Great post, Doc. Really enjoying your takes on DiPoto throughout this offseason. My feelings are quite in line with yours w/r/t how the roster is shaking out. Would love a shut down closer on this team, and call it good.
In the grand tradition of The Donald, welcome to another pompous self-interview. ... No :- ) the Q-and-A format is purportedly an attempt to make the page more scannable and to service the giant ticker tape that is the SSI Shout Box.
Q. Is the Adam Lind move a game-changer on the SSI DiPoto watch?
A. It is a game-changer, yes. Picking from a long list of Dr. D howls about the previous moves, the first howl was that --- >
--- > DiPoto seemed to exaggerate his own "kind" of player (tough AB's with low OPS's, good gloves, and safe pitchers). He seemed to exaggerate them far, far more than Jack Zduriencik ever went after 20 HR and 80 RBI. And while going after these sideways "my kinda guy" players it looked like he was going out of his way to make statements about Zduriencik's lack of judgment.
Adam Lind is a masher with dubious glovework. At a stroke, DiPoto laid waste the suspicion that he's all about 100-OPS corner players who don't strike out much. And he tipped us off that his "Run Prevention Model" ads were more bark than bite. If it was all about run prevention, Logan Morrison was a much better defender than Adam Lind. So's Casey Kotchman, which is who we feared would wind up at 1B. Or Andy Wilkins, who was DFA'ed today. LOL.
There will be no Chavez-Kotchman 513-run teams on DiPoto's watch. Yes, the Lind decision was precisely the Valium to soothe Dr. D's jitters.
The 2016 Mariners go into the season with easily their best OFFENSE since Edgar Martinez, while the pitching languishes by comparison. Dr. D stuffed this amigo into much too small a pigeonhole. So we find out that DiPoto isn't blinded by one "type" of player. He's just going by a fairly vivid picture of what wins in Safeco.
Q. Has SSI learned its lesson?
A. Hey! Good idea. Let's shut the blog down until April 1. See yer all then.
:- ) It's understood that Dr. D is, today, noodling around based on what he's seen up to, um, today. We'll continue to do so. This is a baseball chat, not a medical center. And nobody was calling for DiPoto to be punished for his worldview; we were (and are) just expressing our own opinions as DiPoto implemented his. It's a free country.
Also, Dr. D is quite familiar with the sensation. He stands over Grandmaster games, thinks they're going one way, and then BAM the Queen thumps down and the whole position morphs before your eyes. Your ego learns not to frazz out when a specialist turns out to be a step ahead of you. No biggie.
Still, I wish I hadn't made those cracks about Look Ma I'm General Managing. :: ulp ::
Q. You said there were two main Dr. D howls that were silenced.
A. Ya. The "overpay" aspect of the winter looks angled now. DiPoto's moves now look "daring" as opposed to "indulgent."
When DiPoto paid the 3rd low-minors pitcher, separated the M's from the pack, and got it done on Adam Lind, that one charmed me. Drives me crazy, the way GM's and fans bicker and bluster about one extra rookie-ball pitcher, when adding him would change the face of a coming MLB season. Pay $1.10 on the dollar and get it done. Those prospects are always valued at about 3 times what they're actually worth, anyway. DiPoto -- LIKE BILLY BEANE -- isn't about "winning" today's trade. THAT, I love.
And once you look at it that way ... that DiPoto will pull the trigger and get a deal done, without quibbling and hemming and hawing and backing out last second Zduriencik style ...
... it's easier to look at Smith-Elias for Miley as more a case of "This is exactly the SP I want on my side. If I have to give $1.40 on the dollar I will." And DiPoto worked with the Red Sox last year; both sides are privy to some (good) shtick on Wade Miley.
Same goes for Kivlehan-Wilhelmsen vs Leonydas-Bass. If DiPoto's plan needed a glove wizard in the dead center of the field -- and it did -- he made sure he got one, in a tough market for elite CF's. Can't begrudge him his one dominant outfielder, now that the picture's more complete.
Don't get me wrong. I don't make the Texas, Boston, or Iwakuma moves in a million years. But the sounds and colors have changed tone and hue since the Lind decision.
Oh, by the way. Just before the Lind deal, there was the usual pap about "The M's don't have anything Milwaukee wants, except maybe that one kid they have in the top 100." As in the Cliff Lee deal, and so many others, the trade went down to crickets in the peanut gallery. Not SSI's Think Tank, of course; you know that. We're talking about national comments threads.
