FanPost

FJM on CougCenter: Mariners Baseball Edition

Ed note: There is at least one bad word in this fanpost. You've been warned.

It's been tough to write about the Cougs lately, so how about I right about... um, not the Cougs. Like the Mariners! They're not the Cougs. Although they are equally inept of late. But maybe there's some hope on the Horizon. And, since I'm in the "denial" portion of the five phases of death regarding Dave Niehaus, he didn't really die and I can look forward to the first pitch of 2011 without feeling sad or anything.

But can the Mariners reward my following with some victories? Almost certainly... if they just do what Jerry Brewer of the Times suggests and just follow the lead of one Pete Carroll. You know Pete. Coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Formerly coach of the USC Trojans, where he knew nothing about all that cheating and stuff. He Wins Forever (TM). And when you add up wins plus forever, that's like infinity wins guys! What could possibly go wrong?

Compete? Mariners can learn a lot from Pete Carroll

PEORIA, Ariz. — Pete Carroll, the human corporation who doubles as the Seahawks' coach/czar, has suffered a rare missed opportunity to enhance his brand. He should have trademarked the word "compete" long ago.

Because he could be making suitcases full of cash from the Mariners right now.

I do think we can all agree on one thing: Pete Carroll should have trademarked that word. Because if there's anyone who isn't making enough money right now, it's Pete.

Also, I could totally see the Mariners sending suitcases of cash to Carroll, because God forbid they spend it on anyone who can actually hit a baseball. The Seattle Mariners (R): Spend Small. Believe Big.

Roughly a year after Campaign ComPETE rumbled through Seattle with the anonymity of a Ken Griffey Jr. clubhouse nap, the local baseball team is following its sporting cousin and attempting to set the players' trousers afire by actually making them do what they're paid to do.

But can you ignite men who chew smokeless tobacco?

As in set them on fire? I don't know, but it would be funny to try. The only problem is the MLBPA's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that even players who are dead from being set on fire are still guaranteed their contracts. So forget that as a money-saving initiative.

"No one is on scholarship," general manager Jack Zduriencik has said many times.

BAM! College tie-in. Jackie Z thinks like Pete Carroll, in collegiate terms and stuff. In fact, it seems like they've already learned something from Pete.

It's a great quote, but, um, unless you're playing for USC, a guaranteed pro contract is more lucrative than a college scholly.

Wait, what? I thought we were reading an article about how the Mariners should operate more like Pete Carroll. The Pete Carroll who coached a college team for a really long team. USC, to be exact. Where there were scholarships.

The Mariners are talking tough and leaving some positions open for wrestling matches. Still, you must wonder if they're truly prepared to take this competition thing to Carroll-ian proportions. They'd be wise to do so.

 

During Carroll's first year in charge, the Seahawks became the most thrilling 7-9 team ever mostly because he challenged it out of them. The Seahawks weren't very good, and a lot of the time it showed, but Uncle Pete — you know, the crazy uncle who both entertains and scares the mischief out of you — squeezed that team until it didn't have a drop of talent more to give.

What would also help the Mariners would be playing in one of the worst professional sports divisions of all time and getting a little bit lucky. I won't deny I liked the job Pete Carroll did last season with the Hawks, but a sample size of one season is hardly enough to tell if Pete Carroll really gets the most out of his talent in the NFL. And there's a lot of talent to go around in the NFL. Pete and John Schneider were smart enough to recognize that so many good players are cut from NFL rosters that you can root around the bargain bin and still put together a very good mediocre team if you know what you're doing.

Carroll guaranteed no positions, shuffled the roster as if he were being paid by the transaction and guided his team past the defending-champion New Orleans Saints and into the second round of the NFL playoffs. The players feared his hammer, but they kept their focus and maxed out. That's about all you can ask for in Year 1 of a rebuilding process.

Now it's on the Mariners to do the same. Baseball is a different sport, and it has no NFC West division, so finishing slightly below .500 won't allow the Mariners to stagger into the postseason. But even though they exist in a league that doesn't allow constant shuffling because most players receive guaranteed deals, the Mariners should apply what they can from the Seahawks' approach.

Even though patience is a far more important asset in baseball, the Mariners must display some impatience.

Baseball allows a fair amount of roster shuffling, especially at the bottom of the roster. But nevermind the fact that the Mariners' front office are already experts in this, especially when it comes to pitching. Doug Fister and Jason Vargas are pretty much a direct result of the kind of competition Carroll exemplifies. The M's have tried finding bargains on offense, but those are harder to come by. Plus the rare sure thing like Albert Pujols costs way too much.

"The competition is real," new manager Eric Wedge says. "We don't have a lot of positions predetermined. It's important to me. It's important to the organization. We have some options with this ballclub, and we need to look at all of them. The players need to understand that jobs will be earned."

Wedge is saying the right things, and so far, the players appear to be responding. But unlike Carroll did with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Wedge doesn't have someone to compete with his star player, Ichiro, to shock the team into obedience.

AND HERE WE GO.

By the way, doesn't that last sentence insinuate that Charlie Whitehurst is the #1 reason the Seattle Seahawks were mildly successful last season? Think about it.

That said, it wasn't Carroll's wisest decision because he did no favors for his starting quarterback by overselling his competition, Charlie Whitehurst, and leaving fans to pine after a backup whose considerable raw talent rose to mythical heights.

But it shocked his team into submission! How is that not the wisest decision?!?!?!

In the end, though, the risk worked because Hasselbeck played some of his best football in the playoffs.

