Tempering Expectations For This Mariners Rebuild

What interests me most about the game of baseball is the long game. In football, you’ve got rosters twice the size of a baseball team, yet we see it every year: teams going from worst to first. You can turn around a football team in one offseason! But, in baseball, it takes seemingly forever (and, for an organization like the Mariners, LITERALLY forever).

I did a big, long post about the first successful Mariners rebuild. I originally wrote that in 2013, when we all were hopeful that we were in the middle of the next successful Mariners rebuild. There were so many moves made between the nadir of this franchise (2008) and the next time you could legitimately say the Mariners were in contention for the post-season (2014, when we finished 87-75, just 1 game back of a Wild Card spot) that it truly boggles the mind.

That rebuild was ultimately a failure. It produced three winning seasons between 2014 and 2018, and zero playoff appearances. Following last year’s collapse, Jerry Dipoto made a bunch of moves to jettison veterans and infuse the farm system with prospects. Our veteran holdovers include names like Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy, Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc, Roenis Elias, Dan Altavilla, and Dan Vogelbach; most (if not all) of those players will not be on this team the next time it reaches the post-season.

So, we’re stuck rooting for prospects. Rooting for potential. Rooting for the young guys to step up and prove themselves not just worthy of Major League roster spots, but ultimately good enough to get this team back to the playoffs one day (ideally one day very soon). Jerry Dipoto is staking his reputation and his job on these players. If it all falls apart like it did last time, he, Scott Servais, and a bunch of other very smart baseball men will be looking for employment elsewhere.

As I noted, we’ve been through this before. So, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

See, it can be fun and exciting knowing your team is out of it before the season even begins. First, there’s no expectations, so any on-field success you see is all gravy. Then, of course, there’s the factor of the unknown. New, young players you’ve never seen before are ALWAYS more interesting than old veterans who’ve been around for years. We pretty much know what guys like Seager, Healy, Felix, and Leake are; there’s nothing to learn about those guys. So, we pin all our hopes and dreams on the prospects. We want to see them in a Major League uniform right this minute, to pump them full of experience with the hopes that they’ll pan out immediately. This can lead to guys getting called up too early (a la Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, Matt Tuiasosopo, etc.) or guys just being huge disappointments.

Let’s start with the 2008 season, the aforementioned nadir. That team lost 101 games and we were all miserable. Successful players like Felix, Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez, Jose Lopez, and even Yuniesky Betancourt were no match for the suck-asses that were Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, Jeremy Reed, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn, Erik Bedard, and so on. General Manager Bill Bavasi was fired, and The Great Jack Zduriencik Rebuild was on!

2009 proved to be a welcome surprise. Franklin Gutierrez was brought over in a trade, as was Jason Vargas (Doug Fister was one of the rare Bavasi draft picks that stuck in the org and actually panned out). Ichiro was still Ichiro! Russell Branyan and David Aardsma were quality pick-ups. Even the return of Ken Griffey Jr. for a victory lap proved valuable. That 85-win season led everyone (but the stat geeks, who knew those wins were on a shaky foundation) to believe we were way ahead of the curve on this rebuild. So much so that Jackie Z decided to make a big push to go for it in 2010.

We traded for Cliff Lee! We got rid of Carlos Silva and brought back a useful piece in Milton Bradley! Our young core of starters (Felix, Vargas, and Fister) were bolstered with key bullpen additions like Brandon League, Jamey Wright, and Sean White. So, what happened? The team fell apart (ultimately losing another 101 games; in hindsight, a second go-around with Old Griffey proved disasterous) and shipped off anyone of value for prospects. Lee was flipped for Justin Smoak (among others). Our high draft pick was used on a pitcher who got hurt so many times he never made the Bigs. And The Great Jack Zduriencik Rebuild 2.0 was on.

2011 was a key year for the rebuild, as the team REALLY went for it this time. Taking a stroll through that roster is long and arduous. Ichiro, Miguel Olivo, Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, and Adam Kennedy were the veteran everyday players; Felix, Vargas, Bedard, and Fister were still holding down the rotation (though Fister would be swapped for a bunch of nobodies at the deadline; yet another example of a trade that totally backfired for the Mariners); and League, Wright, and David Pauley (among others) were the steady influences in the bullpen. But, the young guys were the stars of the show. 2008 first rounder Dustin Ackley was called up midseason, as was Kyle Seager. Justin Smoak was handed the first base job. Guti started his slow descent into an injured adulthood. Then, there were guys like Michael Saunders, Greg Halman, Alex Liddi, Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Chris Gimenez, Carlos Peguero, Adam Moore, Mike Wilson and more. On the pitching side of things, Michael Pineda was an All Star, but then there were guys like Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush (remember when he was a starting pitcher?), a younger Tom Wilhelmsen, Josh Lueke, Dan Cortes, Chance Ruffin, and Shawn Kelley.

Those were all the players we hung our hats on. How many of them actually panned out? You can count them on one hand. How many of them panned out for the Seattle Mariners? That number is even smaller.

2012 saw the influx of guys like Jesus Montero (swapped for Michael Pineda), Hector Noesi, Erasmo Ramirez, Lucas Luetge, Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, and John Jaso. They were paired with the holdovers like Smoak, Seager, Ackley, Felix, Vargas, Ichiro (starting his decline) and Figgins (at the end of his miserable Mariners career).

Then, there’s 2013, with prospects like Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Mike Zunino (a year after being drafted), Brandon Maurer, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. Veterans like Kendrys Morales, Endy Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Jason Bay, Jeremy Bonderman, and Hisashi Iwakuma saw extensive playing time, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. The old guys didn’t do enough (and most were gone in short order), and the young guys (predictably) never panned out for this team.

So, please, keep all these duds in mind as we go forward. You’re going to hear A LOT of new names you’re not familiar with in 2019 and 2020. The team is going to tout these players as The Future; don’t believe ’em. The vast majority of these players will be more in a long line of losers that help to keep the Seattle Mariners out of the post-season.

Some guys will be promising, only to fall flat on their asses the following year when expectations are raised and other teams learn how to handle them. Some guys will be promising only to suffer devastating injuries that hinders their development. Some of those injured guys will be brought back too soon, only to struggle and lose their confidence. Some guys will just flat-out stink from the get-go. One, maybe two guys, will be okay. But, they won’t be enough. They’ll just embolden this organization to spend a bunch of money when the time “feels right”. At that point, some flashy veterans will be brought in to supplement our future “rising stars” and we’ll go through the process of “contending (for a wild card spot)” all over again.

The Mariners are never going to be the Astros or Cubs or Red Sox or Yankees or Dodgers. They’re closer to the Athletics and Rays than anything else, just a Major League farm club for better-run organizations. The tremendous amount of luck required to turn us into one of those truly good teams isn’t ingrained in the city of Seattle and its sports teams. The best we can hope for is competent mediocrity.

The best we’re going to get is just outside, looking in.

The Long Shadow of the Randy Johnson Trade

I moved this to my Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings heading HERE.

