Seattle Mariners: AL West Division Rival’s Review

Seattle Mariners – Entering their 40th season

2016 Record – 86-76 – 2nd in the AL West

Last Playoff Appearance – 2001

World Series Appearances / Wins – 0 / 0

Best Franchise Season – 2001 – 116-46

Worst Franchise Season – 1978 – 56-104

Manager – Former Astros’ Catcher Scott Servais. 2nd season

GM – Jerry Dipoto. Former LAA Angels GM who butted heads with Mike Scioscia over analytics

2016 Payroll (from spotrac) – $155 million (13th in majors)

2017 Payroll (projected by spotrac) – $146 million (13th)

2016 Offense – 768 Runs (3rd in AL), 223 HRs (2nd), 56 SB (12th), .259 BA (7th), .756 OPS (5th)

2016 Starting Pitching – 4.25 ERA (4th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 281 BBs (4th best), 768 Ks (10th), .264 BA against (7th best), .765 OPS against (9th)

2016 Bullpen – 3.55 ERA (4th), 1.22 WHIP (3rd), 49 Svs (3rd), 21 Blown Saves (5th most), .233 BA against (3rd) .692 OPS against (5th)

For a team that statistically was very solid in 2016, the Mariners under Jerry Dipoto made a lot of off-season moves in replacing their starting 1B, LF, RF, SS, one of their Cs and two SPs. Whether this propels them into the playoffs they fell short of in 2016 or starts them on a slide, like Dipoto oversaw in Anaheim will be answered in the coming season.

Infield – 2B Robinson Cano (.298 BA/.882 OPS, 39 HR, 103 RBIs) and 3B Kyle Seager (.278 BA/.859 OPS, 30 HR, 99 RBIs) made up a very powerful twosome in 2016. Through a trade that sent young light hitting SS Ketel Marte and promising SP Taijuan Walker to the D’Backs, the M’s have added another good bat at SS in Jean Segura (.319 BA / .867 OPS, 20 HR, 64 RBIs). They also replaced FA 1B Adam Lind with a similar player in Danny Valencia in a trade with the A’s.

Outfield – The M’s had fairly weak OF production in 2016 out of new Astro, Nori Aoki, Seth Smith, and Leonys Martin. They held onto Martin and brought in Mitch Haniger in the Segura trade with the D’Backs and Jarrod Dyson from the Royals. Dyson gives them a bit more base stealing ability (30 SBs in 2016) with a similar light bat to Aoki. Haniger had a great year at AAA (25 HR, 94 RBIs in 129 games) and then struggled a bit in the majors in a small stint with Arizona. Guillermo Heredia is the likely 4th OF in the rotation.

DH and C – In the post Big Papi world, the M’s have one of the premier DHs around in Nelson Cruz (.287 BA, .915 OPS, 43 HR, 105 RBIs). They have brought in former all-star C Carlos Ruiz to help young Mike Zunino develop behind and at the plate.

Starting Rotation – The M’s have taken a chance here as they traded away Walker and Nate Karns after trading Wade Miley at mid-season in 2016. They have brought in (by trades) Yovani Gallardo (6-8, 5.42 ERA) and Drew Smyly (7-12, 4.88 ERA), both of whom are coming off tough 2016’s. These two will be competing against Ariel Miranda (5-2, 3.54 ERA) for the BOR spots in the rotation. The top of the rotation includes King Felix Hernandez (11-8, 3.82 ERA), Hisashi Iwakuma (16-12, 4.12 ERA) and James Paxton (6-7, 3.79 ERA).

The ‘Pen – The bullpen looks pretty solid with young closer Edwin Diaz (18 saves, 2.79 ERA) backed up by old closer Steve Cishek (25 saves, 2.81 ERA). The M’s have brought in Scrabble buster Marc Rzepczynski to pair with Nick Vincent in set-up roles.

Prognosis – The completed trades would seemed to have made a good offense even better for the Mariners. The starting rotation could be a risky business especially with potential health and performance problems with Gallardo and Smyly. The bullpen has good depth and a solid back-end.  M’s – 89-73


93 comments on “Seattle Mariners: AL West Division Rival’s Review

  1. The M’s seem to be the team to best if we’re to capture the A.L. West! We have the offense to match their pitching, though.

