The Ms were never a Win Now Team

A few long weeks ago, on June 19th actually, the Mariners were just a half game back on the Rangers for the division lead, and it seemed like maybe the right trade would give them the push they needed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Trade rumors swirled about swapping pitching and/or prospects for hitting. Perhaps Carlos Beltran, or Ryan Ludwick, or Hunter Pence could shore up left field for the worst offensive team since…well, last year’s Ms. If you haven’t been paying attention, no trades were made, and that’s just fine by me.

When the Ms woke up on June 20th, they were indeed just a half game back on the Rangers for the division lead. However, they had allowed eight more runs than they had scored, and it was still the same team that was picked by lots of people smarter than me to finish dead last in the division. Those predictions were based on years of knowledge about this team and its players, not just 72 games, and should have carried some weight in the back of our minds when we were 37 and 35. The Rangers, on the other hand, had already scored 21 more runs than their opponents. Additionally, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz had missed a combined 55 games to that point, but are now back and seemingly healthy.

That might have been the largest half-game lead ever.

If you think one or two players would have made them contenders, think again. In her blog, Shannon Drayer dared the reader to go position by position with the Angels and ask, “who would you take?” I’m going to take it a step further and add the Rangers to the conversation. Here, WAR is based on the last three seasons and measured per 162 games. The players are listed by position.

Mariners

WAR

Angels

WAR

Rangers

WAR

OLIVO

2.5

Mathis

-0.9

Napoli

4

Smoak

1.3

Trumbo

3.3

Moreland

1.9

Ackley*

2

Kendrick

3.9

Kinsler

5.8

RYAN

3.7

Aybar

4.1

Andrus

3.3

Kennedy

2.4

Callaspo

2.9

Beltre

5

Peguero*

-2

Wells

2.3

Hamilton

6.1

GUTI

4

Bourjos*

5.8

Borbon

1.1

Ichiro

3.7

Hunter

3.9

Cruz

5.2

Cust

1.8

Abreu

2.3

Young

3.4

*Based on less than a full season of data

There is not a single position in which the Ms have the best player of the three teams. Not one. In fact, there are only three cases (highlighted for your convenience) where a Mariner is better than either one of the other teams’ players at that position. In other words, the Ms would need significant improvements to even enter the conversation of having position players on the same level as Angels and Rangers.

Sure, our pitching is better, right? So we really just need a little offense, right? Well, the Angels have a better ERA (3.26 vs. 3.30) and a comparable FIP (3.51 vs. 3.44). Plus, to improve on the offensive side, we’d probably end up trading away that pitching edge (which isn’t really an edge over the Angels at all). Making the Mariners contenders this season, even when they were out just a half game, would have been very difficult, and likely would have meant giving up young talent for a weak shot now.

Yes, I’m starved for some playoffs in Seattle, too. But any move the front office makes needs to be a move that improves the team for seasons to come. If a trade comes along that nets the Mariners a youngish left fielder not named Carlos Peguero for two or three seasons, I’m all for it. But if you were looking for a win-now trade, nobody was going to be good enough to save this team. This franchise is being built to win in 2013, and despite how frustrating it can be to watch now, going for broke could have pushed 2013 back a ways further.

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