The Seattle Mariners recently concluded the 2012 campaign with a record of 75-87, an eight game improvement from last season (67-95). With the rest of the A.L. West playing well above .500 baseball, they still finished in last, their seventh last place finish in the last nine years. Of course, with the Houston Astros coming to the A.L. West, the Mariners should snap their last place spell. So, here I am, looking at the last bit of the season and what, as Mariners fans, we can expect beyond this year.
Is there any worry from Seattle’s poor finish? Seattle’s schedule got incredibly more difficult after taking two of three from Toronto. In their last eighteen games, twelve were against playoff teams and the other six were against the Angels, who just missed the postseason. Seattle went 6-12 in these games, winning the last two from the Angels after they were eliminated. The worrisome part of this stretch was 15 of 18 games were against the A.L. West. In 2013, Seattle has to fare better against the A.L. West to improve.
Will Justin Smoak’s hot finish carry in 2013? If it doesn’t, the Mariners need to look at a new option at 1B. Smoak was the prize in the Cliff Lee deal with Texas, but he has been outplayed at this point by Blake Beavan as the best piece acquired. Starting with September 13th, Smoak only went hitless three out of eighteen games and ended up batting .338 in September. But, even with a hot September, Smoak ended the season at .217. He hasn’t quite brought the power Seattle expected hitting 39 HRs in two and a half seasons. The team may stick with Smoak, but he might be on a short leash.
Will the Mariners moving in the fences at Safeco Field be a boon to them in 2013? Let’s face it, Safeco Field is a pitcher’s park. That’s no secret. The biggest changes will be in left field as the left field corner will go from 341feet to 331 feet, and the left center field corner will go from 390 feet to 378 feet. This is hardly going to make Safeco into Coors Field West. Anything that increases run production would be a boon, but let’s see how the changes actually pan out.
Did the plan for the Mariners’ 2012 work? The Mariners were determined to stick with their youngsters on offense, and they were rewarded with some successes. Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders, and Jesus Montero all had great campaigns at the plate. But the team overall didn’t have enough pop as the Mariners were 27th in MLB in runs scored. The team did improve from 67 to 75 wins, and they flirted with .500 late in the season to the point they were 61-64 in the last week of August. .500 would have filled the fans with more confidence going into 2013.
Can the Mariners stand pat roster wise going into 2013? No. The Mariners were last in MLB in both average and OBP. If you can’t get people on base and score runs, you can’t win baseball games. This offense isn’t good enough to not get an upgrade. The Mariners are already going into 2013 the 4th best team in the West behind the Rangers, A’s, and Angels. If they can’t add some run production, I don’t see how they can get over those hurdles. I don’t know who will be available, but the Mariners need to make some moves to their line-up to take another step forward in 2013.