I've returned from my trip around Europe, including stops in Zurich, Luzern, Interlaken, Prague, Split, Dubrovnik, Vienna, Austria, and Munich. Waking up every morning to a Mariners win (and then, eventually, inevitably, a Mariners loss, over and over again) was a very weird, distant, and surreal feeling. It was difficult to be away from my favorite team and a major part of my life for over three weeks, so many thanks to Nathan and the rest of the staff for holding things down in my absence. We've got a great staff here and watching the site not miss a beat while I was gone was truly rewarding.
As the Mariners prepared for the final few months of the season, there were plenty of holes that needed to be addressed. But the Mariners weren't exactly in a position to go all out, as Oakland's collapse hadn't yet begun, and the path to a one-game playoff was well in reach, but hardly a lock. Being massive buyers at the trade deadline, all for one possible playoff game, seemed like a risky maneuver. While the Kendrys Morales acquisition was a weird one, the cost of Stephen Pryor was relatively low, and they finally got their guy. Austin Jackson was the real prize of the batch, and Chris Denorfia seemed to fill a bit role for an outfield that had below-replacement level talent currently residing all over the place. As a whole, it was a shrewd boost to a team that needed help, and it didn't break the bank or mortgage the future too much, seemingly. Zduriencik was praised by myself, by most, and it wasn't just his past failures making things seem better by comparison. He earned it on paper, but it hadn't yet happened. It probably affected how many viewed his extension. Perhaps too many fans are used to giving up before the inevitable occurs, subscribing to the following theory.
We often hear the chants of good process, bad results vs. bad process, good results (or any other similar combination), and this time, the Mariners have been hit with the former to almost stunning results. Without really being able to witness games live over the past three weeks, it's been staggering to watch the decline of Austin Jackson's stat line. Already having a down year, Jackson has actually been worse than Abraham Almonte was...for the Mariners. Not to mention the Padres, where Almonte has looked far more like the 2013 version of himself than the mess he was for the Mariners organization in 2014.
|Austin Jackson (SEA)||-0.3||0.229||0.266||0.262||51||-0.3|
|Abraham Almonte (SEA)||0.2||0.198||0.248||0.292||54||3.2|
|Abraham Almonte (SD)||0.8||0.265||0.305||0.378||96||6.5|
Almonte's positive WAR with the Mariners was mostly generated from his positional adjustment and defense, but seeing his wRC+ with Seattle sit above Austin Jackson's is jarring. How is that possible? Throw away the track records, the face value perception -- think about how bad Abraham Almonte was as a Seattle Mariner, and now accept that Austin Jackson has been worse.
You can't really make any conclusions about the defensive ratings with that small of a sample, so I won't attempt to. The offense speaks for itself. As the Mariners have embarked down this stretch, Austin Jackson has been a huge dog turd. It's not to put blame on Z or anyone else for acquiring him -- hindsight is 20/20 and even though ghosts of Mariners past have done this when entering the Seattle atmosphere before, the thought process was still good. James Jones was awful, and Jackson should have been a huge addition, even just by subtraction. Jackson shouldn't be this bad, but he is. It puts the Mariners in a tough spot in having to decide what to do about center field yet again for 2015, and it explains a part of the M's collapse down the stretch.
Almonte has a higher wRC+ for the Padres then he did for Tacoma, but Almonte was catching fire for Tacoma for a month before he was dealt. Still, after witnessing the horrific contact issues at the big league level, it was hard to take seriously. He's far from proven those wrong completely, but there's at least a strong indication that he wasn't quite the expendable piece the Mariners thought he was. Especially for Chris Denorfia, who's been worth -0.3 WAR himself as a Mariner in a limited role, hasn't done what he was brought in to do, and is about to walk away while the Padres control whatever Almonte is now for a long, long time.
Meanwhile, Kendrys Morales has been worth -0.8 WAR, though Stephen Pryor hasn't made it up to Minnesota yet, walking 16 batters against 22 strikeouts (though his ERA is sub 1.00). That hasn't worked out, but it hasn't really not worked out either, as healthy, broken, or Morales, the Mariners DH situation has been a dumpster fire all year long.
Still, consider this. If you look at the Mariners leaderboard for WAR, three of the bottom five are players the Mariners chose to give up talent to acquire to improve their team. Every single bit of help the Mariners have brought in has sub-replacement level. The Mariners sit two games behind a playoff spot with three to go, and they "added" -1.4 WAR to their roster at the deadline. Brutal.