WIth the Seattle Mariners continuing to disappoint in the 2013 season, it may soon be time for Seattle to start thinking drastic in order to get this team moving in the right direction.
As the season reaches it's mid-point, it has become obvious that this team is stuck in neutral. Recently, the Mariners have had chances to accomplish their first season sweep on three separate occasions, and have failed each time. Failing to accomplish these sweeps have been devastating for the Mariners, as it has prevented them from making the climb up to the .500 mark. In fact, the Mariners have not been able to get past seven games below .500 since they were 20-26 back on May 21.
So what exactly do the Mariners need to do in order to make a run to .500? Here are three moves that the Mariners could make moving forward.
After blowing four saves in three and a half weeks, the Mariners finally decided they had seen enough of Tom Wilhelmsen and removed him from the closer role.
In all honesty, this move could have been made sooner, as it had become obvious that Wilhelmsen was not the same dominant closer he was the season before. The most tell-tale sign of Wilhelmsen's struggles could be seen in his control and his strikeout rate. In 2012, Wilhelmsen issued only 29 walks over 79.1 IP while posting a strong mark of 9.87 K/9. This season, Wilhelmsen's K/9 mark has dropped drastically to 6.39 and has already walked 17 batters over 31.0 IP.
With Wilhelmsen struggling to locate his fastball, it made it more difficult for him to throw his devastating curve in order to keep hitters off balance. As time went on, it became obvious that Wilhelmsen, along with most Mariners fans, were losing confidence with every pitch he threw.
At this point, Wilhelmsen should be kept from any type of pressure situation, and should be allowed to figure out what exactly has gone wrong. With that in mind, Yoervis Medina now must step up in Wilhelmsen's place and take a stranglehold on the closer role.
In his last two outings, Medina has been solid and even recorded his first save on June 18 against the Angels. At this point, the Mariners' best option in the ninth is Medina. They would be smart to see what the kid has moving forward for the rest of the season, instead of allowing Wilhelmsen to do more damage to himself.
This move comes from a series of events that have occurred for the Mariners over the 2013 season.
First, Franklin Gutierrez landed on the designated list again, further showing that he could not be relied on as a full-time player for the Mariners.
Second, Michael Saunders followed up a strong first month by batting 27-141 (.191) over the months of May and June.
Finally, Ackley's struggles at the plate led to his demotion to Triple-A Tacoma in favor of prospect Nick Franklin. Ever since arriving on the scene in Seattle, Franklin has been very impressive batting .280/.365/.480 with three home runs and six RBI while holding his own at second base.
With Franklin entrenching himself into the every day second baseman role at the major league level, Dustin Ackley has been ripping Triple-A Tacoma apart. Since being sent down, Ackley is batting .400 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 20 games, and has rediscovered the confidence that went missing in Seattle.
With that in mind, the organization was faced with the question of how to include both of them in the lineup when Ackley returns from Tacoma. With the Mariners lack of outfield depth in the organization, the Mariners decided the best way to do this was to start giving Ackley reps in the outfield down in Tacoma. Ackley isn't a stranger to the outfield, as he played there early in his collegiate career with North Carolina before being moved to first base following Tommy John surgery.
With Franklin Gutierrez rehabbing in Tacoma as well, it would not be a surprise to see him and Ackley recalled at the same time to provide the Mariners with an offensive boost moving forward. However, with Guti's documented health issues, it would be silly for the Mariners to expect him to come back and be the every day center fielder. With that in mind, the Mariners should use Guti sparingly on the corners, while allowing Ackley to get as much time in center as possible.
Though many will think that firing a manager mid-season would hurt a franchise's chances of reaching the .500 mark, the dismissal of Eric Wedge may be the best for both sides at this point.
Wedge has had trouble on several occasions recognizing talent, and has often relied too much on "veteran leadership" to carry a team that is in desperate need of a change. He has already worn out his welcome with the majority of the fan base, and in all honesty stands no chance of surviving after this season any way. Dave Schoenfield of ESPN.com was singing the same tune about Wedge back at the end of May as well, especially after Wedge's comments in regards to Dustin Ackley's struggles.
Wedge's blame of sabermetrics for his young players struggles was not only irresponsible, but down right offensive to several people; most notably to Dave Cameron of U.S.S Mariner;
"But, what do I know, I haven’t played the game competitively since I was
nine years old18-years-old. Everyone knows that the only people capable of offering any kind of intelligent analysis of baseball players are those who have Major League experience. You know, like Eric Wedge. That’s what’s made him such a successful Major League manager, with his career record of 725 wins and 784 losses. And, you know, clearly Wedge knows how to develop young talent, since he helped all those young players turn into superstars in Cleveland."
Cameron's displeasure of Wedge is a blatant reflection of just about every Mariners fan at this point in time; which reaffirms why Wedge's dismissal would be the right thing for both parties.
With that in mind, the Mariners are not going to go out and hire a manager midseason, so the most logical move would be to promote John Stearns from Tacoma. The Rainiers have been one of the best teams in the minor leagues this season, and a trial run for Stearns at the major league level wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. At this point, a move like this could be just what the Mariners need to fight their way back to .500.
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