Monday, April 28, 2008

Drastic Measures

The Mariners looked bad this week. They went 2-4 in a homestand against some less than impressive teams. They currently don't look like post-season contenders, and at this rate they don't even look like they'll be in contention for a post-season appearance. Currently the Mariners are four games out of first place. April was supposed to be the time when we build up a lead over a injured Angels team. So far we're bellow .500 playing a "soft schedule". That doesn't bode well for the long fight for a pennant. Last week I asked if it was too early to jump ship. I determined it was not, but this week I'm getting nervous because the major flaw of this team has only become more apparent: offense.

The starting pitching has been quality. Hernandez, Beddard, and Silva have all been stellar. But the offense hasn't supported them. Yesterday, Felix pitched a solid 7 innings holding the A's to just 2-hits, but the M's only scored two runs. It wasn't enough when the eighth inning rolled around and Felix started to run out of gas. Our middle relievers have been pretty inconsistent so far, so the A's took the lead. It was the exact scenario I predicted at the beginning of the season--our excellent pitchers are going to end up with a lot of "no decisions" because of lousy run support.

On a side note, I'm beginning to question some of what passes for baseball orthodoxy when it comes to "the closer". J.J. Putz is our best relief pitcher, leading the league in saves last season, the guy has great control and quite the heater. It seems to be an undisputed rule that a pitcher like that is there to only get three outs in the final inning. Why exactly does it have to be that way? What is stopping the manager from calling up Putz to try and go an inning and 2/3rds when the game is on the line?

Anyways, the real problem is offense. So what to do? If this team really wants to compete, then its time to stop waiting around hoping that our "black hole" in the 5-6-7-8 spots will turn around. We need some upgrades. Benching Jose Vidro (batting .195) was a start, but we also have Brad Wilkerson in RF hitting an even worse .181. I think an easy move to make is to bring up Jeff Clement from AAA Tacoma where he's crushing the ball in a pitcher friendly park. Put in Clement at DH. But what about RF?

Maybe its time to bring back the most beloved Mariner of all time? One of the greatest to play the game: Ken Griffey Jr. Last year when the Reds played in Seattle for interleague games, he was greeted with an unprecedented excitement. After the game he said in passing that he would love to finish his career back in Seattle. If the Mariners organization is serious about competing, why not put up the money to bring back our best? Before the season started some argued that it would make plenty of sense for Seattle to try and pick up Barry Bonds, but the stain of his steroid use would not be worth the runs produced (in addition to being toxic personality in the clubhouse). Griffey is the healthy alternative in every way.

The plain truth is that the current roster is not sufficient. If the Mariners shelled out big prospects and big cash for starting pitchers, why not make the effort to upgrade a very poor offense? Bring back Griffey.

No comments: