Game 110, Mariners at Rangers – Schrödinger’s Starter

marc w · July 30, 2019 at 5:02 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Leake vs. Ariel Jurado, 5:10pm

Mike Leake is, as of this writing, a Seattle Mariner. Or perhaps not. He’s scheduled to start tonight, but could be traded at any time, with JP Morosi giving his odds of appearing in Arlington tonight as 50:50. I could check twitter again, or turn on the radio, but I kind of like this uncertainty. Right now, it’s almost like superposition, the quantum physics idea that particles can be *simultaneously* a wave and a particle until they’re observed, at which point they lock into one phase or the other. At this moment, Leake is between two teams, or on both at the same time, and that’s…well, it’s just a dumb nerdy joke, but we’re all just playing out the string here.

Leake should be gone by now, and why he isn’t has been the topic of a lot of discussion in baseball circles. Well, not about Leake specifically, but about why teams within striking distance of the wild card aren’t actively moving prospects to acquire rotation help. Teams are having discussions re: Trevor Bauer, Noah Syndergaard, Mike Minor, Leake, and others, but teams haven’t made big trades to actually get that done, with the somewhat odd exception of the Mets, who picked up Marcus Stroman a few days ago. Is he Thor’s replacement, or is another move on the way, or are the Mets still kind of in it? The fact that they seem to be shopping Edwin Diaz leads me to think that they’re not, but who knows. At least they did something. One of the problems here for the M’s is that this inactivity is that the market is now a bit crowded, and Leake is not exactly the biggest name on the market. Neither is Jason Vargas, who just went to Philly, but the light returns that Vargas and even Stroman got can’t be good news if you’re Jerry Dipoto.

But at some level, this isn’t about the return. Mike Leake will never command a big haul, just like he didn’t when he came over from St. Louis. The M’s will probably kick in some money, and that’s fine. But we’re just past the point where the M’s need to really worry about fielding a credible MLB roster. They just had Dylan Moore and Kris Negron in OF corners. I’m not a fan of total tear-down rebuilds, and think that chasing high amateur draft picks is something of a fool’s errand. Leake and Edwin Encarnacion and Anthony Swarzak and others made some sense if this step-back year went as planned. It didn’t, and there’s no real reason to keep Leake here – seemingly against his will – just to keep up appearances. I’d like Leake to go be in a playoff run somewhere, just as he was when the M’s got him. I’m not all that worried about the prospect Seattle gets back for him; it’s not going to be anyone who’ll change the system. I’d like to see Justus Sheffield or Justin Dunn or just about anyone, which would give us a glimpse of the future.

I’m not blaming the M’s FO for this, by the way. I blame them for things all the time, but Dipoto is quite obviously willing to go for it when he’s in contention. It often seemed like Dipoto was the only GM in the game who cared about the second wild card. I think many of his trades weren’t exactly winners, but he was obviously trying to make the team better in mid-2017, for example. Other teams simply don’t see much value in a coin-flip one game play-in. Which is kind of wild; I was dubious about the wild card game from a fan point of view. The whole point of baseball playoffs is that they were *series*. But in hindsight, I think they’ve been great: fans get a game 7-type atmosphere, a single night where everyone knows it’s do or die ahead of time. Networks get a rare *scheduled* elimination game, and they’ve mostly been great TV. But they clearly aren’t the playoffs. The road team may not get the revenue enhancement of a home playoff game, and if teams had do-or-die regular season games, they may need to have their #3 starter on the mound. I’ve seen calls for expanding them to a three-game series, but that extends the MLB playoffs fairly significantly. You could remove the perverse incentive to tank by changing the way draft positions are determined instead. Whatever MLB does, I think they’ve got to look at changes that better align the incentives to compete. Sweetening the pot for contenders or weakening the incentive to just be awful could help. Again, I think that means the league and players have to do something that looks on paper to hurt their prized “competitive balance.” Prioritizing “balance” is a big part of what’s gotten us here, to a league with superteams and contenders who seem to prefer not contending.

1: Smith, RF
2: Crawford, SS
3: Santana, DH
4: Vogelbach, 1B
5: Beckham, LF
6: Seager, 3B
7: Nola, 2B
8: Murphy, C
9: Keon Broxton, CF
SP: Leake?

Welcome Keon Broxton! Smith in RF seems odd, but I understand it given their active roster at this point. With Kristopher Negron now in LA (and slick-fielding IF return Daniel Castro in Tacoma), the M’s don’t really have a normal RF until Domingo Santana’s injury fully heals.

Justin Dunn starts just down the road from this one in Frisco. Tacoma kicks off a homestand against Omaha with Anthony Misiewicz on the hill. Damon Casetta-Stubbs starts for Everett in Hillsboro tonight. Julio Rodriguez hit his 8th HR for West Virginia last night in a 4-3 win, and Hillsboro blanked Everett 3-0, as Deyni Olivero gave up 1 hit in 5 scoreless IP with 7 Ks. Frisco jumped on Ricardo Sanchez of Arkansas early, then held on for 5-4 win.


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