The city of Seattle has been in the news quite a bit this week. Marijuana and same-sex marriage are now both legal in the Emerald City. Comedian Katt Williams failed to show up in court after being anything but sleepless in Seattle last week. And the Seattle Mariners have been linked to several big-name free agents, most notably Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. For all of the talk surrounding the M’s this week, the only thing they have to show for it right now is signing former New York Met outfielder Jason Bay to a one year deal.
Since when did Seattle become the home for wayward, contract draining ex-Mets? First Oliver Perez found his way to the Northwest in 2012 and actually found a niche as a reliever. Now the team signs Bay who had three forgettable (to say the least) seasons in New York and was Public Enemy #1 around Citi Field. While I felt bad for him here, can we expect fans of the Mariners to be excited about his signing particularly if they lose out on Hamilton, Justin Upton and Michael Bourn? This is an organization that desperately needs outfield help. Although the starting trio of Casper Wells, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders is good, none of them are what you would call a difference-maker. Out of their top 20 prospects according to mlb.com, only two of them are outfielders (Leon Landry at #18 and Guillermo Pimentel at #19). Plus, scoring runs has been a chore for this club. Seattle finished 27th in 2012 with 619, almost 200 less than ML -leading Rangers who plated 808 runners.
Lurking in all of this is the fact star pitcher Felix Hernandez‘s contract is set to expire after the 2014 season. The Mariners will need to do everything humanely possible to keep the “King” in Seattle or you can probably kiss off a generation of fans there. If the team does nothing beyond Bay, a small free agent signing or trade, and a couple of Rule 5 guys, do you think Hernandez would want to stick around? He has started 66 games over the past two seasons. I am willing to bet the M’s have scored no more than 80 runs in those 66 starts. King Felix has to be kept happy. In fact, every effort should be made between now and the end of 2014 to extend him. That involves coughing up some money to put quality players around him.
Look how the Rangers and Los Angeles Angels operate. Do you mean to tell me Seattle can’t be every bit as good? Look at the Oakland A’s who have managed to become just as fearsome as they did in the first part of the 2000’s. Heck, the Houston Astros will be competitive real soon as general manager Jeff Luhnow is a product of the St. Louis Cardinals front office. If improvements aren’t made soon, Safeco Field could become just as empty as that ballpark in Miami.