A large part of Eric Wedge's appeal to the Mariners was that he had already been where they wanted to go. And this juncture is precisely when it took off in Cleveland: the third year of a massive rebuild. Are the Mariners, in Wedge's third Seattle season, poised for a similar resurgence as the Indians, who came within one game of the World Series in 2007? Wedge isn't ready to go there, not two games into the season, pleasant though they've been. But I would be surprised not to see a different manager this year as he pushes toward the breakthrough — harder driving, more aggressive, less tolerant of youthful mistakes. The signs are already there. "The feeling that's been created this spring and coming into the season is the feeling that he's been trying to get from us the last few years, and that's an expectation to compete and win," said shortstop Brendan Ryan. Wedge has been unwavering in his declarations that the Mariners are heading toward sustained championship play. He's still singing that tune, though by now fans might be having the same visceral reaction as the 83rd time they heard "Call Me Maybe" on the radio. Until that sentiment is translated into actual victories, they are just words. "It's as strong as ever, no doubt about it," Wedge said of his belief in the Mariners' blueprint before his team won its second straight game, 7-1 over Oakland. "I don't have any doubts whatsoever. But I know you have to stick to your program. I guess that's why I don't have any doubts, because I can have a bit of control on that. I want to make sure everyone sticks to their guns, keeps doing what they need to be doing, and wins will take care of themselves. But you've got to stick to it." This has to be the year "the program" yields tangible results, or those declarations will ring hollow. That doesn't have to mean a championship, but at the end of this season, the Mariners should have pushed beyond the .500 mark (particularly with 19 games against the Astros) and left no doubt that they are positioned to contend strongly in 2014.
For Wedge, it's time to expect more
Seattle Times | Apr 3