For the last blinkin' time. Every org in baseball has what it takes to make major deals -- with any other org. There are DOZENS of desirable minor leaguers in EVERY system.
Q. Is DiPoto Stars & Scrubs?
A. Fair question. Here y'go amig-O.
Stars & Scrubs has two huge things going for it:
- Roster slots #1-5: Dominant players who carry you to big wins. And instill field-level swagger in their teammates. (Play a sport sometime, b'wana.)
- Roster slots #16-25: Cheap players who can (1) be swapped out and who can (2) overperform their contracts.
ALL Stars & Scrubs rosters have some Civics in the middle, guys who are Steady Eddies. Civics aren't meant to deliver UP seasons; they're meant to give you what you pay for.
Honda Civics strategy OSSIFIES THE ROSTER in return for Steady Eddie production. Pat Gillick, the greatest of the Civic masterminds, would do this ... but would leave 3-4 years on as the ossified roster aged. As you've noticed, the aftermath is often less than pretty.
Joaquin Benoit costs $8M. Nori Aoki costs $6M. Adam Lind costs $8M. Do they ossify the roster? Of course they do not; they are on 1-year contracts. They're precisely the type of mid-roster players that are secured by Stars & Scrubs GM eager to churn his roster many times in very few years.
And, count up the DiPoto players who could outperform their contracts. Make a list and check it twice.
Q. So, do we call him JeDi?
A. It's too soon. Iwakuma hurts too much. Still hate the idea of chiseling 'Kuma's 3rd year when you are simultaneously renting Adam Lind for 1. ... Also, the roster has hit the point of "intriguing" as opposed to "wandering the halls smile-dazed."
But, that was a whale of an offseason OFF-roster. Now bring in Andrew Miller and we'll talk :- )
DiPoto has caught me on the wrong foot pretty badly but if my lurching about is info-taining, 's all good. Gracias Dan :- )
"Off-topic", I know, but... Please can someone help me understand why we protected Cody Martin and Daniel Robertson, and left Jabari Blash, Ji-man Choi and Julio Morban unprotected? Blash, epsecially, hurts- but, the other two constituted the rest of our upper-minors power. Who's left?!
I'm struck by this piece by noted Boston Globe columnist Chad Finn, looking at the Miley- Smith/Elias trade from the Boston side, and particularly contrasting the two baseball leaders (DD is president of baseball operations, a la Theo Epstein in Chicago, but he makes all the baseball calls) and their styles and their priorities. I found these paragraphs particularly pithy, and salient.
Competence is giving way to the exceptional. With David Price here, the need for an innings eater who at his best buys the bullpen a day of rest isn’t that important. Especially since the bullpen is damn good now. I’m not sure he’s a whole hell of a lot better than Elias, but new Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto must have seen something he liked during his partial season embedded with the Red Sox.
Watching DiPoto make this deal for the Mariners – and trade away an emerging, productive and popular player in Smith—reminded me of something else I’ve like about the Early Deals of Dombrowski. It may be what I’ve liked the most, actually. He’s enhanced the roster without trading away the players developed and valued by the previous regime.
I commend the whole article to you. But what particularly struck me was what I've been banging on about here, in a series of posted and unposted comments: Those of us who are long-time Mariners' followers, who searched the morning box scores for performances of Kivlehan and Miller and Elias and other favorites, want those players to excel. We are fans of those players. They have not betrayed us- somebody came along and traded them to another team, to our rivals, the Rangers or the Red Sox or the Rays.
By contrast, Chad FInn writes, Dombrowski has maanged to remake the Red Sox- gaining the top pitcher, top reliever, and the Mariners' top reliever in the space of a couplf of weeks- without sacrificing any fan favorites. I wish Jerry D could proceed, with similar regard for my feelings! But- he just wants the cap to succeed- the uniform- no loyalty to the guys.
Swallowing hard- still an M's fan- but, also, still a Kivlehan and Miller asnd Elias fan! Definitely acquiring some "divided loyalties", here.
I suspect Dipoto might've gone in another direction, and kept most of our favorites, if he had a spare $217,000,000.00 to help bridge the gap.
I wonder if Dipoto had assumed for a while that Iwakuma was gone and had already put the pieces in motion for a Boston trade, just in case he was right about Iwakuma.
I've said how I morphed into understanding and appreciating the Miley deal, to some extent. 200 locked in, MLB-type innings is a big thing to have.
Getting Karns was a bold and very good move. Always liked that one.
I remain on the down side of the Martin trade.
