The Mariners are failing on so many levels this season, you could write an entire 500 page book on it. Their defense by many accounts is the worst in the league. Even worse, this team doesn't know how to evaluate its own defense. It still think Yuniesky Betancourt is Omar Vizquel jr. when he is one of the worst defensive short stops in the league. Raul Ibanez is actually worse defensively than Manny Ramirez, yet the team keeps trotting him out there. The team has recently moved Ichiro to right field and put in Bloomquist at center field temporarily. Lastly, they have given Jeremy Reed, definitley our 2nd best outfield defensively, some reps at the first base position.
The Mariners, for whatever reason, have also some of the worst hitting in the league. Last season, at some point, everyone on the starting 9 besides Richi Sexson was hitting .280 or above. I know batting average is an archaic measurement of offensive prowess, but needless to say, in Safeco Field, that is still pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the front office's perogative has been to look at batting average, and apparently ignore patience and power. Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre, and Richie Sexson were the ones with power starting this season, and when you have only 3 guys on your roster who have a decent shot at breaking the 25 home run barrier, there's probably going to be a problem. Johjima, Betancourt, and Lopez all had less than 15 walks each last season, which shows some serious plate discipline problems.
The Mariners' starting pitching, supposedly one of the best in the majors, is falling apart. We supposedly have two aces and 3 pitchers capable of being "number 3" pitchers". Well, all three of our number three pitchers are playing at replacement level pitchers. Our number ones have both shown flashes of Cy Young ability, and some times it's hard to tell if it is our defense or little injuries that is making things worse. Perhaps the problem is Mel Stottlemyre and his "establish the fastball" mantra. Felix Hernandez, after 57.1% and 57.0% fastballs for the previous two years, is throwing 65.3% fastballs this year. Bedard had a career year last year, getting 10.8 k/9, but has raised his fastball percentage from 57.9% to 63.7% and his groundball percentage is down from 47.9% to 40.5%. Batista's fastball and cutter percentages are both up, and Washburn's fastball percentage is drastically down, while Silva's is 2% lower. Whatever the case is, no one in their right mind would offer Washburn around $40 million for 4 years, or give Silva $48 million over 4 years.
I've heard a lot of talk about bad process bad results lately, and I have to think this is right. There's a book entitled When Genius Fails, about Nobel Prize winners who open up a hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management, and how it had huge returns until it bombed out and failed miserably. The book argues that it is very possible that these geniuses knew what they were doing, but merely met up with unexpected bad results, a classic good process bad results process. Clearly what we're dealing with is a bad process bad results process. The team seems to be blindly unaware of its many deficiencies that simple bloggers who do research in their spare time have spotted. If the Mariners were a company, they'd either already be bankrupted, or their shareholders would have demanded that they fire the CEO (Howard and Lincoln, not just Bavasi). I think a normal company would have to look at itself and say, why are we paying $48 million dollars for this inventory when competing company's are merely getting it for near free from the draft or from free agency. A good example is of Jorge Campillo, a starting pitcher the Mariners had, but for whatever reason, were unwilling to start. He was a soft tossing righty, and if had been a lefty, the Mariners might have given him a chance, but he wasn't, and now he's pitching well in a starting position for the Braves.
There are so many exmamples I could show of how the Mariners are proving themselves to be inept. Whether its their inept handling of signing free agents, their unwillingness to play unproven players and their subsequent steadfastness in playing veterans, or their bizarre desire to overvalue batting average. Hopefully this franchise can be something I can be proud of and hopefully someone will right this ship, but I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I will be let down for quite a number of years.