    Isn’t it more amazing how the Astros are competing with such a drastic disadvantage in payroll, even after we finally got ourselves to middle of the pack?

    It’s going to be very windy today 17 mph, and Natties are playing their studs. Baseball is back on TV!


    • If you ignore Robinso Cano’s salary then the Mariners and Astros are about even. In this comparison it’s only possible because Altuve is such a bargain. I like the guys we’re paying a lot better than the guys they’re paying.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Off subject but David Wright can’t throw today. He looked fine yesterday, but is now questionable to open the season. Not that Mets aren’t loaded at 3rd and will convert Reyes, but this is a recurring theme. Injuries from doing what? Throwing too hard? It makes ya wonder if these guys played any ball over the break, or how well they take care of themselves?


  3. The Mariners have a fine infield and DH. They are very suspect in the outfield as far as offense goes, in my opinion. They are weak at catcher and in their rotation and they have very little young talent at any position. They have BA’s #23 farm system and were ranked #27 in that young talent rating we looked at in the last blog.
    They have a very good middle of the order but if somebody gets hurt, their chances drop considerably. Their bullpen could wear out quickly. The advantage of Cano and Cruz is that neither of them are aggressive on the base paths and limit their injuries at advanced baseball ages, so they should be pretty heathy when we have to face them seven times in the first two weeks of the season.
    Where they match up well against us is our seeming lack of strength in the left-handed pitching department, especially in the bullpen. McHugh’s dead arm is a concern early, also, as he has pitched well against Seattle in the past.


  4. I remember that 2001 season – imagine 116 wins, and then they were spanked in the ALCS. There is a lesson in there. You just have to be in the playoffs. How you get there doesn’t really matter.


    • Haven’t heard from you a while Simon – glad to hear from you. Yes that 116 win season was amazing – especially how easily it evaporated


    • Dan will agree with you, Simon – on the subject of just “getting there.” But I think we made a strategic decision to stand pat at the trade deadline (maybe we overspent on Yuli prior to), specifically because we didn’t have the firepower. That last Cubs series was a death knell, and proof we made the right decision to double efforts in the offseason … with every intent to land Archer, Q or Sale, EE, Cespedes; or, the haul we did acquire.
      I’m swayed less by momentum going into the playoffs, than depth.. hence, 2005 and 2015.


  5. Gov /AC45 / OP
    Good thoughts all.
    One of the things that I noticed was the age of some of the prime M’s (like Cano – 34 and Cruz – 36, etc) and the fact they traded away two of their younger regulars in SS Marte (23) and SP Walker (24). They did get rid of 30+ Ianeeta, Lind and Aoki, but then they picked up 30+ Ruiz, Valencia, Dyson and Gallardo.

    If Gallardo and Smyly work out – if they have seen flaws in their deliveries that they can correct – then those moves could work out. Gallardo only started 23 games in his age 30 year and had by far his worst ERA and WHIP in 2016. Smyly had 30 starts in 2016 but did not pitch very well. If they repeat 2016 the M’s are in trouble.


    • Dan, a lot of Mariners fans were thrilled to be rid of Marte. He didn’t hit and made some key errors in the late innings of losses that stuck in their minds. Whether Segura continues to hit in perhaps the best pitcher’s park has to be a question on all their minds.

      I suspect their plan is to have the pitchers pitch to contact at home and benefit from the cavernous Safeco field (can I use that adjective or did Houston trademark it?). It’s not a bad strategy. It’s not like there were any TOR pitchers available at reasonable asking prices this offseason.


      • Devin –
        Let’s see Mariner fans are to Marte as Astro fans were to Villar. I think I have got it.

        It is funny, but ever since our experiment with Jesus Guzman at 1B (“Just wait until he gets out of cavernous!!! Petco field. He will be killing it in Minute Maid”) I get a little gun shy on the benefits of the field. If a guy is bad he probably is not going to thrive anywhere.


    • Iwakuma is getting up there, too, as he turns 36 during the second week of the season and King Felix turns 31 during the first week of the season. Their pitching staff is getting up there in age. And they don’t have any top starting pitching prospects close to being ready in the minors.


