After recording a podcast episode and a live stream today, I went out for a walk to enjoy reasonable temperatures and to get a little exercise. On my walk I listened to some Mariners talk… and that was a mistake.
The Seattle Mariners being relevant is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the positive side, more people are interested in the team and more conversations can be had. On the other hand, it forces those who haven’t paid close attention to try and come up with talking points to fill the new need to talk about the team longer than anticipated.
This side takes many forms, but the side that caught my eye, or rather ears, this time was an interview of Jeff Passan on the Mike Salk Show this morning. Towards the end of the interview, Salk ask Passan “what would he do if he was Jerry Dipoto this winter” and Passan’s answer is predictably flawed. He immediately drops Max Scherzer’s name as the move he’d make. Do you see the problem? If not, look at the questions again. What would YOU do, not what do you think the Mariners should/could/or will do. And it’s that little tweak that makes all the difference.
The person who asks the questions totally removes themselves from responsibility, the person answering the questions answers it exactly how it was asked, and us, the listeners, get robbed of a real conversation. Because now, there isn’t a conversation happening, there are just empty words coming across the air waves.
The simple truth is, what Jeff Passan would do as the GM for the Mariners DOES NOT MATTER. Passan is somebody with connections inside the game. He has information that you or I don’t. He has valuable information and that question, the way it is phrased, robs the listener of hearing that information. The solution? Ask Passan about specific players and whether it’s something the Mariners could be interested in.
But look, I’m just a podcaster and Salk is the biggest radio personality in the region. So what do I know? Just enough to know that Salk asked a lazy question that was designed for reaction, not conversation. It was a missed opportunity.
As for Max Scherzer to the Mariners, that’s not going to happen. Ask yourself this; “why would Scherzer pick the Mariners?” Now, take money off the table. Scherzer has made his nest egg and is looking for world series rings at the end of his career. Can Seattle offer him that more than the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Giants, or even the Nationals or Mets? No.
The real disconnect here seems to come from a statement Salk made several times. He has said the Mariners are looking to go from “good to great”. But as Jason Churchill has pointed out, the have to get to good first. Because while this Mariners team has a good record, we know they aren’t a good roster. Half the lineup is flat out bad. The rotation is middle-of-the-road at best. The defense aside from J.P. Crawford, Ty France, and Kyle Seager is bad. This team has a good record because the most volatile unit in professional sports has been unbelievably good and consistent for 140+ games.
Stack up this roster against any team in the playoff race. Do you really think they have equivalent talent to any of them? So no, Seattle cannot simply sign Marcus Semien and Max Scherzer, as suggested by Salk in the same segment, and call it an off-season. Semien and Scherzer by themselves, cannot make up for the inevitable regression from the bullpen and the probable injuries and potential disappointments that crop up every year.
Seattle isn’t one bat and one ace away from competiting for a division. They need, at minimum, 3 average bats, a #2 starter, a #4 starter, and some bullpen help to have a shot to catch the Astros next year. And that’s if guys like Chris Flexen and Abraham Toro don’t take steps back, Kyle Lewis stays healthy, and Logan Gilbert and Jarred Kelenic show massive improvements.
While it might sound like I’m trying to rain on your parade, I’m really not. I’m just as optimistic about this rebuild and Seattle’s chances to end their playoff drought in 2022 as I ever have been. I just want to be as honest in my assessment as I can. This team doesn’t need a new coat of paint. It needs multiple improvements and a large roster turnover. Thankfully, some pieces of the foundation are good and you have no shortage of income to go get more help to finish building this house. But spending a million bucks on a pool when you have holes in your roof is pretty foolish.
The Mariners are going to be busy this winter. They’re going to make a lot of moves, and even some that will excite this fan base. But do not expect the team to hand out contracts that are vastly above market value. The team has a lot of resources to plug a lot of holes, and not every hole will be filled with an exciting option. And that’s okay. The goal for the 2022 Mariners is to make the playoffs, not have the most exciting off-season.