Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Mariners are...Gross?

I'm reading through Art Thiel's book about how the 95 Mariners saved baseball in Seattle right now, I am not far in the book, but I can't help but thinking how far and fast the M's have fallen. I can't remember anything before the 1995 season, but I remember the Double by Edgar and every time I hear the call from the late great Dave Niehaus I get the chills, that play was amazing, and is my first memory of watching sports, and to this day is in my top 5 sports moments. The Mariners of current are nothing I want to watch, and it seems so long ago that they were watchable...

The last time the Mariners made the playoffs was the 2001 season, a season that will be remembered by many for the 116 wins, but will be remembered by me as a huge disappointment. Think about it, the team won more games than anyone else ever had, that is no doubt AMAZING, but they didn't make it to the world series, and quite frankly they weren't even close. The Yankees came through and blew away the M's winning the series 4-1, the only win by the Mariners came against the completely over rated El Duque, aka Orlando Hernandez. That team was really full of guys who all had season's of their lives, guys like Boone, David Bell, Al Martin are not supposed to be on record setting teams. Their rotation was Garcia, Sele, Moyer, Paul Abbott and John Halama. Yes Garcia and Moyer are solid pitchers, but of the others not a single one is someone I would call anything above average. So yes congrats to the 2001 M's for a wonderful regular season, but you really didn't accomplish anything.

Seattle has two other division championships, 97 and 95, which is pitiful to think about, but looking through their team its amazing they didn't win more. They had three of the best players in baseball on their team at the same time, Griffey, A-Rod and Randy Johnson yet they managed 2 division championships. Granted the big three weren't together long, but all of them will go to the hall of fame, but they were all losers in Seattle. The 97 season the M's went out in the first round of the playoffs losing the series 3-1 to Baltimore. That was a team that probably should've been able to make it to round two, but they are Mariners so they are supposed to lose.

The 95 season was magical, I will not say a bad thing about that season, call it bias or whatever you want, but it was amazing. The team was out of the hunt in August, or so it seemed, but they fought their way back to force a one game playoff with the Angels which they won. The rest is history, game 5 11th inning down a run and Edgar hits the double to score Griffey, the Mariners move on to play in the ALCS. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have a song that is almost all about that double, it's called My Oh My, go check it out and listen...

So it's been 10 years since the last division title and I am sick of watching this team do stupid things. They looked to be a contender 2 years ago, but followed that up with their second 100 loss season in 3 years. They got Cliff Lee to try to win the world series, but that didn't work and he was moved at the mid-season mark. This year they look like they are following the Pete Carrol idea of getting as many guys who have done little to nothing and hoping to strike it rich. Guys like Gabe Gross, or Felix's older brother, even Vlad Guerrero's nephew has been signed. Maybe those will work, but the Mariners are going nowhere fast and it sure makes baseball hard to watch around here.

I would give just about anything to have a good baseball team in Seattle, but I think I may be waiting another few years, heck it took the Mariners 14 years to have a winning season and another 4 to make the playoffs, so maybe the luck has worn off and I need to stick to other sports in Seattle...Although there isn't much success in that department either...Maybe I'll just play fantasy baseball, I seem to be good at that!


Anonymous said...

Good Stuff Mitchell. I loved reading that book. Gave a lot of perspective. The most glaring thing is the fact that Chuck Armstrong is allowed to keep his job and is returning the organization to how bad it was in the 80's. He keeps his job since 1982, while Managers and General Managers are blamed. Lame! Good stuff. Love that book.

Mitchell.Larsen said...

I completely agree with you on Armstrong. I was talking to a friend last night about that and he and I agreed this team needs a massive overhaul and that has to start at the top. At some point someone needs to realize that Armstrong is to blame, but with the owner sitting in Japan that seems unlikely. And I agree great book!

Matt said...

I think this just shows how complex professional sports is. As fans we always want instant gratification, the quick turn around, but the way MLB is set up makes that more difficult than it might seem. A good organization needs to draft well, spend money in free agency (and in locking up its own players) wisely, AND be lucky on top of things. The Nationals would have been idiots not to take Strasburg with the #1 pick, but he has already gotten seriously injured. Going back to the Gillick era, for most of the last decade (at least) the M's have either not drafted well or lost draft picks by signing fringe roster talent. This, along with the inevitable busts, trades, and injuries has left the minor league system very dry for years.

Because MLB contracts are guaranteed, MLB teams can end up suffering for years under a bad contract. When you have limited resources it becomes all about spending them efficiently, and when there has been little cost-effective talent coming from the minors, as has been the case with the M's, there is very little room for error.

Also, I don't quite get the case against Chuck Armstrong. He has little to do with the day to day baseball decisions, and it is those decisions that have led the M's to where they are today. He may be responsible for hiring the GMs who have made those decisions, but since I think most Mariner fans think Gillick did a good job, and it's far too early to tell on Zduriencik, the only black mark is Bavasi who was rightly fired.

I think that this team is headed in the right direction now. The minor league system is starting to bear fruit, as it really hasn't in years, and most of the bad contracts on the major league team are gone, or about to be gone. The future is looking MUCH brighter than it did even 2 years ago.

Mitchell.Larsen said...

Matt I agree with your thoughts on instant gratification in the MLB, but I don't think that is a good enough explanation or excuse for the M's. They aren't a small market team, they spend money, but don't get results. Like you said the Gillick era had its troubles with drafting and what not, and that set the franchise back quite some time. I think that is an organizational problem as a whole. The M's have been ok with mediocrity and until that changes I don't expect a winning team.

I am not sure where to place the blame, I understand Chuck Armstrong has nothing to do with baseball decisions, but he is the link between all of the losing. Players have come and gone, so have coaches and managers, but he is still around. I just think there is something he may be doing that could be bad for the team as far as winning, I just don't know though.

Zduriencik has done some things I like a lot, but as you said it is too early. I agree the future looks brighter, but I had a discussion with my friend last night and him and I disagree on how bright it looks. I think the M's are at least 4 years away from being a serious contender, he thinks it could be just 2 years. In my opinion the Mariners have too many holes that need to be filled moving forward. They can fill those yes, but I don't see it happening based on history.

Matt said...

To make my point clearer, I think I would distinguish between mediocre results in W-L column, and mediocrity in the decision-making of the front office. While I think the latter usually leads to the former, but also that fixing the front office's decision-making does not automatically fix the W-L column.

Take the case of the Mariners after the 2008 season, since that was the last change-over in the front office. The Mariners were coming off a 100 loss season, with a not very goo major league roster weigh down by some bad contracts, and little help on the horizon in the minors (since they had just traded a lot of it away to Baltimore). Regardless of how you feel Zduriencik has done since then, isn't it unreasonable to expect the team to turn around on a dime? It takes time to restock the minors, get rid of bad major league contracts (unless you're the yankees and can just take the loss), and just generally rebuild what was a very bad roster. Sure, 2009 gave up hope that it wouldn't take too long, but I think that if you compare where this franchise was after 2008 and where it is now, it is CLEARLY in a better position.

Sure, as a fan I always want the M's to have a good season, but it takes time to get all the pieces in place, especially when you're starting with very little.

Mitchell.Larsen said...

I do agree with you Matt, and I understand it is a new front office, but still the Mariners have looked promising at times in the past. This time may be different, but I won't really believe that until I see it. Too many mistakes have been made even under the current regime to assume everything will go right. I will hold out hope that things continues in the same direction, but I think more needs to be done than it may look like at this point.

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