Mariners Analysis

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dennis Green and the Mariners

When the team swept in Oakland recently, I detected a hint of smugness among some fans who still feel resentment over the discussion about how good this team really is. There is a segment of fans so invested in their positions about how we now have a playoff caliber team they are just waiting to send a giant "I told you so" towards USS Mariner in particular.

But really, isn't this team right about where everyone thought they'd be?

Consider the general consensus among most fans before the season started-
  • The AL West looked pretty down this year, with Texas and Oakland rebuilding and Anaheim without their two top starters
  • The Mariners have a significant spending advantage over Texas and Oakland, are on roughly on par with the Angels
  • The wildcard team is unlikely to come from the West. The WS favorites are generally in the Central and East this year
  • The Mariners improved their starting rotation over the offseason, both through acquisition (Bedard and Silva) and subtraction (Weaver, HoRam).
  • The pessimists view of the season saw them winning somewhere around 85 games. Nice season, but not making the playoffs historically given what it takes to win the West.
  • The most optimistic fan thinks 95 wins is achievable.
The general swing between half-full and half-empty fans this year was about ten games, based on about 10 billion words expended over the off season.

So here we are a few weeks in to the season, and the team is right around .500 and in the thick of the AL West race. It reminds me a lot of Dennis Green in one of his famous speeches in the NFL, when after losing to the Bears he was asked about his opponent. He erupted into the famous "...they are who we thought they were" speech.

Doesn't that about explain the Mariners at this point? They have played a few teams, suffered a few injuries, and are right around .500 on the season. It should come as no surprise, and I don't think anyone can claim victory at this point in terms of how they saw the season unfold. Like all sports, some players are excelling (Felix, Raul) and some are struggling (Vidro, Wilk) but in general these even out over the course of the season.

All in all, this team is exactly what everyone said. An entertaining team that is worth watching, but as of right now isn't quite ready to be World Series favorites. That's a million times better than what we've been used to the past few years, so we should all put our "told you so" speeches on hold. There's room on this team for everyone to be right.