The Mariners swept the A’s in Japan and we all thought it was a little flukey, but whatever. Then, the Mariners took down a slow-starting Red Sox team 3 out of 4 times at home, which was a lot weirder, but okay …
Now, the Mariners just completed a 2-game sweep of the Angels – featuring a pretty-good start out of Felix, and a near-flawless start from Marco (who pitched into the ninth inning and nearly became the first starter of 2019 to pitch a complete game) – and this is getting silly. I mean REALLY. 7-1? Who’s running this simulation? Because I think someone’s asleep at the switch.
I don’t know at what point it’s appropriate to get excited for a season, but given how last year the Mariners were great through the month of June, I’m leaning towards “Never”. It’s never appropriate to get excited for a baseball season, because at any point the whole thing can come crashing down. I feel like last year I said, noncommittally, “Let’s enjoy the ride” about a million times, until all of a sudden we were yanked from the ride in lieu of A’s fans who got to enjoy all the thrills and spills of a playoff run. So, part of me is tired of screaming out, “Enjoy It!” like a demented Brody Stevens clone, because I know what’s lurking around the corner.
This season was never going to be judged by wins and losses, but at some point – if the Mariners keep racking up all these wins – you have to ask if there’s actually something more. Like, would it be worth it to sign a Dallas Keuchel to bolster the rotation, or a Craig Kimbrel to help fortify that closer position? I know that’s what tons of Mariners fans are asking right now, and it makes sense. You don’t have to give up any prospects to bring these guys in; just cash.
I think there are a number of arguments against bringing them in. First and foremost, this was always supposed to be a year devoted to seeing what we have and developing our younger guys. Justus Sheffield is right around the corner, about to be called up in May or June (assuming he’s healthy and does all right in Tacoma); do we want to further block him by bringing in another veteran?
Another argument I feel like I’ve been jumping to is that it’s still early. Why not wait and see if this oasis turns back into a desert in the next week or two? The last thing we want are mixed messages. A 7-1 Mariners team could be 12-12 after another 16 games, and if we jump the gun by signing a bunch of street free agents, not only are we fucked, but we’ve fucked our salary flexibility for years to come. On the flipside, if after another 16 games we’re still rockin’ and rollin’, then yeah! Maybe this IS for real, and maybe those veterans can push us over the hump – again – without giving up prospects to bring them in (with the failsafe that, if things go sour by the trade deadline, we can move them to contenders and actually bring BACK prospects).
The counter to the “it’s early” argument is: why chance it? If a quality starter and a quality closer can improve your team – in the area, aside from infield defense, where you’re weakest – WHY wait? Bring them in now to ensure this thing keeps rockin’ and rollin’!
Of course, they’d have to want to come here. I’m assuming they believe – as most of us do – that the Mariners aren’t for real. This is a hot start and things will normalize eventually; and they want to play for REAL contenders. But, assuming they were okay with it, the only real downside I can see is maybe disrupting the team’s chemistry, which I’m with the majority on this one: winning games is the ultimate precursor of good team chemistry, not the other way around.
I don’t know if this team is a Keuchel/Kimbrel combo away from the playoffs. Over the long haul, even with those guys, the M’s still aren’t as good as the Astros. Most likely, we’d be contending for a wild card spot like we’ve been doing for the last few years, and the whole point of this re-imagining is to move BEYOND that.
But, it’s still kinda cool that we can have these conversations. Winning is always better than losing, even when it’s a “step-back” year