Nothing seemed to go right for the M's over the weekend.
Deep drives fell short just shy of the outfield wall. The normally lights-out bullpen was anything but reliable. Umpires were botching calls left and right. Michael Pineda struggled and wasn't himself.
I can go on and on ranting about the series that was, but at the end of the day, the Mariners find themselves at 43-48, five games under .500.
They're 7.5 games back of the Texas Rangers heading into the All-Star break. How could the sweep possibly be a blessing for the team?
"Lukewarm" was a good word to describe the team's demeanor, epitomized by their 43-43 record prior the the five-game losing streak.
Teetering between contending and pretending, the team had no idea of its future. The blessing comes in the firm statement the series sent to Jack Zduriencik and his Mariners: you're not a contender this year.
And really, I had called for this all along. Truly, the prudent decision for the team was not to splurge on a bat by the deadline.
First, let me preface this by firmly proclaiming the market to be saturated with buyers at the deadline. Division races are neck and neck if not deadlocked right now and with not many teams being sellers, big bats and pitchers are at a premium price, like water during a drought.
In other words, in terms of a value standpoint, it's far better to be a seller this year than a buyer, unless you want to drastically overpay for help.
What Mariners' fans need to understand is that the team was never supposed to be competitive this year. In the grand scheme of things, Jack Z meant for this year to be a year of low expectations. Of developing a Michael Pineda or Dustin Ackley.
Then, they became good and exceeded everyone's expectations of the team. Some argue that the pitching is too good to waste now, but that's emotional buying, something you never do in the business world.
Realistically, could one bat actually solve the team's offensive woes? Probably not. Not when your definition of 'buying' is San Diego's Ryan Ludwick.
The bottom line is, if the Mariners wanted to suddenly become a competitive team with a serviceable offense, it would have taken many more prospects due to more quality or quantity in your splurge.
That's something that Jack Z could not give up. From the moment he stepped in as the team's GM, he set a five-year plan for rebuilding the franchise. To give up all that for a gamble at the AL West title would be foolish and set the team back another couple of years.
We can see the progress Jack Z has made since taking over—for the first time in years, there's potential in this team. Potential to be great by 2013 thanks to Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda and even Justin Smoak.
The point is, the blessing comes as forcing the M's hand as we approach the deadline. It's for the better for the M's to stay put or deal their best trade chips rather than trade prospects.
The team can be pretty good this year, but they can be dominant within a couple years.
To put everything Jack Z has built in his time here on the line for a chance at being decent in 2011 would be foolish beyond reason and M's fans should be thankful there's no longer that chance.