Interview With The Typical M's Fan

Here we are, just days before the Cactus League schedule begins and I have here next to me Mr. Mark Thomas. Mark is a typical Mariners fan who is pessimistically waiting on the upcoming season.

Say hello Mark.

"Hi, I am Mark Thomas, the biggest M's fan on the planet. I have been a fan since way back, like 1995 or so."

I asked Thomas what he thought about the up coming season. He wasn't so optimistic.

"Well, they suck," he said. "They have little or no hitting, and poor pitching, except for King Felix."

I also asked him if there was any hope.

"Hell no," Thomas explained vigorously. "As long as that idiot Bavasi is running things, we will never win! I just don't understand why we can't do this like Cleveland."

Do What? I Asked.

"Rebuild!" he said. "Look what they have now!"

[Oh man, this interview is going to suck. Apparently Thomas wants the M's to do what they are already doing - rebuild.]

Instead of killing this conversation and discarding it down someone's lavoratorial facilities, I decided to ask Mark to go over the team, position by position. He agreed.

Here we go.

Lets start with catcher.

The M's added Kenji Johjima this winter, a Japanese catcher who compares to Jorge Posada offensively, and is apparently better defensively. Here's what Thomas' thoughts on the new backstop were.

"Who?" said Thomas. "Oh yeah, that guy. I wish we could had gone after a much better player like Ramon Hernandez. I think he would had been great."

Uh, what? You would rather have a guy who in his best season had an OPS of .818, than a guy who compares offensively to a guy who has a career OPS of .838?

Never mind the fact that Johjima's defense is supposed to be far superior to that of Posada.

"Well, I like Hernandez," said Thomas. "He was good when he was in Oakland."

Would you at least say that the Mariners upgraded this position?

"No. I bet this guy won't even crack .700 on his OPS."

Oh dear, I won't bother mentioning the fact that the M's catcher's posted an OPS of .566 a year ago. Lets just move on.

At first base, we have Richie Sexson.

"He hit lots of home runs," Thomas said. "But he struck out too much. I think he needs to cut down on the K's to earn his money."

What? I asked him what the difference was between a pop-up and a strikeout.

"Well, on a pop-up you can have the defender make an error. With a strike out, you can't."

Actually, you can. It's called a pass ball - and a wild pitch.

At second base we have 22-year-old Jose Lopez. I think this guy will be a very good player, with an above average bat and a Jeff Kent-like glove. Thomas disagreed.

"I don't like him, Thomas shortsightedly explained. "He has yet to show anything. We should start Willie Bloomquist instead."

Willie 'Freaking' Bloomquist?

"Yeah," replied Thomas. He plays hard and puts up good numbers from all sorts of positions."

Excuse me, Mr. Thomas, but...

Umm, Lopez posted an OPS of .661 last year. Bloomquist, or as I like to call him, Doomquist, posted an OPS of .622. Lopez's has power potential, Doomquist does not. Lopez is 22, and showed signs throughout his minor league career of being a budding star. Doomquist is 28 and has not hit well since high A ball, way back when. Oh well.

At shortstop, we have a dominant defensive player with a decent bat for a the position in Yuniesky Betancourt. He just turned 24 and has the tools to be a once-in-a-generation defensive player along the lines of Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel.

Thomas has to like this guy, right?

"He's ok, I think he is nothing more than Rey Ordonez," Thomas said. "He has a good glove, but his bat stinks."

Man, does this guy know how bad Rey Ordonez is/was? The former Mets glove wiz has a CAREER OPS of .599 - CAREER! Betancourt had an OPS of .666 last season., and has shown signs of hitting for gap power with his 11 doubles and 5 triples in 211 AB's a year ago. Projected over 600 AB's, that's a 31-doube,14-triple pace. That sure doesn't sound like Rey Ordonez to me.

Since the most doubles Rey-Rey ever had was 25, and the most triples he ever had was four, it's apparent that Betancourt is the better bat.

Thomas seemed surprised. "Oh, ok," he said. "I guess he isn't that bad after all."

Sanity, sweet sanity... or so I thought.

At third base we have Adrian Beltre heading into his second season with the M's. Beltre has a great glove, and should have a great bat for his position. He's 26, and has yet to enter his prime.

What does our 'typical fan' think?

" He sucks," Thomas blurted. "His 2004 season was a steroid fluke. He hit like crap his whole career, and then bam! He hits 48 homers. Yeah right. What a Juicer!"

He never hit well? He had an .835 OPS with 20 home runs at the age of 21. Then he suffered a serious set back when he almost died from a botched appendectomy!

The scouts said he had the tool set to be a star, and 2004 was a surprise to few.

"Oh please, he is a juicer, Thomas rebutted. "He struggled last season because his bat speed is way down, and he lost lots of weight."

Actually, he didn't lose weight and his bat speed remained somewhat the same.

His problem isn't his bat, but his head. He started reaching and pressing too much after his slow start.

"No, he's a juicer," Thomas interupted.

Forget it.

In left field/DH the M's signed Carl Everett. As bad as he might seem, he did hit 23 home runs last season and he does hit from the left side. He is an upgrade from the 13 home runs we got from left last year. But Thomas didn't think so.

"Ha! This guy is a joke," Thomas smarted. "I guess the M's quit trying to win games and instead want to entertain us with clowns like this guy. It will be ‘The Carl Everett Show'. I bet people will be talking about his antics more than his game."

Oh, ok. Just whom does this fan think would be a better fit? Get a load of this one.

"Preston Wilson man!" said the overzealous amateur analyst.

Oh yeah, he and his whopping 25 home runs despite playing many games in Coors Field. I guess the fact that he is also right handed and a center fielder means nothing.

Speaking of center field, we have Jeremy Reed. He showed Gold Glove defense last season and many scouts project his average and to be above .280 long term. I think he will start to prove them right in the upcoming season. But surprise, surprise, Sir Mark Thomas disagreed.

"He was horrible last year," said Thomas. "I don't think there is any point in trying to hold onto him. We were quick to get rid of Podsednik, yet we keep this guy? Podsednik is sooo much better."

Actually, he isn't. Reed posted an OPS of .675, with 39 extra-base hits, including three home runs, which doesn't sound like a lot of long balls. But Podsednik posted an OPS of .700 with 29 extra base hits and as many home runs in the majors as I did last year - ZERO. Reed played half of his games in Safeco, a pitchers park. Podsednik played half of his games in New Comiskey, a severe hitters park. Game over.

In right, we have Ichiro. A great glove, bat, speed, arm, and persona. Everyone loves Ichiro.

Or, not.

"He is about done," said the obviously blind Thomas. "Pitchers have figured him out. Just pitch him away and he will swing at it. Simple, really."

Oh? Does the fact that he had no protection mean anything?

"No," said Thomas. "Since he shouldn't need any if he was as good as many say he is."

But if the guy behind Ichiro hits well, and the guy in front of Ichiro gets on base, then Ichiro will face a pitcher who has to pitch to him. In this case, he will get a lot more good pitches to hit.

"Huh? If the pitcher was smart, he would just keep pitching away," Thomas answered.

I swear I am talking to an idiot. Wait, I think I am done talking to this idiot. I simply wanted to find out what the fans think about the M's, and, well, I guess I did.

But as a bonus, I solved one of the biggest social issues in the city. I figured out why Seattle annually has the one of the highest suicide rates in the country.
Grant Johnston is known as 'Marinerman' on the Inside The Park message forums.

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