I’m so glad March is over. When it comes to baseball, March always feels really long but this one was particularly long. Over the past four weeks it seems all we’ve had is bad news: Cliff Lee got hurt, Jack Hannahan got hurt, no one in the back-end of the rotation had a great spring, the offense was pretty sucky, having Mike Sweeney on the team will single handedly ruin the Mariners playoff chances, and Milton Bradley will obviously explode and kill someone this year. All of a sudden, the best off season in team history turned into a spring training filled with doom and gloom. I want to tell all of you one thing, it’s going to be okay!
Here are a few reasons why:
- The offense will not be worse than last year. I would bet any of you a lot of money that the Mariners will score more runs this year than last. All projections I’ve seen have Seattle scoring about 50 more runs than last year, if not more. I’m not saying the offense will be good, I’m saying that the offense was absolutely terrible last year and the Mariners still had a winning record. This team can still be good even with a bad offense. (As I wrote this Chone Figgins hit a home run. This is a minor miracle. Seriously.)
- I’ll keep the comparison to last year going. Let me remind you that Ichiro was on the DL at the beginning of last year. I think Ichiro missed a total of 8 games last year. Over the course of those games the Mariners had a 6-2 record. Ichiro is the Mariners best player but somehow the Mariners had a winning record when he was gone. I hope you’re following me here. Losing Cliff Lee for about a month will hurt. Over that month he probably would have picked up 5 or 6 starts; instead of watching Lee we’ll be watching Doug Fister which makes this injury hurt more. But the Mariners excelled in 8 games without their star last year, I think they can survive 5 games without Lee. I could be wrong but I think this injury has been blown way out of proportion because there’s nothing else to talk about.
- I admit the back end of this rotation scares me. These guys aren’t sexy names by any means and they haven’t had the best spring training. But, this rotation is almost identical to the one that pitched through August and September (minus a frustrating Brandon Morrow and add a frustrating Jason Vargas). Through that time period the Mariners had a record of 33-26. Most experts feel that if the Mariners are around .500 by the time Lee and Bedard (hopefully) come back. As they showed last year, .500 could happen quite easilyin April.
- Another reason that a .500 record could be easily accomplished is because of the schedule. The Mariners playOakland (7 times), Texas (3 times), the White Sox (3), the Royals(3), the Tigers(3), and Baltimore (3) from the start of the season until April 28th. Those teams were a combined 456-523 last year. During that same period the Angels play teams with a combined 491-483 last year ( including the Yankees six times and the Twins four times) and the Rangers play teams with a combined 509-464 record (including the Yankees and the Red Sox). The schedule certainly favors the Mariners while Cliff Lee is expected to be out.
- April baseball can be weird. Some bad teams start out hot and some good teams start out cold. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in April and you’d much rather have injuries in your team in April than you would in September.
I believe the Mariners are a better team than last years team that went 85-77. I know, that team overachieved based on numbers but what those numbers don’t say is that the Mariners are built for close games. There may have been a little bit of luck with the 1-run game record last year but I think it has just as much to do with the defense than it does with luck.
So, don’t panic. Sure, it was a March to forget for the Mariners but it’s not as bad as everyones making it seem. Writers don’t have anything good to write about during spring training so problems are magnified. But March is over and real baseball is about to begin. Despite the problems this spring, it very well could be a summer to remember in Seattle.
(If the Mariners come out and are truly awful you can blame me. If that happens we should try to forget that this post ever happened.)