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Grip on Sports: Mariners should hold off selling the farm

Tampa Bay pitcher David Price and infielder Ben Zobrist would be good additions for the Mariners, but not at the expense of the young talent the team is grooming. (Associated Press)
Tampa Bay pitcher David Price and infielder Ben Zobrist would be good additions for the Mariners, but not at the expense of the young talent the team is grooming. (Associated Press)

Friday: The All-Star Game was Tuesday night, right? Today is Friday. And baseball is just getting going again? These guys need another day off in the middle of the season? Really?

Correct me if I’m wrong but the All-Star break used to last three days, right?

Last game Sunday night, Monday for travel, Tuesday for the game, Wednesday for travel back and games resume on Thursday. That was the way it was for years and years, from Carl Hubbell to Randy Johnson.

A couple years ago a few teams began getting Thursday off as well. Now this season everyone was off yesterday, stretching the break to four days. Doesn’t seem to make sense, especially when there is constant criticism from fans, media, players and everyone else about World Series games stretching into November.

With less than two weeks until the trading deadline – the non-waiver trading deadline – the Mariners are supposedly in talks with Tampa Bay about a couple of big names, pitcher David Price and do-everything hitter Ben Zobrist.

I’m not holding my breath. When it comes down to it, I’m not sure anyone in the M’s management can pull the trigger on trading their young talent, not after a series of awful deals in years past.

I know everyone likes to point to the Adam Jones for Eric Bedard fiasco as the worst one – back in the Bill Bavasi era – but I’m more inclined to cite the Doug Fister for, basically, a bag of balls as the worst deal in recent M’s memory.

If you recall, Fister, a right-handed pitcher with limitless potential, was dealt to the Tigers at the 2011 deadline for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin and Charlie Furbush. A decent left-handed arm in the bullpen isn’t nearly enough for a guy who has won 40 games and has had an ERA of right around 3.00 in the three-plus seasons since, a success rate that anyone could see coming.

It’s deals such as that one that scares the bejesus out me. David Price is a transcendent talent, who wouldn’t be in Seattle long. Ben Zobrist is a nice player who would help the lineup. But if the price isn’t right, don’t dismantle the minor league system to make the deal.

Which makes this answer Bob Dutton gave in a  Tacoma News-Tribune Q&A kind of scary. Asked why he thinks  the M’s will make a move, Dutton wrote, “Everything I hear, from inside and outside the organization, is that general manager Jack Zduriencik is pushing hard to make a move. So, yes, I think something gets done.” 

Great. A deal just to make a deal. That’s a recipe for success.

Thursday: What in the world? The U.S. Open was played on a godforsaken-looking course, 18 flags seemingly just stuck down in the sand dunes of North Carolina. The British Open, on the television right now, is being played on a course with greener fairways than Sahalee in April.

My entire golf-viewing world seems inside-out. What are you going to tell me next, that Tiger Woods, he of the bad back and even worse psyche, is going to treat this thing like a mid-May tournament in Florida?

Monday: It’s time for baseball’s All-Star break. The traditional midpoint of the baseball season, though it comes well into the second half. However, it is a good time for reflection, if your team is still in the hunt for the postseason. That’s not been the case around here for a few years. 

The Mariners’ 51 wins are a good thing. But it’s so obvious with one more strong bat that total might have been 52 or 53 or even 55.

So  what happens the rest of the way?

The stats guys tell you the M’s have won with smoke and mirrors, considering how above their head they’ve been hitting with runners in scoring position. I agree with them even without citing the numbers. They seem to be reverting as July wears on.

But it doesn’t bother me that much. If they don’t make the playoffs, so be it. This team isn’t built to win a World Series, but for the first time I really believe it may only be another outstanding starter and a productive right-handed bat away from being as much of a contender for the crown as anyone. That’s progress. So is winning more games than it loses. And progress is enough right now, for me anyway.

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