M's Pass on Sonny Gray
But guess who's coming to dinner




1.  SSI Denizens had been advised that Jerry Dipoto bolstered his rotation with Erasmo Ramirez and Marco Gonzalez.  We were prepared for nothing on July 31 and we got a big heapin' helpin' of it.

2.  We heard that Sonny Gray was traded to the New York Yankees.  For Fowler, Kaprielian and Mateo, which are roughly speaking the Yankees' #4, #8 and #12 prospects.  Doesn't sound like much, but then again there have been times our #2 prospect has been compared to somebody else's #18 prospect, so whaddoo I know.

2a.  Couldn't find much around the 'net that usefully compared Yankee$ prospects to unhyped prospects.

3.  Thankfully, one of the 'net's great minors analyst had done exactly that, and on a blog I frequent.  Here is Gordon Gross' analysis of the Yankee prospects and exactly how they translate in Mariner-speak.

3a.  That would be (1) Tyler O'Neill (or presumably Kyle Lewis), (2) Thyago Veiera (or Moore or Neidert) and (3) Braden Bishop.  Allllll Dayyyyyy Lonnggggg.

3b.  Gordon is still fuming that we gave up Tank O'Neill so easily, especially in light of the possibility that it handcuffed us in the Gray chase.

3c.  Zoom reminds that we're all shooting a little blind as it pertains to Dipoto's phone lines.  Hey, Royal Brougham ain't like the White House where you can read the evening phone conversations in the next morning's New York Times.  ;- )

4.  Dr. D was very pleased to see the Denizens' mood.  That being "irate."  That the Seattle Mariners never rake in the mound of chips on July 31.  Couldn't agree more.



I've always been an Erasmo Ramirez fan, especially if he's got 9 hitters behind him and 8 relievers behind THEM.  If they let him run as a 4-5 starter, not being too picky about that 6.1 inning theorem they love so dearly, then I'll bet you the M's win more than half his starts.  The Rays were 6-2 in Ramirez starts this year:

  • TB 8, Det 1  (five and dive as a swing man, but 2 hits, 0:5 CTL)
  • TB 5, NYY 4   (5+ innings, 2 runs, 1:5 CTL)
  • TB 5, Pesky rodent Angels 2
  • TB 10, stRangers 8 (Ramirez got KO'ed after 4 runs in the 3rd but the Rays saved him)
  • TB 1, Sea 7  bwahahaha
  • TB 6, Oak 5  (Ramirez 5.1 IP, 3 R, 1:6 CTL)
  • TB 4, Det 13  (Ramirez shelled)
  • TB 8, Cin 3

Lest we forget, Erasmo Ramirez does throw strikes.  He's got a 55:16 control ratio this year.  Go get them fly balls for 'im, Heredia and Jar-Rod.


Also I like that Marco Gonzales appears to be ready to go; he's a lefty with a -14 MPH change and playoff-tested poise, so by Mainframe convention HE will be interesting.

If and only if (IFF) the M's #2-5 starters can cobble a 100 ERA between them, the last two months, then this team has the talent to get there.  Let's see if that's what they do, a long series of average-solid starts.


Dr D




Every year, the same teams are in the mix for the guys we want.  Every year those teams, despite developing their own guys, always have the prospects to land the Darvishes, Grays, etc.

The idea that M's never have the assets to do this, or that their #3 ia always #18 in other orgs can't be true.  Unless they are so historically bad at developing guys or hitting on some good players in the draft or IFA, as James says, all orgs have great players in their systems.  All of them.

In hindisght it may turn out great that Marco and Erasmo are the guys we got and we get to keep our prizes.  I'm okay with that line of reasoning in a single season vaccuum.  But in the M's long history, despite DiPoto's talent and vision, they still appear to be content to 'hope for the best'.  They are admittedly closer to carrying a winnning mission and going after a pennant, but as long as they let the very teams they're competing with lap them in July, they're still looking in from outside hoping to catch a few breaks.

Catching a few breaks has never been a big part of things here unfortunately.

...Mildly disgusted.  If only because it was the Yankees and Dodgers, and because it feels like Monopoly with those teams starting the game with the greens and blues and getting $1000 for passing Go, while we get $200.

Why the NFL, despite some of its issues, remains a far more interesting competition than baseball for me.  Even though as a sport and game concept, I still love baseball as a game.  Just not as fair competition.  It is far from that.


If you take A-Rod and Griffey out of it as two once-a-generation talents drafted #1, it gets worse. Even if you include players like Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-soo Choo and Adam Jones in Seattle's tally of drafted players they are STILL one of the 2 worst teams in the majors at adding talent through the draft.  Seattle's problem is two-fold: they do not develop much talent and when they do they give it away.  

Name me the 4th-best hitter ever to come through the Mariners' system and stay a while (the first 3 are Gar, A-Rod and obviously Griffey). His name is Kyle Seager. 5th is Alvin Davis.  6th is Bret Boone, but we traded him and he came back (same with Raul Ibanez). Harold Reynolds is on that list... but the list is sparse. 