You heard it here first, sports fans. Matt Hasselbeck played his best football in the playoffs because of Charlie Whitehurst. Not at all because Matt Hasselbeck is a great veteran quarterback who already knew how to light up the Saints' secondary from earlier in the season.

Ichiro remains untouchable. The Mariners can't employ that provoke-the-star stunt. Really, how would they even try? Who's going to compete with Ichiro? Jody Gerut?

PRO TIP: This is because Ichiro is really fucking good at baseball.

When the Mariners talk competition, they're referring to openings at second base, left field, possibly shortstop, the back of the rotation, in the bullpen and utility players on the bench. Ichiro is the right fielder, period. Felix Hernandez is the ace. Franklin Gutierrez is the center fielder.

Yes. Because those other three guys are really fucking good at their positions. I think Felix Hernandez even won some kind of award that they hand out to the pitcher who is better than all the other pitchers in his league. The Phillips Milk of Magnesia Non-Relief Pitcher Award, I think it's called. (Pharmacy joke!)

Chone Figgins is the third baseman. Justin Smoak is the first baseman. Jack Cust is the designated hitter. And Miguel Olivo signed because he was told he'd be the starting catcher.

Okay, that's better. Those guys aren't great, at least not at the moment. But aren't those at least somewhat open to competition? If they perform terribly, the Mariners would have to consider benching one or all of them.

And Jack Z is in a no win situation here. If he just opened all those spots up to competition, fans would all be whining instead about how we have no starters at any of those positions. But now that we do have starters, we're complaining about other things.

The tricky question is whether the Mariners can get the full benefit of competition while allowing for a privileged few. Mr. ComPETE would probably say it can't happen. Therefore, the Mariners had better challenge those privileged few in some manner.

Hey, Felix. Come here. Sorry, man, but you're going to have to compete with Garrett Olson for the #1 slot in our rotation. It'll make you a better pitcher.

What's that? You already are? Impossible! More competition! Bring in Mark Pryor!

[Mark Pryor busts through drywall, tears arm ligament in the process]

While everyone else is competing, the team must make its untouchables fight against their weaknesses. Make Ichiro play more unselfishly.

ATTENTION KIDS

Do you want to be a baseball player when you grow up?

Then you need to learn the value of being unselfish.

Ichiro is selfish. Don't be like him, kids.

It makes me sick. All Ichiro does is get up early in the morning and then work his ass off every day to become one of the greatest hitters of all time. He stays in peak physical shape just to try and play something called 'defense' and "rob" people of home runs. Selfish bastard! Great players hit home runs, they don't steal them from someone else!

And what's this crap about him having to hit first in the lineup? Sharing is caring. Maybe it's time Ichiro put others first, instead of himself.

Ichiro is a selfish, self-absorbed jerk who is consistently worth about five wins more than a replacement player. I mean, it's not like he was the only decent hitter on one of the worst offensive teams of all time or anything.

Ichiro then left Seattle for Texas and $250 million (because he's selfish), used steroids, and then left Texas for the New York Yankees where he had pictures taken of himself in which he's staring longingly at himself in a mirror.

I think I'm getting players confused. But you get the point.

THIS MESSAGE PAID FOR BY CHONE FIGGINS FOR LEADOFF HITTER 2011

Keep Hernandez engaged at all times and teach him to pitch even more economically.

What is he, a Ford Explorer? He doesn't need better fuel economy. Felix pitches economically by getting people out. And I'll trade his occasional aloofness for a Cy Young any day of the week.

Ensure that Smoak rediscovers discipline at the plate, that Gutierrez becomes as consistent offensively as he is defensively, and that Figgins turns into a steady performer and clubhouse presence.

One of those three people is not the problem. The other two have jobs with the M's that are not set in stone.

The Mariners don't have the depth of talent to push every player like you can with a 53-man NFL roster. But Wedge can be more imaginative with his batting order than predecessor Don Wakamatsu was. He can sit down any player who doesn't perform well over a period, even if it's just for a few games, to prove a point. And even when players win jobs in spring training, he can reevaluate them more regularly than the norm. Routine is important during the grinding baseball season, but the Mariners can't be prisoners of habit. They must mix things up to get the best out of a limited team.

Compete. Like Pete. Nothing less.

"We have some really talented young players, but by no means am I going to sit in awe of them," says closer David Aardsma, who will have to regain his job after he recovers from hip surgery. "I'm going to fight and earn what I believe is mine. I might not be ready for the start of the season, but I'm not ready to say I won't be this team's closer. If somebody wants to beat me out, they'd better be prepared. I'm not going to let that happen easily."

Well, there's one convert. Twenty-four to go.

Sincerely, David Aardsma, entrenched starter at closer.

Well at least we got Aardsma on board!! Now we know David will work hard for us by not being a selfish sissy who doesn't pitch economically. Aardsma >>>>> Ichiro.

Now it's time for the rest of you pansies to pick up the pace. Fear losing your job and you will become great! Fear is what drives you. Feel the fear run through your veins. Fear is your ally. Your path to everything you desire. Become one with your fear and join us. Let fear, anger and hatred flow through you and you will have completed your path to the dark side. Er, I mean competition.

Join me! Gaze! Gaze into the face of fear!

Whitehurstx_medium

And with that fear - and a little competition, the Mariners can go 71-91 and win the NFC West.

This FanPost does not necessarily reflect the views of the site's writers or editors, who may not have verified its accuracy. It does, however, reflect the views of this particular fan, which is just as important as the views of our writers or editors.

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