2022 Mariners: Oh well, whatever, nevermind

Yelling At Clouds

Post-darwinian
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Yes, I will be doing this again this year.

Coming off a surprise 90-win season and with a ton of financial flexibility, fans were sensing an opportunity: spend some cash on some free agents, and make next year The Year To Break The Playoff Drought. "Spend money," they'd say, usually punctuated by a vulgar description for ownership.

And they did! To an extent, at least. Before the lockout, they signed reigning Cy winner Robbie Ray to a big deal. He now heads up a rotation that was quietly solid last year - Logan Gilbert, Chris Flexen and Marco Gonzales are all solidly above-average, though arguably none is a true number-two-type (Gilbert may yet become one). There's not a lot of depth behind them, leading many to speculate that Jerry Dipoto isn't done, but the front four is decent.

The lineup also needed considerable improvements, though, and it's here that many fans' concerns were borne out, as Dipoto improved it through a series of trades rather than something more simple and direct, like signing Kris Bryant*. They did get Adam Frazier as their new everyday 2B, which, he's fine. They also got Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez in a splashy but risky move. Certainly the offense has raised its floor considerably - this team gave a ton of at-bats last year to the likes of Jake Bauers, Shed Long, Jose Marmolejos, Evan White, et al. And players like Dylan Moore, Luis Torrens, and Taylor Trammell will play reduced roles to which they are better suited. If you assume Jarred Kelenic will build off his legitimately strong September - he was the best player on the team! - Cal Raleigh will improve, and Kyle Lewis will come back healthy, then you've got a Major-League lineup:

Projected Mariners Lineup:
Frazier 2B
France 1B
Haniger RF
Winker DH
Suarez 3B
Kelenic LF
Lewis CF
Crawford SS
Raleigh C
Bench - Moore, Torrens, Toro, Murphy

Not bad. There's a ton of risk there, obviously - maybe Kelenic is still more the guy he was the rest of the year than the guy he was in September. Lewis's health is not a sure bet. Winker is badly exposed against LHP. Frazier was not the same player in San Diego. Suarez might not rediscover his 2020 form (when he was just ok) let alone the version of him that existed in 2019**. But on the whole, when I look at that lineup, I see a cromulent option at every position (which is an improvement over 2021). But what I don't see is a star, and that's why fans are disappointed. Even with the expanded playoffs, the AL is tough without a transcendent star, and it sure doesn't look like the Mariners have that guy.

Unless***...

View: https://twitter.com/Mariners/status/1504939843519885313


There is a decent chance that Julio Rodriguez breaks camp with the club! He's widely considered to be that guy in the making. It's a lot to ask of a rookie, but by all accounts, he welcomes that sort of thing. So we'll see!

Overall, I'd say they're a better team than last year's edition, but in this case that means they still very well might finish with a worse record.


* - There have been scattered reports that they offered Trevor Story a lot of money to play third. He turned it down.
** - Did you know Eugenio Suarez has hit the most home runs in all of MLB since 2018? It's true!
*** - Bonus: Don Orsillo on the call
 
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LogansDad

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Matt Brash. You forgot Matt Brash.

Thank for the post! I will be working for the Travelers again this year, so will try to post any interesting tidbits or random thoughts I might discover down there (Matt Brash).

I am interested to see how much Julio improved over the winter defensively. The bat is really close to ready (and everything reports say it is), but I've heard that they want him to play CF, and based off of everything I saw last season that may be a little rough. His reads off the bat, even in RF and LF, were questionable, and while he has the speed and athleticism to make up for it, I think those issues get worse in CF at Safeco. He is going to be a special player, though. The thought of both him and Bobby Witt Jr making their debuts this year has me giddy.

On the pitching prospect side, I would not be surprised to see Brash break camp with the team. His stuff is that good (seriously, if you haven't watched PitchingNinja's videos of his wipeout slider, get some popcorn and go check them out), but I also suspect he will start the season in AAA, which makes me sad because it will make it more difficult for me to watch him pitch. I think Kirby and Stoudt are probably still a year away, though Stoudt in particular was a lot of fun to watch after his callup to AA last season.

