two years of Smyly, after all.

One will be a Whalen or young arm.  I'm hoping it isn't Moore/Povse.

And then something else will be of the young OF variety.  Boog? Heredia?  Wilson?

It's a steep price for Smyly.  I could learn to not get excited about this.

Such a (seemingly) steep price for Smyly and we basically gave away three years of Karns.  Weirdness.


I wouldn't say that he is uninteresting in terms of properties to own.  Great stuff and very high K up a ton of homers right brass will have to teach hi to stop doing that.

Gohara, Yarbrough and a random infielder no one ever herad of for Smyly is not that steep a price in this market.


Vargas was signed for 1.7 million, and considering our 7-figure international babies almost never work out it's hard to get worked up about that right now. Yarbrough was IMO a lefty pen arm, while some people liked him as a starter.  He has a nice arm, but DiPoto isn't worried about replacing that sort of arm.

It's Gohara and filler for Smyly, unless Vargas turns into David Arias.  Even if he does, it'll be well after DiPoto is gone if none of this works, so what does he care?

I'd rather have more years on that Smyly deal, but Seattle only has a couple of prime years of their MOTO left, if that, and Felix's arm isn't getting any fewer miles on it. I don't mind a win-now mentality.  To start last year Smyly was hammering the zone and getting lots of Ks - and giving up lots of hits, especially power shots.  In the second half the hits and power shots went down, along with the Ks falling a little, as he got easier outs.  We'll see if that continues, and how much protection Safeco gives those fly balls - although it wasn't the home park that was the problem last year.

Looks like that should close most of Seattle's major shopping. How y'all feeling about the rotation and the lineup?


The Mariners have been AWFUL at signing IFA hitting talent, and Vargas was ranked like #25 out of the top-30 that year IIRC by the same scouting folks who pulled the Machado comp.  He was big, and would probably slide to third.  Maybe he pulls that off, maybe he doesn't, but none of the other hitters we've brought in have managed to turn into anything recently.  I'm not saying Vargas is a bust, I'm saying he hasn't even come stateside yet and is half a decade from contributing, at best.  The Mariners had a year to see him play for us and traded him.  

They're in the best position to know - second-guessing from here would be sheer hubris.  So right now I can only take him as being throw-in-level talent that we overpaid for (again).


...which DiPoto said he wanted to do...he also said we might have the money to buy another pen arm if he liked the price so that might be our last add.

As for where we stand now, I like our rotation's odds of being at least average-solid (in the DIPS sense) and getting an ERA+ of 105 or better with Smyly in the fold, allowing SP5 to be a happy carousel until we find someone who sticks. I love our team defense now...and, despite the ripping and groaning and panicking about the impact the moves have had on our offensive potential, I still believe that defense has a ton of value when deployed in a coherent manner that does not give away all of its gains in sub-marginal offense.  The 2010 Mariners are not proof that defense is dangerous as a strategy...they are proof that you have to have offense TOO.

The club, as currently constructed, looks like an 88-92 win team to me.  Enough offense, and an improved top of the order in front of the boppers, some young outfield upside (yes, I think Haniger has a LOT of upside, and Gamel has some as well), good defense at every crucial position from Zunino to Segura, to Cano to the entire outfield to Seager, a useful bench (Valencia, one of the OF mix, the back-up catcher is pretty useful in Ruiz, plus one other tool...O'Malley or somesuch), a solid bullpen...


Gohara and Yarborough (who was dang good at Jackson last year) is pretty steep for two years of Smyly.

With some FA arms still available...we overpaid.  Maybe we had to.

I am now not very excited.  Well, he wasn't very good in the 1st half of last season and that whacked his numbers some.   429 batters faced and 20 HR's allowed will do that to you.  Maybe he's a 110 OPS+ guy after all.

I'm still not very excited.

What a weird day.

Thinking about it, of our 6 best young arms in the fold as the season ended (arguable: Walker, Diaz, Gohara, Moore, Yarborough. Altavilla), DiPoto has traded away three of them this off-season.  And Karns, too.

Sigh.  Visions of JD Martinez or Orodizzi danced in my head for a couple of hours.  It was fun.  Back down to earth.


Then spun off Gohara and Yarborough for Segura.  Feel any better?

I just want to see how the pieces fit.  The Mariners scrapped nearly everything that wasn't the MOTO or their TOR arms and closer, and went to work rebuilding it with "options" and "possible solutions."  I don't know how that congeals into a competitive whole yet - I just don't.  

If Segura is last year's version, and Smyly is the version from 2-3 years ago, and the pen is more solid, and Paxton stays healthy and kills it, and Felix can at least pitch like a #2, and the MOTO repeats last year's glory, this team could be AMAZING.  But hoping for the best is what got the Mariners to this point in the first place.  DiPoto has planned for the downside by making sure he has a TON of replacement pieces that he home can provide a stoploss and stem the bleeding.

