Which way should the Mariners turn?

When everyone was picking the Mariners for the AL West division title during spring training, I almost followed suit.

I figured the Angels looked a lot worse than they had in recent years and who was going to beat the 1-2 punch of Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez?

Plus they have Ichiro AND Chone Figgins setting up the table? This was going to be a wonderful year in Seattle… maybe even a pennant to help say good bye to Ken Griffey Jr.

Sure picking up Milton Bradley was a risk… but he MUST have learned his lessons, right?

But my gut told me, no… I got burned picking the A’s last year.

I decided to play it safe and go with the Angels. Well, the Halos haven’t been rewarding my powers of prediction, but HO-LEE CR*P! The Mariners are a disaster.

And I literally have no idea which way they should turn.

One the one hand they are one of the worst teams in the American League. Only the Royals, Indians and lowly Orioles have worse records, and that is INCLUDING their win against the Angels on Sunday.

Milton Bradley has been a disaster. You know something didn’t work out when the only positive thing about a guy’s year is that he decided to seek help instead of have a career ending meltdown.

Huzzah! You can’t play but at least you didn’t behave like a sociopath!

The offense, including from new comer Chone Figgins, has been offensive. Hitting coach Alan Cockrell has joined all of us from The Bonnie Hunt Show in the unemployment line.

Franklin Guitierrez and Casey Kotchman lead the team with a whopping 3 homers. THREE. Not for the week, but for the whole season. Three supposed regulars are all batting under .200. I know batting average isn’t always the best route to use in terms of judging a hitters worth, but YIKES!

The pitching has been OK, but even King Felix has looked awful in his last two starts.

And the clubhouse has more tension than The Hurt Locker.

Even Ken Griffey Jr, once the feel good part of this Mariners team, is a source of controversy as teammates are coming out anonymously against him and people are calling for one of the great players you and I will EVER see have their career ended by being placed on waivers.

And with Cliff Lee certainly headed off to an expensive free agency, GM Jack Zduriencik might be better off dealing Lee to see if he can get back a few players that would partially make up for Phillippe Aumont, Juan Ramirez and Tyson Gillies, the players sent to Philly for Lee.

It’s a lost season.


Despite such a disastrous start, the Mariners are only 5 back of the Rangers in the loss column.

THE RANGERS! You know, the team that always starts off well but fades the minute the weather gets into the “Oh My God, is this HELL?” range!

The A’s are ahead of them… and I think they are poised to steal the division… but they could just be having a nice first two months. They were projected to be a 90 loss team and they could very well be.

The Angels are a sub .500 mess as well. And even if they find a way to fix their hitting woes and their starting pitching mess… Brian Fuentes will find a way to blow the lead.

What I am saying is this is the very definition of a winnable division.
Plus they have recalled top prospect Michael Saunders who homered on mothers day.

Two more homers and he’ll be tied for the team lead.

Sometimes it takes a young spark like Saunders to ignite the team and give them some new life.

It also helps that they are about to face the Orioles… and Milton Bradley is no longer on the team.

And Cliff Lee is off the DL… maybe the Mariners can get on a roll.

Or maybe they’ll continue their current pace to finish the season at 62-100 with their veterans either eying free agency, seeking psychiatric or taking a snooze.

Cliff Lee’s trade value will never be higher… then again the division may never be this winnable.

What should they do?
I don’t envy you Jack Zduriencik.
First of all you have to constantly spell your last name out for people.
But secondly the wrong decision in 2010 could screw the team up for years!

If you go for it and the team falls apart, then you would get little to nothing back for the Chone Figgins/Cliff Lee/Milton Bradley gamble.

If you wave the white flag, you would lose fan interest for this year and it would take more than Ichiro and a bunch of people you’ve never heard of to get them back.

Choose wisely, Jack.

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Can the Bay Area reverse October 2, 2004?

There is a potential power shift in the western divisions that could be heading north… and this week could be a big week in the Bay Area baseball wise.

In the early 2000s, the Northern California teams were on a roll. The A’s made the postseason in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The Giants, who were division winners in 1997 and 1998, moved into their new ballpark and made the post season in 2000, 2002 and 2003 and narrowly missed in 2001.

