Mariners Insider

Why the Mariners weren’t the Giants

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on Oct. 26, 2010 at 6:49 am with 12 Comments »
October 27, 2010 10:06 am

The Seattle Mariners were supposed to be the San Franciso Giants of the American League in 2010 – a team built around its pitching that scored just enough to pile up those low-scoring wins and knew how to play the game.

Chone Figgins

Certainlny, that’s what Jack Zduriencik tried to build, but mistakes doomed the Mariners long before spring training began. They weren’t just moves that didn’t work, they were poor decisions about what players could do. And when they couldn’t do them, a manager and coaching staff praised for its work in ’09 was blamed for not getting the most from its talent a year later.

The result, of course, was that the Mariners were never the Giants. San Francisco will open the World Series as National League champions. Seattle will try to rebound from another humiliating season.

What happened? Let us count a few of the ways it went bad.

Ken Griffey Jr. was re-signed after batting .214. Not only didn’t he hit a home run in two months, he failed time and again to drive in the runner from third base with less than two outs. Angry, embarrassed and frustrated, Junior became a walking time bomb.

Chone Figgins was signed to score runs and be a top-of-the-order catalyst. Instead, he failed to hit .200 in April, pouted when  dropped in the batting order and became the most vocal anti-Wakamatsu player by May. Figgins was far less than the Mariners believed him to be, on or off the field.

– With better options available, the team acquired Casey Kotchman and named him the regular first baseman. Kotchman became a dead pull hitter – and an easy out – and spent much of the season grousing about Wakamatsu and his placement in the Mariners lineup. A major mistake.

– The trade that brought Jack Wilson and Ian Snell from Pittsburgh at the deadline in ’09 didn’t cost Seattle much in talent, but it saddled the team with two hugely unproductive players in ’10. Wilson’s days as a regular were doomed by injuries before and after the trade, and Snell had a big-league arm that wilted under major-league pressure.

– Signing Eric Byrnes. A scrappy oufielder supposed to inject hustle and determination, Byrnes probably cost Seattle three April games with poor defense in left field and his infamous drawing back of his bat on a suicide squeeze. Once released, Byrnes drew zero interest from 29 other teams, and chose to play softball.

 – Milton Bradley flipped off Texas fans the first week of the season, then had a mental cave-in in May. The bigger problem? He didn’t hit, couldn’t stay healthy but – with Junior – gave the Mariners the least productive designated hitter duo in the league.

Other than that, the Mariners were the Giants. With Bradley, Figgins and Wilson still on the roster, the decisions that helped doom Wakamatsu may linger to shorten the honeymoon for Eric Wedge.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. Kevindot1 says:

    Will we ever get off the short list of teams that have never made a World Series appearance? I got to say that it doesn’t feel like it. As a lifelong fan, I see no signs at all that this front office will make the right decisions at all to be competitive. Watch for us to trade away most if not all of our young prospects to get dead beat hitters that come to Seattle and under produce. It’s the Seattle way!

  2. brigadeer says:

    When you build a National League team to play in the American League, what you get is the 2010 Mariners. And 100 losses guaranteed.

  3. dickcferguson says:

    LL: Your comments are right on. I liked Wak but he didn’t have a chance with the moves that you list. Mr. Z is likeable but does he has the genius and the ownership backing to put together a competitive team?

  4. Larry Larue says:

    dick – in jack’s first year, the moves he made picking up aardsma, gutierrez and others worked out well. last year, not so much. jack’s future as the seattle GM – and his legacy here – will likely be determined by the decisions he makes in putting together the 2011 team.

  5. If it was me, Figgins would have been fired & Wak would have stayed.

  6. nbculver says:

    The Wilson-Snell deal was made in Jack Zduriencik’s first year. I thought that rather puzzling at the time. It appears to me that his baseball acumen was overstated after his first year. Just about every decision since the midway point of his first season has been a blunder of varied proportions. Getting Cliff Lee would have been a great move if the team was going to be truly competitive, but it missed that mark by a mile. Now, we have a team largely populated with players nobody would want. This team is going to be a non-competitor for a long time.

