Sweet Merciful Cthulu Please Let the Mariners Sign Tim Lincecum

Don’t do it for me, do it for yourself, Mariners. And me.

It is important, when advocating these kinds of things, to be intellectually honest. Tim Lincecum did not step on a major league mound in 2017, and that was not because of injury. He has not thrown 100 big league innings since 2014, when Nelson Cruz was a Baltimore Oriole. He has not been anything approaching useful since 2013, when Jason Bay, Michael Morse, and Raul Ibanez were roaming Safeco’s green expanse.

It is not unfair to state that Tim Lincecum is probably finished as a major league baseball pitcher. If so he’ll leave the game with nearly 30 wins, half of which was accrued in 2008-2009, when he very well may have been the best pitcher alive. An excellent, Hall of Very Good kind of career.

Sadly, it’s 2018. If the Mariners, one of the 15-20 teams with scouts at Lincecum’s recent workout at Driveline (did you know that’s just down the road in Kent?) were to sign him the odds are extremely long he provides significant contribution to this year’s team. That’s how time, and baseball, work.

The Mariners have made it abundantly clear that they believe in Marco Gonzales, Erasmo Ramirez, and Andrew Moore. That is fine, they certainly know more about pitching than my keyboard-bound butt does. But the Mariners do not have a monopoly on the skill of counting, and that I can do just fine.

Starting pitcher used by the Mariners:

2017 – 17
2016 – 13
2015 – 10

In the interest of fairness and deference to the team we should probably chalk 2017’s inflated number up as a bit of an outlier. Still, if we average out that sample size and adjust for 2017’s weirdness it is fair to assume the Mariners will need between 11-13 starting pitchers this year. Here are the pitchers the Mariners currently have I figure could start a game:

James Paxton
Felix Hernandez
Mike Leake
Erasmo Ramirez
Andrew Moore
Ariel Miranda
Marco Gonzales (Go Zags)
Sam Moll
Chase De Jong
Max Povse
Rob Whalen
Hisashi Iwakuma
Christian Bergman

I got to thirteen, but the same way a cinder block gets to the seafloor. I just kept sinking. While I and others have been howling for the Mariners to add actual major league quality starting pitchers for the last two winters, it’s clear that they simply will not be doing that any time soon. A Lincecum signing does not do anything to allay the concerns over the Mariners starting pitching, but it does do three things, which I’ll outline briefly:

1. It throws cantankerous, obnoxious, overly verbose jerks like me a bone. It says “Hey, we know we could use some starting pitching too. Here, have this. Now shut up already.” I’m sure the team, and probably you as well, would like it if I did that.

2. It does actually buff out the scant starting pitching depth without even a modicum of risk. If Lincecum is bad, if his fastball velocity isn’t sufficient to allow the split change to work as an out pitch, he’s cast aside in late March with no further loss to the organization. If he recaptures even a tiny bit of value, well, Andrew Moore’s career isn’t being hurt by another 2-3 months in Tacoma to start the season.

3. It’s fun, dammit. Everyone knows the story of Lincecum; his local ties, the Mariners famously passing him over for Brandon Morrow, and Lincecum’s subsequent explosion into a force of nature in San Francisco. Baseball moves shouldn’t be made with narrative and fan service in mind, but in the least enjoyable offseason I can ever remember baseball having, this would give us something to smile about. At least for a few weeks. We need it. I need it.

The Mariners have, for whatever reason, stood to the side as pitcher after pitcher has signed to short term, team-friendly contracts. They ignored the market last offseason, and they have done so again this offseason. The market has so cratered for mid to back of the rotation starting pitching that even Dipoto’s greatest pitching acquisition, Mike Leake, has a salary that no longer looks the bargain it once was. The team is projected by PECOTA to miss the 2nd Wild Card by a single game. There are fliers everywhere, including a skinny dude from Seattle, chucking balls into a net a half hour south of Safeco.

Do it, Mariners. Sign Tim Lincecum.

