Monday, May 05, 2008


What do you do to tweak a team that has poor-to-middling power (.425 slugging percentage in 2007, .383 so far in 2008), sub-par fielding (.979, 13th in the A.L.), mediocre pitching (4.21 ERA) and few prospects for immediate improvement in any of these areas - all leading to a disappointing 14-19 record out of the gate?


Let's look at some facts.

In 2007, the top half of the American League in steals had a cumulative +38 win/loss record. Amongst those teams were three of the four playoff participants. So far in 2008, the top seven A.L. teams are a combined +11.

It may seem obvious even without the math, but there is a provable correlation between putting the game in motion and results on the diamond.

Speed is maybe the easiest "commodity" to acquire in baseball. Willie F'in Bloomquist has it, for God's sake. As of this writing, 17 American League players are on pace for 25 steals or more, including just one Mariner (Ichiro!). If you aren't a team that has it, then you'd better be a slugging club like last year's Cleveland Indians. The Mariners aren't even remotely close to that sort of team.

Ichiro should swipe 40+ bags. The M's next best base stealer is their freakin' cleanup hitter.

Do the M's have the ideal personnel to successfully put the game in motion? No, probably not. However, for all of John McLaren's preseason posturing about Ichiro stealing 80 bases, they've only tried 33 times in the first 33 games. That's not all that bad (only four A.L. teams exceeded 1.0 attempts/game last year), but they need to be one of those upper-end clubs in successful steals to compensate for their slugging deficiencies. As of this writing, the Mariners were 7th in steals in the A.L.

Get this team in motion, McLaren. You're 14-19 and on the verge of being out of the race already. The Mariners aren't going to morph into a good defensive club, or a power hitting team, and your bullpen has gone from shutdown to meltdown. What do you have to lose?


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