STARRY, STARRY SKY Dept.
What are the odds of these three things happening (again) in 2017?
(1) Robinson Cano hitting .300, with 30-35-plus homers -- HIT and PWR galore -- while playing 161 games?
(2) Nelson Cruz hitting 43 homers!, with everything else he does at the plate (147 OPS+) -- that is, remaining baseball's #1 home run hitter? 155 games?
(3) Kyle Seager slugging .499 with a 133 OPS+? For 158 games?
(4) Only a handful of the Mariners' 25-odd position players being liabilities in the least?
It was a starry night out last year, especially down the stretch. The forecast for tomorrow night's skies?
I'd give you about 20:1 odds against those four things happening again quite that way, and I'm guessing you'd want the FAIL side of that bet even at those odds. Is Nelson Cruz old enough that you can pretty much pencil in a big slide for him next year?
Jerry DiPoto said, on Drayer's blog,
Nelson Cruz will not require surgery on his wrist. Dipoto said there doesn’t appear to be anything structurally wrong and that rest would do him good. Cruz played through a tremendous amount of pain in the final weeks of the season, something Dipoto marveled at.
“What he was able to do, watching him swing at the high ball, it looked painful. It’s like he had to get back in the box and breathe so he could actually see again, and then he’s hitting the ball 500 feet,” Dipoto said excitedly. “It was absolutely phenomenal and again, a testament to a guy who did not want to lose. Maybe as much as anyone in that clubhouse, he and Robinson (Cano), the way they led, it was phenomenal to watch.”
For a third straight offseason, the middle of the Mariners’ order will not have to be addressed. This time around, though, the needs around it are more defined.
BOOMSTICK BABY, Dept.
I'll take that as a YES for Nelson Cruz hitting 4th next year. And a 30 HR, 100 RBI type expectation. The Mainframe Says? Cruz is year to year, and we have to chop 10% off his performance in assuming next year is the beginning of the decline. But look here, friend, Nelson Cruz is going to be drafted very high in fantasy leagues, and very high in all of the championship leagues. The smart money will be on Nelson Cruz to produce next year, and it's not like any other player in the major leagues is a guarantee.
SCRUBS A+, Dept.
DiPoto justifiably pointed out that the players with [NEGATIVE WAR] went way, way down. He's right. Only a few guys posted negative WAR, and those who did, only posted like -0.2 WAR.
Here, check this table out, and sort it by WAR. Ben Gamel had -0.2 in 47 plate appearances, Dan Vogelbach had -0.3 in 13 PA's ... but usually the liabilities for Seattle are -0.6, -0.9, and there are a dozen of those.
Under DiPoto's meat cleaver, Chris Taylor failed to play well, had 0.0 WAR ... but then again only got 3 at bats. ;- ) Vogelbach didn't look great, and we're talking three games before DiPoto said "Uhhhhh let's shoot for next year." Three games! That was the way with DiPoto. Stefen Romero had -0.3 WAR ...and therefore only 19 at-bats. LOL.
Shawn O'Malley, Moe Dawg's guy, kept it positive at +0.3 WAR ... and therefore received 232 at-bats.
Contrast that with Mike Zunino's bizarrely tortured 2014 season under Zduriencik. You might call the Iannetta 1H / Zununo 2H the defining call of Jerry DiPoto's season.
DIAL UP MY LOCAL HONDA GARAGE, Dept.
Look at the b-ref.com table again. You've got three monsters at the top, combining for 19 WAR. You say, we better not figure that for more than 14-15 WAR. I'll /cosign that.
I'll also co-sign that DiPoto can't really out-do himself for limiting the -0.2 WAR damage at the very bottom of the roster.
But! Consider the roster slots 4-10. They were very, very improvable. After the Big Three, there were a couple of guys at 1+ WAR, and then the rest of them had 0.5. Adam Lind actually had -0.3. The Honda Civics on this roster simply did not deliver. That's understandable. We've got to give DiPoto some time to get that talent pyramid rolling.
And this is where DiPoto has an EASY job, improving the production in 2017, right there in the Honda Civics section of the roster parking lot. The team OPS+ was only 106. A target of 110-115 is reasonable, and 106 should be the minimal expectation. You got a lot to work with in the 1-3 and 11-20 slots.