Too Much Hope?
The Seattle Mariners are on fire right now. Heading into the All-Star break with a three game sweep over the Los Angeles Angels, the Mariners have forwarded their momentum and taken their first four of the second half, improving their record to 47-52 on the year.
They’ve done so with stellar pitching, a potent offense, and young players who are, right now, looking like seasoned veterans; and boy it is fun to watch.
Earlier this year (particularly in May/June), it was tough to watch a Seattle ballgame. Aaron Harang would give up at least 68 runs per game, Justin Smoak couldn’t hit off a tee, and Brendan Ryan was still the starting shortstop. Things were quickly going downhill for a team that had the pieces to cause commotion in the AL West.
That all changed, however, as Seattle brought up the right talent (Brad Miller at short, Nick Franklin at second, and Mike Zunino at
thirdcatcher). Though they each had their early struggles, each has started to look like a future star.
Miller was just selected the AL Player of the Week, Franklin has looked the part of an All-Star second baseman, and Zunino has been dominant behind the plate while showing flashes of his heralded bat.
With all the pieces starting to fall into the right places, the Mariners began their run. Starting the month of July by taking two of three from the Texas Rangers, the Mariners then repeated that series effort against the Cincinnati Reds to forward their record to 4-2 on the month. Hiccuping against the Red Sox by going 1-3 in the four-game series, Seattle swept the Angels and Astros while taking game one against the Indians last night to forward their July record to 12-5.
Once seemingly out of any potential contention this year, the Mariners find themselves in a very interesting predicament with the trade deadline coming up.
Seattle’s record right now, as mentioned above, is 47-52. That sees them 11 games out of first in the AL West and 9.5 games back in the AL Wild Card.
While this would leave some to believe that the Mariners are completely out of the playoff picture, with the way they’ve played recently and the tools they will be getting back in the near future, I really believe anything is possible with the squad this year.
However, that kind of optimism could lead to a potentially dangerous situation for an organization who should still be focused on sustained future success rather than the hopeful gains of one year.
Trading away valuable commodities for proven players who could potentially help you make a miraculous run is not the way Seattle should operate right now. Nor should they trade away players like Joe Saunders or Raul Ibanez.
In fact, it is my firm belief that this team should be kept together for the rest of the year (save for Harang, who, despite pitching very well in a few games, is still unreliable but could prove valuable in the trade market after his recent performance).
With the way Seattle is structured right now, they have a plethora of young talent in the minors and at the next level who are already contributing.
While too much depth is never a bad thing, trading a Saunders or Ibanez for a little more young potential doesn’t seem worth it to me.
This team is on fire. They are headed down the right path, have all the momentum in the majors, and, with a great finish to their series against Cleveland and a hot one against the Twins, could very well be at .500 come Sunday evening.
If they see themselves in that kind of position, August will be one of the most interesting months to watch in recent history.
For, while brutal, they will have the opportunity to knock down some of the teams who are currently ahead of them in the wild card standings (Boston, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Texas).
It’ll be an arduous stretch, but the Mariners are playing like the best team in baseball and will be getting Mike Morse back soon, hopefully healthy and ready to tear the cover off the ball.
Now by this point there are probably many of you who are scoffing at me for having too much hope. But for all you doubters, all you “Mariner” fans who have developed a veil of negativity surrounding this team, remember 1995.
Seattle was hovering around .500 in August and even found themselves one game down and 11 1/2 back of the California Angels. All they did was go on one of the more historic runs in MLB history to reach the postseason for the first time.
Now, comparing 1995 and 2013 may be a little bit of a stretch, but it helps to illustrate the point that Seattle is still very well alive, especially with how they’ve played lately. If they get to .500 by August, they’ll have a shot to make another outstanding run.
So while the odds are stacked against them and many will continue to discount their potential, there is hope in Seattle. With the way they’ve been playing lately, anything is possible. Let’s keep the streak going, boys.