Saturday, July 23, 2005

One step forward, three steps back

Granted, I've only been a Mariners fan since 1990, so most of the "dark years" were a grim memory by then. Nevertheless, this seems to be the most Jekyll-and-Hyde M's team in decades.

Every time they seem to be turning a small corner, they lay an egg bigger than the one Big Bird squeezes out (hey, listen to the voice -- that damn thing's gotta be a chick) every morning for breakfast. Four straight wins just before the All Star game brought a ray of sunshine peeking through the turbid clouds over Safeco Field. The first half closes with a flurry, the team has momentum, Bret Boone's been shipped to Minnesota ... what the hell, maybe there's hope for a .500 finish after all. But Seattle quickly proceeds to remind us that they really aren't good enough to make a run to .500 this year once play resumes. After the break, the M's proceed to lose two, win two, lose three before winning last night's game. They are the poster children for inconsistency, a true Jekyll-and-Hyde team.

Are they a grow-from-within franchise like the A's or are they a big-bucks open checkbook organization like the Yankees, Red Sox or Orioles? They've got elements of both on their roster. Are they emphasizing pitching, speed and defense to take advantage of the copious expanses of Safeco Field, or are they primarily a hitting team? The answer to that one is simple: neither. Do they have a clear and obvious plan for the future, or are they drifting and overreactionary? The jury's still out on that one.

I freely admit that I was excited to see the Mariners make a splash in free agency this past off-season. After several years of relative inactivity, including the now-infamous shooting blanks at the trade deadline in both 2002 and 2003, it was nice to see management at least appear to be awake and aware of the circumstances around the club. And yes, they have instilled young players like Jeremy Reed, Jose Lopez and Mike Morse as starters, bringing the youth movement into full swing. I still believe the future is bright, although I can count Bill Bavasi's good moves as GM on one hand.

They're just so vexingly inconsistent this year. Paging Dr. Jekyll, paging Dr. Jekyll ...


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