How Are Certain Ex-Mariners Doing After Two Months?

If you were following along in mid-April, you might’ve caught wind that certain ex-Mariners – guys we traded away, or otherwise didn’t retain for whatever reason – started off the season quite hot.

If you’re still following along today, you might be aware that certain current-Mariners that we brought in to replace those ex-Mariners aren’t doing so hot. Mitch Garver stinks, Jorge Polanco is hurt (and a total disappointment in every way), Luis Urias is so bad he’s in Tacoma right now, Mitch Haniger is playing more like a 43 year old than a 33 year old, Gregory Santos still hasn’t thrown a meaningful pitch in a Mariners uniform. It makes one wonder – two-plus months into the season – did we make a series of calamitous mistakes? Should we have held onto the players we once had?

So, let’s go around the horn, and see if those certain ex-Mariners are still tearing things up, or if they’ve come back down to Earth.

Let’s start with Jarred Kelenic, because why not? Once touted as The Future of the Mariners’ organization, he’s trying to rebuild his career down in Atlanta. I would say he’s doing okay, but definitely reverting closer to career norms. .268 batting average, .717 OPS, not quite a starter, but appears to be the left-handed platoon partner he’s destined to be. Seems like he’s more or less what he was last year, which is leaps and bounds better than he was in his first two seasons in the bigs, but obviously a far cry from the superstar we all hoped he’d be. If you pit him against Luke Raley, I’d say the Mariners have the better platoon bat. But, it’s still early, and this could be a neck-and-neck race for years.

How’s Eugenio Suarez doing down in Arizona? Well, after a torrid first week-to-ten-days, he’s kind of fallen off a cliff. He’s still an everyday third baseman, but his -0.1 WAR isn’t a pleasant number to look at. He has 4 homers in almost 60 games – which, to be honest, is also what Julio has – and he’s batting .205 with a .582 OPS. Considering the player Josh Rojas has been so far this season, this has honestly worked out exceedingly well for the Mariners.

Sticking with Arizona, how about Paul Sewald? Well, he missed the first month and change with an injury, but since he returned on May 7th, he has 5 saves and has given up 1 run in 8.1 innings across 9 appearances. So far in his tenure with the Diamondbacks, he looks like the same ol’ Paul Sewald we knew and loved with the Mariners. It’s too early to say for sure who’s winning that trade, but at the moment Ryan Bliss is just starting to get his feet wet at the Major League level (having gotten his first hit last Saturday), Dominic Canzone has some decent power numbers, but otherwise is who we thought he was, and we’re clinging to Josh Rojas being on this hot pace, which seems destined to cool considerably sooner rather than later. Would I rather have the Sure Thing reliever or the three question marks? Tough to say, but with Dylan Moore eating into third base with Urias down in Tacoma, I’d probably rather have the stud reliever (especially with Brash out for the year, and Santos likely down until the All Star Break, at best).

Next up, we have Teoscar Hernandez with the Dodgers. The Dodgers are a great team, in first place in the N.L. West, with such superstars as Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman. Yet, it’s Teoscar who is leading the Dodgers with 38 RBI. It’s Teoscar who’s 2nd on the team in homers with 12 (two behind Shohei). It’s Teoscar with the .790 OPS, who would be killing all qualified Mariners hitters with that figure (and even leading most non-qualified Mariners, or all the ones who’ve appeared in more than 5 games). Oh sure, he has 76 strikeouts, but tell me that wouldn’t fit in with Cal and Julio (both over 70). He’s got a 1.3 WAR at the moment, which would only be behind Cal and Moore. You’re telling me that’s not worth $20 million? You’re telling me you’d rather have Garver over Teoscar as your DH? If things keep up like this, I can only call the move to not retain Teoscar (while paying the same amount to Garver, albeit over 2 seasons, which is arguably worse because it means we have to suffer his ineptitude for more than just 2024) a total disaster, and one that ultimately might cost us a real shot at contending for a World Series.

Hey, does anyone remember Jose Caballero? We traded him to the Rays for Luke Raley straight up, which is an interesting conundrum for me, because I’m on record as liking Raley over Kelenic. BUT, if you’re asking me if I would rather have Kelenic and Caballero, or Raley and Polanco’s Rotting Corpse … yeah, I think the Mariners would be better off with the former. Caballero is mostly an everyday player at short stop for the Rays – as opposed to sort of a replacement second baseman for the Mariners last year – and he’s having an even better 2024 than he was in limited duty in 2023. He’s 4 hits off of his season total from a year ago, in about half the games; he’s already got 20 stolen bases (after getting 26 last year); he’s got a higher batting average and slugging percentage, though his OBP has taken a dip, giving him a fairly comparable OPS. All in all, I’d say he’s a slightly better version of himself from a year ago, playing a more difficult defensive position. Meanwhile, Polanco is a fucking decomposing mummy shuffling out there with tattered rags and rigor mortis. If Raley wasn’t raking as much as he’s been, I’d be more upset. But, this one hurts a lot more than I thought it would, I’m not gonna lie to you.

I’d like to visit with the San Francisco Giants for a bit, because they have a number of former Mariners and would-be Mariners, if certain fans had it their way. Tom Murphy is there, and finds himself on the 60-Day IL. In other words, the least-surprising development of all time. In spite of his being injured – and being remarkably terrible when he was healthy – I’d say it’s still a wash between him and Seby Zavala.

Then, there’s Robbie Ray, who still hasn’t returned from his injury sustained in the first game of 2023. However, he’s getting close to throwing in extended Spring Training or whatever, so it does indeed look like he’s poised for a second half return, if all goes well over the next month. That being said, would I rather have him for half a season over the rotation we’ve got currently? No way.

And, I thought – for shits and giggles – I’d throw Blake Snell into the mix. Blake Snell: the 2-time Cy Young Award winner. Blake Snell: who signed a 2-year, $62 million contract with the Giants very late into the offseason. Blake Snell: the Seattle resident who very desperately wanted to sign with the Mariners (and who many Mariners fans wanted as well). Well, in 6 games, he’s 0-3 with a 9.51 ERA and a -1.1 WAR. He got a late start to the season, then got hurt for a month, and overall has been pretty abysmal. Is this just a Year From Hell situation? Or is he – at age 31 – not necessarily worth $31 million per year? Again, I would 1,000% rather have the Mariners’ rotation that we have currently.

There’s also Marco Gonzales with the Pirates, who I alluded to in this post, who was having a decent start to the season until he got hurt. There’s Isaiah Campbell with the Red Sox, who’s appeared in 7 games, then got hurt, and looks no better than he was last year (and might be worse). And there’s Justin Topa, who finds himself on the 60-day IL with the Twins, and doesn’t figure to start throwing again for another month.

All in all, I would say the majority of the Mariners who got away were let go for a good reason. Nevertheless, there’s a few moves here and there that we might live to regret.

