Fool Me Once, Shame on You. Fool me 42 times, shame on Howard
Yes, Dr. D is back for even more punishment

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Dr. D started out his Mariners-shtickwriting career in 1995 with absolutely nothing, and he still has most of it.  You know how many franchises wish they were the LA Rams right now?  ... We can think of 42 of them.  Forget winning the Serious.  We are talking about HALF A CENTURY of never LOSING the Serious.

And yet, the Mariners in Stevie Nicks fashion jiggled their hips, waved a gossomer silk sleeve and hand-topped a top hat .... and Dr. D was right back in again.  Siiiiighhhhh.....

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YOSEI KIKUCHI and JUSTUS SHEFFIELD

These are twin TOR starters who run up enemy hitters' ball-strike expenses very quickly.  The Mainframe can guarantee you that if they were ramping up for the Oakland A's right now, you could absolutely bank them for 3.59 season ERA's, 108/32 control ratios, and 3-4 WAR on the season.

An apathetic Dr. D was surprised to find that the M's TV broadcasts were not replays :- ) and his first glances at Kikuchi and Sheffield were sickening.  For him, that is.  See the title of the article.

Needless to say, Sheffield heads to AAA to gyp him out of his fairly-earned year-6 free agency -- and this nicely dovetails with the last two months we owe Felix.  Once again, as has been the case probably 20+ times in 42 seasons, the M's will farm out a pitcher who is very obviously one of their five best starters.  Gimme the odds on a rookie pitcher soaking 1,100 innings in his first six years -- to justify that winning-ain't-everything mentality?  MLB is SOOOooooooo different from the NFL.  I hope you mooks appreciate the heroism behind which Pete Carroll grabs an imploding team by the scruff of its neck and simply WILLS it to ten wins.

Were that we HAD an Oakland brass in Seattle.  But s' OK.  The Oakland A's hid behind vinegar barrels soaking up enemy Gatling fire last year, and when a 36-36 A's team decided it had the 25 men it wanted ... the streak to 97 wins began. 

Speaking of which:

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JUST-ADD-WATER-97-WIN NOSTALGIA DEPT.

When you look over the 2018 A's roster a little bit, do you find a loaded monster truck's worth of talent that we'd all overlooked?  Or do you find a bunch of Jed Lowries who all had big seasons together?

1.  Lowrie himself, at age 34 playing 2b, had a career OPS+ of 103.  Last year he dialed it up to 120 OPS+.  I think the point is supposed to be that Dee Gordon could do that too; it's not the Prime Computation but!  ... we WILL give Dipoto credit for having pulled in some dynamic assets to break camp with.

I mean, .350 OBP, .450 SLG, almost 700 AB's! (<---- thass th key), 99 RBI when his previous 33-year high had been ... wait for it ... 75 RBI?!

It never seems to surprise you when Billy Beane pulls a 33-year-old journeyman out of his ear like this to emesis up 100 RBI for him.  And it wouldn't surprise ME very much if he pulled a 97-win farce out of THIS roster, give or take a reliever or eight.

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2.  30-year-old Mark Canha had a career 95 OPS+ coming into the year and poached 400 PA's at bat positions (RF, LF, 1B) not because he figured to SLG .450, but because the A's decided to pass on Bryce Harper.

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3.  It goes on and on and on.  Stephen Piscotty, a talented 105 guy (kinda-sorta like Healy) who slugged .491 in 151 games, performing roughly as well as Mitch Haniger.  Chapman and Olson both coming through with 90th-percentile best cases at the corners.  But the real point is that not ONE A's starter had a poor year; every single dumpster-dive single A had an OPS+ of 111 or better, except their SS at 94 and Lucroy at 71.

The Mariners, as we sit on March 7, have talent in camp.  If you trusted their coaches to point a handful of M's toward UP seasons together, well .... what's our payroll next to Oakland's?  Why are we a writeoff at $150M and Oakland a powerhouse at $80M or whatever?

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A DAY WITHOUT SUNSHINE IS LIKE A DAY IN T-MOBILE

The mainframe is well aware that we yakked up Boomstick, and Zunino, and Segura, and Cano, and I guess Gamel.

It would be one thing if we were re-filling the Big Screen with Jose Vidros.  But last year's chumps had an OPS+ of 102, and does Dr. D believe that Mallex Smith - Dan Vogelbach - Dee Gordon - Mitch Haniger -- Kyle Seager - Edwin Encarnacion** - a series of dice rolls could run a 102?

Word is that the M's might not find prospects for Encarnacion until July.  Divish-word, that is.  It's worth WATCHING as to see whether he forces the M's hand by then.  He had another 30 bombs and 100 RBI last year, has a 30% chance of replacing Boomstick for us.  Here, check out his player card.  It's a one-year deal.  Why *can't* the M's do that?  The Twins did Cruz.  Are *they* equi-powermoungous to the Astros and Yankees?

And so, alas, here Dr. D sits, annoyed that Kikuchi's start is not on TV tonight.

Power to the people,

Jeff

Comments

1

A pleasure to see you! It's that time of year again, ain't it? The time when if you squint hard enough, the differences between the Mariners and a playoff team get blurry enough to ignore. It's wonderful while it lasts. Anyway, here's a potato or three.