Jack Zduriencik Is Gone

I remember June 16, 2008, like it was seven years and a few weeks ago.  We were in the middle of a year that would just get worse and worse and worse.  The Mariners, coming off of a winning 2007 campaign, revamped their starting rotation with the Erik Bedard trade and the Carlos Silva signing.  A would-be weakness for the team was bolstered by the addition of a second ace pitcher, and an innings eater who’d solidify the back-end of the rotation while pitching half his games in the spacious Safeco Field.

Those 2008 Mariners would go on to lose over 100 games, netting the #2 overall draft pick.  On June 16, 2008, Bill Bavasi was fired after four and a half miserable fucking seasons.  And we all rejoiced, for we all knew Bavasi was not only the face of Satan incarnate, but the most bumbling and inept motherfucker ever to be given the keys to a professional franchise (tell me I’m wrong, COME AT ME BRO; I will fight you to the death).  Every year of his reign was another chance to reload.  Re-BUILD?  What does that even MEAN?  The Mariners were coming off of their most fruitful seasons under Pat Gillick; but those veterans were all long dead and buried.  Bavasi made it his mission to bring in veteran after veteran to try to right the ship, at the expense of our entire farm system and anything else he could get his hands on.  He wasted money, he traded away superstars, and he brought us nothing but losses piled upon losses piled upon shit.

On October 22, 2008, the Mariners brought in Jack Zduriencik, and while we didn’t really know much about him, we knew he worked in the upper management in Milwaukee, for a Brewers organization on the rise.  He was responsible for that team bringing in some of its biggest stars, and was the first non-GM to win Executive of the Year in 2007.  This guy was a rising star in his own right, and it seemed like he’d fit into the GM world like a glove.

On August 28, 2015, the Mariners fired Jack Zduriencik.  He’d been at the helm for a little over 6 and a half seasons.  So, it was time.  He’d out-lasted his predecessor and really wasn’t all that much better at his job.

Bill Bavasi’s Mariners record:  322-395, .449 winning percentage
Jack Zduriencik’s Mariners record:  506-595, .460 winning percentage

Over time, the Bavasi regime has become known for the Erik Bedard/Adam Jones trade, and the dual trades to the Indians in 2006 giving them quality All Stars Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for magic beans.  Those are desperate moves no GM would EVER live down.  The Zduriencik regime will ultimately go down for the Triad of Suck that was Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero.  The Mariners gave up some legitimately great capital to bring in those guys (2nd overall draft pick, Cliff Lee, and Michael Pineda, respectively) and they all blew up in Z’s face.

Considering Jackie Z’s extensive history in scouting for Major League Baseball, that makes his transgressions all the more galling.  He’d been here for over 6 years and all he had to show for his work was Kyle Seager.  Anyone he ever brought in who was worth a damn was either an established free agent (Cano, Cruz) or some scrub who’d previously washed out of baseball either via injury or ineffectiveness, only to make his comeback with us for an anomalous year or two (Chris Young, Mark Lowe, Tom Wilhelmsen, Joe Beimel).  I mean, will you LOOK at some of the bullshit that’s crossed our paths thanks to Jackie Z:

  • Dustin Ackley, draft pick
  • Chone Figgins, free agent
  • Eric Byrnes, free agent
  • Justin Smoak, trade
  • The Entire Doug Fister Trade, less Charlie Furbush (a sometimes-okay lefty specialist out of the bullpen)
  • Jesus Montero, trade
  • Brandon League, trade
  • Casey Kotchman, trade
  • Mike Morse for John Jaso
  • Logan Morrison for Carter Capps
  • Mark Trumbo for Welington Castillo
  • Mike Zunino, draft pick
  • Danny Hultzen, draft pick
  • Nick Franklin, draft pick
  • Corey Hart, free agent
  • Jason Bay, free agent
  • Joe Saunders, free agent
  • Hector Noesi, trade
  • Miguel Olivo, free agent
  • The Hitless Wonder That Is Brendan Ryan, trade
  • Jack Cust, free agent
  • Blake Beavan, trade
  • Milton Bradley, trade
  • Rob Johnson, trade(ish)

You could go on and on, and I know I’m just picking and choosing the most worthless piles of crap out there, but LOOK AT THAT LIST!  Look at all those miserable bastards that have contributed to nearly 600 losses the last 6+ seasons!  That’s Jack’s legacy!  Did he give away studs on par with Jones, Choo, Cabrera, Tillman and the like?  No.  But, he did get PENNY on the dollar out of stud trade chips like Cliff Lee, Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, Brandon Morrow, John Jaso, and Carter Capps.  He had three draft picks in the top 3 overall and we’ve yet to see any of them amount to anything more than somewhat quality defense.  After this year, it’s highly likely two of those three draft picks won’t even be in the organization, with Ackley traded, Hultzen an injured free agent who should probably retire, and Mike Zunino fighting for his life somewhere between Tacoma and Seattle.

Was he as destructive as Bill Bavasi?  No, he was not.  That’s why August 28, 2015, came and went a little bit differently than June 16, 2008.  I don’t feel quite the sense of elation as I did when Bavasi finally got the ax.  That was on par with the Wicked Witch of the West getting assassinated; this is more like Old Yeller taking a bullet out behind the house.  Could the Mariners afford to keep him in charge even one more year?  Absolutely not.  His rabies-infested mind would surely destroy us all; he NEEDED to be put down, for his sake as much as our own.

But, it’s not even like that.  I have no real affinity for Jackie Z; it’s not like I’m going to miss him now that he’s gone.  But, it’s still a bummer, because this isn’t supposed to be how it ended.  There was a lot of flawed decision-making when it comes to Jackie Z’s reign; but, there’s also a lot of moves where you could see why he thought the way he did.  A lot of moves that looked good on paper, and then that paper was set ablaze by a fucking cannon.  Guys like Smoak and Ackley and Figgins and Montero – they all came highly touted and having produced quite a bit in their careers up to the point they arrived in Seattle.

In fact, you could say 2015 was a perfect microcosm of the entire Jackie Z era.  There was hope – coming off of a year where the Mariners ended up 1 game out of the playoffs.  There was a smart signing – Nelson Cruz, MVP candidate in 2015.  There was flawed logic – trading away a professional catcher during Zunino’s worst year in the Bigs for a righty power bat who will never play well in Safeco (and who’s yet another DH who shouldn’t be playing out in the field to boot).  And there was a whole lot of bad luck – Cano’s shitty start to the season, Ackley turning back into a pumpkin after last year’s bonanza second half, the bullpen absolutely falling apart after being one of the best units in the American League last year.

Like him or hate him, it’s just sad.  This whole season has been depressing as shit!  Jackie Z getting the boot is just the cherry on top.

The worst part is:  what do we do going forward?  When Bavasi was fired, there was a clear thought process:  scrap everything and start over through the draft.  It only got muddled when the Mariners had a winning record in 2009; that shouldn’t have happened, and it set things back in a lot of ways.  The Mariners made “contending ballclub” moves when they should’ve stuck to the gameplan to keep rebuilding.  It backfired in 2010, meaning we wasted two good rebuilding years thinking we were worth a damn.  We started anew in 2011, built the club up into a winner in 2014, only to see it all bottom out yet again.  Unexpectedly.  Yet again.  But, maybe we should have expected it.  This city is cursed in a lot of ways, and it took one of the greatest football teams of all time to break that spell in 2013.