I’m So Ready For Julio Rodriguez To Dominate For The Mariners

Julio Rodriguez appears to be a consensus fifth in the American League MVP race according to Vegas (behind top guy Aaron Judge, then Juan Soto, Corey Seager, and Yordan Alvarez). It’s gotta be exciting for these guys, because Shohei Ohtani is in the National League now, so somebody else can finally win for a change!

Fangraphs has Julio seventh in all of baseball for projected WAR with 5.6. ZIPS has him third in all of baseball at 5.7 WAR. Pretty much wherever you go, there’s Julio, projected right there among the very best players in baseball.

This is interesting to me, because while Julio was clearly the best player on the Mariners last year, I wouldn’t say he had a GREAT season. He was definitely hotter than the sun in July and especially August, but other than that he had long stretches where he struggled, especially in the first half, but also down the stretch in September.

Now, clearly, a struggling Julio is A LOT different than a struggling Ty France, or a struggling Taylor Trammell (which is pretty much his entire career). Even when he’s having a tough time, he’s still awesome. He’s still a presence. He’s still a guy other teams have to fear. And, of course, he’s going to give you great defense regardless. He’s still going to play hard and make some moves when he does get on base. He’s going to find ways to contribute.

But, his slash line in 2023 was down across the board compared to his 2022 rookie season, which is why his WAR fell from 6.0 to 5.3. Again, still great! He finished 4th in MVP voting last year, but no one voted him higher than 3rd.

It takes quite a special season to win the MVP award. The Mariners have had exactly two MVPs in their history: Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997, and Ichiro in 2001. Griffey that year was the leader of the most fearsome offense baseball had seen since the ’27 Yankees. And Ichiro entered the Major Leagues like a house on fire, leading the team to a 116-win season. THIS is what I would like to see from Julio. And 2024 is no better time to make that happen.

There’s a lot of hype that the Mariners have improved their offense this year. I’m still in a “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode of thinking. Regardless, I would say no one is expecting these Mariners to blow the doors off of the 2023 variety. It’s all “cautious optimism” and probably a marginal step up.

If you want to see significant improvement from this team, it has to be twofold. First, the depth has to be stronger. The bottom of the order MUST be better. I’m not saying we have to be lights out 1 through 9 in the order, but we can’t have the bottom 4-5 batters completely stinking up the joint like they did for most of last year. If we can see some competence, if we can have more professional at-bats, if we can even just make better and more productive outs, I think it’ll make a world of difference.

But, even that hinges on the second part: we need our stars to be super.

We need J.P. to continue to dominate at the top of the order. We need Cal to continue being a power machine. We need our veterans – Garver, Haniger, Polanco – to step up when they’re healthy. Ideally, we need this Driveline experience to hit the jackpot with Ty France. And, more than anything, we need Julio to play at an MVP level. Not just good with some elite stretches, but consistently great throughout the year.

Even if it’s just the veterans playing AS good as they were last year, and some semblance of improvement from the bottom of the order, I think we could really make some hay with an MVP Julio.

That’s kind of what I’m banking on here, if I have any hope whatsoever of the Mariners making it back to the playoffs. I’m expecting the starters to be great. I’m expecting them to figure it out in the bullpen. But, I’m also expecting the offense to be a dud yet again, costing us winnable games and seeing us ultimately falling short of a wild card berth.

However, if we get MVP Julio? Then, I’ll be willing to suspend my disbelief. I’ll be willing to go all in on this team with its cheapskate ownership group. I’ll be willing to hope that we can somehow put it all together for a magical playoff run.

Now is the time! He had his Rookie of the Year campaign. He had his Sophomore Slump. Now, it’s time for the MVP trophy. Now, it’s time to take that next step into the stratosphere. Be the envy of everyone, and the face of baseball, as you were destined to be!

Re-Examining The Mariners’ Kelenic Trade With The Braves

When I wrote about this trade initially, there was a lot going on. Honestly, it’s a deal that requires multiple posts to really dig in and assess everything.

For instance, we have more information. We knew it was a Salary Dump, but we didn’t necessarily know why it was so. It’s also interesting to see where the players involved ended up, as two of the three Mariners we shipped off were subsequently flipped. To be fair, it really feels like everyone ended up where they were supposed to. Marco Gonzales was traded to Pittsburgh. Evan White was sent to Anaheim. And the guy with the most upside – Jarred Kelenic – remains in Atlanta.

I couldn’t tell you for a million dollars if Pittsburgh will be any good in 2024; they finished 4th in the NL Central last year. If I had to guess – based solely on reputation – I would say they’re a young team with lots of prospects getting chances to play at the Major League level, and were in need of a calm, veteran presence in their rotation to eat innings and be a guiding force for the rest of the pitching staff. I didn’t even need to look it up to know that the Braves would also be sending money to the Pirates to complete the deal, and the least surprising thing of all is that the return is a Player To Be Named Later.

This is, frankly, ideal for all involved. Pittsburgh gets a solid vet who will probably be at least a little rejuvenated by pitching in the NL again (even if the pitchers no longer hit, I think it’s safe to say most of the hitting talent resides in the American League). Marco gets a chance to be a starter, after effectively losing his rotation spot in Seattle with his injury last year. It’s low expectations, so he’ll most likely have a longer leash. And, the Mariners don’t have to worry about a potentially-disgruntled presence languishing in the bullpen and costing us games because that role is nowhere near his forte.

As for Evan White, his career could go any number of directions. He could immediately get injured again, and that will just be his destiny until his contract runs out. He could recover and be an okay player (great defensively, not so hot hitting). Or, he could come back stronger than ever, put it all together at the plate, and be an All Star for years to come. In which case, OF COURSE he’s an Angel. OF COURSE they would pick up our scraps and turn him into a weapon we have to face a dozen times a year.

The Angels can easily afford to take this project on. They just lost Ohtani, so it’s not like people are really expecting much out of this team. They can keep him in the minors for at least another year, to let White build himself back up. And I’m sure, as they continue to underwhelm in the standings, White will get a Major League opportunity sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the Braves got back a useful player while never having to try to work White into their system. And, as for the Mariners, we get to move on from another injury-riddled disappointment, without pouring good money over bad to try to make him a thing here.

The ultimate kick in the ass, though, is likely to be Jarred Kelenic. He stays with the Braves. They, obviously, took on a lot of salary to make this whole thing go, so it’s only fair for them to have the highest-upside share of this deal.

I would say it’s still fair to question Kelenic’s ceiling. The guy has obvious holes in his swing. He strikes out a ton. He has a decent eye at the plate, but that’s not going to prevent him from going chasing more than he should. He’s also a pretty big headcase, and I don’t know if that’s ever going to mature out of his personality. I’m sure if he actually achieved real, sustained success at this level, it would do wonders for his psyche. But, it’s also fair to wonder if that was ever going to happen in a Mariners uniform.

