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Old 03-28-2018, 11:33 PM   #1
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The Wheelhouse, with Jerry Dipoto (2018 Mariners)

The Wheelhouse is a real-life podcast in which Mariners play-by-play man Aaron Goldsmith interviews general manager Jerry Dipoto. A typical podcast lasts for between 30-60 minutes and is characterized by a few themes:
1. Aaron and Jerry banter about things that are going on in Jerry's life, e.g. what happened at the winter meetings, dogs, who chooses the music in his car, etc.
2. Jerry speaks with unabashed optimism about his team even in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary.
3. Jerry segues into several stories about players he used to play with and the ridiculous things they did.
4. Jerry answers some listener mail.
5. Aaron and Jerry talk about food.

This dynasty report will take the form of transcripts of weekly episodes of the podcast. I'll do my best to capture the essential tone of the podcast, if not the length. The anecdotes will all be purely fictional. Please feel free to write in "listener mail" as the weeks progress.

I'll be playing as Jerry Dipoto, attempting to keep the Sinking Ship Mariner afloat. This will be essentially out of the box 2018 settings although injuries bumped up to regular real-life levels; this is the Mariners, after all. Trading will be set to hard. I'll play out each regular season game and then write the podcasts.
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Old 03-28-2018, 11:50 PM   #2
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Episode 1 (March 26, 2018)

AG: Jerry, welcome to a very special episode of The Wheelhouse. Good to have you back. How excited are you?

JD: Aaron, I'm VERY excited. Nothing quite like Opening Day to get the juices flowing. It's a good time, and it's a good time to be a Mariners fan.

AG: You bet, Jerry. For our listeners, I'm Aaron Goldsmith. Welcome to The Wheelhouse. Well, Jerry, let's dive right in. Opening Day is just three days away, and the rumors are true, King Felix is going to be on the hill.

JD: King Felix. What an effort he's put in this offseason. The last few years have really been a grind for him, with all of the injuries, and I can't say enough about how happy I've been with his work ethic this offseason. From day one he has been working harder that I have ever seen him work before..

AG: Are we talking Nellie Cruz level…

JD: (laughs) Well.. let's not go that far. But if Nellie is 1, Felix has been 1A, how's that. He's been in the gym. He's been throwing regularly. I don't think I can remember a time that I've seen Felix throwing in February, but it happened this year. He had the shot he took off his arm a few weeks ago..

AG: A scary moment for everyone.

JD: But he really bounced back from that as quickly as we could reasonably have hoped. Now if you had left it up to him, he would have been back out there for the next start, it was really us keeping an extra amount of caution with him given what he's been through the last few years.

AG: Chomping at the bit, as they say.

JD: Right. But we're all systems go, ready to launch on Thursday.

AG: This will be his eleventh opening day start for the Mariners- that's really something if you think about it.

JD: I don't think people realize quite how many miles are on his arm. He's just 31 years old, but he has thrown a ton of innings.

AG: Eight straight years with over 200 innings. Obviously it's been a few less the last few years…

JD: And I'll be the first to say, it would be foolish for us to expect him to throw 200 innings this year. We'll be thrilled if we get 25 starts, 150 innings from Felix. But it sure is great to see him heading out there for opening day. The fastball is moving better than it has in years, the curveball is biting.. he's ready.

AG: The King's Court should be out there in droves.

JD: (Laughs) I will look forward to the sea of yellow in the crowd. And I will hope to see them regularly this season.

AG: You start with the Indians this year. Not an easy draw to start the season.

JD: No, Cleveland's a good club. They really have done a lot of things that we aspire to, as far as getting a good young core together in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. And more than anything, putting together a pitching staff that really controls the zone well, starting with Corey Kluber.

AG: Right. Kluber and Felix had been neck and neck for the Cy Young Award back in 2014, with Kluber barely pulling it out, so good to see the two of them facing off again. Tell us a little bit about the opening day lineup to start the season.

JD: We've been fortunate that we'll pretty much have our regular lineup to start the season. A bunch of our guys have been dinged up this season. Nellie and Robbie have both had hamstrings that we've been careful with. Ryon Healy of course had the hand surgery, but it looks like he will be ready to go for Thursday. The only guy we'll be missing is Ben Gamel with the oblique straing.

AG: And his injury, of course, led to the most exciting event of the offseason- signing Ichiro.

JD: You bet. And Ichiro- I can't even say what a thrill it's been to get him out here with our guys. I think it's going to be really exciting for our fans to see Ichiro and Felix out there on opening day. At least, it'll be really exciting for me, a true highlight as a general manager.

AG: The other exciting development this offseason has been new Mariner and new center fielder Dee Gordon. Tell us a little bit of what we should expect from him.

JD: You know, Dee has really taken to the change. A lot of people have wondered how he would fare with the new position. But when you watch him out there- it really makes you think that maybe he was in the wrong position until now. And it's hard to say that when he's a guy who's already won a Gold Glove at second base.

AG: By all accounts, he has looked fantastic out there, and I'm looking forward to seeing him and Jean Segura flying around the basepaths this season.

JD: Right. We've got a lot of speed at the top of the lineup with the two of them, and you really couldn't ask for a better 3-4-5 combination than Robbie Cano, Nellie Cruz, and Kyle Seager, even as Robbie and Nellie are starting to get up there in years.

AG: One of the big changes in the coaching staff this season has been the addition of Dr. Lorena Martin as the Director of High Performance with the Mariners. This is a role that really hasn't existed before.

JD: It's a new role, and Dr. Martin has really been terrific thus far and given us a lot more ideas about how we can get more out of our guys. This is a really wide-ranging position, and she will be- she has been- helping us optimize sleep, rest and recovery, make sure we're training smarter, not harder. It's really exciting for us, and I'm hoping that it will mean our guys spend a lot less time on the DL this year than they did last year.

AG: I don't think anybody wants to go through what happened last year. Did you know- and of course you would know- that the Mariners went through 40 pitchers last year?

JD: I did know that, Aaron, and thank you for the reminder.

AG: (laughs) The other guy we should touch on is the Big Maple, James Paxton. He's really coming off a year in which he came into his own on the mound in a way we haven't seen before.

JD: Yeah, and for him, we know he has the stuff, and it's just a question of whether he can stay out there on the mound. There aren't a lot of guys out there that can give you 97 miles an hour from the left side every fifth day.

AG: All right, Jerry. This is our first opening day on the podcast, and I'm wondering, any memorable Opening Day stories from your playing days?

JD: Oh- I could think of a few. It's just an exciting day for everyone- the one that comes to mind is probably 1994, my first one in the majors, with the Cleveland Indians, in fact.

AG: That was a really good team as I recall, the one that was in first place when the strike happened…

JD: Right. And I can tell you, I was not a big part of that success… (both laugh) But anyway, I was pretty fired up, and of course they have all the players come out to be introduced because it's opening day, and I will give you one guess which player did NOT show up when they called him name.

AG: 1994 Indians- it has got to be Manny Ramirez.

JD: You got it. Manny Ramirez. Great hitter. And everything they say about him is true. I think that time he had somehow gotten his shoes tied together and couldn't untie them… Eventually a minute or so after they called him he came out with a big smile on his face…

AG: Sounds about right. Well, Jerry, what does a general manager eat for Opening Day?

JD: If you're me, you kind of just pace around like a nervous wreck, so you don't eat very much…

AG: Jerry! Come on. You've got to eat something, keep up your strength…

JD: All right, Aaron, you know me too well. (laughs) I think for opening day, I'll keep it local and get a bacon and egg burger from the Hit It Here Café.

AG: One of my favorites as well. Well, Jerry, anything else to say before we finish up the last episode before Opening Day?

JD: Yeah, I'm just thrilled that we've got our guys in the position that we're in this year. We've made a lot of moves in the last few years…

AG: You got that right.

JD: And now I think we're finally in a position where all those moves are going to start to pay off. It's been a long road for Mariners fans…

AG: 17 years since the last time they were in the postseason.

JD: And you can never say for sure in baseball, but I really feel like this is a team built to contend. It may not happen.. but I hope it happens and I think we've set ourselves up for it to happen.

AG: All right, Jerry. Thanks as always for your time, good luck on opening day..

JD: Thanks Aaron.

AG: And we'll see you on the next edition of The Wheelhouse.
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Old 03-29-2018, 12:09 AM   #3
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Really cool idea for a write up!

I love Jerry so I'll definitely be following this!
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Old 03-29-2018, 12:19 AM   #4
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Fantastic idea. I listen to every episode of The Wheelhouse and I think it's an awesome podcast, and I'm not even a Mariners fan!

I will definitely be following
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:14 AM   #5
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Episode 2 (April 2, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to the Wheelhouse. Jerry, good to have you back as always.

JD: Thanks Aaron. But I wish it were under better circumstances.

AG: Not the way you wanted to start the season, I'm sure.

JD: Well, no. If I could choose, I'd rather be 3-0 than 0-3. But at the same time, it's a very long season, and if you get hung up on just three games you're not going to last very long in this league.

AG: Why don't we get right to the point. What went wrong?

JD: Boy, you don't pull any punches, do you Aaron? (laughs) Well, right off the bat you didn't see Felix with his best stuff on Thursday. It's a shame because he was looking so good in the preseason, and on that one day it just didn't translate.

AG: It seemed like he was really struggling with location in the fifth when he gave up the three extra-base hits.

JD: I think he was thrown off a bit when Ryon Healy dropped the throw at first base in that inning. And that's not like Felix, he usually keeps his composure even after a tough break like that, but in this case I think he was just pressing too hard to get the win and it came back to bite him. Now, I will say for Felix, AFTER he gave up the six runs, he did pick up the pieces and struck out the last two batters in that inning.

AG: And there were a few other silver linings in that game. Wade Leblanc came out and gave you two scoreless innings.

JD: And Jean Segura came right out of the gates with a three-hit game. We really like having Dee and Jean at the top of the lineup, and you saw the impact that combination can have in the second game of the season.

AG: Three steals from Dee Gordon! That was quite a show on the base paths.

JD: Did I tell you he was fast? (laughs)

AG: You're not kidding. And it was a real outburst for the whole offense. Kyle Seager with the two home runs...

JD: It was great to see that. Absolutely great. Kyle will be first to tell you, he's no spring chicken...

AG: We usually see Kyle running around .200 in April and May...

JD: I would be thrilled to see him change this year. And you know, from year to year, he is our most consistent player, it's just getting him untracked in April.

AG: And Ichiro had some moments in that game as well!

JD: Yeah, it was fun seeing him rip one down the line and rolling into second base. That swing is something that would not have been out of place in the year 2002. Even at 44, the guy can still hit, absolutely.

AG: So we've talked about the offense in that game, but what happened to the pitching?

