To get things started, let’s be clear that I have no insight, intelligence or idea why the Mariners are suddenly spending like a drunken sailor on shore leave. $100 million for Seeger, $60 million for Cruz, maybe more for Cabrera. This is very un-Mariner like. So let’s speculate on a few reasons this is happening.
1) They’ve saved up a war chest that we cannot even imagine.
The Mariners have been bad bad bad for a long long time. Sure they had a couple of years between 2004 and 2013 of relative mediocrity. But after winning 93 games in 2002 and 2003, they finished above .500 two years out of 10. Heck they finished under .400 three times. All told they won just 44$ of their games. And yet they still made money. Year after year of cash registers firing all season long. It’s possible that they have so much money saved up, that now they have a chance to win, they are going all in. Budgets be damned.
2) There’s a new sheriff in Japan.
Mariners savior, long time owner and Safeco Field no-show Hiroshi Yamauchi died in Sept 2013. According to Wikipedia, he sold his shares to Nintendo in 2004, stayed on the Nintendo board and was tasked with running the team while he was alive. Of course, we know that the Operations were run by Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong (since retired). But maybe this non-baseball fan was just managing to the bottom line. I don’t know how the transition process worked after his death, but we can make a pretty safe assumption that someone new on the Nintendo board is in charge. Maybe they like baseball? Or coming to Seattle? Or coming to baseball games in Seattle? Or meeting baseball players? Or meeting Jay-z and Beyonce? Who knows.
3) Howard Lincoln is retiring soon?
If I was the long-time CEO of the Mariners, I would not want my Wikipedia profile to read, “Boyer ran the Mariners for 15 years, the longest tenure of any CEO to not make a World Series.” Let’s say that Lincoln has an expiration date on his Mariners tenure. That would accelerate his will to win in the next 2 years, not keep building the war chest.
Chuck Armstrong was the one who refused to spend any money?
Armstrong retired last year. Maybe he was the guy hiding all the money under the mattress.
4) Felix handed down an ultimatum?
We all wondered why the best pitcher in baseball would sign a long-term deal that pretty much eliminates him from ever being qualified for the Hall of Fame. I’m not going to go ALL stats geek here but from 2006-2013, the Mariners went 586-710 (.452). Felix was 106-82 (.563) with a ridiculous ERA of 3.22. So in the games Felix DIDN’T get a decision, the Mariners were 480-628 (.433). Let’s make up some calculations. Pretend the Mariners could be .500 in games Felix didn’t pitch. That would get them another 71 wins, or 15% more. So let’s do the same thing with Felix. Give him 15% more wins. Now instead of 106-82, he’s 122-66. The Mariners ineptitude for 8 years basically cost him 16 wins – or 2 wins a year. If he pitches for 18 years at that pace it takes him from a 239 win pitching version of Edgar to a 275 win pitcher with HoF aspirations.
5) All of the above
Is it unreasonable to think that the Mariners are a franchise with buckets and buckets and buckets of $1000 bills buried under 2nd base, a new TV deal that will make them even MORE money, an “owner” in Japan who is younger and more interested in the fun part of winning baseball games, an outgoing CEO who wants a legacy, a void in the front office where a penny pincher used to sit and a superstar “face of the franchise” who demanded they make some changes for him to stay a few years ago? That’s where I fall on this. We may have a super fun run from 2015-2017. I wonder what happens when the Perfect Storm subsides…