Josh Hamilton goes to the Angels. The world as we know it ends for the Seattle Mariners.
It just feels that way. I’m sure Mariners general manager Jack Zdurencik made an effort to lure Hamilton to the Mariners. I’m equally sure it wasn’t $125 million for five years. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t believe that the Angels’ spending is the path the M’s should be taking to winning. The Angels can spend as much as they want. Heck, they have spent as much as they wanted the last two years, but it didn’t get them a World Series ring. It didn’t even get them into the playoffs. Josh Hamilton makes more sense for the Angels as a piece of an established lineup rather than THE piece of a suspect lineup, which is what he’d be for the M’s, but his baggage is also well established. His recovery from addiction, his hideous contact rate, that he is injury-prone are all a bit too much baggage to go with a five year commitment at $25 mil per annum.
No, it’s not the loss of Hamilton that troubles me. It’s the feeling that free agents just don’t want to come to Seattle. I am not a believer that the M’s should be the Angels or the Dodgers or the Yankees. We don’t have the cash to absorb serious FA catastrophes if a signing doesn’t work out. I dont’ think we should be loosely throwing around cash, and should be more about developing our home grown talent. However, it’s silly to ignore obvious weaknesses in the teams we can put out on the field when players are available to make the Mariners better. We need at least one more outfielder. There isn’t another quality outfielder in the system that’s close to ready. The only answer for the M’s is to sign a free agent outfielder or trade for one.
Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher are the last couple of outfielders still available and out there. Neither are the kind of bats that are going to save the M’s; they’re good players, and upgrades for this team. Only the addition of a couple of bats plus the continued development of the M’s young guys-Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, and others- will bring offensive respectability to this team which has been last in offense in the major leagues for three of the last four years.
I think the reaction of most fans to the failure of the M’s to sign Hamilton is that the M’s don’t want spend the money. Well, maybe they don’t want to go all Angels on FA’s, but that’s just prudent. No I don’t think that’s it. The real failure isn’t about the money, it’s about perception. My concern is that the most desirable FA’s perceive the M’s as losers, or poorly run, or light years from contention and simply aren’t interested in coming here. So the M’s find themselves in a conundrum: How do you get the pieces that make the team better if they aren’t interested in coming here? I fear a long summer in Marinerland.