    • I expect Smyly to bounce back and have a decent season, but I am still baffled by the Gallardo trade. Even in Safeco I don’t expect Gallardo to pitch well. Their rotation is decent and I really like Paxton, but it is an aging group and their window is about the same as the Rangers. They probably have this year and next to be considered playoff contenders and then it will be time to rebuild. The Astros are sitting in a good position to contend for the division well beyond 2018.


    • Kind of funny – he went through all the WAR calculations and came up with 3 extra wins (86 to 89). I eyeballed it and went from (86 to 89). But I wouldn’t bet the boat on either of us.


  6. Did you notice yesterday, Op, that Musgrove’s delivery was a lot less aggressive? He seemed more balanced – maybe he was not trying to clock in so high this early?


    • Making notes on the game:

      Teoscar is solid in the field, Aplin has misplayed several balls in LF.

      Fiers didn’t show much today, as his outpitch was a screwball that might’ve been more effective as circle change except he doesn’t have the separation above 95. I do like his attitude, and Centeno at catcher looks solid too!

      It’s the 4th inning and already apparent their team is more well prepared, just like last season when I predicted Nats to win east. They’ve had several minor leaguers strikeout out or retire our best players.

      Boom flick of the wrist liner outta here, Beltran! New ballgame..


      • …that’s the second weak-arm throw I’ve seen from Bregman this Spring to miss the runner – not a good sign! He doesn’t have Davis’ gun over there, which opens door again for Yuli again (Bregman DH’ing some).

        Giles gives up the long ball, Altuve kicks a simple dp grounder… ahh, beautiful weather, though!


      • Are you talking about the bunt for a hit by Eaton? Bregman was positioned poorly and had no chance at it. I’m not sure whether to blame the player or coaches on that. His arm and glove are weak, though. He’ll have to work very hard to be an average defender.


  7. Have never seen Harris use the f’-word, thought it was something he didn’t like location-wise. Hinch ran out with the trainer and they spelled him. He looked sharp. Stay tuned


  8. Devin, I say an average 3B makes the Eaton bunt, even positioned there. And the one yesterday he skipped .. twice v Cespedes. Maybe so he and Gurriel could chat, or to save his arm. We are the agreed parties that Bregman is not a plus defender.

    Also, it is just as I suspected on the raised strike range. They’re not taking away low strikes; and, I saw Harper get a ball at his numbers, Marisnick a strike at his letters! Bs


  9. So, I pose the question now: how is Gustave that much more dominating than Giles, and what happens if Jandel pitches like that for the next 8 months?


    • Gov – I’m flying blind here as I can’t find stats past the 3rd inning in any box score today. I do know Giles gave up a dinger and I am assuming Gustave pitched well today.
      Well the answer is that Gustave has never been as dominating as Giles – even in the minor leagues. It does not mean he can’t but he has had a long battle with control troubles (in his first 3 years in the minors at a tender age he averaged 11.3, 15.8 and 8.7 walks per 9 IPS!!!!!!!!!).
      But if Giles struggles – he will be replaced by someone – whether it is Gregerson, Harris, Hoyt or some youngster like Gustave…. But I hope he puts it together like he has done at times his first 3 seasons in the majors.


      • If Giles falters I would like to see them consider Devo as the closer. He has the stuff, ala a young Trevor Hoffman, to be a legit closer in my mind.


      • Probably the general belief is Gregerson, followed closely by Harris have the arsenal and experienced know-how that you trust THE most. If it were the ninth & Game 7 … you had these available all hot and on rest.


        Today, you hand the ball to Luke.

        I’m saying if Gustave is that electric, he’s a much better power arm than Devo (although I’m down with Devenski closing – sure!)

        As Devin said, most wonder if The Dragon has a 4th plus offering. Hinch has dispelled the notion, however that he’s not physically able to be a Starter – he’s an animal (just like Musgrove).

        Isn’t it curious about McQ? The influx of arms again helps offset the infirmed and least able. Maybe after Keuchelgate, guys have to be honest about “why” the drop off. In theory.


