Everybody knows that the Seattle Mariners haven't been living up to their potential. With all the off-season additions and the positive outlook by the media and manager McLaren, nobody expected this. At 37-58 the Mariners have the worst record in the AL going into the All-Star break. What is to blame for this disappointing season, well many things.
For one, none of the starters have been proving their worthiness with an exception of Felix Hernandez. Erik Bedard, the supposed ace of the staff who was supposed to lead the M's to glory has done alright but hasn't been tough or shown that he cared for the team. Bedard lasts 5-6 innings every game and comes out after he feels he has thrown too many pitches. Now what kind of pitcher is that? To me, that's saying "hey I know we're not going to go anywhere so trade me to a contender please!" which is exactly what the Mariners should do with him. Trade Bedard for prospects or a solid first baseman or center fielder with prospect pitchers. He's going to be a free agent after the 2009 season anyways, might as well give the fans a reason to go out to the ballpark the rest of this season and the next one.
My second thing to blame for this disappointing season is the front office. I don't think I'm the only one that thinks Bavasi should have never been elected the GM, or at least he should have been fired a year or so after his hiring in 2003. Granted, in 2003 the M's had a good season, but the next three seasons to come, they stunk. In 2007 the Mariners had a decent season with a finishing record of 88-74 (2nd in the AL West) and that also was reasoning to expect more from the Mariners this season. Besides for last season, Bavasi proved he has had no idea what he was doing but it shouldn't have took over five years for the front office to realize that. Now they have started to make good moves but if these moves had been made before the season started, who knows where the M's would be at right now.
My next part of this organization to point a finger at are the Mariners players themselves. When I watch the Mariners play I see very little fire and passion for the greatest game there is. I realize this is a job, but unless your whole intent to play pro ball was to help your family then you have no excuse. Baseball is a fun game to play, and I really wish there were more Willie Bloomquist's on this team, who take every chance they get to prove themselves. Going down the lineup I see very few players who look like they are working to get better. The few I see are: Jose Lopez, Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre, Jeff Clement, Jeremy Reed, and some of the young pitchers such as Brandon Morrow. You might not notice Ichiro on the list and I have reasoning behind that. Look at Ichiro's career numbers and how he is doing this season. Yes, he is batting above .300 as always, but I don't see that passion for the game like I saw in the past seasons. I think Ichiro is getting sick of playing for a team that's not going anywhere and frankly I don't blame him. If everyone else on the team is going to look like they could care less how they themselves or how the team is doing, why should Ichiro care? A good example of someone that just flat out didn't care was Richie Sexson. The team said that his non-caring attitude was to blame for his release but why was he held on to for so long? I guess when your guaranteed to get paid 15.5 million it really doesn't matter how you do, does it? I think that Sexson could of been back to his numbers that he had with the Brew Crew and with the M's for the first few seasons but when you don't put the work in or have the confidence and will to get better; you really won't go anywhere.
Lastly I am going to blame the lack of enthusiasm that starts at the manager position. I think that the manager position is more important then some people realize. When the Mariners had Lou Pinella as their manager, his fire and drive to succeed made the players better. Managers like Lou are hard to find, but when you do find them they really help out their teams. I mean, look at how the Cub's are doing. Yes they have more talent then the Mariners, but they haven't really lived up to that talent until this year. Then there are managers like Joe Maddon for the Rays, that have stepped in and turned the whole franchise around. From the start it looked like John McLaren had some fire and wanted this team to excel, but after awhile it seemed like his pep talk must of been "don't worry Richie you'll start hitting, no worries guys just keep playing, you'll get 'em next time." A guy like Lou wouldn't of accepted this from his team, and that is the kind of manager we need. However I feel like Jim Riggleman, the new manager, definitely is more like Lou then McLaren ever was.
So, what I think the Mariners should do is rebuild. Clearly trying to sign free agents for huge sums of money doesn't work out unless your the Yankees or Red Sox. Looking back the M's shouldn't have done the Erik Bedard deal. Adam Jones is batting .281 for the Orioles, and George Sherrill is on the All-Star team. just one of the many bad deals that the Mariners have made in the past, and from now on they need to be on the other end of those deals. Trade guys like Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva, Kenji Johjima, Jose Vidro, and maybe even Ichiro as he continues to get older. Some key guys that have to stay are: Felix Hernandez, Jeff Clement, Brandon Morrow, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, and all the young prospects coming up. The sooner the Mariners figure out that keeping young players is key to success, the better off they will be in the end.