Ten Things To Hate About the Seattle Mariners
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on April 15, 2006
1. They still can't hit. The offense is better, however, especially up the middle at catcher,second base, shortstop and center field, where Jeremy Reed is having his first good month at the plate since May of last season.
The problems lie in opposite corners – one in the outfield and the other across the field diagonally.
Ichiro is simply not doing the job from the leadoff spot. He's swinging at the first pitch 42% of the time and is hitting the ball in the air far too often.
In Ichiro's first five season with the Mariners, his G/F ratio was 2.43. Through 12 games in 2006, it's just a shade over one. In his best three years he's posted a 2.63, 2.42 and 3.29 ratios.
Memo to Ichiro: Level out that swing and drive the ball, stop trying to win games with the four-bagger. The team can't win without you getting on base. And when a pitcher is struggling with his control or has just gotten two quick outs in an inning, think about taking a few pitches, will ya?
Adrian Beltre is another story altogether. He's thinking far too much at the plate and getting himself out on a regular basis. He's completely clueless up there and it's killing this team. We're 12 games into the schedule and the No. 5 hitter has yet to drive in a single run. Yeah, that's right. Yours truly has as many RBI as the Mariners' third baseman in 48 less plate appearances – and for $14 million less.
Beltre would probably serve himself right by simplifying everything. Look fastball 100% of the time. Take all breaking balls unless there are two strikes and when you get a two-strike breaking pitch, don't try and do something with it, just foul it off and start again.
He probably needs to stand in the batter's box during BP and have Julio Mateo, J.J. Putz, Joel Pineiro and Gil Meche throw him curve balls and sliders for hours on end. At some point, he'll get the idea to an extent.
Beltre lacks a good understanding of the strike zone and clearly has issues recognizing breaking balls until it's far too late. He's not a lost cause but if the club gets league average production out of its third baseman, it'll be a minor miracle.
Carl Everett is Carl Everett. He's hitting half his weight but he is drawing walks and has three extra-base hits. He hasn't been completely worthless, but one must wonder what Roberto Petagine may be able to do with some regular ABs. He's certain to get a start or two, likely one on this road trip, but the long term answer is neither Everett stepping it up or Petagine getting full-time play.
It's all about Chris Snelling. Snelling is running the bases and playing the field in Peoria and could be back in Tacoma in early May. The team's doctors and trainiers feel really good about his recovery and he's turned a year-long rehab process into a 30-week joke. Snelling is as determined and intense as any player in the organization – maybe ever – and he'll be back at Safeco before Everett is eligible to be traded.
Jose Lopez, Reed and Johjima are getting the job done. Betancourt is scuffling somewhat, but he's adequate and will only get better as the year goes on.
Richie Sexson is doing his thing – driving in runs – and Raul has picked it up of late.
This club would probably be better than league average all season if Snelling replaced Everett, Ichiro repeated his career averages and Beltre was league average for third baseman.
2. They still can't pitch. Well, it's not really that bad, but the M's are five arms away from a championship caliber staff. The closer is weeks away from growing a fork out of his rib cage, the setup men are still in development stages and the long man is among the most overated relievers in the game.
Their No. 1 is 137 years old, the No. 2 is really a No. 4, the No. 3 is really a No. 4, the No. 4 is really, uh, garbage, and there No. 5 is the King.
Translation: It's Felix and pray for an offensive explosion.
Moyer can be good, as we saw on Friday at Boston where he made great pitches in several jams and stymied a great lineup. But he cannot be counted on to be the stopper, and neither should Felix. And since Pineiro, Washburn and Meche are entirely incapable of such duties, the M's just don't have that reliable, durable presence in their rotation.
That missing piece is what separates the '06 M's from being on the brink of contention where if things went right at the plate they could take down the Angels and challenge the A's for four months.
But Eddie Guardado is pitching on borrowed time, maybe moreso than Moyer. His fastball sits 87-89 and he's apparently lost some of his pinpoint control that made him so good the past 10 years.
His slider has nothing on it and his change is far less effective when his heater can't break 90 – ever.
Guardado's thrown 80 pitches in three innings, 62 of them fastballs. Of the 62, 44 have registered at 86 or 87 mph and 16 have posted at 88 miles per hour. Just two have hit 89 and zero have notched the 90-mark.
Last season, he threw the same amount of fastballs, percentage wise, but averaged 88.8 on his heater. This season he's sitting at 87.1, and hitters know it.
His slider is much flatter and breaks early in it's trip to the plate. He could blow up at any point, but he's a tough guy, so expect him to appear to be throwing the ball better than he really is. Just don't expect to see it in August and September.
Pineiro could simply be pitching his way onto a playoff roster – in some other city. His outing versus Boston was solid and he's yet to look awful this season. He'll probably have some value at the deadline.
3. There is no impact help in the minors… none that's ready anyways. Only Snelling is ready to contribute at a high level and the difference between he and Everett isn't "impactful."
The only arms that make any sense, as things are right now, would be Scott Atchison and Emiliano Fruto. Nageotte, as a starter, needs the entire season in Tacoma, or at least most of it. Livingston, too, and Foppert, well, I'm not sure he wouldn't be a better golfer than a pitcher these days.
The best organizations have ML-ready talent just about every year. Boston has LHP Jon Lester in Triple-A, pretty much ready to help, if needed. They had Jon Pepelbon ready for the same last season.
Cleveland has LHP Jeremy Sowers a few months away… The Twins are sitting on a slew of bullpen arms and the Angels have 3B Dallas McPherson, 2B Howie Kendrick, SS Erick Aybar, RHP Jared Weaver and C Mike Napoli in waiting.
Seattle just lacks the seasoned talent. It would hurt if the club finds themselves in the race in August and they suffer a key injury. But since that isn't going to happen…
4. The club is still run by a group of owners that prefer to do what they have to do to make money rather than winning and living off the billions of dollars that a run of playoff appearances would make them.
And using Howard Lincoln as their mouthpiece is a tragic mistake. Fans are wising up and not buying the BS anymore. Attendance will continue to fall if they don't make big time changes.
I'm not talking about spending more money. They spend plenty. I'm talking about going against the grain and canning Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln and getting a real team president and CEO.
Allow the general manager to run the show – period. With Bill Bavasi, as with every other GM in team history, there are many things forced down his throat.
Raul Ibanez's extension wasn't his doing. Bavasi is smart enough to know that a 33-year-old is on the decline and he should at least prove he can still hit at the end of 2006 before offering him a multi-year deal.
Ever wonder who would be the club's skipper if Bavasi could hire his personal choice? It sure wouldn't be Mike Hargrove. Not now, not 16 months ago, not ever.
There are executives from other clubs, a few who are former employees of the M's organization, who believe that the team will never be consistently good on the field until changes are made from the very top.
5. The team is still leaning on aging veterans in key spots. Jamie Moyer and Eddie Guardado are the first two that come to mind. But adding Carl Everett created another.
Everett sure as heck isn't going to improve in his mediocre output from 2005. So let's toss him in the lineup and play him everyday at Safeco. Great idea, guys.
The Mariners are too afraid to clean house that they continue to spend countless amounts of dollars – in the tens of millions – on veteran quick-fixes, because they want the fanbase to believe there is a chance.
But instead, the vets fail and the kids get blocked, or their stay in the minors is far too long.
6. The Seattle Mariners still do not know when it's time to cut their losses and they can't help but worry their little asses off about PR. Sure, they have made a few tough decisions to let Bret Boone and John Olerud go while they were still owed millions, but Willie Bloomquist and Ibanez both received multi-year deals because the club's big wigs want to appease the casual, average fan – which I doubt they are really doing anyways.
The stupidity centered around the club's payroll and how the money should be used is all Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln's fault.
Yes, Bavasi chose Jarrod Washburn over Kevin Millwood after getting strong advice that Millwood's health is a bigger risk than originally believed.
Yes, Bavasi – and Hargrove – chose Carl Everett when Matt Lawton may have served just as well for 10% of the cost.
But if it weren't for the top two bungholes, who haven't had possession of a single clue since the Reagan administration, making the Seattle Mariners a community center and a popularity contest for 5-year-olds and 85-year-olds, the baseball people might have a better track record.
7. The Seattle Marines are mis-marketed. They are constantly trying to shove players down the throats of anyone who dares to watch Fox Sports Northwest (see No. 9 for more) or KSTWashington.
