Seattle Mariners: 5 Moves the M's Must Make to Reach the Postseason
On the bright side, the M's still have 124 games to turn things around and get into the playoffs, but it certainly won't happen unless some changes are made.
Here are five moves the Seattle Mariners must make in order to reach the postseason.
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Ichiro Suzuki is in the final year of his contract, and if Seattle doesn't start winning some games, 2012 could very well be his final season with the Mariners.
If Seattle is on the outside of the playoff picture looking in as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, many contending teams will likely be vying to land the future Hall of Fame inductee.
General manager Jack Zduriencik needs to ink Ichiro to a new deal, assuring he'll stay in the Pacific Northwest for a few more seasons, and maybe the remainder of his career.
If the club is in contention in July, re-signing one of the all-time greats is a must if the Mariners want to play in October.
Acquire a Big Bat at the Trade Deadline
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Although the Mariners' power numbers are improved this year compared to 2011, a power hitter in the middle of the lineup would provide a much-needed boost to Seattle's offense.
Veteran sluggers Carlos Lee, Torii Hunter and Travis Hafner are all in the final year of their contracts and have a good chance of being shopped this summer.
If the asking price is right, a few extra home runs would definitely help Seattle's chances of making a playoff push.
Move Ichiro out of the No. 3 Spot in the Lineup
I like Eric Wedge's thinking behind moving Ichiro from the leadoff spot to third in the batting order, but so far, it simply hasn't paid dividends.
He's driven in just 13 runs including one homer, and a player like Jesus Montero or even Kyle Seager would fit better into the No. 3 spot.
Seager and Montero are first and second on the team in RBI, respectively. Ichiro is third, and a top three of Ichiro, Seager and Montero could be very interesting and successful.
Ichiro simply doesn't hit like a typical 3-hole hitter. He thrives off of slap base hits and infield singles, while Montero hits with more power and is a much more traditional player for the role.
Find Permanent Spots in the Lineup for Jaso, Liddi
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Alex Liddi and John Jaso have been productive when inserted into the lineup this season. Unfortunately, due to their positions, they haven't been everyday starters.
Jaso has been seeing much more playing time as a result of Miguel Olivo's injury, but Liddi has had a tough time getting into the lineup this season with the success of Kyle Seager at third.
Although Jaso's average has dropped since becoming a starter, he's been clutch on various occasions this season and always puts a bat on the ball.
Liddi is just 23 years old and looks promising as a power hitter, popping five home runs in his first 32 big league games.
I like Jaso/Montero as C/DH or vice versa, and if Brendan Ryan continues to struggle, it wouldn't be a stretch for Seager to transition to shortstop so Liddi could play every day at third base.
This appears to be another classic case of players inconveniently hitting the ball well.
Improve Starting Pitching
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Mariners starting pitchers are just 11-17 this season, as Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas have really been the only two with consistently good outings.
In fact, it's been a tale of two sides for Mariners starters this year.
Vargas and Hernandez are 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA, 99 strikeouts and 32 walks.
Kevin Millwood, Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi combine for 4-12, a 5.32 ERA, 68 strikeouts and 38 walks.
I'm not sure if it's time to call up prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton or Taijuan Walker, but a trade can be made at the deadline to get help.
There are several quality starters whose contracts will expire after this season and are on teams which likely won't make the playoffs (R.A. Dickey, Brandon McCarthy and Jake Peavy, to name a few).
Seattle needs at least one more consistent starter in the rotation if it's going to have any chance of making the playoffs in 2012.