Drayer: Dipoto details how Mariners use projections, plan for Celesten

Jan 19, 2023, 11:34 AM | Updated: 12:05 pm

Mariners Servais Dipoto...

Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto talk during Mariners batting practice at T-Mobile Park on Sept. 29, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

In a reminder that it is not always about the free agent signings and trades, Thursday’s Jerry Dipoto Show with the Mariners president of baseball operations – which is heard weekly during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk – was chock-full of insight and nuggets.

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On the insight side, have you been looking at the various season projections for the Mariners this week? What you won’t see is the Mariners’ own projections, as they (like the other 29 clubs in baseball) have their own evaluation systems. But that doesn’t mean Dipoto and crew aren’t interested in what some of the external projections say about their team.

“We really value it, particularly the projection system Fangraphs uses, which I think is among the most sophisticated in what is available on the internet,” he said. “… And fairly or unfairly, we will look at those ZiPS projections. If you look back a year ago today when our ZiPS projections came out for the 2022 season, effectively we’ve upgraded at eight positions, including the bullpen, year over year. This year the improvement was pretty significant and mostly in line with the way we projected it.”

Dipoto acknowledges there isn’t agreement everywhere, pointing out that external systems need major league performance to project major league performance. Internally they have a more complete picture.

“We’re off with a couple of guys, some guys we see more upside or potential for the season than those systems do,” he said. “We tend to use something that is a little more geared toward the player and some of the traits that player embodies, whether it is physical stuff, power, swing decisions. We tend to rely on our stuff a little more but I think the Fangraphs product is about as good as it gets in what’s available to the public.”

A newsy item? The Mariners are bringing newly signed Felnin Celesten, MLB Pipeline’s No. 2-ranked prospect for this year’s international signing period, straight to Arizona.

“This is a little different than any really other international player we have signed since I joined the Mariners,” said Dipoto, who became Seattle’s general manager at the very end of the 2015 season. “Felnin is going to come directly here to Arizona and he will join our minicamp in February with our top minor league players.”

Trust in the scouting of Celesten and the knowledge of where he comes from and who he trained with leads Dipoto to believe Celesten is ready for this rare opportunity.

“We have a group, or groups, that we tend to really trust and believe in what they do with their players,” he said, noting Celesten’s path was similar to that of Julio Rodríguez and Noelvi Marte, two other players Seattle signed out of the Dominican Republic. “We trust what they are getting along the way. He’s further along than most in the exposures that he has had.”

The 20-minute conversation included a look at how Dipoto’s philosophy in handling arbitration – very interesting following last Friday’s deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to agree on a salary for 2023 before exchanging salary figures – plus a deeper dive into the Mariners’ pitching depth and ZiPS projections, and his recommendation for who to watch in spring training.

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. each Thursday during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. The latest edition can be heard at this link or in the player below.

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