Seattle Mariners: Smoak and Mirrors in 2012 Leads to Sunshine in 2015?

Thomas HolmesCorrespondent IIIJanuary 31, 2012

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 26:  Justin Smoak #17 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by teammates after hitting a three-run homer in the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on September 26, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

It seems that Prince Fielder is going to Motown at a price that only Tigers' Owner Mike Ilitch could afford—kudos to Scott Boras for getting a king's ransom for a Prince. 

Sure, it was fun to entertain such thoughts during the holiday season as we all tend to spend too much money on things we don't need. But as is often the case come the start of the New Year, once the credit card bills arrive in the mail—we soon realize how such reckless spending can lead to regrets.

So what exactly does fiscal solvency-responsibility earn Mariner fans?

A vision, a promise, a wish?

Something to that effect is what Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is hoping will come to fruition—some day.

For now Seattle Times Geoff Baker offers his assessment of the situation:

"They just haven't made the moves that would indicate they are. And they aren't spending the money it will take. Maybe they will spend in two or three years, at which point—in theory—they (with the current or new ownership) should be well-positioned to do so. But maybe they won't spend it then, either. Who knows?"

Baker then concludes his thoughts with his best guess:

"And for right now, rather than investing more money to do a quicker rebuild like the Angels, Red Sox, Tigers or Yankees, the results indicate the Mariners have chosen the long route to get where they need to be. How long that will take is anyone's guess, but setting 2015 as the new target seems a good place to start."


That equates to three more full seasons trapped under the Angels, Rangers and to a lesser extent—A's. Heck, with the addition of Houston to the AL West next season, the Mariners could find themselves in fifth place for a couple of seasons.

Until now, the promise of the youth movement seemed reasonable enough for one to ignore the past. Baker's colleagues at the Seattle Times offered up their cautious opinions on the situation last week.

Jerry Brewer put together a far rosier outlook with his write-up just a few days ago by stating:

"In reality, the Mariners are doing what most teams undergoing a youth movement do. They're refraining from excessive free-agent spending, committing to their young players and attempting to create a core that can grow together. The test of their willingness to spend money will begin next offseason, when they should understand fully what they have—and don't have."

Larry Stone also tries to offer a sunnier view as well:

"It's a vision that has at least—and at last—reached the stage of plausibility. The young talent that Zduriencik continued to tout at Thursday's annual pre-Spring training media luncheon at Safeco Field is also being lauded by those in the business of ranking prospects. The Mariners, by many accounts outside the built-in bias of Seattle's front office, could be sitting on a gold mine of burgeoning talent."

Making things all the more plausible was Jack Z making arguably the boldest move in all of baseball this offseason.

At first glance, it's easy to criticize Zduriencik for putting his cards on the table and making the move for Jesus Montero.

Trading a potential stud like Pineda is a huge gamble. With few options at his disposal, he made a daring move that will likely make or break him in Seattle—rather than stand pat, throw a ton of money at Prince Fielder or sign the likes of Astros' Jack Cust—again.

Jack Z's faith in Jesus and the rest of the kids is as good as it will get for now as the Mariners fortunes both literally and figuratively are cloudy at best. 

So, do you believe in Smoak and Mirrors? 

Fact is: You, Jack Z and Manager Eric Wedge have little choice.