Experiencing fleeting feelings of déjà vu this September? The experience wouldn’t be foreign to most of the fans who have studied the Mariners roster this season. In what is becoming a dangerously vapid trend, the Mariners have transformed an opportunity to audition the young potential stars of the future, into a recall for every player that has spent plenty of time burning rubber up and down the 1-5. This season, the Mariners called up a mere two players who had not already seen time with the Mariners this year. Last season offered a similar story, with Delabar and Liddi being the only two players who spend the entire season in the minors.
Among the names that the Mariners opted against bringing up this September are last years first round selection Danny Hultzen, top infield prospect Nick Franklin, and interesting relief prospect Bobby LaFromboise. It’s hard to argue that many of the players involved in this years call up are integral cogs in the Mariners immediate future. On the other hand you have both Franklin and Hultzen who figure to receive a call up by the middle of next season; both could be acclimating to the big leagues right now. Instead the team will run out a failed short stop prospect and career minor leaguer with the eternal specter of time eroding the foundation of his youth. That’s just the new additions. Carlos Peguero’s contact abilities with forever inhibit him of being successful at the major league level, Shawn Kelly has been replaced by more capable bullpen arms, Liddi is running out of chances much like he is running of positions, and Noesi–essentially guaranteed a rotation slot–has pitched himself right off the major league club.
This sort of action is not unprecedented, however, it is mimics that of a team still in the playoff hunt; a team that cannot afford to throw away any games. A position the Mariners haven’t found themselves in for the last decade. The Mariners are wasting away at bats on players that have already had the opportunity to show the club what they can do, and the club sent those players motoring down to Tacoma multiple times. Case and point, the Mariners are fully aware of what Carlos Peguero is capable of. He isn’t big league material and sacrificing at bats in favor of say, Nick Franklin, is a painful situation for every fan involved.
The Mariners have put themselves in an unfortunate situation, as they have since the 2003 season. But that unfortunate situation allows them a freedom to explore options for the future. This new regime has done nearly everything in their power to recreate a sustainable organization, yet no brass is perfect. This is a weak point, a point of improvement. The organization has to stop throwing away opportunities to audition future pieces, on the players that have already been fully explored. Especially when they have nothing left to lose at the end of the season.