While writing here on Bleacher Report, I have noticed a particularly disturbing trend.
Every single article tagged for the Seattle Mariners involves a so-called "quick fix" solution to their struggles, or a narration of their latest foible.
Without watching a single game, and simply visiting the Seattle Mariners' page here on Bleacher Report, it is easy to deduce that the M's are struggling this year.
This is a team with realistic aspirations to win a division title, and possibly even make it to the World Series. Instead, they are on pace for the second worst record in franchise history.
That being said, I went to Seattle fans still willing to talk about the team, and posed them a (theoretically) simple question: Who or what is most to blame for the Mariners' struggles thus far in the 2008 season?
The responses I got were intelligent, well constructed, and often times included a bit of a sarcastic twinge.
Here is the discussion that took place:
I believe the offense is most to blame. If you look at the pitching performances to start the year, they were outstanding. However, as soon as the offense started stalling, the pitching became worse.
As soon as the pitching realized that they could not give up more than a couple runs and still count on the offense to pick them up, they began to pitch tight. From there on out, they started feeling the pressure and giving up runs.
If the offense were more potent, I believe the pitchers would have continued to have great outings. Instead, we are here sitting in last place.
Fantastic Question. Be ready for an earfull.
At the top of the list of who is responsible for this sad state of Mariner affairs:
1. Bill Bavasi. This man took over a franchise that was consistently contending for the playoffs. We won more games in 2001 than any team in modern history.
Bavasi is an idiot who could not put together a winning bowling team, much less a World Series champion. Let's look at his No. 1 failure...Richie Sexson.
Even if you give Bavasi the benefit of the doubt in signing Sexson, I ask you, on what CHAMPIONSHIP caliber team would this 200-hitting-wiff-machine of a first baseman still be playing for? NONE! Bavasi should have cut his losses long ago.
2. He signs Kenji Johjima to a three year multi-million-dollar extension when Kenji was batting under 200 early in the season.
We have a couple of awesome prospects coming up in the catching position and our general manager saddles us with this mediocrity. The examples go on and on. Bavasi is not a winner. He needs to go and we need someone with a winning vision and a winning plan.
I've got to agree that Bavasi shoulders some of the blame. I do find it a little confusing how this is essentially the same team that he rolled out last year, and they experienced some success. This makes it even more perplexing to me on why this team cannot (or will not) succeed. Lets just hope he does not try to fix his Sexson (and Cairo, and Wilkerson, etc.) mistake by signing Hatteberg!
(Brad) Wilkerson is starting to hit a little better now, he just needed to get on a better team. (Richie) Sexson should have been gone last year. Ichiro needs a couple of days on the bench that's for sure, (Jeremy) Reed can handle center while Ichiro gets a rest !!!
June 3, 14.5 games out...Enough already! Endlessly discussing these losers only makes us more like them. I'm a fan, but it's time to step back and spend our "Mariners" time more effectively. Take up a new instrument, learn a foreign language, read a classic. There's always next spring.
Some constructive criticism, which I'm sure is what brought you here. I think you're getting ahead of yourself, and as a result your paragraph has too much speculation when the whole situation is much simpler than that.
The 2007 team overachieved for it's true talent level while the front office acted upon the 88 wins as if it really were true talent level. Then, they went out and upgraded the rotation, called themselves contenders and called it an off-season.
All the while, they ignored their middling [and actually downgraded with the absence of Jose Guillen] offense with on-base deficiencies and ignored their absolutely unacceptable defense for a so-called "contender," which ranked second-worst in the Majors. Which makes them only ahead of Tampa Bay, who ignored defense in a rebuilding year to fit as much of their young, undeveloped hitters into the lineup to break them into the bigs.
Now that the Rays have good defense? We're the worst, and even worse than last year.
I think I can sum this up in a way that anyone can understand...
Bad offense + Awful defense + Disappointing pitching = Bad team. But we're actually...
Below Average offense + Awful defense + Average/Above Average pitching = Sub .500 team.
So who is to blame? You can't really point to one player and say it's all his fault. From the stars to the role players, almost everyone has been a disappointment somewhere.
However, keep in mind that they're not this bad. Just like they were over-performing last year, they're under-performing right now. We are most certainly not the worst team in the league.
