Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
June 4, 2008 11:10 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Liked that manager John McLaren stated the obvious today, that none of his players are immune from criticism for this year's utter collpase. That was before his profanity-laden tirade after yet another defeat, but for me, the pre-game stuff was more important. Sorry I wasn't around earlier today. But I had four hours sleep after last night's game, then flew all day today to Montreal so I could spend tomorrow's off-day with my mother before flying back to Boston. Got an inlking of what was taking place today during breaks between my three different flights. But only now am I catching up with all of it. I was going to post this blog tomorrow morning, having written much of it on my final flight leg. But since all the spit is hitting the proverbial fan tonight, might as well give you something to chew on a little early.
The scary part of what McLaren said is that he was bang-on. Yes, scary. Not scary for me. Nor for the players, really, since they have yet to suffer any serious reprecussions for what's gone on other than losing some refreshments and towels post-game.
No, when I say scary, I'm talking about all of you. You should be very afraid for your team. And not just for this year. We're talking next season as well. I touched on this theme a few weeks back. About how management needed to gauge this club to see what the biggest problem was. A few weeks ago, I was convinced this was just a one-year happening. A convergence of events -- a Perfect Storm if you will -- that had contributed to send this $117 million luxury cruise liner to the bottom of the ocean. Add a few good hitters, I figured, and you could clean the mess up by next season and take another shot at contending.
Now, I'm not so sure. And judging by the actions -- or lack of action other than yelling and screaming -- by the team's ownership and management, I don't think they are too sure either. The Mariners seem to be an organization paralyzed by indecision. I feel for them. Because right now, if it was my finger on the button, I honestly could not say whether it's best to do that "two or three big bats" move or blow the whole thing up.
Those of you poised to make some flippant jokes about that last line, please don't. It's never easy for any organization to "blow it up''. The only folks who find that an easy route are fans looking for an outlet through which to vent anger. I understand that. But it's no way to run a baseball team. Blowing up the Mariners means, at minimum, waiting another three years before contending again. Hoping for something quicker is akin to fooling yourselves. Billy Beane isn't taking over this team tomorrow. Whoever is running the show in 2009 will be hard-pressed to contend before 2012 if he or she "blows it up". Get it straight. Get it right. Do not delude yourselves, please.
But here I am, starting to think that "blowing it up" might be the best idea. Remember when we talked about a "culture of losing" in this team's clubhouse? You're seeing it on the field night after night. Don't give me any more lines about players "working hard" and "trying'' behind the scenes. Not good enough. They are being paid seven figures on average to produce results. They are not doing it. Haven't done so for over a month. The only teams they have beaten since May began are the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers (once) and a Red Sox team that can't win on the road. Those three other clubs I mentioned are stiffs. All of them. This team has done nothing for over a month.
The Mariners have gotten used to losing. Young and old. Hefty and skinny. Short and tall. They are all used to an environment where losing has become acceptable. How do I know this? Because they've been losing non-stop since May 1 and the only Opening Day player to lose a job was Cha Seung-Baek. And he only lost it because his arm was gassed and the team needed a knuckleballer to pitch every other day in relief of starters not getting the job done.
So, that's how I know this team is getting used to losing. Why wouldn't it? I've been trying for over a month now to point out examples in print of how this team just might be infested with a losing culture. I was afraid this was what I was seeing, going back beyond that May series in Texas. Now, I'm convinced it has taken hold. How do you get rid of it? Well, it's a little like a termite problem. You can cut out a couple of floor boards and hope to rid the rest of the house of any problem.
Or, sometimes you have to blow the house up.
June 4, 2008 5:32 PM
Posted by Tom Wyrwich
This is all John McLaren had to say today:
"We're playing our (bleep) off every day and got nothing to show for it. I'm tired of (bleeping) losing, I'm tired of getting my (bleep) beat, and so have those guys. We gotta change this (bleeping bleep) around and get after it. And only we can do it. The fans are (bleeped) off, and I'm (bleeped) off, and the players are (bleeped) off. And that's the way it is. There's no (bleeping) easy way out of this, can't feel sorry for ourself, we gotta (bleeping) buckle it up and get after it. I'm tired of (bleep) losing this, (bleeping) every night we bust our (bleep). It's gotta be a total team (bleeping) effort to turn this thing around, and that's it."
June 4, 2008 1:07 PM
Posted by Tom Wyrwich
A clearly worn-down John McLaren again put an onus on his players to improve play before this season goes from disastrous to catastrophic. Before today's series finale against Los Angeles, McLaren said players should start fearing their jobs:
"We might be a little complacent. Definitely the way we've been going about things, it hasn't been working. Addition by subtraction has worked, and I'm not saying we're at that point, but I'm sure ownsership's not happy putting $120 million dollars on the board and 17 games under .500. There should be some people knowing that we can't go on like this."
After yesterday's defensive lapses, McLaren had this to say:
"We are a better fielding club than this. We thought coming out of spring training we would be one of better fielding clubs in the american league, and it's actually worked out just the opposite. We're one of the worst.
"When you're trying to emphasize pitching and you're supposed to have good pitching and you're giving four outs an inning, it's not going to work."
He said there isn't a player in the clubhouse exempt from criticism right now, and he added, "I think we all need to take responsibility. Every one of us needs to revaluate where we are, where we need to go and how we get there, and we need to do it now. There is an urgency. This is not the way it's supposed to be."
1. Reggie Willits RF
2. Maicer Izturis SS
3. Howie Kendrick 2B
4. Garrett Anderson LF
5. Torii Hunter DH
6. Casey Kotchman 1B
7. Gary Matthews, Jr. CF
8. Mike Napoli C
9. Brandon Wood 3B
Jered Weaver RHP
1. Ichiro CF
2. Jose Lopez 2B
3. Raul Ibanez LF
4. Jose Vidro DH
5. Adrian Beltre 3B
6. Jeremy Reed RF
7. Richie Sexson 1B
8. Kenji Johjima C
9. Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Carlos Silva RHP