Tag Archives: Chone Figgins

The Rebuilding Process, Year 5

One year ago I asked your reaction following Prince signing in Detroit. One year later, I’m curious what your take is on Josh Hamilton signing with a division foe, for nearly $100 million less than Prince got.

This is my 5th installment in a series of posts I’ve done recapping and forecasting the Mariners Rebuilding Process, since Jack Z took over as GM. You can find the prior posts here: Years 1 and 2 Year 3 Year 4

Let’s recap the 5 year rebuild plan I laid out in October 2008.

    THE BLUEPRINT

2009, Year 1: Shed dead weight, Begin overhauling the farm
Summary: Traded Putz for Guti, Carp, Vargas, and managed to get rid of Silva, Betancourt, and Johjima, while also using 3 of first 5 picks on Ackley, Franklin, Seager.
Grade: A+

2010, Year 2: Shed dead weight, Continue building the farm (and lock up Felix)
Summary: Signed Griffey and Sweeney, locked up Felix and acquired Cliff Lee, then swapped him for Smoak. Could have done without the Morrow trade and of course the Figgins contract. Selected Walker, Paxton, Pryor in rounds 1, 4, 5.
Grade: B-

2011, Year 3: Bring the youth up, Evaluate potential, Acquire more young talent
Summary: Hired Wedge, traded for Brendan Ryan, picked up Wilhelmson at a local bar, and signed low cost vets such as Cust, Olivo, Kennedy. Fielded an even mix of youth and vets, but loads of young talent in the pipeline for the first time in forever. At the deadline traded Fister for Furbush and Wells. Hultzen chosen with #2 pick.
Grade: B

2012, Year 4: continue youth movement, achieve .500 record
Summary: Swapped Pineda for Montero and made some shrewd acquistions in Jaso, Iwakuma, Luetge, Millwood, Perez, then saw a young roster come up 6 games short of .500, while improving by 8 games from prior season. Picked Mike Zunino #3 overall.
Grade: A

2013, Year 5: add 1-2 big pieces, contend for playoffs
Summary: Thus far we’ve seen a few low cost signings in Bay, Ibanez, Bonderman, and a 1 for 1 swap of Vargas-Morales.
Grade: ???

I’ve said this before, but in 4 1/2 years on the job, Bill Bavasi set this organization back 5 years, minimum. Last year I stated

“For the first time on Jack’s watch, I think the on field W/L record is important. .500 ball is a reasonable expectation this year, which would be a welcomed site for our eyes.”

Well, The M’s flirted with .500 in 2012 and showed noticeable improvement, albeit without much offense yet again. Entering year 5 the talk of laying the foundation and replenishing the system should be over, and playoff contention ought to be close. Zduriencik has said as much if you’ve heard any of his recent interviews.

If the blueprint holds form, the M’s will be adding 1-2 big pieces this offseason, and assembling a playoff capable team in 2013. This sounds great but it is nearly January and almost all the big name free agents have signed elsewhere, and the only acquisitions Seattle has made are Robert Andino, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and a swap of Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales. Not exactly blockbuster moves capable of propelling the M’s from 75 wins into contention. I suppose the big moves we hoped for are still possible if Jack can, for example, land Justin Upton and Michael Bourn, and add a veteran pitcher to round out the rotation. That would certainly be a competitive team, but is that the best route to take?

Given how the AL West is shaping up, it may be best to hang onto the prospects, add a couple decent pieces, and shoot for a respectable 80-85 wins in 2013, while waiting until next year to make the big splash. I don’t see a scenario, at this point, for the M’s to overtake Texas or Anaheim in 2013, and probably not Oakland either. So why go all in? I’m not suggesting Seattle give up any hopes they had for next year, just because the division rivals are pulling away, but I don’t want the M’s to mortgage the future to field a better team next year, but one that cannot be sustained.

Keeping a positive trajectory is crucial next year, seeing an improved offense is also important, but that’s about all we can reasonably expect in 2013. This puts real contention off until next year, and adds a year to the original 5 year blueprint, but taking the path that leads to sustained success is what is most important. We’ve seen the Washington Nationals do this, and Tampa Bay also, and with much less money. It may not be popular, given the fractured fan base, plummeting attendance, and a decade of bad baseball, but Seattle has never given a player a $100 million contract, and unless it is a Felix extension, I don’t see it happening for at least another year. And surprisingly, I’m fine with that.

