Reviewing the Mariners Offseason Moves: Have They Done Enough?
So it’s been talked about, more than a few times here on Sodo Mojo, (as well as in the rest of the sports media) that the Mariners are likely done making moves for the offseason.
It’s been debated whether or not this is a good thing. We got one of the sluggers we wanted (Mr. Nelson Cruz), fairly early on in the offseason. Perhaps because that move was widely expected, us Mariners fans got a bit greedy and thought Melky Cabrera would soon follow, with at least a middle of the road type starting pitcher added but perhaps we would even land one of those big name pitchers, like the James Shields/Max Scherzer type.
Technically those things could still happen, (and you guys might be thinking that J.A. Happ IS that “middle of the road” type…although he seems a little more “side of the road,” but I digress) but the Mariners obviously aren’t popping out the Robinson Cano treatment or else we’d likely have seen a signing quite a bit earlier.
In the last few years (the last thirty eight years one might argue) the Mariners haven’t had much luck landing top tier free agents without busting the bank.
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In the aftermath of the Bill Bavasi era, the Mariners finally seemed to realize, and, thankfully, still do, that they can’t keep busting the bank on every overpriced free agent or else the M’s fortunes implode…Kingdome style. Even Brian Cashman and the Yankees seem to be (somewhat) learning that lesson.
Pay-Rod, indeed. Evil laughter.
A-hem. Where was I?
Right. So, since the Jack Z genie didn’t grant every wish in the heart of wannabe G.M’s everywhere, and he went that *scoff* more “sensible” route in his offseason acquistions, lets review the holes we had in the beginning of the offseason, and how we currently stand.
DH was one of the biggest holes. The outfield was definitely far from settled, but any player playing in the outfield grass has two opportunities to contribute. Any decent designated hitter is there to do one thing. DESIGNATED-LY HIT. I rest my case. The Mariners hired gun for the DH slot last year, Corey Hart, provided an anemic .214 BA with 5 measly dingers, before the All-Star break. Afterwards it was even worse, with Hart putting up a .172 BA and added to his HR total by ONE.
The M’s then traded away a perfectly reasonable somebody for Kendrys Morales to solve the problem. Morales put up 7 HR’s after the break, along with a .207 BA.
Nelson Cruz brings his league leading 40 HR’s to the DH. Even if that reduces by half that’s a solid upgrade. Not much debate here.
Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) hits a two-run home run against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning in game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Austin Jackson could easily return to form out in center, and if Dustin Ackley can conjur up his solid second half self (.269 BA, 10 HR’s, and 36 RBI’s) into a whole season, then we have a solid left fielder. Even with his awful first half (.225/4/29) he still puts up 14 HR’s and 65 RBI’s. And that RBI production is actually relatively even. Not bad, and a decent fielder to boot.
While the right field platoon situation is not a particularly “sexy” one, it is a cheap and efficient one. Justin Ruggiano hit lefties well, with a .305 BA against them. He doesn’t bring a ton of power with only three HR’s against each righties and lefties. Seth Smith, on the other hand, hit righties to a tune of .270 BA, 12 HR’s and 40 RBI’s.
Ruggiano brings a higher average on his preferred split, but Smith brings some more pop on his split, while still maintaining a respectable .270 BA.
The infield is still shaky, but we should note that half of it is Cano and Seager. Shortstop has a lot of potential, with Chris Taylor hoping to replicate that solid second half production, and Brad Miller‘s BA did jump 64 points during his reduced playing time in the second half. First base is a bit shaky but Logan Morrison also had a very solid second half, and came through in the clutch quite a few times.
Also there is the Mariners number two positional prospect, D.J. Peterson, who put up a .326 BA, 18 HR’s, and 73 RBI’s in only 65 games last year. He’ s currently a third basemen but easily could make the switch across the diamond. It’s reasonable to hope that Morrison could hold the fort down until ’16, when Peterson could take over. Depending on how Peterson’s time in Tacoma fares next year, we could see a June call-up.
Things are definitely improved. Of course, like all good teams, the Mariners still need some good old luck, and good breaks.
They’ve got to hope their young pitchers can stay healthy, especially they haven’t another top tier arm to the equation.
They’ve also got to hope this isn’t the year Rodney implodes completely. Even though old F-Rod was scary as hell every time he went out to preserve a lead he did still have 48 saves, and helped stabilize the bullpen.
The Mariners had a solid nucleus last year, and on paper should have an even stronger core this year. With some luck the Mariners could easily break that fourteen year postseason drought.
What do you guys think? Is this the year, or does the ’16 season seem more likely?