Wade Miley, Nori Aoki, Steve Cishek, Adam Lind
Mark Trumbo, Carson Smith, Logan Morrison
In all, the Mariners off-season had some impact but was kind of boring. They added Cishek, making Smith expendable which opened up their trade for Miley. This isn’t much of a trade, but Miley can provide depth and innings in the rotation that weren’t already there, or would have went to an unproven commodity. Lind for Trumbo is about wash everything considered, and Aoki over Morrison is probably an upgrade in the fact that they acquired a lead off hitter in the move that they previously did not really have.
Projected Playoff Lineup
- Nori Aoki
- Ketel Marte
- Robinson Cano
- Nelson Cruz
- Kyle Seager
- Adam Lind
- Seth Smith/Franklin Gutierrez
- Chris Iannetta
- Leonys Martin
The key to the lineup is obvious due to who they invested so much in and that is Robinson Cano. Cano had an awful start to the season that later was found out to be due to a double hernia. After playing through most of the pain involved with that he saw the first season he hit under .300 since 2008. Cano is 33, so it is no guarantee that he bounces all the way back, but his ability to get his average up to .287 after the surgery can testify to the fact that it probably was the surgery slowing him down. The three behind him can really speed things up if he is healthy with a big punch of power. Seager, Lind, and Cruz combined to put up 90 home runs in 2015. If Marte and Aoki can step up at the top they have a spark that they didn’t have last year, and it will only put more pressure on the opposing pitchers. The bottom of their order doesn’t provide much of a punch, but Iannetta and Martin are both strong defenders for their position, and overall the lineup the Mariners have assembled around Cruz, Cano and Seager should be better than the one that was around them last year.
After a year of a bit of disappointment a lot of talk is going around about whether or not King Felix has reached his peak. He is coming off of a year in which he posted his lowest numbers of starts and innings since 2008, his lowest K rate since 2010, his highest walk rate since 2008, worst home run rate since 2006, his worst home run to fly ball rate since 2006,his worst ERA since 2007, and lowest WAR since 2005. The guy known for being one of the most consistent baseball players ever had a year of inconsistency and I have no idea what to do about it. The thought would be that he is 29 now, has been pitching in the MLB since he was 20, and he may be on the decline. The question is does he decline much from these stats of last year? If he isn’t leading as the ace the Mariners don’t have an ace, and last year he hardly was worthy of the role. If he can do similar, or even find a way to get back in the middle of his downfall it can be fixed around, but if he is to continue to decline there may be no in house fix. Iwakuma is also 34, and coming off of a career low in starts, and ERA, so the 1-2 punch that kept them in division races for so long is starting to look like it is fading. Walker at 23 has the big upside and the ability to fill some of these shoes. He made his MLB debut last year, and while it ended with a 4.6 ERA, he made a lot of stride, and with an 8.6 K/9 proved he can miss bats in the MLB. With Miley being an average pitcher at best, and Karns being a guy stuck to the bottom of a rotation, the question is if Walker can progress, would it be enough to cancel the regression of Hernandez and Iwakuma. If Hernandez is to regress at this pace, the easy answer is no. If he can at least hold up, or get somewhere back to where he was it has the potential to be a dangerous rotation. At the moment it is somewhere in between dangerous and dismay.
The Mariners seem to feel confident in their bullpen as they made moves to the lineup by moving members of the bullpen out. They do have a strong back end, and given their park they shouldn’t have a trouble. Of course, circling back to the rotation, if Hernandez and Iwakuma are in for career lows in innings pitched we could see a problem with the depth of the pen, but until then it is solid on paper.
It is hard to say that a team is so reliant on its stars, but this team is cooked if Hernandez and Cano cannot string together consistent play. Both are at the point where they could be defined as aging, but shouldn’t be over the hill quite yet. Still, after coming off of seasons that no one really saw coming, it is hard to say anyone knows if these two can bounce back or not. Given the top end questions it is hard at the moment to see them making a playoff run.
3rd in the AL West