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Seattle Mariners: 2014 Season Preview

23 Mar

Standing O Sports is previewing all 30 Major League teams seasons, division by division, team by team. Up next in the American League West is the Seattle Mariners.

What Happened Last Season

For the 4th consecutive year season, the Seattle Mariners once again finished in 4th place in the American League West. Seattle actually won four fewer games than it won in 2012. As is the case in Major League Baseball, how teams do in close games separates the good ones from the bad ones. In one run games in 2013, the Mariners were 19-29, and the team set a club-record with 15 losses in extra-innings. After the season, manager Eric Wedge he would step down. His replacement is Lloyd McClendon who was previously the manager of the Pirates from 2001-2005, and the hitting coach of the Detroit Tigers since 2007. As the 2014 season gets underway, the Mariners hope the teams fortunes take a turn for the better.

Offseason Headlines

  • Signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year $240 million dollar contract, the 3rd largest ever given to a player in Major League history.
  • Signed closer Fernando Rodney to a 2-year $14 million dollar deal
  • Signed Corey Hart to one-year $5 million dollar contract
  • Acquired outfielder Logan Morrison from the Marlins in exchange for relief pitcher Carter Capps.

Take: General Manager Jack Zduriencik made the splash of the offseason when he gave Robinson Cano $240 million dollars to come to Seattle.  Cano is arguably the most talented player in the sport, but his lack of hustle and desire to win are the two negatives that come along with him.  Other than him though, the M’s didn’t make any other significant additions.  Fernando Rodney was brought in to be the teams closer.  From 2007-2011, Rodney never finished with an ERA lower than 4.  Then in 2012 with the Rays, Rodney flat-out dominated finishing the year with an other-worldly 0.60 ERA and just 2 blown saves.  He came back to Earth in 2013 finishing with a 3.38 ERA and 8 blown saves.  Rodney just turned 37 and the Mariners have no idea what pitcher they are getting for 2014.  Corey Hart is a low-risk, high reward type player, and Logan Morrison isn’t that productive of a player.  So how much better Seattle got is certainly a valid question.

Projected Lineup

Abraham Almonte (CF)
Kyle Seager (3B)
Robinson Cano (2B)
Corey Hart (RF)
Logan Morrison (DH)
Justin Smoak (1B)
Michael Saunders (LF)
Mike Zunino (C)
Brad Miller (SS)

Breakdown: In an absolute stunner, it appears Abraham Almonte will beat out Dustin Ackley in the race to be the Mariners leadoff hitter. Almonte has only played 25 career games and was acquired from the Yankees in exchange for Shawn Kelley. He’s looked good this spring, but Almonte would be a major question mark at the top of Seattle’s lineup. The next 2 hitters in the lineup, Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano will provide the majority of the power in the lineup. Seager hit a career high 22 home-runs last season and Cano is one of the premier offensive players in the game. After the Cano, the question marks return. Corey Hart didn’t play one inning last season, but when healthy and right can be a 30 home-run guy. Since he hit 23 home-runs in 2011, Logan Morrison has hit a combined 17 home-runs the last 2 seasons while hitting for a low average. Justin Smoak had a career year in 2013. He hit .238 with 20 home-runs and 50 RBIs….Michael Saunders is another low average hitter, and then there are the up and comers Mike Zunino and Brad Miller who are both unproven.

Projected Pitching Rotation

Felix Hernandez
Hisashi Iwakuma
Erasmo Ramirez
James Paxton
Scott Baker

Felix Hernandez is obviously one of the best pitchers in the sport and the Mariners could not ask for a better ace. Hisashi Iwakuma had a stellar 2013 season finishing with a 14-6 record and a 2.66 ERA. He has all the makings of a legitimate number 2 starter. Erasmo Ramirez had a decent rookie year in 2013. He’s penciled into the number 3 slot. James Paxton has been a top prospect in the Mariners’ system for years, and it looks like he will get his shot in 2014. Rounding out the rotation is Scott Baker who’s coming off Tommy John surgery, but when healthy, is a more than capable number 5.

X-Factor: Corey Hart

His contract is only for one-year, but the Mariners have big plans for Corey Hart in 2014. Hart missed all of 2013 with cartilage damage in his right knee. As he prepares for this season, Lloyd McClendon has Hart backing up Robinson Cano in the lineup. That means Hart has to show he’s back to his 30 home-run per season days. If not, Cano will have little to no protection in the lineup, and Seattle’s offense will be one of the worst in baseball. There’s only so much Cano can do for a team.

Season Outlook
The Mariners clearly improved from last season with the addition of Cano, but the AL West is just so strong. The A’s are the reigning division champions, the Rangers and Angels are two teams that could easily win the division this year. Then there’s the Astros who are the worst team in the American League, at least for this year. The offense is still not complete enough to consistently get the job done, and the pitching staff has too many question marks.

Prediction
Frankel: 75-87 (4th in AL West)

 
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Posted by on 03/23/2014 in MLB

 

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