Saturday, June 06, 2009

ENJOYABLE MEDIOCRITY

The major league baseball season is about a third of the way done, and my Seattle Mariners are actually still in the American League West race, sort of.

In 2008 the M's were a miserable 61-101 but so far this year they are 27-29 and 6 games behind the division-leading Texas Rangers. A record of 27-29 isn't exactly better than mediocre, but it's unexpectedly good considering how poorly the team did last year.

New Seattle General Manager Jack Zduriencik and the ballclub have some interesting decisions ahead. The major league trading deadline is July 31. Seattle has some players who could be coveted by other teams. If the Mariners are not in contention anymore by the end of July, they could be "sellers" on the market.

Starting pitchers Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard are both in the American League top ten for earned run average. First Baseman Russell Branyan has been hitting for both power and batting average this year. Third baseman Adrian Beltre is in the last year of his contract, and after a slow start he has been hitting very well in the past couple of weeks. Washburn and Bedard are in the last years of their contracts, as is starter/reliever Miguel Batista.

The Mariners have good pitching, but their problem this year has been hitting. If they're out of contention in July, they could send their tradeable players to contending teams for prospect players who could help stock Seattle's minor league system with young talent and build the team's chances for the future.

But what if the M's are still playing .500 ball by the trading deadline, do they keep some or all of these tradeable players and instead trade some of their younger talent for a couple of veteran hitters, to allow the team to stay in the AL West race late into the season?

I don't think they are likely to still be contending by July 31 because their hitting is just too weak. But this season sure has been fun so far. After a 61-101 year, even mediocrity is enjoyable!

5 Comments:

Blogger J. Marquis said...

Hey, they might not win the division this year but record-wise that is a huge improvement.

Is Junior on a one-season contract?

8:19 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Yes, Griffey was just brought in for this year. I don't know what to think about them keeping him beyond this season, but I have a hunch it was just a one-year plan.

He certainly doesn't hit like he used to, and he is slow enough in the field that he is mostly just a DH now. But I like the way he is providing some clubhouse leadership, and lately the bat has been heating up a bit.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

At least the Mariners are mediocre. I swear the Cardinals have performed horribly this year, not well at all for a team with their history!

4:22 PM  
Blogger Demeur said...

I gave up on them when they traded Moyer. Just about the time they had my fan loyalty they traded their good players. We're just a farm team for the rest of the league. So I really don't care if they win or lose. I don't watch them anymore.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I have to say this slogan of "A new day, a new way" is right on.

The trade of Jamie Moyer was one of the many horrid trades made by former general manager Bill Bavasi, who left the team saddled with bad, immovable players with big-dollar multi-year contracts. What was done was done, and Bavasi is now gone (whew!)

The new GM, Jack Zduriencik, has to dig the team out of a huge hole, but he might have some tricks up his sleeve. He already made a good deal this winter that netted the Mariners seven players, he got current closer David Aardsma from Boston for virtually nothing, and he signed slugging 1B Russell Branyan off the scrap heap.

In the trade, J.J. Putz went to the Mets, for whom he has not performed well and now faces elbow surgery. Going with him were an average reliever and a career reserve outfielder, plus a minor leaguer 2B Luis Valbuena, on whom the verdict is still out but who is currently batting about .150 with his new team.

In exchange, the Mariners got their starting CF Franklin Gutierrez, useful part-time starting LF Endy Chavez, starting pitcher Justin Vargas (who has turned in five consecutive good starts), reserve infielder Ronny Cedeno, and starter/reliever Garrett Olson. Not to mention 1B Mike Carp, who is currently hitting well in AAA and OF Ezequiel Carrera, doing well in AA.

More deals as astute as this one will not always happen, but I think the new GM has better vision for what it takes to build a winning ballclub than his predecessor did. Being a good team again isn't going to happen overnight. It may take 2-3 years, but by that time, the ingredients for being good every year should be solidly in place.

3:02 PM  

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