The Seattle Mariners 2006 regular season did not go as well as the organization or fans would have liked. They finished the 2006 season with a record of 78 and 84. This was an improvement, however slightly, from there 2005 season when they finished with a record of 69-93. Had it not been for an 11 game losing streak and their inability to beat the Oakland A’s, the season would have been much better.
Before the season ended CEO Howard Lincoln announced that manager Mike Hargrove and general manager Bill Bavasi would return for the 2007 season. The offseason started with a lot of question marks. Will they keep pitchers’ Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro? Gil Meche had a decent year going into free agency. He went 11 and 8 with an era of 4.48. He was also still inconsistent, like he had been in past years. Joel Pineiro had a horrible season. He went 8 and 13 with an era of 6.36. He has got worse every year starting in 2004. His era went from 3.78 (2003), 4.67 (2004), 5.62 (2005). He has not been the same pitcher since he had arm problems and failed to adjust after he lost some of his velocity.
What about the offense? They need a better DH and a right fielder since Ichiro moved to center field. The Mariners opened the season with Carl Everett as the DH. In 92 games, Everett managed to hit a disappointing .227 with 11 home runs and driving in just 33 runs. After the failed Everett experiment, they traded for Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez. Broussard hit .238 with 8 home runs and 17 RBI and Perez his .195 with 1 home run and 11 RBI for the Mariners. Ichiro moved to center field late in the year after Jeremy Reed went down with a broken wrist and Adam Jones was not ready or did not get the chance to play consistently. Reed hit .217 with 6 home runs and 17 RBI before his injury.
The 2006 offseason started with the Mariners giving a contract extension to INF/OF Willie Bloomquist. On December 4, they signed OF Jose Guillen to a one-year contract with an option for 2008. Guillen is going to play RF. His 2006 season was injury plagued, he batted .216 with 9 home runs and 40 RBI. Their next move was December 7, when they traded setup man Rafael Soriano to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Horacio Ramirez. He was limited to just 76.1 innings pitched due to injuries. He did go 5 and 5 with an era of 4.48. Injuries were also a problem in 2004 when he pitched just 60.1 innings. When healthy Ramirez can put up decent numbers. Trading away one of the best setup men for a starting pitcher that has health problems is a questionable move. On December 14, they signed starting pitcher Miguel Batista. He has pitched close to 200 innings in 4 of the last 5 years. The year he did not get near 200 innings he was pitching out of the bullpen and appeared in 71 games. Batista has been durable and should be able to eat up a lot of innings for Seattle.
The next move they made to improve the team was to acquire someone to play DH. To do this they traded OF Chris “Doyle” Snelling and RHP Emiliano Fruto to the Washington Nationals for INF Jose Vidro and cash considerations. Snelling has a cult following in the Seattle area, and many fans were not happy with Bavasi giving up on him. Vidro played in 126 games and batted .289 with 7 home runs and 47 RBI. His playing time was also limited due to injuries. Vidro’s home runs and RBI have declined each of the last 4 years. His best season was 2000 when he hit 24 homers and drove in 97 while batting .330. 2002 was the last time he has driven in more than 65 runs in a year. The Mariners hope the move to DH will help his knees and allow him to focus on just hitting. The last big move that they made was signing starting pitcher Jeff Weaver away from the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. They hope he can pitched like he did in the playoffs and World Series.
With the 2007 season the Mariners need to win if they want to keep superstar Ichiro, who is in the final year of his contract. Winning also means that Bill Bavasi and Mike Hargrove will probably keep their jobs. If they lose again in 2007 then Ichiro is probably going to leave the only organization he has played for in the majors. Losing also means that Bill Bavasi and Mike Hargrove will most likely be fired. Hargrove managing style has been questioned by many fans. Bavasi’s moves have come under fire too. He has acquired players that have been hurt during the 2006 season and players that did not have good regular season.
Mariner fans have to be torn. On one hand, losing means Hargrove and Bavasi go but it also means Ichiro goes. On the other, winning means Ichiro stays but then the fans are stuck with Bavasi and Hargrove. Either way the 2007 season for the Seattle Mariners and their fans should be interesting to follow.