Following the disastrous 2008 season, the Mariners blew up the team, hired a new general manager, and eventually a new manager as well. Seattle was officially entering into a commonly used sports cliché, “rebuilding mode.” Jack Zduriencik wasted no time cutting bad contracts, bad draft picks, and basically any dead weight that Bill Bavasi had left behind. Entering the 2009 season, expectations were low, but excitement was building thanks to a new fresh regime. Last year’s team overachieved by most standards, thanks to a terrific record in close games, a reinvigorated team chemistry, and numerous players having career years. Needless to say, the Mariners seemed way ahead of schedule, finishing with an impressive 85-77 record. It felt like the rebuilding process might have come and gone in just 1 year.
Jack Zduriencik followed up the ’09 campaign by shedding the rest of the dead weight, and with new money to spend, Seattle acquired Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley, and a couple other role players. A year after expectations were low and playoff talk was not even on the radar, suddenly the 2010 season began with renewed hope and fans were encouraged to “Believe Big.” We all know how this year has unfolded. The close game fortune from last year is gone, the Griffey reunion lasted a year too long, and instead of career bests from numerous players, we are witnessing career worst performances by many. The rebuilding process we had hoped might last just 1 year is still in process. For a moment, Zduriencik saw a shortcut out of rebuild mode, but that crack was quickly closed. It was a risk worth taking, because legitimate shots at the playoffs don’t come often. A failed attempt, such as what we are seeing unfold, is upsetting, but probably won’t set the team back much. Cliff Lee is sure to be traded shortly, and the package Zduriencik gets in return will likely outweigh the 3 prospects that Seattle sent to the Phillies for Lee, and once the 2010 season is buried, Zduriencik will continue to build.
The bad contracts have been shed, the foundation has been laid, and despite this lost, tumultuous, depressing season, the Mariners are probably still on track to accomplish the long term goals that were set back in November, 2008. The high expectations heading into 2010 can easily distract us from the big picture, and while there is a lot to be frustrated about at the current moment, when looking at the full view, it’s really not that bad given where this team was just 2 years ago.