After watching the Mariners blow game after game, it came as no surprise their hitting was amiss again Sunday. Doug Fister’s great showing was all for nothing, and Ichiro’s stolen home run forgotten.
What is not forgotten is that as we enter May 3rd of this young season, the Mariners are batting .236 as a team. Let me repeat that: the batting average of the Mariners is at less than a clip of one in every four. This from a team which sports the player with the best average of the last decade (Ichiro), a lifetime .290 free-agent pickup (Figgins), and the fifth-best home run hitter of all time in Ken Griffey, Jr. This, to go along with only a team-average .311 on-base percentage, just does not cut it.
What’s the answer? The Mariners could go many routes to try and rectify their problems as they did this past offseason. A possible solution is trading one of their top pitchers for some hitting, or trying to bring along Michael Saunders or one of their other minor league prospects. Both of these choices are acceptable within the confines of the Mariners' outlook. I have a more basic and easier solution: free agency.
Jermaine Dye, Joe Crede, Elijah Dukes, Gary Sheffield, heck, even Barry Bonds is available. Yes, that Barry Bonds. I know I am among the one percent of people who would actually take a 44-year-old steroid junkie but consider this.
He would be their best player.
At the least he would be able to help mend their dismal .311 OBP. Elijah Dukes and Jermaine Dye would be great choices for solidifying the fourth outfielder position and would also be great fits for the Mariners' clubhouse. If they can get the Mariners' voodoo to work upon Milton Bradley, they can get it to work on anyone.
In the offseason, Jack Zduriencik did what he planned to do: get better defensively and fill all his holes in the lineup. I give him full respect and admiration for signing Felix Hernandez’ big deal, his gutsy ability to trade away Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley, and then his turn around to pick up Cliff Lee and Brandon League for the lost talent in Brandon Marrow. The problem is like with Russell Branyan last year, he pinned his batting hopes on an unproven or over the hill player.
This year it happened to be the first basemen again, with Casey Kotchman. Kotchman actually leads the Mariners in home runs and RBIs, which is not saying much considering the team has only hit five home runs and driven in 82 RBIs over the course of the first 25 games. His average stands at a pathetic .226, and he has failed to hit in the clutch numerous times. Kotchman is a great utility or backup player; however, he is not at the level of being a starter. It is as simple as that.
The Mariners are a significantly better team than they were when lead by Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre only two years ago. They have good chemistry and are actually trying to win games. That is why it is time for them to reach out for the likes of one of these free agents. My choice is Joe Crede, allowing Lopez to go to shortstop, and putting Wilson in a utility position just to give a little more pop from the infield. Right now it is anyone’s guess what Jack Z. will do, but Mariner faithful can just hope the bats will come alive soon.