It’s no secret that the last time the Mariners made the post-season was 2001. And so with the team within striking distance of the playoffs this year, an impatient management team could go all-in with a pair of 6’s and hope for the best. Thankfully, this team held onto its chips and is preparing for the next hand.
Bad luck happens. Who knows where the team would be with a healthy Smyly and Iwakuma all year? Give them +4 wins with those guys and the standings look different. But that’s baseball.
Sure, they may still make an unexpected run in September this year and make the Wild Card. In which case they’d have to fly to New York or Boston and win a one game series against Sonny Gray or David Price. And their reward for winning that would be a five game series with Houston.
I think the Mariners made the right moves by not betting the farm – literally. You have to figure the team has at best about a 20-25% chance to make the Wild Card, a 35-40% chance of winning the Wild Card game, and a 30-35% chance of beating the Astros. Multiply those out and it gives you about a 3.5% chance of making it to the ALCS. That isn’t worth mortgaging the future.
This year the problem was that they made it to the trading deadline, wanted to bring in some added help, and didn’t have much to give in return. So the team did the next best thing. If they couldn’t get people to help in 2017, they went and got a few players they could use at the 2018 deadline.
When we get to July 31, 2018, hopefully the Mariners will be within striking distance for the AL West. Let’s assume the team can pick up a piece or two via free agency this off-season to add to a solid core (Segura, Cano, Cruz and Seager,) a good young outfield, some quality starting pitchers and a lights-out bullpen. Then with a depth of starting pitching acquired at this year’s deadline, and an improved farm system, they’ll have the trading pieces they need for some key late season acquisitions.
Whether or not they make an unexpected run this year, the table is set for 2018 and beyond. And that’s a good thing.