The 2014 previews continue onward, with today’s team being the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners preview is written by a Reds fan living in Seattle, Taylor Wolfe. Taylor has written for the site for a good long while. You can follow him on twitter here, or see some of his past work on MLB Beef or Diamond Hoggers.
The sun is just beginning to break through the gray of winter in the Pacific NW. The sun is a rare sight in the winter unless you are skiing in the cascades or up high enough in the mountains. But when the sun comes, it comes gloriously, bringing 70 degree days and baseball. The quality of the summer days cannot be debated. The quality of the team that trots out onto SafeCo field is another matter.
The Mariners made (maybe) the biggest splash in the offseason after several years of mediocrity – signing Robinson Cano as a free agent from the Yankees. The signing has come with surprisingly little fan far in Seattle. The biggest reason is likely that no one has been thinking about baseball while the Seahawks were winning the Super Bowl. With two highly paid veterans and most of the young talent on the club or quickly approaching, it seems the Mariners might be poised to contend. The biggest problem are 3 other teams in their division. The Rangers, Angels, and A’s all have real sights on the postseason.
So we know the Mariners dropped a pot of gold in Cano’s lap, but what else did they do anything else to help out a team that finished 71-91 last year.
Major Off-season Moves:
The Mariners definitely have needed help getting runs across the plate – they were 12th in the AL – and the combination of moves should improve that area. The young talent they have hasn’t materialized (Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley) so they went out on the market to find some. They are heavily left handed though and Cano has made the team aware he’d like another right handed bat in the lineup. Think he realizes where he just signed? Speaking of that lineup, what exactly is it going to look like.
What do I see in this lineup. A lot of misplaced hope. Outside of Robinson Cano the Mariners are counting on all the players to take some kind of next step or play above their head – maybe outside of Kyle Seager – who is a good player. I can’t see this team finishing above 10th in runs scored.
There are two hope to improve the offense somewhat. Resigning Kendrys Morales who is sitting in draft pick compensation purgatory or getting some offensive return from trading Nick Franklin – although that is much more likely to be focused on prospects. The Mariners are going to have to hope to win lower scoring games with their pitching staff. Let’s see what they have in that department.
Projected Pitching Rotation:
They’ve got two studs at the top – even with Iwakuma nursing a little finger booboo. The bottom of their rotation isn’t exactly set yet with James Paxton also vying for a starting spot. I predicted a down year for Felix this year, well, down relative to his ability and what the Mariners are paying him.
The bottom of the rotation is where the Mariners will either have a decent year or just 20 games under .500. Ramirez, Walker and Paxton are young pitchers who the Mariners have been bringing up and planning to be the next in line to anchor the staff. Baker is a cagy veteran who has been pitching pretty well this spring. I think if this group can average a 3.40-3.60 ERA for the season, the Mariners will be in good shape.
Projected Record and Finish:
74-88, 4th place in AL West
The Mariners are not going to make the playoffs – not this year. I don’t think they got the right combination of veterans and the young players haven’t convinced me they’ll make up for that. The Mariners are floating in the middle, they aren’t acquiring young talent in droves and they don’t have the money – despite the Cano signing – to bring in enough talent to compete. The fans know it and don’t show up to the games even though Safeco is a really cool stadium.