While Seattle is alternating between snow and sun, the Mariners are already a few weeks into spring training in Peoria, Arizona. Talking to people and reading different thoughts about this year’s team, it seems there are two predominant reactions. For those who are fans but don’t necessarily get deep into following the team, there’s a lack of knowledge and sometimes interest. And who can really blame them? If you don’t care that much about the offseason stuff, the onfield play has given no reason for hope. These people also tend to blame almost everything on Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln, but that’s a different issue.
The second reaction is that even the people who know this team well aren’t sure what to expect. Part of that is natural, as the Mariners have a lot of guys who could rebound significantly, as well as a plethora of young players who could improve dramatically. None of that is certain, though, so outside of Felix, this is a tough team to predict. I think another factor in the uncertainty is that this is a team unlike any Mariners fans have seen in some time. It’s legitimately build on solid young talent. There are some veterans, but they’re either young, like Felix, or will not likely be here long, like Ichiro and Miguel Olivo. The core of this team is young. The last time I remember that being the case is probably back in the early and mid 90’s. They’ve had quality prospects since then, although many haven’t panned out, but those kids were joining veteran-dominated teams.
Now the focus is squarely on the Ackleys and Smoaks and Monteros, and it’s a little hard to know what to expect. This year should start to indicate who will be part of the team longterm and who won’t cut it, but until then, there is plenty of room for knowledgeable fans to disagree on what to expect in 2012. Young teams are unpredictable, and most of us haven’t watched one on a daily basis in a long time.
Just for fun and as a general catchup for those who haven’t been paying a lot of attention to spring training, here’s a little fake Q & A post. If you have real questions, put them in the comments and we’ll give you any thoughts we have. People’s real questions would be more fun to answer than these ones I’m making up!
Any big stories so far?
The biggest has probably been Franklin Gutierrez. This was good at first, as he reported in great shape and seemingly fully recovered from his GI issues of last season. All anyone could talk about was how great he looked, and then he went and hit a homer off Felix in an early intrasquad game. Unfortunately, a couple of days later he tore a pectoral muscle, which sounds terrible, and he will be out at least 4 weeks before he does anything baseball related. Don’t expect him back before May. In fact, if you want to be safe, don’t expect him back at all. He should come back at some point, but given his recent struggles, it seems smarter to just keep the hopes as low as possible and then get excited if he suddenly does return and play well. Continue reading