I can’t imagine there are that many people still watching the Mariners on a regular basis. I’ll turn them on once in a while, but I haven’t watched a full game in weeks. Still, they’re an interesting team at the moment, just not a terribly watchable one. I have a few posts in mind I’m hoping to get to before the season ends. This offseason could be fascinating, so I’m going to try to work through the roster before we get to that point.
First up: what would I be watching for if I were still watching games regularly. I’ll try to keep these short and simple, because they’re not terribly surprising and if we’re being honest, not that exciting either.
- Alex Liddi’s debut. I’ve made my Liddi love quite clear on this blog, but it’s based almost entirely on his Italian-ness. His baseball skills are intriguing but incomplete. He has solid power and reportedly plays an improving third base, but like many Mariner power-hitting minor leaguers, he likes the strike outs. Nonetheless, he’s joined the Mariners and should make his debut soon, which makes me happy. He’s not likely to do much, this year or next, but sports are for fun, and Italian baseball players are nothing if not fun. On a related note, how will Kyle Seager finish out the year? Can he be the main man at third next year?
- The Mariners suddenly have a glut of talented outfielders. Unfortunately, none of them is close to a sure thing. Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson could be starters next year, or they could be trade bait. Michael Saunders, the forgotten man, is back with the big club, filling in for Franklin Gutierrez and his strained oblique. Has he finally found a swing that will translate to the majors?
- Tom Wilhelmsen. When Wilhelmsen was sent down early in the season to work as a starter, the move made sense. He wasn’t pitching well, and starting would give him more innings to work on his stuff, and if they got lucky, he might turn into a solid middle of the rotation guy. He didn’t seem to get much better in the minors, but then he was recalled anyway, and he’s been okay. If you haven’t noticed, the rotation is potentially a little shallow next year. I have my doubts about Blake Beavan and Anthony Vazquez. If one of them is my fifth starter, I can live with it, but I’d really like Wilhelmsen or Charlie Furbush to bring actual strikeout stuff to the rotation. I doubt September will give an answer to whether they can, but we might catch some glimpes.
- Justin Smoak has had a season from hell. After a thunderous first month, he fell apart at the plate. Also, his dad died, his nose got broken and he possibly had a serious thumb injury. Who knows how much all that influenced his decline, but it can’t have helped. I’d love to see him get hot this month. I like the guy, and he clearly has talent. Here’s to a better September and a breakout season in 2012. He’s still the key to the future, in my mind.
There are some other things going on, like Ichiro and the young relievers, but this is my list. What are you watching (or not watching) for?
Next up: a breakdown of where each position stands going into the offseason.