When Jerry DiPoto was hired he identified re-signing free agent pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma as a priority. With word last night that the Dodgers and Iwakuma have reached a deal, the M’s will have to scramble to fill his slot in the rotation.
I don’t know how this happened. Likely it was because the Dodgers offered three years of big money and the M’s were only willing to go two years. We don’t have the details of the deal yet, but when we do, this is going to be about money and a pitching market that accelerated wildly in the last week.
At the top end, contracts to David Price and Zach Greinke average well over $30 million per year. For those starters, still good, but not top tier, the salaries still spiked with Jordan Zimmerman averaging $22 million, Jeff Samardzija at $18 million, and John Lackey at $16 million. But we saw this coming when the floor was set with J.A. Happ’s signing with Toronto for $12 million a couple of weeks ago.
I’m sure Jerry DiPoto will be interviewed today at the Winter Meetings and tell us why they let Iwakuma walk. He’ll talk about the money and value and the best interest of the team.
Let me help Jerry out. The best interest of the team is keeping fans interested and coming to the ballpark. They way you do that is by winning. This is a failure, publicly, for the general manager, the team, and the fans. When you don’t meet your number one priority, you’re a loser.
DiPoto can fuss all he wants about making an effort and value, but, bottom line, the value of talent is set by the market. He ignores the market at his peril. With Iwakuma gone, the market for the remaining tier B pitchers will boil and if DiPoto wrings his hands and complains about it, we’ll end up with dregs and reclamation projects to fill ‘Kuma’s number 2 slot.
Two quick messages for Mr. DiPoto. You’ve made a splash this fall by getting younger, more athletic and cheaper. Money was saved by trading Logan Morrison and by dealing Mark Trumbo. Show us the money Jerry. Sign a pitcher worthy of Kuma’s spot, whether that is Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake or somebody of that caliber. They’re not as good as a healthy ‘Kuma, but they will add depth to the rotation. But don’t wait, the rumors are swirling and they too will be gone.
Secondly, you are all in on an improved run prevention strategy at Safeco Field. You can’t implement that model without pitching. Yes, you can take some chances on middling flyball pitchers because of the size of the park, but that doesn’t always work out. Chris Young, Jason Vargas and Kevin Millwood did quite nicely at Safeco, while Hector Noesi, Joe Saunders and Jeremy Bonderman got torched. Bad pitching is bad pitching. The rotation as it stands is not good enough. The rotation of Felix, Tai Walker, James Paxton, Nate Karns, Roenis Elias, Mike Montgomery are very young and simply not enough.
If it sounds like I’m frustrated and angry, it’s because I am. I’m sure the vast majority of Mariner fans are stunned and surly. Though you claim re-signing Iwakuma was the highest priority, you let him walk. It was the fans’ highest priority, and at some point that matters. Everything else you’ve done feels like niggling around the edges by comparison. You’ve failed.