Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I've figured out the problem with the Mariners

The Mariners' problem is that they're just not good enough to contend.

This is a better year than the last three lamentable campaigns--this team is actually fun to watch, especially over this last road trip. But we needed to win the just-completed series against Anaheim. I was confident going into tonight's rubber match, since Felix was on the mound, but Felix went out and laid an egg. He hadn't given up a home run yet this season, but tonight he gave up three. The M's showed a lot of pluck and came back, but couldn't come back a second time after Guerrero went deep. Angels win 8-6.

Nineteen games ago, I set several benchmarks as to whether or not the M's were contenders, pretenders, or not-even-capable-of-pretending-ers. Here were my benchmarks, and the M's results:

I said the M's needed to go 12-7 to be contenders, and that 11-8 or even 10-9 would mean pretenders. They went 10-9.

I said the M's needed to go 3-1 in Felix's starts. They went 2-2.

I said the M's needed to go 4-2 against the Angels, and that 3-3 or 2-4 would be pretender status. They went 2-4.

It was fun watching us beat up on Tampa Bay and Kansas City, but we need to do better against good teams, especially teams we're trying to catch. In short, we've just finished the best stretch of baseball we've had this year, and we're 25-24, still 5 1/2 games out of first. That won't cut it.

I'm not giving up, but I'm being realistic. Watching the Angels' lineup torch Felix, the best we have to offer, and watching us flail hopelessly against Shields and K-Rod in the 8th and 9th...well, I don't think we have the horses to run with the Angels long-term. If we're after the wild card, I feel the same about the Tribe and the Tigers.

Among the mediocre teams of the AL, we're pretty danged good, but we're not good enough to contend.

I hope I'm wrong. I think I'm not.

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