I really like the plan of the Seattle Mariners, at least in theory.
You build a team with pitching and defense, maintain fiscal responsibility, and do not get enticed into the ridiculous overspending that is so common with today’s free-agent contracts.
Granted, I said that I like the plan in theory.
What is the problem? It does not appear to be working, and I have doubts about the future. If anything, the team is going backwards.
Here are the team batting averages for the last three seasons:
2010 team average: .236
2011 team average: .233
2012 team average: .232 (through Sept. 21)
You could argue that we have seen some young players develop in the Mariner system. The lineup continues to have “potential,” whatever that means. Unfortunately, over the last few seasons it has meant that the Mariners have the worst offense in the league. Low averages and not a lot of power.
Maybe it all comes together in 2013. Maybe a couple of the young pitchers make the club out of spring training and the M’s set a new standard for dominance in the American League West. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Will the Mariners bring in a marquee free-agent bat in the offseason?
I am sick of “maybe.” I am sick of “wait until next year.” When will this team finally grow up all at the same time? Will the lineup get good just in time for Felix Hernandez to retire? Enough is enough.
The Mariners need a bat. Two bats would be better. In the offseason, the Seattle management needs to hit the ground running and go after the top free-agent hitters. While they are at it, there might be wisdom in moving the fences in just a few feet. Do not move them in so far that you lose your pitching advantage, but inching in the fences would be symbolic. It would say something to potential free agents.
Might Seattle need to overpay? Perhaps. I know that might fly in the face of the philosophy that has been employed over the last few seasons. However, it is time to admit that the growth process has been a bit too slow.
The lineup needs confidence. They need to have a professional hitter who can rally the team and be the go-to slugger. These suggestions for potential bats are all intriguing, but they all have question marks. Of course, that is the point, right? When you sign a big-time player, there is always a risk that they will not live up to the contract.
It is time for the Mariners to take that risk. It is time for ownership to join the party and spend some money. The fans are not coming. They are a little tired of a team that hits .230 for the season.
Open the checkbook and get ready to write in a lot of zeros.