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Spring Training MaiLLbag

Don’t believe in Spring Training? Fine - enjoy our “expert” “baseball” “opinions”

MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners are 3-1 in spring training games, which obviously means they are going to keep that pace up for the regular season and finish 121-41. More importantly, however, we’ve decided to celebrate their absolutely meaningless torrid start with the MaiLLbag!

Also, feel free to leave questions for the next edition in the comments below.

As always, these are our readers, and this is our staff.


Darth_Sader: Is it very possible that Thyago Vieira makes the squad if he performs well in spring training? Will Edgar Martinez be a hitting coach in five years?

Ben: I'd give Vieira about a 5% chance of making the roster at best. I think it's the plan for him to start in Double-A and it would take a truly amazing spring to convince the organization otherwise.

Isabelle: Out of ST? No. Called up from AA in the middle of the season? Possibly. Maybe even quite possibly.

Amanda: I hope Vieira’s spring is everything it should be, but I don’t want him on the team this early. Give him time.

JJ Keller: Which Mariner underperforms expectations the most? What about outperforms?

Ben: I want to say “none” because I'm so incredibly optimistic about this season, but if forced to pick one, I guess I would say Lenoys will underperform. I could see last year being his best offensive performance. I could also see him really benefiting from his time spent with Robbie this offseason. I know his hype train is getting crowded, but I think Mitch Haniger could really surpass industry expectations.

Isabelle: For a dude with 30 some major league games under his belt, we’re sure piling a lot of hope onto Mitch Haniger. And now I’m stuck agreeing with SG, so that’s an extra screw you to Haniger. In terms of outperforming, I don’t necessarily think Danny Valencia will have a huge role on this team, but I think he’ll pleasantly surprise us with a little roster flexibility, first base competence, and a decent ability to put up solid at-bats.

SG: Depending on how high of a pedestal you have Haniger on, I lean toward him to underperform certain expectations.

FlannelBacon: Trident or Compass Rose, which do you prefer?

Grant: Love them both, but the trident combined with the blue/yellow color scheme is absolutely gorgeous. I prefer the Compass Rose as the main logo, but the trident is a phenomenal alt/throwback logo.

John: Trident por favor.

Ben: I love them all, but I prefer trident over compass rose for spring training. I prefer the compass rose over the “S” above all other logos though. I'm partial to the logo I grew up with.

Amanda: I’ve never been a fan of the trident. There’s something inelegant about it. I do admit that the superstition of the downward trident makes me uncomfortable and I may not be giving it a fair shake. I adore the compass rose logo. It’s in keeping with the nautical theme without being really obvious about it. The baseball in the middle, laid over the S, everything about it is perfection.

SG: The trident is dope, but I wasn’t alive when they played with it, so it doesn’t feel right saying I like it best. I will say that the yellow “S” without the compass from the late 80s and early 90s are not good and also bad.

kennerdoloman: Other than catcher, what position is most likely to be a black hole this year?

Adam: Right Field is really the only other position I can see becoming a black hole. It’s the only position where there isn’t proven MLB talent, but I’m also very optimistic about Haniger, so I don’t really expect it to become a black hole. However, if he doesn’t pan out Heredia or Gamel would likely take over which is obviously not ideal, and could lead to a “black hole” of sorts.

John: Shortstop. There’s just so little upside behind Jean Segura, even if you’re high on Motter (and I know you, specifically, are). Segura’s been a very healthy player his whole career, as have Robbie and Seager, but only Segura has ever been a complete nothing while healthy. I don’t think he’s in any way likely to be that, but that’s the next biggest worry for me.

Ben: If we are exclusively talking on offense, I think Leonys could potentially be slightly worse than last season. Hoping I'm wrong here though!

SG: Performing their number one hit song, “Your Love,” ladies and gentlemen, it’s THE OUTFIELD.

Freaking Rodney: Which offseason move has the most potential to backfire horribly?

John: If getting punted lights a fire under him, Alex Jackson could quite something, honestly. I don’t regret the trade, but if he can catch passably his bat suddenly becomes much more impressive.

Ben: One thing I love about Jerry is that he doesn't often make moves that are super high risk. I could see the Scrabble signing being an overpay, but even that doesn't really have the chance of “backfiring”.

SG: I will be keeping an eye on Mallex Smith’s performance up against Jarrod Dyson’s. Also, Smyly may give up more dingers in Safeco than we think.

Freaking Rodney: Which offseason move has the most potential to end up much better than expected?

Ben: I really think Danny Valencia could hit the ground running for us. Trading for him is my earlier favorite for most underrated move of the offseason.

Grant: My money’s on Yovani Gallardo - not because I think he’ll be great, but because I think the expectations for him are low and his role is pretty much carved out. If the M’s did in fact target him because they see a specific fix in his mechanics, or because they think he can bounce back if healthier, then I could see him putting up a couple WAR, which is better than the ~replacement level performance many of us are pegging him at.

