Over the past decade, the Seattle Mariners have ranked last or next-to-last in runs scored eight times, including last in each of the past four seasons. This is a negative feat worthy of the old St. Louis Browns, if not Red Klotz’s New York Generals, a club that once served as Harlem Globetrotters comedic fodder.
During that lamentable span, the Mariners have either signed or traded for many “hitters” only to watch them flail abysmally — to the point where club management eventually opted to pay them not to play. In the last seven years, the Mariners have swallowed/wasted more than $30 million worth of contracts on Scott Spiezio, Richie Sexson, Pokey Reese, Brad Wilkerson, Milton Bradley, Jose Vidro, Jack Cust, Carl Everett, Casey Kotchman and, most recently, Chone Figgins (due to be paid $8 million in 2013 not to play).
Now, for the 10th consecutive year (since 2004, when George Dubya occupied the White House), the Mariners are once again desperate for hitting (we’re wondering what the record is for hitting desperation over the most presidential administrations) – even though they will be moving in the fences from 12 to 17 feet at Safeco Field for the 2013 season.
The Mariners took an insignificant – some might describe it as futile — stab at addressing the issue when they signed Jason Bay, lately of the New York Mets, for $1 million this week ($500,000 guaranteed) this week. The Mariners are reportedly also interested in bringing back 40-year-old Raul Ibanez, which would give Seattle a corner on the market on aging, ineffective defenders.
The most tantalizing possibility remains Josh Hamilton, with whom the Mariners have reportedly discussed a multi-year deal with an annual value of between $20 million-$25 million per-season contract. Although Sportspress Northwest’s Art Thiel has argued persuasively against such a signing, saying that a long-term commitment to Hamilton would make lopsided a payroll that has too many holes to fill, Hamilton might at least make a dent in Seattle’s offensive woes.
If not Hamilton, whose landing spot seems to depend on whether pitcher Zach Greinke is hired by Hamilton’s old club, Texas, the next-best, free-agent possibility seems to be OF/1BNick Swisher, who has hit more than 20 home runs for eight consecutive years. And if not Hamilton or Swisher, CF Michael Bourn is reportedly in the mix. While a dynamic defensive player, Bourne would provide no power on a club desperate for an offensive pulse.
So our question is: