Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Prisoner's Dilemma....

As a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, this offseason has put me in a quandary. "Why is that," you ask? Let me explain.

The Mariners haven't really made much in the way of great moves this offseason. While I liked the signing of Jarrod Washburn (going into the offseason, he was one of the pitchers I was hoping the Mariners would be able to sign), I certainly am not crazy about the contract they gave him. $37.5 over 4 years?! They refused to pay Freddy Garcia that much, and look what he's done.

I don't like the Carl Everett signing at all; I'm willing to go as far as saying that it's a TERRIBLE move. While I do have a problem with Everett's past behavior problems, that's not my main concern. My concern is that the Mariners could have gone after Jacque Jones instead of Everett, and would have landed themselves a good left fielder, and a good bat (better than Everett's even). Instead of signing the young hitter (who's friends with the closer), they go after the older guy who's been injured and hits .250, who doesn't believe Dinosaurs existed. Where's the logic in that?

On top of the inferior bat, the front office also acted to damage the Mariners defense, which will be potentially a problem now with Washburn (who's a flyball pitcher) coming to the team. How so? Most likely the Mariners are now going to have to play Raul Ibanez as their LF. He performed very well as their DH last season, so they turn around this offseason and bring someone else (who doesn't hit as well) in to be the DH? I've always argued that Raul has a cannon for an arm, which helps him out, but with his speed he's not an optimal fielder, especially when it comes to chasing down balls. So instead of signing Jones, and getting a solid LF out there and keeping Raul as the very good DH, they put Raul back in the field (which could impact his hitting), and sign Everett to hit .250 as the DH (and he'll probably get hurt while he's at it). They damaged the team at two positions with one move. And to make matters worse, the hottest rumor floating around right now is that they're looking to trade Jeremy Reed! Reed hit better than Everett did last year, is very cheap, have very good defense, and should improved markedly at the plate! Can you say "Omar Vizquel trade all over again?" I thought you could.

I saw an article comparing the signing of Everett with the Seattle SuperSonics bringing in Danny Fortson (who's a player I like), but I think that logic is wrong. The Mariners don't need someone to come in a stir up the clubhouse with an bullish attitude, they need someone who can fill the shoes of: Buhner, Edgar, Boonie; someone who can come in and lead by example. Sexson and Beltre both (arguably Ichiro also) should have been able to do that, but apparently that wasn't the case, same with Raul and Every-Day-Eddie.

On the Jojima and Moyer signings, as I have said in the past, both of those guys were going to sign with the Mariners, so it isn't worth patting the front office on the back just because they made two no-brainer moves. I am very happy that Moyer is coming back, since I'm a big fan of his. I am also very happy with the Jojima signing; it's risky but it's a move I think could really pay off.

That being said, I think the Mariners would have been ok without signing Jojima. I think that Torrealba could have done well over the course of a season (and I would have been willing to bet a lot of money that he would have done better as a Mariner over the course of a full-season than Ben Davis or Miguel Olivo did), and I think that the Mariners really need to continue to give Rene Rivera a look. While his hitting was probably an aberration, you don't really know unless you give him more time (the guy hit over .400, doesn't he deserve a chance?). I don't think that going the Torrealba/Rivera route would have been more of a gamble than Jojima.

How is it that I find myself in a quandary then? As a lifelong fan, few things make me as happy as a day at The Safe. But now I have to seriously question whether or not it makes sense to pay all that money for the tix (the Mariners ranked 11th on TMR's Fan Cost Index in 2005; pretty high for a team that lost 99 games the year before), for a team which is not really improved from their 93 and 99 loss seasons. Five years ago this team won the most games ever! Now we're HOPING to be a .500 team?!!

Should I pay for that? I can just watch it on TV, and that doesn't cost anything. Plus I don't have to deal with parking, or buses, or crowds, or spilt beer, or anything.

There is a very real sense among the fanbase that the Mariners front office really does not care about the fans, and they believe people will continue to show up regardless of whether or not the team is winning, like lemmings going off a cliff or zombies. Could the Mariners management be misjudging the value of the promotional games they seem to be having every other game? If it's not a giveaway night, then it's a Mariners Mail discount ticket night. What happens when that trickery wears out? They've already completed their Mariners train set, and the bobblehead craze has blown over for the most part. With all of the players gone that the casual fans can identify (other than Ichiro and Moyer), what happens when nobody wants to show up for Yuniesky Betancourt t-shirt night (which I would totally be there for, but who else would)?

Signing Jones is pretty much out of the question now, and really would now be an ill-advised move since they've got two guys who can DH and three guys to play LF (Ibanez, Everett, or Morse). If they can pull out a surprise Millwood signing, then I would certainly give them props for that. It wouldn't save an already wasted offseason, but it would certainly be a big improvement. Today's arbitration deadline should also be interesting; some very boneheaded moves could be made, but hopefully everything goes well.

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