Sep 23, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pinch hitterMichael Saunders
(55) argues with home plate umpire Vic Carapazza (85) after Saunders struck out for the final out of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field. Kansas City defeated Seattle 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
In a September filled with spoiler opportunities, the Mariners finally managed to take advantage of one of them. Last night’s win against the Kansas City Royals marked the official elimination of the Royals from Wild Card contention. In all honesty, the Royals had a snowball’s chance in Hell anyways, but, mathematically at least, there was still a chance. I wrote last week about how Hisashi Iwakuma has been a diamond in the rough for the Mariners this season, and he pitched an absolute gem last night. Kuma is shut down for the season now, finishing 14-6, and an ERA of 2.66. For comparison purposes, that’s third in the AL behind Anibal Sanchez and Bartolo Colon. He’s really, really close to the AL title, and he actually has a shot at it
The Mariners face Colon this weekend, and need to chase him in order to give their guy a shot. Unfortunately, Sanchez gets the Marlins this weekend, and we all know how bad they can be. It may not be likely, but I’m saying there’s a chance.
The final series of the 2013 season wraps up this weekend. Attendance has been dwindling the last few weeks (12,500 – 15,000 for the Royals series). It’s getting cold out, so I get it. But grab a blanket and head over to Safeco this weekend to see the guys out.
After the spectacular decline of Tom Wilhelmsen this season, we saw the rise of Danny Farquhar into the closer role. While Farquhar has been fine, is he really going to get a shot at the closer role again next year? Lets face it, when he’s bad, he’s really bad. On the same note, how do you even determine who to pick as a closer?
This is actually the result of a pretty good twitter war between Scott Weber at Lookout Landing, and Geoff Baker. Now that Raul Ibanez has had a (relative) resurgence, what do we do with him? Some guys say trade him immediately while his value is high, other guys say ride him out. Now that Zduriencik is back for one more year, I expect to see a lot of desperation moves, and Raul could definitely be a part of that.
Speaking of desperation moves, what are we going to see happen with Eric Wedge? The general consensus is ‘get rid of him!’ Wedge’s contract is about to expire, and given the true rebuild that the Mariners are undergoing right now, the role of manager might benefit from a new perspective.
Things are going to change. On the field at least. Jack Zduriencik is coming back for a final year (hopefully), and because it’s a last chance for Jack, I fully expect to see an aggressive off-season for the Mariners. We’re all feeling positive going into 2014, we saw some good things from the new guys, but are they really going to be enough to contend within 3 years? Wishful thinking says “yes”, realistic thinking says ‘eeehhhh…maybe not.”
Here’s another look at how much (or little) optimism we can afford to have for the future. At the very least, pitching is looking solid for the Mariners, so at least we have that. Oh, and Mike Morse and Jason Bay are gone, so that’s two things the M’s have going for them.
Kendrys Morales continues to feature in speculative talk about the Mariners. He’s been decent this year and I suspect that we’ll see him back next year, if not for his bat, at least as a little bit of Justin Smoak insurance. Smoak has been streaky, and when he’s bad it’s nice to have a guy like Kendrys to sub-in.
One of my favorite parts of September has been seeing James Paxton throw darts. I like this guy. He seemingly emerged from nowhere to get a last minute start against Tampa, he racked up three wins against the Rays, the Cardinals and the Royals, all teams in the midst of a playoff race. He’s faces hard teams and he’s impressed at every turn. According to Jeff Sullivan, he’s in some pretty elite company when it comes to MLB debuts too.