Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 9/20/12
In our Hope for the Hopeless series, we take a look at all of the teams in the league that finished under .500, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2012 season.

The Mariners are...well, I guess "getting there" would be an apt description. The best damn pitcher in baseball (Felix Hernandez) is the new face of the franchise after Ichiro Suzuki was dealt in July. Hernandez is only under contract until 2014 (hitting free agency at the whopping age of 28....that's just not fair), and Seattle would be wise to lock him up again and build their team around him.

Speaking of the rest of the team, what high points are there for the future? Well, this is a pretty young team. The only free agents they're looking at losing are a trio of relievers and starters Hisashi Iwakuma and Kevin Millwood. Neither of those two are young and in Seattle's long-term plans, but they were both cheap and effective in 2012, and another low money short term deal for both could work out well. The rotation was largely ineffective past throse three, but Erasmo Ramirez has come on strong lately and will be a good complement to Hernandez in the rotation.


Offensively, the Mariners are actually not terrible, and they're still a young team. Third baseman Kyle Seager looks like a star in the making at age 24, and center fielder Michael Saunders has flaws, but is adequate enough considering the state of the position in the league today. John Jaso has been a revelation behind the plate, but second baseman Dustin Ackley has taken a step back.

Seattle's offense also features a pair of young players that are immensely talented, but just can't put it together: DH Jesus Montero, and first baseman Justin Smoak. Each is showing good pop this year, but just cannot get on base to save their lives.

The Mariners farm system is heavy on the pitching side of things, mostly due to the dynamic trio of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton. Hultzen was solid in AA, but struggled with his control in AAA, Walker was great considering he spent nearly the entire season as a 19-year old at AA, and Paxton was solid in AA. Seattle also has infielder Nick Franklin knocking on the door (.896 OPS in AA, struggled in a midseason callup to AAA).

The Mariners did improve in the second half of the season, but that was mostly due to them feasting on weaker teams who were playing even worse than Seattle did in the first half. There's defintely hope here, with four fantastic prospects potentially reaching the majors at some point in 2013...but given the lack of success by a lot of Seattle's elite prospects in the majors in 2012, penciling the Mariners in for vast improvements right off the reel in 2013 might be a little aggressive.

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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