Mariners vs. Texas Rangers

Had the offensively anemic Mariners had the foresight to sign Texas Rangers slugger Vladimir Guerrero to a modest free-agent contract in the off-season, they’d have likely not been compelled to trade ace pitcher Cliff Lee, who was enjoying one of the best years in team history before being traded a few weeks ago to….Texas, which leads the AL West as the M’s dwell in the cellar. So it’s gone for second-year Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik, for whom a second trial’s been ordered after a premature rendering of the “genius” verdict after what was, frankly, a lucky first year at the reins. Nothing exemplifies Zduriencik’s sophomore slump like the decision to let free agent 1B/DH Russell Branyan sign with Cleveland after hitting 31 home runs for the M’s last year, only to trade a pair of prospects to bring him back shortly before the Lee trade, which yielded a hot 1B/DH prospect in switch-hitting Justin Smoak. While often there’s method to a man’s madness, sometimes madness is what it simply is. MIKE SEELY

Tue., Aug. 3, 7:10 p.m., 2010

 
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