Are the Seattle Mariners getting anywhere?
The 2012 season is about to come to a close, and the Mariners have been reduced to role of spoiler. This is the point of the season where there does not seem to be much point in playing the remaining games.
Will 2013 be better?
As a fan, I just do not know. The Mariners certainly played better in the second half, but it is difficult to know whether or not they have taken any major strides that will result in noticeable improvement next year.
Pitching? Yes, I still feel good about the pitching. The M’s still have Felix Hernandez. The minors are allegedly stocked with talent, and Tom Wilhelmsen has turned into a very solid closer. There is definitive talent on the mound.
No one around baseball is talking about the Mariners right now, but that pitching staff remains really, really good. The pitching staff is reason for optimism in 2013.
The hitters? (sigh) What do you say about the future of this lineup besides an expressed hope that someday they will improve?
Statistically, the team is not getting any better. Seattle continues to be the worst-hitting team in the league in just about every offensive category. Average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are all dismal. I like the fact that the Mariners will end up with 30-plus more home runs than last year, but the team average may be a carbon copy of 2011.
Jesus Montero, Kyle Seager, John Jaso and Michael Saunders have all made positive strides this year. Dustin Ackley has not been great at the plate, but I think he will bounce back. And the jury is still out on Justin Smoak, Trayvon Robinson, Casper Wells, Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez.
How do you get excited when these may again be your weak-hitting everyday players?
I wish I could say that I am excited about 2013, but with this lineup, I am not. Maybe they will come out hot and finally make Jack Z look like a patient and successful architect. Then again, maybe they will collectively hit .233 again.
There is always optimism when spring rolls around, but right, now this team does not look that great. The Mariners need something, and I question whether or not they will get it from the usual youthful suspects.
2013? Let us just say that I have very cautious optimism.