In his book, The Power of Negative Thinking, Bob Knight expressed his disdain for the word, “hope.”
“Positive results don’t happen simply because we believe they’re going to happen,” Knight wrote. “Hope may spring eternal, but it’s a lot better to work and plan for something than just to hope for it.”
Simply relying on hope without taking proactive steps toward a goal places destiny into fate’s hands. It’s possible that had Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto (left) stood pat, the Mariners could match or exceed last year’s success. But it’s just as likely that the team could regress. By taking bold action toward addressing some of his team’s most glaring weaknesses, DiPoto is taking the bull by the horns. For better or for worse, he is taking control of his team’s destiny.
The Mariners were among the most exciting teams in the major leagues last season, winning 86 games – including 15 in their final at-bat. They won nine games in extra innings, claimed eight walkoff victories, and smashed six walkoff home runs. Their 223 home runs ranked second behind Baltimore in the American League. They remained in playoff contention until the eve of the regular season finale.
Cano is 34 and Cruz will turn 37 on July 1. Hernandez (11-8, 3.82 ERA), who will turn 31 on April 8, is still an ace caliber pitcher but at 33 is on the downside of his career and no longer the doninant presence he once was. At 29, Seager is in his prime but will be on the down side by the time the sun sets on the careers of Cano, Cruz, and Hernandez.
By standing pat, the Mariners would have been hard pressed to equal last year’s success – especially because they reside in a loaded division. The Texas Rangers have claimed the AL West crown in each of the last two years. The Houston Astros took a step back last year after reaching the divisional playoff round in 2015. But with their dynamic group of young players, a bounce back is a distinct possibility. And the Angels, with Mike Trout, can’t be counted out.
The time is now for the Mariners, and with that in mind, DiPoto made his first bold move on Nov. 23 when he sent 23-year-old shortstop Ketel Marte and 24-year-old starting pitcher Taijuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a six-player trade that netted him former All-Star shortstop Jean Segura and outfielder Mitch Haniger.
Segura will be 27 on March 17 but already has five years of experience under his belt. Segura played primarily at second base last year but in three years as the starting shortstop in Milwaukee, he averaged 16.67 errors and 646 chances. Marte committed an alarming 21 errors in 476 chances last year.
On Friday, DiPoto completed two trades. He sent another young pitcher, Nate Karns, to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Jarrod Dyson, and a short time later, shipped veteran outfielder Seth Smith to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for veteran starter Yovani Gallardo.
With the additions of Haniger and Dyson, DiPoto has upgraded the athleticism of his outfield. Haniger, Dyson, and the team’s other projected starting outfielder, Leonys Martin are quick and versatile. Each is capable of plying center field.
Dyson, Seattle’s projected leadoff man, had a .340 on-base percentage last year and has swiped 156 bases in a part-time role with Kansas City the last five years. The spacious dimensions of Arizona’s Chase Field are comparable to Safeco Field and last year, Segura – who is projected to bat second – turned in his best offensive season with a .319 average, 203 hits, 41 doubles, and 20 home runs.
Dyson and Segura should provide plenty of RBI opportunities for the middle-of-the-order sluggers – Cano, Cruz , and Seager.
There’s no debate that the Mariners’ lineup is better, but the jury is out on whether Gallardo will be a productive back of the rotation option to Walker or Karns.
Unlike Walker and Karns, the soon to be 31-year-old Gallardo has a track record with 108 career wins under his belt. But there is no sugar coating his poor performance in 2016. The right-hander walked a career-high 11.6 percent of the batters he faced and had a career high 5.42 ERA. He allowed 16 home runs in just 118 innings.
But Gallardo has won 10 or more games six times and his penchant for serving up home runs should be offset by moving from Camden Yards to the more spacious Safeco.
He’ll be worth a look.
Manny signs with Japanese team
Manny Ramirez, who last played in the major leagues in 2011, signed with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of Japan’s independent Shikoku Island League. In 19 major league seasons, Ramirez hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBI.
Gallardo hasn’t played in the National League since 2014, but during his eight seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, he proved himself to be a force with the bat. He has 85 career hits – 33 for extra bases including 12 home runs.
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