Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mariner Offseason Overview - Atypical Rant Edition

I'm going to jump off Colin's earlier post and angrily mutter to myself about the problems facing the 2006 Seattle Mariner squad already this offseason.

Problem #1: Howard Lincoln
Problem #2: Howard Lincoln
Problem #3: USS Mariner

Note: the last one is a joke, unless the Mariners follow through and sign Jacque Jones and Kevin Brown. Then I'm writing those fellows a nasty letter for them to promptly ignore, since they're way more important than I am.

The M's ended up with 69 wins last year, an improvement of 6 games over last year's mark and, wierdly enough, our pythagorean win-loss record last year. This means they still have 13 wins to go in order to hit the .500 mark, and 21 wins to go to hit playoff respectability. That seems like a large hurdle to overcome.

One quick way to narrow the gap is using the engineer's favorite tool... fuzzy math. Our pythagorean won-loss total, based on runs scored/runs allowed, should have been 75-87, which means that for the second year in a row we drastically underperformed. Basically, we were again an unlucky club. 75 wins would have been a 12 win increase and we could have more optimism.

Another way to consider this gap as narrowing is knowing that we aren't giving major numbers of at-bats to the following: Wilson Valdez, Miguel Olivo, Bret Boone, Willie Bloomquist. Simply take away these jokers and our offensive numbers look a lot better.

Again, we won't have to deal with Ryan Franklin or Aaron Sele as starting pitchers.

The problem now becomes... how to replace these jokers and close the rest of the gap?

The answer... we don't know. That has to drive stat gurus batty, but it's true. We may be able to bring in enough talent through trades and free agency to feel assured about that .500 record, but to think playoffs we are going to need substantial improvements from our young position players.

Here's our lineup at this point...

RF Ichiro!
CF Jeremy Reed
LF Raul Ibanez/Mike Morse
1B Richie Sexson
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
3B Adrian Beltre
C Yorvit Torrealba
DH Ibanez/Morse

We do have one significant hole, that same LF problem that's been driving us nuts for years. We need left handed power. We know it, USSM knows it, Bill Bavasi knows it. I see a few possible solutions out there. Jacque Jones should not be an option. He batted .240 last year. What a great addition to our lineup THAT would be. Brian Giles would be my target. He is aging but has great plate discipline and would love swinging for our right field porch. If we have to go to the trade route, I would target Carlos Delgado (who has friggin' murdered us for years) or even Jim Thome (more for a dedicated DH). For either of those to make sense the trading team would have to eat much of the salary in those bloated contracts, but we could actually hit some home runs beyond Sexson, which would be nice.
Jeremy Reed needs to step it up next year, when we see how that wrist injury really hampered his production. Ichiro has to bat .330 to truly be productive... last year wasn't that great for him either, no matter what his complaints about team effort.
Adrian Beltre has to step up as well. We need something close to what his projected effort was for last year, not the 5 percentile he hit.
I would like to give Lopez and Betancourt another year, especially because what's out there aren't significant upgrades.
Finally, however great Kenji Jojima might be, he's not worth standing in Jeff Clement's way. Give Torrealba a year in the sun before he steps aside. That leaves us with a lineup of:

Ichiro
Reed
Giles
Sexson
Ibanez
Beltre
Lopez
Torrealba
Betancourt

That's not a bad lineup, with speed and power.

Now to the pitching, a problem all in itself. Basically, our starting pitching sucked. It sucked hard. We will have a full year of King Felix, which in and of itself will register a marked inprovement, as will the return of Rafael Soriano to our bullpen. Here's what we have so far.

Starters:
Felix
Piniero
?
?
?

Relievers:
Guardado
Sherrill
Soriano
Mateo
Putz
Atchison
Harris

As you can see, we have the makings of an excellent bullpen next year, so no need to overpay (except what we already did for an aging closer whose shoulder is falling off). What to do with that huge starting pitching gap? That will define whether or not we're a contender next year or not. It sucks that I have even penciled in Piniero. I have to make it clear that I don't really like anyone in free agency. They all have huge warts and none are worth the kind of money being thrown in their general direction. Still, Kevin Millwood and Matt Morris at least have track records of success. AJ Burnett does have the most talent, but as Lookout Landing pointed out, he's a huge injury risk to go with the attitude and consistency problems. I'm not sure he's worth it. Then just sign Moyer for one more year, keep him at home and we have...

1. Felix
2. Millwood
3. Morris
4. Moyer
5. Piniero

and we have something closer, albeit still poor.

Look, these are just my thoughts. I don't like what's out there, I don't see us making many moves, and I don't see us competing in 2006. Go team.

posted by Gavin @ 1:17 PM  0 comments

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