The M's and Griffey
As we watch the train-wreck that is the 2010 Seattle Mariners approach the quarter-pole of their season, it seems a good time to assess how a team that was brimming with confidence just six weeks ago could have spun into the ditch so disastrously.
Simply stated, when a team gets virtually zero offensive production from more than half the lineup, it becomes wondrous to behold that they've actually managed to win some games at all.
Both catchers are hitting below .200, and neither Johnson nor Moore seem capable of fielding their position competently.
The first baseman languishes south of the Mendoza Line as well.
Perhaps most distressing is the failure of new 2B Chone Figgins. While he is hitting his weight, at .182 he's not hitting MY weight. For all his reputation as being an offensive spark-plug, his speed on the bases doesn't get to be put on display if his fanny is firmly ensconced on the pine after too many at-bats.
Add to this the banjo-hitting from our shortstops, the Wilsons, as well as the inability of starting LF Milton Bradley to hit HIS weight (before being humanely sent to receive counseling for issues that may have plagued him his whole life --- smart move, Mariners --- you're already on the hook to pay him close to $20 million for the next two years --- for another $10,000 you might as well see if a way can be found for Bradley to take things out on baseballs instead of fans, teammates, and the whole world in general), and you're well on your way to having a team that could set a record for fewest runs scored in a season.
None of this even addresses the one position on the team that is designed solely to aid in the production of offense – the Designated Hitter.
Following last week's revelations/accusations of clubhouse napping by Ken Griffey, Jr., during a recent game, one possible interpretation of the events holds that by snoozing through a possible pinch-hit appearance late in a game, he was doing the ballclub a favor by giving the at-bat to a teammate who was more likely to produce than he.
Through six weeks, this team's offense hasn't been just bad.
It's been bad in epic proportions, bordering on the putrid.
And yet I find myself strangely optimistic in spite of the results in the early going.
I believe the players new to Seattle (Kotchman, Figgins, the Wilsons, and Bradley – if he returns at all) will find comfort in their new surroundings and perform in a manner that is comparable to what they've done in the past.
The young catchers are ripe for demotion in favor of us trading for a veteran backstop who, while not having the advantage of being homegrown, can handle a pitching staff and pose a threat with the bat, rather than being the automatic out the two have become.
Assuming Bradley doesn't return this season, then Michael Saunders may prove capable, especially defensively. Early returns on him are that he has improved measurably at the plate since his cup of coffee last year.
Unless the Law of Averages has been repealed, the hitting will improve. Run production will increase. Not every game will be of the excruciating 2-1 or 3-2 nature.
And as for Griffey …...... I believe/hope that he has one last bullet in his holster, and I have a hunch he's going to fire it during the home stand that begins this week. I believe the fans will cheer him wildly and that he will respond with one final blast from the sweetest swing ever seen in these parts.
In a move taken straight from the Ted Williams playbook, my guess is that, knowing his glory days are well behind him now, he'll wave us all good bye as he rounds the bases for the last time.
And in the great tradition of Baseball, Junior will 'take one for the team' ---- hang up his spikes, call it a career, and free up a roster spot (and a place in the batting order) for a younger (Mike Sweeney) guy to produce in a way that he no longer can.
As of this writing, the team is a dismal 14-23. 125 games remain in the season.
To finish with a .500 record means they must go 67-58 from here on in. Impossible? Not by a long shot.
A couple more wins would get them to 83-79, and might be enough to capture the AL West crown.
It would at least make for a pennant race in September, and it's been too long a time since we've had one of those around here.
Once you're playing in October, anything can happen.
There's no question about it.