Just a season ago, the Mariners were fighting for the second wild-card playoff spot instead of a high draft pick. They were complete at every position and had more experience than the 2019 guys. Some had playoff experience and some didn’t but overall 2018’s squad had its fair share of All-Stars.
Whether you like it or not, Jerry Dipoto made a bold move and acted on it. He took a perennially-losing Mariners franchise and set them back even more. Dipoto clearly was not a fan of the horribly-ranked farm and prioritized future studs over under-achieving veterans with fat contracts.
Or maybe he realized that he had stars but they couldn’t get it done together. With no shortage of departures this last offseason, let’s check on our old guys and grade their 2019 season so far:
P James Paxton, NYY
The first casualty in Dipoto’s offseason sale, the Big Maple had an exciting start to his offseason. The exclamation point was the sixth no-hitter in franchise history in his home country. But his second half was the same story as usual and he again failed to string together an injury-free season.
His freshman season in pinstripes hasn’t been the start the Bronx faithful hoped for. The entire Yanks rotation has been their weakest link and Paxton isn’t helping. His ERA is 5.00 if you round up and his 0.3 WAR is tied for lowest in the rotation (Happ).
If you ever want to stay on your fanbases’ good side, you have to do your best against the rival Sox and recently he didn’t. He was shelled at Fenway Park, allowing four homers and seven earned runs on July 26th. And this year he, wait for it, spent time on the IL. Paxton has had moments as a Yankee but nothing like the ace stuff he showed early last year.
Paxton’s grade: C
C Mike Zunino, TB
Did last November’s trade of Zunino leave anyone else saying, “it’s about time?” We all wanted him to be our catcher of the future but he didn’t hit well enough. If he had hit even .260, he would have been our dream catcher with his solid defense. If anyone else is afraid he’ll be one of those ex-players to break out elsewhere, don’t worry so far.
Zunino’s WAR is a 0.0 and if his average doesn’t move much this year, he will finish below Mendoza line for the third time in his seven-year career. His power gave people the benefit of the doubt but that’s gone this year with six homers up to this point.
He is on pace to finish with fewer strikeouts than in 2018 but that’s not saying much as he finished with 150 that year. He is still not posting the numbers of a first-string catcher as Travis D-Arnaud is almost 100 points higher.
Zunino’s grade: D
2B Robinson Cano, NYM
The ending to Cano’s long-contracted tenure with the Mariners didn’t come to a fairytale ending. After just thinking he’d be sidelined for six weeks with a broken hand last year, things got worse as he missed half the season. You may disagree but he ruined our playoff chances with his selfish PED decision.
For anybody who likes karma, 2019 is flashing some so far. If his average doesn’t climb or he doesn’t come back from his hamstring injury this year, his .252 average and 32 RBI’s would be a career season low. What’s the matter, Robbie, missing those steroids that made you a better hitter? His age may be the primary factor to the decline but it makes you wonder.
The irony of it all is that Cano achieved a feat never done as a Yankee or Mariner; a home-run hat trick. The rest of his 2019 highlights are slim and he showed a lack of hustle earlier in the year. For a man in the middle of one of the fattest contracts ever, his numbers aren’t doing it.
Cano’s grade: C
P Edwin Diaz, NYM
Folks, Sugar has not exactly been better than his trade partner. The Mets almost spat him back out as he was rumored to be on the move from them this Deadline. Tim Healey of Newsday wrote an article headlined that he “may be displaced as Mets’ closer”. Is that the Sugar that New York acquired last winter? No, because he still doesn’t have half the saves this year as last and his ERA is almost 4.00 points higher than all of last’s.
Which means he is having one of those years or maybe last year was a fluke. He did, after all, have one standout season or maybe East Coast media pressure got to him. Relievers are an unpredictable breed and the Mets are not thrilled with what they’ve seen so far. And his blown (non)-save against the NL’s best Dodgers in May truly showed how vulnerable he has been as a Met. Their fans should be appalled that their 5.00 ERA closer was traded for two high-rank draft picks.
Diaz’s grade: C
SS Jean Segura, PHI
Within roughly 48 hours, the 2018 middle infield was gone. The jury is still out on which shortstop will win this trade, JP or Jean? But that’s for a different article, so how is Jean doing as a first-year Phil? He is doing textbook well but not under the usual Segura standard. He was a consistent .300 hitter his three total seasons as a Diamondback and Mariner. This is not the case in 2019 as he is roughly 20 points under .300.
Once again, .281 is very good and he has had clutch moments this year with a game-winning, 14th-inning bomb, and a walk-off blast. He has been injury-prone like his first Mariner season of 2017 but his 2019 numbers aren’t dramatically less than they were from 2016-18.
Segura’s grade: B
DH Nelson Cruz, MIN
Nelson Cruz has shown zero signs of slowing things down in his first year as a Twin. In fact, he is on a home run tear with 30 or more for the sixth straight season. His average currently is at .292 and the only time he hit higher as a Mariner was in his debut year of 2015. Hey, guess how many times he has hit a trio of homers in a game? Try two times, both as a Twin!
Nellie’s 2019 season is making us miss him and a sad thought is that he is very likely headed back to the playoffs after zero times his four Mariner seasons. The only ex-Mariner in this article not traded away is doing the best out of all of them. We miss you, Boomstick Baby.
Cruz’s grade: A
With the exception of Cruz, are any rebuild doubters beginning to feel better now? Most of our 2018 departures are either continuing to underachieve or playing like flat out busts right now. It’s for this reason that maybe this “rebuild thing” was a smart idea after all.