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The Mariners of the Future: Third Base

I’ll dispense with the lengthy preamble for this one.  Like every other position for the Mariners, third base has good options, questions, and lots of guys with something to prove.  Not sure when I’ll get to the outfielders or how I’m going to tackle that many guys, so you might have to wait a bit for that.  Plus, I’m heading on a long vacation in a couple of days.  Sorry.  Maybe the Mariners will make a trade and clear things up for me in the meantime.

The Rundown

Think of Kyle Seager‘s pro career up to this point as a reverse on the football field.  Unexpected, exciting.  Everyone’s paying attention now, where a few seconds ago the game was a bit on the boring side.  He’s just turned past the line of scrimmage, so that danger of being caught in the backfield for a big loss is avoided, but now he has to make that defensive end who held his gap miss, or else it was just a pretty three yard run.  Seager was a bit unexpected as a third round pick in 2009.  He was the second baseman on Ackley’s UNC team, and most thought that Ackley would move to the outfield in the pros and Seager would stay at second.  Instead, Ackley moved to second, and eventually, Seager to third.

Seager’s hit more than anyone expected.  Early on, he was termed Ackley-lite, but that doesn’t seem so accurate now.  He has surprising power without quite having the eye that Ackley was supposed to have.  He started 2012 on a tear, and despite tapering off some, he’s still been one of probably the three best position players for the Mariners this year.  Right now, he’s an average or slightly wose hitter and a good defender who should only improve.  The player he is now is valuable.  The Mariners could do and have done much worse at third base (see below).  The question now is whether Seager can make that defensive end miss and go for a big gain.  To be a star, he needs to make adjustments and become a constant power threat.  He’s not likely to ever be a huge power hitter, but home runs in the 20s with 40 doubles and a .340 OBP is realistic and would make him one of the best third basemen in the league. Continue reading

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Are the M’s an 80 Win Team?

The Mariners are only 13 games, or 8% into their 2012 campaign. It is hard to make many conclusions yet, other than the obvious ones like Ackley is a budding star, and Olivo should be in another profession. Again, its just too soon to guess what the remaining 92% of this year will hold. But already we are starting to see the identity of this team, the good and the bad. In short, I like what I see. I’ll take it one step further and suggest, albeit prematurely, that this could well be a team that wins 80 games, just as I had hoped when I wrote about my expectations for Year 4 of this rebuilding process.

My optimism is rooted in 3 observations.

1-The top of the order has been solid. Figgins, Ackley, and Ichiro are all stinging the ball with consistency. Hitting the ball hard does not guarantee results, but it means the batter is not being fooled, he is using is lower half to generate power, and he’s getting the barrel on the ball. I’m seeing this out of all 3 guys, which is extremely encouraging.
2-The starting pitching is just fine. All 5 guys have had at least 1 great outing, and only twice has a starter been pulled before the 5th inning. I was especially worried about the back of the rotation, and my fears still remain, but I think our 3-5 guys will be alright, at least until help arrives in the summer…Paxton! Hultzen! The exception may be Millwood, who I could see getting torched on any given day.
3-No insurmountable weaknesses. If the M’s win 80 games, it can’t have a glaring weakness. Okay, so the offensive woes we’ve watched for the past years have not been totally solved. The M’s are still 14th in average and OBP in the AL, but they are 14th in MLB for runs, and that’s what counts. The offense is still the single biggest reason why this team won’t contend for the playoffs, but when Carp returns and the weather warms up, this is a middle of the league line-up. The rotation, defense, and bullpen are also not glaring weaknesses.

Most of us would be pleased with 80 wins, maybe even ecstatic, given the 67 and 61 win Mariner teams of the past 2 seasons. Others would say 80 wins is not a playoff team, therefore not relevant. These are mainly casual fans, but their perception matters a ton to the M’s, because these are the bandwagon fans that fill Safeco when the team is winning. Side note: M’s average attendance is 22,110 according to ESPN, which ranks 28 out of 30 teams. Oakland is ahead of us, averaging 24,630 but I’m assuming that counts the Japan games which Oakland was the home team. Anyways, the point is, 80 wins does not mean you are a good team, but it also does not mean you a bad team. For me, that would be progress, and more importantly, it would keep the plan on track to contend as soon as next year. It’s always next year isn’t it?!

Finally, we can turn on ROOT each night and watch a young, promising Mariner team. This team is not build on sand like the ’08 squad, nor are they world beaters. If you ask me (and admittingly I’m a homer), they are an 80 win team on the rise. So go Enjoy Felix tonight, seriously, tickets are dirt cheap. Just bought me a seat for $20, 12 rows up behind first base. You might see me when a lefty comes to bat, I’ll be the guy drinking the Mariner Kool-Aid!