We already knew that Kelenic didn’t like the Mariners organization. They dicked around with him, waiting to call him up until after he got to a point where we’d have another season of team control. They offered him an Evan White-like contract when he was still in the minors, that he saw as a lowball slap to the face, and then effectively held him hostage by telling him he could come up to the Major Leagues sooner, only if he signed the deal. And I don’t know what he thought about his usage when he finally did get the call-up, but immediately putting him in the upper third of the lineup seemed like a mistake, putting immense pressure on him, when he would’ve been better served starting out at the bottom of the order.

If it wasn’t clear he hated the Mariners before, literally every statement and interview he’s given since the deal with the Braves has only cemented the notion.

I don’t see Kelenic as the type of player who’s going to tank his own development just to get out of an organization, but if I had to bet on it, I’d say he was never going to fully blossom with the M’s. With this fresh start, this new team, new ballpark, and new set of eyes coaching him up, I fully expect Kelenic will really take some huge leaps forward. There’s no doubt about it in my mind: the Braves are the superior baseball organization in every facet of the game. If they can’t turn Kelenic into a star, no one can.

There’s still risk, of course. I’m not saying it’s a done deal that he’s going to be an All Star with the Braves. But, the likelihood goes up tenfold with him there over him still being here.

The pressure’s completely and totally off now. He has no choice but to start out near the bottom of the order; they have one of the most stacked lineups in all of baseball. They also have their share of outfielders, so they can even afford to platoon Kelenic if need be.

On the one hand, it’s a bummer, because I did have really high hopes for Kelenic. A potential outfield with an elite Kelenic playing alongside Julio for a decade would’ve been a real treat!

But, on the other hand, I dunno, is Kelenic kind of an asshole? Or, at the very least, so intense that he’s no fun to be around? Is this a situation where, for this team at least, it’s addition by subtraction? The Mariners Roundtable on the Mitch Unfiltered Podcast made an interesting point; when were the Mariners at their very best and hottest last year? In late July and August. Between the time Kelenic went out for kicking a water cooler and the time he returned, the Mariners went 32-16; when he returned, the Mariners went 9-10 overall (5-10 in the games Kelenic appeared in). No one is necessarily saying that Kelenic is the reason we were mediocre – and the absence of Kelenic was the reason we were red-hot – but I’m also not totally ruling it out. He seems like a Dark Cloud walking around on a regular basis; who needs that kind of energy in their lives? Not even a team FULL of Eugenio Suarezes could counterbalance Kelenic’s unrelenting angst!

All that being said, though, as a Mariners fan, you’d like to think we could get more for him. You’d like to think he’s worth more than simply shedding however many millions of dollars from our current and future payrolls. In a good and decent world – where the Mariners aren’t owned by tight-fisted old misers – I would expect, at the very least, a prospect or two we could all be excited about.

There’s no “winning” this trade for the Mariners. At best, I think we have to hope everyone else loses. But, just know that I’m mentally preparing myself for the time when Kelenic becomes a legitimate star in this league. It almost seems destined at this point. And, if Evan White turns his fortunes around, you’re going to see quite a bit of the erstwhile Mariners Future out there performing for other teams, while the Actual Mariners remain in Seattle wasting all of our fucking time.

The Mariners Are Continuing Their Short, Quick Backslide Into Mediocrity

It’ll be interesting to look back five years from now, when we reflect upon the six-year anniversary of the last time the Mariners made the playoffs – itself the first time we’d made the playoffs in 20+ years – how will that team be remembered? Will it have the same reverence as the 1995 playoff team? Or will it be closer to that 2000 team, kind of forgotten and overlooked?

It’s funny that a franchise who has made the playoffs only five times in its history can have playoff teams that are overlooked, but such is the world we live in.

I guess one could argue the Mariners are getting all of their least popular moves out of the way early, rather than spread them out over the course of the entire offseason. But, at some point, you have to wonder if the bad taste that’s in all of our mouths won’t overshadow whatever good moves they eventually make.

Of course, you have to wonder if any good moves are on the horizon, but that’s neither here nor there.

We traded Jarred Kelenic, Marco Gonzales, and Evan White to the Atlanta Braves for reliever Jackson Kowar and pitching prospect Cole Phillips. Kowar, I guess, is a hard-throwing right hander who has yet to put it together through pieces of three seasons with the Royals; even his numbers at the AAA level the last three years have been subpar. Phillips, meanwhile, was drafted in 2022 and needed Tommy John surgery. He’s yet to pitch in the minors, as far as I can tell. He’s the rawest of prospects at this point, and I have no idea where he’ll start his career with us, but it’ll be nowhere near the Majors.

As you can tell by 2/3 of the names we gave up, this is a salary dump. Marco is making over $12 million this year. There’s also a club option year in 2024 that’s worth $15 million, but clearly we were never going to pick that up. Also clear: we didn’t want to pay him $12 million to be a shitty reliever, so it’s not hard to see why we’d want to move on.

Evan White signed a team-friendly buy-out of his arb years back in 2020, when he was a Gold Glove first baseman during COVID times. He’s since been mostly too injured to play (not logging a game in the Majors since 2021), and when he has played he’s been bad (spending small bits of time in AAA the last two years, doing next-to-nothing of value at the plate). A glove-first first baseman is the last thing this team needs, and with his salary looking to spike in 2024 and 2025 ($15 million total across the two seasons), with future club options that come with a small cost to buy out, it’s also not hard to see why we’d want to move on.

Marco stopped being part of this team’s future plans pretty much as soon as he signed his last contract; you knew he was never going to see another one here. He stopped being part of this team’s present as soon as we were able to call up enough young prospects to fill out the rotation. He was always a Meh starter who could eat a respectable amount of innings and keep you in a respectable amount of games. But, usually he was only good against the very worst teams, and pretty hard to watch against the likes of the Astros and whatnot.

Evan White is kind of a disappointing story, since he was a first round draft pick and is so talented and athletic defensively, but he just couldn’t stay healthy. Even if he had, there’s a strong chance he never would’ve made it anyway, considering the holes in his swing made him a pretty big liability at the plate. If you were often frustrated by all the strikeouts you saw from Teoscar Hernandez, Eugenio Suarez, and yes, Jarred Kelenic, you would’ve been pretty miserable seeing White flail at the plate all these years. Maybe those injuries were a blessing in disguise, at least for the eyes of every Mariners fan.

The Kelenic piece hurts, for those of us who were clinging to hope that he’d eventually figure it out, put it all together, and be an All Star for years to come. Around the time Evan White signed his extension, we thought Kelenic was also on a fast track to super success. That turned out to decidedly NOT be the case, and for a little bit it looked like he was going to be an extreme bust. In the last offseason, he really worked on his swing, and came into 2023 looking better than he’d ever been. That carried over into a strong start to this season, before he eventually cooled off, then kicked a water cooler, landed on the IL, and made it back in time to struggle at the end of the season when we could’ve most used a boost.

I am, in no way, shape, or form, giving up on the concept of Kelenic being a good Major Leaguer, but I’ve been resigned to the fact for a while now that it wasn’t going to be in a Mariners uniform. He was the most likely candidate to be traded away this offseason to help us bolster the ballclub.

