The Seattle Mariners possess one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Their best player, second baseman Robinson Cano, was recently suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Felix Hernandez is toast. Their division rivals are the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the up-and-coming Oakland Athletics, and the Mike Trout/Shohei Ohtani-led Los Angeles Angels.
They have one starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.00. Their best hitter this season is a 27-year-old right fielder who has never played more than 100 games in a single season. They have more than twice as many team strikeouts than team walks.
They should not be trying to contend. And yet, [narrator voice] they are trying to contend.
On Friday afternoon, the Mariners acquired relief pitcher Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Tampa Bay Rays for minor league right-handers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Colome is expected to bolster the Seattle bullpen in a role as a setup man to Edwin Diaz, and Span will likely take over center field responsibilities, allowing Dee Gordon to make a move back to second base.
It’s a win-now move for a team that has no reason to “win now,” except for, well, all the reason in the world to win now. Their path to contention is unorthodox; basically a mix between actual team development and tacked-on panic moves looking to win 90 games and play in the American League Wild Card Game.
It’s this pressure that general manager Jerry Dipoto and the staff with the M’s feel. A bottomless pit in a city’s collective stomach that weeps for the redemption of a historically disappointing 2001 club, and for a taste of postseason baseball for the first time since the 116-46 Mariners flamed out that year.
Dipoto will leverage literally everything in his basket for a playoff berth, and the plan has always been to do so. The Mariners have not recently undergone a true rebuild like the Astros or the Chicago Cubs, winning at least 70 games in each of the past six seasons. They’ve settled for mediocre-to-average for decades.The Mariners are operating solely on the pressure of redemption. @TomDorsa explains.Click To Tweet
There’s no blueprint for success in Seattle. They annually add on a big free agent signing or a sexy trade deadline acquisition to a poorly assembled team and hope for the best. This season, as the Mariners hold down the second AL Wild Card spot at the time of writing this, the plan might finally come to fruition — not from conscious reasoning, but from pressure.
The Mariners have not qualified for the postseason since their remarkable 2001 season, in which the Bret Boone and Ichiro Suzuki-led squad tied a single-season record for regular season victories that still stands today. On their way to the pennant, the New York Yankees knocked Seattle off in the AL Championship Series. Since then, it has been darkness and despair.
Fans in the Pacific Northwest are still waiting for a chance at redemption for their franchise. Dipoto feels the same way — a volatile young GM operating solely on pressure and fear of failure. He desires so badly for the Mariners to feel postseason baseball for the first time in 17 years that he’ll make panic move after panic move, absent of any real plan, to see October.
Redemption is of the utmost importance, and on account of that philosophy, the unpredictable Dipoto becomes even more so, in an effort to help the ever so disappointing Seattle Mariners buck the trend. If you wanted to imagine how to carry out your job exclusively on the fear of defeat, just look at the Mariners.