And these five guys in particular
Jack Z came to play, and I think the team that is being put on the field this year has come along to join him. Finally.
The Mariners have the best looking bunch of players ready to take the trip up north in at least 10 years.
The offense has been great through the last week of spring training. And the long ball has been off the charts in the Mariners speak.
The new guys are hitting, the old guys are hitting, and all throughout the team players are making Eric Wedge’s job tough on who is being sent across the parking lot to the minor league camp.
I haven’t felt this pumped up heading into opening day since the 2002 season.
Strange things are definitely afoot at the Circle K. Or at least in the world of Mariners fans.
Here are the five guys whom I have big expectations for. And honestly, I think the sway of the entire season will lay on the backs of their performances.
But, with the emergence of John Hicks this spring, Montero may not even be in the future plans at all.
To save himself from the mediocrity of becoming a third string catcher/backup DH, he will have to have a breakout year. Times two.
Montero is a middle of the order type of player through and through. His 15 HR’s last year was a decent amount, but his lack of production with men on falls a bit short.
Even with the M’s giving the catching duties mostly to two others last season while letting Montero mature as a hitter, it didn’t help too much.
Of course this years roster should be able to bring about some more ducks to be brought in off the pond, but if Montero can’t pull the trigger, his walking papers may come around the deadline.
Justin Smoak is another put up or shut up guy. Luckily for the Mariners, they have his replacement already on board at the big league level.
Smoak has not lived up to the hype after coming over to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal. He has been decent at best.
But this spring I think the fire that got lit under his rear end has finally gotten hot enough.
Smoak is hitting .408, with 4 HR’s, 7 doubles, and eleven RBI’s on the spring. The average won’t be anywhere near that during the season, but if he averages those types of numbers, it could be the breakout season we’ve all been waiting for.
Blake Beavan is all but throwing his once sure thing end of the rotation gig away. Another player brought over in the Lee deal that hasn’t quite lived up to expectations.
The front end of the rotation is taken care of, and could battle Kansas City as the top three arms in the AL.
The M’s are going to need to rely on all 5 starters from April to September, and right now the 4th and 5th guys are question marks. Led by Beavan.
Last year after his demotion, Beavan pitched very well. He won eleven games on the year while tossing 152.1 innings.
But, he also lost eleven games, and his ERA was a mediocre 4.43.
Those last two numbers will have to improve if the M’s plan on making any noise this year.
It’s not that I don’t like Raul Ibanez, but his signing this off-season still brings a bitterness to my mouth.
He’s a veteran who can help influence the younger guys a lot better than Ichiro could have, but he’s going to have to have an all-star caliber year for this signing to be justified in my eyes.
Ibanez is a lifetime .278 hitter, but the last time he saw his average anywhere near that was 2010.
He could be a valuable asset left handed power hitter, but, that would have come in handy a lot more last year than this year.
With the emergence of Michael Saunders in the WBC, the addition of Kendrys Morales, and the hopeful continuation of Smoak’s hot spring, the left side of the batters box is pretty well taken care of power wise.
I have high expectations for Ibanez though, even though it doesn’t sound like it. He will bat around the .250 mark, have about a dozen HR’s, and knock in 60-70.
And if Wedge bats him in the 7th hole, those numbers would be perfect.
The Mariners have always been a team that seems to bring back former players, and this year is no exception.
With the above mentioned Ibanez, Michael Morse was also signed once again to play for our hometown team.
Morse is probably facing more stiff criticism this time around than the previous, thanks in part to his breakout season in Washington a couple years ago.
That season needs to be replicated this year.
The 31 and 95 type of player will be a lot more effective than the 3 and 37 (over 5 seasons in Seattle) was.
The pitching is, and for the most part always has been, in place in Seattle. Now it’s time for the bats to do some catching up.
A 4th place finish is not guaranteed in the new AL West, but as Oakland showed us last year, neither is a Texas or LA championship.
The time is now to start our climb to a World Series.