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Lookout Landing plays the Seattle Mariners

A couple days ago I asked you to provide 8% of the Offseason Plan. I lied. It was actually 108%.

the s stands for synergy
the s stands for synergy
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

There’s nothing better than a good social experiment. Once, when I was a student teacher, I gave named slips of paper to thirty freshmen, and told them that they had been secretly paired up with another student. I then put them in the prisoner’s dilemma. I told them that they could hand back the slip with a smiley face, or a frowny face. If the student and his or her secret opponent both smiled, they would get no homework that night. If they both frowned, they would get an extra-hard homework assignment. But if one stabbed the other in the back, the stabber would get out of an exam while the other student would have to stay after school to take an extra exam. This was all a lie, of course; there were no exams, no repercussions. It was all just a lesson in how people behave when they have to rely on each other. Three-quarters of the students sent back frowny-face notes.

Being part of a group does something to people, binds them and frees them at the same time. It causes some people to naturally lead and others to follow; some instinctively police while others freeload off the work of their comrades. Coupled with the anonymity of the internet, the results can be disastrous, and miraculous. And it is what I have done, without your knowledge or permission, to you, Lookout Landing.

Last year an Australian game designer had an idea. He was a member of the Twitch community, a site/channel devoted to the broadcasting and watching of video games. One person plays, and talks into the microphone; anyone can watch, listen, and communicate with the player through a chat window. I enjoy Twitch on occasion; I don’t have much time for video games anymore, but the experience of watching someone else play takes me back to my childhood, to the days when all my friends owned a Nintendo but me, and I lived vicariously through them. This designer went an extra step, however, and programmed his chat channel to actually control the game. He called it Twitch Plays Pokemon, and it was a chaotic, beautiful disaster. Viewers flooded the chat with random commands, some constructive, others destructive. Meanwhile, the avatar on the screen lurched around like a drunken schoolboy.

On Tuesday I solicited suggestions from the readership for the Lookout Landing Offseason Plan, ostensibly to use as a starting point for our conversations. This, I confess, was a lie. Instead I took the suggestions, numbered them, and, using a random number generator, performed your Offseason Plan, the true Offseason Plan, an uncontrollable gesture at baseball and the heavens. I chose fifty transactions at random, set them in order, and performed them all. If any move proved to be a duplicate, or require a player who was altered by a previous move, I highlighted it in gray and skipped it. For moves without dollar amounts, I used the recently-published FanGraphs crowdsourcing median to approximate players’ values. Trades I left completely unaltered.

Here are your 2016 Seattle Mariners. Here is what you have wrought.


Release Mark Trumbo.

Off to a good start.


Sign Jason Heyward. (8/$184M)


Move Cano to 1B.


Trade Mark Trumbo and Mike Montgomery to TEX for Leonys Martín.

And already we’re full of regret. I’d much rather have Leonys Martin than Mark Trumbo.


Trade Charlie Furbush and Chris Taylor for a 1-2 WAR catcher.

Good idea! But not specific enough. Sorry.


Sign Gerrardo Parra. (3/$24M)


Sign Mike Leake. (4/$44M)


Re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma. (3/$42)

Some pretty hefty contracts, but that’s what you get when you do your free agent shopping so early in the offseason, I guess.


Three way trade: Astros get Nelson Cruz. Tampa Bay gets Jason Castro and Jon Singleton. Mariners get Lance McCullers and Marwin Gonzalez.

I love this trade. Not only does it add another shortstop (though one, spoiler alert, who will prove useful by the end), but Tampa Bay gets two players without trading anyone away. I only hope our organization can be that smart someday.


Trade Mike Zunino, DJ Peterson, and Patrick Kivlehan to TBR for Kevin Kiermaier and Blake Snell.

Or maybe they’re not that smart after all.


Sign Jason Heyward. (7/$100M)


Sign Hisashi Iwakuma.


Sign Franklin Gutierrez (1/$3M), with incentives tied to sexiness (impossible not reach) and ABs (more problematic).

Gutierrez contract offers were way over the map, ranging from $2M to $10M. FanGraphs says six, but let’s just assume those sexiness incentives are really lucrative.


