The Question Every Fan Should Ask

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Let me introduce myself.  My name is Kevin Smyth.  I’m a high school history and journalism teacher.  And I’m a baseball fan.  I’m 60 years old and have been a fan of Seattle baseball for as long as I can remember.  My Dad and I made the long trip from Shoreline to the Rainier Valley to catch  Seattle Rainiers and Angels. When I was 14 and in the 9th grade I watched the Seattle Pilots make a right turn on their way to Sicks Stadium in 1970 to become the Brewers.  One of the saddest days of my life.

I’ve been a Mariners fan since 1977.  I’d give almost anything to see them go to the World Series.

I’ve blogged about the Mariners for almost three years.  If you read my previous posts, you’ll know  I was highly critical of Jack Zdurencik and the way he constructed the M’s roster. I was specific in my criticisms–I can’t stand those who take the Howie and Chuckie consipiracy and Mariners front office doesn’t care angle. That’s just lazy and whiny.

I celebrated the hiring of Jerry DiPoto, his on-field and off-field staff.I like the approach DiPoto has taken.  He has a really difficult job in remaking a team from a different philosophy than his predecessor, with really very few resources to work with.  The M’s didn’t have a lot of desirable spare parts.  The farm system didn’t offer much help to the big league team or as trading chips, and DiPoto seems to have issues with spending money.

He’s managed to assemble a real outfield, and pick up some pitching in Nate Karns. He’s answered the problem of what to do about Mike Zunino by picking up Chris Ianetta and Steve Clevenger.

But, let’s face it, he’s placed a lot of hope that some these guys will bounce back from disappointing seasons.  Leonys Martin, Justin DeFratus, and Ianetta are examples of this.  I’m not critical of these moves.  I like having more experienced guys in the bullpen, a functional outfield, and good catching. But, my fingers are crossed, I’ve nailed a horseshoe above my den door, and I have a huge collection of four leaf clovers.

Just as obviously, if you’ve read my two previous posts, I have not been thrilled about the failure to re-sign starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and the subsequent trade for Wade Miley.  I really don’t want to litigate that again.  If you’re reading this from Facebook, I disagree with many of you. Heck, John McGrath expressed his approval of both deals–I’ve been dissed by professionals; feel free to pile on.

And that’s okay.  I really don’t have to be right, I just want the Mariners to win–if I’m wrong and they win, so much the better.  The deals are done, and we can re-examine them when the 2016 season is done (let’s face it, Jerry didn’t call to solicit my views.)

But every Mariners fan should observe deals critically and ask the key question: “does this make the team better?”  Measure with whatever tools you have at your disposal–metrics, traditional statistics, logic, common sense, whatever passes the smell test. Teams win on the field, but fans should absolutely call out the moves that don’t make sense or are propagandized by management as much bigger than they really are.  Steve Clevenger? Really?

So DiPoto says the rotation is done.  The outfield may be finished.  He’s said he’ll focus his efforts on first base and the bullpen.  I still have faith Jerry will make them productive and effective.  But I don’t think he has then I’ll pop off about it. That’s my duty, and yours.

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