Christmas Morning is just around the corner. Children all around the world will be waking up early to see what Santa has left them under the tree. They’ll be the proud new owners of Legos, train sets, dolls and the like. Mariners fans, on the other hand, will be waking up just hoping not to find a lump of coal in their stocking for the 19th straight year.
Yes, the trials and tribulations that the Seattle Mariners have put their fans through for the last two decades have been unprecedented. Year after year, the dreams of the playoffs dwindle as the record for the longest playoff drought grows ever longer.
There is hope, however. Jerry Dipoto and Co. have embarked on a journey that has led them down a path that has never been traveled to this extent in organization history. We’ve seen it time and time before. Teams decide to rebuild, cut payroll and reset. For the most part, we have seen this become a successful practice. The Astros, Cubs, and Nationals all spent the seasons prior to their World Series runs in the rebuilding process.
There is, however, a huge difference between a team such as Astros and the Mariners. Without getting into the countless controversies the Astros have faced in recent years, they also spent three straight years losing 100 or more games.
They absolutely tanked to garner higher draft positions and then took years to develop said prospects. The Mariners aren’t necessarily following the same plan. They plan to contend with in the next top-three years, accelerating the timeline by about four years. If it works, Dipoto will look like a genius. If not, it will cost him his job.
But he plan is not to just make the playoffs. The plan is to win the World Series and become a constant force within the American League. Just like what the Astros have become. Just like what the Dodgers have become in the National League.
One of the biggest goals should be to not follow in the footsteps of teams like the Royals, or the Mets. Remember, the two-faced off in the World Series in 2015 with the Royals taking the series in 7 games. The Royals had lost to the Giants in the 2014 World Series. The Mets went on to make a Wild Card appearance in 2016. Otherwise, neither team played much of a role over the last 10 years within the Major League Baseball playoffs whereas the Dodgers have been to the playoffs every year once 2013.
After nearly 20 years of mediocrity, the Mariners’ absolute goal should be to follow down the same path as the Dodgers, although hopefully the Mariners actually win one. Mariners fans will not be happy with just a quick little playoff appearance where the Mariners are knocked out in the first round. It takes a lot more than just luck to make this dream a reality of course.
The Mariners are building around a young core, which is a huge key to creating prolonged success. They hope that JP Crawford can be their Carlos Correa. That Julio Rodriguez and Jared Kelenic end up being to them what Yordan Alvarez and George Springer are to the Astros.
Obviously, these are not one to one comparisons but rather a rough outline of how the Mariners can replicate a success that a team in their own division has already accomplished.
The team will also need to continue its restocking of the farm through strong drafts. They have already amassed four of the top 80 picks in the 2020 draft, which is filled with notably talented college arms.
The M’s have one of the top farm systems in the game already and they have shown that they are much better at drafting quality players than the previous regime. Creating a dynasty that is self-sufficient and sustainable is no easy task but the Mariners are on the right track and already seem to be set up to compete for the long haul instead of just a few seasons.
The 2010s were not kind to the Mariners. There have been plenty of great moments but unfortunately, the team closes the decade the same way they entered it: Without a World Series Title. As we kick off the 2020s, the Mariners will have put themselves under more pressure than ever before to create a winner.
If they can’t, then the whole thing will be blown up, the entire front office will be fired and we will get to start all over again. Nobody is saying that this is going to work and you can’t blame someone for expecting an epic disaster but this is the best chance the Mariners have had in this century to become more than just the middle of the road team.
Hopefully, we have all been good this year. Sant.. er… The Baseball Gods are always watching. If everything goes right, instead of a lump of coal, Mariners fans may find the brand new Red Ryder BB Gun under the tree in the next few years. Maybe that’s not the best analogy.
Ralphie did shoot his eye out after all but I’m willing to wear that Pink Bunny costume to a game if it means that we will be able to see the Mariners on the big stage in October.