Should the Mariners sneak into the wild card game and survive through two rounds of playoffs before winning the World Series — just daydreaming out loud here — the restructured ownership group will face a financial crisis.
How to pay for a gazillion championship rings?
OK, I exaggerate. General manager Jerry Dipoto has not made a gazillion roster moves, it just seems that way. The league leaders in transaction distraction have employed more extras than Steven Spielberg.
Saturday was typical. First baseman Dae-Ho Lee and reliever Pat Venditte were brought up from Tacoma, outfielder Nori Aoki and infielder Mike Freeman were sent down. Meanwhile, with Tom Wilhelmsen on the disabled list, fellow right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla got a call to contribute from the Double-A Jackson Generals.
I am not familiar with Dan Altavilla. Then again, before his June 4 promotion to the Mariners, all I knew about Double-A pitcher Edwin Diaz is that he was a hard-throwing right-hander who’d made a seamless conversion from starter to reliever.
During a time span that accurately can be described as “overnight,” the 2015 Futures Game prospect has evolved into an indispensable big-league closer with two pitches — a 100-mph fastball and a wicked slider — and two nicknames: “Sugar” and “Fast Eddie.”
Power rules in baseball. Diaz’s career is less than three months old, and he’s already acquired two nicknames. Jamie Moyer soft-tossed for 26 years and never got one.
That Diaz only recently has been regarded as a game-saving force underscores how a major league team’s playoff quest can be an organizational effort. The Mariners are financially capable of making trades for veterans dangled as contract dumps, but such moves are prevented by a paucity of farm system stars.
Staying alive is an internal thing.
The other day, manager Scott Servais was asked if there were any possibility the Mariners could pick up a starting pitcher to shore up a rotation so depleted that two of the four starting assignments for the weekend series against the White Sox in Chicago were TBDs: To Be Determined.
Servais smiled, then answered the question with a question.
“How are you going to do that? It’s a tremendous idea,” he said. “It is possible, really. Talk to my bosses about that. But it’s hard. It’s hard this time of year.”
And so they beat on, boats against the current, trying to find ways to win with a lineup, a starting rotation and a bullpen that have been an organizational work in progress since opening day.
Servais wrote out a batting order Friday night that resembled something Rainiers manager Pat Listach has written over his past two seasons in Tacoma: Guillermo Heredia in left field, Mike Zunino at catcher, Franklin Gutierrez in right field, Ketel Marte at shortstop, Shawn O’Malley at third base.
The Triple-A grads were overwhelmed by White Sox ace Chris Sale, who struck out 14 and walked none in a dominant, complete-game performance lost to some sloppy White Sox base running and the born-for-baseball instincts of O’Malley.
O’Malley is not a third baseman, unless he is told “you’re at third tonight” — his cue to impersonate Brooks Robinson. O’Malley’s barehanded pickup of a slow roller, and the throw he made to home for a bases-loaded force out in the eighth inning, was the kind of effort associated with magical playoff quests.
Dan Altavilla on Saturday became the latest ingredient in a hobo stew that continues to simmer on the back burner. Between their major leaguers, minor leaguers and back-and-forth leaguers, the Mariners aren’t so much a team as a sovereign republic of professional baseball players with the ultimate battle cry:
All for one, and one for all.