mariners

Are the Seattle Mariners turning the corner?

Is there a silver lining between the Seattle clouds?

It goes without saying that the Seattle Mariners season hasn’t exactly been a dream come true. It hasn’t even gone along as planned.

In the offseason the M’s acquired monster offensive prospect Jesus Montero. Many looked to him as the next “Edgar Martinez.” It didn’t make the Mariners a contender, but he was the perfect building block to round out a promising young squad.

Here we are in July and the Mariners sit comfortably in the cellar of the American League West. Their record sits at an ugly 42-55, 10 games behind the Oakland Athletics for third place.

Still, there’s always hope.

In the past week Seattle’s looked like a completely different team. They won two series in a row, one against the Kansas City Royals and the other against the always dangerous Tampa Bay Rays.

In seven games the M’s took five, outscoring their opponents 38-25.

The question remains, have the Seattle Mariners turned a corner?

Is there still some kind of hope for the season?

The Short Answer: No

Winning two series in a row is a nice feat, especially when one of those series is against the Rays. It still doesn’t mean anything.

Dustin Ackley + Kyle Seager

Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero. These are big names. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Seattle got a nice hot streak there, but it could be just that. The bats were hot and the pitching was strong when it needed to be, but the team still had plenty of issues. Their two wins against Tampa Bay were by a one-run margin.

Hedging your wins on one run margins is too big a gamble to make.

Seattle’s team has plenty of holes. The last seven games were all on the road. Winning games on the road comes easy for Seattle, but winning at home is a completely different story. You can win every road game and lose every home game and your team is still at 82-82, not good enough for the playoffs.

Another point that needs to be made is that 15.5 games is a long way to go. It’s not an impossible gap to make up, but it’s about as close as you can get to impossible this late in July.

The Mariner’s would have to go on a heck of a hot streak to make it up.

Even if we’re talking middle of the pack—instead of playoff bound—making up the 10 games between them and Oakland is a near improbably feat. Oakland is just as hot as Seattle—9-1 in their last 10 games—while Los Angeles and Texas are too good to fall under the M’s.

In the short term, these two series mean nothing. The Mariner’s are still knee deep in losses, with a tough AL West mountain to climb.

It’s a nice streak, but it’s just that.

The Long Answer: Yes

Yes, if these five wins mean anything it is hope. Never underestimate hope, especially in a season as disappointing as this one.

As long as the Mariners keep winning on the road there is hope. Their record away from Safeco may not be amazing, but 25-28 is nothing to balk at for a team that’s struggled as much as this one.

The reason to have hope is because Seattle has been good on the road. Their offense has hit—a lot—on the road. That 21 run game against Texas wasn’t a fluke.

Justin Smoak (even though breaking news tells us he’s going down to AAA Tacoma tonight), Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero. These are big names.

I know Seattle fans want to give up on some of them—especially Smoak and Saunders—who have struggled so much in Seattle, but you can’t do that.

Look at how they’ve hit on the road. Smoak has 10 home runs away from Safeco, while Saunders has an OPS of .868. These guys have been in Seattle for a while and it’s easy for fans to think they’re failed prospects.

You have to remember, Safeco is a really tough place to hit. Guys have figured it out before, but those were veterans of the game. These are young 20-something prospects with plenty to prove and lots of room to grow. Things won’t get better over night.

Each time a Mariner hits a home run on the road it means something. These players aren’t duds. They’re players struggling to hit in the American League’s greatest pitchers park.

Are you really going to give up on Jesus Montero or Dustin Ackley because of one bad season?

The M’s have more than just young prospects going for them. You can’t underestimate a smart organization, and Seattle is smart.

Jack-Z is one of baseball’s best GM’s

It doesn’t seem like it because of the onfield product, but Seattle was in horrid shape before he came along. Bill Bavasi may have been the worst thing to ever happen to the Seattle Mariners.

Jack Zduriencik

Does Jack Have A Plan For Left Field?

Zduriencik has spent his seasons stockpiling talent. Some of this talent could be featured as soon as September, another reason that the second half represents a turning point.

As of today the Mariners have officially traded Ichiro Suzuki. It’s hard to admit, but this is a move in the right direction. It frees up payroll, and absolves the organization of future PR issues.

Ichiro is in the last season of his contract. The last thing the Mariners needed was to face off with the future hall of famer over a contract.

Which seems worse to the public: “the Mariners disrespect Ichiro with a long contract dispute,” or “Seattle trades Ichiro to a contender giving him a chance at a title”?

Once again, the Seattle organization showcases how smart they really are.

Final Remarks

While the hot streak is most likely just that, it doesn’t mean Seattle fans shouldn’t have hope. No, the Mariners aren’t going to make the playoffs. At this rate they probably won’t catch up to Oakland.

Still, their young players and smart organization are reasons to be hopeful about the future. This team is at a vital crossroads and sometimes “turning the corner” isn’t the right path. Sometimes you have to stay on the path you’re on.

You’ve followed the road for four seasons, why change your mind now?

In my honest opinion Seattle has one of the brightest futures in baseball. In two seasons—with their prospects—they could have the best rotation in baseball. On top of that are some really great young bats.