It still looks like a precarious construction to me.  I'll have to step back and take a longer look at it as we head for Spring Training.


A bit better, G.


It isn't that I feel THAT bad, just not as good as I was hoping. Smyly has never interested me that much as a major trade target. He hasn't been a work horse and he was best out of the pen.   I suppose you could also look at our trades as Gohara for Dyson and Karns for Smyly + a RP.

:)  Nah, that's stretching it, isn't it?

We needed a pitcher badly and we paid for that need.  I wonder what more we would have to have added to get the extra year of Odorizzi?

But now we're set, more or less.  Seems we have one reliable work-horse arm in the rotation, and that is our #5 guy.  But the other 4 all come with some upside that is significant.   Things could be worse.  and I will admit that Smyly's 1st half doomed his overall numbers.  A quirk, I hope.

I will try to get on the band-wagon.

Phoenix guy's picture

Smyly's long been one of my guys. His gopheritis should be a little more controllable as a lefty in Safeco and I love the pushing forward of the Gohara chip into this current championship window. It might not work, but this at least makes sense.


Not just because I predicted JD was going to get another proven starter...and becase Smyly has been my guy all along.

I make a lot more bad predictions than good.

But I think most people are significantly underrating Smyly.  In my mind, he's already our #3 starter.  Inconsistent last year...supposedly lost feel for his changeup.

But he's still almost a strikeout an inning...walks very few...and that outfield is perfect for his flyball tendencies.

And compared to the remaining free agent starters, he is Cy Young.

Taro's picture

Yeah, for me hes our #2 SP immediately. Good young SP with remaining upside.

I like the fact that he was pitching in the AL East with good hitting clubs and hitters' parks galore. No need to worry about any adjustment.

I also like buying low on him. The package we gave up is fair, but not excessive. 

OBF's picture

My quick takes on what ended up being a 3 team trade:

Luis Gohara -- IMHO, this was trading WAY HIGH.  Just like Matt is hoping to see Tank traded because he is all sizzle that Matt expects to fizzle, I felt the same way about Gohara...  So I am glad it was Luis in the trade and not Moore.  My main beefs with Luis are three...  complacency, coachability and carer trajectory.  Some of you guys (I am lumping in LL, MLBTR, etc. commenters as well) act like we traded away a potential ace...  no way.  we traded away a 19 year old kid who can't keep his weight under three bills, can't learn an off speed pitch and doesn't really seem to....  want to...

Yeah he is the rare lefty with 95+ mph fastball...  but it says in my book, and on Luis' bbref page that you need WAY more than that to even get out of A ball.  He has been in professional baseball for FOUR years now, it isn't like he hasn't been coached, or prodded.  Felix came into the org as a 16 year old too, and was an ace in SafeCo by 19...  Carlos Zambrano was brought up as a comp...  again came into the cubs org as a 17 year old...  in the Cubs MLB rotation by 20 and screaming at umps all the way... Luis may make it to the MLB some day, but it won't be for a LONG time and he just seems to have no passion for the game.  Wouldn't surprise me in the least if he toils in the minors and never even makes it.

Thomas Burrows -- I actually think this guy is a bigger loss than Gohara.  Strong arm, highly rated slider, he had rocket ship to the Pen written all over him, as soon as this year...  but we all know what JeDi thinks about pen arms...  Dime a dozen and they are fairly interchangeable.  Not sure I agree with him, but I just don't get that upset or excited about a potential 8th inning guy.

Mallex Smith -- Hi!! ...  oh...  uh....  Bye!!

Shae Simmons -- The forgotten piece!  29 comments above and no one really mentioned this guy!  Mallex Smith was fine or whatever to facilitate the TB trade...  but it isn't like this guy was a no name nothing throw in!  Most of the Atlanta fans hated the gohara for smith and simmons trade!  Mostly because they saw Simmons as a future closer, even using him in the same breath with Kimbrel!  Yup he went through tommy john in 2015 (what pitcher doesn't these days), but he already made it through that and even got back into the braves pen for a couple innings to end 2016.  For now Shae zooms WAY up out bullpen ranks for me, all the way up to starting the year in the pen and maybe ending it as the setup guy or even closer!  Or maybe he never recovers fully from TJ and he goes poof, who knows :)

Carlos Vargas -- Agree with all above...  an M's IFA???  I automatically put those in the lost cause bin everytime I hear of their signings...  jaded much?  Yay M's :)

Ryan Yarbrough -- I am probably higher on Yarbrough than most of you above, but again...  Not Moore or Povse?  Ducky!  I mean you have to give something to get something!  Ryan Yarbrough HOPES to be smyly someday!