Now, like in 2008, the Mariners have no farm system.  But, they’ve got plenty good at the Major League level.  This team is far from great, but it’s also far from the worst.  Will the organization be able to find the right guy to come in here and put all the pieces in place?

No.

It won’t.

Because Howard Lincoln is still the man calling all the shots.

He’s an imbecile and he needs to go.

But, we’re stuck with him, and that’s why we’ll always be losers.

Justin Smoak Is A Toronto Blue Jay

When I started this blog, however many moons ago, one of my primary objectives was to highlight all the ways the city of Seattle has been fucked over by underperforming and incompetent sports teams.  This was prior to the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, obviously, and since I was born AFTER the Supersonics won the title in ’79, there had been no real champions in my lifetime (caveat:  I was not a Husky fan until I went to the University in 1999).  If this blog is remembered for anything, I would hope it’s for my ongoing collection of Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings (see the menu bar at the top of the page; you can sort by professional team, as well as view the master list without all of my rambling commentary on each deal).  It is truly my pride and joy.  My muse, my flame.  I certainly don’t give it the attention it deserves; I should really be updating it more as we run across these shitty deals and after these drafts sink in.  But, I try to be fair above all else, and let a deal play out before I deem it a failure.

Today, October 30, 2014, I updated those pages for the first time in over a year.  Again, I certainly could have added this one sooner, but with Justin Smoak this week getting picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays, I officially added The Cliff Lee Deal to the annals of Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings.

I feel like, at this point in the post, you should be imagining very prosperous music with lots of horns and drums playing loudly for all to hear.

(also, with less fanfare, I finally got around to adding the Michael Pineda Deal; I’m telling you, this page is like my neglected wife whose nether regions I’ve finally tended to for the first time in ages)

What can you say about Justin Smoak?  The term “Of The Future” is bandied about quite a bit around losing baseball clubs.  When you’re rebuilding, you’re really looking to solidify your team one position at a time.  Once you lock something down, then you can move on to other areas of need.  On July 9, 2010, Justin Smoak immediately became the Seattle Mariners’ First Baseman Of The Future.  It was a glorious time to be alive, except not really.

After a somewhat successful run in 2009 where the Mariners had a winning record, but fell oh so short of the post-season, we thought we were just a guy or two away from going that extra mile.  Cliff Lee, we hoped, was one of those guys.  After the abject failure of Erik Bedard in 2008 (who was still on the team, as it stood), Cliff Lee was a certainty.  A slam dunk.  A Cy Young candidate to go with our other Cy Young Candidate, Felix Hernandez (who, as chances would have it, went on to WIN that Cy Young award that very same year).

Then, of course, Cliff Lee got hurt in Spring Training and missed a month of 2010.  By the time he returned, we were effectively out of the race; it wasn’t all his fault, the team was flawed from the start.  Nevertheless, by mid-season, we were looking for trading partners to flip our greatest non-Felix asset.  There were many suitors, but there could only be one trade.

When you think of The Cliff Lee Deal, you don’t think of the one we made prior to 2010 to GET him.  Those guys we gave to the Phillies were losers!  Draftees of the prior regime who would go on to do nothing for the teams that acquired them (“teams” being the Mariners, Phillies, and whoever else they would play for).  That was, objectively, a GREAT deal by Jackie Z.  One of his best, if I may be so bold, sir!

No, the Cliff Lee Deal that we all think about is the one that brought in Justin Smoak, among others.  Others being some guy, an alleged date raping reliever, and a AAA starter.  Those guys don’t really matter.  Yes, the reliever was flipped for John Jaso, a useful bat who also played catcher; but he was never appreciated for what he was, so the Mariners ended up giving him away to the A’s where he has gone on to help them to multiple post-season berths.  Jaso begat the return of Mike Morse, who had one injury-filled season with the Mariners before hitting the go-ahead RBI in last night’s Game 7 of the World Series for the San Francisco Giants (he may have done other stuff between those two events, but I don’t care to know what that stuff was).

Justin Smoak was the cheese of The Cliff Lee Deal, and boy did he stink!

Four seasons and change, nearly 2,000 at bats, 158 extra-base hits, a .224/.309/.380 batting line.  Good for a whopping 1.3 WAR.  No, not per season, but in his entire Mariners career.  The only positives he brought to the table were:  his low salary figure, and his pretty-good defense (at a position where defense isn’t really a priority).

Our “First Baseman Of The Future” played in 496 games with the Seattle Mariners.  He earned $4,065,600 ($2.6 million of that coming in 2014, where he played in all of 80 games en route to losing his job to LoMo), and he was set to earn approximately $3.65 million in 2015 in arbitration if the Mariners opted to retain him (with a buy-out of $150,000).

Again, this is how wacky the salary structure is in Major League Baseball:  he was set to get a RAISE for next year, even though he lost his job and played in less than half of the games in 2014 due to injury and ineffectiveness.  Only in fucking America …

Luckily, the Mariners realized the error in their ways and cut ties.  Even luckier still, the Blue Jays decided to claim him, thereby saving the Mariners $150K.

Do I begrudge the Mariners for giving him all of those chances?  No.  I lament the deal in the first place.  You’d like to get a reasonable player in return for someone of Cliff Lee’s calibre.  But, when you’re talking about the Mariners of 2010-2013, you’re talking about teams who were MUCH more than a Justin Smoak away from contending.  This team had so many holes to fill.  Yes, they could have gone out and blew dozens of millions of dollars to try to bring in a first baseman in free agency, but by the time this team was actually ready to contend, that first baseman likely would’ve been on the downside of his career anyway.  Besides, it’s not so easy to just get guys to come here willingly.  Safeco Field SUCKS for hitters.  Seattle is where you go to watch your career die.

So, we HAD to see what Smoak could do.  He’d run into stretches of great competence and we’d always wonder, “Could he keep it up for a full year?  Could THIS be the turning point, where it clicks and he starts to get it?”  Ultimately:  no.  He couldn’t keep it up for a full year.  This was NOT the turning point.  And he never got it.  Maybe, with a better stadium situation in Toronto, where it’s easier to hit for extra bases, he can turn his career around.  But, it was never going to turn around in Seattle.

Ultimately, we’re all going to remember Justin Smoak as the butt of our jokes and scorn.  The few-and-far-between Smoak Bombs.  The Smoakamotive.  That Mariners commercial where he punched down a tree to make his own bat or something.  I’ll always marvel at the sheer volume of Warning Track Fly Balls.  I’ll always shake my head and sigh at the number of times I snookered myself into believing he was ready to turn a corner at any moment.  Taking any positive as a sign of his potential to break out.  I mean, at one time he was a highly-regarded prospect!  You don’t reach that status for no reason!  In the end, he probably doesn’t have what it takes to hack it, and won’t be long for this league.

For the record, I could seriously see him raking over in Japan if he ever decides to go that way.

