Mar 26, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT
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.
Jul 31, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
Jones struggled in a part-time role for the Yankees.
Jul 31, 2015, 2:27 PM EDT
This is the third outfielder to whom they’ve been linked in three days. Let’s see if this one takes.
Jul 31, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
He’s hitting hitting .298/.334/.374 and will likely take over left field duties.
Jul 31, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT
Jed Hoyer has worked for all three of these teams. He may be in the middle of a big trade involving them all.
Jul 31, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT
Bullpen help has been an obvious need for Minnesota.
Jul 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
The Cubs get a starter.
Jul 31, 2015, 1:28 PM EDT
Another move for Toronto.
Jul 31, 2015, 1:13 PM EDT
Don’t bring me down . . . Mets!
Jul 31, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
We’re recapping all of the deals as they come down.
Jul 31, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT
The price is too high.
Jul 31, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT
Cardinals’ bullpen is suddenly stacked with closers and ex-closers.
Jul 31, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT
Maybe he’ll see Daniel Norris coming the other way in his van?
Jul 31, 2015, 10:39 AM EDT
Milwaukee receives a starting pitcher prospect in return.
Jul 31, 2015, 9:49 AM EDT
Or, the very least, want the Padres to think they are so as to bring Craig Kimbrel’s price down.
Jul 31, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT
They have the worst ERA in the AL, so any starter would be a nice addition.
Jul 31, 2015, 9:18 AM EDT
Another torn quadriceps muscle for the All-Star left fielder.
Jul 31, 2015, 8:55 AM EDT
I feel like Ken Caminiti has to be involved.
Jul 31, 2015, 8:51 AM EDT
Jay Bruce instead of Carlos Gomez?
Jul 31, 2015, 8:43 AM EDT
He’d be both a 2015 and a future move.
Jul 31, 2015, 8:18 AM EDT
The Yankees bullpen is already a strength. Will it be stronger by 4pm today?
- The Blue Jays pick up Ben Revere from the Phillies 26
- Cubs trade for Dan Haren 22
- 2015 MLB Trade Deadline Tracker 6
- Cardinals add more bullpen help, get Jonathan Broxton from Brewers 9
- Orioles trade for Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra 19
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 44
- Giants to acquire Mike Leake from Reds 33
- Astros acquire Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers from Brewers 45
- The MLBPA is considering withholding cooperation with ESPN, Fox over Colin Cowherd’s comments (157)
- The Cubs are in discussions with the Phillies on Cole Hamels (146)
- Major League Baseball rips Colin Cowherd in an official statement (123)
- Blue Jays acquire David Price from the Tigers (111)
- Rangers land ace left-hander Cole Hamels from Phillies (106)