It was only a couple weeks ago when the Mariners seemed like world beaters. Justin Smoak was Ted Williams. Dustin Ackley was Ted Williams. Robinson Cano was Ted Williams. Erasmo Ramirez was Pedro Martinez, and everybody else was also very good. We loved this team.
In the past week the Mariners have experienced two walk off losses, and have lost six straight games. The team’s bullpen, supposedly fortified by the addition of Fernando Rodney, has been awful, and what about the fucking transfer rule? We hate the fucking transfer rule. This team can’t seem to keep a pitcher healthy in their rotation, and even when they’ve gotten good outings from their starteers they’ve been unable to score enough runs to be victorious, or have pissed the game away with their bullpen.
The Mariners aren’t a good team. Signing Robinson Cano didn’t change that.
Stars don’t turn bad teams into good teams in isolation. And closers – guys who pitch the last inning for teams that are leading – help very little on teams that have a hard time getting to the ends of games with the lead. Signing Cano made sense for the Mariners only with a paradigm shift in their payroll policies.
The team didn’t add enough around Cano, and kept their payroll limited to the $90 million range. They’ve placed the majority of their pressure in the hands of young player who will have to blossom next to Cano, but the reality of that strategy is that young players are streaky, and development isn’t always smooth and linear.
We’ve seen alternating images of brilliance and awful play from Ackley, Smoak, Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, and Abraham Almonte. Kyle Seager, Logan Morrison, and Michael Saunders have all been exclusively bad.
The team has also been remarkably unlucky. They’ve had huge swings in BABIP luck, and they’ve had bad luck in close games. They’ve had arguably bad luck with calls from umpires.
None of this is to say that the Mariners are somehow under-performing expectations. Generous projections had the Mariners reaching .500 almost solely based on the addition of Robinson Cano. That is neither out of reach at this point, nor probably any less likely than it was three weeks ago.
The Mariners have played 12 of their 17 games on the road. Granted, they’ve lost three of their five games at home, but only a fool would use those five games to project the remaining 76.
The baseball season is long, and it can be a long, glorious ride, or it can be a long, terrible, boring ride. Fans of the Mariners have grown used to the latter, and despite potential positive regression for the Mariners, the former is no guarantee.
But the whining is stupid. Whining about the Mariners being bad is like whining because Limp Bizkit eventually fizzled out. It’s exactly what we should have expected to eventually happen.