clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The helplessness of the 2015 Mariners

I don't know, I really don't.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

I don't understand how managers don't yell at people, like, all the time. Obviously, it wouldn't accomplish anything—and you can't, in baseball or in real life. But look at this Mariners team in particular; it takes a certain level of restraint to not do what Lloyd McClendon did last Tuesday to a player, umps or someone else at least once a week.

I mean, isn't that how you feel—busting out one of these "You gotta be kidding me...REALLY?!...Get the %#*& out of here"s every other game?


Whether it's Robinson Cano getting picked off at a crucial moment or a leadoff triple producing no runs, I don't know how he holds back. Because I'm not sure I would.

The level of frustration would be one thing if this were every other year, when approaching the Tropic of Cairo—as Jeff would call it—were a summertime tradition. But this wasn't supposed to be one of those years, as these aren't those players.

It hasn't mattered. That's why this all has a feeling of helplessness.

On Saturday, we had the Lookout BBQ—a great event for which the Mariners and members of their front office were splendid hosts. In the lead-up to it, and as the event itself progressed with Nathan and Scott asking questions of AGM Jeff Kingston and baseball ops analyst Wesley Battle, I wondered what they thought as this transpired, how frequently they mouthed "What else am I supposed to do?" as they watched any number of players flail away like an infant at a low-hanging piñata in key situations.

Because really, it's simple: players have to play better. They're supposed to play better.

Then again, I shouldn't tell you what's supposed to happen. I've likely done enough of that, and whether it's from me or someone else, you've likely heard enough of it as well. Still, I feel compelled to write something, anything. And there's analysis to be done, sure, but so much of it comes back to that one single idea—the players have to play better.

Tonight, the Mariners have a chance to go a full two weeks without scoring more than three runs. They've scored three runs or less in 33 of their 57 games and sit last in the American League in runs scored per game.

And yet, seven of the nine players in their regular starting lineup are above average hitters (by wRC+). One of the other two is Robinson Cano. Line up the names—this group should be destroying worlds. But, as we've seen, names don't score runs. But still, what's anyone to do?

Now, I won't say this team doesn't have its glaring weaknesses. This is a club that started Willie Bloomquist in back-to-back days, and the rest of the bench is similarly terrible. Fernando Rodney's obviously had his issue, but now those are finally being tended to.

While I'd love another starter, and people pointed starting depth as this team's most glaring problem going on months now, it's been fine, as they've had depth—though maybe not upper-tier talent—all along.

ERA isn't a great stat for individual performance, but it's fine enough for quantifying the key responsibility for an entire unit—and the Mariners' pitching staff has the eighth-best ERA in baseball this year. Over the last 30 days, during which the rotation has been tattered, that group's run prevention has been third-best in the game, behind only the A's and Cardinals.

Again, what are you supposed to do? What's anyone supposed to do?

Well, we keep watching. We keep watching hoping they turn it around, with more than enough reason to think they will. As Patrick wrote so eloquently on Friday, you can decide how to experience this Mariners season, and that it doesn't have to be all about winning and losing—after all, a bad baseball season is better than it not being baseball season at all.

But man, it's tough. It's tough after the summer-long euphoria that was last year's return to competitive baseball, and it's tough—still—in looking at this team.

So again, we keep watching. We keep watching and waiting for that seven-run outburst that kicks off the run of baseball we were suppose to see all along. We wait for Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton to get healthy, even if there's no certainty they ever will. And meanwhile, we're thankful the Astros and Angels managed to both lose five straight while the Mariners similarly tripped and slid across the infield dirt on their faces.

And does any of it matter? Who knows.

This post feels as helpless as the Mariners themselves. I'm simultaneously throwing up my hands and just typing words—which, if literal, would be extremely difficult.

Really—what are you supposed to do? Whether you're Jack or Lloyd, the owners who added almost $50 million to the payroll over the past couple years or a fan sitting up in section 334 or, it all feels so helpless.

But we'll watch, or I'll watch. While it's too late to hold fast to hope this team will morph into what we envisioned all along, it's too early to abandon all optimism.

So maybe tonight's the night, maybe the transition into a team worth watching begins this evening.

Who we facing anyway?