You asked, we answered. Enjoy all of our HOT TAEKS below.
- Ice Dad, LL: Any chance Edwin Diaz is looked at as a starter?
Zach: No, those days have passed. The club has fully committed to him as a reliever at this point, and from past experiments done by other teams, moving folks back-and-forth certainly isn’t a good thing for their development. If Diaz would have been a simply good reliever and not one posting numbers worthy of record books, maybe there’s a chance that JDP/SS would give him a shot to move to the rotation, but after a dominant year they’re not going to mess with a good thing. Also, if we saw one flaw with Diaz, it was that his slider isn’t quite right at this point, so you’d have to spend plenty of time working on that as well as his changeup.
- goyo70, LL: Should Scott Servais be evaluated after one year, and if so, how do you find him? Is there a consensus about what makes a good manager? If the bar for excellence is something like a) Tito Francona, b) Buck Showalter, c) Joe Maddon, can we clearly describe what it is that makes these managers so great? Should every manager be described in terms of the context of the brilliance/facilitation of the GM and front office? I am interested in your insights into the importance of managers generally, the characteristics that define good ones, and the measure of Servais to this standard.
John: I think it's tough to see if much is going very well, but certainly possible if things are going poorly. The importance of managers I believe breaks down into two sections. Tactics are important, and bullpen management in particular is the most perceivable one. In that I think Scott Servais was rather poor last year. He didn't have a great selection to work with, but he still was far from optimal. That seems like a skill that can improve for a rookie manager. The other (and I would argue more important role) is managing the personalities and helping shape the culture of the team. That is something all three of the men listed above do very well, anecdotally, which is all we can go off of, of course. In that sense, I think Servais has been successful - he wasn't going to come in as a first-time coach and be a disciplinarian on a team with Robinson Canó, Félix Hernández, and several other established stars. In spring training he went and met with the team leaders and told them he trusted them to build a clubhouse atmosphere that was positive and focused and they would have his support, which was wildly successful. It is important to know what you don't know, and it may seem like damning with faint praise, but Servais identified many of those things well in year one.
- goyo70, LL: Is Seattle capable of shouting down Canada in the event both the Jays and Mariners are good again next year?
JT: Thunderstruck Night was a Blue Jays game and I believe they were pretty mum in that one. M’s just have to get after them.
- Hey Suess?, LL: Does Dipoto read Lookout Landing? And if so, is he here leaving comments just like the rest of us, possibly under a nom de plume?
Kate: Jerry is too busy making trades and raising floors to read, but I like to think that while he sleeps he has the whole internet read to him by some kind of advanced automaton so he can know everything that’s going on in baseball at all times, so maybe Lookout pops up on the feed.
- SeattleChops, LL: Do you think Dipoto has a tendency to talk up players when he's considering them for the trade block? Not that he’s traded every player he’s praised, but it seems like it was only yesterday he was talking about how the team believed in Marte.
JT: *glances in Ben Gamel’s direction* I think you could say that.
- JJ Keller, LL: What do you expect from Mike Zunino next season? Is it actually fixed? Enough to be great, or just average?
Ethan: Zunino’s defense is so good that you really just need him to survive at the plate to have value. His performance down the stretch was worrisome, but there are a lot of positive things to take away from it. He flashed a plate approach that was far more advanced than anything we’ve seen from him. Even when he was in that poor final month, he was still maintaining a walk-rate of 9.1%, which is phenomenal progress for a guy who looked completely hopeless a year ago. If he can build from that and improve the contact skills just a tiny bit, I think you have a legitimate, 2-3 win catcher on your hands. I’ll probably never get back to expecting great things from him, but I think he’ll be just fine.
Skiba: While I want to believe he can come back and be something like a 2fWAR catcher, the end to his 2016 campaign was maybe his worst stretch ever at the plate. This is absolutely Z’s final season to show if he can hang or not.
- skalv, LL: Ryan Yarbrough’s averaging only just a touch over 5 innings a start in his last two seasons. Is he destined for the bullpen, and what’s his upside like, whether it’s as a starter or as a reliever?
Ethan: I actually covered this a bit in both the post and the comments in State of the Farm last week! I think I actually watched Yarbrough more than any other minor league arm last year and I’m starting to grow quite fond of him as a potential bullpen piece in the near future. His future always seemed to be in the bullpen, but the development of his slider and the played-up version of his fastball would likely take him from fringe starter to valuable lefty reliever. You’re looking at a mid-90s fastball and a slider with a lot of movement that he’s comfortable throwing for strikes. I think he’s done a lot in the past year to push himself into the conversation for a 25-man spot at some point in 2017.
