On the off chance that anyone remains interested in (a) my shtick, (b) the Mariners, (c) life and/or (d) giving Cliff Lee eight figures ...
=== Code Blue ===
Monday's game was a loss that stamped this first half a real worry. I wasn't real worried through Sunday.
Chone Figgins isn't a .262 SLGger. Jose Lopez isn't a 44 OPS+ guy; he could OPS+ 80 swinging with his left hand in his back pocket. Rob Johnson, all jokes aside, is not a .158 hitter wearing an 0.70 EYE ratio. It just isn't realistic to worry about whether those guys might be that bad. They are not.
But as mentioned at D-O-V, this offense had been hit with the shock paddles, had picked up the beat, had opened its eyes and smiled gamely and .... 30 minutes later they flatlined again. Now THAT, a Doc does not like to see.
Code Blue, six surgeons to the OR, stat.
=== Stars & Scrubs Dept. ===
There is great news here: The fact remains that this ballclub has a 115 ERA+ staff, and so the nature of the problem is merely to raise the offense from 75 to 90-95. That is an inherently easy task.
If this were one of those dreary early-80's Mariner franchises that had 25 different 80-90 OPS/ERA veterans, that would be one thing. But it isn't. It's a team with championship-class pitching and a malleable offense.
As you know, it is farrrrrrrr easier to upgrade a position from 100 to 120, than it is to upgrade it from 120 to 140.
It's easier still to upgrade a position from 85 to 100, than to move it from "average-solid" to "above average." It's much easier to get from (A) Ian Snell 85 to Jason Vargas 100, than it is to get from (B) Jason Vargas to an impact 200-IP starting pitcher.
And it's easiest yet, to get from 75 to 90. How hard is it going to be to improve on Ryan Rowland-Smith? There are literally eight pitchers just in this organizaton, forget going outside it, that are interesting options.
Our man Tony Blengino humbly-pied, on Hot Stove this winter, that the M's didn't deserve all that much credit for 2009 ... precisely because they only had to upgrade some holes up to "mediocre." Nice of him, as always, but the carpet has to be re-laid on this one...
The AL West isn't going anywhere. The Mariners have 18,000 ways to try to raise this offense to the 90-95 level it needs. And because they're Stars & Scrubs, they can keep drawing at the deck, paying for the twists as they go.
That's not pollyanna. It is the nature of the struggle in the coming month.