After trading away their winningest pitcher, and matching Cleveland for the sercond-worst winning percentage in the American League, the Seattle Mariners face an interesting question today.
Can they avoid losing 100 games?
Justin Smoak arrives today at Safeco Field, but his offense - .209, 8 HR, 34 RBI - isn't likely to make a difference to the Mariners dreadful 2010 attack. This offense is the worst in the league.
So giving up Lee and adding Smoak, at least in the short term, isn't likely to produce more second-half wins for Seattle. Which brings us back to the question: Can the Mariners avoid losing 100 games?
They lost 101 two years ago and fired two managers, but before that Seattle hadn't loss as many as 100 games since 1983.
Yes, Seattle's finish in its last 76 games might well detemine manager Don Wakamatsu's future, though it should just as easily reflect on the roster put together this year by general manager Jack Zduriencik.
Opening a season with Ken Griffey Jr., Eric Byrnes, Casey Kotchman, Matt Tuiasosopo, Rob Johnson and Adam Moore wasn't peppering any lineup with much promise - and then Chone Figgins hit .200 in April, Milton Bradley .211 and Jose Lopez .226.
What the Mariners dysfunctional roster has produced is 50 games this season in which the team has scored three runs or less. In 34 of those, they have scored two runs or less – and lost.
Looking ahead, do you see the Mariners scoring more in the second half than in the first? And do you see a pitching staff that's likely to win many games in which it's given two runs or less?
Bottom line: The Mariners must win at least 29 more times to avoid 100 losses - and do that without Lee. Good as he's been, Felix Hernandez has six wins. Jason Vargas has six more.
The rest of the Mariners rotation? Ryan Rowland-Smith has one win in 15 starts. Doug Fister three in 13. Yes, Erik Bedard will be back at some point after the All-Star break, but at his best he's a pitcher who relies heavily upon his bullpen for wins.
David Aardsma (5.60 earned run average), Sean White (7.20), Chad Cordero (6.52) and Garrett Olson (5.91) have all struggled in relief, and the Mariners bulllpen is 10-21.
Wakamatsu has been handed an anchor and told to swim hard. This team is at the bottom of the AL West - precisely where it belongs. It didn't get there because the guy in the dugout couldn't manage.
It won't get better until the roster does.