July was an excellent month for the Seattle Mariners. The young bats that the Seattle front office had waited for had started to produce (Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak) along with some unexpected contributions (Brad Miller, Nick Franklin). Combined with Seattle’s already strong starting pitching, the Mariners moved from sellers to standing pat at the trade deadline. However, August has not been as kind to Seattle who has suffered a tough sweep on the road to Boston, and home series losses to both Toronto and Milwaukee. Seattle will now hit the road for nine straight going through Tampa Bay, Texas, and Oakland. Right now, the Rays have the worst record of any of those teams at 66-50. All three would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. So, with the Mariners down to 54-63, should they have sold?
The two strongest trade chips they had at the deadline where Joe Saunders and Kendrys Morales. Saunders, on a one year contract, has made a strong case for the Mariners to re-sign him. He won four in a row as Seattle made their run in July before going 1-3 over his last four outings. He has cemented himself as a solid No. 3 behind Hernandez and Iwakuma.
I would like to see the 2014 rotation go: Hernandez, Iwakuma, Saunders, and then the last two spots be decided between Erasmo Ramirez and top prospects Danny Hultzen (4-1, 2.20, 5 starts at Tacoma) and Taijuan Walker (3-2, 3.73, 8 starts at Tacoma).
Morales was another possible attractive bat for a contender to add because he is a free agent at the end of the season. Justin Smoak has finally cemented himself as the everyday 1B to move Morales more to a DH position, but Morales has been productive for Seattle this season. He is leading the team in batting average (.292) and RBI (64). The low-scoring Mariners haven’t seen production like this in a while from a batter in early August; the front office needs to bring him back.
Is the team going in the right direction? After taking two of three from Baltimore on the road, this home stand looked like the Mariners would move closer to .500. However, they went 2-4 and had to rally to do that. The Blue Jays were up 7-2 on Wednesday on the verge of a sweep, before Seattle rallied for a 9-7 win.
The Brewers put up 10 runs on back to back nights, before Felix threw eight shut out innings to salvage the finale. Despite a 4-6 August, this team is headed in the right direction. The two losses to Milwaukee were ugly, but the Mariners have shown they can compete with the A.L. elite losing two walk offs in Boston and taking two of three from Baltimore on the road. Justin Smoak is batting a career high .270, thirty-seven points higher than his career average. Nick Franklin is coming out of a slump, but combined with Brad Miller, those two have given Seattle higher offensive production out of the 2B-SS combination. The offense shined in Baltimore, taking the series putting up 19 runs. Can they finish .500? Hopefully, but even if they don’t, they were right to not be sellers at the deadline and should finish above last year’s 75-87 mark.