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Review and Look Ahead

Last time we met, Dan was talking about how the Mariners pulled off a minor miracle in Texas.  Since then, nothing too exciting has happened.  The club did what we expected (maybe even hoped for them to do).  With that being said, I think we all have different feelings about the team right now.  I’m encouraged because the team won the games they were supposed to and that’s with the bats not being close to where they’ll finish the season (although, how many times have we said that in the last few years).  Dan is slightly happy with the team but can’t get over Miguel Olivo’s inept play.  They’re the team Matthew thought they’d be but he’s still annoyed about seeing his 3rd abysmal home opener in a row.  Joe?  He’s trying to hunt down Chuck Armstrong and make him write a letter that says if Seattle doesn’t have an NBA team within a year that he has to sell the Mariners immediately.*  So, with all of those different opinions in mind I’ll try to write a quick review of the Oakland series and a preview of the next one.

* I don’t actually know if that’s how any of them are feeling.  It is a fairly educated guess except for the part about Joe.  That’s what Joe wants to be doing, not what he is doing.

The Mariners took 2 of 3 from Oakland this weekend and won’t play them again until late June.  Some people think that’s a good thing.  It’s a good thing for entertainment reasons.  For winning purposes, this is a terrible thing.

On Friday night the M’s lost to Oakland 4-0.  I’ve heard the pre-game ceremonies were classy, as usual.  The video of the boy stealing 2nd base and finding his dad home from Afghanistan is touching and extremely well done by the organization.  Otherwise, it couldn’t have gone worse for the home team.  This is three years in a row that Seattle has played a terrible game in their home opener.  The stadium also had their debit/credit card system break down and could only accept cash for a large portion of the game.  These things happen but it was an unfortunate night for it to happen.  Otherwise, Felix looked pretty good.  His groundball rates still aren’t where they usually are but they progressed as the game went on so lets hope that trend continues.  I still think he’s perfectly fine.  The offense disappeared so there’s nothing to recap there.

On Saturday nights game, it was the Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi show.  Also, I guess it was the Michael Pineda show because without him the Mariners wouldn’t have those guys.  Maybe anytime Jesus or Hector do anything good the Mariners should flash Pineda’s picture on the big screen with the word “THANKS” written across it.  Or they could do that with the Yankee logo instead.  That’d be cool.  It could be done for all trades even.  I’d laugh, along with 3 other people in the stadium.  Anyway, Noesi pitched 8 shutout innings with 6 K’s.  When he came over, it seemed like he’d be a fastball/slider guy but it’s easy to see his 2nd best pitch is his change-up.  His fastball velocity is good and I think he’s going to be just fine after that rough, first outing in Texas.  Jesus hit his first home run as a Mariner and added a double just for kicks.  His home run was a shot to straight-away center showing off his power.  The guy can hit and he’s only going to show off more power as the year goes on.  He also looked good defensively behind the plate.

On Sunday, it was the Cliff Lee trade that paid off.  Justin Smoak homered.  Blake Beavan pitched pretty well.  John Jaso sat on the bench (he’s a product of this Lee trade if you pay close attention.  Josh Lueke for John Jaso!).  Those were the storylines but Brendan Ryan homered and Ichiro doubled home the winning run.  It’s good to see those guys do things.

So all in all, it was a successful weekend.  These are the series that the Mariners have to win and they did.  Sure, a sweep would be nice but we can’t really complain about a series win.

Some actual thoughts instead of a recap and a preview after the jump.

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Cautiously Optimistic?

Last year the Mariners started 2-0.  Then they lost 7 games in a row.  In 2010, the Mariners won their first game and then lost 6 of their next 7.  In 2008, Seattle won their first game and then lost 5 of their next 6.  I’m going to stop there.  The point is the Mariners have started every season since 2007 by jumping out to grab at least a share of the division lead and then promptly losing it.

Now, keep that in mind while you read the rest of this post so I don’t look like a fool once the Mariners go get swept by Texas.

