The Mariners are off to a 21-16 start and currently sit a half game back in the AL West, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today spoke to a number of players on the roster as well as general manager Jerry Dipoto about the club’s early surge. As Dipoto explained to to Nightengale, his focus during his first offseason as the Seattle GM was to restructure the roster without compromising the impressive core he inherited. “I learned there really is no such thing as rebuilding in the major leagues,” said Dipoto. “You can rebuild organizations, but you’re here to win at the big-league level. We wanted to rebuild and replenish our player development, but when you have Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz, why would you ever rebuild?” Dipoto praised ownership for allowing him to pursue creative opportunities to turn the roster over and also stressed the importance of building a winning culture, not merely accumulating talent. Acquired in the offseason, left-hander Wade Miley explained to Nightengale that said vision has paid off. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Miley, who came over in the Carson Smith trade with the Red Sox. “Well, since I was 12.” Miley is just one of many new faces, though, as Nightengale points out that there are only eight holdovers from last year’s disappointing roster — a testament to Dipoto’s aggressive winter maneuverings.
More from the division…
- The Astros’ acquisition of Carlos Gomez hasn’t paid off as the club had hoped last summer, as he’s batted just .215/.266/.322 with Houston and dealt with multiple injuries. Despite the high-profile nature of the acquisition, GM Jeff Luhnow suggested today that Gomez’s leash is growing shorter. Via MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (on Twitter): “I think he’s going to have to turn it around at some point, otherwise we’re not going to be able to continue to play him,” said Luhnow of his struggling center fielder. The timing of Gomez’s struggles is particularly problematic for him as an individual, as he’s slated to hit free agency at season’s end. Gomez entered the season second on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings but dropped to fifth on May 2 and is hitting just .122/.234/.195 since that writing.
- Athletics ace Sonny Gray has been shelled in his past three starts, yielding a total of 18 runs in 12 2/3 innings, but he tells MLB.com’s Jane Lee that he made a mechanical adjustment late in Sunday’s rough outing that he feels will halt the struggles. “I’ve constantly been leaving the ball up, and you can tell,” said Gray. “It was literally just a visual thing to get the ball back down, and you could tell there, when it’s back down, it’s got great life on it, and you start to see the swing and misses.” Catcher Stephen Vogt echoed that Gray’s movement and location were much better following an Evan Longoria home run, as Gray set down five of the final six he faced. Whether Gray has indeed righted the ship remains to be seen, though it’s worth noting that his velocity isn’t demonstrably worse than it at this time last season. Getting Gray back on track is paramount for an A’s club that currently sits at 16-22 — six games out of the division lead.
- Lee also writes that A’s manager Bob Melvin confirmed yesterday that Ryan Madson is indeed his closer — an arrangement that has appeared obvious for quite some time but hadn’t been explicitly stated by anyone with the club. Former closer Sean Doolittle had some struggles early in the season, but he’s bounced back with a 1.93 ERA and an 11-to-3 K/BB ratio in 9 1/3 innings since mid-April. That success notwithstanding, it seems the closer’s role is Madson’s job to lose at this point. “I think at this point in time, Madson is probably the guy we’re looking to,” said Melvin. Madson, who inked a three-year, $22MM deal with Oakland this offseason that caught many in the industry by surprise, has a 1.08 ERA through 16 2/3 innings, though he’s seen his strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates all trend in the wrong direction this season. (A reminder that those monitoring closer situations for fantasy baseball purposes can follow @closernews on Twitter, where we at MLBTR will keep you up to date on the latest ninth-inning news and trends.)