Lessons for the Mariners
So what can the Mariners take away from these two incredible teams?
Give yourself a shot
The Astros are consistently in the playoffs and they have been successful more times than not in October. The Phillies had not been to the playoffs in over a decade. They get in as the last seed, and guess what, they get hot and find themselves in the world series.
The Seattle Mariners had a history of not giving themselves a shot at October. This year changed things and look at the success and memories that were experienced, and they only made the ALDS. Seattle, at the absolute minimum, needs to make the club better enough that they can reach October multiple years in a row under this young core. The expectation should be that the Mariners make the playoffs five years in a row. Anything short of that is a disappointment.
There’s no place like home
Yes, the Mariners lost at home in the ALDS, but they made a great…great team sweat it out for 18 innings. The Mariners need to get home-field advantage. This means winning the AL West. I expect the division will continue to have three bad teams, and the M’s and Stros to take advantage. Whoever wins the AL West, will likely have home-field advantage through the American League playoffs.
The rebuild never ends
The Mariners succeeded in their rebuild. They broke the curse and got back to playoff baseball. They identified a core of young stars in Julio Rodriguez, Ty France, Cal Raleigh, George Kirby, and Logan Gilbert. What Jerry Dipoto and Justin Hollander absolutely have to keep as their main focus now, is that the rebuild is never over.
One eye needs to be on finishing this rebuild with a championship, the other eye needs to be looking at how they’re going to replace key players as they begin to decline or reach free agency. The Astros don’t overpay. They develop, they win, then they replace them with younger players that do the same job or better at a much cheaper price.
What’s their succession plan with Eugenio Suarez? Is the next player going to be better? What about Mitch Haniger? Replacing as Houston does will lead to a decade of success, not just a 3-year run.
When the difference maker is there, pull the trigger
The Phillies made a true financial commitment to winning. More than anybody not named the Dodgers, Philadelphia went out and bought themselves a chance at a championship. They went the extra years and dollars for Bryce Harper. The majority of the league should feel stupid after his MVP campaigns and a career-defining home run to send Philadelphia to the world series.
They spent big on Castellanos, and it has not been great, but they spent big on Zack Wheeler and Kyle Schwaber, and both put up elite numbers and are a huge reason they’re this close to a title.
Nobody is questioning them on Castellanos because they at least tried, they went for it. They didn’t have the homegrown talent Seattle appears to have.
The Astros don’t appear to have the financial flexibility that one would suggest Seattle should have. The Mariners are currently projected to have the 15th-highest payroll in baseball in 2023 and are about $65 million behind the Astros. If the Mariners as a franchise are truly committed to winning a championship and achieving sustained success, they need to add $65 million to their payroll at a minimum.
There’s no shortage of superstar talent available in this year’s free agent class, go fight for them, and go get some people. The biggest free agent in the history of baseball will be available a year from now. You came up just short in 2018 with Ohtani, don’t miss him this time. Go pay up and get your 2-4 difference makers, continue to develop and grow your homegrown talent, find the balance between what has brought Houston and Philadelphia to the precipice of glory, and become the next dynasty in baseball.
Oh yeah…Phillies in 7