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Commentary: Regime change or not, for Mariners, the time to win is now

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The Mariners season begins tomorrow – and even with the regime change, the minimum expectation should be a playoff berth.

“Wait a minute,” you say. “It’s a new GM and a first-time manager. Shouldn’t we give them some time to settle in, and build a winning franchise?”

Normally, I’d say yes. But through no fault of their own, I’m done hearing about “progress” and “improvement” and “potential.” For the M’s, the time to win is now.

Listen, I like Jerry Dipoto. I like Scott Servais. But this team is not a rebuild – and we shouldn’t view it that way.

This is a retooled lineup with the same core of stars. This is now Dipoto’s lineup. This is now Dipoto’s bullpen.

With players like Felix and Cano and Cruz and Seager – and now with TWO (two!) wild card playoff spots – there needs to be a postseason expectation every single year. Barring a disaster, every team should still be in the playoff chase through the All-Star Break in July.

I understand that we gave Pete Carroll and John Schneider some time when they took over in 2010. But the Seahawks had also won four division titles and reached a Super Bowl within the last decade prior to their hire.

The Mariners instead have the longest playoff drought in Major League Baseball – and that’s inexcusable.

From my point of view, there’s no more wiggle room for a franchise that’s begged for our patience for more than a decade. A franchise that promised us a bright future with Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero and Danny Hultzen and James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. It’s depressing that after all of that, just one of them is on this year’s Opening Day Roster.

I’m hopeful Dipoto and Servais have success – but they come in with a shorter leash. They come in with a fanbase that should rightfully be upset and out of patience – a fanbase that has deserved so much better and received so little for their loyalty over the past 15 years.

It’s disappointing to read columns saying this season should be measured by progress and not playoffs. That rationalization is a total copout that helps buy the organization more time. In my mind, it’s far past time. And the longer we wait, the older our stars become.

So, to the Mariners: Best of luck this season. We wish you well. But the only way to appease this fan – is giving this city a postseason berth.