This morning I got an email from a contact with the Mariners. In the communication was a single line paragraph, blinking neon:
"buckle up for this week!"
Now, ignoring the fact that my chair does not have a buckle, nor would being buckled for an entire week be practical for a variety of reasons, this nonetheless very much got my attention. We are learning more and more about Jerry Dipoto everyday it seems, and one of the things about Jerry Dipoto is he has no chill:
#Mariners acquire OF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass from Texas in exchange for RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, James Jones and PTBNL.— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) November 16, 2015
Now briefly a few thoughts here before I scurry off to watch Tom Wilhelmsen gifs and have a soft cry:
- Leonys Martin was BAD last year. Like, Lloyd McClendon approved leadoff hitter bad. His wRC+ of 50 is hanging out at the sad, poorly lit part of the bar with Mike Zunino's. The peanuts on the floor have been there for weeks, and that stupid Laz Burmann Sunscreen song is on endless loop. It's a bad place to be. However, just like I pointed out in the Iannetta piece from this morning, Martin hasn't always been this bad. In 2014 Martin's wRC+ was 89, which sounds (and is) still kinda bad BUT he plays centerfield and plays it very, very well. So well in fact that even with that 89 wRC+ 2014 Leonys Martin managed 3.5 fWAR. 2013 Martin was at 2.9 fWAR.
This is a classic buy low proposition for Dipoto. Your opinion on the likelihood of a bounce back for Martin hinges partially on how much you believe the wrist he injured May 4th last year hampered him the rest of the year. If Martin returns to the 2.5-3.5 WAR CF he was in '13-'14 this is a great trade, and he immediately provides as much value in CF as even the most optimistic fan would have projected for Brad Miller out there.
Martin is 27, and will not reach free agency until 2019. He's a potential steal, and he's (again) exactly the kind of player Dipoto has talked about wanting in the outfield; fast and athletic. Jerry, much like ball itself, don't lie.
- Here are 7 minutes of Martin highlights set to goofy and bad music. I'm mostly wierded out that some of these aren't against the Mariners.
- Now as to the minor leaguers in this trade? Well PTBNL always has upside but is a bit of an unknown. James Jones? I love the guy, fast as hell, and in 2014 I was ready for him to be the secret basestealing threat that tormented that team's playoff foes all Autumn.
But he sure was bad at pretty much all of the things that a baseball player needs to be good at. His defense was bad, he cannot hit for average or power, and, while I'm sure many Ranger fans would say the same about Martin, he's never shown an ability to succeed in the majors. James Jones is the same age as Leonys Martin, with a similar skillset, but none of pedigree or accomplishment.
Goodbye James, you are a hell of a guy. I hope you wash out of Texas, latch on in the NL and get really, really good. You're an easy guy to root for.
- Anthony Bass scouting report: "He's a piler." Ok.
- We are going to have a proper send off later but for now a few words on Tom Wilhelmsen. A few years back the Mariners went to Tampa to play the Rays. Tropicana Field is widely considered to be one of baseball's worst ballparks, and may end up driving the Rays from that metro someday. But Shannon Drayer wrote in a piece (I can't find it Shannon, I'm sorry) about how a few players climbed into the catwalks before the first game. While other players were cautious, scared, or hesitant she wrote about Wilhelmsen's wide-eyed love of the experience. In particular I remember she referred to him having a mind "much bigger than the game he plays."
That sounds like faint praise, and maybe it is. But there was something about that idea, and the way that Wilhelmsen seemed to embody it so well, that stuck with me. I like to imagine that only someone with excellent perspective in life could have walked the path Tom has so far. From 1st round washout, to bartender, and back. From overnight sensation, to failed closer, long reliever, minor league stints, to the only semi-dependable member of the Mariners bullpen by the end of the year.
Tom did it all in Seattle. He was never a star, and never needed to be. He got married a Mariner, and started his family here. In a fairly meager era he stands and will continue to stand out as one of my favorite players of this decade. Thanks for the drinks, Tom. Thanks for the dances. Thanks for this: