SEATTLE -- The trains, one of the unique and charming characteristics of Safeco Field, still rumble by the ballpark with impressive consistency. The whistles blow, the engines chug, and what's most striking from inside this gem of a park is that at least something remains on the tracks in this part of town.
|Richie Sexson has turned out to be the poster boy for Everything That's Gone Wrong with the Mariners. (AP)|
Not firing the general manager, manager and hitting coach within one of the bloodiest 10-day spans in memory.
Not approaching the July trade deadline from a stunning 20 games under .500, as peddlers rather than contenders.
"We have not performed as expected, or as we should, in any aspect of the game," Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said during a long conversation here one afternoon earlier this week. "Offensively. Defensively. Pitching.
"The bigger question has been, has anything gone right? Not much has."
The bats have remained mostly silent, to the point that the biggest surprise when the Mariners returned home from a nine-game trip this week was that Richie Sexson, poster boy for Everything That's Gone Wrong, was still around. When he didn't play in San Diego on Saturday or Sunday, even some of his teammates figured he would be released before the Safeco Field boo-birds could find him again this week.
"We know it's in there," interim manager Jim Riggleman says. "Richie's got a lot of baseball left in him. Whether we can get it out of him or not, or whether he finds it here shortly, I don't know."
Translation: The Mariners still can't quite come to terms with eating what's left of his $14 million salary.
Even so, with Bill Bavasi out as GM, John McLaren out as manager and Jeff Pentland long since removed as hitting coach, folks here persist in ducking for cover. And with good reason. It is astounding how many of Bavasi's moves have backfired so far:
- Sexson (four years, $50 million);
- Adrian Beltre (five years, $64 million);
- Scott Spiezio (three years, $9 million);
- Jarrod Washburn (four years, $36 million).
Armstrong is quick to point out that the Mariners went "5-for-5" in the free-agent market in 2000 and 2001, hitting on Ichiro Suzuki, Bret Boone, Aaron Sele, Mark McLemore and Arthur Rhodes. But that was back in the Pat Gillick era, when the Mariners were on the best roll in club history. They practically were printing money in the early days of Safeco and a proven baseball man was in charge.
"I felt so bad for Bill," Washburn says. "He built a team that 95 percent of the people said would either be a contender or in the playoffs. And because we didn't do our jobs, he lost his. He's a great man."