Wednesday, April 24, 2024

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: Standing pat might be best — but you know M's GM

| August 31, 2020 1:05 AM

Maybe I cursed the Mariners.

Hey, everyone knows that GM Jerry Dipoto loves to shift spare parts around at the MLB trading deadline — which happens to come today at 1 p.m.

On the other hand, I am a loud and lifelong opponent of midseason trading.

In any sport.

At any time.

I’ve never understood why you can’t play the hand you’re dealt.

Put a team together and, yes, make offseason moves if you believe it will suit your roster.

And then…

You’re done.

In the case of the Mariners, whoever lines up along the foul line to be introduced on opening day, well, that’s your team.

Oh, plucking someone off the waiver wire is OK, in case of injuries and so forth.

But no trades.

No renting out some veterans on short contracts, hoping to get prospects in return.

The Mariners already have done it, trading starter Taijuan Walker to Toronto last week for the famous “player to be named later.”

JERRY might be stuck now, however.

At one point, he had a nice stable of relief pitchers — plenty of experienced guys to deal at this point, with a month left in this crazy regular season.


No luck.

For instance, Dipoto was certain to move 30-year-old right-hander Matt Magill, who finished last season as the Mariners’ closer and went nine appearances this year without giving up a run.

Magill’s fastball, though, had dipped in velocity from 95 to 91 miles per hour, and eventually he started getting knocked around.

The M’s have put him on the injured list with the right shoulder strain.

Magill has plenty of company on the IL.

Fellow relievers Austin Adams, Brandon Brennan, Carl Edwards Jr., Gerson Bautista, Erik Swanson, Taylor Guilbeau and Nestor Cortes are all on the shelf.

With less than 30 games to play, it’s hugely unlikely that any in that crowd will be back in 2020.

There’s actually another reliever who won’t be available for trade: Rule 5 acquisition Yohan Ramirez must stay on the Mariners roster for the entire season.

The rest of the bullpen crew, by and large, consists of young guys Dipoto would like to keep — or pitchers he probably couldn’t unload.

Zac Grotz has been up and down between Seattle and the training facility in Tacoma, and was one the guys lit up in that 16-3 thumping from the Angels on Saturday night.

Of course, Dipoto did make a trade late Sunday, sending catcher Austin Nola to San Diego as part of a seven-player deal.

I now hate midseason trades even more.

MEANWHILE, there are some promising new arms in the organization.

Joey Gerber is starting to show up in high-leverage situations, and Camas native Taylor Williams has been filling the closer role, almost by default.

Rookie Ljay Newsome looked fine in an emergency starting role.

The bottom line, though, is that Dipoto has very few healthy arms that he could mix and match in last-minute deals.

That’s fine by me.

I hate to see so many guys hurting, obviously, but that might be a long-term blessing.

Seattle’s analytics department has found some bona fide prospects — Brandon Brennan was basically out of baseball until the Mariners uncovered the percentage of downward movement on his change-up.

Dipoto got his wish in dismantling the 2018 Mariners, with a “step back” eye toward building a contender just down the road.

He made some fantastic deals to acquire gifted young players.

The Mariners also have drafted well — remember that Kyle Lewis was a first-round pick five years ago, and was only slowed up by a serious injury.

I suspect it’s time that the Mariners now let all these moves play out.

There’s plenty of talent in the system, so another mad dash at the trade deadline really isn’t necessary.

Thank goodness.


Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball, once per month during the offseason.



Seattle Mariners reliever Matt Magill delivers a pitch during a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Seattle. The White Sox won 9-7. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)