"Mayday...Mayday...the SS Mariner is Sinking" Dept.
I almost forgot to mention that the Seattle Mariners' "tragic number" is now down to one. If they lose one more game, they are finished and will not make the offseason. (And they will too unfortunately.) But cheer up M's fans, 2003 will be a good year because management the past couple of years is *finally* willing to field a contender. And this team is about 2 offensive bats away from the World Series. Before being critical, let us look at the strengths we have to build upon.
Joel Piniero and Ryan Franklin have emerged as bonafide starting pitchers alongside ageless Jamie Moyer (gonna be 40 next year), Freddy Garcia the current future number one pitcher (will be 26 next year: and he is quite a "horse" if you will), Ismael Valdez (30 next year). Considering that Ryan and Joel are about 24 and 23 respectively (and that is *young* for a major league pitcher to display such good stuff consistently) the pitching core is solid 1-5. (And that does not count 24 year old Gil Meche who will rejoin the team next year after he finishes rehab. I believe will be one of the all time greats in this game if he can stay healthy.)
Basically, since starting pitching, the bullpen, and defense will be solid next year, here is Dr. Shawn's Prescription for the problems:
1) Get a consistent left fielder who hits right handed and with power.
2) Move McLemore to the bench and sub him for the 4 infield positions and left and right field as needed to rest players. (Mac is too old to play center IMO.) He and Sierra should come off the bench as that was an area of weakness this year and their presence there as all around player and big bat off the bench respectively would be an asset.)
3) Whip Jeff Cirillo into shape. He had a bad year but these things happen. Talk at the sports stations is to get rid of him if possible but that is premature. We are talking about a guy who averaged .311 for the five years before we got him. (And only two of those years were with the Rockies so I will not buy the altitude excuse.) Despite struggling he had stellar defense and showed clutch abilities and that is important to have on a team.
4) Consider getting another center fielder who can hit with more consistency than Cameron. I cringed everytime I saw (or heard) him blow it in the clutch this year - and that was a lot.
The number of times he struck out with men in scoring position in a tight game was abominable. I know he is young but when there are men in scoring position you do not try to be Babe Ruth and hit the homer. Instead you try to be Lou Gerig and drive them in with base hits. (Yes I know Ruth did this too - I am using an analogy to make a point since Ruth was known more for the HR than the RBI though he had a lot of both.) The important statistics in baseball are not batting average and home runs. They are instead on base percentage and runs batted in. Give me a guy who goes 0-3 with a walk and 1-2 RBI's over a guy that goes 4-4 with no walks and no RBI's any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
5) Ben Davis needs more time as catcher. He and Dan should at least 50-50 it instead of 70-30 with Dan getting the edge. (Ben has power and Dan does not and this team needs power on offense.)
6) Guillen needs to go. His RBI totals were anemic and there are other shortstops who hit for more power whose defense is comperable to his. (See if we can con the A's out of Miguel Tejada somehow. They will have problems signing him after next year and may want to trade him to avoid getting nothing in return should he leave via free agency,)
7) Mariner management. Please do not let the window of opportunity close for getting a ring.
Do those things and we will make the World Series and probably win it. I cannot see any team with the pitching depth 1-5 as we will have next year or the bullpen. This team is two pieces away and they are both on offense.
Let Gillick get what is needed as he is the best architect of a team there is. Translation: open the wallets a bit more please and do what is needed to put this team over the top. Trust me, you will make it all back and then some with a deep run into the playoffs and (God-willing) a World Series.
So let it be written.......so let it be done!!!