Things will get better Seattle. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will eventually.

They may not turn the corner this season, but when the time is right they will.

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  • Spot09

    Hmmm….Seattle Mariner fans have given up on Smoak…for sure! Saunders is one the the M’s best overall players!! This article claims “the fan’s have given up on”..?? Are you watching??
    The Mariners front office is hardly “smart”….The player “we” have lost/traded/gave up on is all-star talent. To name just a few: Choo, Morse, Ortiz, Lee, A-Roid, LaHair, Ad. Jones, Cabrera, Soriano, Ichiro (yuck), Ibanez, Lowe (2X), O’Flarity, Putz…SERIOUSLY??! WTF?
    Getting RID of Ichiro and Sending that chucklehead Smoak down are 2 of the best moves the Mariners have made in recent memory.
    Saunders is a 5 tool player who is one of the top 3 M’s bats, and the F/O has done NOTHING to lure big-name vet bats to come to the “safe”.

  • Spot09

    Hmmm….Seattle Mariner fans have given up on Smoak…for sure! Saunders is one the the M’s best overall players!! This article claims “the fan’s have given up on”..?? Are you watching??
    The Mariners front office is hardly “smart”….The player “we” have lost/traded/gave up on is all-star talent. To name just a few: Choo, Morse, Ortiz, Lee, A-Roid, LaHair, Ad. Jones, Cabrera, Soriano, Ichiro (yuck), Ibanez, Lowe (2X), O’Flarity, Putz…SERIOUSLY??! WTF?
    Getting RID of Ichiro and Sending that chucklehead Smoak down are 2 of the best moves the Mariners have made in recent memory.
    Saunders is a 5 tool player who is one of the top 3 M’s bats, and the F/O has done NOTHING to lure big-name vet bats to come to the “safe”.

    • http://nwsportsbeat.com/ Jon Irwin

      Okay, plenty to say in response to this comment. First, go back and reread the part where I talk about them having a smart organization. I talk about Jack-Z. The numerous moves you discussed were mostly directed towards different GMs. The only one that wasn’t was Mark Lowe and J.J. Putz. Both are bullpen guys who don’t matter because Seattle has a rock solid bullpen right now. Jack-Z moving those guys has never hurt the organization. Giving up on Ibanez was also the right move because he never hit in Safeco like he has everywhere else. Plus, if he was still with the team I doubt Saunders would be getting as much LF time as he has.

      Second, let me get this straight. I praise Michael Saunders as a play with upside who shouldn’t be given up on, and you’re mad that I’ve implied people have given up on him…? Well, I know plenty of people who don’t think 9 HRs, 14 SBs and a .279 average screams 5-tool, which is why I put that. I think we’re on the same page with praising him though.

      Third, you do understand the organization has tried to get big names. They were pretty aggressive pursuing Prince Fielder. But, no hitter wants to go play in a pitchers park and lose a ton of games.

      Finally, I can only defend Smoak so much. He had an .859 OPS in the minors and drew comparisons to Mark Teixeira. He has a career .248 BABIP—which spells lot of bad luck. While he’s hit quite a few away home runs, it’s true his road splits aren’t as stunning as other Mariners. I still think he has something to give.

      • Spot09

        hope is the ONLY thing M’s fan can hold on to….
        What FA’s have “we” signed?? Seriously, Prince Fielder….right!! No way this org. would give him anywhere around 200M. If you say, “we tried to get him”, with a offer of 4Y/80M….is that really making an effort?? I think not.
        Saunders is a rising star…look at ESPN, Fox sports…they finally agree with Saunders fans. He is a 5 tool player, who is smart and will play team ball. Watch last night, by chance?? A great catch, 2-4, HR. What might be holding him back is the organization he is playing for and having no bats around him…oh, and hitting 8th for 200AB doesnt help. Saunders plays CF (most times) by the way. Don’t you think Ackley is the one who has not lived up to his potiental? 2nd overall pick, and after last year’s success, he is the one along w/ Smoak who is disappointing for M’s fans.
        Smoak is not a smart dude…who got was a god in SC, now he either is too dumb to adjust or doesn’t want to work hard to become a ML star, yet alone a decent player. Huge loss losing Lee (could have got Montero) for Smoak/Bev. In my opinion Smoak will never last in the “bigs”.
        Year #4 for Z….like him and his past accompishments, but sick and tired of hearing the only way to win is the farm system (and only pitchers it seems). It also takes signing vets who actually provide value to younger teammates (unlike Ichiro), 1 or 2 proven power bats to put in the middle of the order to protect players like Saunders, Wells, Ackley, Seager, and spending $$$$ to amke money. It’s business right, takes $ to make $?!
        Well…I am not seeing the f/o spending any $$ (10-20M reduction in payroll this year) It might not be mostly Z’s fault, but M’s fans have been seeing a piss-poor product for the past 10 seasons. The Mariner team is the AAA club for the Yankees/Rangers much of the time…and that’s depressing (as a M fan).
        Losing players like Ad. Jones, Choo, LaHair, Sorieno just to name a few is just sad….not Z’s fault, that’s true. I would say the owners/past GM’s (Besides Gillick) have been one of the worst in baseball.
        Seattle fan’s should not support such a bad baseball & business plan!!!

