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Let's get one thing cleared up right now.

There are a lot of critics. A lot of people saying "I told you so" about the Mariners and their disappointing 11-16 record. A lot of people saying the front office should've known what it was getting into when it put this roster together, and that we're losing because the plan wasn't good enough.

The plan was good enough. The plan was that we'd pitch, defend, and annoy our way into playoff contention, that we'd do just enough good things at the plate to outweigh the lack of power and give the guys on the mound all the support they'd need more often than not. Mathematically and intuitively, it made fine sense.

Here's the thing, though. The plan was that we'd hit for a good average, get on base, and run. The plan wasn't that we'd bat .230, post an OBP of .310, and get thrown out a lot. The plan involved production from second. It involved production from third. It involved production from left, and it involved a bit of production from DH.

The plan has gone awry. Not because the plan was faulty, but because the players aren't holding up their end of the bargain. You wanna pin Milton Bradley on the front office? Okay, maybe that's fair, because he was an obvious risk. You wanna pin Griffey and Sweeney on the front office? Okay, maybe that's fair, because those guys were pretty clearly limited in what they could offer at the plate. But Jose Lopez? Chone Figgins? Their combined OPS of like .560? You wanna pin that on the front office? Who could've possibly seen this coming? They were both productive hitters a year ago, but so far in 2010 they've been colossal disappointments, and though we're free to talk about the team's numerous other problems, the fact of the matter is that Lopez and Figgins are killing us. They're not doing it on their own, but they're doing it.

This team wasn't designed to score a ton of runs. It was designed to score enough runs. And it isn't going to score enough runs until Lopez and Figgins get it figured out. I know, we could ask for more out of pretty much anyone but Gutierrez, but at least we can theoretically cover for most of the other problems. If Lopez and Figgins can't get it going, we're screwed.

The starting pitching was good tonight, again. The starting lineup sputtered tonight, again. Sean White pitched like a complete asshole. The M's are almost miraculously still only three games out of the race, on account of this entire division is pathetic, but you can sense the pressure and the panic, and Bradley isn't the only guy who feels it. You think the pitchers trust the offense to provide support? You think the offense trusts itself to do anything? They say that, win or lose, these M's make it fun every day, but these M's haven't yet faced such a high level of stress. There's a limit to how fun you can make this.

They better shake it off soon. I think they can do it, but I thought they could do it weeks ago, so, who knows? I suppose, if nothing else, if the whole season ends up going down the toilet, at least we could finally put the chemistry discussion to bed. Chemistry sounds all well and good until you look up and see your $36m second baseman batting .202. All the good feelings in the world can't help you hit a fastball.