JD: It's tough. You know, we talked about Felix, how he didn't have his best stuff. For James, it's different because he DID have his really good stuff. He was hitting 99 with the fastball. The curveball had good bite. He just made a couple of mistakes, left the pitch to Brandon Guyer up in the zone, and honestly, just had some bad luck.

AG: Usually when you hear that James strikes out six and walks nobody you expect different results.

JD: Yeah. Exactly. So some things that didn't go our way there.

AG: The bullpen struggled in that one too.

JD: We feel good about the guys we have to put into those situations, but yeah, across the board, not a good day for the pitching staff. Even Eddie Diaz gave up three runs in that one, I think. The one bright spot I would say was James Pazos.

AG: Pazos- sans mustache- struck out four guys in a row there!

JD: He was dealing. It is absolutely incredible to have a weapon like him available to us in the late innings.

AG: There's something about tall left-handed pitchers named James... (laughs)

JD: (laughs) Right.

AG: And then the series finale, the bats just kind of went cold in that one.

JD: They did. Trevor Bauer was really good in that one. He's really come a long way as a pitcher in the last few years. On our side, we got a really good outing from Mike Leake.

AG: That's sort of what we've come to expect from him in his short time as a Mariner. Six strong innings, just two runs allowed.

JD: Right. I think you'll see him as a guy who can get fairly deep into a game and save our bullpen when we need him to.

AG: But a lot of off-days at the beginning of the year, so the rotation sets up nicely for Felix to pitch again tomorrow.

JD: Yeah, we're headed out to San Francisco and then to Minnesota from there.

AG: We don't get out to San Francisco much. Any memories from there from your playing days?

JD: It's just a great place. Lots of great places to eat. When I was playing the team was still in Candlestick- I believe they moved into the new stadium in my last year in the league- so the thing I remember the most about it was the wind. Just these gusts of wind that would come out of nowhere and knock down balls out of the air.

AG: That must have come as a relief from Coors Field.

JD: (laughs) Oh yeah. I remember I pitched in one game there- I believe this was 1999- and I came on in relief of a guy named Pedro Astacio, relatively early in the game I want to say. Suffice it to say I was not facing the heart of the Giants order- they did not let me pitch against Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent- but I think in that one I gave up four fly balls to the warning track. If I had been in pitching in Coors, my ERA would have been a tick or two higher, let's just say.

AG: All part of the plan, right Jerry?

JD: (laughs) Right. On that day, I was a fly-ball pitcher.

AG: Well, let's do a little bit of listener mail, if you've got a moment, Jerry.

JD: Sure.

AG: This is from Bob in Tacoma... Bob is wondering about when we'll see Ben Gamel back in the lineup?

JD: Ben is making good progress from oblique strain, and is actually ahead of schedule. He should be able to start a rehab assignment about a week from now, and we'll probably see him rejoin the team in two weeks if all goes well.

AG: How will the outfield mix sort itself out when he returns? The plan originally, before Ichiro, had been to have Ben and Guillermo Heredia platoon in left field.

JD: Yeah, we're fortunate that we have a wide range of options now. We can put Ichiro in center or right to spell Dee Gordon or Mitch Haniger when we need to. Obviously at age 44, Ichiro isn't going to play every day anyway. I think we'll have enough at-bats to go around. As you and I learned firsthand last year, having too much depth is not a bad problem to have.

AG: (laughs) That's right. Well, Jerry, anywhere you're going to eat in San Francisco while you're there?

JD: I don't always travel with the team, but this is just a great opportunity to do so. You know I'm a huge fan of Triple D- I've got my eye on a place called the Front Porch.

AG: I have been to the Front Porch! Nothing like good old-fashioned southern cooking on the West Coast.

JD: Something like that.

AG: Jerry, you won't go wrong. Just promise me one thing: that you won't get the salad.

JD: (laughs) Aaron, you have my word.

AG: All right, Jerry. Thank you, as always for your time, I know you're a busy man.

JD: Always my pleasure, Aaron.

AG: Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Old 03-30-2018, 11:26 PM   #6
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Episode 3 (April 9, 2018)

AG: Welcome everybody to this third episode of The Wheelhouse, 2018 season edition. Jerry, thanks as always for being here.

JD: Thank you, Aaron.

AG: So I'm curious, Jerry... With everything that's happened in these first few weeks of the season, how does a guy like you keep his wits through 162 games?

JD: You said it, Aaron. It feels like... July? August already? I almost want to measure the season in dog years rather than normal human years...

AG: A lot of really memorable games early on in the season. And, it's nice to come out of the week with more wins than losses.

JD: Absolutely. That Tuesday game against the Giants was a really gut-wrenched, so it was terrific to come out and play we did in the next few after that.

AG: That game that you mentioned was, you might say, an all-time classic, or it would have been if the Mariners had won.

JD: Yeah, exactly right. That's just one of those games where if an alien showed up from the planet Galacticon, that you could show him (or her) that game and say Alien, this is baseball.

AG: It had a little bit of everything. Once again, Felix didn't have his best stuff, and Scott Servais made the somewhat unconventional decision to pinch-hit for him in the top of the fifth inning.

JD: It is unconventional, and it's also you are going to see us doing more often this year, getting our starters out of the game earlier before the damage is done. The data is really clear on this point, that the third and fourth time through the batting order, a starting pitcher is significantly less effective. And we have a group of guys that we really feel we can count on not just in the late innings, but in the middle innings as well to keep runs off the board.

AG: Last season you called them the Wolf Pack.

JD: (laughs) The Wolf Pack, yes. The wolves are hungry this year, and we want them to go out there and hunt.

AG: And hunt they did. It's really a sign of the times that you can bring reliever after reliever out there coming at you with the near-100-mph heat of Edwin Diaz, Dan Altavilla and James Pazos, the deception of Nick Vincent and Juan Nicasio...

JD: Right. We saw some really good things out of Juan and Eddie, and Casey Lawrence gave us two good innings.

AG: And in the ninth inning, how about Kyle Seager absolutely silencing the crowd with that game-tying double?

JD: It was thrilling. And honestly, you feel a little bit bad to do that to another team on their Opening Day. Well, that's not true. I actually didn't feel bad at all.

AG: And of course, the game wasn't over yet. Diaz worked his way in an out of a jam in the 11th. And then in the 13th, Pazos looked like he was dealing again...

JD: And he was. Just a tough call on a 3-2 pitch that put McCutchen on base, and from there I think he was just starting to run out of gas, left a fastball a little too middle-middle than what he wanted, and Longoria is just too good of a hitter to miss that one. He's done it to us for years in Tampa Bay and I was really happy to have him out of our league, only to have him show up again in game number four of the season.

AG: So a tough loss for the Mariners in that one. And the next game, really an excellent performance from Marco Gonzales for the first Mariner win of the season.

JD: It really was. As you know, we're really high on Marco. He's a local guy, having pitched at Gonzaga, and he's now over a year out from Tommy John surgery. He's already got a great change-up and curve ball, and this year he's bringing back a cutter that he really hasn't used since the surgery.

AG: Seven strikeouts against no walks really says everything you need to know about his outing.

JD: He is a guy you can really count on to locate the ball where you want to. Last year, he was prone to the home run ball, as were a number of our guys, but he's really been thinking a lot about his approach mentally, and we think that physically and mentally he is primed for a huge season.

AG: Now, after coming out of the gate 1-5, you must have been thrilled to see the offense unload in the 15-0 win on Saturday.

JD: As you know, Aaron, it is not often in the last few years that I have been able to just lean back, smile, and relax for the last six innings of a ball game, but this was one of those opportunities.

AG: Six runs in the second, five runs in the third, powered by five Mariner home runs in the game.

JD: You bet. 21 hits for our guys in the game. Poor Adalberto Mejia unfortunately had to take a drubbing in that one, giving up all 11 of those runs.

AG: I'm sure you never had to go through anything like that, Jerry.

JD: In Coors Field? (laughs) Sometimes you would draw the short straw and have to throw the last two or three innings and just try to keep the earned runs in single digits.

AG: Kyle Seager continued his hot start with his fourth home run in that one.

JD: You bet. Great to see a smile on his face. I caught a glimpse of him practicing, quote, flipping his hair in the dugout with Robbie Cano after that one.

AG: One of the better Mariners commercials of the season. Then just yesterday we saw Felix put together a good start and James Pazos and Eddie Diaz lock it down in the last three innings.

JD: Yeah, really positive to see that end-of-game bullpen chain come together. And Nellie hit one that I think might have hit Century Link Field if it weren't for the upper deck.

AG: You're not kidding. Exit velocity on that one was 117 miles per hour, Nellie generally among the leaders in that category.

JD: Sure. When he's hot, there's no one better in the league.

AG: Next up, Jerry, a stop back home to Kansas City, right?

JD: Right. We've lived a lot of places over the years, but Kansas City is really home, so it'll be nice to be able to sleep in my own bed for a few nights in a row.

AG: And I've gotta know. You and I have talked about this before, but I want it on record. Where does Jerry Dipoto go to eat in Kansas City?

JD: It's an impossible choice. Absolutely impossible to try to go to all the places I want to. First stop for me, a barbecue place called B.B.'s.

AG: Straight from the horse's mouth. Well, let's do a question from the audience in our last couple minutes. This week we have a question from a fellow Aaron, who lives not too far away, in Auburn. Aaron asks, how do you see playing time shaping up between Ryon Healy and Daniel Vogelbach?

JD: Good question. Ultimately that's up to Scott, I just want to give him the best pieces I can so he can make the right moves. Daniel, as you know, has tremendous plate discipline, and is built like a tank. Really, like a tank that could run you over and flatten you.

AG: In a nice, self-effacing way, of course.

JD: (laughs) of course. He would smile at you as he flattens you. This year he's really taken that next step of swinging at pitches that he can drive earlier in the count. In triple A it can work fine to let a pitch or two go by and work a walk, but in the major leagues, you are probably only going to get one chance to hit a pitch, and Daniel's doing a great job recognizing that pitch earlier in the count so he can drive it. Now that said, we have a lot of confidence in Ryon as well, and we gave up a really good reliever in Emilio Pagan to get him, so he also will get every opportunity to succeed.

AG: It's a good problem to have, really, two guys you have a lot of confidence in.

JD: Absolutely. It gives Scott a good opportunity to play the match-ups and to put both of them in a position to succeed.

AG: Well, Jerry, as always, it's been a pleasure talking with you. We'll wrap things up here.

JD: Sounds good, Aaron. Thanks for having me on.

AG: No, Jerry. Thank YOU. And thanks to all of our listeners. Tune in next week, to the next episode of The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 4 (April 16, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to The Wheelhouse, everybody. Once again I'm Aaron Goldsmith, and here with me is Jerry Dipoto. Jerry, thanks for being here.

JD: Thanks Aaron.

AG: A difficult way to end the week, Jerry, but overall you've gotta be pretty happy with the team thus far.

