I’m not surprised the Mariners have hit another wall in their effort to climb over .500 and be a strong contender for one of two wild card berths in the American League. I wrote before that team chemistry is very important to success and as long as the club continued to have injuries forcing it to use numerous triple A players from Tacoma to fill out the 25-man roster it would have problems with chemistry and that is not taking into account the quality of players from Tacoma.

As I write this, the Mariners have lost eight straight home games, and this was supposed to be the easy part of the schedule because of the teams it would play – Philadelphia (the worse team in baseball), Angels, Royals and Athletics. They are 41-46 and have the worst record in the AL (2-8) over the last 10 games.

So what is going on? I believe strongly that when you don’t have stability it’s difficult to establish that good team chemistry. It’s nobody’s fault. Injuries are part of the game and some teams are hit harder than others. It just happens that the Mariners have been hit the hardest (18 players with one, pitcher Drew Smyly out for the year with Tommy John surgery and likely will never throw a pitch for the Mariners).

In addition, the club no longer has a true ace of the pitching staff. Felix Hernandez, one of the injured with right shoulder bursitis, is not the King Felix of the past. He’s still a gamer, but the log of innings has piled up on him and while he still has a good reputation in the league he is nowhere the dominant force he once was.

In fact, somebody once said that the Mariners have no ace or a number two pitcher but a bunch of threes. That is more accurate than anything else, and it’s tough to win consistently with average pitchers. A team needs at least one good ace that can stop losing streaks, like what Felix once was, but when you don’t have that it becomes tough.

Many thought that James Paxton would eventually replace Felix as the team ace. But he has proved to be more like a No. 2 or 3 than an ace. And he gets injured so much you have to worry about his long-term durability.

Give the team some credit, though. They have hung around the .500 mark because of an offense that can be explosive, even though it also can be inconsistent. The club is averaging just fewer than five runs a game, and that is good enough to be a consistent winner, but when the pitching staff is average and you have the injury bug that makes it difficult to sustain.

Houston is making a mockery of the AL West race. The Astros are 58-28 and have a 15.5 lead on the second-place Angels, who are one game under .500. They are doing what the Mariners did in 2001 when they tied a baseball record with 116 wins. Seattle was 62-24 after 86 games and had a 19-game lead in the AL West, so the Astros are four games behind that record-tying pace, but they obviously are playing the best in the Al and have a chance to maybe get 116 wins.

Right now, the Mariners are tied for fifth four and half games behind for the second AL wild card. It’s too early to get anxious, but I really don’t see them getting one of the wild card spots because of their lack of great pitching and their inconsistency on offense and the lack of quality team chemistry.

So do they become sellers or buyers as the trading deadline of July 31 approaches? They are really caught in the middle. Do they go for the gold and buy when their chances of defeating Houston in any playoff match seems slim? I don’t think so. Why risk it?

What I would do if I was general manager Jerry Dipoto is sit on it. I wouldn’t sell or buy. I mean I would sell if I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. But at this point I would fill in from Tacoma with young guys like first baseman D. J. Peterson (2.71, 10 HR and 49 RBI) and outfielder Tyler O’Neil (.235, 14HR, 45 RBI) at Tacoma and pray that Andrew Moore is the real deal and given time can become the ace of the pitching staff.

In short, I would rely on the continuing effort to shore up the farm system that was practically destroyed under former GM Jack Zduriencik, who now is a pre-game and post-game host on radio for Pittsburgh broadcasts. Built from within would be my motto and write off this season as part of the process it takes to build a true contender.

I like the combination of Dipoto and manager Scott Servais. Dipoto seems to be on it when it comes to catching problems before they fester and Servais appears to be on it when it comes to controlling on-the field and game-day issues. Servais may not be a Lou Piniella (not many are) but he certainly isn’t a Maury Wills, who ties with Bill Plumber as the worse managers the Mariners have had. Actually, Wills might have been the worse because he allegedly was using drugs during that period. I remember Wills for showing up for most home games two to three hours after when most managers would normally arrive at the ballpark.

After the All-Star break (July 10-13), the Mariners get into the tough part of their schedule when they face the White Sox and Houston on the road and the Yankees and Boston at home to end July. So if the club continues to slump, the dog-days may show up a month early.  But we’ll see.

Of course, if the dog days show up early you can then switch to the Hawks’ days. The Seahawks open their fall training camp July 30 and conclude it on Aug. 16.  All tickets to the 11 training days that are open to the public have been sold, so I guess you will have to get your news on them from the sports shock jocks on radio or from your local newspaper or on twitter.

In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying our normal summer weather with plenty of sun. Take care.

Be well pal

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.