Don't sign Iwakuma.

Too late!


Trade James Paxton and Andrew Moore to MIA for Marcell Ozuna and Carter Capps.


Sign Jeff Samardzija. (4/$50M)


Trade Forrest Snow to TEX for Russell Wilson.

I left this one in because it wouldn’t feel real if I didn’t. There were plenty of gag answers, more as the day went along. The urge to anonymously troll is baked deep into our DNA, courses through our veins. I put up a different anonymous form earlier in the week and got 150 responses, one of which was "poop". This seems like just about the right ratio.


Sign Jason Heyward. ($7/56M)


Sign Jason Heyward. (4/$120M)

You guys were super into Jason Heyward. Good thing he signed when he did, because it looks like his market really crashed after day one.


Trade Chris Taylor and Jesus Montero to NYM for Juan Lagares and Jonathan Niese.

I guess this one makes sense if the Mets were so broke that they were literally selling bricks out of their own stadium to pay the electrical bill.


Sign Matt Wieters. (2/$15M)


Sign Hisashi Iwakuma. (2/$18M, with a third year team option of $12M)


Trade Brad Miller and a prospect to MIA for Marcell Ozuna.

People really wanted to trade Brad Miller. You’d think he’d be liked well enough in the community, but he was traded eleven times in the exercise, more than any other Mariner. This time, only Paxton’s unpopularity was able to save him.


Sign Denard Span. (3/$36M)


Release Logan Morrison.

That seems fair.


Trade James Paxton, Brad Miller and Ramon Flores to CLE for Michael Brantley and a prospect.


Trade Chris Taylor and Danny Farquhar to MIA for Marcell Ozuna.


Sign Matt Wieters. (2/$14M)


Move Cano to 1B and Nelson Cruz to DH.


Sign Scott Kazmir. (3/$39M)

You can never have enough starting pitching.


Trade Chris Taylor and James Jones to MIA for Marcell Ozuna and Brad Hand.

If Brad Miller is the least popular Mariner, Marcell Ozuna was by far the most popular future Mariner. Jeffrey Loria doesn’t like Ozuna and you guys are ON IT.


Sign Mark Lowe. (2/$4M)


Resign Logan Morrison. (1/$4M)

Huh. This is like telling a kid they can have any one thing at the grocery store and having them bring back rice cakes. I mean, forgiveness is divine, but…


Trade Patrick Kivlehan to CHC for Miguel Montero.


Sign Dexter Fowler. (4/$56M)


Sign Justin Upton. (6/$120M)


Sign Alex Gordon. (5/$90M)

Imagine that morning on Lookout Landing.


Sign Franklin Gutierrez (1/$2M plus incentives)


Trade Brad Miller for to MIA for Marcell Ozuna.


Trade Jesus Montero, Roenis Elias, and Edwin Diaz to the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna and AJ Ramos.


Sign David Price. (6/$196)



Trade SP James Paxton to MIA for CF Marcell Ozuna.


Release Logan Morrison.

There we go. Well played, Lookout Landing.


Trade Brad Miller, Roenis Elias and Edwin Diaz to TOR for Kevin Pillar and Aaron Sanchez.

And on transaction #43, Brad Miller is finally set free. Don’t turn around, Brad. We don’t want you to see our heart breaking.


Sign Denard Span. (3/$36M)


Extend a qualifying offer to Hisashi Iwakuma.

Seems a little unnecessary at this point, but sure, why not?


Trade Stefen Romero and Edgar Olmos to MIA for Jarred Cosart.


Sign all Chris Youngs. (1/$6M and 2/$6M)


Trade Jabari Blash and Mayckol Guaipe to TEX for Leonys Martin.


Trade Brad Miller, Roenis Elias and cash to SDP for Derek Norris and Craig Kimbrel.

