The Seattle Mariners' 2013 season needs to end.
While I am well aware we still have a little over a week of baseball left to play, I must confess that I'm ready to move on with my life.
During what was arguably one of the best weekends in Seattle sports history with the Sounders on Friday, Huskies on Saturday and Seahawks on Sunday night all winning big games, the Mariners halfway across the country dropped a series to the St. Louis Cardinals and barely avoided being swept thanks only to the stellar pitching of rookie James Paxton on Saturday night.
Beyond that one win and the 8-0 victory in Detroit Wednesday night, it's been a truly ugly stretch of baseball for the M's as they've now lost 12 of 17 games during the month of September.
Does this means that heads should roll?
At this point I feel that Mariner fans should expect big changes this offseason, but if we assume that general manager Jack Zduriencik is still under contract for one more year, does firing manager Eric Wedge help solve the problem?
Dave Cameron at U.S.S. Mariner believes the organization is once again searching for a scapegoat:
Firing Eric Wedge alone doesn’t work. It not only continues a too long trend of scapegoating, but it puts the organization in a position where they won’t be able to hire a real long term replacement. If Wedge is going, everyone has to go. The Mariners made this bed with both Jack Zduriencik and Eric Wedge, and letting one take the fall for the failures of both creates more problems than it solves.
It’s time for new voices, but just swapping out the manager’s voice for a new lame duck manager’s voice isn’t going to do anyone any good.
Of course anyone who has been following Cameron knows this is nothing new, but what took me by surprise was hearing Larry Stone of the Seattle Times earlier this week losing faith in the front office and, by extension, the men higher up in the organization:
Now, however, for the first time in the Zduriencik regime, I can’t with a clear conscience reach that conclusion. The once-promising blueprint has gone off track, leaving the Mariners with far too many question marks and unresolved problems for the fifth year of a rebuilding plan.
As another season unravels, it seems increasingly inevitable that Zduriencik will pay with his job. And this time, there’s no defense I can muster, except for one: The root problems with this organization reach much higher.
Sadly, though, Stone deep down knows that team president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln are made of Teflon and that owner Hiroshi Yamauchi is "absentee" at best.
Until something changes that dynamic, we will most likely continue to see this franchise rot.
That's not to say the powers that be won't come up with something to keep the fans coming.
After all this year alone, the organization moved in the fences, put up a big scoreboard and handed out another fresh batch of worthless tchotchkes as a means of saying "Thank you!"
Do you expect to see big changes this offseason?
All joking aside, at this point what should we really expect?
First I think that Eric Wedge will be the scapegoat Dave Cameron predicted and replaced internally with either Robby Thompson, Daren Brown or perhaps John Stearns. Of course the team will play up Wedge's health issues to help put a somewhat positive spin on the story, but deep down the team simply struggled with him at the helm.
Next, if we assume that Jack Zduriencik survives the next few weeks, he will either take the rinse and repeat approach or go for broke this winter knowing this is his last chance to make good before he gets the boot.
In short, the Mariners need serious help and should have serious money to spend.
That's not to say that money will solve all of the Mariners' problems, but it sure could help make for a decent start, and if Jack Z is desperate enough he will do whatever it takes to net at least one or two big names available this offseason.
Overall this should set the stage for an interesting winter, as I can't see the M's sitting too long on the sidelines with a pile of cash waiting to be spent with the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Tim Lincecum potentially available.
Will they end up overpaying for these or other players like them?
In order to get anyone decent to come to Seattle, of course they will.
When you have either a desperate general manager or perhaps a new one looking for a fresh start with a lot of money to play with, an absentee owner with his shadowy cohorts lurking in the background and an ever-dwindling fanbase looking for the slightest shred of hope, the chances for mischief this winter should be favorable.
Otherwise, expect to see a roster similar to the one you are seeing today filled with role players, retreads, rookies and Felix Hernandez producing equally disappointing results.
So will any of what I've just outlined actually work out?
That depends on your point of view.
If you're ownership you will likely keep counting your money.
If you're Jack Zduriencik you will probably keep counting your losses.
If you're a fan you keep counting the days until the Seahawks' season starts.
Such is life in Seattle, year after year after year.
Without change at the very top, the Mariners will continue to sink further into the abyss.