Hancock is currently shut down with a lat injury after missing the last month of last season with arm stuff (not necessarily an injury, but after dealing with a shoulder injury early in the season it is still a concern) , so who knows with him.
 

LogansDad

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I've changed my mind on Julio. I don't see any reasonable way they keep him off the roster to start the regular season, especially with Kyle Lewis not being ready. If Kelenic is anywhere closer to his September performance than the rest of last season, this lineup is really deep.

The three pitchers vying for the #5 slot (Kirby, Brash and Levi Stoudt all of a sudden) have all looked very good in their few innings of work, I expect them to get stretched out over the next week to see which one emerges.

I am really excited for this team (but do still agree with your final sentence in the OP).
 

LogansDad

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I really think they have to. That outfield is stacked, and hopefully by May or so will be even more stacked with Lewis' return. I do worry about Winker at home, but hopefully the home runs he loses turn into XBH's and not cans of corn.
 

LogansDad

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Brash let up a home run to Blackmon, and worked around some trouble in the 2nd, but was otherwise absolutely stellar through 4.1 tonight. They will be hard pressed not to hand him the #5 starter slot at this point, I think.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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Brash let up a home run to Blackmon, and worked around some trouble in the 2nd, but was otherwise absolutely stellar through 4.1 tonight. They will be hard pressed not to hand him the #5 starter slot at this point, I think.
Seems pretty likely. The question now is what happens with Kirby. I could see them keeping him up and using him in a multi-inning Whitlock-esque relief role, or I could see them sending him back to AAA to be first man up in case of injury.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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Could Haniger be on the block?

Asking for a friend
You never know with Jerry, but I wouldn’t think so. Not now, at least. If the kids thoroughly outplay him, then maybe. If they’re out of it at the deadline, then almost definitely. Right now, though, I think they need him.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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Yelling At Clouds

Post-darwinian
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If today’s score holds, they’ll end the weekend with a winning record and a negative differential. It really is last year again.
 

bosox188

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Someone in the dynasty league I play in has been hyping up Brash since late last year, so I've been looking forward to seeing him get into MLB action.

This is pretty ridiculous:

 

Jake Peavy's Demons

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Hey, sorry if it's a thread hijack, just not sure where else to put this. Long story short, my wife & her BFF are going to a Mariners game in late May. Both of them will come from out-of-state, & have never been to a Mariners/T-Mobile Park game.

On the ticket options, they keep seeing an option for "Mariners' Way". It seems like an add-on, but they can also make ticket purchases for "just" Mariners' Way. The website mentions "see the game & hear the sounds-great options!"

Does anyone know what "Mariners' Way" is exactly?
 

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Yelling At Clouds

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Kelenic and Julio are 1-2 in K rate - the bad way. Slumps happen, and rookies struggle to adjust, sure. But at some point, do they need to start making some changes in the organization?
 

LogansDad

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I think Julio is going to be fine, he's only 19 plate appearance into his career and his at bats are at least competitive (from what little I've been able to watch, and also excluding his at bat against Liam Hendriks last night).

I am starting to have serious concerns about Kelenic, though. It's year two now, and not only are his at bats kind of terrible, he looks completely disengaged up there.

Kyle Lewis is taking live BP, so hopefully he is back soon. It's going to be a tough decision on which one of these guys to send down. Kelenic seemed to respond well to a AAA stint last season, but I can't imagine a second trip would be a ton of fun for him. On the flip side, Julio is a great kid, but he's also very emotional when it comes to his failures (he'd get pissed about a groundout down here last season) so I'm really not sure if they are better off letting him fight through this and hopefully learn from it, or send him down to face some lesser pitchers to get back on track.


In happier news:
Brash looked good (called it!), but he will be better. He's usually a lot better about making his slider look hittable out of his hand, it seemed like he was overthrowing it a bit (especially to the middle of the White Sox lineup), and while the movement on it looked good, a ton of them ended up as just waste pitches. The curve still looked great off of it, and the fastball looked explosive. He also mixed four changeups in, and it is going to be a devastating pitch once it is fully developed. I love that he was confident enough to throw all three of his primary pitches 25%+ of the time, though. I really think he is going to be an ace once he is fully refined.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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I think Julio is going to be fine, he's only 19 plate appearance into his career and his at bats are at least competitive (from what little I've been able to watch, and also excluding his at bat against Liam Hendriks last night).

