M’s Hire Dominican Guy, Who Signs Another Dominican Guy
By my reckoning, we have entered the offseason period of the Doldrums. I, for one, have been driving my little car for quite some time and Tock is nowhere to be found. Just wait though: the mere fact that I’m coming out of hiding to post anything at all almost certainly promises some major move later in the day to push this down the page. Things are looking up!
One of the moves to occur recently with very little mention is that the Mariners brought in Eddy Toledo to lead their Dominican operations, taking over the job that formerly belonged to Patrick Guerrero. At the time, when Guerrero and Engle were both leaving, there was concern over who would be filling that fairly large void. While Engle we knew would be hard to replace due to his years of scouting experience and connections, what we understood of Guerrero was more speculative. He had been instrumental in a number of the Latin American signings, but as Marc and I were discussing recently, those signings hadn’t done a whole lot for us. To rattle off a short and incomplete list of guys given seven-figure bonuses who didn’t do much: Mario Martinez, Jharmidy de Jesus, Carlos Triunfel (may yet be a major leaguer), and more recent enigmas like Guillermo Pimentel, Phillips Castillo, and Alexy Palma (Jose Leal gets a bye for this year). The list of high-profile hitter signings that had followed through with what was expected of them might be limited to Julio Morban, health permitting. The last guy who exceeded expectations might’ve been Luis Valbuena or Juan Diaz, who both went to the Indians, who liked what we did on the international front. Assuming that hitters ought to be safer, something we were doing appeared to be systemically wrong, relative to our level of regional investment. This was probably the justification for giving Guerrero the ax, though none of us knew what qualifications his replacement might have or if there were better options available.
Scouts who are hired to fill such positions are often not as visible within an organizational hierarchy, making it difficult to know who is even on the market. Managers and general managers tend to draw from defined pools of applicants and the profile of their role means that we know ahead of time who is even interviewing. Fellows like Toledo and Guerrero are only names that nuts like me might recognize within their own organization. Now, from the article on the hiring, we know that Toledo isn’t exactly a slouch with regards to what he’s accomplished. He’s been in baseball for thirty+ years and among the players to his credit we have Jose Reyes, Nelson Cruz, Octavio Dotel, Guillermo Mota, Hector Carrasco, Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez, Elvin Ramirez, Alex Colome, Braulio Lara and assorted other major leaguers. Toledo had been with the Rays since 2006 and glancing over the Baseball America prospect list, I see that he’s responsible for two guys on their top 10, Colome and Enny Romero, both pitchers. He was also the one who signed Leslie Anderson after he defected from Cuba. Going after our Pacific Northwest players, Rays? Well, we’ll just steal your Dominican scout and sign players that are geographically closer to you! Take that!
Given that the Mariners are reputed high-rollers in the international world and the Rays aren’t really, one of the things that’s easy to talk about is how Toledo, provided with more resources, might be able to make a more visible impact on his new organization. That’s a seemingly reasonable estimation though, considering development delays stemming from age and relative experience, the net change in return will take us a bit longer to get a decent gauge on. That also doesn’t begin to address the new CBA changes, which could either drive players away from the sport or lead to greater parity in the signings. In the short term, not to be presumptuous, it at least looks like we have an upgrade rather than a mere replacement.
Toledo and his superior, new international director Tim Kissner, got to work pretty quickly, signing Dominican OF Luis Liberato, who has a name going for him at the very least. Liberato inked for $140k, a decent sum of money, and the scouting report we have on him at least seems positive. Among the pluses in his column (let’s call it “Colome”), left-handed bat, “mature approach”, and a potential center field future with a sufficient arm for right field. So, something like a lesser Julio Morban with a better arm. Among the negatives, a tendency to swing too hard for power at times, center field being less than a certainty, and the fact that a lot of scouting reports for these types of players read alike and there’s very little available to corroborate any of the information. Our new scout is doing stuff! You may never hear this player’s name mentioned again!
And that’s where we are in the realm of small-ish moves made by the Mariners that are still probably worth noting. Remember, we’re less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting and time continues to pass.