Mariners Throw a Bone to Their Fans, Reacquire Russell the Muscle

Russell Branyan, A Mariner Again

Saturday night, your last-place Seattle Mariners traded two young players for one old one. Media reaction was swift and negative.

“I thought it was a hoax,” sniffed the Seattle Times‘ Geoff Baker. “I’m trying to see all the angles with the Branyan trade, but I’m not sure I see the one where it makes sense,” wrote ESPN710’s Mike Salk. USSMariner’s Dave Cameron titled his reaction post “I Don’t Get It.” Wrote he: “Yeah, the team needed power, but they needed power when it mattered. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

It may not matter to Cameron, who lives in North Carolina and follows the M’s on TV, or to Baker and Salk, who cover the team for a living. But it matters a great deal for those of us who are season-ticket holders. And by “us” I mean “me.”

I’ve paid for 20 Mariner games this year, at $40 a pop. I think I’m entitled to a little bit of value for those seats. And by “value” I mean “a first baseman who can hit.”

Welcome back, Russell Branyan, who led the Mariners in home runs last season with 31. The M’s as a team have hit just 44 so far this year. They simply cannot compete on a game-to-game basis with their current powerless offense. Branyan gives them a fighting chance at scoring runs, and us fans a fighting chance at leaving Safeco with a smile.

I know where Baker, Salk, and Cameron are coming from. If the question is, “What move is most likely to get the Mariners to a World Series in the future?” the answer is not, “Trade two prospects for an aging slugger.” But I’m not sure that is the question.

What if the question is: “How do we put the best product on the field for our fans?” In that case, yes, trading for Branyan makes sense. At $40 per game, plus paying for parking, and time away from surfing the online air sickness bags museum, we fans deserve better than “Now batting: First Baseman Jack Wilson.” And by “Jack Wilson,” I mean “Josh Wilson.”

General manager Jack Zduriencik did not mention the fans in explaining the Branyan trade, instead arguing that young players need to experience winning to develop. Well, fans need to experience winning not to decide to spend their season ticket dollars on, say, plane tickets to Europe, or laser eye surgery, or a vintage ukelele, instead of on the 2011 Mariners.

3 thoughts on “Mariners Throw a Bone to Their Fans, Reacquire Russell the Muscle

  1. I was suprised they let him get away in the first place. Yes he has a history of breaking down and some holes in his swing but he was the only “power” hitter we had last year.

    The M’s have drained all their power talent over the past four consecutive seasons and now we’re here. I’ll take Branyan’s leftie power over some singles hitters who dont take pitches like the rest of our team.

  2. “young players need to experience winning to develop”

    I don’t know if Z got me in some sort of trance, but I’m buying this.

    Part of losing is that you get into the habits of losing. Even as a professional you get use to things not mattering and accepting that losses are OK. I’ll buy that this creates a “culture of losing” that can carry over year to year. (Think Cleveland in football)

    I’m sure it sounds like BS to cynic, but I’ll take it at face value.

  3. Just because we get paid to watch it, rather than paying, doesn’t make it any more entertaining to watch. I agree you have to put a pro product out there. It’s a shame it’s come to this, though, because you give away too much minor league depth, it gets harder to put together the trades you really need to make later on.

    But believe me, I get that some fans are feeling ripped off by the product so far. It’s why we keep harping about the payroll cuts and lost opportunities to compete.

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