Episode 16 – Everything We Give You Is A Gift

A long overdue episode to discuss all the nothing that has happened

WELCOME, to a stealthy, surprise episode of Dome and Bedlam. When you never record, NO ONE EXPECTS YOU, and that is our recording philosophy.

David, Nathan, and Scott talk about the Mariners’ offseason, and the total absence of same. We also complain about the media luncheon, bad optics, and consider the possibility that Shohei Ohtani BROKE JERRY DIPOTO’S BRAIN.

But then, in a surprise twist, Scott shares a theory on Jerry Dipoto, and we spend the second half of the show talking ourselves into some good things about the team, and disappear down a beer talk and Tim Salmon minor league track record rabbit hole. In all, we consider this to absolutely be another one of our episodes.

Thanks as always for listening. We truly do appreciate you.

(Music credits: Bruce Springsteen, Caitlin Carey Feat. Ryan Adams)

The Soundcloud is here, and you can rate us on iTunes right here. Thanks again.

The Mariners Can Still Win The Offseason

It’s not too late baby, it’s not too late

In a world that seems increasingly able to spin news any which way it wants, it’s hard to figure out how to sell the Mariner’s offseason as anything short of a massive disappointment. Stuck with an aging core of stars, a thin farm, and an increasingly competitive division, the Mariners needed a decisive move towards contention in 2018, through the addition of major league stars in free agency, or 2021, through the sell off of their most valuable assets to replenish their farm system. Instead, the Mariners signed Juan Nicasio, and watched their coveted target Shohei Ohtani not only go elsewhere, but to the thrice-dammed Angels, their most bitter rival.

Please hold your applause.

In a typical baseball offseason, we would be near the finish line. The majority of stars would be off the market, a few holdouts and veterans looking to make a comeback would linger, and the Mariners would be stuck with a roster that both my back-of-napkin math and Fangraphs agree is about an 81-win team. But, this is not a typical baseball offseason. The combination of next year’s historically talented FA class, and baseball teams either full on colluding to depress wages or just thinking everyone else is colluding has led to a good old fashioned stand off, with no one seemingly willing to fire the first shot.

This has, potentially, created a good old fashioned market inefficiency, and one the Mariners can and should take advantage of. Baseball players want, and should get, every last dollar they can possibly extract from baseball owners, but they also want to know where they will play baseball, move their families, and live in 2018. While the dream of a Yu Darvish/Jake Arrieta top-shelf, huge money acquisition is probably still a fantasy, the Mariners are still a team with glaring holes in its rotation at every single level. From Lance Lynn to Bartolo Colon pitchers of every tier of talent and cost are available right now, waiting for someone to act.

On the most recent episode of The Wheelhouse, Jerry Dipoto’s official podcast, Dipoto stated that the team was focusing now on “who to invite to Spring Training”, implying that the team has moved on from the MLB free agency market. Typically executive speak should be taken as potential half truths, or smoke screens. Deception, bluffing, and coyness are all classic tactics of the free agency signing period. But in his third offseason we’ve seen enough to know that deception and bluffing are not the typical Dipoto way of doing business.

Jerry clearly feels confident and comfortable enough to be as open, honest, and transparent with the public as any baseball executive I can remember. Whether you feel that is a strength or a weakness is open to debate, but given the evidence we have to work with it’s reasonable to assume he’s telling the truth, and the team has no immediate plans to jump back into the FA market.

This is, in my opinion, a wild oversight. The Mariners are not selling, and if they aren’t selling they’re trying to compete. If they’re trying to compete they currently have a roster that is two full steps behind the Angels, and three to four behind the Astros. The grand vision for the offseason clearly went kablooey when the team failed to acquire Ohtani, but unique circumstances in this market may have allowed them an opportunity to sneak 2-4 precious wins through the backdoor while everyone else is sleeping.