What I didn’t predict was that instead of helping to bring back a Major League-ready bat to come in here and start right away, he’d be used as a means to shed unwanted salary, probably netting us nothing in return other than that savings.

Fans are justifiably upset. This is a Salary Dump. The Suarez deal was a Salary Dump. Not giving Teoscar Hernandez a qualifying offer was itself a form of Salary Dump. These aren’t the moves of good, healthy organizations looking to compete for a World Series. These are the moves of third-tier, “cash-strapped” organizations who choose to pinch every penny even though they’re owned by billionaires and those teams are worth untold billions of dollars on the open market.

Some fans are choosing to have trust in the Mariners for some reason. At this point, maybe the humor is so dry it’s flying over my head, but if it’s legitimate and there are fans out there still believing in the shit this team is peddling, then we’ve got some serious Stockholm Syndrome going on and maybe we should send social services to their homes to make sure they’re okay.

The argument is: the Mariners are picking up extra money any way they can so they can go out and spend it on high-priced free agents and/or trade acquisitions.

It’s funny, because remember when the Mariners made all those moves to free up extra cash the last time? It was, incidentally enough, when Shohei Ohtani first came to the United States. Remember what happened? We failed miserably, and then did nothing with the international signing money we acquired. Nor did we do anything else in regular free agency to shore up the team. In effect, we put all our eggs in the Ohtani basket, and watched those eggs fall off of a cliff Wile E. Coyote-style, splatting to the ground below.

How are we this stupid? How are the Mariners so stupid as to fall for the Ohtani allure yet again, when he will never come here no matter what we offer him? And how are Mariners fans so stupid as to think this team’s logic is based anywhere close to reality?

Maybe they have other plans. Maybe there are other targets we’re trying to acquire. Even so, you can always make these cost-cutting deals AFTER you’ve added the pieces you’re committing to add. You don’t have to do it before! You don’t have to look like the cheapest organization on the planet. You don’t have to bottom out the hope of an entire fanbase.

As we’ve discussed in the previous two deals, it’s pretty clear there’s a new philosophy with the Mariners when it comes to striking out. Or, rather, that philosophy might’ve always been there, but we’re finally taking steps towards seeing it to fruition. Hernandez and Suarez were two of the top three hitters with the most strikeouts in the league, with a total of 425 combined. Kelenic didn’t have that many strikeouts only because he didn’t play in as many games; but his strikeout rate was actually highest on the team (31.7%, compared to 31.1% for Hernandez and 30.8% for Suarez).

For the record, last year there were five hitters above league average in strikeout rate (23.2%), with the other two being Julio (24.5%) and Cal (27.8%). For some reason, I don’t think either of those guys are in danger of going anywhere anytime soon.

So, when you factor in the strikeout aversion this team has suddenly developed, Kelenic’s days in Seattle were numbered. My contention here – like with Hernandez and Suarez – is that we’re not getting enough in return for very valuable pieces. I guess the team is hoping that it’s actually Addition By Subtraction. Except, the only problem with that is: you still need players to fill in for the vacant roles you just created!

Now, we’re down a third baseman, a right fielder, and a left fielder. We already needed a DH and a second baseman, as well as a new first baseman (depending on how much you believe in Ty France being fixed by Driveline). All we’ve done so far is pick up a backup catcher and a couple of potential relievers (assuming we’re able to fix what’s wrong with them in Spring Training).

That’s a lot to have to fill in one offseason. Arguably, it’s too much, and we’re going to come up short in multiple areas yet again. On top of which, there aren’t any prospects we can reasonably hope to rely upon in 2024, meaning we’re not just in need of help in our everyday starting lineup, but we’re also in need of bolstering our depth. As you can see by how much that depth was forced into action in 2023, they are NOT good enough to carry this team to the post-season.

It just feels like the Mariners are going further and further backward in their development, when they’re really supposed to be making a big push towards World Series relevance. And I can’t tell what exactly the plan is. Are we waiting for our next batch of prospects to develop? That won’t come until 2025 at the earliest, probably closer to 2026 or even 2027. At which point, what are we doing with the guys we’ve got at the Major League level currently?

At this rate, it seems like we’re waiting for them to get so fed up they demand to be traded out of here. God, wouldn’t that be nice? Can I demand to be traded to a fanbase where their team actually gives a shit about winning? I don’t even know what that’s like!

The Mariners Did Not Extend A Qualifying Offer To Teoscar Hernandez

I’m not going to lie to you, in an offseason that started – for all intents and purposes – at the very end of the regular season, at least as far as the Mariners are concerned, this organization has bungled things in a way I never could’ve possibly expected. First, the end-of-season press conference fiasco, and now this.

The whole impetus in trading for Teoscar Hernandez in the first place – giving up a potentially-useful reliever (something this team desperately needed by season’s end) and a lottery ticket prospect – is that the Mariners would get a year of his services in the middle of our lineup, and then either opt to extend him for 2024 and beyond (if things went well), or let him walk with a Qualifying Offer attached to his name, thereby receiving draft pick compensation whenever he signed elsewhere. Sure, it’s just another lottery pick, but with how the Mariners like to do business, that seemed like an ideal outcome, all things considered!

Somewhat expectedly, things did not go well for Teoscar. He’s a righty slugger who strikes out a lot and spent half his games hitting in T-Mobile Park; if you didn’t anticipate some struggles, then you clearly haven’t been following the Mariners for very long. He had two good months in 2023 to salvage what ended up being his seasonlong slash line of .258/.305/.435:

  • June – .303/.376/.573
  • August – .365/.396/.654

The other months were pretty abysmal. True to form, his home/road splits were pretty garish:

  • Home – 79 games, .217/.263/.380
  • Road – 81 games, .295/.344/.486

So, yeah, he let the ballpark and the marine layer get into his head. I don’t know how that explains why he had 64 singles on the road vs. only 40 at home, but maybe that marine layer is a little thicker than we ever thought. Either way, he was not the Value Add we all needed him to be. When he was going good, the team won games. But, about 2/3 of the time he sucked, and the team fell short as a result, unable to compensate for his underperformance on top of everyone else’s underperformance (save J.P.).

What I don’t understand is, why not roll the dice? Sure, he’s 31 years old, but it’s not like a player of his age, with his prior performance, hasn’t commanded an insane amount of money in free agency. All you need to do is point to those home/road splits and SOMEONE would’ve given him a 3-year deal! The free agent market is barren! And every team needs help with a power bat!

Were we SO afraid that he’d accept the QO (valued at just over $20 million) that we couldn’t even risk it? That seems silly. He would’ve gotten a better deal somewhere; I’m convinced of it. Are we so set at the position that we couldn’t use him for another year, if indeed he did decide to return? Clearly not! There’s a nonzero chance that with his experience in 2023, he could’ve adjusted and hit closer to his career norm. Regardless, it’s exceedingly unlikely that he would’ve accepted the QO anyway, so what are we even doing here?!

