Anybody else sick and tired of playing the A’s & Angels? Well, you’re in luck! On a side note, I hope you like playing the Rangers & Astros!
I tweeted this thought out yesterday and I’d like to expound upon it today: yes, the Mariners’ offense has looked pretty piss-poor at times. But, aside from that one game against the Angels, all of our poor offensive outings have come against the A’s. The A’s, as you know, have one of the best pitching staffs in the Major Leagues (even WITH the injuries they’ve suffered). They especially have one of the most incredible bullpens I’ve seen in a long time. If the game is tied and both starters have left the game, you should just bank on the fact that the A’s are going to win that game eventually. They might finish you off in regulation, they might require an extra 7-12 innings, but they’re GOING to beat you. It’s just a fact.
So, a lot of people are waking up this morning, they’re checking out the box score, and they’re seeing a LOT of averages well under the .250 range. Almonte & Miller have struggled mightily of late. Aside from a few homers, Hart & Smoak haven’t done the job consistently. Kyle Seager is probably trying too hard at this point; he needs the calendar to flip to May in the worst way. Stefen Romero likely needs to take a step back (to Tacoma) before he can take that step forward and remain on the big league roster. Logan Morrison doesn’t look like he belongs anywhere NEAR a Major League roster and should probably stop getting so much playing time.
My point in all this is: the bats have gone cold, and people are freaking out. “Same Ol’ Mariners” and whatnot. But, I’m here to say: they’re not as bad of an offense as they looked against Oakland. Just like they’re not as GOOD of an offense as they looked against Anaheim (because Anaheim’s pitching is a trainwreck; a beautiful, blessed trainwreck).
I will say this: right field is a zoo right now. Logan Morrison should be a triple-A lifer. Michael Saunders has reached his full potential (which is a 4th or 5th outfielder who mostly comes in as a late defensive replacement, and should NEVER be starting on a regular basis). And Stefen Romero just plain isn’t ready to handle the load (also doesn’t help that he’s not getting regular playing time; only starting when we face the occasional left-handed starting pitcher). I hear that fans are calling for Kendrys Morales, but that just sounds idiotic to me. Unless you’re ready to cut ties with Smoak and platoon Morales & Hart at first base (two old guys with creaky knees who are no damn good at fielding what is widely considered the easiest defensive position in baseball), I don’t see the point. Especially when you consider the fact that NO ONE has established themselves in right field.
I have no ties to Logan Morrison, so ostensibly I should be a little more open to giving him a chance. After all, new is different, and different isn’t Michael Saunders, who has proven through YEARS of his inconsistent-at-best play that he’s not the guy to handle the job full time. But, Logan Morrison has never proven he’s belonged in the Majors either. At best, he’s proven that he’s had potential, but a bunch of knee injuries and aging doesn’t make you a BETTER baseball player. I know, crazy right?
I’ve made my peace with Corey Hart. He is what he is: a home run waiting to happen. He’s not going to bat much better than .200-.220 in the average department, but he’s going to hit JUST enough homers to be somewhat useful. I’ve also made my peace with Justin Smoak. He’s a streaky hitter whose cold streaks dwarf his hot streaks. I’m coming around on Ackley as being a solid bottom-of-the-order guy who hits for average. Almonte and Miller will come around. Zunino should probably hang around .250 all year with some well-needed pop in his bat. Cano is a godsend, of course. And I fully expect Seager’s bat to jump start just as soon as May 1st comes around. I feel like if things broke right with our pitching staff, we MAYBE could contend with those eight positions set.
But, I’m afraid that right field is forever going to be a black hole for this team. And I don’t see a whole lotta options out there.
Is it time to convert Nick Franklin to full time outfield? Is this Cole Gillespie guy down in Tacoma ready for the jump? Do we give Endy Chavez another go? He’s a proven singles machine who’s not bad defensively, but brings nothing else to the table as a hitter. Is James Jones or Xavier Avery ready for the call? Moreover, how much more time do we give LoMo, Saunders, and Romero? I’m almost 100% sure Saunders doesn’t have any options left, so we should probably hang onto him as a 4th outfielder type. LoMo and Romero both DO have options, so they can go anytime. I’d still like to see Romero get some steady playing time over the course of a full week to see if he can get into some kind of rhythm, but if all three of these guys continue to struggle through the upcoming road trip, I’d seriously think about making some moves.
The Mariners went 2-3 last week. It’s not the end of the world, but then again don’t forget that James Paxton went on the DL after the home opener and it’s PROBABLY worse than we thought. He had an injection, which almost never does the trick. We never really got definitive news on the MRI, so that’s a little off-putting. Blake Beavan is making his 2014 Mariners debut this week down in Texas. And Hisashi Iwakuma still hasn’t thrown a split-fingered fastball yet. I’m just waiting for the news that he reinjured his finger because it causes too much strain when he throws that splitter.
Lord help us, they got us again …
We’re 4-1 against Anaheim and now we’re 2-4 against Oakland. Felix is 3-0 and everyone else is 3-5. It’s too early to start making bold statements, but these next two weeks are going to be VERY telling. At Texas for 4, at Miami for 3; home against Houston for 3 and home against Texas for 3 more. The Mariners have already proven they’re the better team than the Angels. They’ve proven they’re currently inferior to the A’s. It would be nice to get a big jumpstart on the Rangers and make this a two-team race for the A.L. West.