JD: Yeah, 7-7 is fine. It's not where we want to be, but it's a better spot than we were in two weeks ago. Didn't I tell you not to worry?

AG: That you did, Jerry. Good advice. The first thing I wanted to talk to you about was, how about Kyle Seager!?! Two home runs on Sunday, seven on the season which is tied for the best in baseball.

JD: Kyle is hitting the cover off the ball. The shift does not stop you if you are hitting bombs out of right field. We're thrilled with his approach at the plate, and when he has seen a pitch this year, he's hit it, no question.

AG: All around, Kyle has always been a well-kept secret here in Seattle, flying under the radar as one of the best third basemen in baseball, not only offensively but defensively as well. Is this the season he finally gets some national recognition?

JD: Well, the way he's playing now, he's going to be hard to ignore, that's for sure.

AG: The other interesting development for the offense has been the Mariners simply tearing up the base paths so far. Dee Gordon has lived up to his reputation, and I suppose to his father's nickname, stealing an incredible 11 bases in the early going without getting caught once.

JD: He is an incredible weapon at the top of the lineup. I'm not sure that there's anyone faster in baseball, and when you couple that with his instincts and ability to get a lead, not to mention his ability to find his way on base, it would not surprise me one bit if he pushed a hundred steals this year. And that's something that hasn't been done in over thirty years. I'll just say this: he has the green light every time he's on base.

AG: Have you ever seen anyone as fast as him?

JD: I'm not sure that I have. The guy who comes to mind was Kenny Lofton, who of course would have played when Dee's dad was playing... Kenny had something like 60 steals the year of the strike, so he might have gotten to a hundred himself. You may not remember this, but Jack Morris was on that team, and Kenny would literally run circles around Jack when the team was jogging. I think Jack got a kick out of it, but it was always hard to tell with him.

AG: Even Ichiro has gotten into the act, with a couple of steals.

JD: (laughs) You bet. A great example of a guy who has really taken care of himself well over the years. I can tell you, I was not a threat to steal any bases at the age of 44.

AG: You and me both, Jerry, you and me both. So overall, the offense has tended to score enough runs to get it done in the early going. Talk to us about the pitching a little bit, what are you seeing out of the bullpen in the early going?

JD: Well, you saw some good days and bad days, didn't you? Friday and Saturday were great examples of exactly how we want it to go. On Friday, we saw Felix start to run into trouble in this third time through the order, and then Juan Nicasio, Mark Rzepczinski, Edwin Diaz and James Pazos just shut down the A's for the rest of the game.

AG: I wanted to ask you about that. A little bit unconventional usage of your closer Diaz, bringing him in in the seventh inning.

JD: Yeah, Scott and I have talked about that, and one of the things we are trying this year is being more flexible with our bullpen roles. We feel confident with any of our guys in late-game situation, but we really want to use our best weapon, Eddie, in the highest-leverage parts of the game. And sometimes that'll happen in the ninth, sometimes the eighth, sometimes you'll see him come in in the sixth inning. And we've talked to Eddie about that, and he is 100% on board.

AG: It worked beautifully in that game, and then in the next game, a team shutout, with Mike Leake going 5 1/3, and then Zep, Dan Altavilla and Nick Vincent going the rest of the way.

JD: Right. Mike was very good, and as we've talked about, we didn't want to hang him out to dry in the sixth inning even though he was working on a shutout. And all three of the bullpen guys were fantastic to close out the game.

AG: Things didn't go quite so well yesterday, with James Paxton somehow giving up back-to-back-to-back home runs, and then Juan Nicasio giving up a three-run game-tying homer to Matt Chapman.

JD: Yeah. The three homers in a row thing, I think you can chalk that up to if you play a million games against James Paxton, that will happen once, maybe? He was absolutely dealing the rest of the game, struck out nine, walked nobody. It was really disappointing for him. As for Juan, you know, he's been absolutely lights-out otherwise this year, so a disappointing blip, but we have absolute confidence in him moving forward.

AG: Ben Gamel has been playing well in Tacoma, I think you said he'll be joining the Mariners at this point?

JD: He's looked fine, has really come back nicely from the oblique strain. However, we're in a great position with plenty of good outfielders, and for now we've decided to keep him getting regular at-bats in Tacoma. He'll see plenty of time in Seattle this year, just not yet.

AG: Jayson Werth also playing great down in Tacoma.

JD: Yep. We were pleasantly surprised he was willing to accept a minor-league contract with us, and he gives us a bit more outfield depth should we need it.

AG: Jerry, we've got a little bit of listener mail for you. Today's question comes from Ellen in Portland, Oregon. Ellen writes: what do you expect from Erasmo Ramirez this year?

JD: We expect quite a bit. He's recovering well from his lat strain, and we expect him to start a rehab assignment this week. From there, we're hoping to get him back into the rotation in the next couple of weeks. Erasmo looked really good in the spring prior to the injury, so we're hoping to get 25-30 starts from his this season.

AG: We're heading into a trickier part of the schedule here. Four games at home against Houston, then down to Texas for the rest of the week. And really, a pretty unrelenting stretch, with 17 games in a row.

JD: Yeah. We sort of eased into the season, but we're in full swing now. None of these games are easy, that's for sure. I think this is where our depth will really start to pay off.

AG: Looking forward to heading to Texas later this week?

JD: It's a long road trip, 11 games, and I actually am going to stay behind so I can watch some of our minor league affiliates.

AG: Would you say you are more or less prone to make a trade during times you aren't traveling with the team?

JD: (laughs) When I am left to my own devices, I'm always at high risk to make a trade. But no, at this point we feel really good about the guys we've got, so I wouldn't anticipate any moves in the near future.

AG: Well, that pretty well wraps it up for The Wheelhouse this week. Thank you, Jerry, as always, for your time.

JD: Thanks Aaron, good to be here as always.

AG: We'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 5 (April 23, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to The Wheelhouse. I'm Aaron Goldsmith, and with us as always is Jerry Dipoto.

JD: Aaron, thanks for having me.

AG: Well, Jerry, about a million things to talk about, and all of them good. You are coming off a 6-1 week and the team now has won nine of its last eleven games. That includes a sweep of the Texas Rangers, and taking three of four from the Astros. The Mariners, after an 0-3 start, are in first place, and April isn't even over yet.

JD: It's been great watching our guys perform the way we know they can. It's truly been a team effort, with huge contributions from our lineup, the starting pitchers, the bullpen. Kind of the way we've drawn it up the last few years.

AG: Now, I could talk about this topic every week, but we need to take about one guy this week: Dee Gordon. He won the American League Player of the Week this week after getting 16 hits, 9 stolen bases, and one incredible home run.

JD: The home run was the capper. Just barely cleared the right field fence, and as you know, with Dee, he doesn't have a slower gear, so it's not a home run trot so much as a sprint around the bases.

AG: Gordon now has 20 stolen bases on the season. No one else in baseball has more than 10.

JD: Yeah. If he gets on base, it's pretty much a given that he'll be on second base. Not that different from what you would see from Rickey Henderson or Vince Coleman way back when.

AG: It's been fun to see him flying around the outfield as well.

JD: He's really taken to it. Still learning about the trajectory of the ball, the best route to take, but he makes up for that with his acceleration and his top speed. And the rest of our outfield has been outstanding too.

AG: Ichiro with a few diving catches, not afraid to put his body on the line at age 44. And Mitch Haniger, really consistent in right field.

JD: You bet. Outfield defense has been a big priority for us, especially given that we've tried to accumulate fly-ball pitchers to fit with our ballpark, and this year, at least, they're making us look smart.

AG: We should talk a bit about Jean Segura as well. Now up to a 13-game hitting streak.

JD: Jean Jean the hitting machine. We saw this from him last year too, just a guy who gives you consistently good at-bats and knows how to put the ball in play away from the defenders. We feel incredibly fortunate to have him and Dee at the top of the lineup. I don't know if there's a guy in baseball as likely to end the season above .300 as Jean.

AG: We saw a few really good outings from the starting pitchers as well. James Paxton has given up a few long balls, but other than that has had a really nice start to his season.

JD: Yeah. His ERA doesn't reflect it, but he's been excellent. Now has 33 strikeouts and just two walks. This was the first game where he was able to get into the eighth inning, and keep runs off the board. And Nick Vincent was able to finish off the shutout.

AG: I don't know if anyone would have guessed that Wade Leblanc would have been in the starting rotation when you guys broke camp in the spring, but another excellent performance from him as well.

JD: He was excellent, absolutely excellent. Wade is a guy who really relies on deception and location, given that his fastball tends not to break 90, and thus far this season he's been able to put the ball where he wants to, and with really good results.

AG: He also made into the eighth inning in his most recent start, and the performance of the starters has really trickled down to the bullpen thriving.

JD: Right. They haven't been stretched too much this season as of yet, even with this current string of games without an off-day. I don't know if you've noticed, but we actually haven't had to make any moves to our active roster thus far.

AG: I have noticed! What a huge difference as compared to last year, where it seemed like a new arm was coming up I-5 from Tacoma every other day.

JD: And there's a lot of credit to go around there. Probably most of the credit goes to Lady Luck, as we've been able to avoid the injury bug. But it also comes back to the performance of our team, to Scott for making sure our guys are adequately rested, and to our Department of High Performance for helping our guys recover from game to game.

AG: Jerry, we're talking about a lot of really positive developments this week. And in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I feel like we should bring up one, shall we say, area for improvement in this young season. Robinson Cano is not off to a great start, hitting just .207 and with no home runs.

JD: I think Robbie will be the first to tell you that he's pressing at the plate, and opening up a bit with his front foot. He's been thrilled with the performance of the team, and you know that any day now he's going to break out. He'll get a day off tomorrow. He's in the cage every day working harder than anyone on the team. No worries about Robbie, he's gonna hit.

AG: Well, let's see, Jerry, let's take a question from the audience. This one comes from Evan in Linden, Washington. Evan asks, how tough an out was Scott Servais as a player?

JD: (laughs) For me, Aaron, incredibly difficult.

AG: I remember you saying, Jerry, he was three for five off you in his career?

JD: Sure was. I think that was something that helped him get his job.

AG: (laughs) Now, you did strike him out at one point, didn't you?

JD: Yep. Got him an an off-speed pitch. He still talks about that.

AG: So, heading to Chicago and then to Cleveland this week to finish up a ten-game road trip. And I understand you are in Clinton, Iowa today?

JD: Yep, seeing our single-A affiliate. Then heading out to Arkansas next to catch the double-A team.

AG: Any news to report out there?

JD: I got a chance to see one of our top pitching prospects, Sam Carlson, who looked terrific yesterday, but unfortunately came out of the game with some tightness in his arm. He already had some trouble with his neck earlier this season, so we'll keep a close eye on him.

AG: How about in Arkansas?

JD: One of the guys we're really high on there is Braden Bishop. He's a guy we drafted out of UW, and he can fly. He is your classic center fielder, a guy who's come a long way as far as his ability to get on base and really move from station to station.