Justin Smoak was a failure we won’t soon forget.  Hell, he was one of the primary reasons why Jackie Z almost lost his job!  He’s definitely #1 in the All Time Jackie Z Worst Personnel Moves list, even above Figgins and Montero if you can believe it.  But, in the end, he seemed like a good enough guy who tried his hardest to live up to what we all hoped he’d be.  He never struck me as a guy who pouted or was a distraction like some other players I’d rather not point out again.  He was legitimately one of the good guys on this team that has underachieved for so long.  I won’t go so far as say that he will be missed.  I’ll just say that it would’ve been nice if he would’ve lived up to all the hype.

Part of me hopes he turns it around in Toronto.  He very well could be one of those Change of Scenery guys, but I highly doubt it.  Besides, the rest of me would be quite annoyed if he did turn it around.  Because then, he’d be just another ex-Mariner doing it for someone else when he sure as shit couldn’t do it for us.

Welcome Back, Guti

Man, I don’t know.  I tell you, I really WANT to get excited for this offseason, but it’s hard not knowing what moves are coming down the pike.

Here’s what we know now:  Robinson Cano is a Mariner for the next decade.  Corey Hart and Logan Morrison are Mariners for now.  Cano is almost a lock to be good for at least a few years.  There’s a better than 50% chance that Hart is a productive member of the team in 2014.  I’m not holding my breath on Logan Morrison being much of anything.

And now, there’s Guti.  1 year, $1 million, with incentives of another $2 million.  If the moves the Mariners have made to date are a teeter-totter, you’ve got Cano by his lonesome on one side, holding on for dear life, while you’ve got three injury-prone would-be studs lumped together with their knees in their chests, straddling the ground on the other side.

It’s okay to sign one guy with injury problems to a salary-friendly deal and hope he pans out.  It’s damn near idiotic, the more injury-prone guys you sign, regardless of how incentive-laden you make their deals.  Your odds of success start to plummet.  What are the odds Hart, Morrison, and Guti all play a full season?  Even if you platoon them – even if you ONLY play Guti a third of the time, whenever there’s a lefty on the mound – what are the odds they don’t hit the DL at least three times apiece next season?

I’m somewhat willing to suspend disbelief on the Hart and Morrison front.  I’ll buy that they’re all better and ready to rock n’ roll.  But, not Guti.  If Guti cracks the 25-man roster, I’m immediately discounting that roster spot.  The Mariners will have 24 players, and sometimes Guti.  Our outfield (at the moment) consists of some combination of Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, Abraham Almonte … and sometimes Guti.  This team is almost certainly going to have to keep all of these guys on the roster, otherwise we’re royally screwed.

What happens when Guti is sore after playing yesterday?  “No big deal,” you say?  We’ve got other guys to start in the outfield?  Well, what if, two days ago, Michael Saunders ran into a wall and can’t play for another three days?  They don’t think he’s too injured to put on the DL, but he can’t go tonight.  And, let’s say, for the sake of argument, Dustin Ackley twisted his ankle while stepping awkwardly on the first base bag?  Don’t say, “That’ll never happen,” because it happened quite a bit just last year!  How long did we leave Morse on the active roster thinking he was just “a few days away” from returning?  What about later in the season when Saunders had a sore whatever, and Ackley had a sore whatever?  Just because I can’t remember the specifics, doesn’t mean they didn’t happen!  Don’t tell me you don’t remember this team putting Jason Bay in center field because everyone else was too hurt to play!  Granted, it’s not like this happened a lot, but it still happened.  Frankly, one time is too many!  And it’ll keep happening as long as Guti is on the roster.

Look, I love the guy.  I’m just beyond the point where I can trust him to be healthy for more than a few days every month.

This team is starting to take too many chances on guys.  We’re already committed to people like Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Michael Saunders … we’re taking a CHANCE that they will take that next step in their careers to become quality everyday players.  Now, we’re taking chances on guys like Hart, Morrison, and Guti to be healthy.  THESE are the guys we’re supposed to count on this year?  THESE are the guys we’re surrounding Cano and Seager with?

The clock is ticking, people!  Cano’s contract is a fucking timebomb!  It’s set to explode in no more than five years!  We’ve got to win while the winning’s good!

And we’re not going to win with a bunch of do-nothing youngsters and a bunch of injury-prone wankers.

For the love of God, go out and sign Masahiro Tanaka already!

Mariners Sign Corey Hart, Trade For Logan Morrison

Doin’s are transpirin’ down at the Winter Meetings this week.  Trades, free agent signings, old white men staring at their Twitter machines, speculation, rumor-mongering, boozing, sex with prostitutes:  the Winter Meetings truly have it all!

In between marathon orgy sessions (I imagine a harem of voluptuous, full-bodied women of color), the Mariners brass came up for air long enough to sign Corey Hart to a 1-year deal worth $5 million (if he turns into Michael Morse) with incentives worth up to $13 million (if he turns into Edgar Martinez).

If you don’t know who Corey Hart is:  he played for Milwaukee for a bunch of years.  He hit a bunch of home runs, struck out a ton, played outfield and first base, and most importantly of all:  bats right handed.  Most of his career, Hart was a right fielder.  There were sporadic runs in left field (which is still a possibility) and center (which is absolutely out of the question).  It looks like Hart shifted more to first base in 2012, and that presumably is where the fans would want him to play (when he’s not DHing).

I have a feeling that’s not necessarily going to be the case.  I have to imagine there was a decent amount of interest in his services:  who wouldn’t take a buy-low flyer on a guy who has his kind of power?  Therefore, I have to imagine that part of his deal meant at least a promise of him getting to play outfield.  I’m not going to sit here and say he’s worth a damn as an outfielder – by all accounts, he’s no better than Morse with the glove – but if this team hits Spring Training with Smoak, this Logan Morrison guy, and whoever else we take a chance on … I mean, they can’t ALL play first base and DH!

If we’re lucky, we figure out a way to package Smoak and Franklin into something useful and we hand the first base job to Hart full time.  If we’re not, then you better get used to Hart’s name in that right field spot.

Either way, there’s not a whole lot to hate about this move.  The Mariners needed a bat from the right side, they needed some power to play either ahead or behind Cano, and quite honestly we need some REAL Smoak insurance, so we can ship his dumb ass off at a moment’s slumping!

The other big deal of the day was Carter Capps going to the Marlins for Logan Morrison.  Carter Capps is a right-handed relief pitcher who had a 100mph fastball that lost some of its MPH last year.  He also had wicked movement, but didn’t know how to harness it, and as a result gave up home runs.  He also didn’t have anything to combat left-haned batters, and as a result gave up MORE home runs.  Eventually – if his arm doesn’t crap out, which it very well might – he will figure his shit out and be a pretty solid closer for someone.  Was that going to be 2014?  Probably not.

Logan Morrison is a guy who has yet to really play a full season as a starter in the Major Leagues.  His hitting numbers are pretty underwhelming (bringing up visions of the endless string of AAAA outfielders the Mariners have had the last few years), but he looks like a guy who could potentially have some pop in his bat.  He’s a lefty, so that should only help his cause while playing in Safeco.  He started his career as a left fielder, but more and more he’s been dividing his time with first base, so I don’t know what to tell you.  He’s another guy no one trusts in the outfield, which kind of gives us a big ol’ logjam when you factor in Smoak’s existence on this team.

