Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 9/17/13
Answers to come by Winter Meetings There is plenty we do know.  We know the 2013 Seattle Mariners aren’t going to finish above .500.  We know no M’s player is going to hit 35 HRs on the season.  We know that the Mariners as an organization, despite low attendance and yet another losing season, made a lot of money in 2013. All that said, there are three things we do NOT know about the M’s that I sure wish we did.  I’m just full of questions on a team surrounded by questions. Who will be the Skipper come spring training 2014? A few weeks ago I reported on Mariners’ GM, Jack Zduriencik, receiving a hush, hush 1-year contract extension.  I felt, at the time, that a similar, do-or-die type of one-year deal was forth coming for M’s Skipper, Eric Wedge, and that the delay was only due to Wedge’s ongoing health issues. What is up with Felix Hernandez? (Photo: Sports Illustrated) Now… I’m not sure anymore.  After being swept at home by the abysmal Houston Astros and losing 10 of their last 14, it makes you wonder.  Also factored into this equation is why have they not yet announced the matching one-year deal for Wedge.  He’s been back from his stroke for a while now. And to put it bluntly: Getting swept at home by a team that makes less money than some individual players do is the kind of thing that will get you canned as an MLB Manager. The biggest problem the M’s face if Jack Z decides he wants his last stab at making the M’s a winner to be done with someone else at the helm is: Who can you get that would be better than Wedge? I’m not sure there is an answer to that question; at least not yet.  Maybe someone will become available at the end of the season that I’m not expecting.  You’d think with only 30 of those jobs in the whole world there would be better candidates — not so much this year. What is up with Felix Hernandez? Twenty-four earned runs in his last six starts will make you start to worry about a guy who was pretty much un-hittable in the first half of the season. You have to wonder if after pitching so well last year, earning that big contract the M’s gave him at the start of the year, and then having a late August swoon dash any hope of the M’s finally achieving a winning record got into the head of the King, just a wee bit. “Don’t think, just throw.” -Crash Davis Baseball is a mental grind and being able to keep up your play to an elite level in the face of nothing left to play for in a yet another losing season is very tasking.  I’m going to go way out a limb here and assume that Felix is merely showing that he is human for the first time in his career. Let’s just hope this does not continue into  2014. How much cash do the M’s have to spend on free agents in 2014? This is something that I think will be very interesting to watch this winter.  The Mariners currently have around $50 million committed to players already under contract for 2014.  Given their TV deal with Root Sports, attendance, and track record, the M’s could easily push that number as high as $120 million for 2014. Will the M’s drop $70 million on new free agents and/or players coming in via trade?  Probably not.  I think in reality that number will be closer to 35-40 Million for a couple of reasons: 1.  The Mariners are too conservative of an organization to go all in, in a style not unlike the Angels just did. 2.  This is not what you would call a banner year for quality free agents being available. However these three unknowns turn out, it’s going to be one of the more interesting Mariners offseasons to watch in quite a while. Don’t tune out just yet, M’s fans. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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