It's too bad that the noted Renaissance man Tom Cruise went and debunked psychiatry, because the midseason Seattle Mariners sure could use some sofa time with a shrink. Some say the reason for the sub-.500 win-loss record has to do with starting pitching, featuring a quintet of fifth-in-the-rotation throwers, including one-time ace candidate Joel Pineiro, or "Joel Piñata," as the oft-hit hurler could be called.
Actually, as indicated by a brief analysis (if, indeed, the learned Dr. Cruise hasn't banished the term "analysis"), failure of the "refuse to win" M's extends well beyond pitching, to wit, in random order:
Second base: Bret Boone was mercifully let go Sunday, July 3. Now we'll see if Jose Lopez is the, ahem, second coming of Alfonso Soriano. D+
First base: Richie Sexson's strikeouts hurt more than his home runs help. Mainly he needs production support in the lineup around him. C
Outfield: Ichiro, even with a reduced batting average, is on a pace for 200 hits again; he also leads M's starting outfielders in home runs, and that's bad. The mere .300-level average? It has a lot to do with a dearth of infield hits this year because Ich (the team's only all-star selection) is actually on the same strike-out pace as he was during last year's record-setting season. Jeremy Reed could win the Olympic diving competition the way he plays center, and Randy Winn (perennial trade bait even though he hits consistently) has fielded perfectly in left. But they provide little pop at power positions. The three had just 10 dingers and averaged 25 RBI through June. C
Third base: Adrian Beltre usually is a superb defender who has started to hit, but he won't approach 100 RBI and may not hit 20 long balls. Three errors in a recent game gave him nearly as many as he had all last year. C-
Shortstop: Mike Morse deserves the position, but now that he's had a hit drought expect to hear nonsense about Pokey Reese. C-
Catcher: Tough-luck position has no apparent long-term remedy, though Rene Rivera showed promise before getting busted back to double-A. D+
Starters: If Gil Meche is your best guy, you ought to be playing in the Pacific Coast League. D
Bullpen: Eddie Guardado would lead the Bigs in saves if the team gave him save situations. Everyone else is suspect. C-
Designated hitter: Raul Ibanez has solid numbers and drives the ball well to right. B
Management: Field boss Mike Hargrove and pitching coach Bryan Price are either patient or passive, neither a virtue with a club that just doesn't look like it's trying very hard. C-
The above, then, resembles a Tom Cruise high-school report card before Scientology made him way smart.
Fixes? Bring in wunderkind starter Felix Hernandez and reliever Rafael Soriano ASAP. Get decent pitching for Winn and play Chris Snelling (brought up the day Boone was released) in left.
Otherwise, it looks like 65-97, with corresponding erosion of the '06 fan base.