Even if you think he’s fallen off a cliff and is done as a valuable Major Leaguer, that doesn’t mean some other team isn’t foolish enough – or desperate enough – to give him a wad of cash. Where’s the risk? Show me where the risk is. Because I don’t think there’s any chance in hell that he would’ve come back.

All we did was make it easier for him to sign elsewhere. Is that the tactic? Are we trying to play nice with potential free agents out there? Trying to show them that we’re good to our players – even our exiting players – to let them know that Seattle is a good place to work? Even if I buy that for a hot second, you know what those players actually care about? How much money you’re going to give them.

This is just bungled mis-management, plain and simple. Unless I’m totally off-base, and the market for him is so thin – to the point that both the Mariners and Teoscar’s agent know it – that he actually would’ve returned on a $20 million deal. In this case, I can tell you right now, it’s more about the money than it is about him as a player.

Would I want him back? In a vacuum? Probably not. I would lean towards 2023 being the start of him falling off a cliff. That being said, in a vacuum, I don’t know if I’d necessarily be against trying him out as a mostly-everyday DH, even at a $20 million cost. For one more year? Given how the free agency market looks, our non-Ohtani options available to us (because I don’t see us actually having any chance in hell at signing Ohtani), why not? He shouldn’t be your everyday right fielder, but as a DH, you could do a lot worse. The Mariners certainly have as much experience in trotting out lackluster designated hitters as anyone, since Edgar retired anyway.

But, the Mariners have a finite amount of money they’re willing to spend. Even after what happened this past season, with how we underperformed, with how the Rangers just won their first-ever World Series, with this team being under a microscope with both fans and its own players alike, they’re still going to short-change us in the spending department. They’re going to make excuses about why players don’t want to come here. They’re going to justify their decisions by pointing to their farm system and Julio and Cal and J.P. and their bevy of young starters. They’re going to nickel and dime us and then continue to raise ticket prices and the cost of having Root Sports on our cable packages. It’s the Mariners’ Way.

Even if Teoscar has a thin market under the QO, we’ll never actually know, because he doesn’t have the QO. He’s free to sign with no penalty! Watch it be for a bundle too. If it is, I think it’s pretty safe to say that bundle still would’ve been there with the QO. If you’re going to pay him $50+ million guaranteed, you’re going to be willing to part with a middling draft pick.

I’ll admit, when I first heard the news, I thought maybe this was the Mariners’ way of trying to bring him back to the organization at some valuation under $20 million. Maybe 2 years $30 million or something like that. Get some front-end savings, while retaining the stability of a streaky-yet-sometimes-potent power hitter. But as I sat with it for an extra day, it just feels like the Mariners gave up on even being competitive this offseason. We’re so unwilling to do anything big, we won’t even extend the minimal risk of a qualifying offer to earn a free draft pick.

Instead, what was our first big move of the offseason? Well, we traded a AAA reliever I’ve never heard of for cash, and we traded a promising-looking low-level catcher for a not-so-promising-looking upper-minors catcher with the Rays. Tatem Lewis is the guy we got rid of, so watch for him to be a smashing success with Tampa. Instead, we get a guy named Blake Hunt, who’s poised to compete at the backup catcher spot with Tom Murphy. Really, what it means is that Hunt will start out at AAA – eliminating the need to roster Brian O’Keefe, thank Christ – until Murphy inevitably gets hurt. Then, we’ll get to enjoy seeing Hunt do his best O’Keefe impression. Fun!

My confidence in this organization isn’t at an all-time low. There have certainly been lower moments as a Mariners fan over the years. But, I will say my confidence is flatlining pretty hard at the moment. It’s not dead and buried and decomposing, but doctors are administering CPR and warming up the paddles.

The Mariners Swept The Angels For Their Fifth Straight Series Win

Things are starting to get interesting for the Mariners. I don’t know how seriously I want to take this development just yet, so let’s live in the hypothetical for now. That way I don’t have to commit to believing anything might be “real” in this situation.

Hypothetically speaking, the Mariners are one of the hottest teams in baseball. You can take this one of two ways: either, “It’s About Fucking Time” and claim this is what the team has been capable of all along; they’re just finally playing up to their potential. Or, “It’s Just A Fluke” and the other shoe is about to drop anytime now, because this team has always been a .500 team, and it’s only a matter of time before they take another nosedive.

But, hypothetically though? Hypothetically it’s now or never. If this team were to ever turn their season around, it couldn’t realistically happen any later. There’s a little under two months to go. And there are still a good number of teams in our way between where we are today and a hypothetical playoff appearance.

So, hypothetically, what’s changed? Well, as we’ve said all along, it starts with Julio. He’s been much better of late, steadily getting on base, producing runs, driving them in, the whole package. I wouldn’t even say he’s gone supernova yet, which is cause for optimism. He’s been fine, but he’s also choked in some big situations. I feel like he’s got a sustained period of perfection in him that’s yet to come out.

Very close behind, I would say the resurgence of Eugenio Suarez has been paramount. He was just giving us nothing most of the year, but then set the Mariners record for consecutive games with an RBI (at 10), and a lot of these have come in huge situations. Then, there’s the power surge of Cal Raleigh. Again, these are ALL guys we’ve been clamoring for all season! This team goes where its core goes, and these three players are the most important hitters on this team.

It’s important not to discount what J.P. Crawford has done this season. I tend to overlook him because he’s been the one positive (on the hitting side) throughout the year. No real lulls! He’s dragged this offense kicking and screaming to where it is today, and we’re finally starting to see some dividends paid. He has the best average and on-base percentage among regulars, which also gives him the best OPS. He’s leading the team in WAR. And, he has 10 homers as of today, which is already a season high for him, with 50 games to go.

Beyond that, we’re getting just enough from Ty France and Teoscar Hernandez (though you hope there are hot streaks left in both of those guys before the season’s through). With real production coming from the likes of Tom Murphy, Dylan Moore, and even Cade Marlowe in limited duty!

Also, by and large, the pitching has hypothetically continued being this team’s rock. It’s not nails every single game, but for the most part, it’s giving us a chance to win. And finally, this team is hypothetically taking advantage.

The Mariners needed this sweep. Hypothetically, if we’re going to make a run at the post-season, winning a series is nice, winning a string of them is even nicer, but we’ll need to sprinkle in some sweeps if we really want to make up some games on the teams ahead of us. The Angels were one of those teams in our way; now they’re not. Hypothetically.

The extreme LEAST likely victory of this sweep happened on Thursday. It was so unlikely that I called it before the game. Ohtani vs. Woo? Bet the entire Taylor Family Farm on the Angels and don’t look back! Easy money on the horizon! -1.5 runs? Of course!

