It’s been an interesting year for Mariners baseball. A two-month opening sprint was followed by a typical-Mariner meltdown, with the team now working itself back to relevance.
If we want to evaluate Dipoto’s work thus far, it’s even more interesting.
Because, that whole torrent of trades and free agent signings he made? Mostly meh. Have a look:
Nate Karns = Meh.
Joaquin Benoit = Bad.
Leonys Martin = Great.
Luis Sardinas = Meh.
Chris Iannetta = Kinda Good, Then Meh.
Steve Clevenger = Meh.
Nori Aoki = Half Bad, Half Meh.
Wade Miley = Bad.
Adam Lind = Meh. (I mean, Bad, but those walk offs….)
Steve Cishek = Meh.
Dae Ho Lee = Fun, but Meh.
Guillermo Heredia = Good.
Nick Vincent = Decent.
Dipoto gave a compelling presentation about how he’d transform the roster: More athletic in the outfield, get on-base, throw more strikes, swing at fewer balls….. And his team has shown improvement in these categories, mostly.
But those improvements didn’t come from his acquisition frenzy. With the exception of Leonys Martin, it’s tough to find any dramatic contributions from this group of players.
That’s not to say I dislike any of the moves. Surely, in retrospect, you’d love to take back the Carson Smith trade. But Dipoto did what seemed best at the time. And he’s right about not judging each trade individually—instead, look at the whole picture.
I guess the truth is, when you go bargain hunting, you end up with a bunch of mediocre shit.
Yes But, Look Who Is Contributing
In addition to a Mariners farm system that is winning many ballgames, the player development also seems to be much improved. The Mariners draft was highly regarded, as well.
But the story of these 4 players makes me most happy:
So he went to the minors and learned plate discipline. His contact rate is the same, and his swing is a bit cleaner. But, heaven be damned, Zunino is not chasing poor pitches. And the early results are staggering.
Mike Zunino will be a very, very good baseball player if he keeps this up.
They simplified his mechanics, lowered his arm slot. He then hit 100 mph and found consistency.
Like Zunino, Paxton is playing to his potential, and oh is it refreshing to see.
Take a kid out of AA, and two months later, he becomes an absolutely sensational closer? Yeah, that’s what professional talent evaluation looks like.
Finally, watching Shawn O’Malley step up his game is wonderful. I have no idea who deserves credit. Just him? The coaches? The culture? The weather?
Dipoto seems to be maximizing talent already controlled by Seattle. (Under the Zduriencik regime, this wasn’t usually the case.) It’s great to see, and it seems to be the engine for most of this team’s 2016 success.
Keep up with us on Twitter: @Seatown_Mariner