4 Takes: Reaction to Mariners player comments after missing playoffs
Oct 2, 2023, 1:56 PM
(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
The frustration among Seattle Mariners players is evident after they missed out on returning to the playoffs.
Comments by third-year catcher Cal Raleigh on Saturday night after the team was mathematically eliminated from postseason contention caught the majority of attention.
“We’ve got to commit to going and getting those players you see other teams going for, getting big time pitchers, getting big time hitters. We have to do that to keep up,” he said.
Raleigh appeared before the media again Sunday morning to make a statement, apologizing to “teammates, my coaches, fans” for the timing of his comments, though he added, “I’m not going to apologize for wanting to win and wanting to bring a World Series to the city.”
Both before and after Sunday’s game, a 1-0 Mariners win over Texas, multiple teammates said they support Raleigh and agree with what he said the night before, including Ty France, Logan Gilbert and J.P. Crawford.
“I think Cal had some great comments yesterday,” Crawford said. “I know there’s a big controversy about that earlier this morning, and, you know, I’m with him on that. I think we need to go out there and really make a move to help this team win, and however means doing that, I mean, they just got to do it. We just gotta get better.”
Manager Scott Servais addressed Raleigh’s comments before Sunday’s game, as well.
“Cal, he has an opportunity to be a big time leader for us, not just on the field but in the clubhouse as well. And part of being a leader is, you know, understanding where you’re at, being able to control your emotions at that those times. It’s happened to a few of our young players this year – you know, the situation with George (Kirby) earlier – and I think those are growing pains. But understand, too, that your words are powerful, you do have a voice and we listen to our players. I know I always do. So, again, understand the frustration. Cal was the first guy in this morning and in my office, and you talk through it on where he’s at. There’s just, sometimes there’s a better way to go about those things.”
So what should Mariners fans make of all of this as the team sits at home during the playoffs a season after breaking a 21-year postseason drought? Here’s what the voices of Seattle Sports had to say Monday morning on the air.
Brock and Salk (6-10 a.m. weekdays)
“Man, I love that,” Huard said. “I love every single bit of that.”
Added Salk: “Who doesn’t?”
Here’s more of what Huard had to say:
From a fan perspective, and from a teammate perspective, and from a player perspective, I don’t really mind that. It obviously puts your skip and your GM and your front office in tough spot. Because then they’ve got an answer to it. And Scott did the following day and spoke to it. And I don’t know if the comparison to Kirby was great, that also seemed to fuel a lot of fire out there.
… We need more. We need more horses. And that’s why I land on a very difficult question, and it’s not black and white, it’s very squishy, it’s very gray. The pie has all sorts of slices as to why they didn’t take a step forward this year, but I do land on Tommy La Stella, Kolten Wong, AJ Pollock, they accounted for 6% of your at-bats this season. That’s a very small number, but it was a pretty darn impactful number because they were horrific. They weren’t just average. I mean, they sunk a lot of things there early… I think that’s where, hey, man, when we come to spring, I don’t want to look at an AJ Pollock. I don’t need that.
… A player is entitled to say it, and he’s gonna be in his lane of what he wants. And then a president, GM have to be in their lane, listening to their players but doing what they believe is in the best interest.
Here’s a look at Salk’s take:
I think Cal spoke a lot of the truth. … How can you disagree with anything Cal said? I can’t disagree with any of that. I think I know where Scott’s coming from, as well, when he says, yeah, but you don’t need to say that publicly. I think the place Scott’s gonna find himself in a little trouble here is he says if you’re going to be a leader, you’ve got to learn. Well, I would say that the ultimate leader of this team, J.P. Crawford, came right back and said, no, no, he speaks for the clubhouse.
… If there’s any thought that the players are going to be like, ‘Hey, yeah, let’s leave that’ – no, no, they had no problems with Cal saying what he said. And that leads me to believe that he is speaking for the clubhouse, he is speaking for a large group of people who want to put that pressure on the organization, and they’ve now certainly done that.
Listen to the full conversation in the third segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.
Bump and Stacy (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays)
Michael Bumpus believes what Seattle’s players said this weekend is an effective way to put pressure on the Mariners organization to spend more on talent.
There’s something to be said where guys wake up in the morning, they look at the lineup and go, ‘Alright, man, we got some dogs.’ I think the Mariners have looked at their lineup as players and think, ‘Yeah, we got a chance every single game if things go well. Our pitching is gonna hold us down, the top of the order, if they do what they’re supposed to do, we’ll be good.’ But I think this was a candid moment, and I appreciate Cal because sometimes you need it.
People ask us to hold organizations accountable or whatnot. What is us saying anything about the organization going to do? We’re entertainment. We’re here to entertain you guys, interact with you guys and give our opinions. The true pressure comes from within, and that’s what Cal did. He applied some pressure.
Stacy Rost then brought up a text message the show received that presented how Raleigh’s comments could potentially offend some teammates: “Who are the not-impactful players that Cal and J.P. think need to be replaced? Bet that makes the other players feel great. True leaders. What I heard was two guys that had career years saying, ‘Wasn’t me.'”
Rost responded: “Now I can see how it would be misinterpreted that way, and that’s a fair interpretation. I don’t think that’s what Cal meant, and I think that’s why Cal apologized, because I think it became clear that if you’re Dom Canzone or Josh Rojas, someone that struggled – Ty – you’re going, ‘You want me to be replaced?'”
She then pointed to one line from Raleigh that stood out to her.
“Anytime you can add, you look over in the other locker room right there, they’ve added more than anybody else and you saw where they’re going this year,” Raleigh said Saturday, referring to the Texas Rangers, who have been active in signing big free agents in recent years and improved from 68 wins in 2022 to 90 this year. “So there’s more than one way to skin a cat, that’s for sure.”
The Mariners have relied on a “draft, develop, trade” philosophy themselves, and it’s notable that their current roster doesn’t feature any true star hitters signed in free agency. Here’s what Rost said about that:
I think maybe the most important line of what (Raleigh) said is there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There is more than one way to get to a World Series. Take a look at the teams that are in the postseason right now. You’ve got some spenders in there. Rangers, I’m going to include Houston, the Braves, Toronto. You’ve also got teams that are not big spenders. The Rays are regularly in there, the Orioles are in there. And for that matter, the teams with the top three payrolls in the American League are not in the postseason at all.
… The point is, how do you make yourself better when something isn’t working? If the Mariners were spending a ton of money and not making the playoffs, you’d be saying, ‘OK, what isn’t working here?’ The answer wouldn’t necessarily be spend more money. But I think it’s fair to look at the Mariners and say, “OK, what isn’t working here?’
Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation in the player below.
More on the Seattle Mariners
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• Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez says Houston’s Héctor Neris crossed line
• ESPN’s Passan: Seattle Mariners brass ‘needs to recognize’ Rangers’ path to success