And that’s fifty. Let’s see what the 40-man roster looks like:

Pos Starters B/T 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
SP Felix Hernandez R-R 25.9 26.9 28.9 27.9 FA
SP Hisashi Iwakuma R-R 14 14 14 FA
SP Taijuan Walker R-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3 A4 FA
SP Danny Hultzen L-L 0.5
SP Vidal Nuno L-L 0.5 A1 A2 A3 FA
SP Mike Montgomery L-L 0.5
SP Jeff Samardzija R-R 12.5 12.5 12.5 12.5 FA
SP Mike Leake R-R 11 11 11 11 FA
SP Jonathan Niese L-L 9 fA
SP Scott Kazmir L-L 14 14 14 FA
SP Blake Snell L-L 0.5
SP Jarred Cosart R-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3
SP Chris Young R-R 6 FA
SP David Price L-L 28 28 28 28 28 28 28 FA
SP Lance McCullers R-R 0.5
RP Tom Wilhelmsen R-R 3 A3 FA
RP Carson Smith R-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3 FA
RP Danny Farquhar R-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3 FA
RP Charlie Furbush L-L 1.7 A3 FA
RP Carter Capps R-R 0.8 A2 A3
RP David Rollins L-L 0.5
RP Edgar Olmos L-L 0.5
RP Tyler Olson R-L 0.5
RP JC Ramirez R-R 0.5
RP Jose Ramirez R-R 0.5
RP Rob Rasmussen R-L 0.5
RP Cody Martin R-R 0.5
RP Mark Lowe L-R 4 4 FA
RP Aaron Sanchez R-R 0.5
RP Tony Zych R-R 0.5
C Matt Wieters S-R 15 15 FA
C Steve Baron R-R 0.5
C John Hicks R-R 0.5
C Jesus Sucre R-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3 A4 FA
1B Robinson Cano L-R 24 24 24 24 24 24 FA
2B Russell Wilson R-R 0.5
SS Marwin Gonzalez S-R 0.5
SS Ketel Marte S-R 0.5
3B Kyle Seager L-R 8 11 19 19.5 19.5 18.5 FA
LF Ramon Flores L-L 0.5
LF Franklin Gutierrez R-R 3 FA
CF James Jones L-L 0.5
CF Shawn O'Malley S-R 0.5
RF Stefen Romero R-R 0.5
RF Seth Smith L-L 6.8
RF Marcel Ozuna R-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3
LF Gerardo Perra L-L 8 8 8 FA
CF Jason Heyward L-L 23 23 23 23 23 23 23 23 FA
CF Juan Legares R-R 2.5 4.5 6.5 9 FA
CF Denard Span L-L 12 12 12 FA
CF Kevin Kiermaier L-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3 FA
CF Dexter Fowler S-R 14 14 14 14 FA
LF Justin Upton R-R 20 20 20 20 20 20 FA
LF Alex Gordon L-R 18 18 18 18 18 FA
CF Kevin Pillar R-R 0.5 A1 A2 A3
LF Chris Young R-R 6 6 FA
CF Leonys Martin L-R 1.6 A2 A3

The Mariners signed, according to one Grant Brisbee, the #2, 3, 4, 7, 13, 14, 19, 21, 23, 30, 31 and 33 free agents of the offseason. (Not one person even suggested signing Greinke; that would be gauche.)

The team would certainly have some competition in spring, what with 56 players on the 40-man roster. Ownership might balk at the team’s $307.3 million payroll, a slight increase over the $127 million they fielded in 2015. But Mather can’t help but buy in to DiPoto’s newest inefficiency: fielding nine starters and nine center fielders on the same roster. Still, rules are rules, so we have to make some cuts to get ourselves down to a functioning roster.

First: everyone with an option gets demoted, with the exception of a few necessary position players. That means that many up-and-coming players will have to wait their turn in Triple-A, including Taijuan Walker, Lance McCullers, fan favorite Marcell Ozuna, and four-win center fielder Kevin Pillar. This may not seem fair, given that several of these players are more talented than their new superiors, but given that the franchise traded nearly their entire Tacoma roster, depth is a priority. It’s good for them, they will be told.