AG: Well, Jerry, I hope you found somewhere to eat there in Clinton...

JD: Sure did, Aaron. Clinton, as you know, is not a big town, but I was told about a place called the Candlelight Inn, got something called the Chicken George, and it was delicious.

AG: All right, Jerry. Well, here's hoping the M's can continue last week's success into the rest of the road trip. Thanks as always for your time, I know you're a busy man.

JD: This is the highlight of my week, Aaron, the absolute highlight.

AG: All right, Jerry. Thanks to everyone for listening, and we'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 6 (April 30, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to The Wheelhouse. Here with me as usual is Jerry Dipoto. Jerry, thanks for being here.

JD: My pleasure, as always, Aaron.

AG: Another good week for the Mariners, though it started better than it ended, with the Mariners rounding out an eight-game winning streak before dropping three in a row to Cleveland. The Indians have now taken six of seven against the Mariners. But overall, the team's looked really good.

JD: You bet. Really an excellent all-around showing for our club in April, and we head into May with a good record, at 17-11.

AG: For the second week in a row, a Mariner is the AL Player of the Week. This week it's Mitch Haniger. 12 for 22, with two home runs and eight runs batted in. Both the home runs in one game, a 13-3 rout of the Indians. Tell us a little about what you're seeing from Mitch at the plate.

JD: Just consistent at-bats from Mitch, every time. When I talk about controlling the zone, he's taken that approach from day one. We knew what we were getting when we picked him up from Arizona a couple of years ago. Mitch's challenge has been staying on the field, and it's really been a lot of fluke injuries for him, but when he's out there, you know he's going to give you quality at bats, not swinging at bad pitches, and driving balls that the other guy leaves out over the plate.

AG: Haniger certainly not the only offensive star over the past few weeks. We now have Jean Segura with a 19-game hitting streak, the longest in the league this year, and Dee Gordon with a 12-game streak. Segura now hitting .373, second-best in baseball.

JD: Right. I feel like we talk about these guys every week- and we do! They're just that good and they are both tearing the cover off the ball. I've always been transparent about the plan for this team, and to be direct with you, this is the plan. Get guys on base at the top of the lineup for the big guns to drive in.

AG: Nelson Cruz also looks like he's starting to heat up, with three home runs in the past week, and an eight-game hitting streak himself.

JD: Yeah. You've seen what Nellie can do when he's hot. Around the league, he's a guy that people forget about, I think because he plays up here in Seattle, but since 2009, no one in baseball has more home runs than he does. And he can hit them in bunches.

AG: And how about utility infielder Andrew Romine, with a grand slam in the opening game against the White Sox?

JD: (laughs) Yeah, that was... unexpected. Andrew not a guy with a lot of power. We love his versatility, his ability to fill in where we need him to. You said utility infielder, but he's a true all-around utility man, can play anywhere on the diamond. From my playing days, he's a guy like Mark McLemore, who was sort of Ben Zobrist before there was Ben Zobrist. Just plug him in and watch him go.

AG: What can you say about the struggles again Cleveland?

JD: They're a tough match-up for us. Well, really for anyone in the league. You talk about them and Houston and Boston and New York and those are four loaded teams. They got us this time, hopefully we'll be able to get 'em the next.

AG: A few of the bullpen arms had a rough week. Nick Vincent in particular, giving up seven runs across his last three outings.

JD: Yeah. Nick is someone who really needs to be sharp with his command. He doesn't get the ball up there in a hurry, but he's got so much late movement on the cutter, and can usually get by despite having less zip than some of our other guys. He'll be fine. With our bullpen depth, I don't think we'll need to rely on him quite as heavily as last year, and that should help.

AG: One of the big stories so far this year- maybe the biggest story- is the relative health and wellness of the pitching staff. Thus far only five Mariner starters- a real change from last year.

JD: Well, this time last year our rotation was in pretty good shape too- it wasn't until May when Felix, Kuma, and James Paxton all got hurt at once. But we've been really healthy on both sides of the ball- it's been great. And we'll get Erasmo Ramirez back this week and plug him into the rotation, which lets us shift Wade Leblanc back to the bullpen.

AG: Leblanc has been pretty solid thus far, a 2.62 ERA in five appearances overall.

JD: Sure has. We know that his stuff plays really well against lefties, but leaving him in a couple of turns through the lineup against righties doesn't set him up well to succeed, so this'll give us a chance to have him keep up that level of performance for the rest of the year.

AG: OK, Jerry. Let's get to a little bit of mail here. Question this week is from Tim in Spokane. Tim writes, where do things stand on a contract extension for Nelson Cruz?

JD: Great question. I can tell you, and this will be of no surprise to anyone, that I'd be thrilled to keep Nelson in the fold for a couple more years. He's done nothing but hit, and he's been a great leader for our team. He's made it clear to us that he's happy here and he'd like to stay on. John Stanton and the ownership has been exceedingly generous to us over the years, and I think we'll find a way to make it work.

AG: You've finally finished a stretch of 17 consecutive games, and as we enter May, the schedule relaxes a bit, with four off-days in the next four weeks. Is it good to be home?

JD: Sure is, Aaron, it sure is. Got a chance to see our high-A affiliate the Modesto Nuts a couple days ago, and a couple of our top prospects in Evan White and Kyle Lewis. Kyle unfortunately strained his hamstring in the game that I saw, but he should be back soon. And Evan's tearing the cover off the ball so far.

AG: I would imagine the Nuts have some nut-based concessions there?

JD: They do, and better yet, they have the Nut Races! Almond, Pistachio, Walnut and Pecan dashing around the bases. Pistachio won- he wasn't quite Dee Gordon speed, but I can only imagine how hard it us to run in a giant nut costume.

AG: That sounds... interesting. Any chance we see the Nut Races in Seattle, Jerry?

JD: (laughs) No.

AG: Well, we'll wind things up here. Jerry, thanks as always for being with us.

JD: My pleasure, Aaron.

AG: We'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Is there anyway we could occasionally get whole team stat updates? I love the podcast format but it would be nice to be able to see how the players are doing and not just Rin a single play.
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Episode 7 (May 7, 2018)

AG: Welcome back, everybody, to this week's edition of The Wheelhouse. With us as always is Jerry Dipoto.

JD: Thanks Aaron.

AG: Jerry, the Mariners played a LOT of baseball for six games worth this week. How's your heart?

JD: (laughs) I think it missed a beat or two over the course of the week. Yeah, it's been a run of tightly-contested, incredibly stressful games, and unsurprisingly, we came out of it with three wins and three losses.

AG: That's sort of what you get with these intra-division games sometimes, isn't it?

JD: Yeah, it is. With the A's and the Angels, we just see them so often, and we always end up playing these kind of scrappy, hold-on-to-your-hat kind of games.

AG: No one won the Player of the Week this week- I guess a Mariner can't win it every week- but Ryon Healy became the most popular guy in town with two walk-off hits this week.

JD: You bet. It was great to see him hit that single in the tenth on Thursday, kinda bailing out Felix from a rough start, and even better to see him hit that shot down the line to win the game in in the ninth inning yesterday. And you're right, there isn't a more popular guy in Seattle, and particularly among the pitchers, who were not looking forward to a fourth consecutive extra-inning game.

AG: The rumor is that Erasmo Ramirez, erstwhile fourth starter, and next in line to pitch in the tenth, bought him a case of beer.

JD: (laughs) No comment on that. As you know, Ryon played his college ball at the University of Oregon, and I have heard him speak fondly about some select Oregon beers.

AG: Well, Jerry, I may have spoke too swiftly when I talked about how stable the roster had been last week. This week we saw Juan Nicasio hit the DL, and quite a bit of turnover in the bullpen. First of all, what's going on with Juan?

JD: Juan has a little bit of tendinitis in his forearm- just felt something wasn't right when he went out there on Tuesday, and we thought it best to shut him down for a couple of weeks. He'll miss the upcoming road trip but we think he should be back sometime in the following homestand. He's a big part of our bullpen, so we're certainly looking forward to having him back.

AG: And a number of pitchers headed up and down on the triple-A shuttle this week. One of them, Shawn Armstrong, pitched in three consecutive games and then was designated for assignment. Tell us a little bit about what happened there.

JD: Really just a victim of the numbers game and the situation this week. We remain really high on Shawn, who's got a good fastball and a really good curveball, and hopefully he'll sneak through waivers and we can keep him.

AG: What have you seen out of Nick Rumbelow and Chasen Bradford in their debuts with the club?

JD: Very pleased with both of them. They kinda saved our bacon in the last two games there, coming in with the rest of our bullpen absolutely gassed, and between the two of them gave up nary a run in six innings. Couldn't have asked for more out of them. Our bullpen depth is really a strength of our team, and it's fantastic to be able to plug those guys in and just keep right on truckin'.

AG: Jerry, with the three extra-inning games, it made me wonder, what was the longest game you were ever a part of?

JD: I remember it vividly. Twenty-two innings.

AG: Twenty-two!

JD: My rookie year in Cleveland, this would have been 1993. Against the Minnesota Twins. And you will never guess whose fault it was that we had to play 22 innings.

AG: Jerry, what happened?

JD: I blew the save. I blew the save in the ninth inning. And then they- not me, I was done- they went out there and played 13 more innings, until finally a guy named Pedro Munoz hit a home run in the bottom of the 22nd inning to put us out of our misery.

AG: That doesn't sound like much fun. I don't suppose that endeared you to your teammates in your rookie season.

JD: Let's just say that for a few weeks I was not Albert Belle's favorite teammate.

AG: One guy that somehow we haven't talked about on the podcast at all has been Mike Zunino, who really came into this season after an outstanding year last year. Mike has come a long way in his approach at the plate, finding a way to keep himself alive so that he can find a pitch to drive, but is he regressing this year?

JD: The power hasn't been there yet, but it'll come. Mike is a guy who really thinks a lot, and some of the work that we've done with them is actually to keep him from thinking too much. So that's where we're at with him. You've seen him hit home runs in bunches before, and that's around the corner any day now.

AG: Let's take a question from the audience... This question comes from Tieran, who writes, "Is there any way we could occasionally get whole team stat updates?"

JD: Weird question. Isn't that what the internet is for?

AG: Come on, Jerry, let's give the people what they want! We'll put a link on the website to the Mariners team stats. Good thinking, Tieran.

JD: Right. Tieran, don't let my flippant reaction dissuade you from attending a few Mariners games this year.

AG: (laughs) Good catch, Jerry. Well, heading north of the border to Toronto next, and then three games in Detroit thereafter. Any plans for your time in Canada?

JD: I would be remiss if I didn't have some poutine, wouldn't I?

AG: That is true. I've got a place for you... are you ready, Jerry?

JD: Hit me.

AG: Little stand- not too far away from the Rogers Centre- called Nom Nom Nom Poutine.

