And on the Mound
Who YOU got YOUR eye on, amigo


Dr. D, unlike Kenny Rogers, does NOT make his living by the way people hold their eyes.  It runs against his general ethic of not taking others' money in absence of providing them a fair good or service in return.  ;- )  He does, however, enjoy the attempt to pick up on "tells" that may offer clues as to whether others stand, especially when he can avoid detection doing so .... what would you expect from a charlatan billing himself as "Dr. Detecto" ...

Greg Johns is asked about the quality and quantity of the M's starting rotation and responds,


Well, they have eight starters on the 40-man roster in James PaxtonMike LeakeFelix HernandezErasmo RamirezAriel MirandaAndrew MooreMarco Gonzales and Max Povse. If you want more names, you can add Christian BergmanCasey LawrenceRob WhalenChase De Jong and Iwakuma, who all started games last year and are still in the organization and invited to Spring Training, along with waiver pickup Sam Moll. And general manager Jerry Dipoto has proven quite capable of acquiring a Wade LeBlanc or Andrew Albers at midseason if needed, not to mention trading for more-established starters such as Leake and Ramirez late last year and Miranda the previous year.

I don't think numbers are the issue. The question seems more about quality than quantity. Very few teams go into a season with more than four or five truly established Major League starters. Like every team, the Mariners need to keep their top guys healthy, and it would certainly help if a couple of the younger guys stepped up. Every season brings surprises, both good and bad. How that plays out with pitching often goes a long way toward how a team fares.

First thing that happened a few weeks ago:  we learned that the 1-4 starters' jell had set going into March.  

Not long after that:  The 5, 6, 7, and perhaps 8 (Povse) were oddly jelled, much as Mike Stotts might set Shabazz and Connaghton (sp?) in the 2nd string.

Is this a third dig at intel?  Are Bergman, Lawrence, Whalen, DeJong and Iwakuma (if healthy) a third string, like you might find a nice orderly sheet posted inside the coach's window in the locker room?


Personally Dr. D has very little against promising young SP's brought in, in quantity, provided such youngsters bring with them a calling-card weapon that goes beyond the AAAA-starter three pitcher arsenal towards "pitchers' pitching."

Iwakuma - needs to bring with him ---> merely a miraculous restoration of his arm to its 28-year-old self.  That's worth fishing for, provided you are talking about your #9 starter as opposed to your #4.

Bergman - needs to bring with him --- > an evolution, namely the command of his pitches to avoid 2.0 gophers a game along with his current neat 2. something walks a game.  In Safeco that would make him serviceable.  By what mechanism this could be achieved, you'll have to tell us.

Lawrence, Whalen, DeJong - who give Dipoto about 14 draws at the deck, needing only the 8 of clubs for a #5 starter, all processable and (I think) with options left.  You don't know who is about to take a step forward, improve his mechanics, develop a change, and .... hopefully with these last four guys you won't need to.  Really with Leake here and Erasmo (always a personal fancy of mine) we're really talking about 8-to-make-1, barring injuries.

Next up:  spring training, and let's see who starts off with a 12:1 CTL ratio.


Dr D




Loving the mention of Pat Connaughton and Shabazz napier, as I've been arguing since early last season that the only way the Blazers break through (to a team that might have 2nd round potential) is to trade CJ McCollum for pieces and a pick.  Or Lilliard for better pieces and picks, but he's the face of the franchise and tough to let go.

But that's for a different website.

I have, however, argued all winter that trading Cruz made great sense if we were actually trying to be a playoff team sometime soon.  I've written before that Big Papi was sort of a historical anomoly in terms of 40 year old performance.  Musial, Edgar....not many more.  Big Papi and Cruz have the distinction, however. of actually getting better once they turned 36.  They are outliers.  And Cruz certainly has shown no signs of slowing down,

He's a safe bet to whack balls with impunity in '18.  The risk is that you get nothing if he doesn't.  If he ages this season you must assume the downward trend continues next season.  There were AL teams that would have loved a (relatively cheap) roll at the dice to get a 140+ OPS DH.  We would have got some sort of pile of young-ish talent.  I still think that is the way we get better.  Hope Ford or Vogs looks like a real MLB DH and move your valuable stud.

But we aren't doing it and I can live with that.  So do you sign/extend Cruz now and get a bit of a discount?  If he's raking at the All-Star break, why wouldn't he just do the FA route and hope to get a gazillion from the BoSox? 

Sometimes your best players are more valuable if you swap them out, we all know that.  I think that is where Cruz's real value lays.  That said, I will be happy to watch him crush the ball again, and I expect him to do so.  I just don't expect it to get us to the playoffs.