  10. Btw, Kemp is giving Aoki a run for his money, if you want to compare players by mid season.


    Last Winter, I wrote about Marwin trying to duplicate Viz’s numbers at age 27, and while he didn’t quite reach them, this article appeared recently mentioning the same.

    Incidentally, this is how they finished,

    287/332/365 Viz
    254/293/401 Marwin

    Just trying to lend perspective on how long you can stay in the league if well-prepared, like Jose Vizcaino. Marwin is quickly getting expensive, though (ala Kemp).


  11. Last few notes today.

    When was the last time you saw a guy stand still, or lean in to a fastball at his thighs? Ramon Laureano. And saw him standing in the OF. Majestic.

    Reed still looks outmatched, soft or overweight. Start pulling the baseball, young man! It’s like you’re swinging a sledge. If someone told him to maim the pitcher every AB, as if his life depended on it.. wake him up [sigh]. What is it going to take?

    Dayan Diaz is no slouch. So many arms, not many slots..

    Centeno was poised at the plate, Kemmer had his chances today (just missed). White looked the part (his preferred) at 3B..

    Back to the Mariners.


  12. I think I watched a different game today. First, it is hard to think it has any meaning when half the players in the game have numbers higher than 80. Many are NOT major leaguers and played like it ( both sides). But many physical and mental errors. Lots of work to do this coming month.


  13. Astros vs. Mariners – Just sitting here – thinking ….I should have done this when I wrote the blog post.

    Infield – Both of these infields boast two stars in the infield – Altuve/Correa vs. Cano/Seager. Picking up Segura leans this in the M’s favor – but a strong year out of Bregman could easily turn this into a wash.

    Outfield – Springer is by far the best OF between the two teams and OF is by far the weakest overall area for the M’s …. so advantage Astros.

    C/DH – The Astros have a much better catcher combo McCann/Gattis than the M’s Zunino/Ruiz. The M’s have the better DH in Cruz vs. Beltran but that is not a huge gap between the two. This category overall leans Astros.

    SP’s – Both teams have a lot of questions with their rotations, but the Astros have more questions at the TOR spots – Advantage M’s

    Bullpen – Both teams have good bullpens with comparable set-up and closer situations. I think having the quality long relief flexibility with Devenski and Feliz gives the advantage to the Astros.

    Overall – Slight advantage Astros but the SP situation could undo a lot of the other areas.


    • I hope I am allowed to disagree with you on starting pitching. We have a Cy Young award winner who was hurt last season. They have a good #1 pitcher who is going to turn 31 and his Cy Young was 7 years ago . He has over 2400 MLB innings innings on his arm, was not very effective last season, and has never pitched in the postseason.
      Their #2 has a history of injuries, as ours does, but Iwakuma is going to turn 36 and our #2 is 23, has not a lot of mileage on his arm and is a much better pitcher when he is healthy.
      If you like Paxton, you also have to like Musgrove who is four years younger.
      Gallardo and Smyly were both bad last year and McHugh was a 3 WAR pitcher for us and Fiers, even though he is not my favorite, pitched better than either Gallardo or Smyly last season.
      The Mariners do not have anyone close to Martes, Feliz or Paulino in their system, so if one of their pitchers gets hurt or bombs, they are going to have to trade or tread water.
      I like our starting pitchers better and rate them better than I do the Mariners.


      • No you are not allowed to disagree. You need to eat those peas and carrots young man or you are getting time out in the corner!

        SP is tough to judge. If you get LMJ for 80% of the year and you get Keuchel at 90% of 2015 – the Astros win. If you get anywhere close to a repeat of 2016 the M’s win.
        If they scuffle the problem is that the team might not go to the minor league depth in time waiting for Cy Keuchel to show up or LMJ to heal.


    • The Astros have five relievers ranked in the top 100 MLB power rankings for relievers and the M’s have two. Those top relievers were Harris, Giles, Gregerson Devenski and Feliz. The two for the M’s were Diaz and Vincent. I didn’t list Cishek for Seattle because he is projected to go on the DL. Those rankings are according to Roster Resources.
      The Astros also have the MILB reliever of the year in James Hoyt.
      I think the Astros bullpen is superior top to bottom.


