The Seattle Mariners Baseball Club has been through many tough times as a ball-club. Entering Major League Baseball in 1977, their first winning season came in 1991, 14 years after their inception.
Even though the glimmer of hope was there, their 83-79 record in 1991 was only good enough to finish fifth place in the seven team American League West, in which, no team finished under .500. Even after their manager Jim Lefebvre led them to the franchise's first winning record, he was let go. He was replaced by Bill Plummer, for the 1992 season, but he was let go as well after a 98-loss campaign.
Then, things started to change. The Mariners hired manager Lou Piniella, who led the Cincinati Reds to a World Series Title in 1990. The Mariner's fortunes started to improve in 1994.
Beginning in the late 1980s, the team had added a strong corps of players, built around center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., pitcher Randy Johnson, third baseman Edgar Martinez, and right fielder Jay Buhner. This translated into the huge success the Mariners enjoyed in the 1995 season.
This season however was marked by early troubles. Even so the Mariners had a late season win streak that gave them the slogan "Refuse to Lose." They ended the season tied with the California Angels for first place in the American League West, and won the one-game playoff for the American League West's playoff spot. The Mariners then had their work cut out for them, having to face the New York Yankees in the ALDS
Even against the odds, the Mariners beat the Yankees in five games 3-2, and advanced to the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians, the eventual American League Champion, and lost in 4 games to 2.
Since the 1995 season, the Mariners have won the division twice, and gotten the Wild Card spot once. The Mariners have been considered being in a rebuilding phase since 2004. They are currently in dead last in the American League West, 25 games out of first place.
It is very improbable that the Mariners will win the Division, or get the Wild Card Spot, so changes must be made now if the Mariners want to contend for the playoffs next year. The AL West has been dominated by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the last half decade.
The biggest question for the Mariners is what should they do to get started. This has already started.
The Mariners have rid themselves of their most overpaid player, Richie Sexson, who they have released, but because he cleared the waivers, they are still stuck with his salary, which was huge. A baseball version of Darius Miles, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers, except without the injuries, Sexson just plain sucks.
The Mariners traded for Craig Wilson, a first baseman/outfielder in the Pittsburgh Pirate's farm system, for a player to be named later, which I still have never heard about.
The Mariners have called up Brian LaHair from Triple-A Tacoma to play first. There have been trade talks that have stalled on Adrian Beltre and Raul Ibañez. Adrian and Raul have started to pick up momentum. The only question though, is how long it will last.
In my opinion, the Mariners have two options for rebuilding. The can either be like the Tampa Bay Rays, and wait for nine or so years until they have enough talent from the drafts to actually compete, or, if the Mariners would prefer instant success, they could trade some players before tomorrow.
The Yankees have been interested in Jarrod Washburn, who has a less than a 2.65 era in his last seven starts, but talks since have stalled.
They also need to somehow get rid of Erik Bedard, once he's healthy, otherwise, we won't get anything for him.
For the Mariners to truly start rebuilding their team, they need to get numerous young talented players, and fast. The only possible way I see for this, is to trade their two best stars, Ichiro and Felix Hernandez.
I know, they are probably the only reasons that fans come to the games, but if we trade these two players we could possibly be looking at 9-10 top minor league prospects, if the deals are done correctly. Then the Mariners could start rebuilding from square one, realigning their whole team, and maybe, just maybe, contend for the AL West in a few years, maybe as close as 2009.