And then the game got funky. Woo matched Ohtani zero for zero. Then, Ohtani left the game after four innings (though he continued to hit as the team’s DH). The M’s took a brief 1-0 lead in the sixth off of a Geno homer, but left that inning down 2-1. For a little while, it was looking like we’d lose that bet on the half-run kicker, but then Ohtani came through with a solo homer in the bottom of the 8th to give us our farm back. With the Angels’ closer having never blown a save this year? Not quite “easy” money, but money nevertheless.

Then, Cal and France walked to lead off the ninth inning. Then, newcomer Canzone singled sharply to right to load the bases. THEN, our last great hope Teoscar struck out, leaving us with Cade Marlowe. Has a guy named Cade ever been good for anything?!

Well, this one was! He hit a high fastball pushing 100mph for a go-ahead Grand Slam! What are you even talking about? What are you saying?! Where’s the Jennifer Lawrence eating hot wings meme?!

Andres Munoz quickly got ready and locked down his fourth save of the season to preserve the 5-3 victory. Unreal.

Nothing’s ever going to top that first game, but Friday’s thrilling 9-7 victory comes close. The M’s rallied for 4 runs in the first, thanks in large part to Ty France’s 3-run bomb (literally his first home run since June 22nd, breaking a streak of 34 homerless games). With Luis Castillo on the bump, this looked like smooth sailing.

Except, Castillo shit all over his legs, giving up 7 runs in 6 innings. Luckily, the M’s played add-on, so the game was tied at that point. Dylan Moore homered in the second to make it 5-1, and Julio homered in the fourth to make it 7-5. We were tied heading into the eighth, when Geno hit an RBI single to take the lead. Cal followed that up with a solo homer in the ninth to give the game its final score. Thankfully, the bullpen was on it, with Brash taking home only his second save of the season after working himself into a little bit of a tight situation.

We closed out the series with a pair of 3-2 victories over the weekend. Kirby got the start on Saturday and was an animal. 7 innings, 1 run on 3 hits, with 5 strikeouts. Julio had a 2-run double in the third, France had the game-winning RBI single in the eighth, and Munoz gave up a relatively harmless run in the ninth. Munoz got himself into a tremendous amount of trouble with two outs, allowing two runners to reach before giving up what was luckily only a ground rule double (the game-tying run definitely would’ve scored had that ball stayed in the yard). But then, after intentionally walking the next guy to load the bases, he hammered home four upper-90s fastballs to strike out the final batter.

On Sunday, J.P. led off the game with a first-pitch homer, but we gave them a run right back in the bottom half of the inning. This was Bryce Miller’s start, who had been on a two game skid that brought into question his ability to be a starter on this team (at least from me). He ended up settling down after that, going 5 innings, limiting them to just the 1 run on 5 hits with a whopping 10 strikeouts. He induced a ton of swings and misses, which was nice to see. And, he still had life on his fastball when all was said and done.

Teoscar eventually gave us a 2-1 lead with a solo homer in the seventh, but the Angels fought right back wth a solo homer of their own in the bottom half. The game went extra, with Geno getting an RBI single to take the lead in the tenth, and Tayler Saucedo earned the win by pitching the final two scoreless innings.

We get a couple of well-earned days off this week, sandwiching a 2-game home series against the Padres. Then, it’s Felix Hall of Fame Weekend against the high-flying Orioles. I’ll be at the games Saturday and Sunday, which is going to be an absolute thrill! Should be a perfect opportunity for the pitching to be on point and for the offense to go back in the tank. It literally defined Felix’s hall of fame career!

The Mariners Won Their Fourth Straight Series

It sounds good, until you realize it means the Mariners are just four games over .500.

You can glass half full this thing or glass half empty it. On the plus side, we’re talking about an 8-4 stretch, and I’ll always take that kind of success. On the down side, we’re 2-3 in that same span in 1-run games, which means it could be even better, if we were even the slightest bit clutch.

My point is, the Mariners need to sprinkle in some sweeps. It’s nice to win series, but we have a lot of ground to cover, in a short amount of time.

Monday’s 6-2 victory was pretty enjoyable. The Red Sox scored a bullshit run in the first thanks to two fielding errors by the Mariners’ defense (a run that was mystifyingly earned for some reason); it would prove to be the only blemish in an otherwise short day for George Kirby (5 innings, 1 run, with about 90 balls fouled off). But, the M’s bounced right back in the second with a solo Cal Raleigh homer. That was it until the 7th – with the Red Sox starter cruising until then – when Raleigh homered again to make it 2-1. Then, the floodgates opened in the 8th, as we finally knocked their starter out and nipped at their bullpen a bit.

On the day we lost Paul Sewald, the rest of the Mariners’ bullpen was pretty great. It got a little hairy in the top of the 8th; Munoz came in with two outs and two runners on, and struck out the next batter to finish it. By the time the 9th rolled around, we had amassed a 5-run lead, which meant we didn’t need the 4-out save by Munoz. Isaiah Campbell gave up a relatively harmless run, but got out of his own jam without further damage.

That closed the book on July. August started out with a major whimper, losing 6-4. Bryce Miller had his second consecutive bad game, and also his second consecutive game with diminishing fastball speed as it progressed. That’s … concerning. He gave up all 6 runs in 5.2 innings; all came after a clean first three innings for him. Not ideal for someone who wants to stick in the rotation longterm. Hopefully, this is just some dead arm from a rookie who isn’t used to pitching this much.

To their credit, the hitters kept fighting, against a pretty nasty starter from the Sox. Suarez had 3 RBI, including a 2-run homer. And France, Marlowe, and newcomer Canzone all got in on the fun. But, as a team, we were 2/12 with RISP. The newly-acquired utility player Josh Rojas was 0/4 on the day, 0/3 with RISP, striking out twice. Did he single-handedly cost us this game? Who’s to say?! Kolten Wong couldn’t have been worse, though; not that I’m the biggest Kolten Wong fan in the world. I’m just saying.

I was moderately impressed with Trent Thornton stepping in and pitching 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. He’s got an interesting repertoire for someone without the hardest stuff. I’ll be interested in tracking him the rest of the year. It was also nice to finally see Devin Sweet throw a scoreless inning after being called up from AA. It’s interesting to say the least that we still have some of these questionable rookies (Sweet, Campbell) on the Major League roster, while someone like Matt Festa – who was pretty solid for us last year – is languishing in Tacoma.

The Mariners won 6-3 on get-away day. Good on Logan Gilbert – who was subjected to a lot of chatter about possibly being traded in the last week – to shut out the noise and pitch a Quality Start his first turn after the deadline. That’s a pretty good Red Sox lineup, so I’ll take 6 innings and 3 runs anytime against them. And, once again, the non-Sewald leftovers in the bullpen did their jobs: keeping the Sox scoreless the rest of the way.

Once again, Cal Raleigh was a monster, with a 2-run homer to kick off our scoring in the 6th. That was only the beginning, though, as we put up a 4-spot in the 7th to wrestle control of the game from them. Suarez and Tom Murphy had 3 hits each, Julio continued his on-base streak with a hit and eventually stole home to score our final run of the day (on a nicely-timed double-steal). Canzone had a walk and a run, and Marlowe had a pinch hit single and RBI. Lots of good stuff here.

