Mariners Insider

Season does not end at the deadline

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on July 31, 2009 at 1:30 pm with No Comments »
July 31, 2009 1:30 pm

Jack Zduriencik’s trade of Jarrod Washburn for a couple of younger left-handed pitchers is going to be seen by some as evidence he’s given up on the Seattle Mariners season.

One talk radio voice even asked how Zduriencik could look Felix Hernandez in the ace after making the trade.

That won’t be a problem.

Zduriencik inherited a 101-loss team that, when the season began, was rated near the bottom of all 30 big-league teams by national writers – and not much higher by Seattle beat writers.

If the Mariners finished near .500, it was said, it would be an immense step forward to respectability.

Then, directed by Don Wakamatsu and a teach-first coaching staff, the Mariners did what no one expected. They won more games than they lost and got into July within striking distance of the American League West lead.

More important, they were playing good, solid, exciting baseball and winning one-run games.

Now, trading Washburn has ended all that?

Not at all.

What Zduriencik has done this week is improve the team with shortstop Jack Wilson, and add two pitchers – Luke French and Ian Snell, who figure to move into the rotation in place of Washburn and Garrett Olson.

Are the Mariners better today than they were a week ago?

To answer that, ask how many games Washburn might have won for Seattle the rest of the season after winning eight in the first four months.

Can French, Snell and Wilson help the team win as many or more?

It’s a close call. And the bottom line is, this season was never about what happened by the July 31 trading deadline – in spring training it was being assumed the team would trade Washburn, Erik Bedard and Adrian Beltre.

Instead, this is a team that wants badly to win, to gain respect now, not somewhere down the line. Within the game, they’ve done that by playing far better than expected.

There’s no reason to think that will change because a few cast members have arrived and departed.

The season isn’t over and Zduriencik may not be done. It’s not hard to forsee an August waiver deal for Beltre or Miguel Batista.

Whether he does or doesn’t, he’ll have no trouble facing Felix or anyone else in the Seattle clubhouse.

August and September are about what they were always about – winning games and hearts, transforming a joke of a team into one contending teams want no part of.

With young arms like Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Vargas, Brandon Morrow and Garrett Olson starting games, the Mariners were never likely to take the division, but they never stopped playing hard.

Now that young arms like French and Snell will be added to the cast, those chances are no worse, and this team won’t change the way it plays.

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