See, this was the Spring Training preview. Now, we’re talking about the Regular Season. Big difference.
This is the first of a weekend-long bonanza of Mariners-related preview & prediciton posts. In addition to this (which is really just a response to the above-linked Spring Training Preview, where I comment on how the team has turned out compared to my original predictions), I’m going to come at you with guns blazing.
In some order, I’m going to unleash the full force of my Inner-Homer and tell you why the 2013 Seattle Mariners are the best thing ever. And I’m also going to unleash the full force of my Inner-Self-Loathing-Skeptic and tell you why this team is going to be a huge, embarrassing failure. Should be some good times!
As for my predictions, I nailed the bats except for one. Jason Bay is looking more and more like that 25th man over Casper Wells, which is entirely unexpected yet expected at the same time. I mean, who could have believed that Bay – after two Figginsian years wandering the desert with a plastic inflatable bat – had enough punch to earn his way onto this team? But, as I said before, this team has pretty much seen all it’s going to see out of Casper Wells. He had 31 games over two months in 2011 and 93 games over a semi-full season last year. We had multiple openings in the outfield these past two seasons; he had PLENTY of chances to earn his roster spot. It goes to show the level of discomfort the Mariners felt that they had to sign Jason Bay to a minor league contract. And, to his credit, Jason Bay held up over this past month of Spring Training. So, there you go.
The only saving grace for Wells is if the team opts to put Guti on the DL to start the season (still an outside chance). In my heart of hearts, I kind of hope this happens. Let’s face it, it’s pretty easy to distrust these Spring numbers out of Bay. I’d like to see what he can do over the course of the month of April – when the weather is at its coldest, and the games actually mean something to all parties involved – to see if he is ACTUALLY worth the roster spot, or if he’s an Arizona mirage that will turn out to be a cardboard cutout of an oasis.
Either that, or, you know, just put Wells on the DL. Fake some kind of an injury. Don’t tell me this hasn’t been done before! You telling me Wells is going to blow the whistle on this happening? What organization would trust him if he did?
Anyway, God, enough about that. Regarding the pitching staff, I was kinda WAY off.
The obvious was Felix, Saunders, and Iwakuma in some order. The last two spots I botched entirely, but I would say this was circumstantial more than it was a flaw in my logic. Had Jon Garland not had that clause in his contract forcing the team’s hand a week prematurely, I have the strong belief that he would still be on this team today (over Maurer, most likely). It was always going to come down to Beavan and Ramirez for a spot. Neither really dominated the issue. And when Ramirez came down with arm tightness, that sealed his deal right there.
To be honest, Beavan and Maurer are only marginally more interesting than Ramirez & Garland, but in the end, does it really matter? Does anyone see Blake Beavan sticking around for the full season? I sure don’t. I’d be pleasantly surprised if Maurer doesn’t get sent down as well, but I have a feeling the team will have a much shorter leash with him than they did with Noesi last year. The luxury of more options in Tacoma: you gotta love it.
In the bullpen, I didn’t see this team NOT keeping a long reliever, what with all the fringe #5 starters we have in this organization. But, you know, them’s the breaks. I still don’t think it’s all that wise to go without. Let’s look at the facts: none of the arms are built up to the point where they can go much past 100 pitches for this first month. What happens if Iwakuma only manages to go 4 or 5 innings, followed by Saunders getting lit up? That’s a lot of taxation of your bullpen, and you haven’t even gotten to your #4 or #5 starters!
For the entire month of April, the Seattle Mariners have one off-day (smack-dab in the middle on the 15th). They play the likes of the A’s, the White Sox (in Chicago, where they always thrash us), the Rangers twice, the Angels, the Tigers, and they close out with the Orioles. Six games, over two series, with the Houston Astros are the only reprieve we will see in this early going. Aside from those scrubs, we’re looking at some hefty offenses. The starting rotation (Felix aside) is easily our shakiest aspect of this team. You do the math. If our bottom four starters don’t carry their share of the mail, this bullpen could be wiped out.
Aside from that quibble, I’m more than a little happy that Carter Capps is taking up the spot vacated by having no long reliever. He’s worth it, and he’s totally due. That guy is going to kick more ass than a buddy movie featuring Frank Dux and Chuck Norris. Kameron Loe is another guy who made the team against my predictions. He’s filling in for the injured Josh Kinney (60-Day DL, probably played his last game as a Mariner) and will kick significantly less ass.
As far as numbers are concerned, I got 22 of 25 correct (though, initially I predicted Beavan as a bullpen arm; I’m still counting him as he DID make the team). Went with the wrong aging veteran reclamation project (Garland over Bay) and went with the wrong young starter with minor league options (Ramirez over Maurer). Oh so close.