M' #30 org in baseball, per BA
Dipoto begs to differ

Topic of the week:  the M's farm system.  Terrible, terrible, terrible, says everybody not from Seattle.  Take it easy there can'cha, sez Dipoto.   Let's take our usual SSI-eccentric look at whether he might be right, and if not, how much it would matter anyway.  Hey, we got a 25-man roster.  It's young, not old.  Do you even need any sub-flooring in Tacoma?


The HeraldNet contains the factual information that baseball's #1 minors ranking service -- Baseball America -- thinks that Jerry Dipoto runs the worst amateur system in either the American or National Leagues.  

Jerry Dipoto responds so colorfully and hyperbolically that he would put Dr. Detecto to shame:

“Our prospect system has been the most productive prospect system in baseball for the last two years,” he said. “We’ve produced a 25-homer everyday first baseman (Ryon Healy, acquired in a trade for prospects), a .300-hitting everyday shortstop (Jean Segura, acquired in a trade for Mariners-developed young major leaguers), three everyday outfielders who have some degree of impact in a large degree of ways (Mitch Haniger, acquired in the same deal with Segura; Ben Gamel, acquired in a trade for prospects; Guillermo Heredia, who came up in the Mariners system after signing from Cuba). We’ve finished off the development of what we think is one of the best catchers in the Major League Baseball (Mike Zunino). We developed a 24-year-old closer (Edwin Diaz) who’s among the best in the league, have five guys who sit next to him and pitch the sixth, seventh and eighth innings on any given nights (trade acquisitions James Pazos, David Phelps and Nick Rumbelow, homegrown product Dan Altavilla), and 60 percent of our starting rotation (Mike Leake and Marco Gonzales, acquired for prospects, and homegrown Adam Moore).

That’s a lot of productivity from a farm system in two years.”


:: blinks ::  Yeah.  Way more than anybody else got in those two years, that's for sure.

  • 2 star infielders.
  • 3 star-TING outfielders.
  • Where did that Zunino thing come from, somebody help a Doc out?
  • A closer.
  • 5 big time relievers.
  • 3 legit starting pitchers.

That being what Dipoto's minors produced, because he traded guys (like Taijuan Walker, Ketel Marte, and so forth) for them and that's where he's got them graded.



:: shrug :: It's not even a debate that gets started with me, really.  Our farm system produced Taijuan Walker in the last two years, did it?  (He debut'ed in 2013, same year Mike Zunino did.  That was 5 years ago LAST year.)

And I think we took our socks and shoes off during our player count when we started giving ourselves credit for relievers and starters.  (Mike Leake by the way was a salary dump, by the way, an interesting one to jump on, but not exactly comparable to watching Noah Sydergaard come up off your AAA roster and donate enough 97-MPH fastballs to hit the 3-WAR mark.)


Now, it's true that Dipoto has cast his sparkly eyes about the land -- no snark intended; Dipoto really does have sparkly eyes -- and he has picked himself out a double-handful of ML-ready players he believes in.   Ben Gamel, Marco Gonzales, Mitch Haniger, the contract extention on Jean Segura, that SP-RP conversion on Edwin Diaz was killer ... Dipoto has a lot of 24-27 year old players who have given him an athletic team.  What's more, they're catching the ball.  Their team fielding WAR was #3 last year; also, their park-adjusted Defensive Effeciency Rating was #6 in baseball.  Not that it resulted in a bunch of 14-game winners that I noticed.

Problem is, Jerry's total, utter confidence and total, utter lack of results are hitting me wronger and wronger.  Especially that interlude where he told us, "You know you don't EVER want to get caught spending money in free agency, but boy, when a free one like Otani comes a long, you just watch our stuff."  That whole bit was so chickenfeathers you couda....   we're getting too wound up here.

To paraphrase Clint Eastwood... "frankly, sir, you're beginning to bore the stuffing out of me."

Let us interrupt our own little story with a chess anecdote, and then pull a string if we can:




Are we counting Moore, Povse, Vogelbach and Ford as being down on the farm?  I suppose you might.  But after that, we've a couple of glove first OF'er, a hobbled Lewis, a suspended Fila and soome Art Warren-types.  Oh, Evan White and then 3 or 4 20+'s who hit .300+ down in Everett or Rookie ball.

I missed a couple of guys, I know. 

The cupboard isn't entirely empty, but if you don't count Moore, Povse, Vogs and Ford (who really are MLB types in waiting) then it's a long way down to lots of help.

And unless he trades Lewis or White for more wall spaghetti, like Gonzo, then Dipoto isn't flipping his stuff for MLB talent.


I assumed it was JD saying he had ace potential.

