Oh good, you're still here.
I was afraid that everyone had decided to jump ship on the Seattle Mariners less than two weeks into the season. I often like to give things some time early on in the season before passing judgement, yet seeing and hearing the local chatter after a week or so started to get me a little concerned.
Expectations were high coming out of spring training, so much so that a lot of fans hoped to see the M's make a push for a wild-card spot or, at the very least, get past .500 this season.
Yet after the M's lost two of three against the Houston Astros in their first series of the season at home followed by a Felix Hernandez loss against the Texas Rangers shortly thereafter, the alarm bells (USS Mariner) started ringing to abandon ship (Lookout Landing).
The most telling post though came from Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog over the weekend at seattlepi.com:
Of course you might want to read this blog a little more if I were to write a little more, but I’m thinking that after the last three years of demoralizing Mariners seasons I’m at best going to be a part-time Mariners Fan blog writer this year. And of course once again I welcome anyone out there in the cyber world who feels they have something to say about this ballclub to get a hold of me and we can arrange a way for you to write once or twice a week. If not it will be hit and miss as far as production here, sort of like our offense with this year’s Mariners.
That was fast—two weeks in and it's already come to this?
When I first read that, I was more than a little annoyed, but with each passing read I came to feel sad for Jeff and the thousands of other fans who probably read his post thinking, "I can't argue with the guy."
I suppose it doesn't help that Seattle's entire starting outfield is out with both Mike Morse and Franklin Gutierrez hurting and Michael Saunders injured. You have to figure that rookie starter Brandon Maurer's struggles in his first two appearances are a bit of a downer as well. Or perhaps what it really comes down to is the fact that the young core of Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero have all started their seasons ice cold.
So yes, there's not a lot to smile about, but perhaps what we saw on Sunday should be taken as a step in the right direction for Maurer and the young quartet of hitters.
Hard to say, but after two weeks of play, the Mariners are pretty much where I expected them to be. Some good, some bad, but ultimately a team with nearly as many wins as losses.
Understand I'm not here to throw a bunch of cheesy euphemisms at you and tell everyone that the sun is still shining behind the clouds, so much as to remind everyone this is what a .500 ballclub looks like.
You have to take the good with the bad and realize the baseball season is a marathon. So while things may not be going according to plan on all fronts, it's not like the team is 2-12 after this opening stretch of the season.
If that were the case, then I could understand the angst and apathy a little bit more. Right now it just seems a bit premature.
This is a team that is still trying to figure out how all the pieces fit while dealing with some issues and injuries. That's not to say that I'm entirely thrilled with how management has handled things, but what's done is done.
So while it's great that Mike Morse is off to a solid start, it just goes to show that no matter what he does, he's going to need some help. Even a solid outing by King Felix may not be enough some days.
To me that's part of the beauty of baseball. One man does not make a team.
Ok, but what about the injury to Michael Saunders, the aches and pains of Morse and Guti and the demotion of Blake Beavan to the bullpen?
A month ago we had Jon Garland and Casper Wells on the roster and let them walk away for nothing. Couldn't they have helped?
Perhaps, but I feel those points have been hammered home elsewhere, along with the trade for Aaron Harang (USS Mariner).
So what exactly should we be looking forward to?
More of the same, to be blunt. Performances that fall into the spectrum of good, bad and ugly, sometimes within the span of an inning.
If that doesn't appeal to you, I'm sorry, but no one said rooting for this team would be easy. For anyone who thought the Mariners would be socking dingers and pitching shutouts night after night while marching to a postseason berth, you might need to exercise a little more patience.
Nevertheless, I think it's silly to have the level of angst we've been seeing so soon this season. That's not to say we should ignore the problems and plow forward blindly so much as get over ourselves and give this crew a chance.
If Ackley, Smoak and Montero are hitting less than .350 combined, Brandon Maurer has a 10+ ERA and the bullpen is still struggling come July, then sure, feel free to jump ship and find your way onto the Seahawks bandwagon just in time for them to kick off their season.
Until then, keep calm and carry on.
Felix is still Felix, Hisashi Iwakuma might be more than just a place-holder as the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation and the old men in the outfield are holding down the fort for now. Beyond that, just hold your breath, close your eyes and make a wish.
Given some time and a little bit of luck, all may not be lost just yet.