The Mariners have been playing encouraging baseball. Last Wednesday, King Felix threw a perfect game. This Tuesday, he had another good outing (2.18 FIP in 7.2 innings), although much different. John Jaso (151 wRC+ this year) did what we are used to seeing him do, hitting a big double. Jesus Montero also showed the power that scouts raved about before the trade but has been largely absent this year (90 wRC + this year).
This was the 7th straight win by the Mariners. They have now scored more runs than they have allowed and have a pythag of 62-62. They are playing their best baseball right now, but thinking about the wildcard at this point is silly. The Mariners are 7.5 games out of the wildcard and are last in the division at 12 games back. The Mariners are already as hot as they can possibly get. The winning streak may continue, but the Mariners aren’t going to go 30-8 for the rest of the year. The MLB season is full of ups and downs. Teams go through stretches where it appears that the team should be blown apart and all the pieces sold to the highest bidder. This is usually followed by mediocrity for extended stretches and some stretches where the team looks like a playoff teams. It is always dangerous to make narratives out of a small stretch of games.
It is all about managing expectations. Last night at Safeco, the stadium was more full than it usually is at just over 39,000 people (the Mariners are 11th out of 14 in attendance) and dressed in yellow. Even a terrible Coldplay song couldn’t ruin the moment. According to most of the players on Twitter (and Marketing Director Kevin Martinez) this was the best atmosphere they had seen Safeco. When King Felix quickly gave up a couple of hits, and the Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez threatened to throw a no hitter, the good day look threatened. However, the Mariners were again beneficiaries of a King Felix outing, and strong bullpen work.
The next competing Mariners team will still be quite a bit different. As talked about in previous articles, the rotation will not be the same other than Felix and maybe Jason Vargas. The outfield needs improvement. Casper Wells and Michael Saunders are nice pieces, but hardly players that you build your outfield around. Franklin Gutierrez can’t stay healthy and we aren’t totally sure what Trayvon Robinson and Eric Thames are (I believe in the former and not the latter). In the free agent market, there aren’t a whole lot of options. Josh Hamilton will be the most expensive option available. Unless ownership has a sudden change of heart about spending money, there is no chance Hamilton becomes a Mariner. He is also on the wrong side of 30, has an extremely long history of injuries, and is inconsistent and overrated at the plate.
Nick Swisher is another option, but he is reportedly asking for 100 million. It is doubtful he will get that much money, but all it takes is one team. The good thing about Swisher, other than the fact that he is better with the bat than any of the Mariners current outfielders, is that he is a possible 1st base solution. The Yankees have let him play some first base, even with Mark Teixeira’s huge contract. Eventually, he will probably have to play 1st base full time. He is a better option for the Mariners than Mike Carp (who can’t stay healthy anyway) and Justin Smoak. Should the Mariners sign Nick Swisher? I don’t know, but he should at least be talked about if they are willing to spend the money. If the Mariners are going to compete next year, they still need some position players. When the off-season gets here, we will talk more about potential free agents. Right now, it may be time to just reflect on some positive signs and progress for the Seattle ball-club.