Servais, Dipoto balance metrics with old-school thinking
By Doug Miller
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Seattle's Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto are known as one of the more forward-thinking, analytics-friendly manager-general-manager tandems in the Majors. But that doesn't mean they can't get old school.
Take Servais' observations of what went down in the pitcher-catcher relationship category Friday night at Camelback Ranch, for example.
Six-foot-eight right-hander Max Povse, who hasn't competed higher than Double-A, but has been impressive in his first Spring Training camp with the Mariners, was facing the Dodgers, the defending National League West champions.
Povse dealt with baserunners who were testing the tall pitcher's multiple-moving-parts delivery, while also focusing on good Major League hitters. Enter veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz, the 38-year-old, 11-year big league veteran, who won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008 and has been brought in for precisely this type of moment.
"The one thing that really went unnoticed in [Friday's] game was the job [Ruiz] did with our pitching," Servais said. "There's so many things that are measurable. It's the pitch framing, it's the batting average, it's how you hit with runners in scoring position, what's your catcher ERA. Carlos brings things that aren't measurable.
"I'm not saying that batting average and doing all the other stuff doesn't [matter]. But you can't put a number to it. It's there, and you see it and you see the reaction to it. Max Povse comes out after four innings [thinking], 'Jeez, I never had to shake off a pitch tonight. Never had to think about it.' You can't measure it, but it's there and it's really important to a winning team."
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager said he appreciates the versatility in philosophy that Servais and Dipoto, both former Major League players, bring to the field and the front office every day.
"There's some parts of it that definitely have merit, and everybody's looking for an edge," Seager said of advanced metrics. "If you can get a certain edge or matchup, you should. But that's for people a lot smarter than I am. I just go out and play.
"But with our manager and GM, you get two people that are inclined to look for the edge they can get, but at the same time value certain old-school things. I think it's actually pretty responsible. It's a cool thing that you have people leading your organization that value certain things that guys in the clubhouse value as well. I just think it's a really good mix."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.