As to pitchers, I have been really high on Miranda, two years running.  he's a lefty and Cuban, which somehow in my almond-sized brain means that you let him have the time to figure out how to be real good, as he has the physical tools to be just that.  And yet now I'm not quite so sure.

I keep telling myself that he's had 218 innings and been 13-9, but his consistently high, homer-fueld FIP alarms me.  Junkball types who give up 2 homers a game tend to scare me.  His slider is genuinely valuable, his fastball and change are genuinely not.  His splitfinger is worthy of argument.

He's going to get every chance to be a #4, he is 13-9 after all, but I'm less sure than I was that he's really going to leap off the page.  Back in '16, I thought he had #2 stuff in him.  Right now, I'll be way happy with a 100 ERA+ #4. 

Gonzales?  Coming off '16 surgery (of course), he had 8 MLB starts last season (and 14 MiLB starts before that).  In those 8 MLB starts, he gave up a line of .361-.404-.590.  Really.  And a .389 BABIP rate, too.  He was considerably better than that in his 14 MiLB starts.  But to give you a sense just how bad those numbers were, Andrew Moore (who struggled in some starts) gave up a line of .265-.284-.520 in his 9 MLB starts, with a BABIP of .238.

Who would you bet on? 

I know I'm being unfair to Gonzales because I thought (and think) that he was not worth the Tank O'Neill loss, so I'm trying to stay upbeat about his upside and future.  his 1.28 career AAA WHIP doesn't light my fire either (compared to Moore's 1.08).

OK, Gonzales, prove me wrong.  O'Neill is going to hit 30+ MLB homers some season soon.  What did we get for that?  Show me.

Povse?  Dipoto badly handled him last season, I think.  He got one AA start, a great one.  We moved him to Tacoma for one relief performance (he got lit up) and then back to Arkansas for 7 more starts (and one long relief appearance) then immediately to Seattle to be an 8th inning guy.  He gave up 7 hits over 2.2 innings in 2 appearances before we sent him back to Tacoma.  There, he had two middle relief appearances (one with 2 perfect innings and the other with 6 hits allowed in 1.2 innings), then he was back to a 9th inning Seattle performance (2 hits).  Finally he ended up back in Tacoma, where he bounced betwen the bullpen and the starter's role.

Hey, I know that his callups were because of a fatigued pen, but the guy never got comfortable in any role.  I am glad he's going back to the starting role and I have decent hopes that he blooms into an effective 4/5 type.  he's in Tacoma to start the season, let's see him run a 1.1 WHIP and look good dong it.  

Paxton, Leake, Ramirez and Felix give us a decent or better 1-4 (until injury), who becomes 5 and 6 is critical.  Am betting on Miranda and Moore, if you're interested. 


The .389 BABiP was based on a silly .316 BABiP on Ground balls and an .871 BABiP on Line Drives, and when the Mariners decided not to allow Marco to throw a pitch after 70 at the end of August, it resulted in Gonzales posting an impressive .288/.329/.369 batting line with near 25% Ks and under 6% BBs.  Meanwhile, Moore's .238 BABiP seems a little suspect considering he managed a .207 BABiP on Grounders and a .600 BABiP on Liners.  Even if his .238 BABiP wasn't a little lucky, he only produced 28.7% Grounders, among guys who allowed 36% GB or less over 100 IP last season (11 total), 3 had an HR/9 of less than 1.50; Justin Verlander, Dylan Bundy, and Eduardo Rodriguez who all have significantly better stuff.

Moore found himself with better results on a tight pitch count in September (~85 for him), but unlike Gonzales, Moore's success in September was coupled with a needed .213 BABiP to achieve an opponent line of .205/.235/.377.  I think Moore needs to make some adjustments to avoid walking the same kind of tight rope that Ariel Miranda walks every time he steps to the mound, that's not say I don't think he can adjust, but I think he'll need something closer to the 40% GB rate he was able to run in September to be succesful in the future, otherwise he'll need to run a HR/FB rate less than 10%.  Only 20 starters have done that for the last 3 seasons (min. 100 IP, 239 pitchers meet the requirement), and only 3 run fly ball rates similar to Moore and Miranda; Jake Peavy, Colby Lewis, and Marco Estrada.  All 3 of those guys are good aspirations I think, but it should illustrate how narrow the path to success is for someone like Moore, or Ariel Miranda when they have to make their contact into something that only a little more than 1% of all starting pitchers manage.

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