• Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

A Grip on Sports: There are so many moving parts, including Kelenic moving to Tacoma, that it’s still too early to assess M’s trade

ByRandall B. Phelps

May 14, 2022

SPORTS MASTERY • Thanks to the miracle of satellite radio, yesterday I had the good fortune to listen to the Mets radio broadcast of their game with the Mariners. And, yes, Jarred Kelenic’s name has been mentioned once or twice.

•••••••

• Determination of a winner is as American as it gets. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t really a contest. No. Tell us who won.

Baseball careers fall into this category. People quickly decide who has won or lost a trade even before it is consummated. Or a week later. Next year. But such things often take a decade to figure out which team got the better of the deal. If someone did.

That’s why Kelenic’s name came up in the M’s 2-1 series opener win. Often.

If you’ve forgotten, in 2018 the M’s traded Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and cash to the Mets. In return, they received four players, the most prominent of whom was Kelenic, at the time one of the Mets’ top prospects in the minor leagues.

But the real reason the Mariners made the trade was to get out of under the roughly $100 million they owed Cano, then starting to show his age a bit.

Regardless of what happened from that day forward, if Seattle had spent the money to improve their roster, then the trade would have been a net positive. We’re not sure the M front office has done this to the extent it should, so we have to look at the trade primarily on its face – and player performance included.

As you may know, Cano was basically a bust with New York. He had a bad year in 2019, a decent year in 2020 (the pandemic-shortened season), then was suspended for 2021 after violating baseball’s steroid policy for a second time. This season he was so bad the Mets cut him. (He signed with San Diego this week.) Overall, he was a mess when he returned to New York. A costly waste.

Diaz was better. He had his struggles early on but is once again the dominant late game guy he was with the Mr.

The loot of the M? Jay Bruce and Gerson Bautista have done little and are out of baseball. Anthony Swarzak was ineffective and traded before the end of the 2019 season. Which left, aside from Kelenic, Justin Dunn.

The right-handed pitcher never reached above-average status with Seattle, but he was instrumental in their biggest offseason acquisitions. He was included in the deal with Cincinnati that brought Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to Seattle. Reportedly, he was the key to that deal for the Reds.

If you mean the M’s got Kelenic, Winker and Suarez for Cano and Diaz, we won’t argue. Yet seen that way, even that equation seems pretty even right now, perhaps even leaning toward New York. Suarez and Winker are yet to show much of what they delivered last season for the Reds. If so, check the box in the sailor column.

Still, we all know how the trade is ultimately viewed will depend on what happens with Kelenic, right? So far it hasn’t been much more than decent to good field defense.

He just didn’t hit at the major league level. Still.

We added that last word because he is still 22 years old. He has time, although he was sent to Tacoma before the start of the New York series.

He was in the big leagues for less than one game season. Less than 500 at bat. Slice the pie here and the piece of the M is quite thin. Unlike Cano, however, and even Diaz, there is more than a decade of possibility ahead of Kelenic. There’s still time to go from a bad major league hitter with a negative WAR to someone who helps Seattle succeed.

We don’t know if that will happen. You neither. Neither did the Mets broadcast team, one of which – we don’t know the voices but we’re pretty sure it was Wayne Randazzo – made the same point when play-by-play guy Howie Rose started snacking on Kelenic and the Mrs.

We are sure of a few things though. We are sure that Cano is finished in New York. And we’re sure the Mariners saved a lot of money they had for other uses. If you must declare a winner, do so. We will call this a wash.

Today.

•••

WSU: The baseball team’s hot streak ran into a UCLA pitcher who could stop it. And did. The Bruins won 4-0. … Elsewhere in Pac-12 and college football, because the NCAA didn’t want schools getting intimately involved with name, image and likeness, the organization opened the door to hard-to-control boosters. to take over. … A Colorado offensive lineman looks forward, not back.

Gonzaga: Something amazing is happening with the Bulldogs baseball team. Incredible enough to propel them all the way to Omaha? Perhaps. We’ve seen stranger things in our nearly 50-year relationship with college baseball. Last night, in their first game after saying goodbye to Danny Evans, their assistant coach who died in April, the Zags trailed 2-1 before the start of the ninth. And won 3-2 with a scoreless single. Dave Nichols has the cover. … The Zags transfer fits well into their system and deserves a high rating.

Preparations: Dave also has a recap of Friday’s matches.

Indians: Hillsboro picked up a 4-1 home win over Spokane.

Sailors: Marco Gonzales started badly yesterday, although the inside defense on a rainy night in New York didn’t help. He gave up a first-inning run and barely managed a scoreless second. But he persevered. And the M’s eventually won, mostly because Ty France got hit and got a hit. … Mike Ford knows how to live out of a suitcase.

Seahawks: Pete Carroll changes a bit. He changes his defense to adapt to the offensive changes in the NFL. … The NFL has been smart enough to use off-season player changes to bloat its schedule.

Storm: Sue Bird and Diane Taurasi could meet for the last time in Seattle.

•••

• Last year Phil Mickelson was on top of the golf world. He had won the PGA Championship at age 50, the oldest major winner ever. Now he won’t even defend his title, a pariah committed by his own mouth and what appears to be ever-increasing greed. It makes us a little sad. Until later …