Actually, we’re a little more than halfway there. At 35-53, we’re 7 games past halfway. But, shit man, this is the All Star Break, and everyone pretty much considers this the halfway point, so suck it math nerds.
35-53. Can’t say there were a lot of us who thought (when the season started) that’s where we’d be right now. In our wildest dreams, we probably imagined that record reversed; but likely we were just hoping for a few games over .500 with no one in particular running away with the division. Well, unless you’re the Seattle Mariners, no one indeed is running away with the division:
Anaheim: 47-44 (4.5 GB)
Oakland: 43-46 (7.5 GB)
Seattle: 35-53 (15 GB)
For good measure, we’re 19 Games Back in the Wild Card race. The only teams in the AL who are worse are Cleveland and Baltimore. The only teams in the NL who are worse are Arizona and Pittsburgh.
Out of 30 teams in MLB, we’re 28th in Batting Average and Home Runs; we’re 29th in RBIs and Hits. With that, let’s get down to the business of dissecting this team.
If I were just shooting from the hip – ignoring anything related to numbers or concrete evidence – I’d say that the offense has woefully underperformed. In other news, ice is DUH. Along with that, the bullpen has downright sucked. Granted, part of that might be affected by the woefully underperforming offense creating unnecessary pressure on the bullpen because it’s unable to pad a lead of any sort. No ‘pen is ever going to be perfect; they’re going to give up hits and runs and dingers over the course of a season. Had this offense generated more big leads, then maybe the ‘pen could afford to give up some runs and not look like the bastard step-child of this team. Still, at some point you’ve got to do your job. Let’s face it, there are a lot of ERA’s over 5 on this team; and most of them are (or were) in our bullpen.
Finally, though, in my thoughtless overview of the team, the starters have been splendid (for the most part). In spite of a defense that hasn’t NEARLY been the world-beaters they were supposed to be coming into the season.
Let’s start with the Offense, as that’s the primary culprit in our ineptitude. Can you name for me the number of hitters who have played for the 2010 Mariners – whether an everyday regular or a guy with just a handful of at-bats – with a Batting Average over .300?
I’ll give you a second.
The answer is 1. Ichiro. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Ichiro in my life every day. I imagine it’d be a day without oxygen. Here’s the breakdown: .326 BA, .377 OBP, 118 hits, 35 runs, 22 stolen bases, and 17 doubles (which is tied for the team lead … your leadoff hitter is tied for the team lead in doubles). He’s a miracle, plain and simple.
Who’s got the next-highest batting average, you ask? Try Josh Wilson at .265. He started off the season not even good enough to be in the Major Leagues, yet since being called up he’s had 189 at-bats and has the 2nd-highest batting average on the team. Good for him, but seriously that’s pathetic.
For me, the mark of a mediocre hitter is .250. Being mediocre is going 1 for 4 in every game. (for the record, I put the mark of an average hitter at .270, so it’s not like I’m harboring some kind of unrealistic goal for most major leaguers). Do you know how many of our regular players are WORSE than mediocre?
I’ll give you a second.
OK, let’s count ’em out. Jose Lopez (.240), Chone Figgins (.235), Casey Kotchman (.218), Michael Saunders (.216), Milton Bradley (.210), Rob Johnson (.205). That’s 6 out of 10 players who’ve had at least 100 at-bats, WORSE than mediocre. Not counting the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and our plethora of backup catchers and other AAA also-rans who are no longer with the big club. All of which, mind you, are under the aforementioned threshold.
By the by, Jack Wilson is AT the threshold exactly. Guti is at .256. Mike Sweeney (with 99 at-bats and I wouldn’t be surprised if he never saw 100) is batting .263. With Josh Wilson’s .265, that means 4 guys are OVER .250.
I remember back in the day when I harangued the team for keeping David Bell around, with his perennial .265 average. Now, I’d gladly welcome a team FULL of David Bells!
All right, I’m done bashing the hitters. It’s time to look over the pitchers.
