Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 10/12/13
Is it finally their time? There is certainly plenty we don’t know about the future for the 2014 Seattle Mariners. Who will manage the team?  Will they really invest in any big names like Jacoby Ellsbury? Heck, who will own the team? Rather than continue to speculate on the “what ifs”, let us examine two position players we know will at least be on the roster come Spring Training. We’ll take a look at what they must do as contributors if the M’s are to see their first winning season in over a decade. Justin Smoak I believe I can be quoted last week as saying “it’s put up or shut up” time when it comes to the Mariners’ powerful switch-hitting first baseman, Justin Smoak.  The Freak from Goose Creek, S.C. came to the Mariners in 2010 when the teamdealt co-ace Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers. Smoak is going to be eligible for salary arbitration this winter for the first time in his career.  Seattle has a pretty consistent history of not allowing its players to make it to that hearing, so it’s going to be interesting to see what the M’s offer him, given his overall lackluster performance so far. Keep in mind, this a guy who waited until 15 minutes before the deadline to finally agree on his first pro contract with Texas after the draft.  Texas finally offered up $3.5 million as a signing bonus just to get Smoak into the minor leagues. It’s put up or shut up time for Justin Smoak. While few would argue Smoak’s defense at first being subpar, he has been inconsistent at best so far in his major league career with the stick.  He has four seasons under his belt with over 100 games played at the major league level.  In that time, his career batting line looks like this: .227 average, .334 on-base %, 67 HRs, 204 RBIs Smoak is coming off his best season ever as a major leaguer.  He just hit .238 with 20 homers for the M’s in 2013. None of those numbers are very sexy, with a possible exception of that 20-homer season for the first time in his career.  Clearly there is still plenty of improvement needed if Smoak is finally going to break out. Despite the risk of a big-money deal and mediocrity at the plate, a switch-hitting, lefty-throwing first baseman who shows the potential to hit for a lot of power is a very strong aphrodisiac. The Mariners are going to make a good offer to Smoak this winter, and he’s finally going to have to produce. The question is: Will he? I say yes. The 2014 season is when Smoak finally puts it together.  He’ll cut down on the strikeouts and hit at least .275 with 30 Homers.  He’ll also break the 100 RBI total for the first time in his career.  You heard it here first. Kyle Seager The Mariner’s third baseman, Kyle Seager, is sneaky.  He seems to fly under the radar a lot.  In his early days in the big leagues, he was the afterthought — the “other guy” that came up with Dustin Ackley.  A third-round pick out of college by the M’s, Seager has never been thought of as the number one prospect in the Mariner system. Kyle Seager. (Photo: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) The stat’s say otherwise, however. Seager has a career .260 batting average.  That’s the highest average posted by any of the Mariners’ “next generation” players. Seriously, if I asked any of you three years ago which of these four guys (Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero or Kyle Seager) is going to have the best overall numbers in three years who do you think would have won my poll? It sure as hell wouldn’t have been Seager. Further proof of the “quiet cool” Seager has displayed at the plate, Kyle has just stealthily put up back-to-back 20-homer campaigns, and he has averaged over 80 RBIs each of those last two seasons as well. His last three season batting average totals are .258, .259 and .260.  That’s remarkably consistent for a player with only 2.5 seasons played. You want further proof that Seager is figuring things out at the plate?  His walk total from 2012 to 2013 jumped over 20 walks. Seager’s defense has been only average.  Yes, I’ve seen his highlight reel, and he does turn in some amazing plays; but occasionally he seems to just boot an easy one for no apparent reason. Keep in mind, though, that he did not play 3rd base in college, and he’s had to learn the position on the job with Seattle.  I think some of those errors will start to disappear in 2014. Seager is ready to bust it loose at the plate.  His walks improvement combined with another year playing 3rd every day should make Kyle relax even more as he just continues to gain a lot of confidence in his swing. Look for Kyle Seager to do something in 2014 no Seattle Mariner has done in a very long time.  Kyle Seager will hit .300 on the year. With Kyle hitting .300 and Justin mashing the ball at least 30 times, that could translate into a lot more runs for a run-starved franchise and maybe even a winning season in 2014 for the Mariner faithful. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cavaliers fan gets in shouting match with Dwane Casey

Report: Eric Decker skipped Jets OTAs in protest

WATCH: Rob Gronkowski taking ballet lessons is hilarious

Mark Jackson calls out Richard Jefferson for costing Warriors a series

Blue Jays GM: John Gibbons is ‘absolutely part of the solution’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Weak Canadian dollar could hurt NHL by as much as $200 million in revenue

Report: Pavel Datsyuk will join SKA of the KHL

Why Joe Mikulik should manage Braves for rest of 2016

Chelsea owns trademark to 'Jose Mourinho' name, complicating Mourinho’s move to Manchester United

Steelers' Ladarius Green sits out OTAs after ankle surgery

Dez Bryant: I’ll be ‘better than I was’ in 2014

Sharks advance to first Stanley Cup Final

Maryland's Melo Trimble returning to school

Showtime sues Pacquiao’s promoter over Mayweather fight issue

Geno Smith not answering questions about Ryan Fitzpatrick

According to college football recruits, flashy uniforms matter

Report: Marshawn has thought about return, but Seahawks may not want him

Eugene Monroe calls for NFL to end marijuana ban

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

John Elway: Losing both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler was ‘big surprise’

Ravens’ John Urschel earns straight A’s in four MIT classes

How Phil Kessel has thrived in Pittsburgh

Adams dealing with ‘testicular contusion’ after Green kick

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

The five most disappointing MLB teams this season

QUIZ: Identify these NHL Hall of Famers by their nicknames

QUIZ: Name every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 1867

Sniping quotes highlight NHL conference finals animosity

QUIZ: Name every NBA franchise's original incarnation

The 15 biggest playoff upsets in NBA history

Cy Young Award contenders at the quarter mark of the season

QUIZ: Name the NHL franchises that have never won the Stanley Cup

How the goalies stack up in the Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker