Game 134, Astros at Mariners – Dipoto and Servais Extended

marc w · September 1, 2021 at 1:13 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Logan Gilbert vs. Jake Odorizzi, 1:10pm

Last night’s win was another odd, late triumph – the kind of game the M’s have specialized in all season. After a few games of failing repeatedly in bases loaded or runner on third, less than two out situations, the M’s…repeatedly failed in those same situations again. But here’s the thing: they keep *finding* themselves in those situations. So, when Abraham Toro got another shot in the late innings, he took advantage, hitting a grand slam off of the guy he was traded for, Kendall Graveman. That’s led to a lot of “we won the trade” talk, and while one at-bat doesn’t win or lose a trade, it may have tipped the scales.

At the time of the trade my worry was that it left the clubhouse gutted and weakened the one area of strength the M’s had. Yes, yes, they had plenty of other arms, but top-flight, MLB-closer-level arms? Graveman’s been great for Houston, and clearly solves one of their remaining problems, but the M’s needed reliable help at the plate, and Toro’s numbers didn’t suggest that sort of thing. Thus far, he’s been solid, averaging out a two week spell where he hit everything, and then two weeks when he didn’t. But I think you HAVE to be more bullish on Toro today than on the day of the trade; I sure am. I don’t know if he’s a multi-year starter, but that’s the thing about the trade: the M’s traded a free agent to be. It’s right to focus much more on 2021 when evaluating it. Have the M’s had some late-game meltdowns? Yeah, a few, but they’ve also had games changed by Toro’s bat, including last night’s. It was poorly handled, the timing sucked, etc. etc., but the fears I outlined haven’t materialized. I’ll take the L on that one, as long as Toro maintains a MLB-average hitting line. (But better would really be appreciated).

The big story today is that the M’s have announced contract extensions for GM Jerry Dipoto, who gets a promotion into the newly created role of President of Baseball Operations. Manager Scott Servais also will stick around, though we still don’t know the terms. The M’s probably needed to do something, with the team on the outskirts of a playoff push and with an absolutely critical off-season looming. If the M’s want to capitalize on the unexpected good fortune here, and if they want to continue to sell the idea that real contention is just around the corner, they simply have to upgrade significant portions of the roster. To do THAT, they need a GM with a mandate from ownership, and an out-of-contract GM wouldn’t have one. It’s either re-up Jerry, or try to run a search for a new GM in the middle of that critical offseason. Unless they had someone lined up, that’s simply a non-starter.

So now it’s up to Jerry to press his case to majority owner John Stanton. They’ve sold many on the might of their farm system and how much talent is on the way, but this year has shown them that players often don’t hit the MLB ground running. They need a solid line-up around young players, and they seriously need to investigate WHY so many prospects seem to struggle upon making it to Seattle. I think it was Joe Sheehan who once said that the only way to evaluate a GM is on how often he gets what he wants. Sure, sure, it’s great to WANT the right players; Jerry really wanted Shohei Ohtani, and I still think that utterly changes how we look at this current core. But he fell short. Jerry, I think, *wants* the resources necessary to really upgrade the roster in free agency and in trade, but it’s not enough to want them. He needs to get them. He can’t fall short this off-season.

1: Crawford, SS
2: Haniger, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: France, 1B
5: Toro, 2B
6: Marmolejos, LF
7: Torrens, DH
8: Kelenic, CF
9: Murphy, C
SP: Gilbert

With the rosters expanded by two, the M’s have called up Justus Sheffield from his rehab assignment in Tacoma, and IF Kevin Padlo, a waiver claim from Tampa about a month ago. Padlo has…not set the world on fire in Tacoma, though to be fair he’s shown a decent eye. Most importantly, he can play on the IF, and the M’s thought they might need another body there after Ty France took a high-90s fastball off of his arm in last night’s contest. Scott Servais was apparently ready to go with Marmo at 1B in this game, but France talked him out of it.

Sheffield will work out of the pen from here out, at least in 2021, but potentially longer. That’d be a disappointment, given his prospect history and the fact that he looked pretty solid for a chunk of the abbreviated 2020 season. It may also be the best way to get some kind of value out of him. Hoping he gains a tick or two and becomes an intriguing multi-inning option.


10 Responses to “Game 134, Astros at Mariners – Dipoto and Servais Extended”

  1. Stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2021 1:51 pm

    But I think you HAVE to be more bullish on Toro today than on the day of the trade; I sure am.

    Pun intended or not, I enjoyed that.

    The promotion and extensions are welcomed, but payroll really is just as important. I think we have some answers to some of the questions we started the season with and there are so many holes that trades alone can’t address them all. It’s going to take some cash.

    There is a lot of work to do, yet somehow I still feel like it can be done.

  2. eponymous coward on September 1st, 2021 2:15 pm

    Toro’s numbers didn’t suggest that sort of thing

    Could you go into that a little bit?

