The 2013 Seattle Mariners: 71-91 4th in AL West
The team owned by Nintendo did not put up video-game-like numbers in 2013. With the Rangers, A’s, and Angels all primed for a great year, M’s fans knew going in it would be a tough year. Posting losing records in every season series they had for the exception of going 10-9 against Houston and 11-8 against Oakland. Headlined, once again, by Felix Hernandez it was a similar story for Seattle as has been for the previous few years. Signing of Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse before the season showed an inkling of hope that 2013 might be different, but the case was not made. Morse hit .226 before being shipped off to Baltimore in August and Morales with a super average .277 batting mark with 23 homers. Young prospects like Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley have provided a positive ‘what if’ attitude but neither have lived up to hype. Montero had a rough 2013 season being sent down to Triple A relatively early in the year, where he was then taught to play first base, tore his meniscus and topped it off with a fifty game suspension thanks to Biogenesis involvement in August. (Not much looks to change as Montero has shown up to spring training forty pounds overweight). Dustin Ackley had great college numbers at UNC but has yet to transfer those completely to the majors; the second baseman turned outfielder posted a .253 average with four homers in 113 games played last year.
Headlined by the Robinson Cano signing and rightfully so. As just described the Mariners try to show bright spots but continue to only have Felix Hernandez truly shine year in and year out. Having repeatedly the worst run support year in and year out, Cano looks to bolster a lineup in desperate need. A lot of talk has gone on about Cano getting overpaid but I like to think it’s because what Cano provides this team off the field: a face. For years the Mariners had Ken Griffey Jr. supplemented with stars Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson. Now they are adding some star power next to King Felix for a franchise that desperately needs it. Fernando Rodney should provide a solid plug to the back end of the bullpen and that allows solid reliever, Tom Willhelmson, to get more versatile work. Another potentially great acquisition is that of Logan Morrison. A highly touted prospect years ago has battled knee injuries with the swirling out of control Miami Marlins no less. LoMo isn’t expected to add to much in the average department but has good pop and can be an average to solid everyday outfielder.
Three nice pickups that included one of the biggest non-Alex Rodriguez contracts doesn’t fix everything. The Mariners will still lean on unproven young guys who have that potential of upside (see Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager but more so Mike Zunino, Brad Miller and Michael Saunders). Keep an eye on former Brewer Corey Hart, who after missing 2013 with two knee surgeries, will attempt to start everyday in right field for the Mariners. It’s almost a feel good story but sounds more to me like a Michael Morse sign and flop then anything else. Let’s not forget that rotation. Often forgot about because of ace Felix Hernandez stealing the attention, after him the Mariners have very little depth. Signing a guy like Ervin Santana could have been a great way to provide more than one solid pitcher every five days. But alas Erasmo Ramirez and Scott Baker will duke it out for the number two spot….exactly.
The phrase often used is “Contender or Pretender.” We’re going to chalk up the Mariners as a high quality pretender for 2014. I believe they are moving in the right direction, but we need to see some of their off season pickups and younger talent to actually prove themselves before they can be considered a potential threat in the AL West, let alone Major League Baseball. In the perfect world Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager start lighting the world on fire, Logan Morrison and Corey Hart provide ample support and this team becomes an offensive threat. Still, the Mariners need more than one starter before it even matters that Robinson Cano is in the lineup too. In 2014 the Mariners repeat as 4th place contenders who will show signs of promise come the years end or show signs that things are terribly wrong and may never get better; let’s call it a make or break year for the captains of the great northwest.