I am starting to have serious concerns about Kelenic, though. It's year two now, and not only are his at bats kind of terrible, he looks completely disengaged up there.

Kyle Lewis is taking live BP, so hopefully he is back soon. It's going to be a tough decision on which one of these guys to send down. Kelenic seemed to respond well to a AAA stint last season, but I can't imagine a second trip would be a ton of fun for him. On the flip side, Julio is a great kid, but he's also very emotional when it comes to his failures (he'd get pissed about a groundout down here last season) so I'm really not sure if they are better off letting him fight through this and hopefully learn from it, or send him down to face some lesser pitchers to get back on track.
Fair re:Julio, it’s just frustrating to see how this starting to happen again. I think Kelenic probably will be the odd man out which sucks for him, but strikes me as the right call.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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Matt Brash today: didn’t allow a hit until the 6th, 5ks, first MLB win. Six walks is, uh, less encouraging. Ms take two of three from Houston!
 

LogansDad

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I didn't get to watch much because, well, Easter, but I'm not terribly concerned about the walks today. I was kind of hoping they'd push him to tomorrow, but trial by fire isn't the worst idea, I guess. The Astros are a way different type of team than the White Sox, so seeing him get through two really good offenses, one that is hyper aggressive (CHW) and one that is a lot more patient is really good. The next time out is going to be the Royals, so hopefully we start seeing what I think he is really capable of.

As an aside, Julio got his first RBI today, and is starting to look a little bit better at the plate.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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After sweeping the Royals, the Mariners are tied with Toronto and the Yankees for best record in the AL, and, believe it or not lead the league in run differential. That they're playing well while Julio is still adjusting and Robbie Ray and Jesse Winker are still playing below expectations bodes well for the future, I'd say. Big test in Florida this week.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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Hey Y@C - what do you expect happens when Kyle Lewis is ready/ [Related question: when the hell is Kyle Lewis going to be ready?] Seems like not especially big part of the plan for a guy who was Rookie of the Year last time he managed to play a bunch of games.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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Hey Y@C - what do you expect happens when Kyle Lewis is ready/ [Related question: when the hell is Kyle Lewis going to be ready?] Seems like not especially big part of the plan for a guy who was Rookie of the Year last time he managed to play a bunch of games.
I guess it depends on Haniger’s latest injury, not sure how long he’s out. At any rate, whether it’s Haniger or someone else, I think some injury will open up some playing time. But from what I understand, he’s not all that close, I think I read he’s DHing in XST games, so it might be a few weeks still. I think you’re right that they’re not counting on him for much, the Mariners boards I read think he might not be able to play CF anymore, even.

What I don’t think they’ll do is send Kelenic down, not now.
 

LogansDad

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I don't think they need to send Kelenic down yet, with Haniger out, but it sure seems like the regular OF when Lewis gets back is going to be Julio-Winker-Lewis in some formation.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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The eve of a series with the Red Sox feels like a good time to check in on these guys. The short version: some strong individual performances may suggest a bright not-too-distant future, but they can't obscure the disappointment for a team that expected to contend sooner than later. The more detailed version probably should be sorted into good, bad, and meh. All stats through Tuesday's game!

The Good
- J. P. Crawford and Ty France are thriving. They're both on track for career years - .302/.384/.468 with 4 HRs already for Crawford, .315/.392/.452 with 5 HRs for France. JP's batted-ball numbers suggest some future regression, but not much. Both play strong defense; both look like possible All-Stars at the moment.

- Julio is figuring it out. It's true that his first week or so was disastrous, and that bad start is still pulling down his overall numbers. Ignore it. Since the calendar flipped to May, he's hitting .339/.381/.492 while leading all of baseball in stolen bases (only 78% success rate, though). He is the real deal.

- Logan Gilbert has emerged as a top-of-the-rotation guy. His ERA has ballooned a bit since April, but he's still their best starter, the one they'd want starting a hypothetical Game One of a playoff series (lol).

- George Kirby's first two starts were great. Obviously it's early for him, though.

