Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A goose egg for Dipoto, a gig for O'Brien

As we celebrate today because pitchers and catchers are reporting to Mariners camp, and as I'm in need of a vehicle for procrastination, I decided to make an addendum to my general managers article posted on Friday. I spent about 2,300 words explaining how I figured Pat Gillick was the best trader among M's general managers and Bill Bavasi was the worst. But I didn't rank Jerry Dipoto, current GM, because there just isn't enough data. As you will recall, or can go read, I rated trades for each GM based on future Wins Above Replacement gained and given for each swap. As Dipoto has been on the job for just over a year, most of his deals have yet to pencil out.

I decided I might as well dig up what data there is and see how he's doing so far. Interestingly enough, based on trades made before the end of the 2016 season, Dipoto's general manager trade value is exactly: ZERO. We logged eighteen trades Dipoto made between his hiring in September 2015 and the end of last season, and so far he's gotten back precisely as much WAR as he's given away.

Dipoto's best trade, so far, resulting in a gain of 2.1 WAR, is the deal that brought Leonys Martin to the club, along with Anthony Bass, for Tom Wilhelmsen, James Jones, and Patrick Kivlehan. His worst, at -2.2 WAR, was sending Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, and Danny Farquhar to Tampa Bay for Boog Powell, Nate Carns, and C.J. Riefenhauser. Oddly enough, Dipoto lost 1.6 WAR dealing Riefenhauser away, along with Mark Trumbo, for Steve Clevenger. While Trumbo had a modest 1.6 WAR, all we got out of Clevenger was 0 WAR and some racist tweets.

The Tampa deal illustrates why we didn't want to lump Dipoto in with the rest of the general managers yet. The ultimate value of the trade probably hinges on how much of a prospect Powell is. He hit .270 in 64 games at Tacoma last year before getting hit with an 80-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.

Similarly, the trade of Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries for Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn presently ranks as -0.7 WAR for the M's, as Montgomery delivered 0.4 WAR out of the Cubs bullpen while Vogelbach went 1-for-12 during a September call-up for -0.3. But Vogelbach has some potential; he hit 23 home runs and had an OPS of .923 playing for Iowa and Tacoma last summer. Also Vogelbach's nickname is "Vogey." What is wrong with the nicknamers these days? Well, at least he's not D-Vog, and I'm sorry for even putting that idea out there.

In rating the previous general managers, I declined to calculate the trades in which clearly minimal, if any, value had changed hands. I wonder what the future Weisenheimer doing this exercise with ten years of hindsight will think of most of these deals. Juan De Paula and Jio Orozco for Ben Gamel doesn't seem particularly exciting, but if Gamel is the next Mike Trout, or even the next Bruce Bochte, that's probably a plus for the M's.

Dan O'Brien, Jr.

Dan O'Brien ranked number seven of eight Mariner general managers with a trading WAR of -32.9. He passed away last month at the age of 87. His son, Dan O'Brien, Jr., has just landed a gig with Minor League Baseball. According to a report on Ballpark Digest, O’Brien has been hired to serve as a senior executive advisor to MiLB president & CEO Pat O’Conner. This will be the junior O'Brien's 40th season in professional baseball. He was an advisor to the Royals last year and worked for the Brewers as a special assistant for ten years before that. He got his start working in sales and marketing for the M's back in the dark ages.

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