Jerry Dipoto, Mariners GM, made a trade for the type of player he wants in the outfield, that being a ball hawk with speed. In his two full years with Texas in 2013 and 2014 Leonys Martin hit .264 and .270 with 67 steals, being caught 21 times. He has speed and is considered an excellent defender with an Ichiro type arm. The 27 year old Martin lost his centerfield job to Delino Deshields, partly because of injures, and ended up playing 95 games, 288 at bats with a .219 average.
But with a career .305 on base percentage who strikes out a lot-over 100 times in both 2013 and 14, he is not your leadoff hitter, or at least, should not be. He looks better suited for the 9th spot.
The centerfielder Seattle gave up was James Jones who as a rookie in 2014 hit .250 in 312 at bats, stealing 27 of 28 bases, but he barely hit .100 in 2015 in limited playing time. He does not have Martin’s arm, but is a solid outfielder with speed. However, there is something about him the M’s just don’t like.
If Martin returns to form following his injury season that saw him have surgery to remove a hamate bone in his right hand, it could be a good move, but consider that Seattle gave up Tom Wilhelmsen who has saved 67 of 81 games for the M’s with a 2.97 career average in 267 games. He has been in long relief, a setup man, a closer, and spot started, all of which show his value to Seattle.
In return Seattle received 28 year old Anthony Bass with a 4.50 career ERA. mostly a reliever he has made 12 starts, but his value is far less than Wilhelmsen.
So on paper, or in this computer age, perhaps digital cyberspace, Seattle’s bullpen is weaker after this trade, something Dipoto wanted to build up along with the outfield. But he is not done yet, has said so in fact after stating he sees a platoon of Franklin Gutierrez and Seth Smith in left, Martin in center, and he is looking for an outfielder to play in left when Nelson Cruz is at DH.
If Martin is a bust, then so is this trade.
The Seattle Mariners will have a different look next season, and it will be a big one as Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, and Danny Farquhar, are headed to Tampa Bay. Morrison played 146 games, hitting 17 home runs, but his .225 average made his days numbered. And though new GM Jerry Dipoto said he liked Miller, Ketel Marte is the shortstop of the future and Miller is only adequate in the outfield. Farquhar had a great 2014, but struggled in 2015.
In return the Mariners received starting pitcher Nathan Karns, 27, who was 7-5 in 147 innings with a 3.67 ERA and 145 strikeouts. CJ Riefenhauser will be 26 when the 2016 season starts. He is a lefty who made 17 appearances, was 1-1 with a 5.52 ERA. The third player the Mariners received is 22 year old minor leaguer Boog Powell (no relation to the great Oriole first baseman). Powell was drafted by Oakland and traded to the Rays as part of the deal that sent Ben Zobrist and Yuniel Escobar to Oakland . Powell is a left handed hitting centerfielder who hit .295 with a .385 on base percentage, belting out 16 doubles, 9 triples and stealing 18 bases between double A and triple A last year. He did serve a 50 game suspension in 2014. Shame, shame.
But Dipoto is high on Powell, seeing him as a catalyst at the top of the order. Time will tell, but Dipoto is not shy about changing the roster, getting the type of players he believes will change the Mariners style of play. Pitching and outfield were his priorities and the changes have begun.
Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners new GM, has a massive overhaul ahead of him. And his options are limited. Here are the problems he faces. Only two starting pitchers, a bullpen best known as an arson squad, no outfielders, no catching depth, and who’s on first. All of which are an Abbott and Costello routine.
Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker are his two starters. Hisashi Iwakuma is a free agent, will be 35 next April 12, and has had injuries each of the last two years. That being said, the Mariners should make a good offer to keep Iwakuma because they are desperate for starters. James Paxton can not be counted on as he has spent more time on the disabled list the past two years than on the mound. Strained dorsi muscle, a bad finger, and a split fingernail have plagued him and there is no reason to believe he can stay healthy. Elias can not pitch beyond the fifth inning and has yet to prove being anything other than a fifth starter at best.
The strength of the 2014 team was the bullpen, and those who dominated that year pitched more like batting practice pitchers in 2015. Consider Danny Farquhar who was 3-1, 2.66 in 2014 and allowed only five home runs in 71 innings. On 9/26 against the Angels he gave up a 9th inning walk-off homer. Two days later on the 28th against Houston he gives up the game winning homer in the 7th. Two days later on the 30th, again in the 7th, he serves up another homer breaking up 6-6 tie and M’s lose 7-6. On the 2nd of October against Oakland it is 4-4 when a 2-run homer in the 8th gives the A’s a 4-2 win. The M’s lost 9 of last 11 after getting within three wins of .500. Five of those nine losses were by one run, and four of the those losses charged to Farquhar who gave up four game winning homers. He finished 1-8. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “And so it goes.”
