Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mariners Lose, but Optimism Still Remains

by Jackson Safon

Blowing a 6-3 lead by allowing three runs in the seventh inning and one more in the eighth poses questions about the Mariners’ bullpen. No runs after the sixth inning say we don’t have quite enough offense at the end of games. This sound eerily similar to the last year for the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners went on to lose yesterday's game 7-6 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Yet, I am as optimistic about this team as I have been in years past. My first three sentences of this piece are about the only negative things of the entire spring so far for the Mariners. This Mariners team has moved to 10-2 so far in cactus league play and has hit multiple home runs in ten straight games. I wouldn't be surprised if they had that many games with multiple home runs over all of last season. The M’s have showed unbelievable promise so far, with everyone getting into the home run act. So far the team has had 26 home runs, in the 12 games, and has six players with multiple bombs. Gutierrez and Peguero are tied for the team lead with three homers each. This hot streak they are on right now has lead fans to be very hopeful about the upcoming season, as the Mariners look to improve from their MLB worst on-base-percentage and slugging-percentage last season.

Most people are excited about the new additions of Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse (who each had one homerun in Wednesday’s loss), and I am excited for them as well, however; the player I am most excited for this season is Franklin Gutierrez. He is one of, if not the best defensive center fielders in the American League. So far in spring training he has led the Mariners with three home runs and seven RBI. He had to miss most of last season with a groin injury and batted only .260 in the games he did play. He seems to have figured something out early in the spring, and I for one am hoping he can keep it going in to the regular season. If Gutierrez can stay healthy, I don’t see why he can’t be one of the top outfielders in the American League.

Kendrys Morales, along with his teammate Michael Morse, homered in the Mariners' 7-6 loss on Wednesday afternoon too the Brewers.
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

There hasn't been quite as much spring training optimism about the pitching staff, but with a team that was fourth in the American League in ERA last season, I don’t see any real reason why they should regress from that. A good mix of veterans and young guys on both sides of the ball should create good locker room camaraderie and I expect a much improved team from last year. On the monthly brew a few weeks ago, I predicted an 81-81 season, but with all of the success so far in spring training I might have to adjust that number a little bit.

Now obviously spring training success doesn't really mean anything, and this team could fall right back into the same patterns we have been used to seeing. However, I sense something different about this team. More fight, and definitely more pop in the lineup. Only time will tell where this team will really go, but after this great start, I for one am very optimistic. 

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