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Gallant: The Kevin Mather catastrophe doesn’t disrupt Mariners’ process

The Mariners enter 2021 with Kyle Lewis and Kyle Seager in the heart of their order. (Getty)

My Seattle Mariners experience has certainly been a strange one.

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I didn’t suffer through the long years before 1995, though I’ve certainly read about them. I can’t tell you how it felt to see Ken Griffey Jr. – baseball’s biggest star – request a trade out of Seattle. Nor have I been here long enough to feel the pain of a playoff drought dating back to 2001.

Comparatively, my Mariners experience has been… a fun one!

I saw Kyle Lewis hit his first home run at T-Mobile Park off Trevor Bauer in a win over the Reds. Yeah. That’s right.

*flexes*

The M’s are undefeated at games I have attended.

*dabs*

Even better? This past season was an unexpected surprise. Lewis made good on my prediction that he’d be American League Rookie of the Year, and the Mariners showed a lot of scrap, finding themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot in the second-to-last series of the season.

“Pawl, you sound like you’re trying to lure us into a pyramid scheme.”

I know. And I’ll be the first to admit that given my expectations, the bar to impress me was pretty low. But even with those lowered standards, my capacity to be sports disappointed always exists. Sunday, I finally found myself experiencing with the fan base what some might call a “Classic Mariners” moment.

I guess some steps were made in the right direction. Team president and CEO Kevin Mather wasn’t fired for what he said to the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club – and apparently still has an ownership stake in the team – but at the very least he resigned. And after a long waiting period, Mariners chairman John Stanton answered a bevvy of questions from the press Monday afternoon, though I doubt he eased many concerns about the way the M’s power structure views its players, foreign ones in particular.

This stinks for Mariners players. They shouldn’t have to entertain the idea that upper management might not respect them the way it should. And it’s terrible for both general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais, whose jobs have certainly been made more difficult by their bosses.

But the more I think about it, the more I think we’ve got to make a line of demarcation within the Mariners. To separate M’s upper management – a room currently in flux – from Seattle’s baseball operations. Because I think the latter group has earned some benefit of the doubt. Some.

The Mariners were pretenders the last time they were “contenders” in 2018. Take it from me, a guy who was covering your favorite trash can bangers in Houston. Sure, a playoff appearance would have broken an intolerable drought in Seattle. Still, as someone who saw the Astros transform from one of baseball’s worst into a multi-year contender and World Series-winning powerhouse (cheating or no cheating), you want to experience what I did.

At the very least, last year showed Seattle has a strong core in Kyle Lewis, Marco Gonzales, Justus Sheffield and others. And reinforcements are coming – at least in principle. Prospect rankings may not guarantee anything, but from 2018 to this year, the Mariners went from the worst farm system in baseball to MLB’s second-best, according to Baseball America.

Julio Rodríguez, Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, Emerson Hancock, Noelvi Marte, Taylor Trammel and George Kirby are all prospects with a lot of potential. I don’t know if any will deliver on that promise. I just know stupid comments made by someone who was (allegedly) outside of baseball operations won’t make me skeptical of what Dipoto and Servais are trying to do.

The last few days have been a black eye for Mariners fans and the organization. They could make Seattle unattractive to free agents or be the breaking point for the negotiations between the MLB and MLB Players Association in a possible 2022 work stoppage. But I don’t buy for a second that this blew up the Mariners’ rebuild where it stands.

Follow Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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