- yoshi71, LL: Who pitches the most innings this year for the Mariners?
JT: James “Livin in the Safeco Weight Room” Paxton
Grant: At the end of the day, I have to go with Felix. He has the longest track record of all Mariner starters, and I’d like to think last season inspired him to redouble his efforts in the offseason.
- Josh Kuh, Twitter: Which member of the masthead would participate in the Corcoup?
Ethan: You have my sword
- Chris (from Bothell), LL: Since Grant mentioned Galaxy Quest in the article (i.e. probably the 3rd or 4th best Star Trek movie): if you had the Omega-13 Weapon, what one mistake from last M's offseason, the 2016 M's season, or the M's offseason to date would you go back and fix?
KP: I don’t understand the first two-thirds of this question but if I could fix one part of the 2016 M’s season, it would to fix June, specifically the series we got our butts kicked in Detroit, specifically specifically the game where we lost on a walk-off wild pitch. Without that June, the M’s aren’t hanging by a thread in October, and without dropping that series, specifically, we’re in better shape to make a run.
Grant: Kate, you need to watch Galaxy Quest ASAP. Amazing movie. But I think in terms of an offseason move I’d go back and undo, it’d have to be jettisoning Mark Trumbo for a
bucket of balls a net negative Steve Clevenger. That led to us platooning Lee & Lind at first, and while losing Dae-Ho would be sad (though he could potentially remain on the bench?), Trumbo at first would’ve been a huge help. Plus, of course, we avoid the Clevenger debacle altogether.
- Chris (from Bothell), LL: What is the most annoying or weird ground rule in baseball?
Skiba: I cannot tell you how much I hate the hill in Houston. What an absolutely idiotic thing to have in play.
KP: Bullpens in play. I hate bullpens in play so much. “Why injure one or two players chasing down a foul pop when you could potentially tear six or seven ACLs all in one go?”
Grant: When I was a kid, I would play whiffleball in my backyard, and there was a massive tree that served as the left field foul pole, along with a cluster of rocks in deep left-center. I’ve always thought that, while wildly unrealistic, they’d be a lot of fun in a real stadium. I know this in no way answers your question but I felt it needed to be shared.
- the old wisdom, LL: What would Scrabble have to do to make him worth $11 million?
Skiba: Hit 15 bombs.
KP: Show that his ridiculous platoon splits can be remediated. Be the left-handed version of Evan Scribner. Take off his Rzepczynski mask to reveal he is actually Mike Montgomery.
Iz: Be flipped for a starting pitcher
- debaucheandroid, LL: Which seemingly solid move is going to utterly fail (a la Lind 2016) this season?
JT: A baseball-Ancient Carlos Ruiz being counted on to spell Mike Zunino, who is himself being expected to shine, seems like a thin bet.
Iz: Unlike John I actually have a weird belief in Ruiz, in that once a man is a 38-year-old catcher he obviously made some sort of deal with the devil to ensure his longevity. I wouldn’t put anything past him. I am, however, deeply skeptical of Danny Valencia for no reason other than the fact that the Mariner Moose’s evil twin appears to have cursed all Mariners 1B/DHs for eternity.
Skiba: Like John, I think catcher is gonna be brutal this year.
- goyo70, LL: Is Segura a good bet for the leadoff spot? Is Heredia-Segura-Cano a better top 3 than Segura-Smith-Cano? Are lineups a trap, and it makes no difference?
JT: Dipoto has described Segura as a leadoff hitter, which I believe he did with Aoki last year as well, and both will at least start out leading off. I am happy with either of those, and would agree with Heredia as a leadoff since his lack of much power makes him more beneficial as someone getting on early, but that may be more than they want to saddle him with to start the year.
Iz: While I’m one of Heredia’s loudest champions I wouldn’t start him at leadoff right away. If we’re going to be a little weird about lineups I actually think it could be interesting to stick him in at 8 or 9, so that you have some speed at the bottom, and the ability to have an extra man on base once you get to the top of the order again. Segura seems like a safer bet to lead off at the start of the season but once Heredia has a certain number of PAs under his belt, and has continued to demonstrate stellar plate discipline, I’d give him a chance to show off at the top of the order.
- mumoda, LL: Of all the players in the really low levels of our system (Vargas, Torres, Rizzo, etc), who are you guys most excited to see play next year?
Ethan: I started watching Kyle Lewis play during a random online broadcast of a Mercer game last year and I’ve gotta say, ever since then I’ve considered him must-watch television. His athleticism and power and just general baseball abilities make for an exciting nine innings on any given night. I am counting the days until that dude is back from his knee injury. Other guys include Brayan Hernandez, Chris Torres, and Donnie Walton.
