As we pass the quarter mark of the MLB season, the Seattle Mariners look to be in good shape. They have a 26-17 record including a 18-7 record on the road and since April 13th they are 24-11 which is the best in the majors. A vast majority of fans attribute this uncommon Mariners success to new General Manager, Jerry Dipoto. The bullpen is excelling beyond all possible expectations, the starting rotation is getting deep in to games and limiting runs allowed, and the entire offense from top to bottom is getting on base and driving in runs. Let’s take a look at what Dipoto has done, and the effect it has had on the ball club.
Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, and Danny Farquhar traded to Tampa Bay for Nathan Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Boog Powel (link)
This trade was Dipoto’s first big one of his tenure and it brought about a bit of controversy among fans. Brad Miller was a fan favorite, and Logan Morrison was the lovable funny guy in the clubhouse (even though he couldn’t hit). Farquhar wearing the pink Hello Kitty backpack out to the bullpen will also be missed but the return ended up being much more valuable.
Nathan Karns is 4-1 with a 3.33 ERA, 48 strikeouts, and 1.283 WHIP. Karns has been the reliable 5th starter that he was brought in to be. Other than a few rough first innings, which has been his problem dating back to his years in Tampa, he has pitched deep into games and provided a level of starting pitching depth the Mariners desperately needed.
For reference, the pitcher with the 5th most innings pitched last season for the Mariners was J.A. Happ, who had an ERA of 4.64 and consistently struggled to get deep into games. On the other hand, Boog Powell has been consistently hitting. He has a .282 BA with 18 homers in the PCL, and he should be a solid option should any of the Marlins outfielders get injured.
As far as the haul that Tampa Bay got, it has been pretty rough so far. Logan Morrison has gotten even worse at hitting, batting .176 with only two homers on the season, which is down from the .225 he hit with Seattle last year. It may just be a cold spell but his room for improvement is narrowing down. Brad Miller is doing a little bit better with a .216 BA and five homers, but his production is far from what the Rays expected.
This multi-player trade looks like a major win for the Mariners and Dipoto. Ketel Marte has stepped right in to Miller’s spot and played well, and the platoon of Dae Ho-Lee and Adam Lind has been vastly more successful (and fun to watch) than Logan Morrison. With Karns performing at full potential, this looks to be an all around success.
Revitalization of the pitching staff
Jerry Dipoto found the new members of his bullpen from all different corners and crevices around the league. Steve Cishek was a closer who lost his job in Miami halfway through 2015, Nick Vincent was just a fringe candidate for San Diego, and Mike Montgomery was a former starter on the Mariners who simply didn’t work out. And yet, somehow this band of misfit toys has ended up as the 5th rated bullpen with a 2.63 ERA.
Many believed this bullpen would be the team’s downfall in 2016 but a quarter of the way through the season, it can be considered an absolute strength. Dipoto threw this group together from seemingly nothing but yet it worked out perfectly and he should be given massive credit – for the time being.
Not to be forgotten, a couple of quality starters were also added. Hisashi Iwakuma was just hours away from becoming an LA Dodger before failing his physical and being added to the Mariners instead (link). At the same time, Roenis Elias and Carson Smith were traded for Wade Miley, who was brought in to be an innings eater right in the middle of the rotation (link). These moves have turned out extremely well for the Mariners, especially with Miley turning around his early struggles and pitching a CGSO a couple weeks ago.
Lengthening of the lineup
Simply, the problem with the Jack Zduriencik’s team(s) was that outside of the guys who could hit the ball the hardest, there was no hope or the rest of the team. Over the years, Kyle Seager, Raul Ibañez, Kendrys Morales, and then eventually Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano were the only ones worth watching. Dipoto happily put a quick end to it.
Norichika Aoki was added to the top of the lineup, Chris Ianetta was signed to replace the black hole at catcher spot, a reasonable first base platoon was added with Ho-Lee and Lind, and Tom Wilhelmsen and James Jones were traded for Leonys Martin. With Marte and Seth Smith also improving their game, this team consists of a 1-9 lineup that can contribute every single day. With runners on the basepaths for the star players to knock in, the team can now actually score some runs. By buying low on breakout candidates, and getting OBP guys for cheap, Dipoto has managed to keep the team under budget and yet productive.
As long as Felix Hernandez, Cano, Seager, and Cruz continue to play at a high level, there is a solid chance that we will look at Jerry Dipoto’s first year as the Mariner’s GM as a successful one.
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