Editors note: Two grades were received in emoji form and due to complications/faults of the editor these grades were not translated in their intended, imagined form.
A very merry Christmas and a happy Boxing Day to you all this festive morning. We here at Lookout Landing, seeing as the roster looks quite finished minus minor tweaks, all gathered 'round the fire to do what party people such as ourselves love to do most: grade. Barring a Cespedes-level move (one last present pleeeease), we find ourselves mulling about the house knowing what the roster will essentially look like, and it is only the 26th of December! What a treat! Let's give Jerry a first semester grade to just let him know how he is adjusting to life just before he moves out of the dorms. So, without further adieu, the staff grades follow as such:
Before the Iwakuma signing, I believe I was saying a B+ and while he isn't really responsible for the fallout that happened with the Dodgers, he should be commended for jumping all over the opportunity.
Dipoto did a tremendous job of setting out a goal and accomplishing it, and doing it without surrendering much in the way of top young talent (Walker, Paxton, Zunino, and every top prospect outside of Cochran-Gill and Kivlehan remain in the organization). He improved outfield defense and got more athletic, deepened the rotation and lengthened the lineup, and plugged up the major holes. He left a lot of flexibility going forward and a good foundation for a team that should be able to compete if everything goes well.
The most amazing part was how transparent he was about the plan every step of the way. He told everyone what he wanted to do and did it. That's ballsy. Because if you don't do those things then people know it. He did what he set out to do and I think it's unreasonable to be displeased with the results based on that. Sure, he didn't sign a big ticket FA. But this team can't afford another huge contract.
All in all, a fantastic job. Go Jerry.
Kate: See Below
As an educator, I am a proponent of Alfie Kohn's anti-grading stance. Grades are an antiquated holdover of the factory system of schooling, where we inculcate children as good workers by teaching them to be obedient and respond to a series of bells. Jerry Dipoto is not a product of the old school; he is Han Solo, Maverick Mitchell, Marlon Brando in the Wild One ("Who do you want to trade, Jerry?" -- "Whaddya got?"), and he will dance if he goddamn wants to. Grading him is a fool's errand. Normally I would type out a lengthy descriptive review and then Jerry and I would meet and discuss his goals for the upcoming season and I would encourage him to respond to his feelings about this meeting through the interpretive art of his choice. As an alternative, my assessment: [devil mask emoji, shrimp emoji, red balloon emoji, two girls dancing emoji]
Jake: A series of indescribable emojis I am assuming to be a series of the "100" symbol
In his first offseason as General Manager of the Seattle Mariners, Jerry Dipoto faced a very difficult challenge. Forced into a slim window of contention by his predecessor with very few resources available to him, he quickly transformed the roster into something resembling his philosophy. He didn't waste anytime in moving excess pieces off the roster and was even willing to move a few players at the height of their value. Even before a suddenly availability Hisashi Iwakuma was dropped in his lap, the roster looked like a fringe contender. I give him a lot of credit for acting swiftly and decisively to bring Iwakuma back on a team friendly deal, putting the capstone on this offseason.
More than his ability to construct a roster, I've been more impressed with Dipoto's willingness to communicate his values and philosophy openly and honestly. It's a breath of fresh air after seven years of a front office that refused to share information and was notorious for its hostility. Dipoto's open communication may not be directly related to building a successful roster, but it's certainly part of running a healthy organization, from top to bottom.
It hasn't been the perfect offseason, but considering the obstacles he faced when entering the job, I'd say he's had a very successful first few months on the job. His next task will be to rebuild a player development system that was left in shambles. That task will be much more difficult and have much more lasting effects than rebuilding the major league roster. We'll just have to see how he tackles that mountain.
The Mariners' roster was one of the more divisive in the industry when Dipoto took over. Some viewed it as a few tweaks from contention and others believed the team was in need of a full rebuild. Dipoto has split those expectations down the middle, retooled the 25 man roster to fit his vision without compromising what will inevitably be the defining factor in his legacy: player development.
Through all the roster churn, departures and acquisitions Dipoto increased club controlled years, didn't part with James Paxton or Taijuan Walker, didn't surrender draft picks and didn't make any contract commitments longer than two years. He did all of that while shoring up glaring holes at catcher and the starting rotation. Are the Mariners the colossus we all want? Absolutely not. The team could have definitely gone all in on one of 2015's excellent free agents. However, when observing the state of the organization from a 10,000 foot perspective the change in tone, vision, and execution has been startling, and in a good way.
Plus, it gave us this image, which is my favorite thing:
Along the same lines as the early review by the esteemed, young Jorstad, before the Iwakuma move/steal/proverbial-pot-of-gold I had Jerry sittin' pretty on a mid-range B. Nothing to call the folks about, but certainly enough to get you that degree, and hey, didn't knock you out of honor society or off scholarship (yet). Nori is a good get at his price for a corner spot, but there were more exciting, much pricier, choices out there on the market. Some of them still are just hanging around, hitting baseballs, unsure of which team's shorts to wear in their Instagram workout videos.
While I do love Leonys plugging the years-old centerfield hole, the corners should be unexciting albeit tolerable. The Bullpen Pile is stacked higher than recent memory and I think with the Kuma signing, Dipoto may have walked himself into a Top 3 rotation in the AL. Add all that to bounce-back years from Cano and Seager and a season where Ketel Marte emerges as a true star, and I'm excited. Between Lind and Cruz, the first base and DH scenario will be productive and we should all be smiling quite a bit.
What keeps me from a straight A is the lack of a big bat added in a corner spot, but what's lost in that is gained in an incredible level of roster flexibility for 2017. Jerry kept the Felix-Cano-Cruz window wide open without losing any heat inside the house. What a great metaphor and offseason.
What grade do you give Jerry and his large brain?