Some Mariners fans and national media alike are still unsure of what Seattle’s plan for the future is, for some reason. Hopefully our friends Positive Pete and Negative Nick can help clear things up.
Positive Pete: Hey Nick, you want to hear a fun fact? We’re next playing the Rays and our record is an exact mirror of theirs. Ours is 52-73 while they are 73-52.
Negative Nick: Pete, you must be insanely bored if that’s a fun fact for you.
PP: Hey now, what side of the bed did you wake up on today?
NN: The good side, it’s just sad that you’ve put the word “fun” and the 2019 Mariners in the same category.
PP: I actually didn’t. I meant that the fact itself was fun. So I take it you won’t tune into tonight’s game?
NN: I would but it will be the same story.
PP: Which is?
NN: We can dominate other bad teams but still struggle mightily against playoff contenders.
PP: So? We’re not very good this year. That happens to every team.
NN: I get that, but I’m as encouraged as I thought I’d be. Can you name one standout player on this team? One who really makes opponents shiver at his name?
PP: Kyle Seager.
NN: I can’t tell if you’re serious or kidding. Kyle was an All Star and has been fine overall but he’s not scary.
PP: He’s on fire, Nick.
NN: Yeah, on fire. Meaning that it’s an anomaly for him to hit this well.
PP: So what are you trying to say?
NN: I’m trying to say that I can’t see this team contending in 2021.
PP: What about Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic?
NN: They’re great prospects.
NN: But we don’t know how they’ll be as Major Leaguers. Dipoto must think he’s a divine being if he thinks he can predict when a team will be good. That shows insecurity in my mind. Did Theo Epstein or Jeff Luhnow announce to the world when the Astros and Cubs would plan on contending? I don’t think so. They both happened to morph into World Series winners but that doesn’t always happen, Pete.
PP: May I? I think you’re looking at this all wrong. You’re looking at this through an old lens. You’re used to past GMs like Bavasi and Zduriencik shipping away any talent we had for has-beens.
NN: But I’m not seeing a difference now either, Pete. The only baby Mariner who looks promising is Daniel Vogelbach. But he’s one guy, we need 24 other quality guys. The other guys are doing fine but to contend by 2021, you need more than fine. You need promising young guys who look like they could raise some eyebrows in the future. Also, look at the little things. A couple of our guys like Mallex and Domingo beat themselves in the field. How often do you see the Astros make a defensive miscue? Hardly ever because they make you truly beat them.
PP: The Astros and Cubs needed time. It took them a while to become a perennial winner.
NN: That’s where you’re wrong, Pete. Remember how promising George Springer looked when he hit a bomb against us his rookie year? And Carlos Correa was like Evan Longoria, becoming a phenom right into the Big Leagues. And even though Jose Altuve has played since 2011 and was part of bad Astros teams, he just needed the supporting cast to become better known, which he has!
PP: You’re just talking about their stars, not their supporting cast.
NN: Their supporting cast didn’t take long either, Pete. Both Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman were key ingredients to Houston’s World Series winner in just their sophomore seasons.
PP: You mentioned the Cubs also?
NN: The Cubs took a similar path. They built from within and their guys became stars quickly. Anthony Rizzo needed several years to bloom but Kris Bryant was an All Star his rookie and sophomore seasons. The Cubs won it all in 2016. That season, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, and Addison Russell were in their third, first, and second seasons respectively. Theo Epstein quietly built young winners from the get-go without putting an exact date on when they would contend.
PP: But both the Cubs and Astros picked up supporting veterans as well. It wasn’t all homegrown prospects. Dexter Fowler, Aroldis Chapman, and Jon Lester are some examples. Same with Josh Reddick for Houston.
NN: Exactly my point, Pete. No current Mariners are showing signs of becoming like the players mentioned above. Some are doing okay but no one’s looking great. And to contend in the tough American League by at least 2021, you need great. Of course the Mariners will be contenders again soon. But by 2021? I think Dipoto was a couple years ahead of himself on that date.
PP: I hear where you’re coming from, Nick, but try and be positive.
NN: I will, I’m just trying to be a realist also.