The Seattle Mariners wrap up another losing season in the next three days with a young team that has some promise, but none of it in the vicinity of an acceptable Major League offense. Our swabbies were swept in Oakland the past three games by an equally young Athletics team. The Athletics youth is just about the only resemblance they bear to our Northwest 9. Oakland will play in the American league playoffs, probably as a Wildcard entrant. But given they possess the best record in baseball since the start of June they can be counted on to make some noise.
The Mariner’s too have had a better second-half of the season than they had in the first half. Since July 5 Seattle actually has a winning record at 38-37; compared to a miserable 35-49 in the first half. But as reporter Geoff Baker writes in this morning’s Seattle Times the league worst offense has only gotten worse, scoring just 3.63 runs per game compared to 3.87. It’s a familiar story too many Northwest baseball fans have become used to. Seattle has been at the bottom of the Major League offensive categories for 4 straight years. Their losing record reflecting accordingly.
What’s sad is during this time they’ve possessed arguably the best pitcher in the American League in Felix Hernandez. During this time Hernandez has won a Cy Young Award, finished second in the voting another year, and is likely to be among the top 5 vote getters again this year. Seattle’s other pitching has been less impressive but good enough were the offense not so completely inadequate.
First Baseman Justin Smoak is an unquestioned failure. He has blown up his batting average over the past two weeks with some solid hitting; but for the season that’s only lifted his average to a woeful .214 with 19 home runs and 50-something RBI (no I’m not looking up the exact number. What’s the difference between 51 and 59?). My only hesitation in making this proclamation is that outfielder Michael Saunders has rectified his carrier with a .250 average and 19 homers this season. I would have written him off before the season after he’d managed more yawns than thrills during parts of four seasons with the Mariner’s prior to this season. But seriously, how excited should we be about a fourth year player who’s best season is .250 with 19 home runs? At best he’s a fourth outfielder on a good team.
The number of disappointing Mariners doesn’t stop with Smoak and Saunders. Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Franklin Gutierrez, Casper Wells, Brendan Ryan, and Miguel Olivo arte all hitting what used to be considered pathetic offensive numbers. Seattle not only doesn’t have a .300 hitter this season. They don’t have a .290 or .280 hitter. They have catcher John Jaso as a part-time player hitting .277 as the only representative north of .260.
As we watch the playoffs this October with young American League teams like the A’s and Orioles competing for a championship, devoid of a Seattle representative for an 11th consecutive year, let’s forget the pathetic cliche` “wait until next year”. Next year won’t be any better if Mariner management doesn’t get its act together and throw out some of the young experiments that didn’t work. Specifically any of Seattle’s outfielders could be a solid forth outfielder. The rest can be discarded. We need a whole new outfield. One that can hit. Smoak should also be shown the door in favor of a 1st baseman that can hit for power and at-least a respectable average.
And Mariner management needs to do three more things unrelated to on field personnel. Chuck Armstrong needs to go as Mariner President. Outfield fences need to be moved in. And a policy to keep the Safeco Field roof closed unless it’s sunny and 60+ degrees needs to be established. Everyone from Ken Griffey Junior to Jesus Montero knows the ball carries better with the roof closed. And it’s warmer, for better fan comfort.
Speaking of missed opportunities. We’re watching a big one with the Seattle Seahawks this season. The Seahawks possess a championship-caliber defense, running game and special teams. All three of those areas of the team have performed spectacularly in the teams first four games. And yet all the team could manage was a 2-2 record that’s one controversial call away from being 1-3.
It was acknowledged by everyone that the choice to go with Russell Wilson at quarterback to start the year would require some sacrifice while the young player grows into an NFL caliber QB. Coach Pete Carroll was and is enthralled with the potential of his 5′ 10″ third round draft choice. But here is one thing Carroll seems to have ignored, Matt Flynn is young and loaded with potential too. But Flynn has something Wilson doesn’t…four years in the NFL. Flynn also has a Super Bowl ring, and an NCAA National Championship. Put those two together, along with some other factors, and what do you have? A WINNER. Matt Flynn is a proven winner. Having him stand on the sidelines while Wilson slowly learns his craft is a waste of the other very talented aspects of this Seahawk team.
The argument that Wilson gives Seattle a better chance to win in the long run is simply stupid since Flynn too possesses plenty of attributes that would lead a reasonable football fans to conclude his growth is currently ahead of Wilson’s and could potentially be great too.
There is no question Wilson is an outstanding young man worthy of respect and praise. But with the worst passing attack in the NFL, a-quarter of the season is long enough to determine that the Seahawks need better play at quarterback right now or they could blow a season the is rife with promise and potential. Flynn is just as capable of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch as Wilson, he can see and read the field better, and he CAN throw the ball extremely accurately according to most observers.
Please Pete Carroll; make the change. Install Flynn as the starter this week against Carolina. A trip all the way across the U.S. is tough enough. Tougher still, when you’re a rookie. It’s time to see Matt Flynn.
Thanks. I had to get that off my chest.
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