Pitching? After the King on the Seattle-only-WAR chart comes Langston, then the Chief Freddy Garcia, then Mike Moore of the 95 career ERA+. Eric Hanson was decent, so there's that - and Joel Pineiro is 6th ALL-TIME with 9 WAR in a Mariners uniform from a Seattle-drafted player. 

It's great to trade for Jean Segura, but have you seen Chris Taylor's 140 OPS+ for the Dodgers? Gave that guy away for nothing.  Those are the throwaway trades that make it hard for the Mariners to gain ground even when they have trade successes. Whenever the Mariners gear up to trade a James Paxton or Kyle Lewis I twitch reflexively, like Nurse Ratched is coming back with the shock therapy. If you are the worst-drafting team in the league AND you trade your only decent draftees (a Choo / As-Cab / Adam Jones / Doug Fister type squad would be second only to the HOFers on those lists) it puts you in a bind. 

You can deal with that one of two ways: better identify which talents you should be keeping so you don't throw away 30 WAR players for two months of 1/2 of a platoon... or just trade everyone, assuming that you are a terrible drafter and you might as well take on someone else's players. That still requires talent evaluation, though.

The Mariners have had GMs who think the guy before them did nothing right, and so they have thrown the baby out with the bathwater to a large extent. The Yankees are also terrible drafters, but they held on to Posada and Jeter and Cano as they came through the minors, correctly identifying them as talents.  They then trade the rest of their junk, knowing they can pay a lot to retain talent.  The Mariners haven't ponied up the money and have been miserable judges of their own talent.  For me, O'Neill-for-Marco is just the latest example of that. I fully expect O'Neill to now get the instruction he needs and to turn into a Matt Carpenter for the Cardinals. They are good at that sort of thing, while the Ms are not.

As it stands, I hope for the back-end pitchers to punch above their weight so we can compete the rest of this year and next before the old heads on the roster fall apart. Realistically though, I expect the Mariners to squander this batch of hall of fame talents the way they did their last couple of sets.

It's a Mariner tradition. At least we also get to watch fun players as we flop around outside the playoffs though. The Mariners may be terrible but they find ways not to be completely boring.  See you in 2 years, Kyle Lewis, and eagerly await you continuing the fun player tradition.


But, like in other things, the past drafts and talent development issues are like sunk costs.  The next decision can't depend on that - though I acknowledge it would make one gun-shy.  The M's have also hit on some crazy bad luck in the draft as well.  I know very few are sure things, but the M's weren't the only ones who thought Ackley and Hultzen would be good.  But those guys have no bearing on whether the current regime can draft and develop or not.

Why does our systemic drafting and development persist despite overhauling those departments?  Do we have to acknowledge that it's systemic in the first place?  If we do, how is it even possible?


The M's are Danny Kayes, thriving as goofballs in a world of serious actors like Lawrence Olivier.

By the way, the only Oscar won by Danny Kaye in his long career was an honorary one. No funnier movie than The Court Jester, but it will never be a contender for Best Movie.


It's too early to focus heavily on such things, but even though we are 2.5 games back of the second wild card tied with Tampa Bay and chasing Kansas City, of the FIVE half-games that make up that deficit, FOUR of them are LOSSES. You can make up wins because you HAVEN'T played the games yet, but it's much tougher to make up losses chalked up in games you HAVE played. If we play competitively going into the last two weeks of the season, the deficit of those four losses will loom like El Capitan in Yosemite.

The good news right now is that we are chasing only one team. But we will need Kansas City to lose at least four games more than us over the next eight weeks or so.


Sonny Gray: RHP / 5'-10" / 190lbs / 27 yrs, 8 mos / FB velo ~91-95mph / (Last 3 years) 7.6 K/9 / 2.8 BB/9 / 0.9 HR/9 / 3.71 ERA / 3.74 FIP / 3.78 P/PA

Erasmo Ramirez:  RHP / 5'-11" / 200lbs / 27 yrs, 2 mos / FB velo ~90-94mph / (Last 3 years as SP) 7.0 K/9 / 2.2 BB/9 / 1.0 HR/9 / 3.91 ERA / 3.90 FIP / 3.61 P/PA


Erasmo Ramirez career IP/Start: 5.4 (roughly 5 1/3)
Erasno Ramirez career SP OPS: .719

Sonny Gray career IP/Start: 5.9 (roughly 6 - that difference adds up)
Sonny Gray career SP OPS: .649

You will notice that...that number is a lot better than the ones you quoted. Perhaps because his 2016 got all blowed up by injury. :)


But Oakland is probably the best pitcher's park in the game, and Tampa can excacerbate home runs a little bit.  Sonny Gray keeps about twice as many balls on the ground though, so they aren't perfectly similar anyway, but Erasmo might be able to produce a similar line for the rest of the season (assuming New York inflates Gray's peripherals a little and the Seattle air slows some of Erasmo's hard struck contact.).