      • Yes, I would agree that the Astros have the far superior bullpen. It is basically the same bullpen as last year, sans Neshek, that had the highest WAR combined by a large amount than any other bullpen in baseball. I would take the Astros bullpen against almost any other team. I think Cleveland and Baltimore are also very good, but the Astros are definitely the best bullpen in the A.L. West.


  14. Beltran is playing LF. We’ll see how this goes. Gattis has been slotted in as DH. Fine in ST, with all the back-up catchers on the bench if he or McCann get hurt or ejected, but not fine in the season.


    • Apparently not a good outing for Devenski, but I didn’t see any of it. Thornton is coming into the game now wearing #99. He was one of my favorite players at UNC. I don’t think he’ll ever be a starter in Houston, but I’d be shocked if he isn’t at least a good pitcher out of the pen in a year or two.

      Also, Hinch just said he’d like Springer to play CF everyday. That’s progress.


      • It wasn’t so bad, Devo just looked a little stiff, no veins popping, it’s Island time no worries.

        Now, Martes? Everyone who watched that, you’re welcome to disagree with me – he looks sharp as anyone, reliever included. Devastating stuff.


  15. Tough sledding for Devo. Good it happened now, to let him know he absolutely has a long way to go to replicate last year’s success.


      • I hope – hope – hope that
        a) The way they started 2016 after a playoff 2015 taught them that lesson
        b) That bringing in the grizzled vets will keep that thought whispered in their ears


      • When I saw this comment I thought exactly what Dan said. But what worries me more is that anybody, let alone the Stros themselves, would think it’s “wrapped up.” I am missing something big time.


  16. Hinch was talking to Kalas and Blummer on TV when Devo was pitching. He had Devo on a pitch count around 30. He stated it was his last batter with just one out. So the HR had no bearing on him coming out.


  17. To say the Astros are loose right now is an understatement.
    I think they are less focused on spring training and very distracted by the WBC.
    I think it is going to be this way for the next three weeks.
    Other teams seem a lot more serious about getting their major league team together and ready.
    Our current starting rotation of Keuchel, LMJ, McHugh, Morton and Fiers has thrown a total of two innings.
    Could any Astros pitcher throw consecutive strikes today?
    On the other hand, Keving Chapman can throw a two-out, 0-2 fastball belt high right down the middle to a left handed hitter. Bye! I am ready for him to pitch for Canada.
    Let’s play everyone but Altuve at the leadoff spot, ok.
    The crowd at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches was as good as the Astros were today. Scary bad.


  18. If the goal of ST is really just to dramatically lower wildly unrealistic fan expectations of a World Series quality 2017, then Mr. Hinch and company should congratulate themselves on having a very successful Spring Training so far.


    • I’m not on suicide watch yet – they have not played too well, but then again there have been very few innings by the pitchers who will carry the burden yet. I don’t panic after the first week of the regular season, much less for the first week of the irregular season.


      • Dan, we certainly have looked ‘irregular’. Maybe instead of ‘Earn it’ our motto this year should be ‘Love your Lax!’


    • So far as a team we are hitting .240 [22nd in the MLB Spring standings], with a .337 OBP [15th in the MLB]. Our OPS so far is .664 [26th out of 30 teams]. We are 25th of 30 teams in runs scored [to be fair, some teams have played one or two more games]. We are 22nd of 30 in HRs. We are 28th out of 30 in extra base hits, and we are 24th out of 30 in hits overall. Yes, I know – most of the ABs are going to people we’ll never see during the year. But it is pretty much the same story for the other teams.

      On the positive side, we are 12th in drawing bases on balls, and we are tied for 2nd in the MLB in stolen bases. We all know what we have in Altuve and Beltran. Aoki has looked good. The ‘swing’ guys in the meat of the order, however – Correa, Springer, Reddick, Gurriel, and Bregman – those are the guys who are going to have to put together a season of excellence if we have a chance at the playoffs.


    • Man, you’re like school during the Summer, Mr. Bill.
      Nooo class!

