Expectations for the Seattle Mariners have been very high the past few years, and why not? When you sign Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, you expect to compete for a playoff berth. Since the Cano signing, the Mariners have gone 327-321. Hardly a competitive team at just above .500. It’s hard to pinpoint one cause for their underachieving. Could it be injuries? Injuries played a huge role last year with guys like James Paxton and Mitch Haniger spending time on the DL. Both were having breakout campaigns at the time. Maybe it was their relief core; Edwin Diaz certainly wasn’t the closer everyone expected him to be at the start of the season, and while he pitched well enough, he was never dominant in his role. Could it be Cano’s down year in power? Kyle Seager’s slow start? There are many questions, but one thing is for certain, the last few years have not gone the Mariners’ way. With teams like Houston on the rise, the Wild Card seems like the best bet for a team of their caliber, but have they made enough moves to finally grab that playoff spot come 2018?
Their first move was, I think, an underrated one. That is, of course, acquiring Ryon Healy from the division rival Oakland Athletics. They gave up Emilio Pagan and Alexander Campos to nab Healy from the A’s. Healy played in 149 games last year with a stat-line of .271/.302/.451; he also hit 25 home runs with 78 RBI. It would be encouraging to see more walks from Healy, but the power is legit and he should be a good addition to that Seattle lineup. This fills a huge hole they had at 1B. He has five cost-controlled years left on his contract, which makes this deal even more appealing.
Their second move was bolder. They grabbed Dee Gordon from a team that is selling everyone they have, the Miami Marlins. While the move seemed strange at the time with Cano firmly positioned at 2B, the Mariners announced that Dee Gordon would be their starting centerfielder. I had the Mariners pegged to sign speedy outfielder Lorenzo Cain this off-season, but Dee Gordon makes just as much sense for a team that likes speed in their outfield. Gordon last year put up a .308/.341/.375 slash-line in 2017 with 60 steals.
Altogether, these moves made for a well-rounded lineup that should look something like this in 2018.
- Dee Gordon
- Jean Segura
- Robinson Cano
- Nelson Cruz
- Kyle Seager
- Ryon Healy
- Mitch Haniger
- Ben Gamel
- Mike Zunino
Unfortunately, they have not addressed their biggest need, and that is pitching. Outside of James Paxton, who has health questions of his own, they have no-one they can count on in the rotation. King Felix is a huge question mark at this point in his career. Mike Leake was inconsistent at best with the Cardinals in 2017, and while he pitched well with the Mariners (3-1 with a 2.59 ERA), we don’t know if that is the Mike Leake we see in 2018. The last two pitching slots should be a competition between Marco Gonzalez, Andrew Moore, Erasmo Ramirez, and Ariel Miranda. Add that rotation up and it simply doesn’t match up to a Wild Card-winning staff. Now the off-season is far from over and with names like Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, and Lance Lynn still on the market, the Mariners have a chance to remedy this.
They, however, have not been linked to a single pitcher on the current market at this time. Add in that, while the lineup is impressive, Zunino should come back to earth after having a huge increase in BABIP to .355 just to hit for an average of .251. The Mariners simply have not done enough to inspire confidence that they can beat out a Yankees or Red Sox squad, not to mention an up and coming Twins squad that nabbed the last playoff spot last year. It seems that another frustrating year is coming for Mariners fans, as they wait for this playoff drought to end, having not been there since their record season in 2001.
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