CLEVELAND — The Mariners may be in the midst of their own reality-check regression that has made their 13-2 start and their home-run streak to start the season seem like a memory. But the Twitter mailbag experiences no such lapses in production. It is, and will always be, the outlier.
Part of that success is contingent on the questions being asked. This sort of success is a team effort — a combination of my Twitter followers and my multiple personalities.
As always these are their real questions from my Twitter followers:
I’ve answered something similar in the past. But of those players you listed, it seems unlikely that the Mariners work out extensions for Mitch Haniger, Domingo Santana, Omar Narvaez and Marco Gonzales. There are a variety reasons for it — age, talent and projected production. They are aren’t in similar situations as Alex Bregman or Ozzie Albies.
Haniger and Gonzales would seem like automatic priorities. But upon closer inspection, it’s not quite that simple.
Let’s start with Haniger, whose age is a factor. A late bloomer, he turned 28 on Dec. 23 and doesn’t reach arbitration eligibility until next season. That means he won’t be a free agent until the 2023 season when he will be 32 years old. Analytics show that a player’s peak age is 27. This offseason has shown that teams don’t want to pay major dollars for players after age 30.
The Mariners might want to avoid paying massive dollars in arbitration if Haniger continues to put up numbers. So they could look at perhaps buying out his arbitration and first year of free agency with a four-year extension. A total dollar figure would be dependent on if Haniger backs up last year’s all-star season with another big season in 2019. He’s not doing that thus far. An educated guess is they’d offer $65 million over those four years, which would be an average annual value of $16.25 million per season.
Gonzales is a year younger than Haniger, as he turned 27 on Feb. 16. While he was the Mariners’ best pitcher last season, he didn’t produce at an all-star level. Still, given the organization’s lack of starting-pitching depth, keeping him in the organization isn’t a bad idea. But at what cost? Gonzales signed a two-year deal worth $1.9 million to offset some service-time discrepancies. But he doesn’t reach arbitration eligibility until 2021 and free agency until 2024 when he’ll be age 32.
Now let’s say Jarred Kelenic or Julio Rodriguez reach the big leagues by age 22 or 23, and they put together strong seasons immediately. That’s a situation where the Mariners would be inclined to offer an extension to buy out their arbitration and first few years of free agency.
I think Jarred Kelenic will be the best player to come from the group of players acquired. His combination of speed, power, intensity, baseball acumen and swagger seems like the perfect mixture for big-league success. The kid carries himself like a major-leaguer in every way in terms of his preparation and play.
Yes, he’s dominating at Low-A West Virginia despite being just 19 years old. But there’s no reason to rush his development. The Mariners have made mistakes like that in the past. Even if they decide to move Kelenic up to Modesto, it probably won’t be until after the All-Star break.
Technically, it’s possible in the same way that it’s possible I could eat a salad for a meal instead of a sandwich. But both situations are unlikely.
Having four first basemen/designated hitters — Ryon Healy, Daniel Vogelbach, Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce — on a roster with only two viable spots doesn’t seem ideal. The Mariners can’t really go with a bench that doesn’t have backup shortstop. The typical thinking on roster set-up is to have a utility player that is capable of playing shortstop when needed. Dylan Moore fits that role.
However, let’s say the Mariners wanted to follow your plan. They could make it work because Dee Gordon can play shortstop if needed. He started 157 games at shortstop in his career, including seven games last season. He’s more than capable of handling the position.
So let’s say Tim Beckham gets hurt. You’d move Gordon to shortstop, but you’d need someone to play second base. You could have the new, slimmer version of Kyle Seager play there and put Healy at third base.
It’s a lot of shifting around to make that work, and you are putting three players at positions that aren’t their strength instead of inserting one player and keeping the other players at their normal positions.
Seager can’t return until May 25 and that’s assuming he has no setbacks in the final stages of his recovery and his rehab assignment. A lot could change with the roster by then. But if everyone remains healthy and in the organization, Healy will likely be sent to Class AAA Tacoma. He has minor league options. The other players are out of options. This was going to be the plan going into the season until Seager got hurt.
The move won’t be permanent. At some point, Healy will return to the 25-man roster and see time at first base.
Healy’s hot start to the season has been followed by an extended cold spell. Over his last 19 games, he has a .183/.279/.350 slash line with four doubles, two homers, nine RBI, seven walks and 16 strikeouts.
That won’t be the only roster move coming in the next few weeks. The expectation is that shortstop J.P. Crawford will be called up from Tacoma by June, and Tim Beckham will slide into the utility player role as Dylan Moore goes to Tacoma.
You are correct in assuming that Dipoto won’t give up prospects to bolster a bullpen for a team that is in a “step-back” season. It would go against everything they did this offseason to acquire talent for their farm system.
As for bullpen help, the options are limited.
The struggles of Dan Altavilla, Nick Rumbelow and even Matt Festa on a lesser level are not ideal for the bullpen depth.
The next best performing relievers have been right-handers Parker Markel and Aaron Northcraft — both of whom have interesting back stories and were signed to minor league contracts.