JD: I've been to Nom Nom Nom Poutine more times than I'd like to admit. But for you, Aaron, I will happily go again.

AG: It warms my heart to hear that, Jerry. All right, Jerry, we'll wrap things up here. Thanks as always for your time, and good luck on the road trip.

JD: Thanks Aaron.
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Episode 8 (May 14, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to this week's edition of The Wheelhouse. I'm Aaron Goldsmith, and with us once again is Jerry Dipoto. Jerry, thanks for being here.

JD: You're welcome, Aaron.

AG: Another pretty good week for the Mariners, Jerry, as your club won four out of the five games played. Before we get too far into things, tell us a little bit about the unusual decision by MLB to reschedule yesterday's rainout at Comerica for this upcoming Thursday as part of a double-header at Safeco Field.

JD: It's a weird one, for sure, but we'll take it. Basically, we'll play as the "away" team at 1:05 in the afternoon, then turn around and play as the home team that night at 7:05. Strange for us to come to the plate first at Safeco, but we'll take it, and it was generous of the Tigers to agree to do it that way.

AG: For the Tigers, at 15-25, maybe they were thinking they'd draw more fans away from home than they are in Detroit.

JD: Well, it's been a tough year for them, except for Miggy. They'll be back in it a few years from now, I can promise you.

AG: A lot of close games this week, and some pretty good pitching, with the starting pitchers allowing just seven runs in the five games. Felix had perhaps his best start of the season on Tuesday, keeping Toronto scoreless over six innings. What are you seeing from him so far?

JD: Just a lot of gutty performances from Felix this year. He's the ultimate competitor, even if his stuff isn't where it used to be. You see him pitching backwards a little more, throwing fastballs when he's ahead in the count, and curve balls and changeups even when he's behind, keeping the hitters on their toes. The best part has been seeing him healthy, and pitching deep into games. Really pleased with his work so far.

AG: Edwin Diaz, another guy who had a great week. Eddie had four appearances- and struck out 12 batters in 4 2/3 innings. I'll repeat that: twelve batters out of fourteen outs he got. And walked only one.

JD: Edwin is just straight-up locked in right now. You've seen before, sometime he struggles with his command with either the fastball or the slider, but this week everything's been working, and when you have two weapons like that, no chance for the opposing hitters.

AG: Edwin's already up to 25 1/3 innings this season, which is just 39 games young thus far. That would put him on pace for over a hundred innings out of the bullpen- which hasn't happened in over a decade. Do you worry about his workload?

JD: Honestly? Not really. We're keeping a close eye on his workload. We very consciously have shifted him into more of a "stopper" role this year, as we've discussed, putting him in games that are tight even if it's the seventh or eighth inning. We're not just going to put him for any old three-run lead in the ninth inning. Edwin, as you know, was a starter in the minors. He's totally on board with the plan, and I couldn't be happier with how it's been working out so far.

AG: And we could talk about this every week, but Nelson Cruz coming up big again this week. Three home runs, six RBI, and really making the difference offensively in arguably all four of the wins this week.

JD: He's been huge for us these last few weeks, even as some of the rest of the offense has slowed a bit. This is one of those stretches where the other guys would be better off just walking him.

AG: Who does he remind you of, among guys you used to play with?

JD: Really the guy I think of when I see him at the plate is Mark McGwire, Big Mac. It's an unfortunate comparison, in a sense, because of Mac's steroid use, and of course Nelson too had a suspension for that years ago. But they're very similar hitters at the plate, just uncanny ability to both drive a fastball and punish a mistake. I think if they were tracking exit velocity in the 90's, Mac would have been top of the charts.

AG: Mac ever get you?

JD: Surprisingly, no, he didn't. I did have a game against the Cardinals before Mac came over in 1997... I came in in the second inning and gave up two home runs, to Ron Gant and Delino Deshields, of all people. (Laughs) So I was lucky Mac wasn't there that day.

AG: So next week, two games against Texas and then five against Detroit with the double-header. Both teams that have struggled this year. Could we see the Mariners in first place at the end of the week?

JD: Houston's a great club, and they'll be hard to catch. It would be great to do it, but mostly we just want to keep winning series to put us in position to compete in September and October.

AG: Let's go the mailbag for a bit here. Question this week is from Stan in Greenwood about the Bear, Hisashi Iwakuma. Do you see him rejoining the club this season?

JD: You know, we were thrilled to keep him in the fold this offseason. No one was more disappointed than him about how last season turned out, and he's excited to get another opportunity this year. He should be starting a rehab assignment this week. We'll see what we get from him. I feel like I should be knocking on some wood somewhere, but we're in a great position of strength with our rotation this year, so he's a luxury to have if we need him.

AG: Another former Mariner rejoined the team this week in Doug Fister, Jerry.

JD: Yep. Doug actually pitched fairly well for Texas this year before they decided to move on, and obviously he had a lot of success earlier in his career. He'll pitch in Tacoma for now, and he's another guy we can bring up if we need to.

AG: All right, Jerry. Well, thank you as always for your time with us today.

JD: You bet, Aaron.

AG: Good luck fighting for first place this week. We'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 9 (May 21, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to this week's edition of The Wheelhouse. Aaron Goldsmith here, and with us as always is Jerry Dipoto, General Manager of the Seattle Mariners. Jerry, thanks for being with us.

JD: Happy to be here as always, Aaron.

AG: I guess you could say it was a disappointing week for the Mariners, winning just three games out of the seven against the Rangers and the Tigers this week. And your next opponent, the A's, are nipping at your heels for second place in the division, on a nine-game winning streak. How are you feeling about your club at this point in the season?

JD: Well, as a wise baseball man named Lloyd McClendon once said, that's baseball. Well, he said it a few more times than once. No concerns. Sometimes you the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you.

AG: One of the stories of this week was erstwhile Seattle Mariner Shawn Armstrong, now the closer for the Tigers, saved three games against your club this week. What was that like?

JD: Yeah, I'll admit that was a little hard to watch. As you know, we had really wanted to retain Shawn in the organization when he went on waivers a few weeks ago, and understandably, the Tigers wanted him and put him right into that role, and he's really thrived. No surprise there, but disappointing he couldn't have been doing that for us.

AG: You're heading into a 13-game stretch, starting with the A's, as I mentioned. How do you stop a team that's won nine in a row?

JD: They're a good, young team. They've gotten some nice contributions from Jonathan Lucroy, and from Boog Powell, who of course is a former Mariner. He's had a really good year out of the leadoff hole so far. We're really going to try to contain their offense, and with their lefty hitters, we actually match up pretty well against them with James Pazos and Mark Rzepczynski.

AG: Because of the double-header this week you guys needed a sixth starter, Ariel Miranda. Ariel pitched very well, keeping the Tigers off the board for five innings, and then got demoted the next day! What went into that decision?

JD: Yeah, that was part of the plan. Obviously we brought up Doug Fister this week knowing we would need him give us some innings, and with Juan Nicasio returning as well, we just couldn't keep everyone up on the major league club. Ariel actually started the most games of any Mariner pitcher last year, so we know what we're getting from him, and he'll certainly be back with us later this year.

AG: That game was probably the toughest moment of the week, with Edwin Diaz giving up a two-run single in the ninth to Miguel Cabrera to put the Tigers ahead for good.

JD: It was tough. We really did not want to have to use Edwin in that game. It was the fourth straight game we had to bring him into, and Dan Altavilla and Pazos just didn't have their best stuff that day, and James dropping the throw at first base was just a killer, that we couldn't get out of the ninth. With the matchup against Miggy we wanted our best guy out there, and Cabrera's such a good hitter, he was able to take a slider that caught a little too much of the plate into left field.

AG: There was a lot of excitement about Ichiro rejoining the club entering the season. He started off pretty strong, but has tailed off a bit this month, and was 0 for 12 this week. How is playing time breaking down between him and Guillermo Heredia moving forward? And does Ben Gamel get into the mix anytime soon?

JD: Guillermo and Ichiro are more or less platooning. We know we're going to see more hits from Ichiro this year. For that matter, he hits lefties pretty much as well as righties, so it's just a way to work Guillermo into the lineup. Ben's been really good in triple A, and he's certainly the next man up should any of the outfielders get injured.

AG: Let's go the mailbag for a bit. This question is from Ava, in Bellevue. Ava asks, how does a analytically-oriented general manager such as yourself evaluate clubhouse chemistry?

JD: It's not an easy thing to evaluate. I do think that our chemistry's pretty good overall. Mike Zunino is a pretty quiet guy who kind of leads by example, and Felix is obviously a bit more of a live wire, but the guys really look up to him as well. I really haven't heard about any problems with respect to chemistry.

AG: We hear about the Swelmet, the fun these guys have after they win a game. Do you think that good chemistry helps the team win games? Has that helped the Mariners this season?

JD: It's really bi-directional, Aaron. You look back to my days with Cleveland, and you get the group of personalities that we had in Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, and then the really hard-working types like Jim Home and Eddie Murray, and that was just a recipe for problems if the team were losing. But that team won a lot of games- and so the chemistry wasn't a problem at all.

AG: Any good food tips for the trip to Oakland?

JD: I'll actually be staying behind in Seattle these next few days. But for Oakland, one place I'd try while you're there is Clove and Hoof- which is a butcher shop-slash-bistro. Good place for a pastrami sandwich if that suits your fancy.

AG: That one is new to me- I'll give it a try, Jerry. All right, Jerry. Any parting words for this week?

JD: Not really, Aaron. We're happy with where we're at and hopefully we'll take a couple from Oakland.

AG: Sounds good. Thanks again for joining us, Jerry.

JD: You bet.

AG: And we'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 10 (May 28, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to the latest edition of The Wheelhouse. I'm Aaron Goldsmith. He's Jerry Dipoto. Jerry, what a week for the Seattle Mariners!

JD: You said it, Aaron. I couldn't be happier with how the team is playing. They're winning games every way they know how. It's just been one clutch hit after another with this club.

AG: You took two out of three from the A's, stopping their nine-game winning streak. You then swept the first-place Minnesota Twins in your ballpark. All three of those wins were come-from-behind, walk-off victories. The team is now 32-20 overall. This is really a brand of Mariners baseball that we haven't seen for a long time.

JD: Like I've said before, we've tried to put the pieces in place for a club that can win a lot of games, and we're seeing that pay off this year. I wouldn't want to count the chickens before they hatch, though. We've still got a lot of work to do. Sure, we're 32-20, but we're still four games behind Houston, so there's still room for improvement.

AG: Nonetheless, it's really been exciting to be a part of it so far. One of the big stories this week was Dee Gordon coming up lame at second base on Wednesday. I don't know about you, but my heart stopped for a minute.

JD: Well, we always worry when we see something like that happen, and obviously speed is such a huge part of Dee's game. We took him out of the game as a precaution, and we were thinking about sitting him a few games, but you know Dee, he was absolutely relentless with Scotty and basically wrote his name in the lineup card the next few days.