KP: a very, very under-the-radar choice: Jansiel Rivera, a 22nd round draft pick from this year who’s just 18. He’s from the DR but moved to Massachusetts to play in the EBL, where he tore it up. He’s got nice size (6’1/200) and is a lefty who plays CF with a plus arm and plus speed. He didn’t have a great year in the DSL but I’ll be interested to see if he takes a step forward next year.
- mumoda, LL: Also, have any of you done any research for the 2017 draft class yet? If so, any opinions?
Ethan: I have! I did weekly breakdowns of potential draft picks for the 2016 Draft this past year and I’ll be picking that up again sometime in March/April. Overall, I think the ‘17 class is a lot deeper than the class we just got. There are as many as 50-60 college arms that I think have a legit chance to go in the first round, and then you always have to factor in those surprises that pop up and have their stock skyrocket in a single year. If you’re a fan of impact bats you may be disappointed, because there aren’t a ton of those, but the 2018 class is full of them (just look at literally any Seth Beer highlight).
- Hawksea, LL: If you had to choose a minor league player who has never played a game in the majors, and have them be a starting fielder or pitcher for the entire season, who would it be?
JT: Assuming we’re working from the Mariners system, DJ Peterson at first base. Might not be great but he'd probably be somewhat ok, and it's not a position of great strength anyways.
Ethan: I would probably take Ryan Yarbrough or Thyago Vieira in a reliever role. Penciling a guy in as a position player would scare me too much.
Grant: I’m with Ethan on this - in general, taking a minor league pitcher (especially a starter) and converting them to reliever would be the easiest role for them to succeed in. Otherwise, I’d take Tyler O’Neill, partly because I think he could be passable in LF and partly because I really want to see him play.
- jmcdonaldf, LL: Just read twitter on ESPN that the Mariners are having "serious talks" about signing Trumbo. At first glance this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as he is only a DH candidate and is looking for about 16 million and multiple years and we already have Cruz; unless this is possibly part of another deal to bring to accumulate more assets to trade for a higher end pitcher. Have you heard any rumors to this effect?
Iz: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
Ethan: I wouldn’t be against bringing in Trumbo to be the everyday first baseman while the window is open, but no, we haven’t heard anything to suggest the rumors are legitimate and I can’t imagine Dipoto would have any interest in bringing him back unless he just really really loves trading him.
- Freaking Rodney, LL: Do you think Trader Jerry would actually consider moving Diaz? What kind of a return could the M’s realistically get for him, and would it be worth it?
KP: The closer market is bananapants and so the idea of a Diaz trade is obviously tantalizing. But are we really ready for another season of Steve Cishek, closer? Other in-house options: Altavilla (who hasn’t done enough at the major league level yet to justify trusting him with the role), Scribner (health concerns), Zych (health concerns and lack of experience in the majors). None of those options would be a complete disaster, but none of them have the combination of talent, club control, and major league experience Diaz has. Probably there’s a trade package that’s worth it, but it would have to be something really special. Diaz was worth two wins when he was closer for all of fifteen minutes, so extrapolating that over the season to me means you need a guaranteed four-win player back, plus something extra for position scarcity. Personally, I feel like not having to watch Cishek or Rodney close games is a price above rubies.
- Incredible Sulk, LL: Will Nate Karns start next season in the Mariners' starting rotation? If not, who do you think is realistically a better option for 5th starter?
KP: I’m wondering if throwing all these extra arms onto the pile is a signal they’re not totally confident in either Karns’ development or his health. It seems like they might have some serious mechanical tweaks to do with him to help keep him healthy/make him more effective. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him start in Tacoma.
- goyo70, LL: What would you give up for Quintana?
Skiba: I don’t think we have a package that would allow us to improve the MLB team with his acquisition. Not enough minor league talent to land him.
- olywriter, LL: I imagine I'm not the only one who fell in love with the Mariners due to Dave Niehaus. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo to honor his time with the Mariners, but I haven’t found the perfect idea yet, and have just been going back and forth on these three calls: "My oh My", "Lined down the left field line", and "It’s grand salami time." Any other suggestions or ideas?
Skiba: Dave once claimed, thinking he was off air, of JJ Putz, “Here comes this big fucker to walk the world.” In the right light, that sounds kinda badass, right?
JT: “Fly, fly, fly away!” Isn't too unique in a text format, but man those home run calls where he went from zero to 100 are impossible to forget for me.
KP: Why not just get a tattoo of a loaf of rye and some mustard?
Iz: Might I gently suggest you not tattoo the phrase “grand salami” anywhere on your body?