The Mariners aren’t going anywhere this season. We all know this. I believe the last few members of the denial party have checked out at this point, so there really shouldn’t be any arguments here. There are 67 games left in 2010, and this team really needs to make the best of them. Here’s a list!
1. Play the kids
Specifically, Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders. These 2 guys, along with a certain second baseman and a certain starting pitcher down in Tacoma, could very well be a huge part of this team’s future core. If as an organization the Mariners are really looking toward improving for the future, Smoak should get a lot of starts at first base, and Saunders should get a lot of stars in left field. I understand that Milton Bradley, Russell Branyan, and Casey Kotchman are still on this team, which makes this a little tougher, but you have to be realistic about their futures in Seattle. Casey Kotchman will probably be gone before 2010 is even finished, so you can disregard him. As for Branyan and Bradley, one of them MIGHT be back next year, but probably not as an every day player and probably not in the field. Let them split time at DH for the next 2 months and decide in the off season whether you want either of them back.
2. Get rid of the dead weight
I’m talking about the guys that aren’t helping the team now, and aren’t likely to help the team in the future. DFA Casey Kotchman – having him on the roster is overkill at this point, and he’s not a part of this team’s long term plans. There’s no reason to keep him around. As much as I hate to say it, DFA Jose Lopez. Let’s face it – he’s not going to be a Seattle Mariner in 2011, and he’s been absolutely awful this season. Yes, he’s had some bad luck, and yes, it’s nice that he’s played solid defense at third base, but we’re talking about a guy who has a .267 wOBA. There’s just no reason to keep him around at this point – the ship has probably sailed on trading him, and it’s time to cut ties.
3. Stop calling up Sean White
This should speak for itself. Sean White is absolutely terrible. He’s well below average at everything that matters for a pitcher, and I see no reason to believe he’s going to improve any time soon. He’s in Triple-A now, and if you aren’t going to release him, that’s where he belongs.
4. Evaluate what they’re playing for
This one’s more of an off season task, but the Mariners need to decide what their goals are. If they aim to contend in 2011, that’s an extremely tall glass of water. To do so, they’re going to need to make several savvy moves this winter, both in the free agent and the trade market. If not, they can be a little bit more relaxed come this off season. The 2012 free agent class is more impressive anyway, and they’d be able to use 2011 as more of an experience year for their younger players, such as the aforementioned Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak, as well as guys like Adam Moore, Dustin Ackley, and Michael Pineda. They can sit on this one for a couple more months, but a decision will need to be made, and it’s a toughie.