Ichiro has no personality, neither does Richie Sexson, Jamie Moyer or Adrian Beltre. While they should be exposing Felix Hernandez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Kenji Johjima and Eddie Guardado like they did with Edgar, Boone and Griffey, they continue to force the former four onto the screen.
This brings up another issue. Howard Lincoln trying to tell fans to stop calling Felix Hernandez "The King."
Excuse me, Mr. Idiot? Why? Because that, and not the idea of pitching in the big leagues in front of 40,000 people or facing Alex Rodriguez at Yankee Stadium in the eighth inning of a tie game is what Felix cares about.
You think he's out on the mound thinking to himself, "well, I need to get this guy out because, I am the King," or "If I don't get the job done, they'll take my crown?"
Felix Hernandez will pitch well if fans call him "The King" or if they call him "Big Failure."
Get real, dude. Seriously, wise up or I'll fire you.
8. The club lobbys to open at home every single season, and usually gets their way because most teams could care less, or would prefer to open on the road.
The Mariners, as much as any team, should beg for a 12-day, 11-game trip to start the year. As much as they worry about attendance, they should realize that the later in the year their home schedule starts, the better. The weather will be much kinder, especially the winds and temperatures, and the fans will have had a chance to watch the team on TV and get the fever for Mariners baseball.
9. The broadcast teams are bad enough… but how awful is KOMO and FSN's pre and postgame show?
My goodness. The next insightful comment made by Mike Blowers and Bill Krueger will be the first. The club has no call on the FSN hiring of Krueger, but they probably supported it since he's a former M's pitcher and is a "good guy."
Blowers, too. Good dude, nice as can be… terrible analyst. Give me Bret Boone, Pat Borders (still playing), Mark Langston, or some non-former player. Getting some "color" in the color analyst's chair would be ideal, don'tcha think?
Dave Niehaus (right) I can stand. He's the friendly voice that forgives you for being late turning on the game, so he deserves the same in return.
Rick Rizzs, while being the biggest freakin' homer, does get things accurately out of his mouth and has the voice for the gig, which would explain his long tenure in his role.
Tacoma Rainiers play-by-play man Mike Curto points out one other positive about Rizzs.
"He's a team player," said Curto. "He knows he's the No. 2 guy and he's ok with that."
Good point. I'll leave Rizzs alone.
But Ron Failry and Dave Henderson are two boring, bring-nothing-to-the-table, goons. Fairly's contributions to the broadcast sound as if he thinks he's talking to different toddlers every night. Explaining the simplest of things as if nobody has an idea.
"With the score 6-3 and two men on base, if Raul can park one right here the M's might just be able to tie this game."
Really, Ron? They might? Last time I checked, three plus three is six, you moron. Grow some nads, use your brain and at least try to sound interesting.
Henderson isn't as bad, but he fails to understand, like Fairly, that fans know more today than they did 20 years ago. His belief in traditional stats is annoying ad his recalling of his own experiences are never said worse in the game of baseball than the way he tries to explain things.
He's the Craig Ehlo of baseball. Ehlo and Hendu both have good things to say. Their brains are full of the right information. Neither has a clue how to spit it out on the air without fumbling the words all over themselves.
It's boring, irritating and downright ridiculous that Dave and Rick have such terrible analysts. They both need good analysts to complete the broadcasts, at least on TV.
And no, Jay Buhner is not a good idea.
10. The Owner doesn't care whether the club wins or loses, and he lives 5,000 miles away. He's so disconnected that Lincoln (right) actually serves as acting owner at the owner's meetings. The rest of the upteen owners of the club are pretty silent, which is their prerogative, but it proves all they care about is money.
There are several layers of a championship organization, and the Mariners have none of them. The ownership is terrible (dettached, doesn't care about winning), the team Pres and CEO care more about keeping their jobs than they do about winning, so they spend money to please the PR portion of their responsibilities but really have no idea what the game is all about.
The front office is full of people that don't want to work with one another, and aren't given the power to handle their job on their own. Someone is always breathing down their necks.
The field manager is the most stubbornly stupid manager this franchise has ever had, (yes, more than Plummer, Williams, Melvin, etc) and the players, while very talented, just aren't that good as a group, to no fault of their own.
Until this organization is gutted and replaced with legitimate baseball and business people, there won't be any long-term success on the diamiond here in Seattle.
It's tough to be a fan of this team, isn't it?