Don’t be misled by the headline to this blog. I’m not delusional about my home town team’s chances in the coming 2012 Major League Baseball season. I realize the Seattle Mariner‘s are a young and flawed team and they aren’t likely to go anywhere but home when the 162 game schedule wraps up October 3rd. But I predict the Northwest’s baseball fans will embrace these kids and make Safeco Field a fun place to go again.
I’ll admit that I was disappointed when it was revealed this week that
Cecil Fielderwas not going to hit for the M’s. The 275 pound slugging first baseman inked a 9-year $214-million deal with the Detroit Tigers. The Mariner’s weak hitters and inept offense over the previous two years made an acquisition of a power hitter like Fielder mandatory for the team to avoid another boring season of 2-1 losses stacked on top of each other. But can you really blame General Manager Jack Zduriencik for exercising some fiscal responsibility, and not acting desperate by giving in to super-agent
Scott Boras’ demands for a long and extraordinary contract with a player whose physical build may have him breaking down than most other chiseled athletes who make up professional baseball today. Don’t forget, unlike the NFL, baseball contracts are guaranteed. Fielder will be collecting his $20+ million each year until 2021 even if by 2016 he can’t waddle down the first base line fast enough to beat out a throw from the parking lot. To have gotten the former Milwaukee power hitter Jack Z would have had to commit to at least as many years and probably more dollars. Maybe as much as $230-million.
It became fairly evident the M’s were out of the Fielder sweepstakes last week when we heard about the team’s trade of its number two pitcher Michael Pineda
to the New York Yankees for catching and designated-hitter prospect Jesus Montero. In many evaluations Montero is the best prospect in all the Major Leagues. And by giving up a proven front line pitcher like Pineda, he better be. A team doesn’t usually part with a number 1 or 2 pitcher without getting a player at or near All Star caliber. With Montero we only have his experience with the Bronx Bombers last September to evaluate what his power bat will do in the Major Leagues. His only month of Major League experience proved mighty tasty though. Jesus (pronounced Hay-Zeus) hit .328 with four home runs and 12 RBI in just 61 at-bats. He’ll hit. I’m confident. Whether he’ll be a liability behind the plate remains to be seen. But my view is he couldn’t be much worse than we’ve had in recent years. Miguel Olivo was set to be the backstop going into this year. And while his ability to throw out runners is top-notch, and his calling of the game appears to serve Seattle well; Olivo also led the Majors in passed-balls and only hit only .224 and dropped off steadily as the year wore on. Great guy? Sure. But Montero can do better.
Now look at what else came Seattle’s way late last year and turned a record-paced piss poor offense into something a little better than awful. Former number 1 draft pick Dustin Ackley
played a solid 2nd base and hit .273 with 6 homers. Mike Carp was hitting as well as anyone in the big leagues for most of July and August before slowing somewhat finishing with a .276 average and 12 homers, many of them very well-timed. Casper Wells came from Detroit and showed flashes with the bat and a very dependable glove. If Franklin Gutierrez doesn’t have a bounce back year, which he should, Wells could be an adequate Center Fielder.
Then there’s Justin Smoak, the switch hitting powerful first baseman we got from Texas in the Cliff Lee trade. In his first full season in the Major’s Smoak (I just love his name) hit only .234 with 15 HRs. But folks…his Dad died in April and in August he was hit in the eye socket by a pitch. For those who have never lost a parent let me tell you it doesn’t leave you at your best in terms of work performance. Work just seems all-together unimportant for an extend period while you grieve the loss of someone you were very close to, as Smoak was with his father. Smoak has shown enough of what it takes to continue to believe the forecasts for his Major League stardom are still possible.
And even with the loss of Pineda the Mariner’s have a solid core of pitchers led by All Star and 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.
The M’s play in the same division as two-time American League Champion Texas, who just signed Japanese pitching ace Yu Darvish; and the Los Angeles Angels who not only have MLB’s best Manager in Mike Scoscia but also picked up Albert Pujols in free-agency…only the best player in baseball for the past ten years. Seattle can’t compete with these teams. Not in 2012. But won’t it be fun watching a team of young 20-somethings fight and claw and scratch and improve and give us some legitimate promise in years to come. Just remember the old franchise slogan “Ya gotta love these guys” was created for a team built around
Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Dan Wilson, Tino Martinez, Randy Johnson, Joey Cora, Alex Rodriguez and others. Back in the early to mid-90s they were all together and they were all young at that time. And as they grew so did the team’s success and the fun. I think we’ll love these NEW guys.
Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.
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- Jungle Fever In Detroit, Tigers Land Big Game With The Prince (philadelphiatale.wordpress.com)
- 7 Reasons Why Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero Trade Will Help the Mariners (bleacherreport.com)
- Mariners to acquire catcher Montero for pitcher Pineda (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Yanks pay hefty price to acquire Pineda (mlb.mlb.com)
- Mariners brace for Prince’s arrival in AL (mlb.mlb.com)
- Ichiro Suzuki: A Seattle Mariner for Life, or off to Someplace Else? (bleacherreport.com)
- Mariners to honor Randy Johnson, Dan Wilson (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- What the Seattle Mariners Are Getting in Jesus Montero (bleacherreport.com)