We’re on to Anaheim starting today, and of course we start off by going up against Ohtani on the mound. He’s been in fucking overdrive lately and pretty much all season, so I’m expecting to see a lot of damage inflicted upon us in this 4-game set. I wouldn’t be surprised if we fall all the way back to .500 when it’s all said and done, destroying all the progress we’ve made over the last 12 games.

The Mariners Wrapped Up A Limp, Syphilitic Trade Deadline By Trading For A DFA’d Reliever

Meanwhile, the Astros re-acquired Justin Verlander, and pretty much everyone in the playoff race got better than the Seattle Mariners.

I don’t even know what to say. I’m flabbergasted. I can’t comprehend what it is the Mariners are doing. For anyone wondering, here’s the total breakdown:

  • Kolten Wong (2B) DFA’d by Mariners after being unable to find a trade partner
  • Eduard Bazardo (RP) acquired from Baltimore after being DFA’d, for minor leaguer Logan Rinehart; he’ll start out in Tacoma for now
  • PTBNL or Cash acquired from San Francisco for A.J. Pollock and minor league nobody Mark Mathias (and also cash)
  • Josh Rojas (UTIL), Dominic Canzone (OF), and Ryan Bliss (INF) acquired from Arizona for Paul Sewald
  • Trent Thornton (RP) acquired from Toronto after being DFA’d, for minor leaguer Mason McCoy

Thornton joined the club last night, along with Rojas and Canzone. Wong and Pollock being given the ax were the easiest moves of the week and the team gets no credit for moving on. Rojas is a player on the decline at this point, and platooning him with Caballero seems like a nightmare. It also seems like Dylan Moore had been playing extremely well of late, and I wonder where he’s been after his 2-homer game.

Replacing Sewald with these nothing relievers seems like a total slap in the face. It’s discouraging to say the least that the majority of the young guys we’ve called up so far this season have been kind of disasterous, but the bullpen REALLY doesn’t feel like the strength it’s been the last couple years.

Not for nothing, but this would’ve been a prime opportunity to re-acquire Kendall Graveman. I’m just saying.

What you’re really telling me with this trade deadline is it all boils down to one guy: Canzone. The relievers are meaningless, but also probably bad. The utility guy is a utility guy, who probably isn’t any better than Moore or Haggerty (or Wong for that matter). The minor leaguer won’t be ready for a year or two, if ever. So, we’re banking this whole trade deadline on Canzone, a guy just breaking into the Major Leagues, who is a coin flip at best. Sure, he’s hit at every minor league level, but that means nothing, especially once you get called up to play in Seattle. See: Abraham Toro.

If we were going to shoot our wad on one guy, why didn’t we just trade Paul Sewald for one guy? One ESTABLISHED guy who could actually make an impact immediately and down the line?

Also, what does this mean for next year? Are you telling me the Mariners are going to give Teoscar a qualifying offer? We’re going to bring him back? Then what? Is he going to DH? What if Canzone – by the grace of all that is holy – actually pans out? It’s him and Kelenic and Julio? I guess that’s a good problem to have, but if he doesn’t pan out, then we’re absolutely no better than we were this time last week. In fact, we’re considerably worse. Because I have to believe there’s a better than good chance that Teoscar walks after this season, to try to re-establish his value in a more hitter-friendly environment. We get a whatever draft pick for giving him the qualifying offer, and that’s it, huh? That’s better than whoever we could’ve gotten in a trade right now?

The other thing you’re telling me is that you’re passing the blame fully on the players. I understand they get a share of the blame. They have to. Too many of our “core” guys have underperformed at the same time. But, the organization is totally passing the buck on their role in this whole mess. Bringing in Wong and Pollock and La Stella and Hernandez. Every offseason move last year was a FUCKING DISASTER! None of those guys panned out. All but one were actively worse than a replacement-level player, and Teoscar certainly wasn’t the kind of middle-of-the-order hitter we desperately needed.

So, what did we do? Traded for a bunch of replacement-level players. Great.

The dirty little secret here is the Mariners are doing the same thing they did LAST time Shohei Ohtani was up for bids: they’re clearing the decks financially, in order to get beaten by some other team that’s going to blow him away with an insane offer. Then, once we’ve lost that race, we’re going to have no one else we’re able to aquire to fill that giant void.

What a fucking shitshow. That’s the Mariners for ya. We got who we got and we’re going to die with what they’re not giving us at the plate. Fun.

Can The Mariners Contend For Shohei Ohtani?

The All Star Break happened this past week. Seattle hosted, there were lots of events all around town, and I wasn’t there. I don’t feel bad about that, because – for instance – tickets to the All Star Game and the Home Run Derby were insanely expensive. The thing last weekend sounded kinda cool, where there was the Futures Game and the Celebrity Softball Game all for one ticket. But, then you’ve got all the driving it takes to get there, finding parking, all the walking, being around all the people, and God forbid if you’re sitting in a section drenched with sun, but it’s not super fun to be roasting during a hot summer day, even in Seattle.

Quite frankly, I had other plans last weekend that were far more enjoyable. And I’ve got other things to spend my money on that take priority. So, even though this might be the last chance for me to attend any sort of All Star festival in my hometown (it took 22 years to get back here; I’ll be an old man probably the next time they come again), I don’t feel bad about missing out. Maybe if I was 10-15 years younger, with more disposable income, I would’ve been all over it. But, whatevs.

I also just didn’t have a ton of interest. I missed even watching the Home Run Derby on TV because I wanted to see the movie Past Lives in a theater. I watched a good chunk of the All Star Game, but that was because I was visiting my dad, and even then I couldn’t be bothered to stay the full nine innings. I blame a lot of my lack of interest on the Mariners being super mediocre (and therefore super disappointing, considering pre-season expectations). Whenever the Mariners are super mediocre, I use the All Star Break to unwind, and detach from all things baseball. That was more or less my status this week.

But, being on Twitter and whatnot, you can’t help but hear about interesting things. Like the Shohei Ohtani experience. The fans chanting, “Come To Seattle!” Him talking at the press conference about how he spends some offseason time in the Seattle area (apparently going to Driveline for some hitting instruction/analysis in Kent), and how much he likes the area. We already know that the Mariners were one of the final teams in on him when he originally came to MLB from Japan. And we already know that he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

So, what are the odds that the Mariners are able to sign him?

I gotta say, first and foremost, I can’t remember the last time I was this invested in a free agent. There are, I’m sure, free agents in every sport, every year, that I would really want for my teams. But, maybe the financials don’t line up, maybe they’d be blocked by a player I like who’s already on the team, or maybe they just have no interest in signing in Seattle, so the rumors never point to us being a possibility. But, here, you have to think the Mariners are in on it. The organization desperately wants and needs him, both for his pitching as well as his hitting. We fit a lot of the parameters of what he’s looking for in a new home. I’m sure we’d be willing to structure the contract around his wants and needs; maybe he gets a full no trade clause. Maybe he wants an opt out (or multiple opt outs) after a certain number of seasons.

