September was supposed to be a month in which we fans would see how much progress this latest rebuilding program was making under the guidance of Eric Wedge. The verdict is in after finishing a Spectacular September Swoon with nine wins and seventeen losses. Of those nine wins, four were against the Red Sox and Blue Jays, both struggling teams. The Mariners went 5-11 against division foes. They lost all six games to Oakland, including one in which the team struck out a record- tying 20 times. Wow, what progress!
“We’ve got a lot of young kids going through an experience right now that is going to help them be a veteran club in a couple years and they’ll be better for it. We’ll win a lot of these next year just because of all they’ve gone through, particularly here in September. For these teams, every night is a playoff game and that’s the atmosphere and what they’re going through. And we’re right there in the mix with them, fighting all the way, ” said Mariners manager Wedge recently after another close loss.
I, a loyal fan, am supposed to keep the faith, ignore the fact that Seattle is again in last place, be satisfied with moral victories and be patient because of how young this squad is this year. Well, that quote is mostly bullpucky for a couple of reasons.
First, Oakland’s average age is almost exactly the same and look at them. They have played more rookies than the Mariners, play in a terrible hitters park, are still going to make the playoffs, and are even challenging the Texas Rangers for the division crown.
Second, is that the theory that players like Ackley, Smoak, Montero and Saunders are going to magically grow into stars as they gain experience. That’s a hope not a fact. Great young players with superior talent are great from the start. Take Angel star Mike Trout or Oakland rookie Yoenis Cespedes as two examples from this year. Good players are good from the start like our own Kyle Seager has been. Baseball is not like gardening where you plant a seed and given enough time it then flowers and blooms. Sometimes it simply sprouts and dies. You know, like the second guy taken in the draft hitting .227 or the can’t miss five tool prospect putting up Jeremy Reed- type numbers or the power hitter who can’t square up an off-speed pitch or a top catching prospect who hits .212 with RISP. You know, those kind of “seeds.”
Manager Wedge wants us all to wait. “In a couple years” is the terrifying part of that quote. How long will it be before the Seattle Mariners are even competitive in their own division? He’s had two full years and I will give him one more before I bail. I wonder if those in power understand that this franchise is in crisis as attendance dwindles at Safeco. Yeah, there have been a few more wins, a few more homers, a few more runs scored this year but it still adds up to a last place team that is currently 20 games out of first place. “Being right in the mix” is silly talk and fewer and fewer are listening.
This September Swoon has been depressing.