Five Lefties?
Wouldn't be the weirdest thing to happen to us lately

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Q.  Felix as Closer?

A.  It's worth a try.  He's got one pitch, a curve, which is what Tom Gordon had.  Why not give "Tom Gordon?" a whirl?   ... after he gets detonated in April, of course.

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Q.  Is it possible to run five lefties?  Four?  Can you go with even three?

A.  Tracy Ringolsby does a great little piece right here that helps us with the heavy lifting.  Yes, there have been playoff contenders that ran 5 lefties together for long stretches.  Recent contenders.

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(The Mariners' depth chart gives 1) Marco 2) Leake 3) Felix 4) LeBlanc 5) Elias 6) Justus Sheffield, the #1 org prospect / #31 MLB prospect who is LHP and ML-ready.  Of course now there's Kikuchi.  

So the top five starters on the depth chart not only might become, but actually ARE, lefty.  Sheffield stays down only for two months for service time purposes, about the time they have to tip the cap to Felix.  Leake is widely known to be trade bait.

I'm not saying there will be 5 lefties hard on the barrelhead, but it's worth arguin' about how many we CAN use.  LOL.)

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Ringolsby points out that the ML team record for LH starts is 127.  The 1983 Yankees won 91 games (!) and their top 5 SP's were Guidry, Rawley, Righetti, Shirley, and Fontenot - lefties all.  Everybody but Shirley ran an ERA+ of 100+ .... 117, 114, 113, 103, and 72.  Not shabby!

And, it didn't hurt them to be pitching in Yankee, as it won't hurt us to be going in T-Mobile :- )

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The 2016 Dodgers appeared poised to run 5 lefties:  Kershaw ... Kazmir ... Brett Anderson .. Alex Wood ... Hyun-Jin Ryu.  That was the subject of Ringolsby's piece.  Which ya excerpt right at the heart, thusly:

A key point with the Dodgers' left-handed starting candidates is they have been capable against right-handed hitters. In the last three years, Kershaw has allowed right-handed batters a .197 average, second lowest for a left-handed pitcher. Kazmir ranks 12th among lefties, allowing a .241 average; Ryu is 16th with a .247 average; Wood is 34th at .265; and Anderson is 38th at .273.

Dr. D will leave it to some ambitious Denizen to check the lefty/righty splits for Marc-O, LeBlanc et al.

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The 1965 Dodgers :- ) are #7 on the all-time list of most starts by lefties at 112 games:  Koufax, Osteen and Podres.  Three other guys collected odd starts.

The moral of the story:  it ain't whether you're lefty.  It's whether you're good.

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All that said, I'd be fine with flipping some 'spects for Kluber to balance it a bit.  True, it might be a little less fantastical to get Justin Dunn up here, but since when did Jerry Dipoto care about that.

Enjoy,

Jeff

Blog: 

Comments

1

With Kikuchi in the fold, and bullpen arms something this org has consistently churned out over the years, the pitching side of the ball is a lot stronger right now than anyone thought it would be going into next season. They could still deplete their depth there, but as the roster sits right now, they're looking awfully good in the rotation.

The offense...that's another story. But the D. Santana pickup was brilliant from my view. And as the original 'Dee Gordon, Mariner' guy, I'm going to stick to my guns and say that as the dedicated 2B and leadoff hitter, he'll rebound to his 3 WAR self. Mallex Smith isn't sexy, but he could be the kind of binding glue the team defense (and possibly offense???) needs to stick things together in Segura's absence. Neither Dee or Mallex is Segura, but they don't have to be. This is a team that's dynamic on offense, with the only thin position being C. And on defense? They might be a full step better going into this year than they were going into last.

This isn't your usual teardown. Not even close. The only part of this offseason that chips my teeth is including Diaz with Cano to lower the amount of money we had to ship to NYM along with Robbie. But other than that? These moves have all been very, very savvy, and none of them are 'we're throwing in the towel on 2019 and 2020' if you cock your head and take in the whole picture. 2019 is a lost cause, sure, but life is cyclical. We have our ups and we have our downs. Why should it be any different for the hometown nine?

So glad to hear your voice again, Doc. You are loved in a way that few men not named Major General Thomas F .Waverly will ever know.

4

Not that I've got that much to offer - but maybe it's worth more than what I can afford on Patreon. But if SSI goes more than 3 days without something, I'll jump in with something. Keith, Tod, and others commenting, even when they disagree, makes it feel like I'm doing something. Haven't seen SABRMatt around for a while. Sure like to read some of his analysis of what could be added between now and ST.

Take it as easy as you can, get stronger, and keep up with the kitsch. We're pulling for you.

5

It's not the same without you.  Gotta be around for the Mariners winning the WS in the year they threw in the towel.  Wouldn't that be Mariners? To win in '19 after huge turnover and a step back? 

6

That means a *lot* to me brother.

Funny how you can have internet friends you're closer to than some of your real-life friends.  It's been a privilege to know you man.  .... whoops, didn't mean it to sound that way!  ;- )

7

Woke up this morning pleading in the throne room for ya, Doc. grabbed my coffee and came here. I just somehow knew I’d find a post or two. We love ya buddy. Hope Cindy’s doing well. She is in my prayers as well.