The cuts are more difficult. Hultzen is out of options and luck, and various non-prospects (Olson, Ramirez, Baron, Jones, and O’Malley) will have to be snuck through waivers, perhaps made easier by cutting them all at the same time. Russell Wilson can make a couple inspiring speeches and boot a couple grounders before heading back to the tape room. Cody Martin was just cut by the Braves, so who knows why the M’s wanted him in the first place. Mike Montgomery is basically in the exact same position Erasmo Ramirez was last year, so he’ll probably have a great year with the Red Sox.

That leaves us with thirty men left on the 25-man roster. Time to start planning out positions:

Proposed 25-Man Roster
SP Felix Hernandez 25.9
SP David Price (L) 28
SP Hisashi Iwakuma 14
SP Scott Kazmir (L) 14
SP Jeff Samardzija 12.5
CL Carter Capps 0.8
SU Tom Wilhelmsen 3
SU Mark Lowe 4
RP Aaron Sanchez 0.5
RP Chris R. Young 6
RP Jon Niese (L) 9
RP Mike Leake 11
C Matt Wieters (S) 15
C Jesus Sucre 0.5
1B Robinson Cano (L) 24
2B Kyle Seager (L) 8
SS Ketel Marte (S) 0.5
3B Alex Gordon (L) 18
IF Marwin Gonzalez (S) 0.5
LF Dexter Fowler (S) 14
CF Kevin Keiermaier (L) 0.5
RF Jason Heyward (L) 23
OF Denard Span (L) 12
OF Franklin Gutierrez 3
DH Justin Upton 20

Cano gets moved to first; this made more sense with Miller and Taylor around, but with both of them gone, Seager is the only man on the roster with experience at the keystone. This opens up third base for Alex Gordon, who will have to discover his own sense of nostalgia having given the hot corner up in 2009. Marte gets handed shortstop, and Marwin Gonzalez backs up the entire infield. Infield coach Chris Woodward is going to have a fun spring.

Behind the plate, Wieters catches every single game he physically can, which isn’t a particularly comforting thought. Sucre and Hicks get to prove that their 2015 seasons were outliers, and that they are capable of performing like replacement-level players.

The outfield and DH will serve as a five-man rotation, with Fowler, Kiermaier (who is just too good to demote), Heyward, Span and Upton getting as many at bats as they can. Gutierrez gets chosen to fill the 25th spot, not merely because of his sexiness but because of his handedness and his raw power. Having Pillar and Ozuna in Tacoma makes the fragile young hero a more palatable choice.

This means that recent signees Parra, Chris B. Young, Lagares, Leonys Martin, and Seth Smith expendable. Literally, they’ll have to be expended. With nearly every starting outfielder hitting lefty, Smith is a platoon bat without a platoon, and the others are facsimiles of the starters. Hopefully the Mariners will be able to get some team-controlled assets for them before their ten day designation expires, but critics of the team philosophy will point to a certain amount of overzealousness in management, and it’ll be hard to disagree.

On the pitching side, things are more clear: Price, Felix, Iwakuma, Kazmir and Samardzija are the clear frontrunners for the rotation, with Mike Leake and Chris Young serving as the long men and spot starters. With Furbush not ready for Opening Day (and cut if he is – sorry, Charlie) Jon Niese serves as the only lefty in the pen. How you actually order the bullpen is up to you; they're relievers, so who knows how good any of them will be.

After our cuts, the roster stands at $267.7 million dollars and promises two hundred plate appearances to Jesus Sucre and John Hicks. You’ve taken a plate of mashed potatoes and crafted a mega-Padres team, terrifying and lopsided, and no less likely to survive three games out of five in October. This, this is your Frankenstein’s monster, your attempt to meddle in the sacred arts, to try to wrest control from nature. This is the wisdom of crowds, you who slew Sydney Carton, who voted for Nixon, who handed Socrates the hemlock. Alone you are human, but congealed you are become madness.

But who knows. After sixteen full days, Twitch did beat Pokemon. Perhaps progress isn’t proof of valiance in mankind, but a shambling stair-tripping embarrassment, where even randomness and animalism can’t help but occasionally create beauty. Perhaps this is the greatest team we’ll never have.

Either way, it’s yours.