The Seattle Mariners (26-41) have been one the baseballs biggest disappointments so far this season after what many thought was the best off-season of any major league club.
Second-year GM Jack Zduriencik went out an acquired Philadelphia Phillies ace Cliff Lee in exchange for three small tier prospects (Philippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C Ramirez) in addition to signing second-baseman Chone Figgins and trading for left fielder Milton Bradley.
Those three combined with the players Seattle already had in the fold were expected to be enough to get Seattle to either an AL Wild Card or AL West crown however the Mariners are fourth in the West and second-to-last in the AL Wild Card.
Needless to say the Mariners have failed so far up to this point but there are a few positives to take away from the first half of the season.
-The Mariners are almost exactly where they were this time last year and that team finished 88-75, third in the AL West but very close to an AL Wild Card berth.
-The Mariners starting rotation, mainly the first four have been outstanding with a record of 17- 13 and an ERA of 2.87.
-Josh Wilson, a mid-season pickup from the 2009 season has been a great find since taking over for Jack Wilson. Josh is hitting .287 with 41 hits in 41 games plus 11 runs and 14 RBI's to go along with his outstanding defensive skills.
-Cliff Lee has been better than his usual self while in Seattle going 5-3 with a 2.55 ERA, 67 SO and only 4 BB with three complete games in 10 starts.
Now the Mariners problems have not come from those four starters or Jo. Wilson, Franklin Gutierrez and Ichiro but from everyone else on this team.
The Mariners still need the right players in the right positions but for the guys who are still getting paid to play that so far have underperformed on offense and in the bullpen.
That's where the Mariners problems have been from. Not scoring enough runs to support the starters and having the bullpen blow or given-up games late in games or in extra innings.
By the numbers here is the Seattle Mariners starting four (Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, Doug Fister and Jason Vargas) vs. the rest of the pitchers on the Mariners roster.
44 starts, 37 quality stats, 17-13, 240 K's, 69 BB, 1.06 WHIP, 2.55 ERA, 324 IP, 6.48 K/9 and only 23 HR allowed.
Rest of the pitchers:
9-28, 5.79 ERA, 40 HR allowed 169 SO and 120 BB.
That's 4 guys vs 10 and clearly the starters have outperformed the bullpen (plus Snell and Rowland-Smith; Snell has since been DFA).
65 percent of the Mariners wins have come from the starting rotation while 68 percent of the teams loses have come from the bullpen. Needless to say the Mariners and Jack Zduriencik need to keep the starting four together to ensure long term success and build off of that success.
So by the numbers the Mariners need to keep their newest ace Cliff Lee around and instead of trading away Lee for unknown prospects the team needs to build around Lee and the other three starting pitchers.
The key for Jack Zduriencik will be if he wants to keep to his word and put the best club on the field, that being Cliff Lee every fifth day or give in to peer pressure and stall the Mariners chances of winning even longer.
It's not even half way through the season and no matter what the Mariners don't lose anything by holding onto Lee.
Keep him and the team’s chances of winning increase, and if he agrees to sign long term that increases long term success.
Keep him and then he walks the team gets two draft picks for compensation but they at least kept him and made a run.