Adjust Or Fiddle
The M’s have now lost 5 games in a row, wasted a great opportunity to make up ground in the standings, and have dug themselves another hole that will take a lot of work to get out of. The season isn’t over, and losing four one-run games in five days doesn’t mean that this team is a huge failure. They’d won more than their fair share of squeakers during the first half, and regression to the mean said they were going to lose some.
However, this five game losing streak should be enough to break the hold of the myths that have frozen this team from making the necessary adjustments. This team doesn’t “just know how to win” any more than any other baseball team does. They aren’t really a .580 ballclub, even if they had a .580 winning percentage last week. This isn’t a team that qualifies for the If-It-Aint-Broke-Don’t-Fix-It exception to roster maintenance. This team has some issues that need to be addressed if they’re going to make a playoff run. They’re not a secret to anyone. They also can no longer be ignored.
The Mariners have a choice – they can continue to hope a solid but flawed team can overcome four better baseball clubs and sneak into the playoffs, or they can make the obvious internal moves that everyone on the planet knows would increase their chances of winning baseball games.
Promote Adam Jones and give him the everyday left field job. Let Jose Vidro and Raul Ibanez fight over the DH at-bats (Raul should never again face a lefty in any close game), and when Raul plays, hit him no higher than 6th. Play Ben Broussard at first base against right-handers more often. Show some willingness to use Sean Green and George Sherrill as more than situational guys against same-handed hitters, extending the high leverage innings into the hands of the team’s best relievers. Stick Chris Reitsma, the worst reliever on the team, as far from close games as possible. Or, heck, just admit that was a mistake, call up Kam Mickolio to take his place, and move on.
This team has talent, and it can still make the playoffs. But it won’t as currently constructed. You can adjust, or you can fiddle while Safeco burns. It’s up to you.