Skip to content

Springtime Storylines: Can the Seattle Mariners score any runs?

Mar 26, 2012, 1:00 PM EST

Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs Getty Images

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2012 season. Up next: the Seattle Mariners.

The Big Question: Can they score any runs?

In case you forgot, the Mariners had a historically bad offense in 2011. They scored 556 runs last year. The other 13 AL teams averaged 735 runs. This was near-deadball era production. It has to get better, right?

Of course it does. And it probably will. The addition of Jesus Montero certainly helps matters. He has always hit and will do so in Seattle as well, even if his raw power numbers are sapped somewhat by the big park in which he now plays.  Having Dustin Ackley around for a whole season and not just 90 games will be helpful too. Justin Smoak should take a step forward. Franklin Gutierrez and Chone Figgins can’t possibly have season as bad as they just had, right? Really, there’s nowhere to go but up for a lot of this roster even if, apart from Montero and Ackley, there is a practical ceiling on the heights they can reach.

People forget that the Mariners were actually holding their own for a time last year, flirting with .500 and even contention before a 17-game losing streak came along and just obliterated everything. No, they’re not as good as they showed before the winning streak, but they won’t be as bad as they showed after it either. And with a somewhat better offense to go along with what seems like it will always be competent pitching in Seattle, the M’s should be pretty respectable for a team most people will pick to finish last.

What else is going on? 

  • We may be seeing the end days of Ichiro. After ten straight  .300 average/200 hit seasons, Ichiro cratered last year, hitting .272 and getting on base at a mere .310 clip.  That has cost him the leadoff position, and now he’ll bat third. Will that change anything? It’s hard to see how. Ichiro is what he is and for all of the good things you can say about him, one thing you can’t necessarily say is that he’s adaptable. If he takes the same old approach and has 2011 results, it may be over for the guy.
  • What’s gonna have a bigger impact: the loss of Michael Pineda or the gain if Jesus Montero?  I’d say this is a net positive for Seattle. Yes, it’s hard to give up a hard-throwing young pitcher like Pineda, but the offensive need was so great for the M’s, that they have to be pleased to have made this tradeoff.  While Seattle doesn’t have anyone as good as Pineda to slot in behind Felix Hernandez, there is a lot of pitching depth on this team and some guys with upside coming up through the system.
  • No matter how they do in the won-loss department, one of the more interesting things to watch this year is whether Montero can catch. The Yankees seemed to think he was hopeless. The Mariners are a bit more optimistic about that, but it’s not as though they’re going to stick him behind the plate all the time. If he can catch at anything approaching a respectable level, his addition means a heck of a lot more than it would if he spent his entire career as a DH.
  • It’s a key year for Justin Smoak. He was expected by many to break out last season, but persona problems (the death of his father) and a nagging thumb injury kept from ever hitting full speed.  Entering his age 25 season, it’s time for Smoak to live up to the hype.

How are they gonna do?

Better, but let’s be real here: this is a last place team. But not a horrible one. And it’s a team with a decent amount of hope going forward and a lot of young arms with promise. It’s nothing to get excited about yet, but at least it’s not something that will create existential dread either.

Latest Posts
  1. Tommy Lasorda reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 PM EST

    mlb video

    A good way to finish off our Christmas Eve coverage on HardballTalk …

  2. Kenta Maeda re-signs with the Hiroshima Carp

    Dec 24, 2014, 8:04 PM EST

    kenta maeda getty Getty Images

    The sought-after 26-year-old right-hander has now officially re-signed with the Hiroshima Carp for the 2015 season, according to the Japan Times.

  3. Rockies sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

    Dec 24, 2014, 6:17 PM EST

    roger bernadina getty Getty Images

    Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that the Rockies have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with outfielder Roger Bernadina.

  4. What baseball team did people from Bedford Falls root for?

    Dec 24, 2014, 4:21 PM EST

    IAWL

    A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town. Well, except for Mr. Potter. That guy is LOADED.

  5. The Braves and A.J. Pierzynski reach a one-year deal; first reported in a ham store

    Dec 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Ham

    No, really. The news broke on line at a Honeybaked Ham store.

  6. THE YEAR IN REVIEW: HBT’s most commented-upon stories of the year

    Dec 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    megaphone

    Based on these results, no, we will not stick to baseball. Because you clearly don’t want us to.

  7. Orioles re-sign Delmon Young

    Dec 24, 2014, 12:02 PM EST

    Delmon Young Getty Images

    Buck Showalter found a way to get value out of Young in a part-time role.

  8. “There’s a decent chance” the Rays will trade Ben Zobrist

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:16 AM EST

    Ben Zobrist AP

    Zobrist has been a regular for the Rays since 2008.

  9. The average major league salary is up to $3.8 million

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Money Bag

    Money don’t get everything it’s true. But what it don’t get, I can’t use

  10. The Yankees are treating Alex Rodriguez differently than they treated Derek Jeter. So what?

    Dec 24, 2014, 9:14 AM EST

    Jeter and A-Rod

    Dirty secret: baseball isn’t always about winning. Even when the Yankees are involved.

  11. Video: Nationals Park transforms into ice rink for next week’s 2015 Winter Classic

    Dec 23, 2014, 10:59 PM EST

    2015 winter classic logo

    “NHL Live” on NBC Sports Network ended a segment Tuesday night with this time-lapse video of Nationals Park being converted from a baseball field into an ice rink for next week’s 2015 NHL Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and visiting Chicago Blackhawks …

  12. Padres ink Brett Wallace to minor league contract

    Dec 23, 2014, 9:44 PM EST

    brett wallace getty Getty Images

    As first reported by Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Padres have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with first baseman Brett Wallace. The deal comes with an invitation to …

  13. Braves sign setup man Jason Grilli to two-year contract

    Dec 23, 2014, 8:31 PM EST

    jason grilli getty Getty Images

    From FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal comes word that the Braves have signed 38-year-old right-handed reliever Jason Grilli to a two-year, $8 million contract with a club option for 2017 …

  14. Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada expected to begin private workouts within two weeks

    Dec 23, 2014, 7:58 PM EST

    cuba hat

    19-year-old infield prospect Yoan Moncada defected from his native Cuba over the summer and was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball back in mid-November, but he is still waiting for official clearance from the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) …

  15. Cubs announce two-year, $5 million deal with David Ross

    Dec 23, 2014, 6:23 PM EST

    david ross

    FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was first to report that a deal was in place between the Cubs and veteran catcher David Ross, and now that agreement has been made official …

  16. Twins sign Tim Stauffer for $2.2 million

    Dec 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EST

    Tim Stauffer Getty Getty Images

    Minnesota adds a right-handed reliever.

  17. L.J. Mazzilli — Mets prospect and son of Lee Mazzilli — suspended 50 games for drugs

    Dec 23, 2014, 3:30 PM EST

    mets logo

    It was his second positive test for a “drug of abuse.”

  18. Marlins claim Preston Claiborne off waivers from Yankees

    Dec 23, 2014, 3:15 PM EST

    Preston Claiborne Yankees Getty Images

    Claiborne has held his own as a big leaguer with a 3.79 ERA and 58/24 K/BB ratio in 71 career innings through age 26.

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. W. Myers (3953)
  2. J. Kang (3390)
  3. J. Upton (2921)
  4. C. McGehee (2860)
  5. W. Middlebrooks (2832)
  1. M. Kemp (2778)
  2. D. Ross (2486)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (2381)
  4. J. Johnson (2114)
  5. J. Peavy (2018)