Originally written on The Victory Formation  |  Last updated 11/16/14

Heading into 2011, Mariners fans had tempered expectations. They won just 61 games in 2010, and most expected similar results in 2011. In that regards, the Mariners didn’t disappoint, winning just 67 games. The biggest issue in Seattle was the league’s worst offense, for the second year in a row. The pitching was solid and is also a strength of the farm system. Knowing these shortcomings and potential strengths, GM Jack Zduriencik made perhaps the biggest trade of the offseason. He traded 23-year-old SP Michael Pineda after a tremendous rookie debut to the Yankees. In the process, he picked up uber-hitting prospect Jesus Montero to help the anemic offense.

Offensively this team has nowhere to go but up. The addition of Montero, who has been ready for over two years, is a step in the right direction. He should be starting right out of Spring Training. There is no doubt he will develop into an impact bat. The only question is will Seattle dick around and try to play him at catcher or just stick him in the DH slot and let him mash. In addition to Montero, a full season from Dustin Ackley and a healthy Justin Smoak should push the offense upward. This team still has several holes offensively, including a declining Ichiro who had his worst season as a professional in 2011, but the Mariners offense shouldn’t be comically woeful in 2012.

As far as the rotation goes, trading Pineda will move them back a step. That’s how rebuilding goes though. Felix Hernandez is the anchor, and should continue to be one of the league’s best starters. He’s followed in the rotation by a whole lot of “meh” though. Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan, and Charlie Furbush offer a lot of back-end rotation fodder. They’re just place holders though. The Mariners farm system is deep with potential impact starters, most importantly Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. Hultzen was Mariners first round pick (2nd overall) in last year’s draft and is expected to move through the system quickly. Paxton tore up high A and AA ball last year. Both of these smooth lefties should see Seattle by midseason.

In 2011, the Mariners offered few bright spots, with the brightest being Pineda’s debut season. He’s now pitching in New York. On the field, 2012 should offer more bright spots, with the Mariners young players generating some excitement. That excitement won’t carry over to the standings though. The Angels and Rangers are clearly the class of the AL West. Seattle will probably finish at the bottom of the AL West again. However, with Hultzen, Paxton, and Taijuan Walker on the way to partner with a young offense led by Montero, Ackley, and Smoak, the Mariners could be on the verge of competing for a playoff spot in a year or two.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Aaron Rodgers wins NFL MVP

VCU G Briante Weber suffers major knee injury in loss

Short selling leaves hundreds of fans without S.B. tickets

Hamilton, Edmonds' spouses to appear on 'Real Housewives'

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix trolls LSU over Kevin Steele hire


Jerome Bettis elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Report: Duncan suing financial adviser, lost $20 million

Bret Bielema wanted Dolphins to draft Russell Wilson early

Nick Diaz apologizes to fans for skipping open workout

NFLPA President compares Goodell to a 2-year-old

NFL explains how Super Bowl balls will be prepped

2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class announced

Anderson Silva beats Nick Diaz in return to octagon

WATCH: 'SNL' mocks Super Bowl

Sabres had a horrific month of January

Ole Miss uses Katy Perry as prop in recruiting

PHOTO: Ezekiel Elliott gets new national title tattoo

WATCH: Rondo takes brutal knee to face from teammate

Pig auctioned off at halftime of college basketball game

Should the Super Bowl be played on a Saturday?

Underwear company shows support for Marshawn Lynch

WATCH: WVU player flips opponent the double-bird

Five NFL players who could be cap casualties in 2015

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

2015 Hall of Fame class announced

Aaron Rodgers wins NFL MVP

Tim Duncan suing financial adviser?

Five likely cap casualties of 2015

Making the case for NFL co-MVPs

WATCH: Tom Brady sings about balls

Missy Elliott to join Katy Perry at SB?

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.