Fred Wilpon calls offseason "torture"

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Mets owner Fred Wilpon spoke with the media during the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, calling the recent offseason “torture.” I’m sure a lot of this emotion had to do with the strife surrounding the dispute with Carlos Beltran, but he also sympathizes with fans who are understandably frustrated that the team failed to land a single starting pitcher:

“I understand from the fan’s point of view because I am one myself and
I’m very, very sensitive to what their feelings are and I understand
some of it,” Wilpon said. “I think that we have to be guided by our
baseball people and our baseball people evaluated for example some of
our pitchers as good or better than what was on the market, our
baseball (people) evaluated other positions and we went by what they did. Jeff
followed them. Jeff and I don’t pick the baseball players. So that’s
what they wanted to do. They think that the guys we have will prove to
be better guys than some of the guys we would have gotten.”

Of course, a recent piece by Ken Rosenthal begs to differ. Wilpon also insisted that Bernie Madoff did not have any impact on the team’s operations (never mind that the team’s payroll actually went down this winter) and that he intends to keep the franchise under family control “for generations.” Does that kill anyone else’s buzz?
 

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.