After several quiet weeks — during which the fizzling of Brian Dozier rumors left the Hot Stove cold — Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has the embers glowing red once again. The fuel? Center fielders and pitching. In what could almost feel like mockery to Detroit Tigers fans concerned about the hole in their team’s roster, the Mariners continue to move center fielders around the MLB chessboard like so many pawns.
On January 6, Dipoto moved Nathan Karns, a journeyman starting pitcher, to the Kansas City Royals in return for utility outfielder extraordinaire Jarrod Dyson. With Leonys Martin already entrenched as the Mariners’ everyday center fielder, Dyson bolstered their depth with his speed and defensive abilities.
However the loss of Karns thinned the Mariners’ somewhat suspect rotation even further. Dipoto attempted to remedy that on Wednesday. He acquired center fielder Mallex Smith and reliever Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves for prospects, including a quality left-handed pitcher named Luiz Gohara. Before most even got to wondering what the Mariners were going to do with all these center fielders, and could the Tigers please have one, Smith and a pair of prospects were headed to Tampa Bay in return for our old friend, Drew Smyly.
Smyly gives the Mariners a credible, if not so durable rotation. He was also the Mariners’ 11th (!) trade of this offseason. Dipoto has been very aggressive in a comparatively quiet market. With stars like Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz getting no younger, and no real powerhouse in the AL West, the time seems ripe for the Mariners to make a big push. They have Dave Cameron’s attention over at FanGraphs.
Meanwhile, there was some shock that the Mariners would trade Luiz Gohara to the Braves. Gohara is a flame-throwing lefthander who has wowed scouts and seems an overpay for Smith and Simmons. However, Gohara’s health is a bit of a mystery, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports explains, making the trade more explicable from the Mariners’ side.
There’s a new way to avoid Tommy John surgery
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a piece up about Cardinals reliever Seth Maness. The young righthander had an alternative surgery to a full UCL reconstruction (a.k.a. Tommy John surgery) last summer and has impressed observers with his progress. The procedure isn’t applicable to all UCL tears, but appears to have great potential for faster recovery times. Maness is expected to be ready for Opening Day, just seven and a half months after surgery.
Designated hitter is a good job if you can get it
The Tigers are familiar with the cost of a fine DH. As it turns out, they’re far from alone. In fact, designated hitters are perhaps the most overpaid players in the game. The reasons why, however, are more complex than it first appears. Julien Assouline at Beyond the Box Score investigates the phenomenon.
Comerica Park was a hot spot for barrels in 2016
Barrels are the latest metric from the folks at Statcast. A “barrel” is a ball hit in the optimum ranges of both exit velocity and launch angle. And Miguel Cabrera had more than anyone in 2016. That’s surely a bit of why Comerica Park joined Coors Field as the two parks with the most barrels hit in 2016. But there’s a lot more to it. RO Baseball’s Casey Boguslaw looks into the causes.
Meanwhile, Statcast has its own article up over at MLB.com in which they look at some of the wildest Statcast outliers from 2016. As a sampler enjoy this 103.8 mile per hour fastball from Atlanta Braves’ right-hander, Mauricio Cabrera.
There’s also this video looking at David Ross’ exchange time, and Justin Verlander’s fourseam spin rate. Combined, you have a pretty decent overview of the sort of thing Statcast data is measuring and revealing about the game.
Roomers from the Twittersphere
a team that's considering wieters, whose market has been mostly a mystery. https://t.co/uSQCFSgrPc— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 11, 2017
at least 6 teams in on closer greg holland, who seeks an unusual contract. https://t.co/6oAygntURc— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 11, 2017