It’s 1:00 PM on Wednesday in Seattle, and the Mariners are getting destroyed by the Texas Rangers. The blowout, mere hours after spending three and a half hours in the torture scene from Braveheart, finally put the hopes and dreams of all but the most optimistic Mariner fans.
Far away from the blood and heat of Texas, presumably in an office in Safeco Field, or perhaps on a plane, or whatever astral, dimension-navigating, molecular-teleporting transportation mode people who exist in Jerry Dipoto’s professional and financial level use, the Mariners were finalizing a trade, mere moments before the waiver trade deadline.
We are far enough along with the Jerry Dipoto Front Office to allow for the fallibility that familiarity brings. We’ve seen the big offseason trades of Mark Trumbo and Brad Miller go sideways at best, rocketing southward at worst. The Wade Miley acquisition has already been acknowledged as a sunk cost. Nate Karns was put on the 60-day disabled list today.
Mistakes have been made within the past year, and we’ve seen them hurt the Mariners in a real, tangible way. This is good, this is healthy, this is real. It’s important both now and moving forward to be ready to question the team’s moves, their philosophy, whether they adapt, do they repeat mistakes, etc.
There is a line, somewhere, perhaps defined by the historians who will judge success and failure, that tips between belief in one’s philosophy, and stubbornness. Since the day he was hired, Jerry Dipoto has preached the desire to develop talent, get more athletic, and achieve success through a sustainable model. To this end he has been relentless in stockpiling projectable youth, outfielders, and always, always club control. A reminder of some of the players, and their free agency year, acquired through trade this offseason:
Nathan Karns - 2021
Boog Powell - No service time
Dan Vogelbach - No service time
Ariel Miranda - 2023
Luis Sardinas - 2022
Arquimedes Caminero - 2021
Steve Clevenger - 2020
Guillermo Heredia - 2023
There is, I am fairly confident in asserting, no star players in the above list. I don’t think the Mariners or Jerry Dipoto would disagree with that assertion. What there is, is a grab bag of potentially cheap, league average-ish talent. Many Mariner seasons have been sunk by a lack of depth, and in a little less than a year on the job Jerry Dipoto has shown, nearly definitively, that he is fixated upon solving that.
Of course, an obsession, or a fixation, doesn’t guarantee success. That list of players a few paragraphs above this one does not overwhelm with possibility. Jack Zduriencik was obsessed with power, and never once built a team with as much power as the one Jerry Dipoto seems to almost accidentally have built overnight. But trying to build roster depth, unlike fixating on Mark Trumbo, is at least asking a worthwhile question. That sounds like faint praise, and maybe it is, but these are the Seattle Mariners we are discussing.
As the Mariners finalized the acquisition of Ben Gamel amidst the smoldering ash of the 2016 season, all the hallmarks of Dipoto’s various obsessions were present:
"He’s optionable, he’s young and he’s athletic, three of things we are looking for," Dipoto said. "He’s a polished minor league player who’s ready to cut his teeth in the big leagues."
Ben Gamel may be nothing, and Jerry Dipoto may end up being a failure in Seattle. But a plan, clearly, repeatedly stated, and earnestly followed is a hell of a lot better than what this franchise has had in many years past. Now all he needs to do is execute his plan, and maybe, just maybe, get a little bit of good luck.
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