5.5 games back, Mariners have decisions to make

It is that time of year again.

Mid July brings about much anxiety amongst baseball fans and debate amongst the media surrounding the team.

With the July 31st trade deadline approaching, pressure often is placed on the front office to make a move depending on whether the team is a contender or not. Based on that analysis, management will decide whether to “buy or sell” in the parlance of our times.

The Seattle Mariners are a team right dead square in the middle of that decision. They reside 5.5 games back of the AL West leading Anaheim Angels and three games back of the second place Texas Rangers.

So while they are in the thick of the race, they also are enough games back with a below average offense to find themselves pondering whether they can make a run at the division title in August and September.

Many of the pundits and fans surrounding the team are going to want the Mariners to go for it now. The club needs a bat so the thinking is they must do what the leading contenders do around this time — make a trade for that needed piece.

Problem with that is this is often not the prudent move. A team dealing in desperation is a team that will be dealing with a fleecing. It doesn’t happen right away, but when the team’s run at the playoffs falls short in late September and they’re sitting at home in October — that’s when the management realizes “hey, we probably made a mistake with that trade in July” or “man, I sure wish we wouldn’t have traded so and so…”

It is the way it has been for so many years leading to decades of frustration for many franchises. The Mariners in particular have had their share of deadline deal fleecings. Does Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb ring a bell? Hopefully not considering that very move left me in a state of depression for the better part of my teenage years.

But that is neither here nor there.

The point is Seattle needs not be rash in their decision making at this crucial deadline. Despite having several free agents and a decent opportunity at their first pennant race in a long time, the club needs to be prudent, thoughtful.

The smart moves this deadline will be ones that not only make the club better in the present but as well as in the future. An example of this is dealing free agent-to-be Jarrod Washburn who with his situation is unlikely to be re-signed but at the same time is a classic buy low, sell high candidate.

Washburn after his start on Thursday morning has now won four games in a row, has an ERA under 1.00 after having allowed just 2 runs in his last 30 innings pitched.

In short, he has been sensational. Meaning there is no better time to deal him than now when clubs all around the league from the Phillies to the Dodgers to the White Sox is getting desperate for starting pitching.

The key for this franchise is to remember that it is still a year or two away from hitting its stride. Everything done this year is a cherry on top. You absolutely do not want to give away the great potential of this team for a run that can be made without doing so.

Yes we are 5.5 games back of a red hot Angels squad, but let’s also remember that there is another team in the equation — the Texas Rangers — which is capable of helping us out. While we play the Angels only six more times, the Rangers play them nine more times.

Also, while we are looking at the schedule to see where six games can be made up let’s not forget that things often have a way of evening out. All three teams — the Angels, Rangers and Mariners — face the same teams essentially the same amount of times. The Mariners have yet to play the Blue Jays, a team that is in a downward spiral, and still have six games remaining against the Royals whereas the Angels have far fewer of these games remaining against the weak sisters of the league if you will.

Let the chips fall where they may. The Angels were only four better in the first half and that was while Seattle blew four saves and a host of other games that should’ve been won.

Sure there are decisions to be made, the key is to be prudent and make the smart ones not the hasty, desperate ones.


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