  7. rightwingrick says:

    Well, in the immortal words of John Lennon, “Give Wedge a chance.”

    Say goodbye to Bradley; we were preparing to do that with Silva before we traded him for Bradley, so let’s bite the bullet. Man up, Jack Z. It didn’t work out. Say goodbye to Kotchman, too. Anybody who struggles to hit .200 and complains about his placement in the batting order doesn’t deserve to be in a major league uniform. Now we know why Anaheim let this guy go….a prima dona who hasn’t figured out how to respect the game and keep his mouth shut.

    First off-season signing: a more productive shortstop. We won’t get the defense we want, but Jack Wilson wasn’t giving it to us anyway with all of his injuries. It’s the biggest hole in the roster, and our minor league opitons are still at least one, maybe two years away.

    Move Chone Figgins to 3B (Ackley goes to 2B and the #2 spot in the lineup). If Figgins pouts (again), move him in a trade. If he stays, move him to the top of the lineup and move Ichiro to the #3 slot, where your best hitter belongs. We lose little at the top of the lineup, and gain a lot in the middle of the lineup.

    While we are at it, let’s sign a DH with left-handed power who doesn’t have a bad back.

    2011 will be a tough rebuilding year with very young/relatively inexperienced players at C (Moore), 1B (Smoak), 2B (Ackley), and LF (Saunders), plus a new DH and new shortstop. But we’ve still got pretty solid pitching, our defense should be better, our young players will be motivated, and our manager will be focused and disciplined and aggressive. It should be much more interesting to watch than the debacle that was 2010.

  8. Someone please remind me what we gave up for Wilson/Snell. Was it the catcher we drafted that never seemed to get any better (can’t remember his name at the moment)?

  9. inorthrip says:


    You are thinking of Clement. Can’t remember right now if he went to Pittsburgh or to D.C., but I think you are right. I know Cedeno went to Pittsburgh in the Wilson/Snell deal.

  10. Pray4Peace says:

    Kevin, that short list of teams may get even shorter. In fact, I predict that in the not so far future the Ms may be the only team on that list. I’ve been a die hard fan since their inception but now I could care less if they ever make it to the playoffs, much less the WS. As long as Coward, Chuckles and ‘Zippy the bone-head’ are running the show, this ‘team’ can rot like a Halloween pumpkin on Valentine’s Day.

  11. It’s certainly true that Z did not have the success in ’10 that he had in ’09, but the moves he made this year were all plausible and defensible at the time he made them (except bringing Griffey back — but that was probably not totally his decision).
    Figgins looked to be a great acquisition and he may still turn out to be — he was a bust for most of the year though.
    Bradley for Silva was the right move that didn’t pan out.
    Kotchman was a low-cost piece that didn’t pan out.
    What GM would not have gone for Cliff Lee if given the opportunity? He rolled the dice that the boys would score enough runs (ala the M’s in ’09 and the Giants this year) to support two studs at the top of the rotation and make a playoff run. obviously that did not pan out but it was worth a try. Even so, if Smoak becomes a star we’ll look at the Lee trades as one of Z’s best moves.
    Locking up Hernandez and Gutierrez for the next four seasons were imo major Z accomplishments, especially Felix, for which he has not received hardly any credit.

  12. footballscaa says:

    I just hope all the M’s fans are now properly prepared for rebuilding. When the teams of 07 and 09 overachieved, of course all the Seattle faithful had big dreams. 100 losses after the following seasons, and we’re all mad again. Be real with your expectations next year. And the year after that, and so on. Think 90 losses, enjoy some baseball for what it is, quit whinning and trying to manage the M’s from your keyboard. And above all, keep your stats where they belong, on your computer. We really don’t care how smart you think you are. ~

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