Five who are feeling the heat
GM Bill Bavasi
Why he's feeling the heat: His contract is up this year after three straight last-place finishes, a series of poor trades and questionable free-agent signings. Not to mention a team unable to reach .500 despite a payroll well over $100 million.
What he needs to do about it: Get out of the basement and contend until the final few weeks. Winning 82 or 83 games to get over the .500 hump, in a division this mediocre, won't be enough to save him.
Bottom line: His "plan" seems like a whole lot of dice-rolling until Felix Hernandez has a few more birthdays. It's unlikely Bavasi will be the one putting candles on future cakes.
Manager Mike Hargrove
Why he's feeling the heat: Hargrove was given a fourth-place team the past two years and didn't finish higher than fourth. He hasn't had a winning season since being given better teams in Cleveland in the 1990s. Folks think he's out of touch.
What he needs to do about it: Just win, baby. Winning has a strange way of turning so-called has-been, out-of-touch managers into savvy, wily field bosses. Just ask Jim Leyland. Or Joe Torre, for that matter.
Bottom line: Hargrove's deal is up this year, and he's positioned to be the sacrificial goat if things head south fast. Even if they don't, only a season of 85-plus wins and contending into September will save him.
1B Richie Sexson
Why he's feeling the heat: Because taking the heat is what he's paid $14 million a year to do. Too many of his home runs and RBI came with the team out of contention and individual games out of reach.
What he needs to do about it: Try to not post a .288 on-base percentage and .418 slugging percentage in the first half again. His .399 OBP and .613 slugging in last year's second half is more of what the team needs.
Bottom line: Sexson will hit at least 30 homers and drive in 100 runs. The stats won't all be compiled with consistency, but the Mariners now have players who can compensate if he goes AWOL.
3B Adrian Beltre
Why he's feeling the heat: He signed a five-year, $64 million deal after a .334/48/121 career year with the Dodgers in 2004. He has hit 44 homers in two years since and hasn't had another 90 RBI season, or gotten his average above .268.
What he needs to do about it: As with Richie Sexson, he needs to do better than a .318 OBP and a .392 slugging percentage in the first half. He'll never hit as many homers playing at Safeco Field, or drive in 100 runs batting second, but on-base and slugging numbers don't lie.
Bottom line: Beltre has his swing working and should improve on-base and slugging percentages, as he did in last year's second half.
Why he's feeling the heat: Not a rah-rah clubhouse type and he hasn't put pen to paper on a long-term extension with the only team he has played for in America. Fans will be questioning his loyalty and scrutinizing any mistakes or slumps.
What he needs to do about it: Aside from signing a deal, play like he always has, with Gold Glove defense in center, 200 hits, 100 runs scored and 20 to 30 stolen bases. His team winning with him would help.
Bottom line: M's don't seem interested in spending $100 million on a 33-year-old whose game is speed. M's will keep him if they're realistic contenders by late July.
Geoff Baker, Seattle Times staff reporter
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