Dipoto said he wants athletic players and wants outfielders who can chase down balls in the gap, something that, for some reason, escaped Jackie Z, the former GM. Where does Dipoto get outfielders. He is high on Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, but both are former infielders and Miller has not proven that he can play centerfield. James Jones, effective in 2014, did not get enough playing time this past season, so his future is cloudy. The minor leagues have nobody major league ready if you believe what everyone has said.
Logan Morrison, the M’s first baseman, hit .225 and is a free agent, so his return is dubious, though the M’s may try to resign him because they have more pressing problems. Then there is catcher Mike Zunino, a defensive standout, who can’t hit .200.
The Mariners Robinson Cano’s zillion dollar contract will keep him in Seattle and Felix will not be traded due to pitching shortage, so the only tradable player is Nelson Cruz, at least one that brings back multiple players. Kyle Seager is too valuable at third to trade as there are not many gold glove third basemen who hit 26 homers. And Ketel Marte looks like a future star at short.
I prefer Cruz stays in Seattle, but if the M’s are going to get some players, he is the best fishing bait they have.
You are a diehard, statistical loving, all out baseball fanatic, if you, by the following stats know who these two pitchers are. Pitcher number one has 20 starts with a 4-6 record and 4.64 ERA. In 108.2 innings, he has given up 121 hits, has a .279 batting average against with 82 strikeouts and 32 walks. The second pitcher has nine starts, is 6-2 with a 2.28 ERA. In 51.1 innings he has given up 48 hits with a .242 batting average against with 58 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Pitcher number two is a strikeout pitcher with 10.17 per nine compared to pitcher one with 6.79. Or so it would seem. You see both those stat lines statistics belong to the same pitcher, one J.A. Happ. His bad numbers came from his time with the Seattle Mariners this season before they traded him to the Pirates, where he has the good numbers.
What happened to Happ?
He is averaging only slightly more than five innings per start with the Pirates, indicating perhaps, they want to get him out of the game while the getting is good. Still his numbers are impressive, especially those strikeouts.
It could be that being in the American league this year and his previous seasons with Toronto that the National League teams are having a period of adjustment. It could be his Pirate pitching coach, noticed something that Happ corrected. It could be anything. It even could be a mirage. That given time Happ will return to Happ form.
I’m sure the Pirate brass is happy with Happ with his six wins in nine starts compared to the Mariners four wins in twenty starts.
Of course there could be another answer. Back in my youth there were two catchers in the National League named Hal Smith, and both at one time or another played for the Pirates. I think they did. But there were two Hal Smith’s. Maybe there are two J.A. Happ’s.
I hate to pick on a carcass for I am not a buzzard, vulture, or any of the animal kingdom that eats what other’s kill. My intent is to analyze the offseason moves prior to the 2015 season and not to cast blame, for others could be at fault. More about that later.
Lets us begin with the good. The free agent signing of Nelson Cruz, whose batting average and home run blasts have proven that it is possible for a free agent to succeed and flourish, which is not always the case. Seth Smith has been a solid player, not great, but consistent. As I write, a .251 average, 27 doubles, 5 triples, 10 homers, and 35 rbis in 327 at bats. Certainly the numbers of a good fourth outfielder.
But then there are the other players. Justin Ruggiano who was to platoon with Smith was released early in the season, cleared waivers, ended up in Tacoma and was recently traded to the Dodgers. Richie Weeks, a veteran whose career was on the decline, but had a connection with Jack from his Milwaukee days, was released early in the season as well. No hits, no runs, two errors.
JA Happ did not turn out to be this years version of Chris Young and was traded to Pittsburgh. One can only take so many line drives heading into the gaps and over fences. Mike Montgomery looked like a great find when first called up, but teams caught on to him and he was hit worse than a batting practice pitcher. Starting pitchers should go more than 2.1 innings. Dave Rollins, a lefty reliever, was Rule V pick from the Astros, and that meant, once his suspension for using a banned substance was over, he had to remain with Seattle or be returned to the Astros. In 21 innings, 36 hits, 20 runs, and the question of why he is still with Seattle. Mark Lowe was outstanding, so good that he was traded to Toronto for their stretch drive. So he along with Cruz and Smith made three positive additions. But as you can see, the bad outweighed the good by a large margin.
