Where Do The Seattle Mariners Go From Here?


The Seattle Mariners’ season is not over. Nobody’s season is over! It’s July. There are still so, so many baseball games yet to be played. But as far as mounting a legitimate playoff run are concerned, yeah, it’s probably too late. The M’s will be sitting at home in October, just like they do every October.

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It’s going to be another year playing out the stretch in Seattle. This team has only made four postseason appearances in franchise history, so you’d think they’d be accustomed to making plans for August and September. But this team still doesn’t even have a deadline direction, much less a clear summer to-do list. So I’m going to make one for them.

The most important thing the M’s can do the rest of the way is to give as much time to young players as possible. Yes, I still think they should send Mike Zunino to the minors – he may be a young player, but he also has a lottttt of learning to do that would be better done in a low-stakes environment. That move needs to be made, but it shouldn’t affect how the team looks at the rest of their roster.

What I’m talking about is playing Brad Miller every day. Sending Chris Taylor to the minors so that he can play every day. Give Jesus Montero another call-up and see what he’s made of. No, I’m not suggesting the Mariners should bench Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith in order to take longer looks at James Jones or whoever. They shouldn’t play bad players just for the sake of doing it, but they should also go out of their way to make sure anyone with even a sliver of promise is getting the chance to take the field.

Stemming from that, the team needs to see if they can’t get Dustin Ackley to a respectable level of play, unless they decide to just dump him at the trade deadline. At this point that’d be a fine, reasonable thing to do, given how awful he’s been this year. But sure, give him some time to hit! If he shows life, trade him. If he doesn’t, cut him. Basically give him time and then see if you can get anything for him. And admit that you ruined his development. Apologize to Dustin Ackley, you awful team.

A mistake the Mariners can’t make this year is to let Taijuan Walker‘s innings get out of control. This could be another reason not to trade Hisashi Iwakuma – the M’s soon will have innings to go around despite a glut of quality rotation options. Walker’s not on pace to throw 260 innings or anything, but it’s a lost season and he’s had injury issues in his career. Keep him healthy. He doesn’t walk anyone now, you know! Keep the exciting young arm healthy. This should be the goal always, but now especially.

Ensure James Paxton a spot in the MLB rotation when he’s healthy. Maybe this is a reason that you should trade Iwakuma – that gives you a rotation of Felix, J.A. Happ, Paxton, Mike Montgomery, and Walker (with Roenis Elias looming as the guy who jumps in whenever there’s an injury/someone’s working too hard). Get Paxton back up to speed and into the bigs so he can continue doing what he’s been doing. He’s special.

The to-do list is simple: stop trying to make the playoffs with silly slugger acquisitions and focus on giving the important young guys a chance to play every day. Stick with the youth in the rotation. Figure out what to do with Dustin Ackley – or at least figure out what you can get for Dustin Ackley. Watch Felix Hernandez continue to be a beautiful human and pitcher. Prepare for and appreciate Robinson Cano‘s already-in-progress second half turnaround.

Then when the season’s done clear house. Fire Jack Zduriencik and give someone a shot to make decisions that aren’t “trade for Mark Trumbo.” Spend the winter investigating the “Safeco Effect” and comprehensively studying the differences in player development techniques between the Mariners and, oh, the Cardinals, to name one of many. For now, let the kids play. On the last day of the season, fire the front office. Easy as that.