John: I just don’t see Tai figuring it out any more than he did the last couple years. He’ll probably be solid, but Marte is blocked by Nick Ahmed, and Chris Owings (new Mariner Micah’s brother!) is already a solid utility player. If Segura and Haniger are legit they can make that a steal, and Curtis is no joke as a LOOGY either.

SG: I’m with Ben and Grant, I think Valencia and Gallardo are going to be a lot better than you think.

Btownfritz: If Yovani Gallardo ends up in Cy Young contention, how good will this team be?

Kate: It won’t matter, because any world in which Gallardo is a Cy Young candidate is an alternate universe reflected in the glassy eye of a child’s stuffed toy glinting in the light of the third sun from the top of a wizard’s castle. As John says, go Nu-Seattle Animated Sludge Monsters!

Corco: What is the most dignity you have lost in a single bet?

Luke: I bet my friend a few years back that Justin Smoak would hit 30 dingers. If I won, he would have owed me $30. Having lost, I had to give him $1 for every homer less than 30 he hit that year. It hurt my spirit a lot more than my wallet.

MaximumZer0: What’s the over/under on games that go on until after 11pm PST (2am here in EST) this season? 15, over or under?

Grant: As a fellow east coaster, hopefully under 15! I mean, I’m spitballing here, but we probably have something like 60-70 games in the Pacific time zone that start at 7pm. Given that, and that most games last about 3 hours, 15 sounds about right. I’d probably say a hair under that...and it’ll be due to those few minutes we save with automatic international walks. (Or, y’know, not.)

MaximumZer0: If you were to recommend one restaurant in the Seattle area for a midwestern carni-cheesi-vore on his first trip to the PNW, what would it be?

Luke: Beth’s in Greenlake. It’s a 24-hour breakfast place that has incredible omelets. I went a few times after Mariners games last year.

Adam: I second Beth’s, the possibility of eating a twelve egg omelet always keeps things interesting.

MaximumZer0: Who is in contention for best DadBod™ on the team?

Grant: Can I say Dan Vogelbach? He seems like too easy of an answer.

John: I think it might be Valencia. He’s a fit dude, but he’s a little thicker by nature of his positions, and Carlos Ruiz looks like if you hit a dad on the head with a cartoon hammer a dozen times, so it seems rude.

Adam: I’ll have to go with Kyle Seager. While vacationing in Hawaii last All-Star break, he flaunted a very solid DadBod. I’m looking for him to build off that in 2017.

goyo70: How short is Gallardo's leash? Do they give him 3-4 starts in April even if he’s bad before inserting Miranda or next up? Do they just roll with him, assuming they’ll need the depth?

Grant: Depends on how bad he is. A big part of his allure is his ability to eat innings at roughly replacement level. If he’s much worse than that, and it’s not just because of bad luck, I could see the M’s pulling the plug in mid-May. But otherwise, it’s tough because he has nowhere to go - you can’t send him down to AAA, you’d have to put him in the bullpen. I imagine the front office has some specific markers they’re looking for as a sign that he can return to his former self, and if those aren’t there, they’ll be more willing to deviate from their preferred plan.

Ben: I want to say he gets at least six starts. If he hasn't put it together by then, that leaves enough time to give Miranda (or Whalen, Heston, whoever) a handful of starts before deciding whether they'll stick, or if that spot needs to be addressed at the deadline.

goyo70: Does the WBC have enough of a track record that we could assert with confidence that players who participate have a better or worse start to the season? Does the impact of the WBC differ for pitchers vs other?

John: I don’t think the WBC has enough of a metric more than a case-by-case basis. Some players perform best with plenty of in-game reps, while others might need more work with the organization. I think the fun of the WBC is overall worth any minor fluctuations.

GrizBronc: What's your take on Managers going nuclear on umpires? It seems like this is being phased out of baseball. Lou threw some epic tirades. Lloyd too. But not many managers are willing to disrupt the game to show up a bad umpire (cough, Sean Barber, cough). Should Managers throw more tantrums?

John: I think it is being phased out less as an intentional thing and more just as many players and coaches become more cognizant of the constant presence of cameras and media. We have fewer erratic interviews because folks realize that erratic interviews generate a lot of attention, and unless you’re very good at what you do, usually teams try to shy away from players and coaches who draw attention. That’s a tradeoff for the incredible amount of access and information that we do get and I am thankful for, but it’s a shame. I love managerial blowups, and hope MLB encourages players and managers to be more emotive. There’s no need to have controversy for controversy’s sake, but when you’re competing hard and the umpire makes a mistake, it’s cathartic for me to see the manager take a stand, futile as it may be. Just like players fist-pumping a good play or bat flipping, it’s always nice to see that the individuals we are investing so much time and pride in actually care, as we do. Lou forever.

