How will the Mariners make use of Robinson Cano, Dee Gordon and Nelson Cruz in 2019? Another hike in season-ticket prices even if Seattle misses the playoffs? Beat writer Ryan Divish answers that and much more in his weekly Sunday mailbag.
OAKLAND — It’s now September, but unlike Major League Baseball, there will be no expanded rosters in the season’s final month to provide help for the weekly Twitter mailbag.
No, this grind is real and solo. Wow, that sounds like something Russell Wilson would say, which needs to be avoided in the future. But this mailbag doesn’t need help in the stretch run. The team that it centers around, well, that’s a different scenario.
As always, these are real questions from my eclectic mix of Twitter followers.
Get your questions in by tweeting at @RyanDivish
September 23 | Searching for prospects and bright spots from 2018 season
September 2 | Why didn't M's go all-in before August waiver deadline?
Well, they did make one trade just before the August 31 waiver trade deadline, acquiring veteran minor league utility infielder Kristopher Negron from the Diamondbacks for cash considerations. Negron was assigned to Class AAA Tacoma, but never actually reported to the team. Instead, he flew to Oakland, had his minor league contract selected and was then brought up with the expansion to the 40-man roster.
That’s not exactly the same as trading for Josh Donaldson.
Even with James Paxton and Marco Gonzales both battling minor injuries, there was really no expectation of the Mariners grabbing another starting pitcher on a waiver trade.
Well, the pitchers available weren’t very good. The Mariners’ position in the postseason race is tenuous at best. And it really wouldn’t have been an upgrade.
The most notable starting pitcher that was moved on Friday before the deadline was Gio “pitch count” Gonzalez. The lefty is still very durable. He “posts” as baseball people like to say — meaning he takes the ball every five days without complaint or injury. But his inefficiency and inconsistency are frustrating issues along with decreased velocity and stuff. He was 7-11 with a 4.57 ERA in 27 starts. In 145 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 125 and walked a whopping 70 batters. A 1.80 strikeout to walk ratio is not optimal. Gonzales is going to be a free agent after the season — a reason why he’s available — and was owed $2 million for the rest of the season.
It’s not a good investment to take on the money and give minor prospects from a system that doesn’t have many.
From a position player standpoint, there wasn’t anything that really stood out. The Mariners are still trying to figure out how to keep Robinson Cano in the daily lineup and rotate enough players to get at-bats so it’s not likely that Curtis Granderson would’ve helped.
If the Mariners were one game out of the second wild card or perhaps leading it, they might have pushed for a deal for a reliever or even looked other players with contracts beyond next season. But realistically, the time to make a waiver trade would’ve been early in August just after the trade deadline to get a few more weeks of value, similar to what general manager Jerry Dipoto did last year in acquiring Mike Leake.
Well, let’s hit them all up here. Robinson Cano is going to play first, second and third base going forward to the end of the season. I think the Mariners are looking to see how Cano handles first base and if it’s viable for him to move there full time next season, or whether they want to move him back to second base for at least a few more years. Cano is going to be a first baseman eventually. His age and the breakdown of his body will necessitate a move there at some point. But perhaps the Mariners commit to the move now and use him and Ryon Healy in some combination along with the designated hitter spot.
Really, two decision have to be made by the Mariners going into the offseason which will dictate how they set up their roster for 2019 and beyond:
- Are going to sign Nelson Cruz to a contract extension?
- Where will they play Dee Gordon going forward?
Any decision on Cruz has a significant impact on their roster since he’s basically a full-time designated hitter. Some teams use that spot to rotate in hitters, giving them roster flexibility. But the Mariners have sacrificed that luxury for the plus-production of Cruz, who was still one of their three most effective hitters this season at age 38.
If they bring Cruz back and also stay with an eight-man bullpen as preferred, that limits your options on the bench.
If they really believe Ryon Healy will grow into more than a low on-base guy that smacks 25-plus homers, then they may want to keep Cano at second, move Gordon back to centerfield.
As for Felix, he’s owed $27.5 million for next season. It makes him also impossible to trade unless the Mariners were willing to take on an even worse contract to make the swap.
To be fair, I’m not the Times’ ticket writer. There are others that have more experience in this subject. I would guess they’ll raise season ticket prices again because they do it every year. I’ve heard similar thinking from sources close to the organization. Usually it’s under the premise of basic inflation from year to year as the reason for any incremental increase. To be fair, that’s not an invalid reason. And if they didn’t somehow raise them, they would go out of their way to point out that they weren’t raising them. I think there’s only been one year where season-ticket prices haven’t been raised in quite a while. Sure they can counter with certain seats don’t increase, but a universal policy of not increasing a single ticket price hasn’t been a recent occurrence.
Raising the prices to the most loyal of consumers of your product seems illogical and unfair, but it happens basically every year for every team in baseball and other sports.
Given this organization’s consistent failure to make the postseason, they should make some small concession to fans and consumers.
They should definitely address the huge mark-up and increasing prices on concessions. MLB is starting to price out the average family or the walk-up fan. Because even if you get a relatively cheap ticket, a soda, a beer, a hot dog and parking will all add up to a total where it makes you have to rethink the next time you visit the park.
It’s why I will never criticize fans for not wanting to go to games. It’s monetary choice that has offered little reward since 2001.
They should loosen it up a little bit. There is a large group of MLB and team executives and an even larger portion of MLB fans that are a bunch of grouchy old men yelling at kids to get off their lawn. It’s a game. It’s always been a game and it should be celebrated as such. So if Mike Clevinger wants to wear some funky shoes let him. Perhaps allow some freedom within reason. The micro-managing of unimportant stuff is absurd and overreaching. Perhaps the focus should be on MLB alienating longtime paying fans by making games Facebook exclusive, allowing owners to gouge their customers with exorbitant prices, having a sham of a domestic abuse policy, ignoring inconsistent, underperforming, ego-filled umpiring and their horrible efforts to promote their own players.
But dammit, players shoes are going to match their uniforms or someone is getting fined.
There’s a familiar comment I often make in these situations. It sometimes frustrates people around me. But it feels fitting:
“What is it that we are trying to do here?”
Nothing overwhelming that I can see, but I wouldn’t want to be a live chicken wandering by the clubhouse.
I rarely use them on myself. Most times, I give them to my parents. Four years ago, I took them to Washington D.C. so we could do the whole tourist experience and give my dad, a Vietnam vet, a chance to go to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall. It was a powerful, emotional moment for him and an amazing trip. Though I don’t recommend sharing the same hotel room with your parents for seven days.
The plan is to use a large portion of miles to fly my mom to Japan in March to join me on the Mariners’ trip. She’s Nisei Japanese, but has never been to the country of her ancestry.
I would like to say Thomas Sullivan Magnum or even Brandon Walsh, but Tobias Zachary Ziegler is a pretty fair embodiment of me and my personality.
These three Toby quotes are me:
“I don’t know what kind of salad it is, I’m eating a salad, OK? I’m doing it, do I have to know the names? There’s no difference between them, it’s a bowl of weeds!”
“Listen, when you get home tonight you’re going to be confronted by the instinct to drink alone. Trust that instinct. Manage the pain. Don’t try to be a hero.”
“There is literally no one in the world that I don’t hate right now.”