In case you were thinking Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was the only village idiot impugned by his own village, his more successful counterpart with the Tampa Bay Rays, Erik Neander, also was chided from within for trading closer Diego Castillo Thursday to the Mariners for what seemed to be beans.
Fellow Rays reliever Ryan Thompson mustered the strength, despite being on the injured list, to express his disdain:
Hey, it’s what happens at the MLB trade deadline: Everyone becomes smarter than guys who are paid to know about these things.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean all those people are wrong. What is known is that fans, players and media share a need for instant gratification.
In the case of Seattle baseball fans, who can go decades between moments of gratification, they get lonely for it. So when there is a decent possibility of September passion, most were furious with Dipoto for trading the best reliever, Kendall Graveman, for modest returns from the contemptible division rival Astros.
Thursday, Dipoto tried to make up to everyone by acquiring Castillo, 27, from the Rays in exchange for reliever J.T. Chargois, 30, and 3B prospect Austin Shenton, 23 and a native of Bellingham, rated by Baseball America as the Mariners 12th-best prospect.
Is Castillo the equivalent of Graveman? Let’s go to the decimal bag:
Graveman 1.5 WAR, 4-0 record, ERA 0.82, 33 IP, 10 saves, 34 K, 8 BB, ERA+ 509, WHIP 0.697
Castillo 0.7 WAR, 2-4 record, ERA 2.72, 56 IP, 14 saves, 49 K, 65 BB, ERA+ 140, WHIP 0.991
Graveman has the edge. But he’s also 30 and a free agent at the end of the season.
The younger Castillo, 6-3 and a listed 250 pounds that might be light, is a power arm under contractual control for three more seasons. He’s working on a streak of 10 consecutive scoreless innings in nine appearances. The last time he gave up a run (actually three) was June 20 at T-ball Park, on a grand slam by Shed Long in the 10th inning of a 6-2 win.
At least Castillo no longer has to face Long.
“He’s been consistently good since he came to the big leagues,” Dipoto said in a video conference with reporters Thursday afternoon. “He’s just 27 years old. He strikes them out. He throws strikes and is surprisingly athletic for a big guy. We’re really happy to have him, and he seems to be a wonderful guy in my first interaction. He’ll fit in very well with what I think is a super clubhouse here.”
Dipoto might be using second-hand information about the clubhouse, inasmuch as he might not be welcome, given the backlash over the Graveman departure.
Dipoto was thrilled to emphasize that Castillo has 14 postseason appearances — a 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings, with 20 strikeouts and eight walks.
“Those kinds of experiences are a big deal,” he said. “He’s been in the hottest fire there is in leverage innings against real lineups. I guess lived to tell the tale.”
He gained national attention in the Rays’ 3-2 ALDS win over the New York Yankees when he went six-up, six-down to close out Game 5 . Four of those six were strikeouts, including a knee-buckling whiff of Giancarlo Stanton, who had six home runs in the postseason.
Dipoto said this trade was what he was hinting at following the public kerfuffle over the Graveman trade that prompted anonymous players to claim that they were betrayed by Dipoto’s claim of investing in this season, not merely the future.
“This was the next part of that,” he said. “We felt like there was a chance that we could get this across the goal line. Today, it really picked up. We were able to get to the right marriage on a second player in the deal. Ultimately we arrived at Austin Shenton, which was painful for us. We really like Austin. He can really hit. He’s a great kid, but you have to give to get.”
Talking about the backlash on his weekly radio appearance on 710 ESPN, Dipoto sounded as if he had no resentment about his players’ anger.
“Part of how I feel, or how I work, is to give people room to feel the way they want to feel,” he said. ” . . .Kendall’s a great guy and he’s a particularly emotional guy, so I’m not entirely shocked that there would be an emotional response to his departure.
“You’re not going to please everyone. I guess my general thought would be, give them time to have whatever reaction they’re going to have. My guess is there’s not 26 players reacting in a negative way. Many might understand what we’re trying to achieve here.”
He said that the infielder he acquired for Graveman, Abraham Toro, fit the profile of young players in every organization whose advancement is blocked by premier talents at the MLB level.
“We made that move because we had the opportunity to acquire a player we thought had every-day ability,” he said. “The 20-somethings that are blocked in their organizations whom we provide opportunity has been a really good recipe for us. We felt Abraham fit in that mold and we took the chance.
“We believe we’re going to be able to improve our team in other ways as we move forward. We definitely feel like we’ve made a change in the way our future looks, which is a positive thing.”
Speaking of positives, another Mariners reliever, Hector Santiago, had one too. It turned into a big negative. His season is over.
Just returned from a 10-day MLB suspension for use of a banned pitching aid in a game June 27, Santiago, 33, was suspended 80 games for having used testosterone, a performance enhancer banned by MLB.
He protested the sticky-stuff ban, forcing four MLB lawyers to fly from New York to Seattle to deny him. This time, he knew what happened, and chose not to fight. Here’s his explainer, via the players union.
“Today, I have accepted an 80-game suspension imposed by Major League Baseball. Recently, I was notified that I had tested positive for testosterone. In 2020, while I was not on the roster of a MLB club, I consulted a licensed physician in Puerto Rico who diagnosed me with a condition and recommended hormonal replacement therapy. Because I did not play in 2020, I did not consider that this therapy could ultimately lead to a positive test under MLB’s Joint Drug Program. That said, I alone am responsible for what I put in my body, and I was not careful. Therefore, I have decided for forgo my right to an appeal in this matter and accept the suspension. I apologize for any harm this has caused the Seattle Mariners, Mariners’ fans, my teammates, and most importantly, my family.”
Since the trade deadline isn’t until 1 p.m. Friday, if Dipoto isn’t busy, he might try to acquire someone to fill the rare role of baseball’s Public Enemy No. 1.