Friday, September 28, 2007

I really hate to say 'I told you so', but ...

... the failure of the Mariners to adequately address the implosion of their 4-5 starting slots tanked any hope they had of competing for the wild card this year.

As you may recall, I advocated grooming Morrow for the back end of the rotation way back in July. Maybe it wouldn't have worked. Perhaps his lack of control would have derailed that effort. On the other hand, could it really have ended up any worse than what we experienced? Horacio Ramirez will probably end up (using standard metrics) as one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball this year, if not the worst. Let's face it, despite a few startlingly good outings, Jeff Weaver's 7-13, 6.30 ERA, taken as a whole, was one of this year's biggest smoking craters in all of baseball. Meanwhile, despite the control issues, Morrow posted a solid .243 OBA with 66 K's in 63 1/3 IP. Ramirez and Weaver's were .337 and .317, respectively.

I am, frankly, stunned that Bavasi's option has been picked up. What is this team's identity? We know it's none of the following: power (10th in the A.L. in HR's), speed (9th in SB's), ability to get on base (7th in OBP), general offense (7th in runs), holding the opposition down (12th in ERA), keeping runners off base (13th in hits allowed, 9th in BB's). Fielding, maybe? Well, they are 5th in the A.L. in fielding percentage and third in double plays turned, so maybe that. Maybe. Regardless, that's clearly not enough.

Station-to-station baseball, that's what the M's played this year. It's almost a miracle that they'll end up with 85-87 wins. Unfortunately, Tad's probably right. Short-sighted management will see an improvement "trend" and thus be unwilling to do anything significant. Meanwhile, the few dumpster dives Bavasi made this past year that actually worked (Guillen, Batista) will be unlikely to repeat their decent seasons and this jigsaw puzzle with no true solution will falter.

Bring on La Russa. I don't care that McLaren put in his time over the last 25 years. He had his chance to prove his mettle and showed himself to be overly dependent upon veterans, too situational with his bullpen, unwilling to manufacture runs and unable to make the major changes needed to shake the team out of their epic collapse. La Russa has his flaws and ends up wearing out his welcome eventually, but his half-life is about ten years. Outside of Pinella, that's the equivalent of about eight typical Mariner managerial tenures. Five World Series teams (two winners), four manager of the year awards and 12 overall playoff appearances dot his resume, and he's a west coast guy to boot.

Go get him.

While you're at it, cut Bavasi loose. La Russa will want Jocketty to come with him. Use the unexpected potential availability of the architects of 2006's World Series championship to reverse the ill-advised decision to keep him. If you have to pay him to leave, do so. Follow the Seahawks' model and get the proven winner when you have the chance. Heck, follow your own model, circa 1993.

I'm not optimistic, but I'm holding out hope that the Mariners make a bold statement this off-season. They've squandered more than their share of opportunities since 2001. Don't let this be another instance of that.


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