The Seattle Mariners have scored 15 runs in the last 2 games.  Yes, they won and that’s the most important thing but take a second to reflect on all of the times in the last 2 0r 3 years that this team has been on the verge of unwatchable because of the inept offense and that will make you appreciate these last 2 games even more.  Everyone got a hit.  Chone Figgins had 6 hits, and 2 of them were for extra bases.  Michael Saunders hit a double and a home run.  The bottom of the order was good.  The top of the order was great.  The middle was decent but it didn’t have to be anymore than that.  This won’t continue but these 2 games showed us what the offense could be.  Singles galore with a few extra base hits thrown in.  If Montero and Smoak show off some of their upside this offense could be (dare I say it) good.  Not great, or anywhere close to it, but good.

I’m going to go player-by-player in the lineup, tell you what I see and then jump to the bullet points.

Chone Figgins looked like a completely different hitter.  He hasn’t swung with that much authority since his days with the Angels.  Yes, the bunts were nice and well done but that’s not what had me excited.  At times in the last 2 years I honestly couldn’t picture a hard hit ball coming off of Figgins bat.  Chone hit 5 line drives in 2 games.  Not soft liners either.  He tucks his shoulder in, loads up and swings hard at hittable pitches.  He was measly swinging through pitches right down the middle last year but the last 2 days there was no sign of that guy.  I’m not saying this is a turning point or even close to it.  It could just be apparition in the Figgins awful span as a Mariner.  His last gasp of trying not to get cut.  But, confidence is an impossible thing to gauge and this psychological move to lead-off (because surely you wouldn’t  move him there for any other reason) may actually work.

I could write a whole post on Dustin Ackley’s swing alone.  It’s a thing of beauty and sooner or later, all left-handed hitters will begin to take his approach to hitting.  Instead, I’ll just leave it at this.  Dustin Ackley is really good, and will probably be great before too long.

Ichiro is Ichiro.  I was never too worried about him and I’m still not overly concerned.  His line drive rate last year was a bit alarming and it seemed like he hardly ever hit the ball hard.  But, for all the people who say that he’s selfish, Ichiro is one of the hardest workers in the majors and he’s not going to be held down like he was last year.  It doesn’t matter what Jon Heyman, talk radio, and fans who don’t pay attention to actual baseball say, Ichiro is good and has been so valuable to this franchise.  I don’t see that changing this year.

Justin Smoak is having a little trouble with the inside fastball.  I’m fine with this.  I know it sounds weird to say that it’s okay that the teams cleanup hitter is getting jammed by 90 mph fastballs because he’s behind them but stay with me.  Smoak would get in trouble last year because he would pull off of pitches and be way out ahead.  He wouldn’t make a commitment to hitting to left field and wouldn’t stay behind the ball.  We all learn in little league that you need to hit the ball where it’s pitched and that’s what Justin Smoak is doing, or trying to do now.  He’ll get around on the inside fastball soon, but I’m happy to see him hitting line drives to the left side of the field (which he’s done if you go back and look).

Jesus Montero is hitting the ball fairly hard but it seems like he may be out in front of the ball a little bit.  I think he grounded out to the shortstop 4 times in the last 2 games which happens while trying to pull an outside pitch.  Could he be a little anxious?  I think it’s likely.  His power is there, you can see it, but he just needs a few games to calm down and remember he’s going to be the next Edgar because he drives the ball to right center.

Kyle Seager is good too.  He’s like Dustin Ackley in that he’s drilling line drives everywhere.  He may not have the power Ackley has but he’s going to hit the ball and hit line drives.

Miguel Olivo is still Miguel Olivo but I’m okay with that.  He’s valuable in his own right  just not as valuable as some catchers.  I like the guy as frustrating as he can be at times.

Michael Saunders is… Wait, that was Michael Saunders?  He can’t hit home runs off of lefties.  Tonight Saunders worked the count against good ol’ Jerry Blevins and then drilled a home run deep to right field.  His swing is a little shorter and a little more compact but the key really is that he’s more aggressive when he’s in the right count.  His double to center last night was a beauty and just another example of him taking advantage of a hittable pitch.  Him being aggressive with hittable pitches is the biggest change I saw but I’m no scout.

Brendan Ryan had to use the uncomfortable hotel pillow last night and hurt his neck but before that he was tucking his front shoulder in and drilling the ball to left field.  He was also swinging with authority and just looked good.  If he can hit .280 or close to it and play 120-135 games he’s going to be a huge asset.

Munenori Kawasaki is kind of cool.  Jeff Sullivan said he could be a bad version of Ichiro which is just fine.  That’s valuable for a middle infielder.  Plus, did you see how slick he is with the glove?  He looks good and I think the M’s will try to find him more at-bats as the season goes on.A few bullet holes after the jump.  Continue reading

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Tooting the horn and a few other things

As Matthew said earlier today, there’s a ton going on in Seattle sports right now.  So, I’ll start with the news of the hour and hit on a few other things.

