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'There Was Hope' But Another Mariners Season Ends In Disappointment

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez sits in the dugout after being relieved against the Oakland Athletics in a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, in Seattle.

The Mariners are playing the Texas Rangers in their final series of the season this weekend at Safeco Field.
KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about the team's season and what he thinks should happen next year.'They Raised Expectations'

"It feels like, even though they're going to win 80-some games when the season ends Sunday, it's a disappointment because they raised expectations in April, May and June," Thiel said.

"They were 11-and-a-half games ahead of the Oakland A's at one point in June. And in July they had an eight-game win streak that put them in first place in the American League West."

"Then they fell off a cliff - for a variety of reasons, including Robinson Cano's 80-game suspension, injuries to key players (and) there was a clubhouse fight in August between Dee Gordon and Jean Segura - demonstrating the tension."

"So many wheels fell off that they're in the mud, doing nothing, as the season rolls to an end."

"Seventeen years in a row they've been without playoffs - still the longest streak in major league professional sports - and it doesn't seem like there's hope for next year."

What Changes Should Be Made?

"You could make the argument that they are only four players worth keeping: Edwin Diaz, the closer, James Paxton, the starter, outfielder Mitch Haniger and infielder Jean Segura."

"Everyone else is underproducing for the money they get - or just underproducing, period."

"The problem is a bankrupt farm system. There are no young players who are ready to come forward to make a difference next year in 2019. Nor do they have prospects they can trade to acquire quality veterans."

"They've done that several times...but it hasn't been successful enough to overcome all the misdeeds of prior regimes in the Mariner front office."

"That is the consequence they can't seem to overcome - at least not this year and probably not next year."

What About Felix and Nellie?

"Felix (Hernandez) has got one year left on his contract and it's going to be, I think, abysmal because there's no way to trade him, they don't want to cut him (and) he doesn't want to retire."

"Nelson Cruz is a great player. They've certainly got value for him. His four-year contract was probably undervalued. At age 38, he did a wonderful job this year on multiple levels."

"But do you invest in an age 39, 40, 41 player now? I don't think the Mariners have the resources to take that kind of risk."

No Front Office Changes

Thiel also said the current management should be left in place. Both general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais received contract extensions this year.

"It's gonna take time. Let the Mariners continue what they're doing and, by gosh, those playoffs in 2022 are going to look great."

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

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
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 and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.