After being drafted in the 39th round in 2010 by the Rays, Markel pitched in their system for seven seasons before washing out and ending up in the independent leagues. The Mariners watched him throw a bullpen in the offseason and signed him. Markel has a fastball that can touch 100 mph. After dominating at Class AA Arkansas, he was promoted to Tacoma. In 10 combined appearances, he’s thrown 13 1/3 innings while striking out a whopping 28 batters with just four walks.
Northcraft was once a prospect for the Braves and Padres. A 10th-round pick in 2009, he worked primarily as a starter in the minor leagues. After missing almost two seasons because of injuries, Northcraft pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League last offseason. The Mariners signed him to a minor league contract and moved him to a full-time relief role. Northcraft also started with Arkansas and was promoted to Tacoma. In seven appearances, he has a 2.31 ERA. He’s not overpowering like Markel, but he has some versatility.
Big right-hander Art Warren is having a bounce-back start to his 2019 season. Warren was an invitee to big league camp last season and dealt with injuries for much of 2018. But he’s been solid this season, posting a 1.04 ERA in nine appearances for Arkansas with 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings pitched.
It doesn’t make sense based on the Mariners plan. Because Stroman is under club control through the 2020 season, his value is high. He’s making just $7.4 million this season and his arbitration number in 2020 might put him at $12-13 million. That’s a relative bargain.
The Blue Jays aren’t going to give him away. They want prospects in return as they rebuild their team around Vlad Guerrero Jr.
The Mariners don’t want to give up the talent they acquired last offseason for a season and a half of a pitcher who is looking at a free-agent payday. Realistically, this step-back plan might not come to fruition until after the 2020 season, at which point Stroman would likely be on another team.
If the Mariners really wanted Stroman, they’d be better off trying to sign him as a free agent going into the 2021 season when their roster of young players is a little more seasoned.
He’s getting to that point. But it will take a few more decent outings before teams would take an interest. He has to prove that this new version of himself can provide consistent production.
And any trade will depend on how much money the Mariners are willing to eat and what another team is willing to give in return. If the Mariners eat the entire remainder of the $27 million owed, then they will expect a decent mid-level prospect or even a compensatory draft pick in return.
It seems unlikely that a team will take on too much money of Hernandez’s contract.
- I tried the caramel and it seemed a little dangerous. I will stick with the original and the occasional bottle of Crown Private Reserve, when someone else buys it.
- No. But it’s an amusing plot line.
- Tuivailala and Bautista should be ready by June 1 at the latest without setbacks. Bautista isn’t guaranteed of a spot in the big-league bullpen.
Sad country songs are the best country songs. And this new album from my favorite country band is filled with them. The songs “Drinking Money” and “Anchors Away” are new favorites.
So many possibilities. Here’s a few:
- Glacier Park — Drive the going-to-the-sun road, park and hike back to Hidden Lake. Glacier is less crowded than Yellowstone.
- Missoula — Float the Blackfoot River with a cooler of beer, hike the trail to the M, visit the breweries and catch an outdoor concert from KettleHouse or Big Sky Brewing. You may never want to leave.
- Flathead Lake — Head into Big Fork, rent a paddle board and enjoy the lake. Grab a beer at the Garden Bar.
- Whitefish — Ride the chairlift to the top of Big Mountain during the summer, whitewater raft the Flathead River. Eat a burger at the Bulldog Saloon.
- Bozeman — You can go there if you want, but I’ll pass.
Keep in mind that my preferences for such establishments are a little different from most people. I’m not looking for fancy drinks or gastropub fare. I want a bar.
- Red’s Bar (where I used to bartend).
- The Missoula Club (get a burger with pepper jack and spicy mustard).
- Gild Brewing (they have street tacos and an arcade in the basement).
- Charlie B’s (get a bowl of gumbolaya from the Dinosaur Café in back).
- The Rhino
Is there such a thing as less traffic in the Puget Sound? Also, I moved here in 2006 and the area near the Tacoma Dome has been under construction the entire time. That project has a Sisyphean feel.
They aren’t my favorite. I can have one. But if I have more, it starts to feel like I have the stomach of Dae-Ho Lee with Andre the Giant standing on my chest. If I go craft beer, I stick to the Pale Ales or lighter. I’m far from a beer connoisseur or a snob. My favorites in particular order are:
- .394 Pale from Alesmith — the beer in honor of Tony Gwynn is a must have when I’m in San Diego.
- Field 41 Pale Ale from Bale Breaker — this has been my favorite postgame beer at the Hooverville for quite some time.
- Johnny Utah from Georgetown Brewing — When I have one of these, I first yell, “I am an FBI agent!!!” before taking the first sip.
- Fresno Wheat from Triple Dog Brewing: — The first brewery in my hometown and one of my first stops when I return to the Hi-Line.
Well, the fact that you didn’t mix in some pepperoni or Italian sausage is concerning. But as long as there is no fruit on it, you are good.
Never feel ashamed about your eating habits. I once ate McDonald’s at 3 a.m. and at 8 a.m. on the same day. And the woman working the drive thru said, “Weren’t you here earlier?” I also ate at Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas for four straight mornings at 4 a.m. I might not be the hero you want, but I’m the hero you get.
Eat your food. Shoot your shot. Live your life until the doctors or your sister that’s a nurse practitioner says you can’t have red meat for two months.