Obviously, the moves are far from over.  Right now, they’re saying all the things they’re supposed to say (i.e. that Smoak is in line to be this team’s starting first baseman), but I wouldn’t buy it.  At the VERY least, we’ve got Hart as a RF/DH type and we’ve got Morrison in here to do battle with all the other iffy guys on this team (Ackley, Saunders, Almonte, probably Guti if he’s re-signed on the cheap, and of course Smoak).

When last I spoke of the Mariners, I was of the opinion that the Mariners had two really good everyday players – Cano & Seager – and nothing about these deals changes that.  In Hart, we certainly have a guy who will be an everyday player, but we don’t really know where he’ll fit in the field, and we don’t really know how long he’ll be healthy.  Will he bounce back and play most of a full season like Jason Bay?  Or, will he immediately get re-injured like Mike Morse (because:  Mariners Curse)?

If you want to look at how things are shaping up, I’ll bite.  Cano & Seager are the stars.  Miller, Zunino, and Hart are all guys you can be realistically optimistic about.  Then, we have Smoak, Ackley, Saunders, and Morrison who you probably shouldn’t set your sights too high about.  If those last four guys do anything but disappoint, then GREAT!  But, if they’re not traded away, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot.

Which is why you have to believe the team is still going to go after another big bat or two.  Hopefully via trade (and not via Nelson Cruz).

It’s still mighty early in the Hot Stove process, but thus far color me impressed.  The Mariners – while still embarrassing themselves – aren’t TOTALLY embarrassing themselves!

How Exactly Is Percy Harvin A Bust?

Some busts, you can see coming a mile away.  Trading for a third string quarterback in Charlie Whitehurst and letting him compete for a starting job … SEEMED like a bust of a move.  A lot of smart people were on top of the bust of a trade that was Mike Morse for John Jaso.  Most everyone was glad when the Mariners missed out on Josh Hamilton, because we could see his decline coming a mile away.  Nevertheless, that move still has a chance to work out for the Angels.  Because determining who is a bust is all relative to how long he’s under contract.

It was easy to write off Mike Morse after the first couple months as an injury-prone, homers-or-nothing type of hitter AND a bust.  Josh Hamilton still has four more years to turn things around, though, whereas Morse was just on the 1-year deal.  Now, one would argue that if you’re paying gallons upon gallons of money to a guy, it’s fair to expect him to be a stud from the get-go.  I guess I buy that.  But, here’s where things differ with Percy Harvin.

The Seahawks gave up a first rounder (the 25th overall pick that the Vikings used on a cornerback who has started only five games), a seventh rounder, and a 2014 third rounder.  Now, considering the state the Seahawks are in, it’s very likely that the 25th overall pick in the 2013 draft wouldn’t have made much of an impact on this year’s squad.  That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t develop into something down the road … but keep that thought in mind.  The seventh rounder, we’re not about to sweat around these parts.  The third rounder next year?  We all thought, at the time, that was the icing on the cake for the Vikings and a bit of a blow for the Seahawks.  We’ll never know exactly how losing three draft picks will affect the depth on this team, but if any effects are felt at all, they won’t be for the next few years.  That’s how good the depth we have now truly is.

So, we gave up ALL of that, and got back Percy Harvin in return.  Percy Harvin, who has played in one game (at a fraction of his normal snaps) and has since remained injured as he’s trying to come back from that hip surgery.  If he never plays football again, then yes, this would be the all-time greatest bust in the history of sports.  However, even if he never plays another down THIS SEASON, he could still manage to make up for his lost 2013, since he’s signed for another five seasons.

And, I know you’re going to throw his landmark contract in my face, but remember:  in 2013, Harvin is only making $2.5 million.  That’s a drop in the bucket!  Yes, he’s due to see a huge increase next year, but that’s next year.  I believe the worst-case scenario for Percy Harvin is he’s done for the year, but he comes back completely healthy next year and does his thing.  And if he does, he will cease to be a bust!

That assumes he doesn’t suffer another early season-ending injury, or a rash of regular, partial-season injuries, but who can predict that?  No one, so what’s the point of bringing it up?  He could play the rest of his career and never miss a game; you don’t know!

So, national media, shut your bitch mouths.  Let this thing play out.  If, in a couple years, Harvin looks bust-worthy, then I’ll be right there banging the drum with you.  But, in the middle of his FIRST YEAR here?  Come on, man …

The Shitshow That Was The 2013 Seattle Mariners, Part II: Hitting & Defense

Catch Part I HERE.

To be honest, it’s been two days of this and I’m already bored and frustrated by rehashing the 2013 Mariners season.  I’d quit right here, but then what kind of Seattle sports blogger would I be?  A half-assed one, that’s what!  Well, I’ll have you know that I’m determined to use my whole ass starting right now!  So, get used to it!

The best and only hitters you could reasonably qualify as “good” on this team in 2013 were Kendrys Morales and Kyle Seager.  Morales, as we’re all well aware, was received in trade for Jason Vargas.  Not to get too deep into this, I’ll just say that the Mariners traded a strength to fill a weakness and essentially came out even in the deal.  I don’t necessarily know what Vargas did in Anaheim and I don’t care, because what he did there has no bearing on what he would have done in a Mariners uniform.

I like Morales.  I don’t love him.  I don’t think he’s worth $14 million a season and I don’t think he’s worth having around for more than two years (three tops, but that’s really pushing it).  Apparently, the Mariners have either extended a qualifying offer to him (for the aforementioned $14 million) or are going to extend him a qualifying offer, but either way it doesn’t sound like he’s going to accept it.  Either that means the Mariners reach some sort of multi-year deal with him, or they let him go to another team and receive some sort of first round draft compensation.

So, what does the 2013 Kendrys Morales season mean to me?  Well, if he ends up going to another team, it’ll mean absolutely nothing.  We kind of figured he’d be a one-year-and-done player anyway when we traded for him; and besides, who really wants to stay with the Mariners for longer than they have to?  Besides Felix (God bless you, sweet Felix).  And, if Morales stays around for another three years?  Then, his 2013 season showed us that he’s still got it.  What is “it”?  Well, on the one hand, you can look at him and say he’s an over-priced quasi-slugger who has no business playing in the field, and offers nothing in the base-running game, so his value is limited.  Or, on the other hand, you can look at him and say he’s easily the best designated hitter we’ve had since Edgar Martinez.

Are you a Glass Half Empty guy or a Glass Half Full?  Yeah, he’s going to cost us a lot of money if he stays.  But, he beats the fucking shit out of the Carl Everetts and Jose Vidros of the fucking world.  So, calm the fuck down.  It’s not your money.  Besides, it’s about time the Mariners start shelling out some dough so I don’t have to watch a colossal bunch of fuck-ups year-in and year-out.

Kyle Seager, on the other hand, is our little third base pride and joy.  He’s steady as the day is long.  30+ doubles, 20+ homers, solid defense.  He’s a true middle-of-the-order (anywhere from 2-5 in the lineup) hitter and best of all:  he’s actually someone we drafted and cultivated from our very own farm system!  I’m starting to doubt that he’ll ever be that perennial All Star, but I’ll tell you what:  I’d give anything to have eight more hitters just like him at all the other positions.  And, you gotta figure that sooner or later he’s going to really pop and have a year where he bats .330 with maybe 40 doubles and 30 homers.  Wouldn’t shock me in the slightest.

