Skip to content

Springtime Storylines: Can the Seattle Mariners score any runs?

Mar 26, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

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. Giants place Matt Cain on the disabled list, tab Chris Heston to start Sunday

    Aug 28, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT

    Chris Heston Chris Heston

    Chris Heston will return to the Giants’ rotation to replace the injured Matt Cain on Sunday.

  2. Dodgers place Yasiel Puig on the disabled list, recall Jose Peraza

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Yasiel Puig Yasiel Puig

    Yasiel Puig is back on the disabled list with his second hamstring strain this season.

  3. The Athletics have a travel-heavy 2016 schedule and unsuccessfully tried to have it altered

    Aug 28, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Oakland Athletics Oakland Athletics

    AL West teams, including the Athletics, get the short end of the scheduling stick again in 2016.

  4. Craig Kimbrel claimed on waivers by unknown team

    Aug 28, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Craig Kimbrel Craig Kimbrel

    An unknown team claimed Padres closer Craig Kimbrel on revocable waivers.

  5. Red Sox shut down Clay Buchholz for the season

    Aug 28, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Clay Buchholz AP

    Will the Red Sox exercise his $13 million option for 2016?

  6. Thinking a ballplayer is hot does not make someone less of a fan

    Aug 28, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    Giancarlo Stanton nude

    An important manifesto from a woman who is both a serious baseball fan and who does not deny the bleeding obvious.

  7. Denard Span to undergo season-ending hip surgery

    Aug 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Denard Span Getty Getty Images

    Rough timing for the impending free agent.

  8. Mariners demote starting catcher Mike Zunino to Triple-A

    Aug 28, 2015, 1:44 PM EDT

    Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners Getty Images

    Hours after firing general manager Jack Zduriencik the Mariners have demoted one of his worst draft picks.

  9. Mariners fire general manager Jack Zduriencik

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:42 AM EDT

    jack zduriencik getty Getty Images

    Overall the Mariners went 505-595 (.459) with Zduriencik as GM.

  10. Hacking scandal fallout: Cardinals hire former reliever Randy Flores as new scouting director

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT

    Randy Flores Cardinals AP

    Two months ago, in the wake of the Astros database hacking scandal, the Cardinals fired scouting director Chris Correa.

  11. Pedro Martinez wonders if bad chemistry is the reason the Tigers and Mariners are out of contention

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Boston Red Sox Getty Images

    Pedro Martinez is one of the smartest baseball players in living memory, but he’s sniffing up the wrong tree here.

  12. Max Scherzer gave his catchers Hublot watches for catching his no-hitter and one-hitter

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    150614_MaxScherzer Getty Images

    I hate to use the word “classy” because its so overused in sports. But this is classy.

  13. And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

    Aug 28, 2015, 8:02 AM EDT

    Zack Greinke Getty Images

    Zack Greinke is doing things guys have not done since the Dead Ball era. And I do not mean making scary faces like that.

  14. Michael Taylor leaves game after crashing into outfield fence

    Aug 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: Michael Taylor #3 of the Washington Nationals looks on before a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on June 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Nationals won 2-1 in the 11th inning. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After losing Yunel Escobar on a hit-by-pitch, Michael Taylor left tonight’s game against the Padres when he crashed into the outfield fence.

  15. Yunel Escobar exits game after being hit in the hand by a pitch

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:27 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 03:  Yunel Escobar #5 of the Washington Nationals reacts after striking out to end the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on August 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) Getty Images

    So, that thing about the Nationals’ projected Opening Day lineup finally being in place?

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (3093)
  2. J. Fernandez (2540)
  3. D. Span (2493)
  4. Y. Cespedes (2462)
  5. G. Stanton (2459)
  1. Y. Puig (2262)
  2. F. Rodney (2175)
  3. M. Teixeira (2171)
  4. G. Springer (2129)
  5. G. Perkins (1979)