Before we get into the nitty gritty of the Hot Stove Action (which, spoiler alert: no big splashes for the M’s this year), I’m closing the case on the 2010 Mariners with a little rundown of the players. Who WERE these people? These people who comprised a team that was 30th in runs scored (513), 30th in batting average (.236), 30th in on-base percentage (.298), 30th in slugging percentage (.339), and 30th in home runs (101).
For your reference: there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball.
Yes, it was a crappy, crappy year. And instead of regurgitating thousands upon thousands of words on all the suck-asses – which I think I pretty well covered in my Award Winning Series “A Paragraph With The Mariners” – I’ll focus on the bright spots. The shining lights. The only reasons anyone should have cared about the 2010 Mariners and indeed the only reasons anyone should probably care about the 2011 squad.
#1 – Felix Hernandez
Our King has his Cy Young! I won’t bore you with his numbers, you can find them anywhere (including many different points on this site), but here’s the one number you should keep in mind: 25. That’s how old he will be at the start of next season. Yeah, he’s 25 years old and has been in his prime for the last two years. He might go down as one of the top five right handed pitchers of all time.
#2 – Ichiro
The only player to hit over .300. The only batter who actually managed to do his fucking job. He won his 10th Gold Glove, and as far as I know he’s the only guy to do that in his first 10 seasons in Major League Baseball. Mr. Consistency is his game, with another 200-hit season under his belt. I just can’t believe how incredible he is, at an age where players start breaking down physically, Ichiro keeps chugging along, getting just as many infield hits as ever. He’s at 2,244 hits for his career; I think without question he gets to 3,000. If he does so in a Mariners uniform, I gotta wonder, will he be the greatest Seattle Mariner of all time? It’s up for debate.
#3 – Franklin Gutierrez
I know he faltered at the plate in the second half of the season, but a .245 batting average was still good for 3rd on this team. Nevertheless, he won his first Gold Glove a year after the point where he SHOULD have won his first Gold Glove (I guess it takes at least a season for reputation to set in among the coaches and such). Durability is certainly a concern with Franklin, as he’s broken down in the second halves of the last two years (not so much as to actually go on the DL, but enough to inhibit his productivity at the plate); but you know what? I’ll take Gold Glove center fielding like his any day over the alternative. One of these seasons, he’s going to take the next step with the bat, and when he does, he should be a cornerstone of a playoff baseball team. Hopefully, he’s still with us when it happens.
#4 – Jason Vargas
31 starts, 21 quality starts. The 27 year old left hander really took advantage of all that Safeco Field had to offer. And it didn’t take him three over-paid seasons to do it Jarrod Washburn! Vargas threw 192 innings all while making under a half a mil. That’s bang for your buck! With his ERA under 4, I will take a carbon copy of that season from him again and again and again.
#5 – Cliff Lee
Because he’s dreamy. Because he makes my heart swoon. And he’s this low because he only actually played for us for 2 months. But they were 2 of the most glorious months on record! 89 strike outs, 6 walks, a 2.34 ERA and an 8-3 record in 13 starts. He won’t be a part of the magic that is 2011, but here’s to hoping he also won’t be a part of the Yankees in 2011.
#6 – Doug Fister
Call him Vargas-lite. He missed a month, but he was still an innings eater. And his ERA stopped climbing once it got to 4.11 at season’s end, so there’s that. Hopefully, with the full year under his belt, a little west and welaxation over the winter break, he’ll be strong enough for a 2011 season that will need more of the same from him if the team expects to not lose 100 games again.
To be honest with you, that’s all the praise I feel comfortable giving out. Honorable mention to Aardsma for his 31 saves; here’s to hoping he’s the right trade chip at the right time to get back someone of substance this offseason. Honorable mention also to Brandon League, future closer; here’s to hoping he rediscovers his forkball and stops fucking blowing saves hand over fist. A final honorable mention to Russell Branyan; here’s to hoping you come back cheap, and if you don’t, then it was nice knowing you and your lofty solo homers. Safeco will be the same without you.