HAHAHAHAHAHA (wipes tear from corner of left eye)
As you can tell I have half a mind to just cut it off here and say they don’t have a chance. But for the sake of them making the playoffs I’ll try.
To be clear, the only reason I’d want them to make it into the post-season is so that in the off chance that they win the wild card matchup (The Rangers are taking the division, if not them then Anaheim is. No chance for Seattle in the division.) they would play my Detroit Tigers in the next matchup. Hence, because I live in the Pacific Northwest, I’d be able to go to the games. But enough of my selfish wants, back to the Mariners.
Do they have a chance? Yes. But then again the Pirates have had a “chance” for the last decade and change.
Seattle has it tough division-wise. They aren’t like the Blue Jays, who in another division could be successful. One, the Mariners aren’t in a position (pun intended) geographically to be in another division, and two, they wouldn’t be any better off in any other division. As stated the M’s will struggle with the Rangers and Angels, and even the A’s if Brandon Inge keeps driving in runs.
But, if the Mariners want to contend they need to make changes, because the current roster might not cut it.
Starting with the infield, Dustin Ackley is a good second baseman as it is and will only get better. So that spot seems to be nailed down for the next decade if everything plays out the right way for Seattle. Brendan Ryan is also a good option at shortstop, maybe better defensively than offensively, but he has his moments. At the corners there are concerns. Kyle Seager has been on a relative tear lately, but is rather on the green side of things. He’ll hit a wall at some point, and the problem becomes “what do you do with him?” After Seager at third the M’s have Alex Liddi, Chone Figgins and possibly Munenori Kawasaki. Liddi has shown flashes, but like Seager will hit a wall. The Figgy Pudding seems to have spoiled and Kawasaki is more valuable because of his ability to play multiple positions as a utility guy. Point here being that when Seager hits a wall, the M’s need a viable replacement or compliment. First base is a curious one. Justin Smoak has struggled this year and needs to get it going. After him on the depth chart is Mike Carp and Liddi. Carp will get a lot of his starts in the outfield, and Liddi isn’t an amazing first baseman. There is also the off chance of Jesus Montero getting the occasional start there. The M’s should be fine if Smoak can get his act together. If he can’t they may need to find another first baseman to put in a timeshare with him, or take the job away all together.
The outfield is a mess. And for a few different reasons. Ichiro is in right field. We know that. What we don’t know is the other two spots. Carp is currently in left. Michael Saunders is holding down the fort in center, while Franklin Gutierrez is on the DL. Once Guti (as the kids call him) comes back the outfield could be very mix-and-match-y. Saunders gives the team some power and will steal a base, but he hasn’t hit well for average and that could be somewhat of a concern. Carp can do a little bit of everything with the bat and has shown he is a productive everyday player. You have those three plus Casper Wells and a host of outfielders in Tacoma all fighting for two spots.
Catcher is really the one spot where Seattle can say it measures up to most other Major League teams. Jesus Montero is going to be good. John Jaso is another quality option as is Miguel Olivo. All in all a solid group.
While the offense is a general mess, the Mariners pitching staff is pretty good. Felix Hernandez is second only to Justin Verlander in terms of pitchers. Jason Vargas might very well be the most underrated pitcher in the game. Over the past couple years he has received some of the worst run support in the league and has escaped with 19 wins in the past two years to 25 losses. We saw what a former Mariner pitcher can do with run support last year as Doug Fister went bonkers on the mound down the stretch for Detroit. Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan are still unproven, while Kevin Millwood has been iffy at home and great on the road. Which is odd seeing as Safeco Field is a premier pitchers park and the road, well is the road.
The bullpen is a curious bunch. Brandon League might be on the overrated side of things but still gets the job done. Tom Wilhelmsen is a nice 7th inning option as is Steve Delabar, but the M’s are using them as setup men when they could use a real back-up closer for League. A back-up closer like a Rafael Soriano or Jouquin Benoit would make this bullpen loads better. As far as swing-men types go the M’s have a couple. Charlie Furbush is a decent option, as is Hisashi Iwakuma, but Seattle could use one solid long relief arm to pair with one of the two for the bullpen to work.
All in all there are some holes. Lots offensively, fewer from a pitching perspective, but the question now becomes: “Will the Mariners trade some of their youth to get better veterans to make a playoff push?”
(Sighs, once again starts laughing hysterically: “Mariners… and…the playoffs?”)