      Rudy (from Fat Albert)



      From the “Ok, Who Cares” department, Dustin McGowan for the other team looked real good. His numbers have been pedestrian over the yrs but Wowza!

      Nice to see Gurriel swing it, and all the more important question how’s his footwork and running the infield? – he looks like a keeper, I give his glove the best at corner infield for sure. He’s got big legs, and needs to get them conditioned! I saw him sort of stumble out on a routine-ish GO, as you can see he’s still not catlike just yet. We have a month … getting him in a running program, not jogging one?

      I left before seeing Reed’s dinger. When I heard, I assumed immediately it was off a minor leaguer. Please tell me it was quality? [Must resign myself that he’s a project. And projects done right take time. Ok one year shut your mouth Gov.]

      Go AJ! My cousin was an All-American @UK, too.

      Martes, as I recall threw a wipeout curve that didn’t get called on the steal (umps always miss those when the catcher blocks plate), and another in that sequence which precipitated the base runners. He’ll have to learn to deal with it because his stuff is that nasty. He’s got a wicked pickoff move.

      My takeaway was Martes is awesome! They talk about AAA and how he needs this and that. Yeah, right.

      He needs to be in uniform. He can figure it out now!


  19. In comparison to the Mariners, I think the rotations are both rather flawed and weak in comparison to the elite staffs of the league. Keuchel has a lot to prove after last year’s big disappointment. McHugh is getting less and less effective. McCullers has ace potential but has to stop getting into high pitch counts, walking people, and exiting early. Morton is a total wild card – if he can’t get lefties out all the spin in the world will not give him wins when we need them. Musgrove/Devenski/Peacock have talent but not much real success in the Majors yet.

    As far as the bullpens go, by history and experience we look to be much better than the Ms. Our question marks there revolve around health, homers, Hoyt, Sipp, and wild pitches.


  20. My observation from watching every game and I know its early. A lot of B pitchers throwing B stuff, giving up 12Hrs so far, Nothing from starters really. Our bats have been pretty anemic. It seems everyone is sort of half assed, bored, and not focused. Reminds me a lot of spring 2016. )-:


  21. I see that Tony Sipp is pretty much back to his old self – the 2016 old self, that is. Just cannot get left-handed hitters out.


  22. On the positive side, George Springer really looked good and Alex Bregman got a couple of seeing-eye hits. Otherwise, just another all around embarrassingly bad game.


    • He’s interesting. He’s 23, but he’s never pitched above A ball, and he wasn’t exactly spectacular for either Lancaster or Quad-Cities.


  23. Somebody had been asking about getting tickets for the opening day / series. Just read that single game tickets go on sale tomorrow.


  24. Astros’ pitching today: 9 IP, 13 R, 17 H, 9 BBs, 3 DBLs, 2 TPLs, 3 HRs, 6Ks. And that was with a good inning by Framber Valdez. In other words, the guys Mr. Hinch threw out there – none of which will be on the Astros team this year absent a horrendous run of injuries – were H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E.


  25. Spring training means nothing, of course. BUT: after six ST games for us and 5 for them here is a comparison of the Mariners’ offense and the Astros’ offense:

    BA: Mariners .342 – leads all MLB Teams [ours is. 246, 23rd in MLB]
    OBP: Mariners .429 – leads all MLB Teams [ours is .336, 18th in MLB}
    OPS: Mariners .956 – 2nd in the MLB [ours is .679, 25th in MLB]
    Runs: Mariners 44 – 3rd in the MLB [ours is 21, 26th in the MLB]
    Hits: Mariners 65 – 7th in the MLB [ours is 51, 22nd in the MLB]]
    HRs: Mariners 4 – tied with astros for 22nd in the MLB
    EBHs: Mariners 26 – 4th in MLB [ours is 12, 27th in the MLB]
    BBs: Mariners 25 – 9th in MLB [ours is 24, 10th in the MLB]

    We’ve certainly got some catching up to do.


  26. If I can offer another small piece of advice…don’t put any credence, whatsoever, into spring training stats or W/L record. It is, for the most part, completely meaningless. None of Keuchel, McHugh, McCullers or Morton have even pitched yet and many players are usually working on different things, especially this early in spring training.


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