Dan's Dugout: Will Swap Frenzy Spark First Seattle Series? • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Will Swap Frenzy Spark First Seattle Series?


In a game full of irony, who could root against a World Series pitting the Washington Nationals against the Seattle Mariners?

Of the 30 current clubs, they are the only two that have never reached the Fall Classic.

Both seem determined to fill that void this season.

While Washington has added Adam Eaton and may sign Matt Wieters, it has lost catcher Wilson Ramos and closer Mark Melancon, moves that weaken the team that won 95 games in 2016.

Seattle, on the other hand, seeks a future higher than the Space Needle.

Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto has much to smile about

Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto has much to smile about

General manager Jerry DiPoto has become the busiest trader since Frank Lane, engineering 36 trades in his 16-year tenure. Eleven of those swaps – five more than any other team – have come during the current off-season.

As a result, there’s been a seismic shift the baseball future of a city with seismic concerns.

Seattle’s swap frenzy dwarfs its competitors in the American League West, who have combined for 10 trades (half by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).

For his part, DiPoto says he’s done. “What you see is what you get,” he told MLB.com. “This is our team. You may not hear from us again.”

The M’s GM has added, among others, catcher Carlos Ruiz; infielders Jean Segura and Danny Valencia; centerfielder Jarrod Dyson; and starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo , Chris Heston; and Drew Smyly; and relievers Marc Rzepczynski, Shea Simmons, and Rob Whalen.

Landing Smyly was the culmination of a winter-long effort. To make it work, DiPoto first had to land Mallex Smith, a fleet centerfielder blocked in Atlanta by Ender Inciarte, and flip him to Tampa Bay.

The Mariners actually made two swaps with the Braves, dealing mostly in prospects, although Simmons has big-league experience and should bolster the bullpen in Seattle.

Felix Hernandez is always a threat to win the Cy Young Award

Felix Hernandez is always a threat to win the Cy Young Award

Smyly, 27, completes a rotation that already includes Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yovani Gallardo, and James Paxton. That’s at least as good as anything in the American League West.

Born as an expansion team, the Mariners played their first game in 1977. They’ve played home games in three different ballparks while producing two MVPs (Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki); two Cy Young winners (Randy Johnson and King Felix); and four Rookies of the Year (Alvis Davis, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Ichiro, and Chris Young). But they never advanced past the AL Championship Series, which they lost to Cleveland in 1995 and the Yankees in 2000 and 2001.

The 2001 loss was particularly painful, as that Mariners team won a record 116 games during the 162-game regular season.

Seattle’s most memorable moment?

It happened in the AL Division Series against the Yankees in 1995. Trailing 0-2 in the best-of-five division series, Seattle stormed back to force a decisive fifth game. In the last of the 11th, with New York ahead 5-4, Edgar Martinez stroked a double on a Jack McDowell pitch to score Joey Cora and Griffey, Jr.

Junior Griffey gave Seattle fans many magic moments

Junior Griffey gave Seattle fans many magic moments

That hit sparked new interest in the ballclub, which soon when state funding for Safeco Field, a retractable-roof ballpark built near the old Kingdome. Safeco has housed the Mariners since its first game on July 15, 1999. It also got national exposure in 2000, when the Mariners won a wild-card playoff spot, and in the All-Star Game a year later.

Then, on December 6, 2013, Seattle signed superstar second baseman Robinson Cano to a 10-year contract worth $240 million. It was hardly his fault that the 2016 Mariners went 86-76, nine games behind Texas in the AL West and three games removed from a wild-card berth.

Kyle Seager's 30-homer season was overshadowed last year

Kyle Seager’s 30-homer season was overshadowed last year

Thanks primarily to Cano (39), Kyle Seager (30), and Nelson Cruz (44), Seattle hit 223 home runs last year, second to Baltimore in the American League. Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura, both acquired in trades, should have no trouble setting the table for the sluggers.

With improvements in speed, defense, hitting, and pitching, that elusive World Series spotlight, could indeed shine on Seattle this season. Second-year manager Scott Servais is already smacking his lips.

Elsewhere in baseball:

San Francisco pitcher Derek Law will spend a week playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, the touring basketball team . . .

Next year’s free agent list includes Jake Arrieta, Lorenzo Cain, Yu Darvish, Wade Davis, Carlos Gonzalez,

Lorenzo Cain could be traded before free agency

Lorenzo Cain could be traded before free agency

Eric Hosmer, Jonathan Lucroy, and J.D. Martinez . . .

Atlanta general manager John Coppolella says failed medicals scuttled two Braves trades this winter . . .

With spring training only a month away, trade rumors continue to swirl around top starting pitchers Jose Quintana (White Sox) and Chris Archer (Rays).

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

Recommended for you