Don't know if this will copy well, but here's a graph from Sully's article on the Gray trade yesterday:

In short, there's a 'super seven' at the top of baseball--and we aren't one of them.  What seems to group them is the ability to draft and develop.

Granted, this has hardly been a strong point for us, But in my mind, getting rid of Lewis and Neidert and Bishop (or similar pieces) for a couple years of Sonny Gray doesn't get us into that group---this year or ever.

I am not at all sure McKay's Werner Erhard act is the right way to go to develop the kids...I continue to be very sour on Stottlemyre's abilities...and frankly, I don't know how in the world Candaele keeps his job as baserunning coach. (We are 29th out of 30 teams in baserunning WAR--only the Mets are worse).

So I'm not in favor of stealing from our nearly barren farm system for a slim chance to make it into a one game playoff this year. Even if we did, I'm sure we'd lose by having someone fall asleep in the ninth and get picked off.  


Segura, Gamel, Miranda, maybe Martin...we are a Mitch Haniger oblique, muscle tweak, and devasting faceblast away from being really, really good at the trading part of success.

But hey...seriously, we aren't doing that badly deciding on our gems with DiPoto. We decided to keep Zunino, Diaz, Paxton (some of us Denizens were really to toss him and Mikey overboard last season). Sucks about Chris Taylor, but nobody in the world saw 140 OPS+ coming out of that guy.

Could be better, but I don't think we're talking Valle, Schooler and Eric Hanson by comparison.

Hanjag's picture

Good insights all around. I do get some amusement at the crowd that buys into the our #2 Tank O, is even steven with # 18 from org. A-Z.


Trades, GMs, development. I have noticed that trade previous GMs guys for whatever gig. I don't like it one bit. The Chris Taylor thing was atrocious. He comes up and has a throwing error and the next thing he is sent back down and traded for Jerry's fetish-= Depth. Lee had a 4.89 ERA in AAA age 24 before the trade and had a 7.89 ERA with Tacoma after. Jerry has his prejudices and not all of them are positvely impacts for the direction of the franchise. 


Playing with the big boys: The all star game was pretty much the Aaron Judge home coming King party. How can the team from South East Alaska compete with the darlings of mlb? The other sports have long made it clear that it is not a fair sport it is entertainment WWF style ala Vince McMahon. NBA Lakers-Celts, Jordan, LeBron, Magic Bird, NFL win one for the Pitt-Seahwaks. SPorts are business and the business model suggests that Yankee worship wins $, Boston, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers. I must admit that there are the Harlem Globetrotters and then the Washington Generals oops SEA Mariners. 



who are ultimately responsible for the dubiously competitive nature of our local organization?  Could there be sufficient social pressure (or sufficient lack thereof) exerted by the local fans that ownership/management doesn't feel the flames licking at their heels the way the owners in, say, BOS, LAD, or NYY feel it?  I'm just spitballing here.

Forget about polls, forget about revenues, even forget about geography.  Is there something inherent to M's fandom that creates a feedback loop into the system--a system which, in spite of myriad turnovers at-or-near-the-top of the corporate latter over the decades, has persistently taken the low-risk road when presented with an opportunity to do the opposite?

I honestly can't think of what it is, or how such a mechanism might look, but it occurs that there might be something lacking in the fanbase itself which perpetuates this seeming satisfaction with beta status in the MLB hierarchy.

If you cut off the head and it keeps regrowing with the same basic flaws, the problem's probably somewhere south of there...


...and I mean...at every level.

I smell PEDs.

In the minors, Taylor had outstanding BB/K numbers but virtually zero power...his type of player often slams into a brick wall in the big leagues when pitchers realize they can knock the bat out of their hands and never throw them balls again. Taylor has, since, radically altered his approach. His great BB/K numbers are completely gone...he's fanning in almost 30% of his PAs and hitting for power now. Turned the aggressive dial up to 11.


Chris Taylor could always hit. He's had parts of 3 seasons at AAA, with 2 different teams, and hit .300+ each time:  .328-.397, Tacoma '14; .300-.391, Tacoma '15; .322-.397, Tacoma/OKC '16.

OK, he was below that in his OKC short tint this season.  But he also hit   .287-.347 for Seattle as a rookie in '14.  He stumbled in '15, and I think that soured us on him.  A mistake.

He had a .150 AAA ISO, built mostly on doubles.  I'm not in with the PED theory, I just think he's capitalized on his playing time, and perhaps has bought in to the swing for the fences philosophy.  It's possible that he's just stalking pitches, a skill that comes with experience. And his K's really aren't up this season.  Prior to '17, he had K'ed in 27% of his MLB PA's.  It's 28% this season.

Anyway, the guy could always hit.  LA found a way to maximize his glovey abilities, too.  Good for them.  Bad for us.


Not many people, present company included, pegged Kyle Seager for 25+ HR annually during his time in the minors.  Sometimes these guys leverage their skillsets in surprising ways, but the underlying ability is usually apparent if you're looking with open eyes.

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