The Meh
- Two of their offseason acquisitions have been basically what they thought they were getting. Adam Frazier isn't amazing or anything, but he's been solidly above-average at the top of the lineup. Eugenio Suarez, meanwhile, is leading the team in all three true outcomes and showing himself to be "not toast." Anecdotally, it seems like most of his HRs are garbage-time specials, though.

- Jesse Winker is starting to come around after a brutal start. Granted, he's running a .250 BABIP, and that's a big improvement from where it was earlier in the year. He kept himself useful by walking a ton, and now the hits are starting to drop. He's got a ways to go before he can be said to have recaptured his All-Star form.

- Marco Gonzales is fine. He's fine!

The Bad
- Injuries have already wreaked some havoc. Mitch Haniger was off to a good start, but first he missed time with COVID, and then in his first game back he suffered a high ankle sprain. In all, he's only played nine games. Similarly, Tom Murphy was off to a scorching start before dislocating his shoulder. He could return soon, though.

- Jarred Kelenic has not found much success at the MLB level. I'm still a believer, but at a certain point it needs to be said: Kelenic has about 120 games of experience and precisely one good month at the Major League level. And it's not like he's merely been bad in the other months, he's been terrible - He had a .509 OPS at the time of his most recent demotion. I get that there are some mitigating factors here - he's one of the youngest regulars in MLB, lots of hot-shot youngsters are struggling right now (like Bobby Witt Jr. and Spencer Torkelson), he doesn't have a ton of experience at AAA - but I'm wondering at what point he becomes a change-of-scenery candidate.

- Two of last year's mini-breakouts have failed to recapture the magic. Abraham Toro and Luis Torrens were both nice surprises last year. The expectation was that both would play key part-time roles that would accentuate their strengths as baseball players. But, because of the aforementioned injuries and underperformance, they've been pressed into full-time service, and they have not risen to the occasion.

- I haven't even mentioned the biggest disappointment! The $115 million "ace" left his velocity in Toronto. His fastball is sitting in the low 90s and not the 95 range he was in during his Cy season. The results have not been pretty, though the peripherals suggest he's been a bit better than that. But even his 3.92 xERA is not ideal for someone making that much money. Also of note: Scott Servais re-arranged the rotation so he wouldn't have to pitch in Toronto. Gee, I wonder why...

- Last year, the bullpen was a strength, this year not so much. The biggest disappointments here are Drew Steckenrider and Diego Castillo, the two pitchers who've been used in the 9th. Steck is also in the "can't pitch in Toronto" club.

Overall, they looked on paper like a team that, with some breaks, could contend, but would likely finish just above .500. Right now, they're playing worse than that, but I think they've got a run in them. Unfortunately, though, they're in a similar situation to the Red Sox: even if they go on a run, there are just so many teams in front of them that actually getting back into the race is still a tall order. Someone else would have to collapse to open the door for them, and I'm not seeing it. The Angels and Astros both look strong, and the would-be WC contenders like the Rays, Jays, and White Sox (or Twins) aren't going anywhere either. Should be a fun series!
 

Marciano490

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What’re your thoughts on Andres Muñoz becoming an important part of the bullpen?
 

LogansDad

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I really though Ray to Seattle was an awesome move and Gausman to Toronto was going to be awful due to Gausman's FB rate. As usual, Bucholz
 

Yelling At Clouds

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On the plus side, they got Lewis and Trammell back this week. On the down side, it wasn't enough to prevent them from losing the series to Oakland and falling into the cellar.
 

jon abbey

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5 wins in a row, back to .500 and making a push in the wild card standings.
 

LogansDad

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8-2 over their last 10, only 3 back of a playoff spot. It was a rough start, but patience (and Carlos Santana) have them back to right around where I expected them to becat this point.

Amazingly, they lost a game in the stadibgs as Houston is 9-1 in their last 10.

Julio is an absolute super duper star.

Keep an eye out on Taylor Dollard. His ERA finally went up over 1.00 the other day, but he may be some help at some point later this season.
 

jon abbey

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12 in a row and into the 2nd wild card spot currently, impressive.

NY will play them six times in ten days (the whole season series) starting Aug 1. I have been watching them some in the late night slot, I am a Ryan Rowland-Smith fan.