Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Baker predicts playoffs

With all the talk around the Angels injuries and what it means as a Mariner fan, Geoff Baker of the Times throws down the gauntlet and declares the Mariners will make the postseason- link

I love it!

It's not easy to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction before the season starts when you have so much invested in a team. Baker has been applauding the teams moves this winter, but he still could easily take the "let's play the games and see what happens" approach, but instead he just flat out makes the Mariners the favorites.

All fans want to be optimistic to start the season, and clearly Baker and plenty of other believers are really thinking this is the year the team does something.

As for my own projections, I've been thinking ever since the Bedard trade the team will likely win somewhere between 86-89 wins, with a deviation of about 3 wins. If the team has injuries and the offense and defense are as bad as I fear, a .500 record is hardly out of the realm of possibility. On the other hand, if the every day players all have solid years and the starting rotation and bullpen are as strong as we hope, I don't think 92 wins is unrealistic either. It rarely wins the AL West, but it sure beats every team we've seen out there for the past 3 seasons.

What may surprise people is Texas and Oakland. Many people are expecting these two teams to really stink it up. While that is always a possibility, and it will certainly help the Mariners rack up wins if they do, both teams are not afraid to run young kids out there. And when you dip into your farm system, you often get pleasant surprises. While I don't believe either will win the division, I believe both will give the team all they can handle during the season. I don't care who Beane has traded away- the Mariners simply have a tough time winning in Oakland, as any long time fan can attest!

I really think all four teams in the AL West are fatally flawed, some just more than others. The Mariners have the best starting rotation in the division at least on Opening day, and for some that Holy Grail alone is enough to make them the division favorites.

The reality is good teams hit the ball, and playing good defense is never a bad thing either, and the Mariners have some huge question marks.

Top 5 things to make me nervous if my money is on the Mariners-
5) Jose Lopez- his confidence seems shot, and his ceiling has never seemed lower. With no obvious talent to plug in thanks to the Cleveland trade, 2nd base will likely be a problem all year.
4) John McLaren- his first real season as a manager. He has suspect role players on the bench, and has shown little reason to believe he will use them effectively. His use of the bullpen has to be a concern for any fan as well.
3) Jose Vidro- the more they play him, the more likely he's here next season. Morse would provide a younger, cheaper option, and he prevents Ibanez and Sexson from DH'ing. With his lack of power, he has to hit over .300 to be effective.
2) The bullpen- best closer in baseball, but a bunch of question marks until you get to see him. If Arthur Rhodes makes this team on Opening Day, the bullpen has to be a serious concern. I will guarantee right now McLaren and his use of Rhodes will cost this team a game within the first 30 days if he's on the team.
1) Sexson- He's playing during a contract year, and has set the bar suitably low (30 HR's, close to 100 RBI's) he seemingly has no where to go but up. However, his strikeout numbers are horrendous, he will often come and fail when men are in scoring position and the fans will start booing hastily as his shaky confidence is shattered if he struggles in May. How many teams make the postseason when their local first basemen is getting booed at home every day? A fast start is crucial for our only power source on the team.

I guarantee the team will win some games, and lose some. I'm pretty sure they will win more than they lose, but it wouldn't shock me if they didn't. My most optimistic scenario only seems them winning the West with help from others, as most years 90-92 wins doesn't cut it.

I expect Felix will have some amazing starts this year, and the sun will shine at Safeco starting in July.

Most exciting start to the season since 2002, and expectations for the team are high.

Great time to be a Mariner fan.