Seattle Mariners: 2015 Season Postmortem Part 1

07-21-15SafecoThe sun has set on another baseball season with the Kansas City Royals taking home the World Series Title. We here are Seattle Side Up congratulate the Royals on their first Series win in 30 years, and their 2nd overall. They have built a truly impressive organization, and it took a long time to see the dividends.

What can Seattle fans take from this season? I am not sure yet, but here at SSU, I got the baseball staff t together and answered some questions regarding where we were before this season, and what we see looking forward.  This is the first in a Post Mortem series where I interview my writers to see what they think.

Can the Mariners build an incredible organization of talent and coaching like that Royals? That remains to be seen, but we’d certainly love to try. With the firing of Jack Zduriencik as the General Manager and Lloyd McClendon as Manager, the changing of the guard is upon us. What will happen? No one’s really sure, beyond Editor-in-chief Abraham DeWeese, of course…

Your Seattle Mariners finished 76-86, 10 games under .500 on the season this year. Were you surprised by this result?

  • Abraham DeWeese, Editor in Chief – Mariners fell way short of my projection for an above .500 season. This was a season that I hoped that we were going to turn the corner. But was I surprised by the end result? Not really. I have never thought that the manager Lloyd McClendon was a good enough manager to get the best out of his players and unfortunately, I had hoped that the M’s players would win in spite of McClendon.
  • Brent Goodwine, Baseball Contributor – Hell yeah. I wasn’t expecting a run at the 116 win record, but the Ms definitely had enough talent to finish in the 85-90 win range.
  • Ian Loney, Baseball Contributor – Very. I had thought that while there were problems with roster construction heading in, I still believed this to be an 85-90 win team and a contender for the division title. The implosion of the bullpen, the complete lack of offense in the first half of the season, and lack of outfield defense all contributed to a surprisingly lackluster year.
  • Matt Paige, Baseball Editor – The danger signs were definitely there, with the pointless addition of Rickie Weeks in spring training, but I have to admit to being very surprised. I don’t think anyone pictured the bullpen would collapse on such a momentous level. That combined with the dereliction of duty from the pitching coaching staff just made me sick to my stomach. This was an 86 win team, and they blew it.

Going back to the winter of 2014/2015, what is one transaction you would make as GM to improve this team?

  • Abraham DeWeese, Editor in Chief
    I would have removed Logan Morrison from the 1st base position and forced Nelson Cruz to become a 1st baseman. Rickie Weeks and Willie Bloomquist were unnecessary acquisitions; we could have had faster, younger, cheaper players  perform just as poorly as they did.
  • Brent Goodwine, Baseball Contributor
    Moving on from Fernando Rodney sooner. There were plenty of quality Closers on the market. Seattle really missed a big opportunity to make a change in the bullpen when things started to go south.
  • Ian Loney, Baseball Contributor
    To a point they made the right signings but it was not used by field management efficiently. Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano were designed as a platoon in right and instead we got some Smith, a lot of bad defense Nelson Cruz, and almost no Ruggiano. I think having Cruz at DH and Ruggiano playing would have improved the defense and overall stability of the roster tremendously in the early season.
  • Matt Paige, Baseball Editor
    Dustin Ackley. I would’ve cut ties with him in the offseason, and wound up pursuing someone like Nori Aoki for left field. I liked the platoon in right with Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano, and I would’ve made Nelson Cruz DH. Increasing our outfield defense and production while also ensuring our new investment stays healthy. Would it have been enough? Probably not, as Aoki wound up hurt most of the season.

In your opinion, what was Jack Z’s fatal mistake in his tenure?

  • Abraham DeWeese, Editor in Chief
    Jackie Z’s greatest failure was falling in love with the home run hitters who could not run, throw, field, or draw a walk. The bulk of the lineup trended old, slow, and prone to swinging for the fence. In the post-steroid era, at Safeco field, that just doesn’t work.
  • Brent Goodwine, Baseball Contributor
    Forgetting what it takes to win games at Safeco. Jack Z built the wrong type of teams and wasted some good years from Felix. I do not like Jack Z.
  • Ian Loney, Baseball Contributor
    His obsession with big power; no on base and no defense players for filling out demanding defensive positions led to bad defense and too many solo home runs with no one on base.
  • Matt Paige, Baseball Editor
    I agree with my fellows here, but I think it was more systematic than just an obsession with power hitting. I think it was a complete and utter lack of understanding how to build a roster combined with the lack of proper talent evaluation. Look at the Rickie Weeks signing; he signed a no-glove, no-bat player to play potentially tough defensive spots when we had depth in the organization that could have filled the role. Poor evaluation and adaptation skills overall brought him down.

How soon do you think the Mariners can make the playoffs, best case scenario? worst case scenario?

  • Abraham DeWeese, Editor in Chief
    Unfortunately, I don’t think the new GM can get this kick-started anytime soon.

    Best case scenario: Mariners get Catcher Chris Ianetta for a 2 year contact and Dexter Fowler for a 4 year contract.  The M’s make a bold run as Ianetta turns Zunino into a star and Fowler solidifies the strength up the middle.  All the M’s have career years, and the new GM gets free agent role players and the M’s make a run next year.  The core nucleus is there with Felix, Cruz, Seager, Cano, Paxton, and Walker.
    Worse case scenario: Cano’s hernia sidelines him; Felix gets a year older; Cruz tanks the season and gets traded for low-level prospects; Big Bertha takes a right turn and comes up at home plate; and Dipoto trades everyone good to Toronto for a crate of Maple Syrup.
  • Brent Goodwine, Baseball Contributor
    With some of the core pieces, the M’s could make a playoff run next year, but I’m going to take a more long-term view of the franchise and go with 4 years until the team is competitive. The farm system is looking a bit gaunt these days.
    Best case scenario: Playoffs
    Worst case scenario: Four years until competativeness
  • Ian Loney, Baseball Contributor 
    Best case scenario: 2016, If smart moves are made by the new regime. There is still a ton of talent on this team and there is definitely potential to get there that soon.
    Worst case scenario: Safeco Field could fall into Elliott Bay I suppose.
  • Matt Paige, Baseball Editor
    Best case scenario: 2017 is really the best case, as the rise of Houston has made this a truly brutal division to try and succeed in. This team needs an entirely new outfield, which isn’t something you can just buy….as the Padres found out this season. Primary target for acquisition in my mind: a TOP notch center fielder.
    Worst case scenario: Another decade of absolute mediocrity, with Howard Lincoln ordering our new GM what to do, and refusing to retire until whatever ails the franchise is resolved…not realizing he’s the problem.

Some interesting insights into the backseat drivers of the baseball world, the fans and sports writers. Later this week, we will be exploring our options moving forward and what the staff thinks so far of the new front office of the Mariners.

But I think so far, we can agree 2015 was a colossal failure and the whole staff appears to be glad to move on from the Jack Zduriencik era into a hopefully more successful future.

Matt Paige is the Baseball Managing Editor and a regular contributor on SSU TV and for Seahawks Football. He also writes the column “The Call-Up” and is a rabid fan of all teams Seattle (Except the Huskies. Go Ducks!).

 

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