Monday, May 23, 2011

Mariners Refuse to Die

Last time I wrote the obituary for the 2011 season. Well, a 6-1 week now leaves the Seattle Mariners only 1.5 games behind the first place Rangers changes my outlook.

Texas and Anaheim are the favorites to win the division but the Mariners have the best group of starters in the division. Michael Pineda outperforms even the most optimistic projections, Erik Bedard is throwing efficiently(???!!), Felix is Felix while Doug Fister and Jason Vargas are maximizing their decent stuff. If the anemic offense picks up a bit and the bullpen continues to overachieve... who knows?

The arrivals of Carlos Peguero and Mike Wilson have introduced some brute strength to the lineup. Carlos in particular has been crushing the ball -- when he makes contact. Neither one is particularly a good defender but the bats will play in left field.

Franklin Gutierrez's return should have the M's strongly consider dropping Michael Saunders to AAA where he can play everyday and beat up on inferior pitching. He looks lost and needs to regain his confidence. It worked for Justin Smoak last year.

In a few weeks Dustin Ackley will be called up. If Seattle can hover around .500 until then the team will have to seriously consider buying before the trade deadline.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

R.I.P. 2011 Seattle Mariners

Following a valiant 8-2 stretch that pushed the M's to the brink of a .500 record they proceeded to lose six straight games, some in spectacular late-inning fashion. The week-long debacle was a total team failure: the bats went silent, pitchers threw erratic and the effort was lacking (here's looking at you, Figgins).

Hell even Felix failed.

Of course the worst sins were committed by closer Brandon League, who was Bobby Ayala-esque in his last four appearances:

05/13@ CLE0.2333100
05/12@ BAL0.1222000
05/10@ BAL0.2422001
05/08vs CHW1.1333002

Four losses, three blown saves, too many fuckups and no shot at the playoffs for the Mariners. Not that Seattle had a good shot at October baseball anyway but after Saturday's washout the team remains at 16-23. Reaching 90 wins to have even a glimmer of playoff hope the M's need to play 74-49 the rest of the season. That's a .600 clip and that ain't gonna be sustained (not by this mediocre club anyway) through 4 1/2 months.

That being said there's still a lot to played for. A complete tailspin will likely cost Jack Zduriencik his job and enable the dualing idiots Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong to undo the great strides Z & Co. have made with the franchise from top to bottom. Justin Smoak, Michael Pineda and (hopefully) Michael Saunders will continue to develop as the team's future core. Franklin Gutierrez is primed to return as soon as next week. Dustin Ackley is killing the baseball lately and is scheduled to make his MLB debut in June.

So while it may be over it really isn't.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Mariners Begin to Perform

A satisfying 5-1 road trip at Detroit and Boston has lifted the Seattle Mariners to a 13-16 record. Still not good but the M's are no longer MLB bottom feeders. Suck it Twins!

Jack Cust and Chone Figgins are starting to hit, mighty Miguel Olivo is mashing the ball hard (including a hilarious warning track home run) and Justin Smoak returned from his father's funeral as the middle-of-the-lineup thumper everyone in the Emerald City hoped he would be. Once the offense went from abysmal to feisty (tons of walks, annoying singles and the occasional barrage) the wins began to rack up.

The pitching has been tremendous during this stretch as well. Erik Bedard threw a nifty gem against the Tigers, earning his first win in two years while Michael Pineda continues to impress with a 97-mph heater. Relief arms Aaron Laffey, Jamey Wright and David Pauley have been surprisingly (and unsustainable-y) efficient.

Huge homestand starting on Tuesday as division leader Texas and struggling Chicago come into Safeco Field.