  • Max Browne of Skyline High School, who most recruiting experts thought to be the number 1 quarterback prospect in the nation, verbally committed to USC tonight.  It’s not a huge surprise as many thought he’d be leaning that way.  Let me start off by saying, that it’s never good to lose the best players from your own backyard.  Browne is a huge talent and it would have been great to have him as a Husky.  With that being said, once the Huskies took two quarterbacks in the last class, this always seemed like a bit of long shot.  It’s not a huge position of need for the Dawgs and Browne has a much better chance of being Matt Barkley’s successor than he has of being Keith Price’s.  It’s hard to fault Browne for not staying home or the coaches for not keeping him home on this note.  Of course, Browne hasn’t signed yet, but he seems like he wanted to get the process over.  Good for him.
  • Matthew recapped Terrance Ross’ and Tony Wroten’s decision to enter the NBA earlier today.  He also took a look at what the team might do next year.  Don’t forget to take a look at that.
  • Husky football has started their spring practice with all of their new coaches on hand.  Bob Condotta will have all of the coverage and we won’t be able to cover it to the normal extent because this year’s practices aren’t open to the public.  We’ll try to give a few recaps at some point but hopefully there’s no huge news coming out of practice because that usually means there was an injury.
  • Earlier today the Mariners decided to keep Alex Liddi over Carlos Peguero, meaning Chone Figgins will get the majority of the time in left field over the next week or two.  This is where I toot my horn a bit.  I advocated for this move to happen on Monday and Jack Z just happened to agree with me.  I think it’s the right move, although who knows if it will make much of a difference over the next few weeks.
  • My last little bit is on a piece put out by Seattle Sports Insider today.  About a week ago, I wrote a post about sabermetrics and how I don’t think we can solely rely on them.  The subject of what the Good Guys had been working on recently came up in a mini-discussion I had in the comments of this SSI post with author Jemanji.  I told him that I’d been trying to find the right line in measuring sabermetrics against the other elements in the game and he responded, not only with a comment but, with a whole post on the matter.  In short, he used a Bill James article on the subject of sabermetrics to help us understand the concept better.  Sabermetrics should maybe be seen as questions that we’re trying to solve instead of statistics we can look up on fangraphs.  The likes of Dave Cameron and other Fangraph writers may disagree, but it’s an interesting concept.  You should all just go and read it by clicking here.  The quote he uses at the top is mine, so that’s kind of cool.  They have a great blog and they’re all good guys (no pun intended) over there.

There’s a lot more happening around but we’ll save it for another day.  I’m going to try to get a few things up on the M’s before Friday, hopefully that happens.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Andrew

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Surprises Coming?

So, the Mariners have played a few games.  Weird, huh?  Jeff Sullivan likened last week’s 2 regular season games in Japan to a dream and that sounds about right.  Now, we’ve been back to Cactus League games for the past few days and I find myself longing for Opening Day.  Then, I stop and think, “That already happened.”  I hope someone else has felt this way or else I spent far too much time writing this meaningless introduction.

Chone Figgins

Starting left fielder? Maybe he's too short.

One of the dumb things that happened in Japan was Mike Carp hurting his shoulder and getting put on the disabled list.  The other dumb thing was getting 3-hit by Bartolo Colon but I’ve tried to conveniently not remember that part of the dream.  Mike Carp got put on the disabled list before the 2nd game of the season and Carlos Peguero was activated for the 2nd game in Japan.  Now, Carp’s DL clock has been ticking even though we aren’t technically in the regular season at the moment so we can expect him back in about a week and a half.

People seem to think they have the Mariners roster figured out for the opening game (aside from a few spots in the bullpen, but I was referring to the position players).  They’ll option Alex Liddi and have Casper Wells and Carlos Peguero split time in left field.  I admit, this is the most likely but I’m not sure it’s the right decision.

If you’ve followed Spring Training, you know that Chone Figgins will be getting regular playing time for the first few weeks at least.  Little Figgy has been playing all over the diamond this spring and has spent a good amount of time in the outfield.  I’d even say he’s been there the majority of the time.  Knowing that and knowing that Carlos Peguero is bad (really bad).  Why not have Figgins be your starting left fielder for the next 2 weeks?  Keep Alex Liddi on the team and have him be the best right-handed bat off the bench.  Let him start a few games against left-handed pitchers while Seager gets a rest.  Kyle Seager should be this teams starting 3rd baseman anyway, so why not let him.

