Good movie, bad precursor is what we’ve come accustomed to regarding Seattle Mariners baseball.
The Seattle Mariners baseball club has spent the better part of the last few seasons dinking and dunking their way to subpar results, diminishing attendance, and waning interest in a market on the verge of adding more competition. They already love their Seahawks, Sounders, and it appears the Sonics are a formality away from a second act in a city they once owned. So “desperate times” may be an understated way of summing-up the state of a franchise floundering at sea.
This past offseason, management decided it needed to add a little punch to its bob-and-weave team and in the process rekindle a fire in a fan base which has been smoldering in the wake of losses the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and the city’s favorite son, Ken Griffey Jr. It’s been more than a decade since they’ve made the playoffs, haven’t finished better than third in their division since 2007, and owner Hiroshi Yamauchi has never seen them play in person … ever. That’s right, the former Nintendo chairman - as of last April when the Mariners traveled to Tokyo to play a game – has seen the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and D.B. Cooper as many times as he’s seen the team he’s owned since 1992, live and in person. Problem? Possibly, but in spite of the “Head Honcho’s” apparent disinterest, his underlings were given their marching orders this past offseason, and “start scoring runs” was the directive for a squad who simply hasn’t.
They added power hitter Michael Morse, veterans Kendrys Morales and Jason Bay, and reached deep into their bag of historical retreads to resuscitate a ghost of Mariner past with the signing of Raul Ibanez. In addition, they moved the fences in and hired first year hitting coach Dave Hansen, who you might remember from his days singing “Mmm Bop” with his long-haired prepubescent brothers. Okay, maybe not, but aside from a 15-year major league career highlighted by a description as one of baseball’s best pinch hitters, Hansen brings little cache to a team already scraping the bottom of the cache barrel. This would be egg on my face had these additions panned-out, but –while admittedly extremely early – through the season’s first 14 games, the team is 6-8, they’re producing at a lesser rate than last season, and it already feels like more of the same from a team with less pop in their bat than an 80-year-old shut-in without the help of the little blue pill.
Last April, the Mariners batted .244, had an OPS of.680, slugging percentage of .384, and reached base at an average of .296, while their opponents … well … exceeded them in every category. This April, the same team … ahem … with the high powered additions, coaching upgrade, and closer fences is batting .225, has an OPS of .670, slugging percentage of .377, and is reaching base at an average of .293. To summarize … they’re worse.
While Morse has lived up, hitting .293 with 6 home runs, Morales, Ibanez, and Bay are hitting a combined .235 with 4 home runs. In addition, returning players such as Justin Smoak (.191) and Dustin Ackley (.122) are hitting a combined .159 with 0 home runs and 4 RBI’s. Mario Mendoza thinks these guys stink!
I know, we’re only 14 games in and hitters are historically behind the pitchers in regards to early season results, but these Mariners look strikingly familiar to the team I had a hard time watching last season. I, the city of Seattle, and the Cy Young pitcher their paying $175 million dollars deserve better, and if their owner had seen them play, he’d certainly agree.