The Seattle Mariners are not terrible through 10 games, but there are certainly some reasons to be concerned. Is it too early to panic?
Obviously you can’t make a judgment about the whole season after just a couple of weeks. Some teams start out hot and cool very quickly. Others get a slow start and eventually get into a groove.
The Mariners are somewhere in the middle.
Still, when the Mariners give up 24 runs on 38 hits over two games, a few fans are going to cringe. Not to mention that those runs were given up to a Houston Astros team that was not supposed to be very good this year.
Will this Seattle team start to get into a solid rhythm as players find their roles? Or, will the Mariners again limp their way through a season and continue to be a non-factor in the American League West?
There are some good signs and some bad signs.
The Good Signs
Offensively, the Mariners have been much improved compared to 2012. Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Michael Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez have all hit well as the M's have shown an ability to score runs in a number of games.
Morse in particular has been a source of power for the Mariners and could continue to provide a spark for an offense that has struggled mightily over the last few years. It has also been encouraging to see Franklin Gutierrez start out healthy and productive after missing so much time in recent years.
Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have been solid starters, and Tom Wilhelmsen has recorded three saves in three games pitched.
That is the good news.
The Bad Signs
There are obviously some problems. As effective as some hitters have been, others have not gotten off to a solid start.
Dustin Ackley is the main culprit, as the starting second baseman started the season in a 1-for-20 slump and through April 10 was still only hitting .100 for the year. Jesus Montero (.133), Kyle Seager (.147) and Justin Smoak (.156) have not contributed much to the offense.
How effective would this offense be if those four were swinging the bat a little better?
As mentioned, King Felix and Iwakuma have done their jobs, but the back end of the rotation has not been good. After a hot spring, Brandon Maurer has had two very rough starts, and Blake Beavan hasn't been much better.
The acquisition of Aaron Harang (via the Seattle Times) suggests that the Mariners are not going to wait long for improvement, and the belief is that Beavan may move to the bullpen.
Setting a Tone
On the one hand, it may be a positive sign that the Mariners are going to make quick moves when players do not perform. Then again, it is not the best sign when a team is making roster substitutions less than two weeks into the season.
As mentioned, perhaps the Mariners will settle into a groove. Maybe the lineup will become a little more balanced, and perhaps Aaron Harang will provide that veteran presence that Seattle was looking for when it auditioned Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman in spring training.
One thing is for sure. The next time the Mariners play the Astros, they cannot give up that many runs.