Friday, August 12, 2005

The Dream, Revisited...

Exactly one month ago today, I wrote an article on Dreaming the Impossible Dream. So what has happened in one month to affect that dream? Here's a brief list:
  • Randy Winn, Ron Villone, Miguel Olivo, Pat Borders and Aaron Sele have all left the team. Winn, Villone, and Olivo were traded, and Borders and Sele were released.
  • Ichiro's goal of going 70-6 the rest of the way is no longer a possibility. The M's have gone 10-16 since the All Star break (and my first post on this topic), and remain in last place.
  • The King has arrived, as has this Blog's adopted M, George Sherrill. We've also welcomed newcomers Yuniesky Betancourt, Yorvit Torrealba, and Jeff Harris. Chris Snelling, Wiki Gonzales, and Jorge Campillo have all returned from stints in the minors. Of course, Campillo's elbow proved to be demolished, and he's preparing for Tommy John surgery.
  • Ryan Franklin blew a steroids test, and will return from that vacation on Saturday.
  • Eddie Guardado, with extra special thanks to Willie Bloomquist, blew his first save in a long, long time.
What does all this mean for the dream? Well, it means that they haven't quite caught on. Really, only the appearance of Felix has awoken this team from its slumber. It's a little boost of confidence, rewarded by two good performances (in spite of the first one actually adding a tally in the "L" column), not unlike the infusion of a few blasts off of Bucky's bat in the dog days of last season's power shortage.

As P-I reporter Jon Paul Morosi tells us today, ticket sales are down, but they're still on pace to sell well over their forecasted 2.5 million tickets, and the team might actually turn a profit this season. Whether or not there will actually be 2.5 million butts in Safeco, of course, remains to be seen, but I bet there are fewer no-shows this year than last (in spite of Ichiro's chase of Sisler, and the dawn of Edgar's career). There were fewer expectations going into this year than going into 2004, and people have started to catch on that the M's just aren't a very good team.

So what's to be done about this?

Well, for starters, I think it's pretty clear that the impossible dream of making the post season is officially dead. As the USSM folks point out, the M's technically still have a 0.00128% chance of making the playoffs. But you and I both know that it ain't happ'nin' this year. With the non-waiver trading deadline having come and gone, the youth movement is already well under way. Tacoma's roster is pretty thin in close-to-major-league-ready talent these days, and their subsequent impending freefall in the standings should come as no surprise.

About two months ago, I responded to David Locke's P-I column about how it was a mistake to throw in the towel so early. The argument I actually agreed with is that the youngsters need to develop a winning attitude. However, his reasoning and understanding for the argument still seem to me to be totally flawed. I mentioned, and still believe, that the youngsters we had down in T-Town were as good, if not better, than the players they'd be replacing. They could help the M's win as much as, if not more than, the existing players at the time could. Felix will carry the rotation the rest of the way. He's already inspired a decent outing for Joel Pineiro.

In order for this team to reach the playoffs again, it indeed needs to develop a winning attitude, and an aura of confidence. I'm confident I'm not the only one that saw this appear during the first two games of the Minnesota series, the second of which brought on by the Safeco debut of King Felix, el Cartelua. With the imminent return of Bucky's bat to the fold, nevermind his Paul Bunyan-esque attitude, several pieces are in place.

My recommendation is to forget the playoffs. Focus on a simpler goal that's a lot more in their control. Even .500 might not meet that "simple-to-accomplish" parameter for their latest goal. In the remaining 49 games, they'd have to win 33 to make it back to .500 -- a winning percentage of over 67%. That'd be the impossible dream from here on out. I don't think they're quite there yet.

However, in looking up just a little bit in the standings, and down from the impossible dream, I do see one more realistic possibility. Since the All Star Break, Texas is 10-18, and in spite of getting Kenny Rogers back a little bit early from his suspension and having swapped "The Ho" -- Chan Ho Park -- for Phil Nevin, the Rangers are not a very good team either. Yes, they've got one of the most potent offenses, especially at home. But it's not like they're a team built to go on a hot streak and rattle off 12-15 game win streaks like Anaheim and Oakland. Replacing Ho with Aaron Sele, especially in Arlington, is bad news for Texas.

So, here's my recommended goal for the M's. Go after Texas. Don't concede last place. We've got better talent than we had before, even if the youth evaluation period has begun. Start building a winning attitude in these guys, so we can grab a few more necessary parts and make a run at the playoffs in the next couple seasons. Set a goal and accomplish it.

Let the new era begin!


At 8/12/2005 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely Agreed! Lets defeat the Rangers. I think that is definitely a great goal to have for the remainder of the season and we have the tools to do it.

After we can't run at full speed until we learn how to run again. Besides, our talent far exceeds the Rangers talent. Besides, we are THE Pacific Northwest baseball team and one thing I know about the people of the Pacific Northwest (and pretty much the rest of the country) is that we hate Texans. GO MARINERS!

At 8/12/2005 1:32 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

Thanks for the comments, cecileltz! However, I'm pretty sure that hatred for Texans isn't quite as widespread as you may believe. Certain Texans, for sure, but I happen to personally know a few current Texans right now (as well as several folks who grew up in Texas), and I quite enjoy them.

Still, with Anaheim and Oakland pretty well out of reach, why can't we go after Texas in the standings? It starts with attitude.

Get Buhner (a Texan, mind you) in that clubhouse NOW!!!!!

At 8/12/2005 2:35 PM, Blogger baseblIman said...

I just realized, we haven't gone to the playoffs since Buhner retired. I'm not convinced that it's just coincidence. Nice writeup. Even if the rest of the team keeps up its current production, the addition of Felix feels like having the "automatic" Randy Johnson type win out there and the recent turnaround of Pineiro is definitely promising. (Granted I am basing those comments based on just 2 starts by each pitcher.)

At 8/12/2005 2:56 PM, Blogger Mike L said...

Nice work PPaul. The beauty of baseball is there's always something to hope for.

Long posts are fun. I just finished one over at Mariner Magic on Beltre. I'd appreciate any feedback.

At 8/13/2005 9:43 AM, Blogger Mike L said...

As disappointing as the Mariners season has been, the Rangers has been worse.

I hate the A's and Angels so much.


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