  • Rob

    Ok, a couple of things that overall are pretty minor. The defenitition of “fluke” is the M’s putting up 21 runs in one game and 30 in two games against the Rangers. How many times in the recent past has that ever happened? Zero.
    Safeco is not a hard place to hit, it is a difficult place to hit Home Runs. Hitting a ball to the opposite field gap is no different from one park to the other. Why did I choice that example, you may ask? Because this team NEVER hits the ball the other way. Montero has recently started doing this and his average over the past 15 games is a testament to that. Every other player on the team except for Jaso and Saunders is a victim to letting the front shoulder fly open. It is nothing more than coincidence that the road BA is better than home. Road power numbers are a different story obviously.
    The one player on this team who continues to adjust and improve is Saunders. Right now,no one is giving up on him. Ryan and Ackley are a whole different story.

    • Spot09

      Saunders is the man, Ackley has been a minor disapointment.

  • Spot09

    “Seattle has one of the brightest futures in baseball” What?! Are we watching the same team here?
    In my opinion you can never assume* any player at the AAA level will become stars, and what the M’s have now, at the ML level, is one of the worst in the AL. Besides Felix, Wilhelmsen, and maybe Vargas our pitching staff is not good…even decent.
    So tired of articles saying,….”just wait….just wait….the farm system” This is what bad teams have to say to sell tickets (although attendance is way down) and promote their team/merch. Until ownership starts paying good-excellent players (hopefully bats) this M franchise will never be able to compete w/ the AL west!!
    The time is now…and the M’s look slightly better then last year (batting), but would disagree that your pitching staff is pretty lame…esp. starters (FELIX is amazing).
    Please try to understand what the hard-core fans of Mariners are now feeling…after some rad years w/ Griff, Edgar, Randy….from 95-2001….amazing teams, winning 116 games…and Griffey is my all-time fav…..now having to see this franchise be so lame for a decade really is quite upsetting.

  • Spot09

    “I know Seattle fans want to give up on some of them—especially Smoak and Saunders—who have struggled so much in Seattle, but you can’t do that.
    Look at how they’ve hit on the road. Smoak has 10 home runs away from Safeco, while Saunders has an OPS of .868. These guys have been in Seattle for a while and it’s easy for fans to think they’re failed prospects.”
    Who here, or anywhere thinks of Saunders as a “failed project”??
    Smoak (1st round pick) totally, but Saunders (11th round pick) .262, 10, 34, 16sb..on a crappy team as failed seems like a misprint.
    I think the blog author meant Ackley…..

    • http://nwsportsbeat.com/ Jon Irwin

      Okay man, you have comments all over the place and so I’ll try and hit some points.

      I don’t know why you are on my face about Saunders so much. I’m sorry that you’re a fan who has not given up hope on him. Most people I know had before this season. I NEVER said he was a bad player, and actually defended what he means to this team’s future. I am sorry that those comments somehow offended you, and you’re an upstanding citizen for cheering for him. Btw, yes he’s played more CF this season, but that’s because Guti has been out so long. Now Saunders plays corner OF.

      Now, you apparently hate farm systems and prospects. Well, then I guess the success of teams like the Tampa Bay Rays means nothing?

      There are three ways to build a baseball team. 1) The build internally through a farm system. 2) Spend money and trade away prospects to fill holes. 3) A fusion strategy spending money, but keeping prospects when you can.

      The M’s can be a $100 million payroll, through they’ve reduced team spending over the years. I don’t know if that means they are trying to become a more middle of the pack market team, or because free agents don’t want to come to an organization and park like Seattle has. Either way, you cannot expect money to make this team better. And so, you focus on the prospects.

      Here’s some food for thought. The Rangers have dominated the division for two years (going for three). They are an organization that understands smart standing, but they would be nowhere near as good they are without their stellar farm system (Kinsler, Andrus, Cruz, kind of Hamilton, Young, Harrison, Holland and Feliz all homegrown products).

      Finally, please do not try and lecture me about the pain “hardcore” Mariner fans have gone through. Boston Red Sox fan here. Come talk to me when it’s been 86 years. Not to mention there are eight other teams that have never won a World Series. The Mariners are not the biggest sob story in baseball, and if teams like the Rays and Nationals are proof of anything it’s that there is always hope.

  • spot09

    You (Jon) must be on the mariners payroll…The Rays have not been around nearly as long as the M’s 2. The nats were the expos ( and puerto Rico) so they did not endure 30 out of 35 crappy seasons.

    You are complaining about being a red sox fan..!Thats silly. You have had a decade long run of damn good teams!? Huge payroll, and unless you are like 96 years the “86” years do not relate to you.

    You did say Saunders was a “disappointment”

    Plz get your facts right..since u influence the uneducated. :)

    Thx for the responses though…stay hungry **

  • spot09

    “I’m sorry you have not gave up on him”…what?!

    That is a strange sentence…ask a M’s fan what he/she thinks..

  • spot09

    Saunders plays Center (watch a game)

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