Mariners Start With Fresh Hope Heading Into Cactus League


Here we are, folks. Nearly to the middle of January, the “Hot Stove League,” is about lukewarm right now. Even the wild speculations that usually run rampant throughout the offseason (that you know in your heart will never happen but are fun to read anyhow), are seemingly at a standstill.

Adding a big pitcher like James Shields, or Max Scherzer (who are, as of this moment, still listed as unsigned free agents) is about the biggest hope we could have.

Even that, however, isn’t very exciting. The Mariners have had their moments with big free agent signings (see Robinson Cano) that are exciting, but typically are followed by disappointment and heartbreak. Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Carl Everett

OKAY, OKAY. Eeee, enough of that. It was an ugly thing to do, BUT… you have to understand. This is how, even if we thought Max Scherzer was going to sign with the M’s, somehow, it would implode all of the progress Jack Z and the Mariners have made. Somehow. 

So it’s January, dead of winter, least exciting month for baseball fans, all hope lost against an onslaught of NFL playoff talk. But yet, hope is near! PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT***!     ***Note-In like over a month, but still…we’ll take what we can get***

More from SoDo Mojo

I actually caught the spring training update here on Sodo Mojo, in a nice little piece from one of Sodo Mojo’s editors, Dan Hughes. As Dan suggests, those four words have a seemingly magic quality to pull Mariners fans from the Doldrums of January.

So, perhaps he doesn’t suggest that, so much as he simply says they’re his four favorite words. But I’m going with magic

This year we seemingly have real hope. Not just our Cubs-like “there’s always next year” hope, but a concrete feeling around the MLB that the Mariners have a strong shot at contending in 2015.

Our faithful Mariners improved sixteen wins from their 2013 record, their pitching was stellar, even though they did fade a bit down the stretch. When the Mariners put together winning streaks in 2014, it seemed the offense provided just enough runs for their lights out pitching staff to get the win.

I could swear every time the Mariners offense put together 8 runs, the pitching would give up 9.

So if big 2014 offseason signing Nelson Cruz can add some pop to the offense, alongside newly extended Kyle Seager, and Cano– and King Felix, Iwakuma and the rest of the rotation can stay healthy/productive–then why not? Especially for a team ONE GAME AWAY FROM THE PLAYOFFS last year. Plus we’ve still got the core of the great 2014 bullpen.

And again, the Mariners actually have a “heart of the lineup” with Cano, Seager, and Cruz.

Sep 2, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager (15) celebrates with second baseman Robinson Cano (22) after batting him in on a two run home run against the Oakland Athletics during the fifth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

If Austin Jackson put together his 27 stolen bases from his 2010 rookie year, and his .300 BA from the 2012 season then we’d really have something at the top of the line up, for that “heart” to drive in.

Even if he put up something near his .272. BA from 2013, most of us M’s fans would be happy. And we’ve still got Zunino and his 22 HR’s down near the bottom of the lineup, which is something, even with the .199 BA those bombs came with. And if Brad Miller/Chris Taylor can live up to promise then…Hello October?

That’s the best case scenario of course. That’s what “pitchers and catchers report” do to you. It brings back the yearly hope, to hell with reality. There’s no reason any of those things should happen.

But, of course, no reason why not. That’s the part most M’s fans have a tougher time remembering. If this was the A’s, or Tigers, or Red Sox we could believe the hype.

If I may: believe the hype. It’s the 20th anniversary of the ’95 season, and the Mariners have a solid foundation. No better time to believe. Refuse to lose.