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51-45, Overall Thoughts

So that should just about do it.

I don't like taking this position. Truthfully, we're only one game worse than we were yesterday, and if yesterday we thought we were still in it, one game can't make that big of a difference. The gap has only gotten incrementally wider. What makes this such a difficult circumstance is that there's no obvious right or wrong answer. It's just that, at this point, we're 6.5 behind the better Angels and 5.5 behind the much better Red Sox. Throw in the fact that there are other teams above us as well and the odds just get so long. I don't know what PECOTA's going to say, but if we were 10% this morning, what are we now? 7%? 6%? Today was just bad news all around, and as well as the M's have been playing, they simply haven't been able to make up any ground.

It's not that things can't reverse. They very well could. The M's could sweep the weekend, the Angels could get beat, and we could be right back in the middle of this. The issue is that you have to think about the actual probability, and with the Angels refusing to slow down, our playoff chances only seem to get more and more slim. It's not a whole lot of fun to have to win just to keep pace, but losing is even worse. So much worse. Losing only pushes you back, and the M's have been pushed back far enough that now any sort of run to the playoffs would have to be considered a minor miracle.

At 6.5 back in the division, the situation actually gets a little easier for Zduriencik. The further out we are, the less trouble he'll have selling trades that subtract from the roster and appeasing all those people who watch every game shouting "SELL SELL SELL!" Trade Washburn when you're nipping at the Angels' heels and people won't understand. Trade Washburn when you're in a deeper hole and it becomes more widely acceptable. Indeed, the fact that the M's haven't been able to make up any ground grants Z the opportunity to trade some names without having to deal with a ton of backlash.

Of course, a lot of those people who want the team to sell don't have the right idea. Being so far back in the race makes certain players more available than they would've been otherwise, but this front office isn't going to look to stockpile prospects. They're going to look to add players who can help in a hurry and stick around for more than just a little while. So, should the team make some moves, it's unlikely to be a typical sell-off. A better word would be 'reloading'. They aren't going to do anything that hurts them too bad in the short-term, because truth be told, this team isn't that far away. If some higher-profile players get traded, it's because we're getting back pieces who can be of great service.

We do, though, have to start thinking about things with an eye more towards 2010 or 2011 than 2009. That's just the truth about our situation. Whether that means trading guys, negotiating extensions, or both, I can't say, but things being what they are, the team can no longer really afford to make the playoffs a priority, and we should adjust our perspectives accordingly. The odds are simply too long for the reward to outweigh the risk.

Can we still hold out hope? Of course we can. Even if we end up trading away a chunk of our rotation, we won't be that much worse off, and a lot can happen over 66 games. By no means am I saying that we should all just give up. Rather, my recommendation is to go forward and focus on how much better our situation is than it was a year ago. Keep thinking about October, but don't become fixated on it, because the worst possible thing you could do as a Mariners fan is to view 2009 as as disappointment. While we may not get to where we want to go this year, we are irrefutably and undeniably headed in the right direction.