Seattle Mariners: 5 Realistic Goals Before the All-Star Break
With a record of 31-42 it's been another up-and-down season in Seattle. While a lot of fans have probably reconciled themselves to this being another lost season, there are some goals the M's and their players can shoot for in the short term.
So instead of waiting for "next year" either in the form of prospects making their debuts or established starters getting the chance to work with a clean slate, I'm going to take a modest approach with a handful of realistic goals the M's should strive to achieve before the All-Star break a little over two weeks away.
Understand this is little consolation for an otherwise lackluster season, but let's try to give ourselves something to root for between now and the arrival of the team's top prospects.
Felix Hernandez Earns an All-Star Nod
Ever get the feeling that Felix likes interleague play simply to have the chance to take matters into his own hands?
Game after game all season long for as long as I can recall, Felix has watched his "supporting cast" struggle at the plate while he does everything in his power to keep the Mariners close with one masterful performance on the mound after another.
On the rare occasions he doesn't have it, do the M's ever carry the weight? More often than not, we sadly begin to wonder if something is wrong with Felix rather than the rest of the lineup.
Fortunately Saturday night's performance was another joyful experience as Hernandez not only struck out 10 Padres while earning his fifth win, but he also helped himself with a two-run double in the M's 5-1 win.
With a record of 5-5, Felix's numbers and win percentage might seem average, but if he can earn another two to three wins in style, he should represent the M's in Kansas City.
Franklin Gutierrez Gets on Track
It may only be the end of June, but it's been a long year for Franklin Gutierrez already.
Yet if Friday night was any indication with a 4-for-5 performance that included a home run, perhaps Guti is capable of contributing at the top of the order this season?
While I doubt that he'll ever fully return to form along the lines of his breakout debut in 2009, it shouldn't be too much to hope for a second half stat line of .270 / 10 / 50 based on what we've seen through nearly 10 games since his return to Seattle.
With more than a dozen games to go until the break, perhaps we can get another two to three homers with another 10-12 RBI?
Kyle Seager Exceeds My Preseason Goals
I'll confess, this was a long shot back in March that now seems within reach.
At the time, I was hoping Seager with a legitimate chance to play every day could hit .270 / 10 / 50 across the better part of a full season.
Now as we approach the All-Star break, Seager is not only on pace to match those figures, but to shatter them given his current stat line.
Really, the only question now is whether he can keep pace?
Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders Reach Double Digits for HRs
As of today, only Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager have 10 or more home runs this season. Meanwhile, both Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders have eight.
If both Montero and Saunders can hit at least two more a piece, it would give the Mariners four hitters at the break with double-digit dinger totals.
Once again, this is a really modest if not arbitrary goal, but perhaps one that shows the team at least has a little bit of pop from a young nucleus?
Tom Wilhelmsen Locks Down the Closer Role
Honestly, I'm a bit torn on this one simply because I hate to see Brandon League miss a chance to serve as trade bait during the next few weeks.
Yet what we're seeing from Wilhelmsen is hard to ignore. His stats may not be causing a stampede among fantasy baseball owners to pick him up off waivers, but when called upon, he has done the job and with better results per innings pitched than League.
Could League still be traded?
Sure, but the return wouldn't be nearly as much as we anticipated earlier this season. In that case, it might be tempting to put League back out there in a last-ditch effort as closer to see if he can boost his value.
Honestly, though, the odds are better for League to show his value in the middle-man/set-up role and leave the limited chances for saves to Wilhelmsen.