Saturday, February 25, 2012

Offseason Review: Seattle Mariners

Last year's Mariners MVP Dustin Ackley
In terms of fast-acting impact moves the Mariners were quiet this offseason. They shed rapist shit bag Josh Lueke by trading for John Jaso and signed a bunch of depth players. There is very little to say about any of this. The strategy Seattle needs to enact is in development, and aside from hoping Hong-Chih Kuo pitches well and can stave off injury long enough to become tradeable, these moves don't necessitate much analysis. 

I do want to use this as a platform for speaking on the importance of a team's ability to remain competitive.  Seattle, unlike many teams who seem perpetually mired in irrelevance, seems to at least have an interest in eventually winning a world series. A few years ago they actually traded for ace Cliff Lee when they had a promising lineup. That promise eventually disintegrated and they were forced by logic to trade Lee, to a team in their own division nonetheless. Still it was landmark in putting their name in the sand as a team that is willing to actually stick their necks out a little bit and dare to hope.
Recently acquired impact hitter, Jesus Montero
This winter the Mariners made it public that they had an interest in signing Prince Fielder. This would have been a huge move for the Mariners. It could reinvigorate fans who have been without a winning season since 2007 by sending the signal that management has a vested interest in winning, and winning soon. As a little added bonus, Seattle's GM Jack Zduriencik was working as the Assistant to the GM for the Milwaukee Brewer's and played a big part in drafting Prince.

So why didn't this happen? Why didn't, and by all logical standards couldn't the Seattle Mariners make the move to acquire the rarely stumbled upon talent that is Prince Fielder? There are several excuses, but the big reason is that the path Seattle is on isn't clear. They have no distinct shot at the postseason in the near future, and teams in that position can't invest heavily in any free agent. Moreover, any team who DOES appear capable of contending is going to be way more attractive to a free agent than any team that doesn't. Imagine if the Mariners came to the table with the same contract as Detroit, what would any player want to do with a team that adds the pressure and lack of insensitive that comes with consistent loss?
Future hall of famer Ichiro Suzuki
All is not lost in Seattle though. The light at the end of the tunnel is barely visible, but I don't think the plight is not as abject as it might seem. They have a decent farm system, ranked in the top half by a number of sources. They also have a fantastic pitcher in Felix Hernandez who is young enough to extend, or desirable enough to trade for a huge haul. They also acquired a great young hitter in Jesus Montero who was the Yankees top prospect before he was traded for Michael Pineda.  Montero, along with Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak  are all young players who have the potential to put up huge numbers if they continue to develop. Fans are going to have to be patient though, I'd imagine it's going to be a few more seasons before the Mariners build anything worth comparing to Anaheim or Texas. Until then it's worth going to the park just to tell your kids you saw Ichiro play.

The Mariners are going to be right at the bottom of the standings this year, probably below Oakland. Don't worry though, Emerald City, you guys can beat up on the Astros next year.

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