Was This the Fatal Flaw of the M's 2017 Season?
place yer DL orders here, Dept.


Bob Dutton wrote up a "view from the outside" as rival scouts "assessed" the Mariners.  I guess we can get into dictionary definitions of the word "assess" :- ) and mine runs more towards "assess or estimate the quality of."  But what the scouts had to say was this:  Jerry Dipoto shoulda known these lace-china starters were going to all get hurt.


"Without question," one scout said. "No team loses that many starting pitchers without paying a price. The same thing happened to the Mets and the Angels. Even Houston, when (Dallas) Keuchel and others went down, struggled a lot.

"When you don’t have reliable starting pitching, everything is so much harder. Just ask Buck (Showalter, the Baltimore manager)."

Another scout offered a different view: "Sure, it’s true. But Jerry (Dipoto, the Mariners’ general manager) rolled the dice on a lot of guys and got burned.

"Paxton is always injured for one reason or another. (Hisashi) Iwakuma’s shoulder problems finally caught up with him. Why do you think the Dodgers walked away from that (free-agent) deal two years ago (after a medical exam)?

"The clock has been ticking on Felix for a few years. (Drew) Smyly is another guy who always seems dinged up. Now, it’s still unusual to have that many guys go down at once."



It's an interesting suggestion.  And it could be right.  Perhaps these guys were all saying the same thing in March:  "It looks great on paper, but there's no way you take a contending team into the season without a couple of 200-inning horses."

Dr. D honestly wants to come off less-than-snarky about the suggestion because it actually is the most interesting one he's seen.  After a chess loss, it's very tempting to give an excuse which amounts, at the end of the day, to "I just got unlucky."  Those kinds of "assessments" are a great way to never get any better.  In fact they are the BEST way to never get any better ..

So he will open this up to any Denizens who will back that up.  "Yes, it would have been a better thought process to take more reliable starters into the year.  Always take reliable starters into the year.



The first thing that occurs, from my angle, is "What if Nelson Cruz had gotten injured."  Then it woulda been stupid to put your hopes on a 36-37 year old cleanup guy, right?  Or if Sugar Diaz blew out an arm.  Dumb to put that kinda pressure on a kid, no?  Or if Robinson Cano's legs hadn't held up to 2B ...  we'd be looking back in hindsight and nodding knowingly, wouldn't we?

Or try this one on for size.  How many WAR do you think James Paxton HAD this year?  (4.2 so far.)  You've got a 4+ WAR starting pitcher and he's the reason you didn't win 94 games?

Or this one:  how many starts did Paxton, Iwakuma and Felix have in 2016?   (31, 33, and 25).



But let's say we stipulate that:  Paxton, Felix, Iwakuma and Smyly were a much less reliable than average group of 4 starters.  I would cheerfully concede that to be true; despite Paxton's 31 starts in 2016 between AAA and MLB, Ron Shandler had his RELiability at F.  Hernandez' was at D.  Probably don't even need to look up Iwakuma's.... oh, F.  A little weak now to laugh about the Dodgers being obviously right to duck the contract, considering they DID offer him two years and he did make 33 starts in 2016.  But yeah.

What do you do to hedge that?  Go out and get, say, Yovanni Gallardo and Ariel Miranda?

What do you do to hedge it next year?  Get Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez?  Or maybe a $200M pitcher like Ohtani or Verlander?



I dunno.  It's the most interesting proposal I ran across this week.  Tell you this, though:  I know what James would say about "you shoulda known those guys would get hurt."  I dunno what else to offer, though.  Could be just as simple as the M's needing a lotttta more PSI out of that talent hose in the minor leagues.


Dr D



It absolutely is a valid criticism that the M's rotation was built out of less-than-dependable ML starters (such starters cost $15-20mm/year, after all, and by the time they start making that kind of money their dependability has begun to decline).  But it's also valid to say that the M's SP *depth* was superior to the other teams in their competitive tier.  How do those factors interrelate?  Not sure exactly, since the latter is purposefully designed to counter the former.

This is why I've been saying I like the Leake pickup since the day it happened.  The only red flag for me is that the Cardinals gave up on him and booted in a pile of cash to send him out the door.  Aside from that, it seems like the perfect move for earlier this season--and I've seen nothing change to suggest that such a move won't be beneficial for next season as well.

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