I like to call it The Law Of Steve. It goes like this: is there something I really want? Is that something related to one of my favorite sports teams? Well, then one of two things is going to happen: either I’m not going to get that thing (for reasons), or I am going to get that thing, but it’s going to blow up in my face like you wouldn’t believe.
I tend to come on here a lot and bitch about the nice things we don’t get to have, as Mariners fans, as Seahawks fans, as Husky fans. It’s my lot in life. It’s my boulder I’m pushing up a mountain. It’s not as common for me to actually get something that I want, but I know when that happens, there’s some sort of sports god out there with a monkey’s paw ready for me to wish I had never even had an opinion on anything.
Oh, the Seahawks won a Super Bowl? Well guess what: next year they’re going to lose it in the most agonizing way possible, thoroughly upending their would-be dynasty!
Oh, the mid-90’s Supersonics finally got over the hump and are a legitimate championship team? Well guess what: they have to face the best team ever to that point and lose in six games!
Oh, the 2001 Mariners set the all-time wins record? Well guess what: they’re still going to blow it to the Yankees and fail to reach the World Series!
What I wanted from the Mariners at the trade deadline was to be sellers. Ship off Teoscar Hernandez, Ty France, maybe even Eugenio Suarez. Right or wrong, I just don’t believe those guys are going to be around the next time the Mariners qualify for the playoffs. I didn’t get what I wanted; what else is new?
The second-most thing I wanted was for the Mariners to not trade away their Major League starting pitchers for a hitter. And somehow, some way, my wish was granted.
Everyone always says you should trade from a position of strength to fill your weak spots. It’s just a no-brainer; you have too many great pitchers, or great whatevers, so you pluck someone and send him off for whatever it is you’re lacking. As a lifelong sports fan, I’m here to tell you: strengths don’t stay strong for long.
The sports gods find a way to wither away any team’s strengths, with injuries, with negative regression, with good ol’ fashioned bad luck.
So, I’m of the other mindset: hold onto your strengths as long as you can. Get as strong as possible at one specific thing, and ride that elitism as far as it will take you, filling in the cracks wherever you can by way of free agency, or trading away prospects (in the case of baseball) or draft picks (in the case of other sports).
The Mariners’ unquestioned strength is their starting rotation. Castillo is an Ace. Kirby and Gilbert are mostly excellent. Miller and Woo are up-and-comers, but still haven’t proven anything yet. There are a couple other guys in the high minors who are next on the list. And, of course, we still have Marco Gonzales for one more year (assuming we don’t find a trade partner for him this offseason), and Robbie Ray for 1-3 more years (depending on his player opt-out option after 2024).
Obviously, 2023 is a special situation. We have two injured starters, and we were forced to DFA Chris Flexen because he stunk. If we traded Kirby or Gilbert, sure we’d probably get back a massive haul, but we’d also have to fill in that spot in our rotation with some rando (a definite downgrade). On top of that, there’s a ticking clock on Miller and Woo considering they’re rookies and we’re trying to spare their usage. If we traded Miller or Woo, the haul in return would be less, and we’d still need a replacement rando to fill in. All for, presumably, an everyday position player or two who may or may not actually be good, because people come to Seattle all the time – highly-rated, sure-thing people like Jesse Winker – and are defeated by the park size and marine layer.
In short, if we traded one of those starters, we’d be worse off now, AND we’d be worse off in the future.
BUT. We forgot about The Law Of Steve.
I got what I wanted. That monkey’s paw just curled a finger. So, what’s going to happen now is that one of those guys (maybe Logan Gilbert, the more likely of the trade candidates) is going to get hurt. Or just start an unbelievable run of sucking. Bryce Miller has had back-to-back shaky outings with reduced velocity on his fastball; is this the first sign that he was actually meant to be a reliever all along? Did our window close on his trade value? Bryan Woo was very up-and-down in the month of July; is he destined to be in this rotation long term?
It makes me harken back to the Big Three (or Big Four, depending on your opinion of Brandon Maurer). You know what I wanted more than anything? To see a Mariners rotation with Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Danny Hultzen (and, sure Maurer, why not?). What happened? Well, we hung onto those guys for a while (well beyond their peak trade value), Maurer was converted to a reliever before being traded. Hultzen never cracked the Bigs until he was out of the organiztion. And Walker and Paxton had varying levels of health and effectiveness.
In short, I got what I wanted, but not REALLY. They were here, but they didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to. And then they were gone.
So, how will I be let down here? There are limitless possibilities! I can’t wait to be proven wrong once again.