Thursday, April 25, 2024

THE CHEAP SEATS WITH STEVE CAMERON: Wait this out, then forget it

| August 9, 2020 1:15 AM

If you’re a Mariners fan, or if…

You’re TRYING to be a Mariners fan…

Don’t give up.

This season, which was almost certain to be somewhere between difficult and catastrophic, won’t last long.

Shoot, there are only 43 games left.

Yes, we’ve heard the jokes about whether Seattle’s 30-player “taxi squad” of prospects — currently undergoing advancing training at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma — would actually fare better in the AL West than the big-league Mariners.

GM Jerry Dipoto has heard it, too.

But that doesn’t mean…

The premise is true, or even that Dipoto might pluck the very best of “Team Tacoma” to shore things up at T-Mobile Park.

That would make no sense at all.

Even if Logan Gilbert could step right into the starting rotation, or maybe Jarred Kelenic became a fixture in the Mariners outfield, it would be a terrible idea.

I’m buying into the theory that the M’s just let this short season play out — even though, yeah, it’s doggone tough to watch.

SO WHY not bring some of the best prospects up I-5 and get, say, Mallex Smith (.135 batting average as of Saturday night) out of the damn lineup?

Why not hold a drawing among fans, with the winner stepping in to take over for Daniel Vogelbach (.100) as a designated out?

The biggest mystery in baseball is how Vogelbach made last year’s All-Star team.

He’d never hit before and he hasn’t hit since.

In fact, his body and arms don’t fit together — and they make it appear almost impossible to hit a pitched baseball.

Dipoto will not summon players like Kelenic from Tacoma because, first, they’re not quite ready and need this work; plus, you would be starting the player’s “service time” clock.

We’ve passed one of baseball’s artificial deadlines, so if Kelenic can to Seattle now, he would not be a free agent until 2026.

If the Mariners wait several weeks into NEXT season, Kelenic’s potential free agency moves out to 2027.

Besides, this current nightmare will be over soon.

The Mariners are bad — with a few exciting exceptions — and it’s best to just play out this horrible coronavirus season, and then…

Forget about it.

FOR GUYS like Dipoto and Scott Servais, though, there are some minor disappointments so far — even though they knew that, overall, it might be pretty hard to watch.

Also, let’s remember that less than three weeks of baseball is nothing.

Still, rookie first baseman Evan White should be putting the bat on the ball more often. He’s hitting .111 with 25 strikeouts in 59 at-bats.

White’s defense is as golden as advertised (maybe even better), but he’s slashing at air — sometimes on fastballs square in the hitting zone.

Nobody expected White to be Edgar Martinez in the first month of his career, but he hit .303 at Modesto, then .293 at Arkansas, with 18 homers — so the Mariners believe he’ll ultimately be a useful bat.

The question, obviously, is when?

You actually could say the same about Shed Long (.200), who has hit everywhere he’s been and looks like he’ll hit in the majors.

Just not so far this year.

AS FOR the rest of the gang…

Yep, Kyle Lewis looks like the real thing — a powerhouse young player who isn’t afraid to hit the ball the other way.

Ditto J.P. Crawford, in terms of talent and possibilities.

The rotation is going to be pretty decent, believe it or not, and nobody cares about the bullpen right now.

Sure, that’s a dumpster fire out there — and already it’s making the starters’ ERAs look worse than they should be, because if seems like every inherited runner winds up scoring.

But when a team is ready to contend, plenty of solid veteran relievers are available to put together a solid bullpen (see: Oakland).

I’m afraid, gang, that we’re gonna have to gut out this short and brutal season.

Just like Dipoto and Servais.


Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball, once per month during the off season.