Now, if we just had a pitching coach who could help him figure this out..


Shows his Slider has been positive both years and his Splitter was in 2016.  Brooks player card says this about his arsenal: 

His fourseam fastball has essentially average velo, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has slight armside run and has some added backspin. His splitter comes in below hitting speed, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' splitters and has movement that suggests a lot of backspin. His change generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups, has a lot of backspin, is slightly firmer than usual, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has slight armside fade. His slider has primarily 12-6 movement and has less than expected depth. 

I could see the possibility of usefulness from him.  Ace, though?  He's more than 1 or 2 improvements from that from what I see.  But it's the velocity ranges and movement of his pitches that leaves me with no idea where he should focus improvement/changes.




Thanks Matt, an interesting read.

I've long said that Miranda had #2/3 stuff in him.  Stuff stuff, I mean.  The stuff that gets weak-ish contact.  Now I'm not so sure.  

 Stuff only goes so far if you keep from getting creamed in the zone, and keep from getting a sore neck as you watch balls leave the park. 

Hey, 218 innings is a small sample, but the two-season consistency of his 2-ish HR/9 rate is bothersome.  However, if you look at it like this: His career BABIP is .223 (.218 vR!!/.298 vL), so either he's been really lucky on balls that stay in the park or he's really good when balls don't leave the park.  For comparison, Kershaw's career BABIP is .275.  Randy Johnson's was .295.  Lefty Carlton's was .284.  Sandy Koufax's was .259.  So, either Miranda has been incredibly lucky on balls that stay in the park or he's been incredibly unlucky on balls that do leave the park.  If we're betting on some improvement in his HR/9 rate (a fair bet), we should be betting more on a regression of his All-Universe BABIP.  Kershaw, Johnson, Carlton and Koufax are all in the pantheon of LHP's in MLB history.  Three of them possibly vie for the right to be called the best lefty starter ever.  Miranda isn't that good, in case you haven't noticed.

Kershaw's career HR/9 is 0.6, topping out at 1.2 in '17.  Carlton's was 0.9 and before he hit 41 was never north of 1.3.  Johnson's was 0.9 and never above 1.3 until he was 45.

There is no way in the Wide Wide World of Sports that Miranda can run a skill-based .223 BABIP and bad luck himself into 2 homers a game.

Something is amiss.  It is why I now wonder if he tops out at a 4/5.  Even if he gets his HR/9 down to 1.5, his BABIP is increasing to the .260 range (likely to the .290 range), anyway. 

Go team. 

tjm's picture

. . . or wrong to point out the good young talent on the MLB roster. That's a good base and you could make his argument that a lot of it was purchased with farm commodity swaps and not get laughed out of the room. So if you think he has significantly upgraded the 25-man it had to come at some cost. So, OK.

That doesn't for a second excuse not going after Darvish. Look at Milwaukee, a team in similar situation - Cain, Ozuna and a big offer out to Darvish.  Something is amiss and the insistence from everyone in the org that resources are not an issue sounds to me like they doth protest too much. And too eagerly.

I like the team and hope it's competitive. That's no excuse to fail to improve it.


From everything between Dipoto and Stanton comments recently.  I get the idea that there's a reasonable 1-4 and several young arms to compete for 5. I get that there's money available which seems to be being saved for mid season acquisitions wherever needed.  What I don't get is where the resources to trade for midseason acquisitions would come from.  I guess all the 2017 picks would be available after June...


Re: Money for midseason acquisitions, no doubt some injury might force you to make a move to shore things up. But WHAT IF's cut both ways. WHAT IF failing to make an offseason acquisition prevents you from even getting into a position where a midseason acquisition makes sense. You might save your money for a contingency that never happens, and in so doing make yourself a seller instead of a buyer.

If you're serious about success, you plan and acquire for success, and then if special circumstances dictate, you exceed your budget to bring your longsuffering fans a chance at postseason baseball. You don't hedge your bets IN CASE you need more budget space. Hedging your bets usually results in getting caught in the hedge instead of busting through.

Lemme say it another way. The M's are in the unenviable position of disappointing their fans for umpteen seasons in a row. I've lost count. Why not use ALL of your budget to make the postseason possible, then if it looks promising but you get hit with a key injury EXCEED even that for one doggone season in a determined effort to get to the finish line as a winner? What, do the M's wanna be the guy who never asks the girl out, but spends all his time pressing his shirts so that if SHE happens to ask HIM, he will have his shirt ready?


To calculate how long the Mariners have been disappointing fans, I think we should go back to when the 2002 season tanked.  On August 15, 2002, the Mariners were 27 games over .500 and in first place.  On August 22, 2002, the Mariners fell out of first place for good.  I'm not sure when the disappointment started, but it was some time that week.  

