Seriously, just the worst. I have been awful at keeping up on things this winter. Last winter I was latching on to any news that was remotely applicable to the Mariners. This year, offseason action has been tepid at best, and the desire to get to a computer as fast as possible and talk about it just has not been there. It is times like these when I wish my laptop was full of spreadsheets and that I knew more about other teams’ AAAA players. Or even our own prospects. Instead, I’ve saved up a bunch of Seattle Times emails, hoping that eventually I would have a few minutes to sit down and discuss them here. This morning, before my house becomes full of people for the Super Bowl, contain those few minutes. I guess we’ll take this paragraph by paragraph today…
First off, there is this Ichiro not batting first anymore “issue”. My first reaction is to be against this decision. Ichiro hitting first has sort of been the hallmark for the Mariners not only the entire time he’s been here in Seattle, but also for me as a fan; that’s just sort of what Ichiro does here, like Stone mentions in his article. But I’m not going to get all bent about it if they push him down into the batting order. You see, one of my dirty little secrets is that I really don’t care about batting order. I understand it’s supposed purpose, I get why certain players are chosen to fit into certain positions, but it’s a flawed science, because hitting can be just as much about luck as it can about skill. If we had another infield hitter, then move Ichiro wherever you want, and they can bat each other around the diamond all game long. But as far as we know right now, we don’t have that other guy. Maybe throw Casper Wells or Mike Carp in first for doubles and have Ichiro bat them in, instead of risking it the other way around; but right now it really doesn’t matter – to me at least – whether Ichiro bats first, second, or ninth. Just know, Mariners, that when Tom Hutyler calls up that first batter on Opening Day, there is no bigger crowd reaction than for “EE-Chee-ROOOOOOOO SUZUKI!” Just sayin’.
Matt Tuiasosopo went to the Mets. This is a lot less about spreading news than it is reminding myself that he’s gone. My relationship with the Tacoma Rainiers last year was pretty strained. I didn’t make it to one single game all season. I plan to remedy that this year, but that’s not the point of this part of the post. I will miss Tui. I know he was never anyone’s big pick to be an everyday guy here in Seattle, but he seemed like a sweet kid, his family has a lot of history here, and he was that kind of homegrown talent people seem to really dig. I hope he can make a home wherever it is he’s going (I don’t know anything about the Mets’ minor league system), and maybe someday he’ll play in the majors again. Citi Field looks like a really nice park, and the Mets has one of the best bloggers in the “business”, in my not-so-humble opinion. Tui is just 25 years old, and while his record last year was not the best (although 70+ RBI is nothing to shake a stick at), there is still time for a little improvement, for what it’s worth. He could still prove useful to the right team.
Carlos Guillen came back, I guess. Coming back doesn’t mean a whole lot to me; the only Guillen I am really familiar with would be Jose, who seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. It appears that the Ms have been smart with Guillen’s contract, and that’s really all I have to say about that. I will reserve judgement for when I see Guillen in action.
Jerry Brewer wrote this article on the Mariners rebuilding plan about a week ago. As an aside here, I find it hilarious that the team as a whole spent $117 milion in 2008, when that is what Prince Fielder now eats for a simple breakfast at home. I exaggerate of course, but wow. But I bring this up not to talk about financial numbers, but to talk about faith…
My writing here has been lackluster this offseason both in content and overall quality; one might think that I have lost a lot of hope in baseball, in the Mariners. One might think I have lost the joy of what it means to be a fan. That can be easy to do in the cold months of January and February, when the game is on its way, it’s so close, and still just out of reach. But I do have faith; not only in baseball, but in Mariners baseball. It is difficult: I still consider myself “new” to the game. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes activity I still don’t have a grasp on (and may never), and sometimes these deals that Jack Zduriencik performs make it difficult to see the forest for all those up-and-coming trees. But I’ve seen the members of our front office speak enough times to really believe that they’re sincere about putting together a winning club. Some of the stuff they’ve done has failed, but not every swing can be a hit. As Brewer’s article stipulates, it is hard to be a fan when year after year things have been so slow. We got a little light in 2009, had a bit of a boost last season before the All-Star break, and now we’ve had a winter that hasn’t been the most exciting. But we have a lot of puzzle pieces here, and they all fit into the big picture; we just have to figure out how, because the way it looks on the front of the box is pretty confusing. I do believe that things will eventually fall into place. I think we’ll be seeing some good baseball here in Seattle this year. And barring blind faith, all my fingers and toes are crossed for the best.
Now, I have to do a bit of cleaning up before we have a bunch of people over for the Super Bowl. I couldn’t care less about either team if I tried, but we’ve got a TV, a living room, and all our friends know how to cook, so it will at least be an enjoyable way to spend the day, if nothing else.