AG: That decision clearly paid off, with him hitting two triples and then an opposite-field, two-run, game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth yesterday.

JD: It sure did. You can get stuck thinking about Dee and his speed, but he's got a lot of other aspects to his game. On that one he just took the pitch down the foul line to the opposite field and came up big. I don't know that I really wanted him to push it too much with the two triples, but he's hard to stop. (laughs)

AG: You could see the effects of the injury though, with him being caught stealing twice on Friday. He's now got 41 steals on the year, and has been caught seven times. Any limits on him in the next week.

JD: We think the calf has fully recovered at this point. He should be good to go.

AG: Jean Segura another guy who's come up big again and again. He's now hitting .356 on the year, best in the American League. He was 4 for 4 on Friday with a home run. That gave him a twelve-game hitting streak, to go along with the nineteen-game streak earlier in the year. You must feel pretty good about that contract extension last year.

JD: We knew when we got Jean that we wanted him here for a long time. Having him, Robbie and Kyle locked up long term in the infield has really paid off. Jean's been terrific, just a hard worker from day one, and really at this point I think you would say is probably the toughest guy to get out in the league, which really helps us set the table for the heart of the lineup.

AG: Does he remind you of anyone from your playing days?

JD: If I had to give a name it would probably be Barry Larkin. Very similar approach, very similar bat-to-ball skills, with some speed and pop and a solid glove at shortstop.

AG: Not bad company to keep, a Hall of Famer. Well, Jerry, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the excellent work from the bullpen. Five solid innings from Doug Fister in long relief. Four shutout innings from Mark Rzepcyzynski. Nine more strikeouts in four innings from Edwin Diaz. Just four earned runs in 23 innings pitched. A lot to like there.

JD: You bet. It's a really strong group, and Scott's done a terrific job bringing in guys in a position where they're likely to succeed. We're fortunate to have a deep group of guys we feel like we can count on.

AG: We could dive deep into any of these games this week. Let's take a look at the game on Saturday. Marco Gonzales really pitched a nice game, allowing just a run over six innings. Scott Servais took him out with just 65 pitches on his arm, with the score tied 1-1 after a Robinson Cano home run. Tell us about the decision-making there.

JD: It's always a balancing act. Obviously Marco's been excellent thus far, with an ERA under two after nine starts. I think a lot of his success is related to Scott not exposing him too late in games, so we can keep him fresh and ready for the next game.

AG: In this case, it may not have paid off, with Nick Vincent immediately giving up two hits and eventually allowing a sac fly to put the Twins ahead 2-1. Any second-guessing of the manager there?

JD: Absolutely not. It was the right call to bring in Nick there. And the rest of the way, it was smooth sailing with the bullpen.

AG: That's true. James Pazos struck out the only two guys he faced. Dan Altavilla got two quick outs. Then Dee Gordon tripled and scored, and with the score tied, it was Edwin Diaz time for the third game in a row.

JD: And Edwin did was Edwin does- give you blazing heat and a wipeout slider.

AG: Three outs later, it was Fernando Rodney time for the Twins. Mariner fans all too familiar with that experience.

JD: We've certainly seen Fernando when he's locked in, and Fernando when he's not locked in, and this was the latter version.

AG: Two walks and a single loaded the bases, and with two outs Jean Segura at the plate. Not Jean's best at-bat, but the results turned out just fine.

JD: It was a weird play. He put the bat to the ball as usual, and when you put it in play, stuff happens. In this case, he hit it right to Kennys Vargas, who somehow just dropped it on the way to first base. Should have been an easy out, and it wasn't. But those are some of the breaks you get when you're a winning team.

AG: So the Mariners now stay home for the next week with four games against Texas and then three against Tampa Bay. Any plans for the week?

JD: I'll be right here. You know my affinity for fried chicken- I'm going to a place called JuneBaby in the northeast part of town.

AG: I've heard good things. Get there early, right?

JD: Right. The plan is to show up for happy hour and be back at the ballpark by 7:10.

AG: I almost forgot- let's take an email question. Here we go- John in Kent. John asks, are you still mad about Shohei Ohtani?

JD: (laughs) Was I mad about Shohei Ohtani? Well, you know how that went. We put our best pitch forward. We really thought we were a good match. He ended up going in a different direction, and he's had a longstanding working relationship with Billy Eppler there. It was disappointing, but no hard feelings. Shohei's played well so far and we expect great things from him. Perhaps we'll see him in a Mariner uniform some time in the future.

AG: OK, Jerry. Well, that's about all the time we've got for today. Good luck to you with the rest of the homestand.

JD: Thanks Aaron.

AG: And we'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 11 (June 4, 2018)

AG: Welcome, everybody, to this week's edition of The Wheelhouse. As always, I'm Aaron Goldsmith, he's Jerry Dipoto. Jerry, unbelievable that you were able to take time out of your schedule to join us today- Draft Day!

JD: I'm glad it worked out. A lot of work went into our draft board this year, and once we got through the first few rounds I was able to let the rest of my team handle things.

AG: That appears to have led to an interesting strategy- a lot of high school players that are likely to be difficult to sign.

JD: That's true. We know that the high school draft eligibles tend to have higher ceilings. But you can't sign all of them. And to be honest, if I had known just how many of those guys our team would actually draft, I might have paid more attention. (laughs)

AG: Talk to us a little bit about the top pick, Mike Siani. You got him with the 14th overall pick.

JD: We're really high on Mike. He's a high school draftee out of Philadelphia. He's demonstrated a lot of gap power already and we think that will translate into home runs as he develops. He's fast and athletic and should be able to play anywhere in the outfield. Plus his baseball IQ is way up there. Then on top of that, he's got a good left-handed arm with three developing pitches, and we think he could make it as a starter if he decided to go in that direction. A true five-tool guy, but one whose tools we think will translate well to MLB.

AG: Looks like you got your Ohtani after all.

JD: (laughs) Something like that.

AG: Give me a comp from your own playing days.

JD: Hmm... I would say maybe Garret Anderson? He was a guy who could beat in a lot of different ways.

AG: Anything to say about the rest of the draft class?

JD: This was a good year for us. We were thrilled with the caliber of player who was left on the board. Zach Haake, our second-round pick, is a starting pitcher who's not too far from the major leagues out of college. And Luca Tresh is a high school catcher from Florida who really projects to hit well for the position.

AG: Well, that pretty well covers the off-the-field doings for the Mariners this week. On the field, it was another very good week, with two series wins and a 5-2 record. Robbie Cano really leading the way on offense recently, with twelve hits this week. He's 17 for 32 in his last eight games and has raised his average to .311. What's he doing differently at the plate?

JD: You know with Robbie he's always fighting through some nagging injury or other. I think right now he's just healthy and playing at his full capacity. People forget about him, he's been in this league so long, but to this day there are few players I would put ahead of him at second base.

AG: Ryon Healy put together a good week too, with three home runs, including a two-homer game, one of which was a grand slam that really broke things open. Tell us a little bit about his performance so far this year.

JD: Ryon started off slowly in April but heated up later in the month and has really been a steady, consistent force for us. It's been helpful to have him to lengthen our lineup a bit this season.

AG: And Marco Gonzales coming out there with another outstanding start this week. Seven innings, ten strikeouts, no walks, just one run allowed. He's now 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA. Nominally the fifth starter in the rotation, but pitching like an ace.

JD: You said it. I can tell you I was not a popular guy in this town when we traded Tyler O'Neill to the Cardinals for him. We knew that in Marco we had a guy that could excel in the major leagues, especially as he built up his arm strength and his ability to work deeper into games. I don't think anyone could have predicted how quickly those things came together, but we're thrilled with his performance.

AG: Here's our mailbox question for this week. We have Kenny in Spokane, who asks us today, what the heck does Ben Gamel have to do to get a job in Seattle?

JD: Good question. He's been great in triple A, hitting .297, with a .391 on-base percentage. It really just remains a numbers games, we can't fit him and Ichiro and Guillermo Heredia on the same roster. Don't worry, Kenny, you'll see him this year. And his hair.

AG: Jerry, you head into a six-game road trip followed directly by a seven-game homestand, so thirteen games in a row. Plans for the week?

JD: I'll be staying back here actually, rather than traveling to Houston and Kansas City. Gonna catch up on some work post-draft.

AG: Sounds like a good plan, Jerry. Any parting words of wisdom for us?

JD: Um... nothing this week. We're just gonna keep trying to win series.

AG: OK. Thanks, Jerry, as always for being here.

JD: Welcome.

AG: We'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 12 (June 11, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to The Wheelhouse, everybody. Once again, I'm Aaron Goldsmith, he's Jerry Dipoto.

JD: Thanks for having me, Aaron.

AG: Well, some big news in Mariners Land this week. Just three days ago, a press conference to announce Nelson Cruz's extension. I'm biased, but I am thrilled to have Nelson with the team for another two years.

JD: Likewise, Aaron. We've been working on the framework of this deal all season, and both sides kind of met in the middle for this one. We're thrilled to have one of the premiere sluggers in the league with us for the next two seasons.

AG: A two-year deal for $10 million a year, with the second year a team option with a $1 million buyout. Seems like this was a good way to keep the core of the offense together for another couple years.

JD: Right. Really we don't expect much turnover on offense these next few seasons, and obviously these guys have really clicked together this season. And Nelson's leadership is a big piece of this as well.

AG: Now, it would be easy to look at this deal and say, whoa, you're paying $10 million a year for a soon-to-be 38-year-old DH who's hitting .220 this season. Any worries that Nelson's productive days are over?

JD: You could look at it that way... but I don't think that would be a very honest way to think about things. Sure, he's only hitting .220, but he also has 16 home runs, which is fifth in the league. And I'd be surprised if his average isn't around .260 by the end of the season.

AG: Well, nice job, Jerry, on putting that contract together. We'll look forward to a few more seasons of the Boomstick hitting home runs in a Seattle uniform. Now, speaking of home runs, let's talk about Mitch Haniger a bit. Nelson Cruz has hit a lot of long home runs in his day. But what a week for Haniger against the Rays... A 467-foot home run on Thursday. Then 443 feet the next day, and 448 feet the day after that, which put the Mariners ahead to win. Overall, four home runs on the week. What got into Mitch?

JD: I think he got excited about playing with Nellie another couple years. (laughs) Yeah, he's seeing the ball really well. He's really built on a very successful season last year, and we're seeing an excellent combination of plate discipline, power, and defense, really exactly what we were hoping for when we acquired him and Jean Segura a couple of years ago.

AG: Now it wasn't all roses this week, especially the first couple games against Houston. The Astros handed the Mariners a 5-3 loss on Tuesday, and then an 8-2 defeat on Wednesday. That game featured the rare occurrence of the bullpen getting lit up. What happened there?