If they can’t make it happen, fine. I can handle that. There exists no scenario I can foresee where the 2018 Mariners are anything but longshots for a playoff berth. However if they fail to act swiftly, and show the willingness to alter plans to fill glaring needs when the market potentially throws opportunities to do so into their laps, that shows not only a lack of execution, but a lack of vision. That I find unforgivable for, as you may have heard, the team that has the longest active playoffless streak in major North American sports.

That may sound harsh, and I’m clearly one of the bigger critics of the team and ownership currently regularly writing about the team. If I am wrong my request to the Mariners is the same as it has always been: Show me.

D&B Podcast Episode 15 – Nohtani

Grab a drink and let’s go exploring

Fresh off HELL WEEK for the Mariners, and all Seattle sports, Nathan, David, and Scott take a dive into the mire and try to scrounge something worth salvaging out of the Mariners’ offseason.

0:00-40:21 – DID YOU KNOW, that Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels? He did, he signed with the Angels, and it was very bad. This leads to a discussion on the wisdom of building a plan designed around acquiring a specific talent through free agency, Jerry Dipoto’s future in Seattle, and the man behind the man behind the man behind the throne.

41:00-1:00:05 Let’s chat about where we go from, but also get sidetracked because man, this still really sucks. We talk about the Mariners best offseason being one that will feel……..like……a total failure to the average fan. That’s right you guys, the only thing that may save the Mariners is them failing to execute their plan. So, no worries then right? RIGHT?!

(Music credits: Iron Chic, Sufjan Stevens, The Weeknd

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If you’re so inclined you can rate us 5-STARS on iTunes right here. The SoundCloud feed is here. We are ever so grateful for you listening to our little podcast all year, and if we don’t record before the holidays hope you have a Merry Christmas with all those whom make your life its best.

Podcast Episode 14: Dome & Goldy, Pt. 2

Grindin’ meat, talking food, La Croix, and your Seattle Mariners

Despite (excellent) advice from his publicist, Mariner Play by Play Announcer, beef aficionado, maple lemonade connoisseur, and #verified La Croix stockholder Aaron Goldsmith returns to the show, joining David, Scott, and Nathan for a little chat.

Topics include: The 2017 Mariners, the future, Kevin Cremin, Mike Blowers, where to get the best sushi in Seattle, and a whole lot more.

(Subscribe and rate us a million stars on iTunes. Soundcloud is here. Thanks for listening.)

Episode 13: The Fans and the Furious

We Love Trash

0:00-42:45 WE ARE BACK YES THANK YOU. After three months hiatus Scott, Nathan, and David return to recap the 2017 Mariners; a frustrating, inconsistent, mediocre team hey wait they told me this season was going off-type. Hey! Hey we got the wrong script here! Damn writers.

43:15-1:28:25

After a whelming-ass look back the boys get DARK. It’s a look forward, bemoaning the franchise’s inability or refusal to commit to the steps necessary to build a consistently great team, and a bleak forecast for 2018, Shohei Ohtani, or no. DO NOT LISTEN SOBER. Or do. We certainly didn’t record it sober but you do you, pal.

(Music credits: The Movielife, Mark Morrison, Beirut)

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Extend Jerry Dipoto

Wait, aren’t you the pessimist blog?

With the end of another playoff-less season, the accompanying tours of shame by the various members of the Mariners front office and ownership are well underway. Last week it was Jerry Dipoto, putting his hand on the Bible and swearing before God and Country to uphold an offseason of clean living, and minimal transactions. This week, it’s new CEO John Stanton’s turn, offering an emphatic support of Dipoto’s front office in an article by Greg Johns, of MLB dot com:

“I’m completely supportive of Jerry and thrilled with the job he’s done and the way he’s addressed the adversity and overcome it, in many respects,” Stanton said. “I’m all in on Jerry and enthusiastic about what he’s done.”

In the theater of public relations, this is very much following the steps on the dance card. The team isn’t going to change over the front office after two seasons, one a qualified success, and the other easily hand waved as a mere “setback”. However, thanks to a recent article from national writer, Arby’s enthusiast, and general menche Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, we have some TREMENDOUS NUGGETUDE that Jerry Dipoto’s contract is set to expire after the upcoming season.

