I'm going to lead off this post by agreeing with Doc 100% so he'll forgive me for ranting a bit later. :)
The entire Mariner blog-o-sphere is up in arms over Scott Servais' obvious lukewarm reception of Dan Vogelbach. They should be. It makes no sense from a pure baseball perspective or from a clubhouse chemistry perspective or even from a tactical perspective to roster him and then have your manager say "well we'll give him a quick look and hope he stays hot." He couldn't possibly have done anything else to show he belongs than he did this spring and, even with his ungainly girth and clumsy feet, it is very very apparent that this guy can help the 2018 Mariners.
As Doc points out, the Mariners will gain zero new insights from watching Vogelbach for 10-15 at-bats in the regular season that they didn't already have from spring games. A manager should be able to scout a player and determine whether he's got the talent and attitude that works at the big-league level. He also rightly points out that Lou Piniella routinely made this sort of call with hitters like Vogelbach with a decisive (and mostly accurate) hot take. "That guy...he belongs...roster him, Pat."
It's just plain lazy/ignorant/stubborn to watch Vogelbach all spring and then shrug and say "but let's see you do that in Seattle, and you get three starts to do it...no pressure or anything."
I depart from Doc and others here at SSI for two reasons:
First, all managers, even Sweet Lou, have spectacular blind spots and make stupid decisions about players that annoy them personally or that they don't know how to use. Doc claims that Piniella may have favored certain pitchers (who attacked the hitter) over others (who tried to outsmart them and nibbled too much). So sayeth the good Doc, he was mostly right to do this. It's clear from all my years watching the Mariners (and baseball generally) that nibblers frustrate their teammates and tend to struggle to create value. BUT...
The look in Ken Cloude's eyes every time Lou came out to talk to him, however, told me a lot. Cloude wasn't going to win any CYs but there was every reason to believe he should generate value as a solid MOTR starter. Piniella got one look at him and decided, with his trademark hot take, that Cloude was a woolly-headed coward who was afraid to throw strikes. He then spent about a full season burning holes in Cloude's Mariner cap every time he took the mound and stalking out to get him like Sherman cornering a wide receiver. Look at those eyes in the included shot. That is not a pitcher that feels supported by his team. Lou Piniella took a kid who, undoubtedly, lacked confidence in his game and completely destroyed him. Point blank, Lou's preference for a certain personality type among pitchers burned millions of dollars in value right the to the ground.
So yes, I think Piniella would get the Vogelbach call right and it wouldn't be difficult for him to do it. But I also think he might have torched Altavilla and never given him a second look. Many a reliever with good stuff and mediocre command of the zone came to Lou and he leveled them all like trees before a pyroclastic flow. I simply do not believe any claim that Piniella didn't have blind spots. I remember them very well. And I remember Doc expressing concerns over those blind spots when Piniella was still in his glory years.
Second, and I don't think this is something we can afford to ignore, it's not obvious how exactly we can keep Vogelbach rostered after April 11th if Dipoto continues to insist on eight relievers. Servais has to be looking ahead to that date and thinking to himself, "OK, it's nice to have an extra bat, but we like Healy enough not to want to toss him aside completely, and we can't carry two first basemen." Both of those statements are both entire logical/rational and objectively correct. We can't carry two first basemen if we carry eight relievers. The correct decision is to carry seven relievers, but the Mariners seem committed to a different idea. The correct decision is certainly NOT to powerflush Healy. He's not likely to be a major star, but Doc, himself, has repeatedly commented on the real probability that Healy can be an impact bat despite poor CTZ results.
I don't think Dipoto is the guy pridefully clinging to Healy, BTW. I think Dipoto thinks Healy has value, for sure, but I think it's Servais who's been lukewarm about Vogelbach taking Healy's PT.
TO SUMMARIZE: I would roster Vogelbach and give him a 50/50 job-share for now, with each of them stealing some of Cruz's ABs as his nagging injuries are starting to swarm on him and with Healy spelling Seager when he needs a day off, especially against left-handers. I would plan to make Healy my first baseman in 2019 and Vogelbach my DH. I would accomplish this by carrying only seven relievers and leaning on the non-elite guys to throw multiple innings much oftener. Not only that, but I agree with Doc that Servais' comments re: Vogelbach are completely braindead and extremely frustrating.
But I think it's a huge overreaction to determine, based on this one blind spot, that Servais deserves no respect. What manager have we seen that had no pecadillos like this. Mike Scoscia is frequently credited with 'knowing how to win' and developing young players, and he has giant holes in his managerial style too (for example, refusing to implement the deep shift for two years). Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, John Farrell...name the manager and I'll tell you where his game was weak...and particularly weak due to stubborn personal biases.
Servais has also shown more mental flexibility and willingness to adapt and play the hot hand than anyone the Mariners have used since Lou Piniella. His mind is almost always very open to new ideas. His players think he's a good listener. I think he's weak with pitching changes and his preference for athletic baserunning is causing more problems than it's solving for us, and I certainly dislike this Vogelbach fiasco, but...all respect gone over it?
Doc, I know you particularly loathe players and coaches who refuse to think. As well you should. If the Vogelbach decision were part of a long pattern of stubbornness, I'd be right there with ya, man...but...it isn't. Servais isn't a stubborn anti-intellectual man unwilling to try new things. He's the opposite of that.
He's got a disastrous blind spot re: Vogelbach. The kid made a HORRENDOUS first impression last year. He looked like a dear caught in the headlights out there on top of being very unsure of where to place his feet at any given moment. He looks much, much better this spring...this is the guy Dipoto thought he was getting. Great! But Servais is slow to see it because he isn't sure how to use Vogs. It's dumb and frustrating, but he's only human and he will make mistakes.
Deeeeeeep breath and biiiiig smiles! Opening day is tomorrow and we have a lot of interesting stories to follow.
Warmly, and with nothing but respect, I offer this counter as food for thought.