Catch Part I HERE.
To be honest, it’s been two days of this and I’m already bored and frustrated by rehashing the 2013 Mariners season. I’d quit right here, but then what kind of Seattle sports blogger would I be? A half-assed one, that’s what! Well, I’ll have you know that I’m determined to use my whole ass starting right now! So, get used to it!
The best and only hitters you could reasonably qualify as “good” on this team in 2013 were Kendrys Morales and Kyle Seager. Morales, as we’re all well aware, was received in trade for Jason Vargas. Not to get too deep into this, I’ll just say that the Mariners traded a strength to fill a weakness and essentially came out even in the deal. I don’t necessarily know what Vargas did in Anaheim and I don’t care, because what he did there has no bearing on what he would have done in a Mariners uniform.
I like Morales. I don’t love him. I don’t think he’s worth $14 million a season and I don’t think he’s worth having around for more than two years (three tops, but that’s really pushing it). Apparently, the Mariners have either extended a qualifying offer to him (for the aforementioned $14 million) or are going to extend him a qualifying offer, but either way it doesn’t sound like he’s going to accept it. Either that means the Mariners reach some sort of multi-year deal with him, or they let him go to another team and receive some sort of first round draft compensation.
So, what does the 2013 Kendrys Morales season mean to me? Well, if he ends up going to another team, it’ll mean absolutely nothing. We kind of figured he’d be a one-year-and-done player anyway when we traded for him; and besides, who really wants to stay with the Mariners for longer than they have to? Besides Felix (God bless you, sweet Felix). And, if Morales stays around for another three years? Then, his 2013 season showed us that he’s still got it. What is “it”? Well, on the one hand, you can look at him and say he’s an over-priced quasi-slugger who has no business playing in the field, and offers nothing in the base-running game, so his value is limited. Or, on the other hand, you can look at him and say he’s easily the best designated hitter we’ve had since Edgar Martinez.
Are you a Glass Half Empty guy or a Glass Half Full? Yeah, he’s going to cost us a lot of money if he stays. But, he beats the fucking shit out of the Carl Everetts and Jose Vidros of the fucking world. So, calm the fuck down. It’s not your money. Besides, it’s about time the Mariners start shelling out some dough so I don’t have to watch a colossal bunch of fuck-ups year-in and year-out.
Kyle Seager, on the other hand, is our little third base pride and joy. He’s steady as the day is long. 30+ doubles, 20+ homers, solid defense. He’s a true middle-of-the-order (anywhere from 2-5 in the lineup) hitter and best of all: he’s actually someone we drafted and cultivated from our very own farm system! I’m starting to doubt that he’ll ever be that perennial All Star, but I’ll tell you what: I’d give anything to have eight more hitters just like him at all the other positions. And, you gotta figure that sooner or later he’s going to really pop and have a year where he bats .330 with maybe 40 doubles and 30 homers. Wouldn’t shock me in the slightest.
Of course, it also wouldn’t shock me if he just fell off the face of the Earth, because that’s what everyone else does in this organization.
Dustin Ackley had something of a bounce-back year, at least at the plate. I’m not ready to start sucking his dick and writing him in as an everyday player for this team going forward, but let’s just say I’m cautiously encouraged. He absolutely stunk through the first two months of the season, somehow batting even worse than he did in 2012 (which I didn’t think was physically possible for him). The Mariners finally had to send him back down to Tacoma because, Jesus Christ, he was batting .205 again! In Tacoma, he proceeded to fuck everyone’s shit up and found himself back in the Majors by the end of June. Of course, at this point, Nick Franklin had usurped his job at second base, so the organization converted him back to a center fielder.
His defense wasn’t the worst I’d ever seen, but he was clearly the team’s third best center fielder (behind Guti & Michael Saunders), and maybe even the fourth best (behind Endy Chavez). Whereas his second base defense was quite solid, his center field defense was doing his WAR no favors. And, when he returned to the Mariners, his batting average cratered to a season-low .194. He more-or-less struggled through July and everyone thought he was done. Too good for Triple-A, but not good enough for the Majors. Just another Jeremy Reed. Then, something happened. He caught fire in August with this line: .390/.420/.597/1.017, raising his season average to .258 in the process. He coasted on that hot August through September to finish the season with a .253 average. Rubes have hope for the future of Dustin Ackley. The rest of us jaded fucks have our doubts.
Justin Smoak was similarly interesting, in that he started shitty, missed some time, came back, and peaked somewhere in July. He tailed off at the end of the year leaving us all to believe this is just who he is. A .240-ish hitter with minimal pop and okay defense at first base.
Michael Saunders was more distressing than anything. Everyone thought he had turned a corner in 2012 after fiddling with his batting stance in the off-season. For him to take a step back the way he did in 2013, you can’t help but think he’s a fourth outfielder at best. Essentially, 2014 will be his last shot, but who knows if he’ll even HAVE a last shot? The team seems pretty set on going full-boar in finding some new outfielders to replace the gaping holes we’ve had for the better part of a half decade.
Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, and Mike Zunino were three call-ups in 2013 who were all probably rushed into starting Major League jobs before they were ready. Miller acquitted himself well, though his propensity for defensive blunders are a little nerve-wracking. Franklin started off a house afire, but he really struggled the longer he remained in the starting lineup. I know when Ackley was on his torrid streak, people were calling to move him back to his old second base job, but at that point you can’t start jerking people around (especially when there was nothing to play for this season except for experience, which Franklin got in spades). Zunino gets an incomplete because he broke his hamate bone and missed a bunch of time. His leadership and defensive abilities are a welcome addition. But, he’s still pretty raw at the plate.
In a nutshell, this season was defined by the veterans and how they failed us. I already went over the veteran starting pitchers who totally stunk up the joint. Well, they were joined by guys like Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Jason Bay, Brendan Ryan, Endy Chavez, Kelly Shoppach, Henry Blanco, Robert Andino, and of course, the oft-injured Guti. All brought in (or retained) with the intent to add “leadership” to our young core.
Ibanez tied the record for most home runs by a senior citizen with 29. That was good for a lark, especially when he managed to bash 24 of them before the All Star Break. Hell, we all thought he was going to SHATTER the record. But, of course, what happens when you let a 41 year old play every fucking day? His production goes down the shitter. 5 more homers the rest of the way. And, if you think I’m talking about Ibanez’s home runs too much, that’s because his homers were literally the ONLY thing he was bringing to the table. We couldn’t play him at DH where he belonged, because that’s where Kendrys Morales belonged (and, truth be told, it’s also where Mike Morse and Jason Bay belonged, but they can’t ALL be designated hitters). So, we got to enjoy Raul’s baffling defense in left field on a near-everyday basis. Lucky us.
It was no better with Morse in right, but at least he was injured for most of the season. His first couple of weeks were pretty intense; it looked like he might mash 50 homers. Since this is Morse we’re talking about, you had to figure his body would break down. I guess that’s what happens when you’re no longer free to take steroids as much as you’d like.
I refuse to acknowledge the presence of any of the other veteran hitters on this team because each one is worse than the last. I’ve already blown through way too many words on this group of hitters as it is, so I’ll cut this short and save some stuff for tomorrow when I look at what the Mariners should do this off-season. If you catch me writing anything other than “Blow the whole fucking thing up,” then I encourage you to write your congressman and have me put in prison.