…. but few who know how to swing them.
by Testiclees (as in Testy ‘Cleez)
Major League Baseball kicks off this weekend when the Padres host the Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball. Until the season shapes up over the course of the first 30-40 games it will be difficult to determine the actual contenders. It is unlikely, however, that the Seattle Mariners will make their way out of third place in the American League West.
Why? Because for a team that didn’t have much talent anyway, they spent too much money in the off-season and acquired too little.
For the one or two baseball fans unaware of the wintertime hysterics that took place in the Hot Stove League, Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, played a reasonably good hand of poker against an otherwise average charades player; as in the Seattle Mariners GM, Jack Zduriencik (a.k.a, “the Other Jay-Z”). When the dust settled, free agent Robinson Cano had landed in Seattle for 10-years at a rate of $24mm a year.
The deal only happened because conventional wisdom dictated that Cano wouldn’t dare lock himself up in a small market town in the upper left hand corner of the country for ten years.
I mean, like, as in a whole decade.
It’s doubtful that even “the Other Jay-Z” expected the sure-handed second baseman was interested in Seattle as anything other than a stalking horse…. until the Real Jay-Z yelled down the phone, “YOURS Baby!!
Break out the handcuffs.
Couple of months later, after a couple of weeks in Peoria, AZ, and a survey of the Mariners underwhelming prospects for 2014, Cano acted like he was stuck aboard the Orca in the movie “Jaws”. With eyes wide open and seeing that huge shark of a season surfacing right in front of him, he metaphorically backed into the GM’s office to offer some advice.
Instead of uttering “you’re gonna need a bigger boat” to the ship’s captain, he informed his small press entourage that “we’re gonna need another bat”.
Way to go Robinson. What other thoughts might you have?
Well, how about re-signing Kendrys Morales, the new $240 million man suggested. As constructive as Cano’s comment was, it was greeted with stunned silence.
The reason for the silence?
You see, the meaning of “another bat” distracts the new school Sabermetrician as much as it baffles the traditional old school slugger. But the nuance befuddles Mariner fans even more, since they are conditioned to relative mediocrity at the plate.
To seasoned Seattle fans “another bat” is a label applied to any player in the league who can answer YES with a straight face to the question, “but can you hit .210? In that regard, Seattle has plenty of bats but it’s the guys swinging them who are either extremely over-confident, at best. Or worse, they’re a bunch of liars.
Sub .210 hitters have had a lot of success occupying roster space in Seattle over the years. Some hitters, such as Richie Sexson, were slight exceptions, considering the big man finished out his last 1.5 seasons with about a .211 average. One optimistic hire from December, 2012, Jason Bay, managed to get through half of the 2013 season with a whopper of a .204 average.
Speaking of “whoppers”, other Mariners who overstated their skills at the plate include:
- 2011: Chone Figgins, .188, Michael Saunders, .149
- 2012: Brendan Ryan, .194, Chone Figgins, .181, Munenori Kawasaki, .192,
- 2013: Brendan Ryan, .192, Jason Bay, .204, and 5 others.
Is it any wonder with so many bats on the roster that “the other Jay-Z” signed aging right-handed pitcher, Chris Young, to a one year, one million dollar contract today?
Considering how the Mariners front office acquire players these days, it’s possible Chris Young assured himself a contract simply by stating to management, “I can get guys out. I mean, I can REALLY get guys out”.
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