The Shitshow That Was The 2013 Seattle Mariners, Part III: Looking Ahead

Catch Part I HERE.
Catch Part II HERE.

First thing’s first, we’re going to need a manager.  I guess.  There’s a pretty compelling argument to just go without.  Jokes are funny and all, but why the Hell NOT go without a manager?  It literally could not get any worse.  Well, I suppose it could; someone could kidnap me, tie me to a chair, and force me to watch all 162 games of this team next season.

To clear up some misconceptions, Eric Wedge did not quit.  He simply let his contract expire, then chose to not re-sign with the team.  You know how they always have those deals to get ESPN The Magazine for, like, five bucks for a 1-year subscription, and you do it because you want to get ESPN Insider for, like, five bucks?  And then the deal runs out and you’ve got to start paying full price, so you let your subscription to The Magazine lapse because who in their right mind actually reads ESPN The Magazine?  The Seattle Mariners are the ESPN The Magazine of Major League Baseball manager jobs.  Although, with the magazine subscription, you get a nice little bonus by having Insider for a year; I can’t imagine what the bonus is for managing the Mariners.  A few million dollars?  Do baseball managers make millions of dollars?  They probably do, right?

So, the Mariners are going to hire a new manager.  They’ll most likely HAVE to sign this person to a 2- or 3-year deal, because who’s going to sign for one year?  That means, of course, that our new manager will theoretically have more job security than our current General Manager, but like Howard Lincoln said a few weeks back, it’s not like you can’t fire someone in the middle of his deal.  So, let’s not get too caught-up in the length of the manager’s deal.  He’s on a 1-year trial-run just like everyone else.

And, they’re going after the usual suspects:  bench coaches, former managers, whathaveyou.  I’ve already stated what I think the Mariners should do, but they’ll never listen to me.  What is the one organization that seems to get it right all the time?  The St. Louis Cardinals.  They’re the San Antonio Spurs of MLB.  Shit, they’re the Pittsburgh Steelers of MLB!  This is an organization that is almost ALWAYS in the playoffs and contending for division titles!  And when they’re down, they’re not down long.  If you want to model your organization after anyone, it’s the Cardinals.

So, pull your heads out of your asses, Mariners!  Blow this whole thing up, take the St. Louis GM’s second-in-command to replace Jackie Z, and go from there!  What did the Sonics/Thunder do when they wanted to turn things around in a hurry?  They poached from San Antonio to get Sam Presti (who has done a phenomenal job since day 1, even with their salary constraints down in OKC).  What did the Seahawks do when they wanted to turn things around in a hurry?  They poached from another elite NFL organization, the Green Bay Packers, to get John Schneider (who, with Pete Carroll, has rebuilt a cellar-dwelling franchise in three short years).  It makes sense, and the best part is, you don’t even have to think about it!  I’ve done all the thinking for you!

If you want to be a winning organization, you don’t steal from the Milwaukee Brewers!  They had, like, a couple good years after about a million terrible ones!  You don’t go after the teams in your division and try to steal their talent, just because you play them the most and you’re most familiar with them.  Let’s think just a LITTLE outside the box on this one.  Cardinals.  I want to root for the Cardinals.  So, become the Cardinals, however you think you can manage that.

Of course, that’s never going to happen as long as we have the current organizational structure in place.  This team SO needs to be sold, it’s not even funny anymore.  You’re telling me we can’t get Mark Cuban to pay top dollar for the Seattle Mariners?  Say what you will about him, but when he bought the Mavericks, they were the fucking joke of the NBA.  It was his passion, his foresight, his money, and his personality that made them into the champions they became.  If he’s as interested in owning a baseball team as I seem to remember him being, he could very well be the Paul Allen to our Seattle Seahawks.

This isn’t the same situation as we had with the Sonics.  Our lease-agreement with Safeco Field isn’t about to run out anytime soon.  So, even if out-of-town investors come in to buy the team, it doesn’t mean we’re in immediate danger of losing baseball in the Pacific Northwest.  And, quite frankly, I don’t see the Mariners EVER leaving Seattle, no matter who buys it or how bad it gets around here.  The Mariners represent a whole, huge region of the United States and Canada!  MLB isn’t going to lose this foothold because some owner wants to bring this team to Nebraska or some shit.

Anyone.  Anyone, come and buy this team!  Save us all from our cruel and thoughtless overlords!  We’re never going to climb out of this nosedive until new ownership is set in place!

As for players to bring in, I don’t know what to tell you.  Read this comment from yesterday’s post on the subject; this guy’s got some valid and intelligent points.  Nobody wants to come to Seattle.  Because apparently everyone lives in Florida and would rather play for a team that has Spring Training there.  Shit, even people FROM SEATTLE don’t want to come here!  Unless they’re a million years old, coming off three surgeries, and absolutely can’t get a hint of an offer anywhere else.