JD: It was a tough outing for both Edwin Diaz and Juan Nicasio. Edwin got out the first four batters he faced, but then gave up a double to Jose Altuve and a home run to Evan Gattis, both of which are not terribly surprising outcomes. And Scott was kicking himself after that, he had Juan up in the bullpen and figured out he'd be fine getting the last two outs, but Juan just did not have his good stuff that night and ended up giving up five runs and getting just one out before Nick Rumbelow was finally warmed up and ready to get the last batter of the inning.

AG: A pretty uncharacteristic outcome for what's been a very good bullpen this season. The other thing we should talk about is the game on Friday- this was the 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Two inside-the-park home runs in the same game for the Rays? Have you ever seen anything like that?

JD: (laughs) I can safely say that I have not. Unless you count Little League. Yeah, I don't know what was going on there. Greg Bird had an inside-the-park home run and a triple, and I don't think we'll ever see that again out of him. You saw Ichiro slide and miss the ball for one, and then kind of losing track of it, and the other one just came out of Mitch's hand funny once he got to it and for whatever reason the scorekeeper just didn't charge him with an error. Baseball is funny sometimes.

AG: Unfortunate the second homer ended up leading to the Rays tying the score and eventually winning the game. Well, back at Safeco this week. Anything we should be looking for in the series against the Angels or the Red Sox?

JD: Two pretty good teams, as you know, Aaron. We'll see Shohei Ohtani for the second time this year on Wednesday, and Mike Trout is doing his usual thing.

AG: Let's go for the mailbag here, Jerry. The question is from, oh, another Jerry, this is Jerry in Snohomish. Jerry asks, Jerry, do you see Felix's career in Seattle extending beyond next year?

JD: I sure hope so. Our owner John Stanton has made keeping Felix here a priority. We've got him under contract for next year, and after that, we'll see. I could see us ending up doing something similar to what we did with Nelson.

AG: It's really been a different stage of Felix's career these last few years. Felix really hasn't been a guy you see throwing seven or eight innings in a start anymore, but he's been pretty reliable over five or six innings this year. What do you expect from him the rest of the way?

JD: He reminds me actually a little bit of a guy we've mentioned on the podcast before, a guy I played with at the end of my career, Jack Morris. Someone that would have been a strikeout guy earlier in his career, now is relying more on location and deception but still getting good results.

AG: That kind of path would end up with Felix in the Hall of Fame, wouldn't it?

JD: Too early to say for sure. But certainly, with what he's done so far, and what we think he's still capable of doing, it's certainly possible.

AG: OK, Jerry. Any culinary plans for the week?

JD: I'm getting over to the Walrus and the Carpenter this week. Time for some oysters- it's been a while.

AG: Always one of my favorites. Enjoy, Jerry.

JD: Thanks, Aaron.

AG: All right. That's it for this week on The Wheelhouse. We'll see you next week.
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Episode 13 (June 18, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to The Wheelhouse. I'm Aaron Goldsmith, and here once again is Jerry Dipoto. Jerry, thanks for being here.

JD: You betcha.

AG: Well, a tale of two series this week, with things starting off pretty well, a three-game sweep of the Angels, but then four losses in a row to the Red Sox.

JD: You said it. We really hit the wall against the Angels. We actually had three starting pitchers struggle with health issues this week, and I think it just caught up to us.

AG: The first of those was Erasmo Ramirez, who lasted just a third of an inning with an abdominal strain and had to come out after just two pitches. But that game actually ended up as a 5-1 win over the Angels. How did that happen?

JD: Really good bullpen management from Scott. Doug Fister got ready in a hurry and gave us three shutout innings. And Nick Rumbelow, Nick Vincent and James Pazos were all able to extend themselves and take us the rest of the way.

AG: Did you take any special pleasure knocking Shohei Ohtani out of the game in the fourth inning?

JD: (laughs) No more than knocking anyone else out in the fourth inning. It was a good day for our offense.

AG: Then a few days later, we saw Felix come out of a game in the fourth inning. I know his health has been a common topic of conversation. Any concerns for him missing his next start?

JD: We don't think so. For that matter, Erasmo should miss just one turn in the rotation and be back soon. Felix just tweaked his hamstring a bit, but he should be fine to pitch on Wednesday.

AG: The shoe was on the other foot on the game on Tuesday- no pun intended- when Matt Shoemaker had to come out of the game in the first inning. But the offense couldn't do much that day, except for Kyle Seager.

JD: Yeah, another great performance from Kyle, with two home runs, including a walk-off homer in the thirteenth inning. He's really been terrific in the first half of the season, now with 16 home runs, 45 RBI. We've got a number of guys, between him, Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura, Robinson Cano that all deserve to make the All-Star team this year.

AG: Thus far, none of them leading at their positions in the balloting, but hopefully a few of them will at least make the team as reserves. Well, I wanted to bring up the game on Friday. That was the game that Felix had to come out of early.

JD: Right. Well, things were going well until they weren't, I guess. Juan Nicasio and James Pazos held down the fort, then we asked a lot from Edwin Diaz, who ended up going 2 1/3 innings before Scott had to take him out of the game in the ninth.

AG: And that's when the wheels really fell off, wasn't it?

JD: Yeah, it was. A lot of things went wrong that inning. A couple errors, a wild pitch, then Mark Rzepcyznski gave up the home run to Benintendi, and that was that.

AG: And then the next couple days, you ran into a couple of buzz-saws in David Price and Chris Sale.

JD: Right, what is Price's ERA this year? 1.42? He's been unbelievable. And then Sale had 13 strikeouts against us on Sunday. Rough couple of days.

AG: A much-needed day off today, then a long east coast trip coming up, with a series against the Yankees, then the Red Sox and the Orioles.

JD: Yeah, it's a tough stretch. I'll be heading east with the club, looking forward to being out there and getting a chance to get the Red Sox back.

AG: Let's take a question here. This one is from George in Seattle. George asks, is there a chance that Dee Gordon breaks the single-season stolen base record this season? Dee's now at 58 stolen bases, 72 games into the season. So, on pace for 131 steals. The record stands at 130, Rickey Henderson, of course.

JD: Great question. The odds are obviously against him, it takes an incredible combination of a lot of opportunities, great speed and instincts on the basepaths, and not missing any time due to injury. I do think it's looking pretty likely that he'll get to a hundred, but 130 might be a tall order even for Dee.

AG: All right, Jerry. I should touch on some news with the draft. You've signed your first-round pick, Mike Siani, as well as your second, fourth, sixth and ninth round picks. It's sounding like third-round pick Luca Tresh and fifth-round pick Michael Burrows will not come to terms with the club. How do you feel about the draft class at this point?

JD: You know, I feel good. I'd love to have gotten Tresh and Burrows as well, but we knew going into the signing period that we weren't gonna be able to reel in everyone. We're actually really happy to get Jake Sweeney, our ninth-round pick, and Jack DeGroat, our sixth-round pitcher in the system as well, and we'll probably get one of the other high school draftees to come on board as well before all is said and done.

AG: Well, Jerry, appreciate you coming on the show, as usual. Good luck with the east coast swing.

JD: Thanks Aaron.

AG: And we'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 14 (June 25, 2018)

AG: Jerry, welcome back to The Wheelhouse. As always, I'm Aaron Goldsmith. Well, a couple of roster moves for the Mariners this week?

JD: Yeah, as you know, we've kept our position player roster pretty consistent this weekend, and then we really made a flurry of moves all at once.

AG: The biggest one was actually making two very similar deals on the same day, both for first basemen. One of them brought first baseman Brock Stassi over from Minnesota for minor league pitcher Spencer Herrmann, the other one Mike Ford, who had been with the club in spring training, for pitcher Reggie McClain.

JD: Right. We had been looking at both deals for a bit, and you know me, I'm never one to turn down a good trade, so we ended up just making both of them. Both of the pitchers were fine, but not really in our plans. And Stassi and Ford both bring with them good plate discipline and power from the left-handed side of the plate.

AG: Ford was brought up to the major-league club, with Stassi going to Tacoma. And Daniel Vogelbach, who had struggled this season, with a .209 average and no home runs, was also sent to Tacoma. Where does he figure into the Mariners plans going forward?

JD: We still have really high hopes for Daniel. This has really been his first extended taste of big-league action. We've seen him tear the cover off the ball at triple-A already. His challenge is hitting the pitches that ended up in the zone and not getting behind in the count. I think some time in Tacoma will really help him get his confidence back.

AG: Then the other major move is Ben Gamel finally returning from Tacoma. Ben now hitting .305 at Tacoma, with a .380 on-base percentage.

JD: We know Ben can get on base, and he's got some sneaky power too. you saw in the first game back, he made a difference on defense as well, throwing out J.D. Martinez at second base to complete a double play.

AG: And since one member of the Mariners' hair-flipping contingent was not enough, you brought back Taylor Motter as well.

JD: Yes. Austin Romine had been fine in a utility role, but Taylor brings a bit more to the table as far as his outfield defense, and with Guillermo Heredia also going down to Triple A, we thought having more flexibility with our outfield would be a good thing.

AG: Just in time for the Motter-Gamel dual shaggy-hair bobblehead next weekend, right Jerry!

JD: (laughs) That had nothing to do with it, Aaron. But a great promotion! Come on down to the ballpark this Friday!

AG: Well, let's talk some actual baseball for a bit here. The Mariners were 2-4 on the week. Really it's been a pretty disappointing June so far, and the team has gone 7-13 in it's last 20 games.

JD: I think every team goes through stretches like this. Our offense hasn't been producing quite as much as earlier in the season. We've had some early exits from a few pitchers, though most of those have been injury-related. The good news is that our team is pretty much at full strength right now, no one with any major injuries, so we're heading towards the second half of the season in really good shape.

AG: A few tough losses this week. But may I focus on the positive for a bit?

JD: (laughs) You bet.

AG: The Wednesday night game against the Yankees was a pretty nifty comeback. Felix gives up three home runs in that one and has to leave in the fifth inning. The Mariners are down 5-0 heading into the seventh inning. Then Ichiro picks up a three-run double in that inning, Nellie Cruz homers in the eighth and the Mariners are right back in it.

JD: It was a huge hit from Ichiro, absolutely huge. Then he was in the middle of things in the ninth again, reaching on a two-out error.

AG: And then three consecutive singles gave the Mariners a 7-5 lead heading into the bottom of the inning. Were you nervous for the ninth.

JD: (laughs) Not until it started. Aaron Judge just crushed Edwin's first pitch, but he was pretty effective the rest of the way and we were able to hold on for the 7-6 win.

AG: The Yankees lineup has just been running roughshod over the American League this year. Giancarlo Stanton leads the league with 31 home runs, and Judge not far behind with 25.

JD: It's been a tough order for us to play them and the Red Sox back to back. Baltimore, our next opponent, hasn't played nearly as well this year, but it's always hard to win on the road.