So, from August 15, 2002 to today, we have 5646 days of disappointment in the Mariners.  

From August 22, 2002 to today we have 5639 days of disappointment.  I think we should be charitable and give the Mariners the extra week of non disappointment.  We didn't think the Mariners could lose back then, so disappointment was probably a delayed onset.


I absolutely believe the money is there to he spent. Dipoto wasted his free agent dollars on bums in Anaheim too. 

Look at it from this perspective- The Angels owner and Sciosia got tired of Dipoto landing Aoki's and Mileys, so they went around him, and eventually he got out of the way, and look where they are now.

Remember, Dipoto left the Angels with the #30 ranked farm also. Where we are now is just history repeating itself. Dipoto has ran two consecutive teams into the ground from top to bottom. 

I just hope they cut bait before he can trade Seager, Cruz, Lewis et al for zero return.

I don' know if it' on purpose, but he is running this org into the ground and creating a perennial "almost contender". We're in baseball purgatory.


Sorry, this one fails to acknowledge the decade plus prior to Dipoto's arrival.

This organization, outside of a bizarre peak in 2001 (fueled by Pat Gillick and Lou Pinella, in spite of meddling ownership's efforts to the contrary), has never--not ever--gone for the throat competitively and been rewarded with on-field excellence.

In that way, Dipoto's a natural fit for Seattle, where the fanbase apparently isn't collectively concerned enough with competing that sufficient pressure mounts on Royal Brougham to spur management/ownership into actually trying to compete with teams like the Yankees, BoSox, Dodgers, and now Astros/Indians.  If you're going to be a mediocrity, might as well hire a guy whose MO is to provide precisely that, no?

I'm half joking, but only half.  The truth is that this team's legacy is one of 'also-ran' even when they had talent like Edgar, Jr., A-Rod, Buhner, Tino and Johnson on the roster at the same time.  It's not like Dipoto brought such a mindset or product with him and that it replaced a superior system that had previously existed.  He's doing what he does--which, honestly, I'm glad for.  I'd rather that he be free to play the game of GMing to the best of his ability, and if that means he's a poor GM then so be it.  What I'm sick to death of is ownership that sticks its fingers into the situation in order to exert bureaucratic pressure onto a competitive process.

That never helps the competitive quotient, as we here in Seattle can somberly attest.


Andy McKay had this quote: "Our players and coaches in our program are highly coveted by other organizations. We are producing players other teams want. I look at that as a measure of our organization."

The players that were "highly coveted" were not drafted by you, Andy. All those prior drafts are gone now, so what you have left is - well, very little, according to people whose job it is to look at all 30 teams and assess them against one another (Andy literally says he has no idea what's going on in other orgs or what they have to offer). So yes, prior farm pieces got turned into Segura and Haniger.  One of those is still cheap.  Meanwhile, a lot of other pieces Dipoto moved for random relievers and such show up on other Top-20s around the league.  Gohara is #2 in a stacked Braves system according to John Sickels, who calls him "the Brazillian CC Sabathia".  I went with a lefty Carlos Zambrano, but let's not quibble especially since they got him for nothing. Tyler O'Neill is an MLB top-100 prospect as well for the Cardinals.  Zack Littell is 8th for the Twins. Neidert is 10th for the Marlins (he was #3 for Seattle in John's 2017 rankings). Alex Jackson and Thomas Burrows would both still be high on Seattle's list if here.

Meanwhile, the Mariners can't even get past 8 identifiable prospects for Sickel, with two players (Carlson and Julio Rodriguez) who have practically zero exposure to pro ball. The Ms have one blue-chip, top-100 prospect bat in Kyle Lewis, whose previously-demolished knee still concerns me despite my love for his game.  Evan White and Sam Carlson are years and years away. Max Povse has bounced between the pen and the rotation which is not how a normal org treats a "top" prospect. Vogelbach is so well-liked that the Ms have added a bunch of players at his position to make sure he is not relied upon in any way.  Braden Bishop, a 4th OF type who might squeeze some rotation years out due to grit and grind, is Seattle's 4th-best offering currently, and Joe Rizzo is a short-but-nice young bat without a locked-down position.  The rest is slop.

McKay was talking up players like Art Warren, a mid-to-high 90s relief arm, like it's some amazing thing to have a guy with delivery issues who throws hard from the pen in a farm system these days.  You better have that, Adam - it's about all that's left. Eric Filia was showcased as an older prospect who swings an interesting-yet-powerless bat from a corner and just got a 50-game suspension for what I assume is weed.  

