Do the Seattle Mariners just seem more disappointing than usual because of all those knuckleheads who predicted them to be so much better they’d make it to the World Series this season?
What were they thinking?
I saw a story where one know-nothing at The News Tribune, Dave somebody, picked them to win it all.
His logic, apparently, was that the Mariners had improved 16 wins over the previous season, and aggressively went out and signed American League home-run leader Nelson Cruz.
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After six years of mostly treading water, GM Jack Zduriencik had this club headed to the postseason.
But as of the morning of June 4, the M’s were seven wins behind their total at the same point last year. They’d just been swept at home by the Yankees, and were flailing to find some offense.
After having scored three or fewer runs in eight consecutive games, manager Lloyd McClendon accurately pointed out that his team’s offense was “in a funk.”
Credit Zduriencik for addressing the funk, engineering a six-player trade with Arizona, the keystone piece being the acquisition of Mark Trumbo.
Whether Trumbo is the funk-fixer appears in doubt. Initial analysis suggests that Trumbo can add some power, but comes up short in the area in which the Mariners are by far the funkiest — scoring runs.
They’re near the bottom in the American League in runs scored, batting average and on-base percentage, but fourth in the league in home runs.
Trumbo, a 2012 All Star, was batting .259, and his on-base percentage of .299 was right about the average the Mariners already have as a team. The numbers don’t pencil out to a huge offensive surge.
Here’s some of the weirdness that makes their fourth-place standing in the AL West so curious: The big money spent on Cruz has been rewarded. He’s come in and performed far better than the previous sluggers brought in who go suddenly limp upon reaching Safeco Field.
After the Wednesday loss, he was tied for the MLB home run lead with 18, fourth in the AL in batting average (.324), and second in the league in RBI (39).
But despite the RBI total, only five of his 18 home runs have come with somebody on base.
Hence the questions about the arrival of Trumbo solving the Mariners’ problems.
He averaged better than 30 homers a year in his past three seasons in the AL West with the Angels. Although his numbers at Safeco have been modest (four HRs and .243 average in 29 games lifetime). But he’s not expected to be a run-generator.
Sometimes a new bat can strike a spark. If he can match some of his previous home run totals, it will be a boost even if he’s seldom on the basepaths otherwise.
And sometimes bringing in a new guy causes the incumbents to pick up their games, to be a little energized by either a fresh face or the threat that somebody else might be brought in to replace them next.
The worst thing you can do in what appears to be a prolonged skid is to sit around and watch the season slip away.
So, they made a move. Congratulations. They did something.
They’re trying to find an answer when there’s still enough time left in the season that it might make a difference. It’s still early June.
But it all just feels a whole lot funkier than it should given the way things seemed when they came up from Arizona just a couple months ago.