Was it Jack’s fault? Or was it the two cross-checkers who were let go the same day Jack was terminated. Jack, as the GM, must take responsibility for he has the final word. But the larger problem is perhaps, the scouts who cover the major leagues. The scouts who cover amateurs in high school and college is another story, but they too must accept blame for the failure to provide major league players. The problem with the Mariners is larger than Jack’s failure to be more consistent in trades, and his failure to rebuild the Mariners minor league system. The problem lies in the Mariners system itself, and some of the people who populate it.
Scouts, minor league coordinators and coaches, advisors, ownership; they are all part of the problem, one not easily changed.
Seattle’s GM, Jack Zduriencik, was fired this morning. No surprise, but was it all his fault?
Yes and no. It is not his fault the Bullpen , the strength of the team in 2014, was a disaster in 2015. His main problem was the inability to rebuild the minor league system. After seven years it is no better, if not worse, than when he took over. Kyle Seager is the only regular it has produced until this summer when Ketel Marte was brought up and his play shows he is a star of the future at shortstop.
With the demotion of catcher Mike Zunino to Tacoma, it looks like Jack was the reason Mike remained as catcher despite never batting .200 in nearly two seasons. He is one of the best defensive catchers, but his hitting is awful. He was kept up because Jesus Sucre is an even worse catcher and it was said there was nobody in the minor leagues to replace Mike.
Which brings up the trade for Welington Castillo from the Cubs, an excellent backup catcher, and one with power. But a week later Jack said he traded him to Arizona, because “Arizona needed a catcher.” Well, so did the Mariners Jack, so why trade him for the lumbering, defensively challenged, Mark Trumbo? A terrible trade, always is, when you trade a need for someone you don’t need.
The funny thing about Zunino’s demotion is that it was said, and I heard Shannon Drayer, who covers the Mariners say it, that “There is nothing he can learn in Triple A. All he will see is Triple A pitching and that won’t prove anything.” It would seem she was mouthing what the Mariners said. But most, it not all, young players who struggle at the major league level are sent to Triple A to work on their hitting.
At this point I do not know who was recalled as the news just came over the radio. But it will be a good wakeup call for Mike. In the majors you have to play defense and hit.
How the 2016 team will be reshaped by the new GM, whoever that will be, and whether manager Lloyd McClendon will return are yet to be decided. Stay tuned at Mariner Central.
I was listening to Dave ‘Softy’ Mahler on KJR the other day. He said now that Seahawks camp is open and the Mariners have waved the white flag of surrender they would no longer be talking about the Mariners. I am sure the station may mention the M’s from time to time, but there will be little or no talk about them. That was certainly my impression. I am a big fan of Softy’s, but that really pissed me off.
I understand the Seahawks are a big story with two consecutive trips to the Super Bowl and everyone loves to talk Hawks. I also understand that radio is a ratings game. But if you are a ‘sports talk’ station then you should talk all sports relevant to the city and any national stories that have merit. If you don’t talk about the Mariners you are excluding a part of your audience.
KJR should change their identity to football radio and talk Seahawks, Huskies, Cougars and Pee Wee football. Don’t get me wrong, I love football, and was a Seahawk season ticket holder for eight years., but sports talk jocks like to denigrate fans who are frontrunners, and by essentially blackballing talk about the Mariners, KJR is nothing if not being a front runner. Seahawks win; Mariners don’t. We talk Hawks; we don’t talk Mariners. That is a front runner.
If I played for the Mariners, and next year during spring training and the opening of the season, if KJR came down from their front-running high horse and condescended to ask for an interview, I would say go to talk with Doug Baldwin.
The other sports talk station in town, 710 ESPN Seattle, is also spending more and more time talking Hawks. They are the flagship station of the Mariners, but they too want Hawk talk. At least they had Jayson Stark discuss why the Mariners were doing so poorly.
I don’t know what happens in other cities, but I hope to explore that as my cities sports talk stations will spend more hours talking about Russell Wilson’s contract than they will spend on a years worth of Nelson Cruz talk.
It might be a good thing the Sonics are gone and that the NHL is not coming anytime soon. There is no room for them on the airways. Unless they might win of course, but then the Seahawks would first have to lose.