Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 5/14/13
It’s All Coming Together, FINALLY To the naked eye, the Seattle Mariners are the epitome of mediocrity. They are sitting at an 18-20 record, which is only good enough for third in the AL West. The question is, though, do they deserve praise and high hopes? Absolutely. After a slow start – and a few ass kickings by the little league squad that is the Astros – they have finally got the ball rolling and have had some key players find their stride. Here is what I predict for the team moving forward: This season has seen the emergence of Michael Saunders. Playoff Bound Since the M’s played the greatest season known to baseball in 2001, they haven’t had a single playoff appearance. That will change this season. The team is young, the pitching staff is consistent and key players are making contributions. With Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma pitching as incredible as they are, you can almost guarantee two wins every week. Throw in the emergence of Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, and Justin Smoak – yeah, Ackley and Smoak are actually relevant – and you have some depth in a decent lineup. The division is tough on paper, but there is definitely a possibility to place in the top two. As of now, the Texas Rangers hold a 6.5 game lead over the M’s and are riding a 4-game winning streak. The Oakland Athletics are only .5 game ahead of us, and their limited talent is being tested. The Angels can’t seem to figure it out, and the Astros are still learning how to play catch. If the Mariners can get a consistent run with a few solid months, the possibilities are endless. There Will Be 4 All Stars from Seattle Count ‘em. 4. The most since 2003, when the Mariners produced 5 all stars – Ichiro, Edgar, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Jamie Moyer and Bret Boone. You might question how a team below .500 will produce 4 all-star caliber players. Well it’s simple, really. You already know King is going. Iwakuma has earned the consideration, and will be a shoe-in if he keeps it up. Then you have Tom Willhelmsen. The Bartender has racked up 10 saves with 11 K’s. Above average, but nothing crazy. However, he is 10-for-10 on saves. That’s pretty consistent. His ERA is also 0.56 – the best in the bigs with at least 15 appearances. As the Mariners continue to win series after series, Tom will get opportunities to add to his totals. Look for him to represent the AL. So that is three – all from the pitching stafff, I know – but who is fourth? While I would love to throw my boy Seager in there, the 3B position is pretty top heavy with Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria having tremendous seasons. Seager could get hot, you never know, but I’m not banking on it. I see an outfielder making the list. Michael Morse had a nice power streak to get his HR’s up to 9. He has struggled since, but has a track record of consistently dropping bombs. Between him, the rising Saunders, and Seager, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them on the reserves. Kendrys Morales Will Finish the Season on Another Team This one hurts to say, and I hope it will not happen. But I truly think we will trade Kendrys. He hasn’t quite had the season we had hoped for, recording a .262 average with 4 HR and 17 RBI. Not terrible, but not great either. The big thing about Kendrys is his trade value. At 29 years old, he is in the heat of his prime. He is a switch hitter, and could be the final addition necessary for a team to make a championship run – such as the Orioles or the Pirates. Throw in the fact that he is in his contract year and he doesn’t re-negotiate midseason, and all signs point to him leaving. Nick Franklin Will Be the Starting Short Stop Brendan Ryan might be the biggest liability to ever walk this earth. He can spar with anyone in the field, but he hits like he’s seven. At this point, his batting average is .122. Holy ****. I would trade him for a package of Dave’s Sunflower Seeds. And think it was a steal. Felix Hernanzed is en route to another Cy Young award. (photo everyjoe.com) I understand he saves runs like no other short stop, but the gaping black hole he creates at the bottom of the lineup card just is not worth the fielding ability. Meanwhile, Nick Franklin is hitting .339 with 4 Hr, 16 RBI’s and 5 SB.It’s almost a given that he will get the call up, and I personally cannot wait till the day comes. He tends to struggle in the field, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they move the sure-glove of Kyle Seager to short and put Franklin at third. But whatever the case, we need his bat in this lineup. The King Will Reclaim His Crown Yeah, Felix is winning the Cy Young. Not too bold of a prediction considering his start thus far – he is currently 5-2 with a AL-leading 1.53 ERA and a WHIP of only 0.903. To compare, his Cy Young-winning season from 2010, he had an ERA of 2.27 and a WHIP of 1.057. Yes, the season is young, but we all know what the King can do. And if we expect this team to go anywhere, it will be on his shoulders. Will we see Felix pitch in his first postseason game this year? Only time will tell. Go M’s!!! CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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