Very, very, very rarely I get ahead of one:
Jackson to the Cubs confirmed. #Mariners— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) August 31, 2015
When Austin Jackson came to Seattle it was hailed by many as the return of Trader Jack. It was a bold, creative move that filled a hole in a surprisingly competitive club and cost them nothing but minor league infielder Nick Franklin. Like so many of the Jack Zduriencik's transactions, even the ones that were sound, it just didn't work.
.229/.267/.260. Slugging of .260. wRC+ of 52. fWAR of -0.3.
As we get further and further into the familiar misery of this season the more I fear 2014 was The Chance, and that the Mariners blew it. When your team misses the playoffs by one game it's easy to go back and go over all the missed opportunities with a fine tooth comb. For me it will always be Austin Jackson, standing at the plate, swinging a soaking wet nerf bat over 236 crucial plate appearances. If Jackson had been merely bad offensively, let alone the near league average bat he has been this year, we all get to watch Felix Hernandez pitch a playoff game, maybe at Safeco Field. Now? That dream feels as far away as it ever has.
It's not all Austin Jackson's fault of course. Brad Miller literally threw away a game in April, Kendrys Morales was an abomination. We all have our own vessels of blame and regret over nearly missed opportunities. Now mine won't be playing center field for my baseball team anymore. It's not fair, Austin Jackson seems like a perfectly fine human being as baseball players go, but it's is the truth.
For me the great Austin Jackson Seattle Mariner memory will be September 27th, 2014. In a game that saw the Mariners go a far too foreboding 1-11 with RISP, in the 11th inning of a 1-1 game Austin Jackson came to bat with one out and runners at 1st and 3rd. Needing only a semi-deep flyball, soft line drive, even swinging bunt to ensure the Mariners amazing season held hope Jackson instead hit a routine double play ball to 2B, the single worst thing he could have done. But the ramshackle middle infield of Grant Green and Gordon Beckham butchered the turn, allowing Jackson, always slower to first than seemed right, to beat the throw by half a step. In his greatest Mariners moment, Austin Jackson did nothing more than avoid catastrophe. It fits.
Of course this serves not only as the removal of a painful memory for this humble blogger as it does also, and more importantly, give the Mariners a month of baseball games to get a head start on the 2016 roster. Brad Miller and Ketel Marte are both athletic, toolsy middle infielders with plus tools. They can't both play shortstop, they can't both play centerfield. Maybe neither can play either, this is the Mariners after all. Either way, it's time to start finding out. Farewell Austin, better luck to you in Chicago. Let's see what these youngsters have.