This doesn't mean the farm is bankrupt.  If some other team has 30 lottery chances and you have 3, but all three pan out you look just fine.  If Lewis turns into Andre Dawson and Evan White is Mark Grace, the Ms are in business.  But Dipoto keeps talking up innings and at-bats like throwing young players of middling talent in the fire is a genius move on his part. It's not like Seattle deployed a 19 year old A-Rod or Griffey last year.  There was no Felix getting on the mound to take his early lumps.

The Ms lopped the head off the farm in order to add depth around their mainstays.  They can't then claim system health based on what they have already moved out.  It has to be based on what's left, and right now there's not a lot left. 

It's hard to judge the lesser-known prospects in systems. The Ms had a nice-looking system in 2005 in retrospect, when it seemed to be a one-man squad at first blush. Seattle had Felix at the top of Sickels's rankings obviously, but here's who followed: Shin-soo Choo (#3), Yuniesky Betancourt (#4), Wladimir Balentien (#11), Adam Jones (#12), Michael Morse (#13), Asdrubal Cabrera (#16). If Snelling and Nageotte had stayed healthy, who knows?

Of course, Seattle traded Choo, Betancourt, Jones, Morse and As-Cab, and shuffled Betancourt overseas where he demolished pitching in the second-best league in the world. I wouldn't be surprised to see several names from Dipoto's cast-offs coming around to haunt us in similar ways.

10 years from now when we write about the Dipoto years, will it be after watching Gohara win a Cy Young and O'Neill club a 40-homer season, or will he have used that capital to instead get something useful done for Seattle?  He says now is the time to rebuild the farm, but it only needs rebuilding because of his own actions.  Gohara, O'Neill and Lewis would have been three top-100 players for Seattle's system, with Neidert and Littell wrestling with Carlson for props behind that lead squad.  

So I hope for good things for Lewis, White and Carlson, and for more bull-penners to emerge from the system. But the Ms aren't even trying for starting arms on the farm, so if you want a major contributor to graduate from the farm you're only looking a couple of guys.  Dipoto's next job is to restock, but with his laser-focus on the big-league club and the immediate future it's hard to see him selling on anyone, which means all Seattle can do is draft or swap deck chairs.  Dipoto will definitely swap deck chairs.

Unfortunately deck chairs don't help Seattle make the playoffs in the Felix Era.  Here's hoping Dipoto leaves something on the farm for the next guy, or at least out-does Pat Gillick with the big league club, cuz right now he's showing Gillick tendencies with Bavasi success rates.


This is exactly how I feel.

Sure, we could have faith that Dipoto could do better than the previous 17 (40) seasons, but based on his first two seasons and stubbornness to deviate from his flawed strategy, I don' see why we would.


What the players acquired in those deals actually become?  What if Haniger outshines even what many think is likely?  What is almost the entirety of his clock worth in prospects at that point?  I'm just saying that they've not gotten nothing in return.  In many cases. What if Dee Gordon proves to be both a top 5 defensive CF and leadoff hitter?  What if Gonzales can turn his lefty change game into something resembling Moyer?  I'm not making any bets.  Fangraphs lists it at negative value but 60 grade.  Segura, Miranda, Gamel, Healy, Ramirez, Armstrong, Leake, Phelps, Vogelbach, De Jong, Vincent, Pazos, Motter and Harper is a longer list of currently active players Dipoto traded for.  With what we've seen at catcher most years since Clinton was in office,  Marjama could be a godsend backing up Zunino and Barton came in with him.  There's also 4 or 5 pitchers who've gone to Japan since he got them, for whatever that's worth.  They didn't want to be a part of the 40?  There's also international money acquired that likely gets used although for some reason many have said it wouldn't be.  Even before Armstrong and Misiewicz were acquired with it. 

Do they see something in the Brian Bonnell, James Lovett and even Joey Curletta type moves and will they eventually show up on the radar, though their acquisitions largely did not?

I see moves looking back that I disliked at the time.  A few others that look pretty bad in retrospect.  It's hard to say that Miranda isn't preferable to Smith and Elias currently although none are done adding on.

My dad used to like to say "If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall".  Are we past the point of prospect outgo?  The farm can be filled in if there aren't so many holes being poked in it frequently.  It seems to me that if a stage of filling out the minors with more and more of your players to develop is what we've entered, grading the entire plan now would be premature.


The Haniger trade wasn't a bad one. Except that one of the players involved isn't cheap and the RP is gone now. So, Taijuan+Marte through their arb years compared to Haniger+Segura-70mil you can' spend on someone else.

