The Denard Decision

D-Span has been a huge for the 2018 Mariners, which makes it sad to report he probably shouldn’t be retained

It’s September now, y’all, and the Mariners season is playing out one way or the other. Will they make the playoffs? Well heck, I dunno. Looking at all the smart math people’s numbers says it’s more than likely we’re all gonna spend October at the ol’ Adopt-A-Team Shelter again though. I’m a bad fan, but the A’s are looking mighty fine.

Anyway, with the end of the season looming it’s getting closer to TRANSACTION PLANNIN’, and here at Dome and Bedlam we believe in promptness! If you’re on time you’re late! If you’re early you’re on time! If you’re way early that means you’re super late for the last time! THAT’S FIVE LAPS SLACKERS HOP TO IT!

*****

The late May trade with Tampa Bay to acquire Alex Colome & Denard Span was one of Jerry Dipoto’s best moves of the past twelve months. That was true regardless of how both players performed as Mariners, but it has been nice that for once here in Seattle, good process produced good results. Colome has teamed up with The Divine Edwin Diaz to form one of baseball’s most lethal 8th/9th inning combinations, and Denard Span has hit better than anyone expected. Coming off 2016 and 2017, in which he checked in with a wRC+ of 94 and 100, respectively, Span’s offense is at a career high 123 wRC+ in 2018, and 129 since arriving in Seattle.

Late career offensive boosts, particularly ones that come from an increase in power (Dad strength is real y’all), are not unheard of. Hell, Nelson Cruz is the model of this very idea. However, they are not common, and counting on Span offsetting his clear and noticeable loss in defensive range by continuing to thwack dingers is a gamble, and not at the odds you want to take.

The merit to retaining Span on his $12 million mutual option is, in my view, further diminished given a few contextual factors. First is the 2018 rebound of Ben Gamel. Now I’ve notably been wrong about the Mariners young outfielders in the past, but after a Zunino-esque (Zuninian? Please help, linguists) second half in 2017, Gamel has rebounded nicely. He’s improved his walk rate, continued to be “fine” with the glove, and hit for just enough pop to keep pitchers honest. Overall, he’s played about like a two win outfielder. At 26, there’s the possibility of a little further development (cough SWINGPLANEDINGERZ cough), but if not, he still projects as a serviceable left fielder, a comparable level of production to Span projects at next year, at a fraction of the cost.

The second factor is the looming roster decisions facing this organization. Regardless of what you think the right direction is for this franchise, it would be a shock if they do anything after 2018 but attempt to take another run at the playoffs for 2019. Given that assumption, the team is in desperate need of a real centerfielder, at least one top of the rotation pitcher, and probably a catcher.

With our past experience both of the Jerry Dipoto Era, and the Mariners’ organizational practices at large, I think it’s fair to assume they won’t be throwing any huge free agent contracts to players this offseason. As such, every single dollar saved off potential luxuries, such as two major league left fielders, is needed to fill these very real and pressing holes in the big league roster. It’d be cool if there was some minor league depth in AA or AAA to help cheaply fill in those gaps. Guess what, pal, this is the Jerry Dipoto Mariners. Unless you want to see a tumbleweed in center field next year, the talent has to come from outside the organization.

Overall, the Denard Span acquisition has worked out beautifully both for the team and the player. Span is having his best season in years, and the Mariners and Jerry Dipoto have gotten a great return in a contending season, for giving up a few minor leaguers. There is a danger, though, of falling in love with the short-lived greatness of a player after trading for them. The Mariners have pressing needs elsewhere, and with D-Span unlikely to ever be this good again, it’s probably in the best interest of the team to let him get closer to his home in Florida, and spend that money on someone like, say, early career Denard Span.

Go M’s.

 

Mariners trade Moore for More Fun

CROOKED HAT BACK!?!?

With the Mariners off to a 29-20 start, and putting out the fire started by Robinson Cano’s suspension only to find twelve million dollars stashed in a safe behind a false wall, the team had to act. While the win/loss record is exactly what the most optimistic projections called for, the method and roster talent were that of the middling, .500-ish teams that SOME assholes (me) pegged them to be all year.

With half the American League existing in 2018 primarily as a feeding ground for any team that can stomach the thought of spending even one (1) American Dollar, the Mariners’ new financial flexibility gave them a chance to strike, and strike earlier in the season than is typically feasible. They have now done so.

From an objective baseball fan standpoint, this trade kind of stinks. It stinks that the Rays are such an abysmal franchise that saving even a couple million bucks by selling off a useful outfielder and above average to good closer for nothing more than Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero, baseball equivalents of a scratch ticket and a megamillions ticket, respectively, is something they are willing to do. Baseball is at its best when as many teams as possible are trying to win as many games as possible, and it’s a shame in 2018 that is not even close to a reality.

For Mariner fans desperate to watch their team in the playoffs this year, many for the very first time of their fandom? Hell, y’all, it’s hard to imagine a sweeter deal than the one they just turned. Colomé is about as consistent as an above average but non-elite relief arm can get, with three consecutive seasons between 1-2 fWAR. He’s off to another solid start this year too, and with Juan Nicasio’s struggles immediately becomes this team’s setup man, and second best reliever.

Denard Span’s skills actually profile as a left-handed version of the player I hope Guillermo Heredia becomes/is becoming. A patient hitter with the capability to play quality corner defense, he’s almost certainly an upgrade to Ben Gamel, who will become this team’s fourth outfielder (probably his most likely role in the major leagues)

Overall, the Mariners had obvious needs at both outfield and relief, and they have addressed both, before June, with zero cost to the team’s few real prospects, for only minor financial cost. Their biggest need was and still is starting pitching, but that is a scarce commodity that frankly I doubt they will be able to find without some sort of major sacrifice in either prospects (ha) or finances (double ha).

