Coming off a surprising 85-77 2009 campaign and with one of the league's best pitchers joining the team, a good portion of top experts predicted the Seattle Mariners to win their first AL West title since 2001 this year.
The Angels weren't going to be the same team as in years past, and the Rangers never have pitching, so this will be Seattle's year, many reasoned.
Surely, things didn't work out according to plan.
Newly-acquired ace Cliff Lee is now on division-leading Texas, offensive newcomers Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley are having among the worst years of their careers, the legend Ken Griffey Jr. is no longer in baseball and manager Don Wakamatsu is unemployed too.
The Mariners are in the cellar of the AL West, and they must again attempt to rebuild.
According to Jeff Engels of JeffsMariners.com, the Mariners do have a number of prospects who could be part of a brighter future in Seattle. Still, the Cliff Lee situation was mishandled by the team and Seattle's biggest problems rest in the organization's highest levels.
Did the Mariners get enough back in the Cliff Lee trade? Justin Smoak is a top flight hitting prospect, but has struggled thus far. Will he become an elite MLB bat? What do you make of Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matt Lawson?
I believe that the Mariners could have completed the Cliff Lee deal without giving up reliever Mark Lowe and the $2 million that we gave to the Rangers. I think we could have waited till closer to the deadline and found a better deal. Smoak has a sweet swing but is in the minors working on hitting the breaking ball, which he has trouble with. I saw both Beaven and Lueke at Triple-A Tacoma, and they both had good stuff but it's to early to tell definitively in either case. In addition, Lueke's troubles with the law were overlooked in the trade and did not go over to well in Seattle once the issue was revealed by the press.
Nearly nobody other than Ichiro in the Mariners lineup hits above .250. Are there any September call-ups who could surprise offensively?
Dustin Ackley looks to be coming up, and as a number-two overall pick, there are high expectations for him. Of course, Smoak will come up, and perhaps Greg Hallmann and Mike Wilson — two power hitting outfielders — should get a look. Otherwise, we will need to pick up at least one power bat in the offseason as the Milton Bradley experiment has not been to great so far.
Will Ichiro Suzuki surpass Ken Griffey Jr. as the greatest Mariner of all time? Or has he already?
Well I'm old school and believe Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez are the two greatest Mariners of all-time, with Ichiro possibly third.
Did the Chone Figgins-Don Wakamatsu incident against Boston directly contribute to Wakamatsu's firing? Does Daren Brown have a chance of keeping the job? If not, who do you think the Mariners will target to manage the club in 2011?
The Figgins incident proved that Mariners top management were not ready to back-up Wakamatsu, and thus, the writing was on the wall. Brown is doing a good job so far and deserves consideration if the Mariners continue playing .500 ball the rest of the way. I don't want to speculate on names of possible managers as the real problems in Seattle are the upper management and the absentee owner in Japan. Seattle fans are tired of the revolving door for managers and GM's and want real change at the top so we can compete again like we did from 1994-2001.
Who is the best native-Washingtonian pitcher in the league: Jon Lester or Tim Lincecum?
Toss-up, but I have to go with Lincecum.
Your grandfather Gordon ?Dusty? Rhodes played for the Red Sox from 1932-1935. What are some of his best stories from back then?
In 1932, my grandfather was traded to the Red Sox from the Yankees in the middle of the season. Still, he received $1,000 from the Yankee players who voted him this share after they won the World Series. Though playing for a World Championship would have been nice, $1,000 was a lot back then. He was a real workhorse for the Red Sox. In his best season, he went 12-12 with the Sox and was traded to the Athletics as part of the Jimmie Foxx deal. He, along with cash, brought Foxx to the Red Sox.
Below is a photo of Dusty (front of animal) and other members of the Sox organization atop an elephant.
Thanks again to Jeff Engels from JeffsMariners.com for his contribution to this article.