'Offensively challenged' doesn't quite fit the 2010 Seattle Mariners, who produced fewer runs than American League teams scored back in the '60s, when pitchers batted.
The Mariners dire lack of punch cost two managers and a pair of hitting coaches their jobs, and though general manager Jack Zduriencik has put new men in place in those roles - Eric Wedge and Chris Chambliss - the cast of Mariners hitters hasn't changed much.
In fact, since the end of a 101-loss season, the Mariners have added pitchers to their 40-man roster but not a hitter. The Mariners have so far lost offense, although that seems impossible.
Russell Branyan, a free agent first baseman/designated hitter, and Jose Lopez, the third baseman, took turns batting third or fourth in Seattle's many lineups of 2010. Neither is with the team today. Take the 3-4 hitters away from any of the other 29 teams in major league baseball, fans would be horrified.
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In Seatle, they're relieved.
What Zduriencik has done in part is clear the decks before heading to the winter meetings in Florida on Sunday. The weak heart of the Mariners order has been surgically removed with the theory being that hey, it may not be much better now but you won't see the same guys failing there next season.
Bats and the men who swing them are being grabbed on the open market - Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe - but the biggest names remain available. Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Adrian Beltre, Manny Ramirez, Maglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero ...
OK, stop that drooling. The chances of the Mariners landing any of those players is a longshot. They have been aimed at one-year deals with lesser names like Hideki Matsui and Orlando Hudson in the national media, which means no one knows what Zduriencik is up to.
Next week in Florida, he'll be meetings with other GMs and agents, and yes, he'll be looking for offense. He is open to trade and has one commodity teams never have enough of: pitching. So far this winter, Zduriencik has jettisoned hitters with no future in Seattle, stockpiled arms and completely rebuilt the Mariners coaching staff. He is counting on improvement from young regulars Justin Smoak, Adam Moore and Michael Saunders.
If he gets the chance to make a deal - and think about that J.J. Putz trade two years ago this month - Zduriencik has shown willingness to move. He may not come home with new cleanup hitter, but he won't bring back the old one.