After the Buffalo Bills made their first playoff appearance last Sunday in Jacksonville, the Seattle Mariners have officially the longest playoff drought in North American sport.
How has this happened with the best ballpark in baseball, an outstanding Ace and All-Star hitters that have came through the city in the last decade and a half.
The easy answer is that they haven't been able to put everything together. After two 90+ wins in 2002 and 2003, Seattle tried a quick fix with adding players like Ritchie Sexton and Adrian Beltre. 2005 and 2006 saw increased win totals but still not much success. 2007 was a welcomed surprise despite the team falling short after 88 wins but it kept the fanbase faithful.
2008, saw the team go rock bottom. In the Winter of 2008, the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles connected on what turned out to be one of the worst trades in baseball history. The Marines sent at the time prospect Adam Jones, George Sherrill and Chris Timlin to Baltimore for Erik Bedard. The goal of this trade was to give Seattle a 1-2 punch in the starting rotation but it backfired incredibly. At the time, the Mariners rotation included Bedard, Carlos Silva, Miguel Bautista, Jarrod Washburn, and Felix.
After a 11-10 start Seattle never recovered and finished 61-101. 2009 was another turn around year where they surprised for a 85-77 year but again missed the playoffs. Then came Starting Pitcher mistake 2.0 To be fair, Seattle didn't give up much for Lee. J. C. Ramírez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies. aren't having Hall of Fame years but still don't understand the point of the trade. He was traded again 8 months later. Cliff Lee wasn't the problem in another 100+ loss season.
For awhile, there wasn't a trade the Mariners made that seemed to work out. Aging players like Ichiro and Felix were not young anymore. Even in their 101 loss 2010 year, Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young. 2012 was better but by this time fans were thirsty for the playoffs. They went for a full on rebuild and started to develop players like Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Mike Zunnino and Kyle Segar to be their core that would bring them back to the playoffs. Only one has turned into a star.
Since then, the team started to spend money accruing Roninson Cano and Nelson Cruz but as the calendar flips to 2018, even those two players are getting old.
2018 is still but in the air but they are likely finishing middle of the pack as Anaheim and Houston look like they will make the AL West one of the stronger divisions in baseball. The one thing keeping them from a rebuild is they haven't had a 90+ loss season since 2013.
What's held this team back has been an inability to trade their top players at their top value. Trading Ichiro in 2007 and Felix in 2011 would have given them much deeper talented rosters.
They held onto Ichiro too long because of his Japan connection and haven't traded Felix because he is a fan favorite. Now, Felix's trade value is next to nothing. Seattle has built something now, in another division, they might be able to win something. However, their window is closing and if they aren't in contention come July 31st, they might as well be sellers.