Game 132, Mariners at Orioles – Are You Not Entertained?

marc w · August 28, 2017 at 3:36 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Chris Tillman, 4:05pm

Tonight’s game is a microcosm of baseball in the era of the 2nd wildcard. Two teams separated by a half-game and within 2 games of playoff position start pitchers coming in with ERAs in the 7’s, with FIPs to match. They’re starting because there aren’t better alternatives. Fans can scoreboard watch because there are a lot of wild card rivals to keep tabs on AND because it might honestly be more fun than keeping an eye on this particular score. The ugliness of the loss yesterday in the Bronx seems to have occasioned a lot of talk on twitter about the state of the M’s and their window to contend. Conceivably, the M’s could maintain this form of contention for years. The problem is, so can everyone: there are exactly 4 teams in the AL who AREN’T within 3 games of the playoffs right now. I asked this question in a convoluted way when the M’s last went in to Chicago, but I’ll be more direct today: is this enough? Are you happy with this? The M’s have very clearly NOT done an Astros/Cubs/White Sox/Braves/Padres tear-down, and thus they remain a very talented, somewhat enigmatic and graying team that gets to play for the 2nd wild card. A lot of the enjoyment of this season has hinged on that, and AL parity has spread this enjoyment to most fans of AL teams. But is that enough for you, as a fan?

There’s no right or wrong answer, and it’s entirely possible that the rebuild option was never on the table, either as the result of ownership diktat, or the realities of how the market would value much of what the M’s could’ve conceivably sold. Most long-term extensions close the door on getting back a ton in talent, and in any event, the M’s seem to like proven talent more than prospect lottery tickets. This – these sets of preferences and habits – has consequences, and we’ve seen it this year in the caliber of player that the M’s are capable of acquiring at the deadline or in the off-season. They simply can’t GET the Jose Quintanas and Sonny Grays, so Gonzales and Christian Bergman (just added back to the 40-man and called up to Seattle today) will have to do. Personally, I think those that think the M’s should’ve torn it down a bit more emphatically should be clear about what they’d hypothetically get in return. Trading Felix and Cano would be all but impossible. Nelson Cruz’s trade value would be hurt a bit by his age, lack of position (NL teams may be out) and the collapse of the market for bat-first guys, from Mark Trumbo to JD Martinez. The most intriguing option, and one talked about by Nathan Bishop, would’ve been trading Edwin Diaz this past offseason. The problem there was that his lack of track record may have hurt the return as much as his long period of pre-arb salary would’ve helped it. Huge, MiLB system-changing returns for relievers have come for guys with a bit more of a track record: Ken Giles, Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller (the 2nd time), Aroldis Chapman. It also forecloses one way to squeeze more out of the rest of your talent, the way the Royals and Pirates did with their excellent bullpens.

That’s not to say that approach would’ve been wrong, just that it’s not completely up to the M’s whether to tear-it-down or incrementally add. Their rebuild options were very narrow and limited, perhaps at least as much as their options to add using a farm system that, outside of Tyler O’Neill, consisted of a lot of low-minors guys and a rehabbing Kyle Lewis. More than that, I’d love to see some signs that the M’s player development team helping a bunch of players take serious leaps forward. If the M’s are going to prioritize low-velo, command and control types, how many can avoid HRs and walks at the same time? If the M’s are going to rethink how they teach hitting, which players are utilizing the new pedagogy to destroy MiLB pitching? Catching up with the Astros seems far-fetched now, but it won’t happen through incremental adds like David Phelps. It wouldn’t have happened by selling off their sellable players, either, though. It won’t happen until the PD group gets within range of Houston’s. I’m not sure how to make that happen, but I hope someone knows, and is working on it.

Last year, when the M’s minor league system dominated the competition, it looked like that gap may be narrowing. In the first half of the season, when the M’s young OF ranked in the top 10 best in the league. Things look different now that the M’s OF ranks 29th in batting runs in the 2nd half. Like with the pitching staff, injuries have taken their toll, and as with everything, we’re all probably overreacting to the latest data. The M’s OFs haven’t completely forgotten how to hit, but I bring it up to say that the development of a young OF would go a long way to dispelling the doom and gloom about the M’s 2018 and beyond. Irrespective of what happens in the 2017 playoff chase, the M’s absolutely need to develop some cost-controlled player who can help the club after Nelson Cruz leaves. We thought we knew the identity of a few of them, and maybe they’re one hot streak from recovering their April-June form. Let’s hope so. Or maybe Marco Gonzales will go on a serious run starting tonight?