It's the giveaways with nothing in return. Gohara, Taylor, Alex Jackson, Thyago, probably O'neill...


About the giveaways.  Though Jackson was Povse and Whalen, so we'll see.  I guess I skipped that pair in my list as well.  I'm not here to quibble though, there's at least a few more items shipped with no return and acquisitions that didn't pan out (like Martin, Dyson and Aoki, who were mostly well liked by the masses at the time).  Then there's Go'yur'dough.  Miller and several guys left exposed to waivers were mostly panned immediately.  

With so many castoffs there's bound to be ones that haunt you.  Hopefully there's more steals than drops in hindsight. 

Segura would have gotten more than 70 million if he were a free agent.  He wasn't free but significantly reduced.  8 WAR between the last 2 years at middle infield.  Or 8.7 per B-Ref, with missing 30 some games in '17.  And this would instead be his last year under contract, if it's in the 3+ WAR region again there's Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Brandon Crawford, Andrelton Simmons at SS with 11 WAR or more the last 3 years at SS.  Altuve, Dozier, Ramirez, Murphy, Kinsler and Cano at 2b.  What is that level of production worth?  He was hitting .341 when he first went down this year.  Also there's that 6th year team option that could bring the total to $87 million.  How much of his $6.2 million 2017 contract was he worth in 125 games?  That would actually make it a max of $93.2 million for 8 years.  No trade clause in place. 


So they do need to do things like trade for Segura, because they didn't have a SS in the system.  Trading your 97 mph starter with 6+ years of club control for a one-year blown arm really hurts though. That's not trying to maximize talent, it's trying to maximize a window.  Which is fine in theory, if a) you actually do maximize that window and b) you don't then try to tell your fans that you were not worried about a window because you plan to be good forever and there's plenty of talent blah blah blah.

Dipoto was trying to make a window work, but instead of being patient with his young talent he wanted to flip it for something that would be ready a year sooner.  Maybe Gohara turns out to be a Pineda type with a tantalizing arm who can't really dominate for years.  I guess Taijuan would be in that model.  Of course, so would Paxton. But we are relying on the castoffs from much better orgs than Seattle has been at developing talent to miss on their talent evaluations.  Yes, Segura and Haniger are good additions so far.  Hopefully both can keep that up.  But it's not like Taijuan faceplanted in Arizona with his ERA+ of 137. A team that is desperately searching for pitching is doing so in part because it moved one starter to closer, traded its other potential TOR arm into the desert and threw its best pitching prospects away for basically nothing.

Dipoto moved the ledger problems but didn't resolve them.  The team has the same number of holes that they have had.  Maybe this is the year he makes up that ground and actually patches holes instead of moving them around, but right now it still feels like a game of 3-card-monty to me, and Dipoto's running out of marked cards.  He'd better figure it out.

I would also take him getting lucky.  The Ms have been so damn unlucky for most of 2 decades now that some luck would be a welcome sight. Moore turning into Buehrle would be terrific. Gordon being Mike Cameron would also help.

But we're gonna need some luck, which is not what I would call sound planning from the top down. "Fingers crossed" is not a motto that engenders confidence in me in year 3 of the Dipoto regime, especially with the budding wasteland that the farm system has become.   Still, I'll take what I can get.



With the general ideas there.  He largely moved the holes down to the near farm levels.  If it simply continues it won't work without a lot of good luck or sudden development of several pick-ups.  This year I'd settle for a bit of good luck and development because overall I think the 25 (35-40) are stronger than most are crediting.

I don't like where the team was when he came in.  I think the MLB product is much improved even if we'd all prefer a TOR starter be added.  Could use a Cliff Lee deal about now.

I don't fully see it but people are talking up Miranda and Marco quite a bit.  I'm hopeful to see it.  No big obvious hole if either steps up a couple times with development this year.  Gonzales would make sense at full recovery from surgery but both being lefties only helps the possibility.  Moore is there too.  I think it's unlikely that any put up #2 level performance even still.  I'm higher on Leake and Ramirez than most though.  I think we just need one of the Ms (Miranda/Moore/Marco) to perform decently at the back end.  Surely they'll use more than 5 starters but the odds of last years usage repeating are veeeeerrry low.

I'd alternatively love to have Tiajuan back.  Not for Haniger and Segura, since Marte looks like nothing currently.  I still think that was the right move. 

I'm going to enjoy the offense this year regardless.


This is the feeling I was getting when the Otani chase went down in flames.

Kinda fishy oversell and overconfidence that is off-putting and, to be frank, completely dishonest.

I appreciate that Dipoto is far more open than past GMs, but if all that gets is what amounts to a lukewarm beer in the park while my team gets clobbered...

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