Against The Odds
Another spring brings more optimism for Seattle Mariners fans that their team will be able to turn the corner, realize their potential, and that the stable of young prospects in their farm system will finally pan out. The problem? They have the mighty, free-spending Angels and the Rangers to contend with again.
More wins is certainly possible this year with the awful Astros joining the AL West, but can we really expect this team to compete with the heavyweights in the division?
Odds to Win AL West: +1500
Odds to Win AL Pennant: 50/1
Odds to Win World Series: 100/1
Let’s break it down.
Probable Batting Order
Let’s be completely honest here–the batting order scares nobody. Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay were added for a little experience, and Kendrys Morales was brought over from Anaheim in the offseason. But Ibanez is at the end of his career, Bay has been terrible the last couple of seasons after his breakout in Boston, and Morales is an injury question mark.
The top of the order should be average–battlers with decent speed and an OK ability to get on base.The middle of the order lacks pop and the bottom of the order is littered with hitters that have potential, but for some reason have not lived up to expectation. Michael Saunders, off a terrific World Baseball Classic for Canada, may be the best of the bunch–he hit 19 homers last year and stole 20 bases.
All in all, a team that has struggled to score runs at a traditionally difficult hitter’s park and will likely struggle again to produce. Last season, the Seattle offense registered an On Base Percentage of .296, which was the only sub-.300 mark in the majors – they didn’t do a whole lot to improve themselves this offseason.
In a division full of stacked lineups it is difficult to see this lineup keeping up.
Probable Pitching Rotation
King Felix gives the rotation instant credibility! But some offseason red flags were raised about the condition of his elbow and his loss in velocity. He is the present and the future for this club. The rest of the rotation? Not all that exciting to say the very least. None of the four remaining projected starters will scare anybody.
The deep hope is that some of the young, top-tier prospects in the minors make the next jump quickly and can contribute sooner than later.
Taijuan Walker is arguably the best pitching prospect in the game today, and others like Danny Hultzen and James Paxton are proof that the future is bright. Brandon Maurer, Victor Sanchez, Tyler Pike and Luis Gohara are still a few years away but there is no denying that they will be quality big-leaguers at some point.
If AL pennants were given out for the best farm club then the Mariners would be right in the mix, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The pitching won’t wow us unless some of the young studs emerge from the minors this year.
Like the starters, there isn’t a whole lot of optimism surrounding the bullpen this year. But there are young arms in the minors that could make the leap with a little luck this season.
There is no organization in MLB with the cache of young arms that the Mariners possess. The issue is that most are not MLB-ready quite yet, and it will take some time before Mariners fans can enjoy their success.
Off the Bench
Perhaps the biggest improvement on the Mariners roster is their bench. Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay give the Mariners instant credibility in the dugout. Not only does Seattle have some quality hitters to go to in a pinch but they have experienced fielders that will help on-and-off the field.
I know that you are sick of hearing it, but here we go.
Seattle is building for the future, their time isn’t now! A look at the Tampa Bay Rays shows where this team can be in a few years–stocked with top notch pitching and littered with complementary position players.
In a division that features the Angels and the Rangers and even the A’s, Seattle figures to have a tough time once again this year. On the bright side – they do have the Astros in their division to take over the last place position.
Bottom Line: The Angels, Rangers and A’s will battle for top spot in the AL West – there is absolutely no way that the Mariners will be able to compete with those clubs. Seattle finishes fourth. They should be improved offensively – enough to avoid their third 100+ loss season in the last four years.