Of course, it also wouldn’t shock me if he just fell off the face of the Earth, because that’s what everyone else does in this organization.

Dustin Ackley had something of a bounce-back year, at least at the plate.  I’m not ready to start sucking his dick and writing him in as an everyday player for this team going forward, but let’s just say I’m cautiously encouraged.  He absolutely stunk through the first two months of the season, somehow batting even worse than he did in 2012 (which I didn’t think was physically possible for him).  The Mariners finally had to send him back down to Tacoma because, Jesus Christ, he was batting .205 again!  In Tacoma, he proceeded to fuck everyone’s shit up and found himself back in the Majors by the end of June.  Of course, at this point, Nick Franklin had usurped his job at second base, so the organization converted him back to a center fielder.

His defense wasn’t the worst I’d ever seen, but he was clearly the team’s third best center fielder (behind Guti & Michael Saunders), and maybe even the fourth best (behind Endy Chavez).  Whereas his second base defense was quite solid, his center field defense was doing his WAR no favors.  And, when he returned to the Mariners, his batting average cratered to a season-low .194.  He more-or-less struggled through July and everyone thought he was done.  Too good for Triple-A, but not good enough for the Majors.  Just another Jeremy Reed.  Then, something happened.  He caught fire in August with this line:  .390/.420/.597/1.017, raising his season average to .258 in the process.  He coasted on that hot August through September to finish the season with a .253 average.  Rubes have hope for the future of Dustin Ackley.  The rest of us jaded fucks have our doubts.

Justin Smoak was similarly interesting, in that he started shitty, missed some time, came back, and peaked somewhere in July.  He tailed off at the end of the year leaving us all to believe this is just who he is.  A .240-ish hitter with minimal pop and okay defense at first base.

Michael Saunders was more distressing than anything.  Everyone thought he had turned a corner in 2012 after fiddling with his batting stance in the off-season.  For him to take a step back the way he did in 2013, you can’t help but think he’s a fourth outfielder at best.  Essentially, 2014 will be his last shot, but who knows if he’ll even HAVE a last shot?  The team seems pretty set on going full-boar in finding some new outfielders to replace the gaping holes we’ve had for the better part of a half decade.

Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, and Mike Zunino were three call-ups in 2013 who were all probably rushed into starting Major League jobs before they were ready.  Miller acquitted himself well, though his propensity for defensive blunders are a little nerve-wracking.  Franklin started off a house afire, but he really struggled the longer he remained in the starting lineup.  I know when Ackley was on his torrid streak, people were calling to move him back to his old second base job, but at that point you can’t start jerking people around (especially when there was nothing to play for this season except for experience, which Franklin got in spades).  Zunino gets an incomplete because he broke his hamate bone and missed a bunch of time.  His leadership and defensive abilities are a welcome addition.  But, he’s still pretty raw at the plate.

In a nutshell, this season was defined by the veterans and how they failed us.  I already went over the veteran starting pitchers who totally stunk up the joint.  Well, they were joined by guys like Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Jason Bay, Brendan Ryan, Endy Chavez, Kelly Shoppach, Henry Blanco, Robert Andino, and of course, the oft-injured Guti. All brought in (or retained) with the intent to add “leadership” to our young core.

Ibanez tied the record for most home runs by a senior citizen with 29.  That was good for a lark, especially when he managed to bash 24 of them before the All Star Break.  Hell, we all thought he was going to SHATTER the record.  But, of course, what happens when you let a 41 year old play every fucking day?  His production goes down the shitter.  5 more homers the rest of the way.  And, if you think I’m talking about Ibanez’s home runs too much, that’s because his homers were literally the ONLY thing he was bringing to the table.  We couldn’t play him at DH where he belonged, because that’s where Kendrys Morales belonged (and, truth be told, it’s also where Mike Morse and Jason Bay belonged, but they can’t ALL be designated hitters).  So, we got to enjoy Raul’s baffling defense in left field on a near-everyday basis.  Lucky us.

It was no better with Morse in right, but at least he was injured for most of the season.  His first couple of weeks were pretty intense; it looked like he might mash 50 homers.  Since this is Morse we’re talking about, you had to figure his body would break down.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re no longer free to take steroids as much as you’d like.

I refuse to acknowledge the presence of any of the other veteran hitters on this team because each one is worse than the last.  I’ve already blown through way too many words on this group of hitters as it is, so I’ll cut this short and save some stuff for tomorrow when I look at what the Mariners should do this off-season.  If you catch me writing anything other than “Blow the whole fucking thing up,” then I encourage you to write your congressman and have me put in prison.

The Shitshow That Was The 2013 Seattle Mariners, Part I: Pitching

When you end up with a season like the Mariners just finished, you blame it on one thing:  lack of a plan.

Tell me, where was the plan?  The team swapped Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales, the team swapped John Jaso for Mike Morse, and the team filled in the empty spaces with a lot of filler bullshit.  You could argue that the team at least tried something different with the hitting.  It opted to trade defense for home runs, but at least they did SOMETHING.  You can yell and scream until you’re blue in the face about how that’s a pretty crappy idea, but think about it this way:  if the team didn’t try to make it all about the dingers – if they went super defensive and super OBP on us – would it have made any difference whatsoever?

I argue it would not have made one bit of difference.  Because this team totally crapped the bed when it came to pitching.

Remember when Jon Garland was almost our 4th/5th starter?  That was a thing that almost happened.  In Spring Training, we were banking on him to make this big comeback from injury to carry the load at the back-end of our rotation.  We weren’t totally sold on him, and he had an opt-out clause, so when push came to shove Garland moved on and started 12 games for the Rockies before being released.  But HE was almost in our rotation.  Think about that!  We could have had Saunders, Garland, Harang, and Bonderman all starting games for us this year!

As it stands, just having Saunders, Harang, and Bonderman was bad enough, but what were you going to do?  As I said before, the Mariners decided to totally and completely neglect the pitching side of things.

Yes, you can count on Felix to be your Ace.  Yes, you could see good things coming from Iwakuma.  Maybe not as good as he actually turned out to be, but I was never worried that he was going to take a huge step back either.  After that?  We all figured Joe Saunders would be Vargas-lite, but he was so much WORSE.  I don’t care why he was worse, I just know that he only had 13 quality starts out of 32.  That’s terrible.  You want your #3 starter to be better than 50% with their quality starts (I’d say at least 20 of 32) and he was nowhere near that.  More often than not, Joe Saunders gave this team NO CHANCE to win in his starts.  That’s a guy who started for us all year.

After that, we had hopes that our younger guys would step up.  But, of course, Erasmo Ramirez came out of the gates injured and didn’t make it back until around the All Star Break (and even when he returned, he was pretty mediocre).  We were hopeful that Danny Hultzen could crack the bigs somewhere around mid-season, but he pitched in all of 6 games in Triple-A before being shut down with shoulder problems.  Brandon Maurer did make the team after an otherworldly Spring Training (making the jump straight from Double-A), but he proved to be totally ineffective in getting left-handed bats out and had to go down to Tacoma for further seasoning.  Taijuan Walker wasn’t ready to pitch in the Majors until September.  Ditto James Paxton.  And Beavan and Noesi further proved they are never going to be Major League starters.

