With the Mariners sitting 14 games back and 9 games from a .500 record these are the "Dog Days of Summer," for Mariner fans. It is the time of year to start looking towards next season and counting the days till football starts.
The Mariners made a surprising move on July 23, when they traded Ichiro to the Yankees for two prospects. I feel lucky to have watched Ichiro all these years but with his declining skills and his contract up at the end of the year, it was a good time to trade him. This now allows Eric Wedge to assemble the line-up he wants. Since the trade both teams have gone 12 and 9, which is a decline for the Yankees and an improvement for the Mariners.
They also traded Brandon League to the Dodgers for two prospects and Steven Delebar to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames. The eye sore in the club house Chrone Figgins still remains on the team. At this point in the season Figgins is averaging $161,000.00 a game or $327,600.00 per hit and the Mariners still have one more season left on his contract.
The two things the Mariners have going for them is their starting pitching which is fourth in the American League and their defense which is number one in all of the Major League. There need is still a power bat, someone in the line-up that will put some fear in opposing pitchers. The last time the Mariners had a big bat was when Edgar Martinez was still playing. You can not tell me the Mariners can not afford a big bat. Albert Pujols is making 2.5 million more then Figgins. Yet think of the difference he would make in the Mariners line-up.
This season the Mariners are 26 out of 30 in attendance. The management/owners are lucky not to be dead last with the product they are putting on the field. The Mariners average attendance is only 1,700 fans per game behind the Chicago White Sox who are at top of their division. Oakland who is in the running for a wild card spot is drawing 1,900 less per game then the Mariners but have a better product. In the last 10 seasons the closest they have been to first place was in 2003 when they finished 2.5 games back of Oakland.
They have been rebuilding for the last five seasons and as a fan I can't take another off-season without them picking up a big bat. This off season does provide a few opportunities to sign a free agent. If the Rangers Josh Hamilton can keep his demons behind him he would be a nice pick up with him being a left handed bat. Another possibility might be Lance Berkman of the Cardinals who would fit at first base with Smoak not having much success but age and injuries would be his downside.
As I wrote all this, Felix Hernandez went out and throws a perfect game. The first perfect game in team history, only the 23rd in Major League history and the first time two perfect games have been thrown at the same ball park in the same season. Even with the Mariners out of playoff contention, I will continue to watch because you never know when history might be made.