MR MAGIC CLOSER
DiPoto sez, in the Times,
“Obviously Carson Smith is on our roster and he had some small level experience pitching the ninth and had an outstanding year as a set-up man,” Dipoto said. “Joaquin Benoit has had closing experience in the past on two different occasions. He’s done an excellent job when asked to do that. He’s also been an excellent set-up man. Between the two, I feel like we do have options in house. But like I said, there is a lot of offseason left to go. It’s TBD as to who will pitch the ninth inning on opening day.”
As you know, the Mainframe is equipped with a universal translator. We had it installed during the era of Lou-speak. We're still purchasing DLC supplements on DiPoto. This one goes, "Benoit can definitely close. But his thing is that he kicks setup tail and takes names. The fallback is Carson Smith, but no way we want to do that to open the season. We're not EXACTLY desperate for a closer, but we are going after one. Could be by trade. But it also could be, we give some big name his dinero."
Big names and dinero this winter? Does Joe Nathan qualify at age 41? John Axford saved 25 games last year, walking 5 men per nine innings. Joakim Soria used to save, and had a clean statline last year too. Dr. D is not booked up on the FA closers, so you edjumacate him. We'll just have to assume that DiPoto means "Jesus Montero for Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce's contract. Should be easy squeezee.
The M's have offered 2 x $12M but said "or thereabouts." If some other team wants to offer 3 x $15M, remember it has a $6-10M "tax" in terms of the QO. This is where the Qualifying Offer is very powerful: a dicey pitcher, his original team wants him back, and they're prepared to price enforce by "lagging" the opposing bids by about $5. Other teams know that Iwakuma much prefers to go back to the Mariners. The QO is so strong that it is unfair in this case.
That leaves us with this situation: Some other team must lay $3/45 or $3/50 hard on the barrelhead -AND- wait for it ... the Mariners must then decide they won't go 3 years, even with easy incentives in year 3 (like 120 IP). Rival execs have spelled out exactly this staredown, and they confidently (but not certainly) expect it to fall the M's way. Yeah, perish the thought that we should have 1 year and $12M worth of dead money. What's the Dodger payroll again?
And if Iwakuma does take offense to this chiseling -- as you and I would, in Iwakuma's shoes, hate to be chiseled despite the wonderful service he'd provided to an ML team -- it doesn't sound like Chen is a target. Doesn't SOUND like.
In the same article, quoth DiPoto, in response to the idea of a FA starter:
“I don’t know that we want to put any limitations our ourselves,” he said. “Part of the appeal of acquiring Nate Karns so early in the offseason is that among Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Nate Karns, (Roenis) Elias and Vidal Nuno, it gave us a modicum of depth behind Felix (Hernandez) so that we didn’t have to panic. We knew could go out and fill innings and now focus on guys that can get a little closer to the front of the rotation than the back and continue to build depth. Obviously with Kuma, we’d love to have him back. But we’ll address what happens to the rotation as we go deeper into this off-season, but I don’t imagine you’ve seen the last addition in terms of starting pitching.”
a small quantity of a particular thing, especially something considered desirable or valuable:
"his statement had more than a modicum of truth"
Right: if you replace Iwakuma with Nate Karns, you have last year's rotation but worse. That's pretty modicum-y. So he would indeed have to go out and get Fister or somebody.
Bullpen: get excited. Rotation: don't get excited.
“What we are trying to do is just build a higher diving board into his 2016 innings,” Dipoto said. “James is 27 years old. We are not talking about a 22-year-old who is just ramping up into innings he hasn’t pitched. James has pitched to a higher innings total in his career. It just hasn’t happened in the last two years. We’re excited about the physical upside there. We are looking forward to getting him on the mound on a more regular basis. The frustrating thing for James has been it’s all little, nagging issues rather than anything I would consider to be significant or structural. The idea for us is to build his innings up as best we can before the end of the month and then let him go home and rest and come into spring training ready to compete for a spot in the starting rotation.”
When DiPoto says "we're excited about the physical upside," Dr. D takes that as a (mild) subliminal rejection of Paxton's makeup and results. Dr. D was hoping for a big vote of confidence, but ... the attitude seems more like, "Fine. If he's going to be a Grade A starter, we'll give him a chance to show it."
Which isn't UNreasonable; it's probably the way you look at a young Angels or Astros pheenom who hasn't yet won more than 5 games in the majors.
ZEN AND THE ART OF CENTEREDNESS
Divish also, in his article, pointed out that DiPoto was early to bring in talent at the following four positions. What do these things have in common? You could take a protractor and draw a line through them while standing on the field. DiPoto has added in the:
- Center field spot
- Catcher spot
- Dr. D might add that JeDi was quick to powerflush a 22-homer, kludgy middle infielder
James once said, "in any sport, you cannot overstate the importance of having intelligent players in the middle of the field." There's a life lesson in there somewhere. But even if you don't want to draw any inferences about life, you might consider that an NPB-smart, Maddux-like pitcher is more important to you than a 2-year deal. Especially when your modicum involves six rookies behind Felix.
But! Tell me that Tony Zych is your new Garrett Richards, and all is forgiven :- )
KOAN OF THE DAY (KOTD)
a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.
Dr. D quibbles a bit with that definition, but the spirit is clear. Here y'go amig-O:
When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words "The First Principle". The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a mastepiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.
When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which the workmen made the large carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticise his master's work.
"That is not good," he told Kosen after his first effort.
"How is this one?"
"Poor. Worse than before," pronounced the pupil.
Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.
Then when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: "Now this is my chance to escape his keen eye," and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: "The First Principle."
"A masterpiece," pronounced the pupil.
Dr. D read a putting article the other day by a teacher who insisted that his pupils learn to putt with no practice strokes. "Does you write your signature best by doing it at 1/4 speed?, the teacher asks.
Natural reactions, coming from a person who has spent a lot of time in a subject, are underrated. One of mine is that Billy Beane NW is a nice place to be, compared to the last 20 years' worth of committees. DiPoto has been much more agile than a committee and he certainly seems more coherent than one; now let's see the committee's sense of perspective in avoiding blunders. Like blowing off Hisashi Iwakuma over nickels and dimes.