I hope you’re not tired of hearing things like “youth movement” and “building from within”, because it’s not going to stop anytime soon.  To attract quality veterans, and not completely break the bank in the process, you have to actually develop a solid core.  Right now, the Mariners have two guys:  Felix & Seager.  That’s our proven core.  Everyone else is too young to have a strong opinion on (Franklin, Miller, Zunino) or we’re praying on our hands and knees they figure it out and turn their careers around (Ackley, Smoak, Saunders).  Either way, you can’t count anyone but Felix & Seager in our core, because they haven’t proven dick over the long haul!

You can’t have a core of two people and expect to attract quality.  So, what are our options?  Well, obviously we’re looking at another extended run with Zunino, Miller, and probably Franklin.  They might have to put Nick back in Tacoma if he doesn’t get off to a good start in the month of April, but the other two have probably bought themselves a little longer bit of leash.

Everyone is talking about the Mariners making a huge push for Jacoby Ellsbury, but I dunno.  Yeah, he’s certainly going to be an upgrade over who we have now in the outfield, but big deal.  A guy at a quarter of his cost would be an upgrade!  I’m just kinda over the whole High-Priced Free Agent in baseball.  They almost NEVER pan out!  Because you’re paying them based on what they’ve already done.  Just because they’ve hit one way for the last three or four years doesn’t mean they’re automatically destined to hit that way for the next six or seven.  And even if they do, does that make them worth upwards of $20 million a year?

I know, in the past, I’ve been pounding the drum for the Mariners to start spending money like some of the other elite ballclubs in baseball, but I’ve come to realize that there’s a big difference between spending multiple millions of dollars on your own homegrown studs vs. going out and spending top dollar on other teams’ studs who no longer want them.

This is baseball.  If a player is worth it, he will spend his very best years with the team that drafted him.  If you want to be a winning franchise, you do whatever you can to keep your in-house talent.  That’s why guys like Joey Votto and Joe Mauer and Justin Verlander sign these huge extensions even before they hit the free agent market.  The best of the best don’t tend to go anywhere.  It’s these other guys, guys like Ellsbury and Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton who hit the market.  Guys who are huge question marks.  Guys who command extremely long deals and extremely high amounts of money.  Guys who realistically are getting their final “big deals” in baseball; for the next deals they sign will be after they’re already over-the-hill and just trying to cling to former glories.  These are the guys you really DON’T want.  Because eventually they’ll break down, and more often than not it’ll be sooner rather than later.

You think the Tigers would pay over $200 million for Prince Fielder NOW?  Of course not.  Ditto the Angels with Hamilton & Pujols.  Because they paid for what those players did in the past, not what they would do going forward.

So, quite frankly, I hope the Mariners DON’T sign someone in the free agent leftover bin to a huge contract.  Why should they?  It’s not like we’re one or two players away from contending anyway.  If this team really is gearing up for a big sale in two years when their deal with Root Sports kicks in, then I’d almost rather the Mariners keep treading water with these short-term deals to make them more attractive for potential buyers.  Not because I necessarily care about this current ownership group getting their full money’s worth, but because I don’t want them to get cold feet thanks to a tepid market.

Any way you slice it, I’m not expecting anything out of the 2014 Mariners.  They can go out and crush the free agent market, make all the ESPN headlines, sign the top two or three guys out there to gargantuan deals, maybe make a couple of win-now trades to put the Mariners on everybody’s radar, and they’ll still most likely end up 3rd or 4th in the AL West.  Likewise, they can go out there, make some value-signings for the short term, and continue to rely on the kids, and they’ll still most likely end up 3rd or 4th in the AL West.

Or, shit, they can do absolutely nothing, fill in roster spots with guys in the organization, hire a chimp to be our skipper, and they’ll still most likely end up 3rd or 4th in the AL West.

This is not the time to get excited about the Seattle Mariners.  This is the time to collect as many cans of food as you can, buy toilet paper in bulk, fill up your freezer with cuts of meat, load up your shed to the rooftop with chopped wood, and hunker down with a few hundred unread books for the winter.  As a Mariners fan, we’re in the most brutal stretch of winter we’ve been in since the 1980s (when I was happily unaware of any of the goings on of this team, because I was a child who blissfully hated baseball).  We’re Jack Torrance, the Mariners are the Overlook Hotel, and it’s now a battle against our own sanity.  How long can we withstand this harsh, unforgiving winter before we break and start chopping down doors and chasing our families around with an ax?  I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m starting to see Lloyd the bartender everywhere I go.  And my wife’s starting to REALLY get on my nerves …

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