The Seattle Mariners Rebuild – An Exercise In Patience

The awful reality of the Seattle Mariners 2019 season has revealed itself. Nobody wants to turn the knob and answer the darkness knocking on the door–we’re all hoping it’ll move down the road, to Oakland perhaps–but sadly, the terrible truth has come to the right place, T-Mobile Park, the home of the abysmal Mariners.

Our precious M’s are a genuinely terrible baseball team this year, and it’s breaking our collective hearts.

They’re Mariners are so bad–so unbelievably error-stricken and uncompetitively bad–that they’re hard to even recognize when we remember the dazzling, white-hot, 13-2 start just a few short months ago. The scope and scale of the team’s collapse is so severe, that we all need to reset our rebuild optimism clocks from 2020 to 2021. At least.

Like daylight savings time arresting our region’s shared dream of a winning brand of baseball, recalibrating the rebuild has forced under-the-radar issues to the surface. Namely, that the team is almost unwatchable. But that’s part of the plan.

Rebuilding is hard. Rebuilding takes time. And all things that are hard and take time require patience.

Having said that, it’s okay to be frustrated. I am and I’m pretty sure the players are too. Watching Jay Bruce get traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, I couldn’t help but wonder which Mariners were jealous of his departure to an appealing, contending, competitive ballclub. I’d wager that veteran players, Edwin Encarnación and/or Dee Gordon would’ve been delighted to receive such a phone call. And who knows, they may be next on the trading block, depending on Encarnación’s price tag and Gordon’s health.

When thinking about the rebuild at a high-level, it’s easy to be seduced by the lure of the finished product. The glitzy, imagined team that challenges for the division, makes the playoffs consistently, and maybe, just maybe, sneaks its way through the American League to play for the World Series. I mean that’s the goal, right? But, it’s important to remember that the bumpy trip down Rebuild Road often obscures any real progress that may be happening. I have no proof that anything is actually happening, but I’m True to the Blue, so I’m putting my faith in Dipoto Inc.

We all wish the Mariners looked like the Houston Astros but refuse to also desire the multiple years of bottom-barrel baseball and investment in innovative player development required to construct such a powerhouse team. This is what a completed franchise rebuild looks like.

We all look on with envy at the San Diego Padres or Chicago White Sox signing high-profile superstars and/or calling up top prospects, each igniting competitive seasons and announcing the team’s legitimacy in their respective divisions. But do we appreciate the patience of either fanbase to trust in the lengthy rebuilding process? These are two franchise rebuilds in progress, both likely to further solidify and contend next year.

So, where does this leave our floundering Mariners? Well, we’re still mired in the first phase of our own rebuild–the “sell veterans, buy prospects, and throw everything against the wall to see what sticks” phase. It’s the ugliest part of the process, but before long (don’t hold your breath) we should start to see flashes of progression. Fewer errors, fewer blowouts, but still plenty of losses. It’s a long journey, so try to relax when we hit an inevitable snag or two along the way.

In closing, let me be clear about one thing: I love baseball, I love the Mariners, and my feelings about both aren’t going to be diminished by this garbage season or another one next year. I’m here for the long-haul and I’m genuinely investing in the rebuild process.

Even when it tests the limitations of my patience.

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About Jon Aiken 80 Articles
Born and raised in Seattle, Jon developed a deep love for the Mariners and Seahawks and continues to watch, analyze, and discuss them on a daily basis. As a professional advertising copywriter, the blending of these two loves (sports/words) seemed like a natural creative evolution. He recently moved south to Tacoma, fully embracing his new hometeam, the Rainers.