Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
Hello Mariner fans! I have deliberately refrained from writing any blogs about the Mariners recently because I wanted to ensure that we had a large enough sample size of games to evaluate the team. Well, after watching Tom Wilhelmsen blow his fourth save opportunity over the last 3 weeks and the Mariners struggle to score any runs at all against the team with the worst record in baseball, the Houston Astros, I believe it is time for my silence to end. We will start by taking a look at my published pre-season and early season statements and predictions about the 2013 Mariners, just to see if I knew what I was talking about. I believe you may find it enlightening. You can call it Mark’s Mariner Pre-Season Prediction Score Card. Here we go…
Mark’s Pre-Season Prediction #1: On 29 December, 2012 I published a blog about the Mariners entitled “Why Bringing in the Fences and a New Score Board Won’t Help the Mariners”. The article criticizes the Mariners for making moves such as bringing in the fences at Safeco Field and spending $10 million on a new state of the art digital TV screen/scoreboard while ignoring what needed to be done to put a winning team on the field. In that article I stated the following:
“What really galls me though, is bringing in the fences. On the face of it this is a gesture made with the hopes of improving the Mariner offense; an offense that has set new standards for futility over the last few seasons. Well…it won’t work and for a very simple reason; the location of the fences is NOT the reason for the Mariners offensive woes. I think the reason they are doing it is that someone observed that this batch of Mariners hit better on the road than they did at the Safe or listened to Justin Smoak bitch about how he had crushed that pitch that was just caught on the warning track, and so decided on bringing in the fences as the solution…It is no solution. If the Mariners hitters are ‘psyched-out’ by Safeco Field’s dimensions the problem is their “psyche” not the dimensions of the field. As a fan I am REALLY tired of the kind of “logic” exhibited by actions like ‘bringing in the fences’ because it gets us no closer to winning a World Series. To fix anything that is non optimum, like the Mariner’s offense, you must find and address the actual cause and not things that are mere explanations.”
So far this season the Mariners have proved me correct. They continue to reside at the bottom of Major League team batting average, on base percentage, runs scored and hitting with runners in scoring position. The other day against the Yankees, Felix Hernandez pitched 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run and the Mariners lost. On Sunday I went to Safeco and watched the Mariners lose to the Yanks 2-1. Tonight against the league worst Astros the Mariners took a 1-0 lead into the ninth and then imploded allowing the Astros to score 6 runs in the final frame thus snatching another defeat from the jaws of victory. Though the Mariners have hit more homers this year the net effect is that the Mariner offense still sucks as they have not addressed the real reason for their struggles; poor plate discipline by the Mariner hitters who, with only a couple exceptions (Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales, both of whom have On Base Percentages hovering around .350) are constantly swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.
Mark’s Pre-Season Prediction #2: On January 13th, 2013 I published a blog announcing the trade of pitcher Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels for First Baseman/Designated Hitter Kendrys Morales. In that article I stated the following:
“If I am critical of the Mariners for not being pro active enough to help the team this off season, then I should be man enough to acknowledge them when they do something right. This trade is a good one for the Mariners. Kendrys Morales will help this team.”
Once again I was right. Morales through the first 65 games leads the team in Batting Average (.292), On Base Percentage (.351) and Runs Batted In (35). The trade for Morales was a good one for the Mariners.
Mark’s Pre-Season Prediction #3: On January 23rd, 2013 I wrote and published a blog entitiled “Mariners Trade of Jaso for Morse Paves Fast Track to the Bigs for Mike Zunino”. (If you don’t know, Mike Zunino is a highly touted catcher who the Mariners drafted with their number one pick, the third pick overall, in last year’s draft. He is considered one of the top prospects in all of Major League baseball.) In that blog I stated the following:
“Though he does not have much professional experience, it is very possible that Zunino is Major League ready now. Spring training will tell the tale. If he does not make the roster out of spring expect him to be called up by mid season with the Mariners bringing some other catcher in temporarily until Zunino is ready.”
Well fans, here we are in mid June with the season not even half way over and Mike Zunino just got called up by the Mariners. On Wednesday, June 12th, he started his first game and on his second at bat drilled a single up the middle. The first time a runner tried to steal second on Zunino the runner was thrown out by such a wide margin that he just gave up and stopped running 3 feet short of the base, not even bothering to slide. For us fans used to the struggles of Jesus Montero behind the plate, Zunino’s throw was a sight for sore eyes. And once again, my prediction was correct.
Mark’s Pre-Season Prediction #4: On 21 April, 2013, shortly after the season started I wrote a blog entitled “Tammy Says Mariners are Hard to Watch; I Can’t Argue”. Though the article was written with my tongue firmly in cheek, the point I was making was serious enough; that Dustin Ackley was seriously sucking, as was Brendan Ryan at the time, while we had two young players down in Tacoma (the Mariners AAA affiliate), Nick Franklin and Carlos Triunfel, who played the same positions as Ryan and Ackley and who were both hitting over .300 with great On Base Percentages. I closed that article with the following statement:
“…I flicked off the Mariners and went back to studying Nick Franklin and Carlos Triunfel stats on my computer. Considering the circumstances I thought it the most productive thing I could do… I have a feeling we may be seeing both players soon.”
A couple weeks ago Dustin Ackley was sent down to Tacoma and both Nick Franklin and Carlos Triunfel were brought up to the Mariners. Since then Franklin is hitting over .300 and looks to be the Mariner second baseman of the future. Once again my prediction was correct.
So Mariner fans, while I have never been one to toot my own horn, facts are facts. I am batting 1.000 on my pre and early season predictions for the Mariners. But, my predictions notwithstanding, I am as frustrated with the Mariners as the many fans who will be demanding that Eric Wedge and Jack Zduriencik be fired if this season doesn’t show major improvement. Regardless, I still feel that the best option for the Mariners is to stay the course. We need to stick with these guys. Through all the gloom of the blown Mariner saves and walk off hits for the other team, I think that the parts of what could be a championship team are slowly starting to come together. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have pitched great. Kyle Seager is turning into a first rate Major League hitter and third baseman and Nick Franklin looks more and more like he belongs in the Bigs. And I will say it now…Mike Zunino will be an All Star within two years.
As tough as it is for the Mariners right now, I predict good things in the not too distant future.
By Mark Arnold
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