The Seattle Mariners are a bizarrely-run sports franchise.
Playing in the easiest division in baseball to reach the postseason, the team has now failed to do so for seven consecutive seasons. With only four teams in the AL West, and routinely crappy ones at that, the Mariners open every season with a 25% chance of claiming a playoff spot.
However, with Wednesday’s trade with the Pirates, the Mariners made a bold statement about their goal to avoid postseason baseball until the Sun expands into a Red Giant and envelops the Earth, thereby ending any chance of accidentally slipping into contention, as sometimes happens in that stupid division out there on the left side of the country.
Being routinely middling over the past seven seasons has brought the Mariners a bevy of high first-round draft picks. Prior to the 2007 season, Baseball Prospectus’ list of the team’s top prospects closely resembled lists compiled by Baseball America and other baseball publications and contained an impressive collection of young talent:
1. Adam Jones
2. Jeff Clement
3. Brandon Morrow
4. Tony Butler
5. Chris Tillman
By the end of the season, Jones was in the major leagues as a 21-year-old, Clement moved up to No. 1 on BP’s list of Mariners prospects, and Tillman was slated right behind him at No. 2—but totally not in a gay way.
Now, just past the midpoint in the 2009 season, where are the Mariners’ top prospects? Helping reinforce the big-league squad en route to the postseason, a la the Rays in 2008?
No, Jones just made his first All-Star appearance as the Orioles’ 23-year-old starting center fielder, Tillman made his first major league start for the O's on Wednesday as a 21-year-old after dominating the high minors, and now Clement has been moved to Pittsburgh after coming to the plate just 243 times as a Mariner.
In return, the Mariners have gotten 160 innings over two seasons from Erik Bedard, who will be a free agent after the 2009 season. And now they have the pleasure of welcoming onto their roster Ian Snell, a pitcher who was unable to crack the starting rotation of the Pittsburgh Pirates and once adopted his wife’s name upon marriage, and Jack Wilson, a 31-year-old with a career adjusted OPS+ of 79.
There is no upside to Ian Snell or Jack Wilson. Erik Bedard is an excellent pitcher who unfortunately has yet to throw 200 innings in a season as a 30-year-old.
Hey, at least Ichiro is under contract for three more years at $17 million per. There's nothing like an overpriced corner outfielder in his late 30s to ease the crushing pain of trading away the most valuable commodities your organization has produced since Alex Rodriguez.
The Mariners are very, very bad.