Monday, February 14, 2011

Will the Seattle Mariners Lose 100 Games Again This Year?

I'm reading a lot of articles that basically say that it's extremely unlikely. Not because the Mariners are one whit better than last year, but because they can't possibly be worse. Here's Rob Neyer:

Is there reason for hope? Absolutely. Left fielder Michael Saunders and first baseman Justin Smoak, both of whom have been terrible disappointments, are probably going to show some of the talent that made them top prospects. Newcomer Jack Cust and malcontent Milton Bradley should give the M’s decent production from the DH slot.

Elsewhere – and I really can’t stress this strongly enough – most of the Mariners’ hitters will hit better in 2011 than 2010 simply because 1) they’re very unlikely to hit exactly the same, and 2) it would be very difficult for them to hit worse.

Does all this mean the Mariners aren’t going to lose 101 games again? Yeah, it probably does.

I remain skeptical. While it's hard to imagine them actually hitting worse because it would be impossible, it's very easy to imagine the starting pitching and bullpen being worse while the hitting isn't that much better. They remain below average at every single offensive position except Ichiro in RF. Jack Cust is a fringe major leaguer, though one with significant power. The other relatively big pickup, Miguel Olivo, helps with a catcher situation that was abysmal last year, but that's a very limited gain. Justin Smoak could finally hit well at 1B. Actually I kind of expect he will have real improvement. And that would be huge. But I have no faith in Michael Saunders in LF.

In any case, I need a more convincing argument than, "It's hard to be them this bad two years in a row," to believe in the Mariners to lose less than 90-95 games anyway. If not 100.