Now, let’s back up here, and all agree to some basic things:

1) It is now clear, if he accepted a 3-year contract, that Jerry Dipoto’s primary, secondary, and perhaps even tertiary mandates were to end the organization’s playoff drought as quickly as possible, no matter what the cost.

2) Despite disagreeing with plenty of moves, my and many of my colleagues’ issues with Dipoto’s time as General Manager have had more to do with the decision to try and maximize the current window, rather than the granular details of how he has gone about that. Broadly speaking, we’re aiming at different targets, not arguing flight paths.

3) All but the most blindly optimistic Mariner fan would likely acquiesce that any scenario that involves the 2018 Mariners competing for more than a Wild Card spot, and an ~85 win season, involves a series of extreme outliers.

Now, if we can agree on these three points the problem begins to come into focus. The Mariners are taking their head personnel executive, the man who will be in charge of another draft, and another trade deadline, into a contract year, seemingly with a win-or-else mandate, for a season that appears to have a low probability of success. This represents a failure to acknowledge the current power structure of the American League; where Houston, New York, Boston, and even Cleveland appear to return very strong rosters for 2018. Additionally, any executive with a soon to expire contract, looking to save his job by turning a 95th percentile outcome into a 90th percentile outcome by further savaging tomorrow for today, is gonna take one look at the handle in his office labeled “YOLO” and yank on it without a second thought.

So, this is all preamble to my main, badly buried lede: For the sake of 2018 AND 2019 and beyond, the Mariners should sign Jerry Dipoto to a 2-3 year extension before he makes even one more transaction. The cult of personality surrounding Dipoto as a baseball messiah never made sense, and is finally beginning to deflate, but by a fair and objective analysis he appears to be, at minimum, the organization’s best general manger since Pat Gillick. I know, I know, the lowest of bars, cleared.

Still, having been fortunate enough to talk to Dipoto on a few occasions, and through observing him work closely over the past two seasons, I believe him to be a smart, forward-thinking man with good communication skills, and the ability to manage the people below him to the degree that his overall vision for the franchise doesn’t fall into chaotic disrepair. At minimum, he deserves a chance to draft and develop for more than two seasons to see if Kyle Lewis, Sam Carlson, Evan White, etc. blossom into the kind of franchise-altering talents this team so desperately needs.

By extending Dipoto now, the Mariners allow his plan the stability necessary to look beyond 2018, key for not only Dipoto himself but for all the minor league coaches, scouts, and talent developers tasked with implementing a coherent, consistent program that regularly turns out major league talent in Seattle. The lack of coherence can have a cascading effect, with the stress of unknown job security leading to potential suffering of performance, damaging press leaks, and talent loss as employees jump ship for a seemingly more stable situation.

Crucially, extending Dipoto does not in fact commit the team to another 3-4 years of Jerry Dipoto. General Manager salaries are difficult to find, but with Theo Epstein making reportedly around $10 million dollars, it’s hard to believe Dipoto earns even half that. The risk of eating $10-15 million, should Dipoto’s regime tank and a change clearly becomes necessary is something, but its far from prohibitive in the world of professional baseball.

Jerry Dipoto was brought in to win now, and in 2016 he got very close. Despite the belief here that the best course of action is to build for the future, it is clear that ownership wants to break this damn losing streak in 2018, come hell or high water. That mandate is not inherently reflective of Dipoto’s ability as general manager. He has thus far gone to great pains in fact to NOT further saddle the organization with long-term commitments to older players and should be commended. Allowing him to work in a contract year where decisions made could be felt for years to come (hello, Erik Bedard trade) brings too great a temptation to sacrifice the future for a small chance at glory.

Whatever 2018 brings, Jerry Dipoto deserves the opportunity to transition the franchise to its next phase. For him, and for the franchise, an extension as soon as possible is the best thing to do. So, let’s do it.