1: Segura, SS
2: Alonso, 1B
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Valencia, RF
7: Gamel, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Heredia, CF
SP: Gonzales

Let’s catch the ball today guys, whadda ya say?

This has all been depressing, and 5 errors in one inning in a crucial game will do that to a fan, so let’s add some *further* bad news. The Rainiers kick off a four-game set tonight at Cheney. These are the final 4 games of the home schedule for 2017. The summer of 2017, like our lives, is almost over. The only solution to ennui and paralyzed fear is to head to Cheney Stadium and check it out.

Aaron West, Steven Ridings, and Randy Bell are the probables lower in the system while Tacoma turns to good ol’ TBA as they take on Dustin Ackley, Ramon Flores and the rest of the Salt Lake Bees.

As mentioned above, Christian Bergman’s been added to the M’s roster, while Leonys Martin made it through waivers and is back with Tacoma. Dan Altavilla heads back to Tacoma to make room on the 25-man for Bergman. Jeanmar Gomez opted out of his MiLB contract in Tacoma.

Comments

7 Responses to “Game 132, Mariners at Orioles – Are You Not Entertained?”

  1. mrakbaseball on August 28th, 2017 5:29 pm

    Marco Gonzalez has yet to get past the 5th inning in his brief time as a Mariner. Meh.

  2. Notfromboise on August 28th, 2017 5:40 pm

    Amen.

    It’s really bad when you’ve clearly lost a trade and the other team hasn’t logged a major league at bat from what they got in return.

    While it’s nice to see the bullpen finally come around a little, our starting pitching has truly been a dumpster fire all season. I remember being so happy and thankful in the offseason when the dodgers bailed and we got Iwakuma back. That may have been a curse more than a blessing.

    From what i hear the Dodgers have managed ok without him. And maybe losing Kuma would have given Dipoto more of a fire lit under him for starting pitching options.. Not that having Smyly Hernandez and essentially Paxton miss massive chunks of the season wouldnt have happened anyways.

    I know i’d much rather see Andrew Moore in Marco’s position, cuz that kid is fearless and it just feels he’d have a far better chance to be a contributer in 2017 AND 2018.

  3. Westside guy on August 28th, 2017 10:33 pm

    It’s probably because of the longstanding issues the org has had through several front offices, but – bad pitching bugs me more than just about anything else. That’s what’s made this season so hard to watch, to the point where I’ve somewhat stepped back from baseball for a while… I just can’t handle all the losses due to bad pitching.

  4. groundzero55 on August 29th, 2017 1:46 am

    It’s waaaay too early to be talking about who won the trade. Gonzales should be in AAA right now it should come as a surprise to nobody that he’s getting lit up. Per the usual, he was thrown into the fire way before he was ready…along with most of our AAA pitching roster.

    With Felix healthy he would certainly not be in the rotation as he’s struggled even more than Gallardo.

  5. Edward Baker on August 29th, 2017 8:47 am

    MLB has devised a system whereby only the worst of the worst will by out of the WC race by September 1. Everyone else is in, and they are all a shade above or below .500. What we have, what MLB has given us, a simulacrum of a pennant race designed to maximize TV ratings and attendance but disguising mediocre baseball as something else, although at time the mediocrity fails catastrophicallly and produced grotesqueries like the first inning of Sunday´s game at the Stadium. In any event, what we´ve got is the massification of junk baseball.

  6. 3cardmonty on August 29th, 2017 11:45 am

    Gonzalez was 25 and out of options when we traded for him, so it makes little sense to say he’s being rushed now. That trade was a stink-bomb from the beginning.

    Agree with every word Edward posted. I don’t like the current playoff format and I see the wild card game as a gimmick. This team is the essence of mediocrity, with no realistic path to catching Houston this year or next year. No, it’s not enough.

  7. mrakbaseball on August 29th, 2017 1:22 pm

    I think the wild card game is good, but if the Mariners somehow how clinch a wild card berth and lose the play-in game, I wouldn’t consider their playoff drought over. Officially it may be, but the drought will continue unless they advance to a division series.

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