The Lind deal was neat. Kind of the cherry on top of the others. if we don't make a run into the playoffs, 5 years from now we may look at it in an entirely different way. One of those young arms is likely to be good. but he addressed a need and didn't make a longterm commitment to do it.
And I think he may yet make another deal for a positional guy.
So, I'll give him a A- on the Karns deal, B/B- for Miley, C- for Martin, and A- for Lind (would really have preferred 4 years of a Korean bat).
He's batting .750, in my eyes.
That Jerry says...
The Mariners are likely to add at least one big-league free agent reliever.
That sounds great... but he better get a move on... The RP FA class is quickly dwindling and the option are become less awesome... AND SPENDY! O'Day got THIRTY ONE millions, Sipp just got 18, Lowe got 13... so whos left? I wouldn't mind grabbing any of these guys, maybe a couple:
I assume the Japanese Closer, Oh, is probably off the board with the gambiling issues lingering... Especially for the PC hyper cognizant Mariners.
Tyler Clippard -- Probably the guy I would most want, getting a little old and will probably want several years on his contract
Antonio Bastardo -- Capable of big time up seasons, but also has a pretty poor season every other year... If the pattern holds he is in line for a meh year... But could be a poor man's Sipp... I would love to pick him up, espcially since Furbush is a health concern.
Jonathan Broxton -- Another boom or bust guy, but when he is Booming he puts up some pretty lights out numbers... He might be a closer candidate, seems like the type that could do really well with a clean start of the inning and up 3 runs... :)
Tommy Hunter -- Has remade himself in the Pen the last few years... Not a sexy add, and not a big time FB, but would be a stablizing force...
Neal Cotts -- Getting up there in age, but is a steady lefty setup guy, maybe a very poor man's version of Sipp ;)
Casey Janssen -- Buy low candidate, bad couple of years, but had 4 straight years of nice success before that, dont know too much of the story.
Matt Thornton -- Bring Back Matt! Dude is getting old (39! Weren't we just talking about him as a M's prospect???)... But he just DESTROIES lefties! Look at those guady ERA+'s!!! Seriously we need an amazing LOOGY bring Throton back for one last SafeCo tour :)
Matt Albers -- Again, I dont know too much about him... looks like his innings have been fairly limited the last few years... injuries? But when he has pitched he's gotten great results
No idea what type of contracts any of these guys will get, Clippard will be the most spendy. Again, Go get me at least one and maybe two of these guys, Jerry, and lets go to WAR!
That's my first impression of the list, which I must admit I didn't examine the numbers closely for. Speaking as a roto guy, who continually churns and locates closers every season off scrapheaps like this, I don't want any of those guys. Useful, but nothing we can't find currently in our own system.
I'll pay top dollar for a "plug him in and fuggetaboutit" closer, but it's pretty low on my priority when there are starters and position players to be had. Now, of course a major league outfit is a different matter. But like I said, either pay the money for the Andrew Miller, the Craig Kimbrel, if you have that luxury, and relax, or do it yourself.
I want a closer who comes in in the 9th and you aren't wondering if you get the good one or the bad one. Last time we had one of those guys, his name was J.J. Putz, and we pulled him off our own scrapheap. He was our 6th starter, if memory serves. I'd rather go that route than pay big dollars for a setup guy.
Chris Smith owned the 8th inning. That was nice. But he got a little too jumpy with the lefties when closing.
The Lind move and what seems to us as a low cost does indeed transform the look of JeRy's postseason.
Re: the lineup:
1. 3/4 of your infield now is combined a MAJOR offensive force
2. Nelson Cruz is not being manhandled against his will into the DH role (and thus risking a down year) by the acquisition of a full-time RF'er
3. Your whiz CF'er will likely be batting ninth and not have too much offensive expectation put on him
4. You've solved the black hole at catcher
5. The kind of OBP players now sprinkled throughout the lineup mean you will not routinely need to string together hits to produce runs.
6. The OF looks a BIT thin, in that you really don't have a single player simply locking down a position full time (one surmises Cruz is bound to DH up to a third of the time especially against RHP's). If Guti goes down you will definitely and immediately need a solid RH hitting OFer who can if needed play CF. BUT!!! EVERY ONE of the OFers brings something significant to the table. Smith (solid all-around LHB), Aoki (reliable OBP), Martin (CF glove whiz), Guti (good glove, good stick), Cruz (BIG, BIG stick). No Ackley, no Saunders or Romero question marks, no more gotta put Trumbo in left.