This works out for the Mariners front office, as well.  If Seager hits and Figgy doesn’t then you have a perfect excuse to cut him by the time Carp comes back.  Not a long enough trial, you say?  He’s had 2 years.  2 awful years.  Figgins is still on this team.

You can’t convince me that Figgins and Peguero on the field at the same time is a better combination than Figgins and Seager.  Figgins will be better defensively in left field.  Seager is a better hitter than Peguero.

Again, I don’t think this will actually happen because it’s unorthodox and usually baseball stays away from unorthodox but I think it should happen.  Plus, Alex Liddi is Italian.

Speaking of the Italian, he’s had a great spring.  Not that spring means much (or anything at all) but he would become the best right-hander on the bench.  He could play first, when Montero catches and Smoak DH’s.  All in all, I just think he’s better than Peguero because well… If you really want me to explain that then you need to figure out how bad Peguero is.

Last year, Seattle Sports Insider argued that Luis Rodriguez should make the team as the 25th man because he was simply better than Josh Wilson.  You can argue how much a 25th man means to an organization (probably not much), but a team should still put their best players on the major league team (unless they’re holding them back to save an extra year of team control.  We see you Paxton, Hultzen and Catricala!).  You know who the best right-handed hitter on the bench is when Casper Wells plays center, if Peguero makes the team?  There is no right-handed hitter on the bench in that situation.

I’ll break this down mathematically after the jump. Continue reading

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It’s Game Time!

Almost.  It’s almost game time.  On the weirdest opening morning ever, Andrew and I are hanging out, watching the underrated classic Orange County, with The Sandlot on deck.  I hope the Mariners never have another 3 AM opening game, but it’s kind of like the Alamo Bowl was: not particularly pleasant, but pretty fun and well worth the memory.

So, what to expect from these Mariners?  The playoffs aren’t impossible, but they’re pretty unlikely.  It would take almost everyone developing like you would dream, Ichiro and other veterans having huge comeback years, and probably a lot of luck on top of it.  Stranger things have happened, but I’m not betting on it.  Call 81 wins the more reasonable goal.  Even that might be wishful thinking, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

This will really be a season about watching for signs of hope for the future.  Ideally this year would provide a couple of guys who can be counted on as future franchise cornerstones, a veteran or two taking a step forward, and the emergence of new prospects to replace those who are now or will shortly be in the big leagues.

More specifically, here’s a few things I’d love to see:

  • Justin Smoak hitting the ball (and staying healthy).  The future Mariners offense looks much better now than it did a year ago, but it still has questions.  Ackley and Montero are reasonably sure things given their inexperience, but few others fit that description.  If Smoak can consistently flash his talent, he becomes a third middle of the order guy and makes the offense much easier to build.
  • Ichiro bouncing back.  I love Ichiro.  I hope he goes back to his pre-2011 level and gets a contract extension and reaches 3,000 hits in Seattle.  Don’t know if it’ll happen, but I’m hoping.
  • One of the outfielders emerging from the pile.  The most likely bet here is that Mike Carp solidifies himself as a viable outfielder who can hit, but I’m personally hoping Michael Saunders can do something.  Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Franklin Gutierrez: any of you can take this opportunity to do something.
  • I’d really love for Chone Figgins to not be on the team in August.  That would mean they’ve either bit the bullet and released him, or he’s played well enough to be traded.  I’m good with either.  Sorry, Chone, but I’m just tired of watching you.
  • It’ll be great when/if the trifecta of Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker make their debuts, but I’ll be watching before that to see if Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan or Erasmo Ramirez can make an impression.  Pitchers flame out and get hurt, so banking on three prospects is always risky.  The Mariners need to develop some depth.
  • It’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those bullpens of death like the 2001 team or the Padres always seem to have.  I don’t expect this year’s team to change that, but I would love to see a few young relievers emerge to move them in that direction.

So that’s mostly it.  A few of those things happen, the M’s score a few more runs, and we get some good memories, and I’ll be fairly satisfied with this year.  Not saying I wouldn’t love a surprise run for that 2nd wild card spot, but if I’m trying to be realistic, there are worse things than a young team with lots to prove.  Like a team of Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva and Jose Vidro.  That is not a fun team.  This can be so much better than that.

Go Mariners! Believe Big!

-Matthew

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