Sunday Before Spring Training: Final Mariners Offseason Thoughts
First of all, let’s just get it out of the way—only five days till Mariners baseball! Sodo Mojo coverage will be ramping up next week as spring training countdown ends, and the countdown till opening day begins.
We’ve had what is likely the last bit of Mariners transactions, (excepting desperate spring training moves in the wake of players not living up to expectations/ injuries) with the Rickie Weeks signing.
The analysis of that signing will be covered more next week in the spring training coverage. My quick opinion as of now is that it is a low cost, high reward depth signing, and, while no one quite anticipated that particular move, most of the talk has been in favorable agreement. For now here is a few of my un-categorized final thoughts on the M’s before spring training starts.
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There is only so much speculation left to be had, it really is that time of year where we start to see how the roster will realistically shape up, and get to see what surprises spring holds.
The positive this year is that it feels like the roster this past off season has been rounded off with players who are a bit more stable. I mean there’s plenty of players that need to prove themselves (Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson, Logan Morrison, etc), but most of the additions this off-season (Nelson Cruz, Justin Ruggiano, Seth Smith, J.A. Happ) have produced at a consistent level, at least the last couple of seasons.
There’s no Mike Morse, or Corey Hart, or even Kendrys Morales (even though he worked out the first time) who have been successful but have missed the last season or two because of injuries, or whatnot. The 2015 M’s are taking less flyers, in other words (one could argue that Rickie Weeks falls in this category, but since he isn’t ideally pegged to start anywhere I feel we can exempt him from the flyer category).
Sure the potential Ruggiano/Smith platoon isn’t a high profile add but makes sense, and the players aren’t being asked to produce more than they have in the past. We aren’t asking either of them to be our impact player/savior like was more of the case with Morse, Hart, or Morales.
So we need players to prove themselves, and the M’s are counting on that aspect to some extent (especially with Ackley and Morrison, who man traditionally offense heavy positions), but with Willie Bloomquist (assuming he’s healthy), and now Weeks, on the bench we’ve got some room for error.
If Jesus Montero shows up with anything close to his top prospect days, then we’ve got even more room. While Montero is limited defensively, he could still be stashed at first, or at DH—while likely putting Cruz in one of the outfield corners. Obviously Montero isn’t pegged to make the big club but this is a plan B scenario.
Jun 14, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitter Jesus Montero (63) hits a single against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
The pitching is where we defer more to expectation. The bullpen definitely falls in this category. The starting pitching is far from certain, we obviously have some top tier stability at the first two spots (Felix Hernandez, Hishasi Iwakuma), and a solid bottom of the rotation veteran (Happ) and a lot of high profile talent competing for the final two spots (Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen), not to mention Erasmo Ramirez, unlikely as he is to crack a spot.
I think, barring mass injuries of course, the pitching will be a solid spot again. If Walker or Paxton falters as a starter, I don’t think its unforeseen to imagine Jack Z going out and grabbing another starter, assuming the Mariners are competitive. I’m not real worried here.
The offense, once again is more of where my concern lies. The outfield in particular is a big concern, compared to the far more offensively stable infield. And that is something I’ll be covering… next week as part of spring training coverage! Until then, Mariners fans!