If you believe in the cliché that it's always darkest before the dawn, then you believe the Mariners are about to enter another golden age, like the one that began in 1995, or the other that started in 2000.
Because it can't get any darker than the 10-31 record against American League West rivals they took out of Saturday night's game against the Angels.
It can't get darker than their pathetic production numbers. Can't get darker than the seemingly endless string of poor starting performances. Can't get darker than the 0-10 start to this could-have-made-a-contender road trip.
Where was the spark on this team? Where was the fight? The leadership? Where was the night when the Mariners did something that let you think that this team, this season, still has a pulse?
This season is as dead as Mel Gibson's career.
If you count the second half of Bob Melvin's first season, this makes 3 ½ dismal seasons in a row.
Today: Mariners at L.A. Angels, 12:35 p.m., FSN/KOMO (1000 AM)
Starting pitchers: M's Jake Woods (3-1, 4.11) vs. Ervin Santana (12-6, 4.36)
The Mariners have slipped into a malaise, and the time for change is now. Today.
It is time to clean house. Time to experiment. Time for see if a question or two can't be answered before the first week in October.
Manager Mike Hargrove has had nearly two seasons to lift this team out of its funk. He's failed.
Let's give the rest of the season to former Tacoma manager Dan Rohn (the Mariners' administrative coach) to see if he can put some want-to into this shoulder-slump of a year. Give Rohn the rest of this season to show he is big-league managerial material.
Let's get this party started.
Taking Joel Pineiro out of the rotation and giving his starts to Jake Woods is a small step forward. Maybe Woods will only be this season's Bobby Madritsch, or maybe he will be this season's discovery.
Despite a season of poor starting pitching, Hargrove never made changes in the rotation. As one e-mailer wrote, the Mariners act as if their starting pitching is a Supreme Court appointment. The pitchers have their jobs for life.
In truth, the only starters who will be returning next season will be Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn. Let's see if Woods is part of the future. And let's begin to stretch out Mark Lowe, see if he can throw his 95 to 100 mph smoke for five, six, seven innings.
The surprising trade of instant legend lefty Jamie Moyer to Philadelphia late Saturday leaves about a half-dozen starts for Lowe, Cha-Sueng Baeck or some other pitcher about half Moyer's age for the rest of this lost season.
The Mariners need starting pitching in the worst way.
Maybe they'll be fortunate enough to go to Japan this winter and sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, the 100 mph torch who was 3-0 with a 1.38 earned-run average in the World Baseball Classic.
The Yankees and Orioles also are interested and his price could be as high as $30 million, but I believe the Mariners understand the importance of a big-name signing.
They also should go after San Francisco free-agent pitcher Jason Schmidt, who almost signed with them several years ago. He still has a live arm that can bring 12 to 15 wins.
Imagine a rotation of Matsuzaka, Hernandez, Schmidt, Washburn and maybe Lowe. That's some dawn you can think about during the darkness. But let's light a fire now.
Tell Ichiro that it's time he start doing what is best for the team and not what is best for him. His .325-ish batting average isn't helping with his speed. He has a mere 14 doubles. And with his quick bat, he has only six home runs.
If he wanted to, Ichiro could hit 25 to 30 home runs. That's what the Mariners need from their right fielder. Give him these final six weeks to think about 360-foot home runs instead of 120-foot singles.
And put first baseman Richie Sexson on notice that an on-base percentage of about .305 won't cut it. Sexson will finish the season with about 35 home runs and 100 RBI, but there have been too many strike-threes in too many important games.
The only untouchables on this team should be Hernandez, Lowe, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, second baseman Jose Lopez, catcher Kenji Johjima, closer J.J. Putz and center-fielder-of-the-future Adam Jones.
The rest of the roster is due for a shake-up that should register about 7.5 on the hardball Richter.
There is some hope in the system.
The Mariners have to find a way to get the bat of Tacoma catcher Jeff Clement into the lineup.
They have to discover if pitching prospects Yorman Bazardo and Francisco Cruceta can become what Travis Blackley and Clint Nageotte were supposed to be.
This is a franchise that needs remodeling, and that means it needs a new architect.
In his three seasons as general manager, Bill Bavasi hasn't made the Mariners better.
His two major offseason signings, Washburn and designated hitter Carl Everett, weren't the answers. He's had his chance, and he hasn't delivered.
If it is always darkest before the dawn, this is a franchise in need of some sun. A franchise in need of new direction, better vision.
Let the housecleaning begin.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or seattletimes.com">firstname.lastname@example.org
|The Hargrove headache|
|A look at the Mariners' record under manager Mike Hargrove:|
|Through Friday's game|