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Dipoto talks tough calls, projections on podcast

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- When Jerry Dipoto first took over the Mariners, he traded away many of the players inherited from the previous regime that he didn't feel fit the club's philosophy or direction. Now that Dipoto has spent two seasons in Seattle, he's established more personal relationships with his current players, but that doesn't mean the dealing is done.

Speaking on his latest Wheelhouse Podcast released Wednesday, the Mariners' general manager said personal connections must be set aside at times to make pragmatic decisions for the betterment of the club, and he cited the example of trading reliever Emilio Pagan this winter to acquire A's first baseman Ryon Healy.

SEATTLE -- When Jerry Dipoto first took over the Mariners, he traded away many of the players inherited from the previous regime that he didn't feel fit the club's philosophy or direction. Now that Dipoto has spent two seasons in Seattle, he's established more personal relationships with his current players, but that doesn't mean the dealing is done.

Speaking on his latest Wheelhouse Podcast released Wednesday, the Mariners' general manager said personal connections must be set aside at times to make pragmatic decisions for the betterment of the club, and he cited the example of trading reliever Emilio Pagan this winter to acquire A's first baseman Ryon Healy.

"We may not have had a player in the last two years who I liked personally any more than Emilio Pagan," Dipoto said. "Just a terrific guy. I like him, I like his family, I love the way he's wired. He's a hard worker and I think he's a really good Major League reliever. But a good Major League reliever doesn't play first base. We had to come up with an alternative solution."

Video: Dipoto joins The Wheelhouse Podcast to discuss Healy

So the hard decision was made to pull off what turned out to be one of seven trades Dipoto has engineered this offseason, as he dealt from what he believes is a position of strength.

"We have other players that I like and believe are really good Major League relievers," the GM said. "Dan Altavilla, newly acquired Shawn Armstrong, Nick Rumbelow, James Pazos, Tony Zych, we have a number of guys we feel can really contribute and all in that genre of optional, controllable young relievers with big arms.

"It's an area we felt we had a surplus. And pragmatically we're going to use it to solve a problem without allowing the emotion to pull us down. And later on when Emilio Pagan succeeds, I'll be the first one he gets a text from, congratulating him on his success."

Dipoto also talked about the preseason projections from FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus and others that generally have the Mariners at about an 81-win team for 2018. He believes the consensus of those projections is generally accurate with his own assessments, though noting that every Major League team places higher value on most of its own players than the projections.

Video: Dipoto pays attention to season projections

"We have a greater feel for that person, not necessarily the statistical review, but what the person and his work habits and internal development and physical changes look like," he said. "As a result, I think this year's projections, particularly on FanGraphs, were a little light on a variety of our players, not the least of which are Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and maybe most notably Dee Gordon.

"I can't fault them for questioning our starting pitching. We know we're going to have to prove it. But I think our lineup has proven their mettle and deserve a little more credit than they're getting."

But the general view of the projections align with the Mariners' internal assessments in Dipoto's eyes.

"We believe we have a good offensive club and that's represented that way," he said. "We believe we have a deep and quality bullpen and it is represented that way. We believe we have some questions in our starting rotation and we need to prove that we're healthy enough to maintain the long road, and that is represented in the forecasts, regardless of whether you agree with the decimal points."

Video: Mariners may experiment with six-man rotation

Also in this week's Podcast, Dipoto talked about:

• The intense flag football games he used to play in the street in front of his house in Denver during his days with the Rockies in the late '90s, when several of his neighbors were NHL All-Stars from the Colorado Avalanche.

• The one home run he gave up to a future Hall of Famer during his pitching career.

• Working out in Kansas City during the 1994 players strike with a group of MLB players who wound up playing an informal game against a team from a 35-and-over men's league, who had figured they could compete against professional players.

• What criteria the Mariners use to determine when to promote players in their Minor League system.

• How he has befriended executives from NBA, NFL and NHL clubs as well as European soccer and Australian Rules football to exchange ideas on how best to use analytics and scouting and how that has led him to believe baseball is behind the curve in high-performance training and player rest and recovery, one of the reasons the Mariners have hired Dr. Lorena Martin to oversee those programs this winter.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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