Drew Smyly -- Yeah he isn't Archer or Odorizzi, but I never thought we had the bullets to get them anyways (even if we had added in Tank).  Still we are talking about a guy who even in his worst year in the majors was a two win player.  Last year he showed he is healthy enough to put in a full year as a starter, and he previous past proved that he has the stuff to be quite good ,now he just has to put those two things together!  Having 3 CFs behind him can't hurt :)  Notice he is a fairly extreme flyball pitcher which matches our park and defense pretty well and does that C the Z thing quite nicely!  As much as it pains me to say this...  he actually probably slots in as our #2 right now!  Oh please oh please oh please, Felix, find that fountain of youth this offseason!!!  I can't wait for all of the "I am in the best shape of my life" articles this spring training ;)

All in all I saw this 3-way as quite the win for Mr. Dipoto!  Way to go JeDi and Go M's!


Ice, I can feel your pain.

I suppose all SP's are "fragile" in some sense, but all of our guys, excepting our new #5, seem somewhat vulnerable to reduced innings.

Maybe not, Kuma, as I think about it:  If '15's 129 innings are his outlier year, then maybe he does have 190 in him this year? 180 innings from Smyley would be pretty cool.

But Felix, Paxton and Smyly might all thow 150, no more.  One of them certainly will fall to that level.  

Miranda/Whalen/Moore/Heston aren't too bad as fallback positions.....heck, I like two of those guys a lot, so maybe I shouldn't worry about fragile arms.

Our OF batting upside is really limited to Haniger being a 110 hitter with 20+ HR's and Gamel stealing an OF spot by hitting .290, or so.

Dyson and Martin are what they are.  I'm not a big fan of either, and two 85 OPS+ bats in the OF doesn't jump my battery, either.

Some things could go wrong, staff-wise, especially.  

But at least now who we're bringing to the dance.


Many seasons have failed when you need a lot of turbojets to turn on at the same time.

No season is bankable, but I also hate betting on 2 old guys in the MOTO having to do the same or MORE than last year to keep the engine running.

Honest, it feels like the 2003-2004 off-season for me.
We start the season and Gar and Olerud are sputtering and the team craters.

Hope that upside isn't just side.


I just don't feel like we just added Spiezio and Aurilia.  Don't feel like we're talking about prospects and youth along the lines of Chris Davis, Dobbs, Reed, Jacobsen, Leone and Bocachica this year either.  That team had failed to make the playoffs 2 years in a row while winning 93 both times.  One of those being the year of Winn/Cameron/Ichiro.  They stuck with the young pitching they had, which also didn't work out at the same time.  This situation bears little resemblance to that, from my perspective.  Bavasi's initial foray...

The OF has plenty of potential. I do get not trusting in potential in this city. Haniger and Dysons upsides have been expressed before and some people see a lot in Gamel (I'm still waiting to see). Heredia had a .349 OBP last year in his first taste of MLB. That's only US pro PA #'s 418-524 but he is mostly being written off by everyone writing about the Ms. He was a quality AB in Cuba and has been so far stateside.  Somehow he's already reached his ceiling so quickly here and the OBP provided is not enough.  I'm not buying any of that.  It's not HR but HR is not what the Mariners lacked last year. 

Defense, healthy SP and depth, bullpen quality and depth, baserunning and OBP in about that order was what seemed to me the biggest lacks.  Have those not all been significantly addressed?  All while getting younger in many places, though not in the rotation. 


But I just can't get excited with the plan, because the plan has been used before any number of other colors.

The 2004 Mariners roster was very undynamic, but it has the same problem as this time which is a fundamental lack of explosive upside.

None of the new bats have potential to go OPS+ 120 out of nowhere (except Segura, but I see him as either a potential slide down or only making up for Cano or Cruz sliding down).
You could bet that maybe Seager will make another jump or Zunino will solidify into monster, but there's not a lot of bounce there.


I think that's the issue - DiPoto is managing in a fashion that raises the floor while many fans want the roof raised. Outside of LA, NY and Boston, you do have to pick your poison sometimes.

He doesn't have the payroll or prospects to lock in guaranteed production (or high ceiling production) at every position - it justs costs too much. What else would you have the guy do? Where would you cut in order to spend more on bats? 


I see significant upside in our outfield over 2016's Guti/Smith/Martin/Aoki + stubs OF.  Not to mention Zunino (low probability, but not impossible) and Seager.

I think Mitch Haniger has all-star potential, of which we had ZERO in 2016's OF.  I think Gamel could turn into good-Ackley rather easily (not to be confused with confused/anxious Ackley), and that is a rather nice bonus over the collection of meh's we have in 2016.  And we're not just talking about offense.  Do you want upside?  How about we gain literally eight wins ONLY on outfield defense?  That's some pretty high quality H2O, dude.


