If you're not a baseball fan, feel free to skip this "letter". I was venting my frustrations in the ESPN.com forums after reading an excellent piece written by Jim Caple, and decided to expound a bit more on the subject here (hey, what good is a guy's website if he can't occasionally rant?).

May 1, 2010

To whom it may concern in the Seattle Mariners front office:

I'm a big Mariners fan - have been for roughly three decades. I was so excited about some of the moves this off-season. We (yes, I feel possessive about my team) grabbed Figgy in the off-season, and we signed Lee to a one year deal. We snatched up the defensively excellent Kotchman to cover first base. Additionally, mid-season last year we nabbed the most breathtakingly-amazing defensive shortstop I've ever had the privilege to watch. We even turned a worthless (to us) pitcher into a potentially strong bat. I was in awe of what the team appeared to be building.

Then, someone (Wak? Zduriencik? Who, exactly, made this decision?) decided Junior and Sweeney did such a bang-up job last year that they should be our designated hitter combo again this year. Doing this has other ramifications as well beyond the obvious direct competitive disadvantage. Holding on to two players who are only capable of DH duty means we are forced to play Milton Bradley and his chronically unreliable legs in the outfield most games, which means he will almost certainly miss time with injuries. Additionally, it means there are fewer options available on the bench when a player gets hurt, gets ejected, or if we need a pinch runner. Plus, if that wasn't enough, it exacerbates the situation created by filling some positions (shortstop, catcher) where we've decided it made sense to trade offensive ability for defensive prowess - we're giving up offensive production from the DH for... what, exactly? Tickling skills?

And, as if you wanted to explicitly disprove the notion that it couldn't get worse - you guys moved the Doublemint Twins into the #4/#5 slot in the batting order.

Our top three batters - Ichiro, Figgins, Guti - are doing their job. They keep getting on base, but then Junior or Sweeney or Lopez pull the old GIDP routine over and over and over. Junior simply looks done, while Sweeney is swinging at just about every pitch thrown to him! I'll cut Lopez a little slack since he's relatively young and occasionally shows some pop, but - as a fan, I've grown weary of this. So I've resolved until I read that Bradley's playing DH most of the time; until I read that we've got a bench that is made up of guys other than Tui and Eric "suicide squeeze" Byrnes; until I read that Wak's finally realized a sub-.600-OPS tandem doesn't really belong anywhere near the cleanup slot... I'm not buying tickets, I'm not watching on TV, and I'm not listening to the game on the radio.

It's too frustrating because I know Z has to be smarter than this - it's like Bavasi suddenly slipped back into the front office. Is the problem Wak? Is Howard Lincoln pulling a Steinbrenner? WHAT'S GOING ON? Why throw away significant future talent to bring in Cliff Lee for one year if we don't really intend to actually compete? There's just no way to make sense out of this. So I'm giving up. If I have to watch baseball, I'll see if I can get the Rays on MLB.tv - but there's a lot of things to do up here in the PNW other than waste time on the Mariners.

I suppose, in a way, I should thank you. My garden will certainly benefit because I'll be out there more evenings than I'd planned. Right now, though, I'm just too depressed to focus on the silver lining.


Travis Saling

P.S. You're absolutely killing my memories of "The Kid". I watched Griffey patrolling center field in the Kingdome, and like thousands of other Mariners fans cherish those memories. But with every weak grounder, every inning-ending double play, that person is getting harder to recall. When someone mentions Griffey now my first thought isn't of the young superstar crashing full-tilt into the wall to save a run - it's of an old guy cheating to catch up to a major league fastball and looking foolish when the pitcher crosses him up with something off-speed.

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