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Originally published July 14, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Page modified July 14, 2012 at 11:01 PM

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Mariners owners should do fans a favor and sell team

The Mariners need to sell the team to owners who will build the team the right way, and will not be afraid to spend money.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Sell the Mariners, please.

Put the fans out of their misery. Offer the team to someone who is committed to winning. Mark Cuban, Donald Trump — heck, I don't care if it's Clay Bennett, as long as he's willing to improve the product.

Maybe the Citizens for More Important Things — who, by the way, never have done anything "more important" — would support new ownership of the Mariners.

The Mariners have been dying for 10 years, from the top down.

It's time, past time actually, to sell.

Find an owner who would have been willing to break the bank for Prince Fielder. Find a group that wouldn't hamstring the general manager and manager with a budget that truly is one of the worst in the game.

Sell this team to somebody who doesn't acquiesce to the quirks and demands of his 38-year-old right fielder. Ichiro should be traded, but who thinks that will happen?

Find a guy or a group that would have been willing to find veteran pieces, a Michael Cuddyer, for instance, to put around this pack of kids.

Sure, almost all of the young players have been disappointing. A couple of them, like first baseman Justin Smoak and second baseman Dustin Ackley, could use about a month in Tacoma to take a few deep breaths and try to find their swings. But who is left in the system to temporarily replace them?

It was unfair and unwise to start this season with so many kids. Mariners management put too much pressure on them before they were ready. They needed some veteran help. But help costs money.

There are blueprints for success that the Mariners haven't followed. Look at the Texas Rangers, who traded high-priced first baseman Mark Teixeira and got cornerstone All-Stars Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz in return.

Look at the Washington Nationals, who in the growth years surrounded their kids with veterans like Pudge Rodriguez, Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn. Not all of them worked out, but they shouldered some of the burden while kids like Ian Desmond matured.

Look at the Los Angeles Angels, who managed to stay competitive while developing some of the best young outfielders — Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos — in baseball.

Meanwhile, the Mariners lose. About the only difference between these Mariners and last season's team is the 17-game losing streak that haunted the 2011 M's.

In spring training, many people around the team were lauding the Mariners for "building the right way," but this isn't building the right way. This is building on the cheap.

Moneyball? How about Moneylessball? That's what GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge have been trying to play.

Who among these kids has given us any real signs of greatness? Who is the Bryce Harper of this group? Who is the Mariners' Mike Trout? Do any of the franchise's live young arms compare with Stephen Strasburg?

Is catcher Jesus Montero that guy? Could pitcher Danny Hultzen be one of those guys?

We enter the second half of the season looking for signs of progress. It's mid-July, and once again this feels like the traditional end of the baseball season in Seattle.

Sure, Jack Z. deserves some of the blame for the lack of progress from the perpetually rebuilding Mariners. What have they gotten of value from trading Cliff Lee, Doug Fister and Erik Bedard?

Will Zduriencik be willing to trade, say, young infielder Kyle Seager and one of his young arms like Taijuan Walker for Arizona's talented, but expensive outfielder Justin Upton? Would he be allowed to make that deal?

This is a franchise that needs a fresh start, that needs new ownership.

Wedge, who I think is the least blameworthy person in the organization, recently complained that the games were starting to feel like Groundhog Day. Really it's beginning to feel like Groundhog Year.

Nothing's changed. The games, at least when Felix Hernandez isn't pitching, practically are unwatchable. The innings go so fast, the garlic fries never get cold.

This ownership group once saved baseball in Seattle by stepping in to buy the team from Jeff Smulyan. It can save the game again, by stepping out.

Sell this team, please.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation. | 206-464-2176


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