As a Seattle native and lifetime devotee and fan of the Seattle Mariners, I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs with the team. When I was a child, Ken Griffey Jr. was just starting his tenure with the team. It was an exciting time, because for the first time since the team was founded 12 years earlier, the Seattle Mariners finally had a bonafide superstar on the roster, someone to excite the fans and sell jerseys. I was there for the games and I owned a jersey. As a young child whose baseball team was always at the bottom of the heap, I was still excited every year that they could do something special.
In 1995, the Seattle Mariners actually did do something special. They came back from 13 games down in the American League West and won the division, making it to the American League Championship Series. From then on, baseball was golden in Seattle. The Mariners were gods and they were actually good too. The team went into a golden time for a few years, a time in which they had better attendance, and even better fans than any other city in baseball. We got them a new stadium, a new look, and worldwide attention. The Mariners peaked the whole thing with a 116 game winning record breaking season in 2001. But, the Mariners choked that year and every year since have choked a little more. After five years of losing ways now they’ve fallen into the duldrums of fan attendance again and Seattle’s baseball apathy is spreading. It makes me more than a little sad to think about my mighty Mariners so horrible each and every year.
So, what about 2007? What about this year for the Seattle Mariners? Do they stand a chance in the crowded field of teams that actually go and find good pitching and dependable players? Will Ichiro Suzuki stay around after his contract is up with a team that can’t seem to win? Will Bill Bavasi and Mike Hargrove keep their jobs with a franchise that they’ve run into the ground? (Well, Bavasi ran it into the ground, Hargrove just hasn’t been able to pull it back up again). This season is the win or die season for a lot of Seattle Mariners players and staff, the kind of year that they have to win in order to stay afloat, or next year we may be looking at an entirely different team.
Over the off season, the Seattle Mariners made a lot of moves that some would qualify as ineffective. They were pricey. They filled holes in the lineup. They brought in new bats, but they were mostly ineffective. Let’s take a look at why the 2007 Mariner’s lineup is not the lineup Bavasi should have built if he’s trying to keep his job.
First off, he went and got us a new designated hitter. The result, Jose Vidro, a long time national league slugger with a slew of injury problems is yet another hit or miss acquisition for the team. For a Mariners franchise that’s gone through Scott Spiezios, Adrian Beltres, and Carl Everetts like spent chewing gum, picking up another over the hill player with injury problems for the amount of money they spent on him is not a good move.
That wasn’t all though. They went and did the same thing for their right fielder. After moving Ichiro to center field at the end of last season, they went and picked up Jose Guillen in the offseason this year, another player from Washington with a bad season last year due to injury. This will be his sixth team in 7 years, and returning after elbow surgery. The Mariners cannot keep affording to take chances on has been players with injury problems, waiting for the magic “comeback player of the year” candidate to fall into their laps.
But, it’s in the starting rotation that they truly dropped the ball. The mariners have had a weak pitching rotation for a few years now. It’s been at the top of every fan’s list of things to change for a while, but it still hasn’t been fixed. Seattle was excited when Felix Hernandez appeared. But, last year he played mediocre at best and showed no signs that he deserves to be our number starter this year. But, unfortunately, the three pitchers Bavasi signed are all career number five starters, leaving us with a rotation full of mediocre arms. Jeff Weaver, Miguel Batista, and Horatio Ramirez were all thrown a large sum of money to pitch for us this year, after finally unloading “never do wells” like Joel Pineiro and Gil Meche, but on paper none of these pitchers are any better than the pitchers they are replacing. Not only pitcher in our starting lineup had an ERA last year under 4.40. I’d say we need at least one halfway decent pitcher out there, for at least one decent chance of winning every week. And the only truly good pitcher we had on the staff, Rafael Soriano, they traded for one of these jokers.
The Seattle Mariners are disappointing their fans each and every year they go into an offseason. It looks like it’s going to be yet another long and mediocre season, with no more than 80 wins for the ball club yet again. Unless of course every player on the team has a career year, Adrian Beltre remembers how to hit, and Richie Sexon quits striking out so damn much. I however, would expect a new manager by the end of June and Ichiro playing for a new team in 2008.