AG: Any crab cakes on order for you in Baltimore this week?

JD: Absolutely, Aaron.

AG: Shall we take a mailbag question?

JD: Let's do it.

AG: OK. The question this week comes from Lucy in Centralia. Lucy's question, what do you see as the major differences in the game now versus your own playing days?

JD: Oh, there are a million. One of the biggest ones is how different the expectations are for a starting pitcher now than before. It used to be, don't use your whole arsenal the first time through the lineup, save something for the second or third time through. Now, you may well not get that third time through the order, so you'd best go after every hitter with everything you've got. That's probably the biggest one. You really don't see guys pitched seven, eight innings every time out like before. Then the other one is the sheer preponderance of guys throwing 95+ miles per hour. Those guys were a rare find in baseball twenty years ago. You had a few, Randy Johnson of course, Billy Wagner, Mark Wohlers. But they were the exception rather than the norm in the bullpen. Now you have Aroldis Chapman throwing 105-mile-per-hour fastballs every year. A guy in the Cardinals' system, Jordan Hicks, throwing even fast than that. It's a huge difference in what we expect from pitchers, and how we use them.

AG: All right, Jerry. Well, let's wind it up here. Thanks very much for joining us.

JD: Welcome.

AG: We'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 15 (July 2, 2018)

AG: Welcome back to The Wheelhouse. Once again, here with me is Jerry Dipoto. Jerry, now half the season under your belt! It's flown by, hasn't it?

JD: It sure has, Aaron. Obviously we've been thrilled with how things have gone so far, and we're certainly hoping to build on the success of the first half as we make a push towards hopefully the first postseason berth for the Mariners in 17 years.

AG: The Mariners are now 50-35 overall, which is the fourth best record in the American League, and the sixth best in all of baseball. It was a very successful week, as the M's went 6-1 against the Orioles and the Royals.

JD: It really was. Our guys did exactly what they needed to do against two teams that have had a tough time this year. As long as we keep winning series, we should be in good shape, and to get the sweep against Kansas City was icing on the cake.

AG: Well, let's talk a bit about the week before we zoom out and look at the season as a whole so far. It was another great week for Jean Segura, who won the AL Player of the Week, with 12 hits and two home runs.

JD: Yeah, Jean was huge this week. He really loomed large in three games this week, including the four-hit game against Baltimore, and then the next day he scored both our runs. Jean had a bit of a slump but it looks like he's broken out, and he's just been a force to be reckoned in the two-spot in the lineup.

AG: The other half of the infield also had a big week- Robbie Cano had 10 hits himself, including four in the 14-3 win against the Orioles.

JD: Robbie's been great, just incredibly consistent this season. It's just been a tough lineup for other teams to deal with, and that game was probably the best demonstration we've seen of that this season, with everyone in the lineup getting at least one hit, and the team getting 15 total.

AG: One interesting managerial move I wanted to highlight in yesterday's game. Take us into the fifth inning. James Paxton, your ace, on the mound. Two outs, the bases are loaded, a 5-1 lead, and Scott Servais takes him out? Did you talk with him about that?

JD: I knew you were going to ask about that, Aaron. It's tough, because it takes James out of line for the win, and no one likes that aspect of things. But you've seen this season, we really haven't managed to get the statistics, we've managed to win games. James is our ace, no question. And in that case, he had really gutted through the game to that point. He had gone to 3-0 on the previous hitter, Lucas Duda, before walking him, which was the second walk of the inning. He was up to 92 pitches. A right-handed batter coming to the plate. All of those indicators led us to feel that even though we thought that James could give us another inning or two if we needed him to, that getting a fresh arm in the game in Juan Nicasio gave us the best chance to win the game.

AG: That move paid off when Juan struck out Whit Merrifield. Then a similar moment in the eighth, when Edwin Diaz came in with two on, two outs, and a three run lead and struck out Jorge Soler.

JD: Right. You've seen all season, we are going to bring Edwin into the game in the highest-leverage situation, and as usual, he got the job done there.

AG: One roster move this week. Wade Leblanc, who had really given you some pretty good innings both in the rotation and as the long man in the bullpen this season, had refused a demotion back to Triple A, and ended up being traded to the Brewers.

JD: We were really pleased with what Wade did for us this season, and with Doug Fister with us, we really couldn't use both of them with all of our starters healthy. He was really just victim of the numbers game. We would have loved to keep him in the organization, but actually, we got some value back for him in third baseman Travis Denker, and minor leaguer Corey Ray.

AG: Ray a former first-round pick. What do you expect from him moving forwards?

JD: Hard to say for sure. Some of the luster has come off of him in the last few years, but if nothing else, he's some organizational depth in center field.

AG: Well, let's take a look at the season as a whole, and where the Mariners stand right now. As we mentioned, 50 wins and 35 losses. By any measure a very successful first half of the season. You're still ten and a half games behind the Astros.

JD: (laughs) Yeah, no one's catching the Astros. Those guys are just a juggernaut. The best offense in baseball. One of the top pitching staffs in the league. Carlos Correa is missing three months and they haven't missed a beat.

AG: But the Mariners are certainly in good position to capture one of the wild card spots this season. Right now it looks like Boston, Minnesota, Oakland and Seattle in the race for those two positions.

JD: Yeah. We've got nine more games against the A's the rest of the way, so we've got to get the job done against them, but we actually don't play the other two teams any more the rest of the way, so we've got just win our own games and hope things fall into place. We've got two weeks ahead of us where we play the Angels and the Rockies, both of whom are under .500, so we've just got to execute and do our part heading into the All-Star break.

AG: This is always a loaded question, but do you anticipate any trades as we head closer to the deadline?

JD: Well, we're always looking to upgrade our team, and as you've seen, a lot of those maneuvers this season have really been around the margins, the 22nd-thru-30th man on the club, designed to give us more depth, more resilience in case of injury. If we do make a move, it won't be likely to be just a rental, but rather someone who will help us not just this year, but next year and the year after that. We're always looking to improve our team if we can, it's just a question of whether the opportunity presents itself.

AG: OK, Jerry. Let's take a listener question. This one coming to you from Devon, in Kirkland, Washington. Devon's question is, what is Kyle Lewis's ETA in the major leagues?

JD: Kyle's made a great comeback from a pretty serious knee injury. He's spent the season in Modesto, in Single A, and has performed great, hitting .337, 10 home runs so far. He's just about to turn 23, and we expect to move him up to Double A soon. Most likely he'll end up joining the team in 2020, though 2019 is not totally out of the question.

AG: OK, Jerry. Well, we'll wind it up here. Thanks as always for joining us, and we'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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Episode 16 (July 9, 2018)

AG: He's Jerry Dipoto, I'm Aaron Goldsmith, and this is The Wheelhouse. Jerry, welcome back.

JD: Thanks Aaron.

AG: Well, let's get right to it. Another good week for the Mariners, four wins and two losses. And we saw Robinson Cano selected AL Player of the Week, the second consecutive Mariner to win that award, with 13 hits, two home runs, seven RBI. Robbie on an absolute tear recently, with a twelve-game hitting streak, and an incredible 20 hits in his last 35 at-bats.

JD: He's been incredible. I think the ball is just looking like a beach ball floating up to him. We've gone over and over just how deep this lineup is, and Robbie is really the linchpin in the number three spot.

AG: The game on Thursday in particular showed how much Robbie means to this team. In that one, Felix has an early exit, leaving in the fifth inning. The bullpen really provides an amazing effort, with Juan Nicasio giving up 2 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Angels' lead at one. Nick Vincent gives up a run in the seventh. And then in the eighth inning, two outs, Jean Segura strikes out but reaches first on a wild pitch. Robbie comes up, and absolutely pummels an 0-1 pitch into the left-field seats to tie the score.

JD: We've seen some really good crowds at our home games this season, and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. This town is ready for some playoff baseball, and it's been a playoff-like atmosphere this summer.

AG: Then you've got Edwin Diaz giving Scott Servais three and a third shutout inning, striking out five, just leaving it all out there. We've talked before about how flexible this bullpen is. There are a lot of managers who wouldn't bring the closer in at all in a tie game. Scott leaves him out there for ten outs in that situation.

JD: In this case, it really paid off. Like you said, Edwin had the good stuff, was commanding the fastball and the slider, and struck out five. He was fired up, and he did not want to come out of the game even after all that.

AG: So the game is still scoreless in the thirteenth inning. Two outs. Cano at the plate. Two-one pitch, he gets a curveball from Jose Alvarez that catches more of the plate than what he wants, Cano takes it into the left-field bullpen. Game over. Mariners fans absolutely pumped up.

JD: We have seen this team fight and scrap and claw all season, and we're in very good position moving forward.

AG: Let's talk a little more about the bullpen for a minute. We all know how good a season Edwin Diaz has had. How about James Pazos and Juan Nicasio?

JD: To a man, this has been a really good bullpen. As I've said all along, I give Scott credit for putting guys in situations where they can and do succeed. Pazos has been throwing gas all season, and he's struck out 77 guys in just 46 innings. He's got nine wins, and the starters have given him a lot of crap for vulturing all their wins when he comes in to bail them out in the fifth inning. They can settle that in the kangaroo court, but ultimately when the team wins, everybody's happy. Nicasio has also been incredibly reliable, with his ERA and even 3. Nick Vincent, Dan Altavilla, Mark Rzepczynski and Nick Rumbelow have all given us good innings, as well as Doug Fister in the long relief role.

AG: Can you tell us a little bit about Motter Pop?

JD: (laughs) Motter Pop. Yeah, Motter Pop started last year when he got off to such a good start, and it's really taken off this year. Taylor's played great in the utility role. He came right in with two hits in his first two at-bats a few weeks ago. Then he had the three-run homer last week. This week he had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday and again, just an electric atmosphere in Safeco. He didn't quite pull it out that time, but you can bet Wade Davis was sweating to face him.

AG: Well, this week, playing the same two opponents, but on the road. Will you travel with the team to Denver?

JD: Yeah, I will. Lots of good memories from my time there. Not good memories of how I pitched (laughs), but it was a pretty interesting time to be a pitcher in Colorado.

AG: Anywhere I'd be likely to find Jerry Dipoto while he's in Denver?

JD: There's a place called Sam's- this is a family that's run diners for almost a hundred years- and you know I love a good diner.

AG: I am aware of that, Jerry. Well, OK, let's do a listener question. This week the question is from Glenn in North Bend. The question is, Jerry, can I get some playoff tickets?

JD: (laughs) Not on sale yet, Glenn. It's not too late to get some pro-rated Mariners season tickets so you've got a leg up on the competition should the stars align and the Mariners make the postseason.

AG: Good thinking, Jerry. All right, well, one more week until the All-Star break. Good luck, Jerry, and thanks for being with us.

JD: You bet.

AG: We'll see you next week on The Wheelhouse.
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