As you can plainly see, the kids were not up to the task for one reason or another.  So, we had to bring up Bonderman when Maurer finally pitched his way to the minors.  We had to panic-trade for Harang when Beavan did the same.  Neither of these veterans lasted to September, because neither of these veterans had any fucking business being in the Major Leagues at this point in their careers.

In short, our starting rotation was a total joke.  Yeah, our top two guys were as good as any other team’s top two guys; but our bottom three were arguably the worst in all of baseball.  Regardless of who was plugged in there (9 other guys started games for the Mariners aside from Felix & Kuma), they were all the fucking worst!

And, when you combine a trainwreck of a starting rotation with the most volatile bullpen in the game, it’s pretty easy to see why the Mariners lost another 91 games.

The team had a 65% save percentage.  23 of 66 total save opportunities were blown.  Oddly enough, the team was NOT led in blown saves by erstwhile closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who was 24 of 29 in save opportunities.  He blew his fifth game by mid-June, was given a couple weeks off of closing duties, pitching in middle relief, then picked right back up again with a fairly solid July before absolutely going to shit in August.  The team sent him to Tacoma to work on some things, and after he returned he lost his job for good.

The team turned to Danny Farquhar, who had an excellent strike out percentage, but he wasn’t without his faults.  He ended up finishing the season as our closer, and saved 16 of 20 games.  Still, you have to wonder if you can count on him at all going forward.

The rest of the bullpen was full of hit-or-miss guys.  Oliver Perez and Yoervis Medina, for the most parts, were solid.  Furbush was okay at times and the plague at other times.  Stephen Pryor pitched in seven games before he was lost for the year.  Carter Capps – my predicted pick as best bullpen guy going into the season – also couldn’t get lefties out, in spite of his rocket fastball.  The rest of the Triple-A garbage the team brought up and plugged in throughout the year isn’t even worth mentioning.

The bullpen led baseball in strikeouts, and that’s about it.  They were either lockdown, or they were walking the world and giving away games.  There was very little in-between, and as mentioned above, it was about 65/35 as to whether you’d see Angel Bullpen or Devil Bullpen.

I’ll get into the future prospects of the pitching staff in Friday’s post, so I’ll save my opinions on what they should do (who they should keep, who they should get rid of, etc.).  My overall impression of this team is that it failed, horribly.  That’s nothing new.  But, as opposed to years past – where the pitching was often a strength – this year, the Mariners failed in a 50/50 split.  50% of why the Mariners were bad was because of the pitching, and 50% of why they were bad was because of everything else.  You’re not going to make the playoffs with two good starters and a bullpen that saves games 65% of the time.  Not unless you hit a ton like the 1997 Mariners.  But, as I’ll get to tomorrow, this team was FAR from the ’97 Mariners, in spite of the fact that they tried to hit homers like ’em.

The Mariners Are The Abomination Of Obama’s Nation

It’s been a veritable Era Of Good Feelings around these parts for the past month or so, what with the Seahawks and Huskies going a combined 6-0 to start their seasons.  You could say that I’ve seemingly lost sight of this website’s mission statement (then again, you could also say that I’m really going overboard on all the Sunshine & Lollipops sentiment to set myself up for the big, heartbreaking fall when everything turns to shit, but you didn’t hear that from me).

But, of course, you have to factor in how it has been 4 weeks since I’ve written anything about the Seattle Mariners.  I’d venture to say that ANYONE’S outlook on life would be a little rosier if they chose to blatantly ignore the worst thing in the world.

Eric Wedge just said that he’d be leaving the team after the weekend series with the A’s.  There’s your impetus for this particular post.  With this news comes a range of emotions, mostly negative.  Here’s what it boils down to:  prior to the season (and/or during the season), the organization came to Wedge and said they’d like to sign him to an extension through 2014.  They did the same thing to Jackie Z and he signed (news of his extension came out sometime mid-season as a bit of a shock, because no news came with it about Wedge).  As the year has drawn to a close, everyone wanted to know what they were going to do with Wedge.  His having a stroke back in July muddied things, as strokes are wont to do, and we all wondered, “Would the Mariners fire Wedge while retaining Jackie Z?”  How does that even work, anyway?  Who in their RIGHT MIND would come into this situation knowing that the general manager is on the shortest of short leashes?

As a bit of a tangent, I’d like to comment on something Jackie Z said on the radio last night.  It’s something to the effect of, “Organizations fire managers & general managers all the time, so length of contract really shouldn’t matter.”  That is 100% true.  There is nothing stopping this team from signing Jackie Z or Eric Wedge to crisp, new 5-year extensions and then firing them after the 2014 season when we inevitably go 70-92 again.  And yet, the organization is even unwilling to do THAT.  What does it say about the situation – the fucking QUAGMIRE – we’re in now that this organization is unwilling to do what literally every other organization does?  Things are so bad here, we can’t even fake it by giving guys extensions of more than a single year.

Knowing that, getting back to my last point:  no self-respecting manager is going to sign with the Seattle Mariners knowing that the general manager is on the final year of his deal and is apparently on a year-to-year situation like a guy at the end of his apartment lease who is going month-to-month until he can find a better home.  Because when that general manager is inevitably fired, guess what!  You’re fired too, because the new GM is going to want to hire HIS guy.  Period.

Eric Wedge, of course, IS a self-respecting manager.  He knows it’s bullshit to be hung out to dry with these 1-year extensions.  He has the balls to do what Jackie Z couldn’t:  tell the Mariners to take their 1-year deal and SHOVE IT UP THEIR ASSES!  Eric Wedge would rather be an unemployed dick in the yard with the stigma of a “quitter” around the rest of the Major Leagues (which will ultimately be brought up every time he tries to find another job) than accept your bullshit offer of temporary job security.

Here’s the thing, though:  in the end, I don’t know if I’m all that upset to see Eric Wedge go.  Some people are glad he’s gone and think he was actively hurting the organization with his in-game tactics and his dependency on “leadership” over outright talent.  Trying to shove one of the worst defensive outfields in the history of baseball down our throats (featuring a regular spot for Raul Ibanez and Mike Morse) even though what those guys bring to the plate is far out-weighed by their ineptitude in the field and on the basepaths.  I find it hard to believe that there are too many people all that broken up about Wedge leaving; the best I’ve heard about him so far is that the way the guys have played this season isn’t all his fault.  Not really a ringing endorsement, if you ask me.

In the end, this decision of Wedge’s – and the revelation that the organization has been dicking around with him in this way – brings about more boiling contempt for the people at the top.  It’s yet another excuse to bemoan the fact that Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong are still twiddling their dicks at the top of this sinking fucking disaster.  While all signs point to this organization setting itself up for a record-breaking sale (no long-term contracts outside of Felix Hernandez, the new TV deal set to kick in in 2015, one of the smaller payrolls in baseball even though we’re far from the smallest market in baseball), that doesn’t change how things are right now.