While this move doesn’t suddenly vault the Mariners from fringe Wild Card contender into territory with the league’s elite, it expands options and margin for error. If the team falters through their brutal June and finds itself out of playoff position come mid-July, I see it as unlikely they cannot, at minimum, recoup their talent investment by trading both players to another team. There appears, and as soon as I say this something will go disastrously wrong because I am me and the Mariners are them, to be very little downside potential to this transaction. Tommy Romero could become a real prospect and mid-rotation fixture in Tampa or wherever MLB blessedly releases the Rays to eventually, and Andrew Moore could become a number five starter. Either reaching anything close to that is a longshot, however.

If you’re a person who is sick and tired of the Mariners ceaselessly churning through any low minors player who shows a lick of promise in exchange for an extra 0.5-1 win in the present, well, I hear ya. For whatever reason the Mariners have never shown a serious, longterm approach to building a great farm, the one obvious way baseball gives for teams to build a winner outside of running a top-5 payroll every year. It’s a bit like watching an ostrich run away from a predator. “Wow that bird can run”, you might think, “But why doesn’t the dumb thing just use its wings and fly? That would be so much easier.” Well, reader, you are correct. But the ostrich is never going to fly, and you need to come to peace with that, and with the Mariners having the very, very worst farm system in the game. These are the unchangeable, immutable laws of being.

It’s a great day to be a Mariner fan in 2018. A fun start to the year got a boost which should help the team need less luck to keep from collapsing, and the talent cost was minimal, and likely deferred many years down the road. At some point the bill will come due for the Mariners’ lack of talent development, but it was never going to be a concern to this year’s team, or their general manager, who conspicuously doesn’t have a job after this year. This is a win now move, and the timing, price, and fit were damn near perfect. Good job Jerry.

Go M’s.

Episode 21 – RAMPOD

Happy Opening Day hey wait….. what day is it ?

Nothing will summon D&B Studios to life like terrible, terrible Mariners news and Robinson Cano being suspended for eighty games is terrible, terrible Mariners news.

0:00-44:00 DAVID had to go WORK by pouring his BEER at a LOCAL WATERING HOLE so it’s just Scott and Nathan. The duo talk the Robinson Cano suspension/injury, Dee Gordon returning to second base, the Mariners fun first forty games, and more. BONUS, we think you’ll be surprised by the off brand positive tone.

45:00-57:00 Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the debut of Hunkfilm Inc. We are not sorry, and incapable of shame.

As always you can subscribe and rate us on iTunes here. Additionally, we are now available on Google Play.

Thanks, as always, for listening. Please enjoy and Go M’s.

Scouting Report: Mike Ford (1B/DH)

We’ve broken down the tape and can confirm Mike Ford does exist, at least in the sense that anyone or anything can exist in this so-called “reality”

With Ryon Healy more spurred than a horse in an old west bank robbery getaway, and the Mighty Vogdor now booted like the car you left FOR JUST FIVE MINUTES on 3rd Ave last Wednesday, the Mariners’ options at first base are, essentially, Rule V draft pick Mike Ford. So, who is Mike Ford? Well, we here at Dome and Bedlam Industries are not, and will never pretend to be, professional scouts, but here is our brief overview of the man who may very well toe first base come Opening Day. Every scouting report has a bit of a different structure and form, but for our purposes we are going to stick to a simple Pro and Con list.

*****

MIKE FORD (1B/DH)

PROS

  • Plus pitch identification and strike zone command should result in healthy walk rates, and manageable strike out rates.
  • Has two functioning arms and ten non-broken fingers
  • Ditto legs and toes
  • Currently plays in the Seattle Mariners organization
  • Makes a mean Denver Omelette
  • Has played first base in the minors to a degree we would rank “not atrocious”
  • Two syllable first/last name combo shows high efficiency and ability to focus on his game, while not being distracted by superfluous puffery
  • Did NOT plagiarize his tenth grade English final on Flannery O’ Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard To Find, despite what JANET says
  • Swing plane and strong hip turn indicates potential for untapped power
  • Again, like, not even a little bit hurt.

CONS

  • Bad goatee
  • Through age 24 season only twenty-five games above AA, and zero in the major leagues
  • Plays a better defensive first base than Daniel Vogelbach and Ryon Healy, and that’s about it
  • Buys his vinyl through Amazon, does not support his local record shop
  • Liked a somewhat nebulous but potentially right-wing leaning Facebook post in 2012
  • Swing seems geared to crush mistakes, but aforementioned hip turn seems to sell out for pull power, and may make driving the ball to all fields difficult
  • Sunrise peaks the horizon, framing the silhouette of a ragged yet hearty band of freedom fighters. Their cry echoes across the land, ringing the Bell of Truth:”Fuck the ivys! Fuck the ivys!”
  • Claims Pinkerton is the best Weezer album
  • Without further development in power tool major league pitchers will challenge Ford in the zone with much more regularity than he has experienced in the minors, requiring him to hold onto his ability to run a low K rate, a significant challenge in the modern game
  • Says gif with a hard “g”

*****

(this has been the first in our series of Dome and Bedlam Scouting Reports. It may also be the last. All these facts are true and not at all just randomly generated while we sip our coffee, desperately trying to cling to our sanity as weather and holidays have kept us indoors with two children for practically the entire week. Remember, baseball is serious business, and baseball blogging should reflect that)