Friday, January 15, 2010
Are the Mariners really that good?
Blogger Garrett Wilson -- otherwise known as Monkey With a Halo -- reviews the Mariners' offseason and isn't quite as impressed as he's supposed to be. Wilson's big finish:
Now that we’ve gone through that little exercise, let’s recap. Seattle vastly overachieved last season but is supposed to overtake both the Angels and the Rangers in the AL West because they improved their offense from abysmal to well below average and made a big splash with their rotation that is probably only going to produce a small ripple’s worth of an upgrade. How ever will Angel fans be able to sleep at night knowing that this sleeping giant awaits them in the regular season? Hmmm ... I think we’ll be sleeping just fine, thanks.
A little whistling in the dark, methinks.
Still, Wilson does have a point. Last season the M's finished next-to-last in the American League in road scoring (just a smidge ahead of the Royals). They were 12th in road on-base percentage, ninth in road slugging. They'll be completely different at only two spots this year:
1B: Casey Kotchman instead of Russell Branyan DOWN
3B: Chone Figgins instead of Adrian Beltre UP
Elsewhere, there might be marginal improvements at: DH, with Milton Bradley taking Mike Sweeney's at-bats; left field, with Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders playing more, Endy Chavez and Wladimir Balentien not at all; shortstop, with Jack Wilson taking over for the whole season, from Yuniesky Betancourt and Jack Wilson; and behind the plate, with Kenji Johjima gone and Rob Johnson playing more.
The M's should be better in left field and DH, if Bradley's healthy and Ken Griffey, Jr. doesn't fall apart. Wilson will probably hit better than he did in his brief action last year, and should out-hit Betancourt, too.
There are a lot of moving parts here, but I don't see the M's moving up much. Maybe from 13th to 10th in road scoring (which I'm using as a proxy for overall effectiveness because their ballpark kills their stats).
But 10th might be good enough. The defense will be outstanding, again, and you know about Felix Hernandez and cliff Lee.
I do think we might be a little too bullish about the M's; with that they've got right now, I don't know that they're a 90-win team. But if I were an Angels fan, I don't know that I would sleep so well at night. Because I'm not sure if they're an 85-win team.