I’m not saying the M’s are a lock, or that we’re even frontrunners. There are other organizations in other markets with more money to spend and a better winning pedigree that I’m sure could put us to shame. But, at the very least, the Mariners have a seat at the table, and that’s important.

That being said, I’m reluctant to get my hopes up. Granted, I’m ALWAYS reluctant to get my hopes up because I’m a firm believer in jinxes, and believing that something good might happen is a great way to ensure that something actually-terrible is going to happen.

There’s only one positive outcome, and that’s Ohtani signing with the Mariners. There are two neutral outcomes: he makes a surprise retirement, or he opts to play outside of Major League Baseball (both options are quite remote). The rest of the outcomes are all bad, with the worst being: he signs with the Rangers, Astros, or Angels (spoiler alert: the A’s have no shot, so it’s not even worth mentioning the entirety of the other teams in the A.L. West).

If I’m being honest, I think the least likely of the three would be Ohtani signing with the Astros. I don’t know that they have the money to take him on. Of course, that would be the most enraging, so I’m not ruling it out for that reason alone. I kinda think – depending on how the rest of this season shakes out – that the Rangers are a sneaky option: lots of money, a youngish team on the rise, lots of All Stars to surround yourself with, and they were reportedly one of the preferred Ohtani teams the last time he was a free agent (which were: teams on the west coast, the Rangers, and the Cubs).

I want to say the Mariners are (and should be) all in on Ohtani. There are a lot of arguments you can make that one of the big reasons why we didn’t opt to make a bigger splash in free agency last offseason was because we knew we were putting our eggs in the Ohtani basket for 2024 and beyond. Of course, they can’t come out and say that, so instead they say the reason is Julio’s contract and Castillo’s contract (both of which were signed during the previous regular season). This is sort of akin to how the Mariners went out of their way to free up international dollars the last time Ohtani was a free agent, when we were caught with our pants around our ankles thanks to the Angels signing him. At that point, we had nothing to spend that money on, and ended up trading a lot of it away, rather than make any attempt at signing any international guys.

Will that be our downfall in 2023? Will we have gone to all these lengths to save money, only to fall short once again? And how is that going to affect our roster-building strategy for 2024 if Ohtani goes elsewhere? Will we be left with scraps and have to find other ways to try and improve?

Or, am I wrong entirely, and the price tag for Ohtani will actually be too high for the Mariners?

We can’t rule that out, even though it makes all the sense in the world to sign him at whatever the cost. The money can be made back through other avenues. I know it’s looking like a $500 or $600 million deal in totality (10 years, $50-$60 million per year), which will be the most expensive contract in MLB history by a million miles, but billionaires are good at one thing: making money. They should have no problem making money off of Ohtani.

Nevertheless, the Mariners are a notoriously cheap organization. Not like Oakland or Tampa are cheap; but those franchises have stadium issues that never got squared away. The Mariners HAVE their stadium. They own a majority stake in their cable channel (Root Sports). And yet they still manage to underspend compared to the big dogs. They blame the middling media market, meanwhile they take home a tidy profit damn near every year there isn’t a worldwide pandemic.

So, I can’t say with 100% certainty that the Mariners aren’t scared off by that pricetag.

I also can’t say I would necessarily blame them, in one very specific respect: what if he gets hurt?

As a pitcher, you’re always subject to arm issues. What if he needs Tommy John or any other litany of injuries that would keep him out for a significant portion of the year? That not only eliminates one of your best pitchers, but also your best hitter, in one fell swoop. Now you’re paying $50-$60 million a year for someone on the IL, that you hope will return to form. He’ll also be 30 in July of next year. There’s a good chance he’ll never be as good as he’s been these last three seasons with the Angels. Can you afford that sort of contract when he’s pushing 40? When will he need to be transitioned away from pitching and become a full time DH? Will this be a Robinson Cano situation, where we’re shedding great players just to get out from under his contract, if we even can?

Don’t get me wrong, I still want Ohtani! Even if he’s only giving us five good years, that’s our window anyway! I want a World Series title in the next five years; we’ll worry about years 6-10 when they come.

But, I have every reason to believe he won’t sign with Seattle. There will be some other team with more money, more amenities to offer, and a better plan to win it all. What have the Mariners EVER done to show you they’re committed to going all the way? To doing whatever it takes? Sure, they make big splashes to go from bad to mediocre. But, when they get to be even a little good, the M’s pull back on the throttle. They stand pat when it comes to trades. They pinch every last penny in free agency. They never push their chips all in.

And that, more than anything, is the reason why we’ll never see Ohtani in a Mariners uniform. Either we won’t pay him what he’s worth, or he’ll see right through us and have enough sense to know that the Mariners won’t do a damn thing once he’s here. Felix Hernandez is the King; he’s also the #1 cautionary tale of an organization that let a remarkable talent be squandered by not doing enough to build around him. Felix deserved better than the Mariners. So does Ohtani.

You (Mariners) Are One Pathetic Loser

Another trip to Anaheim, another series lost.

If the Mariners are just going through the motions, then I’m not necessarily interested in giving my whole ass towards writing about them. There’s nothing interesting about this team anymore. Losing slightly more than half their games isn’t fodder for conversation. If they were among the worst teams in baseball, that would be something, because at least then we’d be talking about also being among the worst teams of all time (considering what the A’s and Royals have been up to). If they were playing well, then we could talk about winning the division and playoff positioning and all that.

But, instead, we’re in this vast in-between, where the Mariners aren’t good enough to dream big, but aren’t quite bad enough to turn this into a full-on roast blog.

I don’t even want to recap the last series, but I’ll get it over with quickly.

The series hinged on Friday’s result. We lost 5-4, and therefore we lost the series. That was the big Castillo vs. Ohtani matchup. Naturally, Castillo got hit around (with an assist from some pisspoor defense), and the Mariners couldn’t hit enough (surprise surprise). Ohtani wasn’t the best we’ve ever seen, but most of the damage against him came via the walk, which he was able to pitch around for the most part.

We won Saturday 6-2. Bryan Woo bounced back nicely, but still couldn’t finish five innings to earn the win. Better to build up his confidence though, than risk him blowing it. He went 4.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 7. And the bullpen was great from there.

And, on Sunday, we lost 9-4. Logan Gilbert sucked ass, is the overarching headline.

I’m not shouting out any individual hitters, because fuck them. They haven’t done shit this year.

I can’t even watch this team anymore. I try. I turn the game on, but then I get interested in something else. Not even a pitch clock and shorter games can hold my interest. Invariably, either the Mariners dig themselves an early hole too big to get out of, or they get a small lead and ultimately blow it. Why would I want to spend 3 precious hours of my day in service of another soul-sucking loss? There’s no fight in this team. There’s no heart. There’s just a bunch of assholes cashing a pay check.

How long until football season starts?