8

Dipoto is looking for talent that will be, say 27-30 years old in 2020-21. Encarnacion is definitely on the block. Bruce and Leake are probably on the block. Felix's contract ends after this year. Seager and Kikuchi are on ~fair contracts, if Seager gets back to being himself.

I'm starting to wonder, especially since the Kikuchi contract went so well, if maybe the Ms are in the weeds on something bigger. Bryce Harper.

- Even in the present payroll state, he could be fit in without triggering the dreaded TAX.

- $32M/year is about right for 4 WAR. In 5.159 years service time, Harper has 27.4 bWAR. Peak years are normally 28-33. He's 26.

- The House That Griffey Built has been relatively friendly to LH hitters, maybe even those looking at historic performance levels.

- While Mitch Haniger is in the top-10, maybe even top-5 in corner OF, Harper is better offensively, and a wash defensively. LF is the larger field at T-Mobile, although RF will always require the stronger arm. Harper in LF, Mallex in CF, Mitch in RF float anybody's boat?

- The chance of a 26-year-old with 27 WAR *already* becoming available in the period Dipoto is aiming for? Nada?

- This is one above Dipoto's purview, I would guess. I wonder if the subject came up during the Kikuchi negotiations? Do Messrs. Stanton, Larson. et al, feel like taking a step toward continuous contention?

- Turn Encarnacion, Bruce, and Leake into Sonny Gray + a Colin Poche-type lottery ticket to Sugar, and I'll be back in with bells on! Sign Iglesias and Ellis and let's get Spring Training started!

- We think Harper would be ideal. Yes, he'd be ideal. I think we're agreed he'd be ideal.

- Of course, I wouldn't be any good as a GM.  Hiddden Voice:"You weren't any good as a sailor!"

 

9

If we're talking about pie-in-the-sky dreamfests, for me, Manny Machado is a safer bet than Bryce Harper (and I've been on the Harper train since he was a switch-hitting, two-way fifteen year old).

Take the following 2015-2018 figures as Exhibit A (b-ref WAR/fagraphs WAR):

Harper 2015-2018: 17.5/20.6

Machado 2015-2018: 23.2/21.7

Now let's do the last 3 years, 2016-2018:

Harper 2016-2018: 7.5/11.3

Machado 2016-2018: 16.1/15.1

Harper's robust career numbers are bouyed by his INSANE 2015.And at his age, it's perfectly reasonable to think that he'll re-attain such lofty heights. But Manny Machado has produced like a machine for three of the last four years, suggesting that 5-6 WAR is an achieved level of performance for him. His 2017 was a down year, for sure, but 15, 16 and 18 were metronome-like in their consistency.

So if you were looking for a core piece to be counted on day-in, day-out for the next ~decade, Machado seems like the obvious choice. If you're looking to add to an already potent core, and can tolerate 2-3 WAR for $30mil in salary at least half of the years, Harper is the choice.

Harper's skillset is also one that probably gives a *little* more cause for concern regarding how it will age. In this current K-rich environment, it's not like 20-24% K rates herald impending doom for a hitter's career, and he's got very nice BB% rates to bolster those strikeouts. But Machado's got that super-shiny high-contact, modest-K% approach that the best (and longest-tenured) MOTO hitters have featured throughout the game's history. Big K's are volatile. High contact is reliable.

Herper's lefty bat sure would look nice cranking shot after shot into the Hit It Here Cafe (assuming they haven't renamed it along with the park), but his glove is iron and his performances mercurial. Machado's not a threat to win GGs at SS, and maybe not even at 3B, but if you're interested in splashing down huge money for a 26 yo player, Machado's about as safe of a bet as I can see reaching the field in the foreseeable future.

Still, either would pretty immediately change the complexion of this team for the better.

10

then RH is Ok so why not wait for next year RHs Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Schoop, Nolan Arenado, Nick Castellanos, Chris Owings, Marcell Ozuna and Yasiel Puig?  Before '21 there's RH's Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jorge Soler, Randall Grichuck and Enrique Hernandez.  Why Machado now over waiting and getting one of those when you further know the team needs.  Getting Harper to me when there's no other Lefties coming up makes more sense for that reason but probably still not enough sense. 

11

I noted that after Harper this year there's no other LH MOTO FA until you squint at Joc Pederson before the '21 season.  Most everyone on the farm that potentially fits that description (Kelenic,Fraley, DT-W, etc.) was acquired in the last few months or in the '18 draft.  But he also just plugged all the Up the middle spots with Lefties Narvaez, Crawford and Smith.  Here's hoping Vogelbach and Kelenic make us forget we ever wanted Harper.  Although Harper, Haniger and RH 2b/SS Garrett Hampson (if C Santana went to Colorado.) was my thought for a nice top of the order at one point.  Smith, Ha,Ha,Ha...

12

Great to start the new year with some encouraging news! And, pleased that it was the Mariners' uncertain direction, rather than any physical infirmity, that kept you "off the board". 

I'm intrigued that, esp. prior to the Gamel/Santana swap, the Mariners'position players looked very left-handed. If all the pitchers and hitters are LH... do we see the fence in right field come in, while the fence in left gets pushed out? (Just idle speculation.)

I (still) can see Haniger and Healy leaving town before the Mariners head south for the Spring  However, Jerry may choose his trading partner based on their availability of strong RH arms, and bats. 

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