We've had a damaging amount of bad luck swing our way for sure, as well as under-performances not necessarily attributed to luck but will straighten itself out nonetheless. This is only a sub .500 team, and they'll start playing like it sooner or later.
Rather, this is the fault of the people who put this team together, who thought 88 wins + Pitching = Contender. This is the fault of the people who didn't see this coming because they didn't know any better—but are PAID to know better.
They ignored countless new-age analysts and an even vaster wealth of information that told them they were wrong. And to make things worse, they're blaming the players!
They say it's because they don't have unity in the clubhouse! Now in fairness, it really does look like some of the guys have lost some focus . The amount of errors, for example, probably wouldn't be there if there was more confidence in the clubhouse. The team would obviously have done better if that wouldn't have happened.
But the answer right in front of their face is that unity does NOT make a 15 game difference in the standings. What makes the difference is A) Putting the players you *can* win a division with in the best positions to win as you can [i.e., Raul -> DH platoon].
B) cutting the players dragging the team down—no matter the paycheck—and bringing in ones that actually contribute toward winning [i.e., replacement level or above. Yes, we are currently paying many players way too many figures to be at or below replacement level].
But most of all, what makes the difference is a front office that properly evaluates the talent it builds it's team with to make the right expectations for it. The 2008 Seattle Mariners should not have been expected to contend because it simply was not built to contend.
Osix, very well constructed argument.
Let's view the Mariners as an investment portfolio for a moment. With investments, you want to buy something early and hold onto it through its productive years.
You also cut your losses. This cutting your losses, and being honest about your investments that are hot, helps one to constantly DRIVE THE PORTFOLIO TOWARD STRENGTH, AND AWAY FROM WEAKNESS. The Front Office of the Mariners could really learn some lessons here.
Ichiro: A keeper. Put some talent under this leadoff man and he can win a World Series.
Lopez: A keeper. Young, and seems to be getting better each day. Great long-term investment.
Vidro: Cut him lose, get something in return. Guy can hit, but your DH position should be someone who can crush 30+ homers.
Ibanez: Thanks for the memories, but it's time to go. Again here, always move the portfolio toward strength. Raul might be a six or seven hitter on a championship caliber team.
His value in the OF is marginal, and if you compare him to other cleanup hitters on great teams, he is lacking. Either trade him, or move him to the DH role. He is not carrying the team from the four hole.
Beltre: A keeper. The guy can flat play the game. He needs a better bat behind him.
Sexson: Trade for ANYTHING. There is no more glaring symbol of the ineptitude of Bavasi. I don't fault you for bringing Sexson here, but I do fault you for keeping him past last year's All Star Break.
You can't hope for three plus years that a guy will "get it rolling." First base needs to be occupied by a big bopper. Do whatever it takes to put a 150 RBI guy there.
Reed and Balentien: Keepers, at least this season. Let them play left and right field and see who emerges as a real investment for future payoff.
Johjima: Trade. He has some trade value, I'd use it. You will probably have to eat some of that stupid salary you just signed him too. Nice going for a guy who was hitting under 200.
Give Clement the job, spell him two days a week with Burke, and let Clement grow into it. Be patient and let your young investments go through some growing pains.
Betancourt: Keeper. This guy has so much passion and talent. He needs some serious coaching on his plate discipline, but he is a worthy investment.
I could go through the bench and the pitching staff, but that is enough for now. If the FO would view this team as an investment, one that they want to have win CHAMPIONSHIPS, they will work a plan to get it done.
I don't think Bavasi has the vision or the intelligence to make this happen though, so, one more piece to look at:
F Hernandez: Keeper
C Silva: Keeper only because you over paid for it and it dropped too soon. You need to hold on to recover any losses.
M Batista: Trade for anything. It's near bankrupt
J Washburn: See Above
S Green: Keeper
R Rowland-Smith: Trade to see what you can get. This is like a stock that you know will never go up or down. Sell it so you can buy something else.
M Lowe: Keeper
R Dickey: Keeper
J Putz: Keeper
B Morrow: Keeper but need to turn into a starter
A Rhodes: Trade for something. He probably retires next year or the year after. We can get something for him as he is a serviceable Bullpen arm.