There shouldn’t be any big secret why the Seattle Mariners are suddenly floundering in the heat of a 2018 pennant race. As I have written before, basically the team is composed of guys that are second or third tier players or unproven players.

But the real rascal in all this is that there is no solid foundation to the franchise. The Mariners’ farm system is pathetic. Sorry, that I had to use that word to describe it, but it really is pathetic.

It had started to decline before Jack Zduriencik arrived in 2009 and under his seven-season tenure it declined even further along with poor player development. It now has reached the bottom and Baseball America ranks its minor league system the worse in baseball.

A good farm system is extremely important. It’s like a house. You start out by building a strong foundation. If you don’t, problems will soon follow. So it is with the Mariners, poor drafts, poor player development and trades have decimated the system.

The result is that the team has to supplement its 25-man major league roster with players from other organizations through free agency, waiver wire transactions or trades. And trades are tough to pull off if you don’t have much to offer in return, and that is the position that current general manager Jerry Dipoto is in.

So Dipoto has had to scrounge around to find good promising players where he can and then pull a rabbit out of the hate to acquire them. It’s a tough position to be put in.

You have to say that Dipoto has done an amazing job because the Mariners at least for half the season were the feel-good story of baseball. They were playing out of their tree and reached 24 games over .500 at 56-32.

But since early July, reality has set in and the team has gone 18-27 since and sits at 74-59 entering a crucial four game series at Oakland beginning tonight (Thursday, Aug. 30.)

What has happened should have been expected. You can’t rely in the miracle (the play of Mitch Haniger) to pull the team along at a good winning pace. The beautiful dream of April, May and June was bound to turn into a terrible nightmare, and it has.

When you have a great, even a good, farm system you have built a solid foundation that should pay dividends for years. You look at the current 25-man Mariners’ roster, though, and you don’t see the bountiful fruits of a good minor league system. What you see is a mish-mash of players, most of which have been gathered together on wings and prayers.

There are just six homegrown players on the 25-man – Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino, Edwin Diaz, Roenis Ellis and Erasmo Ramirez.

Ellis and Ramirez are in their second tenure with the Mariners. Ellis was traded to Boston in 2015 and Ramirez to Tampa Bay the same year. Hernandez, Seager, Zunino and Diaz have been with the Mariners for all of their careers, so far.

Seager is having an off-year, Hernandez has worn down and is in the twilight of a brilliant pitching career, Zunino is an above average defensive catcher with some power, but can’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag. Only Diaz has had a great season with a club record 50 saves.

So this is what you get when you have a farm system that has produced just slightly below 25 percent of your current major league roster. And when you have a weak farm system, it’s almost impossible to trade for value. So a GM like Dipoto has to scrounge around or get the okay from ownership to spend big bucks on one of the premier free agents that hit the open market each year because there isn’t much good help in the system.

It’s too bad, really. The Mariners have the longest non-playoff streak going among the four major sports, and it doesn’t look like this will be the year that streak will be snapped. And it may take years to get the farm system up and running on a course that will build that solid foundation.

In the meantime, here are some of the best players in the system as ranked by Baseball America: Kyle Lewis, OF, the only Mariners’ player ranked among baseball’s top 100 prospects; Sam Carlson, RHP, who touches his fastball in the mid-90s; Julio Rodriguez, OF, who is projected to be a power hitter. He’s only 16, though, and Braden Bishop, OF, who is considered an elite defender and good base runner who has changed his swing and is now producing better at the plate.

After those four, you cross your fingers and hope to pray.

That’s enough for today. The Seahawks are about to play their fourth exhibition game and I’m interested in watching to see who the young Turks are that will help them this season.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.