After falling one game short of the second wild card spot in 2014, the Seattle Mariners came into 2015 with high expectations. They were already a good-looking team after last season, and after the signing of Nelson Cruz, they were appearing to be a good pick to make the postseason for the first time since 2001.
As things usually do for the Mariners, not everything has gone according to plan. They have limped out of the gate and as we play in mid-May, the Mariners have only managed 15 wins while dropping 19 through May 14. Manager Lloyd McClendon likes to set the 50-game mark to see where the team stands, but after 34 games, there are many questions that have been raised about this Mariners ball club.
It has been a season full of inconsistency, low batting averages, and some very close losses. It seems that when the pitching is stellar and keeps them in the game they can’t hit and then when the pitching is bad, the offense scores, but just not enough. It all hasn’t quite come together so far in 2015 and that could be related to who is on the 25-man roster in the present.
Seattle’s bench was revamped in the offseason when Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik went out and got Justin Ruggiano/Seth Smith for a platoon role in the outfield and Rickie Weeks to go along with Willie Bloomquist as the bench players. The Mariners tried converting Weeks to the outfield and that has been a shaky transition for the former second baseman. There aren’t too many fantastic options that can give Seattle some good depth in the later innings and that could be part of the problem.
Ackley has been with the team for a five time since being drafted in 2009 and is being given his last chance to prove his worth. Zunino is entering his second full season and has been an all or nothing type bat that is more of a ‘nothing’ bat currently. Chris Taylor broke his wrist in spring training and just got up to the big leagues about 10 days ago, but since he’s been up it has been a struggle. He just needs some more time to get comfortable.
Together, these three have combined for a putrid average of .171. It doesn’t take a baseball expert to tell you that those numbers are just plain bad and are not going to get it done.
After a middle of the order that has the likes of Cano, Seager, Cruz, and even Logan Morrison, something needs to be done to boost the offense on this team and that could be done through a trade, which is probably unlikely at this point in the season, or through AAA Tacoma where there are some good bats down there waiting to be brought up.
First of all, Dustin Ackley has got to go. His bat is just not getting it done, and in his fifth season in the bigs for Seattle, he has run out of time to figure things out. Ackley gets the benefit of the doubt because of his glove, which has been good, and him being a number two overall pick in the 2009 draft. Once the Mariners get Austin Jackson back from the DL, Ackley could be getting the axe.
Other than Ackley, Rickie Weeks could be next on the chopping block. His minor experiment with moving to the outfield and trying a bit of a comeback hasn’t gone as planned. He was supposedly going to be a bit of a platoon with Ackley, but once Chris Taylor was called up, Brad Miller was next in line to try the outfield and even started there vs. Boston on May 14th. Weeks has managed to hit for just a .192 average and hasn’t contributed much other than a good pinch hit appearance now and then. His defense isn’t necessarily saving his below average bat and there isn’t much of a spot on this team if he keeps this up.
One thing the Mariners are lacking is a bonafide base stealer. It just so happens that they have a fast outfielder, James Jones, down in AAA Tacoma who would be a great replacement because he is young and a bit unproven. He was up a season ago for Seattle and made a difference on the base paths. Jones provides a dynamic that this team doesn’t have right now on the field.
Someone else they could call up is Jesus Montero. Montero had all sorts of issues a season ago as he came to spring training way overweight and then struggled mightily in the minors before he was suspended in September for charging a scout in the stands (yes, actually). The big first baseman is hitting .346 and things have changed with him this year and he is starting to become more of a professional with how he goes about his business.
I’m not saying that the Mariners can’t win with these players or they won’t win with these players, but something isn’t clicking and something has to be done about it. Maybe we just haven’t seen what this group of players is capable of because it is still early.
GM Jack Zduriencik met with the media a day before the nine homestand began for the Mariners on May 7th and had some interesting things to say about the start to the season.
“We aren’t pointing fingers. All players have to perform at some point in time, they have to figure out how to make that happen. They’ve got a lot of talent, so it’s about them performing,” Zduriencik said.
The Mariners had some issues with their bullpen at the end of April and made some moves, which ended up working out and the bullpen has been getting better.
We’ll see what happens in the upcoming days and the corresponding move that occurs when Austin Jackson comes back. Something needs to turn around and it better happen fairly soon if the Mariners want to see themselves in a spot to crack the Postseason and be playing in October.