    Player A: 2299 MiLB PAs, age 24, 294/.389/.470 MiLB stats, major league debut at 24
    Player B: 1612 MiLB PAs, age 24 .276/.370/.466 MiLB, major league debut at 22 (also lost a season to the pandemic)

    Player A is Ty France, player B is Abraham Toro.

    So was Toro playing in way more ridiculous ballparks where you have to completely discount his minor league stats or something? Because on the face of it you have a player putting up comparable stats at a younger age (Toro had 17 minor league games after age 22, France had entire seasons in AAA ball after 22). Same basic skill set: some pop (but not a ton of it), some OBP, can play infield positions.

    Because that was literally my first thought looking at Toro: “oh, Jerry’s liberated someone blocked in the minors like France, this looks like someone who can be a MLB regular- plus he’s younger than France.” Why am I wrong?

  3. bookbook on September 1st, 2021 2:29 pm

    When the M’s traded for France, he was the #3 or #4 piece in a trade. The argument that player A has exceeded expectations therefore we should get many more middling prospects who are blocked by better young players and expect them to do the same is… not compelling logic. (Toro was also hitting .210 in the majors with his chances, France was at about .300).

  4. Stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2021 4:35 pm

    ^Nope. France was the headliner of that trade. San Diego’s coaches suggested Muñoz could be the steal of that deal, but France was the indeed primary target. Jerry was pretty clear about that.

  5. Stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2021 4:41 pm

    Could you go into that a little bit?

    I assumed he was referring to the roughly 300 PA sample in Houston with very little pop rather than his minor-league numbers.

  6. eponymous coward on September 1st, 2021 4:53 pm

    With all due respect, when you have a 22 year old player whose slash line in the high minors his last year before hitting the majors (AA/AAA) is .324/.411/.527… what exactly do you send them to the minors for again, to learn spelling? Etiquette?

    Toro had like 300 PAs in MLB before the trade and an interrupted season in 2020, plus he has to fight through a loaded org (The Houston Astros, you might have heard of them) to get playing time. He wasn’t washed up as a prospect any more than Edgar was washed up hitting very “meh” his first ~300 ABs in MLB over 3 years while winning PCL batting titles (and also not being able to nail down a lineup spot, though the M’s were idiots and wasted time on Jimmy Presley and Darnell Coles, the Astros just have too many good players). MiLB stats count for projecting too. This also isn’t like Jose Marmolejos killing AAA pitching at age 28- Toro is two years younger than France and is in his age 24 year. That has an effect on projecting a player.

    Do you think Toro was going to bounce Jose Altuve out of the lineup, who’s only like 2/3rds of the way to a HOF career? Alex Bregman? It’s pretty obvious his path out of sitting on a bench was going to be in some other team’s everyday lineup. I still stand by “Toro’s minor league stats say he’s a reasonable projection as a quality MLB regular”… but hey, if it turns out you need to HUGELY discount any stats from Round Rock, I guess..

  7. Stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2021 6:15 pm

    Who exactly are you arguing with and about what? Nobody’s suggesting Toro wasn’t interesting, didn’t need a new home, etc.

    Just ask yourself if you expected him to be as good as he’s been since coming to Seattle, especially after the sample of MLB PAs prior. Obviously there was potential, but he realized that potential upon arrival.

    Hopefully he’ll maintain it.

  8. turin07 on September 1st, 2021 8:39 pm

    HA! I missed the pun. Brilliant.

  9. turin07 on September 1st, 2021 8:48 pm

    I was not excited about the Rastro trade but it was POETIC Tuesday night. Just brilliant – a moment you see in the necessarily lucky seasons of playoff teams. ?

  10. eponymous coward on September 6th, 2021 11:38 pm


    I honestly thought the MiLB record is a bigger sample size for a 22-24 year old than ~300 MLB PAs scattered over three seasons where he has to fight through a potential HOFer and a multi season All Star for any playing time (and oh yeah, one of those seasons was a 60 game pandemic season). This screams “blocked MLB player”. There are tons of players with this career pattern.

    I am not surprised by this any more than by Kyle Seaver’s career taking off (which I wrote about in the comments section here aeons ago, when Dave Cameron used to blog here). People thought Seager was a part time utility player. Nah. Guys who rocket up through minor league ball at young ages do pretty well. Toro just did it with an organization that had boulders at 2B/3B.

    (Go look at Toro’s MiLB stats compared to Dylan Moore’s if you want an illustration why I think Moore’s a utility infielder and Toro’s a MLB regular… and keep in mind their relative ages while posting their stats. And I didn’t and don’t care about Moore’s 2020 or Toro’s. Small Sample Size Theatre, baby.)

    I don’t expect Toro to be amazeballs (he actually didn’t beat out Bergman or Altuve), but “serviceable MLB regular” is perfectly fine, considering. The M’s need to be producing more of these guys, but I’ll settle for an Astros castoff.

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