Right now?

Right now there is no reason to expect that things will ever change.  Because we have no reason to expect them to change.  The organization has denied all rumors linking this team to a potential sale.  Of course, if there WAS a potential sale, they would be saying the same thing, because no one wants to queer the deal by having a bunch of reporters actively digging into the negotiations.  On the flipside, you can’t ignore the possibility that, for once, the Seattle Mariners AREN’T lying right to our faces.  Maybe there ISN’T any plan in place to sell the team within the next year or two!  Maybe this fucking horse shit is going to go on FOR-FUCKING-EVER!

If there was any question as to whether the Mariners are the worst organization in all of baseball, let Wedge’s decision put your worries to rest.  The Seattle Mariners are THE WORST ORGANIZATION IN ALL OF BASEBALL!  Someone needs to make a giant banner, climb the facade of Safeco Field, and hang it for the world to see.  The Mariners, by default, are in the running for Worst Organization in All of Professional Sports, with the likes of the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and I don’t know enough about the NBA or NHL, but I would assume the likes of the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, and the Washington Wizards.  Worst Organization of All Time?  That puts the Mariners in the running with the recent Los Angeles Clippers (before they miraculously got good), Cincinnati Bengals, the Matt Millen-led Detroit Lions, Portland Jailblazers, and the Maloof-led Sacramento Kings.

Here’s something:  when do you ever see a baseball manager quit?  Answer:  you don’t.  You don’t!  It just doesn’t fucking happen!  There are 30 of these jobs in Major League Baseball; it’s one of the most-coveted jobs in all of sports.  You get paid millions of dollars to sit around and “manage” a baseball team.  What does that even mean?  You set lineup cards and make pitching changes and hope like crazy that your players come through in the clutch.  And, if you’re Joe Maddon, you play around with your infield defensive alignment.  That’s pretty much it!  You toss in some tirades when the going gets tough, you talk to the media day-in and day-out, and you get winters off to relax when it’s all over.  Hell, you play your cards right and you’re finished by the end of September; who are these suckers working their fingers to the bone in October anyway?  Mamas’ boys!  Teachers’ pets!

And here is Wedge, throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime, because he has enough pride and self-worth to know that this is a bullshit organization.  And even if he never again gets another opportunity to manage a baseball team, it’s still better than the alternative:  one more fucking year with the Seattle Mariners.

Lou Piniella quit after the 2002 season.  Since then, the Mariners have ran through 7 managers in 11 seasons.  Three were fired, two quit, and two were interim managers not retained past their partial seasons.  Just because I don’t place a lot of importance on what a manager actually DOES for a baseball team doesn’t mean I can’t see the problem with this.  While I’m a skeptic, players aren’t.  Players already in this organization want stability.  More importantly, players OUTSIDE this organization want stability, if they even THINK about considering Seattle as a potential landing spot.

While building your team through free agency isn’t necessarily the smartest plan for a franchise that has intentions on winning, the fact remains that this team will need to supplement the talent we have in place with guys outside the organization.  By all accounts, the Mariners have money to spend and the willingness to spend it.  And yet, who in his right mind would sign with this team, considering all the instability at the manager and general manager positions?  I’ll tell you who:  the same dickless bottom-feeders we’ve seen for the last decade.  Your Aaron Harang and Jeremy Bonderman types.  Guys clinging for dear life WELL past their sell-by dates!  Hope you enjoyed Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay and the like, because that’s who you’re getting for 2014!

The outlook for the 2014 season is so unbelievably bleak, I don’t even know why I bother.  I should just cut ties with this fucking mess right now and get it over with.  What’s the point?  Sitting around, watching a bunch of .240 hitters, with a bunch of feast-or-famine pitchers (and Felix and Iwakuma)?

The other day, I asked a buddy of mine if he would even miss the Seattle Mariners if they said they were going to pick up and move to Albuquerque tomorrow.  He said he would, but not me.  At this point in the season, where I’m at my most fed-up with this fucking team, I wouldn’t give two shits if the Seattle Mariners left my life forever.  Most likely, I’d follow Felix around and root for whatever team he played for.  Then, when he retires, I’d retire my desire for baseball, probably forever.

Hiroshi Yamauchi died on September 19th and a lot of tributes were written.  Most of them were positive, as he purchased the team when it was still in a state of flux.  The Seattle Mariners very nearly moved to Tampa Bay and if they’d done so, we never would have enjoyed that 1995 season and all the good times that followed, through 2001.  Of course, there was a decent amount of negativity written as well.  Yamauchi was an absentee owner, there’s no other way to say it.  I don’t care if he never attended a Mariners game, and I don’t necessarily think it was a bad thing that he was as hands-off as he was.  There are too many cases of meddling owners fucking things up in the world of sports.  Honestly, Yamauchi was a refreshing change in that regard.  Nevertheless, you can’t ignore the fact that he put Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong in charge.  In spite of countless pleas from I would say about 98% of the Mariners fanbase, he stuck by them and left them in charge.  You can’t even say their names during the Hall of Fame ceremony for Ken Griffey Jr. without expecting a cascade of boos from an otherwise cheery crowd!  I understand the importance of loyalty as much as the next guy, but Howard and Chuck are the biggest fucking boobs on the planet!

So, yeah, Yamauchi gets a lot of credit for “saving baseball in Seattle” as well as a lot of flak for allowing the organization to suck as much dick as it has this past decade-plus.  But, why doesn’t anyone comment on the fact that Yamauchi could have saved us a LOT of headaches by simply NOT buying the Seattle Mariners and letting them inevitably move to Tampa Bay?

I became a fan of the Seattle Mariners during their stretch run of 1995.  Before that year, I hadn’t seen a single baseball game, and I was 14 at the time!  It was football, then basketball with me (and to this day, still is).  Had the Mariners moved in 1992 or whenever the fuck, I never would’ve had the opportunity to be sucked in!  Seattle would have lost Major League Baseball and to this day we probably would have yet to get it back (or, we’d currently be the Seattle Rays, who with proper ownership, would be contending for annual playoff spots).

Yes, we would lose all of those wonderful memories of Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez and all of that.  But we’d gain years of our lives back!  Years where we wouldn’t have to dwell on the piss-poor baseball being played in our own backyard!  Is it really better to have loved & lost than to have never loved at all?  I don’t know!  What if that “love” of which you speak is never really lost, but sticks with you, festering?  Soured by years of neglect and taking one another for granted.  Hiroshi Yamauchi could have done me a real solid by looking at the offer to purchase the Seattle Mariners and saying, “No thanks.”

Who knows?  Maybe I would’ve become a baseball fan anyway.  Maybe I would’ve become one of those insufferable Red Sox fans back in 2004.  Yeah, we mock all of those Bellevue Red Sox fans, but do you know how many fucks they give?  Zero.  Zero fucks.  Because, right or wrong, they root for a team that has won two titles in the past decade.  They root for a team that knows how to win and make the playoffs consistently.  They root for an organization that has one down year and then immediately reloads for another pennant chase.  AND, they don’t have to live in Boston, so it’s win-win-win-win-win.