Out of 30 teams in MLB, we’re 9th in ERA and WHIP (Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched), but we’re 24th in saves and 26th in strikeouts.
Our team ERA is 3.89, which is very good. For a team. You figure, if you’re holding your opponent to less than 4 runs per game over the course of a full season, you’re likely to be IN a lot of ballgames. With a chance to WIN (if you have any offense whatsoever, which we don’t).
For an individual, I place an Average ERA at 4.00. Exactly half (9) of all the pitchers who’ve thrown an inning for the 2010 Mariners have ERAs under 4.00. That’s very good. Considering 3 of those guys over 4.00 are gone, you won’t find me complaining too much. Of course, 2 of the guys under 4.00 are gone too; including one very very good man recently traded.
Here’s how we stand with our starters. Felix is awesome, at 2.88 ERA and 131 strikeouts. If we manage to get him 10-12 more wins, he should be Cy Young calibre. Likewise, Jason Vargas is also awesome, at 3.09 ERA and 2nd on the team in Quality Starts with 13 out of 17. Douglas Fister has been an eye-opener with his very own 3.09 ERA (and a lot of hard-luck No Decisions thanks to the ‘pen). Cliff Lee was Fantastic for us and he will be missed (2.34 ERA, 11 Quality Starts out of 13). Had we had all of these guys for an entire season – and a somewhat competent batch of hitters – we’d certainly be running away with this division. Unfortunately, we only had Lee for May & June; we lost out on a month with Fister due to his Dead Arm, and their replacements have been ordinary at best to disasters at worst.
At the moment, we have for the rest of the season Felix, Vargas, Fister, Rowland-Smith (who’s been pretty terrible) and Fill In The Blank. Erik Bedard might come back, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was inevitably shut down for the season sooner rather than later. David Pauley started a game and was okay. Luke French has dominated in Tacoma and has not in Seattle. And, of course, Ian Snell is no more.
In other words, what’s been the strongest asset to our 2010 team is sure to be much worse going forward. With the crappiness of our 4th & 5th starters, combined with the question: can Vargas & Fister REALLY keep this up over a full season? Fister’s already had issues with dead arm, and they’re talking about limiting Vargas over the 2nd half as this will be his heaviest load to date at the rate he’s going.
And now, the Bullpen. Here’s how it shakes out:
David Aardsma – Closer
Brandon League – 8th Inning Set-Up
Shawn Kelley – DL
Sean White – Crap
Chad Cordero – Crap
Garrett Olson – Left Handed Crap
Brian Sweeney – Long Relief (and surprisingly effective for a 36 year old coming off two seasons in Japan)
By the way, just because I listed “Closer” and “8th Inning Set-Up” next to Aardsma and League doesn’t mean that they aren’t also “Crap”.
There’s nothing more to really say. Aardsma has been much more hittable this year. League has a devastating split-fingered pitch he’s most reluctant to use since he doesn’t want batters to “get used to it.” So, he’s either wild or he’s hittable with his fastball/sinker. Kelley might be our most effective reliever (now that Lowe is gone) but he can’t stay healthy for a full season, so what’s the point? He’s the Mike Sweeney of our bullpen, minus about a decade. Chad Cordero ceased being a Feel-Good Comeback Story when his ERA ballooned to over 6.50 with a fastball in the high-80s. Sean White and Garrett Olson just need to go.
And that’s it. As for defense: our outfield is solid and spectacular. Short Stop has been a strength. 2nd and 3rd base have been underwhelming. Casey Kotchman is the best 1st Baseman alive, but he can’t hit his weight. Catcher is attrocious.
We’re 7 games past the halfway point and doing our damnedest to not lose 100 ballgames. At this point, losing only 99 games would be like winning the World Series. I’m not looking forward to the second half. Felix & Ichiro are the only reasons to care at all. But, even with all the losing and disappointment, you can’t say 2010 hasn’t been interesting