Congratulations Jerry Dipoto, the Seattle Mariners won 86 games… Exactly like you predicted back in February. (http://www.seattlepi.com/sports/baseball/article/Seattle-Mariners-over-under-set-at-83-wins-per-6824241.php) If only you’d planned for 87, maybe we would have made the playoffs. Disappointing? Yes, but expected. Does that piss you off? It should, but it shouldn’t surprise you.
It was clear from the start of the season that this team wouldn’t have the roster to truly contend in the American League. (https://blockingtheplate.com/2016/02/16/mariners-predicted-to-unveil-new-slogan-ahead-of-pitcherscatchers/) If anything, you could argue this team was lucky to do what they did, and in reality over performed considering their talent, and it all starts with Hisashi Iwakuma.
Hisashi Iwakuma, the 2016 ‘Ace’ of the staff, was a Los Angeles Dodger. LA had him signed to a 3yr deal before pulling it after his physical. The Mariners 1yr contract was a consolation prize for Iwakuma. Was there an expert with him slated for 18 wins, let alone a season free of the DL? What would this team have been without Iwakuma? (Other than still out of the playoffs, of course.) 80 wins? Do you realize that every pitcher in the Cleveland Indians rotation has 10 wins or more? For the Red Sox and Toronto, it’s 3. The Seattle Mariners had two pitchers with more than 10 wins, Iwakuma and Felix.
You could argue that Jerry Dipoto’s offseason acquisitions and trades have been close to a disaster. You have stellar pickups like Steve Cischek and his 6 losses before being pulled as the closer, or a player like Wade Miley, that between Seattle and Baltimore (who traded for him out of desperation), was 9-13 with an ERA of 5.37. Many will point to trading Mark Trumbo, but losing Trumbo was more about salary savings. What’s more troubling is that Dipoto felt that Adam Lind was going to fill the power void as a “Budget Trumbo”, but Lind struggled to hit .240, with fewer than 60 RBI. What about the value in trading Joaquin Benoit for Drew Storen? Benoit saves 25 games for Toronto with a 0.38 ERA, while Storen pitches 18 innings at 3.44 ERA. How was that a good trade for a team that failed to save games, other than being a salary dump by a team that was still a (questionable) contender?
Dipoto shed more than 50% of the active MLB roster during the offseason – How many of them are still on the team today, and of those, how many actually contributed? You can certainly point to a number of positives for the team, but how many can you attribute to Dipoto? Fantastic year by Iwakuma: Pure luck that he was still on the team. Cruz/Cano/Seager performance and power at the plate: Not his signings. 10 point increase in team batting average, over 100+ RBIs and 25 more HRs than last year, with 50 fewer strikeouts? I’d argue that’s Edgar, who was hired by Jack Zduriencik.
At this point, what do you really attribute to Jerry Dipoto? Look at the LA Angels. Rated as the worst farm club in Major League baseball. (http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20160929/if-angels-mlb-worst-farm-system-is-making-progress-its-subtle) Not a single player in the MLB.com Top 100 prospects. In 2014, Baseball America rated them last, and ESPN The Magazine called them the “Worst Franchise” in baseball. (http://www.ocweekly.com/news/espn-magazine-angels-worst-franchise-in-baseball-6474760) That doesn’t happen overnight, folks. So what does that leave as a realistic expectation for next year? Iwakuma is bound to demand a longer deal, and Felix is coming off of a second consecutive year in decline, with his highest ERA since 2007… Correction, his highest ERA since last year, and since 2007. What does Dipoto do with pitching, because Paxton and Walker have not been a consistent answer. (Nor was Wade Miley or Nate Karns, and his 5.15 ERA before hitting the DL – Side note, that’s two Dipoto starting pitchers that ended the year with ERAs over 5.00 btw.) What about the virtual platoon of ineffectiveness in the outfield? Can we count on Cruz, Cano, and Seager to have the same kind of year in 2017?
At this point, the only thing I’ve seen from Dipoto is that he’d make a good fortune teller. Let’s hope that next year he predicts we have a better year, or at the very least fills the team with the talent to make that happen. If not, then we’re in real trouble.
** I know there are going to be a lot of you that ask “Why so negative?” Simple. It’s been 15 years since the Mariners made the playoffs, and we have a GM that’s happy with 85 wins and a $100 million + payroll. That’s like hiring a new salesperson and saying “Tell me Jim (or Sue), how are you going to do this year?” Pretty good! “Are you going to hit your sales goals?” Nope!
The real problem for the Mariners at this point is pure, unadulterated apathy. When your team is in the hunt, and you can’t even bring 30,000 to the park, you’ve got problems. The last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the season against the A’s (when they were still in contention) maxed at 29,522, with a low of 19,796. There were more fans there on Sunday, when the team was officially eliminated from the playoffs, than two of the days when they were still in it?! Ranked 19th of 30 teams for attendance. San Diego had more people than Seattle for chrissake. But people complain about “too many” Toronto fans showing up for games, or New York fans, or Boston… Give me a break. You want a say in how many opposing fans show up at a game? Then buy a damn ticket. **