After suffering their ninth loss in a row, the Seattle Mariners are at a crossroad in their season.
Both the division title and a wild card spot seem to be a long shot at this point, where the Mariners find themselves double-digit games out in both races.
The Mariners can ill-afford to feel sorry for themselves right now. Though they may not be able to salvage the season and reach the postseason, the Mariners can't just "play" for a high draft pick.
Breaking the cycle of perpetually rebuilding needs to start during the second half of this season. The sooner, the better.
Since the end of the Lou Pinella and Pat Gillick era in Seattle, the Mariners have tried to rebuild. The truth is, the management of the Mariners have not fully committed to doing so at any point since then.
Throughout the rebuilding process, the Mariners have been trying to straddle to the fence between winning in the present and building for the future. It is obvious that they have failed to do either well enough over the past ten years since they last competed in the postseason.
The problem with the rebuilding process is that the Mariners have not been willing to fully commit to it. Without ever fully committing to the rebuilding process, the Mariners find themselves staring down yet another 100-loss season without any real progress being made.
Some may say that the Mariners have given many younger guys the opportunity to play and that will yield production in the future. On the other hand, to play the younger guys they are putting a large part of their payroll on the bench.
The Mariners will need to shift their way of doing business if they are going to truly win the future.
First of all, the high-priced bench-warmers need to be dumped in one way or another. Chone Figgins may require some creativity, since his contract is so large and production so low. However, the Mariners can package him with another player such as Brandon League.
Or release Figgins outright. The Mariners will be out the money on that one, but at least that investment sinkhole won't be taking up a roster spot. The other two players in the rarely used trio, Jack Wilson and Jack Cust, need to be moved as well. None of these players will ever fit into the Mariners future plans.
Additionally, the Mariners need to make the most of the assets they currently possess. Brandon League may not be replaceable, but his value may never be higher than this season. If the team is truly in rebuild mode, the value of a closer is low to them.
Michael Pineda is a valued player that the Mariners should at least ask around the league about. The Mariners have too many holes on offense to make anyone on the pitching staff off-limits except for Felix Hernandez. Pineda is less of a proven talent when compared to Felix; however, at the trading deadline the Mariners might be able to find a deal to offset his loss in the long-term.
Finally, it is imperative that the Mariners be more intentional with bringing players up to the big-league club. At times this season, with reason, the Mariners have seemed desperate to find offense in the minor leagues.
Other than Dustin Ackley and Greg Halman, the minor leagues have provided little help. In addition, the Mariners may have harmed the development of Carlos Peguero and Kyle Seager by bringing them up before they were ready.
Instead of straddling the fence for a few more seasons, it's time for the Mariners to truly embrace the rebuilding process.