Seattle Mariners: 3 Reasons Fans Should Try to Be Optimistic

Mike UlstadContributor IIIApril 29, 2012

Seattle Mariners: 3 Reasons Fans Should Try to Be Optimistic

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    In the world of sports, much can be said about the characteristics of different fanbases. For example, we all know about Oakland Raiders fans being notoriously vicious, or Duke Blue Devil basketball fans being completely over-the-top crazy during games. But if there is one thing that rings true with the Seattle Mariners' fanbase, it's pessimism.

    This is not by any fault of their own though, do not get me wrong. There just simply hasn't been much reason for excitement or happiness for Mariner fans since the early 2000's. Letdown after letdown in clutch situations during games, disgusting trades and free-agent signings and the inability for top prospects to become even halfway decent baseball players can wear down a fan so much that the only way to cope is to be overly pessimistic.

    For the Mariners though, it appears that there are finally some pieces in place that will provide long-term stability. So, Mariner fans, let's try this together. Here are three reasons to be optimistic about your team.

Michael Saunders

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    Over the course of these first 23 games, the Mariners offensive leader is surprisingly Michael Saunders. Not expected to be a major contributor when spring training began, Saunders has taken advantage of injuries to Franklin Gutierrez in a major way. He is still striking out at a high rate, but has improved his walk rate dramatically from last season (11.3 percent this season compared to just 6.7 last year). Stats like this show that Saunders may finally be stepping towards sustaining success at the major league level.

    This should also help people feel optimistic about Saunders.

The Jackson Generals

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    Any Mariner fan who keeps up to date with the team knows that we should all be keeping a very close eye on the Seattle Double-A affiliate (the Jackson Generals) for three specific reasons: James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen. Dubbed the up and coming "Big Three" for the Mariners, Hultzen (and possibly Paxton as well) should reach the show by the end of this season and join the Seattle rotation.

    2012 stats (through 24 games):

    Hultzen: 4 starts, 2.08 ERA, 26/11 K/BB

    Paxton: 5 starts, 3.09 ERA, 31/16 K/BB

    Walker: 4 starts, 1.64 ERA, 26/6 K/BB

The Pineda for Montero Trade

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    This trade could not have worked out better for the Mariners so far. Jesus Montero has hit well, and displayed some impressive power early on this season. Meanwhile, Michael Pineda has not thrown a pitch yet, and might not for the entire season.

    As long as Montero finds a little more patience at the plate (his 2.5 percent walk rate needs to improve drastically), this trade should look even better for the Mariners, and worse for Yankees GM Brian Cashman and fans of the Bronx Bombers.