Of course the only California team to win the World Series in that period was a southern California club, the Angels, who stunned my dad’s Giants, but I digress.

And then, on Saturday October 2, 2004 it all came crashing down.

The Giants needed to win their last two games against the Dodgers to force a play in game for the Western Title. They took a 3-0 lead into the 9th knowing that a win would mean all they would have to do is win again on Sunday and there would be a winner take all Dodgers/Giants match up. Then the 9th inning became a bone crusher for Giants fans.

Dustin Hermansen could only get one out as he walked three and let up a single. Then shortstop Cody Ransom booted a grounder and Jayson Werth singled to tie the game. And finally Steve Finley hit a walk off, division clinching, Giants eliminating grand slam.

The Giants haven’t made the post season since.

The A’s went into the last weekend tied with the Angels and were hosting Anaheim (they played in Anaheim back then) for a three game set. They had Mulder, Zito and Hudson rested and ready to go and if they won two of the games, they would be the Division Champs.

Mulder got blown out of the first game but Zito pitched well on October 2nd as the A’s took the lead into the 8th. If the A’s could hold on, the last game on Sunday would be a winner takes the division de facto playoff game.

But the A’s bullpen imploded as Darrin Erstad tied the game in the 8th with a double and Garret Anderson hit a 2 out RBI single to give the Angels the lead that they wouldn’t give up.

Since then, the Western Divisions have been controlled by Southern California teams.

The Giants haven’t made the playoffs since the Finley slam and the A’s have only made it back once in 2006.

The Angels won the Division in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The Dodgers made the playoffs in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
The Padres won the division in 2005 and 2006, losing a play in game in 2007.

But now things are looking up in the north (and I am not just talking about my San Jose Sharks!)

The Giants could have the best starting rotation since Bobby Cox’s Braves in the mid 1990s.

With a little help in the lineup and rotation, they could steal the division.

And this week they are playing the Padres three times… a team they trail by 1/2 a game. If they take two of three, the Giants will be in First Place by themselves.

And fresh off of Dallas Braden’s perfect game, the A’s find themselves in a big series in Arlington where they trail the Rangers by a single game.

If they take 2 of 3, they’ll be tied for first. If they sweep, they’ll be in first place all alone (of course the third game of this series won’t be televised in Oakland… but that’s another story.)

I know it is still relatively early in the year, but usually Memorial Day is when you start to see what teams are for real and which teams just had a decent April. And with the Padres overachieving and potentially ready for a collapse and the Dodgers a mess, the West is winnable for the Giants.

And you know the heat will wear down the Rangers pitchers, the Angels can’t get out of their own way and the Mariners clubhouse is more tense than the island on Lost.

The Giants and the A’s can do this. They can put October 2, 2004 WAY in their rear view mirror.

And the map to division titles could lead north again.

The Francesa – Arroyo romance will continue

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo had a solid start today against the Pirates. He let up only one run while pitching into the 8th inning.

So get ready WFAN listeners. Mike Francesa will no doubt continue his bizarre infatuation with Arroyo.

For YEARS Francesa has been calling for the Yankees to acquire Arroyo. He talks about him like he is a no doubter… as if they’d be bringing in the second coming of Walter Johnson into a pennant race.

Even when his ERA is in the 5’s, he wants him in the Bronx.
Yeah he’s good for 200 innings a year, but so is Jon Garland and Francesa doesn’t write Mike Francesa Garland on his notepad. But he does plan to take Arroyo’s name.

Maybe it is a whole 2004 ALCS thing.
He remembers A-Rod slapping the ball out of Arroyo’s glove and he thinks that he wants yet ANOTHER ’04 Red Sox idiot to wear pinstripes.

(FYI, his ERA in the ’04 ALCS was 15.75.)

But none of that matters… Francesa wants Arroyo and his shutting down the Pirates (who Mike will call “underrated”) will justify his lust.

Hey, how could Arroyo be worse than Javier Vazquez?
Just saying.

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