Ok this will be my first blog on my favourite baseball team the Seattle Mariners.
Not a pretty blog unfortunately, today I sit here as angry - if not angrier than I was this time last year.
For those that don't know, Seattle is a franchise team started in 77, has had limited success in the MLB since it joined, most notable was 2001 when after winning the AL Championship with a staggering 116 games won it fell short of a fairy tale ending by losing the World Series to the Yankees.
The next few years saw the peak of the Mariners winning and the end of 2003, when falling short of a wildcard berth, saw the Mariners fall into years of misery, many losses and bad signings.
Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins, Richie Sexson are names that come to mind, all had great careers and success at previous clubs but failed to do much at Seattle and in the end were hated by the fans... Especially Figgins...
So, Seattle has signed Jason Bay as a free agent after he parted ways with the Mets who agreed to still pay him the $20+m owing on his last year of contract. Bay had success previously with the Pirates & Red Sox but failed when he went to New York on big $$'s... 8 years ago he was a gun, now he's just a player hoping to find some of the old form, Seattle swooped in and offered a small contract worth approx $1m and gave him the lifeline.
Many will argue this is a waste of time, heck after Figgins I remain cautious also, but the size of the contract and the fact its dependant on him earning his spot at spring training makes me think it is worth a punt.
But Mariners should definately not stop there, Seattle has struggled offensively for some time, ever since the old days of Rodrigues, Cameron, Boone, Ibanez, Martinez, Griffey Jnr, to name a few..
Being an overseas Mariner its hard for me to gage first hand what the fans are thinking, twitter gives me a chance to get that look whilst being 10,000+ km's away. Attendance at games appears to be down, from what I understand our team's attendance is dropping the hardest over the last 10 years. 10 years is when we last had that real taste of success and decent batters...
Hamilton.... Oh man, Hamilton for me isn't like Prince Fielder last year. Prince was exactly that, a massive bat, first baseman who could have delivered a major change for Seattle, both offensively and as a marketing dream.
Instead Prince signed with the team he followed as a child, the Detroit Tigers.
Hamilton... gave indications, or as the rumors provided... that one of his preferences was Seattle. But he also was said that any offer given he would give Texas a chance to counteroffer. Both proved to be just that, rumors, as out of nowhere Angels popped up and signed the big hitting free agent. They now boast a superior lineup that should get them into the playoffs, although look back to last year with the Pujols signing...
Was Seattle naive into thinking Hamilton knew they were keen but thought we would sit back and wait for him to come to us? Were we never in on Hamilton to begin with? Was Seattles price offered (If they did offer..) too low?
Who knows, all I can take from this is once again the Management at Seattle have not worked hard enough or aggressive enough to deliver the best available batter to Seattle. Its great to boast some of the best pitchers in the competition, but if they don't have the support behind them how do you expect to win games?
Seattle does have a really good core of youngsters in the pipeline, everyone knows it, but they need an experienced bat to help them develop. You can't expect a player as talented as Ackley to be our new hitter straight away, he needs someone to learn from - someone to lift the clubs thoughts and confidence.
Without it, we're going to be a team of youngsters all hoping King Felix will deliver one in every five games as starter... I wish Felix in his negotiations, would say to the club, deliver a key at bat I approve of or am happy with and I'll sign a longer contract, if not prepare to trade me or lose me at free agency.
I know its not the best situation for a player to make such demands, but this is a club that needs new management to deliver the goods - the current management feel upgrading the stadium and making it more friendly and appealing to the fans might actually bring them back to the stadium...
How wrong they are, anything I've learned from my local favourite team, the Richmond Tigers, fans don't go to games whilst in losing status.. If people expect them to lose and their list points to that, fans don't give away their hard earned money to go to the games. Instead they'll watch from the comfort of their home where a hot dog and drink won't cost them the earth...
Personally, I will always go to my local teams game, even when they are losing - but thats me, everyone is different. I don't judge anyone either if thats how they act, why should they waste money on a team whose management don't work hard enough for them.
So, we've lost Hamilton, that sux and has hurt the fans who were liking the idea of him moving to Seattle.
Lets move on and focus on the agents still left, for me my number one (and has been since the start) is Nick Swisher. I've hated Nick for many years now, only because he was a Yankee... If he moved to Seattle he would become my new number one favourite player, He's a great player and has been one of the best at the Yankees. He's consistently hit over 20 Home Runs every year for past 6 years and last year had 93 RBI's.
Heres his stats for last season:
Average - 0.272%
HR's - 24
RBI's - 93
OBP - 0.364%
Ok the average and on base aren't as high as most would like, 24 HR's & 93 RBI's do it for me, far better than all of the players on our list, closest to him was Saunders with 20 HR's and Seager with 86...
Swisher currently aged 32, Will be a great fit for Seattle, either in the outfield, or whack him at 1st Base. Justin Smoak is touted as our first baseman but injury and poor form makes me want Swisher there instead. Smoak has talent don't get me wrong, but how long do we wait for a player to start hitting such as Smoak and Carp.. Do we wait like we did with Figgins... then have a player noone wants and delist him? Keep Smoak in the system but if we're ever going to contend we need to push for players that can perform.
So Swisher, big tick from me, and we should put an offer of atleast 4 years and even up to $80m on the table.
There is still Upton's name and Bourn being put out there too and even Delmon Young, Upton & Bourn I would love for Seattle to go for, not over the top as I want Swisher more.
Upton would be good for the right deal, last year 28 Home Runs, 78 RBI's, slightly lower on base percentage than Swisher but has the right numbers to move in to Seattle's new improved arena.
When I say "Seattle's new improved arena" I don't mean their new fancy restuarant and big TV... I'm talking the walls being brought in which will only help our offence..
But imagine the change for Seattle if they first signed Swisher, then turned to Upton and said, we mean business and we want success, sign with us. Upton & Swisher in the outfield (or Swisher at 1st) would be an awesome addition to compliment the youth we have such as Saunders, Seager, Ackley etc.
The signing of Swisher and another good player would show to the loyal fans that this Management does mean business and want the club to succeed, this will inturn bring bums back on seats and more $$'s earned at each game through merchandise and food/drinks consumed.
The signing also signifies much more than that, it delivers hope that this great club will return to success, everyone wants them to succeed but sometimes we need to take a chance to gain that. If we don't make any signings other than Bay I believe fans will make the stance not to turn up this year as frequent as they have in the past. Why spend money to sit frustrated for hours only to see your beloved team lose again.
Time will tell I guess, i'm hoping the management do the right thing and deliver what is required, but jesus start getting aggressive in negotiations, put it dead in the free agents mind and their agent that Seattle is the only place worth considering. We want success and We Want You!
Yes I'm 10,000km's away but Seattle is in our blood regardless if you are in the city or not, we breath it and want success - Go Mariners (& Seahawks!!)
PS - Bring back the Sonics!!!!!