Mariners president says jobs of McLaren, Bavasi are safe

After surrendering 12 runs in a loss to the New York Yankees on Saturday, the Seattle Mariners are mired in a five-game losing streak and own the worst record in the American League.

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong told MLB.com that despite several key offseason starting pitching acquisitions including Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva, both manager John McLaren and general manager Bill Bavasi are not to blame and their jobs are safe.

"Their positions are secure," Armstrong told the Web site. "They are not to be blamed for what's going on."

Armstrong didn't have any answers to why Seattle has started the 2008 campaign so poorly even with a team-record $115 million payroll. The Mariners were expected by many experts to challenge for the AL West title this season.

"In my 23 years, I have never ever seen anything like this," Armstrong told MLB.com. "We saw it the other way in 2001. I mean, you have to ask yourself, 'How did the Mariners win 116 games that season with that roster, compared to this roster?' This is just as inexplicable the other way."

On Saturday, Bavasi said that McLaren was doing a fine job and the onus to turn things around was on the players.

"From our point of view, this is not a field-managerial issue, and I want to make that clear," Bavasi told reporters. "John is doing the job, and the team's performance is not related to his work. It's purely related to player performance and underachieving.

"The best teams take care of the stuff in the clubhouse. They make demands of each other, and I'm not sure we have that going on. I know the popular refrain during a period like this ... the manager becomes a topic. But it's not a topic for us.

"We're looking for the players to step up and play like they can, not like they want to."