  • Our team is not gonna be 2011 bad, not by a long shot. Our lineup actually looks pretty good. Short on legit stars after Haniger and New Boomstick (I've described Edwin and Nelson as identical for like four years), but full of interesting options. Too many to fit on the field, maybe! What do you do when the outfield runs Domingo-Mallex-Mitch, and 1b-DH are Edwin and Vogs? You've already kicked Ryon Healy to AAA and you still can't make room for Jay Bruce to audition?
  • The starters are similar, short on stars but long on cool major leaguers. No one thinks Marco or Yusei is an ace, I doubt, but they're a fun 2-3 in either order. Mike Leake is the Platonic form of a #4 pitcher, Wade the White Wizard is a very cool #5/swing guy... if Felix still had a crown, we'd have an above average rotation. Easy to find room for Justus in a few months too, via injury, Felix demotion, Yusei innings-control or LeBlanc maneuvering. Justin Dunn, though, looks real good too. Do we know he's not a starter? Kid is built like a brick house. If he's a reliever, he's overqualified for it.
  • The bullpen is how you can tell we aren't trying to win anything this year. I know Jerry thinks you can throw seven plumbers and one MLB(TM) vet out there and root for variability, but personally I would find some ability to be a much better way to avoid blowing all the leads we'll carry through five innings. Remember when we had 2 closer and 2 setup men? And one of those closers was a god? Ah well.

Final note: I see Doc has also noticed that Domingo "Hangtime" Santana looks like the easiest trade steal of the year. 30HR, then buried behind 3 bigger stars, then traded for... Ben Gamel... because he makes a better backup, whereas Domingo's only skill is being probably our third-best hitter and a minor star as an everyday starter? Either I'm missing something, or the Brewers are idiots. Really huge idiots.

Or not, since they won 96 games and their division last year. I can think of a few teams who didn't.

2

They get a pass since one of Santana's replacements immediately won MVP for them. 

3

I was listening to Jerry talk the other day about how they don't view the rotation as a 1-5 like it seems to be by the fans. Heck if we have 3 #2 type guys (Gonzo,Yusei and Sheffield) and then sprinkle in Leake and LeBlanch. Seems like a pretty legit rotation to me. Worst case Felix throws the way everyone hopes he will and Sheffild hangs in the minors a bit longer or we trade Leake. Seems like a pretty decent scenario to me. 

102 OPS+ out of Mallex Smith, Vogelbach, Gordon, Haniger, Seager, and Encarnacion. Sure doesn't seem like that should be hard for that group of guys to do. Makes it seem way more feasable for them to replace the group we traded away when you put it into that context.  

 

Nice to have you back Doc!

4

And we've still got Marco and LeBlac toward that all-lefty rotation.

Not Oakland brass?  They're emulating Houston brass in many respects.  This is looking like player development making use of every possible tool available.  We've got Mariner pitchers talking about using technology to check the quality of a pitch they're working on in real-time rather than the much slower organic process.  Swing changes and mechanical adjustments with physiological and scientific data behind them.  Scouts saying that they can tell lower level Mariner hitters by a style that they're starting to share from consistent coaching across levels.  I am well aware that development for the Mariners has been like me winning at the Casino.  It happens sometimes.  I have bought in to this no longer being the case because of all these things we're seeing.  No guarantees but way more hope. 

A RH power hitter coming into T-Mo with Encarnacion's trends is not inspiring to me.  At a certain point the roster spot is worth more than the potential return on EE. 20 million this year with an option for 20 million next, already been QOed.  Hypothetically you keep either Vogelbach or Encarnacion.  That player has a quality season.  Which is worth more to others at the deadline?  1.-some expensive years of Old E or 5 more of Big V?  Don't forget an entire league may be adding DH next year.  And that the park was built for lefty power.

5

The Astros debuted the modern super-tank in 2012. Changed leagues, fielded a complete joke of a team, and poached draft picks and under-the-radar prospect grabs and international free agents and came roaring back to spend big on a winner. Good for them. Bad for fans of the team in 2012 and 2013. Bad for baseball, generally. Because the super-tank was deployed by no fewer than nine clubs last year and at least seven of them are still super-tanking now. And that is going to lead to a work-stoppage in 2021 if the players and owners can't find some way to make it stop. Too many teams tanking allows too many teams to corner markets for pennies on the dollar and you end up with feasts and famines and outcomes that are far...far too predictable.

The Mariners aren't doing that.

Yet they are rebuilding around promising youth. Very quickly.

Bullpens you can buy if the team merits it...and those guys you can get on short contracts to stay mobile and keep looking at young arms until you gel. The rest of the club is still very talented - just...younger. :)

The Mariners are executing a rebuild that should be a model for future rebuilds...the team is still worth watching. They're getting much smarter about process and player development. And they're grabbing young talent to build around.

I salute them for that.

6

Shared in the slack Chat since fall right there.  Dozens of videos of a dozen players talking about advanced approaches they started before being acquired or were introduced to even just this spring.  Healy sought out Laker on his own to rework his swing before the team hired him as batting coach.  I love that Julio and Jarred are all over social media too.

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