IF Edgar is indeed to be a force multiplier, and IF Marte hits and gets on base at the top of the lineup, this could be an upper third offense, no Toronto, but very good.
The starting pitching looks solid but not great. Felix is now alone at the top. Until Taijuan Walker consistently reaches his potential, he cannot be considered TOR. May he do it this year! Many contenders these days have multiple TORs. The M's will need that from Walker to stay with the big boys. Who knows what to expect from Paxton? He could be a TOR, or he could be mostly on the DL. Karns and Miley at best will be MORs, so it looks like we go TOR!-TOR?-MOR-MOR-???. The problem is we no longer have the depth we did. Montgomery appears to be the only guy left we can plug in who has carried a rotation role before.
The bullpen clearly needs more. Can you imagine what this pen would be like if one of it's better pitchers went down with an injury? Heaven forbid Benoit does so! We absolutely need one more closer-late innings type. And even with that there's not a lot of proven talent. It's thin. A closer and another solid reliever would make me feel a whole lot better. Look around the league. You gotta compete with teams that are stacked to the gills with good relievers. You don't need to be the best if your offense performs, but you need to be good, especially if/when you make the postseason.
In fact, it occurs to me that the 2016 M's have the potential to look like lesser versions of some of the late 1990's M's, scoring runs but not enough pitching to get over the hump, with the bullpen being the Achilles heel.
I believe this comment really hits at an uncomfortable reality. While the offensive upgrade is both real and right-thinking (to my mind)..pitching right now is a wing and a prayer.
Realistically, how many innings can Paxton throw this year, even if he remains healthy? Mongomery is the primary back up...but since he's out of options, he either makes the team or says goodbye. And in the bullpen, how does he get stretched out to fill in as a starter? Kicking Kuma out the door was inexplicable. Supposedly he was the 'top priority'? Well, obviously that was never true. Getting him to come back at Jerry's price was a higher priority. And comparing him to Miley is, in my opinion, the wrong way to view things. Having them BOTH in the rotation was logical way to go.
In the bullpen, there's talk about 'raising the floor'? Well, last year's pen fell through the floor...and we haven't climbed back up yet. We are further into the basement.
Jerry--please prove me wrong!
The post that starts "The Lind move..." is mine, DaddyO.
Hopefully we don't make any late 90's style trades to shore up that bullpen though :)
I read this and wonder, "Who is he thinking about?" With a bullpen consisting almost exclusively of castoffs, waiver-wire pickups and now a Rule 5 draftee- apart from perhaps Benoit and Furbush, I'm not sure who qualifies as "one of our better" bullpen arms! We're gonna party like it's 1997 (Look it up, kids- Griffey, A-Rod, Edgar, Jay, Paul Sorrento, Russell Davis- runs in bunches, no matter which side was at bat!)
Hmmm. I mentioned one, Benoit. I was making an assumption that out of the group there will probably be one or two step up. But the point is even if that happens, if one of them gets injured there's an utter paucity of depth.
1997 is what I had in mind with my reference to late '90's M's teams. It was their lack of rotation and bullpen depth that cost them a shot at a World Series.
Thanks for your comments SonicBOOM.
tell ya what, a lingering biceps issue is possibly evidence of a shoulder issue. I have that going on with my triceps, and there was a very similar recent case in MLB, the specifics of which I'll be danged if I can remember.
I wouldn't plan on Furby atall.
Let's see what rabbits JerryD can pull from his hat, to staff the bullpen. All the relievers we counted on, and grew fond of, over the past two years have been used as throw-ins in deals for outfielders, or starters: by JD (Smith, Wilhelnsen, Farhquar) and, before that, by JZ (Leone, Medina, Maurer). Certainly the prospect of counting on the guys that Oakland, San Diego and the Phillies are tired of running out there, frightens me!
I have fond memories of those Griffey-Edgar-A-Rod-Bone lineups. They were exciting- they scored a lot of runs- but, that's not how to build a championship team "by the book".
This has been my favorite Mariners site for a long time- I have only recently started posting. I bring plenty of respect for you long-time mainstays who have carrried the torch- DaddyO and Moe, Matt and Bat, Taco and Spec, and of course the Dr. Delighted to be a part of it! I promise to "keep it civil".
I just wanted to point out (haven't read thread yet, so forgive me if it's already been done) that JeD said another trade was "highly unlikely," and that they are looking to add 1-2 BP arms to finish off the team. No Storen, no Chapman, no whoever. FAs only, apparently.