Seattle Mariners: Has Much Changed?


With each day we get closer to the regular season. There’s a lot of buzz about this team and how it has the chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. But what really has changed since last year? What makes this team so appealing going into this season? Two teams finished ahead of them in the AL West standings last year and now many think they can win the division.

The competition will be similar. The Oakland A’s got a bit of a makeover and its hard to tell if it is for better or worse. Knowing the A’s they will find a way  to make it work. The LA Angels will have a similar team. The Houston Astros should be better with their young talent gaining experience and maturity. Finally, there’s the Texas Rangers who picked up right where they left off last year in terms of their injury struggles with Yu Darvish already hurt.

The Mariners themselves haven’t change much either. They got Nelson Cruz in free agency but of the other acquisitions meant to help the offense none seem to be slated for full time duty. Most will be platooning for max value.

The pitching will be similar with a strong bullpen and even stronger rotation. Everyone is hoping for a full season of James Paxton and for Taijuan Walker to make strides in his development. So other than getting an actual DH where is the huge improvement that is making everyone so excited about this team?

The truth is I don’t believe there was one. The Mariners went into 2014 expecting to be better than 2013 but most didn’t think they were ready to compete. They proved that wasn’t true. The truth is they competed with the best and didn’t need much improvement. For a lot of last season the A’s and Angels were atop the power rankings in baseball with the Angels finishing with the best record. The Mariners had winning records against both teams (A’s: 10-9, Angels: 12-7). In what was the most competitive division the Mariners were providing a lot of the competition.

Going into the off season they didn’t need much improvement. There was a glaring hole at DH and improvement needed in the outfield. Even though I would have prefered they found an everyday right fielder, a platoon between Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano should produce the same kind of value.

Will this team go hot and cold like it did last year? I think these small adjustments will help bring consistency to the team. Of course, they will slump at some point but this team has more potential with the flexibility it now has. Everyone has to perform for this to be true. For all we know every acquisition could turn out like Chone Figgins… maybe it can’t be that bad. But these small changes could be all the Mariners needed to go from a good team to a very good team.