Totally agree, but I'm just not optimistic.

And again, it's not necessarily the fact that we have more upside compared to last year.
We also have a lot of downside and that's what I'm more woried about.

Anyways, we've talked enough to disagree on cumulative outfield effects being as important as mathematically expressed.

I'll believe it when I see it.


I just think the boundaries of "diminishing returns" for an outfield defense is expressed as...the boundaries of actual measured defensive values in the outfield.  We've actually measured - every year, for the most part - outfields that impact the scoring by 40 runs to either side.  We've observed teams adding legitimate +20 run defensive outfielders to the fold and actually gaining those 20 runs.

If I were saying that it was possible for the Mariners to add ten wins on defense or more, you might have a beef...I'm saying they happen to be an extreme case, moving the needle from as bad as it can realistically get (without playing three people way out of position) to as good as it can realistically get (without the players stealing each others' balls so much that no further gains are possible), and that this could be 8 wins in value.


We've also seen the Mariners go from -bajillion to +3 and the record barely wavers (if I remember correctly...).

Defense is definitely a baseline helper, but it doesn't seem to be nearly as effective as an ace out of nowhere or an offensive explosion from an unexpected source.
Offensive up seasons seem to clump together, but does defense?


I can't remember where I read it, but recently one of the sites talked about the unprecedented nature of FanGraphs' WAR projection for the M's this season.

The thought was that it is not uncommon for an aging star to lose much of his WAR value in a single season.  It happens.

But what is uprecedented is this: between Cano, Cruz, Segura and Seagar, the projection is that COLLECTIVELY those four will lose about half of their 2016 WAR (46%) this year.  Not to say that's impossible--but that it's unpredictable.  It's collective worst case scenario on a grand scale.

So let's say those guys combine to lose just a quarter of their 2016 WAR--still a serious situation.  If you add back in the difference berween a quarter and a half, we move right up to the level of the Astros, fighting for the division, and a likely wild card team.

Sure, anything can happen.  But a realistic (IMO) reading of team talent is that this is the best we've been in recent memory.

Anyway, I'm optimistic.


Even though he careered it last year, Seager has been been a consistent rock:  4.2, 6.2, 4.7 and now 7.3 WAR. His bat has been 4.6, 4.5, 4.3, 5.3.  Gloves are alwys iffy with dWAR.  He might lost 1-1.5 just in defensive noise.  He could have an All-Star year and lose two WAR.  But then, his bat might jump another level, too.

Can has been incredibly consistent,running about 6 WAR with his bat for ever (minus '15).  But it could happen that evn he ages a bit.  Last year showed no hint of such  a thing, however. But he has tyupically foled up his finest glove years with a drop of a dWAR or two.  Such is dWAR noise.  He could have an All-Star year and lose two WAR.  At 33 he hit a career high ini HR's:  Is that sustainable?

It is perfectly seeable that Cruz might drop to '13 or '14 levels with the bat, he is 36, after all.  He was an All-Star both years, combining for 6.5 batting WAR.  His 11.0/5.5 average for the past two years could easily decline by 1-1.5 points...and he would still be pretty good.  The last two years were his career best in oWAR:  Can he improve on those at 36?

In '13, Segura's 2nd best bat year, he was nearly 2 oWAR worse than he was last saeason...and yet was still pretty good.   He could still be a .300 hitter but lose 1-1.5 oWAR.  But it is worth remembring, he's a huge upgrade...even if only close to '13 levels.

I'm not predicting any such thing, but it is far easier to see a fair drop in oWAR from those 4 than it is to imagine a fair increase.

And yet our offense is wrapped up in thoe 4 bats.  Even if two of them lose just 2 oWAR each with their bats (they would still be pretty good), and the others hold the terrific performance they had last season (career bests in three cases)....then it is unlikely Dyson's 33 SB's make up for much difference.

Which puts a bunch of offensive dependency on Haniger/Vogelsbach/Gamel/Zunino.

Two of those guys have to  be pretty productive or our offense could easily have a dark dimension to it.

Dipoto's lust for wheels and leather in the OF may, in some way, be his way of admitting some '17 decline from some of our big boppers.  Insurance, as it were.


The Mariners gave back about 30 runs total in the outfield on defense last year and this year, they could easily GAIN that many...and of course Dyson isn't just an asset for his steals on offense...he's an asset for the extra bases he nabs on batted balls.

The point, BTW, wasn't that we should predict all four of the Mariners big four bats will be just as good as 2016...the point was that the 84 win projection fangraphs gives us depends on Cano, Seager, Cruz, and Segura losing a combined 8+ wins over last year.  If they only lose 5...the team is one of the best in the AL according to fangraphs.


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