Mariners Notes: Felix, Dipoto, Long

The latest from Seattle….

  • With Felix Hernandez likely approaching the end of his days in a Mariners uniform, The Athletic’s Corey Brock (subscription required) took a look back at the right-hander’s often-outstanding career.  The piece covers Hernandez’s initial signing with the organization as a 16-year-old in 2002, noting that he rejected overtures from the Braves and Yankees because of his good relationship with Mariners scouts Pedro Avila, Bob Engle and Emilio Carrasquel.  From there, Hernandez cracked the big leagues by the time he was 19, and then embarked on almost a full decade as one of the sport’s best pitchers.  His production has slowed since he began his 30’s, however, due to both injuries and perhaps a hesitance to embrace changes to his conditioning and pitching repertoire.  Hernandez (who turns 34 next April) has indicated that he wants to pitch next season, though it’s hard to see him landing a Major League contract this offseason in the wake of a year that has seen him post a 6.31 ERA in 61 1/3 innings while spending over three months on the injured list.
  • At a recent town hall event for Mariners fans, GM Jerry Dipoto pointed towards 2021 as the potential turn-around date for the team’s rebuild, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes.  That said, Dipoto added “There is no scientific answer to the question. I can’t give you a decimal point or a dollar amount or a date and time when it’s all going to crest. But we feel like we’re building talent in a traditional way and we’re adding, let’s call it new, modern techniques of player development and player analysis that we feel make us a little bit different. You got to do something a little bit different in order to beat the teams that are out in front of us.”  Dipoto is known far more for his penchant for trades rather than big-ticket free agents, and the general manager hinted that this reluctance to fully dive into the free agent marketplace will continue even when the M’s have more payroll available.  “We don’t intend to go throw that [money] at the free-agent market, because quite frankly we’re not one player away, as you can see,” Dipoto said.
  • Shed Long is one of several young players who have been given a chance on the young Mariners this season, and Long is making a case for himself as an everyday player in 2020, Adam Jude of the Seattle Times writes.  With three more hits in today’s game against the Pirates, Long is now batting .284/.357/.466 over his first 129 career plate appearances, also filling a void for the M’s as a leadoff man.  It’s been an impressive rookie season for Long, even despite the fact that his Triple-A development was slowed by seven weeks on the IL with a broken finger.  While Long could bounce around the diamond between left field, third base, and second base, he has spent the bulk of time in Seattle as a second baseman, and could be the future at the position if the Mariners were to part ways with Dee Gordon this winter.