Admittedly, I have been less than optimistic about the 2014 Seattle Mariners in recent articles. My esteemed colleague Dan Hughes over at SoDo Mojo sort of challenged me to be more positive and get excited about the 10th Man this season.
What will it take for the Mariners to succeed this season? A number of things.
We start with pitching. Perhaps it is overly optimistic to take Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma for granted, but the Mariners will need a lot of wins at the top of the rotation. On the back end, the Mariners don’t need Taijuan Walker and James Paxton to be dominant (assuming they make the rotation). But, if each can contribute 12 wins, that would be very helpful. Only three starters had over 10 wins in 2014.
In the department of obvious statements, the Mariners need to crank up the team average. If Robinson Cano hits near his career average (.309), that could have a huge impact on the rest of the lineup. Kyle Seager seems to be the most likely bat to benefit from Cano’s presence.
After that, the Mariners really need one more bat to be a consistent threat. Whether that is Corey Hart, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison or Dustin Ackley may not matter. If Cano, Seager and one more stick can be legitimate threats on a nightly basis, that may help the rest of the lineup to inch into a respectable team range. The Mariners don’t need to lead the league in hitting. If this lineup could go from their 2013 rank of 28th (.237) to the high teens in terms of team average, it could lead to a major jump in wins.
Finally, the Mariners need Fernando Rodney to pitch like it is 2012. Period.
Are all of these scenarios possible? Absolutely. Baseball is one of those sports where a team can turn things around fairly quickly with a solid start in April. The Mariners may be due, and after several seasons of struggle, 2014 may be when it all comes together.
Are you part of the 10th Man? Then get out and support this team in 2014. You just might see a winner.