Amanda: I agree with much of John’s take. I love to see that a team really cares and passionately wants to win, and seeing a manager throw a tantrum really conveys that to the fans and the team. It’s not going to be every manager’s strength, but for those who do it well it becomes something of an art. Lou Piniella was a master. His work was something to behold. In general, I feel like baseball became sanitized somewhere along the way. I want more emotion and a sense of individuality from the players. Maybe managers throwing more tantrums is the way to get that started.

Malfunkshun Junkshun: Will the Mariners have a 3 WAR starter in 2017? If so, who?

Luke: James Paxton had a 3.5 WAR last year in just 20 starts. That said, he also ran a 2.80 FIP, which would be difficult to repeat. I think if he can start somewhere around 30 games this year he’ll be a 3 WAR pitcher again.

Ben: I'm gonna really show my hand as a Mariners optimist and say Paxton, Smyly, and Felix all are 3+ win pitchers.

Malfunkshun Junkshun: I feel that Jerry has done a decent job putting together the bullpen, yet I feel I still have a lot of questions regarding it. Who are your seven bullpen arms to start the season? Are there any dark horses that you think have a shot?

Kate: Diaz, Cishek, Scribner, Scrabble, Vincent, Altavilla, Miranda. But with Alt having options, I wonder if they might yank him around a little. Zych’s health is a big question mark; I see him, Alt, and Simmons all tussling to be set-up man until Cishek is ready to go, with the loser acting as fireman/middle innings guy. I also think Thyago Vieira cracks the pen at some point this year, maybe after the ASB.

Ben: Diaz, Altavilla, Rzepcynski, Miranda, Zych, Vincent, Simmons. Fien and Tago are my dark horses.

Malfunkshun Junkshun: With the acquisition of Dyson, the Mariners got an excellent base runner. Given that the Mariners weren’t a very good base running team in 2016 does the overall grade improve in 2017 or does it remain the same? I feel that this is a crucial area for the team that needs addressed.

Zach M: Last season the M’s ranked 26th in baseball with a -12.5 BsR. That number is not a good number. In fact, that number is a negative number. Leonys Martín led the team in BsR with a score of 4.6, and is the only remaining player on the roster who contributed a score higher than 1. To put this in perspective, last season Jean Segura and Jarrod Dyson posted BsR scores of 5.1 and 5.4 respectively. Meanwhile, the owners of three of the bottom four BsR scores in 2016 [Seth Smith (-2.4), Adam Lind (-2.7), and Dae Ho Lee (-4.6)] have since departed. While those guys were not exactly here for their legs, replacing them in the order with the likes of Dyson, Guillermo Heredia (0.9), Mitch Haniger (-0.4 in a limited sample size), and even Danny Valencia (-1.5), provide a marked improvement. Overall, Dipoto has taken great pains to infuse the squad with more athleticism, and as a result, the M’s should be more effective on the basepaths in 2017.

IncredibleSulk: How likely are Taijaun Walker and Nate Karns to have better years than Drew Smyly and Yovanni Gallardo?

John: Depends on how you’re asking this. If you’re speaking collectively, I think Smyly and Gallardo are a hair likelier to outperform the collective of Walker and Karns. If you’re speaking indivudually, though, I would rank them Smyly, Walker, Gallardo, Karns, in terms of value in 2017.

btownfritz: Which Mariner prospect makes their MLB Debut first this season: Thyago Vieira, Andrew Moore, Tyler O'Neill or DJ Peterson?

Kate: Vieira. He’s the sole case where his success doesn’t necessarily mean something else failed epically (if Moore is up, the rotation has failed; if O’Neill is up, the outfield has failed; if Peterson is up, first base has failed). If Vieira debuts, it’s because he’s been eating souls in AA/AAA, which is good for him and good for us.

Grant: The more I’ve thought about it, the more I lean toward Vieira. Kate’s response pretty much covers the various scenarios, but I can’t imagine DJP coming up at all. Moore could make it if he’s dominating in AAA and Gallardo flames out (but he’d have to be notably better than Miranda), and O’Neill could make it if we suffer a major outfield injury, but Vieira can provide the 2016 Edwin Diaz-type spark to our bullpen if the M’s find themselves in a pennant race.

Asimov91: We all know Dipoto’s skittishness about free agents, but even still the crop of free agents coming up is going to be a big class, and if it’s anything like the past couple of years, the big supply (could) potentially depress prices overall. So my question is this; do you see Dipoto making a serious push for any of the upcoming big free agents to patch the team up, and if so, who do you imagine is most likely?

Grant: I think his skittishness is due to not having the right players available. JeDi is loathe to make long-term commitments to players on the wrong side of the aging curve (for better or worse, I think there’s a very low chance he’d have given Nelson Cruz that contract, though there’s an even lower chance he would’ve signed Chone Figgins way back when). I don’t quite think there’s enough payroll flexibility to go big in the upcoming winter, given the major commitments still on the books to Cano, Seager, and Felix.