You might remember a post I did about a month ago detailing the futility of the Mariners' offense and why it is impossible for it to achieve any sustained success, centered around the fact that it's a poorly composed lineup full of hackers.
Apparently, I'm not alone. And this is a good thing.
Guest columnist Seth Kolloen -- of Seattlest fame -- reiterates a lot of the points I made, in this morning's Seattle P-I.
STATS Inc. tracks how many pitches MLB hitters see per plate appearance. In 2003, the year before Bill Bavasi became GM, Mariners hitters saw 3.81 pitches per plate appearance -- fourth-most in the American League. ...And, just as I did, Seth lays the blame squarely on Bill Bavasi's shoulders. The problem with that, though, is that there are no easy fixes -- firing Mike Hargrove isn't going to change the fact that Yuniesky Betancourt thinks an eye-high fastball is his bread-and-butter.
Since then, Mariners hitters have seen fewer pitches every year. Last year, the Mariners ranked 10th in the AL, seeing only 3.70 pitches per plate appearance. ... In 2007, the Mariners' pitches per plate appearance has plummeted to 3.55, last in the American League. ...
Here's the problem: Patience isn't just about earning walks, it's about driving up the pitch counts of opposing starters, seeing them off to the showers, and pummeling the squishy belly of every team's pitching staff -- the middle relief.
The Mariners have knocked out a starter before the seventh inning only 11 times this season. That's the worst in the American League -- the Red Sox and Indians have done it 24 times each. Those teams score more runs not necessarily because they have better hitters, but because they are facing less talented pitchers.
Beyond that, the two guys who aren't the problem -- Ichiro and Jose Guillen -- are free agents at the end of the year. The rest of the guys are either young and locked up for the next four years, or old and locked up for the next two at a high salary. It's going to be next to impossible for whoever the next GM is to remake this lineup quickly.
That said, though, it might only take changing out a piece or two to change the complextion of the lineup. After all, you can have a few hackers -- just not a lineup full of them. If the next GM chooses wisely and works some shrewd deals, the offense might not be that far off.
But don't expect things to get markedly better this year. Watching these Mariners will be an exercise in frustration all summer long. You might as well get used to it.
Oh, and by the way: Kolloen has a new blog dedicated to the Seattle sports scene. Check it out when you get a chance -- it's definitely worth a read.