If the Seattle Mariners, sitting at 33-40, are to pull themselves back into postseason contention, they are likely to do so with the personnel already on hand.
“Our thought is the club is pretty much in place,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “We need to get them to produce. We’ll see what happens. Nobody would ever say no.
“But we brought in (Mark) Trumbo. So now, you look at the lineup, and it’s a formidable lineup.”
That lineup just hasn’t been productive.
The Mariners enter a three-game series Friday at Anaheim averaging just 3.40 runs a game. Only the Chicago White Sox, at 3.39, ranked lower among American League teams.
“If we’re going to have a successful season,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “and be the type of club we think we can be, then our stars have got to hit. They’ve got to be consistent. It’s just that simple.”
By acquiring Trumbo in a June 3 deal with Arizona, club officials contend they took a proactive approach to the annual frenzy — real and speculative — that surrounds the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline.
“We tried to jump the market with the move that we did a few weeks ago (to acquire Trumbo and pitcher Vidal Nuno),” Zduriencik said. “We were active. We went and got a catcher (Welington Castillo from the Cubs).
“Then we flipped the catcher to bring in Trumbo and Nuno. So, there’s a trade deadline, but we’ve already been ahead of it.”
The Mariners also tweaked their roster in recent weeks by jettisoning disappointing offseason acquisitions Ricky Weeks and Justin Ruggiano. They’ve shuffled some bullpen pieces.
More internal moves remain possible.
Club officials are monitoring a resurgent Chris Taylor at Triple-A Tacoma. He entered Thursday with a 12-game hitting streak and a .352 average over that span which, if maintained a while longer, should lead to his recall.
The Mariners previously made it clear they prefer Brad Miller in a utility role, but they saw no alternative to reinstalling him as their regular shortstop when Taylor batted .159 earlier this year in 20 games.
Outfielder Stefen Romero and first baseman/designated hitter Jesus Montero are also promotion possibilities — though less likely because the roster is crowded at their positions.
But a major trade before the deadline?
That seems unlikely — in part, at least according to some club officials from rival organizations, because the Mariners lack the impact prospects to offer as the centerpiece to make a deal.
“Teams that are looking to make a run,” one rival club official said, “generally don’t want to trade players from their 25-man roster. They’re looking to add at that level.
“That means if they’re going to get an (impact) guy, they have to offer prospects. I look at their system, and I see a lot of guys who would be a good second piece in a deal. But no ‘main’ guy.”
The Mariners would likely dispute that assessment, but several of their top prospects are laboring, including their top two: outfielder Alex Jackson (better lately) and first baseman/third baseman D.J. Peterson.
McClendon continues to preach a stay-the-course approach in a belief that, eventually, the Mariners will play to their potential.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I find myself sitting in bed at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and trying to figure out what the (heck) is going on. At some point, we’ve got to get it going.
“I look at these numbers every day, and I’m like, ‘Come on, let’s go guys.’ We have a lot of guys who have baseball cards with good numbers on the back of them. We’re not hitting up to our capabilities.”
As July approaches, all clubs generally undergo an internal review in preparation for the trade deadline. For disappointing clubs, that usually boils down to this: Were we wrong in our previous evaluations?
If yes, changes are plotted. If not, they count on the law of averages playing out over the course of the final three months.
A year ago, Kansas City validated the patient approach. Club officials doubled down when the Royals dropped below .500 in July because they believed they had a roster that was ready to click.
The Royals won the pennant and currently have the AL’s best record after winning two of three this week at Safeco Field. That doesn’t always happen, of course, but the Mariners seem committed to a similarly patient approach.
“Look at our lineup,” Zduriencik said. “I’ve had too many people say to me, `You guys are dangerous. You guys are going to get on a roll. We’re surprised you haven’t been better.’
“We’re in a position where, should we get on a roll, we could have a good run ahead of us, which would put us right in the middle of this whole thing. We just need the pieces to fall into place.”