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Longest Playoff Drought And Aging Veterans Add Urgency To Mariners 2018 Season

Mariners2018SpringTraining.jpg
Charlie Neibergall
/
AP Photo
Seattle Mariners catchers run onto the field during a baseball spring training workout, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Peoria, Ariz.

Spring training games get underway Friday for the Mariners in Arizona.

The team is hoping this will be the year they end the longest active postseason drought in American professional sports. But many fans are skeptical. We learn why from KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel. He talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Aging Veterans, Lack Of Younger Replacements

"The Mariners are probably a .500 team, which isn't bad," Thiel said. "But that's where they've been the last several years. It isn't inspirational."

"They've got aging, long-term veteran contracts (Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz). And they also have expended a lot of farm system talent."

"To get (offseason acquisitions) Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy, it cost them five farm prospects, including their best minor league pitcher Nick Neidert."

'A Rock And A Hard Place'

"When you don't get any production out of your premier draft picks (except for their No. 1 pick in 2012 Mike Zunino), you're in a position to have to fill in the veteran free agent market."

"It's a classic 'rock and hard place.' The Mariners really want to get younger faster but they can't because there are no prospects to succeed these guys who are getting hurt or old."

"The Mariners have been out of the playoffs for 16 years, the longest drought in current major league sports. And that is the pressure that's pushing this team to try to win now but they don't have the personnel to win big."

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes or Google Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between historylink.org and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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